“A piece of my story”
I am the daughter of two wonderful, granola mixin’, tree huggin’, hiking-biking-camping & kayaking, spiritual & intellectual, vegetarians. And, yet, with all that going for as my base of learning, I have been overweight to morbidly obese the majority of my life. This, to me, is case in point that knowing and doing,parts of higher functioning that must be relatively close in the brain, are really disconnected. I was raised vegetarian meaning we didn’t eat anything that ever had a face, lol. At a young age I knew healthy. But, I also knew walking to Hook’s, buying a half gallon of mint chocolate chip ice cream and eating it all in a sitting, then hiding the evidence at the bottom of the trash can. I have recently heard food referred to as “the good girl’s drug”. Necessary for life, food in its simplest form, is fuel for an engine but, it is also chemicals. A lot of them altered and/or manufactured. So, in the case of this “good girl” the description fits.
Somewhere in the growing up of a girl, food becomes something that it shouldn’t. It becomes immediate gratification, comfort, love, numbness, a way to fill an emptiness and then, shame, guilt, sadness. And what do you do when you feel bad? The cycle repeats. By the time I’m a senior in highschool I have worn plus sizes since before puberty. At 17 I wore a size 18 probably pushing to a 20. With a strong, well intentioned, push from mom and family, I loose some weight. I kept a food journal, ate < 30 fat grams/day and lost about 30 some pounds, getting down to a size 12/13, first time shopping regular sizes. I hang onto that for a year or less.
In 2003, about 6 years later, I’ve been married a few years and we have our first baby. I was 280+ pounds when I delivered. I’d always been a big girl but then I was quite big. Over that next year, I try the South Beach Diet for the first time. It makes sense and it works. I weighed just under 200 pounds then and swore I’d never see a 2 at the beginning of my weight again. Well, we all know how that goes, right? A few years later, another baby while in nursing school, yikes. Another 5 years = 20 pounds up and down and up again.
It’s January 2011, I’m 250 pounds and wearing a size 22 that is tight. It’s obvious I’m big. But what can’t be seen clearly to me or those that love me, because you choose not to look and because I try to dress my size well, is how big that is. Graphically speaking: it’s arms the size of some peoples legs, it’s huge heavy breasts (40DDD at the big girl store), it’s two large abdominal rolls separated by a belly button that I would have to lift a roll in order to find, the lower roll lapping over the mommy area; it’s thighs that always rub; and all of it covered in significant stretch marks. Sorry if that’s all TMI.
January is unofficially diet kick off time so, I reluctantly join a team for a weight loss challenge at work. I could not have predicted the outcome. I had presumed I would always be a big girl. Maybe a little smaller big girl but plus size none the less. I figured I’d just have to learn to rock that the best that I could. I use the South Beach Diet as a guideline and I start to move my body more with little things like walking to/from work and always taking the stairs. I was so out of breath at the top of those stairs but I continued. Made a realistic goal to work out 20-30 minutes every other day and kept an exercise journal. At the start of the weight loss challenge I was less than half hearted but, I didn’t want to be the one to let my team down. I got going and I got into it. By April I had lost about 40 pounds. I felt great. I felt like I was loved regardless of my size and I was loosing weight for me for once. I kept with it, even stepped it up. Then something happened, like a tipping point. I can hardly explain it. I just kept losing. I worked out about 3 times a week, for an hour, usually videos at home (minimal investment and no child care arrangements): Extreme Makeover Workout Edition and Kathy Smith Build Muscle Shrink Fat. And, I stayed true to the South Beach Guidelines 99% of the time.
By mid August of the same year I was down 80 pounds from my starting weight. Lots of things had changed. I could shop in regular sizes at any store. I felt strong and capable. I was no longer invisible. I know, it sounds like an oxymoron but, there is a paradox that occurs where the obese are invisible, unseen, significantly less eye contact is made. Everything from mundane daily living to bigger events held newness that I was in awe of. My usual pass/fail black and white thinking had not derailed me. I was a little like a blind girl getting a chance to see.
January 2012, a year from the start of it all, I had lost 100 pounds. I had gone through many adjustments and struggles in such a short time. I was in my early 30’s, had a waist for the first time, and felt young and healthy. However, my skin had suffered the repercussions of 25+ years of obesity, 2 pregnancies, and rapid weight loss, very loose drapey skin. There was no recoil left, particularly belly and boobs, kinda pitiful. I did have plastic fairly extensive surgery to correct it. It took a lot of consideration but it was the right decision for me. If anybody is curious about specifics, just ask. I’m an open book, maybe too open, lol.
Ok so that’s two years ago. There have been more ups and downs, more learning. A bizarre thing happened where I couldn’t see all that I had done. Depending on my mood, or the way my new body felt that day, or just the way something fit, with no control I could watch my reflection morph to something ugly. I couldn’t even enjoy this new me. None of it was good enough, there was still something bad that I could see. I had gone from avoiding my image from the neck down to obsessing over it. I couldn’t see outside of my self. I had no perspective. I would make my sister stand in the mirror with me. I knew what she looked like in 3D so in the moment it made it easier to see myself. The pendulum had swung yet again, and then again, and..
So here I am now. Over the last several months I’ve worked on accepting my self, my whole self. Trying to maintain a workout schedule that I enjoy. Trying to bounce back from the intermittent binges (I do mean binges) that I have, which is a struggle. Trying not to attach myself to numbers ie, weight, jean size, losses/gains. Trying to love my body as it is in this moment. My perfect imperfections. And, try to help other girls/women avoid or heal from any of the awful pain we seem to inflict on ourselves.
Thank you! ;)