I hated my body for as long as I can remember. I think I was 11 or 12 when I started hiding in baggy clothes and comparing myself to skinny friends. I was aware that others saw me as “chunky.” My father, on more then one occasion, would point out my 10-20 extra pounds.
It was then I started to diet.
In high school there were times I would do 100 sit ups before bed and eat nothing but salad for lunch and a small portion of dinner. Part of me at that time wished I were anorexic. I know how bad that sounds, but it’s true. I longed to be thin. I would look at my thin friends with envy and wondered what it would be like to wear a bathing suit with confidence. I knew I wasn’t obese and I knew most people didn’t think I was “fat” but I was unhappy in my skin. I started wearing oversized clothes and men’s jeans thinking I would hide my chunky frame and round belly.
In college the common freshmen 15, or should I say 25, reared its ugly head. I was not preoccupied with being thin then — I was having too much fun eating late-night meals and getting my fill at the all-you-can eat college commons. Do I even need to mention the beer? OK, I will. There was beer and a lot of it (sorry mom).
I remember one year I returned home for winter break where, during a holiday meal, a very honest family member pointed out the fact I “put on a few pounds.” I was in tears, yet, I didn’t really do much about it. That summer I watched what I ate and dropped a few pounds, settling into a new comfortable higher weight and size.
This cycle continued throughout college. Every school year I would gain about 20 pounds only to lose about half of that the following summer. By the time I graduated I was almost 30 pounds heavier then I was in high school.
I was depressed that I let myself go as much as I did, yet I still really didn’t do much about it. I remember wanting to be thin and trying to get control of my eating but never staying motivated enough to stay on a diet. My need to eat always seemed to take over my desire to be thin.
I entered graduate school immediately after undergrad. Within the year I was over 200 pounds. Nothing fit. I had to buy a business suit for graduation two sizes larger then I’ve ever worn. I was horrified, depressed and mad at myself for not doing anything about it. I now longed to be that “chunky” girl in high school. I looked at pictures of myself in disbelief. I was skinny! What the heck was I thinking back then?
Post-college I was on a mission. In that first year after graduate school, I lost about 45 pounds. How did I do it? I really don’t want to tell you but I will. I tried everything: the zero-calorie diet, fasting, the Zone, Xenadrine, and finally Atkins. I found the most success on low-carbohydrate dieting. I was a low-carb guru. I knew the “net effective carb” count of everything. I would eat bacon, bun-less cheeseburgers and pounds of cheese. It seemed perfect for me. I was able to eat large portions of foods I liked.
I finally found a weight loss solution but there was one teeny, tiny flaw. I was obsessed. I dreaded eating out, I agonized over every decision and it wasn’t healthy — I mean emotionally healthy. The weight started coming back on, I just could not eat like that long term. I’d gain and lose the same 20 pounds.
Then, in the summer of 2004, my husband and I decided we would try to start a family. I still had losing weight on the brain and I thought I would try Weight Watchers. It seemed like a healthy alternative to what I was doing. I knew I couldn’t cut all carbohydrates out of my diet and I had to start eating healthier to carry a child. I tried the point system. It seemed so simplistic and easy, I had to try it. In the next 4 weeks, I lost about 11 pounds. I could not believe it. I didn’t feel deprived. I was eating real foods, including carbohydrates, and losing weight.
Then the good news came, I was pregnant! I was happy but scared. I knew I could not continue to diet and I was worried I would be out of control. My worst fears came true. I ate healthfully throughout the pregnancy but I ate a lot, I mean a LOT. I gained over 70 pounds with the pregnancy. It was significant, excessive.
I walked back into Weight Watchers with my 2-week-old son. He was my ultimate motivation. I did not want to be a self-conscious, unhealthy mom who used her body image and weight to miss out on things.
I dove in headfirst and followed the Weight Watchers program. I stayed in my point range and made healthier choices. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and started getting more active and adventurous. I discovered that as long as I was journaling, eating healthy foods, being honest about what I really was eating and staying active, I was losing. It was truly unbelievable to me.
It is still unbelievable to me. After 6 years I’ve been able to maintain a healthy weight and I gave birth in 2011 to another ball of motivation.
I am now confident in my body (most of the time) and in myself. My journey may have started as a quest to be skinny but I’ve gained so much more then I have lost.
Looking back, I wasn’t diagnosed with an eating disorder but it seems obvious now. I would get depressed about my weight and binge eat. I remember sneaking food. I remember ordering at a restaurant and figuring out how I could get the most food. I remember eating meals just because it was mealtime not because I was hungry and in spite of the fact that I just ate. For too many years I fell prey to the yo-yo diet cycle of hell…
I finally broke free at the “feel bad about my body” square. That’s where it needs to start. Click here to see my toughts on this.
When I started this blog I truly used it to journal my weight loss. I had pages to track my goals, my weight progression, and I took pictures of myself monthly. Since maintaining my weight loss for over 6 years now I’m not as dependent on tracking the details. I’m simply trying to live consciously and as healthy as I can while inspiring others to break out of the cycle I was in for too many years.