I guess the whole “Dear Body” letter stirred up the desire to share (or potentially publish a massive overshare) with the blog world, but I’ve never been one to extinguish the rare fits of personal writing I happen across. I present to you, my weight loss journey.
Childhood: I was a skinny kid, up until middle school or so. In 8th grade, I hit my highest weight ever. I still remember the moment like it happened yesterday. I went upstairs to the bathroom, locked the door as quietly as possible behind me, and slowly walked toward the scale. I was wearing jeans and a flannel shirt (ah, the late 80s/early 90s, how many crimes of fashion you reveled in) and I had a body wave perm in my hair. Afraid to take my clothes off lest I be interrupted and have to play it cool, I stepped on the scale. I leaned over, tentatively, since I couldn’t see the scale simply by looking straight down. Over my tummy, in front of my wiggling toes, I saw it. 180 pounds. I suddenly understood why I was the butt of so many jokes. I understood why I nearly passed out when we were forced to run the mile in gym class. I was 5 feet tall and I felt 5 feet wide.
In 10th grade, I joined the marching band. I might be one of the only people who can say band camp = fat camp. In one week away at camp, I lost 15 pounds. I was so disgusted by the food, and we spent so many hours out in the sun on the football field, that my body had no choice but to survive on its stores. I graduated from high school in the low 160s.
College: In college, I discovered the gym. I also discovered girls who openly talked about their eating disorders. And alcohol. What can I say? I got quite the “health” education. I joined a sorority, started dating a tall, dark and handsome writer (who is still tall, dark and handsome, but now counts beans rather than words) and my weight always floated in the 145-160 range.
Graduate School: When I moved away from my beloved to pursue my graduate degree, I first experienced truly living on my own. Rather than cooking for myself, I got a job waiting tables. My days were reduced to family meal at the restaurant, copious plates of fresh bread dipped in seasoned olive oil, a quick walk to my 4 hour grad class and a bag of Dunkin’ Donuts munchkins as a mid-class snack. I rarely had an opportunity to exercise since I was working 70 hours a week and in class for 20 hours. In 2004, halfway through grad school, I looked like this:
After I finished my grad degree, I settled into a desk job and, unlike most people, it actually helped me to lose weight. Well, the group of friends I made probably helped – I was friends with several girls and we’d get together for lunch every day and talk about diet and weight loss. I also joined a gym, moved in with the tall, dark and handsome writer and started walking to/from work. All told, I spent most of that first job around 135-140.
Engagement/aka Wheels Came Off: In May 2006, I was invited to London by the writer and his parents. The first night on our trip, the writer proposed to me on the London Tower Bridge. There were a lot of smiles, maybe a few happy tears, and many celebrations, which meant lots of food. That July, I decided it was time to get serious about losing some weight so I could start shopping for dresses. I began calorie counting and losing 1-2 pounds per week. Then, I started trimming down my calorie intake more and more while upping my exercise. I trained for, and ran, my first half marathon that November and by December, I was 114 lbs.
I was eating two Zone bars per day, cutting them up into small pieces to make them last as long as possible. I ate small dinners, never had seconds, chewed so slowly I could make a cup of pasta last 45 minutes. I stopped eating every night by 9pm. Then 8:30pm. Then 8pm. I drank green tea by the gallon and weighed myself multiple times every day. As miserable as I was, I looked in the mirror every day, happy to see myself looking thinner than the day before.
(As happy as I thought I was during this time, I say I was miserable because The Huz remembers how it really was living with me – constant headaches and migraines, upset stomachs, tension, distrust, isolation.)
I found and ordered my wedding dress in early 2007 and spent the entire year waiting for its arrival in an absolute panic. What if I didn’t fit in it when it came in? What if my hips were too wide? In spite of my best efforts, I (thankfully) began to gain weight. Even though I was running every day and restricting my calories as much as possible, my body was screaming for nourishment. I binged on “forbidden foods” and ate in secret. I trained for, and ran 3 half marathons and a full marathon in 2007. I loved training, and the companionship of my running buddies, but I was always counting calories in the back of my mind. How many calories did this long run earn me for later? Had I run off my binge from the night before? I spent most of 2007 around 120-125.
In 2008, I got married, went on my honeymoon, adopted a dog, and moved into a new apartment. I started experimenting with new diet regimens – raw, food combining, heavy to light, light to heavy, all natural, all processed, intuitive eating, planned eating. You name it, I tried it. I fell in love with pilates, ran another half marathon and, still, every event was shadowed by my daily weight. You might not believe it, but I can tell you what I weighed on almost any day from July 6, 2006 to about two weeks before my wedding.
I participated in a psychology study in early 2009 on mood and eating disorders. I began keeping a food/exercise log and met with a therapist once a week. We focused on coping techniques and acceptance. I swore to only weigh myself during my appointments. As much as this challenged me, I felt so free. I wasn’t permitted to count calories and I had to note when I exercised to compensate for overeating. Throughout the study, which lasted 4 months, I gained only 2 pounds.
In March 2009, I moved to New York City. During my first week, I took a spinning class at my new gym. Five minutes into class, my foot flew out of the stirrup and the pedal came around and hit my heel so hard it broke off of the bike. I didn’t run, except one incredibly ill-advised 10k the following weekend, for over two months. I ate to bury my frustration and my anxiety. I was frustrated with my body. I was anxious about living in a new city. I resented my husband for getting to move back to his hometown and live close to his family while mine was far away. I was intimidated by every woman I saw in the street. I gained weight day after day. Eventually, I couldn’t stand to get on the scale and I hid it in the bathroom behind the sink. My clothes didn’t fit and I had to dig through old suitcases to find my “fat clothes.”
In May, I began this blog in earnest. I started documenting my meals, my exercise, and my feelings. I braved the scale for the first time in months. 131 pounds. Typing that, my first thought is “wow, I’ve got a long way to go.” But this is the fat talk I am battling every day now. Every day, I battle the voices that tell me to suck in my stomach, to buy new clothes because I’m too fat to wear my old favorites, to skip breakfast, to log an extra mile on the treadmill. Every day, I battle the urge to prescribe to a miracle fix and I yearn for the day I realize I have created my own fix. Every day, I pray for the strength to trust my instincts and I gently encourage the small, scared voice that says “you look pretty today” or “you deserve the wonderful husband you have”. I know I have a long way to go, but I hope someday to truly believe my journey is about finding acceptance with myself, rather than just my figure. And I long for the excitement of reveling in the love I deserve.
I’m feeling pretty worn out from writing all this, so if you’ve made it this far, please take a minute to say a little prayer for yourself. For the good you deserve to find its way to you. And if you wouldn’t mind, maybe say a teeny little one for me.