August 11, 2010. 23 years old. I walked into a weight watchers meeting. this was the beginning of my journey and I didn’t even know it. I had walked into Weight Watcher meetings so many times before, with the hope to change but this time was finally different. I stepped onto the scale like I had done so many times before and saw my starting weight. 250 pounds. Two hundred and fifty pounds. I was measured at 5’8, given my materials and joined the other meeting-goers in a semi-circle near the back of the room. My mom (my weight-loss partner in crime) was with me.
Before I go any further I feel like it’s important to talk a little about how I got to that number. Because just like losing the weight took time, I didn’t gain all my weight overnight either.
I had been overweight ever since I can remember. My weight had always been an “issue”. My parents and grandmother would try to bribe me with money, gifts, clothes, etc. to lose ten pounds or to stop eating snacks after school. Even with all the discussion of my weight I honestly didn’t seem to care and my weight never really bothered me. It only bothered me when the ones that loved me the most told me that I was fat. It drove my younger sister crazy that I was overweight and she would constantly try to monitor my snacking, yelling at me every time I tried to snack, “you’re fat!” but I just took it as sisters being sisters. she still loved me, so did the rest of my family, but they were clearly worried about me and how my weight was going to affect my future.
Going through old boxes recently in my parent’s storage room, my youngest sister discovered a diary I had from 11 years old. Eleven. I wrote about how my grandmother told me I was overweight and that she would pay me for every pound I lost. I wrote about how it made me feel and I even said I would think about it. But how does an 11-year old lose weight? I didn’t even know why it bothered her or anyone, I was comfortable with myself and I loved myself. But I told her I would work on it. I just thought one day I would grow taller or stop being so hungry all the time, but that never happened. Instead, things just kept going, life kept moving, and I continued gaining weight. I was really active as a kid and teenager. I did soccer, played the violin, swam on a year-round swim team and still got a’s and b’s in school. I just couldn’t seem to lose any weight. I went to jazzercise class with my mom, went on power-walks on the weekends with family but I would snack heavily before dinner because I would be so hungry and then I would eat dinner and dessert. My mom started thinking I had a medical problem that made it impossible for me to lose weight. she had me tested so many times for thyroid problems but that was not to blame. I was perfectly “healthy” in that regard. But I just kept gaining.
When I got to high-school, things slowly started to make more sense to me about my weight gain and by the time I was a junior I decided to try the Atkins diet over summer break (with my mom.) I will never forget the first day we stood in the kitchen thinking of what to make for lunch. we got out mayo, mustard, deli meat, sliced cheese and sat down with plates full of meat and mayo. thinking back on that day now, it honestly makes me sick to my stomach! I did the Atkins for 40 days straight. I became obsessive, even peeing on ketosis sticks daily to make sure my body was in ketosis. I was losing a pound a day (not healthy at all!) but I was finally feeling great, my family was happy, and I had baggy jeans dropping off my waist and butt. a first for me at the time.
Fortunately, I had to get a physical to join the swim team, during which they discovered that I had extreme amounts of protein in my urine, which was extremely dangerous. I explained to them that the reason was because I was in ketosis and they told me to stop immediately or else my body would be in danger. I returned home that day and told my mom what the doctors had said. I was so upset and thought they were wrong, but I had to pass the physical so, I started slowly adding carbs back into my diet in hopes that my protein levels would even out. well, they did and the doctors approved me to swim. however, after 40 days with almost no carbs, I went crazy with the taste of carbs again. I ended up gaining all the weight I lost and more back by the time I graduated high-school. looking back at this experience I realize how unhealthy and how much harm I was doing to my body by eating that way. I thought I was being healthy because I was losing weight but in reality, I was damaging my body further.
I had actually been to several weight watcher meetings with my mom growing up. I knew what it was and I had seen my mother have her own transformation. but I was never ready to fully admit that I had a “problem” or that I needed to make a change with my body and my mind until all of a sudden.
So I went off to college and ate horribly, completely stopped working out (other than walking up a few hills to class or dancing at a frat party), began drinking, baking cookies and cakes in our dorm rooms, and was going out to eat constantly. food was a social thing, it was our excuse to take a break from studying, it was a time to have fun with friends and it was chipotle every Thursday and Saturday night because we were all addicted.
In my sophomore year of college, I decided I would try to lose weight again. my grandmother offered to pay for Nutrisystem. I thought at first it would be great; never have to think about what I was going to eat and wouldn’t have to make weekly trips to the market. I ended up following the Nutrisystem meal plan for about 3 or 4 months. I stuck to the prepackaged food and lost about 20 to 25 pounds. I started getting compliments about my appearance but also questions about why I was never at the cafeteria or going out to parties. I started to slowly think more and more about Nutrisystem and how I was supposed to maintain this lifestyle for the rest of my life. I thought to myself there is no way I will be able to eat this food every day for, forever. I also didn’t understand how it would keep working, wouldn’t my body get used to it and just stop losing weight? I over thought the entire process for weeks and slowly returned to my old habits, gaining everything I lost back and more.
I graduated from college two years later and got my first graphic design job. I went out with coworkers every day for lunch in “fast-food” alley (think every fast food place imaginable). I went to happy hours and out to dinner because I was too tired to cook.
I honestly hate to even write this out and I hate to say that this is what broke me down and made me finally, finally realize I had a problem, but here it is – I’m going to say it. I was visiting my then boyfriend and we were talking about what to eat while driving back to his house, and he looked at me and said he was tired of being over-weight and he thought I had also recently put on some extra weight. I was so upset, he was the one person in my life who never had a problem with my weight. he never mentioned it and he always said I was beautiful and now he was saying what my parents and grandparents and society had been saying all along. I was furious, I was confused, and I was sad.
We ended up breaking up that weekend and my life changed forever. I went back home and was upset for a while and then one morning I literally woke up and said that enough was enough. just. like. that.
I know that people really don’t believe me sometimes when I say that but it honestly just finally clicked. My mind decided okay I’m ready to do this. I didn’t think any more about what would happen or how long it would take or how painful and exhausting it would be. I didn’t think about it at all, I just did it.
That is the best advice I can give someone is to not over think the process, don’t question it and don’t be afraid of change.
If you’ve made it this far, I congratulate you! I truly appreciate you reading this and I hope that by sharing this piece of my journey it will help you start or continue on yours. I will be writing several more posts on my journey to help answer anyone’s questions about the process. Stay tuned.
ps. the pictures range from high school graduation (05) to my college graduation (09).