How I Got Here

I’m almost 31 years old. For the majority of my young life, I was a healthy weight. I was fairly active, but not overly so. I was a somewhat picky eater, but never really felt limited in what I could eat. Long story: I was lucky. And I screwed it up! Shortly into college my boyfriend broke up with me. I reeled into a self-pity state of depression. Not like suicidal or anything. But I was bummed out. And alone. All of my childhood friends had gone off to college, and I wasn’t interested in being friends with anyone in my classes in college (I know, I’m a snob, but mostly I just think I’m not extroverted when it comes to new people).

As I licked my dumped wounds I somehow found comfort in food. Whether it was fried food for lunch with my sisters, or Mexican food until I felt like I was going to burst. My mom says she told me I was gaining weight and being unhealthy, but I have no recollection of this. Honestly. Then one day my mom was measuring me for my bridesmaid dress for my sisters wedding. And my mom tells me it might be impossible to make my dress. What? Why? She informs me I’m obese. Probably morbidly obese. What the hell? I stepped on the scale to see a weight I never thought I’d see. I can’t even mention it here. But it was well over sixty pounds more than I was in high school. Yikes. Kill me. No, seriously. I honestly until that point never saw myself as fat. And suddenly here I was, an unmanageable weight. And I didn’t know what to do.

I started working out but the weight wasn’t coming off. My mom suggested I start lifting weights. I didn’t really know where to begin with that since I didn’t belong to a gym. The next month I saw The Firm on an infomercial, and thought I might like to buy it. (They don’t even sell the workout I bought anymore on their site. You can buy the DVDs but the Fanny Lifter that came with it isn’t included. Sigh. Yes, it’s been that long ago.) I hemmed and hawed over it for a few days until Mom finally told me to just get it, as a birthday gift to myself. So I did. I remember calling the number, waiting on hold, and wondering if this was going to be the biggest waste of money I’ve ever spent. I can’t remember, but I think the workout system was around $60. Might have been closer to $80.

It arrived in the mail a week or so later, on a day I happened to have off of work. I opened it up and immediately did the workout, even though I didn’t have any weights. I remember Dad came home in the middle of my workout (which I was doing in the middle of the family room). And he’s like, “What the hell’s going on in here?” (You have to know my dad to appreciate him. I think he was actually pleased to see me working out since he has heart disease.) I said, “This is THE HARDEST workout I’ve ever done.” And he said, “Well, keep doing it and it’ll get easier.”

I went out and bought, as suggested by the videos, 3, 5 and 8 pound dumbbells. And I was off. I have NEVER been so sore in my life. Well, that’s not true. Volleyball hell week is comparable. But, by comparison, volleyball hell week is probably much, much more intense than these workouts. OK, maybe that’s not true. Practice was around an hour or so in the mornings then a few hours at night. These workouts were between 45 and 60 minutes. But, remember, I was working muscles I hadn’t used in years, if ever! But I was determined to conquer the workouts. But I still didn’t lose any weight. Finally, Mom told me, “You’re a lot healthier now than you have been. Stop weighing yourself, and just focus on being healthier. The weight will eventually come off.” Yeah, whatever, Mom. But I did stop weighing myself. If for no other reason than throwing it through the wall was going to result in an additional expense. No thanks.

A few months later I bought my first house, and spent all of my time working on it with the help of my parents. We’d work almost every single weekend, and I was working 4 days a week at the time so I’d usually also spend my other day off working on stuff there. Since I was with my parents, we ate fairly healthy meals. Sometimes the meals would be popcorn and oranges, other times it would be a bowl of chili. I was eating reasonably, and staying really busy. Depending on the week and my free time, I was also doing my Firm workouts.

One random afternoon as we were walking through Lowes, I was yanking on the sweats I was wearing and said, “The elastic in these dumb things is going out. That sucks I love them.” And mom looks at me like I’m crazy, and she said, “Um, things tend to start to fall off when you lose weight.” And I said, “What? I haven’t lost weight. I stopped weighing myself.” And Mom says, “Maybe you better get back on the scale.” To my delight, I’d lost twenty pounds! Hell yeah! That was easy….

After that I continued to workout and continued to eat well. I was the girl who measured everything, and kept a food diary. After awhile I could eyeball a half a cup of ice cream (or, really, a fourth of a cup was enough to satisfy me). I knew foods that satisfied my sweet or savory tooth. And found ways to eat foods I loved in moderation. My strict budget helped me give up eating out. And I learned to love to cook, and be in control of my body.

In this time, I lost another 10, and then plateaued. It was frustrating. One of my friends on a Firm message board I posted on started doing a Couch to 5K workout and encouraged me to try the same thing. The workout seemed doable, so I got my sisters to start running with me. Around town, on a track, wherever. But mostly outside. Before I knew it, I’d run my very first entire mile, ever! It really was a mind game! I started running almost two miles a few times a week! And I loved it. I never dreaded my runs. And I finally understood the “runner’s high” I thought was a marketing ploy.

I dropped another 10 pounds during my running phase as well as a “competition” my sisters and I had before one sister’s wedding. I was getting compliments like I’d never received before. One guy, in an attempt to insult me at Walmart even told me to “move your skinny ass.” Yes, sir, I would like to move my skinny ass. Sorry for inconveniencing you! When friends would see me, they’d say how great I looked. I felt strong, confident, and even though I was 20 pounds heavier than high school, I was in better shape, and the same size.

Then, I lost it.

Motivation that is, not more weight.

I gained about 30 of the 40 pounds back. I let work take over my life. My job moved from an area with almost literally no fast food, to a fast food-infested part of town. I was working a ton, eating out all the time, and was even back in school. My workouts not only became less of a priority, they became non-existent. And my problem was when I didn’t workout, I tended to eat like crap. And when I ate like crap I didn’t have the energy to workout.

Once work started to slow down a little a co-worker who had also gained weight started working out with me at work. Yes, this new building, in the heart of fast food nation, had a workout facility. That no one used, by the way. Me included. But we started working out a few times a week. And it was fun. We’d walk or jog on the treadmill and hit the weights. We’d gossip and bitch about our days, but ultimate end up laughing. And healthier. I didn’t lose weight until a sinus infection landed me on antibiotics, which resulted in the good bacteria being stripped from my stomach. Which resulted in me not being able to eat anything. It took about 2 months before I realized that, though. In that time I dropped about 15-20 of the 30 pounds. Once I got that stomach issue under control I was motivated to keep working out. I got back to my Firm workouts and running and started watching what I ate again. I ultimately maintained that weight, dropping and regaining 5 pounds.

Sadly, the second decline wasn’t as marked. I didn’t really have any reason. I started going out more (read: drinking), which meant the next day’s workout usually got blown off. Lots of times the drinking lead to eating stuff like Denny’s at 2AM. Or pizza or Mexican food the next day. I was spending time with friends who were much younger, and more able to adjust to eating this way. The weight came back.

When I got up to about 5 pounds from my highest initial weight, I went on a “diet” with my sisters. We counted calories, checked in every week with what we ate, and what workouts we did. I ended up dropping about 15 pounds, ending up 20 pounds below my highest weight, and 20 pounds above my lowest “post high school” weight.

In the year and a half since then, I’ve gained those 20 pounds back. OK. Four pounds more. I’m at my highest weight, ever. PLUS TWO POUNDS.

And I’m 31.

And I’m not getting any younger.

This journey to weight loss originally started at about this time in 2002. And I’m ready to reign it in and start again. And this time for good. I know every time I say it’s for good. But I’m hoping to accomplish three things:

  1. Restart my Firm workouts (and cancel my gym membership). Those workouts and running are really all I need.
  2. Start keeping track of food again. Counting calories until I can get in a good swing like I was originally.
  3. Get my overeating and my food obsession under control.

The third one is the big one for me. I definitely don’t want to get lost in the minutia of something that’s not an issue, but I have recently noticed myself eating. A lot. I feel like I am obsessed with food. And it’s not a good feeling. I’m stuck in the middle of all of this good food at work, and can’t seem to resist it. I’ve been doing better at eating at bringing my lunch, but still feel hungry all day. I’m mostly unhappy with my job, so I feel like I’m eating that away. And I know I eat for comfort, a habit that only started with that first boyfriend’s breakup. But I don’t know where it came from and don’t know how to fix it. So I’ve bought two books to help me on my journey.

And this site will be my journal.

I know my mom struggles with food. She was heavy when she was a child, and seems to know her triggers and has to focus on her eating. She’s still a healthy weight. And my dad had to change his diet completely after his bypass surgery. So I guess I need to accept this won’t be easy for me. Here’s to stumbling toward a healthier me!

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Chapter 1… (Of Both Books) « Stumbling Toward Health
  2. Trackback: Emotional Liberation: Part 1 « Stumbling Toward Health

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