Today is November 1, and it’s special for me because I’ve decided to join the fun of NaBloPoMo, courtesy of BlogHer. What does that mean? Basically that I’ll be posting new content every day for the next 30 days. This is ramping up from my usual three-days-a-week schedule. Wish me luck!
As the first post of this event, I figured I’d introduce myself and give a little of my weight gain/weight loss history, since I haven’t really done it before. Just sit right back…
It’s been nearly three years since I first embarked on the weight loss journey that I’m on. But like many, many others, this stretch that started in November of 2008 was not my first attempt.
I have been in some stage of overweight or obesity for most of my life, since my preteen years. The first time I lost a noticeable amount of weight was when I was about 16 or 17, when I lost weight from putting in major time in the pool at the swim club that my family belonged to.
I kept that weight loss until freshman year of college. After that, it was up, up, up with the scale. By the time I was into my twenties, I was about 50 lbs. heavier than I was that magical summer. I settled into the upper 220s and low 230s for many years, without major fluctuations.
During my 20s, I did work out with periods of regularity–going to the gym three times a week and staying for a couple of hours to do cardio and weights–but I did nothing to change my eating habits. Later I did try the South Beach Diet; that and Tae-Bo videos led me to a 10- to 15-lb weight loss, but that didn’t last. I also joined one of the weight loss centers that sells the tiny, expensive portions of food, but I quit within the same week I started when I focused on the absurdity of what I was being asked to eat and drink–definitely not normal food!
After that, there wasn’t any significant upward or downward movement with my weight until I became pregnant–and then it was more upward movement. The last time I remember being weighed during the pregnancy, I clocked in at about 280 lbs. I still had about a month to go at that point before my son was born, so it wouldn’t surprise me if I had edged closer to 300 lbs.
Post-baby, many of my pre-pregnancy clothes–18s and 20s–were too tight. I bought some size 22/24 pants for a transition back to office life after a short freelance stint; otherwise, I used my maternity items a lot during this period. But then I starting losing weight, basically by not eating as much as I had when I was pregnant–without adding a planned exercise regimen, but I’m sure I was moving more than when I was pregnant and was placed on and off bed rest several times. While I was pregnant, my “eating for two” was more like eating for four, probably, so slowing down with my eating made a difference. Entire plates of Baja Fresh chicken nachos and regular trips to Famous Dave’s and the Chinese buffet were phased out. By six months after the birth of my son, in time for a family photo, I was back down to about 250 pounds. Then, before I knew it, I was back in my comfortable neighborhood of the upper 220s.
On November 18, 2008, I started Weight Watchers, at 227 lbs. I contemplated signing up the year before, after seeing a commercial on the Today Show, but I wasn’t moved to action until this date. I didn’t have an embarrassing, life-changing wake-up call or anything like that; I just decided to make a change in my life. I have to be honest that the motive in the back of my mind was vanity–I wanted to have a larger variety of clothes to choose from, to snatch something off the rack at places other than Lane Bryant, Torrid and Ashley Stewart (although I loved their clothes with a passion).
With a desire to live smaller physically and live larger internally, I embarked on the online version of Weight Watchers, which requires no in-person meetings. The online tools, good role models in the online community and my own vain desires were instrumental in keeping me on the right path.
The weight started coming off quickly. Before I knew it, I had lost 15 lbs., 20 lbs. I lost weight without a great deal of exercise. I lost weight while eating some quantities of pizza, restaurant meals, and other things that don’t fit the definition of “rabbit food.” When I was motivated and able to keep myself from being sidelined by overeating, the number on the scale kept rolling backward. I was elated.
By January 2010, I was down 40 lbs, into a size 14 in most stores. And then I promptly got stuck in a weight loss rut for more than a year. At the time, I thought it happened because I just stopped trying so hard once it sunk in that my clothes options were much better than they were at 227 lbs, but I can say now that a few other things kept me from moving forward: not documenting my eating, and obviously, overeating.
I would’ve made tons of excuses for why I was overeating, but I can see now that my eating was led by my emotions–either to avoid bad feelings, or to celebrate good ones. Whenever I faced stress, comfort food was the life jacket that kept me from spinning uncontrollably down in a self-made whirlpool of negative emotions. When I had a victory, I celebrated with a lap around the buffet, or from the dining room table to the kitchen and back again a few times.
I want to make clear that I don’t think food is the enemy–as I say in this blog post, I believe good food, and the times that we get to eat with those we love, are blessings. I have just come to realize for myself that food is not the answer to my problems.
I have since found things that act as better solutions to my problems. One is faith. I have embarked on a closer relationship with God. This has given me peace that has lightened my emotional load considerably, and has begun to make me a better person. I still have a lot of work to do, but it feels like I’m on the right track.
The other thing is opening up more about myself. Thank God for writing, because I’m a very introverted person in person, with a lot of social anxieties. I tend to hold in my frustrations and problems, and I tend to avoid relationships, big and small, out of fear–fear of being rejected, of being betrayed, taken advantage of–you name it, I’ve experienced hurt at the hands of others in all of its intangible forms. Isolation and food have historically been my ways to avoid this hurt. It’s tough, because I know there’s a part of me that wants to be extroverted–part of me wants to connect with people, but the scared and hurt part of me is the part that wins out most times. It needs to protect itself, because it’s seen and heard enough from non-supportive people to last a lifetime. Me owning up to my feelings in journaling and contemplation, talking with my husband, and talking with a professional have all helped me to begin to experience others at face value, rather than to use my personal anxieties as tea leaves to divine their feelings about me. I have a lot of work to do in this area in particular, but I see immense value in what I’ve been doing so far, and I intend to keep pushing forward.
To sum things up, I’m an “overweight lifer” who has hit the weight loss jackpot with the help of Weight Watchers. But, I’ve also been a broken person for a long time, for many reasons. Food and fat were the glue that kept me intact. I now know that there are other ways to make myself whole–namely through the love of God and the love of others. With this new foundation of support, I have been moving forward with weight loss. I hit the 45 lbs. down landmark recently, and then I left obesity behind two pounds later. The lowest number I’ve seen on the scale has been 177–50 lbs. lost! As of today, I’m at the 45 lb.-mark again following a rough patch, but a temporary uptick is something I’ve seen before and I’m sure I will put it behind me soon. My ultimate weight loss goal is 165 lbs., which I imagine will put me squarely into a size 10.
Thank you for visiting my site! On Let Them Eat Great, I started blogging about the delicious things I was eating while on Weight Watchers that did not prevent me from losing weight, but more recently, I’ve also started discussing the intersection of eating and emotions, and I discuss issues of weight loss and healthy living that unfold in the news. Please feel free to subscribe to my blog, or to follow me on Twitter (@LetThemeatGreat, focused on the blog and health news or @DCAngah, my personal feed) for updates.