Everyone has a story, and this is mine.
I like to think that it's a good one….but good or bad, it's time I shared it.
Gah. Sharing is scary! Exposing yourself and being vulnerable is NOT easy, so I've been putting this one off.
In my defense, though, there's so many other things to do. Posting recipes, washing the dog, cleaning the bathrooms, making a dentist appointment, organizing the pushpins by color…
Right. I'm procrastinating again.
This is the big one, ladies and gents…the one where I spill my guts and share it all. Who I was, who I am now, who I hope to be…and how I'm getting there.
Wait. I think I need to go dust something.
It's probably imperative that I do it RIGHT AWAY.
Alright, then, you win.
With much reluctance and no small amount of trepidation for exposing myself fully…here we go.
It should be noted that my entire family has a love of cooking, and a love of showing love through cooking.
What do we love more than cooking? Well, that would be eating.
Eating a LOT.
Because of that love and what it did to us, we are a family of perpetual dieters. You name it, someone in the family has tried it and largely- ha ha- failed. Surgeries, pills, hypnotism, shakes, candies, bars, meal services, weight loss chains, every diet on every pamphlet and in every book to come down the pike that promises even moderate results with minimal effort.
The problem was that nothing really worked for anyone (other than in the short-term), mostly because we love to find ways to cheat the system. Tell me I can't have it, I'll find a way to do it anyway, to the detriment of my diet (and my health). Tell me what I have to do, and I'll go out of my way to avoid doing it.
As a result…I was the fat kid.
I suppose that if you wanted to be polite, you could say I was ‘sturdy’ when I was younger. 'Big-boned'. 'Big for my age'.
Take a ‘sturdy’ build and add lots of unhealthy foods and little exercise, and baby fat was turned into child fat, and then into adult fat. In 8th grade, I weighed 215 at the start of the year. By high school I had a serious and long-standing love affair with food and a steady weight gain that just wouldn’t stop. When I got my drivers license, I told them I weighed 250; I was definitely over that.
College was the same; I don’t know exact weight, but I remember being a size 26 jeans, 3x shirts. Shortly after college I met my now-husband, and long-ingrained habits of showing love through food (to another lover of food) pushed us both even further into obesity.
We bought a scale a month or so after we were married, and added a Total Gym (you know, the Chuck Norris/Christie Brinkley exercise thingy) and we made lots of plans. Over the next 10 years, countless plans were made, and never followed through on. The lowest my scale has ever read was 320, and that was the weight I was at when we got married.
We had 3 children in the next 5 years, and with each the doctor would write ‘350+’ on the chart from about 15 weeks on, because their scale didn’t go up high enough to register my actual weight. What's a pregnant fatty to do? Why, shrug it away, of course (after all, I was eating for two!) and have a large peanut butter cup blizzard. Luckily, each time after delivery I lost the pregnancy weight- around 60lbs- in 6 weeks and would be back where I started, only to put on a couple more pounds. And then a couple more.
At one point, at my personal best, I lost an additional 40lbs in 2 1/2 months after my 3rd son was born (in addition to the pregnancy weight I lost), following a fairly strict Eat-Less-Move-More mentality. I was so damned proud of myself that Thanksgiving- it was quite a feat for me, and I wanted everyone else to be happy and proud too. Unfortunately, it was also the period of time that my sister-in-law went from a size 14 to a size 10, and her family was tripping all over themselves to comment on how they could see her collarbones and complimenting her hard work. In hindsight I imagine they probably couldn't see the difference in me at that time, but it still left me consoling myself with a double piece of pumpkin pie in the corner, and I subsequently allowed myself to be derailed. I gained all 40lbs back in no time. And then some.
3 years ago, in March of 2010, my scale said I was at 389. That was the last time I was really making an effort at a healthier lifestyle, and managed to lose about 15lbs. Shortly after that my husband lost his job. The stress of that, and the really crappy job he held for the next year, the progressively crappier jobs the year after and the glorious food that comforted me through such troubling times pushed me into size 38 jeans, 5x shirts.
At my largest I weighed a whopping 422 lbs.
Let me say that again.
I weighed 422 lbs.
I battled depression. For several months I refused to go out of the house to family functions where anyone not legally blind would see that I'd put on even more weight. I was embarrassed to walk through the grocery store with my cart full of chips and frozen pizzas and sodas and ice cream and chicken nuggets, and I would often mutter something about a party or explain to the unconcerned cashier (and anyone else in earshot that might be eying my cartload of crap) that we were having people over. On more than one occasion I broke the food up into two separate orders and paid for both, asking for a receipt for all the non healthy stuff with the excuse that it was being bought for someone else.
We had become a family that consumed way too much fast food. We'd never dine in…I would usually go get it, just for the opportunity to have a 'road burger'. You know…where you order your meal with everyone else's (supersized, naturally), and then an extra sandwich or order of fries just for the way home. And then…I was too embarrassed to go through the drive through, so I sacrificed my road burger for being lazy and waiting for my husband to go get our meals. While he was gone, I would usually shove leftovers of some sort- a full meals worth- in my mouth while I waited.
On top of the fast food and my love of cooking heavy/hearty meals, junk food was prevalent in our house. I would go through bags of Hershey kisses with the excuse that I was hormonal and craving chocolate. The kids rarely consumed anything even remotely resembling a vegetable- my youngest abhorred their very existence. Chips, soda, frozen pizzas, donuts were constants in our house. It was common for us to have dinner, then a snack, then a dessert on top of snacking and eating all day.
The amount of food we went through was ridiculous. A loaf of bread would (sometimes) last 2 days- usually it was less. Leftovers were not too common, because we ate so much, and anytime we did have leftovers they were gone within 24 hours- along with other foods. Meal-sized portions of leftovers became snacks. Chris grew up drinking sweetened iced tea. A gallon of tea would have a cup of sugar in it, and often he would dump some more in without measuring- sometimes a whole 'nother quarter-cup or more in one glass. No wonder they didn't like water….
I felt, utterly, like I was out of control, and not having control of myself was spinning my family out of control with me. I had this addiction to food I couldn't break. It didn't matter if I was full to the point of pain, I would be thinking about what I could eat for snack, what I could cook for dinner. I would eat while I spent countless hours on the internet scouring for more recipes. My days revolved around what I was eating next, and what I was going to eat after that, and after that. And after that. Snacks were meal-sized, and meals were huge. Even though we limited the boys to dessert only on Fridays and Saturdays from the time they were small, that wasn't a rule for Chris or I, and we took gross advantage of it on a regular basis, sometimes having another serving of whatever we'd had for dinner as 'dessert'.
My knees were hurting. I developed plantar fasciitis- severe pain in both heels that would, at times, leave me hobbling and clinging to walls, chairs, dressers, and counters for support after sitting for a while. My back began hurting. My feet and hands would swell. Walking was uncomfortable and awkward. I didn't sleep well. My clothes didn't fit. I was embarrassed to be seen in public anymore- I didn't even want to go out with the kids, because I was afraid my boys would be teased for having a fat mom. Remember the 'yo momma so fat…' jokes? "Yo momma so fat she's on both side of the family."
That was me.
|422lbs- who IS this person?|
I was miserable. I’d been frustrated, depressed, tired. I was contemplating weight loss surgery options, then freaking out because the thought of surgery scares the crap out of me. We had no money for me to feasibly consider getting one, regardless. I've never met anyone that the weightloss surgery worked 100% for them long term, and I knew I would end up like my aunt and grandmother- still miserably overweight after a medical procedure, because I hadn't addressed the real issues.
I feared I wouldn’t be able to ever get myself on track and undo all the damage I’d done without something drastic, but I had no idea what that something was. I had over 200lbs to lose, and that seemed an insurmountable obstacle.
I honestly feared being relegated to a wheelchair at some point because I was completely out of control.
Worse, my health ending up being so poor that I would leave my children motherless.
I didn’t want to leave the house, I was embarrassed to even wear shorts in front of my husband and kids just at home. I was hating myself, hating everything I'd done to myself. I had to do SOMETHING, I had to make an effort.
In August of 2011 I started lurking on a weight loss board/forum on a social media site. I gave half-hearted effort to doing more walking/exercising and less eating, a hazy attempt at making better choices in foods, but I was still obsessed with the next time I could reward myself, treat myself, console myself with food, and I made every excuse as to why I shouldn't/couldn't/wouldn't exercise.
I was stuck in a downward spiral. I was making excuses for why my body hurt, for why my clothes didn't fit. I was desperately trying to convince myself that it wasn't because I was fat- mostly because I couldn't admit to myself how bad I had let myself go. I had long ago stopped looking in mirrors and really putting any effort into my appearance. I had very little pride left, and I was quickly losing all sense of self.
And then it all changed.