I have not always had an issue with my weight. When I was a kid, I was skinny, lanky, and wouldn't eat. My family worried incessantly, despite the doctor's constant reasurrances that I was completely within the normal range, and that when I got hungry, I would eat (which I did).
But right about the time I hit puberty, life reared its ugly head, and I went into a tailspin. I've been fighting ever since, mainly with my self-image. I always, always believed I was fat, ugly, slow....and so I gravitated toward what I believed I was. I gained weight steadily over the years, stopped taking care of myself and became increasingly sedentary....a self-fulfilling prophecy. For EVER, I thought that I needed to lose 50 pounds....then 75, then 100....and so on. But looking back, it really wasn't all that bad, realistically. As a sophomore in high school, I can remember thinking that I was HUGE, that I would never have a boyfriend...then lo and behold, a boy turned his head and looked at me, and the next thing I knew, I was engaged, despite my elephantine size. The reality? I was 5', 10" tall and weighed 145 pounds....hardly the gargantuan proportions I felt like. Perception is everything.
Time marched on, and my perception ballooned, always one step ahead of my waistline, and sending me into a deeper and more hopeless funk with every pound. There was no help for me, I decided. Every diet failed, every halfhearted exercise plan ended before it got started. I would always be big, and I would always be unhealthy....and I would always, always be miserable. That was life.
Several times over the years, I would try one gimmick or another and manage by some miracle to peel off twenty or thirty pounds....once by illness....but always, I would lose steam and it would come back with a vengeance. I had convinced myself that I would always be fat, ugly and slow.
Critical mass came at the weight of 268 lbs. I was thirty-four years old, miserable with my life, and eating myself to death. Moving back to Atlanta to a more active job saved my life, but only marginally. I hung around the 250+ mark for years after that.
Then I turned 40. And my entire life changed in the blink of an eye when my slim husband died of a massive heart attack at the age of 51.
It's hard to describe the desolation to someone that has never (thankfully) been through that experience. Suffice it to say that in the aftermath, I went a little crazy. Did a few things I'm not proud of, alienated a few people in my life, made some really really bad decisions for almost two years. Then, thank God, I woke up.
I was sitting in bed one day, watching TV with a massive bowl of mac and cheese in my lap, and feeling, as always, really, really guilty. My husband Bill, although outwardly fit, was a mess inwardly, and terribly unhealthy. Because of his ultra picky nature, his eating habits were crap, and he smoked. And I realized that 51 wasn't so very far away, and I was far more unhealthy than he had ever been. I didn't want to die.
Cue the 6 Week Body Makeover infomercial.
This was a plan that I had had my eye on for about five years, because it supposedly was tailored toward the individual, unlike every other plan out there. That day, I made a decision to bite the bullet and order the plan. I figured I had nothing to lose but weight. BUT, since this time I was gonna be laying out actual money for this (which I had never done before, outside of the cost of a can of one gimmick or another here and there), I made a bargain with myself: I would lay out the cash, but I had to stick with it religiously for six weeks....meaning, no matter what it told me to do, I would do it....no backing out.
In the first six weeks, I lost 20 lbs. So I kept going.
Every week, I would step on the scale, and 3 more pounds would be gone. I could take it to the bank. Because I was walking five days a week, and eating very small, but frequent meals, and always the same thing every day, my body responded. And because I was doing resistance training two days a week, my body got curves. At the end of 4 months, I had lost 55 lbs, and I was staring 200 in the face. I will never forget how I felt when I stepped on the scale and saw 199.
I panicked. And then I stopped. Because I could not face who I was becoming. I could not face the girl in the mirror. She was a stranger to me...one I absolutely could not relate to.
In all fairness, it took about two years before I really started gaining the weight back. In the interim, I fell in love and got married to a massively supportive guy.... but I did gain it all back, and then some, eventually topping out at a whopping 281 pounds.
Between the time that I stopped and now, I have tried to restart hundreds of times. I even started running for a while, and managed to run my first 5k, and two 10k's. The feeling was exhilarating, and I am looking forward to getting back into that. But this time, I want to do it for the right reasons. I don't want to do it because someone else wants me to, or expects me to, or because I think they do. I don't want to do it because I'm afraid I will die, but because I want to live. And I want to talk myself through the scary parts when they come, because this time I know they will come, and I will be ready. This blog, I'm hoping will help with that.