Sunday, August 8, 2010

Traveling Down the Road to FAT

My journey into fatness started in elementary school. I was never the skinny girl, nor was I the fat kid growing up, but a rather "solid" and proportional girl who exceeded the charts in both height and weight.
As I moved into the pre-teen years, I was definitely "soft" and slightly pudgy in my midsection and thighs. Had I taken an interest in athletics or working out, maybe at this point, I could have turned the tide and not turned into the person I am today. In high school, I felt fat and my weight started to climb at the same rate as my self-esteem began to plummet. I was almost 6 foot time by the time I was 15 years old, and I was the same clothing and shoe size as my 45-yr old mother. And I kept growing.

By the time I was in my senior year of high school, I was wearing XL (size 14/16) and a size 10 shoe. My menstrual periods were intense - enough to have me stay home with massive cramping, and vomiting at least once or twice a year. I got on the Pill to control my cycles. I was 180 pounds and felt hideous. Looking back on pictures of that time, I can now see how beautiful I was... for a 30 yr old! I would give anything to look like that again, even with my little "buddha belly" and thick thighs!  I begged my mother to let me try Jenny Craig, and I succeeded in losing 30 pounds DESPITE working at Baskin Robbins at the time. Maybe my next downfall was continuing to work there for 3 more years!

At 25 years old, I was over 6 feet tall, 270 pounds, size 10 1/2 wide shoes, and wearing size 18-20 clothes. Weighing way more than my dad (and most boyfriends!) was embarrassing, to say the least. And my brother... wow, he got the right genes! He was 6'4" and weighed no more than 170 soaking wet. Then again, he couldn't sit still and was heavily involved in sports since kindergarten. He even taught gym classes in his early career. I wanted to get healthy so I joined 24-Hour Fitness and worked out at least 4 times a week. I also walked a lot with a friend, and after 2 months, I lost about 20 pounds. I was excited and looking forward to seeing that scale drop below 200 pounds. Then, I fell down a flight of stairs outside my apartment and shattered my right leg. Ouch. Stuck in a leg cast for 3 months with nothing better to do than watch TV and order in pizza, the weight I just lost crept back on… and brought friends.

I developed sleep apnea... which comes with a rather socially unacceptable fix. Crashing over at a friend's house or going camping with "the group" was out of the question. As I headed faster towards my 30s, I thought I'd never find a man who would accept me the way I looked and the little problems I brought with me. I figured I'd have to be single for the rest of my life or simply never sleep in the presence of another human being. I always told people that I was happy the way I was or that I had more stamina and energy that most people. But, secretly, I was thinking that being labeled the "crazy cat lady" would be better than admitting my fatness was actually inconveniencing me.

I eventually did find my soul mate. One day as we snuggled on his couch while watching an ice hockey game, he became very serious, like he had a confession to tell me. I listened as he told me about his sleep apnea and his “Vader Aider.” I let him go on and on… I could see how uncomfortable he was and it truly endeared my heart to him. After what probably seemed an eternity to him, I looked him straight in the eye and said, “Cool, I have one, too.” Whew, I thought, I will actually be able to marry this guy AND get some sleep without being mortified! Glad to be with someone who made me feel comfortable in my own skin (and someone who didn’t make me feel like a giant!), I rang in my 30th birthday tipping the scale well over 300 pounds.

When my then-boyfriend proposed marriage after a year of dating, I became motivated again to lose weight. I didn’t want to be a fat bride. OK, I was going to be a fat bride anyway because no miracle would have made me lose 150 pounds in 9 months, but I didn’t want my butt to hit the guests in the shoulders as I walked down the aisle. I didn’t want my arms to be in a different zip code than my backside. You get the picture…

My bridesmaid, who was trying to lose some weight before becoming pregnant, joined Weight Watchers and invited me to join her on the journey. I happily accepted. We were brave and started the program right before Halloween and stayed the course over the holidays. We went to our weekly meetings faithfully, followed the plan faithfully, and walked for 2-3 miles at night at least 3 times a week. I cheered her on for three months as she lost a total of 25 pounds. How exciting! I, however, became increasingly depressed in my progress. Not only did I NOT have results similar to my friend, but I actually GAINED 4 pounds by the end of those three months. We both quit in February.

In the end, I actually managed to lose 20 pounds before my 2003 wedding, but that was due to severe food poisoning the month before, rather than any effort of my own! Apparently not eating solid food for 21 days works wonders. :-) Oh, and my bridesmaid? She definitely gained her 25 pounds back by the day of my wedding… after all, she was 8 months pregnant!

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