I’ve been waiting for the right time to write this post, because I know it’s not going to be an easy one to write. It’s the one thing I don’t like to talk about, even though lately it’s all I’m able to think about. So, I hope that those who read this understand the courage it is taking me to put this in to words.
Maybe it’s because it’s the first of the month that I’ve gathered this new-found courage. Or because a new season is upon us. Or maybe, and most likely, it’s because I cried this morning as I laid on my bed in exhaustion from trying to button the pants that had fit me fine just a few months before… feeling disgusted and defeated.
I have been battling with my weight my entire life. I’ve hated (and I REALLY mean hate) anything green since before I could walk and I guess my parents thought I would eventually grow out of it and learn to embrace healthy foods on my own. I began dancing at the age of seven and was considered average size. But as I grew older, and the slumber parties full of pizza and cookies grew more frequent, even dancing four days a week couldn’t keep the pounds from finding me.
My mom has always been thin and fit. I would see her face drop every time I had to shop for a bigger size of jeans when we visited the store. While her intentions were completely innocent and derived from genuine concern about potential health issues, all I could hear when she’d talk to me about my weight was, “You’re fat.”
It wasn’t until I moved to Pennsylvania and started high school when the bullying really started. I’d walk around school all day, trying to suck in my stomach so that people would think I was thin. I’d wear camisoles under everything in order to hold in my tummy from poking over my jeans. But none of it mattered. People would talk about how disgusting I was. My own “friends” would laugh at me behind my back.
I’ll never forget the day that a kid in my math class nicknamed me “Jabba the Hutt.”
I had no idea what he was referring to at the time (I’ll admit…I’m not a big Star Wars fan.) So I went home later that day and googled it. As I sat there, looking at pictures of this greenish-brown gigantic blob, I cried so hard that I made myself sick. The next day I was told there was a rumor going around that I was pregnant. After getting out a good cry in the bathroom stall, I decided enough was enough. I was not going to be the fat girl anymore. I was not going to allow myself to be the punchline for everyone’s jokes.
So I signed up for a fitness & wellness class and worked out in the school gym three times a week. While I was losing a few pounds here and there, I wanted faster results. And while I tried to eat salads and vegetables, they tasted so revolting to me that I decided I’d be better off not eating at all. And that’s exactly what I did.
I began limiting myself to 600-800 calories a day and would burn off anywhere from 800 – 1000. I ate toast for dinner. Sometimes, I’d spring for a low-fat yogurt with a few pieces of fruit. I ignored how angry my stomach was as it would growl at me all hours of the day. I’d push my way through the faintness I’d feel from the intense mental fog I was experiencing. I wanted to be thin and beautiful like everyone else around me.
The weight began dropping off like crazy. 10 pounds quickly became 20 which eventually turned in to 30. At my heaviest, I was 225 pounds. By the time I graduated high school, I was down to 150. People were nice to me that weren’t before. I was getting attention from everyone around me, telling me how great I looked. But even though I was several sizes smaller, I still felt incredibly ugly on the inside.
When I went off to college, temptation was around me everywhere at all times. My new friends wanted to go out to eat all of the time, and let’s be honest… college cafeterias don’t always make it easy to eat healthy when you’re surrounded by pizza and French fries. So the “freshman 15” became my “freshman 30” and I was back up to 180 pounds. (It’s easy to gain a lot of weight when you go from starving yourself every day to munching on carbs at all hours). I wanted to be thin and beautiful again so I went back to doing what I knew best. Working out excessively and starving myself.
And what do you know? It worked again. And this time I was down to 145. My family told me I looked sick. I wasn’t being told I was pretty anymore. My friends asked if I was okay. I put Mike through absolute hell because he’d try to take me out for a romantic date and I’d push the food around on my plate, terrified that if I took a single bite, I’d blow back up to 200 pounds again. So I’d drink water, and chew on ice cubes, and pray that one day I would be able to figure out how to be thin AND happy.
After several exhausting fights with Mike and my friends and family, I slowly began to eat again. When Mike and I moved in together, we’d cook each other meals every night. Sometimes, on weekends, we’d enjoy movie nights with pizza and chips. I had become comfortable enough in my own skin to realize he was going to love me regardless of whatever size I was.
Unfortunately, the past three years have been very stressful for me. I was so incredibly busy I no longer had the time to go to the gym like I used to and it didn’t help that my new apartment didn’t have a gym in the basement like my dorm did. Long days and late nights full of meetings and studying for tests resulted in me making cheap, easy, unhealthy meals.
While I have been too afraid to step on the scale for the last several months, because I am terrified to see how much I have gained yet AGAIN, I know I am no longer comfortable in my own skin, and that is sign enough that it’s time to do something about it. My jeans don’t fit anymore. My shirts are way too snug. I avoid mirrors at all costs. I can’t remember the last time I actually felt beautiful.
I refuse to go down that all too familiar road again, full of three-a-day workouts and barely living off of 500 calories a day. Two times now I have lost large amounts of weight, only to eventually gain it all back and return to my state of self-loathing.
This time I’m doing it right. I’m not taking any shortcuts. This won’t be some diet or fad. I’m making a lifestyle change. I’m going to try new healthy foods and teach myself how to like them. I’m going to find ways to stay fit that I actually enjoy, like dancing or kickboxing. I’m going to take control of my life for the first time because I do not want to continue to be a victim to my own weaknesses and insecurities.
It starts today. It starts now.
This blog is a promise to myself that I can do it…and that I will do it. Every Monday I will update you on the progress I’m making on my journey to becoming the best version of me that I can possibly be.
I’d appreciate any tips, advice or words of encouragement you’d like to share along the way! Thank you in advance for your support.