I didn’t need that red needle coming to rest on the thick black 250 to tell me I had a problem. My thighs chafed when I walked longer than 15 minutes, my knees cracked and my lungs burned from walking up short flights of stairs. I had to purchase men’s jeans in order for them to fit comfortably. I wore 42DDD bras and I would have rather licked botulism than hop on a scale.
Eventually there came a day when I decided that it was time to get my life and myself back. No matter how many years I’d spent as an “overweight” adult, I never felt comfortable with that title. I always thought of myself as active. I would even tell people I didn’t eat much in order to dispel any misconceptions regarding HOW I got as big as I was. I realized that in order for me to lose weight and become healthy, I would have to find out exactly how much damage I had done to myself over the years. With heart pounding and eyes squinting, I stepped on the scale and confirmed what I had already suspected. I wasn’t just overweight. I was morbidly obese.
Since I began my weight loss journey, I’ve given a great deal of thought to what may have caused my obesity. But in truth, it was probably a combination of things. As a child, I believed friends who had pantries stocked with cookies, candies and sugary cereals to be rich. In my teens, when I did begin to care about my weight, I would remedy perceived love handles by not eating. As a young adult, I ate junk foods because I was too lazy to cook. In my mid 20’s, I was ratcheted up the ranks of my company to a management position, complete with expense account. I was expected to wine and dine clients weekly; a chore that I completed without complaint. And finally, in my late 20’s I suffered from what I now believe to be undiagnosed depression.
You’re probably thinking: How could she not know she was depressed? I didn’t know, because I didn’t have any of the symptoms that I associated with depression. I didn’t lie in my bed and hide from the world. I wasn’t particularly sad or angry. I got up every morning, got dressed, went to work and sometimes even managed a legitimate smile. Oh, and I ate.
I ate as much as my boyfriend at the time and neither of us thought anything of it. When that relationship ended we were both bigger people for the experience. As my weight grew, a problem I can trace back to early childhood began to develop like an ill formed twin. My problem was negative thinking. I would often think and say things about myself that would bring tears to my eyes. Words such as “stupid” and “fat cow” come to mind as I type this, but these are probably the least abusive of what I thought of myself. Food became a panacea—a salve for hurts that I inflicted on myself.
Success comes at a price, isn’t that what the old adage says? The price I paid in order to get to a healthy weight was accepting the responsibility that I was solely to blame for my condition. I had mentally and physically abused my body by giving it foods that were not nutritious, and refusing to listen to it when it complained of its poor treatment. I will carry the scars of that abuse in the form of stretch marks over newly formed abs for as long as I live. They (stretch marks) will forever be reminders, should I ever forget how far I’ve come.
At first glance you might think that my success is simply that I’ve lost over 100 pounds and am no longer obese or even overweight according to most doctors charts. But that is only half my story. Immediately after reading Dr Atkins’ New Diet Revolution, I remember knowing with absolute certainty that one day I would be in a size 10 again. That was one of the few positive thoughts I’d had in years and I held on to it as if it were a life preserver throughout my journey.
I currently weigh 144.8 pounds and wear a size 8 woman’s and a 30 in men’s jeans. But even that small victory is not why I consider myself successful. I consider myself successful because I was kind to myself. For 19 months I looked at myself in the mirror and said “good going sweetie.” I congratulated myself when I passed on the movie popcorn (my favorite) and I rubbed the back of my own neck after I worked out particularly hard. I told myself ”soon” when I’d try on a new pair of jeans that still didn’t quit fit , and I told myself that tomorrow was another day when I ate too much. I stopped being afraid of food and I embraced it for its ability, when used properly, to make me feel healthy. I became my own best friend and trusted confidant. I learned to love Gabrielle…and in the midst of all that loving of me… I lost 105 pounds. Go figure.