Friday, July 2, 2010

My Big Fat Saga

My weight problem started when I was just barely a teenager. I think I was in the 7th grade. I got a stomach virus that made it impossible for me to eat more than like a piece of toast with out puking. The doctor said I didn't have mono but that I had "a mono-type virus". I was sick for several weeks, until after school got out for the summer actually. And then I got strep throat and tonsillitis at the same time and a sky high fever. But when I got better I could eat again. My doctor said the fever must have finally killed the virus.

But then eating like a bird (b/c after months of not eating my stomach was TINY) I gained a bunch of weight and ballooned all the way up to a size 12/14. I was very self conscious of my thighs and arms. And I stayed there, mostly, some clothes I would fit into more like a 14/16.  My freshman year of high school I tried one of the low fat diets and wound up gaining 10 pounds. So much for that idea.

Then I started dancing my sophomore year of high school. That was a good year. When I started dancing I actually gained 40 pounds and lost 4 sizes. I was down to a size 10/12 and I felt great. But the weight crept back. By Christmas break of my junior year I was up to a size 16/18 and I hated my self. I was horribly depressed and cried constantly and seriously considered anorexia or bulimia.

That's when my mom said she was trying the Mayo Clinic diet and it was actually working for her. That got my attention because my mom had every bit as hard a time losing weight as I did so I tried it. Between February and May of my junior year I lost 50 pounds on the Mayo Clinic diet. I was a size 10 at 5'8. I weighed 150 pounds, which sounds like a lot, but I had boobs and hips and a TON of lean strong dancers muscle.

My fellow dancers hardly noticed my weight loss (b/c they saw me every day in a leotard) until one day in April, we were watching videos of our dancing from early fall so that we could see the progress we had made and people started doing double takes from the video to me and back again. "Wow! You've lost a lot of weight!" These were not people inclined to hand out praise so I loved it.

I had done a play in fall semester which had required me to wear a skin tight unitard for the entire show, so my theater troop knew exactly what size I was then. But because I couldn't afford all new clothing as the school year wore on I just kept wearing my progressively baggier t-shirts and jeans held on with a belt. Then end of the year formals rolled around and I bought my first formal dress. A figure hugging A-line gown, when I stepped into the room, literally every person turned around and drop jawed. That was one of the greatest nights of my life in terms of kudos. Every single person complimented me. The boys drooled. It was great.

That is the size I want to be. That is the size I dream of being. Its my ideal. The only time in my entire life I have EVER had a person tell me "I would kill to look like you."

I managed to keep the weight off eating normally for my entire senior year. The summer before I started college I gained 10 pounds but I wasn't worried. I'd start school and start dance again and I'd be fine.

The first week of college, Thursday, I looked up to see if the bus that was pulling up in front of my building was the one I wanted. I missed the step and fell the last 3 steps, massively twisting my ankle. It turns out I tore 3 ligaments in that ankle. I spent the next 3 months in physical therapy. I had no transportation, I lived off campus with upper classmen who had other friends, and so I sat on my butt and I felt sorry for my self and I ate. And I gained. The physical therapists said I shouldn't dance anymore. At least not with out an expensive flexible brace that I couldn't afford.

Spring semester dawned and I decided to get back in shape by dancing again. I loved to dance more than anything. And so in the first weeks of class I was on the tennis court behind my apartment building doing a kick warm up. Step left, kick right, step right, kick left, right kick to the side, left kick to the back (theres a turn in there). About half way across the court, I went to turn, pivoting on my left foot and kicking with my right. Except I turned and from the knee down, my left leg didn't. I fell on the knee...

I then spent the next 3 months back in physical therapy. I'd over extended (read permanently shot) my patella ligament, and chipped my knee cap to boot. If I wasn't VERY, very careful my knee would pop out of joint at the slightest provocation. Now my dreams of dancing again well and truly died. I became deeply depressed and food was my security blanket. My freshman 15 was more like my freshman 40. Plus the 10 pounds the summer before school started, I ended my freshman year by breaking the 200 mark.

I also developed adult onset acne and began seeing a dermatologist.

My sophomore year dawned and I moved in with a friend from back home, who as the semester wore on, turned out to be deeply troubled psychologically. The stress was intense. My mother was diagnosed with cancer and began treatment. I was working part time, going to school full time, and going home every single weekend to care for my family. My grades suffered. I destabilized mentally and had to add medication to my existing regiment to restabilize. I depended heavily on my food security blanket. I didn't realize how much weight I was gaining b/c there weren't any scales in our apartment until I would go home to visit my folks and I would step on the scale and be shocked. I'd swear to do better, and fail.

Spring semester saw me in a different housing situation, that unfortunately wasn't much better than the first. Mom was getting better but still delicate. My dermatologist declared she'd tried everything and that my problem must be hormonal and referred me to my gynecologist. I saw the gyno who told me my hormone levels off my ovaries were sure to be high "be cause you're fat" and ran a battery of tests to be sure. My androgen levels were off the charts so she referred me to an endocrinologist. He said that the stress of my first year plus the weight gain had thrown my hormones off. He started me on steroids that made me gain more weight. At least my skin looked better....

I'd signed up for an intermediate swimming class that semester. The beginners class was for people who didn't know how to swim at all and I was a good strong swimmer. I got to the class and discovered I was the ONLY over weight person there. Every body else was super lean swim team types. I was intimidated but delighted that for the most part I could hold my own. But after spring break and the ongoing chant from my parents, I stopped going to class. I didn't even drop the class, or write the professor to explain. I was too ashamed. But I simply couldn't face getting into a swim suit in front of all those people one more time. It was the first time I ever failed a class.

My parents chant that I needed to lose weight, that had started clear back when I gained the first 10 pounds the summer before my freshman year was now a deafening roar. If I needed confirmation that I was over weight, I didn't have to look in the mirror. All I had to do was call or email my parents who would begin by telling me how the entire world would come out sunshine, daisies and puppies if only I lost weight, and I wouldn't eat that if I were you.

I finally snapped and informed my parents that if they ever mentioned weight to me again I would never speak to them again. Thankfully they listened.

I tried various diets but nothing stuck and I'd wind up binging. Every diet I tried only resulted in an additional 5 pounds. I finally decided to aim for not gaining weight. My junior year I was 230 pounds but at least my weight was stable. My housing situation was wonderful, finally. I managed to wean off the steroids and my hormones leveled out. My junior year was amazingly good for me. My darling roommates taught me that "chubby girls get married too" and that "if they're the kind of guy that won't want to date you b/c your a little heavy, they're not the kind of guy you would want to date in the first place". Armed with these revelations I did good. I wasn't at all the size I wanted to be but at least I wasn't gaining.

I went on my mission and gained about 10 pounds. I started having serious problems with my migraines though. And at one point, I discovered my two companions who were on the fluffy side, had both been required to lose weight before being called on a mission. In fact, one said to me "I'm surprised they didn't make you lose weight before they let you come out." I think the Lord protected me on that front. Because if they'd told me I had to lose weight to serve, I would have sobbed my eyes out and never gone. And going on that mission was one of the best things I could ever do in this life or the next.

I got home from my mission, and discovered yoga and working out with my girlfriend Carol. I had a great living situation again, and by doing "intuitive eating" I managed to drop 15 pounds and tone up a fair bit so I got married at 230 pounds and a size 20. Thanks to my curvy shape, and some really great foundation wear I got compliments all around (many people asking just how much weight did I lose) in my wedding dress. I might not have looked exactly how I wanted but at least I looked okay.

I was frustrated because I could eat better than anybody else I knew (ie very very little) and exercise like a mad woman and not hardly make a dent. I'd tell myself the numbers on the scale didn't matter, that what mattered was my health, my clothing size, inches lost etc. But it was frustrating to not watch the weight fall off like my friends did.

More than anything else my sweet husband has taught me to love and accept my body. I definitely do not look the way I want to. But I can't hate myself anymore. I am still beautiful and I am still okay. But I am not healthy. And my joints hurt. So I try to lose weight...

After I got married, I gained 10 pounds. Attempted to diet, lost the 10 pounds, and then rebounded back 10 pounds plus 10 more. 250. Then the migraines went super nova. I wound up nearly bed ridden with 1-5 migraines per week. This went on for a couple months until I broke down and saw an neurologist and slowly but surely we started to bring my migraines back under control.

But I steadily gained weight. I wasn't working out. I was cooking because I loved food. And every time I'd try to go Mayo Clinic again I'd wind up with an extra 10 pounds.... My husbands sweet tooth was contagious and my in laws with their massive food fest family gatherings and tons of take home leftovers didn't help. I'd get depressed and sugar binge. Hate that I'd done that, starve myself, eat a salad, sugar binge again.

I did that all the way up to 275 pounds. And then I got pregnant and I magically lost 40 pounds with out even trying. In fact I was even bad! My doctor was shocked and did lots of extra ultrasounds to make sure the baby was growing okay. He was just fine. In fact, he was on the big side. It was determined that my natural metabolism really did suck that bad. It was depressing. I was terrified to have the baby. I knew that I would rebound because thats what I do. I lose anything, and it comes back and it brings friends. The best I could hope for was that I might maintain the lost post baby.

One month post baby I was back down to 235 pounds. I looked amazing. I could fit into clothes I hadn't worn in years. It was great.

And then I had to increase my food intake to try to increase my milk supply. And my migraines destabilized b/c of the crappy sleep post baby and the hormone changes. A few other high stress things in my life happened and I reached for my security blanket. Food. Chocolate. Sugar. Cake. Ice cream. Brownies. Ya know there is nothing in this world like gaining 10 pounds to depress you and make you want to eat a whole pan of brownies.

And so here I am 285 pounds. The largest I have ever been at any point in my entire life. The most I can say is that I seem to have stabilized again here. In spite of my loving and supportive husband I've had a few moments of incredibly dark depression. At one point I gave up all hope of ever losing weight. I thought for a while that getting the lap band surgery was the answer. The only way I could eat until I was full and not eat too much for my horrible metabolism.

But I know several people who have had bariatric surgery. And yes one or two of them the difference has been stunning. But most of them... they lose some yes. But then it comes back. They're not AS big but they're definitely not small. Definitely not small enough to justify such a risky surgery.

I know several people who have lost a ton by counting calories. I started eye balling what I eat. I'm actually not to bad on the calorie count, but the massive sugar cravings are what kill me. I'd have to give up the chocolate. And I'm not there yet mentally and emotionally.

And so I'd given up hope. I'm terrified to diet because one more diet is whats going to send me over the 300 mark. And I think I might just die of depression if I cross that 300 mark. I will sob buckets and buckets of tears if I do. As I watched the scale creep back up, I'd set limits, okay if it hits this number that it. I'm going to go do x diet. I'll join weight watchers or do the protein thing or become an anxorexic. Anything. And yet I don't dare. I've done all of those. And every one of them the result has been the same. Regardless of the weight loss, I wind up with a net gain of 10 pounds. Every single time.

And so hopeless and depressed I've watched the scale climb. Too scared to even try anything to stop it and haunted by the fear I'm going to wind up so wide they'll have to bury me in a square box.

Scared that this isn't a way to live. Its a way to die. And young. There are not fat old people.

I'm larger than my mother and my sister. A lot larger. They both look GREAT compared to me and they're not little people.

My husband has gained weight and I feel like its my fault. I'm a bad influence. Every body else in his family is skinny so clearly the fault is mine.... I know thats stupid but its how I feel.

And then I read this article on the The author is Christine Avanti, she's a nutritionist, and I like how she talks. She makes sense. She's funny. It strikes a chord. I see she has a book. The title makes me laugh. "Skinny Chicks Don't Eat Salads". I go to I look up the book and read the exerpts. I laugh at her style. Her thoughts and her story are almost word for word my own (even if she was no where near as big). I'm amazed and decide to buy the book. I like the way she thinks. I'd like to hear more.

For the next month or two every time I'm in a store and I happen to think about it, I look for the book, but no luck. Then I'm in a Barnes and Noble and I snag my own shiny new copy. The first several chapters get devoured.

Its a revelation with every page. I'm excited. I'm shocked. If what she's saying is true I know exactly what I've been doing wrong.

Then suddenly I stop reading the book. In fact I actively avoid the book for several days. What the heck is my problem?

Then it clicks, I'm scared to hope. I gave up hope, it died and it was a painful death. I don't want to go through that again.

So I bury the book for a week until I finally talk to my husband and admit what I'm doing. He gives me the pep talk I need and I start reading again.

I am now 3/4 of the way through the book. I'm in the big section of recipes that comprises the rest of the book, save the appendix. She has answered every single question. She's logical. She uses GOOD solid science. She takes the psychology of the average female into account. Mentally I am confident that what she says can and will work for me.

Emotionally I am terrified out of my freaking mind. I'm binge eating scared. I bought mini chocolate covered donuts AND cookies at the store and I have hidey holed them and am munching on them steadily through out the day scared.

I'm crying scared. And yet I think I wanna try it.

I just.... if this doesn't work.... its gonna be the thing that pushes me over that 300 and if that happens... I'm going to die.

Fear is the opposite of faith. So right now I've got to give this to God. I'm going to binge on my donuts and pray about it. If He says its okay I'm going to go for it. I'm going to go both barrels and jump on this thing like its the last nut on earth.

But right this moment, I'm scared. And I'm mourning. I'm mourning the temporary reduction in french fries and hamburgers and cookies and cake and ice cream. I will not give those up entirely. But I'm going to have to cut way back. I'm going to have to change. And thats always uncomfortable, at least initially.

If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always got. What I've been doing has got me 285 pounds of pain and misery. I want to be healthy. I don't want it to hurt every fricking time I move. I want to run and play with my baby and not be so fricking tired all the time.

The definition of insanity is repeating the same behavior over and over expecting different results.

What I have is not a way to live, what I have is a way to die. I need a way to live and I think this is it.

Now I just need the courage to try...

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