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November 2012

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And now for my weight story...

Inspired by bjules' post "My Weight Loss Story," I thought I'd post my own. Here goes!

I was a really thin child, but never thought about weight one way or another. Until I turned 8 and hit puberty (oh yes, early bloomer...). Puberty, and the weight that goes with it, on my 8 year-old frame, was painful (physically and mentally) and confusing and made me feel like I really stuck out (which I did, physically!). For an introvert, this was really tough.

Sometime later, I hit my max height (5 foot 5) and max weight of the time (around ~130ish, give or take a few). I was not athletic, but in the summers, I did swim a lot thanks to a backyard pool. Of course, I also snacked more, so that never amounted to much. Anyway, in late grade 9, early grade 10, I got sort of serious about losing weight -- but not really in the right way. I was depressed, and I used that as fuel.

I stopped eating breakfast and lunch was maybe, like, 5 crackers to take the edge off. Then in the evenings, I basically let myself eat whatever I wanted -- except I gave up chips/cheezies/etc. This had a pretty quick effect, and I dropped down to about 120. I felt fantastic. My parents didn't know how little I ate at lunch time, and I was always having second helpings at dinner, so I wasn't starving or anything. But I was hungry a lot, and denying myself food partly out of the depression.

Then I met the guy who would become my first boyfriend. When we started dating, he put his foot down -- I was to eat lunch, damnit! So he started taking me to Tim Hortons. I'd get a bagel, toasted, with plain cream cheese and a medium iced cappuccino (a truckload of calories) and ironically, I actually lost 5 more pounds. I kept this weight for years, actually. I balanced it rather easily -- I'd sort of take mental stock of what "treats" I'd eaten "lately" and decide whether to have that extra after dinner snack or not. I sort of fluctuated throughout the month (water weight and whatnot) between 114 and 118. I was a size 3-5 (I am very curvy; my waist was a 23 or so but my hips/bust were bigger). Looking back, it was kind of great. But I still felt fat (sigh at society).

When this boyfriend left me, I was absolutely heartbroken. I stopped eating almost entirely simply because I was physically in pain (gastrointestinal) from all the emotions. I went down to 108-110 and stopped wearing certain clothes because my collar bones were jutting out. Yuck.

Luckily that didn't last too long (the not eating... the heartbreak lasted awhile). My first year of university, I stayed in the 115-120 range. I was living with two friends from high school. Second year marks the start of my problems. I got closer to the male friend, and started eating what he ate, as we were always together. Slowly, the portion size that felt like "a lot of food" crept up and up... and so did my weight. Before long, I was 125 or so and a size 7ish. Not terrible, but I didn't like the feeling. Then I met the man who would become my fiance.

I went home that summer to get a summer job and he would take me to McDonald's and Burger King twice a day. I put on weight, and fast! I hit 140-145 in no time and freaked out a bit. When I got back to school, I took a bit off, maybe 5 pounds. A few months later, I decided to go on anti-depressants because my periodic dips into depression were affecting those around me. Looking back, I'm not sure if my life was about to spiral down anyway, or if those pills actually fuelled it somehow.

I started working out like crazy and eating very little -- I found out later that Effexor can cause this, and in me, it did. I went down to 135. But the effect didn't last (fortunately, as for some people it can cause full-blown eating disorders). I stopped working out and started eating again and a few months later, had a health crisis I won't go into. Eventually, I left school because I couldn't deal with that health crisis and school. I was miserable, and felt like a failure, and my weight ballooned to 150 or maybe, I suspect, 160-5 but I wasn't weighing myself.

Eventually, and ironically, just as I was starting to feel better and pick up the pieces of my life, that man left me. Well, that made it pretty easy to eat less again as I was once more heartbroken. I got back down to 135.

I was, by this time, getting to know my current partner better. We eventually moved in together, and I maintained the 135-140 weight for awhile, actually. Then I decided it was time to go back to school.

For the first semester back at school, my weight stayed the same, even though my eating habits were different. I was going to Subway every day because I didn't want to deal with making food. But, what I'd buy was pretty much mostly what I was eating the whole day, so the total calories weren't terrible. I was even getting my veggies this way. Then exams set in, and stress, and soon Subway was just what I was eating for lunch. There might be pizza or other things for dinner. I moved up to 150-5.

I finished my 4th year and took a bit of that off in time for grad school. I started grad school around 145. Grad school stressed me through the roof, and I ended up 160 or so. But something else strange happened, which was likely related to my previous (and ongoing) health issues; I started to feel physically ill if I didn't eat every 2 hours or so. So, I started eating more often and increased portions in the hopes of staving off the need to eat again shortly thereafter.

I took some of that off in time to do a summer program, and managed to stay 150-5 throughout that summer. I wasn't eating well at all -- mid-morning "snacks" of cookies from the coffee shop, etc, but I was moving more because I was walking across a new campus all the time, walking and carrying my own groceries, and walking places with my new friends in the evenings.

Then, my final semester of grad school loomed and by then, I was "done" with school. I hadn't had a break in 12 straight months, and it had been intense the whole way, especially that last month. But I had to finish. I forced myself to finish. This, coupled with the "need to eat" and the pain/sickness if I didn't (cravings, weakness, mood swings, nausea, feeling disconnected, lack of focus) meant that I wasn't very productive if I didn't eat all the time, and the stress meant that I was grabbing whatever was easy and eating way, way too much of it. Eventually I was eating, say, a 12 inch sub + cookies + soda at lunch and a full large or extra large pizza (to myself, I hate to admit) for dinner. Yeah. I gained 35 pounds in 3-4 months. I hit 185, and was pretty astonished. But I'd gotten the degree, and figured that was basically the most important thing. The weight loss could come after.

I started Weight Watchers after Christmas and got down to 175. By then, I was tired of dieting (I was basically eating the same foods over and over and over and it was driving me nuts) so I took a break. I maintained the 175 and intended to go back on a diet, but my life as an unemployed post-student was stressful, full of uncertainty and not at all secure. My partner was still in school and I knew my job would take me to another city... if I could even manage to get one. No new diet materialized but, to my credit, neither did a bunch more weight.

I finally landed an unpaid internship for the summer, and moved away to do it (I'm just back from it, so we're nearing the end, here!). I gained the 10 pounds back and hit 185 because although I had people feeding me, I was also living with people who didn't even own a microwave, and my own issues kept me from feeling terribly at home in their kitchen. Whenever I needed food, it ended up being cheese and crackers. Lots of cheese and crackers. That stuff is fattening, and I knew it, but did it anyway. I also still battled (and still do) the "feeling sick if I don't eat often" thing, which definitely didn't help.

So now, I'm getting serious. Sure, I've said that before. And if we do a pattern recognition, this story, in the future, will have another paragraph that goes like this: "And then I started my next internship two days later. For the first week or so, I stayed on the diet, but then the hunger and stress became too much. I was too busy to keep cooking and I got sick of shakes and started going to Subway again, and the weight came back..." -- but I'd like it to read a bit more like my high school triumph (except without the depression!). I'd like to not only not be obese (which, as I found out a couple days ago, I am!) but no longer overweight. And while I'm dreaming big, hitting a vanity weight of 115-125 again would be pretty much the best gift I could give myself. It will be tough. My life is still stressful. It is still changing rapidly and every time I adjust to something, I have to tackle something entirely new again. I don't have awesome food habits or skills. I still have health issues. But I deserve better. I should treat this the way I treat a job or grad school or a relationship. It is really important. It is my health, my happiness. If I can turn this around, I will benefit in a myriad of ways -- I'll be plagued less by inappropriate hunger/cravings/moods, I'll look better, I'll feel better, I'll be fitter, healthier, and my day-to-day life will be better. I can do it, I just have to be tougher, have more perspective, focus on the right things. I need support, and I need to support myself too. Being too permissive has meant that my body is successful every time it lies to me and tells me it "needs" to eat, "needs it now," "needs a lot of it" and that the "it" should be something unhealthy -- "must be," even, to fix that awful feeling.

Because that IS a lie. I'm not going to die if I don't eat every 2 hours. Fruit will fix it, it doesn't have to be pizza. A normal portion will do -- I do not need restaurant portions. Just like a child, my body needs me to set limits and boundaries. Once I do, and it adjusts, in theory, it won't even try those lies anymore, and I'll be free of them in a way that no amount of feeding them could do for me.

This is going to be tough. It is tough every moment. Some days, some hours, some minutes are worse than others. But it will get easier, physically. Then tougher, mentally, I think. I need to rearrange my thinking so that when the initial burst of willpower is gone, the fact that I've put my foot down sticks. I deserve to be healthy, fit, trim, happy. I've accomplished other things for my own good that were tough -- like grad school. This is just as serious, perhaps more so. I am paying for it, just with my wellbeing, rather than loans. I can do this -- and this time, I am really determined to.


Thanks, I'm glad we'll be able to be here for each other!

I am starting at a new internship this week and finding the low calorie diet more challenging. I went on the Subway website and figured out a few 6" sandwich-bread-topping combos that sort of fit the plan and I did that for lunch today instead of a shake. Tonight will still be a great meal though, and I did manage to skip breakfast (though I was really hungry!) so I should come through okay.

Still, it was tough not to get the sides, and if I let myself go there everyday, I think I'll end up regressing. So, tonight I'll clean the kitchen and plan out tomorrow's shake so that it's easier to do better tomorrow!
This was intresting to read! And i defo relate to a lot of the feelings you described. I'm going to have to write on of these for my journal at some point :)

Good luck with your new diet, you can do it. Just remember if you have bad days and fall of the wagon, it's not a big deal you can always get back on it the next day :)
Thanks! I do need to keep that in mind... falling off the wagon doesn't have to equal failing!

I'm also working on balance... like, sometimes if I fall short of my goals, even if it did not blow the diet, I feel like I'm on a slippery slope to failure. I have to learn to be okay with treating myself sometimes and not let that turn into guilt and quitting!

Looking forward to reading your story!