I have sat down and wrote this about me many times. Why? I don’t know, over the last 13 years I have written it so many times I almost have it memorized. I always think back to that girl in second grade and if I could talk to her now I would tell her “you are not fat!”
Yes, you read that right my eating issues started back in second grade. There wasn’t a particular event that triggered it. No one called me fat; no one made fun of me. What I do remember was my best friend. She was a small petite girl (still is). I just remember standing next to her and being bigger then her. I was taller than her, but in a second graders mind that meant I was bigger and I must have been fatter. This was far from the truth because as an adult I see pictures of myself back then and I was a skinny kid all legs. But from that moment on I wouldn’t share clothes with friends because I was worried they wouldn’t fit. I would be worried about playing in things like tunnels because I didn’t want to get stuck.
Fast forward to about 7th grade, I still had those view of being fat. I also got braces that year which added to my self confidence issues. I was never an ugly person. I never got made fun of, I was actually pretty popular. So with the braces I ended up not eating lunch at school because I didn’t want to get food stuck in my teeth. I didn’t have time to brush afterward before class. So I didn’t eat lunch…I also didn’t eat breakfast. I was also in Basketball and when I wasn’t practicing or playing games, I was exercising. Riding my bike 6 miles at a time, step aerobics, any kind of cardio I could think of...again I don’t really know why. I wouldn’t say I intentionally had an eating disorder because I wasn’t trying to starve. I didn’t eat for the reasons I explained and I exercised because I liked it.
I also remember during that time period I was very tired. I slept all the time. Looking back now it was clearly because I was starving. I was burning all these calories and not taking enough in. My neck was thinner then my forearm is now. Yet no one said anything. I would say it was mostly due to being naïve. I was naïve about the situation...I didn’t know anything about calories and exercise or how they worked and it would be YEARS before I fully understood the concept of your body needs a certain number of calories to function. To just breathe, pump blood, run your nervous system you need a base number of calories...this would be why when people starve their bodies shut down I suppose.
I didn’t know it then but that naïve teenager set herself up for years of weight gain, weight loss, emotional eating, bingeing, slow metabolism and sometimes I honestly felt like I just wanted to give up and be fat forever.
My attempts at weight loss in the past were let us be honest here; they were half-assed. In the beginning it was because I just didn’t have the knowledge to make good decisions. If there was a new diet I was on it because it promised me that which I wanted most….to be thin.
Over the course of the years I educated myself on calories, proper nutrition and exercise. I learned the correct ways to lose weight. I learned that there is no quick way to lose weight. I learned that this is not a sprint where I can do well for a week and see results the next day. It is a marathon where I need to constantly be taking steps in the right direction and eventually my efforts will pay off.
Of course knowing what I need to do and actually doing it are two different things. Even when I had all this knowledge I couldn’t maintain my motivation for any length of time because like everyone else I wanted instant gratification. If I ate well and exercised I wanted to see the results immediately. This mind set got me to start and stop my healthy lifestyle more than I can count. It also helped me gain 100lbs. Yes that is right I went from being a very active child and teenager to a 100lb over weight adult. This has been my life for the last 13 years.
It seemed like I was always starting, always trying again, always waiting until Monday to start. Even with all the knowledge I had I still made bad food choices; I also chose not to workout. I was full of excuses of why I couldn’t stick with it. Why I would never lose weight, why it was impossible that something was wrong with me. I even put off major things in my life because of my weight; .I put off having a child, I put off getting a degree in my dream field because who would take me serious if I was fat. I even worked at Curves for a while helping other people reach their fitness goals…yet I could never reach mine. I always wondered if my before pictures would ever have after pictures next to them. If people would ever say this is Stephanie she lost 100 lbs doesn’t she look great, or if I would be someone’s motivation.
Somewhere in the last 13 years I became an emotional eater. At one point I begged my husband to help me. I said please help me, help me stop. At this point I would find myself just binge eating all night long. When I begged him he looked at me and said he had no idea I was eating that much…I had been sneaky about it. Emotional eating was very hard to overcome and still is a huge battle for me. Let me tell you on a day that is extra hard I want nothing more than to just bury my head in the cupboard and eat everything in there. But I don’t, I’ve found other things to do. When I am stressed I workout, I browse the internet for fitness information and drink a warm cup of tea. Since I have a 10 month old sometimes I tell my husband to watch him and I lock myself in the bathroom and take a long warm bath. Bottom line I stay away from food. It takes practice to recognize when emotional eating is happening. I have figured that out with myself and each person has to figure it out for themselves…no one can do it for you.
Not only am I an emotional eater but I LOVE food. I have a serious addiction to food. I love tasting new dishes and eating things that I have had a million times because they taste good. So I had to change the things that I love. I have picked healthy foods to love. I am a firm believer that everything should be in moderation. Food should NOT be the enemy, extremely limiting food groups is a huge disaster because for me if I tell myself I can NEVER, ever, ever have chocolate again…then I am going to really want it and drive myself bonkers until I have it. Rather if I feel like having chocolate I have it. I don’t have it every day and I pick small sizes. Same with anything I eat that can’t be revamped into a healthy alternative. I realize this is a tricky thing to accomplish it took me many years to be able to indulge in certain foods and not completely go ballistic and eat huge portions.
Today I have dropped the excuses and about 30lbs. I have a LONG way to go, clearly. My mindset has changed. In the last two years I went through one of the darkest, most depressing times of my life. There was a death of a very close family member and loss of everything jobs, homes everything, the economy was not good to my family. But in that two years I learned something, no matter how horrible the situation there is a point when it turns around. I could sit and let my life pass me by; be the fat mom, the fat wife and never be happy. Or I could stop with the pity party and get my butt in gear. When I found out I was pregnant it was then that I knew for certain I would change. I never, ever want my kids to worry about being fat or overweight. Or get picked on for having a fat mom. I wanted to play with them and enjoy life with them. I need to be their example. Even though the tough times kept coming and still keep coming I just know that I can’t let my life stop because of them. Sometimes I feel like that character in the movie in the bullet proof vest that is getting pounded with bullets yet they still stand and push forward. This is my new mantra, just keep going. I can’t sit and wallow in it and feel bad. I let myself have those emotions but I have them when I am sweating my butt off working out.
I am nowhere near my goal. I don’t think I will be there anytime soon and I am finally okay with that. I keep going; every step I take in the right direction is a step toward my goal. I know it won’t happen overnight and it won’t be quick but this is my life and I am changing my lifestyle for the long run.
Here is to being healthy for the future.