…and I’m Still Going…because this is more than my story. But this is my story.
Pictures are powerful truth tellers. The frequency with which we take our own pictures these days is incredible.
Mobile technology, web cams, and digital cameras have made it easy to primp, pose, and snap – hundreds of times until we get just that right angle, lighting (heck that doesn’t matter that much if you can use an app or software to edit the picture), and expression. We make ourselves pouty, amused, mysterious, and innocent.
But the fatter you get, the harder it is to find that angle. And the fatter you get, the harder it is to hide when someone else is snapping the pictures.
I’m not new to the ups and downs of weight loss. My trouble didn’t start in early childhood. I was not a child of fast food, restaurant dining, or permissive parenting. My mom didn’t allow sugary cereal, but did allow pop. She didn’t allow candy or regular ice cream. She cooked healthy meals, showed her kids how to cook healthy meals, and didn’t overload the house with junk food.
But I was industrious, a picky eater, and shy. After moving from Kansas to Alabama to Georgia to Oregon to Missouri within the first 6 years of my life and attending as many schools by 2nd grade, I wasn’t very good at attaching to people and places. As a natural introvert, it was easy for me to withdraw into solitary activities indoors: reading (oh books how I love you!), television, and eating. I hoarded and gorged on treats whenever they were available. Maybe it was a combination of being a picky eater, not knowing how to express myself, and well, I don’t have a third. It was probably simply that. Sweets and fatty foods made me feel good. I ate too much of things that are perfectly fine and healthy – in moderation. I’d say a good 10 lbs of the fat I put on in my double digit years was from cheese. If there was a candy selling fundraiser at school I ate the product…covertly. Shamefully.
After attempting an all girls Catholic high school for I don’t know what reason, something in me broke. I couldn’t take the adjustment. I couldn’t do “new” again. I was a sophomore and cliques were already in place. I was already overweight and to top it off, I’d cut off my hair that summer so I probably looked like a lesbian. (no offense) I transferred back to my old school and after a few months, I confronted my weight by joining Weight Watchers. I started eating healthier portions and thinking about nutrition. I started exercising. I lost 26 lbs in a summer and went to registration feeling like a new person. High school was finally going be like it was on TV and the movies.
I was wrong.
I was still awkward. I was still me. I was just thinner. And hungrier.
Late that year (ahh 1997 I do not miss ye) I deflated and ballooned and landed in a terrible, life altering depression. As a perfectionist and nerd, I always did well in school. Sure, I procrastinated (because I could) but I still cared to get the work done. My junior and senior years of high school were very different. I routinely fell asleep in class. I didn’t do assignments or papers and I failed tests. I ate nothing but sugar and junk all day. In short, I was an adolescent mess.
Life was totally NOT like television. Also, stalking boys you like who don’t like you? Totally not as cool as it was in Felicity. Very different results.
So, by the time I turned 18 I was really pretty. But college really changed things: I got to start using alcohol to feel better and be more social. I gained more weight. Then I lost some. Then I gained some.
And then I graduated. Oh the Five Year Plan. I got an extra one just for all the Captain Morgan, well rum, and Busch Light I consumed. But I was finally learning how to be social.
Home from college, newly minted as a qualified adult, I started job searching (and I got a cat!) I was so big by now that I didn’t have a lot of clothes, let alone interview clothes. I felt like an old lady as I donned by “nice” outfit for interviews. And then one night while I was eating M&Ms on the loveseat I realized I had to change.
I joined the North Kansas City Community Center with a friend. She’d also struggled with her weight and was seeing success. As a perfectionist I’m also somewhat competitive. If she could do it, so could I! Slowly, I started exercising. I noticed changes in my legs. But I wasn’t losing weight. I had to start eating differently. No more Junior Mints and M&Ms.
All-in-all, I lost about 70lbs. I went from a size 24 to a size 14. Sadly, very few pictures exist of this achievement. Except for some stupid webcam pictures and these weird pictures of my legs in cheap, strappy shoes. And a close-up of my face.
Anyhow, life happened. I got a full-time job. I got friends. I got lots of drunk. And I ate, became a workaholic, and stopped exercising. I devoted myself to my job. I was going to be a career woman! Love wasn’t happening, so why not? Why not establish myself as a strong, intelligent, independent woman? See also: perfectionist, over-achiever.
I gained the weight back. Bit by bit. Bad habit, by bad habit. And then suddenly I was the age I thought I’d be when I got married and had a baby. How had that happened? How could I still be fat and single at 28? Oh by God that was practically 30 and oh dear God my chances were going to be even lower. And I still couldn’t even talk to cute boys. What about my eggs? What about that thing called actually having a life? I’d somehow put aside all of the goals I had for myself. All of the things I hold truest in my heart. And I tried exercising. And I got hurt and depressed and stressed.
And then I was turning 30 in an airport on the way to see the most warped client ever. I wasn’t with family and friends. I wasn’t celebrating. I was in a chain bar and grill in Florida – with co-workers. And then I was truly desperate.
At that point, I’d already been writing on this blog, chronically my feelings and actions. I pursued lap-band surgery, but it felt like quitting.
And so now at 31, the last year and 4 months I’ve been trying. I think about what I put in my mouth. I drink water. I don’t drink a lot of alcohol. I exercise. I try. A lot. And sometimes I want to quit – I want to lie in bed. I want to not have to think about “is there enough protein, can I pronounce the ingredients, are there enough vegetables?”
But here I am in June 2010 when I proclaimed June to be a Fat Month:
And here I am the next month (July 2010), trying to learn how not to be afraid of something:
My top weight (that I even know of) at that time was 252 pounds. I was wearing a size 22. I am 5’3″ and some change with a medium build. I am about 100 lbs overweight. Technically obese. Never able to find clothes that make me feel good. Chores are hard to do – especially if there are stairs involved. I’m tired a lot. I’m sad a lot. I’ve lost hope that I will have a normal life.
And here I am last week. The dress is an XL from Target. I wear a size 16 right now. I weigh 205 lbs. (lost a couple extra last week thanks to my awesome stomach!)
And here I am tonight, with no make-up in my pajamas and excited to see that I’m starting to have more of an hourglass figure. God help me I might just reach my goals. (And I’ve stayed up entirely too late writing this which will make my 5am wake-up and 6:15am workout extra fun.)
Thanks for reading this long post (or just scanning the pictures.) For more pictures of me from fat to fatter to fattest to less fat and less fatter check my Progress and Pictures page. It’s taken a lot for me to feel like I could share these pictures and these thoughts and feelings with the Internet. But it’s not just the Internet: it’s people I’ve worked with, gone to school with, grown up with. Family, friends, coworkers, acquaintances – this place is about finding a way to express who I am because sometimes I’m just that awkward girl over there who can craft a good one-liner and who likes animals too much. But I’m so much more. (and so much less.)