Category Archives: The past

Subtle words

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In November I was at my mother’s for Thanksgiving. Someone commented on my weight loss and I replied, “Thanks! I’m almost down the the size I was in high school.” I was so proud of myself.

Then my mother did a double take and said, “You didn’t seem that big in high school.”

Subtle words, but they packed a punch. See, I was this same size freshman year of high school. I was the same weight. I wore the same exact size jeans. I wore the same shirts. I was this exact size. My mother and other family members made comments about my weight back then. Not positive comments, like I’m getting these days. No, these were always about how I could stand to lose a few pounds, how I was going to eat them out of house and home, how I love food… so much teasing and bullying over my size.

I do love food. But I also love myself now, and back then I didn’t. Back then I hated that girl in the mirror. I hated her pudgy belly, her large thighs, her chubby cheeks. I hated the way she had to buy plus clothes, how she’d never be as small as her sister or mother. I thought I was much larger than I was. Much larger. I thought I was uglier. I thought that I needed fixed, as if I were somehow broken.

My mental state lead me to do myself harm as I started eating less and less food. And then all I heard was praise. I was beautiful. I was gorgeous. I was pretty. I was sexy. I looked awesome. I would look perfect if I lost 10 more pounds (well I guess it couldn’t all be praise, now could it?)

So, no, my mother doesn’t remember me being “this big” in high school. Probably because she chose to forget the first 3 years and focus solely on my last year- when I was mildly anorexic. The year when I was the thinnest.

This big. This big. I’ve lost 75lbs, but I’m still “this big” to her. Some things never change. It’s a good thing that my weight loss is for me and my health this time, that I’m in a good place, that I recognize her words for what they are: projections of her own body image issues onto me.

I only paused a moment before I repeated that I was this same size, and switched the conversation. They were such subtle words, but what a weight to them.

Changes-

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There are some things about my weight loss that continue to surprise me. My neck, for instance. When I was at my biggest, my neck wasn’t as noticeable. It was chunky, I had a double chin, and necklaces didn’t fit very well. Some, not at all. I think that’s the biggest change I notice on a daily basis- I have a neck now. Now, I know I had a neck before. Duh. But it wasn’t noticeable. I feel my physique was more snowmanesque. I had a round head, plopped onto a round body.

There are other noticeable changes aside from my waist/hips though. They’re subtle changes that might not seem like a lot, but they empower me to keep going. Most of my rings don’t fit anymore. My bracelets are looser. Old clothes that were once too tight to wear, are now incredibly loose all over.

I had necklaces that were too tight. My neck was 18-19 inches (probably more, to be honest) at my biggest. I seriously had necklaces I used to wear all the time, and I couldn’t even clasp them anymore. Now, a lot of my necklaces hang much lower than I remember. They have a lot more slack overall.

My engagement ring was a size 9 when I got it (I have big fingers anyway, okay?). As I gained weight, I had to get the size adjusted. Then I stopped wearing it altogether- partly because it kept getting caught on crap, but partly because it was too tight and I didn’t want to get it adjusted again. Now, it’s too loose for me to wear. My wedding ring placeholder (we didn’t have a ring ceremony- so we bought cheap ring placeholders.) was flying off my finger, literally, so I had to downsize to another ring. Most of the rings I own don’t fit properly anymore. And while I guffawed a little about having to adjust my rings again, or about having to buy new ones at some point, I’m actually quite pleased with myself!

For Mother’s Day this year, my husband bought me a bracelet. It was gorgeous, and I loved it, but I couldn’t wear it. My wrist was too big! We could have gotten it added to in order to increase the length, but that would have cost more than the bracelet did originally (which was ridiculous). So I said, “You know, I’m working on weight loss right now- let’s see how it goes, and maybe it’ll fit in a couple months.” And don’t you know, about 4 months (and 20 lbs) later I was able to wear it. It was a little tight then, but it fits comfortably now.

I didn’t see these changes overnight. Or the first month. Or the first couple of months even. But eventually I started to see these changes. Sometimes it feels like it’s taking forever to see progress, but one day you wake up and you can finally see the changes everyone else does.

I love noticing these little things. I know that most people probably don’t notice them as much as me. That they might not seem as significant to some. But to me, it’s the little things that mean the most. It reminds me that I am succeeding. I can do this. I’ve been working hard for almost 13 months now, and it’s showing.

Meeting another mini-goal

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The next mini-goal I was striving for was 180 lbs. Back when I was 15 I started having major weight issues, both from my depression 227 to 179and from my PCOS kicking in hard core. I blew up over the span of a year, got horrible stretch marks, and my weight spiraled out of control. It was also at 180lbs that I became anorexic.

Looking at the photos I took today, wearing the same size of jeans I wore back then, I don’t understand how I could have thought I was so large. I know people were making fun of me for my weight, my family made comments about putting me on a diet or not letting me do things because I was too big, but I don’t think I’m that big.

I know I have weight to lose, and I’m going to keep going, but I’m a lot healthier and I feel pretty good.

Pants- size 24 December 8, 2012This morning I made that mini-goal. The scale said 179.2 lbs; which means that I’m down 70.8 lbs. I only have 29.2 lbs left to go.

This photo is me in the pants I started out in, a size 24. I’m in a size 16 now. I feel pretty good. I’ll confess, whenever I’m feeling down about my weight loss I try these pants on to reaffirm for myself that I’m doing well.

On another note, I went pants shopping today. I have to say it was amazing to be able to go to shop in the regular jean section, rather than the plus size area.

It’s been over 7 years since I could do that.

Two Years Ago

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Two years ago I was depressed. Horribly depressed. I was a downright mess. I’d just spent three and a half years going through infertility and recurrent miscarriages, earlier in 2010 I had surgery on my ovaries for my PCOS and surgery on my uterus so that (in addition to medications) hopefully I wouldn’t miscarry anymore. After the surgery we did cycle after cycle of fertility treatments, and none of them worked.

In November of 201o we took a break to decide what we wanted to do next: keep going, adopt, or live child free. Honestly, I felt so broken and defeated I didn’t think I could handle more heart break so I was starting to seriously consider living child free. Not because I didn’t want kids, but because I didn’t want to keep living in the shadow of a future I might never have. I didn’t want to keep putting my heart on the line and having it crushed. every. single. time. I wanted to live my life again, instead of living in the land of “what if.”

So, we took a break. In December we did our holiday photos and I took photo after photo trying to find a flattering pose. I took a long hard look at those photos… and while I loved myself, and my husband loved me, I didn’t like what I saw. It wasn’t just the weight, it was the underlying unhappiness, the abandoned life, the view of yet another thing that infertility helped rob me of. So it was those holiday photos that prompted me to say, “You know what? If I can’t have a baby by Christmas next year, I’m at least going to have my body back.”

See, the thing with infertility was it can suck you in, and it can make you put things off. I put off vacations (no big loss), taking risks in the workplace (I’m okay with that for myself, although I regret the position it puts my husband in), we do without new cars or cable (again, that’s cool), but I found myself putting off getting healthy. I found myself letting my depression swallow me whole. With each miscarriage, and each year of infertility, I let myself gain first 10lbs. Then another 10lbs. And another. Sitting around more and more, saying, “Tomorrow,” until I’d gained 42lbs and got out of breath just walking up my stairs.

I regret that I did that. I don’t regret the path that lead me to my son; I’d redo everything again and again if I knew his smiling face was at the end of it all. I do wish things played out differently though. I wish I’d never lost the other children. I wish I’d sought a second opinion sooner. I wish I’d pushed harder for the care I deserved. And I wish I’d taken better care of myself- emotionally and physically. I was more focused on surviving on an emotional level to even register the physical. I should have found better ways to cope though. Ice cream may have made me feel better for a moment, but it wasn’t going to carry me through as much as talking to a counselor would have. Playing video games might have helped turn my brain off, but walking would have offered sanctuary too. I made some poor choices, and I own it. I can’t change the past, but I can acknowledge it and learn from it.

After I made that decision to reclaim myself, I started working towards that goal hard core. I did well. I lost about 25lbs from January until March- at which point we returned to our fertility doctor. Mostly for a “What the hell,” appointment to figure out what happened and where we were going. We were determined to let it go and seek other options. My doctor talked us into one more try though, and even provided us with the medicine we couldn’t afford on our own. Thanks to her bribery, we got our son. He was due on Christmas eve of last year. Instead of getting back my body for Christmas, I got a baby instead… I was more than happy with that! My son was our dream come true.

After I had him, I knew I needed to get back on the wagon though. After we stopped breast feeding I started back on the treadmill. My progress was slower though, since I’d spent months on bed rest, then modified bed rest, and had to take it easy thereafter. Add to that my c-section? I was in terrible shape! However, slowly I regained my strength and built myself back up. I’m still not in the best shape, but I’m in such a better state than I was before!

I won’t be back at my goal weight by the new year, I never intended to be, but I’ll be a lot smaller than I was. That’s a huge accomplishment. I mean, I’ve lost 65lbs total now! Just this year alone I’ve lost around 42lbs. And it shows! I’m not skinny, but I’m healthier than I’ve been in a very long time. It’s a wonderful feeling.

I have a child, a healthier me, and I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time.
It’s amazing how much can change in two years.

Ghosts of the past

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Yesterday my mother told me, “Those shorts make you look slimmer.”

This is the second time she’s commented on my shorts making me “look” slimmer. It seems like an benign statement, perhaps even a compliment, but it’s what I read between the lines that stung. She never says that I look slimmer, it’s always the jeans making me look slimmer, or the shirt, or my hair. I’ve lost almost 50 pounds since December 2010, it’s not the jeans that make me look slimmer- I am slimmer.

My mother would never say that though. She has said that I looked like I gained a lot of weight, on more than one occasion. She’s commented that I would be beautiful if I’d lose 10 more pounds, even when I was at a good BMI. But never anything straightforward about my weight-loss. Usually, when I tell her that I’ve lost weight she says this about herself, “I really need to lose weight. I’m so fat, UGH.” The woman weighs 50 pounds less than me, and wears clothing many sizes smaller than me. So, she just makes me feel disgusting, while I’m trying to tell her how well I’m doing.

It’s not just her though. I get comments a lot about how I should lose weight, have I considered this or that.

I just want to say this now, fat people own mirrors too. I knew I was fat before anyone else did. I own a scale. These comments don’t help anyone, especially the person they’re being cast upon. We’re either going to help ourselves or we’re not. I wish people would offer more encouragement than criticism when it comes to weight issues. Although, to be honest, compliments can hurt too. I guess there’s really no winning.

Anyway, I’ve learned to motivate myself. I’m losing weight for me now. So while her comments stung, I’m not taking them to heart. I had to listen to 27 years of her (and the rest of my families) comments and criticisms, I know that I’ll never be pretty in her eyes because she’s projecting her own body image issues onto me. That doesn’t mean that it won’t still sting when she says something rude, but at least I don’t let it burrow and fester anymore.

In high school it was really bad. I had my father constantly talking crap about overweight women, my mother doing the same, even my brothers. At the same time, I was wearing plus sized clothing, boys never asked me out, and my older sister (who had been anorexic) was the “pretty one”. I really hated myself, I weighed 180 pounds but when I looked in the mirror I saw someone much bigger.

They say that anorexia runs in families. I don’t believe it’s genetic, maybe a predisposition, but I believe that it has to do with the home environment. The words, or lack of, that torment one person into starving themselves, is highly likely to do it to another. I think that was the case for me and my sister. She became anorexic, and suddenly she was beautiful in everyone’s eyes. Unsurprisingly, the same thing happened to me. I was 17, and I was anorexic without realizing it. I lost 25 pounds in a month, and suddenly everyone thought I was pretty.

It was this distortion that led me to be anorexic for almost two years. I ate, mind you, but my typical day consisted of this: no breakfast, lettuce and cheese for lunch, rice and a chicken breast for dinner, and a soda. That’s it. One time, a year later, I remember eating one can of corn for dinner. Do you know how many calories are in a can of corn? Not much. I’d always eat around people, but when no one was around I didn’t really eat. That’s why no one realized what I was doing to myself.

I didn’t even realize I had a problem until I started passing out. I was only down to 130 pounds, but I was extremely malnourished and anemic. My case was very mild, and I’m so thankful it didn’t get worse. My sister was worse, and even to this day admits she still has issues with it.

For me, the lasting effect was a fear of limiting myself. I was afraid of dieting because I knew what I was capable of. It’s not a huge step from limiting your calories and dealing with the hunger by saying, “I don’t need that,” to telling yourself that you don’t need any of it and that food is disgusting.

I also learned to never trust what I see in the mirror. Because believe me, at 130 pounds I wasn’t just saying I was fat… I really, honest to god, thought I was fat. When I looked in the mirror, I saw a girl who could stand to lose a few pounds. I didn’t see the beautiful young woman I was. I didn’t see what my boyfriend (now husband) saw in me at the time.

My husband helped bring me out of that fog, and I don’t ever plan to go back there. This time, I’m going to lose the weight the right way. I’m going to build healthy habits, and change my lifestyle for the better.

I haven’t ever really talked about this to anyone before, I mean my case was very mild. I feel like a fraud, but it was very real at the time. Eating 500 calories a day isn’t healthy but I did it anyway. It scares me how deluded I was, and how I could do something like that to myself without even realizing that I was doing it. It’s one of the ghosts to my past.

I overcame it though, and I overcame the comments and shit I put up with. I survived the people feeding my anorexia with compliments, and the people feeding my obesity with insults. This is a new day, and a new life.