Me & my big cousin Care
[NOTE — October 18, 2019: I wrote this blog post almost 6 years ago, and my journey has gone through many twists and turns. I have learned A LOT about diet culture, fatphobia, size discrimination and how to heal disordered eating, and I’m in a much different place. I no longer believe many of the issues and sentiments I wrote about in the post below. I am leaving it here as a record of where I was at the time, but look for an update from me soon.}
It’s surprising for me to realize that I was a “normal weight” for the first half of my life. I can see it now in old photos, but I grew up feeling fat and ugly, like so many girls in our culture. For me, it was the messages I got from others, from the media, from comparisons of my body to my smaller sisters. I started dieting young, and developed emotional eating issues that made me feel crazy.
And then, I really did get fat. I got married at age 24 weighing 150 lbs (looking pretty but not feeling great), and over the next 15 years gained almost 200 lbs. Yep, kinda unbelievable, even to me. It was a combination of pregnancies, major depression, low self-esteem, issues leftover from my dysfunctional childhood, and big-time emotional eating. I had no clue how to feel my feelings, so I numbed them with food.
High weight, back view
At 348 lbs, I felt horrible physically and emotionally, and limited in what my body could do. I got on an eating plan, lost about 50 lbs and got stuck there. I was exercising a lot, felt better, eating healthier, but still plagued by emotional eating. Decades of therapy had helped, but not quite enough.
By January 2013, I hit another rock bottom. I was still morbidly obese (oh, what lovely words), and my body just couldn’t take it anymore. Over the last 2 years, my daily pain had been increasing—despite exercise, my legs stiffened up and I hobbled, my heels burned, and my knees were constantly sore. Walking hurt. I was increasingly feeling like a disabled person, my life limited in so many ways by my weight.
The pain of staying the same was greater than my fear of change… so in January I mustered my wits and courage, and worked to lose weight. I devised my own plan of calorie counting (a moderate amount, not deprivation mode), cutting back on processed carbs, and eating lots more fruits and veggies.
And I started losing weight—in fact, I lost 45 lbs in four months. I still had pain, but it was lessening. I was on a roll… and then last week I crashed. I knew from all my reading on eating disorders that diets/deprivation often leads to binges. My routine was off and I was bingeing, days in a row. But, instead of wallowing in shame and beating myself up (old pattern), I wanted to understand what was going on with me.
After much processing and watching a few TED talks (so helpful!), I came to see that I’d been SO focused on losing weight that I was off-balance. I was impatient to lose the weight and get it over with, that I wasn’t tending to my whole person—loving where I’m at and who I am right now. I still have about 120 lbs to lose—this is going to take a while.
Recent weigh-in pic
I need to tend to my self-care, even while I work on losing weight. For me, this means: wearing clothes I like, meditating and giving myself space to feel feelings, saying “no” when I need to, gently working on my other issues in life (like anxiety, and clutter), getting enough sleep… and relax about the numbers. I’ll get there when I get there.
So, I’m picking up my pack and continuing on this journey, feeling hopeful. My little bump in the road turned out to be a great learning experience. It’s funny to think that in trying to lose half of my body weight, I’m actually gaining more of myself!
This post is part of a Brave Blogging Link-up for Liv Lane’s How To Build a Blog You Truly Love ecourse. As a participant, I was challenged to step outside my comfort zone and share something with you that felt especially brave. You can see what others have written by clicking here: http://blog.livlane.com/2013/05/brave-2013