Pen and Moon

from the writing nook of Theresa Jarosz Alberti

A Tale of Gaining and Losing

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Me & my big cousin Care

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.

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High weight, back view

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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.

DSC01147_2  cropAnd 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.

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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

27 Comments

  1. Theresa, this is such a great post! It’s always a pleasure to read your writing, and your honesty and insights are lovely. You are such a pretty lady, too!

  2. Catie Chi Olson

    May 8, 2013 at 9:06 am

    Compelling and brave start to your blog, Theresa, and your weigh in photo looks great!

  3. Amazing and truly inspirational. I have so much respect for your battle. I have never had do deal with eating/weight issues, but can only imagine the strength it takes to fight the fight. Keep up the great work. Thank you for sharing. I know you will help others who are on the same journey. ~Lanie J.

  4. Thanks for posting this. Many people, besides myself, will find this helpful and inspiring. Good job.

  5. Big congrats on your weight loss, and all the warmest wishes for your continued success!! Hugs for this brave post 🙂

  6. This is so brave and honest. Congratulations to you on your progress and your committment to take care of your whole self. This post is so inspiring and so real ~ Thank you.

  7. hi from our blogging course. love this post!!! and i can’t even tell you how much i agree with your conclusion…first, woohoo!! for you for sharing this story…it’s truly incredible….i’ve been obsessed with eating healthy since i was in 8th grade…and i’m finally throwing in the towel and focusing on better things…i too realized i was too focused on the health of food. and, i’m struggling with baby weight and i too get caught up in the gotta lose it now…instead of just BEing where i am now…b/c really we don’t hear this message a lot. i’m right there with ya and i haven’t written my brave post yet…but it is along these lines!! again…woohoo!! for you!!! love what you’re doing!! 🙂

  8. Theresa, this post rocks! So do you!

    I love you at all parts of your journey, no matter what size or comfort level you are at, past, present, and future.

    I have had my own journey with my body. Totally relate.

    What’s kind of great is how the blogging course focus on authentic voice completely goes with your journey in finding an authentic relationship with your body. YOUR body, not anyone else’s, just like it’s YOUR voice, not anyone else’s.

    Looking forward to being with you as the journey continues, in all ways.

    Hugs,
    Alice

  9. Kelly McKenzie

    May 8, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    Theresa – this is a wonderfully brave post. The “loving who I am and who I am right now” rule applies to every bit of our lives. Thank you for reminding me.

  10. You are beautiful. Your story is an inspiration. May you continue to have success in your journey. 🙂

  11. A beautiful and honest post. Bravo to you for breaking old habits and finding new ways to inspire and encourage yourself (and through your blog, others too!). I absolutely LOVE your last line, “…in trying to lose half of my body weight, I’m actually gaining more of myself!” Brilliant!!

  12. Theresa –
    Wow! Such bravery and strength! It’s funny, I’ve lost 30 pounds since January 11th, and I’m the same way – I want to be done NOW, even though I gave myself a year to lose a total of 55 pounds. But I am the same person I was on January 10th, essentially, and I’ll be the same person on 5/8/2014, regardless of what I weigh. And I need to love that person, whatever she weighs. Hugs to you!! You’re beautiful!

  13. Theresa, I am inspired by your honesty and brave, brave writing. I love that you say you are gaining more of yourself as you practice self-care and lose weight. I’m so happy for your progress. I sometimes emotionally eat. Even though my weight is average, I suffer the same feelings you write about when it’s cheese popcorn, for example. I do not know how to eat a little. I go to it when I’ve got some emotional rumble going on inside my stomach. Like you, I’m also practicing dealing with my feelings rather than eat them. I can’t tell you grateful I am for your writing. Many warm wishes, xo

  14. What a great post! I love this line: “So, I’m picking up my pack and continuing on this journey, feeling hopeful.” We all fall down occasionally; the important thing is to get back up and keep on going. Keep it up–you’re doing great!

  15. How absolutely honest! So, so, so brave! 🙂 Inspiring and a GREAT reminder that numbers are not who we are – we need to take care of our WHOLE self in order to accomplish wholeness. Keep gaining more of YOU!

  16. Love your courage to step up and claim your right as a self-loving, healthy and wholesome person. You rock! And posting photos of yourself is such a brave move. Love your recent photo! Thank you for your trust in posting so authentically. We are going to see more and less of you at the same time. Wonderful! Warm wishes, Wendy
    PS Possibly the bravest post I’ve seen and I know it’s not a contest. I’m with you.

  17. My dear friends (old and new)–

    I am so blown away by your kind words. Thank you so much for reading this blog post and taking the time to let me know what you think. You all make it easier to be Brave! Hugs, love and high-fives back atcha!

    🙂 Theresa

  18. Thank you for this post!
    I struggle with similar issues and your story is inspiring. Tending to your whole self- that is the thing, isn’t it.
    You are LOVELY!

  19. Oh. My. Goodness Gracious! I am beyond proud of you — I am in awe of you.
    I am well aware of your journey, and every time I learn more about it, I gain even more respect.
    And I also feel more joy, because I want you to love the wonderful Theresa I met so many years ago, and who I knew right away was someone I wanted to be friends with!
    Along with that witty, smart, fun, insightful, caring, and lovely Theresa who I am proud to say is my friend, I knew there was also a brave Theresa, and you have more than proven it here. Weight, for me, is the most forbidden subject and the scariest issue. I know you understand that. You are inspiring me; maybe I can make it down that path to weight loss and wellness myself.
    Big hug, and lots of love and “way to go!” cheering –
    sh

  20. Theresa, you awesome girl! What a wonderful and inspiring post. I am SO right there with you, as you know, and I’m finding your words especially encouraging today. Thank you so much for finding the courage to write and share this piece of your story.

    (At whatever weight you are, you still have the hair we’re all coveting – don’t forget that!)

  21. incredibly brave of you – wonderful post! And congratulations on your accomplishments thus far. I would love to know which TED talks you watched.

  22. Beautiful post, Theresa. I’m’ with Kate – maybe you list your favorite Ted Talks in one of next posts? I feel uplifted and inspired by your exquisite writing and photos. <3

  23. This is a beautiful and inspirational post. I bookmarked it for the future! Thank you for your honesty and congratulation son your weight loss and your journey.
    Laura

  24. Yay Theresa!! I think the best part is the value you have received from striving for balance and feeling good (dare I say great??) in your own skin. PS: Ya’ look FABULOUS, Lady…Good On Ya’. Wishing you continued success on your journey 🙂
    Namaste,
    Tara

  25. I am so impressed by this writing and even more impressed with you, Theresa. You have bravely exposed yourself, and now everyone can see how beautiful you are. I’m so glad we have become friends and I look forward to getting to know you better!

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