Real talk on weight struggles, anxiety, and the path towards self-love and acceptance.
Have you ever looked at your life and thought, “How did I end up here of all places?” I’m not talking about accomplishments or anything like that. I guess I’m talking about the big elephant in the room: weight. I have thought about and known that my weight wasn’t “right” since I was 10-years-old and went through puberty.
It was super fun to be the only girl in fourth grade with boobs and a period (said no one ever). Things evened out as they do when you get to that pre-teen/teenage years. I was an avid swimmer so I never had to watch what I ate. I honestly don’t ever remember hearing about how and what to eat. Maybe I just tuned it out during health class or the food pyramid seemed unattainable so why try? I did my job, swam my races well, won and had your typical swimmer build – shoulders, tiny waist and thighs, man, talk about “oh my quad”.
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Life has way of not delivering what you had planned, I wanted to go to the Olympics, had been told I had a good shot at getting there but the thing that made me a good swimmer, my ability to hyper-extend my knees was ultimately what ended my swimming career.
It was absolutely frustrating to continue to swim and have chronic knee pain. I dislocated my right knee twice while swimming (go figure, swimming is supposed to be good on your joints) and things were never right again. Plus, I was burned out.
I stopped swimming but never switched up my eating habits. Slowly but surely it caught up to me and when I was 15 years old I stood in front of the mirror ashamed at what I saw. Then I was introduced to the Atkins’ diet. Remember that one? Hardly any carbs, like 12g or less in every meal. I adjusted it to add a cheat day on Wednesdays because we had youth group and I didn’t want to miss out. I lost a lot of weight and finally, finally was happy with what I saw in the mirror…well except my legs. I really wanted long, skinny legs. I still had those huge swimmer quads and let’s be honest, I do not have long legs.
High school went on and after a really bad breakup with my boyfriend senior year, I began to have problems eating because I felt so anxious about my life. My youth group friends had all but turned their back on me except for three (again, thank you for being Christ to me during that time).
The dress I wore to my senior high prom kept falling down and I remember my ex-boyfriend’s mom (yes, he was still my date to the prom, who does that?!) looked at me while she was pinning my dress to my bra and said, “Did my son do this to you?” It was all I could do to not cry and ruin my make-up.
I knew that I was not healthy, I looked like a concentration camp survivor but…my legs were skinny. My stomach was really flat. You could see my cheekbones and my arms didn’t flail when I waved. I hate to admit it but I loved the way I looked and the way clothes fit me. It also didn’t help that the amount of male attention I received that summer was so flattering that despite what had gotten me to that point, I was bound and determined to stay there.
I didn’t know how to though. I hadn’t set out trying to be skinny. I had gone through a traumatic social event that crushed me to the core in my 18-year-old mind. It affected everything. I was able to still eat comfort food during that time and lose weight, once the dust settled and I became emotionally healthy again, I continued to eat comfort food. I got comfortable, happy and the weight crept back in.
I look at my pictures from college and remember feeling beautiful and skinny during my junior year. I had been given a big responsibility that caused anxiety which, you guessed it, led to me losing weight effortlessly as everything just went through me. This roller coaster of up and down and up and down continued on and on.
This pattern of me feeling “fat” and less than has always been there, only, at the time I really wasn’t fat at all. There’s a line in my favorite poem by Mary Schmich, Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young:
Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.
Oh my goodness, those words, they resonate deep inside my heart and I long to go back to my younger self and tell her to wake up. The time I wasted and I mean absolutely wasted on trying to “fix” my weight was fleeting. I tried diet after diet, always wishing I could be like my girl friends who were just naturally skinny. I remember thinking that I was broken. That God had created me with this sloth-like metabolism that worked against me. I was wrong.
The fastest way to lose weight is typically, not the best way.
Pregnancy came, three of them to be exact, and I gained weight and lost some with each one. When my second child was one-years-old I applied to be part of a 90-day fitness challenge through a local luxury gym. It was great. I worked hard, learned a lot about eating and working out, discovered that I love group classes and came out of it looking amazing. I felt amazing too. There was always something in the back of my mind though that wasn’t enough. I needed to be thinner, the number on that scale needed to be less. Once again, I was in that space of “not being enough”.
I got pregnant with my third child in the fall of 2013 and I had every intention to workout and eat healthy. Well, the road to Hell is paved by good intentions isn’t it? It is. I found myself in the same spot. I lost interest in working out because I didn’t belong to a gym and even though I had a ton of equipment in my basement working out was a huge chore. I hated it. I just told myself it would be fine, I’d get back to the spot again one day.
The diet that did me in – HCG
One day turned into a year and the scale went up and up. I still imagined myself the way I was, even though my clothes didn’t fit and I felt sluggish. During the spring of 2016 I felt desperate. I had so many amazing opportunities happening but I just could not allow myself to be content. What did I do? I did what was probably the worst thing I could have done to my body, I participated in a “natural HCG diet”. Basically you take these drops and they help stave off your hunger, you have to steer clear of fats while taking them because it counteracts what you’re trying to do. I ate a ton of fruits and vegetables and my daily caloric intake was about 500-800 calories. Every day. That’s it.
Did I lose weight? I did. I lost about 20 lbs and then, because the program fell apart, the maintenance part of the diet wasn’t part of my experience. After starving myself for six months, once my body got wind of more food coming in, it held onto fat for dear life.
Where am I now?
Here I am, about 90-some pounds heavier than where I was at the end of the fitness challenge. The number is so huge, I can’t even begin to think about it. Sometimes I think I’ll never lose it. I messed up my metabolism so much…rather, my metabolism is so efficient at reserving fat in case of emergencies that it makes getting down to a healthy weight feel impossible. Yeah, yeah, I’ve done it once, I can do it again. I work out more than anyone in my family. I’m dedicated and yet here I am, almost four years away from doing the HCG diet and I don’t remember when the last time was that I felt successful.
I have self-sabotaged my efforts. I sneak in little tastes, bites and licks and then I feel guilty so I won’t eat. I’m not eating enough because when I do eat it’s junk and like I said, it’s little bits of junk. Or I binge after trying to lose weight and stick to a meal plan. I want results and I wanted them like yesterday. Don’t you see though that that’s what got me into this difficult spot in the first place? My desire for a quick fix, fast results with minimal effort – that’s why I’m in this place. Our bodies number one goal is to survive. I put myself through hell and starved trying to get a quick fix. Now I have no choice other than to do this the marathon way.
I’m really writing this more for myself than anyone else. It’s good to take pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard and face the hard truths. A lifetime of dieting has ruined not only my expectations but my ability to lose weight. It’s not going to be the same way for me as it was eight years ago or when I was in my 20s or in high school. While I long to lose weight so that I feel good about myself and the way I look, I can’t deny the fact that sometimes it hurts to wake up in the morning. I’m constantly afraid of rolling my ankles because of the weight that’s placed on them. This is not a way to live. This is not living.
Stay tuned my friend and thanks for reading this novel entry on my blog. If you made it this far, I’m assuming maybe you feel the same way I do and if that’s the case, let’s try to do this together. We’ll get there, no BS allowed and we have to be willing to look at all of those bites, tastes and licks. For now, know that your happiness or success is not determined by the number on that scale; see yourself the way God sees you and then do the work.