Once upon a time I was a size 8. I still have a pair of Abercrombie and Fitch pants from my 2nd year of college to prove it. That was 10 years ago. I know it's silly to keep them, and many friends have told me to throw them away. However, they are a reminder to me that I was there once, so it's possible to be there again.
Today, I am around a size 16/18. The last time I weighed myself at my friend's house about 3 weeks ago, I was 207 pounds. This was a total shock to me, since a year ago I was at 193. Being over 200 pounds is humiliating to me. It's difficult to find clothes, and my closet is full of items that fit fine a year ago, and now they are uncomfortable.
I was always a chubby kid. I was made fun of for it growing up, and never had much confidence in myself. It wasn't until my late teens that I started losing weight (and I'm not sure why or how!) and got down to the size 8 in college.
Unfortunately, my fourth year in college I got a job at Villa Pizza. Broke college student + free pizza, chicken fingers, fries, and pasta = gaining around 15 pounds that year. It was so easy to eat what was available and what cost me nothing, and it was delicious! However, I believe that year was what set me down this path of consistent weight gain.
I kept gaining a few pounds every year, but even when I first started teaching 5 years ago, I was still telling myself, "It's not that bad; I'm not that big." I was around 175 pounds, my stomach was still mostly flat, and I could still fit into the largest-sized clothes at Charlotte Russe. During that year, I had a guy tell me, "I've never dated a skinny girl before; this is awesome!", so I felt pretty good. That was also the year I met my now husband.
Looking back, I see what the problem was. During my college years, for the most part, I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. Jack in the Box Bacon Potato Wedges at midnight? No problem. Noodles five times a week? Sure. I was never really active as far as exercise, but I never used to gain much weight from eating this way either.
As I got older, I continued the bad habits. Olive Garden Fettuccine Alfredo on more than one first date? Why not? Chocolate cake, brownies, ice cream, and cookies at work all in one week because a coworker brought them in? Sign me up! I realize that I never turned down food, especially if it was free.
When I met my husband, we clicked so well and we even had the same lifestyle (but also similar bad habits!). He and I got worse together. Double-Cream Blueberry Pie from Marie Calendar's every week? Yep. Microwave pasta dishes from Fresh & Easy that are supposed to feed a family of four? We polished those off. I never thought about the consequences of what I was eating.
The last couple of years have been tough. I've developed back problems, which I've never had before. I'm stressed all the time with my job, which makes me want to eat everything I'm not supposed to. I'm often exhausted when I get home, which makes me often unwilling to exercise or even get off my butt and go cook something.
This May, I made a decision: I'm tired of living this way. I'm tired of feeling so awful. I'm tired of eating junk and making rationalizations for it. But it takes baby steps:
First, I stopped drinking soda. This was not tough for me in the sense that I was never a big soda drinker; however, I had become one since my husband bought it and it was always in the house. One day I just decided to stop. I've had only 3 sodas in the past six weeks, which I think is pretty good.
Then, I started working out with my friend, who luckily lives up the street from me and has a really nice gym in her complex. We've tried to be consistent with at least twice a week, and it doesn't always happen, but we're working on it. I've been doing the treadmill, the bike, and some general exercises like crunches and dancing.
Finally, I started dealing with food. Fast food has become a default for our house, and I've made it my personal goal to eliminate it completely from my diet. I have begun cutting down each week, and forcing myself to cook at home instead. It's easier to cook at home in the summer since I don't have to worry about school.
I've also made some changes to our meals at home. First, I've swapped all of the canned veggies for fresh or frozen, and more of the fresh. We've started to eat more salads as well. Second, I've swapped white bread for wheat. It's not always whole grain (that can be expensive!) but I'm trying. Third, I swapped white pasta and rice for wheat pasta and brown rice. My husband's not super keen on the wheat pasta, but oh well. I've also been making things from scratch, which is much cheaper and more satisfying. Finally, I've been trying to cut down my portion sizes, and stop eating when I feel full, which means I have to eat slower. This is often hard to remember.
I haven't noticed any real changes yet, but I feel better. I haven't weighed myself again yet since that ominous 207, so we'll see what happens next time I weigh in. I'll keep posting details of this process along the way.
Please email me with any comments or suggestions, or comment below! ;)
Until next time,