[This is part one of a multiple installment series]
My weight issues have been almost lifelong. From a pre-pubescent naturally thin to a post-pubescent ongoing battle with weight gain. I was an average size baby - 8 lbs (3.6 kg). From ages 2-12, my mother had great difficulty finding clothes that fit my body both in length and width because I had long legs and a very thin (but still healthy) frame. Then puberty took over and that was the end of my skinniness for a while. My mother(who was overweight as a teen) panicked. She began "helping" me "diet". This was the good old 70s when fad dieting was really popular. I tried the "seven foods in seven days" diet, the Atkins diet, a powdered drink/soup mix diet. No matter what I tried, I'd lose the extra 10-20 lbs, then regain it almost immediately. This went on throughout my teen years. Eventually, I became more desperate. I tried the cabbage soup diet, and eventually, I began fasting.
The fasting did not lead to anorexia, but it did lead to bulimia. I would binge, then fast (purging never worked for me, but starving did). What was really bewildering about my weight struggle was that I wasn't sedentary. During my early teens, I was involved in sports. The weight changes took a toll on my knee joints so I gave up sports, but then I joined marching band and danced in school musicals. We lived out in the country on a farm and I walked or rode my bicycle and helped with farm work--taking care of animals, bailing hay, stacking wood, etc. Still, I was very fond of just lying on my bed reading or listening to music, and I spent way too much time in front of the television. All of these things took a toll on my metabolism. I can only guess that my moderate level of activity kept me from being morbidly obese.
Following high school, I delayed college for a year and worked as a waitress. I was bored with school and wanted a break. At first, the free food that comes with working for a restaurant was a problem. Being on my feet for my whole shift and staying busy helped a little. I started noticing when people would order large amounts of food and then consumed all of it. Observing this behavior started to change my attitude about food and my own eating habits. I decided to eat healthier and smaller portions. Finally, I was eating an appropriate amount of food that balanced with my activity level. I began taking an aerobics class and soon I lost all of the extra weight and managed to keep it off. I wasn't thin, I was just no longer overweight.
I went to college then I quit college, got pregnant and got married. I gained 40 lbs with my pregnancy but took it all off. I gained 28 lbs with my second pregnancy but took it all off. I gained 55 lbs with my third pregnancy, on top of the 10 lbs I gained trying to get pregnant. I did not take it all off and thus, my struggle with weight began anew. I tried low fat diets, a physician managed calorie counting diet, and a physician managed liquid diet. I started college again. I got pregnant again. This time, I gained 35 lbs and did not take it all off, so I added more post baby pounds to the ones I was already carrying. I divorced my husband. Then my dad (who was my biggest cheerleader) was killed by a drunk driver. All of this happened while I was trying to go to college full-time, work part-time, and take care of three young children (if you done the math, I had four pregnancies, but my second child did not survive; that story can be found here). As a typical mom with too much on her plate (no pun intended) something had to give and as is typical of most mothers, my own physical well-being took a backseat to everything else.
I then got engaged, had another baby and got unengaged. I only gained 18 lbs with the last baby, but by this point I was obese and 60 lbs overweight. In 1998, I moved with my children to the Washington DC area to get the best possible job I could find. Luckily, I began working for a company that had a cafeteria that served healthy food and had a gym on site. I began eating healthy and exercising. I decided I wanted to run a 5K race and began training for that goal. I ate healthy and exercised every day. The weight came off very slowly. But if I slipped up at all--with eating or exercising--I started to regain immediately. This was especially frustrating because I was eating healthy, exercising and drinking lots of water. It was as if I had no physical ability to just maintain my weight. I had to be extremely diligent which was really difficult. I met my goal and ran two 5K races. I was still 30 lbs overweight, but I felt good and continued to be motivated. Then my company reorganized some of its departments, including mine. My job changed significantly. My good eating habits and exercise fell by the wayside. Over the next few years, I received two promotions. My professional life became consuming and between my job and being a single mother of four, once again my body was my last priority. Actually, it was not even a priority. My weight soared.
In 2001, I reconnected with my childhood sweetheart. We had not had contact for over 20 years and we decided to meet in Las Vegas to spend a few days together. I immediately began the Atkins diet (again) and joined a gym. I DID NOT want him to see me all big and fat. I managed to lose 30 lbs between August and Thanksgiving. When we met, I was still 30 lbs overweight, but I felt much better about seeing him. What happened next was almost unthinkable. We realized that we still loved each other! But...he lived in California and I lived in DC. What to do? Then something amazing happened! I got a promotion at work that required me to relocate to California.
to be continued...