My journey to fat and back
I was a “big girl” growing up.
I was not comfortable in this body of mine. Yes, it was my body, but I felt as though it did not belong to me. I struggled with the fact that friends of mine could eat McDonald’s, and candy, and wear skinny acid-washed jeans. I would hang with them and curse my chubby thighs and flabby arms. I would shake my fist and silently scream, “It’s not FAIR!”
I resigned myself to the fact that I was destined to be BIG. My friends had flat stomachs and no inner thigh to speak of and it was so foreign to me. My thighs rubbed together as I walked and would get red from the friction. This is me in grade nine, baby:
(Feel free to laugh. This photo is wrong on so many levels. The chubb is one thing, but the bangles? The glasses? The HAIR? This photo is my go-to for comedic relief.)
There were a couple of stints where I got skinny. Because I did not eat. I remember when I was in grade eleven, I ran into an old friend from out of town. She praised me with those words I longed to hear. “You are so SKINNY!” And I told her (innocently) that I had not eaten in forty-eight hours.
That would be TWO DAYS.
Of course, as soon as I started eating again the weight piled back on.
You think I would have learned.
As a woman in her twenties living in Vancouver, I was once again caught in this vicious cycle. I worked at a restaurant with beautiful, skinny people. I was never obese, but was just big. I usually wore a size 13.
I was an insecure young woman and reverted to the only weight-loss plan I knew. I stopped eating. I would fill my belly with water, and tea, and just eat when I could no longer fight the aching of my belly.
Guys noticed me. They told me I was pretty. They flirted with me. I felt beautiful.
Of course, there was a limit to how long I could go without eating.
I started eating again. And the weight piled back on.
I was not a big junk food junkie. Yes, I liked treats, but I really did eat them in moderation. I did not keep junk food in my apartment. I took up running and I was still not thin. I remember sitting on the couch that my roommate and I shared and crying with her out of my frustration. I was running regularly and not eating junk and my thighs STILL RUBBED TOGETHER.
Shortly thereafter, another good friend of mine was shedding a lot of weight. I asked her what she was doing and she was kind enough to share it with me. She had gone to a dietitian. She gave me a copy of the menu plan that she had been given.
What is this? I need to eat vegetables? And protein? And less starch???
My “single girl” meals usually consisted of heaping plates of pasta with tomato sauce. Or rice with peas. While these meals were not fat-laden, they were heavy with starch and such that made me FAT.
I cut down on the starches. I ate more veggies. And fruit. And protein. And drank more water.
The weight fell off.
I finally felt comfortable in this body of mine.
Shortly thereafter, I met my husband Matthew. I was not down to my goal weight, but I was close. And he thought I was hot. We got engaged a month later. And got married five months after that.
I started going to a gym near work. When we moved to the small town we now live in, I took up running again. I was thin. And FIT. I was happy with my bad self.
Then I got pregnant. I still ran, and ate well.
Then I lost that baby, at twelve weeks.
I got pregnant again, the cycle after I lost Baby Number One. I was fearful of exercise because well-meaning people wondered if my running had “caused” the miscarriage. I knew in my head that my running was not the cause, but I so wanted a baby. Because of the loss that had occurred, I was fearful of losing another. Any stomach growl made me fear I was starving the baby. So I ate. And ate. And ate.
That baby was Graham, and at the end of my pregnancy with him I had gained over sixty pounds. I broke the 200 mark. By more than a pound. By more than five pounds.
I am sad when I look at these pictures. Because I look uncomfortable. Painful, even.
I got back on track after my pregnancy with Graham. I hated being uncomfortable in my own skin. To give you perspective, if I wanted to weigh in at what I weighed after birthing Graham, I would have to strap two of my three children to me right now. Sigh.
I managed to get fit again after having Graham. Before I knew it, I was pregnant with my second son. I ate well and power-walked every day. I kept the weight gain to twenty-eight pounds. Mere months later I was back to exercising and back to my pre-pregnancy weight.
Then I got pregnant. Again. This time with a baby girl.
Exercise after baby number three was sporadic, at best. I managed to keep my healthy eating habits and got back down to my “happy” weight.
I was thin, yes, but I was not fit. This caused me to have my fair share of “fat” days. Last spring I had had enough of feeling so weak and unfit. With my husband’s support, I signed up for a Step Boot Camp that occurs twice a week for nearly an hour and a half. After the first class it was confirmed that I was so utterly and completely out of shape.
I stuck with it, and before I knew it I was leaping and crunching with ease. I soon found that I wanted to incorporate exercise into the other days of the week. I started doing workout DVDs at home after supper while the kids wrestle with Daddy. My current obsession is the 30 Day Shred.
I feel fit. I feel healthy. I feel good.
I might even feel a little sassy at times.
An online buddy of mine asked for a top ten list of things I do to stay thin. Here is what I wrote to her.
1. Move it and lose it. Exercise in some form is vital. Walking counts. Unless you are walking to the snack cupboard.
2. Cut out the white stuff (bread, rice, pasta). Whole grains are the way to go.
3. For that matter, cut down on breads/starches in general. Apart from my morning Oatmeal, I try not to eat many more bread products in a day. 2-3 small servings is what my dietitian recommended.
4. Stop eating THREE HOURS before bed. Not a raisin, not a grape. NOTHING. I kid you not – you will lose 5 pounds in a week…if you don’t try and make up for it during the day.
5. EAT MORE VEGGIES. Seriously. Fill up on veggies (Green/orange/red ones. NOT potatoes. See starch note above).
6. EAT BREAKFAST. Breakfast kick starts your metabolism during the day. I eat oatmeal because it fills me up. The added bonus is that it is healthy.
7. CUT OUT SUGAR. If sugar is one of the first 5 ingredients in something, IT IS NOT FOR YOU. Seriously. Splenda is an alternative, as is stevia. I’ve heard that stevia is bitter though I have never tried it myself. If artificial sweeteners freak you out, use fruit to curb your sweet tooth.
8. Have cheat days. Friday nights I allow myself to eat whatever suits my fancy. The regular dish was nachos for quite a while but I have been mixing it up lately. Calamari, anyone?
9. Drink a lot of water. Water flushes fat . Chug-a-lug! If it’s too bland for you, try adding Crystal Light or something similar.
10. Cut down on the cocktails. I KNOW . Trust me; you can add them back later. In moderation, of course.
Once you get down to where you want to be, you can be a little flexible. It’s the 80/20 rule. Eat healthy 80% of the time and you can splurge the other 20%.
That is my “secret” to staying thin.
Being healthy and fit is not something you can purchase in bottle form. It requires you to change your entire lifestyle. Once you do, it will change your life.