How I gained it: I don’t ever remember being at a healthy weight. I’ve been overweight and obese most of my life. Honestly, sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be able to say I’m working to get back to my “high school weight.” (Or college, pre-pregnancy, pre-marriage, pre-something weight.) Because I’m not. I’m working to get back to my weight in, oh, fourth or fifth grade. I legitimately do not remember when I last weighed a “healthy” weight.
So, how did I gain the weight? Life. Eating. Not exercising. Not really caring. I knew what to do. Heck, I was born and raised on a fruit farm and was blessed with being exposed to plenty of fruits and vegetables, and the knowledge of their health benefits, from an early age. I even work in an industry that includes many organizations, associations and governmental groups that tout the benefits of healthy diets, exercise and a well-rounded, balanced lifestyle. But I didn’t practice what I preached. I ate the right foods, but I ate a lot of them. I “treated” myself too much. I walked when I could, but I didn’t sweat it — literally or figuratively. Looking back, I realize that I was irresponsible and mistreating my body. I was not giving myself the respect and care that I now know I deserve.
Breaking point: My breaking point was quite the literal breaking point. And it was one I kept secret for a long, long time. Whenever anyone asked me “Why now?” I told them that it was just time — I was “just sick of being fat.” But really, there’s more to the very embarrassing story. A lot more.
It was the summer of 2009. I went to our annual women’s breakfast with my dad’s side of the family. It was our normal, fun family time with delicious food and lots of catching up. No big story there. It was when I returned to my apartment after the breakfast when the “incident” happened.
My first stop after the two-and-a-half hour drive from my parents’ house is always the bathroom because I don’t believe in “pee breaks” when they can be avoided (public restrooms are kinda nasty). So I sit down on the toilet. And I hear a loud cracking sound.
“Um,” I say to myself (and my nearby cat, Moe). “I think my toilet just broke.”
So I stand up to take a look and…what the what?! Pain. Awful pain. My butt was pinched in my freshly broken toilet seat. I had to pry the broken toilet seat back apart because it quickly closed up tightly around my skin. I imagine it must have looked pretty ridiculous had there been an outside observer: Me standing there with my pants and underbritches around my ankles, turned halfway around, fighting with the jaws-of-life toilet seat.
It was then and there, mid-pee, pinched butt hanging out that I decided it was time to do something about my weight. A black-and-blue bum really makes a girl seriously rethink things.
Besides the pinch in the butt I needed to get myself in gear, this adventure in bathroom disasters taught me a couple things:
1. I now know how to replace a toilet seat (it’s so ridiculously easy).
2. Sometimes it’s in the very worst moments that your life changes for the best.
3. Even in the comfort of your own bathroom, sometimes it’s better to squat.
How I lost it: I started by joining Weight Watchers. That’s how I lost the first and largest chunk of my weight. I knew it would work because I watched several family members find success on it. This was before the new Points Plus program, and I chose to follow Weight Watchers in a healthy way: focusing on fruits and veggies, lean proteins and dairy and whole grains. (There were those Weight Watchers who I call the “Oreo and Dorito Weight Watchers” because, sure, you can eat those things and lose weight as long as you were within your Points values for the day. But I knew that wasn’t the “right” way to lose weight.) But still, after a while, I realized that the program wasn’t working for me anymore.
Not because it doesn’t work at all — because it does. I found a lot of success with it in the beginning, and I know of a lot of people who’ve been successful. History shows that it works. It just didn’t line up with my fitness goals anymore. I started working out a lot. I run. I spin. I lift weights. I take group fitness classes. In fact, my 50-pound-loss gift to myself was a personal trainer. He was the best present I ever bought myself. I originally had a goal of running an organized race every month this year — though by mid-July, I’ve already run 13. One of those races? A half marathon. And right now, I’m in the middle of training for my first full marathon, with several half marathons scheduled between now and then.
But I hit a long plateau. I was within the same five pounds for four months. I knew I needed to shake things up a bit. Plus, with all of this exercise, I needed a more focused, balanced approach to my food. I needed to look at the food I was eating. I found I often wasn’t eating enough. I needed to look at my macronutrient intake — I was dramatically short on the protein I needed to keep up with my active lifestyle.
So, I started paying more attention to my calories and how they were divided across the carbohydrate, protein and fat spectrum. I upped my food intake. I continued working out. And I busted through my plateau. And I began to see other changes in my body: muscles peeked out where none existed before. My measurements started dropping. Clothes started fitting differently. And even if I didn’t see the scale move, my body started looking better. I started feeling better. I liked what I was seeing and knew that it was related to my renewed focus on the types of foods going into my body. I really focus now on giving my body the food it needs to function properly and to succeed with all of the activity I ask it to do.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t eat ice cream or cake. Because I do. I am a firm believer that we are meant to enjoy food — we don’t have tastebuds for nothing. And I also believe that most foods are OK in moderation. I eat the foods I enjoy. And I enjoy the foods I eat. I indulge now and again. But I do it in a healthy way that works with my body, not against it. Besides, a life without good cheese or good ice cream is not a life I want to live.
I continue to work toward my ultimate goal weight. But, because I’ve never been at any of these weights before, I’m not sure what that is. You see, I don’t know how my body — or my health — will be at these weights. So, I’m taking it slow and easy. While I still have 10 or 15 pounds to lose, I’m going to lose them right. Most importantly, I’m going to enjoy the journey. And I’m going to continue to work every day at listening to my body, fueling my body and taking care of myself. I look forward to continuing my quest to be better, stronger, happier and healthier.
I knew I had really changed my life when I received the most amazing compliment from a friend. It came out of nowhere — when I was least expecting it and, perhaps, was needing it most. This friend told me I “looked happy and healthy.” I cried when I saw those words come over my Facebook message because, ultimately, this is my true goal. I want to be happy and healthy and live an active life full of meaning. And I’m getting there more and more every day.