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Monday, January 30, 2012

Fat: Me Against the Scale


I am fat. I do not type that statement out of a desire to elicit sympathy, nor do I wish for anyone to contradict me. I have a mirror. I have access to a scale. No I am not obese (yet) and no I don’t have any health problems (yet) or weight-related illnesses (yet). What I do have is a genetic predisposition for weight gain and an almost insatiable desire for high fat,  high sugar, high carb foods.  This is a deadly combination that frightens me enough to want to take control of my life, my health, and my appearance before it’s too late.

How it all began
I have always had a weight problem. As a child I was underweight. A turbo metabolism coupled with a finicky palate made gaining weight virtually impossible. Doctors prescribed fatty concoctions and regimens. Nutritionists struggled to come up with a short list of foods I would actually be willing to eat. But to no avail. My grandmother simply prayed for me and believed that when I was ready to eat I would eat. As I approached my teenage years something miraculous happened. I began to enjoy food (albeit the wrong kinds of foods) and my family quit worrying about my inability to gain weight.

Fast-forward to my teen years and even though I only weighed about 100 lbs soaking wet I could out eat any teenage guy I knew. My metabolism was so fast that I could eat an extra-large cheese pizza, and drink a liter of soda without any ill-effect.

Emotional eating and non-eating
Hormones, stress, craziness, personal losses, breakups, and all the up and downs of life wreaked havoc on my appetite especially as I entered my twenties. As a result my appetite had two speeds, super hungry, or food loathing. Most of the time I grazed or grabbed snacks to go. Occasionally though, I made every day a buffet and packed away calories as if there would be no tomorrow. When an upsetting event happened I ate. When an extraordinary horrible event happened I would become too depressed to eat. I would survive off of a glass of juice, or crackers if I ate anything at all.  When a boyfriend broke up with me in college (conveniently the same week as final projects and exams, and the same week I caught the flu) I ate nothing at all for almost an entire week. Now as an adult I am an indiscriminate muncher. High pressure interview? The moral support can be found at the bottom of a box of cookies. Insane deadline to meet? The mental fortitude can be found in the leftover cake in the break room or the vending machine in the hallway. PMS/Menstrual depression? The bakery and the buffet line can melt away all that tension and anxiety. And that thinking is exactly what led to me ballooning from 118lbs at 23 (I’m 5’6-5’7 so that wasn’t an ideal weight either) to 165lbs today at 27. That’s not an easy statement for me to type, but because I have promised to be transparent on this blog I have to keep it real.

The Ups and Downs of Dieting
Like most women I have done really stupid diets. When I first started gaining weight, a girlfriend and I went on a weekend fast in hopes to do some damage control. That Sunday when the fast was over I celebrated by eating a one pound hamburger, fries, and pizza at a local restaurant. Net loss:  Zero.  Then I tried meal skipping. I was hungry and irritable. The all-juice diet I tried made me loath my existence and pee my life away. Last summer I began the most productive diet I've tried to date. I kept my calories low, ate fruits and those disgusting vegetables (I hate then with an inextinguishable passion) and exercise multiple times a day. As a result I lost 5 pounds. But this diet was capsized when my friends all moved away and I began to feel lonely. Then financial stresses ate away at my willpower, until I said “screw it” and began eating whatever I wanted. Living in cold, dark, dreary Ohio, doesn't exactly make you want to have a beach body. So as the months went by the needle on the scale gradually moved closer and closer to the 200 mark.

My Saving Grace
So why am I not obese? Why do I only weigh 165 and not 265. Easy! I like to move it move it! I lead an active life. I prefer the stairs to elevators. I walk when I could choose to drive. I do aerobics at least a few times a week. And this summer I took swimming classes and hiked for miles every day. I can’t stand being sedentary. In fact, during my last two cruise vacations I walked the stairs (sometimes up to 12 flights) danced, swam, and moved whenever possible. Yes, my daily routine sometimes prevents me from exercising, but at my best I work out every day. Yet that’s not enough. Chocolate cake and large pizzas, shakes, and break room finds do not burn off easily. My age, water consumption (I drink way more than 8 glasses a day) and relative good health are also in my favor. However my diet is a hot mess!

The Plan!
So after doing tons of research consulting a dietitian, and carefully praying over the decision, I have concluded that I need to make some serious changes. I have watched the biggest loser and those other weight loss reality tv shows. Most of us assume these people gained such massive amounts because they are lazy, stupid people. But those people didn't one day wake up fat and sedentary. Weight gain is gradual. So before I end up on a TV show balling my eyes out because I am 946 pounds, I am facing this issue head on! My plan is simple. Smaller portions, more exercise, less dessert, more revolting vegetables. No starvation. No denials. When I want a small slice of cake I will have it, but I won’t eat the whole cake!  No pills, no surgeries, and no liposuction (I’ll save lipo for when I am at my wits end). I will document my weight loss on this blog and share with you which things work and which things do not. Lord willing, I will be down to a weight I can live with and feel happier and more energetic as a result of it. Pray for me, because this is not easy. I am an emotional eater. I get fed up. I get pissed off. I get discouraged, but I intend to press on.  Feel free to hold me accountable. Together maybe you and I can lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle!



Update: Since writing this blog, I have lost 2 and a half pounds.
Update 6/21/2014:  From 2013 I lost almost 30 pounds and I have been able to keep it off. Thank God!