Monday, March 26, 2012
This is the hardest post I have written. To be honest, I really did not want to write it at all. I would have been perfectly content letting anyone who reads my blog think that I have always been a thin, healthy person. But, the reality is, I have not.
My weight problem did not start until my early teens. As a child I was so skinny, my mom used to say I had “chicken legs”.
My parent’s also used to call me “Mangy Martha”, as I was blessed (CURSED) with naturally curly hair…haha!
I remember being pretty happy as a small child…until I was about 7 years old. That was when the bullying began, and girls who had been my friends started to tease me. I think the problem stemmed from the fact that I have always been very attached to my mom. In second grade my friends started having sleepovers…and I could not be away from my mom that long. So, when I was asked to stay over at someone’s house, I would go for a while, then get upset and have to go home. Of course, that was not the way to become popular. I was also extremely sensitive, and let everything hurt my feelings. I became easy prey.
I was teased for everything…wearing glasses, not wearing the right brands of clothing, eating hot lunch instead of packing (yeah…real critical thing). Writing this now, it is all very silly. When you are a little girl with no self-esteem…not so much.
By the time I had reached fifth grade, I suffered from anxiety and migraines. I didn’t want to go to school. My stomach hurt so bad every morning, I couldn’t eat breakfast. I was also seeing the school counselor on a weekly basis…another reason to be harassed by my peers. He blamed my problems on me. I also had trouble paying attention, and my grades fell. Teachers accused me of being lazy and unmotivated.
One afternoon, after being mercilessly hounded and abused by a particular girl, I reached my breaking point. We were walking to Girl Scouts, and she was directly behind me, kicking me in the heels and calves, calling me an “asshole”. She kept telling me how ugly I was, and that nobody liked me. She said she wished I would die.
I wanted to.
I waited until I was in front of my house, which was on the way to the high school (where our Girl Scout meeting were held), turned around and laid her out Ralphie style, punching and kicking her until I was sobbing.
Funny thing…she never fought back.
Another funny thing…I was told I had to apologize before I could go back to Girl Scouts.
I didn’t go back.
By the end of elementary school, my parents decided enough was enough. They took me out of public school and put me in a private Catholic school.
I was much more comfortable in private school. The kids were respectful, and bullying was unacceptable. We all wore the same uniform, so being teased about what I wore was never an issue. I had friends that liked me for who I was. Although, the problems with my grades still remained. I was a “smart girl”…but didn’t put forth any effort and was easily distracted.
Between seventh and eight grade puberty hit…along with 20 or so extra pounds. I went from wearing a girl’s size 12 to a women’s size 6. I also went from a training bra to a C-cup.
(My grandpa and me at my Confirmation in eight grade.)
My eighth grade year was a little more difficult. With the body of a sixteen-year-old, assumptions were made and my self-esteem took another hit. Add boys to the mix, and I was a teenage disaster!
I also knew that it would be my last year in private school (the school only went through junior high), and I would have to go back to the same school I had left three years prior. I knew I was going be an even bigger outcast than I had been previously. I had left the fold…and it didn’t matter that I had never belonged in the first place. I wouldn’t even have my new friends, as the private school was in the next town, and at that time our state did not have a school of choice option.
Freshman year was difficult. I had a handful of girls who were cordial to me, but I didn’t really hang out with anybody one on one, or even in a group. When I did, I always felt like the tagalong. These girls had formed bonds over the the last three years, and I hadn’t been a part of that. After a while a few of them started making comments both behind my back and to my face. I was a kind of joke to them.
I missed my friends.
I decided to try out for cheerleading, and made the Varsity team.
Cheerleading was NOT cool.
Although I LOVED cheerleading, I was made fun of for it. There were a few popular girls on the squad, but it didn’t matter…I was a target again.
The school had open campus lunch, so I would practically run home every day to get a reprieve. I would literally stuff my face with food…peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, hotdogs, macaroni and cheese…whatever I could find. I wondered what was wrong with me. What was there about me that made me such a loser?
Of course I often got these answers from my schoolmates…I was ugly, fat and looked “retarded”. That was my favorite. What the heck does “retarded” look like? I HATE that word.
As I write this, my eyes are stinging and it hurts to breath.
So…I gained another 20 or so pounds. I was a 160 pound sophomore.
Boys did not like chubby girls, and I was a definitely a chubby girl. I could go into great detail about the perils of high school and liking boys who didn’t like me back, but most girls have stories like that, and I don’t really need to go there.
After my sophomore year, Michigan passed a School of Choice Provision. But my friends from middle school now had new friends. Even though we talked on the phone and visited occasionally, it was different now.
So degraded and weary from the way I was being treated, and sure that there was something wrong with me, I decided to stay with the devils I knew.
That summer I got a job at a coffee shop downtown. I worked with some older girls who treated me like a human being, and for the first time in a while I started to feel good about myself.
I found that by only eating once a day, drinking coffee all the time, and walking constantly (to and from work, and everywhere in between), I could lose some of the chub I had put on over the past few years.
I lost 20 pounds that summer.
But this set the stage for some bad habits…excessive caffeine consumption, starvation, and an obsession with exercise.
The first day of my junior year I walked into Chemistry, and instead of being noticed for my weight loss (and better clothes, that I now had my own money to purchase), I was greeted with snide remarks and comments. The worst came from a girl I thought was my friend…"Do you think your hot now, with your tan and your new clothes?” The rest of that period I sat with my back pack covering my chest and listened as I was whispered about and laughed at.
The next period another girl told the class an outrageous lie about my dad.
She had no clue who my dad even was.
I walked home at lunch, and never went back.
The next day my parents enrolled me in the school most of my friends from middle school were now attending.
I was much happier, and made some friends quickly.
A few months into my junior year I met Eric, my future husband.
As you can see I wasn’t super thin, but I was happy enough with my weight at this point. HELLO…I had a boyfriend!
But that summer the insecurities started creeping back.
I went back to eating only once a day and drinking black coffee like it wasn’t ever going to be made again.
By my Senior prom I was a size 8.
That year I went on the antidepressant Zoloft.
I graduated from high school, with no clear vision of what I wanted from life. I had been a disaster in school as far as grades went. I think I graduated with a 2.9 GPA, which was abominable when compared to my high test scores. My only option was to enroll in community college. Which was fine by me…I didn’t particularly love school.
I got a job as a bank teller, and went to school for a semester. I dropped out, finding it harder than ever to concentrate.
All I wanted was to marry Eric.
I was so wrapped up in being with him every moment, that I didn’t notice I was rapidly gaining weight. We were eating out every night, plus I was ordering my lunches from fast food restaurants or a deli that neighbored the bank where I was working.
The first true realization of my growing size was right before a company Christmas party. I was planning on wearing my prom dress (the same size 8 that had fit seven months prior). I tried it on in my bedroom a few nights before the event. I could not get the zipper to go past my rear end.
I collapsed on my bed and cried.
Over the next year I continued to eat horribly, and I continued to gain weight. I had also picked up a nasty habit…smoking.
I was happy with Eric, but unhappy with the path my life was taking. Eric had an awesome job as a draftsman for an engineering company…but I was still clueless as to what I wanted to be when I grew up. So, I ate my insecurities away.
When I was 19, Eric and I got engaged.
At 20, I was married.
I weighed 185 pounds.
Two and a half months after we were married, I found out that I was pregnant. This was a shock. I had previously been told that I had endometriosis, and it would be hard for me to conceive. Apparently not.
I stopped smoking immediately, and also stopped taking my Zoloft.
Mysteriously, I lost ten pounds my first trimester, even though I had no morning sickness.
At this point I was working at a daycare center and preschool, thinking that I may go back to school and become a teacher.
When I was six moths pregnant my blood pressure spiked and I was put on bed rest due to preeclampsia. I had to leave my job.
This was a wretched time for me. It was summer and I was hot and blown up like a balloon full of water.
I have NEVER shown anyone these next two pictures. They make me ill.
Our son, Gabe, was born two weeks early, after I was induced.
Gabe’s story is a long and emotional. He was in the NICU for eight days after his birth. For the purpose of this post, all you need to know is he was very sick and we almost lost him when he was five weeks old. If you read my blog, you know he has since been diagnosed with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome and an autism spectrum disorder, which contributed to his poor health as an infant.
I lost all my pregnancy weight, and was at 175 pounds only two weeks after Gabe’s birth.
I was unable to go back to work because Gabe had an immune disorder of unknown origin, and daycare (or just taking him to the store) could have made him gravely ill.
We could only afford one vehicle, and I never left the house. I became deeply depressed and was put back on Zoloft. I gained ten pounds within two months.
Light bulb moment! The Zoloft was causing some of my weight gain! That was why I had lost ten pounds at the beginning of my pregnancy. (Disclaimer: I am NOT saying that you should go off of your meds for ANY reason. You MUST consult your doctor and decide what is best for you and your wellbeing.) I was switched to Wellbutrin.
With absolutely nothing to do but take care of my sick baby all day, I had a ton of time to reflect on my life. I was overweight and unhappy. I had two choices…stay that way, or do something about it.
I started reducing my calorie intake to 1200 calories per day, and bought a Tae Bo tape (VHS…haha!). I looked ridiculous trying to keep up with Billy Blanks, but I was moving. I lost ten ponds the first two weeks!
I am not going to lie…I did not go about weight loss in a healthy way. I smoked (NEVER in my house or car, or around my son!), drank a ton of Diet Coke, and lived on Lean Cuisines and prepackaged dinners. This is BAD people…VERY bad! I will regret my poor lifestyle choices for the rest of my life.
After 4 months I weighed 130 pounds and wore a size 4. I had not been that size since middle school.
I felt confident enough to go back to school. I applied for a grant and went back the September after Gabe turned a year old. My mom and mother-in-law were wonderful, and watched him while I was in class. I borrowed their vehicles, or Eric dropped me off before he went to work in the mornings.
While attending college I discovered the reason I had always had a hard time concentrating in school…I have ADD. This discovery made a huge difference. I did research and learned coping strategies. My first semester I made the Dean’s List! (and subsequent semesters)
(Oh yeah…in the middle of all the Gabe drama…Eric had lost his job due to the aftereffects 9-11. We were left with a sick baby and no health insurance. Luckily, my dad owns a construction company and offered him a job. Not much stress, eh?;) )
I gained and lost the same five to eight pounds over the next 5 years. Mostly due to the funky diet I ate. Sometimes I ate like a normal person, other times I would gorge myself on cookies, chips or pasta. I would gain weight, then diet to lose it.
In 2006 we decided that we wanted another baby. I quit smoking (for good!) and decided to clean up our diet. It took a few months, but in October I became pregnant with our daughter.
I gained a respectable twenty-eight pounds.
After Lily was born, everything changed. I decided that I wanted to breastfeed her for at least a full year (something I could never do for Gabe). I began to research proper nutrition. What I found was shocking!
I had been going about the whole “diet” thing the wrong way!
Over the next few years I learned about the dangers of pesticides and preservatives, and how the toxins from these substances can actually cause weight gain and chronic illness. I also learned the importance of following a clean diet.
Our bodies crave and need real, whole food. If you continue to put garbage in your body, you will never break the weight loss-gain cycle. The only way to permanently change your body, is to feed it real food…fruits, vegetables and lean protein being the major sources.
I have not been on an antidepressant in 4 years! Sure, I feel down sometimes (maybe more than most people), but I am able to deal with it. I find that adjusting my diet at times like this definitely helps. I eliminate sugars and most carbs, which are my moody trigger foods, and I can immediately feel a difference.
There are some lasting effects from my childhood…I am slow to trust people, and I rarely let anyone (other than my husband and my mom) see me cry. I still have a tendency to base my worth on my weight, and sometimes cringe when I look at myself in the mirror…but some insecurities are hard to shake. I am a work in progress! I do have way more good days than bad!
Today I weigh 124 pounds.
My family has an active, healthy lifestyle, based on the basics…whole nutrition and physical activity.
I will not ever be 185 pounds again.
Last night I was going through all of these photos, feeling awful and overwhelmed with emotion. I asked my husband why he didn’t ever think he could do better than me (I know, kind of a bonehead, insecure thing to ask). He replied…”How could I ever do better than the best”.
I LOVE that man ♥
If you have any questions…ASK!!!
Also, “like” me on Facebook, where I give daily tips on weight loss and healthy eating (and may slip in occasional cute pictures of my kiddos).
Tomorrow I will be back with a look into what I eat on an average day.
I hope you will come back!