The (Weight Loss) Struggle Is Real.
Body shaming…it’s been around forever. Other people shame us into believing our bodies should look a certain way. We shame ourselves into believing our bodies should look a certain way! I can remember being picked on for the way my body looked when I was in elementary school. I was naturally very tall and skinny and the kids in school used to get their kicks from calling me names like “flamingo legs”, “Lurch”, and worse. I hated being so tall and thin and I always wished I could just be “normal”. What exactly IS normal anyway?
~When It Began~
I wasn’t an active kid and I didn’t like sports or anything super active. Usually, I’d just sit in the shade outside playing with my dolls. In high school, I tried to blend in for the most part. I had put on some weight, I had braces and was what one might call “frumpy”. Actually, most people in school called me frumpy. I remember when one boy told me my ass was fat and it annoyed him. He was a gem.
Fast forward to 1993. I was one year out of high school and pregnant with my first child. Unmarried at first until the baby’s father and I got married when I was about 7 months pregnant. A few months later my oldest daughter, Kayla was born; on my 20th birthday! With that pregnancy I gained about 30 pounds, mostly because my favorite food was fried chicken. Soon after she was born, I quickly realized that losing the baby weight was going to be a challenge for me. We were in a very poor financial situation and we mostly lived on boxed macaroni and cheese and peanut butter sandwiches because that’s all we could afford after formula for the baby.
That marriage didn’t work out and at the young age of 23 I was divorced with a 3 year old baby. At this point I had probably only lost 10 of the 30 pounds I gained during pregnancy. I was still relatively thin, but I wasn’t the “flamingo legs” I once was. Exercise was boring to me and I was at a point in my life where I was finally making my own money and could afford to buy food…and so I did. Whatever food I wanted which may or may not have been worse than my diet before.
The next couple of years I dated a handful of people who were all underwhelming. Most of my spare time was spent with my daughter or hanging out with friends. After being single for two years I met my future husband, Kurt.
By then, I had also shed the baby weight and then some simply by not eating…at least not much. I had become WAY too thin. I didnt even realize it had happened. It wasn’t like I tried to lose weight or thought much about losing weight…I just wasn’t hungry or I was to busy to be bothered with eating.
In Y2K (December 23, 2000 to be exact) Kurt and I got married and on my wedding day I was the smallest I had ever been in my adult life. My wedding dress was a size 0. Interestingly, I still thought I was “overweight” and wore a corset to make myself smaller.
~I Blame The Kids~
Three years after I got married, our son Kurt Jr. was born. This pregnancy was much easier and I didn’t gain as much weight with him as I did my first child. Interestingly, this time around I didn’t seem to be able to shed the weight as easily. Fifteen extra pounds or so, hung around for the next few years. Over the next few years, I consistently gained about five pounds each year. Then, we got a surprise…I was pregnant.
In 2009 our youngest daughter Sofia was born. This is where the weight situation went seriously downhill. I gained about 50 pounds with this pregnancy and really started struggling with body confidence. After she was born, I couldn’t seem to lost the weight. I don’t know if it was stress or simply having a small child to care for. I just did not lose weight no matter what I did and by the time Sofie was a year old, I was about 30 pounds overweight.
As time went on I continued to gain roughly 5 pounds or so a year and my already unhealthy lifestyle became more unhealthy. We moved to a new state and I had a job that was very demanding and stressful. I became depressed and stopped caring about how I looked. I ate whatever I wanted whenever I wanted and spent any spare time in front of the computer or the TV. By now I was almost 50 pounds above my ideal weight according to my doctor. My hair was always up in a messy bun and I rarely wore makeup. My clothes were either way too tight or way too baggy and ALWAYS simple: black pants and a solid colored top. I simply did not care.
One day, a friend of mine mentioned to me that there was a 5k run coming to the city we lived close to. It was one of those color runs where they throw colored powder at you as you run by certain stations. Supposedly, it was a lot of fun. I thought it sounded interesting but I was no runner! The race was three months away so I had time to prepare. I downloaded one of those Couch to 5k apps from the App Store and invested in a decent pair of running shoes. We already owned a treadmill that I never used so I set off on a journey to prepare for this race. It wasn’t about losing weight, I wasn’t even thinking about that. It was about not passing out five feet into the race and looking like a fool!
Within the first week of training I noticed two things: a) I was exhausted all the time and b) I had lost 4 pounds. I realized that I was exhausted because I wasn’t eating healthy so I changed my diet to a strict diet of chicken, no starches, and very few carbs. It wasn’t an ideal eating plan but within a month I had lost 12 pounds and I had more energy (for the most part). Running became so enjoyable and therapeutic to me that I began adding a second workout. I started doing P90X 6 days a week and I ran 3-4 days a week. Now the weight really starting falling off. By the time it was race day I was down 30 pounds. I was LOVING it.
After the race I continued this healthy, active lifestyle until we moved to yet another new state and I got a job that I absolutely loved in a city that I adore. My daughter and I immediately signed up for another color run here and I continued to run though not as much as I had before.
As time went on and life seemed to take over, I worked out less and less and I began enjoying the local restaurants and eateries more and more. We live in Charlotte, NC now and there are tons of amazing places to eat here. There are also a lot of cool bars and wine establishments…
Which brings us to present day. I’m 55 pounds over my ideal weight (again!). None of my clothes fit, everything is too tight and I’m extremely unhappy with what I see in the mirror.
In this photo I’ve done some strategic posing; crossed legs to hide thighs, hand over tummy to hide bulge, and a bulky sweater to hide pretty much everything up top. You’d think that would be enough to make changes if I’m so unhappy but here are the (perceived) problems that my friends and family have heard me repeat ad nauseum:
I have zero motivation. I hate vegetables. I already get up at 5:30AM and barely have time to get myself and the kids ready before we have to leave for the day. I get home at 6PM and have to cook dinner and (try) to clean up after dinner, then it’s homework and spending time with kids before they go to bed at 8:30. By now I’m tired and I am usually in bed by 9PM. I don’t have time to work out and I don’t like to eat healthy because it’s boring. Also, I like my wine at night and coffee in the morning.
~It’s Time For A Change~
Sounds like a lot of excuses right? Agreed. It’s time to change all of this nonsense! Either I learn to be happy with my body the way it is OR I make changes to get my body to look the way I want it to look. Either way, I’m in control of that. No one is telling me that I need to look a certain way (other than society); I know need to make changes for myself.
SO…Step one is accountability and that is the purpose behind this blog post. I’m starting on a new journey to improve my health and well being. I’m putting myself out there to all of you, people I don’t know for the most part, as part of a monthly series. This month is about telling my story. Next month I’ll share the changes that I made and the steps I took to figure out what exactly I wanted for my body.
I want to inspire my kids to be active and healthy and maybe even inspire some of you. I’d love to have open discussions about being over 40 (or any age really) and the challenges we all are facing in our efforts to lose excess weight OR to become confident and happy with our bodies the way they are. YOU have to decide which it’s going to be. In the meantime, I’m going to end this post with one of my favorite quotes:
“The Body Achieves what the Mind Believes.” – Unknown