I have been overweight for as long as I can remember. I can still vividly remember the sting in the third grade when my classmate looked at me a little funny, and when I asked what was wrong, she said “You’re fat.” It bruised my ego tremendously and I remember being so embarrassed and ashamed, even though I was only 8! Looking back, I was definitely a little chubbier than some, but not FAT by any means. I can’t say the same for my life after elementary school. I put the weight on little by little, and by high school I passed the 200 pound mark.
My weight peaked around 250 during college, but I was in denial about how out of control I had let myself get. I made every excuse I could think of, from “These clothes just run small” to “I am just big-boned” to “I don’t actually look like a size 20.”
I was in both of my sister’s weddings in 2004 and had to buy a size 20 bridesmaid dress for one of them and a size 14 with extra fabric for the other one to have a dress custom-made since they didn’t make one big enough for me. Seeing those pictures was a big wake up call for me, but I didn’t really do anything about it for another year or so.
I’d always thought of myself as heavy in high school, but when I look back at photos of myself from that time now, it still hurts to see how far I let myself go during college. I had a boyfriend during my first few years that had terrible eating habits, so we would just stay in, order food, chain smoke cigarettes, and pretend that it was an OK way to live. He graduated after my junior year and moved away, which was the first time in my life that I really started to focus on myself.
Around this time, my father had done Atkin’s and had lost about 70 pounds on the diet, and I was very impressed with the amount of food he could eat and still lose weight, because moderation had never been my thing. So, the summer right before my senior year of college, I decided to give it a shot. I started Atkin’s in August 2005 and lost about 10 pounds in the first month without exercising.
Then I went back to school and stuck with it, worked out 5x a week, and lost around 40 more pounds, bringing my weight down to 180ish. My friends would always joke about how dedicated I was to my no-carb ways, because even when I was not feeling great from drinking too much, I would request my low-carb tortillas. But, besides those late nights, I felt better than I ever had in my life and maintained that weight for my entire senior year of college.
Then came the real world. After I graduated from college, I waitressed for the summer and maintained a very unhealthy lifestyle from working in a restaurant, being surrounded by food all the time, getting off work late and being at a bar. It was my first time on my own, where I was the person who called all the shots, so I ate whatever I wanted, didn’t work out at all, and maintained a lot of unhealthy lifestyle choices. I didn’t sleep very much, didn’t eat at regular times, and didn’t focus on my health in any way.
This lifestyle came to an abrupt end when I ended up having to have emergency back surgery in September 2006 from a herniated disc (which you can read about here, here, and here), and as I recovered, I slowly let the weight creep back on. My roommate and I would eat copious amounts of crap – monster slim jims, pork rinds, toll house ice cream cookie sandwiches, chipotle burritos with sour cream and cheese, meals from taco bell PLUS taco crunchwrap supremes. ugh. While splurging from time to time is normal, and necessary in my opinion, this was the norm for us; an everyday sort of thing. Needless to say, I ballooned back up and took off 10 pounds here and there, but never stuck with it.
My wake up call came when I was seeing my doctor in late 2008 and she said “What is going on with your weight?” I was completely taken aback by the question. I had never had anyone ask me that directly before, and I honestly didn’t even know how to begin to respond. She asked me what I was planning to do about it, and suggested Weight Watchers. While I walked away from the doctors office feeling defeated, offended, mad, sad, and embarrassed, I later came to terms with the fact that she was only thinking about my health and wasn’t a personal attack in any way.
A few months later, I decided to make my new year’s resolution for 2009 to “get healthy”, though at the time I didn’t really know where it would lead. I quit smoking cigarettes and started going to the gym again, but I wasn’t making too much progress with my weight because I wasn’t doing anything to change my eating habits.
After toying with the idea of joining Weight Watchers for a few months, I finally committed in March 2009. When I first started, I made a lot of progress by eating mostly processed foods (think 100 calorie packs, artificially sweetened yogurt, low-fat or fat-free anything, etc etc). Slowly, I started incorporating more natural foods into my diet and as my daily points allowance starting dwindling, using 2 points for a 100 calorie pack no longer seemed worth it when I could have an apple or cup of grapes for half the points!
I cancelled my Weight Watchers membership because my weight was staying stagnant for almost a year and I think I was getting a little too obsessive about counting points, but you can read all about my decision here.
With the launch of the PointsPlus Program from Weight Watchers, I decided to give it another shot to lose the last few pounds and rejoined in December 2010, just hitting my goal weight in May 2011. I then started working for Weight Watchers as a Leader and dove head first into the weight loss world.
After maintaining this weight loss for about two years give or take, I decided to get plastic surgery in July 2013 to take care of the excess skin around my midsection. You can find all the posts about the plastic surgery listed here, and while it was definitely not the most comfortable experience to recover from, I am extremely happy with the results and would do it again in a heartbeat. I was so happy with myself and my accomplishments, that I was interviewed by US News & World Report and had my success story featured on their website!
But then, I got too comfortable. The plastic surgery increased my confidence in my body so much, because I no longer felt like I was hiding some big secret under my clothes. This made me looser with my healthy living decisions, and it happened slowly at first. I’d miss a workout here or there, or order a pizza after a night out on the town, but then, as time went on, those things became more and more frequent, and working out and cooking at home became the rarities. This caused me to put back on some weight, and I fessed up to the weight gain in January 2014 and recommitted to getting back to goal. Welcome to this never ending journey that is weight loss!