Monday, October 12, 2009

The 15 Year Diet

As best as I can figure I've been on a diet, preparing to start a diet or trying, unsuccessfully to manage my weight in some form or another since about the age of twelve...or maybe even a little before. I remember coming out of school in the summer before grade five with the hope that when I returned to class that fall I would have lost a bunch of weight...I had visions of me breezing in to school wearing a short little sundresses complete with the Blossom hat (remember them? Pictured left). How old are you in grade five? 10? I remember my stepmother offering to pay me a dollar for every pound I lost (nice, eh?) not to mention the mortifying and relentless teasing of kids and even some adults. I remember idolizing the girls that ran around the pool in the summer time, without any apparent self consciousness (I still do!) I remember being the fat kid.

When I was about fifteen I decided to become a vegetarian. It was the first real change I ever made to my diet and the gratification that came from controlling my diet made an immediate impact on my psyche. In no time at all I had lost (at best guess) close to 70 pounds. The key to my weight loss success was simple- don't eat. One of the many problems with having an eating disorder is that no matter how much weight you loose, you never feel thin. I remember going shopping for a new pair of jeans after I'd lost the better part of my extra weight.... when the sales lady asked what size I needed I answered, "Thirty-four." figuring that I'd lost a little weight (my last pair were a 36). Of course I was swimming in the 34s so I asked for the next size down. A few pairs of jeans later I finally found a pair that fit...they were a size 27. I was stunned. Some part of my brain recognized that I was not "the fat girl" anymore but a bigger issue was at work and I was not mentally healthy enough to gain a realistic view of my size. I was weak, tired, spaced out and unhealthy. I was wearing a size 4 but I still wouldn't be caught dead wearing a bathing suit even around my close friends nor would I wear shorts (I still wont).

By seventeen I was, at face value, getting healthier physically as I had put on some weight. I was a size 9 bottom, 4/6 top (I am a pear shape all the way:) but in truth I wasn't better at all...I was what I called a "failed anorexic", meaning that I would have loved nothing better than to stop eating and most days I woke up with the firm intention not to eat...but each and every day I would fail and end up binging instead.

At eighteen I met my DB. I was a size 13. At nineteen I took up running and found that it was a really effective tool to maintaining my weight, (just a few miles a day was all it took) and by the time I was 20 I had dropped about twenty pounds and was probably the first truly healthy weight of my life. I was a size 9 and probably about 160 pounds. But I still wasnt happy with my weight and continue dieting...

(Me at my ideal weight. I just wish I had known it at the time.)

My attempts at dieting failed probably because I failed to recognize that I had hit a healthy weight for my body type. The next year I had an accident with my crazy gelding Loachan which resulted in a debilitating knee injury, which lead to a significant weight gain as I was unable to do much exercising and also had to deal with some major stress/life issues. The heavier I got the more difficult loosing weight became and the more I began to struggle with the emotional issues of my food association and long term diet issues.

As I'm sure you all know extra weight can really creep up on you... gaining even just a pound a month can add up to over fifty pounds over five years. In the past five years I've lost over 20 pounds about three or four times. But I always put the weight back on. I am hoping that by blogging here and sharing this all with you I can put my thumb on the root of my problem and finally get back to a healthy weight.

I quite simply REFUSE to spend the next fifteen years of my life fighting the battle of the bulge I am done with diets and know that the key for me is exercise (and plenty of it), portion control and a focus on health and wellness, not vanity.


Mrs Mom said...

You Go Chelsi!

I'd love to run like I did in school... but... I have faced the fact that it isn't going to happen. Unless of course, I can run on my horse! (Who might actually be ready for that in a few months time...)

This sounds like a good game plan- the focus on health and wellness, and smaller portions of food, instead of going crazy with pills and diet fads. Looking forward to reading more from you as always!

Michelle said...

Great post. Not that it helps much, but so many people struggle with the same issues. The question becomes, when you have a distorted body image, how is that best resolved? How do you learn to see yourself accurately? And more importantly, accept who you are at any given time? I know that for me, I tie my emotional and mental health solely to my physical health. It doesn't matter how many things I accomplish, I don't feel good in my skin if I'm carrying an extra 10 (or 30, or whatever) pounds. Very sad way to be.

Laura said...

Thanks for sharing - like I've said before, it's nice to know we aren't alone in this.

Focusing on health and wellness is the way I want to go as well, esp. with my health a bit sketchy right now!

Anonymous said...

We may all have different stories, but underneath it all, we share the same issues. Thanks for sharing and I'm glad you're writing with us, Chelsi!