Monday, October 12, 2009

Confession: I've obsessed with my weight since I was a little girl

My story is similar to Mrs. Mom's. Pregnancy related illness led to an astounding amount of weight gain. And it's not really wanted to ever come off. However, I'm going to go back farther today.

In 4th grade, my classmates started to call me fat. It was right after we had taken our first ever Presidential Fitness Test and we'd all just been weighed in PE. I weighed 12lbs more than any of the other girls in my class. I felt horrible. And soon after this time period, I started hearing it at home.

Elementary school, middle school, right on up into high school. It didn't get any better. I always wore a size or two bigger than my friends. And the popular girls at school made sure I heard there snide remarks about my body. It didn't matter than in 8th grade, I weighed 110 lbs and I could bench press my own body weight, a feat difficult for most women, let alone teen girls just entering puberty.

I led an active lifestyle. I had daily chores that were physically demanding. And I thought I was fat. I wasn't a size 5 or 7 like my peers. I wore a size 11. It didn't help that my first boyfriend would make fun of me because I weighed 4 lbs more than he did and my waist was 3" bigger than his. I began to wear a t shirt over my swimwear when we went to a lake or took a dip in his pool. My peers didn't help much either as there was an emphasis on clothing size, not how you looked. I couldn't understand why my thighs were bigger than those of my friends. I didn't understand why I weighed more even though I ate healthier than most of them did. Then again, I didn't recognize that I was also several inches taller than most of the girls around me. I didn't feel tall. I felt BIG. FAT.

Eventually though, I dumped the loser and continued on with my active, athletic lifestyle. I started to skip meals and ruthlessly eliminate fats from my diet. I drank diet soda and I jogged 5 miles a day, on top of my M-F stall cleaning job (32 stalls) and riding my horse. I took extra PE classes as my electives. Aerobics, weight training, you name it. I took whatever they'd let me take. I thought that if I could just fit into a size 7, I'd be more accepted and no one would think I was fat any more.

I met my soon-to-be husband in high school. I wore a size 9 form fitted dress to his senior prom. I still wouldn't swim without a t shirt. And I was still highly self conscious of my body.

Shortly after graduation, we married. And soon after, he went overseas. When I found out I was pregnant, I accepted some bad advice from an older friend. I quit working out, I quit my active lifestyle because she said it was bad for the baby. And when I was 5 months pregnant, I got sick. So sick I was hospitalized and put on bed-rest. There I stayed until my eldest daughter was born.

I gained a whopping 90 lbs during my pregnancy. And it didn't want to come off. When I was finally cleared to ride, my horse friends would tell me that I was too heavy. I found the stigmatism that exists in the horse world. And I started to hear it a lot. It joined in with the broken record already in my head from my childhood. And it did real damage. I gave up riding. I just accepted that I was fat and that was that. I didn't try to do anything about it. After all, I'd been told that I was fat for most of my life.

And my high school sweetheart-turned husband was cheating on me. More, he cheated on me with the skinny girls from school, with strippers and with other skinny women. A message that said not only was I fat, but I wasn't good enough either. We divorced and life moved forward.

Another child, another round of the same pregnancy-related illness, a couple more failed relationships. I was fat and depressed. The weight wouldn't budge no matter how hard I worked out.

Then, I found a job I loved. It was a job that kept me on my feet and moving a lot. I started losing weight. I ate anything and everything I wanted and yet I kept losing weight. I felt good, I was looking good and I was loving life.

I met my current (and final!) husband. I left the job I loved, moved to Oregon, got married and got pregnant. We lost the baby and I fell apart. My weight yo-yo'd for about 8 months, and then finally plateaued and stayed there.

Not long ago, I came across my class picture from the 4th grade. I was easily a head taller than the rest of the girls in the class. More, I wasn't fat. Rather I was tall and gangly, more skin and bones than anything. I wasn't fat! I mean, I WASN'T FAT! Being told I was fat had just been a hurtful lie! And it became a start to undoing all the damage and baggage I'd been carrying around for years. More, I found the prom picture from my first husband's senior prom. I. did. not. look. healthy. Period. Rather, I looked a bit like Skeletor! Ick! (Yet, I was complimented by people around me!)

Now, I can see that the secret to weight loss is part mental and part emotional, not just science. You are not only what you eat, but what you think! I'm on my way to finding my happy again and I'm moving my feet just as much as I can. I've got a long way to go to where I want to be, but this isn't a race, it's an lifestyle change. After all, Rome wasn't built in a day!

I am more than just a dress size. Dresses don't come in only one size, so why should I? My goal is to be fit and healthy. I know I'll get there. And why not enjoy the ride with all of you while I'm at it?


Laura said...

Thanks for sharing your story... It's nice to know we aren't alone in this struggle - everyone has a slightly different story, but we are all sort of in the same spot now.

Looking forward to reading more!

Mrs Mom said...

Wow- I'd still not want to try you in an arm wrestling contest Sunshine ;)

Love your last lines. Why is the focus so much on the AMOUNT of pounds, and NOT on the healthy for that person? You GO Girl!

Looking forward to getting to know you through here. This is really shaping up (pardon the pun-- I didn't mean it) to be one heckuva ride!!

Anonymous said...

Mrs Mom- You'd best me at arm wrestling right now. I have a sprained shoulder from wrestling with hay last weekend. :(

I'm also not as strong as I was way back in middle school. Maybe someday...

cdncowgirl said...

Great first post OS!
I loooove that phrase "I am more than just a dress size"
I'm thinking we're on the same page here... yes we'd like to lose weight but its more about being healthy and fit than the numbers on the scale or the dress size.

Adventures of a Horse Crazed Mind said...

Great post. Sounds like you've had some serious challenges in your life. It is really painful to be teased about your weight/size when you are so young and took me a long time to take pride in being strong rather than skinny and to find the beauty in legs made for soccer, not skirts:)