This story goes back a ways. I think I’ve always been overweight. Back when I was a kid, you were “chubby” or “husky”. These days, you’re “obese” or – if they really want to scare the bejeezus out of you – “morbidly obese”. As if looking at you makes others very, very scared. Really, the only person who needs to be scared is you.
According to the CDC’s BMI calculator, my BMI puts me squarely into the “obese” category. In fact, it suggests that – for someone of my height – I should be about 100lbs thinner. Now, I’m willing to grant the CDC that I need to lose a good chunk of weight, but I can’t shed half my weight without looking skeletal. I know what my body looks like when I’m about 70lbs below where I am…and it’s in the “damn good” category. Take another 30lbs off after that, and I will most likely look like I strolled in from Dachau. There’s something terribly wrong with society when the governmental calculators tell you that you need to be scary thin to be healthy and the clothes manufacturers are “vanity sizing” clothes so that none of us have to feel badly about the fact that our size 16 jeans should really be a size 20.
I was a chubby kid. I had cheeks that everyone seemed to want to pinch. Once I realized I couldn’t see the chalkboard from the back of the classroom, I became the short, fat kid with glasses. It’s like the unholy trinity of suckitude: how to make a kid in the late 70’s/early 80’s as uncool as possible. I had being smart to fall back on; I could write and spell relatively well, and I was good at math. So, the same kids who wouldn’t give me the time of day on the playground also wanted to copy off my homework.
I never felt comfortable being out on the baseball diamond or the soccer field; I grew up encouraged to develop my mind and there was little interest on my part to try to learn how to run that mile, when it seemed like every 1/4mi I ran was enough to set my lungs on fire.
High school got a little better, and being a bit more active (having to take stairs EVERYWHERE, plus aerobics in the a.m. during my senior year) made my frame even out a bit better. Still, I never got below a size 9 – even at my smallest. My senior year, pushing 5’4″ tall, I was around 140lbs when I was at my thinnest point. My mom thought I looked too thin, but I thought I looked good. I was meaty but not fatty, and I felt healthy.
Once college set in, my weight went up and down a little, but it never really settled back that low and it never really got that high. The next time I’d start to get healthy again was when I began hanging out with my friend (who would later morph into Local Kitchen) who I saw wearing these cute skirts all the time. I wanted to be able to wear cute skirts like that. I could never pull off cute skirts like that. So, I hit the gym for the lofty price of $80/mo, and I lost some weight. It was a good time. Even so, it didn’t really last; I couldn’t keep the momentum going, and my weight went up some.
After dh and I got together, my weight fluctuated some more, but it didn’t really go down a lot. When we married, I was probably in the range of 220lbs. There was a point not long after the wedding when I saw the wedding picture of the two of us and was horrified by the width of my body. Sure, my dress started 2 sizes too big – that’s how wedding dresses are; and mine had been taken in quite a bit, anyway. But I just looked enormous.
It was at that point that I went on Weight Watchers. That was the first of two times I’d join WW – online, not in-person. I think I did fairly well, but even the restriction of running out of “POINTS” was stressful. Having kids through me off even further (I had dd in between WW attempt 1 and WW attempt 2). Let me be clear about this, though: my inability to stay on WW was a reflection of ME, not of WW. It’s a great program and it teaches you a ton. I just need more discipline and I need to train my body not to want crap all the time. I also need to retrain my life so that I’m not in a position where the thing within easiest reach and designed most for my lifestyle is the crap. I need to re-do a lot.
I know several people who are doing the “shake” thing, where they drink shakes as meal substitutions, and these “vitamin and nutrition-packed” shakes are supposed to make them feel fantastic and lose weight. The trouble is, you don’t learn how to eat better. You don’t learn how to move more. You just learn how to become dependent upon chemically-designed shakes. That’s not sustainable for me, and it doesn’t help me balance out nutrition intake & exercise for my family, either. After all, this isn’t just about me – this is about how to get us all to a healthier place (putting better food on the table, encouraging everyone to exercise) without putting all the adult anti-fat crap all on the kids so that they grow up with distorted body image issues.
So, when I was asked to join a research study at a hospital near where I work – this research study being about pairing reduced caloric intake with increased exercise to reduce weight – I decided to go for it. I don’t know how much I can talk about the study, and I’ve asked the program director to let me know what I can/can’t say. Otherwise, I’ll just talk in even vaguer generalities about how I’m fighting this personal battle.
At my weigh-in today, my baseline (with clothes on), I was at 216lbs. That’s just awful. It’s not unfixable, though. Hopefully, this study will help me use the next year to get a lifestyle in place that I can manage and that helps me get healthier. It’s not that I need to be a skinny girl. I just want to be a healthy girl. And life sucks as a fat girl. I’m not being down on fat girls, but I know my life would be better if I were a healthy girl, and that’s what I’m aiming towards. I’d like to see if I can get to 150lbs. What’s my timeframe? I dunno. The study suggests weight loss of up to 1-2lbs a week, which is the average in WW and is also considered the average for healthy weight loss. If I can manage that for even 20-30lbs, I think that would make a big difference.
I could use a big difference right about now.