My entire childhood I was overweight. Growing up overweight has affected me long term. Although looking back, I was never as heavy as I thought I was. I WAS overweight compared to everyone else. I let it hold me back from doing things I wanted to do like playing sports or acting in school plays. I didn’t have any self confidence or a lot of friends and I was afraid I’d be made fun of for trying. I never played a sport until I was in my 30’s. I never was able to fulfil my dream of acting because I assumed I wouldn’t be welcome to participate in these activities.
I was bullied in elementary through high school for a variety of reasons including my weight; it didn’t help matters. I ate to feel better because I didn’t have any coping skills. It was very unhappy- it was almost if I actively chose to avoid happiness; to avoid making choices that would be beneficial to me.
When I got to college things were better. No one cared how I looked. I made friends. I lost some weight (I don’t really know how much I weighed; I was a size 13 my freshman year of college and about an 11 by the time I was a junior). I remember being able to wear a skirt that a friend of mine had when I was on a trip; and I always thought she was thin.
When I finished my undergrad I also was in my first long term relationship. We ate out ALL the time, and then would go for dessert. I’m talking eggplant parm + salad +bread and then would go to DQ for Blizzards. Not the epitome of health, I’m afraid.
Two years later I was fed up. I hated the way I had looked at my 5 year high school reunion. I weighed 225 pounds. I’m 5’2″ so I looked awful. So I made a change. I joined a gym near where I lived at the time and began working out with a trainer/nutritionist. I changed my eating habits drastically. I took classes like step, Tae Bo, and strength and tone.
I saw immediate results and lost weight and inches. Overtime, the weight loss slowed and I increased the cardio (I was working out everyday, training for races, taking Tae Bo classes) and lowered my calories. One night I ended up with a UTI, was at the ER until 4 am, and was up at 7 to go to Tae Bo. I was obsessed. I ate an egg white omelette for breakfast, a big salad for lunch, and whole wheat pasta with sauce and soy mince for dinner. (This was before I was diagnosed with food allergies.) I never cheated. I avoided chocolate, cookies, cake like they were the plague, which was hard because at least once a week food was brought in for us at work. I was hungry ALL.THE.TIME.
The sad thing was, was that as I lost weight people actually paid attention to me. I got a promotion at work. I got a raise. Hot guys talked to me. My extended family acknowledged my existence. It was great, but it was really screwed up. I was still the same messed up person on the inside, I just was smaller. I hated it. I hated that people paid attention to what I had to say because the size of my jeans was a single digit number. It felt really wrong and fake, like my entire self worth only had to do with my outside appearance. It was very nice at first- but ended up being really demoralizing. I was and still am, the socially awkward, opinionated, over-sensitive person I always had been.
Once I got to my goal weight of 140 I relaxed my eating habits a bit. I had moved to a bigger city, had less of a commute, and had a new boyfriend. I started eating more and working out less. I didn’t gain a lot of weight back right away; about 20 pounds of it though. I didn’t really go up in size much, so I was ok with where I was size wise. But I wasn’t happy with my life and where it was going. I made a lot of bad choices in those years and began eating because I was depressed and didn’t know how to dig myself out of the hole I was in.
After I got out of that relationship I moved back in with my parents. I worked out on and off and dieted on and off. I didn’t have a healthy relationship with food and I wasn’t happy but I was busy looking for teaching jobs and I was depressed and angry with myself for staying in a abusive relationship for so long.
I finally got a better job and moved to Boston. I began eating better and working out again. I made some friends and then finally got a teaching job. At this point I was probably about 210 again, but I am not really sure. I was still working out, but eating more than I should have. I got really fed up and took drastic action. I went on the Optifast diet.
On this diet I was allowed 890 calories per day in shakes and bars. I was monitored by a doctor with blood tests bi-weekly and a BP check every week when we weighed in. It sucked. It was expensive and I was hungry all the time. When I tell people about this, they think I had to have been cheating. I would have, but the diet was so expensive it didn’t leave me any extra money for food. The program cost me $300 every 2 weeks. It was insane. And I wasn’t losing weight. I lost a total of 7 pounds- maybe. I was eating nothing and I was training for a 5K so I was running 3 miles 3 days per week. I felt miserable and began to have dizzy spells. My blood pressure readings began to get lower every week (and I have always had low b/p normally), but my potassium levels were fine so they weren’t concerned. One day, I nearly fainted and I told them about it and they told me to get my b/p checked if it happened again.
One day I was at work and I got very dizzy. I called the nurse and she came over and took my b/p. It was 60/40. She told me to find a student who had a Gatorade and to drink it. I did and felt a little better. It was at that point I realized I couldn’t keep doing this to myself and decided to stop. I went home that day and ate pizza. And it was amazing.
After that I was reluctant to diet again. I went back to my usual eating habits; bagels, lean cuisines, etc. I still ran 3 days a week, but I never got smaller or lost much weight. A couple of months after I finished Optifast, the headaches started and never stopped. I’ve had a headache every day of my life for the past 7 years. It is never ending. Some days it is like background noise, and some days I can’t get out of bed. I’ve seen 7 neurologists to this date. No treatment I’ve been on has worked. I believe this is a result of being on Optifast. I can’t prove it, but it’s the only thing that fits.
In 2010 I lost some weight and managed to get down to 185. I had a breast reduction in the summer and looked better. That fall I moved to Scotland. I was restricted on exercise for a few months after the surgery so by the time I settled in here, I was used to not working out and I gained weight again.
About a year ago, I finally realized I needed to do something about my weight. I began working out and weight training and eating better. I began tracking my calories. I knew my body and metabolism was damaged from so much yo-yo dieting, so I stayed at a steady caloric level for a few months and began to slowly decrease calories, and I began to finally lose weight slowly.
Right now I eat a Paleo/Primal kind of diet. I eat higher protein/lower carb/slightly higher fats. I allow myself to eat off plan without remorse or restricting calories the next day. I know where that leads. I know that a life without pizza or ice cream is a life I don’t want, but I know I can’t eat them every day. If I want ice cream I get tiny single size servings from the store, or get an ice cream cone. If I want pizza I share a small one with a friend. As far as exercise goes, I weight train 3 days a week and spin 2-3 times or run/do other cardio if I can’t get into a class. I track my calories using MyFitnessPal and weigh out all my food. (I really hate doing it. I will be honest. It makes me kind of mental to have to portion things out and weigh and measure and everything, but it works. And numbers don’t lie.)
Right now I hope to be able to get under the 200 pound mark. I was very close there at the end of April 2013. Sadly, the new medicine I’ve been put on has some side effects, including weight gain. It’s very frustrating to work hard and not see results. It’s even harder to work hard and do all the right things and have the scale go up/new clothes not fit. I hope that I can find a way to not have headaches and lose weight at the same time. However, if I continue to gain weight, I will not take this medication anymore. I do not want to add other health problems to my life with continued weight gain. I’d honestly rather have the headache.