I’m trying to do some meal plans and wanted to just ask around to see if anyone had any good recipes or suggestions that I might incorporate!! Let me know – I’ll post later this week with some recipes of mine and some of my weekly plan!!
I was thinking it would be worth my time to think through and blog about the things that seem to trigger unhealthy decisions that lead to a binge or feeling like I’ve failed and then let go of my determination and focus. These things may change over time. As I remember when I was successful for a long-span of time the things that seemed tempting in the beginning became less and less tempting as time went on.
I mentioned in my last post that getting enough sleep was something I wanted to make a priority for a variety of reasons. one thing I know from previous experience is that when I am tired I have far less energy to make healthy food choices and struggle to get enough exercise/movement in. So to avoid falling off the wagon my first goal is to really listen to my body and get enough sleep at night – no more staying up till midnight watching TV shows on Netflix.
Homemade baked goods, celebratory goodies. At some point I hope to be able to indulge in a slice of birthday cake or a few sweet treats during the holidays – but for starters it is probably best for me to steer clear. My birthday (and Preston’s birthday) is at the end of June, my hope is that will be the first time I let myself have a small piece of something yummy. It would be completely unrealistic of me to ask people not to have sweets around me, but maybe being sure that if those things are at the house they are out of sight. And let’s be honest no one actually NEEDS those things sitting around, especially before the warmer months kick in when its nice to feel a little thinner anyway. Thankfully between now and the end of June there aren’t any family birthdays that need to be celebrated so that might also be helpful. Any suggestions for curbing that sweet craving when others are indulging would be helpful!
A major weakness I have is fast food. Not just the drive through kind but any food that takes little to no prep time. Its all generally unhealthy and I want to try not to indulge in “fast food”. As I recall from 7 years ago I did eat a lot of salads from Panera, Corner Bakery and any other little sandwich place that sold fresh salad with chicken and little else. It really helped a lot with my weight loss – but since then I’ve tired of your standard salad so there is really little reason be heading to those places on any sort of regular basis. I’m thinking using things like the crock pot can be helpful having things ready when I want them but fresh and healthy. I’m a big fan of your basic sandwich but have begun looking more into wraps that I can pack full of fresh veggies. Chipotle will ultimately be the hardest to abstain from because it is SOOOO yummy. I have several recipes that are similar in ingredients but keep the calories down so it might require me being sure they are on my weekly schedule at least once to keep the Chipotle cravings down. Another way that I might make room for something like Chipotle is going with a friend to keep me accountable and only eating half of what they serve me because the portions are really large. Another part of this equation that will likely prove to be really helpful is my plan to meal plan several weeks ahead of present time. Having a plan of what I will eat and when will help me avoid the, ‘I’m hungry now and I don’t know what to eat…’ moments.
Feeling lonely or any pity party type feelings really trigger me to want to eat for comfort. I have found that there are even specific days and times that I feel more apt to eat for comfort. One time is Friday evenings – I work until about 530/6pm and then I come home and typically do my laundry and catch up on TV shows. I am generally alone and isolated and that triggers me to feel crappy and want to eat. Preston goes to bed really early 630/7pm so if I’m not working and he’s not at his dad’s house then I put him to bed by 7pm and spend the rest of the evening alone. Did I mention I’m an extrovert? All the alone time I get is more than I need/want. And because eating is a generally shameful thing – even when I’m eating “normally” – all the alone time lends itself nicely to overeating. So while I can’t change the fact that I am hanging out at home while Preston is snoozing away I can be more intentional about how I spend that time. If I’m getting enough sleep I will hopefully have the energy to do more than sit on the couch and catch up on TV. I’m thinking – exercise DVD’s, Wii Fit, stationary bike riding, crafting, organizing, prepping meals for the following days, or blogging. I think if I can get myself to 8/830pm without overindulging then I can slip into bed and reward myself with an hour or two of TV or book reading. The other day/time is weekdays when Preston and I have nothing planned. T/Th he is in school in the morning so I try to go to the gym or fill that time with something that is easier to get done without him. Wednesdays he has a gymnastics class in the middle of the day and that breaks things up a bit. Fridays I work half of the day so we are usually pretty busy in the morning getting ready to leave the house. I guess it is Mondays that are the hardest – they also tend to set the tone for the week. So if Monday doesn’t go well the rest of the week usually doesn’t. So it looks like I need to make some more concrete plans for us on Mondays: play dates, sign up for a class, trips to the zoo or arboretum, weekend visits that have us leaving Monday morning, or some other intentional use of our time. Of course there is laundry and toy cleaning/organizing and all those at home responsibilities but they don’t seem to pull me away from that blah feeling that leads me to comfort eating.
There are likely others – but I’m drawing a blank. I think primarily keeping me more mentally focused and ensuring I’m eating enough/sleeping enough will really help me avoid triggering thoughts to overeat or eat junk food. What ways do you avoid triggers to eat poorly and ruin your diet? What kind of activities do you participate in to avoid bored eating? What is the one food that other people just can’t eat near you without you feeling like you want some too?
I mentioned in my story that 7 years ago I lost 100lbs in less than one year. Before I begin to put my effort into losing again, it is important to look back and think about some of the things that worked well for me, and some of the things I would like to change. Over the past 7 years I have dieted enough that I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ve lost 100lbs again but in small doses that I just put back on each time I lost a few.
Things that worked!
- Sleep! Making sure I got enough sleep helped with cravings, energy level, and focus. My plan is to make a rule of lights out at 10:30pm every weeknight, unless I am at work until later than that.
- Water! Drinking water is good for so many parts of weight loss (overall hydration, metabolism booster, skin elasticity, energy, etc) I find that I need at a minimum of 2L of water every day – if I’m working out hard I definitely need to get closer to 3L.
- Meal Planning! For the first month or two it was really helpful to plan out my weekly meal plan – I tend to plan it loosely so that there is always room to change my mind, but having a plan means there’s always something I can eat. In recent diet attempts it has been really helpful for the first week but then I tend to lose steam with planning additional weeks. My goal is to loosely organize several weeks so that I can’t make any excuses.
- Easing into exercise! I tend to get REALLY excited when I start a diet – I plan a daily trip to the gym, eat a bunch of salads and burn out before I make any noticeable changes. This time around I’d like to put most of my energy into being on track with the diet portion and spend time moving around with Preston just having fun instead of tedious trips to the gym – just for the beginning.
- Sharing my success with other people! I like to hide my weight loss attempts because I fear failure and having to share that with people. I decided to start this blog and talk openly about my goals to help hold me accountable and have other people to celebrate the victories with!
Things I’d like to change!
- “Cheating” When I was extremely successful I didn’t “cheat” for 5 months straight. Then I destroyed my success in one meal (mentally). Since then I’ve allowed myself one “cheat” meal/day and I tend to binge on those meals and it reintroduces cravings and thoughts about food that aren’t very helpful. I would like to eliminate the word “cheat”. Some days will have more calories than others. On the weekends when I spend time with my family over a meal I can eat what they eat but continue to be thoughtful about portion size and nutritional content (avoid white sugar at most times).
- Measurements! In the past I weighed myself on Sunday mornings and that was the only measurement I took to track my success. This time I would like to track waist, neck, thigh, arm measurements and how they change – as well as BMI and body fat % My hope is that tracking all these areas will help me when the number on the scale doesn’t reflect the work I think I put in. And it creates additional goals to work for and track.
- Rewards! Let me be honest, I can get really motivated if there is a tangible reward involved. Many might argue that losing weight and feeling better is reward enough. And it is in many ways. But when I say things to myself like, “if someone said they’d give me five bucks for every pound I lost I would be so motivated”. Since no one has stepped forward in all these years to make such an offer I’m thinking maybe something like every 20 pounds I go get a massage. I don’t know – just something to keep me pushing forward.
What kind of strategies have helped you shed the pounds? What kind of rewards do you set up for yourself to continue to motivate you to reach small goals? Do you have any fun ‘out of the gym’ exercise ideas you’d like to share??
I packed up my car and drove the 850 miles to Atlanta listening to music from my past and reflected on the previous year. I had all of my worldly belongings weighing down my back seat and trunk and thought that the sooner I arrived in Atlanta, the sooner the pain would stop and the healing would begin. The family I moved in with was nice – single mom, two kids a boy and a girl. I had a room and bathroom of my own and a car to drive the kids around in. My first night there I cried. I missed my friends and my family and felt really overwhelmed. The second night I cried because I realized I would have to create a new life in Atlanta all by myself while working 60+ hours a week in a job that only exposed me to two small people that were mostly interested in swimming and riding bikes. And I had become far more shy as an adult than I was in my younger years. What did I get myself into??
My first weekend in Atlanta I watched the first season of 24, start to finish. I didn’t really know what else to do. On Sunday I went to the nearest gym and bought myself a membership and signed up to meet with a trainer. Gyms intimidate the hell out of me and I thought doing the “complimentary” hour with a trainer might make me feel more comfortable. I ended up signing up to meet with a trainer regularly and was nervous and excited all in one. I had managed to only gain about 10-15lbs since my break up with Chris and I HAD to keep the weight down for the summer because I was my best friends maid of honor in August and had asked them to order my dress a size BELOW my measurements since I was so confident I’d have lost the rest of my weight by then. (NEVER DO THAT!!!!)
Because I was still an emotional wreck I binged on white bread and little baggies of chips, cookies, and other “kid” snacks that I could find at the house. I bought myself a lot of fast food and then showed up for my appointments with my trainer making excuses about why I wasn’t losing. I never got the impression the trainers I worked with were really invested in me, but I still assumed everyone judged me as harshly as I judged myself.
Two weeks after I moved to Atlanta I met Johanita. We became very close friends the night that we met – due to a series of ridiculous happenings and also just because we were such a perfect fit. Johanita was a single mom to the cutest two-year-old boy, Dylan. We were both live-in nannies and bonded over our need to be out of our “homes” as much as possible. Especially on the weekends! Thankfully she was one of the most adventurous people I have ever met. We spent our weekends hiking in the North Georgia Mountains, riding bikes along the Silver Comet Trail, camping, going to various parties, and events. We stayed busy. We stayed active. It was awesome.
That winter I met a guy, Justin. He wasn’t exactly my type, but he liked me. He didn’t judge my weight at all – in fact he thought I was beautiful – an adjective Chris was never able to use. I remember apologizing for showing up at his house once with my glasses on instead of contacts because I had felt so scrutinized in my previous relationship that I thought it was expected I look my best. It was refreshing to be with someone who simply wasn’t concerned about my physical appearance. Justin liked to eat and it quickly became something we shared together – wings, fries, chips and queso, pizza, sub sandwiches, more wings, beer… My friends wedding had come and gone so there wasn’t a tiny dress I needed to fit into anymore and the freedom I felt being with Justin made me let go of the part of me that wanted to stay in shape and continue losing weight for myself. I realized early on that we weren’t exactly the right fit so we broke up but then got back together – I was always pushing him away and then asking to get back together. Having someone support me was too comforting for me to end, when I lacked any feelings of self worth. It felt safe so I kept going back even though I knew it wasn’t quite right. We did this several times and just before we had been dating a year I found out I was pregnant.
At that time I had climbed from around 215lbs in August 2006 to 271lbs in November of 2007. Sometimes I wonder how shocked my family must have been when I came home to visit during that year. Putting on that much weight so quickly is so obvious. No one ever said anything to me about it.
Anyway – so I was pregnant. It wasn’t planned. It was horrible to tell my family and friends. I was both mad at myself for letting that happen (I’m well informed on how to prevent pregnancy and could have avoided it from happening very easily but didn’t) and also a little excited that I was going to become a mom. I had always wanted to be a mom. Justin and I held onto our shell of a relationship throughout my pregnancy – we even talked about marriage pretty seriously – but it just was not the right fit. I couldn’t fathom not having my child’s father in my life before he was born so we stayed together.
I put most of my energy into being excited about becoming a mom. I kind of felt like I was the only one that was excited about the baby that was on his way. Eventually my family came around and many of my friends were excited and supportive, but it was a far cry from what I had envisioned my first pregnancy would be like. I called my best friend Katie in tears on a regular basis. I was headed down a path that I had never considered for my life. Once my belly grew (my baby belly on top of my overweight belly) and Preston started moving around I felt connected to him and that kept me focused on him and staying positive. I’m not sure I’m conveying very well just how hard this time was for me. IT WAS AWFUL. (lonely, ostracizing, shameful, regretful, angry) But again this was a situation where my feelings on it were so conflicting because I was overjoyed and excited to become a mom and felt Preston deserved to have a pregnancy at least his mom was excited about.
I put on 32lbs while I was pregnant which is pretty standard – but when you start a pregnancy at 271 adding even more weight to that is really taxing on your body. I had a planned c-section which went very smoothly and was confident that nursing would help me shed the baby weight and maybe even a little more to jumpstart a trend of heading back down on the scale. Nursing did help! I lost all of the weight I gained during my pregnancy in less than three months. By the time Preston arrived my family really got on board and were ecstatic to welcome him to our family. Things were going well. Mostly…
My relationship with Justin did not transition well to parenthood. I had lots of experience caring for kids/babies and lots of expectations of him to go with it. He was dealing with his own demons and we were rarely on the same page. Before Preston was 10 weeks old Justin and I broke up. Shortly after Preston hit 3 months old I packed up everything that would fit in my car and drove through the night with Preston back to Illinois and moved in with my parents. Justin was devastated that we left but I haven’t once regretted my decision.
Preston and I hadn’t been home long before I started talking to Chris again. (BIG MISTAKE!!) He was only twenty-five miles away and my desire to have those intoxicating feelings with him again was strong. We spent time together and he apologized for the hurtful things he had said in the past about my weight and the expectations he put on me. The chemistry was still there. I was SO self-conscious about my weight because at that point I was somewhere in the 260s – down from where I’d been but way up since I had last seen him. We discussed my fears and he said he no longer minded the ‘weight thing’ (WHAT?!?!?). He told me his feelings for me were still there and he wanted to spend time with me to see where things went. Of course I took that to mean we were getting back together and I instantly dropped my guard down. Second big mistake. Several weeks later he was dating someone else and I haven’t spoken to him since. He broke my heart again. I allowed it to happen, I put myself in that position, I was already vulnerable enough being a brand new mom and a recently single mom at that. I should have known better but I didn’t. I was so angry with him. I felt so betrayed and ugly. In order to cope I ate. I had a baby to take care of all on my own, I was hardly making any money, and I was lonely and sad. So I ate and ate and ate. Of course I’d have my bouts of exercise and dieting but nothing lasted long.
When Preston was 6 months old I decided I wanted to go back to school and get my master’s in marriage and family therapy, just like my dad. So my family helped me study for the GRE, I applied to the only school that was workable for Pres and me to continue living with my parents and somehow by God’s divine plan I was accepted! When Preston was 12 months old I started taking classes. The program was two years and it was tough! It was tough on all of us. My classmates helped me with Preston (I am forever grateful to all of them for helping me make it possible). My mom and my sister took shifts with Preston as well when I was out until late at night seeing clients – I have yet to find the words to express my gratitude to them for helping me. People would say to me, “I can’t believe you’re doing this as a single mom and your son is so young”. I kind of can’t either – and I know without a doubt that my master’s degree needs to have a few names added to it because without those people it NEVER would have happened. The problem with grad school is there is a lot of sitting required; in class, in the car to and from (45 miles one way 4/5 days a week), seeing clients, observing other clinicians, studying/writing papers… It was two years of little activity. It was also so stressful that I used food frequently to cope with the stress. Again, I’d have my moments of trying to do better but it would never last. I graduated last May 2011.
I am now almost a year out from graduation. Preston is going to be four in two months! He can buckle his own seat belt; use the potty by himself, dress himself and most recently is able to put on his own socks and shoes! – these among many other things. He is becoming independent in many ways and the “child care” aspects of being a mom are far less overwhelming than they once were. Its all the other aspects of parenting that are now overwhelming – teaching about honesty, patience (I am a horrible model for this), sensitivity, and using an indoor voice (we struggle with this daily, hourly) among many others.
Parenting alone is very lonely for me. I want a relationship simply so that I can parent WITH someone. I want to roll over at 6 in the morning and say, “your turn to get up with him” while I go back to sleep. Every once in a while my parents will play that role (or my sister if she’s in town) – no they aren’t in my bed when I ask them to do it – but Preston stomps down two flights of stairs to get to my room so sometimes they’ll intercept him, that’s heaven . But most of the time its just me and him. We live in suburbia with a lot of married families, or divorced single parents that are at least put together enough to own their own homes; they aren’t living in their parents’ basement. I tell myself these stories because I feel so different than most of the people that live around here. The lonely feelings I have invade my body on a daily basis. I struggle some days to leave the house because the loneliness and pity party I have going on for myself are sometimes too heavy to get my ass moving. Those are the days I feel sorry for Preston that God chose me for him, those are the days I eat my feelings. This single mom thing is hard.
I’m so happy and feel so blessed I am Preston’s mom – he is so amazing, so creative, loving, loud, funny, adaptable, intelligent, and passionate. He likes star wars and barbies and loves to wear dresses and my scarves as his long beautiful hair. He is the perfect child for me. I struggle with the juxtaposition that this child is my most precious joy and yet the responsibility of raising him tears up my soul. So, we’re doing all right. I weigh far too much to think I’ll be around to meet my grandchildren someday and that will simply not do. I want to see Preston get married some day (or not if he so chooses). I want to see him graduate from college (he has no choice about this one . I want to be around a long time for my sake and for his. So now is the time to make the changes – eat better, move more, get more sleep, find contentment and happiness in my life, get on track financially so I’m not living in this basement in my 30s, return to church a place that fills me so much, and simply find a better way of living. My hope is that sharing my story and even processing my story for myself will hold me accountable to reach for the things I want and not get swallowed up by the things I don’t.
Before I left for the conference that I attended in early January 2005 I had been inspired to read Dr Phil’s – 7 Keys to Weightloss Freedom. The book touched me in a different way than others had been able to. I planned to start a diet sometime after I returned home from my upcoming trip. I sat on the plane to Nashville with my arms folded over my enormous tummy/chest so as not to disturb the person next to me. I just barely fit in my seat and was thankful to have the aisle to lean into, I was mortified and thought everyone on the plane must be judging me. Upon arriving in Nashville I realized that it was one hilly town! I struggled walking place to place because of how out of shape I was (huffing and puffing, sweating, the whole bit – it wasn’t pretty). While negative thoughts about my weight were never far from my mind the trip was positively life changing. The conference was put on by well known Christian speakers and the most popular Christian artists. It was amazing to be in such a giant space with thousands of kids my age worshiping God together. During my time at the conference I embraced God in a way that I had avoided for so long. Before then I had convinced myself that due to my weight not only could the people in my every day life not love me, but neither could I, and more importantly neither could God. My thoughts shifted and I had a true realization that God made me special, he chose all of my uniqueness, my gifts and talents, and my weaknesses. I accepted that he loves me and therefore I began to believe I was worthy of being loved. Maybe for some people this idea comes easy, but for me it was a major hurdle of self acceptance. I had clarity and peace that I had never experienced before. It was amazing. I left the conference having 110% confidence that I could be successful in whatever I set my mind to, and next on the list was a major slim down.
I decided that because I had been on so many diets before, I would keep this one a secret from everyone except my parents whom I was living with at the time. I didn’t want anyone to know I was trying just in case I wasn’t successful. So Sunday morning January 22nd 2005 I stepped on the scale and saw the numbers 290… I couldn’t believe how close to 300lbs I was. I promised myself that would be the last day in my life I would ever see a number that high on the scale. So I set to work. By using Dr. Phil’s plan I was able to eat very sensibly and controlled without having to put too much effort into measuring and counting and all of those things that became tiring after a week or two. I decided to skip the exercise portion that goes with most diets for a while to allow myself time to get used to the new eating plan. The first week I lost 11lbs! The second week I followed with 6 more! I was on a roll. It was as if I was melting from the inside out. It took time for people to even notice that I was losing. When you are thin losing 5 or 10 pounds is very noticeable. When you are nearly 300lbs it takes at least 30 before people question if you’ve lost weight. It only took about two months (maybe less) for me to drop nearly 40 pounds.
And that’s when things got interesting…
**I am struggling with this next part of the story…1. to make sure I tell it fair and from as honest a place that I can, 2. to explain it clearly and concisely and, 3. 7 years later it is still painful to rehash – bear with me, I will do my best.**
So there was this guy. His name was (still is) Chris. We had known each other for several years. We were JUST FRIENDS. I had the biggest crush on him. We hung out pretty regularly before I started losing weight. In fact he and I talked about my desire to get healthy and he was really supportive of my efforts. We had a really goofy, no boundaries kind of friendship. Like I said earlier I didn’t tell anyone I was dieting, especially him. I wanted him to notice that I was looking thinner. He noticed. In fact he noticed sooner than anyone only 3 or 4 weeks in. He was very excited and supportive of how well I had been doing and only encouraged me to keep going. So we continued to hang out. Then one weekend we were out together and he kissed me on the cheek. I knew it! He liked me, it was clear. So the next time we were alone I asked him about it. I recall saying something like “I probably shouldn’t be asking you this right now” and proceeded to ask him if he was interested in me and if my weight loss had anything to do with it. We had never kept things from each other before so he was honest. I thought that’s what I wanted – I did want that, I just didn’t know the effect his answers would have on my self worth over time. He did like me but was hesitant to date while I was still losing weight to be sensitive to my process and for selfish reasons on his part. We spent weeks discussing the status of our friendship/relationship. I was so excited at the idea of dating him – dating someone I felt so connected to mentally and spiritually that I pushed really hard for him to get over the weight loss thing and start dating already. I knew he was not 100% sure he was ready but I was 130% so I rationalized that it kind of evened things out (and patience is not my strong suit). Around the time of our first date I had hit the 75lbs lost mark. I felt so good about myself. When I got dressed up to go on dates I felt truly beautiful. I bought products for my hair and new makeup and perfume. I even wore heels!! It was magical. He took me on your standard dinner dates but nothing about dating him felt “standard”. I convinced myself I was living a fairytale. We were happy but I spent a lot of time in lala land feeling so excited I had found my soul mate (I thought we were one evil step mother away from being a Disney movie…).
Shortly after we started seriously dating I went on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. I had not faltered one day, one meal, in the previous 5 months but I was heading to another country to serve and didn’t feel like my diet could take precedence over respecting our hosts. That mindset sounds all good and innocent, but as soon as we landed in Miami (our layover) I gave myself permission to go off my diet – but not permission to fall off the wagon – however I felt like I did…I had a turkey and cheese sub sandwich with mayonnaise and a bag of chips and real pop! Then I bought a small bag of candies and a small bag of teddy grahams for the flight (the fact that I can remember exactly what I ate and recall devouring all of that “off limits” food just tells me how obsessed with food and my diet I was then, and how restrictive I was). The slope was slippery!! When we landed in the DR our host was waiting to take us out for pizza. The pizza wasn’t that good but I ate far more than a controlled portion. We went to our hotel and about an hour after I went to sleep I woke up feeling like my chest was on fire. I thought maybe I was having some indigestion from the drastic shift in diet. (damnit megan why did you do this?!?) Then I thought the pain was too severe to be indigestion and it must be a heart attack (oh sweet jesus don’t let me die in another country!!!). I was rushed to the nearest hospital, was asked a bunch of questions, got a chest xray, an EKG, and an ultrasound all to find out I had gallstones. I was told that it is common for extremely overweight people to have stones and even more common that a gallstone “attack” occur as you are losing and then have a largely fatty meal (damn you pizza!!). So I was laid up for the rest of the trip and got my gall bladder removed a month after returning home. The whole thing was an ordeal and something inside of me got shut off on that trip – my self discipline.
Chris and I continued dating. He even came to visit me after my surgery (I think I basically begged him to come and even was an ass about making sure he sent me flowers – I had expectations and a fantasy he had to live up to!). It became very obvious my weight loss from week to week (I shared in detail with Chris every week) was slowing down. I went from averaging 4lbs a week to 1 or 2. And Chris didn’t get it. I made excuses and at times lied about what I was eating but I began to feel a bit defensive with all the questions. I started to wonder why the 75lbs weren’t enough. Our relationship continued to get more serious we said the ‘I love you’s and talked about spending our lives together. I was drunk on love. It was bad. I was blind to the scary dark undertone that developed in our relationship. This ‘weight thing’.
We spent Thanksgiving together and I thought I was looking good, somewhere around 90lbs down. A week after we got home from visiting his family I got the question I’d hoped to avoid that week – “so did you lose any weight last week? I forgot to ask?” I knew it was coming because we celebrated my successes together every week. “no. I gained 4 pounds…but some of it was probably from traveling and I’ve been working really hard this week and by Sunday I will have lost it all so its ok…right?” There was a clear and painful shift between us from that moment on. My diet went from being something we both celebrated for me to it being an expectation for the relationship to continue for him. By the end of the following week we had decided to “take a break” to see if I could get back on track with my diet and such.
**Now this part of my story is hard to tell for so many reasons, but one of the very important reasons is because I don’t want all of the blame to end up on Chris. He and I can share it 50/50. I defended him at the time to all my friends because I was not willing to look at some of it without my ‘drunk on love’ goggles on. Then after coming out of that I spent years being furious with him for it. None of it has done me any good and I think the only way that telling this story is of any use is if I own my half of the destruction of the relationship 50/50; but this is my story and it can’t be skipped over because of its profound effects on my motivation, self worth, and relationship with food.**
I wanted to get back on my diet as much as he wanted it for me. I shared his viewpoint that I didn’t want to be with someone who would just accept me the way I was. I wanted to be with someone who loved me enough to want me to live as long as I could and not live overweight and die young. This part of it is so confusing and tough to work through in my mind. I wanted to be loved for who I was on the inside – but I didn’t want to be loved as is because it wasn’t my best me, or the me I needed to be in order to live a long and healthy life. Additionally I had already started to fall out of love with myself the moment that I “cheated” at the Miami airport and then continued to binge and “purge” with exercise and minimal calories – so expecting someone else to love me felt unrealistic. When we went on a ‘break’ I was devastated. I wanted to be with him. I had already committed in my heart to spend my life with him. I made choices in our relationship based on that internal commitment. So I cut my calories down to the minimum and went running, a lot. Within a couple of weeks he and I decided that we would continue with our plans to spend Christmas with each others families and see where things went. I sent an email to his mom letting her know the small amounts of rabbit food I would require while we were staying with them (I was consuming on average 800 calories a day – less if I could bear the hunger). Things were looking up for our relationship but I had entered dangerous territory in my relationship with food and my weight and how those defined me). I weighed myself the day before Christmas Eve and I had dropped 100.5lbs total!!! I was 189.5! I was so proud of myself. And I knew he would be proud of me too.
We officially decided to get back together on Christmas day. I was so happy. On New Years Eve morning we had a small fight that turned into the ugliest fight I had ever been in by that night. We were done (again). I was devastated. I had worked so hard; under eating to reach a goal I thought would make me worth hanging onto and within a few days it was all over.
I cried for days, weeks, I cried so much I nearly lost my voice. I regularly went to work/school with wet, swollen, red eyes. I could barely hold it together. My friends were angry with him. I was angry with me and then him. It was all really confusing.
I binged. Often. We saw each other every Sunday due to a shared commitment we both had so I would binge the first half of the week and be “really good” (aka, starving myself) the second half so that I didn’t have a gain on the scale by Sunday. I was in so much pain. I said a lot of hurtful things. I convinced myself he wasn’t hurting because my pain was too intense to believe he would hurt like I did by choice. It was awful. A few months later I found a job in Atlanta, GA that started three weeks after I finished school. All I wanted was to get out of Chicago and start over. I abandoned my Bachelor’s degree and the opportunities it offered to be a live in nanny in Atlanta, GA so that I could get as far away from him as possible. What I didn’t realize is that you can’t run away from yourself no matter how far away you go…
I was born in a western suburb of Chicago in 1983. I am the second of four children. I’m sandwiched 20 months on either side by sisters, Meredith (older) and Ashley (younger). I am 8 ½ years older than my brother Andrew. My parents raised us as Protestant Christians, attending church every Sunday. When I was nearly three years old my dad took a job overseas and that meant the whole family moved with him to Tokyo, Japan. We moved from there to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where I attended Kindergarten and 1st grade. Living overseas was a great experience.
My dad was a banker while overseas and decided to switch careers and go back to school for both his (2nd) Master’s and PhD in marriage and family therapy. I haven’t quite sorted out all the details, but I believe that this transition impacted me and my relationship with food (and myself in general) in a significant way. For starters I know that the frequent transitions were tough on my mom. She has told me many times that having to start over in each new place we lived caused her to feel very depressed. I don’t completely remember experiencing her that way; I know that I am generally tuned into how others are feeling so I’m sure I had some level of awareness about her emotional wellbeing. That sensitivity to how others feel would make me feel very worried, or sad, and may have lead me to seek solace in food. Maybe having a mom that was clearly overwhelmed by multiple moves with young children, starting over, and then the birth of my brother made room for me to begin a relationship with food and comfort that forever changed me.
I don’t recall being all that aware of my weight and how it had any correlation to the amount of food I ate until I was in high school. I do have memories of comments here and there that were upsetting but then I’d move on and pretend those hurts didn’t stick – although they most certainly did. I was by nature, larger than my older sister by the time I was 4 or 5. She was very petite and small framed (as was/is my younger sister) and I grew taller and more solid than her pretty quickly. So as I added unhealthy weight I think I convinced myself it was just because I was just naturally bigger than my sisters.
It wasn’t until we moved back to the Chicago area (I was 12) that I began to have an awareness of my extra weight. The move back to the Chicago area was challenging for me for a variety of reasons and I put on a significant amount of weight during my junior high years. If I remember correctly I went from around 160lbs at the start of 7th grade to 199lbs when I graduated from 8th grade. I remember having to shop in the women’s department with my mom to find clothes that would fit me – thus began my hate for clothes shopping because the only person I could ever go with was my mother. There was a lot of shame involved in having her go look for larger sizes and take me to the “plus size” stores, but she was the only one I could endure the embarrassment with. I played softball and that helped with the activity level some, but I stopped playing after my sophomore year – because of a foot injury that happened twice in six months and because of my fear of the running we had to do at practice. I feel sad for my younger self that I made a decision about discontinuing a sport I loved because of my fear that I couldn’t handle all the exercise that was required of me.
In high school I went from 199lbs to about 260 when I graduated from high school. (And somehow my drivers license has always said 176 ) High school was fun at times but there was also plenty of drama with friends that made me want to turn to food to cope. High school was the beginning of my years of self-loathing. I began to believe that people that didn’t treat me well did so because of my weight and therefore I was unlovable. This is a concept I continue to struggle with.
I went to college in Iowa for two years. I felt like such a lost soul for those two years… too much drinking, not enough studying, and what I perceived to be the biggest betrayal by my best friend that I could ever imagine. My fourth semester there I took one class, worked at Walmart, and drank and ate myself into a very dark place. I decided that Iowa was not the best place for me and with my parents help I transferred schools and arranged so that I could commute from their house to my school in the city. I left Iowa weighing something in the ballpark of 280lbs.
So moving home it was, I lived with my parents and had one good friend in the area that I hung out with while commuting to school. I was smoking about a half a pack of cigarettes a day, my friend and I ate out 5 to 7 days a week, and exercise was a four-letter word in my book. I had stopped going to church in college, but had been really active in my church youth group in high school and yearned to feel connected to a church community again. My friend and I tried out some new churches but struggled to find something that fit. My faith never faltered but my connection to a spiritual community was non-existent and I felt lost without it. The fall of 2004 I signed up to attend a huge Christian conference for college-aged kids in Nashville, TN the following January. It is there that I found the strength to make some changes…
I have been thinking about starting this blog for several months now. In fact this is not my first go at the whole blog thing. This time I am truly committed to sticking with this blog to keep track of my journey for however long I feel it is beneficial.
I want to start by sharing why I chose the name that I did for this blog. Jump Starting Me. It is, in its truest sense, my number one goal. Since 2006 my life (spirit, energy, attitude, outlook) have slowly stalled out – my goal is to reclaim those things and improve my quality of life and thus improve Preston’s quality of life, who has become the reason I do anything now. I find myself comparing my current life with my life in 2005. That was the year I lost 100lbs. I had myself convinced I was going to marry my soul mate. I was in my final year of completing my Bachelor’s degree, and was living the life of a 20-something in Chicago. I felt alive that year. I felt confident. I felt like all of my dreams and fantasies about my adult life were going to play out perfectly. I couldn’t have been further from reality. Throughout the past 7 years I told myself that the life I had always envisioned just slipped right out of my hands – and in some senses it did – but I played a large role in retreating to the safety of obesity and general withdrawal from life. So my blogs name reflects my goal to jump start my body, mind, spirit, and head back to a place that is greatly feared but is the kind of living I want for my life and for Preston’s life.
My focus will be primarily on weight loss. I know that my weight is my best excuse, my biggest challenge, my most effective protector, my worst enemy, and a death sentence. I became so supremely aware of my mortality the moment I realized I was pregnant with Preston. My life was not my own anymore. God blessed me with the responsibility to raise and care for Preston. But knowing how much my little man relies on me scares me so much; every time I feel slightly dizzy or have a pinch in my chest I fear I might not be around another day for Preston. I know being overweight, obese even, means that I won’t be allowed to play the role in Preston’s life that God has intended. My hope is that through this blog I can explore what happens in my brain that convinces me that making bad eating decisions trump being around for Pres for many more years to come. So my primary focus must be to take this weight off – again – and then some. My plan is to share photos, work out plans, recipes, the whole thing through the blog. I’m not sure if I’ll be weighing in ‘Biggest Loser’ style every week, but I might share the numbers once I become more comfortable revealing my true weight to the unknown thousands that will someday be reading this blog – we’ll see.
Another area of my life that will likely come up regularly is the struggles I face as a single mom. Being a single parent is very foreign to me. My parents have been married for nearly 34 years and thus I have no experience being raised by only one of them. I have only one single mom friend who lives 850 miles away. It was never my intention to be a single mom. I didn’t decide one day that I wanted a child so badly I would just have one and do it by myself. I made a choice given all the circumstances of what was in Preston’s and my best interests. But it was a tough choice. I have second guessed that choice many times over the past 4 years. But I know that ultimately it is what is best. My hope is that maybe through this blog I might be connected with other single moms – that would really be great!
Beyond those two areas, I intend to touch on areas of my financial improvements (like budgeting, saving, goal setting etc), my spiritual journey, and basically anything else that I fancy, since this is my blog and all I can pretty much guarantee that Preston will make several appearances throughout the course of this blog because he is the light of my life, and he is too funny not to share with everyone. Today I commit to write three days per week. My intention is that I post five times a week but I don’t want to commit that until I get a sense for this.
Peace be with you…