I wasn't going to write about this.
The first time I realized that I might have an issue with my weight was when I fainted on the way home from the local pool. I was 14 and despite years of activity and a doctor who described my weight as "normal" and "healthy", I felt fat. I'd felt fat for years.
Possibly thanks to the ballet teacher who nicknamed me "Fatty".
Never mind the inappropriateness of calling a child fatty as a nickname, I wasn't even fat.
But that summer I turned 14, I was finally able to make my stomach concave. I also spent the entire day at the pool, swimming and not eating. I would faint and take a brief rest in a park on my way home, then continue on home. I never mentioned the fainting. Or the not eating all day.
I don't remember exactly what I weighed that summer, but I know that during the next year I grew to my adult height (all of 5'2) and was dismayed to hit 100 pounds. I dabbled in making myself throw up after meals, or going all day without eating. But I knew - I'd read too many books - that if I kept that up, I'd be in big trouble.
When I graduated 4 years later, I weighed 115 - most of it in the boob area. I was so dismayed over my perceived figure flaws that I wouldn't wear a bikini without a t-shirt over it. If I had that body today, I would wear a bikini to the grocery store, I swear to God.
The dress was too big, because I felt that if I was bigger than my old size 2 it didn't matter what size I wore. Also, please ignore the bad hair. It was the '80's.
I got slightly more accepting of my body in college - in that I wore clothes that fit, despite not being a size 2 - but I remember my weight and body acceptance being a constant battle. I kept exercising, but I wasn't so disciplined about food - I gained another 15 pounds. Then I gained and lost a bunch, thanks to stress and my first husband being kind of an asshole, so I was right back where I was when I had graduated from college.
Until I got ulcerative colitis at 25. At first, I tried to enjoy the fact that I lost 30 pounds in 6 weeks. Until I realized that not only did I not look like me at that weight, having ulcerative colitis is a hellish way to lose weight. To get better, they put me on massive doses of steroids.
Sad, depressed, lonely and with the appetite of 4 teenaged boys put together, I gained all the weight back - and then some. I was actually fat for the first time. My now-ex was not pleased. I was on steroids for something like 9 months, because my original dose was so high. I was an emotional wreck and the cracks in our tenuous marriage turned into fault lines.
After 18 months being steroid free and 3 months without my ex, the extra weight just started to fall off. I lost 30 pounds, mostly by remembering what an appropriate portion looked like. Then I started reading Geneen Roth's wonderful Breaking Free from Emotional Eating, threw out my scale and starting accepting my body. I knew I wasn't thin, but I realized that "not thin" is not the same as fat. I felt good.
It worked really well until I got pregnant with Ironflower. Actually, that's not quite true. It worked really well until I had Lovebug. Ironflower has never been much of an eater, so nursing her didn't seem like a big deal, appetite wise. It was all about losing the weight I'd put on while I was pregnant. Which was considerable.
Me with Ironflower. Within 15 pounds of my former weight, unknowlingly preggo with Lovebug.
Then I had Lovebug, who LOVED to nurse. The child ate all the time, so I was hungry all the time. Then my colitis flared, so I was on steroids and trying to nurse a super-eater. All concepts of portion size went out the window. And while I tried to walk with the kids every morning, I spent most of the rest of the time sitting. Two kids in 15 months, quitting my job, steroids. . . I didn't lose any baby weight that time.
When we moved back to New Jersey, I gained even more weight. Some of it was just access to good pizza and bagels again, but some of it was just because I'd lost all sense of how to eat like the short and somewhat petite person I am. And the thought of real exercise - the kind where you really sweat? Totally overwhelming.
I kept half-heartedly trying to diet, but I didn't know how to do it without turning into a scale-obsessed high school girl. Plus, the weight didn't drop off easily like it had in the past, even when I did manage to stick to 1000 calories a day. When HugMonkey came along, the 20 pounds of pregnancy stuff fell right off (especially since 9 of it was him), but nothing else did. Of course, he nursed like a champ, so I ate like a champ.
When he was 18 months old, we joined the local Y and I started seriously exercising again. I barely lost any weight, but I comforted myself with the fact that at least I had stopped gaining it. Of course, I still hid from photos, hated my body, felt the need to tell new people that I hadn't always been fat, tried to avoid people I used to know, hated meeting new people, didn't want to take my kids to the pool. . .I spent so much emotional energy hating my body and my weight that I didn't have the emotional energy to make any changes.
It was so much easier to accept myself and love myself at a normal weight. I didn't see how I could accept myself while fat, but I also knew that while I hated myself, I'd stay fat.
A rare current picture.
I think people can be lovely no matter what their size. I think you can be fat and fit, as well as skinny and unhealthy. I believe in curves. I think caring about what size you wear is stupid (especially since clothing sizes are so random). But I also think that when a short, small-boned, woman of 42 can down 4 slices of (New Jersey-sized) pizza, she's not honoring her normal weight. . .she's eating too damn much.
I'm not on a diet. Diets are, by definition, temporary. I don't think they work. Plus, they make me crazy - either I go all extreme and faint regularly, or I eat everything in sight in rebellion. What I am on, however, is a quest to remember how much food a woman of my size, age and activity level is supposed to eat. I'm trying to eat more protein and fiber, but I'm not trying to make myself eat kale every day.
I hate kale.
I've lost 8 pounds in the last month. This is the first time I've lost weight without having a baby or an operation (last summer's tonsillectomy) since I can't remember when. It feels pretty good. I'm still fat, but there's no echo of "fatty" in my head whenever I see myself.
Thanks for reading this long-ass post. Do you think I should keep blogging about this weight loss thing? I promise they won't all be so long.