One year ago today, August 13, 2008, at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon, my BFF called to tell me she and her fiancé had set a date…November. She asked me to be her maid of honor. She was my BFF, truly a sister to me, we just don’t happen to be blood-related in this lifetime. I had to say yes, of course.
In 2003, my always-iffy marriage had gotten really rocky. My intuition kept telling me something was really wrong. I’d lost 100 or so lbs on Atkins 1999-2000, kept it off, and January 2003 went back on induction trying to lose more. I lost about 50 lbs in about 3 months, down to the high 180s, a solid 14/16. My intuition was correct, the weight loss didn’t matter at all in the grand scheme of things, and he demanded a divorce the same day I was laid off at work, Tuesday, April 1, 2003. Yes, I see the irony…
I tried to hold it together but had a nervous breakdown about six weeks later and went off Atkins with a vengeance. Late 2003 is a blur, I was drinking and abusing prescription drugs, and eating with abandon. The next thing I knew, it was Christmas 2003 and I had to borrow a size 26 outfit from my sister to have something to wear to church. It was tight. By the time I got a crappy part-time job Spring 2004, my largest clothes left-over from 1999 were too small—I didn’t know what size I was, since I only wore stretchy sweatpants, but I couldn’t fit into size 28 Lane Bryant jeans. By 2007, when I tried to buy an interview suit, I found out I was a 30 top, 32 bottom, too fat to shop at Lane Bryant (it was for skinny chicks!), Catherine’s or Coldwater Creek only. It’s so easy to buy an interview suit when you wear a size 32, you know.
From mid-2003 until early 2007, I was a depressed, overeating, lazy, sloppy, alcoholic—heavy smoker and Paxil abuser—who only left the house to go to my crappy part-time job. In early 2007 I was fired from that job (should have been fired already, don’t know why it took them so long as I was often tipsy at work) and had to find another job. With a surprisingly generous severance package, I took the time to decide what I really wanted to do…and I changed fields entirely. I lucked into a great job that I immediately loved, and am really good at.
I started having to wear real clothes, and leave the house every day. I was still eating uncontrollably, well, not tons of food but uncontrolled carbs…I quit drinking mid 2007. And I started a lot of deep soul-searching. By early 2008, I finally realized it wasn’t my fault that my marriage ended…we should have never married in the first place. I had no self-esteem…part of that was my feelings of inadequacy growing up with an extremely beautiful mother and sister, and not believing that I too was beautiful. This led to me marrying my HS sweetheart, who didn’t treat me like I deserved to be treated, leading to even lower self-esteem. A year of deep soul-searching brought a lot of things to light, and I finally made a giant mental breakthrough. I finally, at the age of 38, started learning to love myself. I never had before.
As I began to get mentally healthier, I began to wake up to how unhealthy my lifestyle was. I didn’t know how much I weighed (+/- 370) but I did know that I was too fat to shop at Lane Bryant, I could barely go up and down stairs, and I would often make myself run late to work so I’d have a “legitimate” excuse to drive in and pay $15 to park in the garage rather than taking Metro—the three-block walk almost killed me. Oh and I was smoking 1 ½ packs a day, as I had since I was 16 (started smoking age 12).
As I began to feel more and more worthy, I began to consider either weight-loss surgery, or getting back on Atkins. I began to really want to lose the weight. Well, I’d always wanted to lose weight of course, but for 4-5 years it had seemed like a pipedream—I couldn’t tap into the energy I’d used in 1999, then 2003, to successfully lose weight. It seemed impossible.
I hadn’t even considered being in any kind of relationship since mid-2004, that didn’t seem possible either. Who would want to date a frumpy, semi-depressed, middle-aged, semi-alcoholic 400ish lb woman who didn’t even own a pair of jeans, much less any cute clothes—and who hadn’t put on makeup or even gotten a haircut in like three years? I felt like, and if pushed, would have described myself as, an ugly monster.
By mid 2008, I was getting closer to being ready to lose weight. But I needed a push.
My BFF called me 8/13/2008…that was my catalyst to launch. I did NOT want to stand up in the front of that chapel in November wearing a horrendous size 32 tent!
I found my Atkins book and re-read it, cover-to-cover. Hit the grocery store, got everything I needed, told my housemate anything in the kitchen with carbs was hers. Started right then, that afternoon, not the “next day.” I figured, if it didn’t work, then I’d investigate surgery, but Atkins had worked before, I hoped it would again.
I was oddly excited, and somehow I knew from the first moment, I would succeed. This feeling was unlike anything else I’d ever experienced…I just knew. I was in a state of calm, determined, quiet joy. From the very first second, a mental image formed of me at a normal, healthy weight…I held onto that image, and knew I was going to bring it into reality. No doubts, no fears. I absolutely knew I would do it. There were no big ups and downs…quiet determined joy is the best way I can describe it, although I don’t really have the words to describe my mental state.
I bought a scale the next day, a cheap crappy one, and weighed in at 360. Later I bought a good scale that weighed me 10 lbs heavier, so I changed my starting weight to 370. That is almost 400 lbs, folks. BMI 56.3, well over super morbidly obese (BMI 50). Way over. Headed towards being handicapped, housebound, early death. I didn’t fly home to see my family Christmas 2007, I was so fat I was embarrassed and honestly afraid to fly. When I started this, I hadn’t seen my family since 2006, because I was so fat. I hadn’t been living any kind of a life since 2003, because I was so fat. I was barely existing, that was all.
I lost 20.5 lbs the first two weeks on Atkins. At that point, I went down into my basement and started going through all my old, cute, small clothes from when I wore a 14/16. I was still in a 32, but they were getting looser. There were a lot of tears that afternoon, remembering back on how great I’d looked, and how depressed and horrible I’d felt, wearing those clothes. And they all looked so tiny. When I’d worn those, I could probably have gotten both legs into one leg of the horrible stretchy pants I had in a size 32. But I took the time to unfold, wash, and gently hang up all those beautiful 14s and 16s, to serve as inspiration.
I fit into size 26 jeans 5 weeks later. I fit into a nice size 24 outfit for the wedding, 11/15. I could squeeze into 22s at Christmas. I wore my first pair of 20s in March/April. 18s in May. Then into a pair of 16s on the fourth of July…with many other changes in between. My weight-loss ticker doesn’t move very often, but I am super fortunate in that, I am shockingly heavy for my size. Who is 5’8, weighs 250, has a 36” waist and wears a 16? I think I’m possibly the only freak that does…it’s not a bad problem to have.
I bought a pair of 14 misses jeans at Costco last month. I haven’t worn a 14 misses (well, I could squeeze into a 14W at my previous low weight) since fifth grade. And if all goes according to plan, those 14 jeans should fit sometime this fall.
Here are some other “firsts” this weight-loss journey has led to:
-I quit smoking in October, a 27-year habit
-I got a haircut in November, first one 4 years
-I bought a pair of sandals in 2009, first cute non-frumpy non-old lady shoes I bought in 6 years
-I started wearing makeup again in 2008, first time in 4 years
-I had the energy to clean and organize my house in January 2009, first time it had been in normal non-squalorous condition since the divorce, 5 ½ years earlier
-I joined a gym in March, and went 6 days a week for 3 straight months, until I began walking my commute instead (I need cardio more than weights right now)
-I began WALKING part of my commute in June, mornings too…I have NEVER exercised in the morning, EVER. I drove, bussed or metroed my commute for the last 10 years…now I walk 3 miles a day, 5 days a week.
-I got my first manicure in June…never had one before, never thought I deserved one—that was for beautiful women, not monsters like me…guess what, it was fun and looked great. I’ve had several more since.
-I uploaded current, full-body photos to Facebook and tagged myself into them. People I went to high school with, whom I haven’t seen since the 80s, can see me. And I look OK, ****, in some of them I even look great. One girl in my senior class sent me a personal message telling me how unfair it is that I look so young and asking me my youthful secret…LOL.
-I only have two pair of jeans, very small 16s, from the old clothes in my basement that don’t fit yet—and they are close to fitting. I remember how tiny they looked when I held them up in front of me, back in September 2008 as I was washing/sorting them. Like the Holy Grail of clothes.
-I went on a DATE Friday night. A DATE. It isn’t going to go anywhere, there’s no chemistry, but that was my first real date since 2003. And he told me like four times that I was the most beautiful woman he’d ever been out with, and thanked me for going out with him…it was surreal.
I didn’t do anything special. I haven’t done anything painful. I just made the mental journey first…then the physical journey followed. Yeah there have been a few glitches, but when I screw up, I forgive myself and move on. This is not a diet, there will be no “end.” It is a permanent lifestyle change. And I deserve it. Sometimes I wish I’d been able to make the mental journey, start this lifestyle change, earlier than I did…but I truly think The Universe has a plan for each of us, and the timing of this has a purpose which I don’t yet understand. I truly believe this.
This is a permanent change. I will get to 199 lbs eventually, then reassess. That may be good enough…or it may not. My BFF told me recently, “DC, as good as you look at 250 lbs, you are going to be a flaming knockout at 200 lbs.” Wow, 40 years old, formerly a monster, now OK/pretty good, and soon to be a flaming knockout. I’ll take that.
I do know this is a permanent lifestyle change; I will not gain the weight back this time. Everything is different. I’ve lost 120 lbs in a year…mathematically that looks like 2.3 lbs per week, a nice steady healthy loss. That’s not how it worked for me: 60 lbs the first 3 months, 30 lbs the next 3 months, then 5 lbs here and there…with a 3-month stall thrown in there for good measure. I don’t expect to see regular weight loss, I’ve yo-yo’d too many times for that. I just gratefully accept whatever the scale says and keep plodding and plugging away.
And it would have been A LOT harder without this board, on which I have many many dear friends, most particularly CFMama and RockinRobin…and many, many others who have inspired, and continue to inspire me…I love you all.
And, if I can do it…anyone can. Anyone. I’m nothing special…anyone can do this. Just commit, make the mental journey, do it. Anyone can do it.
It’s impossible right, no one can lose 120 lbs in a year—or, if not 120 lbs, then 32% of their entire body. Yes they can. I did it, anyone can. You can. Anyone can.