hi everyone --
i am so glad i found these boards. i still consider myself a fat girl (if anything, then at heart) and although i would like to lose 10-15 more pounds, i am satisfied with being 150 and a perfect ten (size 10, that is).
i wanted to share my success story with you all and i thought rather than post the details, id post an essay i wrote about it instead. i know so many of you will be able to relate to the ups and downs and emotions... the diet pills, the scams, the letdowns.... how words can hurt.
so here's my story... and a piece of advice: you CAN succeed at weight-loss and you WILL if you put your mind to it. but your heart is the key to everything...
ps/ i will post before and after pictures tonight or tomorrow and ill be willing to detail my "diet"... which some of is mentioned here in the essay... thanks!
The Weight of the Matter
My winter-white skin yellows under the fluorescent light of the convenience store on Gainsborough Street as I make my way up to the register, eying milk chocolate bars, trail mix with nuts and M&Ms. I drop the magazine on the counter SHAPE side-up and the model with the pastel string bikini and golden tan promises me shapely abs and thighs by June 1
Sometimes I play tricks with myself and I believe the magazine. I’ll read the whole thing cover to cover, eat half of a PowerBar, and immediately throw the other half in the garbage.
And then comes the heat. I always feel the same hot Florida summer sun, smell the fresh cut grass of grandma’s backyard, see the banana yellow of the slip and slide, hear the other cousins laugh and play. I remember the suit I had on—neon pink with black spirals—which perhaps, I had outgrown, but it was my favorite. I watch my uncle, who stands a few yards away, poke my older brother in the side: [i]Gee, Melanie’s getting a little roll there, huh?
I was eight.
In sixth grade when I started to notice I was bigger than the other girls, and in ninth grade when Joshua Goldstein pointed to my white high-thigh shorts as I sat in History class and exclaimed, you’re fat’s hanging out
. That same year when I walked the mile and couldn’t do any pull-ups, and when I went for my annual physical and the doctor told my mother loud and in front of both of my brothers (and they were teamsters), It looks like she’s going to have to be put on a strict diet or it will be hard for her to lose the weight as she gets older.
Steak slathered in A-1 sauce, chunky mashed potatoes soaked in blocks of butter; pork chops or roast beef on Sundays with more potatoes, rice and red beans, fried plantains or on extra special holidays, conch or codfish fritters. My Caribbean heritage didn’t really allow for proper eating. At home, cupboards stocked weekly, sometimes twice, and always before friends slept over on Friday’s to stuff their faces with all of the junk food their parents wouldn’t let them eat.
When we went out on the weekends in big groups of pre-teenagers and ran amuck in shopping malls and outside of movie theaters—random boys would approach me and I would get so happy thinking they were going to talk to me and then have to hear, Is your friend single?
I cried for hours. And ate more. After school some days I’d come home and eat an entire bag of chips. Dorito’s, Frito’s, Ruffles—I wasn’t picky. I’d close my door, turn on the afternoon cartoons or Charles In Charge
and My Two Dads
reruns and eat away my sadness. Or it was a night like many nights when my mother was too tired to cook and I had to make fried chicken for my brother and I (we lived on freezer-friendly chicken and fries) or a date night (which eventually came every night) and we got McDonald’s on the way home or ordered Domino’s. When you’re that old, and even maybe when you’re older, it’s easy to convince yourself that you can eat away the loneliness or the sadness. When I finished high school I weighed 205lbs. At 5’6’’, I barely wore a size 16. My grandfather would balk the moment he saw me, Melanie, have you seen the size of your behind?
And god, was it true. Unknowingly, a friend snapped a picture as I walked into my townhouse one night. And shocked, when I developed the roll of film, there in all of my glory: red hat to the back, long, straggly dark brown hair, and the biggest pear shaped khaki behind (adorned with cellulite) you’d ever seen in your life.
I tried desperately to lose pounds before I started college in Boston in the fall. I tried to walk around the block and could feel the pavement burn through my Converse. I tried to eat more turkey sandwiches on white bread, tried to run up the house stairs as many times as I could stomach. When I weighed myself the day before college, on the road in a New Jersey hotel, I weighed 199lbs.
I was discouraged. I wanted a miracle cure. I wanted a fairy godmother to seize me from my bed at night, sprinkle me with magic fairy dust and make me shrink.
People think they understand. Think they know how it feels for your weight to block you from enjoying a water park in the desert heat of August; believe they know how it feels to not fit into a size 14 in a dressing room when all of their friends, who consume nothing but iced coffee for weeks, are shopping in the Junior’s section; believe they know how hard it is to love, find true love, and not believe it’s the shape of your thighs when they leave or have second thoughts.
I’ve heard this theory, or perhaps I read it somewhere, or maybe I made it up on my own—that the person you choose to have a relationship with is a reflection of who you are at that time. I have that same timeline with weight. I can remember exactly how much I weighed at each turning point in my life: middle school graduation, high school graduation, and college graduation. I’ve always associated whoever I was interested in at that time also disliked me because of the weight.
I was eighteen when I returned home from my freshman year of college and weighed 215 pounds. My grandfather, the greatest advocate of my health, set me up to see a nutritionist—who, in the end, seemed more like a mad scientist. Long before anyone had discovered the side effects of Phen-Phen
on the heart, I was one of the first guinea pigs. After the first month of exercising lightly and eating right, I had lost almost 14lbs. Suddenly, it was like I had gotten my wish—a fairy godmother sprinkled me with magic fairy dust and my waistline began to shrink. But I couldn’t sleep at night, my hands were constantly jittery, my throat always too dry and my body always too cold. I was never hungry yet I’d have elaborate daydreams about food that I’d never eat or feel to eat. At the end of the third month, I weighed 168 pounds, a number I had not seen since the 9th grade. And for me, that was good enough, a size 12 was good enough after being a size 16-18. I was tired of the way the drugs made me feel so I took myself off of them--and then I took a nap on my grandmother’s couch one afternoon that turned into two weeks. The doctor wasn’t sure what had happen, something to do with seratonin levels in the brain dropping when I came off of the drug. But the thing I remember most was when I woke up, actually woke up and felt normal; it was like I came out of a cocoon. I looked in the mirror and put my fingers to my face, traced the length of my jaw, of my collarbone. I couldn’t believe the reflection. But by Christmas, I had gained all of the weight back, and at college graduation I weighed 198lbs once again.
The fall after I graduated college I woke up one morning and I said to myself, this is it
. I didn’t want to be fat anymore, I didn’t want my weight to hold me back from anything, I didn’t want to blame another loss of love on the rolls of my stomach or the cellulite on my thighs. There and then, I made a conscious decision that I’ll never completely understand how or why it worked. But I stuck to my own diet of eating well five days a week and on weekends allowed myself to eat whatever I wanted (within limitation).
I began to take long walks at least 5 times a week with a friend and within two months, the weight began to come off. Soon, I was going to the gym and using the bike, speed walking on the treadmill for at least 45 minutes, and even lifting weights. I found that I didn’t want to eat poorly on the weekends when I did so well during the week. Within a year, I had lost almost 30 pounds, and speed walking turned into minute sprinting. Almost three years later, I run a couple miles, do step aerobics, kick boxing, bike—anything to stay on the move. I’ve lost 55 pounds, kept it off, and continue the same diet strategy, which became more of a life change than anything. Today, I weigh 153, and have weighed 153 at a solid plateau for over a year.
Funny how so much depends on a number… Because still at 153 I’ll get on the scale every morning, hollow stomach, and try to get the number to move down, but it never does. I work out religiously now. But it’s so bad that I beat myself up mentally if I miss the gym one day, or even for a week. If I’m craving red meat and I have a hamburger, I’ll feel my thighs swelling. I’ll still skip lunch or deny myself my favorite cranberry orange muffin for breakfast in hopes ill look eventually like the bikini-model on the cover of Shape magazine. When a relationship doesn’t work out, the first thing I’ll do is blame the width of my waist or the span of my thighs—even these days at an unaverage size 10. But marketing America convinces you that a size 10 is far from thin
and markets every type of marketable drug on the planet.
Fifty-five pounds off later, I still feel like I did at a much heavier stage. Which makes me believe it was my heart that was far too heavy. But this is what I have learned and what I know to be true: I am no different than anyone who has ever been over-weight. Anyone who knows what it feels like to get picked last for Kickball, to sit alone at a high school dance, to be verbally abused by strangers and even by your family. Anyone who knows what it feels like to not fit into America’s ideal woman, to feel your shape hold you back from doing something you love, from someone discriminating against you because of the way you look. Anyone who knows how it feels to have loved but not given a chance because a person can’t overcome your appearance, to know its not always the heart that matters, to be the girl that’s never been kissed. Anyone who knows what it’s like to overcome all of those forces pushing you down, anyone who has risen to the top.