Not so long ago, I was not a happy person. I had been in denial about my weight for some time. Although I knew I was overweight, I clung to the idea that I was that way genetically and couldn’t do anything about it, or that my weight wasn’t significantly impacting my health. (Being a teenager, I hadn’t experienced many of the negative effects yet.) You see, I had tried dieting before. Many times, actually. I’d weigh and measure and count calories for everything I ate, exercise, drink lots of water, avoid X-Y-Z foods, whatever. Yet I could never lose a pound. The only time in my entire life I could remember losing weight was when I got braces and literally could not eat anything for almost two weeks. (I lost about ten pounds, but regained.) Every other time over the years the best I have done is merely stabilize my weight (at 140, then 160, then 180, then 200…) It was horribly disheartening, and I felt helpless in my slow weight gain over the years.
Five and a half weeks ago, on March 15th, I finally made a change. The night before I had gone to dinner with relatives and a theater production, and ended up eating quite a lot. (I had the avocado honey chicken salad on whole wheat bread, which came with a huge side of sweet potato fries. The fries particularly were great.) So when I woke up the next day, I just wasn’t really hungry. I slept in late and skipped breakfast, then wanted something light for lunch. I don’t recall what I ate – mostly raw veggies, whatever it was – but somehow, a switch flipped in my head. I wised up to the situation with my weight and realized that I was tipping from overweight into obese. At 5’10” and 202 pounds (BMI 29), I vowed that I would never become obese. With this goal in mind, I decided that I really wanted to eat healthy for a while. The next day I asked my mom to take me with her to the grocery store, and I picked out lots of veggies and some fruit.
Without any particular thought on my part, the first week I subsisted off little more than veggies and fruit (raw and cooked), with some other staples like rice milk and peanut butter (no grains, but lots of sweet potatoes.) I felt pretty good physically and was inspired to cook more, which made me look up lots of new healthy recipes. The next week I started trying some new foods (e.g. kale and acorn squashes) and added some grains in (mostly quinoa). Mostly by coincidence, I had not eaten any wheat those two weeks, and only a few bites of meat and dairy. Incidentally, I also only suffered one bad headache that week (since I was a toddler I’ve suffered from severe headaches, which for the past few years have become very frequent, usually every day or every other day.) Near the end of the second week, I was using up some botched spaghetti squash (cooked it wrong) to make some sort of lightly pan-fried patties (squash, shredded kale, an egg, and spices). I didn’t think the ‘dough’ would stick together well enough, so I added in some bread crumbs from the pantry. I cooked and ate the patties (yummy!). About 20-30 minutes later, I was violently ill, my arms broke out in an itchy rash, I had a miserable headache, I was extremely tired, my joints ached, and my brain felt foggy. From this extreme reaction I put two and two together and finally resolved to eliminate wheat. (I also do not eat any dairy but yoghurt and meat only occasionally.)
[Please note: I am NOT saying that eliminating wheat/dairy or going vegetarian will necessarily solve your diet problems. I have known that I have very low tolerance for dairy (yogurt and other cultured products are okay in reasonable quantities) and have suspected for some time that I may have a wheat allergy or gluten intolerance.]
I kept eating healthy and going to the grocery store every week. About three or four weeks in I decided that I needed to exercise more, which I have been gradually implementing. I am very proud to say that today I am 183 pounds (a loss of 19 pounds in 5 1/2 weeks.) The first 15 came off fairly easily, the last 4 have been harder won. I feel so much more confident in myself, and the headaches are disappearing.
I don’t really have a concrete goal…right now, my first concern is getting out of the ‘overweight’ category and into the ‘normal weight’ category. Almost there, only ten pounds to go! Longer-term, I would like to be in a size medium shirt (currently a large) before starting college in late August. Scale-wise, I don’t really know what I want…for now my goal weight is tentatively set at 150.
However, I must admit that although I see the significant change on the scale, it’s harder to actually see in my body. Still, I know it’s coming off; my formerly-tight pants are loose now, particularly in my thighs.
Thanks to anyone who reads my wall of text.
Now, if I may, I’d like to ask for a bit of advice from all of you. The past few days I’ve been dealing with strong cravings for wheat products - pizza, bread, pasta, etc. – which I attribute to the stress of finals week. ): Because of my condition, I can’t simply have a ‘cheat’ day and eat some of it. I’ve been trying to keep the cravings at bay by drinking lots of water, eating regularly, and consuming ‘consolation foods’ when I feel really deprived (e.g. homemade smoothies, a few pieces of black licorice or ginger candy, frozen peach slices). Anyone have any other ideas for avoiding the cravings without spending a lot of time or packing on a lot of calories?
Secondly, I’m trying to work more exercise into my life. Right now I live at home while going to college full-time (I will be transferring to a four-year school and living on-campus this coming fall). My dad drops me off in the morning for my classes and I either walk home (~1.7 miles one-way on hilly terrain with a heavy backpack on my shoulders) or my mom picks me up in the afternoon. I do have a YMCA membership, but limited access to transportation - I don’t yet have the freedom to drive myself anywhere, and unfortunately I don’t have a working bike at the moment either. (Basically, I have to wait until my mom or grandmother is available to take me.) I don’t have much exercise equipment at home besides a jump rope, and only a tiny yoga-mat-sized clear floor space in my room. Ideas for how to incorporate more exercise into my daily life? (I prefer outdoor activities, but recognize that my main need is for more indoor activities.)