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Old 07-22-2003, 04:54 PM   #1  
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Smile Newbie -- From 215lb to 150lb!

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.

Last edited by funkmastermel77; 07-22-2003 at 04:57 PM.
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Old 07-22-2003, 05:52 PM   #2  
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WOW, very nice essay Melanie, brought a tear to my eye. First of all, congrats on what you have accomplished and learned!

"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. "

This paragraph hit me hard, you put my thoughts into perfect words. Society today makes me so angry. Thin is a size 0-4. Am I wrong ?

Congrats to you, you are an inspiration, and trust me, coming from another person who has maintained for almost a year now, I know what you are going through. The constant fear that you might gain it back someday. Losing is ony half the battle, having the courage and motivation to keep it off forever is a lifetime battle. Here's to you and losing that last 15, even though you don't need to! and here's to you on staying this happy forever
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Old 07-23-2003, 10:05 AM   #3  
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Melanie, that was a truly beautiful written essay. I can completely relate with your saga. I myself have hovered between a 14 and 16 all my life, with the exception of twice when I went on fad diets. I gained all my weight back after I got off the diets. After awhile I decided it wasn't worth putting myself through all the emotional torment of dieting and not losing weight. I came to grips with the fact that I am a heavy person, and I would never obtain the willpower to say no to the foods I love. The moment I changed my mind wasn't when I had to go shopping and go up two sizes, not when i tried to stuff myself in my old jeans and they wouldn't come past my thighs, not even when I spent the past six months in pain because my knees hurt me so badly I couldn't even walk up stairs. My turning point was when I went to the doctor about three weeks ago, and I had put on 44 pounds since last year. I was completely shocked. I have always been about 30 - 45 pounds overweight, but never past 200. To find out I was 235. I was heartbroken. I still am. To think I could let myself go that much in a whole year. Anyway, I have adapted an whole new lifestyle. I go to the gym every morning and I am counting calories. I know it has only been three weeks, but I intend to make this a life choice. Your story is very inspiring. Thanks for writing such a reflective story.
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Old 07-23-2003, 10:39 AM   #4  
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Congrats Melanie - good for you!!
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Old 07-23-2003, 11:03 AM   #5  
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hi everyone -

thanks for all of your very kind words. im glad that you enjoyed the essay and that you could relate. theres something that only those who have been overweight can understand -- the deep emotions of feeling scarred, like you dont FIT in anywhere.... not even in your favorite jeans! :P

the first month:

*i cut out ALL liquids -- I only drank water and LOTS of it. its the best habit you can learn is upping your water intake or getting yourself in the habit of refilling a 8oz-24oz bottle of water every hour or so. i try to drink a minimum of 8 glasses of water a day.

*i cut out all FRIED foods, any kind of butter or sauce.

*i just watched my portions... fruit for freakfast, salad for lunch (sometimes a slice of veggie pizza and a salad) or a plain turkey sandwich w/ a slice of cheese on a grain bread, dinner was soup or pasta or grilled chicken.

the water alone helped me lose 5-10 lbs. especially when i wasnt drinking soda or added sugars in juices.

i followed this pattern for 6 days a week. on sunday, id usually have a lunch of my choice and made sure i ate early enough that id have time to burn it off.

i never ate after 8pm...

i walked for 30-45 minutes a night, whatever my schedule allowed.

when i started learning about nutrition, i switched my refined carbs to complex carbs, etc,... i still follow the water rule, the complex carb rule... i rarely eat pasta, bagels, muffins (id much rather have a cookie or two when im pmsing!) LOL.

im babbling but i can probably come up with a better time frame of what i did. but the biggest thing i did was taking it on as a lifestyle change and not bullying myself into it -- if i wanted something, i told myself id eat it on sunday. that way, it was easy to figure out if i was eating it out of a natural 'craving' or an emotional hunger.

and thats the other thing -----
its a lot of soul searching. you need to find out what kind of "eater" you are. im an emotional, texture eater. knowing that, i know how to ask myself when i want something if im "eating cause im hungry or eating cause im *sad, depressed, lonely, discouraged*"...

good luck, i have to run to a meeting!
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Old 07-23-2003, 02:29 PM   #6  
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Bless you and thank you so much for sharing your story. It is such a wonderful motivator to me (and many others, I'm sure). Best of luck to you on the rest of your journey.
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Old 07-23-2003, 11:04 PM   #7  
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Hi guys and thanks for all of the positive feedback. Here are befores and afters!


ps/ im sure i couldve found more incriminating fat pics but i couldnt bare to dig...

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Old 07-24-2003, 08:06 PM   #8  
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Wow, what a good story. Thanks for the uplift.

You're beautiful, btw.
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Old 07-28-2003, 09:39 PM   #9  
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love the pics

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Old 07-30-2003, 08:37 PM   #10  
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Thanks for your story. For understanding the 'fat girl inside' feeling. Seems like losing the weight is stage one. Then, on yo maintaining, and proving the world wrong. Not everyone gains it all back, and then some. Man, that's a hard one to overcome. Day by day, I begin to realize that I am no longer dieting, I am living by the set of rules that got me, dare I say, thin.
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Old 07-31-2003, 05:20 PM   #11  
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I read your post Mel and I completely relate. I have a lil twist to my story which is very similar to yours. All my life I was underweight.. I was thinner than all the other girls and at age 18 wore a size 3 and was 105 lbs. I couldnt gain.. I cried and tried.. and felt I was a bag of bones.. too thin to look at myself.. gorging daily on rich foods sauces and pastas trying to get the weight up. I had people making fun of me.. rumors spread that I was anorexic in high school which totally devestated me. I got sick with the flu and got MANY cards from teachers and students telling me all about how anorexia wasnt the way I wanted to live. Then I went into depression. After the birth of my 2nd son.. back down to the 105 and miserable. Then I had 3 more kids.. close together and After the 5th in 1999.. my weight was at 178 lbs. I couldnt stand myself. The weight stayed and I struggled. I had what I wanted.. but in excess. Now I am at 148-152 ( I bounce daily) and still miserable. I do not want to be that 105 lb bag of bones.. but I want to be a 130 lb size 7.
I struggle with scales, calorie counting, water and exercise and see no results. My size 10s are snug (I have a big butt.. lol). Everytime I get hungry.. I get on the scale. I think I am getting obsessed and I dont know how to stop it.

I just wanted to thank you for posting this. I try to stay positive and keep in mind that even a pound loss is still a pound lost.. even though I have to work so hard to get it off.
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Old 08-01-2003, 11:50 PM   #12  
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Beautiful post, Melanie! Thanks so much for sharing your story. It helps to know that it can be done and that life is better when you get there.. Gorgeous pics!

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Old 08-02-2003, 10:26 PM   #13  
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congratulations, melanie, on your weight loss!! thanks also for sharing your story and success. it is very encouraging to have read your essay and about some of the things which have been successful for you on your weight loss journey. much continued success. all the best to you!
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Old 08-10-2003, 06:52 PM   #14  
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Hey-I'm new as of today! That was a great essay-I used to be 156 at my lowest and am now 227. I am 5'6". I also was on PhenPhen but did not like how I felt with it-even though I did lose 30 pounds in 4 months but gained it all back! I went on a blind date last night and I could tell he was disappointed by my weight and did not find me attractive-I guess our mututal friend didn't describe me accurately enough! I want to lose weight for me and to wear the clothes I want and be able to do more, but it makes me mad that I also have to lose weight to attract a guy-as I don't always want to be single. Last night was one of the saddest in my life so far. I have PCOS and I am going to start a new program-but just reading your essay helped a lot and put me in a more positive frame of mind. Thank you! Hopefully this time next year I will be beating them off with a stick!
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Old 08-11-2003, 11:28 AM   #15  
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Talking WOW!


I am overwhelmed by the number of views and the wonderful, positive responses I have received on my essay and my weight-loss success. It feels good to know that everyone here relates to my experience and that you could be moved by my words. So a big thank you for all of your feedback.

The question of the "how do we not always feel fat at heart?" was raised... You know, I don't really know. I just got back from vacation in the Bahamas. How GREAT it feels to not feel AS embarressed in a swimsuit (even a bikini) as I once was... no shorts, no t-shirts, no farmer's tans... but even still, even at 150, I felt like "can i really pull this off??" I felt shy around my family, MY FAMILY! It's as if we never feel we can escape the eyes...

I think the only way to overcome this is to always maintain an even balance within ourSELVES, with our own self-esteem. Not looking for outside approval, but constantly being our OWN biggest fans.

But, who said it wasn't a battle???

Good luck to all of you on your journeys. I love reading your stories so very much, and I really feel at home in this forum. I'll be back soon.... tons of work in my absence. But until then, keep it real!

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