Before we go there however I want to say one more thing. My life is a blessed one. I am fortunate beyond words and I appreciate those blessings every day. My struggles are insignificant in the grand scheme of things and I KNOW this. I still feel like sharing though, and whining a little. If you don't want to keep reading, that's cool. I'll see you later. If you want to learn a bit more about me, then make the jump.
This is a little capsule of my early school years. The big picture is 1st grade, then from top to bottom is 2nd, 5th (bad home perm) and sixth (this haircut earned me the nickname "Cabbage Patch" which sadly stuck around for years) grades. As you can tell I was never a skinny kid. I also had the great fortune to be best friends with the skinniest girls in town, so the disparity between them and me was always felt. I can clearly remember as early as 5th grade, feeling bad about my body. I wasn't an inactive child, I played a sport every season and spent ALL of my free time outdoors. Of course, I may have been sitting in a tree reading a book rather than, like, running around. Regardless, I was the one girl in town wearing a one piece bathing suit at the pool while all the other girls wore bikinis. I have NEVER worn a bikini, never could. I have ALWAYS loved food, always will. Now you see my problem? Flashing forward a bit.
The big picture is my (high school) Sophomore formal. The red dress is Junior year, on a vacation with my parents (a cruise to Bermuda and that is what I wore for debarkation. Really?) The yellow shirt (mustard was NOT in in 1990 but I was wearing it anyway) photo is from my Sophomore year in college. What you are seeing is the continuation of the above theme. I'm the chunky girl. The one who is self conscious and shy and not all that social. I still love food, but have stopped all sports since my natural athletic ability is actually poor and once real competition began in High School I was never good enough to make a team. I tried out for Softball, Field Hockey and Tennis and didn't make it for any of them. Sigh. I was great in Drama though, go figure.
Once college came, and the midnight munchies and beer kegs started becoming a regular part of my life I managed to become something more than chunky. Bad habits were formed and my natural aversion to physical activity was strengthened by my increasingly unwieldy frame. Fate being what it is, I was once again surrounded by the MOST beautiful women on campus.
|My girls. So, this wasn't actually in college, it was 1996 so we were already out 4 years by this point|
|The red suit picture is from 1994, the center picture is my 25th birthday and the black dress is the night of my rehearsal dinner in 1996.|
Your 20's are supposed to be about becoming who you were meant to be. My 20's were spent like this, enjoying life despite my size. By now I felt that this is just how I was going to be so I got over my desire to be something else and just had a great time. I had met my husband in college, he fell in love with me as I was so who could want anything else. Time marches on and by our first anniversary I was 8 months pregnant with our first child. I'm not gonna lie, I used pregnancy as an excuse to overeat. I gained a lot of weight that first time around. A year later, and you can see that I hadn't lost too much of it.
|The year is 1998 and I am 27 years old. I believe I was a size 16.|
After I had my second child I stopped working and became a stay at home Mom. Baby gates in doorways required me to step over them a thousand times a day. I gave up regular Coke in favor of seltzer water. I started Weight Watchers for the first time. The change was small but significant. I began to rethink things and question my choices.
Then we moved to Florida, leaving behind all our friends and family. For the first time in our lives having no one but ourselves to depend on. I didn't do so well without my support system at first. I fell back into my bad habits. Then, on 9-11-2001, I found out that I was expecting my 3rd child. Not the most auspicious time to receive news like that. Our joy was negated by the terror going on around us. Joy cannot be contained however, and by May 2002 our family was complete. I wish I could find pictures that have me in them, but I had stopped letting people take my photo by this time.
I really am not sure what happened to trigger what came next. I think it may have been that my friend was getting married again and I would be going "home" to see them all after not seeing them for 2 years. I wanted my life to be different, I wanted control. I never wanted my kids to look at me and feel embarrassed. I'm not saying they ever would have been, but that was my thinking, and I wanted to change. So I did. Just like that.
I started Atkins (because my neighbor was doing it and we were able to help and support each other) and started walking. I wore one kid on my back and pushed the other two in a double stroller around our neighborhood. 2 miles, every day. We lived 7 miles from the beach and so I took my kids to play there all the time. We were members of our local zoo so I would take them there and walk and walk and walk. I dropped 30 pounds and was able to wear a size 8 for the first time in my adult life. I still remember the feeling of shopping for clothes in "regular" stores. Thrilling, exciting, motivating. The dress I wore to the wedding was a size 6, and the bride passed by me in the lobby of the hotel and didn't know it was me. One of my best friends in the world couldn't recognize me any more. THAT was exactly what I wanted. Needless to say my girls were all very proud of me and I had a great time seeing every one. I also have no pictures of that. I was too busy dancing.
No one can do Atkins forever, well, I couldn't anyway. Not even while super motivated, and high on my own success. You see, I love pizza and french fries and ice cream. So I made the transition back to eating carbs in moderation. Then we moved again. This time, we moved into my family home in the town where I grew up, essentially where the story started.
By 2004 (I was 33) this is what I looked like. I am no skinny minnie, but I felt good about myself. I was active and watching what I ate. We made some fantastic friends in our little town and began a weekly tradition of getting together for food and drinks on Fridays. The weight crept up a little and I started Weight Watchers for the 2nd time. I was completely dedicated to the program. After about 6 months of being very diligent, I made it to my lowest ever weight. Know what? There is one picture of me at this time. ONE.
I was able to sustain that for about two years, and then I found out that I was going to have to sell my parents' home and move away again, this time across the country to AZ. I did NOT react well and began to eat and drink without restraint. By the time we actually made the move to AZ I was a size 10 again. Once we arrived and I accepted my new lot in life, I started paying attention again and dropped back into a size 8. The difference isn't really that much-maybe 10 pounds, but it is significant on my frame and for my frame of mind.
So, here we are. It has been almost 10 years since I wore those size 4's. Every six months for those 10 years I seem to have the ability and self control to eat better and exercise and wear my size 6's. Then, something happens (hormones? demons? you choose) and I just say fuck it. No one is looking at me anymore (cause I'm old and married, you see), I don't need to pressure myself to get back to that size 4. Society's ideals for women suck and I don't want to play anymore. So I eat and drink and laze about and begin to overflow my 8's again. Then, when my only recourse is to dig out those 10's, I start the whole damn cycle again.
I am on this mental merry go round and I just want to get off. I'm tired, but I don't know how to get off of it. I want the brass ring. I want to just eat healthily ALL the time, exercise because it's good for me, and be a better example to my children. I don't want, GOD, I REALLY DON'T WANT my daughter to get on this merry go round of craziness, where self worth and the scale are connected. Where what you see in the mirror determines the outcome of your entire day. I want her and all of our young girls banned from that ride.
I took some photos last month, trying to get in on the black and white theme that was going on at the time. Here are the pictures that started my current mental collapse. What do you see when you look at them? (a rhetorical question, I don't really expect an answer)
When I look at them, I see that picture from 1998, all over again. I see the loss of all the hard work I did last year at this time which had me comfortably in my 6's and feeling good. The loss of the last 10 years of struggle. What doesn't hit my brain is that it was probably just bad styling, and switching a couple things would change the way it all looked.
So now I'm stuck. Now I can't even dredge up a shred of motivation and I have no idea why. Maybe for some of you, where I am at may be where you are aiming to be and that is AWESOME. You see now that I can relate to that, because at one point in time I would have happily traded my left kidney to be a size 8. But I still remember the me of 2005 and I compare myself now to the me I was then. Still imagining that thin me is happier than current me.
I'm not looking for sympathy, or kind words, or praise I swear. I just wanted to share all this with you guys so that when I disappear for a while and don't post pictures you have a better understanding of why. Hopefully I will get my mojo back and find a way to get off the mental merry go round. Hopefully I will find a way to just live healthily without attaching value to scale or pant size. Until then I'll put up the pictures I can stand to look at, and keep you posted along the way.
If you had the patience to read all that, God bless you. I just wanted it out of my head. Thanks for sticking with it. I hope you can look past my nonsense and come back for my normal posts!