I’ve been overweight since I was a baby and the doctor told my mother to switch me to skim milk.
Does anyone else remember the yearly shamefest of being weighed and measured at school? Then, they’d write down your height and weight on a slip of paper and send it home with you. I remember that dreaded day in third grade: the kids in my class were comparing their heights and weights when the boy next to me leaned over, saw my paper and announced, “Alison weighs over a hundred!” I was mortified. At the age of 8, I already weighed 117 pounds. But my parents’ well-meaning friends kept telling me, “When you hit your growth spurt, you’ll thin right out! That’s just baby fat!”
So, I kept waiting for this growth spurt that never came. In fifth grade, I was 5′ tall. Newsflash: by the ripe old age of 29, I’ve growth-spurted myself right to 5’1″.
I never wanted to go on a diet. I felt like that was admitting that I had a problem. My well-meaning mother tried to teach me about nutrition and eating healthfully when I was 12 or 13, but she never pushed it, and I never took the bait. It was as though I thought that if people knew I was on a diet, they’d suddenly realize how fat I was and that was worse than just quietly being fat – not that anyone has ever called me quiet… well, maybe once.
I made it through high school and most of college being what I like to think of as “normal fat,” above 200/below 250. The summer after my junior year, I turned 21, discovered the wonder of legal drinking, and I ballooned. I graduated from college, moved to a college party town, and I ballooned some more. By this time, I was tipping the scales at 315 pounds.
This was the first time I ever really attempted to diet. I was 22. I remembered that my grandparents had used Weight Watchers with great success and raved about how easy it was for them to follow, so I looked it up online and found that I could do the entire program online without going to meetings! For someone who has always been very private about their weight and weight loss efforts, this was really important to me. I gave the Points program a shot and ended up losing 25 pounds in my first month, but fell off the wagon shortly after.
I moved home with my mom and actually met my husband in her kitchen. He was friends with my brother, so I started hanging out with them too. Fresh off my awesome weight loss, I was feeling super confident about my charms. This guy – let’s call him D – was hot in a way that I had never noticed about anyone before. Though I was definitely interested in men, I don’t think I’d ever really found one sexy before. He was often quiet and pretty mysterious, but he was also really funny and observant. I started making some moves because he was really shy. One night, after a great deal of drinking and having my brother chauffeur us around the county, I found myself pressed up against a car in the McDonald’s parking lot at about 2 am. I guess I dropped enough hints, and he finally went for it! It’s been six years since that night, and we’re getting ready to celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary.
I realize that last paragraph reads like a digression, but stay with me here.
Dating D was a turning point for me. Sure, I had dated plenty of other guys, and I’d had two serious boyfriends before, but D was different. I wanted to look my best for him, and I wanted him to want to show me off.
Just after New Year’s 2009, I stepped back on the scale again. I’d been avoiding it since the previous summer. You know when you start dating someone, most of the date-y things you do revolve around food. We went out on lots of dates to nice restaurants, but D also showed me the wonder of ordering from the Value Menu at fast food restaurants. Ordering from the Value Menu, it suddenly seems perfectly acceptable to order 2 double cheeseburgers and 2 chicken sandwiches because, hey! A normal sandwich costs $4, and I just spent $4 on four sandwiches. Boom. 318 pounds.
D never belittled me. When I told him I was going to lose weight, he was behind me 150%. He told me that he thought I was beautiful no matter what, but if this was what I wanted to do, he wasn’t going to stop me. He worked out with me (we did a lot of yoga!). When we moved in together, he ate what I cooked and even helped out in the kitchen sometimes.
2009 was the year for me. I lost 95 pounds (D lost 70!). I worked out 5 times a week. I hiked, I biked, I yoga-d. I got engaged. We started the process of buying a house. Then, I had a series of gallbladder attacks and had a cholecystectomy the day before Christmas Eve.
I hung onto my healthy lifestyle for the first few months afterward. I kept gaining and losing the same 10 pounds for the longest time. I even tried going to Weight Watchers meetings to get myself motivated again. It didn’t work. By the time my wedding rolled around in October 2010, I had to have my size 16 wedding dress let out at the hips. This was the same dress that I had originally been planning to have to take in just 10 months before. By the time I got married, I’d gained back about 20 pounds. A month later, I broke my foot, and I packed on 66 pounds in 3 months.
The past 3 years, in a nutshell, have been repeated (failed) attempts to “get back on the wagon.” I’ve had regular meetings with a nutritionist, rejoined Weight Watchers at least 3 times, joined Curves, gone to two gastric bypass consultations, and used MyFitnessPal and Spark People more times than I can count. My problem is not lack of knowledge, it’s self-sabotage.
I don’t think I’m self-sabotaging because I don’t feel like I deserve to be healthy. I have more self-confidence than I think most people have. I know that I am awesome and pretty and super smart. Plus, I have a super hot husband.
I don’t know what the foundation of this sabotage is, but I’m vowing right now to stop it.
I’m inviting you (is there a you?) to follow my journey to becoming an AFTER. You know, the before and AFTER pictures of people who’ve lost weight? I’m tired of being a before. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken a picture and vowed it was going to be my “before” picture, only to give up and delete it out of shame. I’m not taking a specific “before” shot this time; however, there will be an AFTER. I will be an AFTER.