August 12, 2010

Looking to the past

I spent a few hours last night looking around Blogger for other blogs dealing with weightloss. One of my biggest problems has always been feeling completely alone in the process, and I hope that by creating a community for myself of people who know how I feel, I will make myself accountable for keeping on track.

So, if anyone is out there, thank you for reading this. Thank you for your encouragement, and good luck to you with your own journey!

Before I write about where I am going, I need to start by explaining where I have been. How did I get so big in the first place? At 23 years old, I weigh nearly three times what I should. If the weight that I have to lose was her own person, even she would be overweight!

Looking back, I can clearly outline several major milestones in my weight gain. The first would be my childhood. me, at six, maybe?I remember holidays and get-togethers as a kid, especially summers when everyone from my big Italian family would gather at my grandparents' house. The grandkids would swim for hours and hours, then eat PB&J sandwiches hanging out of the side of the pool so we wouldn't have to get out! Dinners were big and buffet-style, and there was dessert every night - homemade blueberry pies, fudgesicles, even make-your-own-sundae night! Now there are well over 20 grandkids, but back then, there were only seven of us - all girls. The four girls from Illinois were all very thin, and they all modeled in Sears catalogs, Hostess cupcake ads - even magazine covers! There's an old home movie where we have a fashion show with our great aunt's wild hats - the Illinois girls' modeling careers are all listed, and I am labeled "the future valedictorian." I was definitely a bookworm, very academically-minded, and always a little bigger than the other kids - but I was also really active. I played softball in elementary school, plus I was always riding my bike, jumping rope, or playing in the yard with my sisters.

This all changed around seventh grade, when my parents got divorced. The time after school that we previously had spent running around and playing was now full of waiting - my dad worked days and my mom worked nights, so during their hour or so of overlap, we would go to our maternal grandmother's workplace and wait in her car. She would drive home to her old farmhouse the next town over, which was right on the way home for our dad. At Dad's, there wasn't much to do - he moved in with his parents, who were in their 70s and 80s, but who lived in Florida for nine months out of the year - and worst of all, he couldn't cook to save his life. Even our mother, no longer a stay-at-home mom for the first time in over a decade, wasn't cooking like she used to. The homecooked meals of our childhood were replaced by processed foods like chicken nuggets, giant cans of Chef Boyardee, and takeout. Between the divorce, my best friend moving halfway across the country, and being a girl in between 12 and 13 years old, I became a compulsive eater - bingeing as often as I could, hiding what/how much I was eating - and gained a hundred pounds in a little over a year and a half.

may 2005My weight gain was steady through high school, and my college entry physical listed my weight as over 300 pounds. Unlike the majority of my friends from high school, I didn't go to the University of Connecticut; I saw college as a wonderful new place, as a new beginning where no one knew where I was from. There was a gym on campus, and my meal choices were completely up to me. In the first few months, I lost almost 30 pounds! I looked great and felt even better. Then, of course, I made friends and got busy with schoolwork, and going out or ordering takeout took priority over going to the gym. I gained all the weight back, plus some.

As it turned out, college was not the wonderful movie-like experience I had hoped for, and I got very stressed out around the middle of my second semester. june 2005Between new social groups and an increased workload, I found myself in a very deep depression, and my weight increased again. My father's response was to send me to stay with my aunt in Illinois for the summer - no stress, just eat well and exercise and recuperate. I found myself eating very little and exercising fiendishly, and I lost nearly 40 pounds in a month and a half. One day I went to get in the shower and the next thing I knew, I was waking up, laying down in the tub with water now ice cold, unsure of how I got that way. I returned to Connecticut a month and a half early, and quickly regained all the weight I had lost.

It's five years later. Since that first trip to Illinois, I have graduated college, moved me and dan at MA graduation, may 2010to Chicago, received my Masters degree - and gained nearly 50 pounds. I have decided to postpone pursuing my PhD for at least one year so I can take control of my life and my weight. It will certainly be an interesting year - the first time since I was four years old that fall does not mark my return to school! But being a teacher, working as an assistant to the program director, and being a full-time grad student lead to my overeating and making terrible choices while I worked on my MA. I need some time now to focus my efforts - for so long, I have put everyone and everything else first, letting my health get moved to the back burner.

I guess it just finally hit me that if getting my PhD took five years, I would be nearly 30 years old when I finished, and who knows how much I would weigh by then? At present, if I keep on schedule and lose about two pounds a week, I will reach my goal weight when I am 25! The number on the scale is arbitrary, really - I just want to be healthy, to look and feel good.

1 comment:

Jessica said...

Thanks for introducing me to your life in this post. This is your time to blossom into the person you want to be. My biggest suggestion as you begin this new journey of weight loss is to remember to make sustainable changes. Eat the way you want to eat the rest of your life. Exercise the way you want to exercise the rest of your life. If you become to strict with diet and too zealous with exercise it will be hard to maintain throughout.
You can do this!