I had a school physical the summer before I started eighth grade. I stepped on a scale. I was on the lower range of normal, but I had hit a new number. A new milestone. And I didn’t like it.
That was the beginning of my journey towards wanting to change my body. Up until and even including that moment, I was still very small. But in my mind, my idea of myself changed.
When I was a freshman in high school, I made a joke about being chunky. Up until that day, whenever I or anyone made such a joke, everyone would roll their eyes because everyone knew I was thin and it was silly to joke about it.
But that day was different. That day another girl said, “yea well we are just average. We’ll never be super small like those other girls.”
Average. My idea of myself changed again.
I wouldn’t know a day again for another 15 years that I wasn’t actively trying to do something to lose weight. That I wasn’t putting off my life until I lost weight. That I wasn’t embarrassed to be in public or that I didn’t hate seeing pictures of myself. That average wasn’t a dirty word.
My journey to lose weight ended me up way heavier than I ever could have imagined, and I have spent my life defining myself by my failures.
I have a hormone disorder. It makes it much easier to put on weight, and it makes it a lot harder to lose weight. But that’s not why I am where I am. Or at least it’s a very, very small part of the story.
The larger part is that when we define our lives based upon one physical characteristic that we cannot completely control, we start to lose control. We no longer are the masters of our lives. Food is the master. The scale is the judge. And we are left helpless to those two very powerful forces.
I tried all the diets. And do you know the worst part of them?
The worst part is that sometimes they work. For awhile.
You see, I have no problem losing weight. When I put my mind to something, very few things will stop me from accomplishing my goal.
But what the diet books don’t tell you is that the nose to the grindstone, “eye of the tiger” mentality can help you lose weight and lose weight quickly. But it can’t help you keep it off. And it can’t do that for one specific reason. A person simply cannot live forever on the extreme ends of the spectrum. A person can’t spend a lifetime consuming too few calories to exist or cutting out huge food groups completely. It just doesn’t work. And it’s not healthy.
And in some ways, I think the fact that those diets work temporarily is one of the worst parts of the weight loss journey. They give you hope. They allow you to find pride in yourself.
Until they don’t.
And then you fall.
I remember being pregnant with my oldest daughter, 15 years after that day in my high school locker room. I was sitting in the classroom I used to teach in before classes started, and I started getting hypoglycemic. It was probably well after noon, and I rushed to the vending machine to grab a Snickers because I hadn’t eaten all day.
As I slowly walked back, slightly shaking, slightly light headed, I realized that here I was, pregnant with a daughter I desperately wanted, and I was so stuck in my ways that I hadn’t even considered that my “starve until I’m hypoglycemic” method of food control was ridiculous for any person, but especially a pregnant person.
And so I stopped. Dead in my tracks. I stopped trying not to eat.
And that was the beginning of the next phase. A phase I can tell you about next time.
But if you are reading this, I would love it if you would share even a little part of your story. I would love to create a community of people who are looking to improve their lives by healing their relationship with food. I’m not a guide. I’m surely not a mentor. I more likely than not are way more messed up than you are. I just want to be a companion to you on your journey as I try to figure my own out.