Up, Down, All Around

I won’t say I’ve struggled with weight all of my life, because that isn’t true. As a child, I was exactly right for my age and height. I was an active girl, always out playing with the boys. Of course, I was the only girl on the block so I had to be a bit of a “tomboy.” But I didn’t mind playing in the mud, climbing trees or running through the fields. I loved it.

My struggled began around puberty. Of course. Everyone’s struggles begin around puberty, don’t they?

Even then, I can’t say that I had a weight problem. I was soft around the edges and maybe a little pudgy. But I wasn’t unhealthy or too big. Even in high school, I didn’t concern myself too much with it. I think on some level, I realized that I was who I was and the other girls were who they were, and that was that. Yes, I was larger and maybe a little softer than the other girls, but it didn’t really phase me too much.

It wasn’t until college when I actually gained weight. And then more weight. And then more. That’s when I started caring.

However, I had no idea how to rectify the situation. What I did know how to do was eat my feelings. I could eat my depression, anxiety, awkardness, homesickness, and fears with the best of them. I went from an active high schooler on the dance team to maybe doing some aerobics in the gym a couple times a month.

I lost some of the weight my senior year in college, mainly because I was interning in NYC and I just simply never ate. I woke up too early for breakfast in the cafeteria and I would walk around the city instead of grabbing lunch at noon. On my way home in the evening, I grabbed a sub, some chips and a coke from the grocery store and that would be my meal for the day. I did this three times a week for four months. So yeah, I lost weight.

After I graduated I moved home and the weight came back and stayed with me for years. I complained about how fat I was while eating a day’s worth of calories for dinner. Every. Night. I spent my free time in front of the television. I was a sloth.

Clockwise from Ballerina Me (aged 12ish): Hiding my weight in an over-sized shirt (mid 20’s); Tinsel Time (8ish), Prepster (9? 10?), Me hugging my brother (7ish?), and finally, rocking the 80’s denim trend (11-13). Why did no one write the dates on these pictures?

Then December of 2001 came and smacked some sense into me.

That’s when my father died of a heart attack. After the shock and grief dulled to a low ache, I looked up for the first time and realized just how unhappy I was with my life. I started making a lot of changes, but the first and “easiest” one for me to tackle was my weight.

By then, I weighed a whopping 172 on a 5’4″ frame, and I’m being generous with those four inches. I joined Weight Watchers, and over the course of about six months made my way down to 135. I walked three miles religiously six days a week. I counted every Point. I worked the system and it worked for me.

I was happy there. Or so I thought. The downside losing 37 pounds is that you forget at some point you need to stop. No matter how low the scale goes, couldn’t go just a little bit further? When it doesn’t—when your body says “I’m happy here”—no matter how far you’ve come and all you accomplished you feel like a bit of a failure.

Since 2002 when I lost the weight, about half of it has crept back on. Some of it is muscle; eight years ago I changed from a desk job to an active job (massage therapist) and also increased my activity (yoga, belly dancing, and these days kempo).

Clockwise from Top Right: Yoga Me (2014); Ren Faire Me (2018), 251 Me with Dog (2018), My first ever belly dance performance (2009), and 251 Me without Dog (2016).

I know I’ll never see 135 again, and I’ve totally made my peace with that. I’ve also accepted the fact that genetics has blessed me with excessive boobage and Scottish birthing hips. I will always have an hourglass figure. But you know what? I’d rather be a ripped 142 than a soft 135 any day of the week.

That still means that I have a bit of padding to lose, although my boobs will probably stay the same size. Seriously. I am the only woman on the face of the Earth who doesn’t get smaller boobs when she loses weight. I’m discovering that I have no idea how to eat for an active lifestyle. I already eat fairly healthy, so figuring out the specifics will be one of my challenges.

Over the coming days, weeks, and month, I’ll be sharing with you some of my ideas and plans that seem to be working, as well as the ones that aren’t. I’ll be sharing some of my struggles (like losing my dad and discovering that even eating well can lend itself toward disordered eating). I’ll also be talking about body positivity while still making lifestyle changes like weight loss and fitness.

And I can tell you right now, there will probably be Doritos involved. For everyone’s sanity.