Friday, October 20, 2006

Fat Camp aka My Longest Post to Date

I've struggled with self-esteem issues my entire life. I've never thought I was pretty enough, smart enough, or good enough to deserve anything. Which is completely ridiculous, I know. I know logically that I have a pretty face (not beautiful, mind you, just pretty), I'm an intelligent person (well....excluding math, I suck at math), and everyone deserves happiness - but try telling that to the emotional part of my brain.

The fact that I am obese (and I cringe as I type that word, but it's true) is a problem of my own making. I know that sitting on my ass, stuffing my face full of carbs, and turning to food for comfort have caused me to self-destruct health-wise. In the 7.5 years of TTC and Infertility struggles, I have gained 80-85 lbs. I gained about 15 lbs. before that during the stress of planning my wedding, and almost didn't fit into my dress. So, we're talking about 95-100 lbs of weight gain in 10 yrs. I've always been kind of chubby, but never more than 10-15 lbs overweight. Until now. Now, I watch "The Biggest Loser" and realize that I am just as fat as the people they recruit for that show. It's horribly embarrassing and devastating to realize how far I've let myself go.

I can pinpoint the exact moment that my love/hate relationship with food began. It was the day my beloved grandfather died. We were living with my grandparents in Kentucky while my mom was undergoing chemo and radiation for cervical and ovarian cancer (she'd had uterine cancer just 3 years prior, and had to have a hysterectomy at age 28), back in Texas, where we lived at the time. My parents had divorced the summer before, and rather than hang around and support his children, my dad decided to up and move to Las Vegas and not leave a forwarding address, but a ton of bills behind. This caused us to become homeless, which only added to my mother's burdens. Rather than continuing to leave her children with friends to keep us off the streets, she took us back home to her parents. Needless to say, by the time the day my grandfather died (albeit peacefully in his sleep) rolled around, my brother and I were under far more stress than any 11 and 8 yr old children should be.

When people inevitably started to bring food to the house, my brother and I tried to mask our pain by consuming an entire bucket of chicken, a package of rolls, and a large bowl of pudding in one sitting. It was the start of a cycle that continues to this day. I know the "experts" tell you that when you are feeling emotional and are tempted to eat, to do something active, like walking, instead. Yeah, well, sometimes it's just easier and feels better to sit on the couch and eat a cup of chocolate pudding.

There was, however, a brief time between the ages of 18-20 where I was thin, well, thinner than I ever was before, anyway. I held down two jobs that required quite a bit of physical activity, and the pounds just started to fall off of me. For the first time in my life, I was HOT. The evidence of which was obvious in the way men looked at and flirted with me. I've never had so much attention paid to me by the opposite sex before! Let me tell you, it can be quite intoxicating and very, very powerful. Especially for a girl who couldn't get a date in high school. Of course, I was already with Jake at the time (we've been together since just before I was 18), so he was the only one reaping the benefits of having a hot chick. The funny thing is, I wasn't thin by society's standards. I wore a size 10-12, but with my build, it makes me look thin. I've always been big busted, and had a nice derriere, so if you eliminate most of my belly fat, I look great. I was holding my head high, full of confidence and happiness. Even when the weight first started to creep back on, it never bothered me. Jake loved me and found me attractive (and still does, btw), and that's all that mattered. I was even deluded enough to not "see" how truly overweight I had become. My mind would play the trick of believing that I was thinner than what I actually was. The only time that facade slipped, was if I saw a photo of myself. Then, I couldn't deny the evidence any longer. In fact, I've held on to this delusion until recently. While viewing the season premiere of TBL with Jake, I watched as one by one, the contestants were weighed in, wearing nothing but some spandex shorts and sports bra (for the women)-oh the horror! I saw their numbers come up, and realized, "Oh my God. They weigh as much as I do!" To confirm my growing horror at the realization of the enormity of what I had done to myself, I asked Jake to tell me, honestly (please, and no, I won't be mad), "Do I look like that?". His confirmation was like a bucket of cold water poured over my head, waking me up to the fact that I weigh as much as a grown man who plays football.

You would think that I would immediately start dieting and exercising, changing my life for the better, but no. Food and I, we're in a co-dependent relationship. Food is like the boyfriend who beats me up, but I love him anyway, and keep crawling back. Food is my lover, my best friend. Food comforts me, lifts me up, when life gets me down. Food has been there for me in my time of need. It brings back memories of family gatherings, and romantic evenings. It sustains me, and I don't mean in a "you need food to live" sense.

I want to break up with food, to no longer be its slave, to be in love with it, but I don't know how. I'm an atheist, so OA and "giving it up to a higher power" won't work; I'm simultaneously horrified and repulsed at the thought of joining WW or JC and doing the weigh-ins and meetings, Curves isn't my style, and I don't have the money to spend on Nutri-system or South Beach, or any of the other diet plans out there. I have to learn to do it on my own, but where do I begin? I don't care about what the scale says, I want to be healthy and happy. Just to be a size 12-14, rather than a 18-20 would be wonderful! To walk up a flight of stairs without losing my breath, to relieve the pain in my knees, my back, and the stress on my heart and lungs, would fill me with joy and a sense of pride. To finally hold my head up, to look people in the eye, and not worry that they're snickering behind my back about what a "fatty fatster" I am, is a dream I can't wait to turn into reality. I've got to find a way to do it, and sooner rather than later is preferable, in fact, it's become necesssary. If I don't want to devlop diabetes, or dig myself an early grave, I have to change - NOW.


Paradise19 said...

"Food is like the boyfriend who beats me up, but I love him anyway, and keep crawling back."

I like that analogy because it's completely honest and I think lots of women can relate. I like TBL too, but my mom and I are usually sitting on the couch eating junk food while we watch. I really have to give it up to those women, standing up there in spandex and sports bras. They're truly confronting the reality of their weight; no more denial or cover-ups. You can do it too, Natalee. I know it's easier said than done and starting is often the hardest part, but you're right - diabetes and heart troubles loom large for the person who chooses to ignore the issue for too long. I work with these patients everyday and I always wonder 'if only they would've eaten healthier/exercised more, etc.' You can change before you get to that point. You just need LOTS and LOTS of determination and willpower. And support, which I humbly offer!

Oh, and by the way, I'm no skinny minny myself; let's get to that YMCA, girl!!!

Laura said...

OMG! Natalee! I am sending you the BIGGEST Cyber hug anyone can get! I had such and incredibly busy weekend, I missed your post!!
I myself, have battled with food and minor weight issues. I went from being a size 4 (when I got married) to now a 12, which I don't think of being large, but I am only 5'2" tall. Plus, being so small my whole life, it is a big difference. For me, it all happened when we started TTC about 6 years ago, the drugs, and the stress, and the cycles and the sadness, got to me, after being disappointed month after month, food became a big comfort. And, I started gaining weight. Then, I was diagnosed with RA and was put on Prednisone for 6 months and I put on 20 lbs in 2 months. I went up to a size 14.
This year, I decided I was going to lose some of this weight and get back to where I am more comfortable. Plus, I have a new baby coming soon, so between my RA and my weight, I want to be healthy, so I can stay the active mom that I am, for my son and future daughter. Now that you are going to be a parent, think of motivating yourself for your future child.
So, I started with a personal trainer earlier this year, and I definately was fitter, but the weight just wasn't budging that much. So, in May, I joined WeightWatchers. I lost 17 lbs. So, I was extremely happy. I think it is rather easy too. But, I only average less than a lbs a week loss. Some weeks, I wouldn't lose, then another week, I would lose 2 lbs. Whatever it is, the scale is going in the right direction. I do like it, because, I have the freedom to eat food, it is more of a lifestyle change, than a diet.
I recently, decided to stop going to the meetings and paying $14/week and join online, which is less than $5/week. Plus online, they have access to so many recipes and ideas.
I know, how you feel though, even though you know you want to lose the weight, it is so hard to actually take the plunge! I'm here to help you with whatever support you need.