I know I’ve been bad at blogging this year, and this entry has nothing to do with eating out or movies, but it has a lot to do with food. So read on if you are curious about me and the weight loss…
A lot of my close friends/family as well as Facebook friends that I don’t really see all that often have been commenting about my weight loss. I guess it’s gotten to the point where it’s really quite obvious. It’s funny to me, I’ve been on this journey for over 3 years, but it wasn’t until I got to a certain point that people really took notice. That might be my fault, I may have just not posted pictures, or changed my look until I got to a certain point, who knows.
It all started when I saw pictures of myself on a vacation in Ireland with my good friend Sara. But I guess that it really started way before that. I was a fat kid. Chubby. Big boned. Call it what you want, I was a big girl. And I was taller than most of the other kids too, so I was just BIG. Obviously I stopped growing before everyone else or I’d be standing at 5’10” right now. Anyway, there isn’t a time in my life where I can remember not being worried about my weight. And no offense to my brother, but he was a skinny kid. How the heck did he get those genes while I got these ones, life seemed really unfair to me. So I spent a childhood trying to keep my weight under control, mostly unsuccessfully. I would occasionally have moments of normal weight, probably associated with a growth spurt, only to creep back up. I loved chips and dip as well as sweets. I would sneak food in between meals and eat late at night. As a kid, it wasn’t necessarily such a big deal, I still had a lot of friends and was relatively popular so I avoided being called a lot of names.
Enter high school, still a pretty big girl, and even worse, my friends were starting to have boyfriends and go on dates! I was still lagging behind them in that area and while I loved playing sports, it was hard to keep up with my friends who could run faster and further. Also clothes, try finding cute size 16 clothes in 1993. I was stuck shopping in the women’s section while my friends were in the teen section. (Insert awkward teen picture here… yea right, I don’t believe any exist that I haven’t destroyed).
By the end of 9th grade, I’d had it, even my mom had it. We were both tired of me being upset about it all the time. She took me to see an endocrinologist who diagnosed me with hypothyroidism (an under-active thyroid). He gave me some medication, made me alter my diet and exercise and low and behold, I got skinny. I dropped down to a size 8 by the time 10th grade started. I may have gone a little crazy then, like eating half a cookie would equal an extra 30 minutes on the treadmill, but for the most part, I was healthy about it. I played sports and that kept me in really good shape. And the rest of high school was grand (weight wise anyway).
But, I stopped going to that doctor by the end of my senior year, I had to have ankle surgery that summer and have my tonsils out, so any thyroid concerns went to the back burner. Then college started, the freshman 15… or in my case the freshman 35. The sophomore 10, the junior 10 and the senior 10. I was over 200 pounds by the time college ended and was wearing a size 18.
I then moved to Florida, where I had an awesome group of friends and a super busy social life. We’d go out Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and it would not be uncommon for me to have 6-7 (or 8) beers while I was out. Do you know how many calories that is??? I would work out constantly, and my weight would fluctuate. I’d drop down to a size 14/16 then back up to an 18/20. I could never figure out what I was doing wrong, I didn’t eat horribly all the time, but I would some of the time. And I would occasionally go on a bit of a food bender where I was craving nothing but junk and would give into that. But I didn’t feel like I was that much different from my friends. (Note: mistake 1, comparing yourself to others, we’re all built differently).
Eventually I moved to the Philadelphia area and was about to turn 30 (gasp!). And I was still overweight. My life was not where I expected it to be (note: mistake 2, timeline expectations… I’ve since learned to get rid of them, so that’s no longer an issue). I quite literally dove into work there. I’d moved up there for a promotion and I was going to prove that it was worth it. It wasn’t uncommon for me to work until 6:30, then order takeout on my way home, eat, watch tv and go to bed. Professionally, it all paid off. Personally, I was not a happy camper. I gained even more weight by the time I was 32. But hey, I’d gotten another promotion at work.
Back to where I was going to start, the trip to Ireland with miss Sara. We went in the fall and I saw this picture of myself.
Oh. My. God. How on earth did I get that big. I was tipping the scales at 250. Seriously, 250 pounds. You have no idea how hard that is for me to say. I’m a driven person with high expectations for myself in the rest of my life. How did I allow myself to get there? I spent the winter trying to come up with a plan, because I’m a planner and a list maker, I needed an action item list!
In February 2011, I went to meet with a registered Dietician. After a tearful first meeting I left with an eating and exercise plan, I was ready to tackle this. But one thing first, I wanted to go back to an endocrinologist. My PCP for years kept saying that my thyroid was just fine and that my weight was due entirely to my lifestyle. I’d recently changed insurance and no longer needed a referral so I found an endocrinologist. We talked, she ordered blood work and once again, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. So here’s a note, if you really think you have a thyroid issue and your PCP is ignoring it, see an endo. They have a completely different outlook on “normal” thyroid levels than PCP’s.
I started off with 50mcg of synthetic thyroid medication and had blood drawn regularly, especially at first, to check my thyroid function. My dosage went up to around 80mcg. During the time, I kept working with the Dietician and lost about 45 pounds, by the middle of summer. At that time (Summer 2011), I moved back to Pittsburgh. This ended up becoming a huge test for me because my social life got busy really fast. Which meant more drinking and going out to dinner than I had been doing before I moved.
For a while, about 2.5 years to be exact, I continued along, I didn’t gain any weight, but I also didn’t lose any more. Last year, I put on about 20 of the pounds that I’d lost, which was very frustrating. I also had shoulder surgery, so I spent about 3 months doing next to nothing while I recovered and rehabbed. After another appointment with my doctor, an increase in my thyroid medication and re-starting my workout regimen I started losing weight. And I don’t mean a little bit, I dropped something like 20 pounds in the first 3 months.
So by the end of May 2014, I was back at the weight I’d been at when I moved to Pittsburgh. Over the summer, I kept losing weight at a rate of about 5 pounds a month. Everyone kept asking me what was different and what I was doing, and at first I had a really hard time putting my finger on it. I haven’t been depriving myself and at the time, I was dating someone so I was having dinner out regularly and that was almost always accompanied with several rounds of drinks.
Here is what I think was different for me this time.
I wasn’t worrying about eating “diet” food. I ate what I wanted, within reason of course. I would say I eat healthy Sunday-Thursday and on Friday and Saturday evenings I just don’t worry about it. This is a normal day of eating for me: Breakfast is egg whites with a little cheese and a piece of eziekiel bread (sprouted wheat bread, it’s an acquired taste); Mid-morning snack of fruit or Greek yogurt; Lunch would be one serving of whole grains (like quinoa or brown rice), 3-4 oz of lean meat (chicken), a little fat (salad dressing, avocado or cheese) with a vegetable of some shape or form (salad usually), and I’ll mix the quinoa, chicken and cheese or avocado with some salsa, maybe some black beans; Afternoon snack of PB and celery is my favorite; Dinner again is a whole grain, lean meat or fish, a vegetable and a healthy fat. I like to vary my dinners a lot, but I love salmon and will make it a hundred different ways. I do avoid sweets most of the time. But I’ll have something if it’s an occasion, or if something on the menu is calling my name (Kari… order the pumpkin crème brulee, you’ll love it). But it’s a treat, not something I have every night, or even every week.
I always worked out, so that wasn’t a change, the only thing I added to my life was yoga and man has that been helpful physically and mentally.
My thyroid finally stabilized too I think. I’m currently at 125mcg of medication (which may change with the weight loss when I get blood work in December, it was stable when I last went in July).
Also, and this was huge for me and came as a giant shock to some of my friends who have known me for ages… I gave up beer. I miss beer sometimes, I won’t lie. I still have one from time to time, but I stick with liquor and wine now. They don’t seem to impact the scale as much as beer does. And I have a love affair with good red wine.
Lastly, and I honestly think that this was the biggest difference… I was happy with myself. I mean really, truly and dearly happy. I didn’t have a doubt in my head about my ability to lose weight. I became happy with my life, regardless of what was going on. Not that I was miserable before, but there was always this thing… If I’d lose weight, I would be better, have a decent relationship with the kind of man I wanted, be less afraid to put myself out there and on and on. I stopped. I became content with where I was and what I was doing and stopped allowing so much of my self worth to be wrapped up in my appearance. I still knew I needed to lose weight to be healthy, but I wasn’t defined by it. This happened before I lost the weight and I think this is the reason I was able to drop the pounds like I was never able to before. The power of positive thinking is more powerful than many people realize.
My only complaint now is that I have some excess skin that I’m going to pray shrinks, but if not, I am considering a tummy tuck. I’d love to wear a bikini again and with the skin, my stomach area just doesn’t look good to me. Everyone is different, I won’t judge you for not getting anything done, don’t judge me for thinking about it. I just am not sure I want to go through the pain and recovery of doing this.
So where does that leave me. We’re entering the frigid winter months, when layers of clothing will be hiding my body and I’ll start to crave comfort food. I just want to maintain through Christmas! I am currently about 20 pounds away from my goal weight. Though, I hate saying that. Because truthfully, what I am planing is to just continue with what I’ve been doing and see where my body lands. If it’s at or below my goal weight great, but if not, you know what, I’m fine here. I’m wearing a size 12 which I haven’t seen since right before college. I can walk into any store in the mall and buy an outfit, shopping has become so much fun again. I’d forgotten how much I love buying new clothes. I’m never going to be a size 4, I’m not built for that and frankly I think I’d look weird. I have far too much muscle to be very tiny. And this is sustainable for me. I can go out and have dinner out with friends, have a few glasses of wine and I am not depriving myself or avoiding any situations.
I know it’s never going to be over. I still have a tense relationship with food (I love macaroni and cheese but I still feel like a horrible human being when I eat it, it’s a complicated thing). If you spend over 30 years worrying about what you are eating, it’s not something that changes overnight. I’m sure I’ll always have to be careful and keep an eye on the scale to make sure it doesn’t creep back up. But I feel good and confident about not just my weight, but my overall self. And I think that makes all the difference in the world for keeping it off.
There you have it, that’s my story. Writing that was kind of therapeutic. It is long and I have been somewhat quiet about it except for with those closest to me. Heck, even one of my very best friends didn’t really know and got quite the shock when she saw me in October after not seeing me for months. I was keeping this close, frankly, I was embarrassed by how big I’d gotten (like no one knew, right). But, it is a big (pardon the pun) part of my life and is a big part of what makes me the person that I am today. The somewhat complicated, occasionally difficult to crack, warm, awesome woman that I am :-)