A lot of people who know me now don’t know, to look at me, I used to be fat. In high school (see pic above) I weighed roughly 162 pounds, I was part of the “might as well have one more cookie” club and I was unhappy. I used to lay in bed at night and think, “Oh, if I could only lose 20 pounds I would be so much happier.”
My first year of college I went away to a school that was closer to my Dad’s family and during the course of that year my Aunt set me on the path to weight loss. Not only was I achieving a dream of mine during this time but I finally had a concrete way to win the love and approval of a beloved family member. I lived for the days when she excitedly weighed me on her bathroom scale and declared, “We’re going to have to go shopping again!”
Fast forward a few years to when Mom introduces me to Curves. I am fresh out of college and starting a new well paying job that, I was soon to discover, I hated. Now not only did I have a scale to measure my self-esteem by, I had body-fat, inches lost or gained, and the frequency of how often I attended the gym. Shortly after starting Curves, I got myself fired from my nice well-paying job. Some months later I started another job which I also came to dislike, although not as intensely. It was during this time that I began meticulously monitoring what I was eating. My new job left me mostly alone with far too much time to think. Anyone who knows me knows that, on many days, this is far from a good thing. Slowly this evolves into monitoring when I eat as well as what I have eaten.
Fast forward a few more years and I am counting every walk, every stroll through a store, and every calorie eaten or drunk. Even as built muscle mass, every expenditure, or lack thereof, of energy is monitored out of the fear of gaining back what I had lost. There have been so many stories of yo-yo dieters who often lose and then gain back some or all of their weight. I have been so strict on myself out of fear of becoming one of those statistics. I would/will not let my willpower deviate. While I never made it as far as freaking out if I had so much as a piece of lettuce I still carry a lot of guilt over what I eat. I imagined/ imagine it as a failing on my part if I were to gain. My concept of success in this area was greatly skewed by my subconsciously connecting it to love and approval from friends, family, and even strangers. To gain that weight back is to lose that love and approval; it is a feeling of being even less lovable heavy. Losing weight I earned love and approval. That feeling is still a big part of me.
I am getting better though. It has been about three weeks since I made an entry into my electronic (via ipod) food log. Although I still mentally keep track of what I am eating and what I can ‘allow’ myself to eat. And I am still very dedicated to the gym, though I rarely weigh and measure myself. I maintain my dedication to the gym more as an act of sublimation and catharsis more than anything else, I think.
I love my Aunt very much and I am supremely grateful for her love and support during my weight loss. She is the one person I feel I can confide in, although not without the natural reservations that are a part of my temperament. We are close, I think.
I had a therapist once who asked me if I thought my relationship with my Aunt would be the same if I hadn’t lost the weight. I’d like to think so; I hope so, but I wonder… I mean it is unrealistic to think that my weight loss has nothing to do with our relationship but…
Am I happy now? Happier, certainly but it is not entirely because of my weight. I have purpose now, I know what I want to do, what is important to me, and I have perspective. I won’t be any less driven to maintain my weight loss but for me, right now, purpose and perspective are what make me happy.