Friday, November 4, 2011

A Momumental Day

Grant writing will have to take a back burner for a moment while I update with this post.  This morning I realized I reached a significant goal - achieved an accomplishment that I've been working on, striving for, struggling with for quite some time.

And it only took me a decade + 11 months - 2 days to do it.

Let me back up a bit - I've always struggled with my perception of myself, a lot of that having to do with my weight.  I always felt like the proverbial 'fat kid' all through school (especially high school) when the cool kids all seemed to be rail thin.  I was never ever rail thin.  I think I went from the little girls section of clothes to a women's section size 10 - completely skipping the coveted size 6, 4, and even (gasp) 2 junior sizes that many teenage girls are.  As a result, I was painfully self-conscious - never tried out for the things I wanted to in high school or made much effort to socialize.  (It's kind of funny though, I look back at what few pictures I allowed of myself during those horrible awkward years and realize I didn't look nearly as bad as I thought I did...)

Anyway - through college and my early adult-life I came to accept who I was - but was never really quite satisfied with my physical appearance.  I tried various diets here and there, but never really committed, and was thus never really satisfied.  Then, when I lived in Scotland for a year and had no transportation other than my feet, a lot of the weight I carried around (not huge extra amounts but still what was extra) fell off.  I felt good, I looked good, I was a solid size 10, I was happy.

The day I walked down the aisle on January 6, 2001 was one of the happiest days of my life - for many reasons.  Not only was I marrying my best friend, but I felt really good about myself, and darn if I didn't look good in that amazing dress!

That was 10 years, 11 months, - 2 days ago.

I maintained that healthy weight until the winter of 2003 when we started our journey to parenthood.  A year of infertility, crazy hormone pills, emotions that I soothed with the epitome of comfort food, and I packed on a lot of weight. 

Following the birth of Anna in September 2004, I pledged to be the healthy, moderately thin person I was prior to our year of infertility treatments.  I pledged to be the cool, hip mom who maintained a sense of style and did not, under any circumstances, wear 'mom' jeans.

And then... then the cycle of clearly unfortunate events happened, where it just seemed that the tragedies would never end.  As soon as I'd start feeling better about myself and my family and think about making my own self healthy again, another disaster would happen.  (And if you recall, I'm not talking about little events, I'm talking about things like the diagnosis of cancer and death 9 months later of my father, my grandmother's death, two miscarriages, my mom's stroke, and a financial battle due to rising child care costs, Deonne's job situation, and that horrible year of two mortgage payments before our first home sold.)

Anyway.... the point is - through all of that, I sort of let myself go.  I focused on my kids, my spouse, my job, and surviving at best for myself.  I soothed my soul with creamy chicken casseroles, homemade cakes and cookies and brownies, and my ultimate comfort food - fried potatoes of any sort.  And while I didn't like the image I saw in the mirror - or the sizes of clothes I was forced to buy - I didn't really care.  I even rationalized to myself that at my age, with three kids, 'mom' jeans were okay.

I even let my personal health go.  I struggled so much after Jack was born with trying to take care of three kids while working full time and trying to support my spouse in his ongoing career drama that I skipped appointments, didn't go to the doctor when I should for various illnesses (resulting in a bad bout of pneumonia last winter), and didn't attend yearly check ups.

After that pneumonia scare of last winter, my colleague told me enough was enough, I wasn't being healthy, and I needed to do a better job of taking care of myself.  I knew that - but didn't want to listen to it.  Despite that, I reluctantly made my 'one year after having a baby' check up (that happened to be TWO years after having Jack.) 

Now, I heart my doctor.  She rocks.  She wasn't able to be my OB for Jack or deliver him (since she stopped doing obstetrics) but she checked in on me through my pregnancy, and even called me at the hospital shortly after he was delivered to see how I was doing.  We went through so much together as Deonne and I grew our family - she's forever a part of my journey to motherhood.

Truth be told I was embarrassed to see her.  My weight was out of control, I had no excuse for not coming to see her a year previous to that visit, and I felt terrible about myself.  But on I went, and as expected, we had a (ahem) 'discussion' about my health.  And she laid it on the line for me.  She said that my weight was clearly unhealthy.  That I was running the risk of having numerous complications later in life for my lack of exercise and bad eating habits.  And then she really let me have it - she looked me right in the eye and said 'you have enough family history of serious health issues to not be doing this.  Do you want to do to your kids what your parents did to you?  Do you want Anna to be a young mom without you?'  Gulp.  Further 'you don't need to exacerbate the risks you carry - while losing weight can't prevent cancer or stroke - it certainly can lessen your risks.'

Oh, I tried to weasel my way out of it - to justify it all - every excuse like 'well, I'm getting older and my metabolism is changing' to which she rolled her eyes and said 'nope - no excuses.'  I admitted the size I was felt foriegn to me - but that I'd honestly struggled to deal with it.  Off and on over the years I'd try various diets, try to lose weight, joined Weight Watchers about 492 times with no success.  Admitted that I'd lose a few pounds, but then the weight loss would slow or stop - despite best efforts - and I'd get discouraged and quit.

So we came up with a plan.  Something managable.  I'd commit to joining Weight Watchers again.  I'd commit to exercising regularly.  I'd email her weekly food and exercise logs.  And in exchange, she'd prescribe me Adipex.  (Which is a weight loss drug for those who struggle with weight loss.... I think it's a legal form of speed.)  But it is only allowed for three months.  After that - you're on your own.  Which is why she wanted me to email her food/exercise logs to ensure I was changing my eating habits so that I could continue to lose and maintain when I reached my goal.

That was in early March of this year.  And I diligently started tracking everything I put in my mouth and every moment of dreaded exercise (that I will hate until the end of time.)  I entered everything online - and weekly stepped on the scale.  I sent her weekly logs of all of this - food intake, exercise, weight loss.  She nitpicked - told me that the steamed shrimp and vegetables at my favorite Asian restaurant just around the corner from my office was a good choice, but to be careful, because sometimes they add extra oil during the steaming process - and to next time ask for no oil.  Or that the ground turkey I used to make a turkey meatloaf was good, but next time to make sure it is all turkey breast, no dark meat, because that has more fat in it.  (Really?  Clearly she didn't understand that me not eating tempura shrimp or fatty pork and beef meatloaf was a huge step...)


It started to work. 

I'm not exactly sure what the Adipex does - because I was still hungry (it wasn't an appetite suppresant for me), I wasn't jumpy (which is a supposed side effect), and I didn't have trouble sleeping (another supposed side effect.)  Maybe it was mental for me - thinking that the tiny blue pill I took each morning was the miracle drug.  Perhaps it was - because it gave me confidence to keep going as I lost every single week that I took it. 

But the Adipex ended in June.  And I've steadily lost since then.  Sometimes a half a pound a week, sometimes two pounds (which is fiunny in Weight Watchers Online because you get an error message that says something about you're losing too fast. WHATEVER)

My clothes started fitting looser, and looser, until the size I had been forced to wear would simply not stay on.  I had Deonne dig the big trunk of clothes out of the attic that I'd stuffed in there - basically my pre-child wardrobe - to see what would fit.  Amazingly, the majority of it did, does, and in some cases, is now too big.  (Although, some styles from a decade ago are not in style to say the least...)

Oh it hasn't been easy - I still triple-heart fried potatoes, and a big plate of creamy chicken casserole sounds divine.  Learning to think about what I eat, when I eat, WHY I eat has been key.  I still eat those things, but in moderation.  And the honest truth, what I refused to listen to when healthy/thin friends would tell me, is that eating that stuff doesn't matter so much.  And it makes me feel yucky after I eat it.  So it IS true after all.  NOTHING tastes as good as being thin and healthy feels. 

I still find comfort in time in the kitchen making cakes and cookies and brownies and pasta dishes for my sweets and pasta-loving spouse and children - I just don't feel the need to eat them all as soon as they come out of the oven.  I still enjoy ALL of the things I did prior to this (what has indeed been epic) journey, but not to the same scale that I did before.

And it all comes down to this morning.  I stepped on the scale, and realized, I'd done it.  I'd lost 50 pounds.  Let me write that again for emphasis.  50 POUNDS.  I dropped from a girl pushing a size 18 to a size 8.  In jeans.  SIZE 8 JEANS.  NON MOM-JEANS, I might add.  I didn't wear a size 8 in high school. 

I'm back to the size and person I was the day I walked down the aisle.

And I gotta tell you, I feels good.  REALLY good.

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