I have battled with my weight almost my entire life. I first remember trying to put myself on a diet when I was just six years old. By the time I was 12 years old, I was sick of being made fun of and had resorted to starving myself to lose weight. I was eating only 300 – 400 calories a day and by the time my parents figured out I was throwing away my packed lunches at school instead of eating them, I was being forced to eat with the school nurse on a daily basis. It had even gotten to the point where I refused to eat and my mother force fed me a sandwich because I would not eat. The demons were taking over in my head with weight obsession but food kept winning out.
Eventually, the weight came back and by the time I graduated high school, I was still heavy. At the age of 19, I was at my highest weight ever – a whopping 213 pounds and I was engaged to be married. I wanted to be thin on my wedding day. I started losing weight but I vowed that this time I was going to do it the “right” way and take my time – I had over a year until I was getting married so I had plenty of time to lose the weight. Even though I thought I was losing the weight the “right” way, I was still eating less than 900 calories a day, working 50 + hours a week, and was exercising regularly. I fully believed, however, that I was eating properly, doing everything right, even though now that I look back I wasn’t doing anything right at all. My mother constantly worried about me and rightfully so. I mean, I was the one who had scared the hell out of her just a few short years before so whenever I would diet she would automatically assume that I was going to the extremes that I had went to as a young teenager to lose those pounds that kept finding their way back.
Within a year, I had went from 213 pounds down to 140 pounds. I hit my goal weight about 3 months before my wedding date and I was thrilled. For the first time in my life, I had hit my goal weight when I had been on a diet and I vowed that I was going to keep the weight off. I knew the statistics were against me – only 5% of people who lose weight keep it off long term, but I was going to be the one to beat those odds. I could do it! The weight loss started to affect my relationship with my fiance, as he began to get insecure and couldn’t handle the “new me”. We married but after 3 1/2 years, our marriage ended. During our entire marriage, he was extremely insecure and never seemed to get over the fact that I had lost all of the weight and his insecurity was one of the reasons our marriage ended. The day I left my ex-husband, he told me something that I have never been able to forget. He said, “Remember – I wanted you when no one else did – when you were fat. The weight will come back and when no one wants you, you will be alone.”
I did a good job of keeping the weight off over the years, fluctuating only 10 – 15 pounds, until I was about 28 years old, when I quit smoking. At this time, I was getting married for the second time, my current husband had just had bypass surgery and seeing what he went through, hooked up to those machines after that surgery, was enough to scare me into quitting smoking. During these years, my ME/CFS had started getting progressively worse but I was still working full-time with only periods of time where I would have to have leaves from work. It was also around this time that I had started working an office job due to my health starting to get worse and with me quitting smoking and the sedentary job, I slowly started gaining weight.
By the time I was 31, my weight had crept back up to 195 pounds. I started Weight Watchers and loved the program. I was able to eat a lot of food; I could eat a variety of food; and I was losing weight. I lost weight and I got down to 175 pounds in about 5 months. Then the unexpected happened. I found out that I was pregnant and I had to give up Weight Watchers because you can’t be on their program while pregnant. During my pregnancy, I did a really good job of trying to eat healthy. I ate salads daily for lunch and I really watched what I ate, but my body was gaining weight like crazy. I walked daily on the treadmill and tried to do what I could to be active with the CFS, but the last trimester the CFS took over and I was extremely miserable all of the time. By the end of my pregnancy, I had gained all but 50 pounds and weighed in at a whopping 224 pounds on delivery day.
When I went back to the doctor’s office for my six-week post-delivery check-up, I had lost 24 pounds and was down to 200. I had a long way to go but it was at this point in my life where my health issues really got bad and weight became even a bigger issue than ever before. To be continued…