As I’ve mentioned before, I had a really good childhood and upbringing. My parents allowed me to develop my own personality, form my own opinions, be compassionate & friendly, and to be a genuinely “good kid”. But, with all of that, I wasn’t a 100%, even 80% confident child or teenager–I would say I have ALWAYS liked my personality and was/am confident in that aspect, but my appearance is a different story. My life was pretty stable and I created nonexistent problems, for reasons I can’t totally explain.
As a kindergartener and first grader I refused to wear anything except dresses and leggings. I was extremely thin (not ill looking, but I grew about 4 inches every year up until 4th grade, but didn’t gain weight as quickly). I remember people commenting on my size, but nothing major, I just remember getting attention for my size and my long blonde hair.
As a 2nd grader, I can remember sitting in class and looking down at my tights and thinking “oh my goodness, my thighs are HUGE!” Now, mind you I was wearing cotton leggings that had the waist pinned smaller on each side, and were pretty loose. I decided I wouldn’t wear legging any more and wanted to start wearing jeans because they were stiffer and therefore more flattering. Problem was, hardly any stores carried anything except regular and plus sizes. After a little work and some hand me downs… I had a bunch of 10 slim pants. I stayed in slim or 0/00 all through elementary school. I remember comparing weights with the other super slim girls in the neighborhood.
In fifth grade, standing about 5 feet tall, I cried because I weighed over 70lbs and that meant I weighed more than Morgan, my next door neighbor. But, I didn’t diet or attempt to lose weight. My mom had been dieting around this time, but she was very overweight and never really talked to us kids about it…I just knew she worked with her doctor, ate less, and worked out a few times a week–I’d go to the gym with her sometimes and just watch. Honestly, I thought organized exercise in a gym was for overweight people, people who wanted muscle, and athletes. I also thought only “very fat people diet”–hey, I was 10 so sue me if I wasn’t politically correct. Also a girl that I thought was one of my “besties” spread a rumor that I was anorexic. I wasn’t. I was upset because we regularly ate a lot of food together. I went through this angsty ten year old thing were I was convinced no one liked me…but I decided after a good cry I couldn’t let other people’s opinions of me affect me SO much.
In middle school, I guess I stopped caring as much–probably a natural segue from my 5th grade epiphany.. I understood it was natural to gain weight. I wasn’t particularity active, I didn’t eat healthy, but I had friends bigger than me and friends smaller, and for a the most part I was a normal, happy, bratty middle schooler. Plus, I liked actually being able to find clothes that fit in “teenager” and “women’s” stores.
Cut to high school, in my 9th grade general science class we were studying units of measurement or something..anyways one of the labs was to measure our lab partners height and weight. My friend, Kristin, and I were both 5’2. She was about 105lbs and I 122lbs. Oh my gosh, I am FAT. I shouldn’t weigh THAT much more than her! At some point our BMI’s were calculated, although I knew mine was “healthy”, that still didn’t mean a thing because I still had a huge stomach and thighs. As you can see from the image below I really wasn’t huge, just a normal high school kid.
Around this time my group of friends changed a little and split off. It’s high school, it happens. Sat with different people at lunch and I started packing my lunch more to eat healthier (hey, I ate like crap I had a slice of pizza, a cookie, and a little hug everyday for lunch in middle school and for the first month or so, until the scale incident, of high school.) I also started counting my calories. I calculated my BMR as 1800ish. I decided I had to eat under that and preferably 1500 calories. I started walking more, doing exercise dvds occasionally, and push-ups, hip extensions, and ab exercises. I slowly saw the pounds come off.
At some point I lost control. I began obsessively tracking my calories, wanting to go lower & lower for intake and higher for output–my thought process: if 1500 is good for weightloss, 1200 must be GREAT; if exercising 300 sit ups is good, 1000 must be GREAT. I occasionally would make myself throw-up when I felt I “ate too much” “ate too poorly”. By my junior year I weighed 100-105lbs. I had little muscle mass and was carrying too little weight for my frame size. Of course, I didn’t know and I was still concerned I’d look fat in my homecoming dress…which was the smallest size in the store and had to be taken in.
Now, I had self-educated myself on eating disorders, plus what I learned in health class. I didn’t act like I thought someone with an eating disorder should. I didn’t want “tips and tricks”. I didn’t starve myself for days, just for 12 hours.. I wasn’t underweight. I didn’t throw up after every meal, just some. I didn’t binge eat thousands of calories at once. Hey, I’m just being HEALTHY! because, at some point in this mess, I decided it was okay for me to diet all the time because that’s what everyone who’s healthy does anyways..right? Counting and then cutting calories, obsessively monitoring weight that’s what health is. I had a lot of freetime and a lot of time to obsess about what I ate.
Over the summer after my junior year I got a job at a restaurant waitressing. With this job it was impossible to just not eat. I developed new friendships and got my first boyfriend. I had things to think about other than food and slowly, I slacked back on counting calories. I began gaining weight…but I didn’t care too much. I was stressing about other things in my life (like my horrible boyfriend). Eating healthy and dieting extremely wasn’t important to me. I had other priorities at that point, new friends that didn’t diet, and I was starting to think I wasn’t actually fat & believe it. A little confidence was developing here…and I started enjoying food again because I was eating as a social event, not just as fuel.
After graduation, Things went down hill with that boyfriend… I got a new boyfriend, David. David and I had been friends my sophomore year and just happened to start talking again on MySpace–judge me, I don’t care! haha. He was athletic in high school and I had decided to change my major to exercise science (to fall inline with plans to go to school for dietetics, to be “well rounded”). Without me ever formally exercising, we joined the Y. I started taking weight lifting classes at school. I began running.
At first I couldn’t even run .25 of a mile. Eventually, I made it up to a 5k (just over 3 miles) on the treadmill. I wasn’t strong at all either. I did primarily machines at the Y and at school I practiced my free weight technique with a 15-25lb barbells. My max bench was 45lbs. I built my endurance up further and decided to run a half marathon that fall. (2010) I bought a heart rate monitor because we had used them in school and I thought they were cool. I was running about 50 miles per week in the middle of the summer and obsessing about losing my endurance if I didn’t run that much or not burning enough calories according to my watch..All of my bad high school habits began to transform themselves into obsessive exercise.. I also began regularly throwing up my meals. I don’t know how I convinced myself this was healthy, but I genuinely didn’t believe I had a problem..or if I did it wasn’t THAT bad. I’m not like those bulimic or anorexic girls.. I am just concerned about my health. I know I’m thin, I’m just being a healthier me. I still looked in the mirror and could find major flaws.
I had size 2 pants that fit great in Dec. 2009 that by April were falling off. I didn’t weigh myself, I didn’t own a scale. I weighed myself just messing around at the gym once..and I weighed less than 100lbs. RED FLAG. I am underweight! I don’t want ANYONE to know. This is bad. I am going to get sent to a clinic. oh my gosh. I need to weigh at least 100 lbs. I decided since I still had too much fat I wanted to gain muscle to lower my body fat percentage which was 18-22%. I got injured running a couple times and cut my mileage back to 30 or so mile per week.. plus more rigorous lifting sessions. For last month or two before my half marathon in October, I stopped lifting and just ran.. (I didn’t have time for both, I was working a new job commuting and hour each way, in school, and moving) After my half marathon, I stopped running more than 5 miles at a time for awhile. I did gain a tiny bit over about a year.. just over 10lbs, some muscle, some not. Most gains were made between October and January.
I was happy with the changes I had made in my routine and with my physique. I wasn’t over exercising, I was gaining muscle, getting stronger, still able to run 5 miles no problem.. then the unthinkable happened. I kept gaining. I couldn’t stop it. It just kept packing on. In about 2 months I gained 20-25lbs. I wasn’t binging on huge meals all at once, I had a little stress from a break-up and a new move, but nothing extremely stressful. I was still exercising. I monitored my calories…but honestly when I did that I felt like I was starving myself and constantly hungry. I couldn’t go more than 2 or 3 hours without feeling like I was starving to death. But, I was growing a lot stronger! I could bench 75lbs 5x! I didn’t like the fast gain..but was starting to see some positives.
Stronger me didn’t like all of the extra body fat so I decided to try the paleo diet.. (read about that here). I lost and gained more weight back. By mid summer I was 132-135lbs. (still a healthy weight.) But, I wasn’t 100% happy with it..but it wasn’t budging up or down so I just decided to ignore it and move on.
My next boyfriend and the one I am dating now really helped me feel confident in my skin. I did start partying too much.. but I didn’t gain weight. I was not trying to gain or lose and I was now easily maintaining my weight..even with copious amounts of alcohol, lack of sleep, not a lot of exercise (maybe 2-4x on a good week), and eating out too much. I’m not saying those are good things…but before I was exercising a lot and eating very clean/had awareness of caloric consumption w/o actually counting and GAINING, so maintaining was a great thing. I kept my weight between 130-137 for about a year.Last summer I decided I needed to calm down on the partying and drinking for the sake of my relationship and sanity. I lost a few pounds by only drinking on the weekends. I decided I wanted a cute belly baring halloween costume…lost a couple pounds by actually doing a little cardio (I wasn’t doing ANY except walking for pleasure & dancing on bars…) Mainly I did intervals for 20 minutes or so..I hit the gym 4 or 5x a week. (see top imagine.. I was Emma Frost) I didn’t have to kill myself to see these results.. just consistent work in the gym and improving my diet, not perfecting it, just making better choices more often.
In January, my job situation changed at little and therefore I had to workout less. I made it to the gym 3x a week. It was an active job though and I didn’t gain or lose.
February I got the job I have now..A regular schedule has really helped me work on my health. Got a little hairy over the summer with working 60 or more hours every week, but I have been able to maintain consistent eating and exercise routines. I’ve maintained what I call my “easy” weight (Ironically, that weight I thought was so horrible in high school was so heavy is a little lighter! haha). I’m consistently getting stronger and my workouts are short-sweet (about 45-75 minutes 4-5x a week) and I am not killing myself exercising anymore. I’ve been working on telling that little voice in my head that tells me “your thighs are too big” “your stomach isn’t flat enough” “you don’t have muscular enough…” to shut-up. It’s going well. I remind myself, I’m slowly getting the results I want and I can’t expect to change overnight; to remember the me of a couple years ago… I’ve made a lot of progress and that is what truly matters. Building muscle takes time and consistency.. that’s it. Undoing the mental damage of years of beating myself up over a silly thing like weight takes time. I’ll get there, but I am happy with myself now. I am happy in my skin almost all the time–I do have my bad days or hours. I am still happy with my values and personality.