First, let me say how unbelievably important it is for me to share my entire story in full honesty. This is important. I don't know why I haven't shared all of it before now, but I feel it on my heart to do so here goes. My prayer is that this story reaches whomever it's intended to reach.
It was slightly difficult to show childhood/old photos because I lost all my childhood photos in Hurricane Katrina, but I did have a few with me here in PA when her insidious flood waters stole my others (can't you see I'm not bitter lol).
In early childhood I was the child who was a very very finicky eater. I ate only the boiled buttered veggies off of my plate and laughed as my brothers fought over my barbecued chicken legs. I would choose cheese pizza over meatlovers and was rarely found with candy in my hand. I am not sure if I had a serious aversion to junk or if my desire to be a Catholic nun stood in my way of desiring anything. As I saw it, to be a nun one must learn to deny oneself of anything pleasurable. But I digress. As a result I was a super skinny child. I mean super skinny. Like "donate ten cents a day skinny". :) I was fine with it though. For the longest time I never ever had any thoughts about food ...good or bad. I ate veggies when we sat down and didn't think of eating anymore after that.
Onto high school...ahhh puberty etc. After puberty I "beefed" up a little. My version of "beefed" was about average size at that point. I wasn't very active. I fancied academic groups over the limited physically active groups my all-black-all-girls-Catholic high school offered. But I became a Majorette and spent hours twirling and marching for Mardi Gras seasons. I didn't watch anything that I ate. I didn't have to.
High School- 17 years old (120 lbs)
High School - 17 years old (120lbs)
Okay..college...enter weight problem. Oh me oh my. I started freshman year wearing my nice size 5. Enter (a) 18 hour course load, (b) premed courses, (c) part-time job, (d) isolation --I was NOT the party girl, and (e) no sleep...== freshman 15. It was no big deal. I had a pizza here. Fries there. Coffee all nite full of cream. But I wasn't mindfully doing it. 2500 cals a day and no exercise will make any young girl fat. I didn't seem to mind it and came home to New Orleans for the summer in between years. The looks I got!! No one said anything to my face, but I can see the stares. I actually overhead a conversation between two of my female cousins about "how fat she got". Ouch. But, it didn't stop me. The freshman 15 that I gained was NOTHING compared with what was to come. I wasn't depressed at that time. Just busy. Buried in the books.
Freshman year. My dorm was so cool! (128lbs)
Playing dress up instead of partying! (128 lbs)
Sleeping thru depression- Started gaining. About 135 lbs
The next year I had a near death experience. Without going into detail, the love of my life at the time, tried to kill me. I made it out alive...but had I??? I walked away physically alive, but a large part of me died that day. How could I ever trust again? I built an iron-steel fortress around myself and ate away the pain. I had never used food before to comfort myself, but found it waaaaay too easy to soothe my wooes with it. Remember earlier on when I said I wasn't a party girl? Well, that isn't to make myself seem dignified. I really wasn't. My father is a crack addict and alcoholic and has been for most of eternity. Therefore, I've been afraid to use any substance--mostly ever-- even Tylenol. Illegal drugs? NEVER. Drinking? I average one glass of wine every few years. But there I was...knee-deep in an addiction! WTF! I was furious. Worst yet, I hadn't realized there was a problem until one fateful day I ordered an extra large extra cheese pizza and I said to myself, "This is the last one and then I'm not going to get these anymore". I found myself saying that four days in a row.... I knew I had a problem.
Presenting some research at a National Conference.
I graduated college weighing about 172 pounds...ouch! I still thought I was hot stuff though. I laugh when I think to myself that I didn't realize that I was that big at all! I was so wrapped up into my studying that I hardly noticed pound after pound creeping on! When I became vegetarian at the age of 21 I started to pay more attention to what I ate and then I made a huge connection. But the overeating didn't stop....
Right before graduation
How tired do I look? 3 pots of coffee a day
At age 22 I started using my mom's old kitchen treadmill and I drank my first homemade smoothie. I made a smoothie everyday and had awesome vegan dishes. I still wasn't cooking yet, but lived on convenience foods. As a new vegan I was enchanted with this new world. I was very excited by all of it. I lost forty pounds doing this! I felt amazing. I went from about 175-135 pounds. All on my own. Shortly thereafter I got married...he went overseas...came home and I was pregnant within two months of his arrival. I did well with my vegan pregnancy until I went into preterm labor at 27 weeks. I was shut in the hospital, drugged, and paralyzed for about 5-6 weeks. I took countless steroids to inflate her lungs, heart, liver, kidneys. As a result, I ballooned up to about 195 pounds. I don't have any photos from that time. They didn't believe that Kennedy would make it and I did not want one single reminder of that dreadful hospital stay.
After givng birth to Kennedy, I set out on a mission to be healthy. Here my little 4 lb baby was fighting for her life and I wanted Rice Cream. I joined a gym when she was 3 months old and started out very very slowly. I mean super slow. I mean the grandma on the machine next to me looked like Flo Jo compared to me. I didn't give a shit what anyone else thought, I just wanted to move my body. It hurt.like.hell. I.wanted.to.die. I quit the gym shortly after. My exhusband complained about the time it took for me to go to and from and it started to get cold. Plan B- Billy Blanks Tae Bo on VHS. He will always have a soft spot in my heart. I gave all of my VHS and DVDS away to a dear friend on her bday a few years ago and I miss em! It used to be (1) me, (2) Billy, (3) a used 19" old school tv, and the (4) living room. When Kennedy went down for a short nap, I would work out. She was on a heart rate monitor so I would be alerted if she stopped breathing (which happened quite often).
I went from 195-155 lbs this way. On my own. Using the book , super old Billy Blanks DVDs, my beloved BeachBody in particular Turbo Jam and a black n white composition book to log what I ate. It was really Turbo Jam that changed how my body looked. The strength training component coupled with the crazy cardio left me sweating buckets and using every muscle in my body. But at 155 lbs things started happening in my life. Kennedy developed Autism and my marriage started unraveling. Hurricane Katrina happened to my family and city and I was a full-time student and researcher at Penn State. YIKES. The pressure was on. I couldn't lose weight and played with the same ten pounds (155-165) over and over again. The overeating/binging when sad/overwhelmed just wouldn't go away. I thought maybe Overeaters Anonymous was the answer. I attended only one meeting and knew that it really wasn't the fit for me. One day at lunch with a stressed out friend I hadn't seen in a while, I noticed that she looked great! She told me she was on Weight Watchers and I asked her what that was. Yes I was probably the only woman who never heard of Weight Watchers. I explained to her that packaged meals wouldn't work for me and then I learned all about the program that lunch period. Packaged meals wasn't a part of it. I was so excited. Accountablity? Group meetings??? Sign me up!
The next day I walked into a Weight Watchers meeting where my weight read 155.2 on the scale. I was so nervous to be there. I had never in my life thought I'd need a place like that. But there I was 26 years old and in a meeting. As a budding psychologist, I knew that asking for and recieving help for any problem is always the more noble thing to do. Suffering in silence and pretending to be "above" it are just lame-o. Anyway, I was a diligent Weight Watcher. I did the CORE plan-- basically whole foods (which I did all vegan) and used the weigh ins for accountability. I kinda felt like I was on another plan from everyone else because of how much I did things differently, but that is the beauty of Weight Watchers...you can do it anyway that you want to. I went from 155.2-115 lbs- using Weight Watchers weigh ins for accountablity, eating whole foods and working out between at home and the gym (post coming this week on both). After I made lifetime...I found raw food. I didn't need any group for that and I found all the support I needed online. I effortlessly maintained my weight of 109-114 lbs.
I wasn't until this past year (2010) that I have ever gained weight in 4-5 years. I went from 115-142 :( I know I know. My ass couldn't fit into one pair of my jeans. No literally my ass. I am "lucky" enough that when I gain weight 70% goes to my ass, 20 % to my breasts, and 10% all over (mainly my belly). I will make a separte blog post about Kennedy's surgery when it gets closer to her one year anniversary date (July 21st), but it almost killed me to go through this. I can't even put into words how my heart skips a beat everytime I close my eyes and remember that pain. I sat alone in the PICU (pediatric intensive care unit) and ate batch after batch of fries. I don't think I stopped crying every second that her eyes were closed. I have never felt so detached and so low in all of my life. I shut the entire world out. It was the only way I knew to survive it. At one point, she started doing so poorly in the PICU they called up the chaplain. I was so so so so depressed. I ate and ate and ate and didn't stop. She came home on steroids and wanted to eat everything in sight- I let her- doctor's orders. She would ask, "Aren't you hungry too mommie? Am I eating too much?", I responded, "Of course you aren't sweetheart, I AM hungry" even when I wasn't sometime.
Fast forward to now. (the current pix won't load). I'll share a few tomorrow and then repost em here on this page. April 2011. I have 20 pounds to lose (135lbs) and everytime I seem to get a great handle on things, life throws me another curve ball. Now it's a bitter and nasty custody battle with my exhusband- the lawyer grinch. I am using a plethora of techniques to not be as phased by all of that and I finally think I'm in a good place with it all.
So, what's next for me?
- Weight Watchers weigh ins for accountablity? I don't know. I am lifetime. Since 2006. I never lose that so maybe I'll give myself that once weekly weigh in to be accountable. But, if these plans I have work out (more on that this weekend), I will surely be held accountable there. I'll keep you posted. I may start going there to be accountable and stop when I feel like things are under "control".
- 7 Days Raw Until Dinner followed by Kris Carr's 21 day Adventure Cleanse Tune Up . click here for a recap by Kris if you don't have the book
- Working out more. I just bought a bike! It will be here by next week and I have to put the seats down in the VW to go get it assembled. Wish me luck. I'll do an entire post about biking after it arrives. This is truly me facing a mayjah fear.
- Being more active in general. Dancing with the Wii instead of watching useless tv...taking Halo the pooch for long walks...etc
- Other "little" things like not eating after 8 pm, getting my 3Ls of water in per day, having at least one green smoothie/juice per day
- Take my personal training exam in May! I will be up for business shortly thereafter! I am working on so much awesome stuff!! (like I said, I'm a solo operation so bear with me ;-)
- Knowing that I know what I am doing. I have all the tools. All of em!
Anyone else out there vibe with my story? Have you been round and round the bush? Well, join me as I use all the crazy knowledge that I gained over the past 6-7 years to get back into the best shape of my life and live my wildest dreams even in the face of extreme adversity and crazy circumstances.
Thanks for reading. Phew! :-)
Up Next on the Bloggie:
- My first attempt at patio gardening! - Resources and info that I WISH I had
- April is Autism Awareness Month- "Autism Thru the Years"
- My "Treadmill Races"- 2 5ks in April; 2 5ks and a 10k in June; 1/2 marathon in July
- Biking Post- Facing a Major Fear
- At Home Workouts vs Gym Workouts- My preferences and resources for each