Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Joining the blogging community: My Story

In order to finally get past my 6 month plateau, I recently started following the WW CEO on Twitter, which led me to a blog, which led to me other blogs... Let's just say I've been sucked in. I'm currently reading The Anti-Jared and Jen/PriorFatGirl, and I think creating my own blog would be a great way to chronicle not only this journey, but also my last few months as an undergrad.

That being said, if I ever get any readers who don't know me in real life, I suppose I should add my story.

I've been slightly and consistently overweight my whole life. As a kid, I remember my grandmother always kindly suggesting I get a salad when we went to restaurants instead of getting a burger or a steak like I would've preferred. Our family has a history of being overweight, so it makes sense...and plus I ended up being a kid who liked salad, but still, you could say that I've always been aware of my body/body image and knew that it should've been better.

In high school, I played a few sports and kept busy, but I still got up to a size 14ish and around 175/180 pounds. Doing theatre was always a challenge, since my weight made it so that I'd never be considered as a romantic lead (thus no lead roles) and was consistently relegated to that of the best friend (on stage and real life) or the comic relief, which ended up feeling not always so comical. For one show, I even was cast as a character who was supposed to be "fat." I remember that upon reading the list, I cried because I thought that I had gotten the role because of my size in comparison with the other girls that had auditioned.

The director hadn't informed me at the time, but I would end up wearing a "fat suit" for the production, something that made me feel a bit better, but ended up being an amazing experience. Wearing it for a month or so in rehearsals and performances really helped me to understand in a small way what being seriously overweight was like: I couldn't tie my own shoes, sit in a regular desk or go to the bathroom. Taking it off, I comforted myself by thinking that, "well, it could be worse..." Needless to say, I didn't lose any weight in high school.

In college, I slowly but steadily added by last 13.6 pounds by drinking and (more importantly) using the dining hall buffet for every meal. I thought I was doing good by getting on the elliptical, joining Pilates, and eating salads... But I didn't take into account what I was snacking on, or what kinds of dressings I was using. I was eating more or less "healthy" foods, but my portions were out of control.

As the weight packed on, I got more and more depressed and negative about it, but not enough to do anything. After being single all through high school, I'd assumed that I'd come to college and meet a great guy or something, but my negative self-image really kept me from putting myself out there. Thus, I was upset because I was alone and was watching my friends steadily pair off and because I was upset and blamed it on my appearance, I was ashamed to approach any potential dates myself... So, it became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Finally, at the end of my junior year, I knew I needed to change. I was getting to the point that I could almost not shop at the Gap any more (where I used to work and bought all my clothes) and I could see 200lbs. in my near future. The last week of school, my friends had a picnic so that we could say goodbye to the graduates. My friend/roommate Katie (Left) and I took a photo together that really shocked me into making a change:

I know that in comparison to others who've decided to make a change, I wasn't that "bad," but looking at that picture for some reason really made disgusted with myself and ashamed that I was getting so big so steadily. I knew then that I had to do something and since my mom has always struggled with her weight as well, I suggested that we do something about it together while I was home over the summer. We both signed up for Weight Watchers and lost 20lbs. each that summer (2009).

I dropped 2 sizes, developed new habits, and created a strong support system with my WW meeting and leader back in Cincinnati... Then it came time to go back to school, where I live with 3 non-WW roommates and have friends who like to hit the bars. After a few unsuccessful meetings, I settled on a leader and a meeting that were good for me and convinced a friend to join too. We went to the gym a 3-4 times a week and, for her, the pounds slid off... and I plateaued. BUT, I've maintained. I've been gaining and losing the same 5 pounds since September and it was beginning to chafe.

Despite this stress, my new-found upbeat/take-charge image helped me in other aspects of my life. Since losing the 20lbs, I felt more confident and willing to put myself out there. I tried new exercise classes like spinning that I wouldn't have tried before and, in Pilates, I started seeing that I could successfully do positions and exercises that I couldn't do before and that kept me from giving up. Also, despite the setback of the plateau and some weight gain at the end of the quarter, my mom, my friends and my family were all so encouraging and upbeat that it helped me stay so as well.

Also at the end of the quarter, I randomly met a guy in a bar one night when I was out with some friends. I knew that my weight loss had really helped change my outlook on life and my self-image when I was alone at the bar getting a drink, and decided to turn and insert myself into a conversation that the three guys next to me were having. Flirtily insert myself into a conversation with three good-looking guys I don't know? I don't think so! would've been my response months before, but then, even though I didn't look my best, I felt up to it and forged ahead. Lucky for me, they were really nice too and one, who had just moved to town, even offered to buy me a drink. This was a novel and relatively new feeling. He seemed really nice and I ended up hanging out with him and his co-workers for the evening. Little did I know, but that random drink and that random guy would end up turning into a relationship with my amazingly supportive boyfriend Jon. I can honestly say if it hadn't been for those 20lbs., my relationship probably wouldn't exist... and not at all because of my appearance, but 100% because of the way I carried myself and allowed myself to go ahead and put myself out there and take a chance.

Since then, Jon has been amazing, though my weight stayed at it's -20 plateau. Despite our healthy eating (we cook together, and he's great about eating with me "on plan"), I didn't lose anything! Beginning to get frustrated, I didn't really know what to do. Then, Jon decided to start training for a half marathon with his co-workers. I found a podcast called "Couch to 5k" and decided to start training with him for a smaller event on the same day (May 1).

We're in Week 3 of our training and I think I've finally pushed past the plateau... I weighed in yesterday at 169.4. So, now that I'm going to get back in the swing of things, I've decided to start this blog to chronicle my next 25 pounds down and my experience going from a person with a self-avowed "allergy" to running to someone who is registered to do a 5k in a little over 2 months. So, for you Chris (my best friend) and any of you unknowns out there reading, here we go.