A 29-year-old, mother of three with weight issues? What???
Shocking, I know, but it’s true.
So a nice thing about this blog is I get to be completely honest and I am going to take full advantage of that. Let’s start off by saying I am the biggest I have ever been in my life and it is downright physically and emotionally debilitating! I absolutely hate it. And if it isn’t enough that I am super self-conscious of it, I am constantly feeling the pressure and judgement of everyone around me. Granted most of it is in my head, or is it? We all know how obsessed society is with weight and looks, especially women, so there is no reason for me to go off on that. There are a million articles online about it. But I feel I need to get somethings off my chest… and hips… and butt…
So here is me and my story.
Let’s start with Statistics: I am 5 ft 9 3/4 in (the 3/4 is very important) I have never been a petite woman. At my lowest, I weighed in at about 150 pounds and that weight suited my large boned, curvy, amazon body type well. At that size, I wore a 34 B/C had a 25 in waist and thighs and butt that refuse to be tamed. Wore a size 8/10 pants and 7/8 dress. This was my ideal but staying there is a challenge! Currently, I am the same height but everything else has changed. I am now bouncing between 280-290 pounds. I can uncomfortable fit into size 20 pants, bra 42DD, and my once favorite asset (my stomach) has begun sticking out past my enormous breasts.
How did this happen? It was so fast yet so gradual. The worse part of this is that in the Summer of 2011 I was at my ideal size and in a mere 3 years I am 140 pounds overweight ashamed of everything about me. I have refused to go to parties, church, the Doctors and even the Dentist because of how ashamed I am of my size. The idea of someone seeing me (especially people who haven’t seen me in a while, like my Dentist) causes me to have a panic attack. It sounds so ridiculous when I type it out but in my head, the pain is so real!
Through all of this, the hardest thing for me to figure out is how to handle this severe hatred for my body with my children. My hatred of myself began as a child, mostly based on the actions of my Mother and I don’t want to pass that down to my children.
The self-hate talk is programmed so deep it’s hard not to talk negatively about myself. I want my kids to have a healthy self-image and also live a healthy lifestyle. Two things that I am desperately struggling with.
Time for some back story: I have never been “small”. By 2 I was the height of a 4-year-old by 2nd grade I was being confused as a 4th grader. I was always the tallest in my class and therefore the biggest. With my height and mass; I was a very “sturdy” child. As a young girl, I mistook this to be bad. When I reached 3rd grade my whole life had changed. My parents were now divorced, I was starting a new school with no friends, we had no money, it was the beginning of my awkward phase and as always I was the largest girl in my grade. I had chunked out a bit and with all of the changes in my life I was very insecure. The first friend I made in school was a little Korean girl. We made quite an odd couple. I remember lining up to do a physical with the rest of my classmates. We were checked for lice, scoliosis, sight, hearing, height and weight. My little friend weighed in at 40 pounds and I was a whopping 90 pounds. That number was engraved into my head. I felt monstrous! I went home to my mom with my concern and insecurities to be met with a response that has plagued me ever since. Instead of a comforting speech on everyone is different, that you are taller than everyone else so of course, you will weigh more, or that you are growing, not to worry about weight right now, you will even out, etc. Her response was, “Let’s go on a diet together.”
This response told me that I was fat. That I had a reason to feel bad about myself. That even my mother saw something wrong with me.
But did she know any better? My Mother had weight issues that started as a young girl from her abusive parents who called my petite mother of 5’4″ 112 pounds, bubble butt, and thunder thighs (the G-rated version). She was consistently abused emotionally, mentally, physically and sexually. She became bulimic around the age of 16 until she was in her 20’s. It wasn’t until she was in the bathroom puking and feeling the effects of laxatives all at the same time with her 2 yr old son banging on the door crying to be let in that she realized she needed to stop. All though she stopped the “purge” part of the bulimic process she continued to eat in unhealthy patterns, including the “binge” period. To this day she still struggles with healthy eating. She then put on weight, especially when pregnant with me and was no longer her skinny “fat” self, and she was in the constant mind that she was obese, needing to diet and she hated her body.
Her own self-image issues began to transfer to me. My Mother is not a delicate woman. She says inappropriate things and at inappropriate times, usually with too much info and this did not stop when it came to criticizing weight. I realized my mother’s faults and trials early on but it still didn’t stop the way her words hurt. The message was heard loud and clear in my young forming brain. It was not okay to be fat and that was what I was. But she wasn’t the only one. My Mother and Father criticized and judges those who were overweight. My Dad joked about my size and my brother’s. I never felt comfortable in my own skin. These words along with unhealthy eating habits, not so much what we ate but how much and when set my brother and I up to fail.
When my Mother remarried my stepfather felt the need to control everything. Including what we ate. Although he provided healthy dinners we were restricted to unhealthy amounts. We were not allowed in the kitchen, didn’t matter if we were growing kids we could never have seconds and although he had a candy drawer in the fridge we were never allowed to touch it without being severely disciplined. This led to food sneaking and hiding. Not just my brother and I, but my Mother too. She would sneak treats and we would binge on them so we could get rid of the evidence. We would jump between periods of barely any food, to binge eating, to my mom trying to make us all diet so that she could lose weight, and then sneaking and hiding food. My view of food, health, and nourishment was completely twisted and damaging.
Through my tween and early teen years, I thought I was fat and ugly. I always wore baggy clothes partly because of that what I would get in hand-me-down charity bags and because I was so insecure about my own size. I look at pictures now and I see a healthy looking girl who was never overweight. But that isn’t what I remember. I remember my Mom in the dressing room with me as I tried on a black swimsuit that was 1 size too small; and as I tried to get it on my mother laughing and joking that I looked like a beached whale or a seal, followed by seal barks… Yeah, that happened. Or trying on an outfit that was not meant for my body proportions (butt too big, stomach to small) and my mother commenting on my large size saying that I was not “big” I was “massive”. I followed back saying, “Thanks, Mom, next you will be calling me a cow”. Her reply, “Well, only a Jersey. They’re the smaller ones”. What was I to think of myself? It’s amazing how words from others and our own thoughts can alter reality.
My Junior year I became sick and put on about 20 pounds. As I started my Senior year I was about 189 pounds realizing that I was close to 200 pounds. I decided to get healthy and if that meant I dropped some weight, great. I began saying no to sweets. I ate basically the same breakfast and lunch every day. My portion sizes at dinnertime (or binge time, like it was with my Mother) were cut in half and I took full advantage of going all out and more during my dance and theatre rehearsal, doing crunches and other extra exercises in between. By the time I graduated I weight 153 pounds. During my entire Senior year, I dropped 36 pounds and began to feel better about myself. I still wore clothes that were too baggy (although I was then I size 10 I wore my size 14 and 16 pants). Again, it was a mixture of insecurity and no money to buy clothes that fit. You would think that during this time of great success and finally feeling in control of my body my Mother would be happy for me. Instead, she was jealous! How could I be losing weight and she not? I must be doing something bad to be looking so good. I was constantly interrogated by ridiculous inquiries and even confessions from my friends that my mother constantly asked the if I was eating or throwing up in the bathroom after I ate. Because the only way I could lose weight was if I had an eating disorder. If you couldn’t tell, my relationship with my parents by the time I was in high school was at an impasse.
For a while, I maintained my weight. I gained some in college but was still healthy and sadly insecure. However, bad habits caught up with me. During a very busy and stressful semester at college, I began to forget to eat. I lost weight because of lack of food. When things started calming down again I began to eat and since I was in a relationship I began to eat a little too much. I began to put on weight and then the real struggle with weight began. I Married weighing 183 pounds and in that first year of marriage we both put on weight. While pregnant with Blake I gained about 20 pounds and after he was born stayed around 190 -205. Depression started and eating became a stress reliever. I then had Liam, after the baby weight was gone I found myself at a whopping 223. I decided to get healthy but I couldn’t get below 209. My husband and I decided to follow the HCG diet. I dropped down to 155. Although the depression was still there I felt somewhat motivated and better about myself than I had in a long time. I was even able to wear my Senior year prom dress but I still felt I needed to lose more, it wasn’t enough, I was still too big. But for a moment I felt the inklings of being attractive. Sadly, it was short-lived. Maintaining weight isn’t easy, especially when trials arrive.
We began to have money problems. We realized we needed to move, my son was struggling with issues and my depression and anxiety began to take over. Our marriage (because of my depression) began to struggle as well. I sought solace in food. I put on about 30 pounds in a few months and then found out I was pregnant. We moved from a 2,300 sq. ft. 4 bed 2 1/2 bath home into a 1,400 sq. ft. 3 bed 1 bath home while I was 6 months pregnant. We downsized everything in our house. It was not the easiest time. During my pregnancy with Keira, I gained roughly 50 pounds. I was embarrassed and ashamed. Even though I knew I was pregnant all I could see was that in a year I had put on 80 pounds. The depression had become too much and I finally admitted that I had depression and I needed help. I couldn’t do it on my own. This was for me to officially admit and as soon as Keira was born I got on anti-depressants (Despite my husband being against it at the time). I did not lose any of the baby weight. In the last 22 months, I have been on 5 different medications and have gained 60 more pounds.
My weight has a strong emotional connection to how I feel. Heck, I can remember exactly how much I weighed at different times in my life. My self-worth is often tied directly to the scale and as much as I try to use logic to break those ties, I cannot. I just dig myself deeper. The worse thing is knowing that is I just consistently ate well and exercised not only would I drop some weight it could potentially help with the depression. Give me more motivation. How can I do that when there are days I can barely take care of my family? Barely get out of bed?
As I struggle to look at myself in the mirror and battle all of the terrible names I call myself in my head; I look at my beautiful children and fear that if I don’t watch myself they will have the same struggles. They are all large kids for their ages and very sturdy. They weigh more than kids their height and size but they are strong and fit. There is not an ounce of fat on them. This is what I was. Not fat but strong. But I didn’t know that! I didn’t see it. I don’t want my insecurities to reflect onto them. I want to get them under control. I want to step out of my house without feeling everyone’s eyes on me and my excess weight. I want to love myself despite how I look but I don’t know if that is possible. The answer seems so easy but it’s another battle of logic and reason vs. emotion and fear. And guess which one has been winning?