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Losing the Weight, Finding Myself: Week 1

Submitted by Bethany on Sun, 01/28/2018 - 17:14

Here’s the deal. I’m fat. As of this morning when I stepped on the scale, I weigh 266 pounds on the dot. Yikes, it’s hard to see that in writing.

This is something I want to change about myself. Not everyone who is fat wants or needs to lose weight. Fat does not automatically mean one is unhealthy, just like thin does not automatically mean one is healthy. I in no way want to shame others or make anyone else feel like they have to change something about themselves. But I do want to change this about myself. In order to do so, I need to hold myself accountable, something I have not been good at for a very long time. So I’m hoping that writing here will help me do so.

I plan to write a post about my journey every Sunday. I’ve determined that to be my “weigh-in day” each week when I step on the scale to see where I’m at, and I will share that here. This makes me feel vulnerable - to share with the world this personal part of me. There’s a reason people lie about their weight - it’s scary to share the truth! (Sidenote: is anyone else glad they don’t put your weight on your driver’s license anymore? I sure am!)

Before I go forward, I think it would do me well to spend a little bit of time looking back, to see how I got here. To 266 pounds, to a body I don’t care for either in terms of liking it or treating it well.

You see, my life used to revolve around my body - what it looked like, what it weighed, how it moved. I was a dancer in high school and part of college, and if you know anything about dance you know that there is an ideal “dancer body” and that body does not carry a lot of weight. I never had the ideal dancer body - even when I was thin I had hips and I had boobs and my weight was a constant struggle.

The first time I officially tried to lose weight was in high school. I joined Weight Watchers with my mother, and my goal was to lose 30 pounds. My starting weight - 150. 150, y’all. I would LOVE to weigh 150 again, and that is in fact my eventual goal. Looking back it’s hard to believe that at one point in my life that was a starting point for losing weight.

When my senior year of high school came around, it was time to decide where I was going to college. This meant visiting schools, auditioning for dance departments, and receiving feedback on my skills, talents, and of course, weight. I remembered being told I was a good dancer “for my size” and that I could be very good if I would just “lose the weight”. The school I ended up choosing accepted me into the department as a student, but I was told I should lose at least 10 pounds before school started in the fall.

When classes started, auditions were held for the company - an elite group of students who were chosen from the dance department each year. Being in the company meant you got extra time with instructors, more rehearsal and more performances. It was rare for a freshman to be selected. That year one freshman was accepted into the company, and I was given an “understudy” position. This meant I could attend all company classes and rehearsals, but I wouldn’t be allowed to perform. I was very clearly informed that I would have obtained a full spot in the company if it weren’t for my weight. At this time I weighed about 160 pounds, and carried it well. I of course thought I was fat, but looking back at pictures of myself at the time I find that laughable now. That girl didn’t know what fat was.

But of course in the dance world I was fat. I was the biggest girl in class, in the department, on the stage. I was constantly monitoring myself, depriving myself, worried about every piece of food I put in my mouth. No matter what I did I could never quite seem to lose the weight I needed to to please those around me.

Looking back, part of me wonders if I kept the weight on as a sort of shield. You see as a dancer, you are constantly auditioning for something, and being accepted or rejected. Every time I was rejected, my weight was cited as a cause. I think a part of me liked knowing that was the reason, because the alternative was I could lose the weight and still be rejected. And if I was thin and rejected then maybe I would have to face the fact that I wasn’t actually good enough as a dancer.

Eventually, I had enough. Dance was no longer enjoyable, and I knew it was not going to be a career for me, so I decided to quit dance and change my major to psychology. I remember telling my mom I wanted to make a living with my brain, not my body. I also transferred schools at this time. For the first time in my life, I found myself free of outsider’s judgments about my body. I was not facing daily scrutiny about what I ate and the freedom was glorious.

What I did with that freedom was eat. A lot. A lot of very not good things for me. I quit dance and left school in the spring of 2006 and at that time I weighed about 160. I remember my body really changing in the summer of 2007. That summer I partied a lot with my friends, never worked out, and I noticed none of my clothes were fitting anymore. I simply shrugged, bought new ones, and avoided the scale. Sometime that summer I crossed the 200 pound mark.

By the time I went to graduate school in Atlanta in the fall of 2007, I weighed 215. I remember this clearly because I made another short lived attempt at Weight Watchers at this time. But I was in school, money was tight, and I honestly just didn’t care enough. School was stressful, my eating habits were poor, too many calories came from alcohol, and I never worked out. Sometime in 2008 my weight plateaued at 233, and stayed there for a long time.

The next time my weight jumped was in 2011 when I first started working at a church. I was living alone for the first time in my life, working at a very stressful job I didn’t always feel equipped for, and my weight ballooned to 260 and climbing. There were attempts here and there to get it down, I would lose 5-10 pounds, then stop trying and it would all come back quickly.

In the start of 2012 I made a goal of losing weight. I joined Weight Watchers yet again (sensing a theme, yet?) and this time I stuck with it for many months. At one point I was back down to 230, but I could not break that barrier. No matter what I did it seemed I was stuck at 230. Then I met my husband. We fell in love quickly and our whirlwind romance found us legally married after knowing each other for exactly two months. (I’ll tell this story in a longer way another time). He was in the midst of losing weight when we met, and for a while we were very good for each other in this regard.

But then, as Joel likes to say, we put on the “happy pounds”. At some point we stopped trying, preferring to snuggle on the couch and eat pizza over cooking something healthy and going for a walk. Both of our weights began to creep back up but we were in love so who cares? My weight topped out at 281 at one point. Over the years we have made countless resolutions and attempts to lose weight, with nothing really sticking long term.

So here it is 2018, and one again I’ve made a new year’s resolution to lose weight. I weighed myself on the last day of 2017 and I was 263.4 so the scale is moving in the wrong direction so far. But it’s time. It’s now or never. I have spent an entire decade of my life ridiculously overweight, and I would like to change that now. It’s going to be hard. I’m going to struggle. But in the end, I think it will be worth it.

This is the start of my journey. I plan to share my weight weekly on the blog, and talk about how I’m feeling, what I’m doing, what’s working and what isn’t. I hope this journey will be interesting for others, and edifying for myself. I hope to learn more about who I am, who I want to be, and how to get there.

Today I weigh 266. My goal is 150. Let’s get this party started!

XOXO, Bethany