HOW DID I GET SO FAT?
Warning: Adult language
Please do not read any further if you are offended by adult language.
How did I get so fat? Damn, that's a loaded question. Oh where shall I begin? I should probably start by saying, I wasn't always fat. I was a normal weight throughout my childhood. The summer before I started high school, I decided to go on a diet. My very first diet. My very first mistake. The beginning of all that was unhealthy. I was 15 and had no clue as to how to lose weight in a healthy way, nor did I really even need to lose weight. I lost about twenty pounds and was quite pleased at how I looked. I was 5'4" and around 118 pounds. I thought I was too cool for school and was excited to start the big league lookin' all svelte and shit.
Well, here was the problem. I lost the weight very quickly which I, as well as my family, thought was remarkably successful. But I lost the weight by basically starving myself. I can still remember plain as day:
- Breakfast: a piece of jellied toast and glass of skim milk.
- Lunch: a can of green beans.
- Supper: Either a ham sandwich or an egg sandwich.
- Next day... Repeat.
I was probably eating about 700 calories per day, max.
It was my first experience in the 'diet world' and the fact that it was very successful in conjunction with the fact it was abhorrently harmful and unhealthy....well, it made for a deadly combination. Nobody in my family had any clue about healthy living or healthy weight loss. Everyone looked at eating less as the only way to lose weight. I fell right into the same trap, and therein lies how I was set up for failure for all of my days ahead.
Here's why the 'wrong way' worked:
- I was so young that my body had a fast metabolism, was resilient, and pretty much easily cooperated with what I wanted it to do.
- I didn't have much to lose (if any), so I hit my goal weight before I hit any plateaus. Anybody, anywhere, in almost any circumstance can starve themselves and drop a quick twenty pounds, but then you inevitably hit a plateau and then you have to change something to get more results.
Unfortunately, what most people do to get past the plateau is do even more of the 'wrong thing', which is eat even less, start exercising to burn calories, or both. Either way, you are putting even less fuel into your body but expecting it to function at full speed.
So here's what happens. You get on the scale and it says you lost weight. Okay, you weigh less, which you think is great but the problem is you're not losing fat, you're losing muscle. If you don't give your body enough calories and fuel, it WILL find it somewhere, so it breaks down your lean muscle mass and burns it as fuel for energy. Your body will eat your muscle. This is a phenomenon called starvation mode and it's a very dangerous game to play.
Here you are thinking you're losing all this fat and looking great, meanwhile you are actually increasing your body fat percentage and losing muscle mass. Lean muscle mass is what keeps your metabolism moving and helps burn calories all day long, even while sleeping.
Okay so back to my road to fatness. In high school, I stayed around 118-120 pounds throughout high school, mainly due to the fact that I was very active in sports. I loved to play softball, basketball, volleyball, and racket ball. I also spent a lot of time swimming and hiking. I was a hardcore competitor on the tennis team. I played tennis for hours everyday and in addition to practicing with my high school team, had a private coach as well. I played tennis all through high school and into college and earned the Female Athlete of the Year Award in my sophomore year of college. I certainly didn't have to worry about what I was eating because I was burning crazy calories with all my activity.
When I hit college, I did in fact gain the famous 'freshman fifteen'. This was due to the drop in activity and the increase in partying. The nightly chugging of mad calories and then having the junk food eating frenzies into the wee hours of the night is a bad combo. It definitely leads to some jiggle. I still played tennis but that wasn't enough to overcome the 'party factor'. But even though I gained the F15, I was by no means fat and wasn't unhappy with the way I looked.
Once I hit my 20's, I started the yo-yo thing.
You all know what I'm talking about. I had every size known to man hanging in my closet and it depended on the day, month, or year which one I was fitting in. I had my 'fat clothes' as back up, my 'skinny clothes' that I was gonna someday get back into, and then all the rest in between. Throughout my 20's, I tried every damn fad diet, trendy diet, and extreme diet you could think of. I nearly puked on the cabbage soup diet, starved on the liquid diet, and had a heart attack on the Atkin's diet. During this decade, I was anywhere from 140 lbs to 220 lbs and bounced all around in between the two. I'd have a size 8 pair of jeans hanging right next to a size 20 in my closet. It was yo-yo to the extreme. I was always on a moving continuum, never maintaining weight. I was always in a state of gaining weight or losing weight. All the while, that initial 'starve yourself' mentality was still in place. On a couple of those diets, I would do cardio to burn calories, but never did I build muscle. I never did anything the healthy way. So on every single diet, the same thing would happen. I'd lose a quick 20-25 lbs, hit a plateau, never figure how to get past the plateau, quit altogether, and then shortly thereafter gained everything back...and then some. And round and round we go.
Something happened to me when I hit about 27. It's called biological clock. I swear one day I woke up and I was like a crack addict thinking about crack except I wasn't thinking about crack, I was thinking of babies.....nonstop. This went on for about 2 years. It was torture.
Before that, I never thought about babies and kids too much. In fact when I was a teenager, I swore up and down I was NEVER having kids, lol. But things change, you change, and presto...new priorities. So at this point I was very overweight, around 220. My husband (boyfriend at the time) and I had just gotten engaged and I wanted to lose weight so I could be healthy and get pregnant. I wasn't worried about slimming down for the wedding because we had already decided to do the JP thing (btw, that did not go over well with family, lol). I had babies on the brain and I was gonna get my body ready. It was an obsession. So I went on the South Beach diet with my best friend, Di. We had some initial success, as usual. I got down to about 180 before I got pregnant. I was 29 yrs old. And what-a-ya-know, as soon as I got pregnant, that crack addict baby brain thing... vanished. My body got what it wanted and all that agonizing biological clock stuff just stopped. So weird.
I was ecstatic to be pregnant and was trying to be very healthy. I must say, up to this point in my life, it was the most healthy I was, fo sho. I was eating enough (because I was afraid for the baby to not get enough nutrients), I was walking everyday on my lunch hour, and I was swimming regularly at a local gym.
I found out during my pregnancy that I had gestational diabetes. I was devastated at first (but not surprised) but I had an excellent endocrinologist and quickly realized if I took care of myself and listened to the doc, the baby would be fine. I took care of myself 100% of the time, kept my sugar controlled, and only gained 13 pounds during my entire pregnancy. Diabetes runs rampant in my family, on both sides. Aside from my paternal grandfather who died from Type 1 diabetes, EVERYONE else had/has Type 2, which is usually brought on by lifestyle. And by everyone I mean my mother as well as dozens of aunts, uncles, and cousins. My father had diabetes as well but his was brought on by a mega dose of steroids in the mid 80's to treat his onset of Multiple Sclerosis; however, given our family history, he probably would have ended up developing Type 2 diabetes if he had not ever had MS.
Okay, so I am getting to the end. I know I am going on and on and on, but getting fat doesn't take overnight, it doesn't happen for only one reason, and it certainly takes a little while to explain it. So, we're in the home stretch folks...hold on a little longer. I know you're just dying to see why I got so fat.
So I have my first baby girl, my Gianna, and I'm over the moon. I'm happier than I have ever been before and all is right with my world. Then it happens. My whole world shatters and falls down around me.....my baby is sick. Really sick, and she might not get better.
Without going into the whole crazy heartbreaking saga, I will say that starting at 3 weeks old she began having seizure-like episodes that nobody could diagnose. Eleven months and six specialists later we finally had a diagnosis and only a 50/50 chance she would get better. It was the most excruciating 11 months of my life. Things didn't get much better once we finally had the diagnosis but at least we knew what we were dealing with. Gianna continued to have painful and heart breaking episodes almost daily for another 13 months, for a total of two years. I'm not sure how any of us lived through those two years. I know I for one aged about 10 years and have never been the same since. A sick child shatters your core and fills your life with sheer horror.
By the grace of all the powers that be, she had her LAST episode a week before she turned 2 years old. I never knew true terror and fear until the moment I realized she was ill and I NEVER want to feel anything even close to that... ever again.
The reason I speak about this is because, this is where the real problems started with my weight, with my emotional relationship with food, and was definitely the 'straw that broke the camel's back'. And this is what led me to 262 pounds.
The only thing that got me through Gianna's ordeal was the sheer determination that I HAD to be there for her. I had to get up everyday and be the mommy she needed. It was all for her. My life was void of any happiness other than her. My husband and I spent countless nights up while she was so sick, one episode after another, some would last for hours on end. We were distraught. Many tears and many frightened thoughts spun me into a depression. Hardcore. I cried myself to sleep most nights, if I slept at all. My husband and I were so sleep deprived, we were like zombies for 2 years. He'd fallen asleep numerous times driving to and from work and I'd fall asleep talking on the phone or rocking the baby. It was two years of walking on egg shells. We basically lived in ERs and at Children's Hospital. So many appointments and so many scary tests they had to do to my tiny little baby. It was two years of pure terror. And it was the longest two years of my life. I was utterly inactive, completely stressed to the max, and having regular anxiety attacks.
I comforted myself in one way and one way only... I ate.
I ate the crappiest crap food I could get my hands on. I'd eat until I was so full that I couldn't think about my problems because my stomach was about to explode. And as soon as my belly emptied out a bit, I'd stuff more food down. Gross, yes...but it's what happened. Pair that with zero exercise or activity and you end up morbidly obese.
After we knew in our hearts that Gia was better (it took about four months of no attacks/episodes for it to sink in), I wanted to have another baby. Don't ask me why. After what we had been through, I cannot believe it myself. But I really wanted another baby, so we got pregnant right away. My second pregnancy, of course, resulted in gestational diabetes as well. But I took care of myself again, even dropped some weight (because I wasn't eating like a sumo wrestler anymore), and had a beautiful healthy baby girl, my Josselyn.
Problem was, while I was pregnant, I was being healthy for her, not me. So after she was born, I went back to eating unhealthy and resorting to the 'comfort eating' thing. It's an evil habit and it gets you in deep, deep shit.
You eat to soothe yourself but it gets to the point where as soon as that food passes your taste buds, the guilt creeps up and you nearly choke on it. It's a cycle that's hard to break.
So that folks is how I got fat. That is the story of my chub and flub. The down and dirty of my fatness.
Everybody has their own story and their own unique ways that they themselves travelled the road to obesity. But we all usually have one commonality. And that is... We stopped taking care of ourselves. We stopped putting any importance on our well-being. We stopped tending to our own needs. Some have more valid excuses than others but when it comes down to it, it doesn't really matter how the hell you got here, what matters is how to fix it.
You can't truly take proper care of others if you don't take care of yourself first. I finally learned that lesson, but it took me finishing a long journey before that happened. I had so much junk clogging up my brain and so many demons swirling around my thoughts, it took a long time to see clearly. But each hurdle that I overcame during my weight loss battle made me a little bit stronger. After a while, you build up some points and begin to realize that you got some say in things... you got some say in how your life goes. And how you manage your feelings has a lot to do with that.
Attitude sets the scene. If you think like a victim, you become a victim. If you think like a warrior, you get back up every time you fall and you become the victor. It's all about choice. If others are dictating how your life is going, it's because you are allowing that to happen.
For those of us who make the right choices and come into happiness and good fortune, we have no one to thank but ourselves. We did that. We get all the credit...and it feels great. For those of us who make the wrong choices and live in misery and come into constant misfortune, we have no one to blame but ourselves. We did that. We get all the credit...and it feels like shit.
There is a big difference between truly living and just passing the time. It's your choice. I spent over a decade choosing to be unhealthy and miserable. It was a decade too long. And I try not to but I still at times beat myself up for wasting all that time. For wasting the last years of my youth hiding in my house, hating myself, and feeling so lost and unhappy.
But if you spend all your time looking back, you can't live in the present. And I didn't work this hard to not enjoy it. So as soon as I start looking back and feeling bad about the past, I snap my ass right out of that thinking. I made a promise to myself that I would cherish each day and live with a grateful heart. I will take time to care for myself, mind, body, and soul. I will always find time to love myself as I love others. I will not waste another day.
Life is what you make it. YOU control your destiny. We move ourselves down certain pathways by the choices we make. The truth is that it's NEVER too late to change. It's never too late to decide you're worth it.
"Actions have consequences...first rule of life. And the second rule is this: You are the only one responsible for your own actions."
~ Holly Lisle
*The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content in this article is for general information purposes only. I am not a doctor, nor am I a dietitian. Talk to your physician before making any changes in your diet or exercise regimen. The information found in this article is from various sources which include, but are not limited to, the sites listed above. I encourage you to do your own research and talk with your physician before making any changes in diet or exercise. What has worked for me may not work for you. This information in this article or on this website should never replace or serve as medical advice.
NEVER DISREGARD PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE OR DELAY SEEKING MEDICAL TREATMENT BECAUSE OF SOMETHING YOU HAVE READ ON OR HAVE ACCESSED THROUGH THIS WEB SITE.