Monday, October 1, 2012

Fears, Safety and Changes

My senior year of High School I started to gain weight. In my opinion I had never been "skinny" to begin with, but looking back I have to admit that I was skinnier than I ever thought I was. Most of my girlfriends were a smaller size than I was so I often felt heavier than I really was. I never considered myself pretty either. My husband tells me that I was, and still am, very pretty. He didn't know me in high school so he is simply going on pictures and his own bias. As I explore the emotional reasons I gained weight I'm starting to wonder just how distorted my view of myself really was, and still is.

Here is one of my senior pictures...yes it was the 80's!

My senior year of high school my boyfriend started making comments that certain outfits weren't "flattering" on me anymore. That was the beginning. I did try some weight loss programs over the next year or so, but I wasn't really successful with them. It wasn't like I had gained a ton of weight, just a few pounds, literally, but my dad has battled weight ever since I can remember and so have a few members of his family. I have always been told that I look like my dad and I think subconsciously I started to expect to have a weight issue myself. I didn't feel like I was eating any differently than I ever had, and certainly not differently than any of my skinny friends. In all fairness I probably was eating a lot more junk food than I had previously, but I was in denial about that. So between the comments about clothes looking tighter and not being flattering, and my own insecurities because I knew things were fitting differently, I was feeling pretty hurt and defensive.

I think subconsciously I was starting to build a barrier between myself and anyone who could hurt me, in any way. I had high standards for myself and the boys I dated had been pushing those standards. That is what leads me to wonder now if maybe I was prettier than I thought I was. I got tired of always pushing hands away, not that there were tons of guys, but there were one or two who were exceptionally persistent, and flattering.

Now before you start thinking that I was molested or raped, and that I'm blaming my weight gain on that, let me assure you that is not the case. I know there are many women out there who legitimately do have weight problems due to such experiences, but since I was never raped or molested, there is nothing there to blame. In my opinion I was just like any other girl who was saving sex for marriage. I mean, boys will be boys right? But looking back now I am convinced that I was unconsciously trying to discourage the boys from wanting to push my boundaries.

So over the next several years I slowly packed on the pounds. Pretty much every time I got involved with another guy who proceeded to push my boundaries I would gain a few more pounds. I wouldn't say I actually was "overweight" until a few years after high school. It was a bit of a slow process for me and I was in some denial about it, or rather I was rebelling against it. I was trying to prove that I was in control and could eat anything I wanted like some of my friends could and I could do anything I wanted.

By the time my 10 year High School reunion came around I was 90 pounds heavier and I had given up on trying to lose weight. I was at war with myself. Consciously I wanted to find a man who would love and care for me. Someone who would respect me and my morals, and that I could start a family with. But subconsciously I was scared of letting any male really get close to me. I was scared that if I lost the weight again I would end up raped, one way or another. I knew girls who had been date raped or molested and I had seen how difficult it was for them to have a "normal" life. That all seemed to be tied to their looks. Then there was the seemingly random rape by a stranger to fear. That also seemed to be tied to looks. It was a fear that I had, one that I think a lot of girls have. We don't really talk about it except to teach/learn what to do when walking alone after dark, or if your car breaks down. I felt like my buffer zone was working, and was protecting me on all fronts. Like most other women I was drawn to the same type of guys over and over again, so maybe my buffer zone was a good thing. But the time was coming for things to change.

Me holding my daughter about a year before my journey began

A year after my high school reunion I was introduced to my future husband. He is a wonderful man who loves and supports me no matter what. He accepted me just the way I was and never asked or expected me to change my weight. So the natural question is, why did I start my journey? Well, I became a mom and I was worried that I wouldn't be able to keep up with my kids. After 7 years of marriage and 3 kids I decided I needed a change. I didn't want to be overweight any more. I wanted to be able to run with my kids and run after them if they ran into the street or something. If they were in some kind of danger I wanted to be able to  run after them and honestly have a chance of saving them from whatever danger they were facing. All of a sudden I was more afraid of not being able to catch them if they were in danger, than of any danger I might be in if I was skinny again.

Talking about it now sounds dumb and egotistical, and honestly I didn't feel pretty at all, just average. So after being in a loving and safe marriage for so many years and having 3 wonderful little children I was determined to protect, I decided to make a change. But by that time there was a new problem to tackle. I lived in a town and I had no money or time to spend on getting to a gym. Besides, working out at a gym hadn't worked for me in the past so why would it work now? I started thinking about getting surgery. I just didn't know what else to do. A friend recommended buying a Wii and trying that first. I felt that I needed to give exercise a legitimate try before turning to surgery.

I did my research and talked to my husband and decided that was a good idea. So I started with Wii Fit Plus, and a few weeks into it I added some Weight Watchers. I still didn't have the money to join a program or the time to go to meetings, but I had a friend who knew the Weight Watchers program. She was on her own weight loss journey and was having so much success that she inspired me. I knew that if she could do it so could I! She offered to give me some of her old books and to teach me the program. So I met with her and she taught me the old points program. Little did we know at the time that Weight Watchers was coming out with a new points plus program just a few months later.

By using what she taught me about Weight Watchers and exercising I lost 80 pounds over the next year and a half. I have maintained that goal weight for almost a year now.

 my "after" picture, taken this year on my birthday.

I still follow the old points program and exercise regularly. And I still battle the emotional temptations and feelings of inadequacies. I still don't feel "pretty" and I still take precautions when when I'm alone after dark, but things are changing emotionally too. I am finding more confidence and more self-assurance. I'm beginning to accept compliments better and to believe that people really mean them. This is a daily, life-long journey but I'm glad I'm taking it. :)

2 comments:

  1. You were beautiful then and now, and it has nothing to do with your weight. I can tell from your blog that you are a lovely, encouraging person who cares deeply for your friends and family.

    I think many young girls and women have a distorted picture of themselves and that negatively affects us when it comes to our weight. Some of us overeat, while others struggle with anorexia or other eating disorders.

    I'm so glad that you made the change and are healthier. I bet you have no problems keeping up with your kids now!

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    1. Thank you so much for your wonderful words and your support Diane!

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