Monday, May 24, 2010

Letting Go and Moving On

Back in 1996, I gave birth to my youngest son. It seems like just yesterday I was holding him, all tiny and new in the hospital, but I look up now and see a 14-year-old boy. So much has happened since then, but for just a moment I'd like to reminisce about what happened in 1996 and 1997 to lead me from 'overweight' to 'morbidly obese.'

It happened kinda fast. I'd been 140ish in my late teens and early 20's. After my second child was born, I hung out around 170 for the most part, and after the third, I bounced between 165 and 199, with dieting and exercise. I remember the first time I was 199 on the scale back in 1994: I was horrified. It was much to close to TWO HUNDRED pounds, which was HUGE and unfathomable and I vowed I'd never cross that line. I managed to stay under 199 until after my last son was born in 1996. And then, in May, I saw it: 201 pounds. I was absolutely appalled. I was 26 years old, had an infant, a toddler, a preschooler and a kindergartner, and had just moved to a new state where I was desperately unhappy and lonely. Food had become a solace. But I was determined to get back to my goal of 140 pounds.

I started a diet program called "Winning at Thinning." I'd write down all my meals ahead of time and then just stick to what was on my list (and on one such list that I found were things like cocoa krispies, hot dogs, and donuts. But I was staying under 1500 calories. I had very little nutritional knowledge then.) I managed to go from 201 in May to 174 in September by writing out my menus, swearing off all chocolate candy, and walking daily. I joined a gym, too... one with a child care facility. I remember walking around the track above the indoor pool one day and as I neared the mirrored walls at the end, I saw my reflection and was stunned that I no longer looked fat. In fact I looked pretty good! I was really proud of myself.

Then my "diet buddy" who was doing Winning at Thinning with me quit. She started eating junk and gaining weight. I got really frustrated. I remember thinking it was taking SO LONG. And I went off plan too, getting back up to 180 pounds in short order. I wanted to put on the brakes, so in November I went to the doctor. He recommended Phen Fen. That was the "miracle pill" back then... take it and you don't want food anymore! No one knew yet about the heart problems it would cause. I remember being torn about whether or not to take it; I was still breastfeeding my baby and had wanted to do so until he was a year old. He didn't seem ready to fully wean. But I wanted to lose weight more than anything, so I quit nursing cold turkey and started the pills the next day. It's one big regret I have; I wish I'd have let him wean naturally. And I didn't get far on the Phen Fen, either; back down to 174, and then went off the drug within a month due to unpleasant side effects (mood swings, exhaustion).

1997 began with me weighing 187 pounds (I'd regained 13 pounds in one month) and I was once again determined to lose weight. By April I'd struggled down to 184 pounds. And that is, from my records, the last time I weighed under 200 pounds. Thirteen years ago.

How I actually went from 184 in April 1997 to 227 less than a year later and 245 at the end of 1998, well, it's kind of a blur. I got a computer and started doing a lot more sitting, spending time online instead of exercising. I hurt my knee for the first time (torn meniscus) and couldn't exercise as much. I had marriage problems, money problems, and ended up divorced during that time. I had to pull my son from preschool and cancel my gym membership because I couldn't afford those things anymore. In fact I had my power shut off for non payment in the winter. It was rough. I was unhappy.

1997 184
1998 245
1999 232
2000 262
2001 245
2002 (no record, but still in the same range)
2003 270

No fun.

So now, I weigh 204. That's what brought up these memories. Every time I see a new number it's like a trip down memory lane to the last time I weighed that. Back to 1997-98, when my whole life fell apart for awhile.

Before I was *this big*, I was a different person in a lot of ways. I remember being 170, 180, 190... and feeling so HUGE. I was in my 20s. Honestly, I don't know how to be a non-obese 40-year-old. I *know* how to be a seriously obese woman, I got that down. But learning to *be* something else, it's kind of hard. It's a bit of a challenge. Some of it is fun and some if kind of tough, but I will work it out. I think part of it is just trying to have a cohesive identity, and since so much has changed in 13 years it is not just the weight I am having to get my head around.

I was: super religious, mom of boys, mom of many little kids, married, relatively healthy, stay-at-home mom, rather uneducated, dependent, youthful, energetic.

Who am I now? The facts are easy. I have teens and a preschooler. I am 40. I have my degrees. I'm losing weight and getting healthier. But the rest? Kind of hard to define. Kind of difficult to picture myself in my head, since the self-image is changing so much. I used to sort of think of myself as a fat slug. I was mad at myself for getting that way. I have let that self-image go, and my confidence is building. I guess this whole thing is just going to take time.

As I near that 199/200 mark, I think about the numbers a lot. They're *more* than just numbers, to me. They represent years and stages of my life. And I really want to let go of the 200+ stage, forever. I am ready to be done with it and move on to better things.


that TOPS lady said...

I'm said you were "super religious" so? And in what ways has that changed? I have noticed *my* thinking about spiritual matters changing quite drastically and it suprises me because I was pretty much sold on how I believed.

Lyn said...

Note to readers:

It seems that some comments are not showing up, or are showing up hours after you post them. I can tell because I get all coments in my Inbox to read, but when I come here sometimes they aren't posted at all. Just wanted you to know what's going on. Must be a Blogger site issue.

Jack Sh*t, Gettin' Fit said...

What a thoughtful, powerful post, Lyn. This is your time... take a big breath and jump that dotted line into Onederland. Can't wait to celebrate that big milestone with you.

georgia said...

funny..i've been thinking the same thing the last few days and sat down to write about it...the "who am I" question or the "who WAS I" question. I'm glad you wrote this post, because even though I know I'm not alone in these thoughts it's nice to know that I'm not the only one out there who is working to let go of the way I thought in the past. Thanks!

Laryssa said...

I was one who joined WW, the gym, walking groups ... all with friends and once those friends stopped or moved away, I stopped too. I'm glad that I've got the mindset now that it doesn't matter if I have someone to go to the gym with me or not, I just go.

Lucy said...

How exciting that you can now redefine a happier and healthier you!

I love your posts, I really do. Thank you.

Dillypoo said...

I went through a similar play of mind games at the beginning of the year. After a year of consistent weigh loss, I suddenly freaked out about my size and instantly plateaued. I didn't know who this smaller person who somehow looked like me was!

It took me 4-5 months to get comfortable with my new body, and during that time the scale never budged. But once I got myself mentally wrapped around how I looked and felt, the weight started to come off again.

Stay with it! And give your mind time to catch up with your body, if necessary.

M Pax said...

Wow! Congrats on your progress. I'm really excited for you.

Lyn said...

that TOPS lady~

I was raised in a very strict religion that affected me deeply. When I left at age 18, I found another rather strict religion to immerse myself in. I spent a lot... a LOT of hours and energy on church and religious stuff. And I was sure I was "right."

Now I no longer attend a church. I no longer associate with any specific religon. I have my own spirituality and I am comfortable with that. And I don't think *anybody* has a monoploy on truth.

Loosing It said...

I wish you could really know how inspiring you really are. I love reading your posts...and most of all because of them I felt inspired to start my own, and just like you, be brutally honest. I am so proud of you, and feel so lucky to have found your blog
I'll stay tuned.

MargieAnne said...

I understand that it must be hard to see yourself as a smaller person. Just being able to buy clothes in a smaller size is a challenge.

I wonder if it would help if you wrote a list of who you are now, forgetting the past. You are going forward, you are going to lose more weight so you really don't want to get stuck in struggling with the new you.

You are so good at describing the stages you are going through. I though it might be a good idea to speak into not only who you are now but who you are becoming. Give yourself some kind of foundation to move into. A vision of who you are becoming perhaps.

Karen said...

Beautiful reflective post. I really enjoyed reading about your memories and can totally indentify. I know what I weighed when I married, when my niece married, and when my father died, to the exact pound. My whole life has been framed by numbers on a scale. I am enjoying seeing those numbers go down now but I am ready to live life as a happy person, and not one who judges myself by the number on the scale.

Anonymous said...

Totally relate to your post. I identify with different memories at certain numbers. It causes these memories to surface, and I feel flooded by them. I try to let them pass through me, remember them, then release them. I once had a counselor friend tell me that our bodies hold "cellular" memories, so maybe that is what is happening with these changes.
Not sure, but I find it interesting.

My eating got out of control after moving to a new state as well. Food was my best buddy.