Everyone gains weight for a reason. Once you figure out the reason you can tackle it. This is my story of how I got fat and unhealthy in a record period of time. I have finally come to terms with what I did to myself fifteen years ago and how I sent my life and health into a downward spiral. It is easy now to look back and see what I did wrong, the many mistakes I made. I became the queen of excuses overnight. I created my own recipe for disaster. It has taken me years to accept, acknowledge, and learn from my behavior. It wasn't a pretty experience, a lot of family and loved ones were hurt. While I can't change the past I can at least admit to it and help others in the same boat. I wanted to share my experience with you in case you recognize some of yourself or someone you know. Writing this was difficult and easy at the same time. I had to revisit a painful part of my life but if it speaks to one person, helps one person, it was worth it. Getting honest is part of letting things go. I am ready to let this go.
While waiting tables on Dec. 16, 1999 I stepped in a drain hole missing it's cover. I succeeded in tearing all of the tendons and ligaments off my left ankle which left my foot hanging, not in a good way. It was incredibly painful. Little did I know that my suffering would be physical and mental. My plans of running my seventh marathon in Feb were quickly ruined, I had worked so hard. The pain was consistent and affected my mood. I became an angry, bitter person. My life was changing for the worst and I felt powerless to stop it. I couldn't walk, I couldn't work. I lost human interaction and invited crappy tv into my house. I felt like a prisoner, like I was being punished for stepping in the hole. I took up residence on the couch for endless hours. Everyday. I became a huge lump of nothing. I took on weight immediately. Going from runner to sedentary overnight did not go over well. As the days passed I felt worse. My happy endorphins were gone, I felt sluggish and fat. I was home alone most days, hubby at work and kids at school, and my brain would really work me over. Nothing is more powerful than the words we tell ourselves. I hated who I was becoming and did not mince words. I beat myself up on a daily, it became a habit. My confidence plummeted and I stayed home, I didn't want to leave. The constant ankle pain and being pissed off all the time took over my days. And then I found food. Food became my friend, food made it all better, food comforted me.... but only for a while. It turned out to be a double-edged sword.
I ate for many reasons. I ate to feel better. I ate because I was bored. I ate because it tasted good. I ate because I didn't care anymore. I ate because I couldn't run. I ate because I was already fat so why not. I ate because I was sad, because I was mad. Because I lost weight, because I gained weight. Because it was raining, because it was a beautiful day I couldn't enjoy. It was a ridiculous no win cycle of eating for any reason or no reason at all. I was elbow deep in ice cream when my depression hit. I did not realize that my emotional eating was just adding to the problems I already had. My doctor put me on the "happy pill" bus which made things worse since most antidepressants contribute to weight gain. It didn't help things that I was eating generous portions of bread and butter, cheesy noodles, and endless fast food. Aaaah Jack in the Box Ultimate Cheeseburgers, I would eat two. That stacks up to be 1,736 calories...98g of fat...42g of saturated fat...and 3,556 mg of salt for just one meal. No wonder I put on weight huh? (I never bothered to look at the nutrition facts back then, I don't think it would have stopped me) A few times, more than I want to admit, I would bake, frost a cake and do my best to eat it all. I would toss the evidence and leftovers before anyone came home.
Looking back into those years I am embarrassed and I can't believe I behaved like that. I chose to disappear, hide away and stay holed up in my house. I did not seek help or ask questions, I just accepted my fate. I cried, I wallowed in self pity. I felt sorry for myself, I gave up, I quit my life. Running was my way of dealing with life. It was my escape, my time, my stress reliever. Now it was gone. Eating made the pain go away, even if it only lasted for a few moments. My weight topped out at 220 pounds for my 5 foot 5 frame. To be truthful that was the last number I saw on the scale when I stopped weighing myself. By my second wedding anniversary I had nearly doubled my size. I had gained 95 pounds. My husband had married a size five that smiled all the time, he was now married to a size 18/20 who was mad at the world. To add to the misery I weighed myself every day and let the number on the scale dictate how that day would go. I had a 50/50 chance to beat myself up for the next 24 hours or just wait until for the following day to do it. The number on the scale determined my worth, I was obese and therefore deemed myself unworthy.
I stopped looking in full length mirrors and started buying my clothes at the Big and Plus side of the store. I was very insecure about this and took the "get in, get out" type of approach. I grabbed quickly off the rack, nine out of ten times it was black, black is so slimming. I made a huge mistake though.... I always bought a size larger than I wore, I was a size 16 but would purchase a size 18 thinking it would hang on me and make me appear smaller. Nothing could be further from the truth. I made myself appear larger by wearing clothing a size bigger. I also believe that it, in a weird way, gave me permission to keep eating since my clothing fit loosely.
I forgot to mention I picked up smoking, again. I started with just a couple cigs here and there which developed into a full pack and a half daily habit. I added drinking to the list shortly after. Let's just say I drank too much a lot of the time. I could drown my sorrows in alcohol just as easily as food.
I was too stubborn and pig headed to listen to anyone. I was tired of the ankle pain and depressed over what I had become. I didn't see it was really all my fault and you couldn't have convinced me of it either. That is the main reason I am writing this. Often we don't recognize we are creating our own misery, creating an unhappy, unhealthy life by the choices we are making. In order to heal I had to get honest about my part in what I had done and make a plan for my comeback.
So, to bring you up to speed.... I chose my path, one bad choice at a time.
1. I chose to sit on the couch and not find any alternatives to running.
2. I chose to eat copious amounts of crappy food every single day
3. I chose to lose interest in my once healthy lifestyle
4. I chose to smoke.
5. I chose to drink.
6. I chose anger
7. I chose to fall apart
8. I chose to have a pity party that lasted too long
Having made those choices I lost/wasted 5 years. That equals 1,820 days I can't get back. I wish I hadn't stayed so long in that dark place, it was horrible. However, I can say that I am grateful for having had the experience which made me who I am today.
It will not be easy but it will be worth it, I guarantee it. In order to create my 'new life' I had to make a plan. I looked at all the negatives in my life and began making them positives. The first two I quit was drinking and smoking. I chose to quit them together since they often went hand in hand. I am now 9 years smoke free and can enjoy an adult beverage with no issues. I went for the healthy eating next. Education is the key, I learned what I was eating, how I could do better and watched my portions. The emotional eating was the hardest to beat. However, once I started losing weight I didn't want to put it back on, when I felt stressed I went for a walk outside instead of to the fridge. The walking built my confidence and rolled into running and biking. Once I took control of my diet and anger the emotional eating disappeared.
You know what's cool? I chose a lifestyle in 1999 and suffered the consequences. In 2006 I chose another path. I am still walking that 'other' road and am 80 pounds lighter. I no longer have depression, anger, or weight issues. I chose to create and enjoy a happy healthy life. I know I made it sound easy, it wasn't. There comes a time when you have to hop on the hard, bumpy, uphill road in order to get to a better one. Make the choice. You can do it!