I decided that I wasn’t “good enough” when I was six years old.
I don’t even remember why or what caused me to notice, but I realized I was different from all of the other kids in my class. I looked down at my belly and suddenly felt embarrassed of how much fat was hiding underneath my shirt. I wanted to disappear, and for reasons I still don’t even understand, I determined that I wasn’t as important as all the other girls, that I was defective, that something was very wrong with me. I hated myself.
Six. years. old.
I didn’t tell anyone that I thought I was fat. I didn’t want anyone to know my little secret. I didn’t know what to do. So I ate, perhaps because it made me feel good; I’m not sure. I would sneak food between meals. I would think about food when I wasn’t eating. I would eat as much as possible as often as possible…
I weighed 123 pounds in the third grade. I remember that year in particular because I would pretend to be sick all the time so I could go home. My dad even caught on to it, because one day he asked me if I was really sick all the time or if something else was going on. I told him that I really was sick. I would lie to get out of gym class because the two laps around the gym were just so embarrassing, especially because everyone else was finished with the second lap when I wasn’t even done with the first. This was the first year I was made fun of (that I can remember) for being fat. Thankfully, a friend stuck up for me, but the damage was still done. One day I even refused to go to school and told my mom it was because I was fat.
Finally. My secret was out. I was fat, and someone else knew.
My mom was really sweet that day – she made me a healthy breakfast and she even did exercises with me and she let me wear one of her shirts to school because all of mine felt too tight. (Don’t even get me started on why I thought it was okay for me to fit into my mother’s clothes at age 8.) I felt special and loved that day. I don’t think my mom knew what to do with me, either, but she tried and did her best. She tried to limit my food intake to normal amounts, but I would still sneak food. And I gained and gained and gained…
I did the typical cycle of gain weight, try to lose it… gain weight, try to lose it… Nothing I did ever stuck. A few times I would lose 30 or 40 pounds, but I would always gain it back.
I was in the 200s in middle school, and by the time I graduated high school, I weighed 306. I didn’t go to a single dance, not even prom. I didn’t have a single boyfriend… not even a single kiss or a single date. I was known as the nice girl who everyone seemed to love but no one seemed to notice or want. They all assumed I was quiet and shy because I wanted to be, so I let them believe it. I played the shy girl part because it was so much easier to hide the pain and embarrassment that way.
It wasn’t until college that I even began to start the process of loving and accepting myself. One of my counselors told me that I had let my weight define me for far too long, that I was NOT my fat. She was right, and that truth began to sink in. Sophomore year I decided that I would never lose the weight with my own self-discipline, so I went to a doctor who gave me weight loss pills.
I did lose weight, which was exciting at the time, but I got really tired of only eating 300-500 calories most days because I had no appetite, and the constipation, dry mouth, and overly grouchy attitude finally got to me. I lost 80 pounds in 2007.
I gained 90 pounds by the summer of 2009. I weighed 312 pounds.
I tried to make myself feel better by lying. I told myself that technically I was only 6 pounds heavier than when I graduated high school, when in reality I had gained so much more.
Another failure. Another attempt at fixing the problem that went terribly wrong. Another reason to hate myself.
At this time, I was really struggling because I had found self-worth for basically the first time ever. I gained so much confidence when I lost the weight, and I finally knew what it felt like to be proud of myself and happy. I finally had hope that maybe I could love and be loved in return. I’m not saying it was impossible for me to find love weighing 300 pounds because I know it does happen, but in college I didn’t love myself enough to even get close to letting someone else love me.
My sister got married in August 2009, and I was her Maid of Honor, which was such a blessing and privilege. I wore a dress… a big deal for someone whose last dress-wearing day was in elementary school. I did it out of love for her, and I was embarrassed and felt self-conscious the entire time. But something happened that day. So many people complimented and said how beautiful I looked wearing a dress. They didn’t have to say it, but they did, and I began to wonder if I was looking at beauty in a completely flawed way, at least when it came to me.
Even though all my life people told me I had such a beautiful face (which is a nice way of telling a fat girl that something is pretty about her?), I never really believed it. I had hope that I was beautiful, but I never felt beautiful, and the short time that I lost the 80 pounds, I felt confident but never really truly beautiful. My sister’s wedding day, though, I began to think that maybe I was beautiful after all.
I got really depressed after the wedding, though. My little sister and best friend just got married and she moved out, and I was left alone, just aching for someone to love me. I missed her, and I began to get really jealous that she was married and I was no where close to even having a boyfriend. It was a lot to deal with, and I thought for sure at one point that it was going to get the best of me.
But then September happened. I met someone. I fell in love. And the greatest part was that he fell in love with me, too. All 312 pounds of me. He looked right past the fat– the thing I thought instantly made me the ugliest –and he loved me for me. He told me I was beautiful. He called me Lovely One.
And I felt lovely. He didn’t just make me feel it, though. He made me believe it. I was lovely. I am lovely.
By the end of Spring 2010, I lost 40 pounds. No crazy diets, no dangerous pills. I ate healthy, and I exercised. He would encourage me and give me pointers, and he never stopped calling me lovely. He gave me what I needed to lose weight, to gain confidence, and to love myself. He saw my successes and my failures, and he loved me just the same.
That was almost 4 years ago. Since then, I’ve lost 35 more pounds. 35 pounds in almost four years is nothing short of ridiculously unacceptable in my eyes. Yes, it’s still a loss, but I lost the same 10 pounds at least 6 times. If I would’ve just stuck to it, I could be at least 150 pounds lost. I could be at my goal weight. But here I am… with a lot of work still to do.
I’ve learned quite a bit these last few years. For the most part, I know how to eat healthy, and I know how to exercise. I know how to lose weight. My problem is actually doing it long enough to see a difference and let that difference stick.
I don’t completely understand where my addiction to food came from, and I don’t know why I’m still not able to just throw it all aside and never have a problem with it again. It just seems to be a part of who I am, a part I wish didn’t exist, but nevertheless, a part that just may haunt me forever.
But whether or not it haunts me forever, I’m still going to fight to control it. I’ve lost too much of my life because I let my fat limit me, I let it define me. But not anymore. I have fat, and I need to lose the fat. Fat isn’t who I am. It’s what I have. It’s been a stumbling block but I’ve also used it as a security blanket at times for far too long.
I’m beginning to lose my confidence again. These last few years have been hard, and I’m tired of losing the same pounds over and over. It’s tiring and it’s depressing, and it’s just not worth it.
I deserve to be happy, and I deserve to lose the weight and be healthy. The only thing standing in my way is ME … I know this is a journey, and there have been mountains and valleys for me, and I know that even this time around I’m not going to do everything perfectly. But I have to do it. I have to lose this weight because it’s killing me. It’s too heavy to carry, and I just don’t want it anymore. There are still parts of me that are hiding… there is a source of strength within me that I’ve never even tapped into, and I just know that I’m still letting my fat hold me back.
But I’m ready. I may be tired and maybe even a little doubtful that I can even do it because I’ve failed so much, but I’m ready.
And I’m going to do it. I’m going to lose this fat, and I’m going to lose these insecurities. I deserve it.