My Lifelong Struggle with my Weight
I have struggled with weight all my life. Maybe talking about it here will help (you? me? either way!). I was a pudgy girl throughout my entire childhood and finally got hot for a little less than a year when I was 15 when I weighed 130 lbs. (I’m 5’8″). I did this by dieting Monday through Thursday and having the weekends off. I’m a glutton, so it seemed this was the only way for a diet to work (i.e. I have to be able to pig out sometimes). My approach was not what most “experts” would refer to as healthy. Monday through Thursday I consumed 700-900 calories. I’d have fruit, Slimfast shakes, and Pria bars, stuff like that. Every day of the week I went to the gym for 2-3 hours, burning off 500 calories on the elliptical as well as doing weight lifting and playing basketball. I actually enjoyed this quite a bit, and let me tell you, food tastes really, really good when you’re starving.
On the weekends I would binge. And I mean BINGE. Throughout the dieting week I would save up any treats offered to me (cookies, kolaches, etc.) and eat them Friday morning, pretty much asap. I was raised a Mormon, so before high school I had a one hour class on the scriptures. My teacher the year I was following this diet plan loved to cook lavish breakfasts for us, usually on Fridays. So I started out most Fridays with thick chocolate milk and 5-6 homemade kolaches. I’d save the Snickers and Reese’s for later, too sugary for the morning!
For lunch I’d eat a huge football player sized portion of cafeteria food (which I loved), usually something like meatloaf, mashed potatoes, fried okra with ranch, a roll, chocolate milk, and maybe a cookie or cinnamon roll for good measure.
After school and my subsequent work out, I would head straight for an enormous bowl of ice cream, topped with peanut butter, chocolate sauce, and any other toppings we had around, such as bananas, nuts, M&Ms, you name it. Then I’d scarf this down while listening to Les Miserables and playing Final Fantasy 3 on the computer. Yes, I was a loser.
As long as I made my weigh in on Friday morning, I earned this. Making my weigh in meant weighing one pound less than I had the Friday before. I always made it.
The rest of the weekend didn’t have that much script to the hedonism, but it was ridiculously indulgent. Sunday nights usually found me scarfing down 11th hour helpings of Java Chip ice cream by myself upstairs, watching the episodes of The Practice they played back to back for me on ABC. I always felt disgustingly full and hated myself a lot of the time, always vowing to be more reasonable the next weekend. I was never more reasonable.
This shit actually worked when I was 15. I was thin after a few months of this diet, as I said 130 lbs. at 5’8″. After a while though I stopped going to the gym every day, then it was every other day, then sometimes, then never. I also stopped dieting. I didn’t continue the weekend gorge fest in the same way of course, but my total weekly caloric intake was still way up from what it had been.
This continued from 16-19, when I eventually weighed in at 180 lbs. I worked out off and on, sometimes very ardently, but dieting just didn’t happen very much. During my freshman year of college I had a job at the University’s Chik Fila, so I had access to free food from a lot of places. That didn’t help.
The funny thing about my college story is that I was still a loser with few and lame friends, so I didn’t drink. That’s a bit tongue in cheek, but it’s also the truth. It’s tempting to say it was the fact that I was still sort of a Mormon, and that’s what I said at the time, but that’s a load of crap. I never went to church, and I wouldn’t have hesitated a moment had I been invited to try out the mysterious and enticing alcohol stuff. The funny part is that it wasn’t until I started drinking that I started losing weight. I accidentally turned those italics on with my pinky, but I am going to leave it that way. I had to lose weight now because I now had friends! And romantic potential!
So the South Beach diet saw me through getting down 40 lbs. to 140. I loved it, and it worked. Here my memory gets a bit fuzzy ’cause I know I stayed at about 140 throughout years 20 and 21, and I drank a lot. A lot. Those italics were definitely intentional. There were times I was drinking 4 or 5 nights per week. And clinically these would have been termed “binges”, an item on the list of indications that one is an alcoholic. Now I wasn’t an alcoholic, but I was drinking 6-10 drinks (sometimes more) on each of these occasions. College was great. I worked 24 hours a week at a coffee shop, had a light load of schoolwork into which I had to put very little time and effort (psych degree, woot woot!), I worked out 2 hours each day, and then I drank. And no, I have never gotten drunk by myself. I was no longer a loser, I had friends, I went to parties, and I had a love life. Not the most impressive one, but a legitimate one. Finally.
Actually I now remember I had kept the principles of South Beach in mind when it came to my diet, but I also started counting calories. I had an excel sheet programmed to keep track of exactly how many calories I burned each day using somewhat complicated calculations, how many calories I could eat, how many I had eaten, how many I had left, how much I weighed each day, etc. I tried sometimes to even count alcohol calories, though this invariably failed, so I just had to have off days. Eventually I did calm down to drinking about 2 nights per week.
At 21 though I graduated from college and got into my first LTR (long term relationship), and my weight started edging up. My workout regimen never flagged, but my diet sure did. At the peak of this weight gain, the scale showed 157. Blech.
It was time to revamp the good carb principles, and I went vegetarian (helps cut calories among a long list of reasons why it’s healthful and much better for the planet/humanity). I also decided it was time to count calories Monday through Thursday. Now don’t panic, softies. I started out allowing myself 2,000 calories per day, and lowered that number bit by bit as needed until I stopped at 1800 calories per day. I refused to eat less than that, so I just had to exercise more as needed. I can’t remember exactly, though I’m sure I have an excel sheet somewhere if I really cared, but I think I was working off what the machines (elliptical, stationary bike, treadmill) called 450 calories per day (I looked it up, it ended up getting up to 650 per day at the end), in addition to weight lifting and an hour long power yoga class twice a week. I split that work out up between 2 sessions most days, and a lot of that cardio was on the bike because I loved reading on the bikes. I started doing more elliptical once I found TED.com and put the MP4s on my video iPod. I eventually quit yoga because I absolutely hated it, could never really relax during corpse pose (I almost never relax at all), just don’t seem to be capable of getting very flexible, my knees started hurting, and my back did not stop hurting. I am just not a yoga person, and I don’t know what I was trying to prove with that crap, but I stopped trying.
I’ve gotten back down to 140. Or 138 according to my new scale, but I think it’s just more generous than my last one, and I may actually be a bit fatter now. I have been killing myself to lose a few more pounds, working harder and harder (more calories on the machines at the gym) but to no avail. I was burning 800 calories per day, 7 days per week at the gym on the elliptical (the elliptical is pretty liberal with its count I can see clearly), and I was doing weight lifting every day.
This wasn’t working well, so I did some reading and decided maybe I wasn’t getting my heart rate high enough on the stupid elliptical at my new apartment complex’s gym and that maybe I needed to prolong the cardio to at least 30 minutes to really burn fat. So I started a 10 minute warm up, 23 minute run, 5 minute cool down routine 6 days per weel, plus 100-200 calories on the elliptical or a jog around the lake. I also changed my weight lifting to 4 times per week, 2 routines twice a week (the same amount as before but separated differently so that my muscles could have rest days. I had been working out my abs every day, so I switched to every other day so they could have rest days. I was also trying to help my back problems, though I have subsequently fixed that problem by buying an ergonomic keyboard for my laptop. If only I could throw 30 bucks at my weight loss problem and get such results.
This hasn’t been helping me lose the last few pounds, and I think I’m actually gaining a little weight. The scale I have is very rude. Maybe I shouldn’t have bought it, but I was going crazy(er) without it. I went to Barnes and Noble to read about alternate day diets since that makes a lot of evolutionary sense to me, but they didn’t seem to have any of those books in stock, so I ended up reading the Abs Diet. It hasn’t arrived from Amazon.com yet, but I read enough of it and jotted down enough notes to have thrown out vegetarianism for now in favor of a higher protein count each day. I may go back to vegetarianism now that I’ve realized the most efficient way to get protein is cottage cheese, better even than whey powder much less sliced meat. Anyway, it was only one week, and I know daily weigh ins are considered bad by you softies, but I also know how scales usually treat me, and it wasn’t working this week. I keep vowing to be more reasonable on my weekend off days as I know those aren’t helping, but here’s a hint at how that’s gone today:
I started to put it back in the freezer at this point but then realized that it might be embarrassing if someone were to take this out of the freezer and find it in this state. My solution was to take the rest of the cookies that were affected, which amounted to about 3 more cookies, put them in a cup with a few tablespoons of peanut butter, and eat that little masterpiece like it was ice cream.
It’s hard not to eat like this when you had 6 or so beers last night. It’s hard to stick to your 3 drinks only rule when you’re shy at a bar around a group of mostly new people and need liquid confidence, especially when once you get said confidence, guys start offering to buy you drinks. I can’t pass up free drinks! I can’t pass up free anything, much less free beer!
My new plan:
1. Most things will remain the same for now(my work out, calorie counting, protein counting, off days with perpetual and probably futile vows to reign them in).
2. I will only weigh in on Friday mornings.
3. I will document what I eat on the weekends, so I have to account “to somebody”. That should help some.
4. I have become positive my current problem is due to a lack of sunlight. My next blog will be about this (I have GOT to go take a shower and get ready to go to this Christmas shit with my sister and my parents who are in town), but suffice it to say I need to try to get one hour in the sun every day. Fortunately I am about to spend a week at a beach house.