In high school, I was that girl. You know, the one who could eat anything and stay stick-thin. My typical lunch consisted of a massive chocolate brownie and a can of Cherry Coke, dinners were usually French bread pizza, ramen noodles, or a (large) bag of potato chips. Even so, my weight never fluctuated lower than 118 lbs or higher than 122. I was 5’6″ and a verified beanpole.
When I went off to college, I bypassed the “Freshman 15″ and went straight for the Freshman 25. I’m not sure why, really, since I ate fairly balanced meals, regularly went to tai chi and water aerobics, and didn’t start drinking until I turned 21. Honest truth. But still I gained, and it wasn’t exactly a bad thing since even at 122 lbs I was underweight for my height. By the time I graduated I was hovering around 130-135 lbs, solidly in a size 10 or 12.
Marriage came a year after graduation. I unintentionally lost some weight for the wedding –the seamstress had to take in all the seams of my wedding gown that she’d just let out– but evened out again shortly thereafter. Then with the time suck of a full-time adult relationship, a zero-impact desk job, and a serious aversion to cooking, the weight just gradually kept coming. It’s now over 10 years since my wedding day, and I’ve easily put on 40 lbs or more. That’s at least 60 lbs heavier than my high school weight. And I haven’t even had kids.
To be perfectly fair, I carry the weight very well. There isn’t a person yet who believes me when I tell them how much I weigh, and I probably look 20-30 lbs lighter than I am . . . but I’m not happy about it. I have a few strikes against me. The women in my family tend to the wide side of the spectrum. I truly am, if not big-boned, then dense-boned. I grew up with incredibly poor eating habits (see lunch and dinner above) and I HATE water as a beverage. I don’t exercise well outside of a class setting. I could go on.
Lately, every year I’d see pictures of mysef from bellydance shows, and every year I vowed that next year I’d look better. Every year was the same as the one before, if not worse. I look in the mirror and see a pretty girl looking back at me, and yet what I see in photographs is a puffy-faced woman with the beginnings of a double chin and a midsection squishier than half-melted Jell-o. I don’t like what I see.
I’ve tried a variety of eating plans (I don’t “diet” per se) that have amazing results on everyone but me. I tried South Beach because a friend boasted of how he dropped 10 pounds within weeks . . . I lost a total of 5 lbs over three months. I tried the Special K challenge . . . I lost about two pounds over a few weeks, and got a grain bug infestation in my pantry (that was not a metaphor, thank you).
Starting later this week I’ll be trying again, but this time I’ve got an ace up my sleeve. I’ll be trying Weight Watchers, and aside from the general support they promise as part of the program, I have a friend who has already lost 15 lbs since Halloween who is already my cheerleader and my support, and I have yet to go to a single meeting. Since I hate to cook, I’m already planning what I need to be able to make bulk meals and freeze them for later (there is an upright freezer in my house’s future). I tried out a recipe from the official WW cookbook tonight and was pleased with the flavor, if not exactly ecstatic about the portion size. I’m ready to try to do this thing right this time.
I do not expect to make it to my high school weight. Truthfully, I think that would be unhealthy for me. But I am setting an attainable goal of losing 30 lbs, with a stretch goal of losing 50, which would take me roughly to my college weight. That being said, I’m also going to be smart enough to let my body tell me when enough is enough, and as long as I’m happy with the way I look and feel, I’m not going to quibble over numbers on a scale.
Thursday is my first meeting. I’ll let you know how it goes.