The Diet History
The first time I put myself on a diet was in seventh grade. By my calculation, that means I was 12 years old. No one PUT me on a diet, and I wasn’t truly “fat” in retrospect. I remember feeling that way, though. I imagine it probably stemmed more from being 12 years old, nearly six feet tall, and wildly uncomfortable in my own skin.
I found a book, “Toning for Teens,” that started the spiral of shame for me. I remember boiling chicken for chicken sandwiches, and sticking to the plan for all I was worth for a couple of weeks. I don’t know if I lost weight, but I know I was miserable. Everything about that book is kind of sad to me, looking back. If you ever want to feel bad, go read the Amazon reviews of the book by kids calling themselves “fat thirteen year olds.” Just the word “toning” is pretty gross, and the book’s elaboration on how using lighter weights will keep you from getting “manly muscles” is….damaging for young girls.
Anyway, I failed at dieting through middle school and most of high school. I always felt self-conscious eating in groups, and ate a sub-par cafeteria salad pretty much every day while I was in high school as a result (not that there were really any better options in the cafeteria). Lots of days I just skipped lunch, and this was as a very active high school athlete. It’s crazy to think how much better I could have performed and focused if I’d been fueling my body appropriately.
The summer before my senior year, I marched drum corps for the first time, and acclimated to about 12 hours a day of physical activity and thousands calories a day across 4 meals…and lost 20 pounds over the span of a few months. When I got back to the life of a normal high school student though, my weight slingshotted back up, aided by eating habits that had absolutely gone to crap while I was on tour.
Then college happened. All the beer. The freshman 15 and thensome. I was running pretty regularly, and reined in my habits by my junior year, and lost some weight. Senior year, I got overly restrictive while training for my first half marathon; consuming around 800 calories a day, as meticulously tracked, each day while running 20+ miles a week. I was proud of myself for that, sadly, but I was still topping 200 pounds, over 25 more than I left high school with. At this point, I realized that this was my new “adult” struggle. I recognize now how messed up my views on food had gotten by this point. This was about the same time I started binge eating. I’ll write about that separately, but it came on fast and hard, and it’s something that I still struggle with, from time to time. It was much improved after working with my therapist last year.
I struggled for a couple of years, gaining and losing in rapid succession, before my first attempt at Weight Watchers. I stuck with the plan for about 6 months, lost about 30 pounds, and felt great! So great, I decided I didn’t need to be on Weight Watchers anymore. BIG mistake. In the months after cancelling my membership, I put it all back on and thensome.
About a year and a half later, after watching the successes of a few friends from college, I did 12 week challenge with a friend of a friend’s company through an online program. I had meals planned for me, down to the gram in recipes, and programmed workouts for 6 days a week. I stuck to the program – to. A. T. I lost 36.5 pounds in 12 weeks. I felt great, I looked better than ever, and I later signed on to do private training, also online. Through the program, I was following a heavy lifting program and learining to eat via IIFYM (If it Fits Your Macros), which I believe in 110%. Unfortunately, I was also dealing with the demise of a very long term, very abusive relationship during that time. I fell back on old habits, binge eating through the emotional struggle. It got worse when I moved into my mom’s house for a few months before moving. I lost control of the food that was around me, and gained weight again, putting on nearly 45 pounds, and getting back to the weight I hit before the 12 week challenge.
When I moved to Memphis, it was like I got some semblance of control back in my life. I was happy for the first time in years, I followed carefully programmed macros, and started to lose weight, but I was missing the community and the celebrations of weight loss – some of the therapeutic meeting moments. I rejoined Weight Watchers just over a month ago, and I’m ready to make a lasting change. I know after the story I’ve written up, it seems unlikely. I also know that most people that lose significant weight take many chances to fail at weight loss before ultimately succeeding. There’s a mental health component to battle along the way, too, and I’m working every day on a me that’s ready to be stronger, healthier, and prepared to face issues without seeking an emotional bandaid…in the form of carbs.