The whys of it all

I've always been overweight.  By the time I was in the fourth grade, I already weighed in at 100 pounds. I remember being in the sixth grade and running off crying because one of my classmates told me I should move to Planet B, for Blubber.  Gotta love 12 year old boys.  I don't even remember what I weighed as I was heading into middle school, just that I was one of the bigger girls in my class.  And then...then I discovered swim team.

The daily laps killed most of my pudge, but not all.  I was still the biggest girl on the team.  And next to the shortest.  Terrible combination.

Pair all of this with a best friend who had to fight to keep her weight above 97 pounds, an over weight mother who thought that servings should be twice the recommended size and dessert demanded seconds, and typical teenage cruelty, and I was a disaster waiting to happen.

Then the fuse to my powder keg was lit.  My super skinny bff hands me a book that she swears I'll like.  The cover was intriguing enough.  Designed like a playing card, there was a healthy looking girl on the top eating an cookie, and a skeleton on the flip side poking its finger at its mouth.  It was called Fat Chance.  It was about a 15 year old girl who was over weight with a skinny best friend.  She had frizzy, curly, unmanageable hair, while the best friend had perfectly smooth hair.  She was the one who was just friends with guys, and the best friend was the one who had guys following her around.  I was shocked, this was the story of my life!

The main character eventually turns to bulimia, becomes somewhat popular, gets a boy friend, all that good stuff, until one day her partner in crime passes out in a pool of her own vomit and gets rushed to the hospital.  The girl sees the error of her ways, gets healthy, and everything ends happily ever after.  All the typical drama you'd expect to find in a teen's coming of age story.

What did I pull from this story?  Not, "bulimia is bad and dangerous, lose weight the healthy way."  Oh no, I couldn't possibly be that sensible.  What I saw was a cool way to lose weight, where I didn't have to hear my mother bitch at me because I didn't clear the second plate she plopped in front of me, where I didn't have to worry about things like calories.  I'd just eat what I was given, sneak away, and bring it all right back up.

I let this all sit in the back of my head, running off to the bathroom from time to time over the next year or so, but not really making a habit of it.  That is, until I met...we'll call her Sally.  Sally was everything I wanted to be.  She was slim, she was pretty, but most importantly, the guy I was crushing on was crushing on her.  You know what they say about friends and enemies, right?  So I started hanging out with Sally, and learned her secrets.

She, too, had turned to bulimia, and like any mentor would, she took me under her wing.  We shared tips and tricks, from how to bring everything up quietly and mask the smell, to which order to eat your food in.  I dropped from 135 to 125 in a matter of months.  But I still wasn't happy.  The guy I was crushing on and I had an on again/off again thing, and I blamed the off agains on my weight.  I looked in the mirror and saw someone there who was much larger.  And my mother was still pushing high calorie foods my way, telling me I was getting skinny, I needed to eat more.

Even Sally started commenting on how off my body image was.  Our lockers were next to each other in gym, and every time she'd catch me poking at myself in the mirror, she'd scold me.  "I've seen you almost naked," she'd tell me.  "You're not fat.  What you're poking at are your ribs."  But deep down, even though she had a different boyfriend, I was worried she just wanted the guy I liked for herself.  So I kept going.

One week, before a big dance that I knew he was going to be at, I missed two days of school.  I knew I had to go to Friday's classes to be able to go to the dance, but I needed to be able to claim I was sick to get out of eating.  I was certain I hadn't been bringing everything up, that was the reason behind my lack of weight loss.  I needed to stop eating altogether, clear my system out.  So, under the guise of illness, I went two days consuming nothing but water and two crackers.  When I stepped on the scale that Friday, I was thrilled.  120 pounds!  But I was soooo hungry.  That weekend was my first big binge:  one dozen doughnuts.

Almost immediately, I went back up to 125.  It was heartbreaking.  I tried for months, but I kept swinging back and forth between 125 and 128.  I had read years previous that the way to determine your healthy weight was this:  girls who were 5' were to weigh 100 pounds.  For every inch you were over 5', add five pounds.  That would put my healthy weight at 110.  I was determined that was what I was supposed to weigh.

Finally, desperation hit.  I was determined to get down to 110 pounds, to stop being fat, and to make the boy of my dreams want me as much as I wanted him.  I turned to something I'd read about, something Sally had told me she used, but that I had always thought was slightly dangerous.  I mean, who wants to mess with medicine?  So, face red as a beet, I walked down to the local drug store and bought laxatives.  (I wanted diet pills, which are actually dangerous, but as I was under 18, no one would sell them to me.  Thank god.)

I...did not have a good reaction.  I don't know if I took too many, or if they just didn't like me, or if my body just finally decided to put its foot down over what I was putting it through, but something went wrong.  I got so sick.  I thought I was going to die.  The worst stomach bug in the world didn't hold a candle to how I felt.  And it lasted for two days.

It was around two in the afternoon, on a beautifully warm May day, that, after being up till the wee hours of the morning the night before, I finally broke.  I was miserable.  What I was presently going through aside, my throat was raw, my teeth hurt, I hated the girl who had become my best friend and closest ally, I hated my family for not knowing what I was going through and for trying to force more food on me, making things worse, but mostly I hated myself.  I hated the dark bags under my eyes, the way I was sneaking around, lying to everyone.  I hated being hungry all the time.  And I hated being the thinnest I'd been in years, but still not being happy with what I saw.  In that moment, I vowed to change.

Almost as though I was trying to make up for lost time, the pounds went on quickly.  I was in 10th grade when I called it quits.  By the end of 11th grade I weighed 140.  By the end of 12th I weighed 160.

This happened for a few reasons.  First, I was terrified to diet.  I feared that by undergoing any sort of weight loss plan, I would slip right back into my old habits.  Second, when I was 14 my doctor removed me from all athletic activities.  I was allowed to walk, that was it.  Third, my mother was there, the whole time, demanding that I fill my plate, and here, have seconds, and yes you do need a second turn over, you only think you're full.

I've slipped up.  Many times.  It was only too easy.  But it'd only happen once or twice, then I'd chastise myself and go eat something, like I was trying to undo what I'd done.  My last slip was during my first semester of college, during finals.  My boyfriend had just broken up with me, I was stressing over maintaining my GPA, and I had just realized that the scale was reading 168.  I went to the dining hall, ate way to much, and proceeded to make my way to the bathroom in the basement of the library.  It's been almost five and a half years, and while the thoughts have been there, I haven't acted on them since then.

Around that time, I developed this strange twitch.  Focused in my upper body, most of my friends just saw it as an odd tick.  When I came home for Christmas, however, my mother was worried.  She took me to all kinds of doctors.  The general consensus?  Girl's twitching, must mean she's having seizures.  They gave me a pill for epilepsy, told me I couldn't go back to school, and sent me on my way.

Afraid I would twitch my way in front of a moving vehicle, my mother prohibited me from leaving the house alone.  So during the day when she was at work and my brother was at school, I would spend my time in front of the computer.  My day generally ran on the schedule of 8am, get up, take pill, grab breakfast, start up computer.  Sit at computer until 3.  3pm, get up, do dishes, go back to computer.  4:30pm, welcome everyone home.  Spend time with family until 10pm.  Read until Midnight.  Go to bed.  Wash, rinse, repeat.  All my friends were busy at school, not that I could have spent time with them anyway.  So, understandably, I got depressed.  And I gained weight.  A lot of weight.  I was weighing in at 180.  But hey, at least the twitching stopped.

Turns out my twitch was a response to stress.  And, funnily enough, the pill they gave me for my "epilepsy" was also used as an anti depressant, which apparently helped my body better handle the stress.  I always found it odd that the anti depressant made the depressed girl more depressed.  That stupid little pill also seemed to be the cause of my weight gain.

Right around the time I stopped taking the seizure medicine I also started working at a local gas station.  I was standing for hours at a time, hauling thirty racks of beer around, and not really eating (I'd have a bowl of cereal in the morning, not much else).  All that, paired with a wisdom tooth extraction that left me on a liquid diet for two weeks, slimmed me right down to 155.  Which was right around the time I met my now husband.

You'd think that dropping 25 pounds in just over a month would leave me tickled pink, wouldn't you.  Wanna know the thing I probably said most to Matt the first month of our relationship?  "Don't look at my fat."  Yup, I was still fixated on how huge I thought I was.  And somehow he loves me anyway.  This might be a good place to add that I've said some version of "I'm fat" so many times over the five years Matt and I have been together that he's given up telling me he doesn't think I am.

So, time went on, Matt and I moved in together, got comfortable, and I started packing on the pounds again.  Even though my mother was no longer there fixing my plates and pressing seconds and thirds on me, the habits had been formed.

When Matt asked me to marry him, I was thrilled.  My sister in law and I went up to Albany to look at dresses.  To my surprise, I found the dress my first time out.  It was perfect, and to my amazement, I thought I looked beautiful in it.  We couldn't zip it up all the way, but otherwise it was perfect.  I went home, put the money in my account, called up the dress shop, and winced when I told the woman I needed a 16.  Go to pick up the dress months later, to find out it doesn't fit.  I forgot to add the W to the end of that size.  16W.  I still shudder saying that.  Dress didn't come anywhere near close to zipping, needed to be sent back, and I had to go with a different dress for my wedding.

So I take my second best dress to the local dress shop and get the hem done (apparently all clothing makers think that if you've got a larger waist, you must have long legs and a big bust).  At that time I could zip it up myself.  At my wedding two weeks later?  I didn't think we were going to get it done.  Imagine, being so fat that you can't even fit into your own wedding dress on your wedding day.  And what's worse is that I'm pretty sure I was close to 185 then.  I'm going to have to look back for the rest of my life and know that the day that I'm supposed to look and feel my prettiest, I was my heaviest and felt like a cow.

It's sad to realize that not only have I been over weight much of my life, that my weight has not only yo-yo'd for years, but that I've been going from one end of unhealthy eating to the other.  In the past, I'd either over eat in the extreme, or I'd push myself to see how few calories I could take in.  No matter which way my weight would swing, the force moving it there was unhealthy.  I'm determined for this to be the last time.  The last time my weight will fluctuate more than five pounds, and the last time I have unhealthy eating habits.