I was always the fat girl. In my elementary school, I remember my skinny friends grabbing their flat stomachs and saying, “look at my rolls!” And I remember thinking that they had no idea. No idea how embarrassing it was to shop in the misses or plus sections at stores from 6th grade on. No idea how shameful it was to change clothes in front of them. No idea how badly I wanted to wear a bikini and just… couldn’t.
Now, 15 years later, I can say with confidence that although I am still fighting the good fight about body positivity, I can (and do, on occasion wear a bikini, change clothes in front of people and I know that we all, no matter our sizes have rolls on our bellies when we bend over.
But I didn’t know that then.
When I was in high school, I decided to put a stop to it. I was going to lose the weight. I started getting up at 4:45 in the morning. I started counting calories. Obsessively. And then, somehow, I got it into my head that I could only eat the amount of calories that I worked off on the stairmaster that morning. So, I’d go to the gym and climb stairs for 40 minutes. It would say that Id burned 450 or so calories. And then I would only let myself eat that many calories.
The weight did come off. I lost about 35 pounds. I was feeling great.
It didn’t take long for it to not be sustainable though. It didn’t take long for me to be exhausted and cranky all the time. To have perpetual headaches (that continue to this day, actually). I was starving myself, and I didn’t even know it.
At the same time, my personal life was in major upheaval. It was my junior year of high school, the majority of my friends were seniors and my mom and step dad were getting a pretty messy divorce. My mom and I weren’t getting a long well at all and everything was a mess.
That’s when I discovered the joy of controlling food. Not eating was one thing I could control about what was going on in my life. Maybe I couldn’t control everything that was happening around me, but I could control what I put in my body. I was obsessed.
This pattern continued, off and on throughout high school and into college. Finally, in my senior year of college, I made another very concerted effort to lose weight. I purposefully did it with good nutrition this time, but I definitely didn’t come at it from a place of self love. I hated my body, and exercise was a way to beat it into submission. Oh, I tried to tell people it was about body positivity, but the truth was, I hated being fat and I didn’t want to be anymore.
By the time I graduated from college, and throughout the following summer, I worked hard. By the fall, I was at about 170 pounds, which on my frame is getting very close to goal weight (my ultimate goal weight has always been about 150). I was running regularly, lifting weights and I felt good in my own skin. But it was a brittle sort of confidence, untested and kind of false.
And then I fell in love. And I fell hard. And, as is sometimes the way of things, I stopped paying as much attention to myself. Slowly, over the course of the next two years, I gained about 65 pounds. My relationship fell apart (for other reasons) and I found myself broke, single, depressed and fat.
That was a rough winter. But I have this dog. This wonderful, sweet, energetic dog. Who needs a lot of exercise. And my new place, at about 550 square feet, and no outdoor space, did not leave me any option except to take a lot of walks. Penelope (the dog) and I walk three times a day. Often just around the neighborhood or the block- but we’re very lucky to live a block north of an extensive river walk area. That first winter, we did a lot of soul searching and walking. Well, I did. I can’t speak to Penelope’s state of mind.
And the weight started to come off, again. We started running together. The weight came off, and my confidence grew and grew. More walking, more soul searching, more healing. Spring.
It was at this point that I found the Whole30 and completed my first one. It really did change my life. I lost 10 pounds (by this point I had lost about 55 of the regained 65), and I felt AMAZING. But it was more than the weight, although I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t a big part of it. I felt like I knew who I was again, as an adult, and that had been a long time in the making.
That was two years ago. Although there have been ups and downs for certain, those ideas around physical fitness, health, wellness, and nutrition have shaped me. So have the ideas about living intentionally, choosing happiness, and being at times painfully honest with yourself and the people you care about. It’s worth it. So that’s it. The Origin story, or part of it. This is how I became a superhero.
Superhero action of the day: Look at your past. Where are the hiccups? The triumphs? How have they made you who you are? Where are you headed next?