Weighing on My Mind

This is a VERY touchy topic with many women…but, here’s my story.

Let’s go back to January 2002 when Andy and I lived in Nashville. I was 25 years old and about to do what I never thought I would have to do…I was about to outgrow my size 10 pants and have to go, yet again, another size up. My body frame should not be a size 12 (some should). More importantly, I didn’t feel very healthy and I had high cholesterol. I was never really into exercising on a consistent basis. I tried every diet out there (what woman hasn’t?). I LOVED food. And food was my filler – when I was bored, when I was sad, when I was happy…it just added to any emotion I had. I knew something had to change.

Friends of ours had just tried Weight Watchers with great success. They explained the concept and Andy and I thought we’d give it a try. The one thing I will say is that we truly had set a goal to make it a lifestyle change, not just another diet. If you are not aware of the Weight Watchers concept (first, where have you been??), the idea is that each food is worth a certain amount of points (based upon calories, fat & fiber) and you only get a specified amount of points each day based upon your weight. (There are updates to the program now, but that’s not the point of this mind-dump.) There are zero point items like carrot sticks. There are 5 point items like M&Ms. My daily maximum was 21-23 points. So I COULD have M&Ms, but that was a huge chunk of my daily points.

The first few weeks, I was starving. I won’t lie. I was SO HUNGRY. All diets say it takes your stomach a few weeks to “shrink” back to a “normal” size. I will say this is true. But although I was hungry, I actually felt better. I had more energy. See I still wanted to keep my food filler and be able to eat snacks, etc. So I ate a lot of zero and 1-point foods which happen to be mainly fruits and vegetables. So I was eating much healthier and starting to focus on portion control. I COULD eat potato chips, but only 12 of them…not half the bag.

Did this work? YES! Andy and I stuck to it and were successful. Do we follow it today? Not completely. We have more treats than before, but still stick to portion control. Every morning I still have 1 cup of cereal with ½ cup of milk and 4 oz. of orange juice. I still have a 10 AM and 3 PM 2-3 point snack. I try to pack my lunch. At dinner, Andy and I usually split one chicken breast or pork chop. I measure my pasta and sauce. Little quirks still live with me. I check the calories, fat & fiber of most foods. I allow myself to eat whatever I want between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Have I gained some weight back since 2002? Absolutely! Especially since I LOVE sweets. However, I only eat a few bites now and I’ve started exercising consistently.

In all of this, what’s “weighing” on my mind today is people’s reactions to my weight loss. After losing the initial weight Andy and I did start exercising when we moved to Birmingham. We biked and ran. That helped keep off the pounds even when we ate more. We felt great. That was the important part. I never had a goal clothing size. I just wanted to feel physically fit when I got pregnant. However, as a result of this, I was the smallest size I’d ever been in my life. (You’re asking, “what size?” aren’t you??) A size 4 – more fitting for my body structure.

Some friends, family and acquaintances were surprised when we returned to Cincinnati “less” than we were before (Andy also lost some weight – about 40 lbs!). Immediate reactions from many included, “You’re too skinny. You need to eat more. Are you starving yourself?” (Don’t get me wrong – some choose the crash-diet route and do in fact swing the opposite way and lose TOO much weight – again, not my point here.) When I ordered at a restaurant, the waiter/waitress would say, “Is that all you want?” And finding appropriate and not outrageously expensive work clothing in my new size was near impossible.

And when I got pregnant…wow! People say the strangest things. I was constantly asked, “Are you gaining enough?”, “Don’t you know you’re eating for two?” and “Is your baby getting enough food?” My doctor thought I was doing great. She talked about the misconceptions about how much weight you should really gain when pregnant. She told me I was the “poster child” for perfect pregnancy weight gain and it made me proud.

We live in a supersized world with most people being overweight. Why can we not celebrate when people are healthy and fit? When people take care of themselves?

That is why I began volunteering with the nonprofit group Girls on the Run. I want young girls to know that it is in fact ok to be healthy and fit. (The focus should be more on that than the weight number itself.) See opposite of being made fun of for being fat (which I never was), I was now being made fun of for being skinny. Something I NEVER thought would occur. It was so interesting to me.

If you are not familiar with Girls on the Run, check out our local website. It’s www.gotrcincinnati.org. I am passionate about this organization. If you have a daughter, look into this program. Also, be sure to visit Dove’s website and watch both the Onslaught and the Evolution videos:
http://www.dove.us/#/features/videos/videogallery.aspx/ Onslaught and Evolution

As women, we must continue to fight the negative talk about body image. We must emphasize healthy choices. We must not focus on weight. I have been on both sides. It’s been an interesting and eye-opening thing for me. I want Stella and Charlotte to be comfortable in their bodies. Yes, I still have the Bucher butt and the Gleason thighs. Those things will never go away. But I’m active and healthy. I make good food choices that impact my energy levels. Do I know what I weigh? Honestly, I don’t. I haven’t been on a scale since my 38-week dr. appointment before Charlotte was born.

You could be reading this saying, “Easy for her to say, she lost her weight.” Don’t focus on that. It truly was a result of changing my eating habits and exercising more. I know other women that did the same thing and didn’t lose as much. However, they still feel better. That’s what it’s all about. Some of you say, “I eat like crap and feel just fine.” That also is your choice. But in the long run, I don’t believe it will keep working.

Ah. I feel much lighter now!

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