Let’s take a look back at my diet history, shall we. Then let us ponder all the ways in which my energy, focus and drive could have been better utilized. Pretty sure I could have colonized the moon by now. OK? Here we go.
Birth. My first diet began mere days after I landed on this amazing planet. Apparently I was lactose intolerant so was put on soy formula until I was 1 year old. Not a calorie restricting diet, but a diet nonetheless.
My first actual memory of a diet was attending Weight Watcher meetings with my mom. I watched her anxiously get weighed in front of the group, told it was either a good or bad week, then sat and listened to a lecture on the importance of self-control and portion size. I was 6 years old.
Throughout my adolescence, I have vague recollections of my mom being on The Cabbage Soup Diet, some kind of shake diet (Slim Fast maybe?) and on and off Weight Watchers more times than I can count. I was surrounded by lots and lots of diet talk. My mom, her friends and our family liked to talk about what to eat, what not to eat, when to eat, how to eat, what others were eating, what others weren’t eating, what food to buy, what food not to buy, who was gaining weight, who was losing weight, how celebrities looked, how my mom looked, how my sister looked, and how I looked.
Which leads me to my teen years. This is when things got serious. My girlfriends and I had a motto: “You can never be too thin, too rich, or too tan.” These were our goals. To meet these goals I danced 3 days a week, swam 5 days a week, and walked miles every weekend. I was a vegetarian for almost two years, which was my first taste of banishing food. By the time I was 16, I took it to a whole new level by not eating any food most days. Or if I ate, it was diet Mt. Dew, Wheat Thins, and cigarettes. My periods stopped. I would wake up every morning, sit up in bed, and black out. I went from a size 10 to a size 6, while standing 5 feet 8 inches tall. I was literally skin and bones. I was anorexic. All I saw was a horrendously fat girl when I looked in the mirror. I remember driving my car while wearing shorts and staring at my “disgusting” thighs as they splayed out on the seat. This lasted until I left for college. Where I discovered fat-free freedom.
My college years were all about “non fat”. Ah the 90’s. I started eating again as long as it was fat-free. (And thank gawd beer was fat free!) Pretty sure I survived those years on bagels, Snackwell cookies, non-fat cheese, fat free ranch on lettuce and diet coke. SO MUCH diet coke. I was still extremely self-conscious, always in complete fear of gaining a pound, and obsessed with thinness. I also began running in college. Mostly to sweat out the beer.
Enter my twenties. Living on my own, I was a pile of anxiety about life, work, my boyfriend and my body. I started taking diet pills which came with a diet “plan” in the box. It was something ridiculous like, eat 5 saltines with 1/4 cup cottage cheese in the morning, a peach for lunch with 1 oz of turkey meat, and a plain baked potato for dinner. What’s that, 500 calories at most? I can still taste the pills in my mouth…like chalky seaweed. I rotated between those pills and Dexatrim, because although Dexatrim killed my appetite it made my head buzz like a helicopter. I was still rail thin at a size 10. I remember being humiliated that my size was double digits. I also remember every time someone called me skinny I thought they were lying. I did not, could not, see it. I thought of myself as fat and ALWAYS needing to be on a diet. If I ever “splurged” and ate something “bad” I’d punish myself for days with exercise and by severely restricting food. Throughout this decade of my life, I never ate popcorn at the movies, ice cream on a summer day, cake at a Birthday party, or got fries with my meal. Some may think “Well done! Good self-control”. In hindsight all I can think is “How sad. How very sad”.
In my thirties I discovered cleanses. Glorious, vomit-tasting, stomach-churning, diarrhea-inducing, bad-breath-causing, dizzy-spell-making cleanses. Name one, I’ve done it. And then I got married and had two babies. And do you want to know the absolute best thing about being pregnant?? No, not the miracle of life growing in my uterus you fool, the GUILT-FREE eating. I had been waiting for this my entire life. Oh my god! FINALLY it was socially acceptable for me to eat and gain weight. And gain it I did–50 lbs with my first pregnancy and 60 lbs with my second. I gave in to every craving, every hunger pain, every indulgence…for the sake of the baby of course.
And then the babies were born. And even though I gained 50-60 lbs, only 9lb babies came out. Huh? WTF? You mean all those people “warning” me about baby-weight were right? Oh shit. Thus began my new mission in life: to get my body back. Get my pre-baby body back. Lose the baby weight. Get back into my pre-pregnancy clothes. It was ON. So again the diets. Oh the diets after my babies. The list is endless…The Zone, Weight Watchers, Atkins, 5/2 Diet, Slimming World, FitBit, MyFitnessPal, Arbonne Shakes, Slim Fast, Jenny Craig, NutraSystem, Aloha Shakes, Green Coffee Pills, Whole 30 Diet, Real Food Diet, Veganism, then the grand finale…prescription drugs. Yep, I signed up for a Medical Weight Loss program which cost me over $1,200 a month for drugs, supplements and weekly B12 injections. Before this program I was a size 12/14, healthy, active and beautiful. But I didn’t see it and the clinic was more than happy to take my money and “get me to my pre-baby goal”!
That was two years ago. And I did lose weight. Friends and family congratulated and complimented me. I was succeeding at getting my body back, until the pills made me absolutely flip out. I had a chemical reaction and went bonkers for about 2 weeks until they cleared my system. So that clinic prescribed a different drug (that’s right, they didn’t stop taking my money), except the new drug didn’t kill my appetite like the first one had. So I tried every which way to get my hands on the crazy-pills from another doctor. And another. (There are some shady doctors out there, let me tell you!) I was hell-bent on getting those pills. Because my dress size was more important than my sanity.
And then I fell and broke my leg and ankle and couldn’t walk for 6 months. Had two re-constructive surgeries. Was on bed rest another 6 weeks. Had physical therapy to learn to walk again. And finally, finally, finally, finally, stopped worrying about my weight. As I sit and type this, I’m a comfortable size 18/20. In the past year I’ve discovered myself . I’ve fallen in love with my body. I’ve made peace with food. I simply eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full. Image that. Why it took me 40 years and a tragic accident to get here, I’ll never know. But no matter, I’m here now. Won’t you join me?
Happy and healthy at 40.