To those who do not know me that well, it may seem that I just started dieting last year, but my weight loss journey is one that I started many, many years ago. I have struggled with my weight since the age of 8, and I first started dieting in middle school. Most of my crash diets worked, but once I went off the diet, I ended up gaining even more weight.
In the spring of 2002 at the end of my 11th grade year, my mom took me to Weight Watchers. When I stepped on the scale for the first time and realized I had reached my highest weight of 194 pounds, I could not believe it. I had always struggled with overeating, and I knew I had put on some weight, but I could not believe how much I had gained since my last diet. So, after 8 months on WW, I had lost 54 pounds. I was ecstatic and so proud of myself. Though I was not yet at my goal weight of 135, I knew I had accomplished something great. I was even more thrilled at how I looked in my prom dress. I was determined to keep the weight off…and then, I started college.
College was tough on my weight for many reasons. I was no longer counting WW points. I didn’t have a car to drive to WW meetings so I could stay on track, nor could I afford to pay for the membership. I had an unlimited meal plan at school, so food was always readily available. And as we all know, socializing in college involves a lot of eating (and drinking, for some, but that definitely was not my problem – i did not drink excessive amounts of alcohol in college); and large amounts of stress usually lead to more eating, as well.
I gradually gained weight over the first three and a half years of college. By fall of senior year, I was probably in the 170s. And then, for reasons I will not mention, I became depressed. And I couldn’t eat. Usually, depression pushed me towards food; but now, most days began with nausea, and I didn’t want anything to do with food. So, I lost weight. A lot of weight. Probably close to 30 pounds. But I looked healthier, and most people who did not realize I was depressed commended me for my weight loss. I enjoyed the compliments, but deep down I knew the truth – I did not lose the weight in a healthy way. And though I was happy to be skinnier, and hoped it would last, I knew that the happier I became, the heavier I would become. And I knew weight gain was inevitable.
The weight really piled on when I started dating Andrew in March of 2008. At this point, I weighed about 150 lbs, and I felt good. I wasn’t really eating healthier or exercising, but I was happy now, and I was eating regularly. And I was eating a lot. (Some may call it the “fat and happy” syndrome – when you’re happy, you tend to eat more.)
In less than two years, I had gained close to 30 lbs. When Andrew proposed to me in November of 2009, I weighed 179 pounds. Overall, I was happy with my life – I had fallen in love and was about to marry an amazing man (who, by the way, did not even notice I had gained weight since we started dating – one of the many reasons I love him:p). But even though I was generally happy, I was not content. I was often irritable, I was usually tired, and I was sick of buying clothes in bigger sizes.
In January of 2010, I went wedding dress shopping. Most dresses I tried on were in the 14-16 range, and most fit ok – I was pleased to find a size 14 dress that fit me well, and overall, looked nice on me. But there was still a small part of me that knew that if there was a time to lose weight, then now was the time. Afterall, what bride doesn’t want to look her best on her wedding day?
The final clincher was a new dress that I found a few weeks later and loved. My mom and I had gone to a different bridal shop and I tried on a dress in a size 14 that did not zip. It was a fitted type of dress, which I never thought I could pull off, but if we ordered it in a bigger size, I knew it could be altered to fit me well. So, since the dress was discontinued, we ordered the only size they had left – a size 18. I was relieved, since I knew there was no chance an 18 would be tight on me. Imagine my surprise when I picked up the dress, tried it on, and it was SNUG. A size 18 was snug on me. I was shocked. Angry. Sad. Depressed. I was not happy when I tried on my dress and did not feel like a beautiful bride. My mom assured me we could make it work, but I knew I would not feel the way I wanted to feel in that dress until I lost some weight.
So, in March of 2010, I jump started my weight loss with the Scarsdale Medical Diet, one that a friend and I tried in high school that I knew worked. After two weeks, I lost 3.5 lbs, and I was ecstatic . But I knew I didn’t want to do this diet forever, since it wasn’t practical nor easy. I needed something that allowed me to eat pretty much whatever I wanted, but in moderation.
I stumbled across the website http://www.livestrong.com/myplate, a place to track my daily caloric intake. I set my goal and started tracking. I worked out 4-5 days a week – usually walking outside for 40 min and/or using Jillian Michael’s 30-day Shred workout. And gradually, the weight came off; usually only 1-2 lbs a week, which is the healthy expectation, but I did get a bit impatient at times. Fortunately, I had seven months to lose the weight; but I was doubtful I would get to my ultimate goal weight of 140. And I didn’t.
On my wedding day, I didn’t care that I hadn’t reach my goal weight. Because on my wedding day, I weighed about 151 lbs and I felt amazing. I had lost nearly 30 lbs in 7 months. My size 18 dress hung on me like a bag before I had it altered to fit my now size 10 body. The size 14 I originally tried on at the dress shop now zipped up and fit me like a glove. Had I known I would have lost the weight, I would’ve bought the size 14 to begin with (which my sister originally suggested). But, I knew I didn’t want to take that risk, and I’m glad I didn’t (mainly because this one was still a bit snug in the midsection and would’ve had to be taken out, anyway).
If you’re starting a weight loss journey, ask yourself – what is your motivation? For me, it was my wedding day. It was that size 18 dress that was a bit too tight. It was a challenge that, once I began, made me feel good about myself, my body, and my life. My mood improved, and my overall outlook on life was drastically enhanced.
Ask yourself: What is pushing you to lose weight? What confronts you everyday, stares you in the face, and taunts you about your weight? If you don’t know why you’re losing the weight, then chances are, you are not going to stick with your diet plan.
In my next entry, I’ll write more about how to stay motivated, and tips for maintaining weight loss. Remember, weight loss/maintenance is a journey – a lifelong one.