Me, a history in photos, a set on Flickr.In preparation for my FitBloggin' discussion with Margo on "Getting Back from Gaining Back: Dealing with the Shame of Regain," I am sharing a series of photos and a little of my personal story to give a sense of my history with weight loss and gain.
I was a normal-weight kid but was always very weight-conscious, as everyone in my family was. People on both sides of my family tend to be heavy. In high school, when I tried to diet, I would come home every day and eat whatever snack foods I could find (my mom would hide snacks intended for our lunches so that we wouldn't eat it all, but this just turned it into a treasure hunt). I gained a lot of weight in those last two years at home.
When I got to college, I started to really weight-cycle. I lost about 15 pounds in my first few months of college, and spent a lot of time and energy trying to get even thinner, then overreact and eat a lot of junk. Dealing with adult relationships for the first time didn't help -- if there was a problem with my relationship, I was convinced it was because I was too fat. I started running my junior year of college, but like everything else, I pushed myself too hard.
After college, I had trouble adjusting to graduate school and living with my boyfriend (now my husband) for the first time. I gained some weight during graduate school and then a lot in my first few years of marriage. I don't have pictures of myself at my highest weight, because I tore them all up. Because of injuries and illness, I stopped running completely, but didn't replace it with any other form of exercise. I felt really hopeless, and working in a real estate agency where we all ate fast food and lived on stress didn't help. I had some ups and downs but mostly stayed up.
I decided to quit real estate and let my license lapse. I finished my graduate degree and started on a better career path. But I was going out and partying with friends and drinking a lot of alcohol, so my weight stayed high (see the Santa hat picture).
Right before my 30th birthday, I decided to train for my first Danskin triathlon. I had no idea whether I could do it, but I trained for six months and finished just fine (photo with the yellow and black top and red medal). I continued to do races, including my first half marathon (purple top). I did Weight Watchers and quickly got to my goal weight (bicycle photo). I did the Chicago triathlon (shivering photo in swim cap) right before my 15-year high school reunion (photo with black dress and husband). I thought I had it all figured out.
I didn't have it all figured out. I couldn't stay at my goal weight for long. I tried everything (strength training photo) but I would lose some weight and then regain (husband's graduation photo). I would join Weight Watchers again, lose some weight, and then give up and regain. I found the program very hard for me to stick to.
I have been weight cycling like this since about 2006. This is when I started my blog. I have been continuing to train for races and triathlons, and trying a lot of different things with my diet to try to find a sustainable plan. Along the way, I've met great people at BlogHer and online, traveled to meet with blogging friends, and gotten a PhD.
I think that for me, the real key is self-compassion. Punishing myself into weight loss through any kind of an extreme regimen is not sustainable. I thought, when putting this together, that it would be hard to look at the higher-weight photos or I would feel terrible regret looking at the thinner photos. Nope, they are all me. I do feel some sadness for all I put this body and mind through over the years trying to lose weight so I can be happy.
I have come to the conclusion that the happiness has to come first. I'm committed to living a full life and, though I am still working toward weight loss, I am not making it my only goal. I have a lot to offer the world and I am tired of letting my weight be the reason I am holding back.
I can't wait for the discussion at FitBloggin'. I look forward to hearing everyone's story and talking about how we can each find a sustainable way to reach our own healthy weights.