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One Hundred Pounds Gained and Loss

25 Sep

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One hundred pounds.

It’s a ton of weight.  Maybe not an actual ton, but you get the idea. I’m finally come to the point in my weight loss journey journey towards healthy living where I stepped onto the scale at my gym and watch the number slip down to 282—100 pounds lower than the highest weight I can remember.

What a loss.  What a gain.

A hundred pounds ago, I could only shop at Catherine’s and had to order more “trendy” clothes out of a catalog because I was never, ever going to wear non-boot cut jeans.  Or flowery old lady tops.  I remember shopping at Boscov’s with my mom knowing nothing would fit me, but watching her try on Alfred Dunner tops while I sat in a dressing room chair wondering why fashion designers assumed fat people only wanted to wear ugly clothes.  Was it just because we looked ugly that we should dress ugly as well?

I fought back tears every time I went to the doctor and watched the scale creep past 350 into the 370’s.  After that I closed my eyes when they weighed me.  One time I ventured a peek and saw 382 on the scale.  I was mortified and wondered if I would be dead by 35.  In fact, I was sure I would be dead by 35.

I gradually lost little bits of weight as I accepted certain foods were not conducive to being diabetic, but I remained steadily at the larger range of the plus-sized world until one February I talked to a friend and told her I couldn’t take it anymore.  I couldn’t live like this anymore. She gave me the encouragement I needed to make a change. I greatly revised my eating habits and bought a stationary recumbent bike peddling my way to weight loss.  I did well.  I even made it to 296 pounds.

My friends lauded my achievement.  I felt beautiful for the first time in forever.  It was glorious to bask in the glow of what I did…and what God did in me.  It all changed as I fell into a deep depression two years age.  The weight crept back.  Turmoil within my family caused even more stress.  When my mom died, I gave up entirely, though I still couldn’t bring myself to eat certain foods because I had learned how they affected my body.  Yet I was back to flirting with the 320’s.  I felt hopeless to stop it because life didn’t seem to matter anymore.

A friend took me to a local gym and we signed me up for membership, not for weight loss, but because I had so much anger following my mom’s death.  I needed a reason to get out of the house besides seeing my therapist once a week.  I also desperately needed a way to channel my grief and rage.

Eventually, after also going to physical therapy I found my way to the gym’s pool since a foot injury kept me off the gym floor/machines.  Truthfully, I join the gum for the pool, but found it impractical,.  Who wants to wear a bathing suit, take a shower, and run around with wet hair?  I mean, I was struggling to get out the door as it was and all this extra stuff wasn’t helping.  Since my foot was injured and I had no other options, I tried to the pool. I discovered I loved it. 

In June, when I went to the doctor for my regular four month check-up, she discovered my pancreas was having some issues and did a medication adjustment.  Thinking about my mom’s death only months before and panicking about future health issues, I decided to take back my life or I would surely lose it to obesity-related disease.

I decided, after so many years of wishing God would just take me, that I would fight to find purpose and meaning.  I would fight for my life—physically, emotionally, spiritually.

On June 15, the fight began again.  My starting weight on that day according to my fitness app was 315 pounds.  As of yesterday, it was 282.  

I dropped 33 pounds through diet changes, exercise, and perseverance.  Oh, and A LOT of prayer.  I remember starting aqua aerobics praying, “God, please get me thought this exercise.” Or going onto the gym floor to use the machines. I was easily the fattest person in the room.  I would plead, “God, help me keep it together.”  Sometimes I still think about my mom and want to tell her I’m at my lowest adult weight I can remember and I fog up my swim goggles with hot tears because she’s gone.

People have asked me, “What’s your secret?  What plan did you use?”  There’s no secret.  There was no official plan.  I just record my calories in an app, exercise to make sure I’m creating a calorie deficit, and watch my carbs.  I try to cram as many veggies and fruits into my body as I can and use fruits to replace my cravings for something sweet.

Once a week, I eat ice cream or fries or whatever.  I don’t deprive myself of the foods I love; I’ve just changed how often I eat them.  I also make sure to eat proteins and healthy fats, like cashews and avocados.

I imagine I’ll always fight the battle of the bulge, especially as my body becomes more accustomed to weight loss and exercise.  The experts say the less weight one has to lose, the harder one has to work to burn the same amount of calories.  

And I’ll constantly be afraid of going back to my higher weights.  I don’t want to get rid of my bigger clothes, because what if I gain the weight back?  Yet I want to hold onto the security of being safe at any size.

This is the kicker with losing weight—which is both a loss and a gain—is that people seem happier with me.  I feel more normal and accepted in society.  I’m no longer one of *those* fat people, even though I technically am.  I think I take up more space than I do and yet I take up more space that I want to.  

I may have lost 100 pounds and gained a lot of confidence, but the stigma of being fat, won’t go away. 

I am still fat; I’m just 100 pounds less fat that I was before.

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This is me

28 Sep

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A year ago, my friend and I met over dinner to catch up.  She told me about the man she had been dating for several months.  As with all things Lizzie* it was a hilarious story that had that makings of a good rom-com movie.

“Do you think he’s the one?” I asked.

She shrugged as she responded.  “I don’t know.  I mean, I think you get to a point in your life where you’re like, this is who I am and this is who you are.  You don’t have to pretend to be something you’re not or play games.  You just figure out if you can live together.”

I nodded.  Notions of romance after age 35 were crushed.  I resolved to get a giant chocolate chip cookie before I left to help me swallow this bitter pill.

“So can you, you know, be who you are together?”

“Yes,” she confidently said.  She took a sip of green tea. “You don’t have to impress each other.  You just are who you are.” She threw her arms out and laughed, “This is me!  This is who I am. Take it or leave it.”

I laughed, too.  I tried to think of any instance in which someone of the opposite sex wanted to “take it.” Maybe I was just a “leave it” kind of woman.  You know, the kind of woman you want as a friend, but not as a girlfriend. 

I used to think I was awkward around men because my father had an affair, which absolutely crushed my 19 year-old heart.  Now, I think, I just never felt pretty enough.  Somehow the idea of the male gaze affected me younger and I was always the fat kid.

I look at old class photos and I’m one of the fattest kids in my class.  As I got older, I was the fattest kid in my grade.  I sift through my college pictures and often times, I was the fattest one pictured.    We’re all known for something, right?  I was known for being fat.

See, I wanted to be known for being smart or funny or kind or godly or a decent singer or a good writer.  For so much of my life, I’ve seen myself as the fattest person in the room. And I hated myself for it.

I mean, do you know what it’s like to carry the weight of that extra weight around?  It’s not just the excess celluloid, but all the judgment and shame that comes with it.  And I’m not talking about the opinions of others.  I’m talking about how I feel about myself.

Once upon a time I was the fattest person in the room.  I had to order most of my clothes online (or from catalogs.)   I tried to eat better and exercise.  I would lose 40 pounds and then gain it back.  Actually I would gain even more weight.  At one point, I weighed almost 400 pounds.

And I thought, this is me.  This is all I’ll ever be.  If a heart attack doesn’t kill me, then diabetes certainly will.  This is me and I am going to die from being too darn fat.  They call it “morbid obesity” for a reason.

My “This is Me” wasn’t who I wanted to me.  There wasn’t a satisfaction that comes with knowing who I am and accepting it.  It was more like, “This is me and I hate myself.  I can’t believe anyone would like me….and maybe if I put on make up, I won’t look as bad.”

But that is not who God created me to be.  At 400 or 300 or 200 pounds, I don’t think God ever looked at me as “the fattest person in the room.” I believe He just saw His beloved daughter, Amy.

Sometimes I’ve railed at heaven, screamed at my ceiling shaking a fist of accusation.  Why did You make me like this?  If I’m fearfully and wonderfully made, then why am I so flawed?  Why can others eat a bag of M&M’s and drink regular soda and eat at fast food places and I have to be so very careful?  Why doesn’t my body make enough insulin?  Why is my metabolism so slow?

WHY AM I SO FAT?!  Why has my life been so sad that I’ve wanted to eat?  And why have I allowed this fat to starve me of a more abundant life?

Really, God, why am I fat?

One day, He gave me an answer.  He didn’t have to, of course, because He is God and God doesn’t need to explain Himself.  I heard it in my heart.  “For My glory.”

And part of me is ashamed to admit that seems mighty unfair—why do I have to suffer for His glory?  I realize, though, that I have no idea what glory or holy or fairness or justice really is apart from God; therefore, His “glory” seems like some abstract concept.  What is the glory of the One whose very name is holy? 

I think about Moses face glowing from seeing the passing of God’s glory as he was protected in the cleft of a rock by the very Hand of God.  To be called to do something for God’s glory is a high calling indeed, even if it is difficult to bear.

I’m starting to realize I’m so much more than a number on a scale or my age or the size of my clothes.  It isn’t about finding “the one,” getting married, and having kids or scoring that perfect job.  It isn’t about buying a house or owning a dog.  Those are all good things.  Great things even.

It’s about being able to say, “This is me.”  This may not always be me because God is constantly refining me into someone who looks more and more like Jesus.  It’s about seeing my flaws and gaps and open spaces and seeing how God’s light shines through and how His strength makes up for all my weakness.  It’s not being about the fattest person in the room, but rather about being the person in the room who is living and loving for His glory.

It’s about me coming to terms with myself.  This is me.  It’s not all I’ll ever be, but it is a result of everything God has done in my life up to this point. I want you to look at me because I want you to see  Jesus.

This is me trying my very best to live for His glory.

This is me.

Through the fat lens

19 Feb

A few weeks ago, I wrote one of the most real and blog posts of my entire life.  It’s about my lifelong struggle to define myself despite being “fat.” It’s about how I see myself and expect that everyone else sees and judges me through the lens of “fat.” Most of all, it’s about how despite the changes I’ve made, I still struggle to see myself as more than “just that fat girl.”

….

I HAVE A LIFE-THREATENING DISEASE CALLED OBESITY.

It’s a slow death, which happens in a million little ways.

At first, it’s just the teasing by classmates and later, social ridicule since making fun of fat people never goes out of style. Then it’s trying to find clothes that not only fit, but are affordable and even fashionable. Finally, it’s the things you want to do, but just can’t, like fit comfortably in an airplane seat or tour Europe or walking up a flight of stairs without losing your breath.

It’s the swollen feet that make finding adorable shoes more difficult.

It’s grabbing another purse when want you really want is a pretty little dress to wear to church. The purse can fit you; the dress cannot….

{read on at Faith Reboot}

 

Transform: I Can

13 Jan

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My mantra up until yesterday (when I first realized I had this mantra) was “I can’t.”

I can’t write.

I can’t get healthier.

I just can’t do this anymore.  God, why do you push me on to do these things I just can’t do?

Somewhere between my heart and the scribbles in my journal and the intervention of the Holy Spirit, I realized that “I can’t” is just an easy excuse.  “I can’t” means I don’t have to and it would be easier to give up and stay the way I am.  Because status quo can be easier than change, especially for me.

Yet my creative heart yearns for something more…and there’s that part of me, too.  These two selves war within me and I am trapped.

I thought about my mom, who is hooked up to a dialysis machine every night because her kidneys don’t work anymore.  She will spend the rest of her life on dialysis.  I see her life fading because she can’t walk very well.  When she falls, she needs someone to help her up.

When I fell, she was the one who used to help me up.

When she says “I can’t walk up a flight of stairs,” it’s true.  But the thing about my mom is, that she’ll try to walk up those stairs anyway.

So I’m starting with my “I can’t” statements.  There are some things I truly cannot do, but there are others I’m just hiding behind because I’m afraid.  What if…I can?

I can write.  I’m doing it right now.  No one said it has to be good, right?

I can get healthier.  I lost 80 pounds in 2015 and I intend to lose at least 80 more.

I can do this because I don’t have to do it alone.  I have a God who never, ever, ever, ever leaves me and who covers me with His extraordinary love.

Circumstances require us to change and change to push us to transform into someone we never knew we could become—the kind of person that God wants us (wants me) to be.

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