Friday, January 31, 2014

The weight of the world

How does one describe, explain, or put into words being overweight your entire life? I have been overweight my entire life and I still struggle describing it or even talking about it with my dearest loved ones. I can’t remember a time in my life when I was even somewhat normal or average size. I remember in elementary school having to shop in the women’s section or have my mom make clothes for me because I couldn’t fit into girls’ clothing. As a young girl 14/16 were my numbers. As a young adult 22/24 were my numbers. I can’t even remember the last time I was under 200 pounds, let alone 250. I think the last time I was in the 100’s was in elementary school. I jokingly say, "I took everyone's fat genes in my family!" Although several of my sibling struggle with their weight at least at one point or another in their lives they've been thin, I on the other hand have not!

So what was it? What caused me to turn to food and become the obese woman that I am? I would like to say it was just one thing but I believe it was a multitude of things. One thing leads to another, so they say. As a young girl I was sexually abused. I never told anyone as a child. (a secret I have only told to a few until this day) I just ate. I had friends in elementary school but that didn't stop the bullies from lashing out at me, but I always kept a smile on my face. I remember kids would challenge me to food eating contests because I was a "fatty who ate whatever was put in front of her" (While that hurt I still smiled and I hid those emotions in my food). People always ask me if I was a bully or got in fights, but truth be told, I never stood up or fought for myself. I just held it in. By now you may see a pattern forming! I played basketball in high school. I think that’s the only time I felt free. But I was still 250 – 270 pounds running up and down that court. I think I loved it because I felt strong. I could stand up for myself. I was able to decide when, where, how and if people were able to take advantage of me. For once I was in control. 

I graduated from high school was voted, “Best Personality” of my graduating class. One thing my weight has never been able to take away from me is my sense of humor, my sarcastic remarks, and this outrageous personality...that sometimes gets me into more trouble than good! I immediately went to college where I went up to my highest weight of 320 pounds. I had the weight of the world not only on my shoulders but in my face, my arms, my stomach, my thighs (you get the picture)! I worked at Target where I worked my way through Nursing School. One of the biggest things I’m proudest of is that I graduated nursing school debt free! (These little tidbits of things I've accomplished help me realize that I'm capable of things bigger than my struggle with pun intended) It’s funny because I remember nursing instructors saying, “lose weight and quit smoking…but not while you’re in nursing school…it’s too stressful for that.” How many of us can use that excuse every single day? I didn’t listen to them and I lost 30 pounds. I got down to 290 by counting calories and walking before or after class with my classmates! I loved nursing school and the people and friends that I met. I was continually encouraged and supported. I had a group of girls that would go walk with me before or after class...we would even meet up throughout the week to go on hikes together! 

Between finishing nursing school, studying for my boards, and looking for a new job (after 4 solid years at target I was ready to turn in my notice) I gained 15-20 pounds back. I had quit exercising and counting calories…and the scales didn’t lie. I was back up to 305-310

Shortly thereafter my parents got divorced and that brought me head on with one of my biggest difficulties…communication! My entire life I grew up avoiding discussing how I was feeling, what was happening to me, and how words that were spoken to me were hurtful. I would hold it all in until I eventually exploded and then binge eat! Most of the time I would give awful attitude to my family member and unfortunately my mom took the brunt of my passive aggressive behavior. I also had pent-up feelings and emotions from my past. With the persistence and persuasion of a close friend and my sister I sought out a counselor. I was able to go for 8 free sessions at the community college, so I only got to skim the surface of my sexual abuse, the emotions over my parents’ divorce, and how to vocalize my feelings instead of bottling them up…we didn’t even get to touch on my binge eating habits and how I drown my sorrows in a half gallon of ice cream (on a weekly basis). I did learn a lot.  Through counseling (and the grace and love that only comes from God) I was able to forgive my abusers and myself for letting their attack not only effect me in that moment, but for 14+ years after the matter. I’m thankful to say that because of the counseling I received I’m much better at communicating...not perfect, but that too is a learning process. If someone offends me I tell them, if I’m uncomfortable I say it, and I’m scared or sad I vocalize it…but there was still a part of me that left food be my companion.

So where does this leave me now?

Well I am fortunate enough to have people that surround me on a daily basis that encouraged me to lose weight and keep going. My entire daily is very supportive, my dad is encouraging (as he constantly has a race he is participating in), my mom (she has lost 70+ lbs), all of my siblings. However, my sister Erika and my brother David have been amazing motivators for me! Erika has struggled with weight throughout her life too and she is now maintaining a weight that she is happy at by running and eating in moderation. David, even though he didn’t always know it, has motivated me. David has ran a marathon, several half-marathons, and countless other races.  Whenever David or Erika would talk about running I would feel my heart tugging like I should be doing it too. I would be jealous when they would tell me the distance and pace they ran at. I was jealous of their capabilities...I wanted to be there too. Right now I say, “I like the idea of running, but my body hasn’t quite caught on…yet” Because even though I’m not there, yet, I know that I will be.

Erika and Me in Florida on the beach
Me, David, and Elise (David's wife) after David completed another half marathon

In November 2013 I got to spend time in Dallas with David and his wife Elise and then we all got to go out to Florida for Thanksgiving to spend time with my sister Erika, her husband, Drew and their two children. We got to go on a family run the day after thanksgiving…even though I couldn’t run the entire time…my sisters stuck by my side while the guys ran after the kids (who were on their bikes)! Erika has a way of making me feel like I can do anything. She shows me the strength within myself that I didn’t even know I had. David is so compassionate and patient and believes in me in a way that I am still learning to believe in myself. I wouldn’t say there was a defining moment or an instant where I just knew that I wanted to change. Just like love comes softly I believe that the courage to take the first step and change comes softly…it sneaks up on you and before you know it you’re headed in the right direction. I started off my vacation to Dallas/Navarre at 198 and left at 195. My sister challenged me commit to running (or in my case walk/run) one mile every day for the month of December. I decided to accept her challenge…I ran my first mile without stopping on December 13…I ran in just under 14 minutes with David. It was very emotional, I cried because I couldn’t believe I had done it. He told me, “you did this, not anyone else, you did it!” It motivated me…and two days later I ran a mile in 13:45, and then a couple days later I ran in 13:15…and then I got sick! I was sick for 6 weeks with a virus (much to my dismay). However, by the end of December I was 285…I had lost 10 pounds in a month.  It's almost February and I am at 272 (as of 1/29/14) so in January I lost 13 pounds.

I don’t know how to explain it, but this time something is different. This time I’m determined. I don’t want to give up on myself. For all the times I didn’t fight when I was a child, teen, or young adult I want to stand up and fight now. I want to gain the health I have never had! I want to show the nurses that I work with that even though we’re busy, we can be healthy too. I want to show my family that the impossible is possible! As Audrey Hepburn said, “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m Possible’!” I’ve always known the beauty I have within me. I’ve always known that I’m funny and witty and a little crazy. I just want everyone else to see that and not the weight that's on display for the world to see. I don’t want people to tell me, “hey Maggie, I watched pitch perfect last night and you remind me of FAT AMY! Can I call you fat Maggie?!” I love Rebel Wilson and think she is hilarious but those comments hurt. It’s like here let me tell you that you’re fat, but in a way that doesn’t sound so insulting!

I am worth the effort. I always wished I could be on biggest loser or that I could get chosen by Chris Powel because I know I have the potential…I just haven’t always hade the flame…well I’m done waiting for someone else to come and change for me and I’m taking the first steps. I want to be to 200 pounds by the end of the year. My ultimate goal weight is between 170-180. : I’m signing up for a relay half-marathon for March 23, 2014 with my sister-in-law. She will run the 6 mile leg and I will take on the 7.1 mile leg (run/walk)! I'm super excited that she is going to do it with me and even more grateful that she is willing to participate with me! I’m excited and nervous for what this year has in store for me, but most of all I’m determined to make a lasting change for me!

Well this post is longer than most of my other posts will be. I will share with you in my next one what I'm doing to lose the weight! :)