I'm talking weight loss this week. If you missed The Prologue or Part One check them out first. If you are not into this kind of stuff, here is your warning: Go ahead and skip this one.
It should come as no surprise after yesterday’s post that I was self conscious about how I looked in high school. But I’m guessing you felt self conscious too because good lord, it was high school -- Bring on the awkward times! My weight loss or lack thereof was kind of a non-issue though because there were so many other things going on. Exhibit A: My High School Cheerleading Schedule:
I mean, did I do any homework that month? Sheesh!
High school was a mostly good experience and really don’t look back on that time feeling like I should have focused more on losing weight. I was active and a good kid with good friends – it wasn’t worth freaking out about.
And then I went to college.
Let me tell you about college in one word: Trainwreck. Despite my parents best efforts to teach me how to be a functioning adult in The Real World, I spent college eating cereal for dinner, having diet coke for breakfast, and sleeping through my classes -- which is shocking since I worked at Starbucks which meant that there was nary a day without a Frappuccino. Life was good for the most part. My diet, however, was not. I barely knew how to boil water which meant I either ate meals out at restaurants (thank you student loans that I am still paying back with interest 15 years later!) or I cooked something out of a box. You don’t need to be a Michael Pollan zealot to know this is not a nourishing lifestyle.
But I worked out like a madwoman during that time. Not because I felt like I had to, but because that was just how I was raised. Exercise was always something important to my parents: my dad had been dragging me kicking and screaming to weight rooms with him since I could lift, and even though I was NOT a girl who wanted to lift weights, I knew that exercise was something of value. It’s one of the things now that makes me so sad when I have a particularly good lift day at CrossFit because I know my dad would just be beaming with happiness that I have finally seen the light! Both of my parents always walked at a local park near our house and my mom could do a mean Jane Fonda impression.
So working out was just something that had to be done -- like eating or sleeping. I had been a dancer (taking 13 classes a week) and then a cheerleader (you saw that practice/gymnastics/competition schedule) so physical activity was my church. No matter how much I have weighed during different phases of my life, I have never been someone who didn’t have a regular exercise routine. I have told this to doctors and personal trainers and friends who have all raised their eyebrows at me like I am a lazy liar, but it is the truth. And it is a truth I’m proud of. I have always had a gym membership, and enjoyed outdoor activities. Improving my athletic performance is just something I am interested in. But steadily gaining weight over all those years impeded that part of my life.
Slowly in my 20s I began to turn things around with respect to my weight. I had a personal trainer who educated me about "healthy eating", and I went back to the dreaded Weight Watchers. I committed to logging every item of food that went in my mouth, I counted points, I exercised like a madwoman at a West Hollywood gym that provided enough material for the Great American (Smut!) Novel, and I lost 50 lbs. I was still nowhere near the “healthy weight range” for my height (which is bullshit, by the way), but I was the thinnest I’d been in years. I was also obsessed with every single thing I put in my mouth, was consuming Diet Coke like I owned stock, would starve myself on weigh in days, and consumed up to 100 oz of water the night before just to make sure the scale cooperated. Lean Cuisines were my savior at that point and it was feast or famine in my life. It was a success when it came to weight loss, but it was a sacrifice when it came to life. I was thinking about food and planning what to eat and when during every waking moment and it began to get exhausting. So I stopped.
And I bet you know how that story ends, don’t you?
In Part Three I will tell you how I gave up the Weight Watchers head games and got my life back. And how a turning point in my health sent me down a road that made me question everything I knew about "healthy living." It's how I found a way to have a life, and a waistline that I loved.