Losing 135 Pounds
Six years ago, I weighed 268 pounds.
It was the summer after my sophomore year of college and I was standing on a scale in the local YMCA when I saw that number. I had just joined with my best friend, both of us looking to get in shape, although getting in shape for me at that moment meant a massive life overhaul.
I felt lost.
I felt scared.
I had reached a point where I knew, I really knew, that if I did not make a change at that very moment, I would one day be 400 lbs. I had lost that ability to say to myself, “yeah I’m big, but I’m not going to ever be that big.” Just looking at charts of my weight history would prove that I was indeed on my way to half-tondom. From as far back as I can remember, I was overweight. Bigger than chubby, if you will. My weight gradually rose from birth to age 20. I wasn’t the woman who put on weight after having children, or the athlete who suffered an injury and gained weight, or even the freshman who packed on fifteen. Being fat was all I knew.
Stepping off the scale at the Y, I had to ask myself, “How did I get here?” At first, my mind went to the obvious- the food. The cakes, the cookies, the pizza, the Sprite, the Whoppers. Then my mind went to the genes- my dad, my grandmother, we’re big people. I played this game like a whodunit murder mystery. “Somebody implanted an extra 135 lbs under my skin and no one is leaving this room until I find out who it was!”
I knew the truth, though. I hadn’t become morbidly obese because I loved food or because my family was big. I became morbidly obese because I was in pain. I know there’s always a fine line in the blog world of telling just enough and telling too much, but I think maybe too much is better this time. My father was an alcoholic since the day I was born. His drinking made for instability, fear, and sadness. As volatile as he could be and as much as he was hurting us by drinking himself into oblivion, I loved him with every inch of me. When I was twelve years old, he died of a stroke. I tell you all of this because it is why I used food as love for most of my life. I loved food and food loved me. Amidst chaos and insecurity, I could control the food– the kind and the amount. When I felt nervous, food was reassuring. When I was anxious food was soothing. When I was sad, food lifted me up. When no one was home, food was my babysitter. For every.single.emotion I could turn to food and she would love me back.
But at twenty years old, food wasn’t loving me anymore. My dependency on it needed to come to an end. Desire to change is what brought me to the YMCA that day in June, and it’s what made me return day after day. I joined Weight Watchers eventually. I think what was most helpful was living one day at a time. With 100+ pounds to go before I reached the finish line of weight loss, it was very easy to become discouraged when I looked at the big picture. I just tried to get through the day feeling my best and knowing that I just kicked Monday in the pants. Sometimes I thought, “Oh my God, I can’t eat another egg white omelet for breakfast and not have a Reese’s McFlurry ever again.” But then I asked myself, “Can you do it today, Andie? Just today?” And I could. That question made each day manageable.
Eventually I arrived at my goal weight. My journey to that point was all at once the most agonizing and gratifying experience of my life. And being 135lbs smaller, literally half my size, was terrifying. How do you maintain a weight you’ve never known? How do you live moderately? What is normalcy? The answers to these questions were a mystery to me. I had no frame of reference for my new body because I only knew two modes: overeating and dieting. Learning to maintain my weight was, and sometimes still is, as hard as losing it.