All or Nothing

So how did I get here? How did my weight problem get so off the rails? To put it in perspective, I am about 50 lbs. overweight right now. That’s a lot. It basically puts me in the BMI category of obese.

Since childhood I have always been about 20-30 pounds over my ideal weight so my mother started putting me on diets when I was around 9 or 10. She herself grew up as an overweight girl and I’m sure her own mother was unkind to her about it as her mother was always a slim woman herself. My mom didn’t want the same thing for me – I get it. But at the same time, it was very damaging to my self-esteem. I’m pretty sure that was the beginning of my life-long struggles with my body image and self-esteem. It’s hard to love yourself and hard to have a good body image when your own mother doesn’t think you’re fine just the way you are. It was pretty damaging. When we were having supper and I would reach for a second helping, she would say “do you really think you need that?” Basically the things experts tell parents these days not to say to their overweight children. It hurt immensely.

I was teased in elementary school because of my weight. Not often, but just enough to erode my low self-esteem even more. I was always an ugly duckling. Slightly overweight, short hair, bad teeth (and then braces). I always felt ugly and awkward. I was depressed and tried committing suicide twice in my teens.

After high school I gained more weight and got more depressed. At age 20, I got pregnant unexpectedly with my first daughter and used it as a free pass to eat whatever I wanted. I gained 50 lbs. during my pregnancy and lost almost nothing after she was born. But when my daughter’s father left me for another woman 3 years later, I lost most of my pregnancy weight from depression and trying to get back into the dating world. The Divorce Diet totally worked for me!

But through my struggles, I have learned that I have a very addictive personality. Food, cigarettes, alcohol. Thankfully I never got addicted to drugs but had I tried them, I probably would have been addicted to those too. I was an alcoholic by my mid-thirties. Fortunately I am now a recovering alcoholic and I haven’t had a drink in 8 years. I quit smoking a few years after that. But food has always been that one habit I just can’t seem to break.

But fast forward to 15 years later and 3 more kids, I have yo-yo’d my way through 40+ pounds. It honestly feels like I have been on a diet my entire life – but obviously that can’t be true or I’d be at my ideal weight right? For me, it has always been all or nothing. If I’m not completely restricting myself, I am eating it all. There’s no in between. And therein lies the problem…

As with quitting drinking, I need to take it one day at a time, one meal at a time, one workout at a time. When I start looking toward the future and start thinking about things I won’t be able to eat at this restaurant or for this special occasion, I get overwhelmed and discouraged. I’m really just trying to live in the moment right now. I am trying to eat things are that are good for my body and good for my mind. Starving myself doesn’t work and it never has. All I’m trying to do right now is to eat healthy, STOP EATING CRAP, try to exercise as much as I can and treat this weight loss thing like a marathon instead of a sprint.

Workout #1

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First day back at the gym in about 10 years on the weekend was a success! It felt so good to work out again – why did I wait so long? Because I had a million and one excuses that’s why. In my defense, I have popped out 3 kids in the last 6 years so finding the time has always been a struggle. But I need to do this. My life and health depends on it. I’ll be a better wife and mother if I take care of myself and my mental health will improve which is really the main reason I decided to go back to it.

In talking with my husband (who also wants to start exercising too), we’ve decided that we can carve out an hour on two nights of the week and then one or both days on the weekend. We’ve found some gym and fitness facilities with childcare which is great or we can take turns on alternating evenings during the week.

So in order to start this new endeavor, I had to buy new running shoes. Unfortunately my feet hurt sooooo bad after I was done on the elliptical machine so I really hope that I just need to break in these shoes and then things will get better. It really pissed me off because I was totally fine with the workout but my feet were throbbing – I almost didn’t make the 30 minutes. So frustrating! And my legs were absolutely killing me when I went to bed last night – this was after I took some naproxen. I was thinking “uh oh I pushed myself too hard – I’m not going to be able to walk tomorrow!” So I dug out the roll-on muscle analgesic that I’ve never used in my life and it helped a lot. I was able to fall asleep and the pain was gone when I woke up this morning – thank goodness.

But I am super proud of myself. I want to go back. I think I can do this. Just need to take it one day at a time.

My Psychology of Disordered Eating

There was a sudden shift in my mindset that caused me to start a diet on a Thursday (gasp!) as opposed to my usual Monday and it has more to do with my mental health than my physical one at this point. I have been struggling with PMDD for the last 8 years and many years of a general anxiety disorder prior to that. Paxil seemed to work but caused sexual side effects that were difficult to live with. Once I gradually weaned myself off, I was angry, depressed and suicidal. Suspecting that I might be bipolar, I was prescribed Lamictal. It seems to work for the depression but not for the anxiety, so last week I was prescribed Seroquel, an anti-psychotic medication which is notorious for weight gain – yikes. Now I am starting to get a little worried here.

I have found a psychologist in my area who deals with disordered eating (a new term that I have recently discovered!) and from her online profile, it seems like she is someone I would be comfortable talking to but unfortunately she doesn’t have any openings until July. But I had a discussion with my husband and he suggested we start going to the gym again because he knows how much better my mental health is when I am exercising. It’s not going to cure the anxiety (well maybe it will – who knows!) but I’ll definitely be happier. I am always significantly happier when I am eating better and I’m not sure if it’s because sugar adversely affects my mood or I’m just happy that I’m actively trying to lose weight instead of stuffing my face with chocolate and getting nowhere. Time to do something other than just pop pills in order to deal with my mental health issues.