If you walk into a Weight Watchers meeting, you will probably meet people who have been on ”the plan” before. In fact, some will tell you they are back for the 4th time. Or the 6th. I have learned that this does not mean they are destined for a lifetime of failure to control their weight. It just means life happened in-between.
I know because I’m back there. Again.
No, it’s not my 4th time. It’s my 2nd. And as much as I’d love to say I did it the first time and became a Lifetime Member who changed my habits for good, that is not the case. Life happened in-between. After being treated for Postpartum Depression, I gained weight because I was so blissfully happy that I wasn’t in the jail of my own mind that I just enjoyed life. I was enjoying my family and didn’t pay too much attention to what I ate. I didn’t realize at the time that I had started to use food as comfort – to replace any loneliness I was feeling, to cope with my new life at home, to feel in control of things and to feed something that was missing… I don’t think I ever realized what.
When I was feeling steady enough as a Mom, I joined Weight Watchers when Ryan was about 9 months old. I remember how old he was because he took his first steps – right in the middle of a meeting. I think I lost about 25 lbs and then I eventually stopped going. Not exactly sure why – maybe I was happy with the way I looked, maybe I thought I could do okay without it. Slowly but surely I gained that weight back.
And then after Alexa was born, I knew I wasn’t making any effort to lose the 30 lbs that I gained but I also kept giving myself acceptable excuses:
You just had a baby, give yourself a break.
Pace yourself – 9 months up, 9 months down.
You want to get pregnant again in a year or so – just deal with the extra weight since it will come back anyway.
Trouble is, I truly believed that these excuses were acceptable. I thought hey, I’m a Mom. My days of being a size 2 or 4 or 6 are over. It’s fine to wear sweatpants every day – I need to be comfortable to run around all day at the park. (I still wear sweats much more than I should so obviously I haven’t let go of some crappy habits…) I watched myself change from a perfect (well, perfect to me) size 6 at my wedding, to an 8 in the years following the wedding to a 10 after Ryan was born to a 12 after Alexa was born. I started hiding behind my kids in pictures. I kept telling myself I didn’t look too bad. I wore shapeless clothing. I stopped caring for myself when I started caring for others. I grabbed whatever food was around, not thinking about how its empty calories provided no fuel for my body. I skipped meals. I forgot to drink water. I stopped getting a normal amount of sleep (oops – still failing there).
And my body rebelled against this in a big way.
After season upon season saw my closet change over to make room for a new size, I finally had enough. I had lost my ability to exercise the way I wanted to after fracturing my foot doing P90X/Insanity over this summer and I knew that one more size up and I’d have to shop at specialty stores because size 12 signals the end of the road at most department stores. I watched my Mother struggle throughout my whole life and I knew I was going down the same road. Even though I couldn’t believe food was becoming an issue in my life… clearly it had been for some time.
Forget pregnancy – as of now, it’s a financial transaction that we can’t handle. And anyway, who ever suggested that you hold onto extra weight if you’re going to get pregnant? That’s the dumbest rationale on Earth – it just makes it that much harder to lose. Who said I looked good? Surely I hadn’t heard “You look great!” in a long time (except from my amazing husband who says it for some reason unbeknownst to me) and noted the absence of “those” looks from men on the street (you know what I’m talking about – the ones you outwardly say ‘ewww’ at but that you inwardly appreciate). Who says a Mom has to look a certain way? It’s okay to wear sweatpants all day, every day? Who says you have to give up on yourself, plain and simple?
I was lying to myself – as much as I OK’d these things, giving up didn’t look good and it sure didn’t feel good. Whether you have 15 or 215 lbs to lose, the first step is undoubtedly the hardest. And in the middle of a busy time, the last thing I wanted to do was have to control what I ate. Or have one more thing that I had to do. But there was no better time, and so I rejoined Weight Watchers the day before Halloween. On purpose.
I’m down over 14 lbs in 6 weeks. That’s a pretty steady burn – the way it’s supposed to be. I worry about falling off the wagon, but I feel like the biggest motivation is how much more comfortable I already feel in my own body. I don’t think the weight is noticeable for the most part to others, but to me it’s the difference between getting undressed in the dark and not minding the light on. Or squeezing myself into a pair of jeans versus having them glide on easily. A wise person once said “Nothing Tastes As Good As Thin Feels” and although people can say what they want about society’s unattainable standards of beauty, my version of “thin” is liking myself in my own skin. For some, it’s a number. I was never one of those people, since I always had a muscular/athletic build, my weight was always higher than one would expect.
Most importantly, I don’t want my children to obsess over their appearance or place any sort of power on that little scale in my bathroom so when I head out on Saturday mornings I tell Ryan I am going to my “Healthy Food Meeting” to make sure I continue to eat the right things and take care of my body, since I only have one. He seems to like that and I do, too.
I have heard from some of you about your struggles with losing the weight and I give you so much credit because it really is hard work. It takes sacrifice and dedication and it comes more easily to some people than to others. I just want you to know that I feel your frustration and understand the feeling of not being confident as a result of how you look. I wish I could say that I would be happy with how I looked no matter what the size, but then I’d just be lying.
I have seen people speak out about their struggle with weight and their declarations that their obsession with losing it is officially over. I have thought that in my head, but I always knew it wasn’t exactly true. I always like me, but I don’t always like how I look. So I ask you, honestly - does anyone really like being overweight or is it just another excuse for not taking care of what’s going on underneath those layers?