Three years ago today, I posted this photo according to the On This Day Facebook app. Honestly, my first thought was, “Wow, my hair looked REALLY good.” Seriously, y’all. It did. But then I got to reading what I’d said along with the photo, and thinking about all the things that led me there and that have happened since then.
By the time I took this photo and was ready to go “into transition” on Medifast (which has now changed its named to Become Yourself, because apparently you can’t be yourself if you’re fat), I’d actually gained back some of the weight I’d lost and had been fighting with the staff for weeks about my diet and exercise levels. I was hungry. So. Fucking. Hungry. To the point where even working out for 30 minutes was wiping me out. Spoiler alert: eating only 900 calories a day makes you hungry AF, and even when you bump that up to 1200 per day you’re still hungry AF. Especially if you move your body at all. Or, y’know, breathe.
I’d finally set my foot down and told the staff I couldn’t do it anymore. I was hungry all the time and binging on almonds, which were making me sick. I was drinking a crap ton of carbonated beverages in a desperate attempt to make myself feel “full” because there were times when being hungry and food were all I could think about.
But I looked great. I’ll admit that. I definitely looked great.
At times I felt good. Maybe even great. Honestly, it’s hard to look back on what I think of as my crazy pants period because now I realize how destructive and disordered it was.
But at this point, like I said, I’d started gaining back some of the weight I’d lost. The staff pretty much thought I was lying in my food journal about how much and what I was eating. I wasn’t. If anything I was brutally honest about tracking, to the point where I was obsessed with macros because I have an obsessive personality and I get way too fixated on super granular data.
This wasn’t the first time I’d lost a bunch of weight only to start gaining it back despite doing all “the right things.”
By June of 2014 (so, what? a year after this photo was taken?) I’d gained back almost every single pound I’d lost. I actually managed to stay at a similar weight and size until September/October of 2013, and then it was like a switch flipped and the pounds just started piling back on way too rapidly despite exercising and eating well.
June of 2014 is pretty much the month life as we knew it changed. On June 9 we found out Phillip was in renal failure. In late June I visited my new OBGYN for the first time, and when I told her how much weight I’d gained back (I think it was like 90 pounds or something close to that) in such a short period of time, she immediately knew something was wrong–she just didn’t know what.
In July of 2014 I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and in September of 2014 insulin-resistant PCOS, and have been seeing an endocrinologist ever since to treat those issues (along with pre-diabetes at this point). I’m apparently a classic case of a woman with those two chronic illnesses.
Looking back, I should have known three years ago that something was wrong. I thought it was that I wasn’t eating enough to meet my body’s needs (and I wasn’t, because honestly my body seems to work and feel best around 2000 calories a day, with a lot of those coming from protein and complex carbs). I thought maybe it was my birth control. Or maybe I was exercising too much (I mean, seriously). All I knew was that I’d done everything I was supposed to do and was following the rules to a T and yet my body was doing the opposite of what it was “supposed” to do.
Now, I know that my body was responding in the only way it knew how because hormonally it’s all kinds of messed up. Not to mention the fact that following something that restrictive probably didn’t do my body any favors and only threw it more out of whack (disordered eating and restrictive eating habits tend to mess with your body’s hormone levels and the way your body responds to food).
Today, I don’t look like this. Well, I kind of do. I mean, you can tell it’s still me. Just a bigger version (that stills wears super cute clothes, though *wink*). Now I have the luxury (I guess?) of knowing that I have two hormonal disorders, neither of which will ever be cured. But they can be managed, and through medication, diet, and exercise I can get my body regulated and maybe even lose some weight (which I honestly need to do just for the sake of my glucose and A1C levels).
So ladies (and gentlemen, because I know y’all aren’t immune to the pressure to look good, either), listen to your bodies. Know your numbers. Talk to your doctor and be an advocate for your own health (because no one else will be). Ask questions. Do research. And if your doctor isn’t listening to you or blows you off, find another doctor.
Being slim and looking fabulous are great, yes. Being able to buy clothes from just about anywhere and have them fit (for the most part–when you’re 5’2″ with big boobs, wide hips and an ass, even when you’re a size 12/14 it can still be difficult to find clothes that fit properly) is awesome. But you know what’s more awesome?
Not being so hungry all you can think about are the foods you “can’t” have.
Not being so hungry that you drink diet sodas in a desperate attempt to feel full.
Not being so weak that getting on the exercise bike for five minutes has you about ready to faint (like, literally, faint y’all, which happened to me more than once).
Not feeling desperate and hopeless and like you’re a failure as a human being because you can’t keep weight off.
Having honest to God ANSWERS and knowing that it’s not that you suck as a person, but that your body is fighting against you.
Being happy in your skin–no matter your size–and eating a well-balanced diet that makes you feel good.
Moving your body in ways that make you feel good.
I’m not where I want or need to be by a long shot. I was so incredibly desperate when I started Medifast, and kind of had the thought that if I could just lose it I could keep it off. I just needed help losing it. *snort* That despite the fact that not even a year and a half before I’d managed to lose about 50 pounds through diet and exercise (and, okay, Alli diet pills…because, yeah, I was desperate) and had managed to gain all of it back despite doing “all the right things.” Desperation makes you do some crazy, crazy shit, y’all.
But I’m not desperate anymore, mostly because now I have a much better understanding of WHY my body is the way it is and my doctors and I are taking the necessary steps to get my endocrine system under control. I also have a much different outlook and focus today than I did three to four years ago: life’s too short to obsess about being thin, much less macro details of food. And, honestly, life’s just more awesome when you can eat good food that fuels your body (and your body needs fuel when you’re under stress, which I can honestly say I am).
So basically, all that to say that looks can be deceiving. You never know what someone is struggling with. And health will always be more important than a number on a tag. ALWAYS.