I have a good memory. My family teases me about it. My memory holds great things and hard things. There are things I love to remember and things I wish I could forget. Here are some scenes from my life, and The Weight.
When I was 6 years old I was in the hallway playing with my brother and his friend. His friend called me a baby.
Then how come you still have all that fat, like a baby?
I pinched my protruding belly and then sucked it in, and giggled. Am not!
That was the first time I remember thinking, ‘I don’t want to be fat.’
When I was 10 years old I stood on a scale in my friend’s parent’s bathroom. It said 164lbs. That was the beginning of junior high. The next two years are a blur of anger and hormones…I wish it was more of a blur, to be honest.
I still consider my junior year of high school the busiest time of my life. Crazy, but true. I was a 15 year old AP student, acting and stage managing for my high school theatre program, attending a different club meeting for every day during lunch, zero period choir on top of early morning seminary five days a week. Seminary was only part of what amounted to about 15 hours a week of church activities. I was frequently fully scheduled from 6:10am to 9pm. I was sleeping about 4 to 5 hours a night, eating everything that crossed my eye, dealing with a chronic asthmatic cough, unexplained eczema, and painful cystic acne, headaches, bloating, constipation, and back pain. Some of these symptoms were so frequent that that I didn’t realize they were not how everyone felt all the time.
I had two prescribed inhalers, one of which made me shake and feel nauseous. I was on and off antibiotics, and had a wide range of lotions and potions for the skin problems. And weighing in at about 220lbs, I had a social life that could mostly be described as funny/insulting. I wrote some poems about dying of unspecified causes.
I was sick, but I didn’t really believe it. In my mind I was a strong, healthy, fat teenager. I would occasionally see doctors (always a different doctor as we had a really amazingly crappy HMO) who would ask me the same dozen questions about my symptoms without actually looking me in the eye. Until Doctor Goldburg. Just before my senior year he said to me:
“You need to get moving more, and eating less.” He told me that my cough and eczema and acne were related.
Yes! said he, “They are related to being overweight.”
I said to myself, “these are the symptoms of being a fat girl.”
Joni was my freshman roommate. She had depression, and she was runner. She had run a marathon.
“Yeah, it wrecked my knee.”
I had run a mile without stopping once or twice, under threat of failing PE. Once when we were eating dinner together in the cafeteria she pushed her plate full of food away and said it was making her feel sick. I stared blankly.
Part of my life paradigm was: Food+Me=Good. Always, =Good. Maybe occasionally, =not so tasty, but always, =Good. Never =sick. That was a new thought. Food could affect the way a person feels, for the worse. But I actually lost some weight that year because I was forced to eat meals on a regular schedule.
That summer my dad died of colon cancer. I took a two week fast food road trip, and swelled to new levels. 230lbs. I was prescribed suppositories to help the constant constipation and blood in my stool. My skin was horrendous. The doctor never mentioned FIBER.
On my 19th birthday
I received pounds of candy, POUNDS. It was enough to fill an entire juice pitcher to overflowing. I stared at that full pitcher and imagined all that sugar and fat moving like sludge through my internal organs. Clogging up my gut. The thought disgusted me. That day I committed to ‘no sugar’ till Christmas break, with one exception for Thanksgiving day. After three days I found myself rolling around on the living room floor, crying in sugar withdrawal, but I did it. I made it more than a month without sugar (not counting Thanksgiving). When I came back to school after Christmas I started going to the new school gym with my roommates a few nights a week when my schedule allowed.
When I arrived in Provo in 2003 I had two friends. The good news was loneliness lead to jogging, and jogging lead to pooping almost every morning. It was a miracle. I got rid of the suppositories. (I think my mother is the only person who has heard me say that word out loud.) I was almost confused when I started dropping pounds. I went on Acutane. My face stopped exploding. It was another miracle. Before I left on my mission I had to have a colonoscopy. It was disgusting and terrifying.
6 months into my mission in Australia I received my first Sister Wang. (Both my greenies were named Sister Wang and from China.) In one of our first companionship inventories Sister Wang1 told me without irony or humor that to be a better missionary I needed to lose weight. She taught me about life in China and how rural chinese people look at food. She thought she would die if she had to eat meat everyday. She couldn’t believe I drank cow’s milk. “Are you a baby cow?” She asked. She made the most delicious meals out of the parts of vegetables I was going to throw out. She knew what it really meant to be hungry. She remembered the first time she had ice cream. We loved each other fiercely.
When I returned home I lived with my sister in Provo. Again I had no friends I began jogging again. I hadn’t used the inhalers for years and finally threw them away. Sally and I went back on sugar fasts and we started counting calories. One day in early April the scale read 180lbs. It had take 5 years, but I had lost 50lbs. It would be a few more years before I could even say that aloud.
Moving to Cedar City after graduation I was looking the best I ever had. I was feeling good. I got asked on a date for the first time ever. I was praying to meet someone and get married. I met someone. We planned a wedding.
We canceled a wedding. I gained back 30lbs. My body sort of went into shock. I got sick in the same old ways, and new ones too. I realized like never before how connected the body, mind, and soul are. When one suffers, they all suffer.
I went to Italy and ate my weight in pizzas. I don’t regret one bite. Because Italy is an enchanted land I came home at the same weight I left.
Since I moved to Arizona a month and a half ago I’ve lost more than 10 lbs. I’ve been working out at the school gym. I’ve been eating a lot of veggies and not a lot of meat or processed foods. I’ve been motivated by this sister, and this girl, this girl, my all my former roommates and heros.
I am going strong. Feeling strong. I am going to get back to 180 by my birthday–15 lbs in 8 weeks. It’s a reality. After that I am going to be 170lbs by the end of the year. That’s unexplored territory. I haven’t never been that size as a fully grown woman. I don’t know what my body will look like at that weight, but I’m curious to find out. I can’t really fathom being within my healthy body weight range (140-155), but for the first time in my life I feels like it’s possible.
There are lot of other stories I could share. Stories of eating my self silly, in secret. Stories of inspiring people who always made me feel beautiful. Stories of rejection. Maybe another time.
I am putting this out there because I want it to be real. For the first time losing weight isn’t feeling like a burden, it’s feeling like it’s the way it’s supposed to be.
So, here’s to 1300 calories and exercise everyday.
This is my body.
It is amazing.
Food has been my enemy for a long time. I am learning how to make it my friend. To make it make me well and happy. Thanks food.
Thanks body. You are an incredible gift. You are a miracle. I’m really sorry for what I’ve put you through. I want us to be friends. I want to make you feel great. I’m trying to make it up to you.