About Me

I wrote the following “About Me” ten (sigh...) years ago. Much of it is still (or “once again”) true.

One summer day when I was still in elementary school, my mom suggested that my brothers and I accompany her on a bike ride. We were out pedaling on a country road, and met a neighbor who stopped to visit with my mom. He looked at me and said to my mom, "Looks like you've got a fat one there." I was mortified. I never forgot that comment....

I grew up fat. My parents were wonderful and accepting. They tried many times and in many ways to help me lose weight, but I always knew that they loved me for me. I had friends, did well in school, and was generally pretty happy - except for my weight.

In elementary school, I remember...
  • that my mom had to sew almost all of my clothes, because it was so difficult to find anything that fit me
  • having to wrestle against boys in 6th-grade PE because I was so much bigger than the girls (and the boys, too)
  • being chosen first for every academic team competition and dead-last for anything that involved physical activity
  • sneaking bread-and-mayonnaise sandwiches when there wasn't anything else handy to eat
  • feeling like I couldn't eat things like pizza, ice cream or sweets in public without feeling like people were staring at me in disgust

I was fat in high school, too. But I was also smart and did very well in school. I had a circle of close friends, was involved in lots of school activities, and was well-liked enough to be a class officer and a student council representative.

In high school, I remember ...
  • that my best friend once asked a guy to dance with me at a party because no one ever asks a fat girl to dance. I was so humiliated that I could have crawled under a rock.
  • they had to order a band uniform specifically for me because I was so big
  • being friends with lots of guys, but never being asked out
  • never being able to wear cute clothes
  • hating, hating, hating every minute of PE class. I especially dreaded having to do the President's Physical Fitness tests.
My dad and I went to Weight Watchers during my junior year in high school. I ate lots and lots of tuna fish sandwiches and green beans, struggled to eat liver once a week, and turned diet soda into wobbly gelatinous masses. We were both successful, and I spent my senior year in high school and my freshman year in college at a relatively normal weight, although I never actually reached my goal weight.

I was up and down during college, never staying the same weight. I could never count on wearing clothes for more than one season, because I never knew what size I would be the next time that season of the year rolled around. I didn't date much, but had lots of friends and loved being a student. Looking back, I probably wasn't as fat as I thought I was. But years of struggling with my weight had taught me to avoid cameras, so I don't have many photographs from that time. I do know that I was a normal weight when I graduated ... I also know that I never FELT like I was at a normal weight.

I studied in Germany for two years while I was a college student, and fell in love with the country. But there were lonely times there, too, and frustrations involved in learning a language. What better thing to comfort myself with than food? There was good food everywhere, and I was totally on my own. My eating got out of control, and I got fat - again.

And then I fell in love. He was one of my best friends, and literally the "boy next door." I never remember a time that I haven't known him. All of a sudden, I saw him with different eyes. And I started losing weight. When we got married, I was within just a few pounds of my goal weight. I had collar bones and a tiny waist. I could buy clothes in any store I wanted. I wore shorts and sleeveless tops. I wore a bathing suit in public. It was wonderful.

I can remember exactly when I lost control of my eating during that time. Our wedding was in November, and that Christmas my husband was sick. I missed every family celebration, and I was so sad and lonely. I remember quite clearly opening a container of candy-coated mini-pretzels and eating them all. And that was that. The fat was back, and it was awful.

I tried so many times to lose weight. If I had a dime for every time I re-joined Weight Watchers, I could go on a major shopping spree. I would lose 20-30 pounds if I were lucky, but always ended up gaining those pounds back plus many more. Through it all, my husband tried to understand what I was going through. But he couldn't understand, and eventually we just quit talking about the problem altogether. My feelings were so close to the surface that the tiniest remark or suggestion would result in tears, burning shame and an overwhelming sense of isolation.

To all appearances, I am the luckiest woman. I have a wonderful husband who has stood by me for more than 20 years, two wonderful children, a job that I love, and beautiful home. We are all healthy. I am thankful for each of these things every single day. And yet, if you could see behind my usually upbeat and cheerful facade, you would know that my obesity defines and bounds nearly every single aspect of my life.

As I write this, I ....
  • feel self-conscious, embarrassed and ashamed of my body at every turn
  • remember not being able to find any maternity clothes that fit. My mom rescued me yet once again by sewing almost all of my maternity clothes
  • remember not being able to wear mother-daughter outfit when my DD was little. None of them came in my size
  • remember being so embarrassed to take the kids to the swimming pool in the summer. Now that the children are older, I don't ever ever wear a swimming suit or go in the water
  • know that my weight has slowly and so very surely built a wall between me and my DH
  • have been turned down for the long-term health insurance that my husband qualified for
  • know that I would never qualify for individual health insurance coverage if I ever lost my job
  • remember how I felt when my DH told me, truthfully, that I am an insurance liability
  • never feel pretty
  • remember being asked by my son, after an elementary health unit, if I was obese. And having to answer "yes." He's never used that word again.
  • remember not being able to run and play with our children when they were little
  • cannot hike with my husband and children on our Colorado vacations
  • often feel stuffed into theater and stadium seats
  • have to disguise being out of breath by coughing or yawning
  • feel lonelier, uglier and more isolated all the time, but spend lots of energy pretending that I don't feel that way
  • think about my weight ALL the time. When I wake up in the morning, it's the first thing I think of, and when I crawl into bed at night, it still weighs on my mind
  • often cry in the car when I drive alone
  • hide food and eat it late at night when no one else is awake
  • avoid going to the doctor's office because I am so terribly ashamed of my body
  • don't want anyone to touch me, but feel so starved for simple physical affection that I often reach for food
  • remember the absolute humiliation of having to ask for a seat belt extender on an airplane
  • have puffy, ugly feet with swollen, ugly ankles
  • dread summer, hot weather and painful rashes on my inner thighs
  • have fewer and fewer clothes to wear as I get heavier and heavier
  • avoid social situations whenever possible
  • feel an almost immobilizing guilt about the years I have wasted and the relationships I have damaged by being obese
The list could go on and on, and any person who has struggled with obesity could probably add dozens of their own reflections to the list.

June 2014:
I lost 110 pounds after I wrote this introduction ten years ago. I had hoped that it would save my marriage. But it didn’t. As it turns out, I was a Str8 Spouse. I could have been the most beautiful woman on the face of the earth and it wouldn’t have mattered. Painful and traumatic years followed disclosure. During that time, I re-gained all of the weight I had lost. But now I have a happy new life ... a different home, a different city, a job I love, and a wonderful man who loves me for me. I need to tackle this problem again. I need to lose it for me. Not for anyone else. For me this time. 

So I am trying again. I basically follow the Weight Watchers plan, although I am trying to incorporate some principles of intuitive eating along with dabbling with MyFitnessPal tools. Because everything weight-related seems to be very black-and-white for me, I am trying not to obsess about counting points or calories. I know what a healthy lifestyle looks like. I also know that I will not be perfect. "Not being perfect" often leads me to giving up, so I'm going to focus on making good choices. I am going to use this blog as a tool for my own planning and some occasional reflection.