I’m fat – but I wasn’t always this way and they’re not staying like that either.
I’m from a walkable town in New Jersey; I didn’t learn to drive until I moved to New Orleans and even then I walked. I maintained 98 pounds until I moved to Baton Rouge in 2005. When you’re a small person in the south, everyone seems to think you’re starving, so you’re constantly being told to eat something. In 2006 I started indulging in cakes, candy, sodas, snowballs, ice cream and gravy – some of which I had never used in my life.
By 2012 I had picked up an average of 11.7 pounds for every year I had lived in the Capital City, bringing my weight up to 180 pounds, which wouldn’t be such a big deal if I wasn’t five feet tall. Nearly every move I made came with heavy breathing and back cramping. I became depressed. And while I showed physical signs of being too heavy for my frame, I didn’t care. I just washed the stress away with soda and cupcakes.
But it wasn’t long before I went fitness crazy. I bought an aerobic step, stationary bike, free weights and multiple workout DVDs. I signed up for one of those iPhone fitness apps and began charting my food and exercise, not changing my diet, only the amount of food I ate and my physical activity. I was successful in shedding 30 pounds.
But keeping the weight off in panic mode is not easy to do. By early 2013 I had grown so bored with charting my food and workouts that I just quit and caved in on unhealthy, fatty cravings. By mid 2013 I had lost my job and three close family members, so the food allowances became greater, as did my weight. I gained back 20 pounds and that’s even after changing my diet to exclude pork and beef. In my mind, that was my final step in the whole “I’ve tried everything, but I can’t lose weight” spiel.
I started 2014 at 170 pounds – lethargic. I had given up, and that’s the point at which I began calling myself “fat.” Self love was definitely down the drain and I was constantly with a cupcake and soda because hell, I’m already fat, what’s the difference?
It wasn’t until I decided to write this article in hopes of letting other people like me know that we’re in this together, that I became more aware of what it takes to truly nourish my body. I met with a wellness coach to get some ideas and he invited me to join his nutrition and yoga classes. According to the CDC, 34.7 percent of Louisianians are technically obese. That number really makes me wonder how many of those people were once like me. Honestly, as silly as it sounds, I felt like me and Oprah were the only people who had this roller coaster weight problem, until I sat around the table with nine others who also struggle to make healthy food and fitness choices.
So the ten of us set out to begin our wellness journey on Feb. 17; our challenge was to cleanse our bodies by eating only raw fruit and vegetables and some dairy for a full week. The first day was okay; the second day nearly all of us experienced severe headaches, mood swings and tiredness. By the third day some of us still had headaches but our bodies felt great. We were told that the majority of us suffered from sugar addiction – detoxing from sugars is similar to drug rehabilitation – that is not a lie, I suffered through, sweating, shaking and headaches as proof.
As I write this, I am on day four of cleansing and I proclaim – sugar free! That doesn’t just mean that I don’t use sugar anymore, it means that my body is rid of its desire for any substance containing sugars. I mean it, grapes are too sweet now. I have also dropped three pounds by making the choice to treat my body as it deserves. The second week we will add back in whole grains and seafood. It’s a slow transition back to normalcy, but it’s a new normalcy, one where we are aware of what we are eating and drinking. Also the yoga has been a great annotation to this journey – a scary one for someone as clumsy as me – but great nonetheless. I almost feel like I can really say “I’ve tried everything and finally found something that works.”
If this is your struggle I know it’s hard, but you are not alone. You have to believe that you are worth the changes necessary to bring about a healthier you. In the end it’s not even about weight loss, it’s about nutrition.