When I look in the mirror, my eyes see a 42-year-old frumpette. I look closely, I gaze deeply into her eyes and then I ask this visage aloud, “Who are you and what have you done with my Laurie? You aren’t the person I know, where did she go?”
Then I have to answer me. It all gets really confusing and very Sybil here, but you can follow along, right? I say to myself, “Self, I don’t know who this fat and frumpy person standing in front of us is, but trust me when I tell you Laurie, the real you is in there and we need to work to get her back.”
My name is Laurie and I am obese. That is a very sad, but very true statement. Even as I sit here typing it, it is hard, hard, hard for me to believe those words. Because you see, the me I see when I close my eyes and picture myself is not the me that I see in the mirror. The me I see in my head is hot. The me in the mirror is not. The obese me is relatively new in town and I’m hoping to kick her out and keep her out for the rest of my life.
As a child my parents told me that I had a weight problem. My mother took me to the Gloria Marshall Figure Salon while I was still in grade school and my dad had me on Herbalife shakes and the “Over 40 diet,” while in high school. My freshman & sophomore years of high school I was 5’9¾ ” and weighed 145 pounds. Oooooooh to be so fat right now!!! That is my dream – I’m throwing it out there universe – make me freshman year fat!!!
In all fairness, my parents weren’t the only ones filling my head with these lies. Friends and neighbors all felt free to tell me what a pretty girl I was and that I should lose weight. Well, all of this is bound to have an effect on a girl right? And bring her down? All of these lies – and I know they were, because when I looked in the mirror I didn’t see fat. Exactly like someone saying, “wow, you look great!” would motivate you to keep exercising and losing weight, the opposite is true. With everyone that I cared about telling me I was fat, I became fat.
My senior year of high school – after spending three years never once being invited to a dance (and I LOVE to dance), never once having a real date with a boy, let alone a boyfriend – I gave up. I spent the entire year in my room reading Harlequin Romance Novels and eating bagfuls of Oreo cookies. They were my comfort and my friend. I also turned to Burger King. The king of burgers became my afterschool solace. He gave me, every day after school while waiting for play practice to begin, a ham and cheese hold the cheese, large fries and a coke. Then I would go home and have dinner. Needless to say, all of this soothing came with a hefty price. By the end of my senior year I weighed in at a jumbo (for me) 195 pounds.
So while all of my very close friends were trotting off to Hawaii for their graduation trip, I packed up for my seven-week, all expense paid stay at a Fat Farm. It was called Camp La Jolla, and while I think they also had one there, I went to the one in Santa Barbara. Roughly half of my summer was taken up with behavior modification classes, five hours of exercise per day, and carefully constructed meal plans consisting of 1200 calories.
I won’t bore you with the details, but I will say that it was the best thing anyone ever did for me. I lost 20 pounds in those seven weeks. I gained a lot of muscle and lost a lot of inches. When I came home from Camp, I kept a journal of my food intake and ran two miles per day and I lost even more weight. By the time I began college, I was down to 165 and I was happy and confident. I joined the rowing team and got into even better shape. I was fit and I was happy.
I remained this way, fit and happy and roughly 165-175 for the rest of my adult days. When I got pregnant with my daughter I weighed around 175 and gained 25 pounds, all but eight of which I lost before I ever left the hospital. And those remaining 8 pounds came off very quickly and then some more. A few years later I was down to about 150 – and I felt too skinny – my hip bones stuck out and I am not a fan of that look at all. So I went back up to 170-175, which seemed a very easy and comfortable weight for me to maintain.
Then I switched jobs to a job I hated and I began each workday with a pumpkin scone and the tallest, fattest kind of coffee that Starbucks makes. I was soothing myself again with food, but I didn’t realize it and I rapidly bloomed up to 200 pounds in the year I worked there, which is how much I weighed when I married my husband. We got married and I worked to lose weight and got down to 185 and swore to myself I would never see a 2 at the front of my weight again. Then I went back to college and gained, over my four years there, about 30 pounds.
In the fall, my husband and I went on a three-week trip to Italy. I’m not even going to talk about the amazing food – that would be pointless and a given, but I will mention something here about metabolism. I. Don’t. Have. One. My husband, on the other hand, has an incredible one. He, as long as I have known him, has walked roughly 5 miles a day on the treadmill. He puts on a movie and just goes at it. I, on the other hand, have been mostly sedentary, and the career that I chose, graphic design, isn’t helping that AT ALL. Worse, it’s a job that I can, and do, do from my couch. Anyway, we went to Italy and ate essentially the same food, and walked the same steps all over the country and I gained 13 pounds and he gained 1. That, my friends is Metabolism.
So, now I am roughly 5’10” and weigh 235 pounds. I am obese. I keep saying that because it really hasn’t sunken in. While I look in the mirror and see a fatty where a hotty used to be, I don’t FEEL obese. But according to the BMI people and my Wii Fit, I am obese.
That leads me to my Wii Fit and to why I am writing to you here today. I made the decision that I’m not going to be 40ish and frumpy any more – I’m going to be 40ish and fabulous. Most importantly I decided to begin the race for the rest of my life. I’m going to be the Tortoise and not the Hare and I’m going to take baby, baby, baby steps toward changing my way of eating and my way of moving. The weight will come off – it won’t have a choice, and I will be fit.
Just after Christmas, my husband and I bought the Wii and the Wii fit with the balance board. It measures your weight and tells you that you’re obese in this really sweet little voice and then it gives you games to play that get you moving. That is my current short-term goal. Move. Every. Day. (More about that below.) And eat human being sized portions. You know, in a book I read someone said that a famous skinny person that she used to nanny would eat two bites of a hamburger, a handful of French fries, a sip of a chocolate shake and declare herself done. That was her portion. Did your jaw drop? Mine did when I read it. So that was her portion – and she’s too skinny in my book, so she can keep her portion!!! – her portion is not my portion and it’s not your portion. We all need to figure that out for ourselves I think.
So here is my plan: I tend to gather things – I choose things that make sense to me, as we all have to do. Many of them are behavior modification tips from Fat Camp, but others I picked up along the way. I am going to:
Drink a glass of ice water first thing in the morning – it supposedly gets your metabolism moving.
Be present while I eat and not read, watch TV, do the crossword. I will just eat and enjoy every bite.
Chew slower and not get another bite of food ready and on my fork/spoon until I’m done swallowing the last bit. Are you like me and you’ve got one forkful in your mouth and you’re chewing away and then next one already queued up and ready to shove in? I am a very, very fast eater and I need to learn to slow it down.
Not allow myself to become “starving.” I have found that I do really well when I stay between “hungry” and “full.” I’m trying to avoid “starving” and “stuffed.”
Eat real portions. One of the things that I learned at Fat Camp was that when you go out to eat, you should cut the meal in half immediately and ask for a to go container and box it up right away before you start eating. It really allows you to enjoy all of the food on your plate and the good conversation at the table.
Move every day. I took my base number of steps over the course of two weeks, every day using a pedometer. Then I added them and divided by 14. That was my baseline number of steps. My baseline number was higher than it should have been by a LOT because we got the Wii Fit and I couldn’t just sit and not play with it. Once I had that number I then increased it by 2,000 steps per day. I challenged myself to accept the higher than normal baseline and increase from there. So far so good. I am working on an average number of steps for this week, but at some point I will challenge myself to make sure I hit that increased number every day.
Christy asked me for weight and measurements and I’ve provided the weight and here are my measurements:
Laurie’s Before Picture – 1/31/11