It All Started With an Invitation
I’ve been overweight for most of my life. For as long as I can remember, I have had extra fat here and there.
I wasn’t a fat baby – at least from the pictures I’ve seen. And, according to my mom, I really didn’t have a weight problem until I started Kindergarten – I couldn’t go out and run and play all day like I had when I was home with her.
I just steadily (though slowly) gained weight from there. We only had one analog scale in the house (the one in my parent’s bathroom) so I didn’t weigh myself much. I wasn’t really concerned about my weight anyway, not until junior high. And if you don’t weigh yourself, you don’t have to face reality.
It wasn’t much fun buying clothes, especially school uniforms. They always had to be purchased in a larger size and then altered for length. It was probably one of the few times I had to face the fact that I was carrying around extra pounds.
Oh, and then there were comments from family members… “You have such a pretty face, if only you didn’t have all that extra weight..” So hurtful! And I promise, for any of you reading this, those types of comments to a little girl are 100% not helpful.
For the record, I don’t blame my obesity problem on anyone. There are so many factors that contributed to it. Poor nutrition education, eating through my feelings (positive and negative), eating in hiding and the list goes on.
My weight problem didn’t end when I went to college either; it got worse. I didn’t own a scale, and in my junior year of college I rarely went home. I don’t even know how much I gained during that time.
Now, I’m not trying to be dramatic, but a thing happened in 2006 that changed my life.
My good friend, and roommate at the time, were hanging out at our apartment swimming pool. She was talking about wanting to lose about 15 pounds or so and I was complaining about my weight too, of course. She mentioned that she had heard good things about Weight Watchers and asked if I would go with her.
This was pivotal. At that point in my life I would never have gone alone. I hadn’t really considered it even. I thought that I was “big boned”, a lot of people in my family were overweight too so I must just be “genetically predisposed to be heavy”. I told myself a lot of stories so that I wouldn’t have to change the way I was eating…
But I agreed to go because I figured that I could still probably lose some weight. I would support her in trying to lose the weight she wanted to lose. And I might be able make a few changes so that I could stop having to constantly buy bigger clothes. I was wearing a size 20 or 22 at that point.
For those of you not familiar with how WW works I’ll provided a quick description. Now a days, you can join online for the in person meetings or just follow the plan online. But back then you showed up, filled out a registration form, and then stood in line waiting to be weighed.
Women sit behind a counter looking at computers and with a digital scale linking to the computer. You hand one of the women your paperwork and then, when the computer is ready, you step on the scale. The weight is recorded and she would write it down on the book they provide to you and hand it back. Now there are barcodes, scanners and stickers that print out your current weight, change in weight since your last weigh-in and total pounds lost.
I don’t remember the date, but it was in the summer of 2006 when we showed up for the first of many Saturday morning meetings. We got there a few minutes before the meeting. We filled out our paperwork, then got in line to be weighed. I watched women begin what appeared to be a sort of ritual. They would take their shoes (and socks) off, remove items from their pockets, etc. Some would even change into the same (lighter) clothes that they weighed in with every week, before stepping onto the scale. This would become a ritual for me as well.
As I walked up to the scale I removed my shoes, as I had seen the others do, and then stepped up onto the scale. The woman handed me a little weight tracking book and said that the leader would have a new member session at the end of the meeting. My friend and I went and sat down in the meeting area. After we were settled in a bit, I looked through the multitude of books I had been given. I found the one where my weight would be recorded each week and found the number she wrote there as my “starting weight”. I was SO not prepared for that number.
Could she have written it down wrong? Maybe her handwriting was bad and she meant to have a different number written there. Sitting there a moment, after the shock had worn off, I knew it wasn’t a mistake.
I was carrying 232.8 pounds around on my 5’2” frame!
That was a HUGE (no pun intended) wakeup call to me. Part of the registration process at Weight Watchers is figuring out what a healthy weight range is for your age, sex and height. So while I sat in the meeting I also figured out that I had approximately 100 pounds to lose to get to a healthy weight. NO WAY I thought. I’ll never even get close to that.
And I was right. With that frame of mind, I wouldn’t – not for a long time anyway.
But I did lose weight. I lost 25 pounds in the first 6 months or so. I made it to under 200 pounds within a year. It got harder and harder. The less I weighed the harder it got. Through a lot of work, I managed to get to a weight of 185 pounds.
You can see the weight loss from just this picture of my face taken in 2007, just before my mom died.
The three years following that are a bit of a rollercoaster, but more on that in future blog posts. I never went back up to my highest weight. I have consistently maintained a 30-pound loss from that first weigh-in at WW.
Without that invitation from a friend to go to a Weight Watchers meeting, I don’t think I’d be where I am today.
It started because of vanity. I wanted to look better in clothes. I wasn’t so much concerned about my health.
Now health is my primary motivation to get to my ultimate goal.
I now have a passion for nutrition education. I’ve spend hours reading about the latest research on nutrition and fitness. I am so excited to be sharing my journey with you and passing on the things I am learning along the way. This information is for anyone who is looking to improve the quality of their own lives. I hope I can help someone else improve their quality of life too.
Thanks for reading. And please share in the comments about how friends and family have impacted your weight or fitness journey. I’d love to read your stories.