I have been on a personal journey of late. One of many I have taken. It is a road I have traveled before and may travel again, but I hope not. It is the road from being overweight to a healthy weight. I could say from fat to fit, from huge to slender, from obese to slim. But these words just make me feel all sorts of things that I do not want to feel and they do not really describe the journey.
I thought it may be a helpful thing to share on the blog for lots of reasons:
- Because I don’t talk about this much and it is important for me to do so as it helps me recognise what I have achieved;
- Because it is connected to the theme of my blog being about healthy people; and
- Because working in health and knowing how many of us struggle with the issue of weight, I thought it may be helpful to some of you out there.
What the journey is really about, for me, is from unhappy to happy. From disliking my image in the mirror to starting to try and see the new one. From shopping in the “larger ladies” sections to being able to pull things off racks anywhere I choose to go. From feeling trapped by the injuries, disabilities and chronic diseases I live with each and every day, to feeling freer, not free, but freer from these things and using my body in many remarkable ways. From being puffed out doing the vacuuming to being able to run, for a long time, and feel good. From being obsessed with Lindt Balls, to craving my low fat natural yoghurt with a bananna.
I have always battled weight. It runs in our family. Perhaps we have that “fat gene” that gets tossed about. Perhaps we come from viking stock and were built for surviving long trips at sea and having lots of babies as we fought battles atop the viking ship. Perhaps we are just made that way. Whatever the reason, many of the beautiful, handsome, pretty, smart, lovely people who are in my family are larger than life. Some people may be comfortable with that. But I am not. I don’t feel happy when I am overweight. I would love to change societal attitudes to weight and stop the obsession with anti fat. But I do know that for me, not being fat means I am healthier and happier. This does not however mean being thin. It simply means being a healthy weight, for me.
I remember being a little girl and becoming aware of being “chubby”. I remember being a 12 year old and getting type 1 diabetes and almost fading away to 34 kilos and thinking it was AMAZING as I could get a string bikini for our surfers holiday and look good in velvet jeans (well it was 1980). I remember all the thin pretty girls who I wanted so so much to be. Type 1 diabetes pretty much screwed this all up even more for me. In my head, I was now not only fat, but I was a diabetic. Someone who had something awful wrong with them, who would have terrible things happen to them, that I would rot away and have bits of my body fall apart.
The trouble with type 1 diabetes is you get sooo thin (as you are so sick) and then when you go on insulin you put weight on again and often become a little overweight. Then there is the fact of food being counted, weighed (back in those days) and becoming part of your “medicine” in a way. By the time I was in late high school I was once again overweight. One of my first sort of boyfriends said to me at an intimate moment, “you would be so pretty if you just lost a bit of weight”……do you know how that screws with your mind?
I have always been active – ballet, yoga, calesthenics, netball,basketball, cross country running,bike riding, to name a few. As a young adult moving to the city for study, I started jazz ballet at the gym and later, became a gym junkie. I still felt fat. When I had my first baby 19 years ago, I got post natal depression and I really got obese. I ate. I sat. I cried. I hated my life. After leaving his dad when he was just a baby still,I took control and lost 30 kilos. I felt amazing. The gym was back in my life and I was happy.
Type 1 diabetes does complicate this however. It is far from easy. The battle and effort involved in planning an hour ahead that you will be exercising so you can reduce your insulin enough that you won’t get dangerously low blood glucose during the work out, the need to eat lollies and glucose to get though it, using up all the calories you have burnt dealing with the low, the lack of spontaneity, the lows later in the night, the unexpected highs during a run…but that said it makes you an excellent planner!
Post traumatic stress at work, depression, panic attacks came next in my life. Then another baby. Post natal depression. Again. And more weight. I did get this weight off, but not as much as the first time. To keep this story short, you can toss in a frozen shoulder lasting 5 years, a car injury to my back, arthritis, bursitis, injections in knees, hips, ankles and many huge problems with my entire digestive system due to diabetes making me feel ill and broken and sore – and gradually, little by little, I stopped exercising. Third baby down four years ago and more weight crept on. By this time I was reduced to the occasional walk with the family. Then…nothing. I had become sedentary.
I also have multiple food restrictions and other issues that impact my diet. All of these things led me to once again being obese as I just ate what I felt like and could manage to digest. But I did not really notice. I knew I was overweight . But not really by how much. Then came high blood pressure. It shocked me, shook me out of my comfort zone. Then, I saw the terrible truth in the picture from Maxwell’s Kindy Christmas Party – and I took control back.
I started to take chances, steps. I started counting calories for the first time ever thanks to an amazing APP, My Fitness Pal. I gave myself a reality check about my eating habits. I started back at the gym and this time I PUSHED through the pains and aches and problems and denial and excuses. And discovered an amazing thing, that I could still do these things. Yes there are still things I can not do and I think at 46 this is probably fair enough!
Yet I also still struggle at times, when I catch my reflection, to believe I have gone from an 18+ to a size 12. I still feel the same old issues about my body, yet I know it has changed. I think this mental challenge is one of the hardest. In addition to all the foods I gave up years ago such as pastries, chips and take aways, I have given up chocolate, once my dear dear friend. I have learnt about how many calories I need each day, how many when exercise and how many when I don’t.
So here I am 24 kilos down. Feeling fit, healthy. Feeling damn good. Here’s hoping it is the end of the road for me with this weight thing. But somehow, I think it won’t be. I hope it helps to share and would love to hear if anyone out there has a similar story to share?