It’s hard to know where to begin… so I guess I’ll just start from the beginning.
I’ve never been considered a skinny girl. My mom was fat. My dad was fat. All I knew was fat. I didn’t know it was fat, though, until I was older. I just thought it was normal. I remember when I was 5, my best friend’s mom was pregnant–I recognized that she had a big belly, just like my mom, and later that day when I saw my mom I asked if she was pregnant, too. I didn’t understand the hurt in her eyes at that moment, but she got very quiet and told me never to say anything like that again.
I was in 3rd grade when I first became aware of being “bigger”. I was 5 feet tall and 115 pounds. My doctor told my mom I needed to lose weight. I’m not sure that she changed anything in my diet or that she took him seriously, but I joined the basketball team that year. At my next appointment I was 104 pounds. The doctor seemed pleased, and I was too. I sprained my ankle that year and a male teacher carried me out of the gym to the lunchroom; I was surprised that he could carry me. I was “fat,” after all.
I remember always being aware of weight. We’d drive an hour to my mom’s “diet doctor” and get her “water pills”. Nothing ever worked.
I was in 4th grade the first time I was called fat. There were 2 sisters, twins, in my class who each weighed 47 and 48 pounds, respectively (I know this because we were weighed and measured in front of the whole class). I don’t remember a lot of specifics, but I know that I cried a lot that year. I would get home from school and get to the top of the stairs and just collapse and cry. The final straw was at the end of the year, when the twins’ mom was (supposedly) going to rent a limo to pick up all the girls in the class (there were maybe 8 of us). My “best friend” told me that one of the girls (the meaner of the two) told her that I couldn’t go because I was too fat to ride in the limo. I told this to my mom, and she had some choice words. She was more upset with my friend for telling me that–she called her a shit-starter and called her mom.
I’m sharing these things because it’s important to understand that there has never been a time when I haven’t been at least aware of my weight. I haven’t always been embarrassed or ashamed of it, but I’ve always been aware. I stayed a size 14-16 throughout middle and high school.
In 2004, the summer before my junior year of college, I took diet pills (Phentermine). I dropped 20 pounds in a couple of months, eating Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food ice cream and french fries from Al’s Late Night diner–oh, and my trusty blue and white-speckled pill every morning. Everyone told me how great I looked. I hadn’t even realized how much weight I’d lost. I was 5’9″ and about 175 pounds, a size 12-14–pretty normal. For the first time in my life, I actually felt like I was worthy of being described as hot. I decided to see how I did without the pills. I think I gained back all 20 plus some by the time I woke up the next day (at least, that’s how it seems when I remember it).
I tried all kinds of things over the years, and the only thing that I was certain of was that I’d feel worse at the end of each weight loss “attempt” and be heavier that I was when I started.
To be continued….