First, let me start off by saying the support, encouragement and health tips I have gotten from everyone has been incredible- truly. Close friends, acquaintances and even strangers have been in my corner from the moment I hit clicked publish on the most terrifying post of my life.
Like any major change, these first two weeks haven’t been easy, but it seems like every time my motivation or commitment was tested, I would get a text message from a friend I haven’t talked to in a while saying she believed in me, or a comment from a blog friend saying she was struggling with the same things, or a Facebook comment from a friend with a tip on how she stays motivated. You all have not only helped me from stress eating and skipping workouts, but also reminded me how truly blessed I am.
So, how did I become, what is scientifically described as obese? (sidenote: isn’t obese such a nasty word. Every time I say it I shudder a little.) It’s no secret, I ate crap and I wasn’t active, but I wasn’t always that way.
Back in high school before I had “good child bearing” hips and my hip bones jutted out so far I would complain that they got bruised by the desks, I was a dancer. At 5 foot 9 and 125 pounds I could eat anything I wanted (which I did) and my rigorous dance schedule (of about 15-30 hours a week depending on conventions, competitions and extra practices) kept my naturally athletic body in tip-top shape.
Then I decided I wanted to be an actress/model. So I found myself an agent and they said, “Ashley, we really need you to get down to about 110.” Holy hell, was that even possible? For about two months, I skipped the chicken mcnuggets and opted for boiled chicken, salad and a lot of ice chips or nothing at all. I started working with a trainer who came to the house on top of all the dance I was still doing. I felt like crap, but got down to about 115- also, I looked like a bobble head and some of my muscle definition was missing. The agent wasn’t pleased that I hadn’t reached my goal. I was miserable.
It was around that time that I was walking down the hallway to the bathroom at school and I just passed out- right in the middle of the hallway. I remember my vision getting blurry, then black and white, then just black. Somehow, I ended up in the nurses office. I told the nurse I had forgotten to eat breakfast and she gave me some crackers and sent me on my way.
It happened again a few weeks later when I was working as a “fragrance model”, more commonly known as a spritzer girl, at the mall. I was half way through my four hour shift when my vision blurred again. I practically sprinted to the bathroom so I wouldn’t pass out in the middle of Macy’s. I was able to get into a bathroom stall and prop myself against the wall when the blackout came. When I came to, I went home saying I wasn’t feeling well. If I had been a starlet, I’m sure the tabloids would have said I was suffering from exhaustion.
I knew I had to eat more, but I also knew I was expected to lose 5 more pounds. So I did what a lot 16 year old girls do when they think they aren’t skinny enough, I purged. I wasn’t committed to the idea. It was gross, it made my throat hurt and it made my face sweat. Plus I hated lying to people and sneaking off to do it. I did it probably once every couple of days after any particularly fatty meals. Now I was not only miserable, but I felt guilty and I started to hate myself.
Then I weighed in again.
I was back up to 120. How could this be happening? Outside of sawing off one of my arms, there was no way I was ever going to be thin enough. So, I quit. I distinctly remember the moment I decided I had had enough. It was simple really. I was eating pizza with friends. During that time, I would have stopped after two slices and politely excused myself to quietly vomit as much of the two slices as I could into the most discrete toilet. This time though, I kept eating. I decided right then and there, that I was in control, that I was tired of trying to live up to an impossible expectation and that I would forgo being a model and opt for an athletic action movie star instead.
I never became a movie star. Instead, I got an attitude. I rightfully told myself, that my body was beautiful no matter what the scale said and that I could eat whatever I wanted. However, I took it to the next level by eating everything. I got a chip on my shoulder about it-like being skinny was the anti-christ. I regularly choose the most fattening thing on a menu. Which was fine until a knee injury took me off the dance floor and those eating habits didn’t change.
By the time I graduated high school, I had gained 20 pounds, which didn’t concern me. I was still in the normal weight range for my height. Throughout college my weight yo-yo’d a bit. My hips began to fill out along with my chest. Alcohol, late night binge eating and ramen noodles became a regular part of my life and naturally my weight went up. It was manageable because I took some workout classes at the rec center, occasionally worked out in the dorm gym and walked all over campus. Over the course of college I slowly packed on another 40 pounds.
Post college I tried a lot of diets. Low carb, low fat, smart ones only, the getting ready for your wedding diet, the getting divorced diet, the HCG diet, but one thing remained the same… I didn’t like to follow the rules. I would stick to it for a couple months and then I would gain everything back plus 10 more pounds. I wasn’t ready to give up “the good things”. Even when I was on diets, I would pick up fast food and eat it in my car, because if no one saw me do it, it didn’t count. I felt comfortable with my size until I saw myself in pictures, so I stayed away from cameras. Ironic, since this story started out with me trying to get in front of them.
But here I am, two weeks into a complete lifestyle shift. Note I said lifestyle shift, not diet. I don’t plan on going back.
I’m keeping track of everything I eat and the calories I burn- that’s key! By arming myself with the knowledge of what I am putting into my body and how much I should be putting in, it keeps me from eating things I shouldn’t. I make better food choices. And I still have control. I allow myself one cheat meal each week. This week I chose gourmet street tacos and a mini gelato flight- and I enjoyed them.
I gave up soda. Which was hard. Especially when the caffeine headaches started. They lasted for a solid week, but the headaches are gone now. It’s really hard for me to resist the stuff, but so far I am 16 days strong!
I hit the gym 5 days a week. Which I have actually enjoyed a lot. Some days I still dread it, but more often I enjoy my time in the there! Some part of my body is constantly sore, but that actually makes me kind of excited.
I drink more water than I did, but I could still squeeze in some more ounces.
And most importantly I don’t make excuses. I just do it.
So that’s the short story of how I gained weight. Thanks, as always, for reading and more importantly for being a part of the story of how I lost weight, changed perspective, improved my lifestyle and lived happily ever Ashley!