Saturday, April 30, 2011

How Did I Get Here?

I think anyone who has ever struggled with a weight problem has had those moments in front of a mirror where they look at themselves and think: "How did I let this happen?"

Everyone's story is different, but I think we share some similar experiences. For me, the cycle of fat-to-thin has always involved having a totally unrealistic view of how I actually look. What do I mean by that? I mean that I've been fighting with my weight for so long and starting from such a young age, that no matter what size I am, I see myself as fat.

At my thinnest ever I was a size 6/8. I'm only 5' 1.5" tall, so according to BMI and height/weight charts, I'm supposed to weight between 95-121 pounds. I've never gotten close. When I was at a size 6/8 (which I'd LOVE to be now), I would literally break down and cry over my weight. I was eating well and working hard to achieve a 'healthy' weight and I seemed unable to do so. I look back now and see pictures of myself and wonder what was I thinking? I looked GREAT. I was eating well, I was active. I was healthy.

While I was at my thinnest, I traveled to New York to see my musician brother play a couple of concerts. I walked into a restaurant to meet him and his friends and he didn't recognize me, which I attributed to my new haircut. It took me months to realize he didn't recognize me because I was so thin. I look at pictures from that trip and wonder how that was ever me. And then I remember how I cried in the hotel because I was embarrassed to have been hanging out with his friends while I was so fat. Writing this down, I sound kind of crazy and unstable, but I think anyone who has gone through the dieting yo-yo understands what I'm trying to say. I showed pictures of the trip to Emily (the same Emily who is writing here!) and she echoed my brother's sentiment: she wouldn't have recognized me had she seen me then.

And then there is the flip side-- Even thought I couldn't properly understand and celebrate when I looked good and lived a healthy lifestyle, I also couldn't see when I was getting honestly fat again. It's like somehow this median view of how I was at one specific point gets burned into my retinas and it's all I can see when I look in the mirror. Sure, the number on the scale changes and I have to buy new, bigger, pants, but I never truly see how I look. So I get bigger. And bigger. And bigger. And eating and not exercising is fun, because it means more time to eat and hang out with friends, who also eat (but somehow don't get bigger). And I get bigger. And bigger. Until I'm here.

What snaps me out of it? In this case-- one photo. This photo:

You can't see it here because I cropped the others people out for their privacy, but I LITERALLY took up half that couch. I know some of you are saying, "It's not that bad, Julie." But it is. And not because of how I look, but because I let myself get out of control and become so unhealthy and, yes, fat.

I have a lot of excuses, some of them are even pretty good. But, the bottom line is that I have to do something, and this is why I'm running now.

Because of the allergies and being officially diagnosed with the 'short end of the metabolic stick', I may not lose a ton of weight. I've been told to expect that and I'm trying to be ok with that. I'm not yet, but I'm trying to be. Most days, if I'm being honest, I totally freak out before I walk into the gym because I'm not sure I can do this. I'm not sure I want to spend the time if I'm never going to look any better than I do now. I'm not sure I want to risk the public failure.

The bottom line? If I'm going to look like the girl in this picture, I at least have to know I can do whatever I want to do physically by being in shape.

That's how I got here. That's why I'm doing this. And this time I want to install some sort of backup default so I don't get here again.


  1. This hits so close to home. I picture myself so differently than I actually look that it's sometimes shocking to see myself in a window/mirror. I exercise and eat fairly well, but I know I have to step it up if I want to get myself back.

  2. Good for you!!!!
    I am slowly getting back into running after a knee surgery. But I have to say, that I have never really thought of myself as a natural runner. Just someone who has gotten so much from finding out what my body can do for me.

  3. I totally understand what you are saying here. I look at pictures of myself even just a few years ago - I look so healthy and happy and yet I felt huge. I look at myself now and wonder how the Hell that happened? One of my biggest hinderances is getting the car. We needed it for the business but now I rarely walk anywhere. I'm trying so hard!

    We can do it and we have all this support this time too!

  4. Julie, this SO doesn't sound crazy at all. In fact, you very well could have been telling my story......literally. I am never able to see myslef how I really am. I still feel like I am the fattest person in the room, but I have learned to ignore those feelings and remind myself that I am a size 12, not a size 26 anymore and move on. You are SO brave for telling your story. Being self aware, i believe, is at least half the battle to overcoming. You are awesome, Julie! Keep it up :)