A good friend messaged me the other day saying she was struggling to be positive about her weight loss progress. She knew it was a momentary thing, and she should be proud of herself, and she hadn’t gone overboard… but for some reason her mindset was off. I reminder her not to worry, the day would end, the feeling would go away, and told her to have a big glass of water and get out and enjoy the sunshine.
It got me thinking about all those times I had the very same feeling. And all those negative emotions I felt along the way on my journey. It also reminded me of the times before I dedicated myself to losing weight when I felt the worst about myself, and how I use those memories now to motivate myself.
The Infamous Changeroom Moment(s)
One of my biggest struggles with my body has always been my frontal roll. That one patch of skin at the front of my stomach that seems determined to stay there (even after losing 60lbs). I can remember when I was young, that roll would haunt me most. Jean shopping was always the worst, because the low rise stretchy jeans that all the cool girls wore, didn’t really work on this body (they still don’t- and I’m okay with that now!). On one hand, they sat below the roll and I liked that, but the sizes never came big enough to not be skin tight on me, leaving everything else to hang over top.
So, my mom took me to the grown-up stores for high wasted pants. This felt like social suicide. Nobody wore high wasted pants, therefore on top of feeling fat and like a waste of skin, I now felt like I was even less cool. I can remember being 11 or 12 years old and having one of these pairs of jeans on with the button nearly cutting off circulation around my stomach. I sucked everything in and walked out of the changeroom, my mom happy to not be seeing butt crack when I bent over. The day after walking out of the store, I started wearing the jeans below the role so the crotch hung down in this super attractive way, but at least I could breathe a little.
I’ve gotten stuck in clothes within the changeroom more times than I can count. I can’t remember every instance, but I remember the feeling that reoccurred within me, time after time. And I know what you’re thinking “um, maybe stop trying on clothes that clearly aren’t going to fit you Leah”. But the thing was that I wanted so badly to fit into at least the largest size the store had so many times that I would put myself through it. I didn’t accept that I was bigger than the XXL I stared at in that room, so I forced myself into it. And when the realization that I was in fact bigger than that XXL dress, I remember the feeling of holding back tears, or trying to be quiet when they did eventually fall. Those very moments and instances may not stand out in my mind, but the scaring from the emotions will stay with me forever.
The Ugly Breakup
When you’re 17 years old, there’s a ton of self discovery to occur. So, when I broke up with my high school boyfriend of a few years, it was hard and I was sad, but I knew I had a lot of life to live on my own. He was understanding at first, but the usual hurt and hate set in and before I knew it, it was the ugly breakup I’d been trying to avoid.
I remember the day I saw his comment online, back when Nexopia was the place to be. I’ll never forget the feeling in my stomach when I saw the words “she was a whale anyways”. It was like being punched in the gut while simultaneously having my heart ripped out. All the trust I put in him, the things we’d shared with each other, the good times we’d had- my teenage heart was absolutely broken. How could someone I cared about, whom I thought cared about me at one point, say such a thing about me? I wondered if he knew what an impact that word would have on me. I chalked it up to probably, because he wanted me to hurt too. It worked. To this day that whale comment motivates me (along with many others I’ve experienced being called).
The Day I Saw a 2 on the Scale
I think for a lot of us, 200 is the mark. It’s that number that we refuse to hit, and often hover just below, reassuring ourselves that we haven’t hit rock bottom quite yet. 200 was the maximum for me, despite being equally unhappy at 190 for many years.
2 semesters of college before dropping out gave me enough time to add on that freshman 15 and make it over the 200lb mark. The day I faced the scale and saw 205lbs (it was at night, which adds way more weight right?) my heart almost stopped (and this was pre-discovery of my heart problem).
That was it. I was never eating again. I was over the number I promised myself I’d never go over and my life was effectively over. Looking back, I’m surprised I hadn’t put more weight on. Around that time, I was eating out at restaurants or fast food almost daily, getting little to no exercise, sleeping either not enough or until noon, and downing endless vodka cranberries on weekends.
I joined Weight Watchers for the second time at this point, getting back down to 180lbs before quitting, and rejoining for the third and final time a few years later at 195lbs (a pre-emptive move, before another 200 scare).
So in the moment, those days of uncertainty and negativity, they suck. They make it hard to stay focused and force us to stay very determined. But those crappy days do pass, and in the rear-view, they push us.
The moments that stand out along the journey, as well as before we started it- they work to keep us inspired. I never want to feel as hopeless as I did in those horrible changeroom experiences. I’ll never let someone’s words impact me like they did with the whale comment. And I’m able to do this because I control everything. I control whether I’m overweight, I control how I feel in my skin. I purposely chose to eat healthier foods, and as a result, I feel better about myself. These days, if I’m going to get stuck in a shirt, it’s going to be an extra small shirt— and I’m going to laugh about it.