Monday, December 7, 2009

This is me...

Let's see, where do I begin. I'm a 27 year old woman. For all intensive purposes I have a great life. I have a job that pays well, a beautiful home, a boyfriend that I love dearly and pets that I adore. I'm just not feeling fulfilled. I'm overweight and have been struggling with it for years now. I like my job, but don't love it as much as I could. We recently moved to a new state so my boyfriend could pursue getting his PhD and while I love living in this area I'm a bit lonely and haven't really made any friends yet.

Wow, this sounds like a pity party. I didn't always feel this way and I wasn't always like this. Growing up my mom said I was always the happiest child. She told me recently that since I was such a good kid she was always waiting for me to hit that stage and give her a hard time, but it never happened. When I was 9 years old my mom had my youngest brother whom I adore. My mom also had a daycare and every day after school I'd look forward to coming home and seeing my brother and helping out my mom with her daycare. I was painfully shy at school, but I always looked forward to spending time with the kids. I was also involved in dance from the time I was 5. Once high school rolled around I had been with the same dance teacher for years, so she hired me to start teaching the classes and I would drive to her main base to join some of the other more advanced dancers who also taught classes in other towns. While teaching dance isn't something I'd ever consider as a career (those parents could be brutal), it was a healthy thing that taught me a lot about responsibility. Also, in high school, for our physical education course we had a choice of classes to take and I chose weight training. I was one of maybe three girls in the class and I loved weight training. I got to a point where I could bench press my weight. The weight training in combination with the dancing meant I was in phenomenal shape.

The awful thing, though, is that I thought I was fat. I look back at pictures of myself and it's hard to understand why I thought that. My parents are divorced and have been for years, but they both struggle with their weight. I grew up living with my mom and I think seeing her struggle with her weight demons rubbed off on me giving me an unhealthy view of my body. I also grew up with really bad eating habits and have always been a couch potato, but my young age and exercise habits caused that to never be an issue.

When college rolled around boy did things change. My poor eating habits and couch potato mentality didn't change, but my exercise habits did. I signed up for a dance class, but that was only one 50 minute class twice a week. I also got into the habit of drinking excessively whenever I went out to try and offset my shyness. And then there were the late night pizzas to soak up all that alcohol I was drinking. My sophomore year of college I finally started coming out of my shell and the shyness was fading. I made some really close friends and was having a great time, but I continued with the drinking and late night eating. I was definitely a yo yo dieter and would go from exercising a ton to not at all, but I never really got my eating under control.

When I graduated college I moved from Wisconsin to San Diego. My dad lived in San Diego, but I didn't move out there to live with him, I rented a house with some roommates whom I had never met before. I had some money saved, but not much. I happened to move in with a very social guy who seemed to know everyone that lived in the city of San Diego. It was good, because it helped me meet people, but bad because the parties and bad eating continued. Only now I lived in the house where all of the parties were thrown. I had more trouble finding a job than I anticipated, which meant more time to party but quickly dwindling funds to pay for my rent and other expenses.

I ended up having to live with my dad. It was the first time I had lived with him since I was 3 and he and my mom divorced. It was a huge hit to my pride to have to live with him since I'd always been trying to make him proud from afar and having to move in with him made me feel like a failure, but I knew I had to do it. My step-mom and I had always struggled a bit with our relationship. She was a petite blond with her hair in the perfect place and came from a background with money, where I was a chubby brunette still trying to figure out my place in the world, struggling with my weight issues and I had grown up with my mom where we didn't have a lot of money and I had to work for any luxuries I wanted from the time I was 15.

We just didn't see eye to eye, so living together was tough. She was a neat freak and always wanted everything in its place and I've always been a bit messy. While I lived with them I strived to keep my room neat as a pin to keep our relationship as smooth as possible, but I just never felt at home there. So, to get away I retreated to the gym. I had found a job that included a paid gym membership, so I went to the gym every day after work. I didn't like spending much time in my step-mom's kitchen, so I'd cook frozen meals so I could get in and out as quickly as possible. While it's not healthy to always be eating these frozen meals, it made it easy to track calories. I don't know what my starting weight was, but I got my weight down to 160 lbs. I was feeling great. I moved out of their house after 6 or so months. A few months after being on my own I met my boyfriend. I instantly felt at ease with him and had this feeling that he could be "the one". We spent a lot of time going out to eat and watching movies, but I stayed under 170 lbs for the first year or so. He always commented that he loved being with me because I was always happy. He had a previous long term relationship and he said his ex always seemed to be in a bad mood. He said it was refreshing to be with someone who was always cheerful. I ended up moving in with a co-worker for a short period of time and then realized I needed a place of my own.

I ended up finding a cute little one bedroom cottage to rent. My boyfriend was living with a friend about 2 miles away, so that was very convenient. We started spending nearly all of our time together. While we didn't live together we might as well have. We were very cozy in my house watching movies and going out to dinners and both just started packing on the pounds. Then within a year he moved in and it got even worse. We got 2 cats and absolutely loved our little cottage. So much so that we were perfectly content hanging at home with the cats. We were best friends and loved each other's company so there was no longer this need to go out since we had everything we needed right there.

Over time the weight just kept creeping up. Right around our two year anniversary my older brother got engaged. I was so excited for him, but definitely not feeling my best. I knew there'd be pictures at his wedding that would be around for the rest of my life and I wanted to be able to enjoy looking at myself in these pictures. About 5 months before his wedding I decided I was ready to lose weight. It was April 2008 and I weighed 204 lbs. I started doing weight watchers to keep track of my food and was working out at the gym and taking long walks and bike rides with my boyfriend whenever I could. By August I was down to 176 lbs. I was feeling great and was on a great path when I went back to Wisconsin for my sister-in-law's bridal shower and bachelorette party. We were also getting our first dress fitting for our bridesmaid dresses. The dress was huge on me and had to be majorly altered and I was elated at all of the work I had done. I was so proud of myself and so happy to be on the path I was on. Then the seamstress told me that I wasn't allowed to lose any more weight between then and the wedding that was a month away. It was as if someone had slapped me. I felt my joy completely rush out of me and was near to tears. I was doing so well and now was basically told to stop. I didn't know how to just maintain my weight. I went back to San Diego and probably put on 5 lbs or so in the month I was home. The wedding came and I had a great time, the dress fit and everything was wonderful, but I had lost momentum.

For the next year I really didn't exercise much at all. My boyfriend was studying and taking the GRE and applying to colleges all over the country to try and get into their PhD program. The stress of this accompanied with the stress of preparing to move to another state meant the weight just crept back on. We've since moved, bought a house and settled in and now I'm back even higher than where I started at about 206 lbs.

I just don't feel like that happy person everyone knew me to be. I'm depressed and when I look at pictures I don't even feel like I look like myself anymore. I know I need to change, but I'm really struggling. My boyfriend is deep into his PhD program and is often studying and not getting home until late at night. I'm lonely because I don't really know anyone here. Another hurdle is that we're trying to pay off some debt so I don't have a bunch of money to get out and do some things where I could meet people. I could probably afford a gym membership, but I haven't decided if I want to add another monthly bill into our budget when we have so much debt hanging over our shoulders. However, I feel that joining a gym would give me a much needed chance to meet people. I kept my job that I had in San Diego, but am working from home full time so I don't even have that as an outlet to socialize.

Luckily I have my pets. We have the two cats we started with and while in San Diego ended up getting two more. My boyfriend loves animals as much as, if not more than, I do which is great. After moving to Indianapolis we ended up adopting two Australian shepherd mix puppies. We got them when they were just 6 weeks old. It was a lot of work potty training them and take them to their countless vet appointments, but they gave me the affection and attention I needed to help deal with not having made any friends yet and they got me out of the house. They are now 5 months old and don't need me watching over them every second of every day like I felt like they did when they were younger. I have started a friendship with one of the nurses at the vet's office but it's in the beginning stages, so we'll see how this new relationship blossoms.

So this is where I'm at now. I'm 206 lbs and my goal weight is 145 lbs. I'm hoping by posting what I'm going through here I can get encouragement and suggestions from others to help me get to where I want to be, so I can be the happier healthier me that I know is in there somewhere.

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