30. When you’re slowly gaining weight and buying clothes that are a bigger size, you’re MUCH bigger than you actually think you are.

When I was at my heaviest, I weighed 184lbs. My lowest, in recent years, has been 147lbs. When I moved from Halifax to Vancouver in 1996 (?) I was the smallest I’d ever been, weighing in the 130s and wearing a size 7 (that year I even bought a dress that was a size 5). Those were extenuating circumstances however – Taylor and I had been doing the long distance relationship and all my free time was spent at the gym or dancing at the Pacifico for hours at a time.

It was when we moved to Ontario that I started packing on the weight. I wasn’t working (by choice) and because we were doing fairly well financially, we ate really well. Big, rich meals, often accompanied by an appetizer and/or dessert. I’d do a half-assed workout in the morning after sleeping late and then go back to bed afterwards. I wonder now if I wasn’t depressed when we moved here – I missed my job managing the hair salon and the friends I made there and I missed the mild, wet Vancouver (we moved to Toronto in November, gross). I liked that the flowers bloomed in March and buying a carton of strawberries and a newspaper in the market on my way home from work and sitting on the boardwalk while I watched the boats move slowly up the river.

Mississauga was depressing when we got here and I was lonely. I don’t think things between Tay and me were the greatest during that time (he worked a lot) and my unhappiness was evident in the things I ate and how I stopped taking care of myself. What happened to the girl that rode the train in her short plaid skirts, knee high boots, curly (red!) hair swept up in a messy updo?

She stopped caring. And got fat.

At 184lbs, I had no idea how big I had allowed myself to get. Certainly no one told me. The random photo I’d see of myself spoke the truth but I wouldn’t acknowledge it. Or I brushed it off. I felt a twinge when a couple of the skirts I bought were a size 16, and knew then that things were escaping my control.

I lost 34lbs by the time we got married and was 150lbs on my wedding day and my dress was too big. I slowly gained some of the weight back after the wedding but never hit the 180s again (until I was pregnant), topping out in the low 160s and then I had jaw surgery and couldn’t eat for a month and swooped down to 147lbs.

I see now that I eat (poorly) when I’m stressed or unhappy. I had a few really rough, stressful years and throw in all the fertility stuff and the fat girl crept back. I was 175lbs when we went to Florida in May of last year and when I saw photos of myself from the trip, I knew I had to regain control.

Why don’t we tell the people we care about these things? Is it fair to assume that they’re aware and we shouldn’t point out the hurtful obvious? I wasn’t aware, it wasn’t obvious to me.

I lost 6lbs and was 169lbs when I got pregnant. I watched the scale carefully through my entire pregnancy, I was active and ate (mostly) responsibly. I didn’t want to use my pregnancy as an excuse to continue abusing my body (I’d done enough of that over the years) and I didn’t want to deal with losing more weight than was necessary once Clara was finally here. I’m proud of the fact that I stayed under 200lbs through my pregnancy, and that I gained a total of 28lbs. Breast feeding (pumping) worked to my advantage after giving birth and it was something like 4 weeks and 2 days and I was back down to my pre-pregnancy weight. Pumping has kept me from gaining, despite the fact that I wasn’t as active as I would have liked when Clara was first here. Pumping mamas burn 20 calories per ounce – at my peak I was pumping 43oz a day and burning 860 calories a day. And yes, during that time I ate what I wanted without much guilt.

Now that I’m only pumping twice a day (and averaging 18-20 oz/day), I’m burning substantially less calories as a result (500!) and so after much procrastinating, I finally got Clara and me to the gym. She plays in the daycare, I run on the treadmill overlooking the room she plays in. When she looks up, I give her a big wave and a smile and she smiles back. I wish I’d done this months ago but I wanted her to be able to crawl around and be more independent. Which she is. I went to a body pump class earlier this week, when I returned to pick her up, she twisted in my arms as I tried to get her dressed to leave. Her happiness at the daycare makes it really easy to get to the gym (we went 4 days this week, I’ll go a 5th and 6th time today and tomorrow).

I think there are big women out there that look really good despite their size. My sister WAS one of them, she’d wear certain things or I’d see photos of her and she looked really, really good. I’d try on a shirt that she was rocking the day before and I couldn’t pull it off the way she does. And I said WAS because she’s on her way to losing a ton of weight, having hired a personal trainer, getting in gym time and eating sensibly. I’m proud of her for making the change and doing what she needed to do to be healthy.

There’s been this campaign in society that big is beautiful and that women don’t have to be a size zero to be sexy. And as a result, we’re seeing lots of young girls wandering around in clothes that are clearly too small, midriff exposed, bellies hanging out. It’s hard to see because while eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia scare the hell out of me (especially now that I’m raising a daughter) and I know this attitude is meant to counter those disorders, obesity scares me just as much. You can get seriously ill and die from being too skinny but you can get seriously ill and die from being too fat. My father, who has abused his body for years due to a poor diet and lack of exercise, recently asked his doctor for a handicap parking permit because his knees are too weak to support his weight. Numerous times in my life I’ve been embarrassed by the size of my father despite loving him. I used to feel ashamed of my embarrassment and now I’m thinking, isn’t it shame on him for giving me that embarrassment? When (and why) did he stop caring? I don’t know how to tell him that I’m not sure I’d ever be comfortable leaving Clara alone in his care. Not only is he physically unable to get down on the floor and crawl around with her to play, he couldn’t respond quickly enough if she was in danger. And god forbid something happened to him while caring for her.

Obesity is a dangerous, dangerous thing – especially when you have children and you are responsible for a) taking care of them and b) setting a good example for them.

I don’t understand people that go to the doctor and leave upset when they’re told that they need to lose weight for their health and well-being. Or, who ignore the advice. And I’m saying this having been a fat person at one point. Like my too-honest aunt said at the time, I wasn’t fat-fat but yeah, I was fat. And as much as those words stung (and still do) it motivated me to do something about it.

I told my father shortly after Clara was born that his weight was an issue that needed to be dealt with. I told him I didn’t need my daughter getting attached to him only to have his obesity kill him a few years from now. When he talks to me about being handicapped, of needing that parking permit, I tell him he’s not handicapped. I want him to have the knee replacement surgery that will give him his life back.

There’s no such thing as it being too late – being too big to do anything about it. Physical ailments are no excuse. I watch The Biggest Loser and see the obstacles that these people are able to overcome – some of them 400 & 500 lbs and I think if THEY can do it, anyone can, regardless of circumstances. Think you can’t do it without support, without resources like nutritionists and personal trainers? Ask for help. The people that love and care about you, that are CONCERNED about your health will step up.

So much that I do these days are solely for Clara. There is a looooooong list of food that I’m not eating while breast-feeding (spicy food, chocolate, most dairy, fatty food, onions, garlic) and i try and do it without complaint. Again, she’s worth it. Being healthy, eating well, exercising – I’m doing those things for myself of course but also for her – because I don’t ever want Clara to be embarrassed by the size of her parents – or to feel the shame from feeling that way.

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2 Responses to 30. When you’re slowly gaining weight and buying clothes that are a bigger size, you’re MUCH bigger than you actually think you are.

  1. Aunt Stacy says:

    I loved this post. It was awesome.
    I’ve always been proud of you and what you’ve been able to accomplish with your weight loss.
    I’ve recently taken a new perspective on size. All the things that I’m learning about becoming fit have led me to know that size, really doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter how big or small you are. What matters is that you’re healthy. The person who is 100lbs but only eats garbage like fast food, ice cream, cookies, etc is not in better shape than the person who is maybe 50lbs over weight and eats the same things. Healthy is about being a body weight that is right for you and eating sensibly-ensuring that you’re giving your body the fuel that it needs to meet the demands of your life.

  2. Pingback: 2010 in review | Five Days in May

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