How I Got Fat....Several Times

I've had such an up and down relationship with my weight and food for over a decade, you would've thought I would have worked out all of my issues with them by now. But nope, I've managed to find ways to make awesome progress only to sabotage myself or allow others to hinder it. 

So, how did I manage to get fat several times? Ooh, where do I start? 

My weight issues started in middle school. I had recently moved to Baltimore City and started at a new school where I didn't know anyone and wasn't popular by any stretch. My weeknights and weekends were filled with a blend of home-cooked meals and a lot of take-out. I remember my favorite things to order were cheeseburger subs, with mayo, ketchup, fried onions, hots, lettuce (because..veggies, lol), extra cheese, a side of fries, and a can of grape soda. If I wasn't eating subs and fries, I had pizza or Chinese food. If it wasn't either of those things, I was going out to eat at a restaurant and eating whatever I wanted. 

Playtime outside also stopped after I moved. It's not hard to see why I gained so much weight. How much exactly? I don't know. But enough to start getting more stretch marks than the average 6th or 7th-grader. I wasn't getting them on just my hips or arms, but my shoulders and all up and down my sides and back. 

This same cycle continued throughout high school, except I started playing sports and started to build a little muscle. I had a brief stint where I lost weight because I went to a summer program in Florida, where I ate a lot of fruit, vegetables, and did a lot of walking. The weight came off but came right back when I went back to eating junk food and living a sedentary lifestyle.

College was when I really started paying attention to my weight but only because I was forced to. After my freshman year of college, my doctor diagnosed me with pre-diabetes and told me if I didn't drop at least 20 pounds, I would surely become a type-2 diabetic. The news took me by surprise because I didn't see myself as fat. According to the BMI, I was obese. But some of my clothes from high school still fit and it wasn't like I was rotund. I was just..me. I didn't take the news well but I was determined to not have my life changed by diabetes. I ordered an exercise video and spent that summer eating better. 

I kept it up for at least the first half of my sophomore year and that December, my doctor said I had dropped enough weight where she wouldn't consider me pre-diabetic anymore. I was elated! So I started to celebrate.....with junk food. I kept up with the exercising, but I started to fall into old diet habits. Instead of getting a tuna sandwich, soup and a salad at the dining hall, I started eating fries, ice cream and took full advantage of Fried Chicken Fridays. 

I hit a new high during my senior year of college. I went to Vegas shortly after I turned 21 and was ashamed of the pictures I took while on vacation. I could suck my stomach in and still see folds and rolls peak through my shirt. I was fat from all sides and couldn't use shirts, jackets, or hoodies to conceal how much weight I'd gained. This time, I was done. Foreal. I was going to change my habits for good. I was never going to be this fat again. 

For the most part, I remained true to my goal. I discovered a weight loss site that focused on changing my lifestyle and not quick fixes to drop pounds. The website discussed the realities of losing weight, forming new habits and a healthy relationship with food. Most importantly, this website never said this process would be easy and I would have my ups and downs, even with my weight. Changing my mentality towards weight loss was the most important goal.  

Over the next two years, I managed to drop between 45-50 pounds and went from a size 14-16 to 6-8. I was never a stickler for paying attention to the numbers on the scale but rather how my clothes were fitting. What was so different with this attempt than the others? I told myself that this was a lifestyle change and start small, go at my own pace, have fun and enjoy the process. I became a runner and ran 5ks and a half-marathons and started lifting weights. I found a passion and love for cooking and experimenting with all kinds of foods and flavors. I still ate junk food every now and then, but I was more into eating food made with fresh ingredients. I began to repair my relationship with food. Instead of eating it out of boredom, I used it as a tool to fuel my body properly and feed it the right nutrients. 

But, like I said before, there are ups and downs. However, this time was still different. After hurting myself in the gym a year ago, I took time off from weights and running and began focusing on other exercises like Zumba. I loosened up on my diet and the weight started to come back. I didn't mind it as much because my mentality hardly changed. I was still enjoying cooking with different things and still exercised regularly, but perhaps not as intense. My jeans got tighter and I was up to wearing size 10 clothes. Still, I was fine. I'm sure small bouts with depression and other events contributed to the weight gain. I gained about 25 pounds and then grew tired of the extra weight. I wanted to get back into lifting, but this time I needed help. I sought a trainer and she's helped me get nearly back to where I was a year ago. 

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As I write this, I wonder if I'd change anything about my journey so far. The answer is no. I think the ups and downs I've experienced made me who I am today and I'm proud of that person. I love who I am and love myself enough to keep going. 

I'm sure a lot of people can relate to this, but if you're going through a down period now, don't give up. Remember why you started and switch up your routine if you need to. Find a way to make weight loss fun again! You owe it to yourself to be your healthiest self.