A few years back my doctor suggested that I should lose a few pounds. At 24 with a BMI above the recommended 25, I couldn’t precisely fault his logic.
“Just think,” he said. “If you lose 2 pounds a week you’ll have lost the weight in 2 months!”
By “a few pounds” he actually meant about 20- just to get healthy, and 2 months seemed far too long. I was certain a stint on the South Beach Diet or by eating only fruit grown on a mountain in the Himalayas, I would drop 20 pounds in no time.
I was mistaken. Instead of the turtle’s path with weight loss, I tried the hare’s, and yo-yoed down 5 and up 10. But I tried. At least I told myself that I tried, and that warranted an order of deep-fried mozzarella sticks slathered in ranch to compensate my suffering.
It was around this time that I met my husband, Cameron. After a few weeks of dating he invited me on a trip with his friends to Vegas. Here I am on that trip, testing the tensile strength of my bikini poolside:
I knew I felt fat and that I’d never been this big before. In college I wore a size 6, now I was testing the boundaries of a size 12. Transitioning from an active college lifestyle to sitting at a desk all day was not kind to my thighs (or stomach, or arms, or general health). None of my work clothes fit me and I resorted to spandex-waist concoctions that vaguely resembled maternity couture. I told myself I’d do something different, but promising to start a diet the next day invariably led to eating excessively in the present.
Not long after the trip to Vegas Cameron needed to prep for his Navy Physical Readiness Test (PRT). He was a little overweight and needed to speed up his run time. He started going to the gym. Physical changes were apparent in short order. I felt self-conscious and kept making comments about how skinny he was getting, and how I was vaguely trying to lose weight too (I wasn’t).
Cameron picked up on my insecurities, and decided to put my mind at ease. He sat me down one night.
“You know,” he began, “I’m a man.” This was a fact that I was generally aware of already.
“I produce more testosterone, and it’s going to be easier for me to lose weight than for you. I just don’t want you to feel bad if I lose weight faster than you do. I like your body the way it is now anyway.”
I flipped a switch. I knew he meant well, but I was enraged. Now, instead of weight loss just being something that I knew I should do, it was something that I was determined to do. I’m a very competitive person, and this comment made me want to be the biggest loser so I could rub it in Cameron’s testosterone-infused face.
That week I joined Weight Watchers Online. I set up the app on my phone and subscribed to support groups. I also joined the r/loseit community on Reddit and found additional support there. At work I began drinking at least a gallon of water a day so that I would have an excuse to climb a flight of stairs every hour or so to use the nice bathroom. I took up running. When I started, I couldn’t run for more than a few minutes. It took time, but eventually I started to love it.
Slowly, at about 2 pounds a week to be precise, I started shedding weight. Had I just started when my doctor asked me to I’d have lost most of the pounds before I even met Cameron. But I wasn’t ready then, and I have to say that I’m glad we did it together. Cam and I both lost weight together. Admittedly, I lost more- but who’s counting? (I am.) We started making healthy changes to our lifestyles together, and that was what made it work. I’m also glad to know that Cameron loved me as much when I was bigger as he loves me now. If I’d met him, or anyone, after losing weight I might not trust that they would still find me attractive if I went back to my old ways. Cameron’s unending support and love gives me the strength to keep it up.
Here I am poolside last summer, after losing 40+ pounds:
Check out that flat tummy.
Since I started getting healthy I’ve run 8 half marathons and 2 full. Cameron was a major part of my training, and we’ll run my third marathon together in April. A few years ago I couldn’t imagine running a mile.
I still struggle. Today I’m 8 pounds heavier than I prefer, and I’m trying to work it off. It’s not the end of the world, and I’m still perfectly healthy, but I worry about the slippery slope of weight gain and I never want to be the old me again. So I keep running, drinking lots of water, and tracking calories or points depending on my mood.
It’s weird to move to a new place and meet people who never knew big me. There’s an assumption that I’ve always been thin, and will always be thin. How should I convey who I used to be? Shoving my camera with a fat pic in someone’s face sounds awkward. I’ve done that more times than I can count, but it is a bit strange.
Back in California everyone knew the old me. My friends and family watched as I made changes to my lifestyle and lost weight over several months, and have maintained it for over a year. Now I move around and it’s hard to convey why I chose a salad at lunch instead of a burger. I’m skinny, I can afford the fat- right?
Nope. Even training for a marathon I watch what I eat. There is no going off the diet and back to the old ways, because really, I didn’t go on a diet. I fundamentally changed the way that I eat and how I view food. I learned to eat fruit instead of cheese-its and to get salad on the side instead of fries. Sure, I’ll indulge with an ice cream sundae when the mood strikes, but I only do that occasionally.
It’s interesting how much something seemingly benign has had such an impact on my life. All I wanted was to look and feel better, while also crushing Cameron’s weight loss numbers. (I did.) In the process I transformed into a different me who can do more than I ever thought possible.