Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Weight Loss

I never imagined that I would find myself blogging about weight. I know that it can be a touchy subject for many people, but I feel that if I don't blog about it a part of my story would be missing.

It has always been a goal of mine to not be married to my scale. I beat myself up for too many things (weight included) as it is and didn't want there to be a number to back up my insecurities when it comes to my weight. You will most likely find my scale put away in the bathroom cupboard. This year I have probably weighed myself once every month. That is atypical for me. I usually weigh myself only a couple of times a year.

When I was little I was skinny. Both my parents at the time were skinny as well. I didn't give much thought to weight at all. My first memory of someone mentioning my weight was my fourth grade teacher. I can't remember her exact words, but I remember that it had to do with the fact that my skinny days wouldn't last forever and she was right. Puberty hit and I learned that I had inherited my grandmother's body type, or as many people call it, I was pear shaped.

I still didn't give much thought to my weight. In sixth grade my metabolism decreased quite a bit. I would go to school, come home and take a nap, wake up in time for dinner and to do homework and then I was back to bed. I was tired all of the time! Sixth grade is when I also formed a new friendship and came to the realization that a person could get straight A's. For some reason that thought had never entered my head. I think I just always assumed that math would be a difficult subject and grades didn't matter much. So I found myself working harder and pushing myself even with the lack of energy. And so my drive for straight A's began and continued until college.

My weight did become an insecurity as it does for many young women. We are inundated with media telling us what the perfect body type is without taking into consideration our genes, health issues, etc. that can play into how much we weigh. It didn't help that both my youngest sister and a young cousin told me that I had a big rear end. I became very self conscious of my thighs and rear end. It also didn't help that my dad told me I needed to become more active or else I would begin to put the weight on. The days of eating anything and not gaining weight were over.

My insecurities followed me through high school and college. Now it wasn't something that I dwelled on all of the time, but it was something I struggled with. I came to hate shopping for clothes. I preferred to shop for shoes and purses. They do not make you feel fat. I don't actually remember how much I weighed during that time, but I was probably considered at a somewhat healthy weight for my height. But even so I wished that I was skinnier.

I developed an intolerance to lactose my freshman year of college, and that began my love/hate relationship with food. Mostly hate. I came to learn that stress made my body even more sensitive to milk products. I wasn't too sad to give up milk because I never really was a big milk drinker. Interestingly enough I could still eat ice cream. Lactose intolerance can develop at anytime, and it doesn't always include all milk products. It varies from person to person.

One sign of depression is either an increase or a decrease in appetite. While in the MTC I found myself not eating very much. I was stressed and experiencing the darkness for the first time. I was also working out while trying to memorize the discussions. I also wasn't sure what food my body would tolerate. As I was packing for my trip back home my companion mentioned how she wished she was my size. Once I arrived back home a couple of people mentioned my weight loss. I had only been gone three weeks (I believe) and I had lost a bit of weight. I don't remember really focusing on my weight loss. I had more important things to deal with. I did eventually gain the weight back.

My second experience with depression definitely brought a decrease in appetite. I literally almost only drank apple juice. Why apple juice? I have no idea. And I did lose weight. When I returned to Provo almost two months later I was skinnier. My brother even made the comment that I should get depressed more often because I looked great. From then on I fluctuated within five pounds or so. I came to accept that as my weight. I still hated shopping for clothes and still felt insecure. My roommates were worried that I was becoming anorexic, so they were always cooking for me. I didn't eat much because I just never knew what food was going to make me sick. And after being sick I really wasn't in the mood to eat. But through all of this I worked at The Malt Shoppe and ate plenty of shakes. You would think I would have gained weight, but I didn't.

I then came to marry Tom. For Tom school and work became the same thing. School and work were separate for me, and I also had a lot of night classes because my professors were therapists during the day. Tom did most of the cooking. Now Tom loves food. He would snack on it all day if he could. When I married him he was a stick. He was also a fast eater. I found myself trying to keep up with him subconsciously, and therefore I started to eat more. I also wasn't walking to campus as often because I could drive and park in the graduate parking lot (Tom was working on his masters). Both Tom and I were also heading into our mid 20's. My metabolism lowered even more. Tom couldn't eat anything with no effect anymore. Our weight increased and decreased together. But there was a big difference because Tom is a foot taller than me. So he was starting to actually fill out and look healthy while I was becoming bigger. I didn't enjoy being the shortest and largest on both sides of our families (not that I could do anything about being the shortest).

I do know what my highest weight was, but since we are all different I don't think there is a need to share what it was. I kept making goals to become more healthy. I wanted to focus on living more healthy instead of just focusing on losing weight. I made goal after goal but never found the motivation to stick with them. I did lose some weight, but I pretty much came to accept that I would never reach the weight I was when I got married. Through all of this I started to wear tops that were a little too big. I stopped caring about what I wore, and I also developed an allergy to makeup so I rarely wore it. I can't say that I was happy with my outward appearance.

As some of you may know I chose the word Light to be my One Little Word. Instead of making a long list of resolutions you pick one word that you want to focus on. For example I wanted to get outside more often and feel the physical Light. I also wanted to improve my scripture study which would provide me with more Light. I also wanted to become more Light in body. I wanted to seek after Light in whatever ways I could. I was thinking that the Light in body would be my biggest challenge.

This time around I noticed my lack of appetite and for some reason thought it was the first sign that I was heading into depression. I found myself craving apple juice but wasn't really in the mood to eat much else. Later that night it hit me that I was depressed. This realization was followed by a panic attack which led to very high anxiety levels. There were days when I would only have a glass of orange juice or maybe some string cheese. I was also walking a lot because it was one way to cope with the anxiety. I began to stay away from anything that I thought would cause me to become more anxious, and that included food. Eating probably made me anxious because of my previous experiences with hating food and the problems it had caused my body in the past.

One evening it hit me that maybe I would get more calories if I drank them. That started me drinking fruit juice smoothies (bought not made). I also could get myself to eat string cheese. However during the Christmas break I ate pretty normal at my in-laws, so when I headed back to Eugene I was pretty optimistic that food wouldn't be a problem. Then my grandfather passed away. I guess you could say that was the last straw on the camel's back. I headed downhill from there. I went back to drinking fruit juice smoothies and eating string cheese. Tom was at a loss as what to do. I did eventually add Zoi Honey Greek Yogurt with cereal or berries to my diet. Even in the Johnson Psychiatric Unit I was put on calorie count. I didn't eat much. I even met with a dietitian because they became concerned. It was obvious that I was weak and had to move slowly around and use the handrails. The dietitian put me on carnation breakfast supplement with soy milk and fruit smoothies made with soy milk for the other two meals. They said I needed to try to eat at least 25% of my meals. What did I do? I just ordered less food.

I left the Johnson Unit pretty weak. My sister came out for a visit, and we did some shopping. I had to lean on the cart to help me stay standing. Eventually I would just have to sit down because I didn't have any strength left. My psych nurse became concerned and put me on a medication that would increase my appetite and cause weight gain. I did become more hungry and eventually added Cliff Bars to my diet. I made the goal to eat three times a day. It didn't matter how much; I just needed to eat and regain my strength.

Needless to say that I lost weight. It is the most weight I have ever lost. It didn't really hit me until I had to start wearing a belt with my jeans so they wouldn't fall off. I started needing to wear heels with my skirts because they were hanging lower on my hips. I was aware that I was loosing weight, but it was definitely not my top concern, and most people didn't comment about it. If someone did comment I told them that they didn't need to worry about it because I always gain the weight back.

Slowly overtime I regained my strength. My diet did not change. Maybe the amount I was eating but not what I was eating. It is still what I am eating. Yes I am aware that I'm not eating any vegetables except for an occasional cucumber or plate of broccoli. If I'm visiting someone else I will eat whatever they offer. It really isn't about the food but my emotions tied to food. My levels of anxiety have increased over the last few weeks, so with that my aversion to most food has increased.

People that haven't seen me for a month or so will comment about how great I look and how much bike riding must agree with me. Now I'm not saying that the bike riding hasn't been beneficial, but it isn't what got me to the weight that I find myself at now. I have gained a little weight, and the bike riding is probably what is helping maintain my weight this time around. I've decided that I went through Hell, and if I am going to make the most of that experience then I'm going to do my best to try to stay around the weight I find myself at and hopefully over time come to eat a more balanced diet (I do have to admit that I'm getting tired of string cheese and Cliff Bars).

But one thing I have learned over and over again is that it doesn't really matter what other people think. It matters what you think about yourself. In my mind I still view myself the way I looked last September though there is a big difference between then and now. I'm working on coming to accept myself just the way I am. I am taking more interest in the clothes I buy and put more effort into wearing make-up more often. Overall I am liking my outward appearance more than I have in a long time. But that doesn't even come close to the importance of liking who I am on the inside. Our loving Heavenly Father cares more about our hearts than he does about our size or what we wear. I know many of us have heard that time and again. But the big question is do we believe it and do the things we say and do show that we believe that our Heavenly Father loves us for who we are?


Thomas said...

You definitely are skinnier, but you're still beautiful to me. :o) Though you have increased the amount of food you take in, I hope that soon you'll be able again to increase the variety of foods you take in. I know that you will get through this. I really liked the last paragraph because it could apply to many things, not just eating habits.

You mentioned early that depression causes 'changes' in appetite. Some people might find you very lucky as to which appetite change the fates decided to bestow upon you. But I think this post would apply to those on the other side of the spectrum as well. You are really incredible Melissa. I hope you continue to be inspired in these great blog posts.

Anonymous said...

I was surprised to hear that you had such difficult image issues in high school and college. I always looked up to you and thought you were beautiful. You seemed confident and I loved the colors you chose to wear. It never ONCE occurred to me to think that you weighed too much. Growing up I always wanted to be like you. That's why I always decided to like what ever you liked, including colors and music (I know that was obnoxious but I adored you and still do!)

I hope you can learn to like food again, eating healthy can be such a joy!

I hope you can see what an amazing person you are no matter what!

I love you dearly,