Let’s talk about weight loss/gain. This is one of those painful subjects people don’t like to talk about because most people feel like they need to lose a few or a lot and the other side some people would even like to gain a few. In my life long history I don’t know that I have met more then a very small handful of people that are happy with their bodies. Weight Journeys are always filled with ups and downs but you may have learned a lesson in the process that is important.
I was thin when I was a small child. Around the age of 10 I started packing on the pounds. My diet hadn’t changed and I didn’t start eating more than I was in prior years. Much later in life I would discover some of the causes. When I was 24 I was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) one of the symptoms is near puberty someone with the disease their body begins to change. My hormones started pounding through like a freight train and my sugar levels went haywire. Oh goody. It took 14 more years for the diagnoses to come through. In addition to my body creating an uphill battle I would fight for years to come, my parents decided at the age of 12 to rip me from my home and family and friends in Florida and moved us to the unknown world of Massachusetts. This added immense amounts of stress to my already developing issues which I have discovered stress wins over all other attempts to do anything about how my body processes things.
I went on my first diet at the tender age of 11. Weight watchers put me on a low fat, low carb, high tasteless foods diet. I did fine on this diet for a short time until my mother started bringing Swiss Cake Rolls and other tasty treats into the house for the members of the family NOT on a “Diet”. I spent so much time longing for the treats because I felt so deprived on my “Diet” that I began hiding food and sneaking things I knew I “shouldn’t” have. I would sneak out at 2am and eat entire boxes of Swiss Cake Rolls and hide the evidence because if I tried to eat one when people were around I was shamed. (Yeah so there’s future issues developing.)
I was put on diet after diet throughout my teenage years but because I had my own forms of income through babysitting no one could actually do anything about what I would eat in private. I generally had stashes of junk food hidden like a drug addict hides drugs. I hid candy bars in outlets. I hid entire boxes of Oreos and Chips Ahoy in under-ware drawers. I become an astonishingly good liar.
The one message that came through loud and clear on each and every “diet” I attempted was “Diets” don’t work and only contain tasteless horrible foods.
By now you will notice my use of quotes when I use the word “Diet” when referencing a strict form of eating that is meant to cause weight loss over a short period of time but which is not truly sustainable in the long term. The reason for this is because that is an utter bastardization of the true meaning of the word. A persons DIET is what they eat and should not mean only a restriction. When scientists or archeologists talk about the DIET of a people they are researching they are NOT referring to Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig or Grapefruit. They are referring to the all encompassing of the foods they eat. So the only way I use the word diet is with the scientific meaning. If I am talking about food restriction I simply call it food restrictions or in this case I will use “diet” as so many readers will understand and expect that usage.
So many of you may have followed my weight loss over the last few years and so many of you cheered me on as I found a lifelong changes to my diet. Things went well for a long time and I rarely ever felt restricted at all. I was eating flavorful foods and enjoying food completely. There were things I missed and I would have them occasionally (i.e.: donuts because really who can live forever without a donut or two?). I was doing fabulously all around. I was happy, life was good. It was something I truly felt I could sustain long term.
A number of things happened. I found out there is a possibility I may have sensitivity to nightshades. I also started to have increased levels of stress because of various external factors. I began trying to remove some of the foods I love most in the world from my already somewhat restricted diet. Tomatoes, potatoes, and bell peppers were a part of more than half the meals I love. From chili, to spaghetti sauce, salsa, pretty much anything Mexican and most Italian meals I make. We won’t even talk about the ways I use Paprika, chili powder, jalapeno peppers, cayenne, green chillis etc!
External factors including my brother Mike moving away, my oldest brother Wayne finally succumbing to cancer, my father who has been on and off sick for years taking the loss of his son so horribly and being diagnosed with cancer again, the loss of my grandmother, hearing about someone I cared about many years ago in school falling victim to Leukemia, and my unemployment and realization that now at 40 it is not as easy to find work just overloaded my entire being. With so many losses and so much stress my body stopped doing the things it is supposed to do. My digestion is always the first to go during stressful times. Then my willingness to create meals that tasted good left. Then my willingness to get out of bed some days escaped me. Depression took over everything in me.
I got to the point where I was eating only when Bill would make food and generally only one meal a day because I didn’t want him to know just how bad I was (not knowing he was fully aware of most of it). I went down to 300-500 calories a day and this amazing thing happened. I started gaining weight. Hold on to your horses folks! Calories out/calories in deficit to lose weight is BS. You can eat FAR less than your body needs and still gain weight! I know shocking right? You wanna talk about screwed up well there you are.
I started eating only what I could open a package and eat instantly. I didn’t care about anything and even food was no comfort. I literally sustained life for about 3 months on Ruffles. Ruffles is one of those things that I missed drastically when I cut out junk foods. I would have them rarely but once life didn’t matter anymore well Ruffles it is. Then I started drinking soda again and quickly it was just a downhill spiral. I even got to the point where I was eating gluten several times a week in spite of the havoc it reeked on my system. I would be in tears in pain from the gluten cramping but hey at least I knew I was alive right? I guess that is how a cutter feels?
When the world tilts and spins out of control sometimes you just go along with it no matter how unwilling you are to do so. Sometimes you just lay down and don’t get up because you don’t have the strength to deal.
Now people that don’t know anything about depression may be thinking, “Just think of the good things in your life.” “You are so blessed, just think of the blessings”, “Well you should just get up and move on”, “When you have responsibilities you can’t just CHOOSE to stay in bed”. To those well-meaning people I would like to say, “I love you but you should probably stop talking because I didn’t CHOOSE any of this.” I didn’t HAVE a choice. The chemicals in my brain were so messed up I couldn’t see anything. Thinking of the good things in my life only made me feel GUILTY for not being able to get up and do what needed to be done. Then the guilt would make me feel like the worst person ever and there you go, downward spiral again and then there was the brain fog that made it nearly impossible to even think straight which made everything else even more difficult.
Telling someone in the depths of depression to “Get over it and move on” is like a knife in the gut. Do you really think I am ENJOYING this? Do you not think I would get up and get over it if I could? Seriously!
So in the course of 2 of the most difficult years of my life my loving husband finally said enough. He made me make an appointment with my therapist. Talking to someone outside the situation who can give you a different perspective is sometimes the only thing that can help some people. I had to have an outside perspective. I needed someone that didn’t love me to say “you need to stop beating yourself up.” I needed someone outside to make recommendations on actions I could take to move on. Ways to remember my lost loved ones without becoming lost with them.
Yeah yeah I seem to have gone off on a tangent but I really haven’t. What does depression have with weight loss? Well it is all about the journey right? With too many people everything is about the destination. People just want to be there and with my long term diet and lifestyle changes I would LOVE to just be there but that is not how these things work. You have to go through the journey or you never appreciate the destination. As an RVer you would think the journey is the destination in all things but sometimes I need a reminder.
In the process of my depression I seem to have hit the weight goal reset button but the thing about weight goal progress is that sometimes even gaining weight is a very important progress in your journey.
What have I learned? In everything I go through I try to sit and think about what is the lesson I need to learn to move forward in life. I have lost and gained weight but each time I do I learn something else that didn’t work. Thomas Edison tried 1000 ways to make a light bulb that didn’t work but then he found the way that did work. Oprah Winfried was fired and told she wasn’t made for television. Walt Disney himself was fired and was told he wasn’t creative enough. The one thing that each of them did that is different from so many of us is they NEVER GAVE UP. So here I am starting over again but with life lessons under my belt to give me strength.
So what have I learned from this experience?
Compassion for people with depression that I never had before but also a willingness and eagerness to help friends with depression pull themselves out.
You may never get back to your former “normal” but you can find a new “normal” that may even be better than the normal you had before because you understand so much more.
I have also learned that when times get tough the worst thing you can do is just lay down. That sometimes all you can do is just lay down but that you have to know how important it is to get back up as soon as you can get that darned elephant off your chest. To always carry a needle to stick in the elephants rear to get him off your chest or have a friend that has a needle you can borrow.
That half of the people you think are true friends won’t be when you don’t have anything to give them and will disappear like snakes in the grass after biting you with poison that will make it even harder to get back up.
Your true friends are even more rare than you know but that some people you may not consider a true friend may surprise you in the good way and become lifelong holders of your heart.
The road to where you think you want to be may not exist. You may find a new road or you may forge your own road but whatever you do it is a constant uphill battle.
People inherently are selfish but you are people and sometimes you have to be selfish in order to survive.
Fat is a bitch. It is clingy and causes you pain and is sometimes seems impossible to get rid of but if you try hard enough you might be able to smother her in her sleep. LOL
That I am beautiful from within. Also to all the nasties in the world, I may be fat but you are ugly inside and I can lose weight.
Before you judge someone that is overweight stop for a minute and consider you may not know their story. You may not know how difficult their life is and unless you a perfect back the F off. This should actually go for judging in general just don’t.
So here I am preparing to begin another chapter in my life (again). Will I be perfect? Nope Perfect is overrated. Will I be successful? Who the hell knows but if I don’t try I won’t ever be successful so if it comes to trying I will just keep trying. Do I have any answers for anyone? Nope but I have a lot of good advise and I’d probably better start taking some of it.
Life is full of uncertainty and I think that’s some of the fun even if it can be stressful. Find the people you can count on. Make a plan for your life and then grab life by the balls because if you don’t it won’t wait for you it will just pass you by.
Here is to new beginnings.
***Subnote: I do not assume people with extra weight are not healthy or cannot be happy. I know my weight is actually killing me. With the health issues I have I NEED to lose weight. There are many healthy people with extra weight on their bodies and I say more power to you. If you are happy in your skin go for it. I just want to be my happiest and healthiest self. That doesn’t mean skinny or the worlds idea of healthy it means I can do the things I want to do without being held back by the weight that is breaking down my knees, feet, and body. It means getting my PCOS under control so I can move into my middle age and older years gracefully. ***