A journey in words...

Welcome to my journey in words! A story about health, exercise, weight loss, food addiction, humor, size discrimination, sarcasm, social commentary and all the rest that’s rattling around inside my head...

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Friday, October 2, 2009

The Truth

Okay, here it is; the truth…

I weigh 277 lbs. All right, I used to weigh 277 lbs. Since I made some changes three weeks ago I’ve lost a few, bringing me to 268 lbs. as of today.

But 277 is the truth I used to hide. I used to round it down to 250, and people bought 250 from me pretty easily. For one thing it’s still such a high number compared to a normal person that it was shocking enough to believe, and I felt myself very forward thinking indeed being willing to tell people my weight even though I was a fat girl. When you’re at least 100 lbs. overweight it all starts to be somewhat relative.

But I wasn’t really telling anyone the truth, I was lying to them and to me. I was rounding way down.

So there’s the truth, ugly though it may be. 34 years old, 277 lbs. to start with and stuck there for quite awhile. My routine of weekly gym visits, healthy foods (in overlarge quantities) and daily sugar / salt snack indulgences was perfect to keep me balanced at a way too big 277 lbs. for a very, very long time.

People would puzzle over me; my friends – aware of my healthy cooking proclivities, trips to the gym for cardio and weight lifting and never witness to my late night Oreo cookie binges, couldn’t fathom why I always stayed the same. They placed me in the category of unfortunates with unnaturally slow metabolisms and tried to reassure me with affirmations of how good I looked anyway and the phrase “you’re healthy – that’s all that matters.”

But it wasn’t true. There’s nothing wrong with my metabolism, and my appetite is indeed larger than normal, but that’s from years upon years of overfeeding it. Thankfully the mechanism that helps me feel sated and full never shut off, so that much at least is still working in my favor. It’s true that I’m solidly built and adequately muscular – but no amount of muscle can account for a woman weighing nearly 300 lbs. Bodybuilders don’t even weigh that much.

How did I get to that weight? It didn’t happen overnight, it was years upon years of slow training and apathy. It was years of dieting up and down, always trying and always failing. I can’t blame a slow metabolism and I can’t call myself big boned. I’m of average height for a woman, 5’ 7” tall with nice, even proportions. I’m even moderately pretty – with nice (if somewhat pale) skin, green eyes and dark gold hair that more or less does what I want it to. I spread all my weight out all over my body – which simultaneously makes me look slightly slimmer than I really am, and keeps me from suffering from any major health concerns as no one part of my body is taking on the strain. My blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar levels are all normal.

As of today, I have failed at 100% of the attempts I have made to get myself to a normal body weight.

That’s a really depressing sentence to look at, but it’s true. I’ve lost weight before but since it didn’t stay lost I can’t consider those attempts a success. I once did spectacularly well on one of those pre-subscribed, zero fat, food-in-a-box diets that pickled me in salt and in the end cost me an internal organ (buh-bye gall bladder). Turns out your body actually does need fat to be healthy. Go figure. And of course I did well, I didn’t have to think. All I had to do was slit open the box, microwave and (sort of) enjoy. But when my body started to fail for want of real food and I had to rejoin the real world of hard choices, the weight came back – with interest as always.

So what am I doing? I count calories. I do this because weight loss is truly a very simple mathematical equation: eat less of them than your body requires to function in a day, and it will quite naturally reach into its storage units (those would be your fat cells) and use up the reserve.

According to the tracking website I use to see what the heck I’ve been putting in my mouth (thanks Daily Plate) I can have about 2,000 calories a day and loose 2 to 3 lbs. per week. No offense to the Plate whatsoever, but I feel strongly that that number is too high – so my goal is to come in between 1,200 and 1,700 every day. Anything less than 1,200 is pretty much guaranteed to grind my metabolism to a screeching “stop starving yourself, idiot!” halt in protest. And anything more than 1,700 is an indulgence day. As in, hey Happy Birthday – have a slice of cake!

I stay conscious of things like fiber and protein – protein makes you feel fuller for longer and fiber is good to keep your inner workings working smooth. I stay conscious of fat, yes – you need some, but really not very much. I stay conscious of sodium (currently it’s my demon, I can’t seem to come in under my recommended daily allotment of the stuff for anything). I stay conscious of sugar and aware that I suffer from a profound addiction to it and cravings for it. I drink about eight glasses of water per day. Doctors keep going back and forth on the actual health benefits of that, but I figure it’s easy – and it can’t hurt.

I don’t eat much meat. About one serving of animal protein a day, on average. I have nothing against meat – as an omnivore my body is designed to digest, run well from it, and thoroughly enjoy it. But it has a calorie and fat cost that’s usually higher than what I want to pay. In other words, if I eat less meat – I can eat more of other stuff. I like to eat, so more for me is better.

Lastly but most importantly, I pray about this. One thing I know for absolutely certain is that my willpower is utterly inadequate to this task. If I’ve done one thing, it’s prove that to myself in great detail.

So why am I going to succeed this time when I’ve failed every other time? I honestly don’t know. I just sort of woke up one day and realized; it’s time.


  1. You can do it, Carolyn, I know you can. I'm behind you 1000%. You know if there's any way I can help you, I am more than happy to do it.

    I know a little about how you feel. I started out at 250, and it was a hard number to swallow. My problem was portion size. I could happily eat - and did, more than once a week - an entire pound of pasta all by myself. But with conditioning, I've gotten to a point now where my body doesn't want that large a portion anymore. If I eat too much, I feel sick. That didn't happen before.

    I still struggle every day. I still binge - oh boy do I - when I get exceptionally stressed. I have eaten an entire loaf of bread, a stick of butter, a jar of jam, and half a container of nutella in one sitting, myself, and that's *after* dinner. I'm still trying to get that under control, and it's happening, just very slowly. So don't give up hope.

    The one thing that really helped me the most was this device called a BodyBugg - you can google it if you want more info. But basically it's a little device that monitors how many calories you are burning. Weight loss is just math, right? Less calories in than you put out, you lose weight. I had the intake part down - I can count calories with the best of them - but I didn't realize how little I was outputting. Turns out for me, on an average (non-gym) day, I only burn about 1450 calories; not that much. So I have to eat 1450 calories a day to maintain my weight. I'm not using my BodyBugg much these days, so you are welcome to borrow it for as long as you want.

    Anyway just remember - the longest journey starts with just a single step. You've already taken that one, now you just have to keep going. I'm cheering for you.

  2. Oh, and one more thing: it might be helpful to reduce your calorie intake slowly - say, start at 2000, then after you lose 10-20 pounds, go to 1800, then 1500. That might make it feel like less of a drastic change and help you stay on track.

  3. Thanks, Gloria! You've been an inspiration because you help me to remember that it is possible to succeed. I'll look for the Body Bugg - it sounds like a really useful tool!