I've starved myself and was even bulimic for a period of time in my late teens. I have never shared the fact that I was bulimic with anyone before. It's how I kept my weight around 200 during that period in my life. I have always felt a lot of shame in association with the bulimia. I was able to stop doing it on my own, mostly because my mother figured out what I was up to and confronted me. Even with all my efforts and intervention in the past, I have never been able to lose weight in a healthy manner and keep it off. I'm determined to finally get off the crazy diet merry-go-round!
It wasn't until about grade two that I began to gain weight. From about age seven and under, I was just a regular sized kid who pretty much ate what I wanted and was pretty active too. That was before the days of video games and cable. Either you were outside playing with friends, or you sat inside twiddling your thumbs. We lived on a residential street that was littered with young families, so there was never a shortage of playmates.
I'm not sure what happened that made me begin to over eat. My mother didn't let us go into the fridge whenever we wanted, but I became a master at stealing and hoarding food. I remember sneaking into the kitchen when everyone else was in the basement watching tv and making myself a couple of peanut butter and jam sandwiches, then taking them to my bedroom to eat in private. I had a pretty uneventful childhood, but my mother was a bit of a controller, and that could be overwhelming at times.
Once I started gaining weight the inevitable comments began. I have two older brothers who would make comments and tease me about my weight. And so would their friends. That was really hard to hear on a regular basis. The one place where I found comfort was in my binges. Food soothed me and made me calmer. My mother would also make food a reward for us. It worked fine for her normal sized children (which was everyone else), but not for me. I would obsess over food rewards and that would be the focus of my day. This is a behaviour I took into adulthood. That is why I don't use food rewards for weight-loss (ie: binge days, or days where I can eat a special meal if I lose x amount of weight). Brings me back to obsessing about food and that is not a comfortable place for me.
So I struggled through primary school with a significant weight problem. I was obese and I was made fun of on a regular basis. "If only you could lose weight, because you have such a pretty face" became my mother's mantra. My mother's, my aunt's, my mother's friends, the neighbour's, they repeated the same thing to me over and over. It was tough. It was hardest to be the sole obese member of a family of 8. I'm sure my schooling suffered because it was the place I least liked to be. I liked to learn, I just hated getting picked on.
Fast forward to my first year of high school. I was brought to the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, and put on a protein sparing modified fasting diet. This was a diet that was monitored by one Dr. Stanley Zlotkin. He was super nice man and the plan was for me to kick start my weight-loss by being on this diet for 2 weeks, during which time I was hospitalized. All I ate was protein, and a HUGE amount of vitamins and supplements. I was in grade nine and weighed 210 pounds. By the time they released me, I weighed 190. I remember that so clearly. I stayed on a modified version of the diet for several months and had to go back to the hospital every few weeks for a weigh-in and consult with Dr. Zlotkin.
I didn't see the diet through to fruition. I mean, being in high school was hard enough. Being in high school obese and having to do a special diet was even harder. I couldn't stay on plan and gave into the inevitable teenage junk food. I did however manage to maintain my weight around 200 throughout high school. I was obese, just not morbidly so...yet.
High school was a very difficult time for me. I was awkward (due to the extra weight and the huge tortoise shell glasses I wore...thank GOD the perm grew out by high school). Awkward and a clown. Since no one would like me because of the way I looked, I made friends with humour. Humour which included laughing at myself. A behaviour that was very self-deprecating, but won me some friends. I was the token funny fat girl. Little did all my high school friends know that I was dying a little more inside after each joke or snide remark I made about myself.
So after high school came my first crack at college. I went away to college because I just thought I needed to get away from home and have a new experience. I met one of my very best girlfriends (Elin) at Loyalist College in Belleville. I love that I met her and Scott (her hubby) there and that they are still an important part of my life. I managed to stay around 200 during the Loyalist College years, but sadly never made it as a photojournalist. And if I need to be completely honest, photojournalism was not something I longed to do. I chose it because it would take me away from home.
After I finished up at Loyalist College, I went onto Centennial College in Scarborough, a suburb of Toronto. I took the Child and Youth Worker program, and work today as a CYW. So this program really was my calling. I also gained a huge amount of weight. Probably about 100 pounds. I struggled at this weight for several years. I binged, I partied, I didn't get any physical activity. I was a HUGE mess and I had less than zero self-esteem.
During college, I still lived at home and was working part-time to put myself through school. I started Centennial when I was 21 years old. I don't have many pictures of myself from that time period, because I hated having my picture taken. After gaining so much weight, I pretty much stayed away from the camera. I made a lot of friends from Centennial, some that I still stay in touch with today. It was an overall good experience for me. I was passionate about school and excited about my future working as a Child and Youth Worker.
When I was 24, I began working on my Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Toronto. My weight continued to balloon. I didn't really make any friends in university. I just showed up to lectures, did the work and left. I actually couldn't tell you the name of one person in any of my classes, in fact the whole experience is a bit of a blur. I know I graduated though, because I have the degree to prove it. All I can say for certain is that at the beginning of university, I gained a lot more weight and weighed over 300 pounds by my 2nd year. I started using Phen Fen in third year and lost about 30 pounds by the time I graduated.
When I was 28, I decided I had to do something about my weight issue. Something drastic. I went to Dr. Bernstein's Diet Clinic and shelled out about $2500 to go on a medically supervised starvation diet where I got B12 shots in my ass 3 times a week. I lost about 100 pounds and was the lightest I had been since high school. The diet worked, but wasn't realistic for maintenance. I don't agree with Dr. Bernstein's methods, but in all fairness, I was also not ready to really lose the weight. I wanted a quick fix. And what a quick fix it was. 20 pounds lost a month!
|Before...about 300 pounds.|
|Only 20 pounds to goal!|
|Only 8 pounds to go.|
|Called myself at goal 14/03/13|
125 pounds lost