Twelve years ago I was a skinny, narrow-minded 23-year old brat. I tied an apron around my size 6 waist everyday and served food to people of all sizes, forming judgments in my head as I went along. To the slender lady who ordered a salad (no dressing, just a lemon wedge, please), I thought, what’s the point? Why are you even here? Who goes to a restaurant to diet? I can’t even remember the last time I ate a salad and look at how tiny I am. And to the heavier lady who ordered a burger… I can’t bring myself to admit what I thought. But don’t worry. Karma, like this girl, was a bitch. And she had a plan.
I spent twenty-seven glorious years without a single thought as to what I ate or how much energy I expelled. Double Whopper with cheese and bacon? Sure. OD on that pint of Ben and Jerry’s? No guilt. Couldn’t remember the last time I had a vegetable that wasn’t a garnish? No problem. I was thin and had the energy of a 1970’s Elton John. Then something happened. Genetics mostly, paired with a desk job. The weight came on slowly but steady and in 18 months I’d gone from a size six to a size twelve. My breaking point was standing in a Macy’s with my grandmother as I looked for nicer clothes to wear to the office. The mediums were far from a good fit, but surely the large’s? Too tight. I left the dressing rooms with 12’s and XL tops in hand, and started bawling. That was my first foray into dieting. Gone went the Whoppers, replaced by a lot of those salad and vegetable things. My boyfriend-at-the-time and I joined a gym. I stuck to the elliptical, because it was easy and I didn’t feel embarrassed using it. The weight melted off. If there is one thing to be said about dieting in your twenties it’s that, well, you’re in your twenties. Everything is on your side (or it was in my case). Weight gone. Problem solved.
Okay, fast forward six years. I was able to keep the weight off that long. Things were going well at work so I adorned my tiny butt with expensive jeans and Free People tops. No big deal, I thought, this stuff lasts forever and so will my tiny butt. Totally worth the money… Then something began to happen. To my mood. And my appetite. And my energy level. Back from Peru, only months into the purchase of my first new home, and kind, caring new boyfriend in tow, things were perfect and I should have felt great. But I didn’t. I began to feel incredibly depressed. The depression lasted beyond a usual handful of days. Days became weeks and weeks became months. Getting out of bed required the strength of five Rockys and ten Tony Robbins. I was miserable. And my metabolism was failing me. I ate to feel better and every ounce of food stuck to that tiny butt. The tiny butt grew and out went the jeans. And out went the boyfriend. I was so moody and broke it off over something so ridiculous that I’m pretty sure I only did him a favor. I actually kind of envied him; he got to escape. But back to the pants and the growing butt. I didn’t have the heart to buy larger pants. I didn’t want to. I wore yoga pants everywhere. And I can safely admit to having done absolutely no yoga in them. I gained forty pounds in seven months.
Finally, seven months later, I went to the doctors. I’m pretty sure a normal person would have gone months earlier but I blame my mother. This is a woman whose water broke on the way home from work so she drove herself to the hospital, popped my sister out, and was back to work two days later. This is my stock. So I let it go too long. But I made it. Blood was drawn and results showed immediately a far-gone thyroid condition. The nurse kindly asks me, “Have you been noticing a decrease in energy, more depression or rapid weight gain?”. Yes, yes, and yes. But like all issues, in Western medicine, there’s a pill for that. “Okay, sweetie, take these every morning one hour before you eat.” Will I have to take them forever? Yes. Seems easy enough. I’ll swallow two pills every AM and my tiny butt will come back, along with all my energy, self-confidence, and crazy, silly mood. Not quite, unfortunately.
Six months into taking the medication I noticed a few things. My mood was better, I had a bit more energy, but I was still a size 14. I hadn’t gained any weight, but I certainly hadn’t lost any either. It was time to really do something. So I did. I started working with a personal trainer, three times a week. I went back to eating all healthy foods which meant no fast food, nothing fried, and limited dairy and carbs. Oh, and no booze, but that’s another story. Pizza is a weakness so those dairy and carb restrictions/rules are the hardest (but don’t think I haven’t fallen off the pie wagon several times). And, no, no, no fad diets. I don’t do Atkins because I adore brown rice and farro. I also don’t do Paleo because I’m not following the diet of a people that experienced a mid-life crisis at 18. Just a little of everything, and a lot of nothing. Three months later, I’m thirty pounds down and can run a hill-heavy route that used to leave me out of breath when just walking it.
The pounds did not melt off the second time around. It was harder. It was a lot harder. I was a lot sicker and I’m also much older. But I learned a lot more the second time around, as well. Roasted vegetable are amazing (and not at all a punishment), running is the best stress reliever on the planet (and is a lot more fun to Ludacris), and for f*cks sake, never judge anyone who orders a salad with a wedge of lemon. You never know their story.