Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Putting on the Pounds

From "shame - a painful emotion resulting from an awareness of having done something dishonourable, unworthy, degrading, etc"

I’ve never been a small person, at least not in my memory. I know that I was above-average weight by third grade. Pictures from before seem to show me as average size; I still wonder what happened. Was it getting glasses? Was it the stress of my horrible third grade teacher? I don't know. In seventh and eighth grade, I played soccer for my junior high school's junior varsity team. In seventh grade, I was the only girl on the team. The boys were first. Once I withstood their bullying for a couple months, they seemed to accept me. One boy told me I was in his "top five" when we were in a circle doing stretches. It seemed disingenuous at the time, but today I think he may have been honest. In time I learned that he liked my strength and my defiance.

Still, I was overweight. My body shape changed drastically during the summer between 8th and 9th grades. A boy who had teased me in junior high suddenly wanted to date me in high school. (I laughed at him.) My color guard instructor had pushed us to lose weight--more on this in another blog. Even though I was at my best shape, my mom suggested that I lie about my weight on my driver's license to say 140. I couldn't have been more than 160, which you may recall is close to my goal weight, but it sent a clear message that overweight=embarrassing, shameful.

In the first couple of years of college, I gained about twenty pounds because I had constant access to delicious foods. I could get a (seemingly) home-cooked meal at any time of the day, a luxury I did not have as a child. My parents had fed me well, but we didn't often eat home-cooked meals. I moved away from campus after my first year of college yet continued to gain weight because I had no idea how to cook healthy foods for myself. As I've mentioned before, my family didn't eat many home-cooked meals.

When I moved back to Charleston to finish undergrad, I gained another 20 pounds. I was also hospitalized for two days from a severe anxiety attack, which had rendered me so incoherent that the doctors thought I might have had a mini-stroke. Like many other overweight people, I suffer from anxiety and emotional eating. I had tried Weight Watchers, but it didn't help. I graduated with my bachelor's at my highest weight, just over 200 pounds.

I've already discussed what happened after I moved for grad school. I learned to love myself. I learned that my self-esteem should not be dependent on my weight. I learned that I still have a long way to go in terms of eating healthy and getting fit.

I learned that I can do this. All by myself. I deserve it.

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