Working My Way to a Healthier Me

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When I was a teenager, I was anorexic. I’ll just put it out there – no beating around the bush.

Thanks to a rather large ass and insensitive people around me, I grew up thinking that my bubble butt meant that I was fat. After a tumultuous teenage romance, my body dismorphia grew increasingly more unhealthy. Of course it was really no one’s fault…but when a boyfriend decides he chooses your size 0 friend over your size three – and you already have body issues – it easily leads to an eating disorder.

I was never a serious anorexic. I ate, and I loved to eat – but I hated what I imagined those calories were doing to my body. I ate sporadically. I took a lot of long walks around the neighborhood to ward off the fat cells I imagined were building on my ass. I did crunches to flatten my stomach. If I knew we were having something I enjoyed for dinner, I would skip breakfast and lunch. There were days that my meals consisted of only Dr. Pepper.

Oddly enough, I was actually quite vain. To get fat was the ultimate, unforgivable sin. All that hard work, all those skipped meals, all the desserts I would only taste, never eat…

When I became pregnant at 18, I stood 5′ 2″ and weighed in at 98 pounds. Now, yes, I wanted to avoid getting fat. But something clicked inside me when I knew I had a baby growing inside me…I suppose it was my natural maternal instinct, but it could just have as easily been a ringing bell, signalling that it was on. I could eat. I could eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted…no one would judge me for gaining weight. My stomach was going to get round anyway, I might as well enjoy it, right?

I didn’t overdo it. I ate what I wanted, until I was full. I gained 40 pounds during my pregnancy, which may seem a bit much when people hear that number. But I was 10 pounds underweight to begin with, so it was perfectly normal. After the birth of my daughter, I felt much differently about my body than I had before. Of course I wanted to lose the weight, but it didn’t seem all that important. I became accustomed to having breasts, round hips, a little meat on my face.

People told me I looked great. Inside, a little voice squeaked, telling me that they were lying, that I was a fat pig. I promptly told that voice to shut its pie hole.

Giving birth often changes a person. It changed me for the better. Honestly, I had gotten used to the weight. I eventually lost most of the baby weight, within a year or so, but I did it the right way – through diet and exercise. And it wasn’t hard…I took my time, I watched what I ate, I pushed the stroller around the block.

By the time I married my husband 2 years later, I was a healthy, happy 115 pounds. After getting married, as many do, I found myself gaining weight. Over the past 9 years, its been a constant struggle to maintain a healthy weight. I would lose the weight and get back down to my ideal weight, then gain it back a year or so later. I’m also a smoker, and each time I quit smoking I gain at least 20 pounds. I don’t enjoy exercise and go to great lengths to avoid it – Weight Watchers, Calorie Counting, Atkins diet…but I recently found that all my old tricks simply weren’t working anymore.

I needed a real change in my life, something that would make a lasting difference. I had to find a healthy balance between eating the food that I love (and I honestly do love fruits and vegetables and don’t care too much for fried garbage) and staying thin. I own a small arsenal of home gym equipment – which I’ve rarely, if ever, used. I own a Bowflex, an elliptical trainer, and air stepper and a pilates ball. I also own a few work out DVDs…which are still in the shrink wrap. Not to mention the Wii fit.

Last month, I decided I was going to do it. I decided that enough was enough, I was tired of being overweight and tired of bitching and moaning about it all the time. My daughter hears the things I say about my body, about my weight, about my unhealthy obsession with food. It was time to change all of that, not only for my own healthy and personal satisfaction, but to be a good influence on her as well. Nothing is more heartbreaking than hearing your twelve year old daughter complain about her non-existent muffin tops. She’s naturally thick, unlike me. She is already as tall as I am and her build is larger. She isn’t skinny, but she is far from fat. She’s NORMAL. I can’t have her enter her teenage years fighting her body the way that I did.

It was time to break the cycle.

I’ve been working hard the past month. I began by walking the dogs for an hour each day, and slowly built my way up to using the elliptical trainer for an hour each day, burning an average of 600 calories a day. Combined with eating healthier food, I’ve already seen results. I’ve lost 8 pounds since June 1st. I’m proud of that 8 pounds. I haven’t been doing low carb, low calorie, etc. – I’ve lost it all through sweating my ass off on that elliptical each day. Each time I wipe the sweat out of my eyes, each time my thighs are sore, and my arms are tired from grasping the handles, I think to myself – this workout is the equivalent of a piece of cake. This workout is a steak and baked potato…each workout allows me to continue eating all of the foods that I love, and still lose weight.

Some mornings I delay the workout. I find a million things that must be done before I begin my routine. Its not always easy. I have to work my way over to the spot in the house where my “gym” is…but I manage to do it every day. Sometimes I enjoy it, like I did today. I had my playlist blaring, and those upbeat, fast paced songs playing at full volume made that hour fly by. Other days, like yesterday, find me staring at the clock every few seconds to see if I am done yet.

I read somewhere that you have to do something for 21 days in a row for it to become a habit. This is the first healthy habit I’ve created. I’m pretty damn proud of myself.

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