My weight has pretty much always been an issue. Sometimes the issue was real and sometimes not. Each decade seems to have brought on another dilemma that I had little to no tools to deal with.
In my teens, I felt too curvy and wanted to be skinny like all the non-Greek girls. My mom — who struggled with her own weight issues, despite being a size 6 for as long as I can remember — was more than happy to indulge me by paying for Dr. Bernstein’s 800 calorie a day diet, which included daily B12 shots so you could function. Then there was the ever popular “liquid diet” from the 80’s. I did cardio classes and went so hard that I passed out mid-way through class more than once. At about 60 kilos I felt huge. I look back at some old pictures and wonder what the hell was I thinking? I would kill to have that body now.
In my 20’s, I did the Cabbage Diet, the Grapefruit Diet, the eat-as-much-of-one-food-that-you-want diet, and Weight Watchers. None of those worked, so I decided food was not my friend and banished it altogether. Instead, I opted for black coffee and pack after pack of cigarettes to curb my appetite. I very quickly went from 68 kilos back down to 61 kilos and despite the fact that I was starving all the time, I was happy with how I looked for those brief few months. I look at pictures of me at 68 kilos and think, if only I could know then what I know now and start from there.
By the time I hit my mid-30’s, I was in real trouble. I was diagnosed with PCOD (PolyCystic Ovarian Disorder,) which among other things, makes you lose the hair on your head while at the same time accelerates facial hair growth. It also put a huge dent in my baby making plans since at the time I was told I had a 25% chance of carrying any pregnancy to full term. It wreaked havoc on my relationship and I think that’s when I learned how to binge eat in the middle of the night. I had surgery that left me immobile for 2 months which atrophied my muscles. I could barely walk around the block and I was embarrassed to be in my own skin most days. Once again, I did Weight Watchers (I gained weight) and the Curves Diet, which is basically Atkins in disguise. I restricted food during the day and binged at night and ended up hitting my all-time high of 98 kilos. At 37, my self-hatred and shame was so bad that the stress of trying on bridesmaid dresses for my cousin’s wedding caused me to go home and throw up for hours and hours.
One night, desperate for help, I went on the Internet, looking for the next magical weight loss cure. I stumbled on an online program and found my tribe. My Wonder Women and I supported each other, cared for one another, cried for one another and challenged each other to do better every day. The ability to share my successes and my failures with these women without any judgement was life-changing. The weight started coming off, and after almost 2 years, I was down 19 kilos. I was finally starting to feel good about myself. In 2008, a few of the Wonder Women met in Phoenix, Arizona and did a half-marathon together. Some of us ran, some of us — including me — walked, but all of us cheered the hell out of one another and got it done! To this day, that medal is one of my most treasured and prized items.
In 2010, I suffered a huge setback, which I’ve talked about on this blog. My 18-year relationship was falling apart and I spiralled into a deep depression. For months I couldn’t get out of bed. Some of the weight crept back on out of sheer lack of activity. Some of it crept back on because I was self-medicating with my secret lover: Peanut Butter Chocolate Hagan-Daaz. After my separation and subsequent divorce, I found a yoga practice that I really connected with and started getting healthy again. I got off the meds, I had a regular and consistent practice, I found a second tribe, and life was good. But I was constantly worried about my weight and comparing myself to the other women in my yoga class who were thinner and bendier.
Last year I fractured my spine and spent a year unable to practice my beloved yoga. Once again I found myself on a bunch of pills and started self-medicating with food. That, coupled with the inactivity, led me to gain another 11 kilos. When I finally had the courage to step on the scale, I saw a number appear that I swore to myself I would never see again. As my beloved says “What has been seen cannot be unseen.” I can’t even begin to articulate how deeply disappointed and ashamed of myself I was.
For months now. I’ve been struggling to lose weight and I have literally been gaining and losing the same 5 kilos over and over again. So much energy has been spent worrying and fretting and comparing and ultimately hating myself. I’m desperately tired of struggling with this same issue year after year. I’m exhausted by the negative tape in my head telling me that I can’t do this or that, or that I’m too fat to wear this or that. I’m so fucking done with being my own worst enemy.
This past weekend, instead of listening to the voices in my head telling me that I couldn’t possibly embarrass myself by going down to the pool in a swimsuit, I put on my damn swimsuit and swam and played in the pool for a solid two hours. Was I nervous and more than a bit embarrassed? Yes. But instead of listening to my demons, I channeled my hero Tess Holliday and told those demons to #fucktheirbeautystandards and did it anyway.
Today, I took another positive step. I acknowledged that I was worthy of another chance and hopefully found a tribe. Another online group but with a twist. Instead of being diet-centred, The Habit Project is focused on incorporating a new set of habits — one habit at a time — over a set period of time. No deprivation, no judgement, no counting calories. I’m excited and scared and hopeful that maybe I can end the dieting and the self-hate and the judgement and replace them with new tools, self-knowledge, and some good ole fashioned love for a curvy Greek girl who deserves to spend her energy on creating the best possible life.