It would take me a 1,000 notebooks to fill up all of my thoughts, sufferings, and battles concerning my weight. I think I might have filled ½ of them already. So this is my way of sharing just a little of my story. I apologize in advance for my novel. What could I leave out? I left out plenty. For one, you didn't have to hear about that whole unfortunate ..... well. Never mind. That is for another day.
The whole thing has been mostly a private pain for me. I’ve talked about it, sure. But it has been fleetingly. Almost with a sigh and a shrug. I don’t want you to know how much your opinion of this person I have become means to me. I don’t want to see myself through your eyes.
This is me. Or least it was almost 22 years ago.
This was me in 2009 with The Studly Muffin and Josiah.
Girlfriend obviously has had some issues throughout the past 20 years.Not to mention all the confusion I've had over my hair color.
Before I begin I don’t want anyone to feel like I have all the answers. I’m still fat. I have at least 40 more pounds to go. This is my story. This is how I have felt through the years. I am still intelligent, Funny (according to my son) and creative. Being fluffy probably made me more compassionate....though much more unsure of myself.
My weight issues started the year after I got married. I’m sure there was a change in my lifestyle. Not that I was a fitness nut or anything. Far from it. Weight just wasn’t an issue. My mom and Baby Sister are both petite gals who have never weighed over 20 pounds over their ideal weight between them. And that was when they were pregnant.
I’m only 5"4 ½ and I have a petite frame. Which basically means I'm kind of short and my bone structure is small. Whenever I started gaining the weight it was noticeable. When I went to my family doctor (whom I had been with since I was a young teenager) he admonished me to cut my calories. I did. Still. Something was off. My menstrual cycles had become infrequent. I started growing hair in places I shouldn’t have hair. That is a whole other issue. Let's just say I could have had a healthy mustache if I had chosen to. When my doctor peered at my lip (after I had expressed my horror) he said, "Well, I don't see any hair!" As if! I was a trained cosmetologist at the time. Do you think I would have let it linger?
When I visited my gynecologist I was informed I had something called PCOS. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a hormone disorder. It’s pretty common. Some of you might have it. Cursed stuff.
The doctor handed me a prescription for medicine called Provera and then subsequently put me on a round of birth control pills. Three months off. Three months on.
This is what WebMD has to say about Provera.
Medroxyprogesterone is a type of female hormone (progestin). This medication is similar to the progesterone that your body naturally makes and is given to replace the hormone when your body is not making enough of it. This medication has several uses. In women who are not pregnant and not going through menopause, this medication is used to treat abnormal bleeding from the uterus and to restore normal menstrual periods in women who have stopped having them for several months (amenorrhea).
The side effects for Provera read like a horror novel.
This continued for a few years. And I continued to gain weight. And I went a little crazy. It didn’t take me very long to get there. I eventually discovered that when I was on the Provera I needed to spend as much time in "time out" as I could get away with. I wasn't pleasant to live with. There wasn’t the same kind of ready information about Polycystic when I was diagnosed. I did quite a bit of research myself throughout the years. I even knew more about effective treatment than most of my doctors.
Here’s the thing. I weighed 120 pounds the day I got married. I gained 80 pounds in a year.
You can imagine what that does to a young woman. Some of you might have even experienced it. One man I had known for several years teased me. “What’s with you girl! Now that you have found your man you sat down at the table and started eating?” I was asked continuously if I was pregnant. I tried never to be offended, but vowed always to be gracious. The last thing I needed to be was fat and vicious.
At the time, the “Low Fat” diet was all the craze. I went after it with a vengeance. Never mind that even marshmallows can be called “low fat.” I had been raised to eat healthy. We grew all of our own vegetables. My mom seldom relied on processed foods. It would irk me when my doctor would tell me again to cut my fats.
I want to stop right here and say that just because I have eaten healthy the majority of my life doesn't mean that all of my choices have been good ones. I also developed a bit of the "stress eater" syndrome. And given what I am about to tell you...you can see why. I never was one of those gals who ordered 4 value meals through the drive-thru and ate them all in the parking lot at work. I feel that sometimes that is the perception that skinny people have of those of us who have struggled with weight. Let's just say that if my husband chooses to eat an ice cream sundae with extra fudge sauce it probably won't show up on the scale the next day. I think about an ice cream sundae with extra fudge sauce and I gain weight. And you think I'm kidding!
Back to my story. Still with me?
We moved out of state a few years after we were married. It was a hard move. On paper it should have been terrific. We were moving to be the youth pastors at my parent’s church. It was like moving to a different world. It was also the south. Folks can just plain cook! Deep Fried Pickles. That’s all I’m saying.
My new gynecologist continued the regiment of Provera and birth control pills. By this time I weighed well over 200 pounds. Troy and I had also decided that it was time to start a family. We knew that it was going to be difficult. One of the primary factors of PCOS is infertility. My doctor put me on 3 months of Clomid. After I failed to conceive, he suggested that we wait a bit and let my body recover.
It was after that my general physician recommended that I go on Fen-Phen. It was a miracle weight loss drug. Everybody was losing weight. Significant weight. 10 pounds in a week. Even more! Except me. I didn’t eat (the meds surpressed your appetitive), cried most of the time because the medicine made me cranky and only lost a grand total of 3 pounds in a month. The doc decided that it wasn’t worth the risk of taking the drug unless I had significant weight loss.
A month later my world changed forever. I was in a major head on collision. I couldn’t walk for 6 months. I had to have surgery on my left hip and right leg. In my body right now there are 23 pins and screws. The head of the trauma intensive care unit of The Elvis Presley Memorial Center (also called The Med) told me that it was going to be harder for me to recuperate because of my weight. I’m not sure how much I weighed when I had the accident. All I know is that by the time I was walking again (with the aid of a walker) I weighed almost 270 pounds.
I can’t even believe I am admitting that in public. But, seriously. It’s not like nobody noticed.
You can guess that physical activity at this time for me was difficult. I had physical therapy a few times a week, but other than that my poor battered body couldn’t withstand very much. And I was depressed. I had made it through the initial car accident and recovery period intact. After everyone (my therapists, my friends) went home I was left with the realization that my life was going to be different. My doctors were unsure of how I would spend the rest of my life. Would I be limited? Yes. Would the repairs on my body last? They just didn’t know. Not to mention there were so many other issues they just couldn’t address. When a patient is dying because of drastic drops in blood pressure, they aren’t too concerned with torn tissue and dislocated breasts.
Here is a little comic relief. I apologize to my male readers. It is what it is. When I had the car accident the seat belt moved my right breast underneath my armpit. EWWW! I know! I looked like an alien. Did you know that we aren’t rubber? I had to have therapy and wear sport bras 24/7 for years to make it return. It still is a bit misplaced. Though not that it matters anymore. I’m 41! I can now chalk it up to gravity! We used to howl about my underarm breast. You got to find a laugh somewhere.
Anyhoo. So not only was I infertile. I was crippled. And I was fat. And I didn’t like it! It was a rough time. This isn’t the post for all of my adventures pre and post car accident. But, I think that being at home all day trapped in my body….trapped in my house…trapped with all of the uncertainty of what was to come was enough to make me reach for a bag of chips. Provided they were in arms reach.
That next year brought some much needed healing in my mind. God was so faithful (and still is!) I went back to college. I was in my first semester when I had the wreck and finished it during my recovery period from my bed. It took me a little longer than a semester, but the college and my professors were so gracious and lovely to me. That year also brought a new sense of determination concerning my weight. I began to go to Curves. I couldn’t do all of the rotations, but it was enough to kick start my metabolism. I took back control of my diet and began to implement those healthy food principles I had known all my life.
Then I got sick. Really sick. 3 years after the accident I went into Congestive Heart Failure. I was also diagnosed with diabetes. It was decided at the time that a virus had attacked my heart. These many years later I’m not so sure that it didn’t have something to do with the heart contusion I sustained during the accident. Sigh.
Can I stop just a minute and tell you how really blessed I am. I don’t want this to be just a post about weight loss. I want you to understand that I know what it is like to have some challenges in the journey. I told my husband just a few minutes ago that I am overwhelmed when I think about how good God has been. It makes me cry.
I started seeing a doctor specializing in nutrition and holistic medicine after this. I don’t even remember how I got connected with him. He worked with me diligently. And basically told me that I was one of the toughest cases he had ever had. My metabolism was fried. My body was exhausted. Nothing really worked like it was supposed to.
Yay! But seriously. Someone finally listened to me. He believed me when I told him that I was using portion control. And he understood about the whole "gaining weight just because I think about a hot fudge sundae" thing! He put me on a round of supplements and slowly, but surely I started losing some weight. Not a lot, but enough to finally give me some energy again..and a little hope.
Then I got pregnant. Remember what I said about infertility? This was completely out of left field. I had just finished up a year of teaching kindergarten at a local Christian School. I was still in college and was taking a summer math class. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the math class :<) We were thrilled. Shocked. Amazed. And then I started noticing little issues. I was put on bed rest. I was taken off all of my oral medications and put on enough insulin to choke a horse. Within 2 months I had miscarried. I had gained 30 pounds. 30 pounds. No baby and heartbroken. At this point The Studly Muffin and I had been married for almost 10 years.
The months that followed were some of the most exhilarating, depressing, uncertain, extraordinary months of my life. We adopted Josiah Bevan. I lost my baby on August 11 (one month before the terrible September 11th terrorist attacks). Josiah was born on November 27. We received parental custody on December 10th. Best. Day. Ever. That is all.
I hadn’t lost my pregnancy weight. Now I was a brand new mom. It’s ironic that I had pregnancy weight and a new baby…but neither had anything to do with the other.
I am sure my momma would disagree, but I don’t do fat pretty. My frame is too small. I looked like was always 14 months pregnant with twins. And I developed rosacea. I always felt like Bob the tomato. I realize that women everywhere struggle with body image. Beyond the body image issue I also knew that I was sick. Sick on the inside. My blood work always came back as good news/bad news. I always had good cholesterol levels, but my triglycerides were awful. My diabetes was under control, but why should a 30 year old woman have to worry about diabetes? I always had the thyroid test. It was always suspected, but never treated because my levels were always normal.
In 2006 my life once again went a little nusty. We were pastoring a small church in Central Missouri. I had been sick for some time. I had been hospitalized with pneumonia the year before. And I had 4 bouts of pneumonia after that. Something’s not right. Once when I couldn’t get in to see my regular doctor the nurse practitioner (when I suggested that something might be wrong with my heart again) told me that it would be unlikely that I would have congestive heart failure twice.Ya think so?
A week later, I had a chest x-ray and it revealed that my heart was indeed enlarged. Bummer. The next few months were just plain awful. We resigned our church, took another church, after visiting a well-respected cardiologist here in the town we currently live in it was discovered my heart was functioning at 24%. The next few months after that were even more awful. We resigned our new church and came home to live with my parents. We lost 2 homes (one was a rental) and our dignity. I was without health insurance (and had been for a few years). Troy was without a job. And we were without hope.
Do you ever look back at your life and wish you could give just some little clue to your younger self. “It’s going to be okay. God’s going to see you through this. Put down that Krispy Kreme.”
I could seriously give you an earful about life in the ministry. But I’m not. I’m just grateful for those people God has sent along the way to encourage us. And to be our friends. You know who you are. And here is just my little public service announcement on behalf of all those in the ministry. I understand that there have been those of you who have been hurt by a pastor or other ministry person. Don’t take it out on every pastor you meet thereafter. We are not the enemy. Just be nice and pray for us. We need it more than you know.
That’s all I have to say about that.
So here we are. Troy had found a job working for about ½ the salary we were accustomed to. And frankly, we hadn’t been accustomed to much. We were living with my parents (we did that for a year). After 20 years of full time ministry we were bewildered and a little lost. And guess what! I was still fat! Ding dong it!!
The past few years have brought some healing. We are currently biovocational ministers (meaning Troy is still working his job and he works as an associate pastor on the weekends). We can’t understand all that has happened, but it’s reassuring to know that we don’t have to have all the answers. God is in control.
About a year ago something significant happened. I need to kind of give you my state of mind at the time. I had struggled with this weight thing for so long. I continued to exercise. I found water aerobics to be good therapy for all of damaged bits and pieces. I had tried several different “diets.” Gluten free. Dairy free. Flavor free. Whatever it takes.I hadwritten everything down. Used portion control. Read a thousand weight loss books. I would cry out to God. “Why is this so hard. And what is it about me that makes it so hard?” You would think that someone who had already so many close calls with her body completely shutting down would do whatever it took. Truth is I was tired of trying. I was tired of trying to avoid the camera. I was tired of everything I touched turning to sand.
Memorial Day weekend we had a fun weekend planned with Troy’s brother and wife in St. Louis. Troy and Josiah were going to be treated to a Cardinals game (Troy’s an Air Force Vet and the Cardinals were blessing all veterans that weekend). I was going to spend my day with my sister-in-law doing some shopping and hanging out. The night before all of our planned festivities I took too much insulin (oopsie). I wound up in the emergency room dangerously ill. Because I am a heart patient they have to run all the usual tests. They also ran some blood work.
Would you know that my thyroid levels came back abnormal? Imagine that. I will tell you that I have had my thryroid tested so many times they probably had a corner at the lab devoted just for me. I have (and have had) my suspicions that my thyroid has been kinda wonky for ages.
When I returned home from that fateful trip I went to see my doctor…armed with my test results. She put me on a low dosage of thryroid medication. I lost 13 pounds the next week.
Since then I have lost almost 80.
I will tell you. The last 6 months have been the hardest. I gained 16 pounds when we went on vacation in June. Just in a week. I have fought for every pound lost.
Could I have lost the weight had not my thyroid issues not been diagnosed. I don’t really think so.
But, I haven’t lost all the weight just because I started taking a pill.
What this past year has shown me is priceless. I love having more control over my body and life. I can't tell you how I felt when clothes that I had in my closet no longer fit. In fact, I have had to recycle my whole wardrobe (which is a problem from a financial point of view...I only had one pair of pants for months)
Yet…I realize that this is a process. Some weeks it goes better than others. I am not on a diet. This is my life.
When I look in the mirror now I am don’t turn away as quickly. I still frown. I am still not pleased with my reflection or the way my body feels. For the longest time I couldn’t tell a difference. It was only when someone would see me that hadn’t seen me in a while that I realized that I was transforming.
I would love to bless others with some of those little tidbits that have helped me along the way (and are still helping me).
This is still a journey for me. When I visited the ER last year I weighed 260 pounds. Throughout the year I have been more impressed than ever to continue. My son is watching me. He’s watching me as I battle to make good choices. He’s watching me when I choose to forgive myself for those not so good choices. There is still a lot left to learn.80 pounds is a lot of baggage left behind...but there is still more.
In a perfect world I should love myself no matter what size I am. I love who God made me. I love that He sees potential in me. I love that He has come to my rescue. And I acknowledge my own responsibility.
I still need to figure out that whole hair color situation. But that's another story.