Monday, 22 October 2012

My weight loss story.

This week I am launching my weight loss and body image theme of my blog. I thought it only fair to give you the entire background story. This isn’t easy for me but here goes…

My name is Cassandra and I’m addicted to food. It’s true. I could eat forever. I have eaten full packets of cookies. I have eaten entire bags of corn chips. I have gone back for seconds, thirds, fourths and fifths.

People used to think I was naturally bigger.
“It’s your genes.”
Actually my Mother is a size eight and my father used to be a footballer. Okay he has gained himself a bit of a keg, but he wasn’t overweight in his youth.
“You eat well, and you exercise.”
Ha! I ate awfully. Pasta was considered a healthy meal. I ate five big meals a day. We had take out at least once a week, not healthy takeout but KFC or McDonalds. I did play sport in my early teens, but that was always followed up by a trip to Macca’s. By the time I was 15 I didn’t exercise.

I was always on a diet. Then I wasn’t. If I was dieting I ate fruit and vegies. If I wasn’t I ate rubbish. There was no middle ground. All or nothing.

I wanted to be like my friends. By the time I hit high school I struggled to fit into a women’s 14, which meant I struggled to wear all the surf brands that my friends wore. I would be SO excited if they would bring out a pair of jeans in a size 16, I would wear them until they fell apart. I had boyfriends because I had boobs. Then everyone got boobs, and I was over-weight and unhappy.
By the time I got to year 9 I had almost completely given up on my self-image. I couldn’t fit in, because I didn’t fit. That’s when I went through my soul-searching phase and tried on all the genres.

My weight was, and in many ways still is, always on my mind. I would see the people around me lose weight as they hit their teens. I would see some gain weight and felt gratified. How sick is that?
I wasn’t who I wanted to be because I was fat. I was miserable, and I was unhealthy.

My heaviest ever weight was 106 kg. That was only last year, after Oliver was born. I did sweat out 10kg. So I guess my heaviest was 96 kg. But this was not the first time I was in the mid 90’s, and its not the first time I have lost it.

When I was 18 years old I weighed 94kg. I was so ashamed. I used to tell people I weighed 89kg, because to me that was okay. Now I realise the numbers on the scale mean nothing. But then it was everything to me. What I didn’t realise was how unhealthy I was. As I said I was either dieting, or purging. I did not live a healthy lifestyle.

Then I started smoking. I do not advocate smoking as a weight loss device. But it did stop me snacking. I would be bored so I’d go for a smoke. I also got out of a relationship that reconfirmed my self-loathing. I didn’t love him; in fact I couldn’t stand him. But I thought that was all I deserved. Ending that relationship was the first step I took towards being honest with myself, and loving myself.
Within eight weeks I had lost 10kg. It was just the lifestyle change. I got out of my comfort zone and off the couch. People were noticing. I was noticing and I felt good.

That’s when I started running. I would go for a run every day and do a work out routine. I started eating better and I was living on a vegetarian diet. I was also partying a lot, so I think all that dancing definitely helped.

When I first lost weight every said it was drugs. That made me feel rubbish. It wasn’t not drugs, I was going through a bit of a hippie phase. But I wasn’t a pill popper, or into ANYTHING heavy. I was actually trying to improve my body, successfully, for the first time in my life.  So then it became a bit about proving them wrong. The more I lost the more they spoke. Thats when I started to learn about doing it for myself, but this lesson is still being learnt.

I got down to 69kg in July 2008. I was so happy. I had met James, I was a size 10, I was surrounded by good friends, I had something on every night of the week. I liked the way I looked and felt. For the first time in my life I felt like I belonged. This was for a lot of reasons, but my weight was a big one.

But old habits die-hard and by the time James and I moved to Canberra in August ’09 I was back up to 82kg. My health was rubbish again, we ate take away once a week, and then I would skip meals to make up for it. Of course this was worse than ever.  I had no nutritional knowledge and again I loathed the way I looked.

James got deployed in early 2010 for a three-month trip. I was devastated. The only thing that got me through was the idea that when James got back I would be back to the weight I was when we met. I joined a gym, I skipped meals, I ran, I barely ever sat still. In the three months he was gone I lost 10kg and was again happy with the girl who stared back at me in the mirror.

I honestly believe this was when I was at my unhealthiest. I was so confused about how to lose weight. I would just skip a meal and then eat crap and then run for an hour. I remember driving back from KFC chewing on a chicken wing and smiling because I was so hungry and it was so delicious. I must have looked like a mad woman, and to complete the image I then threw the bones out the window.

James barely even noticed my weight loss; he was too excited to see me. It’s never really mattered to him.

In November 2010 we found out we were pregnant. It was the greatest day of my life. At this point my weight was back up to 78kg. The doctor told me I should only gain 10kg as I was already classified as overweight. I ended up gaining 28kg.

Even though I knew my son was growing inside me I couldn’t keep it together to be healthy. I walked everyday but I ate my weight in corn chips, yep that’s a lot of corn chips. I knew that I would get fat any way so I didn’t care. Because the reality was I never lost weight for my health, I lost weight for my size. I lost weight for the number on the scales. I lost weight to look good; feeling good was just a side affect.
After having my son, and seeing what my body created I realised what an amazing vessel the human body is. I began walking again when he was three weeks old. It hurt but I had to get active, and I needed to get out of the house. I remember the first time I ran it hurt so good.  Then I had what I can only identify as an epiphany.
It went something like this: Oh god this hurts, but its good for me. Just keep going. You can do it. Your body is capable of wonderful things. Your body created and nurtured your son. And after all that you’ve done to it. Your body is creating milk for your son even though it is low on blood, and you continue to fill it with junk. Your body is your temple, and you need to start treating it better.

…and yes I do often talk to myself.

It was then I realised how important my health was, not only to me but also to my son. I needed to get healthy to be around to take care of him, to be able to run around after him and to be able to teach him how to take care of himself.
It’s not easy being an overweight kid. It doesn’t get an easier being an overweight adult. I want more for my child. I want to teach him lessons that I was never taught. I want to teach him balance, and how to stop eating when you are full. I want to teach him the joys in exercise and the joys of healthy eating. I want him to know that junk food is okay sometimes, and not to beat yourself up about eating it. I want him to respect his body the way I never respected mine. In order to teach him all this, I have had to learn it and am still learning every day.

Since giving birth to Oliver I lost 26kg pretty quickly. As I said a lot of it was fluid retention, the rest was hard work. I stopped for a little while; I wasn’t falling into old habits and maintained my weight for almost six months, which is a record for me. This weight was 80kg.

Over Oliver’s first birthday I decided to give myself another boost. Now that I know I am able to maintain weight, and now that I know why I want to lose weight I feel like this time is so much different. In fact I don’t feel like I’m losing weight, I feel like I am improving my health.

I started on a high protein low calorie diet, so yes I am using meal replacement shakes. I know a lot has been said in the negative and positive about these shakes but I did a lot of research and even some math to work out how to keep it healthy, realistic and the weight off. I am also taking a natural appetite suppressant because, as I said, I could eat forever. I am a bottomless pit and even the healthiest meals are at risk of becoming unhealthy in the portions I consume.
I have taken photos of myself every week since I started and today I am officially in the healthy weight range for my height, hitting 73kg and a BMI (body mass index) of 24.9. I am still not in a place where I am willing to share these photos but who knows, maybe one day.

I do not have a goal weight. I am actually pretty happy with the way I look but I told myself I would stick to this diet until Christmas, and this year give myself the gift of health.

I have written about body image before (here) and image vs health. For me it has been a long journey to this point, to get to the place where I realise that size is a side affect of being healthy. There are healthy women of all sizes, but I know my healthy size is not a size 16. In fact with the amount of junk food I consumed I consider myself very lucky to have only gotten to a size 16/18.
Ultimately it took a little boy by the name of Oliver J to teach me how important health was. James and I always talked about if we wanted a girl or a boy, red hair/ brown hair, blue eyes, into reading, dancing etc. When I went for that first ultrasound, and every one there after, all I was looking for was that beautiful strong heart beat. That is all that was important to us. His health.

I know I deserve that too. I deserve to be healthy. If I don’t believe its okay to feed my one-year-old processed sugar in his everyday diet then why do I think it’s okay if I do? Its not, so I don’t.

There will be days when I care what people think of my size. I am human and that’s why it has taken me so long to hit the publish button on this post, because I care what you think.
There will be days when I consumed an entire bag of corn chips. I will have relapses and I will hate myself for it. But it is okay, I will troop on.

I was inspired by a blog I have just found (Sugercoatit) to finally start blogging about my battle with weight loss, health and body image.  She is also on her journey to finding health and I saw so many reasons for her to be proud in her self. This made me realise I should be proud of myself. I have come a long way from the dressing rooms of Ozmosis (a local surf shop) trying desperately to zip up a size 14 pair of jeans.

I am excited and nervous about sharing the rest of my journey with you. I’d love to swap stories and hear advice from other reformed food junkies.

I’d like to end on a positive note. Everyday it get easier and easier. Everyday I am further away from the unhealthy, unhappy person I used to be. Everyday I focus more on my health and less on my body image. Everyday is a new day, and everyday I am able to put the mistakes of yesterday in my past.

Thanks for reading my first ever post about my body. I will be posting about my journey every Thursday, kick starting this week with a post for the We heart life I love my body campaign.

1 comment:

  1. I cried reading this.

    You are me, & I am you.

    I'm not at a good point health-wise at the moment, & binge eat like nobody's business; it's why I am SO fussy with Max's meals, because I don't want him to eat unhealthy like me, or have the negative association with food that I do.

    But this has inspired me.

    So, thank you xo

    P.S I do the same, binge eat on health food, to a size & portion that actually becomes UNhealthy. Ridiculous, isn't it?!