When I got married in the summer of 2004 and consequently quit smoking 3 months later, I put on a few pounds. Newlywed life paired with the agonizing process of breaking a 10 year habit gave way to a number I’d never seen before on the scale. I didn’t acknowledge it for some time, keeping the mentality of ‘if I like the way I look and I’m happy, what does it matter’. This is a healthy attitude to have, until climbing a simple flight of stairs leaves you out of breath…and you realize that you can no longer blame it on the smoking.
In the summer of 2005 I joined Weight Watchers for the first time. My starting weight was 163 lbs. I cringe even now when I read that number. At 163 lbs, I was unable to fit into most of the clothing that I had worn my entire adult life. That was pretty much the impetus right there. Having to buy new clothing in a size I’d never worn. I suddenly looked in the mirror and didn’t see the same body I’d been seeing. I was unhappy and needed to do something about it. I’d let myself eat whatever I wanted in the process of quitting smoking, but that time was over and I needed to regain control of my life, my health, my waistline.
Weight Watchers taught me a lot about how to eat, portion sizes, making sure I got in my daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables and dairy and water…it’s a rather healthy way, albeit a slow way, to lose weight. In March of 2006, I reached my goal weight of 145 lbs. It took me nearly 8 months to lose nearly 20 pounds. I maintained that weight for 5 months. In the fall of 2006, the pounds crept back on. Not to the degree that they put me back up over 160, but still…things felt tight. But it was fall, and football, and tailgating, and beer and pizza and thanksgiving and christmas. I suppose it’s always my body’s way of preparing for the colder months…adding that extra layer of insulation. Once again, I didn’t notice this by looking in the mirror. The scale told me. The numbers got bigger, which effected how I saw myself. Mentally adding inches which eventually showed up physically.
January 2007. I go back to Weight Watchers for the 2nd time. Attending meetings, counting points, drinking water, eating vegetables. I feel I’ve got a good handle on it this time. Starting weight, 156. From September to January I’d put on about 10 pounds. Like I said, fall is BAD for my waistline. By the time I return from my trip to London in March, I’m down to 148 and by April I’m happily down to 146 again. I’m exercising this time around and have picked up running as a regular habit. I maintain a weight between 143-145 throughout the summer and into October. Then I get sick and stop going to the gym but continue eating all of the things I love to eat in the fall…lather, rinse, repeat. January rolls around and I’m up again. 153 this time. Not entirely sure why I keep following this pattern, but it is what it is. I want to make sure I can fit into the jeans I’ve spent more money on…I’m not liking the way things are sitting on my body. It’s not so much about the numbers this time as the way I feel about myself.
January 2008. Back to counting points and measuring my food…again. This time I do Weight Watchers on my own, online, no meetings. I know this stuff like the back of my hand by this point, I just need to keep myself accountable and really pay attention to what I’m eating and how much I’m exercising. I go back to the gym. I add strength training two days a week, figuring that if I can build some muscle, I’ll feel better about myself. A strong body = a strong mind. By March I’m back down in the mid 140s again. On a 5’4″ frame, this little amount of weight makes a big difference. It has a lot to do with where it settles. Right around my middle and my hips. Makes me look like a friggin’ pear with boobs.
I maintain a happy weight and body image through the summer, incredibly pleased with the results of weight training and running and yoga…Things look toned and trim and fit. That’s the key word right there, fit.
But we’re into September and I can feel it happening all over again. The numbers, the beer, the tailgating.
I want to enjoy life but I don’t want to have to go through the whole process all over again. I spend time wearing my smaller clothes on weekends to make my body realize that it can’t keep packing on the pounds. I continue to go to the gym and exercise. I try not to let the numbers get to me, or to look at them too much but feel the need to check in once a week to get some sense of how I’m doing with maintaining. It’s an ongoing battle. I know the numbers shouldn’t mean as much as they do. I know that I do lead a pretty healthy lifestyle. I know I’ve got good cholesterol, good blood pressure. I know I’m running a few races this fall…I also know that Sundays mean sitting on the couch watching football (a choice I make for myself) or tailgating. I can make healthy choices. I can get to january not up 10 pounds. I suppose I just need to make the commitment to myself and my waistline…and continue to wear the small jeans once a week for a reality check.
It’s definitely not easy being a woman sometimes.