All of your sweet comments made me...emotional.
Like any major change, these first two weeks haven't been easy, but it seems like every time my motivation or commitment was tested, I would get a text message from a friend I haven't talked to in a while saying she believed in me, or a comment from a blog friend saying she was struggling with the same things, or a Facebook comment from a friend with a tip on how she stays motivated. You all have not only helped me from stress eating and skipping workouts, but also reminded me how truly blessed I am.
I'll be updating my stats on September 1st, but to see my starting stats, click here and to read Julie's story, click here.
So, how did I become, what is scientifically described as obese? (sidenote: isn't obese such a nasty word. Every time I say it I shudder a little.) It's no secret, I ate crap and I wasn't active, but I wasn't always that way.
Back in high school before I had "good child bearing" hips and my hip bones jutted out so far I would complain that they got bruised by the desks, I was a dancer. At 5 foot 9 and 125 pounds I could eat anything I wanted (which I did) and my rigorous dance schedule (of about 15-30 hours a week depending on conventions, competitions and extra practices) kept my naturally athletic body in tip-top shape.
My comp cards from back in the day
Then I decided I wanted to be an actress/model. So I found myself an agent and they said, "Ashley, we really need you to get down to about 110." Holy hell, was that even possible? For about two months, I skipped the chicken mcnuggets and opted for boiled chicken, salad and a lot of ice chips or nothing at all. I started working with a trainer who came to the house on top of all the dance I was still doing. I felt like crap, but got down to about 115- also, I looked like a bobble head and some of my muscle definition was missing. The agent wasn't pleased that I hadn't reached my goal. I was miserable.
It was around that time that I was walking down the hallway to the bathroom at school and I just passed out- right in the middle of the hallway. I remember my vision getting blurry, then black and white, then just black. Somehow, I ended up in the nurses office. I told the nurse I had forgotten to eat breakfast and she gave me some crackers and sent me on my way.
It happened again a few weeks later when I was working as a "fragrance model", more commonly known as a spritzer girl, at the mall. I was half way through my four hour shift when my vision blurred again. I practically sprinted to the bathroom so I wouldn't pass out in the middle of Macy's. I was able to get into a bathroom stall and prop myself against the wall when the blackout came. When I came to, I went home saying I wasn't feeling well. If I had been a starlet, I'm sure the tabloids would have said I was suffering from exhaustion.
I knew I had to eat more, but I also knew I was expected to lose 5 more pounds. So I did what a lot 16 year old girls do when they think they aren't skinny enough, I purged. I wasn't committed to the idea. It was gross, it made my throat hurt and it made my face sweat. Plus I hated lying to people and sneaking off to do it. I did it probably once every couple of days after any particularly fatty meals. Now I was not only miserable, but I felt guilty and I started to hate myself.
Then I weighed in again.
I was back up to 120. How could this be happening? Outside of sawing off one of my arms, there was no way I was ever going to be thin enough. So, I quit. I distinctly remember the moment I decided I had had enough. It was simple really. I was eating pizza with friends. During that time, I would have stopped after two slices and politely excused myself to quietly vomit as much of the two slices as I could into the most discrete toilet. This time though, I kept eating. I decided right then and there, that I was in control, that I was tired of trying to live up to an impossible expectation and that I would forgo being a model and opt for an athletic action movie star instead.
I never became a movie star. Instead, I got an attitude. I rightfully told myself, that my body was beautiful no matter what the scale said and that I could eat whatever I wanted. However, I took it to the next level by eating everything. I got a chip on my shoulder about it-like being skinny was the anti-christ. I regularly choose the most fattening thing on a menu. Which was fine until a knee injury took me off the dance floor and those eating habits didn't change.
By the time I graduated high school, I had gained 20 pounds, which didn't concern me. I was still in the normal weight range for my height. Throughout college my weight yo-yo'd a bit. My hips began to fill out along with my chest. Alcohol, late night binge eating and ramen noodles became a regular part of my life and naturally my weight went up. It was manageable because I took some workout classes at the rec center, occasionally worked out in the dorm gym and walked all over campus. Over the course of college I slowly packed on another 40 pounds.
This is a pretty good illustration of how I gained weight... When I see it like this, it makes me a little sad, but then it makes me want to go to the gym.
Post college I tried a lot of diets. Low carb, low fat, smart ones only, the getting ready for your wedding diet, the getting divorced diet, the HCG diet, but one thing remained the same... I didn't like to follow the rules. I would stick to it for a couple months and then I would gain everything back plus 10 more pounds. I wasn't ready to give up "the good things". Even when I was on diets, I would pick up fast food and eat it in my car, because if no one saw me do it, it didn't count. I felt comfortable with my size until I saw myself in pictures, so I stayed away from cameras. Ironic, since this story started out with me trying to get in front of them.
But here I am, two weeks into a complete lifestyle shift. Note I said lifestyle shift, not diet. I don't plan on going back.
I'm keeping track of everything I eat and the calories I burn- that's key! By arming myself with the knowledge of what I am putting into my body and how much I should be putting in, it keeps me from eating things I shouldn't. I make better food choices. And I still have control. I allow myself one cheat meal each week. This week I chose gourmet street tacos and a mini gelato flight- and I enjoyed them.
I gave up soda. Which was hard. Especially when the caffeine headaches started. They lasted for a solid week, but the headaches are gone now. It's really hard for me to resist the stuff, but so far I am 16 days strong!
I hit the gym 5 days a week. Which I have actually enjoyed a lot. Some days I still dread it, but more often I enjoy my time in the there! Some part of my body is constantly sore, but that actually makes me kind of excited.
I drink more water than I did, but I could still squeeze in some more ounces.
And most importantly I don't make excuses. I just do it.
So that's the short story of how I gained weight. Thanks, as always, for reading and more importantly for being a part of the story of how I lost weight, changed perspective, improved my lifestyle and lived happily ever Ashley!