Often times, you’ll hear people say, “I’d kill for the body I had when I was 17 and back then, I thought I was fat!” I never thought, I’d be one of those people but, it’s only been four years since I was 17 and my body has gone through so many changes that I feel like I’m still learning my identity.
I grew up around the subliminal message that being fat was horrible and terrible, and something you generally didn’t want to be. My mom weighed over 200 pounds by the time she had me, so I can’t really blame her for being body conscious. She worked really hard to shed the pounds after I was born and was very pro-active from that point on. Really, though, what woman doesn’t start to get a little crazy when she sees the numbers on the scale creeping up? It’s engrained in most females, I assume, that as soon as they have to go up a jeans size they are automatically stamped across the forehead with the word “OBESE” in giant, bold type letters.
I was one of those kids that was always tall for my age and never really went through a chunky stage. No guys at school ever had a crush on me because I was taller than most of them and they always teased me for going through puberty so early. But, no one ever called me fat.
I’ve always thought of myself as being proportionate and closer to an hour-glass figure than anything else. I’m not one of those people who has really teeny, tiny boobs and a huge butt/hips or a woman who has the body of a 12-year-old boy and humongous boobs. Lord have mercy… I feel sorry for those women. But, I also never thought of myself as attractive. Body image is definitely not my strong suit.
Just like anyone else, I’ve gained and lost weight. I’ve gone up a size and down a size. I’ve obsessed over numbers on the scale and I’ve eaten almost an entire pizza by myself. I never started letting that little voice in the back of my mind get me down until I was about 16. Suddenly, I had curves. Not vivacious ones but, curves nonetheless. I can vividly remember one of my mom’s friends telling me I had “the body of a coke bottle” and, according to her, one that all the boys wanted.
In my teenage years I had never had any trouble getting guys to notice me but, naively, I always thought that it was because of my personality, until… A boy that I had had a crush on for a few years, and had given up on due to the seemingly low amount of interest in me, started taking notice of me. At the time, I was interested in someone else and tried to tell him that I wasn’t okay with his advances toward me since he already knew I didn’t want to get involved. Finally, I asked him why he liked me and wouldn’t stop trying to get my attention. The first reason out of his mouth was, “Because you’re hot.” Hot. HOT! A word that I despise in connection to describing women. He wanted to be with my for my body; not my goals, not my personality. I think that’s really when my self-esteem took a turn for the worse.
At that time in my life I wasn’t really sure where I wanted to be. I didn’t know if I was supposed to graduate and go to college or get married and have a bunch of kids. I was in a transition stage in my life and getting a job and focusing on my single life was, up until then, the most important. But, once I realized that I could get someone to like me and caress me, make me feel good, based on the way I looked– I let them. I had settled on the idea that there was no way I would ever find a guy as driven as me and who would like me for my personality, so I let it all go.
By the time I was 17 I had been in 2 really bad situations with guys I thought cared about my and then left me in the lurch. Guys I couldn’t talk to my parents about and I got more depressed with every nose-dive relationship. Finally, though, I met a man. He was 26, divorced, and very, very charming. He had a crooked smile, beautiful blue eyes, and freckles. He told me he loved me and I hung on his every word. We would secretly meet, because my parents didn’t approve of our relationship, and I thought that I was going to leave all my problems behind and marry him. He was my first love and I was determined to let him filled every gap in my life no matter what it took. That’s why, when he told me he wanted me to lose weight, I did. I lost about 10 pounds and got down to 120 pounds. I was very thin, not anorexic but, thin.
For various reasons, our relationship didn’t work out. One of them being that he was dating 3 other girls at the same time as he was with me. I was so depressed when I found out that I almost lost my job and I threw everything into working out and being single. At the point, I, pretty much, didn’t want to be with another person of the male species for the rest of my life. I stayed very thin and busy for the next 8 months and, in the meantime, met the man who is now my husband.
From the get go I could tell that he was very different and he really saw me for who I was and not just a stick with boobs and a butt. I stayed in shape, getting up at 5:30 in the morning and going to the gym throughout our dating process. Plus, I was working 30 hours a week and volunteering my time 70 hours a month, sometimes more. I often missed meals. We got married when I was 19 and that’s when the real problem started.
First, I started critiquing how I looked in our wedding photos, “joking” that I looked a couple of months pregnant. In all reality, my stomach was flat as a piece of paper but, I couldn’t see it. I was constantly asking my husband if I was fat or needed to lose weight. After I actually did gain a few pounds I went on a crazy calorie counting and binge workouts for a few months. I lost 15-20 pounds and looked very healthy. I was really happy with my life and with how I looked.
Life throws curveballs, though, and immediately after I lost the weight I got very, very sick. I thought I was pregnant, I was beating up my husband in fits of rage, sleeping all the time… I even checked myself into the mental health facility at the local hospital because I was acting so psychotic. There, I learned that I have a condition called PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder) and that I, basically, get severely depressed for a week every month– just before and when I’m on my period. My Mirena IUD was causing me not to have periods. Therefore, I constantly felt like I was on the edge, on the verge of PMS. My hormones where all over the place. At the same time, I found out that I have a prolactinoma (a tumor on my pituitary gland) and a slow thyroid, though that condition was never given a specific name. I was given a low dose of Prozac to contain my crazy and my birth control was removed.
And they all lived happily ever after… That’s what you thought, right? Well, WRONG. Due to the fact that I had originally thought the cause of my problems was pregnancy related, only to find out 9 pregnancy tests and a blood test later that I was not, in fact, pregnant; let’s just say I got severely depressed. I almost felt like I had had a miscarriage. It took me months to admit this to my husband but, once I did, I wanted a baby so badly I couldn’t see straight. The only problem was, I had originally told him that, besides my step-son, I never wanted to have any children.
He was taken aback, to say the least, and told me that he thought we should wait to have a baby and make sure that’s what I really wanted. Well, that wasn’t exactly the answer that I accepted. I moved even deeper away from him emotionally and all I ever talked about was babies. I was in such a dark mental place and believed that only a baby would be able to fix it. Finally, he consented and in just one month I got pregnant with our, now 5 month old, son.
During my pregnancy, which was fairly easy, I exercised like a fiend. I attended pilates classes until I was 3 months and walked and jogged until I was 8 months along. We even went to Disney World when I was 33 weeks! I only gained 27 pounds until I sprained my ankle in my 9th month and even then, the excess was all water. I was anal about not getting stretch marked and virtually willed myself not to get any. Thank goodness, I only ended up with a few.
After I gave birth, I was put on watch since I was high risk for post-partum depression based on my PMDD. I had been off of my Prozac the entire time that I was pregnant and somehow thought that having my son was a cure-all for my condition. After about a month and a half we were back to the abusive ways towards my husband, constantly crying, and wanting to sleep all the time. I was having a very hard time taking care of my baby and myself. Although I had been determined to exercise my butt off after I got released to go to the gym, I just didn’t have the energy. The only thing that had changed was that I wasn’t taking my anti-crazy pills and I had gone back on my birth control.
I was feeling weak and nauseous so much that I thought, somehow, I might have been pregnant again! I went back and forth to doctors- including the ER- just like I had a year earlier, only for all of them to tell me I was perfectly healthy. But, I knew the signs all too well. I got back on my Prozac and had my birth control removed again– the Implanon, stick in the arm. It is definitely, now, all to clear that I am pretty much birth control intolerant.
Since, I’ve gotten it removed I’ve been really watching what I eat and working out as much as possible. I do a number of active things already like jogging, Insanity workouts (sporadically), swimming, surfing…etc. But, have tried to start incorporating new activities too, like stand up paddle boarding and bike riding. I also hope to return to pilates class as soon as my little one is old enough to enjoy the day care in the gym I go to. I still annoy my husband with questions about whether I’m fat and on many a day you can find me sitting in my closet crying about the fact that numerous pre-pregnancy clothes don’t fit because my body is so different.
I regret that I thought I was big when I was 16 or 17 years old. Looking back on it, I had a great body and would love to have it again. However, this new “mom body” inspires me to be a fit mom, especially if I want to have another baby in the future– which I do! For now, I’m still figuring it all out. I have a smoothie almost every morning for breakfast, a light lunch, and I try to make low calorie dinners for my entire family. Breast-feeding, I’m sure, has helped keep off a little of the extra calories.
By no means, am I a health and exercise fanatic but, I do like feeling healthy and fit. I’m also discovering that I like different things, like kombucha, a seaweed tea from China that contains algae. And I know a lot of new and interesting things I would eat and do during my next pregnancy.
(ABOVE: The photo on the left was taken at 37.5 weeks pregnant. The photo on the right, 5 months post-partum.)