( Questions from TANYAP71's blog: www.sparkpeople.com/mypa
5. What is your weight history like? How old where you when you first 'went on a diet'? Have you lost and regained? How is this time different from others?
I don't recall ever having much concern about weight growing up - especially not in the earlier years (until about 12). We were all very active children, climbing trees, riding big wheels and bikes, piling leaves and leaping into them at the park, walking to school, playing a tag variant at recess. I remember being active more than I remember being still.
One memory I also have is of my mother's brother and a couple of her older kids coming to visit and all of us running around the block. No reason. Just an abundance of energy to burn off.
There's a picture of me around 12 or 13 when my father married my step mother - just before I hit puberty. I actually look scrawny. At a guess, I'd just gone through a growth spurt and gained an inch or two, but had no girly curves yet. Then poof, seemingly overnight, I was being teased at school. I'd had another growth spurt as it were, going from flat-chested to filling a C cup.
I think that and seeing the difference in the size of my bones compared to classmates was what taught me that I was literally "big-boned" and not just saying that to excuse away gaining weight. (Bangles / bracelets that easily slipped on and off other girls' hands and wrists sometimes couldn't get past my thumb or were too snug at the wrist bone.)
I also got lucky and somehow the beauty magazine I was most exposed to was Glamour, which had long had a leaning toward more diversity in their models. So I avoided the worst of the body esteem issues in that regard.
I started putting on some extra pounds after I moved out on my own. One of the biggest changes was what I was eating. Most of my meals came from fast food joints, and that meant sodas with them. I also walked a LOT, so it didn't pile on too fast - just a bit here and there.
My early response to it was actually things like control top panty hose, girdles, and the like. I'd eat a few less treats through the week if my clothes got too uncomfortably snug. I never thought about it as dieting and really didn't think about the connections between food, activity, and weight.
Then I got pregnant. Weight gain was normal, but sort of meaningless because it was part of carrying a baby to term and not directly tied to my food / activity level. I do remember my surprise at my high - 198 or 199 pounds - because I was able to say to my mother that I'd never weigh 200 pounds or more, not even pregnant. (Little did I know.) When DDb was born, she was 8 lb 15 oz, and I was immediately dropping weight from walking and eating my mother's cooking rather than fast food. So again it never really entered my mind to diet.
I soon was married and pregnant twice more, having marital trouble, and finally separated then divorced. My weight was really mostly a background concern when I'd have to buy clothes. I hated things like company Christmas parties or my EX's family barbecues because I felt the clothes I got made me look matronly. I contented myself with the fact they weren't from "fat people stores".
A few years after the divorce I was finally breaking free of my EX's ongoing lies that he still loved me and wanted us to eventually fix things. I tried dating once, but obviously wasn't ready, and I couldn't handle guys hitting on me - so I made my screwy decision to become invisible by gaining weight.
Long story short - I never intentionally dieted with a goal weight. I knew plenty about diets from others around me, from articles, from books, from the internet. But the closest I ever came was a while that my brother and I tried to follow the Zone diet (40-30-30? I don't remember exactly, just the higher protein percentage). The goal was feeling more alert - though we both figured a little weight loss wouldn't hurt.
Nor have I really ever considered this past year a "diet" in the sense of some specially restricted eating method. I knew I was eating too much. I was eating a LOT just to maintain and keep gaining. I was eating more than anyone could or should deceive themselves into thinking was normal for one person.
My weight has often fluctuated up and down through the years. Whether I had a car, how much money I had for food, whether my kids were living with me (I ate their leaving rather than store leftovers), and other factors had direct roles in my weight. I think a large part of my consistent success has been that very lack of yo-yo dieting history.
This time is different because I actually took off the blinders and really started paying attention to connections and details.
I read nutrition labels very thoroughly. What's the serving size? How many servings in the container? How much am I likely to eat at once? How much sodium? Is that natural or added?
I watch my totals in a variety of nutrients as I add and remove foods from each day. I finally understand the egg white "nonsense" even if I won't change my mind and do it - because I could see how much cholesterol two eggs versus one egg added to my day. I swapped to no-salt-added cottage cheese because the amount of sodium added "for flavor" is absurd.
I see the direct benefit of a focus on muscle development - not just to weight loss, but also to general body fitness and functional strength. When we get injured or have joint pain and a doctor assigns us physical therapy, what is it but a variation on strength training of the muscles around the affected area. I knew it generally from my ankle. Often sprained, it was strongest when I was ice-skating regularly because that strengthened my calves and the tendons of my ankle.
I also recognized the foolish connection I had created between a sort of social (relationship) anxiety and my body - one that had no positive benefit. I snapped that connection and go out of my way to avoid other connections. I'm eternally grateful that my only real food issue is my sweet tooth and really wanted to enjoy certain flavors to their utmost. I'm learning how to fulfill that with higher quality treats rather than higher volume treats; heck, higher quality foods not just treats.