As a young child, she never really thought about weight. She knew she was not the smallest in her class, but she wasn’t the biggest either. At age nine was the first time she heard the word diet in relation to her weight. He doctor wanted her to lose weight and he doctor did not realize how that conversation about her weight made her feel like she was not enough. Her nine year old self did not understand body mass index or anything like that. And her doctors suggestions just did not help. And all of this, along with the bullying, made her extremely unhappy. And this is when she started to equate happiness to her weight.
She skipped through most of the junior’s sizes and struggled to find ‘cool clothes’ that fit. At age 12- she wore a size 13 and it kinda fit. She didn’t realize that a size 10 or 12 would have been much better for her. She did not realize that her more muscular body had beauty- so she tried to fit in with the trends. At this point she weighed 150.
Through her teenage years, she went between 150 and 180- some years fluctuating a few pounds and other years losing or gaining 20+. When her sports were in season- she generally lost weight, but she always found herself gaining weight over the summer. Her senior year- she left school weighing 145-which was what she needed to weigh to go to Basic Training. It was the first time she could remember her weight not dictating at least part of her happiness since age nine. She was looking forward to what was coming. She had those new experiences that made her happy and they drove her to stay healthy.
Basic training destroyed any sense of normal eating. Two minute meals turned off her hungry/not hungry meter. She started Basic Training at around 140 and left somewhere in the low 120s. It was the tiniest she had ever been and it felt wrong. On her frame it was just too skinny. Over the next several years- she struggled to recapture what had worked for her when she maintained her weight. She struggled to recover from the damage that Basic Training had done.
At age 22 she was diagnosed with Graves’ Disease, better known as hyperthyroidism, and her body went through another shift. She could not get enough food and still she lost weight. The doctor fixed the condition- but the expected side effect of weight gain still came. Her body felt strong again- but there was no way to deny that it was also heavier too. At this point- she just wanted to make it to the end of her enlistment. She just wanted to survive.
At age 25 she separated from the military and decided to get her health back. For two years she plodded along and got down to 160. And people said it was unrealistic to get to 140 and she believed them and settled. But she was happy enough with that and then she suddenly realized that losing the weight hadn’t changed all of the things that she wanted. She believed this would fix how she felt about being pretty. She thought that losing weight would fix the fact that no one seemed to want to date her. But it didn’t. It didn’t fix those things.
And after a few more years- she found herself starting over. She found herself looking at her past mistakes and re-calculating. What if her weight was just a number? What if feeling good in her skin was what mattered? What if 140 was not realistic? What if she should have other goals with regards to her body?
So she broke out her pen and paper. She created trackers, charts, rewards and goals. And she found that very few of them dealt solely with her weight. They focused on the fact that her mind needed to be recalibrated. Her mind needed to remember that weighing 140 was not what made her happy at age 18. It was her friends. It was her family. It was the joy of new life experiences and the excitement at what was to come. And maybe, her nearly 29 year old self could learn a lesson or two about happiness from remember a time when weight was not the determining factor. That happiness doesn’t come from a number- it comes from a life well lived.
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