As far back as I can remember, maybe around 6 or 7, I was always chubby. It was just how I was. It didn’t bother me until much later, maybe around 12 or so. One family member asked me when I was going to start losing my “baby weight” and I remember being so angry and hurt and confused. I didn’t know anything was wrong. It was somewhere around that time that I stopped fitting into clothes in the girls section and had to move to the plus size section. I never fit into the “Juniors” section, totally skipped over it. The smallest I can remember being in High School was a size 14. I may have squeezed into some juniors size 13, and if I saw pictures of it I’d probably regret it… But throughout all those struggles with my size I didn’t necessarily hate my body. I was frustrated because I never understood it. Some of my best childhood friends and I ate the same way and they were naturally thin and never struggled with excess weight. I wasn’t binge eating fast food, scarfing down candy bars, and guzzling soda. Sure, I had those things, but in no different quantities than my “skinny” friends.
So, I didn’t over eat and I was relatively active. It never made sense to me why I was the size I was. I felt pretty healthy and I even tried to lose weight multiple times in high school, during my internship, and even after marriage. Each time I would start something new… Atkins, Weight Watchers, or just counting calories I would see an initial loss, like 5lbs, and then stall out. Which would make me frustrated and I’d stop trying as hard. It was an ugly cycle. Again, I didn’t hate my body… I just hated that it made NO sense why my body was significantly larger than everyone else around me.
Fast forward to 2008-2009 when we decided to try to have kids. We tried for 8 months before I finally went to talk to my doctor. Something was certainly off. See this whole time I was trying to lose weight I had talked to my doctors about finding out if I had problem. But when a 215+ lb woman comes into the doctors office talking about how I was struggling to lose weight the answer was always “Eat Less, Move More” – It always seemed like it was something I was doing wrong. Each month we tried to get pregnant and found out we weren’t, I felt intense guilt… it was my fault, something I must be doing wrong… Of course I thought that, it was what I had been told by doctors forever. With the added symptom of infertility on the already long list of symptoms my doctor finally did extensive blood work and determined that I had Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. I thought I finally had an answer for all my problems! They gave me a perscription for Synthyroid and I thought once I started taking it the weight would fall off and I’d be “normal” … aaaand I got pregnant within the next month. I packed on another 50lbs with my pregnancy. Then I thought when I finally had my baby the weight would just fall off, since my thyroid was “within the normal range” … nope.
Even with medication putting my within the normal range, I still struggled to lose weight. I was determined though. I started running, well, wogging. I could barely manage an 18 minute mile pace. I was still out there pushing a stroller and trying my hardest at 250+lbs though. I counted calories, tried to stay active, and even tried the HCG diet for like a day before I thought I was going to die. I ended up losing a good 25-30ish lbs over the course of nearly 2 years. I was around my pre-pregnancy weight, but my body was shaped way different. Then I started CrossFit and pretty strict Paleo for 2 months and dropped another 20lbs or so. And then I stayed there for about a year. The summer of last year I hired a nutrition coach. Again, I saw some great numbers the first 6 weeks or so and then things slowed down.
I struggled because I was doing everything right. The scale wasn’t moving, the inches were literally moving 1/4″ at a time. Yes, it was still progress… but it just didn’t seem to match up with the amount of effort I was putting in. I can’t begin to tell you how frustrating it is to know that I am going all out with nutrition and exercise and not being able to see noticeable changes. Sure, I can see a noticeable difference between where I am now and where I was a year ago. And yes, some progress is better than no progress. But at the same time I look at all the blood, sweat, tears, and meal plans I’ve been through in a year and think shouldn’t I notice a bit more of a difference?
Sidenote – another reason why it is crazy to judge progress using just the scale… In the picture from last year I was around 187lbs – In the picture from this year I’m around 190lbs… I weigh 3lbs MORE than I did but I am actually smaller #justsayin
In the last few months I’ve really been on a quest to figure things out, and I have made some progress. I discovered that I struggle with estrogen dominance (which could actually be what caused my thyroid issues in the first place!) and I have been working hard to get things back in balance. This includes supplementing with hormone cream and removing as many excess estrogens from my life as possible. That is a whole other post in itself.
And so I struggle with the message that I’m trying to convey here… That maybe it isn’t ALL your fault. I’m afraid that I’ll just give someone an excuse to stop trying… to start saying it’s their hormones or thyroid and go back to eating like crap and not working out because they have an excuse.
But I know I need to share my story because I have struggled so much with guilt and shame and frustration. I don’t use my thyroid or hormone issues to tell myself it’s ok for me to be overweight, I use it as a motivation to push harder. I embrace my reality. My reality is that I have to work twice as hard to see half as much progress. Understanding and embracing that makes it easier to keep going. It doesn’t take away those days I struggle, but it makes the struggle mean something. I know if I can make progress despite my body working against me that I just might be able to encourage others to do the same.
So, to those of you who have taken steps to make yourselves healthier and feel like you’re barely treading water, let alone making progress… I want to urge you to advocate for your own health. To stop the negative self talk that shames you. To stand up to all the doctors who think you’re just another fat person looking for an excuse why they are fat. Yes, my love of ice cream and mac & cheese may have made my problem worse. my ignorance to what good nutrition looked like may have made it worse. but my body was damaged. it wasn’t all my fault. I may be fighting an uphill battle, but that makes victory all the more sweet.