As I mentioned in my piece, Size Inflation, I lost about 30 pounds over seven months. The best part was that I lost the last 15 pounds without even trying. I feel I owe my current healthy weight to Alli, the only FDA-approved, over-the-counter, weight-loss product. (Despite the marketing tone of that sentence, this is not an ad for Alli.)
When I began to write this piece, I soon realized the topic was too long for a single post. So I decided to run it over three consecutive Wednesdays. This week’s post is about how I got so heavy that I had 30 pounds to lose; next week will be about following the Alli program; the week after will be about how and why the second 15 pounds dropped off. Please don’t run out and get Alli without knowing why it was successful for me or without reading the Alli web page. The program definitely is not for everyone.
How I got heavy
I spent my childhood as a reasonably chunky child, miraculously thinning out when I hit puberty (and switched to skim milk). You can see the evidence in these two videos. Unfortunately, I don’t have the raw footage on a computer right now, so I can’t pick and choose the parts I want to show you, so bear with me. In this one, I am the chunky, uncoordinated child wearing a red tank-top and matching shorts. (Apparently I am clueless, too, or more likely out of clean clothes, because this was during Color War at camp, and I should have been wearing blue or white.) I am 11 here. I show up at 30 seconds in if you want to skip ahead (and you should).
In this video, it’s just a year later, so I am 12. As you can see, I have slimmed down a bit. I am again wearing a red tank top, but with hiphuggers and a white belt. (I appear only in the dance scene at the beginning.)
Though my weight was all right through my teenage years, I’ve struggled with it for most of my adult life, yo-yo-ing from 128 to as high as 155 since I was about 18. At my height of 5′ 5″, the high end was overweight, but not terribly so. I don’t tend to like how I look in clothes once I go over 145, and really am not happy with my body when I’m over 150, which is officially overweight. But it’s not that horrific.
More recently, I’d been stuck over 150 for at least five years. I couldn’t seem to get myself into a healthy weight-loss diet and exercise mode. I consider myself a chronic dieter, and over that period I tried a number of weight-loss gimmicks, including the South Beach Diet (which messed up my eating habits terribly, and I blame it in large part for some of my weight gain), SlimFast (starvation, followed by gorging), Hoodia (didn’t work at all), and, in desperation, a fruit juice concoction that cost $20 which you’re supposed to drink over two days while eating nothing (no, I did not lose the promised 10 pounds).
The funny thing was, I knew exactly how to lose weight: reduce calories, eat a well-balanced diet, and exercise regularly. I just couldn’t seem to eat normally, and exercise was sporadic.
From March 2006 to August 2007, my weight started to climb to places I didn’t think it could. Due to financial stresses, I was working full-time (at home) to support myself and three kids. I worked 40–50 hours a week for pay, and worked the rest of the week taking care of my house and kids. Not only did this not leave any time for exercise, I was not very happy or fulfilled. As a problem eater—I don’t quite have an eating disorder, but I’m pretty close to the edge, I’d say—I tend to binge and emotional, stress, and boredom eat. During that year or so, I had plenty of opportunity to do all of that.
I gradually packed on 15 more pounds. I had never seen the scale go over 160 except when I was pregnant. Yet there it was, at 160, 162, 165…I stopped looking when it was clear that it was heading toward 170 and, almost certainly, beyond. (This is one reason why I marvel, in my Size Inflation video, that I never outgrew a size 12.) I looked on the charts and, at my presumed weight of 172, I was within 8 pounds of being obese. I was so transformed by the weight that when I showed up at a wedding, one of my good friends didn’t recognize me.
I saw a picture of myself taken the day I decided to take things in hand. National Inquirer photos of Kirsty Alley came to mind. I was stunned.
I had already started a diet, but that picture solidified my decision to try the Alli plan. (Unfortunately, I don’t have that picture because I deleted it right away out of revulsion, but in this one when I’m probably around 160, if it gives you an idea of how bad things got.)
That’s where I was when I purchased my Alli starter kit. Next week, I’ll talk about the Alli program and how it changed my approach not just to weight loss, but to eating in general.