Weighty Issues

So I’ve sort of sprinkled here and there on this blog that I’ve had a bit of a past when it comes to eating disorders. I’ve never fully addressed it, and to be honest I wasn’t sure if I ever would. Then I read a really brave blog about a woman who was terrified that her old weight obsessions were going to cause her to do something stupid like try not to gain weight while pregnant. I realized I couldn’t stay silent.

Here we are, so buckle in.

I can’t promise you the exact timing of the first skipped meal. I’m guessing about 12, because that’s when I started losing weight. I know by 15 I spent time actively seeing how long I could go without eating. I rarely ate breakfast and usually only had diet coke and maybe some skittles for lunch at school, because those were two easy times I could go without eating and my parents wouldn’t know the difference.

I’d been a chubby kid. I matured young (in a bra by 8) and grew fast.  At 12 or 13 I had my spine X-rayed to see the level of scoliosis I was dealing with. It was mild, and nearly concealed by my flexibility, but it hardly mattered as my growth plates were fused anyways. I’d be almost 5′ 3″ forever.

The summer Casper came out, I was in Toronto. I don’t know that Casper had anything to do with what happened next, but it’s possible. I know Christina Ricci always made me feel like I could actually be an actor. (We had a similar look back then…)

Somehow I managed to spend my nights running laps around the outside of my grandparent’s huge Olympic swimming pool, jumping the diving board each time. I say somehow, because I’m not entirely sure why no one was concerned that I was running said laps. I remember my grandmother catching me once and her having no idea what the hell was going on, but that was the only time in a long summer.

I’m sure there was more to it than that, but all I really remember is coming back to school the next year and everyone wondering where the rest of me was.

That was addictive, that notice. I’d forever been the chubby little girl in the background, great for a sympathetic ear, but no one you’d actually want to be friends with. Suddenly, people talked to me when they didn’t need something from me.

So I wanted more. It took me a few years, but I managed to get down to a size 3. Not terrible considering I was wearing an 11 by eleven.

Then I really got into the local acting. And then Dancing. It was so easy not to really eat a meal all day when you didn’t get home until after dinner because of rehearsals. (To be fair, a lot of the time I had food with me. I guess by that point I’d trained myself to not notice anything but MAJOR hunger pains, and working on my lines/song/dance got me long past that point.) At this point I could comfortably wear 1s or 0s depending on the store.

Oddly enough, my weight really never dropped off the way you’d think. I was usually around 120 lbs, heavy for my height and pant size for sure. It wasn’t until later that I found out that I was ridiculously muscle dense. But I’m getting ahead of myself here…one thing at a time.

Right around 16 or 17 I found myself around a new grouping of friends. I still hung out with the old ones, but they were newer (and much healthier) relationships. I still ate poorly, but I ate better with them. I starting working out more.

By the time I graduated, I felt comfortable enough with myself to admit to my parents that I’d spent years doing horrible, terrible things to my body. They didn’t actually believe me. I think, like most parents, they’d assume they would notice if one of their kids had an eating disorder. And I think it’s really, super important for me to say that out of the girls I knew (or knew of) who did have eating disorders, only the one’s who ended up hospitalized had parents that found out.

My size fluctuated a bit in University, but nothing that required me buying new clothes. I’d notice things getting tighter and I’d work out and/or eat less. When things got super loose, I’d happily eat crap.

It may surprise you, but acting actually really helped me turn things around. After 3 academically heavy semesters, I was about a year ahead in University. So I asked my parents if they’d let me have a semester to come home, get ready, and try to obtain a SAG agent. They agreed, and I moved back home.

I converted to the Zone diet and I worked out. (Roll your eyes, but the Zone saved me. It required me to eat every three or four hours, something I’d never done. It also let me focus on feeding my workouts, rather than obsessing over food for myself.) And what were my workouts like? I spent a solid hour lifting weights. I ran as far as I could on the elliptical in 45 minutes (usually 7 miles). I did an hour of Pilates or yoga. And then I worked on stretching and core work at home. Four hours, every single day.

At my fittest, I was 107 pounds and could bench press 125 lbs. Plus I was eating, so awesome, right?

Except…I wanted to lose ten pounds. Where exactly those ten pounds would have come from, I have no idea. All I know is I desperately wanted them off me.

From my acting days...

From my acting days…

My twenties is kind of a haze of my body bouncing around between a size 1 and a size 5. Always wanted to be smaller, but I tried to actually eat food when I’d let myself.

Then I met MFH. Not sure why, but I told him about my past with weight and food. (I’d certainly never told any other guy in my life about it.) And you know what he did? He made me food. To eat. Every day. He’d pack me lunches for work, and make me a plate as large as his for dinner. It was too much food (we still eat far too large portions, but that’s a whole other issue) but it came equipped with a guy who liked me in curves.

Somewhere along the way…I liked me in curves too. Yes, I dieted before my wedding, but I certainly didn’t starve myself. And the weight going on afterward didn’t cause a panic attack. I’m healthy and strong and I — SHOCKER — like food.

Mom, me, and Grandma. I think you can easily see in this one that size ≠ happiness. [Photo by Sean Lynn]

Mom, me, and Grandma. I think you can easily see in this one that smaller size ≠ greater happiness.        [Photo by Sean Lynn]

And if I hadn’t gotten to this point? To this wonderful place where my self worth is in no way dictated by the size of my pants or the pounds on the scale?

Well, then I wouldn’t be having the Spawn at all. My growing belly would have been horrific for me. I would have starved us both to try to maintain a smaller form for longer. I might have hospitalized us, or worse.

So if you’re following along on this journey and wondering why I never talk about how much weight I gained, or why I don’t have weekly bump photos, it’s just a mild safety check for myself. So I don’t have to look at a growing number on a page or a little lumpiness and fixate unhealthy on it. (Just as a side note I do plan to take some photos once I’m actually “bumped.” I just don’t think I need to have a weekly record of getting there…)

This all might also explain why I get so crazy about women hating one another. I spent so much of my life hating myself, I feel so strongly about being gentle with myself and others for the rest of it. It’s awesome to be on the other side looking back. Or rather, on the other side never looking back.

Thanks for coming along for the ride…

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4 thoughts on “Weighty Issues

  1. Thank you for sharing this. Our stories touch some of the same crossroads and weight and pregnancy is something that I treat cautiously – as in, don’t think about it too much lest I court a break down.

    • Thank you!

      It’s amazing to me how many women have experienced/are experiencing weight fear in regards to pregnancy. I am so, so lucky that I’ve gotten to a point where I worry about my health and not my size. As you say, though, it’s something you have to be careful about fixating on.

  2. My weight has been up and down for most of my adult life, due in large part to being sick and taking a ton of meds. I’ve been 95 pounds and I’ve been 152 pounds. I’ve also been everywhere in between. It took me a long time to get used to the fluctuations and to not hate myself when I gained weight. My husband also had a lot to do with changing how I see myself. We also have the problem of over eating a lot of the time, but I made the choice to buy smaller bowls. It’s helped.

    Food is good. Loving yourself as you are is also good, but it can be such a struggle to get to that point. And I’m right there with you about not giving other women crap about themselves when we do such a good job of doing it to ourselves.

    As for bump photos, once a month is more than enough. I I took one every week, I would probably drive myself mental.

  3. “And you know what he did? He made me food. To eat. Every day. He’d pack me lunches for work, and make me a plate as large as his for dinner. It was too much food (we still eat far too large portions, but that’s a whole other issue) but it came equipped with a guy who liked me in curves. Somewhere along the way…I liked me in curves too.”

    We’re always told how important it is to “love yourself”; but it sure helps when someone else loves you first.

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