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True Confessions of "A Big Girl"
10-24-2013, 01:46 PM
Post: #1
True Confessions of "A Big Girl"
When I was born on August 14, 1982, I weighed 8 pounds and 14 ounces, so already, I was "A Big Girl." Every year of my childhood I would go for my physical, and every year the doctor would say, "She's in the ninety-eighth percentile for both height and weight." Then my mother would say, "Her father was a chubby kid, too. But then he had his growth spurt and things evened out." Everyone assumed the same thing would happen to me.

But it didn't.

(And I later found out that my father began taking medication for low thyroid in his teens. Growth spurt, my foot.)

I can't remember a time when I didn't love food. There are pictures of me as a two-year-old gleefully upending a bowl of spaghetti on the tray of my high chair. It's debatable whether there was more spaghetti on the tray or on my face. There are photos of me as a three-year-old sticking pitted olives on the ends of all my fingers and eating them off one at a time.

But it wasn't until elementary school that I began to use food as more than just nourishment. My family moved to a new town when I was in first grade, leaving my childhood home and best friend behind. I had a hard time making new friends, and while I can't remember ever thinking, "I have no one to play with this afternoon so I'm going to eat half a bag of Doritos to fill the void," I'm sure that thought process was circulating in my subconscious.

Of course, that only made things worse. The name-calling began in third or fourth grade, and it didn't help matters that (I thought) the fashion at the time was leggings and oversize sweatshirts.

I would like to blame my parents for being less-than-ideal role models in the nutrition department. When we went to the grocery store, they filled our cart with Frosted Flakes, Entenmann's Crumb Cake, doughnuts, orange juice, bacon, sausage, white bread, cream cheese, cinnamon bagels, bologna, Handy Snacks, Dunkaroos, Ssips Ice Tea, Capri-Sun, pasta, hamburgers, hot dogs, canned soup, canned vegetables, and maybe some fresh fruit. My lunch box on any given day could include either a cream-cheese-and-olive sandwich on white bread with Dunkaroos and a Ssips ice tea, or a bologna-and-mayo sandwich on white bread with a Handy Snack and Capri-Sun. But my younger sister ate the same crap (although she was a VERY picky eater) and she was always normal-sized.

Since I wasn't too great at making friends, I concentrated on my school work, and I was in all the advanced classes that were available. Apparently in fifth grade I told my mother that I wanted to go to Harvard, so she decided to enroll me in private school for sixth grade.

If I'd had a hard time making friends in public elementary school, private middle school was one hundred times worse. My class was incredibly clique-y, and out of 34 girls, I was the only one who was overweight. Plus, we had to wear kilts to school every day. They were supposed to touch the floor when we knelt down, but most girls would roll their waistbands to make the hems considerably shorter. Needless to say, I did not.

As I continued to get taller through middle school and things didn't "even out," my mother began to make comments about my eating habits. If she saw me reach for a snack after dinner, she would say, "Do you really need to eat that?" I began to sneak snacks when she wasn't looking because I didn't want to feel guilty. This habit backfired, because it made me feel even guiltier.

During the summer after eighth grade, I decided that I was going to go on my first diet. It was the 90s, so low-fat everything was available, and I made the switch from Oreos to Snackwells, bologna and mayo to turkey and mustard, Doritos to Baked Tostitos. I would not allow myself to eat anything that had more than 3 grams of fat per serving.

Exercise had never been a problem. My private school required everyone to play a team sport every season, so I played soccer in the fall, volleyball in the winter, and softball in the spring. Since the age of 10 I had been on a summer swim team, and since I was now in the 13-and-up age group, that meant 90 minute practices every weekday morning.

Within three months, I lost 30 pounds. I did not have one single treat. Not one M&M, not one french fry. Everyone gave me such positive feedback, and I finally felt "normal"!

But I now see that it wasn't "normal" at all!

And with that, I'm going to have to pause here because this post is already super duper long!
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10-24-2013, 02:14 PM
Post: #2
RE: True Confessions of "A Big Girl"
I'm reading happy happy
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10-24-2013, 07:29 PM
Post: #3
RE: True Confessions of "A Big Girl"
Oh wow you left me hanging... Please continue.


Eating more, lifting heavy and loving life!
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10-25-2013, 06:58 AM
Post: #4
RE: True Confessions of "A Big Girl"
Awww...I can definitely relate to some of what you've written. I would definitely like to hear the rest too!

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10-26-2013, 02:13 PM
Post: #5
RE: True Confessions of "A Big Girl"
So picking up where I left off, I had lost 30 pounds and purchased my first two-piece bathing suit. It was a pretty big moment. Although I was still too self-conscious to wear it in public. I think I wore it once in our hot tub at home.

Anyway, I started to notice that my usually thick ponytail was getting considerably thinner. I needed more wraps of the elastic to hold it in place. I knew my body was telling me that something was wrong, but I was unsure of what to do next. Only knowing two modes, eat-whatever and eat-no-fat, I had no idea how to find a middle ground that would allow me to maintain my weight loss. I was convinced that fat was the enemy, so I continued to eat bagels, pasta, and pretzels, thinking they were "dietetic" because they were low-fat. There are certain foods that to this day, I will only eat a few times a year: pizza, potato chips, ice cream, cookies, brownies, cake, and french fries. Beef and pork, too (although recently I've cut them out entirely--more on that later).

When I went back to school in the fall, I expected to become instantly popular due to my newly svelte figure. It was ninth grade, and there was an influx of new girls in my class. But I still wasn't as skinny as the popular girls, (nor as rich), and I had already established myself as a hardcore nerd. No amount of weight loss was going to overcome my loner reputation.

Looking back now, my eating habits through high school were pretty terrible. I would have a huge bowl of Cocoa Puffs for breakfast, a bagel with grape jelly for lunch, and usually a baked potato with salsa or pasta with tomato sauce for dinner. I stayed away from fat at all costs. No butter, no mayo, no dressing, no nuts, no oils, no cheese. I always thought it was the stress of taking such tough classes, but now I’m willing to bet that my eating habits had something to do with the fact that I suffered my first bout of depression in 11th grade.

By the time I graduated, I had gained back most of the weight that I lost at 14, although I had grown a few more inches to reach my adult height of 5’10. I also had a small group of very close friends, so I didn’t feel as much like an outsider. In fact, one of them struggled with her weight (although I never thought she was overweight) so it was good to have someone to relate to.

College was the point at which the roller coaster really began. I started drinking beer, eating food late at night, and I was no longer playing team sports. Freshman year wasn’t so bad—I had so many new friends and activities that I was constantly on the go—but sophomore year I had a real slump. In fact, my depression came back with a vengeance. I would spend afternoons in bed crying for no reason, and this went on for quite a while.

I can’t remember at which point I went on my next diet. It’s sort of a blur. But I know that at various points in college I tried South Beach, Suzanne’s Somers’ Somersizing, and Weight Watchers. I also tried various exercise routines including kickboxing classes, swimming, excessive cardio machining, and weight-lifting. My mother was convinced that I had some type of thyroid issue because I still refused to eat anything “fattening” and yet continued to gain weight, so she took me to see an endocrinologist who diagnosed me with insulin resistance and prescribed a couple medications. The doc also said that I was pre-diabetic and put me on some sort of shake-and-supplement regimen. Most of the diets didn’t work at all. Weight Watchers worked for a little while, but I was ravenous all the time and I ate massive quantities of sugar-free Jell-O because it had zero points. As soon as I stopped keeping track of my points, all the weight came back on.

I graduated from college in 2004 and since I had no job lined up, I moved back in with my parents in CT. I got a part-time job at Barnes & Noble while I looked for a full-time gig in the publishing industry in NYC. Being in limbo has never been one of my strong suits, and my depression reared its ugly head again for several months. I quit seeing the endocrinologist (because I was convinced she was a quack) and I went to see a new doctor. He said, “All your hormones are in the normal range. The low end of normal, but still normal. You really need to try diet and exercise.” I wanted to punch him in the face.

In September of 2005, after more than a year of interviewing, I finally got a job with a publishing house in New York City. My ego had suffered a mighty blow because of the length of my job search and the sheer number of interviews that resulted in rejection letters. My family had been convinced that I would get snapped up by an employer instantly because I had a degree from an Ivy League college, but all the hiring managers said, “You have no experience!” When I finally got an offer, the salary was embarrassingly low (so low that I couldn’t afford to move out on my own) but I took it anyway because I was desperate (and because I really liked the woman who interviewed me. She is my boss to this day.)

Working in New York City was not good for my health. I was commuting 90 minutes each way, so I had absolutely no energy to work out. And I was eating lunch out with co-workers nearly every day at burrito joints (no cheese, no sour cream, no guac). By the time I got home from work at 7:30, I was ravenous so I would eat everything in sight (if it was low-fat, of course).

That Christmas, I had one of those see-yourself-in-a-photo moments that people always talk about. We had taken a family picture at my aunt’s Christmas party, and I was shocked at how big I had gotten. I don’t know the exact number, because I was too scared to get on a scale, but I know that it was over 200 pounds. I decided right then that I was going to have to make some serious changes.

The first thing I did was to put the word out to my family that all I wanted for Christmas was an elliptical machine. I found one online that was pretty cheap, and I forwarded the link to my mom. She was overjoyed that I was taking steps toward losing weight, so she got me exactly what I wanted. (The previous Christmas, she and I had had a wonderful conversation during which she told me that if I could “just lose twenty pounds I might get a boyfriend.” I don’t think she realized how much damage that conversation did. It made me feel like I wasn’t enough. Yes, she had struggled with her weight for a couple years during college, but she’d gone on Weight Watchers, gotten skinny, and stayed that way for decades. To my ears, she was saying, “you’re just not trying hard enough. Look how easy it was for me.”)

Anyway, once my elliptical machine was assembled, I began spinning my wheels for an hour, six days a week. After a few months, the scale had not budged, and I decided that I needed to cut my calories. I started eating Fiber One cereal for breakfast (a discovery I’d made when doing Weight Watchers), vegetable soup with celery sticks for lunch, and chicken with vegetables for dinner. The weight began to come off, but it was agonizingly slow.

In February of 2007, I moved into an apartment in Manhattan. I joined a gym, which I went to nearly every day for 30 minutes of cardio and 30 minutes of weights. I walked everywhere. And I continued to eat cereal, soup, salad, and frozen yogurt. I hated living in Manhattan. The noise, the smell, the lights—it was overstimulation at every corner. Plus, my roommate (Craiglist stranger) was a total head case. After four months of being miserable, I moved back in with my parents.

That summer, I decided that I needed to see a nutritionist. I had been trying to lose weight for eighteen months, and I was beyond frustrated. She told me to start keeping a food journal and to aim for a certain amount of carb units, protein units, and fat units. I had to force myself to eat fats. The only sources I could stomach were peanut butter and almonds. At first she told me to shoot for 1800 calories a day, but I saw no results. So then she told me to decrease to 1600 calories a day. I was going to a gym on the weekends and using my elliptical machine on weeknights, totaling 4 or 5 days of working out per week.

I weighed myself every day, and I wrote my weight at the top of each day’s food journal entry. If I took a day off from my restrictive diet (Christmas, my birthday, etc) my weight would instantly shoot up 5 pounds and it would take a month to get it back down again. But I was determined not to be "A Big Girl" anymore, so I stuck with it.

I was hungry ALL the time. So I thought about food ALL the time. I curtailed my social life around my eating and workout schedules. And I drank so much diet soda trying to calm the rumbles in my stomach that I developed an intolerance to aspartame and Splenda (which I am now very glad about). I also stopped getting my period.

In March of 2008, I moved into my own apartment about 15 minutes from my parents' house in CT. I think I was about 170 pounds at this point. But my weight loss had stalled again, so I decreased my calories to 1400. I also started going to the gym for an hour (30 mins cardio, 30 mins lifting), six days a week.

It seemed like it took me forever to lose that last ten pounds. But when I finally hit 160 (which was my goal weight), I had not gotten my period for a year, and I decided that it was time to stop trying to lose and start trying to maintain. I already covered a lot of this in my post on the Welcome board, so I'm going to copy and paste a chunk of that post, with a few additions.
My strategy was to continue eating 1400 calories on weekdays, and letting myself go (relatively) wild on weekends. In the next few months, I gained back about 5 pounds, but I was ok with being 165 if I could sustain it in the long run. However, I was still STARVING on the weekdays. Sometimes on the weekends, I would go into my parents' walk-in pantry and just eat peanut butter by the spoonful.

I existed like that for a couple years, until in 2010, I got a stress fracture in my foot. And while I was restricted to only swimming for exercise, I gained back another few pounds. At this point, I quit the weekend freeforalls and tried to eat 1600 calories every day in an attempt to lose the 8 pounds I had gained since my all-time-low. But the scale didn't budge. I was convinced I needed to do more cardio.

So once my foot had healed, I began training for a half marathon. I ran 4 days a week and lifted 2, and met with a nutritionist to discuss a plan that would allow me to lose a small amount of weight while increasing my speed and endurance. She said that I should be eating 1800-2000 calories a day, which I stuck to religiously. But I didn't lose any weight. In fact, my stomach got more jiggly. When I ran my race in the spring of 2011, I was 172 pounds.

Since then, I've bounced around a bit. I tried to go back to eating 1600, and I got down to 168 for a while, but I couldn't drop any lower. I just always felt dissatisfied when I looked in the mirror (and still do).

This past summer, I randomly stumbled across a book called The Gabriel Method, which essentially teaches that we are fat because our subconscious minds want us to be fat. And in order to lose weight, we need to meditate, de-stress, stop counting calories, listen to our bodies, eat REAL food, stop weighing ourselves, and stop doing excessive exercise. So through June, July, and August I only did yoga and pilates with an occasional brief run, and I actually ate when I was hungry! Nor did I weigh myself. However, when I got my winter clothes out from my closet in September and tried on my jeans, they were tight. I decided that I needed to start working out again.

So, for the past month, I have been back in the gym, working out 4-5 days a week, with 40 minutes of lifting and 20 minutes of HIIT. I'm guessing my calories have been about 2000 to 2100.

On Monday night, when I started reading all the posts about TDEE and metabolic resets, I had a panic attack. I thought, "If I eat my TDEE, am I going to gain back all the weight I've lost since 2005? I can't go back to 200 pounds!" (My TDEE according to Scooby is 2450.) I wasn't sure of my weight, since I hadn't stepped on the scale in three months, but I was pretty sure it was in the 175/180 neighborhood, judging by the fit of my clothes.

On Tuesday morning, I decided it was time to face the music and get back on the scale. I was steeling myself for what I might see, so I was pleasantly surprised that it was 172. The same weight as when I ran my half marathon. But I know that the number doesn't really matter. When I was running, I had more muscle, less fat, and my clothes fit better. Now I want to regain that muscle (plus more), get rid of even MORE fat, and finally be satisfied when I look in the mirror. I took measurements and pictures as well, so I have more to go on than just the number on the scale.

I am excited to stop depriving myself, but I'm also petrified that I'm going to blow up like a blimp! I'm so scared that I've been feeling some major anxiety for the last few days. I've been having a lot of trouble sleeping, and I feel very irritable and moody during the day.

I thought at first that I would try to work up to my TDEE gradually, but then on Thursday night, I went out to dinner with my boyfriend and finished the day with a total of 2650 calories. It made me feel guilty. But then I figured, "Heck, I'm just going to go for it starting now." So yesterday I ate 2400 and lifted for 90 minutes (although I was getting quite winded during the leg exercises which I'm positive is due to the fact that I didn't fall asleep until 4 AM the night before).

Another thing I'm nervous about is decreasing my cardio. Cardio has always helped me to control my depression and anxiety, and I'm afraid that my anxiety this past week is due to the fact that I've drastically cut my cardio (I've started doing the Heavy-Light plan posted in the Workout section).

I'm feeling pretty anxious right now, actually, so I think I'm going to go to the gym!
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10-27-2013, 12:44 PM (This post was last modified: 10-27-2013 12:45 PM by Lucia.)
Post: #6
RE: True Confessions of "A Big Girl"
Wow just an amazing story.

Listen if cardio helps you emotionally then do your cardio but be sure you include the activity in your tdee and eat those calories.

Remember is the heavy lifting that will help you gain muscle. Too much cardio burns through muscle so try keeping cardio sessions under 45min.


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10-29-2013, 03:25 PM
Post: #7
RE: True Confessions of "A Big Girl"
It has now been a week since I began eating at my TDEE so I decided to weigh myself this morning out of morbid curiosity. 173 on the dot. Which means I've only gained one pound! Woohoo!

However, last night I had to try on a bunch of my dresses in an attempt to figure out what to wear to this fancy Hollywood party I'm going to tonight, and it was depressing. Even with my Spanx on, my dresses were TIGHT. The satin one I had been hoping to wear was purchased back in 2008 when I weighed 165, and I could barely zip it up. It's strapless, and there was some major armpit-boob-fat bulging over the top of the dress. I decided that it would be a mistake to wear it and feel uncomfortable all night, so I'm now debating between two stretchier options.

It probably didn't help matters that my period seems to be MIA, so I feel like I'm in a constant state of PMS. I haven't been regular in many years, but I'm usually somewhere between 4 and 5 weeks, and it has now been almost 6. Yesterday I had some very mild and brief cramps, plus a tiny bit of spotting, so I thought my period had finally arrived. But today, nothing.

I have an IUD, so I'm 99.99% sure that I'm not pregnant. But every time my period is late, there's that .01% of doubt that gnaws at my mind.

In my previous post, I alluded to the fact that I've recently become vegan. It happened kind of suddenly, after I watched a documentary on Netflix called "Vegucated." I won't go into detail, but the footage of the animal farms made me decide right then and there to try not eating them for a while. At first, I thought I would just do an experiment, to see how long I could go without eating animal products. I figured that after a couple weeks I would start to really miss my chicken and eggs. But to my surprise, it's now been 2 months and I don't miss them at all! In fact, the thought of eating them kind of grosses me out.

My boyfriend, who grew up in Wyoming and likes to say that "salad is what real food eats," is skeptical of my choice. Whenever I have a headache, gas, etc. he says, "must be the vegan diet!" I still cook meat for him (even though the smell of it sometimes makes me gag) and I've told him that if I start to feel weak, crappy, tired, etc. that I will go back to meat-eating. But so far, I feel really good!

I do have problems with my macros. Even with 2 double-scoop rice-protein smoothies each day, plus lentils, beans, oats, quinoa, and nuts, I'm only hitting about 130 grams. Which for my TDEE, comes it at about 22% of total calories. I also have trouble eating enough fat. I have shunned it for so long that I still have to consciously force myself to eat nuts and olives. (Unfortunately, I hate avocado.) Most days I'm getting 65 to 70 grams, which comes in at about 25% of total cals.

I'm wondering if any of you have seen success with variations on the recommended 40/30/30 macro ratio. I don't know if I'm going to be a vegan for the rest of my life, but for right now, I'm really enjoying it!
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10-29-2013, 07:45 PM
Post: #8
RE: True Confessions of "A Big Girl"
I think the problem (well 'problem') with a lot of vegan/veggie protein sources is that they tend to be high in carbs as well, so as you increase the protein, you increase the carbs. I don't have a solution, but I've faced the same issue - except as a veggie, I eat eggs, whey, etc. A vegan friend of mine is doing the BeachBody BodyBeast program and it calls for a 40/30/30 ratio I believe, and she's been supplementing with the Vegan Shakeology.
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11-06-2013, 01:43 AM
Post: #9
RE: True Confessions of "A Big Girl"
It has now been two weeks since I began my reset. I got on the scale this morning to see how the number compared to last week, and I'm up another pound. 174. At first (and admittedly, still) I felt dejected. For so many years I weighed myself every day, and I allowed that number to dictate whether or not it was a "good" or a "bad" day. But this morning I tried to see it a different way. I tried to tell myself that I've gained a pound of muscle. I reasoned with myself that I lifted yesterday and some of my muscles are sore, so it's probably water retention. (And later this morning, after I "dropped the kids off at the pool" I thought, WOW that could definitely have been the extra pound. Sorry for TMI.)

I have been lifting for 90 minutes, 4 days a week, and doing 1 or 2 30-minute HIIT sessions per week. I already feel stronger, and it's AWESOME. Yesterday I worked out so hard, there were sweat puddles pooling on the gym floor underneath me. My entire body--face, chest, arms, legs, back--was dripping. I felt like a million bucks.

So why does the number on the scale have such a terrible ability to bring me back down again? Will I eventually get to a point where I don't care what that number is as long as I'm losing inches? I really hope so. Sometimes I feel like the number distorts what I see in the mirror. And I don't want to see myself as "A Big Girl" anymore.
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11-06-2013, 03:35 AM
Post: #10
RE: True Confessions of "A Big Girl"
I know how you feel RE the number on the scale and learning to see yourself differently. I was never that obsessed with the scales that I was weighing every day or even every week. About 2 years ago, over an 8 month period, I lost 30kg and during that time I weighed myself once or twice a fortnight, then I went overseas for a couple months and after that I didn't weigh myself for months at a time. But over the last few months I've been weighing a little more regularly, trying to shed the last 5kg. I was down to 66kg, and since starting my reset 7-8 weeks ago I am up 3-4kg (although at least a kilo of that came on almost immediately, so I think it was glycogen stores being repleted given that I am now eating WAY more carbs than I used to).

Anyway, I still haven't 100% accepted this gain as a good thing or even an okay thing given that I'm still resetting, but I'm about 70% ok with it. I'm sure I've gained some muscle but I can also see some fat gain in certain areas and I'm trying my hardest to tell myself that I needed to do this for my body and my mind. The good thing is that even when I see the number rise on the scale, I'm not upset about it. Not happy either, but it just is what it is. I know the positive changes will come later on, and since starting my reset I got my period for the first time in almost a year, so I know I'm doing good things for my body.

As for not seeing yourself as a big girl, I wish I had an answer for that. I was always big, bigger than my siblings and friends and bigger than I even realised. And even now that I am a comfortable size 10 (in Australia) which is something I always wished for, and despite friends and family, especially those I don't see very often, telling me how good I look and that I'm still getting smaller, I really struggle to see it myself. I even have this image, now that it's coming up to summer here, of myself in bathers with a relatively small body but still a big round face. I can picture my (old) face on someone else's body, but I can't picture my own body in the same way. I still see myself as being a size 14 or so.
I really don't think there's a simple solution for it, I think it's just a matter of time and learning to love and accept yourself for who you are (cliche, I know). I'm sure one of my problems is that I usually look at myself in my underwear, when I can see everything and point out all the 'fat bits', whereas these bits would be hidden when I'm dressed and would probably give me a more flattering image of myself.
I'm hoping it's just something that will come with time when I get to my goal and am truly happy with how I feel, how my clothes fit and eventually how I look, too.

I just keep telling myself that, despite any negative changes like temporary weight gain or clothes fitting a little tighter, this is a good good GOOD thing for my body and something I will be so glad I did later on. Plus, being able to up my lifts in the gym and work even harder in my crossfit training is definitely something I'm happy about happy
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