I never had a problem with my body image until I joined the Navy. I loved being in the Navy and serving my country, but I hated the standards they kept you to. I’m 5’4″, which is average for an American woman in 2009. Before joining the Navy at 19, I had never weighed more than 160lbs. Like I said, plump but not fat. In order to join the military I had to drop 5 pounds, mostly so that I could sail through the weigh in without being taped (measured). I didn’t fancy the humiliation of being taped in front of hundreds of other girls, and at the time I could drop 10-20 pounds with no problem.
I dropped the weight, joined the military, and proceeded to drop 13 more pounds and 6 dress sizes in boot camp (I put on muscle, which is more dense than fat). I looked amazing, I felt amazing, and life was great. In fact, by the time I was 21, I weighed 147 pounds and wore a size 8/10.
And then I found out that I was pregnant.
I’ve always been a big fan of food. I used to dream of one day becoming a chef because I love it so much. The smells, the colors, the textures… I love food. But because of the military, I kept myself (mostly) in check. Once I got pregnant, all bets were off. I ate what I wanted, when I wanted it. Bologna and mayo sandwich? No problem. Chocolate? Even better! Loaded baked potatoes? Bring ‘em on! I had cravings for healthy foods like salads and peaches, but I always drowned the salads in creamy ranch dressing or overdid it on the peaches. And my excuse?
“It’s ok. I’m eating for two!”
I didn’t know until later that I only needed to take in about 300 more calories a day while pregnant. I can’t really blame it on the doctors, since they probably said something and I probably flat out ignored them. I also “read all the pregnancy books”… but skimmed over parts that “I already knew”.
By the time I gave birth, I had gained 60 pounds and weighed more than 200 pounds. Immediately after the birth, I dropped 20 pounds and slowly dropped 10 more. I was down to 180, but my body was completely different. I suddenly had a pooch and was kind of… lumpy. Even my “fat” clothes no longer fit. I was wearing a size 18 and hating myself for it. What did I do to comfort myself?
My then-husband and I loved to eat out. Fried foods, fatty foods, salty, spicy… you name it, we ate it. We both ballooned and suddenly I was back at 190. I got in trouble with my command for being overweight (because my limit was 154 for my height range), and I was put on a PT (physical training) program. I’ve had some health issues throughout the years, stemming from an ankle injury in boot camp. My knees, back, neck, and shoulder are all casualties from the injury that wouldn’t go away, so PT was a little difficult for me to do. And if I’m totally honest, I never really tried hard enough to drop it all.
I was unhappy at work and at home. My only true source of happiness was my daughter… and the comfort I gave myself, which consisted of cooking elaborate meals that were always super high in calories and fat and sodium…. all the things you shouldn’t be shoveling into your mouth.
I’d like to say that getting out of the Navy and getting divorced helped. Well, it kind of helped. I wasn’t as depressed. But I also wasn’t working out every day anymore. I no longer cared about getting into shape, because I no longer had the threat of getting into trouble if I wasn’t 154lbs. I fluctuated between 185 and 190 pounds for a few months, trying to convince myself that I loved me for me, and I was ok with what I saw in the mirror.
I got into a relationship with a wonderfully amazing man 3 months after getting out of the Navy. We used to joke that his kitchen was a storage shed, since it hadn’t been used in 5 years. We ate out every night because it was easier than attempting to clean out his kitchen or going home to my apartment to use mine. We both put on weight. I remember going to the doctor once and crying when I saw that I weighed 214. After that, any time I went to see the doctor, I refused to allow them to tell me how much I weighed.
I was... am not healthy.
When I started my weightloss journey back in November of 2009, I weighed in at 242 pounds. I've since dropped to 193, but I still have a way to go. I know that I can do this, and I'm going to drop the weight and be healthy again!