Tuesday, April 8, 2014

No Lightbulb Moments, Part Two: How I Lost Fifty Pounds

Part one here, or go back a bit. 

After finally facing the fact that at 200 pounds, I had reached the highest weight of my life, I started watching my calories. I lost 20 pounds during the fall of my sophomore year. At 180 pounds, I had a long way to go, but I was happy just to have started to tackle this issue, and to have made some progress. I was also thrilled at how easily those first pounds had come off, and felt like fifty more was totally doable. 

Not surprisingly, it didn't quite work out that easily. For next few years, my overall weight had a downward trend, but it moved very slowly. I mostly maintained the loss during the rest of sophomore year, then slowly lost ten pounds or so during the fall abroad semester of my junior year, for a total of 30 pounds. But when I got back to the U.S. and realized that reverse culture shock wasn't just a weird fad, I didn't deal with it well and ended up gaining back some of the weight. That summer I was even less careful, and gained even more.

At the beginning of senior year, I was ready to try again. I joined Weight Watchers at 185 pounds and loved it. I counted points, measured portions, and worked out at the University gym across the street from my dorm. I also went to weekly Weight Watchers meetings, led by an enthusiastic, entertaining man who had lost 60 pounds, and attended by a group of loyal, fun participants.

 I graduated college at 160 pounds, my lowest weight since high school and forty pounds down total. I felt like I was finally on my way, for real.

College graduation, 2012

College, at least for me, was an ideal environment in which to lose weight. I was lucky: a very flexible part-time job, a reasonable class/exam schedule, and a kitchen in my suite (with three roommates who rarely cooked).

 I could leisurely grocery shop at two in the afternoon, I could spend an hour preparing lunch at noon after class, I could go to the gym that was right across the street after class ended at eleven a.m. There were no major stressors in my life and I could focus most of my time on "project lose weight." My schedule was my own with which to be selfish. 

There were a lot of naps.

After graduation, I lived at home for a few months while I tried to find a job. Though I spent extensive time sending my resume into the black hole where most applications go to die, there was still plenty of downtime. I was lucky that I did not have to work at a minimum wage job while trying to become gainfully employed, and could still focus on weight loss. I started personal training at the nearby gym where my parents were members, and learned a bit about lifting weights. 

 I was in control of the food, instead of the other way around. I could eat something, or choose not to, either one was okay. I wasn't perfect, but my good attitude allowed me to quickly move on from slip-ups and focus on the long term.

During this time after college and before I started my job - about six months - I only lost 5-10 pounds, but there was a huge difference in my body and I'm sure that I had gained some muscle in addition to losing fat. I felt stronger and leaner, and clothes were so much easier to find. 

I was almost at the fifty-pound-loss mark and so fucking confident. I felt so accomplished, I had done the impossible. I had done this thing that so many people struggle with. If I could do this, I could do anything! I wasn't holding myself back any longer.

I wondered if I could put weight loss on a resume - hey hiring manager, how's this for dedication!

Video resume?

This new confidence made me realize just how much I had allowed my weight to hinder me in the past, how little confidence or self-esteem I'd had. I let it stop me from joining things I would probably have loved in college, like the improv group or school paper. 

While the main reward of losing weight was how fantastic I felt, there were other perks. I wore sleeveless tops and felt comfortable with it for the first time in my life. I wore clothes that hadn't fit since high school, and got compliments from people who didn't even know I was trying to lose weight. I daydreamed about going to my high school reunion, as the only person to come back looking better than when they had left and sexily flipping off my former bullies (who would of course have potbellies and be wearing atrocious toupees). I got a thrill being hit on occasionally, a new experience.

I didn't tell anyone about my weight loss who didn't ask me about it first, but I walked around and lived life with this new faith in myself. 

Then, of course, I gained almost all of it back which I where I started from a few months ago.

I will post How I Gained it All Back: Food and Laziness, tonight or tomorrow as I'm still editing it. I know, the suspense is killing me too. 

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