Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Weighing In

You can't tell just by looking at me how much work that took, can you?

Mere hours before I went into labor (with my momma).

Trying to love where I am now. (This is my friend, Katie. No, I don't hate her for being tiny and cute.)

The thinnest I've ever been in my life was the week leading up to my wedding and about three days afterward. I weighed 138lbs, and was a size 4. My boobs, once the most ample part of me, were down to a 34A.

How did I go from 230 lbs in 1999 to almost a hundred pounds lighter a mere 6 years later?

At first, it was the Atkins diet combined with intense work as a first year teacher in the South Bronx and grad school. I dropped a good 50 - 60 lbs within a few months that way, mostly because I didn't have time to worry about food whilst writing 20-page term papers and designing lesson plans for 1st graders who threatened suicide and punched each other in the face.

Then, of course, it got harder. I found the Atkins diet almost impossible to maintain (there's only so much mozerella-wrapped bacon a girl can eat), so I switched to the South Beach diet and started exercising more often. I discovered that I could actually run and that, somehow, I enjoyed it. That got me to a healthy 155 lbs and a sexy size 8.

Of course, though, begin the perfectionist lunatic I am, I decided that wasn't thin enough for my wedding. I mean, this was my day to show that world that I, Randi Lane Skaggs, could be a skinny bitch, too! It was my day to make all those boys who turned me down in high school and college smack themselves, then plop down on their beds and cry. It was my day to make all the pretty girls who'd found a way get a dig in on me (like expressing surprise that those pants came in my size) feel like the old, fat hags they'd become.

Ah, how enlightened I was!

So I cut down on my eating. Way way down. Like salads and fruit only, with absolutely no food after 6pm. I didn't drink alcohol or caffeine at all. I nearly drowned myself with water. And then, when that didn't work well enough, I resorted to incredibly unhealthy, teenager-esque eating disorders to make sure my calorie intake was as minuscule as possible. Yep, you know what I'm talking about.

I went from running a couple of miles three times a week to running 4.5 miles 4 to 5 times a week, with intensive weight training on the days between. I watched my weight slowly crawl down to 150, 145, 140, and finally down to 138 lbs.

Was I happy? Nope. My dream was to be 125lbs and a size 2. I had become clinically insane, you see. People in my family just can't get that little.

A week into our honeymoon, I abandoned my weight-loss program. I drank delicious Scottish beer and indulged in blood sausages and fried everything. I put on a few pounds and although I was a bit disappointed in myself, I realized I was much happier to be a bigger size and actually live life.

And then I got pregnant. I was overjoyed when I peed on that stick. But I did feel worried. I knew that gaining weight comes all too easily and getting it off does not. I sternly told myself that I would NOT go crazy and gain too much weight.

And, at first, I didn't. I had to start eating at night, just crackers, to combat my mild heartburn. And I had a weird revulsion to vegetables in my first trimester that caused me to eat more carbs than normal. But I stayed more or less on track.

As my pregnancy progressed, though, I fell back into old habits. Bowls of cereal at night. Bread with nutella as a snack. French fries with my sandwich rather than steamed veggies. I kept telling myself that I was eating for two, that I was burning 300 extra calories per day, but I knew I was fooling myself.

And I just stopped exercising altogether. I had some weird fear that I would hurt the baby by bouncing too much, that I would actually give my fetus shaken baby syndrome before she was even born, so my prenatal yoga video gathered dust and the folks at the YMCA gradually forgot my face.

And, by the time Stella was born, I'd gained a whopping 60lbs. When they announced that her weight was 7.1lbs, I called them liars. I was certain she had to represent at least 30lbs of my weight gain.

But some of the weight came off, slowly. The miracle breastfeeding weight-loss that La Leche League promised me never materialized. Although Stella ate nearly constantly, morning, noon and night, the only thing that got the weight off was dieting and exercise.

Some people told me that I'd probably be one of those women who loses tons of weight after she weans, but instead I gained 10lbs. I really don't know how to break it to people that weight doesn't just come off me -- it takes focused and intense work.

I do accept responsibility for myself, though. From time to time, I fall into terrible eating habits. I can eat compulsively when upset, and we've had more than our fair share of things to be upset about in the past year. Can I just tell you how I wish I was one of those people addicted to exercise? If so, I'd be running my first marathon by now.

Speaking of exercise, I am finding that incredibly hard to work into my day. I was running in the mornings, but now that it's cold, I find myself making every excuse in the book not to. And we don't have the cash for a gym membership at the moment. I guess I have to suck it up and go running in my sweatshirt and hat and scarf and mittens, dreaming of the steaming cup of coffee waiting for me at the end.

Why do I bring up weight? Because I'm appalled at how happy I was to find that I'd dropped 5lbs in a week this morning. Sure, part of that is we're eating healthier, but most of that is attributed to the fact that I've been crazy sick and have just stopped eating.

I mean do I really want to be one of those predictably morbid women who celebrates when a virus causes her to drop 5lbs?

Although I have a target weight and a target size, and although I think eating a healthy diet and exercising are important, I really want to find a way to be happy with who I am right now. I want Stella to see her mom as a confident woman who loves herself and exhibits good habits. I never want her to overhear me lamenting my jiggly thighs or pondering the cost of Jenny Craig. Because it'll break my heart if I ever overhear her saying the same.


Amanda said...

Whew, I kinda feel your pain! I started out at 210 when I got pregnant and weighed 235 by the time I was finished. I got really sick after my daughter was born so all 25lbs fell off in less than a week. It stayed off for about 4 weeks and then all of a sudden 13lbs came back in only a few days! How that's even possible, I'll never know. Yeah and that whole "breastfeeding makes you lose weight thing"? LIE!!! How can one possibly lose weight when they're vegged out on the couch nursing 24/7? I've never felt like more of a sloth in my entire life!

Lauren said...

The only BFing moms I've seen that have gotten skinny fast are the ones who have given birth to their SECOND child, and are too busy taking care of two kids to eat. Wish I'd realized that 20 months ago when I was lamenting my weight not budging ... (It's been at a standstill for almost two years!)

And WTF - who said that you'd lose weight after weaning? Are you KIDDING me? Who does that? You aren't burning those calories anymore and you don't have to watch your alcohol intake ... That's like saying that you'll lose weight after quitting smoking! Impossible!

But I totally sympathize, I'm totally one of those sick women who rejoice after a stomach virus, and I'm totally worried about passing on my unhealthy relationship to food with my daughter. :(

Holly said...

Just my two cents, but I think you look fabulous, Randi. Beauty comes from within, as well, and you exude confidence and wisdom and warmth that is damn sexy!

alexlady said...

you know, i very clearly remember starting atkins at a size 26ish, thinking "my god... if i could just be an 18. i could feel normal and sexy at size 18." and when i got there, i wanted in a 16, and then a 14. i'm back up to that 18 now, and i am finally content, but i know that half of the reason i can eat without counting every crumb is because i'm on my feet for about 10 hours a day now, instead of vegging in front of my computer. this is the first time in my life that i've plateaued in such a good way. i hope you find that, baby. you've always been gorgeous. i remember when we met, being jealous of how you rocked your skirts-and-boots ensembles, jealous of your confidence, jealous of your porcelain skin!
if you're lamenting lack of jogging opportunity, maybe you'd want to go hula hooping come january? or i could bring mine over for you to borrow at home! also, i know they're pricey but skechers shape-ups have lifted my butt about three inches and toned my calfs like crazy. and that WAS effortless.