Growing up I was a normal kid. I never had an issue with weight. I played sports in school, rode my bike, skipped rope, all the things that regular kids do. But something changed in 1995. The weight started slowly going on. I would have been 22 at the time. My bowel resection was a year ago, and things that I had to stop eating due to the Crohn's disease were slowly making their way back into my digestive tract. I remember that fall, I moved to Slave Lake, Alberta and one of my husbands friends, who was an older man, said to me when I got off the plane, "Well you're more of a woman that I thought you'd be." My interpretation - You're fat. It is funny how comments like that never leave you. At that time, I would have been around 160 lbs or so. God, to only see that number now in 2012. I could only be so lucky.
Over the years, I would also get comments from people. Some very blatant - "My God you've put on weight, Wanda." Well no shit. I'm not blind. I really don't need people telling me I am fat. I could never imagine having the audacity to say something that hurtful to someone, even if I DID notice that they put on weight. Those people, I figure, have an unhappy life and get pleasure out of the demise of others. Others would make comments like, "You have more chins than a Chinese phone book" or "your arms are the size of a sumo wrestlers." I would laugh and joke along, too, but they may as well have been lashing me with a cat-o-nine-tails and rubbing salt in my wounds. Who says the old nursery rhyme "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me" is true? A person's tongue can be a vicious weapon. More hurtful than an open fist I assure you.
August 14, 2000. My first Weight Watchers meeting. Weighing in at 207.6 lbs, my initial goal was to lose 20 lbs or 10% of my body weight. I didn't figure I could ever do it. It had been 6 years since I had my bowel resection and the weight had piled on. Almost 70 lbs. worth. How had I let myself get to be this big? Well, there are the regular excuses - no time to exercise, life is too busy, it's faster to eat out..blah, blah, blah. Fact is, I was this size and I was ready to do something about it. I was determined that this was not going to get the best of me. So each week I weighed in and paid my weekly fee to stand on the scale, excitedly anticipating my new number. I kept my daily food journal, weighed and measured my food, read labels, even started taking a Tai Bo/Step class taught by my friend, Liz. Each week, the weight would be coming off. This was what I had dreamed of. In my third week, I hit the 100's. That would be the last time in 12 years I would ever see that number again. By December I had lost 31.6 lbs! I continued my weight loss journey until I had lost 50 lbs and received my special pin from Weight Watchers.
That next February, my sister Kim invited me along on their family trip to Disney World! I was super stoked! I could actually wear a bikini! So off to Florida we went. I was living life! Sun, pool, being able to wear shorts. Sadly, I think this is the last time I was truly happy. No one knows unless you have ever been overweight the shame and burden that you bear for such a wonderful pleasure as going to visit the ocean.
|Me and my sister Kim on Daytona Beach in 2001|
Now, there isn't much laughing and carrying on when you are the biggest person on the beach. Skinny people don't have to worry about wearing long shorts and a men's XXL t-shirt to hide their embarrassing figure, or having their wet thighs rub together and get chafed. People shouldn't have to worry about these things. So I just stopped going. It's sad you know. Growing up, I spent many a day at the beach with my best friend, Laura-Lee. We would go down in the morning, come back at suppertime. We had no worries or cares. It seems when you are skinny, you don't. We would lay on the beach, covered in our Hawaiian Tropic dark tanning oil, smoke cigarettes, and laugh all day. Life. Was. Good.
It is funny as I sit here writing this, how exhausted I have become. Writing is a way to materialize our feelings and emotions, and the last few days of my writing, I have experienced something. Therapeutic or what, I am not sure. It is like I am re-living these moments all over again. With each word I type, the feeling of sickness and sadness wash over me. So I must sign off for now, but I will return with more of my story soon as there is more to tell.
For those of you who are following, I thank you for the feedback and emails I have been receiving. You cannot know what it means to me that you are taking this journey with me.