I’ve never considered myself fat. This may be shocking to those around me since you’ll hear me say — often — Ugh, I’m so fat! The truth is that I’m just feeling fat that day.
When I was a baby, getting fussy over something, I’d be placated with candy or food. Funny how some things work even today I also had a pretty big thing for donuts. It was also my chance to bond with my Grandpa over a chocolate cake donut, with chocolate frosting, and a whipped cream center. I still dream about those ridiculously tasty things. My donut eating did not go unnoticed and I was often playfully teased that someday I’d turn into a donut or be as round as a donut. Now I’m not going to place unnecessary emphasis or blame on this comment, but it clearly is something that stuck with me.
Treats were rare in our house. My Mom preferred to keep healthy eats around: no sugar cereals, few to no Hostess snacks, no chips, no ice-cream…but there were exceptions usually on Friday nights or weekends when pizza and nachos frequented. Since these items weren’t a mainstay, I ate my share like it was my job. There was no dainty 1 or 2 slices for me…nope by age 10, I could easily eat half the pizza. And mind, you I was not fat or overweight. I was right on target during all my young years.
At 12, I did some (cheesy) runway modeling for a mall in Madison [believe me, sounds much cooler/prestigious than it was]. I distinctly remember standing in the dressing room pounding on my hips because they were too wide. Err yeah. They weren’t, but I was already getting that whole body dysmorphic thing going on.
By 14 I was almost 5’4″ (close to my current height of 5’4.5″) and fluctuated between 106 and 112 lbs. From what I can remember, I was pretty content with my weight / size and way too preoccupied with getting straight A’s in HS. Besides, I was always active and participated in some sort of sport all year round: Volleyball, Softball, Basketball, Track, Cheerleading, and Poms.
At the beginning of Senior year, I believe I was closer to 118 lbs, which makes sense becoming more, err, womanly and all that good stuff. In quest of achieving a better skin complexion, I went on the Pill — at the time, it was hugely marketed as an acne corrector. It helped, but I think it also added a few pounds. Argh. That Spring I chose not to do a sport and also went on another medication. This is where things went downhill and my weight went uphill.
September of 1998, I started at Northwestern University (just North of Chicago) and life became flipped upside down. No longer was I in a normal routine of exercise (not even on my radar to go to a gym) or (semi) healthy eating. I was studying late, gorging on Giordanno’s Deep Dish a few times a week, and stocking up on sugary cereals swiped from the cafeteria. At some point early on, I opted out of the food program. It was over a $1000 a quarter and I knew I was not eating all that food. My tuition and board was nearly $30K/yr and my parents were strapped paying a portion (the rest was paid through grants and student loans). So off the mealplan I went and onto the poor student plan I was. Oye. Produce became a rarity as did anything else healthy. I was grabbing machine cappuccinos and Poptarts at Tech (the Engineering building). Did I mention that I was a vegetarian since 11 and my meals were mainly carbs?
My only movement was walking a couple of miles a day to and from classes. I became less focused on fashion and more focused on my grades. I wasn’t weighing myself regularly. And I was still on that pesky medication.
The Summer after my Sophomore year, I took an internship in Tallahassee, FL. It wasn’t until I saw myself in a couple of photos taken early on that I realized, I was fat. Somewhere, somehow, I had passed the point of realizing I had gained a few pounds, and was tipping the scale at 144lbs. This sticks in my head like a neon sign. I had never seen my face so round, my thighs so big. Please remember this was heavy for me because of my height and my frame and what was longstanding a normal weight around 118 lbs. I was creeping into double-digit clothes and was miserable looking at the person in the mirror.
I was so desperate to lose the weight that I asked my Mom if I could go to an Internal Medicine Doctor to get prescribed an is obesity pill. At the Spa where I once worked, several women had tried it and lost 20+, 50+ pounds. Surely this would be my magic pill that I needed. Though the doctor said I was not a good candidate for the pill (because I was not that overweight), I begged and pleaded until he prescribed it. It did nothing. Zilch. Nada. That’s when I knew something was seriously effed up with my metabolism….
Alright, more to come..this post was too long as it is!
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Did you gain weight in college? Can you pinpoint the reason?