Ever since I was aware that society judges people by their weight, I have had a weight issue. I would compare my thighs to other girls in my elementary classes. As a result of constantly comparing my physical self to others, I developed somewhat of an eating disorder when I was twelve. After binging, I would dance in my room for hours trying to burn off everything I had eaten. At times throughout my teens, I would go without food just to keep myself from gaining too much weight, although I managed to maintain a normal weight in my adolescence. Ultimately, I did not want to be judged for how much I weighed.
Once I became an adult, I learned how to calibrate my weight with diet and exercise, but my diet became bizarre by eating only one item for dinner for a week at a time or eating an extremely high calorie desert for an afternoon snack and fast until the next evening. Then, I hit my thirties. I was not married and had no children. I thought I was doomed to become single my whole life. As an act of desperation and partly because of depression, I started to starve myself by eating only one item for each meal or eating very small portions. Meanwhile, I would exercise for about three hours a day. Needless to say, I lost a lot of weight quickly. I started at a large size eight and went down to a size zero within a three to four month period. By this time I knew I had to stop, and my friends and family were growing concerned with my weight loss and how I was doing it (not going to church because I felt I needed to workout instead). As a somewhat intelligent adult, I was wise enough to know I was treating my body badly. I began to pray daily and renewed my faith slowly.
I started going to a clinical psychologist and to EDA (Eating Disorders Anonymous) meetings, and I had a fantastic support system. In the meantime, I met my current husband, who was also a great support to me. From the very beginning, he told me I was beautiful. A few months after we married, we were pregnant with our first born, and I started to gain a lot of weight – and quickly. I knew I wasn’t supposed to eat for two, but almost every piece of food out there was so delicious to me! So, I gained ninety pounds with that pregnancy, and my husband still told me I was beautiful! After my so-very-handsome son was born, I lost weight slowly. I lost a little over fifty pounds within a two and a half year period before we became pregnant with my daughter.
During my second pregnancy, I still gained a lot – about forty pounds – but I did not crave everything in sight. I craved fruits and vegetables mostly. (My husband still said I was beautiful.) When she was born with Down syndrome, I knew I wanted to try my hardest to breastfeed her (see my blog entry “The Breastfeeding Hurdle”). However, in order to breastfeed her, I had to take supplements, drink Mother’s Milk Tea, suck on the teabags, and eat the calories I needed to increase breastmilk. Of course, I looked up the calories of a typical woman who is on average 5’4” in order to increase my milk production – about 2000 to 2200 calories a day. Not thinking about my height – a little under 5’1” – I went with the typical woman’s number of calories. Since I had been eating fairly medium to small portions before giving birth, I gained ten pounds within the first month I had her!
Even though I felt fat and couldn’t fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes, I felt confident because I had in time produced enough breastmilk to feed my baby. I had fulfilled my dream, and this, above all things, made me genuinely happy. Of course, I would complain to my husband on occasion about how fat I felt, but deep down, I knew I was being selfless and sacrificing my body for my daughter. She deserves breastmilk more than I need to lose weight. In time, it will eventually come off. This is why I am losing it slowly – about a pound a week.
I don’t expect to get down to my pre-marriage weight – that scary, low weight. I also don’t expect to have the cute body I once had, but I do expect to maintain a healthy lifestyle so I can be a role model to my children, not the skinny models they see on media.