April 23, 2009

My weight-loss odyssey started in college when I gained the "Freshman 15." The cafeteria selections were high-fat foods like fried chicken and pizza. When I returned home for the summer, I lost the weight, but I ended up gaining it all back the following year.

During the summer between my sophomore and junior years, I again lost the weight I had gained. This time, I was determined to keep it off. I avoided all the high-fat foods in the cafeteria and stuck to cereal, bread and salads with fat-free dressing. I started walking four times a week, and when stationary bikes were installed in my dorm, I also started biking. People started complimenting me on my weight loss, which motivated me to keep losing more and more weight. I tracked every calorie and fat gram and limited myself to 10-15 fat grams a day and 900-1,200 calories. I lost 15 pounds in five months. When I got down to 112 pounds and stopped getting my period, I realized something was wrong. I went to the library and did some research on anorexia. I found out that if I didn't start taking care of my body, I could cause some serious damage to myself.

I tried to let myself eat the entrees in the cafeteria or even a candy bar, but it was too hard for me. When I went home for the summer, I consulted a nutritionist, who showed me all the important nutrients, like protein and calcium, that my body was lacking. She showed me how to eat so my body could get the nourishment it needed and how to enjoy food again. By the end of the summer, I had gained back 10 pounds. I stayed at that weight for six months. I then started bingeing on high-fat foods and my weight rose to 150 pounds. I joined a gym and started working out, hoping to lose weight, but that didn't work because my eating was out of control. I gained 15 pounds. I had the discipline to exercise, but I couldn't discipline my eating habits.

After I met the man who eventually became my husband, I realized I based my self-worth on my weight. Until then, I thought I had to be thin for people to like me. My husband, who knew me at my lowest weight, was still interested in me when I was 165 pounds; I didn't have to be skinny for him to love me. Our relationship gave me the confidence to start controlling my eating habits. If I wanted ice cream, I would have one bowl because I knew that more would be there the next day if I wanted it. I stopped making foods forbidden and started enjoying them in moderation. I lost 25 pounds in a year. At 140 pounds, not 112 pounds as in college, I'm the happiest I've ever been. Now I can enjoy life, instead of obsessing over every fat gram and calorie.