6/23/11

A Different Kind of Weight-Loss Story


This is going to be a very personal post. Very. I didn't even know if I should write it, but I felt it was an important message to get out there. More than anything it was an important lesson I learned in my life. I believe lessons are taught in order that we share them to help others.

I so often come across weight LOSS blogs that talk about how transformed and wonderful a person feels because they LOST so much weight. They describe the way they felt when they were overweight vs. how they feel after getting thin.

My story is just the opposite. I want to tell you how it felt to be too thin. MUCH too thin.

Let me start out by saying that weight is an issue for me that I've basically slightly obsessed over since I was a girl. Sadly, I know I'm not alone there. We are brought up on Disney princesses and Barbie dolls with tiny waists, long flowy hair, and stick-skinny figures.

On top of that, I saw how the heavier kids were treated at school. I'm sure I took part in the name calling and laughing. But I do know that I always felt so bad for them. Many times the heavier kids would not look anyone in the eye, or talk much at all. The lack of self-confidence was so evident in their demeanor. We made them suffer for not being perfect. It had lasting effects, I'm sure. And not just on them. I noticed their treatment from society, the last thing I wanted was to become one of them.

As a young girl, I was pretty sure there were two things in the world that were the most horrible things to get, ever: CANCER and FAT.

 I was naturally very thin. I had no trouble staying thin, but being that we had many heavier women in our family, I constantly feared that it was the inevitable for me.  Sadly, "my weight" was always in the back of my mind. It haunted me and teased my self esteem.
Fast forward to my adult life. The panicked fear of becoming fat was still there, only intensified. Now I was having children, gaining weight from pregnancy.  I never stopped comparing, comparing, comparing to others. I put so much pressure on myself. But I stayed at a healthy size for my frame (I'm small framed) and never really dieted. I just got lucky.

Then Colin died.


He was gone and my heart didn't know how to handle it. It still doesn't.

Grief is an odd thing. In the movies and books people cry and can't get out of bed. I cried, but only to myself, and never spent a day in bed after he passed away.

Instead I cleaned like a mad women and made sure I was busy every minute of the day. It's so crazy to me how our minds manage our stress for us and we aren't even aware of it! I think I was making sure my day was full so I didn't have to stop and think about him being gone. Reminders of him were in every corner of the house. Blocking that was a tough job, but I became really good at it.

The truth is, that to this day, the minute I start to really think about, as in the details of his illness and death, grief crashes into me so hard that I instantly put up a barrier to stop it.  Again my mind telling my body to protect me from stress? Probably.

A couple of years after he died, I decided to get into shape and "diet". It started out innocently enough with making healthier choices. Then the scale numbers started to go down.

And at first I looked awesome! I lost the little bit of pudgy that I had and replaced it with toned muscle.

And the numbers on the scale went down more.

120..

116..

110..

Somewhere in there it was no longer about being healthy. It started to become about the numbers and the fact that I could CONTROL them and keep making them go lower and lower. I could control this. I couldn't control the universe or my son suffering terribly and dying, but damn it all, this was mine to manipulate.

108..

100..

95..

87..

And before I knew it, I was a pale, skeletal lost soul with absolutely zero control over my life. Nothing mattered or was any longer relevant in my life except my obsession with staying that size. Or going lower. As long as that number didn't get out of my grasp and go up.

Me around 90 lbs. My face looked so old. I was so out of touch with reality.

Everyone was worried. I didn't care. I was so sucked into that world. Looking back I just shake my head at myself because I feel like that woman was some other deranged person, not myself. I was so selfish. So dark and lost.

I think that if I had gone any lower, I would have collapsed. And with the state of mind I was in at that point, I don't think I would've cared.

To this day, I don't really know what helped me come out of it. I started to eat again, and as I did the life filled back into me. I ate and ate and remembered that food was so good. It was like someone slapped me across the face and woke me back up.  

Somehow I healed. Thank God. Somehow I still was blessed enough to have another child. Thank YOU God.

Now I'm at such a healthy place in my life. I eat very healthy, but I make sure that scale number never dips lower than it should. The numbers aren't an obsession any longer. I realize that my grief will always be with me, and that I need to cope with it in a healthier way. I know God was the main factor in my change. He's the only one who could've pulled me from that dark and dangerous place.

I wish I could put into words for anyone else out there who is going through something similar how amazing it is back on the other side again. I wish I could explain to them how much more joy life has when you aren't obsessing over something every minute of the day.

I wish I could convince them that feeling beautiful truly isn't about things on the surface. Yes, looking good is awesome for your self esteem and we all love feeling beautiful, but that deep feeling of happiness and fullfillment comes from that place inside that has absolutely nothing to do with how you look. It took me too long to learn that lesson, but I promise you that it is so.

I've found that healthy balance, and life is so worth it!

28 comments:

debio said...

Oh, Tanya, you are so brave and so wonderful. I am sitting here crying, because even though I didn't know you very well, I knew your heart had a gaping hole. You didn't make eye contact, you didn't look happy. Everyone knew, but no one knew what to do!

I am so glad that you were able to heal yourself. You are one of the most remarkable people I know. I am so lucky to have gotten to know you better and that you are in my life. Hugs and kisses to you. You are a beautiful person.

Madison said...

You are so right. I knew girls in school who would hardly eat at lunch because they thought they were fat, even though they were dangerously thin.

I'm so glad you're in a better place!

DenaO said...

Tanya,

I am so glad you decided to share your story. There is so much pressure society puts on us, and we put on ourselves, to be perfect and to be thin as opposed to healthy.

I almost lost my 17-year-old daughter when she was 14 to an eating disorder. She had heart failure and dehydration and other organs were shutting down, and she had to be hospitalized. It has been a long journey back with a lot of therapy. Yet, I haven't really discussed it with anyone because of the stigma that seems to be attached to anorexia and bulimia.

Eating disorders are illnesses just like anything else, and people who have them don't choose them. They usually start innocently enough with a diet, but for some people it triggers something in their brain chemicals that causes it to spiral out of control. Certain people seem to be more susceptible, and it makes perfect sense to me that it happened to you when you most needed control in your life.

We still struggle daily with self-esteem and "eating" issues, and my prayer is that someday my daughter will find her balance and see her beauty the way you have.

You are incredibly brave and as beautiful on the inside as the outside.

Natalie said...

You are so brave to post this and share your story---an important one that needs to be heard!!

Jenelle said...

Tanya,

Thank you for sharing your amazing story. I give you so much credit for your honesty and growth that you have developed through a tough time in your life.

Like you I have lost a son and totaly understand the grieving process. As mothers we will always grieve but we have to find a place of peace in order to be good women for others. I have my own story of what I went through and how I have come out of it. But for now this is your time and again thank you for sharing. I am glad you shared and hope and pray your story will help others.

Keep up the great work you have started and btw, you look beautiful on the outside but your heart is pure and I love your attitude. God uses us in so many ways and I believe He is the reason you are where you are today.

God's Blessings on you today.

Eating Deliciously said...

So sorry for your loss. I admire and thank you for the courage it took to write this post.

Megane said...

:) great post. thank you for sharing... i imagine it was difficult.

Romi said...

Thank you for sharing your story with such beautiful honesty. You are beautiful on the outside as evidenced in your pictures, but most importantly you are even more beautiful on the inside. I have followed you for a long time and enjoy your recipes and family stories. This one hit home. I am so glad you have moved to a healthier place in your life and are here to share this good news with us. God bless you always.

Robin L Greenslade said...

Love, hugs and admiration to you for sharing your heart and soul with us!

Kristina said...

Thanks for sharing your story. Being healthy is SO much more important than what we *think* we should look like, or what society tells us we should look like. I quit concentrating on my weight and concentrate on staying healthy!

Tanya said...

I truly appreciate everyone's comments and stories. The more I read, the more aware I am of what a taboo subject this can be. Why? Weight gain doesn't seem to be as much. In many ways they are so similar, just on the opposite end of each other. I'm really glad that all of you shared with me today. Thank you!

Caitlin said...

I just happened to come across your blog looking for an alfredo recipe for tonight's dinner, and read your post. I admire your courage, and strength. I struggled with anorexia and then bulimia throughout highschool and into university, but like you luckily managed to heal, rebalance my life, and go back to enjoying food. Now I'm en route to becoming a psychiatrist, specializing in eating disorders. I hope that all of us, in our own ways, can help other girls and women feel equally as beautiful and confident.

Katrina said...

As I try to play catch up on blogs I'm way behind on, thank you for this post, Tanya. So real and thoughtful. You are beautiful.

Sheri said...

You always have been an inspiration to me. You are not only an amazing sister but a true friend.

Like you said, this is a subject many people feel awkward talking about, if only because of "What to say?".

By sharing such a deep, personal part of yourself, you will reach out to many others who can hopefully realize they are not alone.

You are one in a million...

Fernando's Adventures said...

I am so glad you shared this......it is a tough subject to talk about and I am honoured that you have shared this with us.
Blessings,
Chris

Sonya said...

I think when a life altering moment happens to you, you sometimes gravitate towards something you have control over..I went in the total opposite direction as you did. I gained weight..alot of weight. I wanted to cover myself up and actually give some of my power back to me. I thought that if I were bigger that I no longer would appear weak to certain people.

I'm so glad you were able to share your story with us and I am so glad you are in a better healthier place with everything. I do know what it's like to need to put up a barrier to stop the feelings from coming in. I've had to learn what I can and cannot control and what I can control, I do, and what I can't, I have to let go of it.

Im so glad you found that healthy balance..I have too finally and like you said..life is so worth it :)

Colleen said...

You are a very brave, strong woman to share your story. I turned to food after the death of my daughter in 1990 and still struggle so much with weight issues. I am so glad you have gotten control and I hope I will too someday.

Ashley Nguyen Newell said...

Thanks so much for sharing your story! That was very brave! I have a couple of friends who are very very thin and they struggle with it a lot and people get to make fun of them because thin is socially desirable. I am on the other end of the spectrum but I can still relate to what it feels like to have food control you and obsess over it.

Anna said...

Loving that you're back from that brink - never to go there again. Glad that you shared this, so that others that may be in that place can hopefully realize it is time for them to reach out for help. You're gorgeous, by the way!

Tanya said...

I really want to thank each of you for commenting and sharing. The web can really be a great place of support, and you are all proof of that!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for so bravely telling your story. Your courage is inspiring.

Nico said...

wow. just wow. I'm so glad that you managed to find your way out of that hole. You look absolutely stunning now!!! xo

Carolyn said...

First thank you for sharing - I know it's so hard to actually be honest, especially when we have become so good at pretending everything is "great"

I really needed to read this today. I feel like maybe I can borrow some hope from you. I have struggled with my weight for years - my whole life actually. I lost a large amount of weight and while I am very happy - I am still completely paralyzed with fear at becoming "fat" again. I am completely obsessed and depresses over it.. and while I know it's no way to live I just can't seem to figure out how to separate that worrying and obsession with food/calories/comparing myself to EVERYONE from me... and being a slave to that $%&# scale!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing...proud of you !

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your story.
I have lost a bit of weight, and my trainers and family have been worried and some people say i have an eating disorder. But i don't think that is the case--but i do like to have control over what I intake..
I honestly don't know why i'm telling you this, but your story touched me and i respect you for sharing something private like that. God bless

Crazy Southern Woman said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. I stumbled upon your blog after someone pinned one of your healthy recipes. I'm a new proud follower. God bless.

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