Observations of a Pop Culture Junkie

Monday, February 21, 2011

Why the journey?

So, here's the skinny...I'm fat. 

It took me a few years to say that sentence, and it still makes me nauseous each time I say it.

I was always skinny. If not skinny, at least toned and curvy in the right places. 

I call this photo from when I was a 22-year-old college senior my "Thinspiration" photo. I may not ever look like that again, but I can sure as hell try. (As an aside, I was not happy with my weight then, but more on that later.)

I had gained weight leading up to Mom's death, but in this photo, my go-to photo for everything, taken a few months after Mom's death in 2006, I certainly don't think I look fat.

SAC Benefit, November 2006

So, what happened? It wasn't about loving food or anything like that. It was simply about loss and depression. I was so engulfed with grief after my Mom died on Mother's Day 2006 that I lost track of everything else but my grief, including what I was eating.

It took a good three to four years to realize what I had done to and what I had not done for my body. The curvy-in-all-the-right-places body was gone, replaced by a body and a person in the mirror that I didn't recognize. Here I was, a skinny girl, trapped in this fat suit of my own making.

When I started experiencing severe lower back pain and some joint pain in the summer of 2009, I knew it was time to make a drastic change.

I started looking into the possibility of  bariatric (weight loss) surgery, but I wasn't sure that was the right option for me.

The proverbial straw that broke the camel's back came when I visited my brother and his family in Los Angeles that summer. My then-3-year-old niece, Alicia, was playing on the Wii Fit and creating avatars for everyone. (Wii Fit collects information such as your height and weight to help with this and with achieving your fitness goals.) She created an avatar for her aunt and one for her Mom and one for her sister and one for me. I so vividly remember her innocently saying, "Look, Auntie Rachel...everyone else is straight, and you're round," as I struggled to hold back tears. And so I was - on the Wii Fit screen and in life. I vowed that I never wanted my niece to have to see me "round" again.

Still, what takes three years to do (the weight gain) takes a lot of time to undo, if that's even possible, and I was fighting an uphill battle, it seemed.

In November 2009, a few days before Thanksgiving, I underwent a LapBand procedure designed to limit my eating. I won't spend a lot of time discussing this, but, suffice it to say that, for me, surgery was a mistake. If you can follow all the rigid pre- and post-surgical nutrition, eating and exercise requirements and restrictions, there's no need for the surgery. You can do it on your own. I wish I had realized this before I had the surgery, but I didn't.

Fast-forward to November 2010, one year post-surgery. I still hadn't achieved the weight loss I want. I still wasn't exercising. I was still round. These photos show what I looked like in the Summer of 2009. (BTW, when I look at them, I alternatively want to throw up or die.)

Summer 2010 "fat photos"
Now, fast forward again to January 2011. I'd lost roughly 30 pounds since September by forcing myself to eat three small, nutritious meals each day and keeping a food journal. My back pain was gone. My joint pain was long gone. The bariatric surgeon has oh-so-helpfully told me that I am losing the weight "on my own," without any assistance from the LapBand. (Again, why the surgery was a mistake is a longer story that may not be necessary here.)

People are starting to notice a difference and comment on it! I am starting to gain my self-confidence back. I even try to date for the first time in over a year and a half.

I am now ready to take the plunge and do the hard work. Let the games begin...cue "Rocky" training music.


  1. I am so proud of you, Rachel! It takes a lot of dedication, reflection and hard work to embark on the journey that you are on. I know that you will be successful, because you are doing it for YOU. It won't be easy, but I'll be cheering you every step of the way!

  2. I am so proud of you. I had no idea all of this was going on. Keep up the good work. We are cheering you from St Louis.

  3. So brave of you to do this and what an amazing testament to what a strong person you really are. So many of us are not able to put ourselves out there like this but you are doing it! Keep up the amazing work you've done so far!

  4. Good for you! It's a lifelong struggle, but I am on the same journey as you and I love the blog!!

  5. Keep it up, Rachel! A lot of people are cheering you on!

  6. So proud of your courage to work on the great health you deserve. Count me in for being part of your/our journey to fit. You've got, and will have lots of company. All of the things you mention will and do work..the time and effort pay off. You have always been beautiful. Just keep getting healthy and stay balanced..each and every day.

    Cousin Heidi

  7. Add me to the list of cheerleaders! - RBM