My Body, My Image Issues, and My Goals

I have already told the long-winded story about my BMI and all the BS I’ve heard about it (read here). Now I’ll give you a bit more background on me and this little roller coaster I’m stuck on. When I played water polo, swam, and did marching band back in high school, I was tiny. I wore a size 6, weighed 135, and could devour around 4000 calories a day without any of it showing. Hey, I was super young and super active, nothing stuck. Hormones began the change no one told me was coming when I was 16. I went on birth control, was forced off of the water polo team I had been on for years because a girls team was finally created at my school (there was previously just one team with about 40 dudes and 2 chicks) so I was required to be on it to play at all and that changed my seasons, and I got a job making me more busy and stressed. My body seemed to inflate. Some places showed it more than others, it was very uneven. Since I was still active, it didn’t get out of control but I did go up about a size. No big deal, right?

Guess what happened when high school ended. Yup, I didn’t change my habits even though my activity level changed. Hey, I’m 5’2″ not even a junior college wants a shorty on their swim or water polo team. What good is it when all the members of the opposing team can hold the ball out of the water higher or out stretch me at the wall? So I was just a springboard diver. That doesn’t burn nearly as many calories as the other two sports. So I gained even more weight. From then on, for several years, I fluctuated between a size 8 and a size 10 and weighed in between 145 and 155 pounds.

After I moved across the country the first time, I began living on my own and working two jobs, eating whatever was fast and easy, which being that I worked my second job at a mall was usually Taco Bell. Since my day job was extremely physically demanding, I stayed around a size 8 for a while. Then I switched to an office job at the same company. More pounds gained. Then I moved into an apartment complex with a really nice gym. It took a year of watching my diet and working out 4 days a week to lose 20 pounds and a full size. I wasn’t willing to become a gym rat that was there every day or adhere to a strict diet because I wanted to go to happy hour and play darts or do a girls weekend somewhere and being super strict felt like it was going to destroy my fun. By the end of that year, though, I looked and felt AWESOME. I nestled myself into size 8 and occasionally had to get some clothes taken in. I was energetic. I was happy. Then in 2 months of stress and flying back and forth across the country and putting in notice that I was going to move back to California, I gained back all the weight I lost and then some. Back to a size 10! *grumble*

While in CA, the yo-yo continued to roll and retract for a while but my job there was even more sedentary. By the time I finally had enough stress and survival, I had ballooned to a size 12 and weighed in close to 180 pounds. I could get winded going up a flight of stairs. I hated my body. I had no energy. Life itself became less fun. Things had to change. I walked away from my job because it stressed me so much it literally made me sick a few times. I spent 8 months just trying to get my health back and find a new and different job. I opened my horizons to taking a job in new locations and in new fields. I just needed to LIVE. I ended up just moving back to the Northern Virginia area because I had a support system here that would help me along my way but have yet to find a good job.

The good part is, I’ve found a good gym and I’m building a network of fitness motivators that is helping me immensely as take my off time to rebuild my body. As of 2 years ago I was still almost 180 pounds and size 12. I stopped taking birth control since I couldn’t afford the out-of-pocket cost and didn’t have insurance. Within about 3 months I dropped 20 pounds and 2 sizes, putting me down to 160 and a size 8. I didn’t even do anything new for diet or exercise! But then stress set it again as I was laid off and spent a few months unemployed. Back up to a size 10.

Last fall I started looking for a gym. I knew I needed the motivation and the weights to work with. I wasn’t very good about going often but at the same time, I was worried about jumping in too fast. I know me. I know I’m irrational about my body at times. I made it to the gym about 2 days a week with no other work outs beyond that. Starting at the new year I decided I would add a new element: tracking every workout. I created an excel file for this and used it to generate a graph of my weight gains and losses. Believe it or not, seeing the on-and-off habit I had on a calendar and my weight on a graph kick-started my motivation. I’m now up to getting in the gym 3-4 days a week, doing 2-a-days about once a week, and squidging pilates and yoga in at home.

I’m down to 165 pounds and can usually wear my size 8s (when lady time comes I have to wear the 10s for a few days), but I just leveled up my weights on leg press (120lbs) and squats (60lbs) so I’m okay with the weight not going down much. You can’t expect weight to drop drastically when you’re building muscle. But I can see the work in my thighs and my stomach! I woke up this morning and could actually feel the effects of the pike ups I did yesterday all through my middle.

At this point, I’m still not comfortable with the way my body looks. I take photos every other week or so to see what it looks like (I don’t own a full length mirror) but I know there’s still more work to do. You know what? I’m okay with that. I’m not a flashy person, I don’t put my body on display for the whole world, even when I do like how I look. That’s just not me. But you know what else? I want to wear a bikini this summer and I want to feel comfortable in it. I have a goal of losing another 20 pounds. I think 145 is a good weight for me. I can be that weight and wear a size 8, which is a good size for me, and still be muscular enough to do the things I enjoy like rock climbing, hiking, swimming, and wrestling my friends’ dogs around. I have no desire to be “skinny.” I just want to be healthy, happy, and energetic.

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