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The scary weight (part 1 of my weight loss journey)

I don’t know about you, but I certainly have a “scary weight” – a slightly arbitrary maximum weight that, when reached (or surpassed), causes an immediate panic that usually results in a serious re-commitment to weight loss. Sometimes the scary weight is a new weight decade you’ve never seen before, or maybe it is a decade you thought you left behind when losing weight. Either way, the response is usually the same: panic, self-flagellate for a few days for hitting the dreaded number, track every morsel you eat (mostly salads), and exercise like a fiend. At least, that’s usually what happens…

In the fall of 2005 my life was a bit of a shambles. I was starting an intense full-time graduate program (15 credits per semester), working part-time, living on my own for the first time in a remote area of the city where I knew no one, and struggling with my mom’s deteriorating health. As a result, I ate. A whole lot. I didn’t have a roommate or parent to observe or criticize the food I had in the fridge, so I brought home whatever I wanted, ordered take-out like it was my job and spent most of my spare time eating. I was in a tailspin.

Unsurprisingly, my weight went up steadily that fall, to the point that the size 18 jeans I bought were too snug and all of my XL tops made me look like the Incredible Hulk – ready to burst open at any second. My scary weight at that time in my life was 200 lbs. – I had never seen a 2 in front of my weight before, EVER – but strangely, when I saw that number staring back at me one morning, I didn’t give it a second look. And then I completely blew past it.

Right as my first semester ended, my mom went into the hospital (I actually finished a take-home final the day she was admitted), where she stayed for two weeks until she passed. My dad responded to the stress by not eating and lost 4 lbs. during those two weeks; I gained those 4 lbs. and a few more during the same time. Since I didn’t have much wake/funeral-appropriate clothing in my closet (and, even if I did, it wouldn’t fit anyway), I had to make a trip to the store to buy something to wear. I cannot begin to describe how painful it was to not only be shopping for something to wear to my mother’s funeral, but to also realize that I barely fit into the largest size the store carried. I think that day was the first day I realized how much I let myself go.

But yet, I didn’t stop there.

It took a good 3-4 months of grief and stress overeating, but I got there. I reached the pinnacle, the scariest of scary weights, a number I never thought in my wildest dreams I could hit – 250 lbs. Have I mentioned I’m 5’5”? It’s funny, but I actually missed hitting the 250 mark, but I distinctly remember stepping on the scale one morning and seeing 251, and having some sort of angry epiphany. I signed up for Weight Watchers that day.

I’d like to say it was all downhill from there and the weight just fell off, but that was hardly the case. When you are very overweight and used to eating whatever you want, whenever you want, the switch to a Weight Watchers lifestyle is jarring. Not only are you hungry ALL THE TIME, but you also have to pay attention to what you are eating and in what quantity. It was really hard, but I managed to lose 15-20 lbs. in those first few months back on track.

Then, during the summer of 2006, Matt proposed. That’s when things really started to click with my lifestyle change; not only was I worried about looking nice in wedding pictures, but I also started to think in the long term. I’m lucky enough to spend the rest of my life married to my favorite person in the whole world, and, as a result, I want the rest of my life to last as long as possible!

More of that story a little later…now, back to the scary weight. Now that I’m closer to goal than my high weight, I’ve got a significantly lower scary weight…that I once again blew past without a second glance this spring. The stress of job hunting was getting to me, and a rejection letter from a teaching fellowship I thought I was overqualified for (and everyone told me was a sure thing) really made me question my abilities. I once again turned to food as a comfort, and the pounds followed. Not as many as last time – I don’t think I can binge eat like I used to – but I was still really uncomfortable.

Finally, I had a new awesome job, an easy commute, and no excuses for overeating. I was so used to the cycle of work –> eat –> sleep that I kept eating and gaining weight, even though I was perfectly happy! I started seeing a nutritionist at work, who suggested creating lots of distractions when I was tempted to binge, like working out, taking the dog for a walk, reading, anything. I read tons of food blogs to distract me, but found I would get even hungrier looking at all the pictures of awesome food! I made some progress, but I was still at a standstill.

Now, with the blog and the marathon in the back of my mind, I’m finally in a really good place when it comes to tracking again, and I’m confident that in the next few weeks I’ll be back below my new scary weight again. I thrive on accountability, so writing down and photographing everything I eat (and knowing someone might actually read it!) motivates me to make better choices.

Onward and downward, I say!! 🙂


3 Responses

  1. Kara – you have amazing strength and determination. I am confident that you will reach your goals. And you have all of us here to support you. Yay for bloggy friends!

  2. I just found your blog! you are a great inspiration. I am 5’6″ also. My highest weight was 220, I dropped 77lbs and I have just gone over my “scary high weight”, I just started a blog to get back down below that weight.

  3. I know I always say it, but you are so inspiring! I am currently only 10 lbs away from my scary weight. I am determined to get FAR away from that number. I never want to see it again!

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