I have always struggled with my weight. As a tall, large-framed female (I'm 5' 8.5"), I began to feel self conscious about my size around third grade, when I became bigger than most of my classmates of both genders. As I got older, I realized that I am just a bigger person than most, regardless of weight. But by adulthood, I had established unhealthy habits and developed a complicated, troublesome relationship to food.
At my heaviest, in June 2006, I weighed 247 pounds. Five years later, I was 57 pounds lighter!
|June 2006 - 247 pounds|
|June 2011 - 190 pounds|
It has taken me a long time to lose the weight. I have maintained my weight loss and have fluctuated between 185-190 for about a year and a half, since August 2010. I am not at my goal, however. I would like to have a healthy BMI, which for me means getting down to around 165.
More and more, I am coming to realize that losing weight is about so much more than the number on the scale. To be a fit and healthy person, you have to have a certain degree of self awareness and self control, because food in America today is about much more than simply fueling our bodies and minds.
An essential part of my health journey was reading Fast Food Nation and Fat Land, two books that revealed to me the fundamental and extreme changes that industrialized farming and food manufacture have forced in American eating habits.
Our bodies and minds are tuned by years of evolution to crave the very things that do the most degree of harm in the long run: sugar and fat. These nutrients are very energy dense and, as humans developed and evolved, were traditionally scarce in nature and therefore expensive and limited in terms of widespread consumption.
Of course, when capitalism realized the powerful sale value of these natural products, it was only a matter of time before people hungry for wealth figured out how to manufacture less inexpensive, more shelf stable versions of both to appeal to consumers: corn syrup and trans fats. The timing of these developments, combined with an emerging American car culture, contributed to the rapid rise and development of the fast food industry, especially in Southern California. I remember reading, for example, that after corn syrup was in widespread use in the 1970's, overall sugar consumption jumped dramatically in America. The growth of the fast food industry led to the demand for and development of large scale industrial farms, built on relationships like the one between McDonald's and their french fry producer.
After reading these books, I realized the extent to which the fast food industry and the mainstream agricultural industry in America influenced not only my attitude toward food, but indeed my very tastes in terms of preferring food with artificial food flavor and color additives. I had grown up on fast food, right in the middle of where fast food was born... it is part of my cultural heritage. In fact, here I am at 16, dressed for my first job: fast food at KFC.
|Age 16 - working fast food|
After this realization, I was filled with resentment and anger about being tricked into poisoning my body with artificial ingredients for so long. I became determined to completely overhaul my was of life. This was in January-February 2008. Very soon after that I had my car accident which put about 4-5 months of limitation on my fitness and activity, but I still tried to eat healthier. Since then, I have made a conscious effort to improve my overall fitness and eating habits to both lose weight but also to be as healthy and fit as possible.
I think back to just how unhealthy my eating habits were in high school. It's no wonder I had high cholesterol. I sometimes wish I had an accurate weight from this time in my life to compare to now as an adult woman. I was active for the most part, playing soccer up until my sophomore year. But I also ate so much crap! Breakfast, if I ate it, was probably Pepsi and crumb donuts. I might have another Pepsi and chocolate cupcakes for snack. For lunch, I would usually eat whatever was offered by the school... I think I would usually eat a salad with ranch dressing and saltine crackers, and maybe another thing of donuts and another soda. When I got home, I would eat maybe a whole bag of pizza rolls or two bags of butter flavored microwave popcorn. Maybe I'd sneak some cookies... oreos or chocolate chip. Or some cheez-its. Some more soda, probably. If dad cooked that night, dinner would be pretty healthy, but I would certainly eat too much of it. If he didn't cook, then we would have eaten fast food or frozen food. Fast food would not have been healthy no matter what I ate, but I preferred onion rings, double burgers, big dell burritos, fries, etc. I loved fast food so much. I craved it all the time and once I was in high school was eating it pretty much 4-5 times a week. After dinner I would probably eat ice cream... 2-3 servings worth.
|1995, age 17. Hostess cupcakes for a snack|
I also think back to the slumber parties and times spent with friends in junior high. I think during those sleepovers my food intake was limited to pizza, diet soda, licorice, and chocolate candy. No wonder I was all pale and pasty!
In 2008, I was 30 years old. I had three decades of terrible eating habits behind me, but I was determined to make permanant changes and get control of my weight and eating habits.
|In 2008, at about 215 pounds, just a month before my car accident|
To be continued... with a timeline of the many changes I have made in my lifestyle over the past three years to lose weight and improve my health. Stay tuned!