I always knew that if I were “naturally skinny” (like REALLY skinny), my life would be infinitely more perfect. My favorite fantasy was that I could eat anything I wanted and stay thin. It would have definitely been one of my top three wishes, had I ever found a genie-filled bottle, possibly picked ahead of “infinite riches” and “omnipotence”.
I sometimes wondered what naturally-skinny people ever even worried about? With little size 2 fitted jeans, taut thighs, and bellies full of cheesecake, what problems could they possibly have? I couldn’t imagine.
But I wasn’t one of the “lucky ones”. Never had been.
Like most every other chubby girl, I had “tried everything”. I had worked out, eaten low-fat, starved myself, tried the “nutritional shakes”, taken the diet pills, and attempted anything else that promised that I would magically not be fat anymore. I had even tried a pickle diet once. (I actually lost about 20 pounds eating only pickles for a month. Turns out, that’s pretty hard to keep up, though.)
Despite all of my work and desperate attempts, when I got married in 2002, I wore a size 22/24 wedding dress. Though happy to be getting married, I still vividly remember how uncomfortable and self-conscious I was that day.
And for the next two years after the wedding, I only continued to gain weight. “Happy-married-weight” wasn’t feeling so happy.
I held pillows on my lap when I sat on couches. I avoided cameras unless it was a close up. I was only intimate in the dark and under the covers. And all the while, I was trying to diet and exercise. Constantly feeling hungry and constantly wondering what was wrong with me.
In 2004 (which was over TEN years ago, if you can believe that!), I went to visit my general practitioner for a check-up. I stepped on the scales and saw the number 262. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that moment. Something about that number just stunned me. Two hundred and sixty two. That sounded big. That sounded big, even for a MAN. My eyes welled with tears.
My doctor, Dr. Dunlap, was a kind, very thin, older man, who very gently, but firmly recommended that I lose at least 100 pounds. He said it very casually, as if he had recommended that I wear blue. Or part my hair on the other side.
Sure. Let’s do that. Let’s lose 100 pounds. I wish I had thought of that.
And there, in the doctor’s office, I lost it. It wasn’t “UGLY crying”, but it was close. I explained that I didn’t have a CLUE how to lose 100 pounds. I blubbered through my laundry list of failed diet attempts and then looked at him as I wiped my eyes and wondered how bad my mascara had smeared. I was humiliated.
And then…he simply handed me a pamphlet.
(Great. A pamphlet. Problem solved, right?)
Dr. Dunlap explained that one side of the paper had all of the foods that are considered “carbohydrates”. He said to avoid everything on that list. I looked it over and quickly identified all of my favorite foods. ALL of them. Cereal, pasta, potatoes, bread, fruit, soda, sweets, and even some condiments like ketchup and BBQ sauce.
Admittedly, I was not excited when he said to eat NOTHING from the carbohydrate list. Never. Not even on birthdays.
But then he turned the paper over. I saw bacon, steak, eggs, omelets, chicken wings, burger patties, cheese, some low-carb vegetables, mayonnaise, mustard, black coffee, and seltzer water.
I asked the doctor how many calories I should eat per day. He said….(and this is the best part)….that it didn’t matter. He said to just eat until I was full, as long as I didn’t eat anything from the “carb” side.
I looked at him with total skepticism and said, “I can eat ALL I WANT from this side, as long as I don’t touch anything from THAT side?” He said that was correct.
After leaving his office, I thought things through and decided that I would follow my doctor’s suggestions. I was in. Skeptical, but committed.
And I didn’t know it at the time, but it was one of the most defining moments of my life. I was on the brink of a break-through, about to be forever changed. All of the struggles, the heart-ache, and the desperation had led me to here, this precipice. All I had to do was jump.