Sara Cuthbert offers readers an intimate portrait of the struggles and triumphs on the road to losing weight and changing her life.
My decision to share the personal details of my biggest life struggle has always been inspired by Ruby Gettinger. She has been documenting her own struggles with weight and food addiction on the Style network, showing the unglamorous and often humiliating aspects of living in a large body. At her highest she weighed in at 700 lbs. She lost hundreds of pounds without shortcuts, crash diets or surgery. I cried through so many of the episodes. When a person's pain manifests in food addiction there is simply no way to hide it. That person literally wears every negative emotion and self-destructive choice on their body, carrying it with them for everyone to see and sometimes, quite frankly, people can be just plain mean. One really positive, empowering thing about being obese that I will always be grateful for is that I have learned compassion. We can never know the deep secrets and pain inside a person's heart. While we are all free to hold whatever opinions we please, belittling a person serves no one.
Thankfully, I have been plugging away at this monumental task for literally a decade, succeeding and failing over and over again. I say thankfully because I learned something about not only myself but the people around me each and every time. It is said that it took Thomas Edison 10,000 tries to create a better lightbulb. YES, I did just audaciously compare myself to a genius. If you, out there in clicky blog land, have successfully and permanently lost hundreds of pounds your first whack at it and kept it off please do us all a favor and write a book about it. Seriously, I will buy it, read it and promote it here.
No matter what we do in life it all boils down to choices. I take responsibiliy for every morself that went into my mouth. I am to blame for every missed opportunity to better myself. There are no excuses. Eventually, when I repeatedly failed at changing the outside, I had to start looking at the inside, both physically and emotionally. For the record, I went to my doctor last summer and talked to him about my concerns and asked that he rule out any potential physical issues. My blood tests came back fairly normal (yeah, I laughed too) only showing a slightly low red blood cell count. At the time I was working 3rd shift so it was nothing a vitamin and some time in the sun wouldn't put to right. He also ordered an ultrasound to check for PCOS. My ovaries were quite photogenic and according to the good doctor, seemingly in order. That was great news. My mother suffered from fibroids that resulted in a hysterectomy in her early 40s. While I was secretly frustrated that there wasn't an 'easy' answer why I have been unsuccessful I was greatly relieved that I had not done any serious, irreversable damage to my body. I am not diabetic, no need for medication, my various pressures and levels are all in good shape. That's amazing. I have been 100+ pounds overweight for a very long time and to know that I have not accumulated serious, obvious internal damage is a testament to the miracle of the human body and its incredible drive to heal itself.
I admit to putting my health on the back burner when, you know, Life happens. I see other people, other mothers, other single mothers, keeping it much more together than even my best efforts. Even I don't always understand why, when I clearly know better, I have choosen not to do better, consciously or otherwise. How many times have all of us in this fight stared down the business end of a double-barrel fudgesicle and knowingly pulled the trigger, knowing the binge will follow, knowing the regret and self-loathing will rear its nastly little head? I can tell you for sure that having fat as a layer of protection is something I am quite aware of. I am absolutely creating distance. Even this blog is a form of distance. It allows me to be here without being fully here. Writing is also a form of catharsis, allowing me to see what's inside my head so I can sort it all out and decide what to keep and what to file away. So it's sort of a win/win scenario. I get to begin to heal the wound without getting the crutches kicked out from under me.
I will also be honest that this week, nutritionally speaking, was difficult for me. The very act of hanging my dirty laundry on the cyber washline is both necessary for my personal growth and utterly terrifying. I want to be liked but the ugly truth will always bring out a comment I don't like or a reality I don't want to have to face. I am intentionally embarassing myself and praying to God that someone somewhere reads this and doesn't feel so desperatley alone and discouraged. I was in Giant on Wednesday when a sweet elderly woman stopped me and wanted to know when my baby is due. Yeah, um, I'm not pregnant. She really wasn't being nasty and was clearly as embarassed as I was. My initial reaction was to crawl in a hole. But I believe in a Universal Consciousness (add your personal label for it here) and I believe that Consciousness sends us increasingly less subtle messages along the way. I decided that the best way to think about it was that The Powers That Be were saying, "You talked the big talk, kid, make it look like you meant it!" It also forced me to dig up an old, persistant memory and finally release it. My self-consiousness about my weight which culminated in an eating disorder stemmed from a comment form my mom when I was 10 or so. She snapped at me one day to 'suck in my gut because I looked pregnant.' I can tell you every detail of that moment, from what I was wearing to the sounds in the air. I do not tell you that as a sob story, I am NOT looking for sympathy or pity. I only include the information because it was paramount to the way I began to see myself and holding onto that moment, the emotions and subsequent misdirected pain and anger was a large counterbalance in the 'choice making mechanisms' in my little old brain. I can no longer judge my mom for hurting me in that moment. I'm sure my son has plenty of choice bits to take to therapy with him already. Iyanla Vanzant said something on an episode of Oprah's Lifeclass that struck me. I didin't catch all of it, (I only had the tv on in the background while I washed dishes in the kitchen) but she said something to the effect of 'we make decisions with the awareness we have at the time.' I am not a perfect person and I can't expect anyone else to be. I most certainly shouldn't use unresolved anger over another person's humanity to systematically destroy myself after the fact, either.
I am gonna throw you all another quote from Iyanla :
“The road of life is strewn with the bodies of promising people. People who show promise, yet lack the confidence to act. People who make promises they are unable to keep. People who promise to do tomorrow what they could do today. Promising young stars, athletes, entrepreneurs who wait for promises to come true. Promise without a goal and a plan is like a barren cow. You know what she could do if she could do it, but she can't. Turn your promise into a plan. Make no promise for tomorrow if you are able to keep it today. And if someone calls you promising, know that you are not doing enough today.”
― Iyanla Vanzant, Acts Of Faith
I have been called promising many times. This quote applies to me. I have never found my highest potential and it is exactly for the reasons she states...lack of confidence. Fear of looking like a fool. I have frustrated many well-meaning friends and family members along the way. I"ve frustrated myself over and over again and succumbed to bouts of depression and apathy because I just didn't know how to be confident. I know what doesn't build self-confidence: berating, codependance, bullying disguised as 'tough love,' being told 'you just have to believe in yourself,' etc. I am slowly gaining confidence simply out of blind faith that there is something more waiting for me. Is that where confidence comes from? I want to put the question out there to anyone who happens upon this. If you are confident....how did you come to be confident? Were you ALWAYS confident in yourself? I'm curious to know how the other half lives.
Now, onto the nitty gritty, the data, which I"m sure is what you've all (all 3 of you!) have been waiting for. I am having trouble uploading the pics and in the process managed to publish the unfinished blog 5 times or something like that. I will get it all figured out soon. So for now you will kust get my weight and measurements and I will fill in the BEFORE pics later. Before I started this blog I had already begun the process of eliminating processed foods and as much caffeine as possible (my drug of choice). So I actually feel better than I did a month ago, but now the terrifying record keeping begins. Ha! I joke. I am nervous because I still judge myself by my attempts in the past but excited because I know more about myself now than I ever did in the past.
Weight: 245.8 lb
Chest: 46.5 inches
Waist: 47 inches
Hips: 50.5 inches
Thigh: 28.5 inches
Bicep: 15 inches
Published in Losing It