I’ve spent years trying to decipher whether grains are good or bad, milk is for baby mammals or the good of humankind, carbs are just calories or the devil incarnate, fruits are nature’s candy or a healthy staple, meat is natural or nasty, diet coke is a bubbly treat or a strange poison, cereal is the supper of champions or candy in a bigger box, etc. (For the record: I’m only sure of the diet coke one. At one point I drank 100 oz of that stuff a day. No more poison for me.)
Guess where all this dietary knowledge has gotten me? I could tell you the number of calories or weight watchers points in any number of foods (challenge me! it will be fun!), but to prove that knowledge isn’t necessarily power, I’ve just gotten fatter over the years. That’s pretty normal, I guess, but it’s not news to me that Taco Bell is bad for your health. I had my “I can’t eat ice cream every night” epiphany sometime in middle school. No one had to slap me in the face with a Big Mac at 30 and tell me fries isn’t a food group.
So I’m a decently intelligent person with access to all sorts of nutritional knowledge, no kids and enough income to eat better than ramen and the McD’s dollar menu. Why did I grow out as I grew up?
Well, history and genetics, first. I thought I was really cool as a kid because I could eat my lunch before I got to the end of the line to pay AND I was always in the 99% on those growth charts for weight. I thought that meant I was super awesome. And I was a pretty awesome kid. I only got made fun of once for being fat, and I ended up marrying the guy’s smarter, more handsome cousin, so who you callin’ blubber butt now, eh? I had lots of confidence. I ate with gusto. Pepsi and Krispy Kreme doughnuts for breakfast. Nuggety things and ice cream bars for lunch. Always ice cream after dinner. 99 cent whoppers were a family favorite. Gas station fried chicken – oh, man. We had a song in our family, the “big ole butt” song. We sang it to and about each other. I learned that I indeed had the passed-down-for-generations Booth Butt. The last time I weighed under 100 lbs I was in the 3rd grade and had just had tonsil and appendix surgeries.
Fast forward to sixth grade. I go on my first diet. I’m still playing sports, because winning doesn’t matter just yet. Softball, cheerleading, basketball, even soccer. In seventh grade, I switched to a school full of rich, skinny girls whose size 14 Limited Too pants were not the same as my women’s size 14 K-mart slacks (at the time, I did not know Limited Too was a children’s clothing store. I was way out of the pretty plus range at Sears at that point, but I clung to the idea that I looked like them because we wore the “same size” pants.). A boy that I would later date for a month in the eighth grade made beeping noises as I backed out my chair. You know, like a bus was backing up. Because my 12-year-old ass was the size of a bus. I didn’t make the volleyball team. I sat on the bench for the basketball team. I was first dubbed “Debbie Bootie.”
In high school I pulled the sub-800 calories a day plus daily, looonnngg workouts, to reach my lowest weight since the 5th grade, 135 lbs. My head was too big for my body and I had to buy my boobs at Victoria’s Secret, but I was the hot girl, not the fat girl. I was hungry and weak and cold, but I had a power over guys I never knew I could wield. I specifically remember sitting at the lunch table with my head down because I was SO HUNGRY but I had eaten lunch yesterday and just needed to get over it.
College. It only took me one year to gain a diagnosis of depression, a scary SSRI experience, a hormone-laden birth control subscription, a taste for cheap beer and a fairly instant 15-18 lbs. One of my best friends picked up the Debbie Bootie nickname , but only because I called her A* Boozbe. After sophomore year I started counting calories and walking daily. I lost that weight and felt pretty good even though I was up a bit from my unhealthy high school weight. That even lasted until I studied abroad. More beer, food and not a gym in sight. Anyway, I got married the following summer at my ideal weight, 150, after losing 15 lbs in 3 weeks on a crash diet.
That’s what I weighed my freshman year in high school (and I was about 4 inches shorter then). I’m about the same size now that I was in middle school. Most people who say those things strike envy in the heart of fellow dieters or at least dirty looks. Not here, in former fat kid land (the former referring to the kid part). I’m just happy I also grew taller.
Fast forward AGAIN (don’t you just love DVR?) through marriage, graduate school, moving, job stuff, more glorious mental health goodness, Nutrisystem, Weight Watchers, calorie counting, too many laxatives, a couple of 5ks, the Extreme Fat Smash Diet… and at one point I was 37 lbs over my ideal weight and 27 over the top of the recommended weight range for my height. Y’all. Y’ALL.
So I waddled back to Weight Watchers and lost 10 lbs in a couple of months. I joined boot camp-like workout groups. I won’t tell the rest of the story cause you know how it goes. I tried a whole30 challenge and completed 18 days (considering it’s no sugar/sugar substitutes, grains, legumes, dairy or soy, I’m pretty proud of myself). I ate a handful of M&Ms and decided to start a weight loss blog. And here I sit.
I’ve decided that food is just like exercise for me. If I don’t like it, I won’t stick to it. Exercise that I love: walking, spinning, CrossFit. I don’t do them to lose weight (and that doesn’t work anyway, unfortunately you can’t really exercise away a poor diet), I do them for fun and health, and I do them on a regular basis. I just don’t feel right if I don’t. Same with food. Just need to figure out what works and is practical for me.
So that’s my goal. What works for me? What’s practical? What’s healthy? I could lose weight eating Lean Cuisines and Special K bars. I did that in high school and it worked. But I came around that bend in a big Debbie Bootie boomerang way and I don’t want to go back there. Plus I have stuff to do now. Stuff that requires energy beyond crushes and gossip.
Nutrisystem, whole9life, Extreme Fat Smash, Four-Hour Body, Weight Watchers, calorie counting, cognitive behavioral therapy, mindful eating, 300-400-500 plan, Atkins, South Beach, the grapefruit diet. Join me as I try some of these on for size. Who knows, I might actually discover what works for me.
What works for you? What makes you happy AND healthy?