My Weight Loss Story – Birth to Forty
Welcome to How I Lost the Weight.
Recently, I lost weight on a low carb/high fat diet. However, like many of you, I’ve lost weight before. And gained it all back. More than once.
This is my weight loss (and weight gain) story.
I want to be transparent about how – and why – I’ve lost and gained weight. I’ll share my personal considerations and limitations regarding weight loss, which should help you make sense of my more controversial choices. (For example, why I regularly eat high carb foods on a low carb diet.)
This article is over 3900 words long. I’ve created section links for easier navigation. You can find them under the image below. Even though I obviously think the whole story is important, if you’re short on time you can use these links to jump to sections of interest.
No time to read? You can pin this article for later.
Here are the section links:
Listen up! My intensely personal story mentions various ways in which others victimized or attempted to victimize me. My weight loss story also includes my use of unhealthy coping strategies regarding food intake and restriction.
That’s your trigger warning if you need such a thing. (And if you do, I gently encourage you to do the work to no longer need trigger warnings. It’s worth it, I promise.)
However – don’t miss this, folks – I do NOT consider myself a victim. My coping skills were what they were and how I chose to deal with adversity was my choice alone. Now I know better, so I do better.
I don’t blame myself for the choices I made and I don’t hold grudges or seek revenge. I do have strong boundaries and a backbone as a result of my challenges.
I’m grateful everyday for the discernment I’ve gained about myself and others as the result of a few hard knocks.
Now, on with the story.
I wasn’t an overweight child, but I wasn’t tiny. At birth I weighed seven pounds and some odd ounces. By Kindergarten I was one of the tallest children in my class.
When adults lifted me they often commented that I felt heavier than I appeared. My mom said I inherited my body type from my father’s German and Scandinavian ancestry. Apparently, my female ancestors were wide and solid women.
My lack of cavities as a child confirmed my mother’s claim that I had solid bones. Even as young as eight years old I feared this meant I’d be large. My older sister reached 5’11”, but her figure was slim while mine was solid.
My mother often compared me to my sister as I grew. She said my appetite eclipsed that of my sister’s. I loved food and wasn’t a picky eater.
Mom reminded me I’d always have to watch my weight because I took after the women in my dad’s family. They’d passed their stoutness on to me.
I remained solid, but normal weight throughout my elementary school years. Regardless, I’d begun to wage a war against my body by the age of eight.
When my third grade year ended I vowed to spend the summer losing weight. I can’t say for certain where this dissatisfaction with myself and attempt to control my body started, but I have a few theories.
If you’ve not already guessed, my relationship with my mother was (is) difficult at best and emotionally abusive at worst. Her controlling parenting style stifled me and encouraged me to perform in ways that would please her while pushing aside my emotional needs.
Shortly after my eighth birthday, my maternal grandparents passed away in a murder-suicide that left me, a sensitive, empathic child, confused and scared.
And, just as I decided that controlling my body was the way to happiness my mother announced that I needed a bra – STAT!
I felt excited to be among the first girls in my class to wear a bra, but also fearful of my changing body. Certainly, I’d have hips like my German grandmother’s soon and that worried me.
By the time I was twelve years old, I’d had my period for year. I reached my adult height of 5’2″ and my status as one of the taller children in my class was replaced by my firmly middle-of-the-pack stature.
I was about 115 pounds and still dedicated to my goal of losing weight every summer. Typically, I’d trim a few pounds, then have a binge and erase my hard work. I began to loathe my body, which was becoming rounder but not taller.
By the eighth grade (age 13) I weighed 119 pounds and felt desperately out of control. I was, along with my mother who was 5’6″ and 130 pounds, perpetually on a diet.
After spraining my ankle and getting a stomach virus in a single week I lost five pounds. My shorts sagged across my hips and flat stomach as I made my way to my classes on crutches.
Instead of lamenting the pain in my ankle I rejoiced in the workout my arms would get over the coming weeks. I’ve developed a tendency in my adult life to “Pollyanna” my way through the rough patches, but this was no Glad Game. Disordered eating and unhealthy coping strategies wrapped me in their gnarly grip.
The note from my Argentinian-exchange-student boyfriend explained that he liked me a lot, but since my mom wouldn’t allow me to attend prom with him (I was fourteen and not allowed to date until sixteen) he was, regretfully, breaking up with me. He wanted the classic American high school senior experience and he couldn’t have it with me.
My first year of high school closed with a heartbreak.
Instead of blaming my mom’s strict parenting for the breakup, I blamed my weight. I had no certain evidence that he thought I was fat, but I told myself that if I weighed 100 pounds instead of 120, I’d still have a boyfriend.
On the last day of school, I came home to what would be a two-week-long silent treatment episode in which my mother refused to acknowledge me. I was rejected and invisible and she wouldn’t tell me why.
Of course, I was devastated. And lonely. And confused. I needed two things – to control something – anything – in my life and to win back my mother’s love.
When anorexia heard my cries, she knocked and I open the door. That summer I lost twenty-five pounds through various restrictive dieting practices, which I will not outline here.
I began my 10th grade year in a baggy pair of size two jeans and weighing 95 pounds.
My mother expressed her pride in my hard work and my appearance. That is until another mom mentioned that I might be losing too much weight.
Feeling judged on her parenting, my mom told me to stop losing weight and began to monitor my food intake at home.
I complied with the new food rules because I feared my mother. By Thanksgiving I was 110 pounds. Although I wasn’t overweight and had never been overweight, body dysmorphia told me otherwise.
For the rest of my high school years I maintained a healthy weight of 115-120 pounds. I worked out daily and skipped lunch to offset the weight of the muscle I gained after getting a weight bench for my 16th birthday. Yes, that was all I’d asked for.
Same story, different town.
At seventeen I left home for college. I relished the control I had over my day-to-day life and went a little crazy on soda and snack cakes. See, my mom didn’t keep junk food in the house and I’ve had a sweet tooth my whole life. Without her there to control my discretionary spending and food choices I overindulged.
As my weight neared 127 pounds I panicked. This began an unhealthy binge/restrict cycle that took years to break. However, it kept my weight around 115 pounds and I didn’t care to look below the surface of a method that worked.
After two years away at college, where I spent more time working on my Mrs. with my high school sweetheart than I did studying for my B.S., I’d had enough of two things – missing my now-fiancé, who attended university three hours away, and being controlled from afar by my mother who seemed to be gunning for a place in the Helicopter Parent Book of World Records by placing frequent calls to college administrators to “voice concerns” over . . . anything . . . everything . . . nothing of importance.
So, I moved across the state to be closer to my love and to escape my mother. Five months later I found myself – just after my 20th birthday – with a broken engagement, a strained relationship with my parents, and sobbing in the arms of a malevolent father-figure who’d been waiting for this moment.
After a scary encounter with the man who insisted he loved me as one of his own children, I pulled up my bootstraps, got a second and then a third job, a cat and a dog and kept myself busy.
And I ate . . . and ate . . . and ate. I devoured all of the soda, snack cakes, and Cheetos puffs I desired – but only in private.
I moved forward with my life and called myself happy. Amen.
When I stepped on the scale at my first prenatal appointment I was stunned by the measurement – a whopping 139 pounds. At six weeks along, I knew pregnancy weight gain couldn’t be blamed.
At twenty-two, I was newly married and had spent the last two years eating as I pleased. I still engaged in disordered eating habits. For instance, I ate small amounts in front of my husband and only binged when he wasn’t around. I routinely felt guilty for my food transgressions, but that didn’t seem to stop me.
Still, 139 pounds – even at my short height – didn’t qualify as obesity. And now, I ate for two.
For the first time in my life I stopped feeling guilty about eating. I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted it, and I didn’t care who saw me. I’d never experienced that much freedom surrounding food.
I gained sixty pounds with my first pregnancy, but I quickly returned to 140 pounds within a few months after giving birth.
Unfortunately, I found myself plagued with chronic IBS-D after my son was born, something I still struggle with nearly two decades later. I attributed my easy weight loss to exclusive breastfeeding and my digestive condition.
I gained fifty pounds with my second pregnancy and lost the weight easily once again.
After my third pregnancy (I’d given birth three times in four-and-a-half years), the forty pounds I’d gained didn’t come off so easily. When my youngest son was seven months old, I was still struggling to lose the last twenty pounds.
In fact, I wanted to lose fifty pounds and return to the low weight of my teenage years – 110 pounds.
I restricted calories, ate more whole grains, less meat, more vegetables, and less fat. I took a few supplements. Two months and twenty pounds later I saw my pre-baby body in the mirror (Well, sort of. You know.) and I felt inspired to keep going.
And then my baby – who was still breastfeeding and only recently showing interest in solid food – received a diagnosis of failure to thrive at his nine-month check up.
I connected my weight loss with his and immediately stopped all weight loss efforts.
It didn’t take long to regain the twenty pounds I’d lost, but I told myself it was best for my baby if I didn’t restrict my calories. I felt disgusted by the look of my body, but I promised myself I’d lose weight again once my baby weaned. Because I practiced child-led weaning no official plan for weaning existed, but by 15 months old my little guy moved on to new favorite foods and pastimes.
I stepped on the scale and saw the number 172 blinking back at me. How on earth . . .?!
For the next five years I’d watch my weight drop – never by more than five pounds – and climb. And climb. And climb.
I tried Weight Watchers. Online discussion board weight loss challenges gave me some momentum. I even went vegan for a time.
No matter what I tried, I’d lose five pounds and gain back five plus a few more each time.
Once again I felt out of control. I didn’t want to go back to the restriction mindset of my teenage years. By this time, I knew my old ways of losing weight exposed a lack of emotional health. As well, I seemed to gain weight even when I ate a “reasonable” amount of calories (900-1200). Certainly restricting my calories would only serve to further wreck my metabolism.
I almost gave up. I almost accepted that I’d always be overweight. Indeed, I almost bought into a mindset that would have allowed me to be big and proud – a mindset that would have eventually led to Death By Supermarket.
When I stepped on the scale at the urgent care clinic I was 187 pounds. I’d been having heart palpitations, joint pain, and headaches in addition to the IBS-D that had only gotten worse. My blood pressure was in the Stage 2 hypertension range.
The doctor looked at me suspiciously and asked why someone our age had such high blood pressure. I was thirty-two. He explained that losing weight often resulted in lowered blood pressure, but he gently wondered if I suffered from too much stress.
He was right.
I explained that I was completing my Master’s degree while homeschooling my children, my husband had lost his job earlier that year, my mother-in-law was recovering from near-fatal run-in with diabetic ketoacidosis, my beloved golden retriever of twelve years had gone to the rainbow bridge, my marriage was beyond strained, I had a child with ADHD and one with Asperger’s, and the only thing I looked forward to was 8 P.M. when the children were in bed and the day’s work was done. I’d sit down in front of the TV, snuggle with my cat, drink an ice-cold soda and eat a snack. Or two . . . or three . . . or whatever.
The doctor prescribed medicine for my high blood pressure (which I took) and a narcotic for my headaches (which I refused). He suggested I see a therapist for a little help with my stressful lifestyle. I didn’t tell him I was finishing my Master’s degree and clinical internship in Marriage and Family Therapy. Isn’t it ironic?
My doctor didn’t suggest any diet changes other than to lower my salt intake. He didn’t talk to me about nutrition or even exercise.
It seemed we’d both agreed that for the rest of my life I’d have to take daily pills for my symptoms, but maybe, just maybe, once the kids were grown, and I’d settled into my career, and my marriage was sorted out I’d not need as many pills (?)
In the months that followed my doctor’s visit I decided that life was too short to be chronically sick. I didn’t care about being overweight anymore. I simply wanted to feel better – to be healthy.
And so I began to search for answers to my health questions.
To make a super long story short I discovered the work of Weston A. Price and others, which, quite literally, changed and saved my life.
I put my whole family on a strict real food diet (as defined by the Weston A. Price Foundation). I told my husband I was willing to change my diet in any way with the exception of two things – I refused to give up grains and sugar and I refused to restrict or even to count calories.
I no longer cared about weight loss. I just wanted to be healthy and to feel good again.
Fortunately, this new-to-me real food diet allowed me my vices and preferences. (Although, I did give up wheat for a while – but not at first – with excellent results.)
Within two months on a real food diet I’d lost twenty pounds and normalized my blood pressure without medication. My headaches, heart palpitations, and joint pain all went away. For the first time in twelve years, I experienced normal, pain-free digestion.
After four months on a real food diet I lost forty pounds and felt healthy and truly happy for the first time in years.
At 147 pounds I was nearing my pre-pregnancy weight and I’d done it without going on a diet.
I should confess here that for a brief time I wandered into the world of orthorexia, a form of disordered eating. I learned strategies to avoid it, fortunately. I’ll talk more about those strategies in another article.
In short, I pulled myself away from diet perfectionism by reminding myself of the awesome results I’d achieved on a simple, real food diet.
I know the last section seems like it should be the happy ending to my weight loss story, but it’s not. Because – you guess it – I gained all of the weight back. Again.
Let’s go back in time a bit – before I discovered a real food diet.
My job as a therapist contributed to my stress during my health crisis. I’d spent years working toward my dream career in a helping profession. I honestly thought I wanted a career as a Marriage and Family Therapist.
As it turns out – and for reasons too complicated to discuss here – I do love helping people, but not in a professional psychotherapy setting.
So, I started a website (or three) and began helping people through my writing. As noble as my intentions were, they weren’t paying the bills. So, while I worked on monetizing my dreams I found a corporate job.
My job – which I enjoyed from my first day until my last – started as part-time, but quickly turned into a full-time position.
Between building my side hustles, homeschooling my children, working full-time, cooking real food from scratch, and keeping up with my sons’ travel soccer teams I found myself, once again, completely tapped out.
I woke at 4:00A.M., sat in a desk all day, sat in a car most of the afternoon and evening as I carted children to and from activities, and never got enough sleep.
I still ate healthy, but due to time constraints some processed foods crept back into our diet. And by my second year on my job I regularly stress-ate before bed in an attempt to calm myself enough to fall asleep. My IBS and joint pain returned, as well.
Some people drink to fall asleep; I ate sugary foods.
By the time I’d built my businesses enough to quit my day job 3.5 years later I weighed in at 189 pounds.
I quit my corporate job in the summer of 2016 and spent several months focused on personal growth. When I sought help for my troubled relationships, I realized for the first time that my lack of boundaries in relationships – ALL of my relationships – robbed me of emotional and physical health.
I began the intense work of strengthening myself, my beliefs, and my boundaries.
By 2018, my life felt different. Parenting became easier, I felt less stress in my day-to-day life, and I’d learned how to manage my two most difficult relationships with loved ones.
That year I paid little attention to food, exercise, or my weight. I simply ate a diet of about 60% real food and 40% whatever I wanted. I moved my body when it felt good to do so. A few new hobbies filled the space where boredom or anxiety snacking once lived.
Around my birthday, in September, I stepped on the scale. I’d lost five pounds that year without even trying.
After losing five pounds in a year without any effort and taking back the steering wheel of my life from the people who’d been driving for me for years, I felt ready to put effort into healthy living once again.
I wanted to lose weight, but I didn’t want to fall back into my restrictive dieting habits. I’d come too far in my emotional healing to stir up old, unhealthy tendencies.
I’d read a lot about the keto diet and low-carb eating since discovering real food years ago. In the real food community low-carb eating isn’t a new concept.
My IBS-D and joint pain continued, so I felt ready to try something different. I knew my digestive struggles had more to do with my food choices than my weight.
Realizing weight loss would likely happen as a side effect of a low-carb lifestyle, I wanted a way to be accountable for my weight loss methods.
I created How I Lost the Weight as a way to help both myself and you in the pursuit of healthy weight loss.
Since January 2, 2019 I’ve lost 20 pounds on a low carb/high fat diet. Today is June 11, 2019. That’s 23 weeks, which makes my weight loss per week about .87 pounds so far.
Instead of setting a pounds-per-week weight loss goal, I’ve set a no-more-than-one-pound-per-week goal. (I’ll discuss my overall goals in another post.)
This slow and steady weight loss method prevents me from becoming too restrictive or giving up after an unplanned “cheat day”. My healthy weight loss goal reminds me that I have the rest of my life to reach my ideal weight and that I’m in no rush.
I’ve already gained the health benefits of a low-carb, high-fat, real food diet. My IBS-D and joint pain disappeared within two weeks. The fatigue and brain-fog I didn’t even know I had lifted within days of removing grains from my diet.
How I Lost The Weight provides a record of my weight loss journey and a place to talk about the highs and lows of weight loss and weight maintenance. As my weight loss story continues I’ll tell it here. When I reach the weight maintenance stage, I’ll continue to share my journey. My story encompasses my whole life – past, present, and future.
I will continue to update my weight loss progress both on this page and throughout the website. How I Lost the Weight provides encouragement and inspiration through my weight loss story. Check back often!
How I’m Losing Weight for Good
I use several strategies to ensure that I once I reach my goal weight I never return to an unhealthy weight.
I’ll talk about those strategies over time on How I Lost The Weight and provide a link to the information here.
These are ten things I’m doing to keep the weight off:
I don’t count calories.
I practice intermittent fasting.
I eat a low carb, high fat diet most of the time.
I journal regularly.
I practice forgiveness.
I eat real food.
I avoid new responsibilities.
I stay accountable.
I weight myself every day.
I put sugar in my coffee.