My Weight Evolution

November 8th, 2012 | Posted by Erica House in Health | Life

Yesterday I read a great post by Paige on her Food Story from high school until now and it inspired me to craft a similar personal narrative with respect to my relationship to food. It hasn’t always been a good one, and this may get wordy, so you’ve been properly warned!

When I was younger (up until middle school) I was always very active and never had a problem with my weight. My younger brother and I ate all the usual kid stuff: macaroni-and-cheese, hot dogs, chips,…we weren’t much into ‘health’ food at that time – what kid is? In the afternoon Mom would, lovingly, lock us out of the house and into the backyard to force us to play outside. After a few minutes of complaining at the door, we eventually found fun stuff to get into.

At Field Day I was always the girl racking up the First Place ribbons (that’s me up front, owning the blue polka dots).

Another picture of me in grade school – mostly included in this post because I think it’s one of the greatest photos taken of me as a kid. My brother survived his childhood despite any indicators otherwise in this picture.

By the time 5th grade hit I was officially in the midst of puberty and this may have been the first year I realized what ‘weight’ meant and that I didn’t like mine. That’s me on the far left clearly not overweight but I noticed I had put on a few pounds in the last year. The summer between 5th and 6th grade I spent a LOT of time lounging around the house and watching television. Actually, most summers in middle school were spent like that and this is where the pounds started to pile on at.

This is me in 6th grade – one of the very rare photos taken of me during middle school. Middle School was definitely a traumatic time for me (as it is for most everyone) and, while I may not have consciously realized it at the time, I likely turned to food as a source of comfort. By the time I entered high school I was officially overweight.

This photo is BEYOND tragic. This was my first formal dance and Mom told me just the other day that she remembers vividly how petrified with nerves both my date and I were. You can see it all over my face here. It ain’t cute. Neither is that busted up lip (background on that lovely story here!)

Now, after Freshman year something happened. I’m not sure what the trigger was but I cut back on food and the weight started to come off. Things really sped up when I started taking an aerobics class for my gym credit Junior year and I got a membership at a gym that I would go to after school. By the time I graduated I had lost maybe 20-30 pounds from Freshman year and actually weighed just a few pounds more than I do now. However, my diet was FAR from healthy. I wasn’t starving myself by any means – but I was just eating crap ‘diet’ food. I’d eat half a BAG of rice cakes for dinner, or a bowl of popcorn. No wonder the weight loss didn’t stick for long.

Once it was my brothers turn to graduate, 2 years later, the weight I had lost had all come back.

Shortly after this photo was taken I turned 21, and things got even worse. I started drinking and going out with friends 4-5 times a week. That is a LOT of calories from alcohol. On the way home from the bars we’d stop and get fast food, so I’d probably consume close to 2000 calories a night in just drinking and that one meal. Within 2 years I ballooned up to my highest weight – about 50 pounds more than what I was in high school.

I still remember the first time someone called me Fat. It was outside of the same bar this photo was taken at. I was walking to my car with a friend and some guys in a truck drove by and started hitting on us. I’m not sure if I ignored him or said something snarky back but regardless his reply was a very succinct “I didn’t want you anyways you fatass.”

Sting.

For the next year I struggled with finding the motivation to change. I wasn’t happy, I knew that. I wasn’t sure where to start though. I decided one night to take ‘before’ photos of myself in a bathing suit. I uploaded them and the second I saw them on the computer screen I bawled my eyes out. I deleted them immediately.

Eventually, I started doing the usual diet cycle women fall into – Lean Cuisines for dinner, protein bars for breakfast, salad with low-fat dressing for lunch. Snacks of some 100 calorie pack of garbage. The weight came off, slowly, but I still felt like crap. I had zero energy so I wasn’t exercising and in the back of my mind I knew this type of eating wasn’t right.

In 2007 I decided to eliminate meat from my diet and started focusing on more ‘real’ foods. It took me about 2 years but those 50+ pounds came off through sensible eating and exercising often.  There was one problem left though – the actual relationship I had with food was still skewed. I became SO  paranoid after losing the weight that it would come back that I was hyper-vigilant about calories. I would feel badly if I ate to much or didn’t exercise enough. Food should never make you feel bad, or good, it’s fuel for your body. I didn’t realize that until I came across this book (click to see it on Amazon):

I remember reading it on my lunch break at work at the start of this year and crying because I finally found something that helped me realize how distorted my relationship with food was. The book impacted me so much I actually became a certified Intuitive Eating counselor mostly just so I could learn even more about the program for myself! Now, my diet still isn’t perfect, and it never will be – but I’m happy and healthy. What else matters?

Have you had a struggle with food before? What was your ‘turning point’? I’d love to find out what motivated people to change so I can help inspire my clients!

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46 Responses

  • amazing transformation, girl! you look so healthy!

    • Erica House says:

      Thank you! I tried to find a picture of me from a few years ago when I first lost weight – I was ‘thin’ but not nearly as healthy looking as I am now!

  • I LOVE THIS POST AND THIS IDEA!!! What a journey!! Way to go girl!

  • Caroline says:

    What an amazing transformation you went through! You look STRONG and HEALTHY now!! There is a shift from eating crappy foods and eating healthy foods. I think people tend to think if they’re skinny they don’t need to watch their food intake at all, but you can still be really unhealthy while being a healthy weight. Great post:)

  • Kierston says:

    Wow! Amazing transformation! You look great :)

  • Awesome…you look fantastic! Great story about taking something negative and turning it into something good…

    • Erica House says:

      Well, it’s taken me a LOT of years of living but I finally realized I’m the only one who can let go of any negativity in my life so that’s what I do – most of the time at least :)

  • Heather says:

    You’re very brave to share your story. A lot of women can relate — I sure do. My experience has been very similar to yours, it’s crazy. I too gained weight in puberty, and then when I started university, and I had all the ups and downs and wrong turns. I didn’t understand my body, or how to take care of it — I was always fighting myself.

    For me, a lot of the problem was that I just didn’t have the information. I didn’t know or really think about calories in alcohol, or the difference between real food and crap food, or that you can still be physically fit even if you suck at sports (gym class was traumatic). Now it seems so obvious, it just wasn’t something I considered when I was younger. Educating myself has been key to getting and staying healthy, for sure. And with all I’ve learned about food and exercise, thankfully I can’t “unlearn” it. I’ll never go back!

    Anyway, thanks so much! Your post is food for thought (real, whole food, of course :)

    • Erica House says:

      Lol, thank you for such a thoughtful response to my blog! I have yet to meet a woman who hasn’t struggled with her weight or body image at some point in her life. It usually hits in the puberty/college years and unfortunately many lack the education that you referred to that’s needed to make a permanent healthy lifestyle change. For me, I always knew what I should be eating (No alcohol, fast food and tons of veggies and fruit) but I just never had the motivation to do so. Even when people ask me today how I lost all the weight I ask them back “How do you think” … eventually they realize they already know the basics of being healthy – they just lack the willpower and motivation. My goal in life is to help people make these realizations!

  • This post is incredible and it takes a lot to post a personal story like this. Stay positive and motivated, you are beautiful!

  • I love your story! I am so happy to see you are able to open up about your struggles! I know you have touched a lot of people. Love and Shine CourtStar

  • Katie says:

    So glad I stumbled across your twitter/this blog post! I can totally relate, my story is almost identical! I’m currently in the “weight coming off, but still feeling terrible” stage. I’m going to look into Intuitive Eating asap! I’m training for my 3rd half marathon, so hoping it will help with that!

    • Erica House says:

      Katie – thank you for the comment! Are you feeling terrible physically (like not enough energy) or mentally (like guilty over food?) If it’s a physical issue it may be dietary deficiencies of some sort. I can’t believe your getting ready for your THIRD half marathon – you are a beast!

      • Katie says:

        It’s a bit of both actually! I’ve already started Intuitive Eating, and I don’t think I’ll put it down all weekend. There may have also been afew tears already. Thanks again for high lighting it. I’m also looking forward to exploring your blog for recipes!

        • Erica House says:

          I think I read the entire thing in 2 days! I’ve gone back to reread certain parts of it many times since then. I’m so glad you were able to get a copy – let me know what you think of it when your all done!

  • I’ve been meaning to pick up that book! I self-discovered intuitive eating – it’s amazing once you realize how great your body works when you listen to it and fill up on wholesome foods. Great post! <3

    • Erica House says:

      When I started realizing I needed to give up the ‘diet’ food that made me feel like crap I was self-discovering intuitive eating as well. I didn’t know there was a name for it until years later but I’m so thankful I purchased it on a whim one day!

  • Christine says:

    I loved reading this too and about your journey. Thank you for sharing this!

  • Elizabeth says:

    Fantastic post! Thanks for sharing. My relationship with food is something I”m currently trying to work through. I might check out this book. Thanks for the rec. And you look fantastic!

  • Evelyn says:

    Hello! I discovered your blog nearly a month ago and thanks for the interesting topics. Now, this topic is very close to my heart, so I have decided to leave a comment for the first time. This is my story…

    I have two brothers, a younger and a older, I am in the middle, we have a small age difference. It started in the middle school, when they always picked on me that I had a fat ass. Btw, I was not fat. I was perfectly normal pre-teen. Also I sufferd under acne, so I had a very low self-esteem.
    In the summer just befor a senior year in high school, I decided to take a minipill to get rid of acne, and it worked, but also gained 7 kg extra. Now I was fat. And all the fat went to my tighs and my butt. So, me and my best friend wanted to look good at our graduating party, so we started to starve. Only things we ate were cottage cheese, dried banana chips and lots of coffee latte´s. It was the beginning of my eating disorder. Whenever I felt anxious, I started binging. I was so full of food, that everytime I wanted to vomit, but I absolutely hate vomiting.

    First year in the universitity I met my first boyfriend and things got really bad. I gained weight, again. I have never weighed so much. We were always fighting and he wasn´t there for me. I was stuck for four years, including lots of alcohol, drugs, cigarettes.
    Until I met my husband. He was so good to me, but also no-bullshit-kind-of-person. My relationship with food started to normalize. But the final kick for a normal eating was after my first son was born. He was a very restless child, never sleeping, constantly crying, and I lost my appetite. I was struggeling just to survive. It was just so much stress, I was rebuilding my Maslow´s pyramid. Something happened in my brain, and I wasn´t looking for a comfort in food anymore.

    Now, at the age of 29, after two sons I have better body than at the age of 18. And I am grateful to my body for taking it all. My children´s birthweight were very big ( 4045g and 4620g) and I have never been seriously ill.

    But also I am thankful that I have two sons, not daughter, because I don´t know if I am healed enough to teach her to love her body, if you know what I mean. Because I often think what went wrong back then. It wasn´t just because my brothers were picking on me. I think the real reason is in my mother, who had/has also bad relationship with her body. I remember her on a diet, constantly, but no sport, no healthy lifestyle. She didn´t show me how a girl should love her body, she just didn´t know how.

    Uhh, that was a long response. Sorry about grammatics- English isn´t my first language.

    Greetings from Baltics,
    E.

    • Erica House says:

      Evelyn – thank you so much for reading my blog and leaving such an incredible comment! I can’t believe you even reference Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs – The Psych Professor part of me is so happy right now :)

      I’m glad you seem to be in a much better place with your relationship with food now. The way your body image issues and disordered eating evolved from middle school on is a common story I hear from other women. Unfortunately, they often don’t find the peace needed to move forward in a healthy way like you have. I’ve also thought about what it would be like if I have a daughter and if any of my food issues could be passed on to her. I’m so grateful for reading that book, Intuitive Eating, because I think it has absolutely changed the way I talk and act around food so if the time ever comes for me to have kids I can be a positive role model for them.

      Thank you again for sharing your story – I hope you continue to enjoy reading my blog :)

  • Rachael Spazz says:

    I love, love, love that you posted this! Very honest and humbling. I read all your blogs and don’t comment often, but I wanted to make sure you knew I was applauding you–and your transformation! xoxo Team Erica ;)

  • Thanks so much for sharing your story! I’m in the middle of reading Intuitive Eating and I feel the same way as you. It is really hitting home! I hope it helps me lose the extra weight I’ve been carrying around for good so I can feel my best!

    • Erica House says:

      That’s wonderful! It’s one of those books that, if you don’t have a problem with food you won’t ‘get it’. but if you’ve struggled with emotional eating before than it’s a life changer. I hope to start blogging more about IE, what it is and how you can use it to lose the diet mentality forever!

  • Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am currently, working through my relationship with food and it is so trying sometimes. Amazing story and such an inspiration. Thank you.

  • Morgan says:

    I saw that you were following me on Twitter so I stopped on by the blog to find out about you…THANK GOD I DID!!! Your story and transformation are wonderful news to hear. I need to go and pick up that book because right now/for about 8 months have been in the “restrict calories” phase of my anorexia. I am still so afraid that anything I eat will immediately put it all back on. I have gotten so much better though. It used to be carrots, peanut butter, and 3 hour treadmill sessions. Now it is weights in the gym and usually 3 fairly sized meals (maybe a couple of snacks in there). BUT I STILL COUNT EVERY CALORIE!!! What made you stop worrying about the calories in foods? This is so my last hurdle to beat!

    • Erica House says:

      Morgan – I am so, so, glad you stopped by and left this comment! I’m happy to hear you are doing better now with your eating and exercise. I think one of the turning points for me, when I quit obsessing over calories, was when I realized that I just didn’t want to live my life like this. It wasn’t worth it to me anymore. I had issues with low self esteem from being overweight for so long that this eat/guilt cycle was a direct result from that. Once I became happier overall in life I didn’t feel the need to control my diet as much. If you think you might be interested in the book you should check out their website and start seeing what their mindset is all about – http://www.intuitiveeating.org/ Please let me know if you have any other questions about it! Thank you again for stopping by :)

  • Fantastic post. So honest and beautiful. You have some so far and are an inspiration to people like me who are starting their journey to healthy.

  • Kammie says:

    Your story is very inspiring. I’m glad you’re at a good place now although I don’t think you looked bad by any means! The prom photo you look pretty, anxious and nervous, but sill pretty!

    How did you get to becoming a certified intuitive eating counselor? Are there special programs for that?

  • Hi Erica! I just read your story and it really resonated with me. The response from others is really magnificent as well. I too saw that you follow me on Twitter and decided to check out your blog. I am so delighted that I did! You have inspired me to tell my relationship with food story as well. I am currently studying to be a holistic health coach and coupled with my training in psychology I hope to connect and share with others as you do. Thank you so much for letting your love stream flow to all of us!

    • Erica House says:

      I honestly keep this blog up equally for my own creative outlet, and because of the incredible feedback I’ve received from readers and women who have gone through (or are going through) what I have. Where are you training to be a Holistic health coach at? I’ve toyed with the idea of getting a Phd in Health Psychology since I finally know what I want to do with my Psych degree!

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  • Ellie says:

    I just found your blog and love your story! I was a chubby kid and was “bigger” than other girls (but still BARELY a healthy bmi) until mid high school, when I got fed up with feeling larger than everyone else! I got really into fitness, taking multiple aerobics classes at a local gym daily and running 5Ks and 10Ks fairly regularly. I was WAY over exercising and eating basically ONLY sugar free, low fat yogurt, veggies, and salsa. Now, I’ve gone vegan and learned to enjoy food and treat my body better, put some weight back on, and run a half marathon!
    How did you lose all the weight without getting obsessive or wanting to lose TOO much? Did you ever worry you’d go overboard?

    • Erica House says:

      Ellie, I’m glad you stumbled upon my blog! Thank you for commenting :) I definitely got a bit obsessive about maintaining my weight loss. At the lowest point I weighed 112 and was afraid of putting ANY weight back on, even though 112 was very hard to maintain. I eventually let go of that mentality and am now around 120 and MUCH happier! Sure, I wish my tummy was as flat as it used to be, but it was just to hard to keep at that weight.



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