Weigh In Wednesday – Kim’s Story

     Today, I am excited to introduce you to Kim. Some of you already know her from the Slimdown With Sandee Facebook Support Group. Kim has been such an encouragment and inspiration to me. I am moved not only by her dedication to better health and weight loss but also the courage with which she has faced a series of obstacles in her life. I hope you will be moved and inspired as she shares her story in her own words below.

     I don’t remember a time when I was skinny. My first thoughts of insecurity about my size go back to third grade. I wasn’t fat, but every girl in my class was thinner than me. Most of them took gymnastics and were very lean. I remember comparing my thighs to theirs. When I sat down, my thighs looked chubbier than when I was standing. Theirs didn’t. My tummy was bigger than theirs, and I was already big enough in the chest for a training bra while they were still flat. I was very active, hyper even. I remember playing outside all day, riding my bike, trying to keep up with the boys. I loved to be on the go. What I don’t remember is eating healthy. I remember having sodas readily available at all times. I remember eating slices of lunch meat for breakfast, and those cheap frozen entrees for dinner. My parents struggled financially, times were tough. On our budget, we ate what we could get. Fast food was a treat, when we could afford it. I was never encouraged to eat fruit, or drink juice or water instead of soda. I didn’t even like milk.

     The Summer after fourth grade, my insecurities about my body were replaced by what was once known as the “heartbreak of psoriasis” I started to get scaly flakey skin all over. By October, I was 96% covered. A lot of treatment followed and it became easier to control, but I still felt I had to cover it on my arms, neck, and legs. So for years, my weight didn’t bother me, I was too busy being insecure about my skin.

     My body insecurity returned my sophomore year of high school. At size 12, I convinced myself I was fat. Oh how I WISH I was a size 12 now! My best friend was a tiny 98 lbs. I was back to being the biggest girl in the group. All my friends were thinner. I had stopped being active after years of being a regular at the local skating rink. I stopped eating school lunch and opted for two bologna sandwiches when I got home. Budget friendly Hamburger Helper and Freezer Queen were the usual dinner choices. My mom fed our family plus the kids she babysat on $30/wk. By graduation, I was 180 lbs and size 18.

     Years passed and I learned to cook and grew to love healthier foods. I experimented a lot in the kitchen, but still craved salty snacks, in large portions. I would rather have a sandwich than fresh fruit, or even a cookie any day. I’ve never been big on sweets.

     I got married, and of course gained even more weight. I always say “when you cook for a man who eats like two men, you’re bound to gain some weight” Not to mention the fact that with his jealous and possessive nature, he didn’t encourage me to upkeep my appearance. He preferred me in unattractive clothes so that other men wouldn’t look in my direction. He didn’t allow me to wear makeup, or jeans. In the next three years, his controlling ways only got worse, resulting in outrageous accusations and verbal abuse. In August of 2000, I finally left. I was 240 lbs, the heaviest of my life. I moved in with my Aunt Lynne and started going with her to a local weight loss center. Together, we quit drinking sodas, stopped eating boxed meals, and started eating more fresh foods. I dropped 40 lbs in 3 months. I stayed between 200 and 215 for the next 2 years, until I got pregnant with JoJo.

     In September of 2002, I was 215 lbs, but by December, due to morning sickness, and depression from the father leaving, I had dropped down to 190. I had morning sickness all day, every day, for the first 5 months of my pregnancy. However, I ate whatever I wanted. I ate 3 big meals every day. I was out of work, so I did a lot of cooking in my spare time. When the morning sickness stopped, the weight came back. After giving birth, I weighed in at 232. I was determined to not just get back to my pre-pregnancy weight, but to get back down to that 190. I would go between starving myself and eating until I was too full to eat another bite, then feel guilty. I obsessively weighed myself about 10 times each day. I got down to 220 when I realized my behavior wasn’t healthy, and I may have even been borderline bulimic. So I stepped away from the scales for a while and forced myself to forget all about losing weight. Besides, I was now a single mother, I had a beautiful baby boy who needed me.

     Over the next 6-7 years, I tried lots of small changes to help me lose weight. I would go through phases where I would eat less, or stop eating certain things. It all worked temporarily. I even joined Curves, and got down to 210. I knew what I needed to do to lose weight, but I lacked motivation and discipline to stick to it. My gynecologist was concerned about my weight and had my thyroid tested. The nurse said it was a “little out of whack” and prescribed me synthroid to help regulate it.

     Fast forward to last Summer, the WORST time of my life! I had been working third shift for over a year and as a result of the lack of sleep and daylight, I became very sick. I was experiencing a lot of pain, which was later diagnosed as fibromyalgia. The medicine my doctor prescribed for pain worked, even though it is actually marketed as an anti-depressant; but it counteracted my thyroid medicine. I gained another 20 pounds in addition to the 10 I had already gained in the previous year. Three months later, the medicine backfired on me and I became extremely depressed, reckless, and borderline suicidal. I experienced every possible side effect, especially the worst ones. Thankfully, I was still rational enough to realize that it was just the medicine making me feel this way, and didn’t act on any of the terrible thoughts I was having. However, I managed to scare off my boyfriend of 3 years, who was convinced that I was crazy. On June 28, 2011, I went to the hospital to seek help. At that time, I was taken off the Cymbalta cold turkey. I was sent home with my mom to be monitored for a week. The withdrawal was worse than the side effects. Sometimes, I still have flashbacks, or some of the milder symptoms. I followed up with my family doctor a few days later. I remember that day clearly. Before going into the exam room, I was asked to step on the scales. Already depressed, I wasn’t looking forward to it. I felt like DYING when I saw 262. How did this happen? The most I had ever been was 240. I was 230 before thyroid meds and I had been able to get back down to 217. So when and how did I gain more than 30 pounds?!! For the moment, I managed to hold it in, but when I got home, I threw myself down on my sister’s bed and cried hysterically. Lynne comforted me, and assured me it was just a number, and that I had other things to worry about at the time. I needed to stay focused on getting better. I lost my job in the process leaving behind a few awesome friends I had met there, including Sandee, who was always encouraging and ready to lend an ear. I had more time on my hands though, to begin the healing process. Meanwhile, the feeling of guilt returned, even when I ate small portions or healthy food. The guilt literally made me nauseas. I considered purging on occasion, but never followed through.

     By January, I was starting to sleep at night again, even though it was only for 3-4 hours at a time. I started feeling better, and decided to take my life back. Sandee started a group on Facebook called Slimdown with Sandee where she would blog about her own weight loss journey, and encourage others. I joined the group, but wasn’t ready to participate. I loved how she would give advice on healthier options, even trying them herself and giving her opinions. I had always been interested in nutrition. I had decided a few years ago that I would like to be a nutritionist someday, and maybe help girls with addictions or eating disorders. I knew that I couldn’t help others though, until I helped myself.

     On January 21, 2012, I met Jeff. I had given up on love and decided before our first date that if things didn’t work out with him, I was done. Fortunately, we hit it off. I loved cooking for him, and would go out of my way to make sure there was plenty to eat when he came over. We both started gaining weight. He kept talking about how he had gained over the last year and called himself “fat” even though he was in the 170 range. This made me very insecure because I was somewhere around 255. I gave up sodas again, for the last time and dropped down to 242. I also noticed that he seemed to be more attracted to thinner women. It’s hard to admit this, but that, and that alone, is what pushed me to finally begin my journey to a better life. He never put me down, in fact, he thinks I’m pretty, but I still didn’t feel confident. I started to eat what I thought was healthier, and tried to control my portions, but the weight loss didn’t continue. In fact, I began to gain again, despite the encouragement from Jeff to eat healthy and stay off of sodas. On April 24, I had a craving for Arby’s. I decided to look online for nutritional information before going out and indulging on a Market Fresh Turkey Bacon Ranch sandwich, without curly fries of course. In my efforts, I found that what seemed to be a light healthy choice for me was actually a whopping 800 calories! I also found myfitnesspal.com, a free online calorie counter. I decided to eat some hummus and pretzels for lunch instead, after joining the site, and logging my calories. I anxiously texted Jeff about it and asked him to join the site and add me as a friend. I also told my mom, and she joined as well. The next morning, I went back to the Slimdown with Sandee group and read her recent blogs. I noticed that some of the foods I thought was healthy, weren’t, and some of the foods I had never thought of trying had great benefits. With my man and my mom beside me, I started logging everything I ate. I started going to Zumba again after a few months off, and Mama even went with me. Jeff and I started taking JoJo skating on the weekends and skating ourselves. Before myfitnesspal, I had no clue that roller skating burns over 600 calories an hour! Something I loved as a kid, had now become a source of exercise, and it was FUN! I also started water aerobics, and went back to Curves.

     So what’s different? What is it that makes me stick to it this time when I had given up so many times before? Support. Sandee and the rest of the group are always encouraging me. I have friends on fitnesspal who hold me accountable. Mama inspires me by working out almost every day and even with a lung condition, she works out harder than I do. Jeff has reached his goal, and is always there for me. He doesn’t say “you can’t have that” He says “WE can’t have that” He has even called me “beautiful” as I’ve started to drop extra weight. Lynne jumped on board after the first week, and my sister Jackie followed a few weeks later, in preparation for her wedding. She’s less than 5 lbs away from her goal, and I’m sure before the wedding in 3 weeks, she’ll be exactly where she wants to be. My adopted sister, and Zumba partner Kayla has also dropped over 20 lbs. Even my son JoJo is more interested in healthy foods.

     I was 257 the day I joined myfitnesspal. I took Sandee’s suggestion and made my Inspiration Journal, setting my first goal at 225, second goal at 200, and my ultimate goal at 180, knowing my build will never allow me to be stick thin. I cut out pictures from magazines of outfits and figures I admired. I asked my family for support by “sponsoring” me with rewards when I reached my goals. I’m writing this today at Sandee’s request, because I have reached my first goal. In just a little more than 3 months I’ve lost over 32 lbs. My journey is just beginning. I have changed the way I see myself, food, and exercise. This isn’t a diet; this is about being healthy and active. It’s not about being thin; it’s about being happy, and feeling good about myself and my choices. On August 28, Jackie will be getting married at Myrtle Beach and I will be wearing a size 16 dress, down from a 22. The rest of the week, I’ll be sporting a size 18 swimsuit. My focus will be on what fun, active things we can do, not on where to eat. I will be happy and confident with my man and my family by my side, all of us slimmer. All because of the decision I made in a weak moment of insecurity. And this time, instead of feeling sorry for myself, I did something about it, and changed my life, for good.

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