Saturday, March 17, 2012

My Fat Story, Part 2

I found out I was pregnant in early 1994. It was a crazy thought and my head swirled with fear, anxiety and overall shock. Although I had been living on my own since the fall of 1992, had a good job and was planning to marry my boyfriend, getting pregnant had not been in the equation. I worried about being responsible for someone other than myself. I worried how I was going to afford it ~ weren't babies expensive? 
Besides the obvious issues of stability, being pregnant at such a young age was a tough transition. I still wore my nose ring and my job was managing a rock and roll boutique. The job afforded me my individuality, but now that I was going to be a mom...shouldn't I change how I look? Maternity clothing was a nightmare. All floral print and matronly looking. I sat in many a fitting room and cried my eyes out.
To add insult to injury, early in my pregnancy the doctors discovered I had a genetic kidney disease that if untreated would eventually kill me. Unfortunately, the treatment was to completely remove my left kidney, which was impossible to do in my current state. I spent the better part of 9 months in emotional turmoil and physically sick.
On September 8, 1994 after 36 hours of labor, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. Holding him those first moments made everything I had been through more than worth it. I thought I had known what love was, but looking at my own child made me realize that the love I felt for others was completely conditional. I learned in a split second what the meaning of unconditional truly was.
Two months later I spent my 21st birthday at home in my apartment nursing my infant instead of at the bars like all my friends did.
Six months after that, I underwent surgery to have my left kidney removed and spent a week hospitalized and a month convalescing at my grandparents home.
It was a crazy time indeed.

I had never watched what I ate or exercised. I only gained 24 pounds during my pregnancy. Almost immediately after my son arrived I started gaining weight at a rapid pace. Being so busy with a newborn, I barely noticed. Until I looked like this:

I don't think I noticed because my mother was obese. My grandmother had been obese for many, many years. But I was still skinnier than they were, wasn't I? My sister has battled with weight her whole entire life and one day I snickered at her over something insulting one of my brothers had said to her in an argument. I will never forget what happened next.
She turned to me, fire in her eyes, and said, "What are you laughing about? We're the same size!"
It hit me like a ton of bricks. I was never a really skinny kid, but I had always been "normal". In comparison to mom, Nanny and my sister....I was the skinny one! 
I was stunned into silence.
I looked into the mirror and for the first time I saw what I really looked like and I didn't like it.

I decided that if I wasn't going to be fat any longer, then I needed to cut fat out of my diet.
And I lost 20 pounds in 2 weeks flat.
The doctor scolded me for losing too much too fast, but I was determined. The freedom from those 20 pounds was so exhilarating that it only powered me on. I became obsessed over what I ate. My son's father and I practically had an all out brawl one evening when I caught him dumping a chunk of butter into a saucepan of veggies. 
"Now I can't eat that!!!" I screamed "You ruined it!!!"
I rode my bike, did yoga and target exercises every single day. When I finally agreed to marry my son's father (a long story), the dress I ordered was the smallest size the designer made and slid right off my shoulders. Luckily, the designer and her team had me come into NYC to their studio where they altered the dress to fit my tiny frame.
When my son was 4 years old, his father and I married and my dad and my son both gave me away.

I separated from my husband exactly a year later. During the stress of the divorce, I became scary skinny. When people told me I was too thin (which was all the time) I rolled my eyes. Could there be such a thing as too skinny? I sure didn't think so.
Falling in love again after my divorce was a surprise because it happened to be with one of my brother's best friends. We were engaged in less than a year and eloped nine months later, two days before my son's 7th birthday. We tried for a baby immediately and within 3 months we were pregnant with baby girl. I was nervous about gaining weight, but determined that I was going back to work six weeks after her birth in my regular clothing. No ifs, ans or buts about it ~ it was non negotiable.
Within the first week I was home from the hospital I decided it was time to start working out again and nearly put myself back in the hospital. I had enough common sense to apply the brakes at that point, but true to my word, I was wearing all of my pre pregnancy clothing when she was six weeks old.
I don't know where my determination has been hiding these past 7 years as I have let weight creep on. I haven't stopped exercising and maybe the thought that I was still "active" nulled out the calories from drinking half a bottle of wine myself? Or perhaps I stopped seeing what I truly look like in the mirror as I did almost two decades ago. 
One thing is for sure, if I did it once, I can do it again.
I am determined ~ I will do this.

Thanks again for listening and your supportive comments on my last post. You guys are seriously the best.

*fyi ~ my mother had to resort to gastric bypass surgery after having knee replacement surgery in order to get her weight under control and I know that her personal battle haunts me. Thus my obsession with being in shape. Mom would be the first one to say, "Don't ever let it happen to yourself ~ it's not worth it"


  1. That is a very honest story. And not all of that unfamiliar to so many of us.

    I have always been the skinniest in my family- and have never had an issue with becoming overweight, but weight is something that has been on my mind constantly for the better part of my life. If I even get 5 or 10 pounds away from my normal weight, I become pretty obsessive. I think about it all of the time.

    Thankfully, I do not have any eating disorders or I don't work out obsessively, but it is a hard thing to always be thinking about your weight and tying self-worth to it. Being pregnant was very hard for me each time, as I gained about 40 pounds each time. I ate healthy and exercised, but I grow large babies and I just get big. Very difficult.

    With my first son, I lost the weight very fast with no effort. Just breastfeeding. I got way too skinny and secretly loved it. yikes! Thankfully, I got back to my normal weight and was okay about it, even though it felt so good to be super skinny.

    I think many people have some sort of weight obsession for one reason or another. It is hard. It sounds like you have a healthy approach to your plan this time. I think that as I get older I get more "zen" about the whole thing and hope that I can just focus on being healthy and not so much a number on my pants or on a scale.

    Thanks for sharing your story. It is good for us to get all of this out in the open and share. Have a wonderful Sunday!

  2. All I can say after reading your story is; A big kiss from me :-)
    But please what ever you do, keep your health in mind and not your dress size.
    Always enjoy life and great food with a glass of wine is part of that.

  3. Eleanor I think you are a very determined person! You are also very beautiful, stylish and elegant just as you are.
    I was 20lbs overweight at age 20 and I'll never forget how terrible I felt about myself. Through my pregnancies I never did gain back the weight, it seems to have been a one year blip associated with the pill.
    I might have a slight idea how you feel: the fear around becoming like the obese members of your family would be a scary thing to hold onto. My mother was always super-skinny and I was the "fat one" as a teenager, which is unbelievable to me now as I was hardly overweight at all. Our families affect us quite deeply.
    I hope you are eating enough, you have loads of energy I know and you get so much done, take care of yourself Darling!

  4. dear eleanor,

    thank you for this candid and honest post. our weight issues are fraught with emotional issues. whether we are skinny or heavy we all just want to feel and look good. i think your new plan sounds sensible and very doable and although i think you are drop dead gorgeous right now.
    i love all the pics you posted, you were a very pretty mom and a beautiful bride. have a wonderful day my friend. xo

  5. Eleanor, all I can say is that you've come a long way from where you were. Don't look back but look forward and concentrate on today. You are gorgeous lady. You are smart and you know how to do the things the right and healthy way now. Keep up the great work.

  6. Thank you for sharing your story, Eleanor. I also come from a family that has always had weight issues, not only on my mother's side, but my father's, as well. Growing up I remember that someone was always on a diet or 'watching her weight', so that became the 'norm' for me and still is. To this day I still struggle with body and self-image issues, although it doesn't seem to affect me now as much as it used to. Now I eat a healthier diet overall and view it as a way of life, instead of always searching for the next quick fix.

    You are such a gorgeous woman, and not only on the outside, as your true inner beauty can be seen, as well. I look forward to hearing more about your new journey. Have a lovely day! :)

  7. Great post, very soul bearing :) I say soul because weight is a big issue to many of us including myself. At 41 I have to work harder than before. I injure myself working out recently and haven't been excercising for a few days and I can feel the weight already. One thing for sure there is no short cut to heaven but what's important at the end of the day is that we are healthy, loved and love ourselves. You did great and I'm sure you can do it again but take it easy and give yourself time, after all that is what we have :)

    Book marking you for further reading :)


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