So where did we leave off? Oh yes, I had just gotten down to my goal weight and began the process of maintaining my weight. Or trying to maintain my weight.
At this time, I was in my junior year of college at the University of Washington. My days were very busy with classes, as I was working towards a BS in Speech and Hearing Sciences.
(I’m on the left, my friend on the right)
When I look back at my eating habits toward the end of my weight loss, they definitely weren’t the most healthy. I ate a lot of “diet” foods- low fat, low sugar, 100 calorie packs, etc. to keep my calories around 900-1000 calories a day. Far too little for someone doing as much physical activity as I was. At that time, I would do two to three hours a day on the elliptical; pushing myself in the first hour and mindlessly spinning away at an easier resistance for the second or even third hour.
In my mind, it didn’t matter what I ate as long as it was under my daily calorie allotment. So I decided I would eat what I wanted but keep the portions very small. For example, there were many days that occurred just like this: Wake up and go to class without breakfast. At lunchtime, walk to Bartell’s drugstore and buy three packs of Reese’s peanut butter cups and a diet coke. Go back for my afternoon classes. Go to the gym and spend two hours working off the 720 calories I had eaten in candy. Go home, study, and go to bed. Repeat the next day.
At the time, I didn’t realize that my eating habits were disordered. I just cared about keeping the scale where it was or going downward. And of course, eating less than 800 calories a day and working out, I did lose some more weight. Only about four to five pounds, but it was still heading in the “right” direction.
(My little brother and I- I remember being exhausted)
One time that stands out was when my mom and little brother came over for a fun weekend and we went with my mom to get her hair done. I was so tired and worn down that I fell asleep on my little brother’s shoulder. Not only that, but my mom had asked me if I was sick because my face was so pale with huge dark circles under my eyes. Luckily, that very weekend my mother realized I was starting to get too obsessed with my weight loss, took me out to dinner, and convinced me to eat a good meal. Because I had been depriving my system so radically for so long, I remember that I literally gained eight to ten pounds after that one meal.
Remember at this point, my eating was definitely disordered, but I didn’t have a full-blown eating disorder. So it wasn’t too hard for my mom to convince me I should eat a little bit more and eat healthier. For the next year and a half or so before graduation, my weight fluctuated in about a 15 pound range. Right before graduation I lost weight; of course I wanted to look thin in my gown, so I struggled my way back down to goal by again eating approximately 900 calories a day. Keep in mind that a healthy range of calories for someone my height, age, and weight was somewhere between 1500-2300.
(That’s me in the middle)
The summer before I went to grad school, I laid off my strict eating rules and ended up gaining about 20 pounds. I headed off to Vanderbilt to become a Doctor of Audiology feeling fat and unhappy.
This seems like a good stopping point, as grad school is where things really start to go badly. Thank you guys for hanging with me through this story. It’s painful to recount all of this, but it also feels good to get it out there in the open.
I hope you have a wonderful Monday!