Today is my oldest child’s 26th birthday. Happy birthday, Carlene! It’s also the 26th anniversary of the first time I ever weighed more than 200 pounds. I hit that milestone in the hospital just before they hooked me up to the pitocin drip.
While I suspect I went over 300 pounds sometime in late 2004, I don’t have documented proof from the scale. In May 2004, I was 296 at my doctor’s office. February 1, 2005, I was 280. According to my medical record, the only one that kept track of my weight, I’d “technically” lost 16 pounds. But I’d steadily gained 2-3 pounds a month the year before, so the math (and the fact that size 28s were getting tight) would suggest I was probably 310 or so at my highest.
Looking back, I kind of wish I’d gotten on a scale in October or November 2004 and seen 300, but I remember how depressed I was seeing a 2 as my first number. I can’t imagine how I’d have reacted to a 3.
On the opposite side of the scale is my goal weight anniversary. Tomorrow I’ll celebrate 2 years of maintenance. It took me 2 years, 2 months and 12 days to go from 296+ to 138. Even though I kept losing the first year of maintenance, it wasn’t a conscious effort, and 138 will always be the weight at which I declared goal.
When I started losing weight the last time (and I do mean LAST…I’m never doing a gain and loss like that again, god willing), I thought if I could get to 190, I’d be happy. It was a familiar number, one at which I could bend over and not cut off my breath, I didn’t feel huge, and hundred other reasons. Then somewhere in the low 200s, I thought maybe 170 would be good. Then around 190, I thought 150 would be the bottom weight. Then I got to 150 and thought, no, I need to go a little lower. Goal was like a carnival game, “Down and down she goes! Where she’ll stop? No one knows!”
Some of you have read the following story. I included it in the foreword I wrote in my Refuse to Regain blogging partner Barbara Berkeley’s book, “Refuse to Regain: 12 Tough Rules to Maintain the Body You’ve Earned.” It’s a short retelling of the day I hit goal.
I made goal on a cloudy March day in 2007. I was at my doctor’s office for a routine checkup. I weighed 138 pounds. I said to my doctor, “So, do you suppose I’m done?” She said, “I think you can stop now.” And that boring little exchange was how I became what Dr. Berkeley calls a POW – Previous Overweight Person. There was no fanfare, no confetti, no fireworks, no angels flying around the room singing “Hallelujah.” Just me, my doctor and my medical file in which my doctor wrote, “Lost 158 pounds in two years, two months and 12 days.”
I walked out of the her office no longer a person losing weight but a person maintaining weight. I got in my car, sat there for a moment, then thought, “Now what?”
I’d been on countless diets in the past and the few times I made goal, I celebrated with food, essentially saying, “Finally! I can go eat again!” But this time was different. I was different. I didn’t want to celebrate with a Dairy Queen Oreo Blizzard and a corn dog. I wanted to figure out what to do next so I wouldn’t go back to the way things used to be, to gaining weight again. I wanted off that merry-go-round.
So many weights. So many anniversaries. But you know what? While I’m very glad to be a woman who’s lost 160-some pounds and who’s celebrating 2 years at goal, I’m especially proud to be the mother of a girl who reminds me every day that I am more than my weight. Because for 26 years and for every weight in between, I raised a beautiful, intelligent, kind and loving child who has become my dear friend. I can’t imagine life, at any weight, gets better than that.