At Thanksgiving Dinner in 2009 I went through our potluck buffet and got some of everything. My plate was piled high and it was heavy as I walked back to the table. I set it down at my place and before I had time to think about it, "I can't wait to do this again!" popped out of my mouth. As I said it, I looked around the table with a dumb slap-happy grin at everyone elses' plate and as my eyes scanned the table I realized that no one else had a plate even half as full as mine was and here I was already excited about round 2 without having even so much as taken a bite of round 1. And as fast as some thought trains run, it was like hitting a brick wall at 200mph when the epiphany that I was going to eat 4 times the amount of food as anyone else in the room before I even felt that I had really enjoyed my holiday meal struck me.
I sat down at the table and as the conversation picked back up in the room and I tucked into my meal, my eyes began to well up with tears. Before I could stop it, they were coming down my cheeks and falling into my food and I tried to breathe around the fork-fulls of food that I just kept trying to stuff into the gaping hole that was my heart at that moment. My mother noticed about a minute into it and asked me, alarmed, what the problem was. And, again, without really thinking about it first, "I'd rather be dead than keep living like this" fell out of my mouth and I could see her heart breaking too. It was then that my Mom did what she does best, she tried to help me find solutions.
I've done so many "diets" half-heartedly. Low Fat, low carb, a nutritionists plan, a prescription appetite suppressant (Meridia), LA Weightloss. All of them, my mom has helped set me up with, going above and beyond to try and support me through to whatever goals I would set for myself. But I never could manage to succeed in the long term. I wasn't able to turn any of the advice I got into long term, healthy eating solutions. But at that dinner, my Mom proposed that if I would try just one more thing and still could not be successful for any reason (even my own self sabotage), that she would help me find a way to afford weight loss surgery. At that time, I felt that bariatric surgery would essentially allow me to reset my body back to factory settings despite what my brain wanted to do. It would give me a kind of "get out of jail free" with the hope that not being physically able to eat the way I had been for long enough would force me to create new habits that surely would put me in a better place. So when Mom said those words, I knew that either way, the one thing or surgery, a year from that moment I would be in a very different place than the girl I presently was. That one thing Mom suggested? ...Weight Watchers, of course.
December 6th, 2009 I signed up for Weight Watchers. I threw myself into the program 100%, anxious to find out if I would fail like I had in all my other weight loss endeavors, if I would end up taking a surgical route, and even niggling in the back of my mind, if I would let myself live long enough to find out. Because the words I had said that Thanksgiving dinner were true, "I would rather be dead..." My mom came with me to my meeting every single week for about two years. She would pick me up in the morning, we would go to the 30 minute meeting, I would weigh in, we would hear the message for the week, and then we would go grocery shopping for our families together.
I quickly grew to cherish those Saturday mornings with my Mom. We would pick new recipes to try together and I could talk to her about any struggle I was having. Following the program was easy, I could eat anything I wanted, so long as I calculated the points for it. I got to eat plenty of food so I never felt deprived, and my points stepped down gradually as I lost weight, so it never really felt like a huge change. It taught me to eat bit less, and move a bit more and I steadily reaped the rewards of my efforts in the form of the scale going down sustainably around 6 lbs a month on average. I, of course, added in exercise as I was able to also. Walking a bit, then water aerobics, then a Curves membership (and summer job), an affair with the elliptical, and finally my YMCA membership and step aerobics obsession.
Weight Watchers saved my life and when times are tough I can always fall straight back into it. It has also taught me so much and given me independence and confidence in the food world in that I know what my healthy options are. I know what foods are the best for my body and how they will make my body react. And with that, I don't have to labor over the point system right now. Making smart decisions and attempting to eat a balanced, portion appropriate diet laden with whole foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and less carbohydrates has me feeling better than I ever have before, and 160 lbs (half my body weight) less than what I started at, going from morbidly obese to maintaining a weight that is within a healthy range for my height, age, and history.
It is surreal. I wake up most mornings feeling like my dreams have come true. I used to dream that I could just unzip my fat suit like it was a costume and walk out of it with the body I was sure I was meant to have. Now I stand in front of the mirror in my birthday suit and examine the way I look, trying to apply it to my long term memory. It's kind of like Freaky Friday, waking up in someone elses' body. I don't always recognize myself in pictures. It will take time to wrap my mind around the HUGE changes to my outward appearance that losing half of the external person that I was has created. It wasn't a dramatic thing that occurred, it was just making one healthy decision at a time. I lost half of me, but I sure don't miss her at all. I kept the good parts and let the rest go.
Now I look forward to finding out what I've got left over, getting to know the person that I hope to someday be. Shaping goals and desires for myself, carving out a new Cole in any fashion I see fit. I am no longer held back by all the insecurities and "can't" mentality that dragged me down for so many years. Now I will make the choice to be habitually healthy and I know it will bring me closer to what I am meant to be with every decision I make. I beat obesity...and you can too.