Like Batman, if I Were an Attractive Rich Guy With No Parents
First: My name is Madeleine. You can call me “Maddie”, if you really want to, but I’d prefer Madeleine. I’m a nineteen year old college sophomore who works in a bookstore and loves to play softball (among other things).
And this is how I died. This is how things went down:
I was born heavy, and I grew up heavy. I ate the same as the other kids, I was just as active (thanks to my school’s emphasis on physical education and a program called Team Time), and yet I gained weight. This worried my parents, and they tried to slow this process by taking me to various nutritionists, cutting things out of my diet to see if it was a reaction to a certain food, etc.
None of it worked, and I continued to get heavier.
Fast-forward to intermediate/middle school: I was active, I ate semi-well, I just happened to be bigger than everyone else. I played recreational basketball, rode my bike/walked to school, and played recreational softball. Not trusting the cafeteria food, I tended to bring my own lunch to school.
In fifth grade, I discovered the internet. I had, of course, been familiar with it prior to this, but this was new to me. I played Neopets, Runescape, and other games. What was once a fairly active lifestyle morphed into a sedentary one, but I never changed my eating habits. Fortunately, I still had gym class.
Then I didn’t. I love softball, I’ve played since I was seven, and the year between sixth and seventh grade was no exception. I had a good swing, which made up for my lack of speed, and I knew when to take risks, which often brought me home sooner than the others. On the first day of summer vacation I was playing a game and the catcher threw the ball over the pitcher’s head. Realizing that I had a chance to score another point, I began to race toward home, not realizing that the ball had only gone a little ways into center field and was making its way back toward the girl guarding the plate. I dropped down into a slide, my left leg sticking out, and was greeted at home base by a loud pop.
I don’t remember a lot of what happened after that, mostly sitting on home plate, crying in the car, and not knowing what was going on. An X-ray and a long time in an uncomfortable wheelchair later, I was told that not only had I fractured my tibia and fibula, but I had also torn two ligaments. Later, I would discover that I needed surgery and a total of twelve pins (and a metal plate) inserted into my ankle to help things heal correctly. Needless to say, I wasn’t very active that summer.
The next year involved a lot of getting back into the swing of things. I had a slight limp (I still do), which made me a little nervous about physical activity in general. I gained a ton of weight that year due to inactivity alone, and when I became a vegetarian at thirteen things only got worse. I didn’t know how to eat to maintain a diet like that, and I was eating constantly.
The summer before high school was when I started Weight Watchers. I started to carefully document what I ate, and I started riding my bike for an hour a day. We lived in a small, slightly isolated town then, making bike riding easy and safe. I rode out through the country and only stopped when I felt like I would get lost trying to get home. I went hiking with my father on his days off, went swimming, played softball, ate well, and (most important of all) l lost weight. The last weigh-in that I vividly remember was 185 pounds, although I don’t actually remember when in that time period that weight was.
I went back to school feeling confident, eating better… and then it all went to shit (again). My first high school had a little place where you could purchase food, and none of it was healthy. I remember being in awe of the abundance of poppyseed muffins, doctor pepper, and ice cream. I still got a fair amount of exercise because I walked everywhere, but that didn’t change the fact that I was eating poorly. Unbeknownst to me, my weight began to go up, and I did nothing to stop it.
By junior year of high school (by this point I had moved from Oregon to Colorado, had started my first ~real~ relationship, etc.) I was a size 22. I didn’t think much of it, mostly because I was never forced to. I knew I could run, I could play softball, and that was all that mattered. That year I took a total of three P.E. classes, one my first semester and two my second semester, and managed to get back down to a size 18. I only weighed myself once, toward the end of the year, and remember seeing 220 lbs and being horrified. It makes sense now, though. I was active only when I was asked to be, and I was still eating horribly. I ate when I was bored, and I would skip meals because I thought it would make me thinner. When I went on my trip to Italy during Spring Break, I ate maybe two meals a day, and none of them were very filling. I wanted to be beautiful, to be thin, I just didn’t know how to do it.
I stuck with my exercise plan a few days into the summer, and then it began to taper off. By senior year I was back at a size 20 and eating the way I always had been (which is to say, I wasn’t eating very well at all). To top it off, I had an affinity for sugary coffee drinks. Lattes, mochas, flavored lattes, coffee milkshakes, etc. I knew I was overweight, I knew it was a problem when I couldn’t walk up the stairs at work without breathing hard, but I didn’t do anything to stop it. “This is me”, I thought, “I’m just meant to be fat.”
I decided to make a permanent change for the better at the beginning of my freshman year of college. I went to visit a physician for a checkup that my college required for their records. She weighed me, took my blood pressure, and I didn’t realize anything was wrong until she started asking me about my eating habits. I answered honestly, confused, until she brought my father in. She suggested that I take metformin, a drug typically given to type 2 diabetics, not because I was diabetic, but because it would speed up my metabolism. She also suggested starving myself. My father was horrified, and I was embarrassed beyond belief. I remember crying in the car, feeling mortified because of everything the physician had told me.
I’m not going to lie to you, I legitimately considered starving myself. I ate very little, ate things that had very few calories, and told myself that I was doing the right thing. I took the metformin which reacted poorly with my system and made me physically ill. I did all of this, telling myself that the physician knew better than I did. That even though I was always hungry, I was doing the right thing.
After I stopped taking the metformin, things got a little easier. I was still skipping meals (I remember going for a day eating almost nothing), and even after I joined the softball team and started exercising regularly, I still wasn’t eating well. As the semester progressed I stopped this (for the most part), and began to notice improvements not only in my weight but also in my general wellbeing. I noticed that I didn’t need to starve myself to lose weight, and that not not-eating was making me happier than not-eating ever had. Toward the end of the semester I started to go to the gym on my own, started to eat better, and genuinely care about my weight loss.
That was when I started this blog.
Now I’m determined to do things the right way. I’m determined to eat well, to work my ass off in the gym, and to gain some confidence while I’m losing weight. I’m determined to deliver a big “fuck you” to the physician who had the balls to tell me that I could only achieve goals like this through starvation and taking medicine that made me sick. This isn’t about thigh gaps, collarbones, or being able to snag the girl of my dreams. I’m making this about permanent change, about self-confidence, and being healthy.
I mean, now I guess I’m a hamster with a carrot. Shit works, y’know?
Edit (Feb. 21, 2012):
This is probably more to boost my own ego, because I like seeing how far I’ve come. Please note that I weigh myself once a week an’ all that.