Tuesday, April 19, 2011


I feel like my wellness goal of stress-reduction will be taking a back seat to a more personal wellness goal of weight loss.

I talked with another co-worker today who plans to participate in the challenge.  In talking to him, he shared the same sentiments that everyone will be doing a "weight loss" goal.  I almost agree and that is partly why I decided to do an umbrella goal of stress relief where exercise and balanced meals would help me achieve a less stressed lifestyle.  I know I feel stress when my body isn't getting the healthy attention it deserves.  But who am I kidding?  My real wellness goal is something one might find completely ridiculous.  SO, I guess it's time to tell the truth and stop sugarcoating what my actual wellness goal is ...

TO WEAR A BIKINI!  There, I said it!  The last time I wore a two piece that bared my midriff was probably 16 years ago!  So let me introduce to you the real me.

How I packed on the pounds:

Throughout my entire elementary/middle school years, I was the token "tall girl".  You know, the only girl who stood in the back row of the class picture with all of the boys.  No one ever got to see the outfits I picked out for class picture day!  The funny part about being the "tall one" is you are pegged as the "big girl".  I never thought of myself as fat, just taller than the other girls. 

I was active in softball growing up, ate regular healthy sit-down meals at the dinner table with my family, enjoyed playing outdoors on my grandparent's farm, rode bikes with the neighborhood kids, and never had a broken bone or cavity!  I was as straight-laced as they came, only visiting the principal's office to receive an award or call the bus numbers for pick-up.

My family never really ate meals out (with the exception of the McDonald's Beanie Baby Happy Meal craze, remember that?) and soda was practically a bad word in our house.  Side-note: I SWEAR, my parents are GREAT :)

Anyway, have you ever heard the theory that there are 10 moments from your life that have shaped you and will stay with you for life?  I can't remember where I heard this from but I can remember one moment in life that I think about still to this day.

I was in 4th grade waiting in line to go somewhere - where, I can't remember and it's not important.  I was standing in line with my best friend.  In line with us was the class crush.  At 9 years old, he was everything you thought you were supposed to be attracted to.  He was tall, athletic, the typical "class clown", and well-known in our grade.  I never really spoke to him but the only thing I ever remember him saying to me was, "Fatty, fatty 2x4, can't get through the classroom door".  A real romantic.

It's funny the things you remember.  For some reason that memory always sticks with me.  Maybe it was his harsh words or the realization that I was fat.  From that point on I became more conscious about my weight.

Enter the middle school years and awkward Jillian.  I wore stretch pants, a bad haircut, huge glasses, and braces.  I can remember summers during middle school where my sister and I would veg out all day watching soap operas, consuming any kind of pre-packaged goodies within arm's reach, and not playing outside as much as we used to.  At the end of the day we would fill up a gallon jug of water and try to consume the whole thing before my Dad arrived to pick us up.  After all, consuming water was the key to weight loss ...

Next were the high school years.  I ditch the braces, traded my glasses for contact, and became involved in field hockey and softball.  I remember starting high school at 5'6", 135 lbs.  For my senior year sports physical, I remember being confused when the doctor said I weighed 175 lbs.  I never thought I weighed that much, at least I didn't think I looked like 175 lbs.  The South Beach diet was really popular during my senior year.  My Mom and I tried the diet out.  I was successful for the 3 weeks we did it.  The diet was a struggle - no carbs or fruits.  To this day I feel sick when someone asks if I want to eat a pistachio, the only thing I remember eating.

When college started, my only form of exercise was walking to class.  Thankfully UMD's campus was huge and a 10 minute walk to class meant nothing.  I gained my "Freshman 15" and then some.  I never went to the gym despite the amazing facility that was available and included in our tuition fees. For the first three years I never went to the gym because I was embarrassed.  Sorority girls, in their skimpy work-out clothes, would come to work-off the salad they had for lunch.  Meanwhile I had just helped myself to a hot ham and cheese sandwich on a croissant.  I've often wondered how my college years would have been had I thought about what I was doing to my body. 

You didn't have to be in a sorority to drink.  So on top of the unhealthy eating habits and no exercise, I was consuming unnecessary calories.  Not only from the alcohol, but from the late night binging that came along with it.  Online take-out ordering made it possible to get pizza, fries, wings, etc. within 15 minutes.

I don't think I ever stepped on a scale in college, at least not until my junior year.  I lived in an apartment with my sister and her two friends.  At the end of my junior year we had a "good-bye" dinner for one of my roommates who graduated and was moving back to New Jersey.  I look back on this photo and cringe.  Here I stand weighing in at about 204 with a friend from college:

 Our shirts are to read, "I HEART CAROL"

It's scary to reveal that number.  It's scarier to know I let myself get to that point.  I look at the photo and think my face looks like it was stung by bees.

My wake-up call:

I hung out with my sister and her college friends during my junior year, their senior year.  Among her friends was a guy that I fell completely head-over-heels for.  If he ever reads this, his ego will just inflate even more!  But in one word, he was just cool.  His demeanor was different.  Nothing really bothered him, he did what he wanted.  He was attractive, self-confident, witty, athletic, and accepting of me.  I knew we'd be forever friends when I first walked into his apartment and heard him blaring Jack's Mannequin from his computer ... I loved them!  It was my first sign.  Outside of bonding over music, it still baffles me how we became friends.  He was barely an inch taller than me and I probably had a good 45 lbs on him.  Our friendship developed while we played card games on the mall at UMD.  For the first time I felt comfortable around a guy and didn't feel like I had to be someone else.  Cliche, right? 

One of our many games of War
 I knew at my size he would never be romantically interested in me.  Doesn't every guy want to be able to wrap his arms around his girlfriend?  I look back at pictures of the two of us together and just laugh.  I look like a giant compared to him!

I remember one time telling him I had plans to go to the gym.  Riiiiiiiiiiiight.  He replied, "If you wait until I finish class, I'll go with you."  Great.  Now I had to go.  At the gym he ran and biked in intervals.  I stayed on the elliptical praying he would finish soon - the longest 60 minutes of my life.

When he graduated and left college, I cried.  He had become my go-to friend, not to mention, the gigantic crush I had on him.  As we hugged good-bye, he gave me a playful kick and told me he wasn't going to hug me because he knew he'd see me again.

That summer I started to care about my appearance and decided it was time to do something about it.  I began to run outside around my parent's neighborhood.  On days it was hotter than 90 degrees, I still ran.  Slowly I noticed a change.

During my senior year of college, I continued going to the gym and paying attention to what I ate.  It helped to have my best friend from high school live with me.  She had recently dropped 40 lbs and I was proud and happy for her, mixed with a little jealousy.  Throughout the year I regularly weighed myself.  At times I would be stuck on a number for what felt like a month.

204 ... 198 ... 192 ... 191 ... 188 ... 182 ... 178

Like he promised, my crush and I still hung out on the weekends.  We talked regularly through AIM and email.  When I graduated, he was there to help me celebrate.  I couldn't take being "just friends" any longer. 

We've been dating for almost three years now and he is still my best friend.  My weight has settled around 165 lbs., about 10 lbs. less that what he weighs.  Sometimes it really bothers me, other times I don't even think about it. 

Taken at a friend's wedding in August 2010, 3 weeks before we completed the Virginia Beach Rock 'n Roll 1/2 Marathon

I want to continue on my weight loss journey.  I want to get to the point where weight isn't an obsession.  I want to put on clothes and not think, "you look fat!"  I want to stop having a negative body image.

Every New Year's Eve I make the same resolution:  Make healthier decisions and lose weight.
Every January, I buy a new bathing suit and give myself 6 months to get in it.
Every August, I tell myself "there's always next summer".

... and so goes the cycle. 

I recently put all of the bathing suits I have "collected" in my Goodwill pile.  I've already bought my goal suit for the year - ironic that it arrived on April 15th???

Like my Mom said, "WOW! St. Thomas?!?!? If that isn't a big carrot being dangled in front of you!"  I agree.

I want that carrot!  I want even more to stick to something and tell myself I can.  I want to get rid of the negative feelings about my appearance.  So here we go!  I've found that of all the weight loss programs, Weight Watchers is the most reasonable.  I can eat what I want and exercise to earn back points so I can eat more! 

I'm not going to quit this time!

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