I got to thinking about the home videos I digitized from back in 1999, and how the first thing that pops into my mind when I see that image of myself is how fat I was. I was 23 years old, in a stable relationship, living with a roommate who had become my best friend, spending the holidays with my family, generally happy overall — and all I can see now, looking back, is my weight.
That’s sad on so many levels…
It’s sad that I seem to feel that the biggest and most obvious difference in myself from then to now is my weight. Sure, I do notice my vocal patterns of the time (highly influenced by Amy), and I see that my personality had finally gelled to pretty much who I am today. But the giant, round face really takes me by surprise, because that’s not who I am anymore.
It’s also sad that, in the supposed prime of my life, I didn’t care enough about myself to take better care of my health. Drum corps was my annual weight loss program from 1995 to 1997 (as was marching band before that); I’d lose almost 20 pounds every summer, and get tanned and toned. (My corps compatriots had similar experiences.) By the following summer, I would have gained the weight back, and the cycle continued.
After I aged out at age 21 in 1997, I did no physical activity at all. I did walk a decent amount, being on campus and all, but I can count the times I visited the Rec Center on one hand. I would eat not only standard Dining Services fare on-campus, but Myles’ pizza and Pollyeyes’ stuffed breadsticks and Taco Bell and canned spaghetti and all the other standard college fare. I gained 25 pounds (if not more) in just two years. I didn’t own a scale, so I think I only weighed myself when I went home for the holidays? Maybe Aaron had a scale, so I could weigh myself on the weekends. At any rate, it wasn’t something I thought about very often.
And I should have. I really should have. My knees didn’t just hurt; they would sometimes swell up and even give out on me on occasion. I chalked that up to old drum corps injuries, even when the doctor at the Student Death Center — er, sorry, Student Health Center — could only give me an Ace bandage and tell me to lose weight by swimming or biking.
What should have been another awakening was this scenario: In 2001, my last year of college, one of my senior-level classes involved a group project, where we pretended like we were a media production company and developed all the trappings: website, corporate identity specifications, a demo reel, things like that. My group decided, as a PR piece for our website, to take a group photo with our arms folded in an aggressive style. To my chagrin, I realized I was incapable of actually folding my arms across my chest (or even under my “chest”). The best I could do was kind of wrap my arms around my front and exude the appropriate haughty look. It was embarrassing, but apparently not enough to jump-start me into a weight-loss program.
Not until late 2003, after Aaron and I saw our wedding pictures, did either of us decide to actively lose weight. Well, I had thought about losing weight before the wedding, sure, but it didn’t actually happen. I lost about five pounds from eliminating Mountain Dew and macaroni from my diet before Aaron declared his intention to go on Atkins. I gladly joined him in his quest, and he acted as my source of willpower for several months afterward. Finally, he lost sixty pounds, and I lost fifty, and we both reached 200 pounds. He decided then that he was going to enter the Maintenance phase of our Way Of Eating, and even though I still had 20 pounds to lose, I opted to “take a break” from dieting and go on Maintenance myself.
I never got back on the wagon.
I slowly gained back ten pounds of the fifty I’d lost, and I then lost that ten again, plus another five. Then I found out I was pregnant, and had to stop dieting. Ten weeks later, I found out I was no longer pregnant, and was in no mood to diet, although my weight returned to my post-Atkins 200 pounds. Eight months after that, I was unemployed, and the lack of routine and the sudden availability of all the food in the house, all day long, caused me to give up on healthy eating and fitness and gain my ten pounds back in two months.
Now it’s time to get back on the wagon. I have thirty pounds to lose in total (forty would be nice), and I’ve waited long enough.
Wouldn’t it be nice if, when I’m 35 or 40, I look back on video and pictures of me now and feel the same way I do now at age 31, looking back at myself at age 23?