Fat Girl No More: How I Lost 50 Pounds

Two piles of “fat” clothes sit in garbage bags by my front door, waiting to get donated, like the two bags I ditched last week. It’s the end of an era.

I’ve been buying clothes lately, the last two weeks. It’s been emotional hell. I’m about a size 15 now (down from 22/24), and that makes me almost too big for most “normal” stores, and too small for “fat girl” stores. It’s been a bit of a chore.

It’s been hard, because getting to know your body when it’s not your body anymore, well, it’s a journey. I decided my judgment was shit, ultimately, as I found myself shopping emotionally and not critically, so I made the choice that anything I bought I’d put on ice until I went to a half-dozen or more stores, and then I would Assess and decide then what should be kept of all my purchases.

Well, today was assessment day. Several shirts are going back, as well as a beautiful fire-red winter coat, because they’re all too large.

At last weigh-in, three or four weeks ago, I was down 50 pounds. I’ve probably not lost anything since, or not much, and don’t care, because I continue to improve and change my ways, my clothes keep getting looser, and that’s my REAL goal, not a “number”. The real weight I think I’m down, though, is probably closer to about 85 pounds over the last 5 or so years. It’s 50+ this year alone.

I sit here typing in my “fat” Joe Boxer flannels, which I once couldn’t pull up over my thighs. Now, though, I can stretch the waist out by about eight inches. I roll ’em up so they don’t fall off. Today is the last time I ever wear them, but I’ll keep them as a reminder of How Bad It Once Got.

Part of the assessment today included gutting my closet for everything that doesn’t fit anymore, and trying on all the “goal” clothes I’ve bought in the last five years that, as recently as September, most still didn’t fit. Well. Today they do. Every single one. Some are loose. Too loose. I’m halfway in between beaming ear-to-ear and crying about all the pain and struggle it took to get here, and how proud I am I did this. By myself. The healthy, smart, hard-working, old-fashioned grunt-work kind of way, too. No supplements, no gym pass, no trainers, no weight loss support groups. Nothing. Common sense and work ethic. Period. It CAN be done. SAVE your money.

My annual staff Christmas party was last night. A good half of my coworkers have gained some weight this year, and they all spent the evening grilling me intermittently about how I lost my weight, what was it that changed and gave me success, since the last person at our office to pull it off went to three Weight Watcher meetings per week and worked out 90 minutes x 5 or 6 a week — a little unrealistic. So, in a nutshell, this is the secret to my success.

My doctor, he of common sense, said the secret of weight loss was “eat a little less, exercise a little more”. So I thought, “That’s what I’ll do.”

Since then, I’ve educated myself — very, very deliberately — on the consequence of food. I’m only NOW really trying to be healthy, so this year’s been mostly about portion control and just counting calories and keeping to under 2,000 per day. I’m fat-conscious, trying to stick to 60-80 grams a day, which isn’t yet low enough but it’s been working so far. I approximate, always rounding up and guessing high, because the average person underestimates their daily intake by 400 calories — the equivalent of a whole meal.

I realized at some point that every single calorie counts. You can tell yourself, “Well, a muffin’s a muffin” but when my homemade muffin is at 200 calories, and a storebought one’s between 500 and 700, and my fat’s 20% of the commercial offering, then, no, it’s not. I no longer buy commercial baked goods. Almost ever, meaning maybe once a month. Seriously. I don’t eat white flour, not because I’m all health-Nazi about it, but because it just doesn’t do good things for me now that I’ve changed so much. I almost never “drink” my calories. I figure, I’m allowed only 2,000, and I’d rather eat than drink. So, no pop, no juices, very little alcohol (maybe once every couple weeks), no lattes or fancy espresso bar drinks, except if they’re homemade latte with breakfast as an attempt to get extra calcium.

I don’t lie to myself. Just because you imagine something has fewer calories doesn’t mean your body’s going to be a sucker too, you know? Come on. Learn about it. Empower yourself. I know a McGriddle with a hash brown and apple juice will run me about 700 calories. But every now and then I feel like slumming it with a McGriddle. So what? I could deny myself, or I could give in, make up for it with a workout or rationing for the remainder of the day, but life’s short, man. I KNOW when I’m sinning, and I atone. Simple.

They’ll tell you knowledge is power. This is true of food. The more you understand about the science of nutrition and eating, the easier it is to think, “Wow, I can’t put that in me.” I love dark chocolate and cheeses, I have 8 kinds of cheese in my fridge right now — yet am down 50 pounds, so, yes, Virginia, you can lose weight and enjoy your cheese — but I understand what the quantities do to me. When it comes to chocolate, I just say no. The price is too high to pay, and I’m too weak, it’ll start a bad trend. The cheese, however, has health benefits, like calcium and protein. And while I whine about denial from time to time, the whining’s more playful in nature because knowing what I’m not putting into me is its own reward.

The success of dieting comes from reprogramming yourself, not “willpower”. It comes from making informed choices once you read labels and look for fat grams and calories. It comes from not buying foods that will require restraint once you stick them in your cupboards. It comes from saying “I have X calories I can eat today, and this will take up X % of my day. Is it worth it?

Know your challenges, then make them your bitch. Harder done than said, but isn’t ever”ything? When I started this journey, I knew it’d kick my ass. I warned family and friends that, this year, *I* come first. If I’m too tired on the weekend, I’m cancelling plans. Period. It ain’t personal, it’s business. To me, anyhow. That’s still the policy, and everyone understands. After all, seeing me shrink before their eyes is proof I’m doing good things with the time. They can’t even lose 10 pounds, and I’ve lost 50. Believe me, they get it. Ultimately, I’ve become a better person and a better friend. Though, I certainly have my burnt-out-cunt days, which are pretty impossible to avoid when you’re working this hard on life change in the weight loss realm.

Most importantly, weight loss success comes from getting off your ass and just getting it the fuck done. There ain’t no magic pill or secret-handshake or positive-thinking bullshit that’s going to take pounds off you. Sitting in the fucking sauna won’t melt it off you. It’s ALL work. It’s ALL hard. THAT IS THE POINT. It might wind up being the greatest, most-earned, most fought-for accomplishment you ever have.

I know mine is. I earned this shit. I deserve the pride and warm fuzzies I feel, along with the ear-to-ear grin I’ve worn the last hour now. Yes, I have. Every fucking reach-down-deep and push-on work-out, every chocolate bar I passed up, every cinnamon bun I’ve just said no to? Today? All worth it. All incredibly, beautifully, unbelievably worth it.

Learn about nutrition if you haven’t already. It could be the best gift you ever give yourself. You can start that journey at LiveStrong.com, a weight/health/lifestyle site created by Lance Armstrong that’ll empower you in ways you never imagined. Be the change you imagine. With a new year looming, now’s the time to get in the headspace to hit the ground running on January 1st. Get it the fuck done. If I can, anyone can.