Well, I had recently blogged about how I was losing weight because so many of my “readers” were asking what my secret was. At the same time one of my favorite authors, Jen Lancaster, was holding a weight loss story contest to coincide with the release of her new book about her weight struggles. I entered a shortened version of what my blog said into a pool of thousands of adoring fans thinking “hey I tried!” Today, I saw she posted the winners (one from her MySpace entries, one via emails, and one from her website) and started to read the first story. After a sentence or two I thought “hmm this sounds a lot like me!” It was!! I was the MySpace winner!!! I won an autographed copy of her not yet released book, Such a pretty fat! If you ever what a laugh out loud until your sides hurt book(s) let me know and you can borrow her first two books (Bitter is the new black or how not to wear a Prada bag to the unemployment office & Bright Lights Big Ass or how life sucks in the city.) I am cutting and pasting her post below.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

You All Deserve a Hug

When I started reading the contest entries, I was drinking a diet iced tea. Five hours, six iced lemon cookies, two mint patties, and one dark chocolate/creme brulee square later (not nearly as good as it sounds), I’ve finally finished and I’ve picked the winners.

However, as it is both my obligation and right to Milk It for a moment, I want to make a couple of points first.

Not to go Miss America all over your asses, but I wish I could send you each a book for participating. I’m blown away that between all the entries I received via MySpace, Jennsylvania, and email, not one of them was anything less than sincere and brutally honest. If you guys haven’t actually read the entries – which I’ll admit I often skip on other people’s blogs – I encourage you to do so. You’ll be sucked in for
hours.

Also, I loved how I could identify with so many of your stories, like having my pants fall down at Target? Totally been there. Waxing poetic over foil-wrapped Ding Dongs? Oh, hell yes. Experiencing the aftermath of cabbage soup? It’s an incident I’d prefer not to recall, yet it happened anyway. Eating donuts out of the garbage? Technically I haven’t been there, but only because the opportunity hasn’t yet presented itself. (What’s funny is that I’m such the Paranoid Safety Queen and I won’t even look at strangers yet one time when some random person offered me a menu with a bag of cookies stapled on the front, I inhaled them without even chewing.) (I didn’t say it was a proud moment.)

A number of you had entries that broke my heart, like Lisa H. and Boo and JP, yet you found ways to ultimately deliver an uplifting message. I bet by sharing your stories, you all end up helping more people
than you ever realized. Some of you simply killed me with your humor, like Lindsay Selders, Kelly J., Jennifer Moore, and Gail M. by delivering lines about radioactive sandwiches and having bra cups people could live in. You all rock.

OK, enough, I need to get to the results. The winner on the MySpace side of the contest is Shannon who tells this story:

I am nearly 5’9″ and in my eyes had struggled with weight all my life, but looking back at old pictures it wasn’t weight, but curves that I had. It wasn’t until I had three children that the true yo-yo of my weight began. Also, having bed rest my entire last pregnancy, add in the fact that I was having an elephant for a baby and my age the pounds never wanted to go away.

Almost 2 years after having my youngest, my husband joined the Marines so I decided not to look like the Stay-puffed Marshmallow Man when he returned. So between diet, exercise and stress I was the weight was down to a respectable 150. We went on to be stationed in New Orleans.

I floated within 10lbs of that weight until October 2003, when a medication I was given to combat anxiety and depression reacted badly with my body. I gained 40 lbs in water in 3 days. You couldn’t see my toes, could put on shoes it was horrible. The doctors aren’t
sure what happened but it reeked havoc on my body. The depression of this and other factors at my life at the time caused me to stress eat.

This stress/self medicating eating ballooned me up to 262lbs. I hated myself. I wouldn’t go anywhere without having a panic attack. I was lost on many levels, and all of my own doing. Plus, how can you not eat and drink in a city founded on that very thing! In late 2004, I got a job requiring a lot of walking and dropped to 245 which began to help. On to our next duty station, North Carolina.

John got transferred for training in California. I was alone with a toddler in a town with no family or friends. I stressed but this time I
dropped to 215 instead of stress eating I was stress fasting (both are very bad for you). When Katrina hit I stressed to a whole new level, 206.

In December 2005, I was unjustly fired from my job in North Carolina. I didn’t deal with the rejection well, but instead turned to writing to vent instead of as many boxes of cookies. By the time May 2006 arrived and we knew for certain we were moving back to Ohio I had reached 225 and thanks to enjoying one last summer at the ocean.

I never could break the 200’s though, This would frustrate me so I would yo-yo eat. This combined with coming home to John’s family who love to cook I got up to 242. I felt defeated, so I took my self loathing internally. I would dress crappy because I felt I deserved it for being overweight.

Then in December 2007 I had a break through. While watching How to look good naked, I realized that size doesn’t matter, it is the glow from within that speaks volumes. Instead of doing plan to start dieting when the new year approached, I would give myself the best
Christmas present: The permission to love myself, not diet, and to live every moment as fabulous as I could. I began wearing makeup again and getting my hair done. I started taking the time to dress nice for work and for play. I just let myself be happy on the inside and outside.

On December 27 I got on the scale at 235, took my measurements then recorded them and decided I am ok with that. If that is weight I am meant to be so be it. I wouldn’t starve myself, but I wouldn’t kill myself with junk and fast fried foods. I would love my body and show it I loved it by stopping the things that were bad for me. This included my diet coke addition, sitting down and eating a giant bowl of brownie sundae. I would hydrate myself with good things like water and vitamins. I would also not deprive myself. If I felt like a piece of chocolate I could eat it, no guilt, no beating myself up.

Which leads me to today, I am 215. Why? Because I stopped the inside hatred of myself. It was like my mind and body had been at a long and hard battle for so long by calling a peace treaty gave immeasurable (and much needed) relief to my system. I let 20lbs of hatred, 15 inches of loathing off my hips, and 8 inches off my waist of fear all go.

Do I still have bad days where I hate my body? Sure, I am human, but I deal with it directly and stop it in its tracks rather then try and mask it with a box of Twinkies. I realize that the mood like time, will pass and life will go on.

Well told, Shannon.

For the email/website
entries, I picked Elizabeth with this story:

My mom was diagnosed with cancer when I was a little girl. And since we belonged to a close knit church and community, any time she was hospitalized, we were overwhelmed with casseroles.

And she was hospitalized A LOT. Over the course of several year. These friends automatically sought to please the three kids in the home, so most of the casseroles involved cheese, potato chips, cheese, mayo, and more cheese. Mmmm. I never noticed my weight because my brothers and I were involved in a lot of activities to “distract us.” But the problems started when I hit puberty at 9.


Suddenly, while my older brothers were trying to gain weight for wrestling, mine was sticking, even with sports and dance. Still, I don’t think anyone was worried, and seriously, who is going to stop a little girl who has a dying mom from having a bowl of ice cream after dinner?

My mom died when I was 11, and if I thought we had a “friends bringing food by” problem before, this event multiplied it by 100. Friends and neighbors filled both our fridges, and implemented a plan to keep us fed for 2 months, making sure the widower with little cooking experience could keep his kids alive.

At this time, I also became a latchkey eater…I mean kid. With no one home to supervise my snacking, I’d pour a bowl of doritos, eat them all, pour another and hide it behind a pillow on my bed (those grease stains never came out by the way) so I could munch in secret while I did homework. Occasionally I’d mix it up with a bowl of ice cream, or a large candy bar. I’d decided to take a break from activities for awhile because I wasn’t into it. Obviously, I realize now that was eating to mask my grief.

One day, about 4 months after my mom died, my dad looked at me and saw an eleven year old who was already wearing a B (almost C) cup, and whose pudge couldn’t be explained by baby fat anymore. Since I was the youngest and the only girl, he didn’t know much about raising a girl through through puberty. But he knew enough that he wanted me to be healthy and happy and he had to do something. Although people are kind of appalled at what he did now, I still am grateful for it.

He asked me to weigh myself. And when I told him how much I weighed, he told me he thought I was getting too heavy for my body type and height, and offered me $2 for every pound I lost. And in 1990 when my only income was very sporadic babysitting, that was a huge motivator. (To be honest, when he put the stakes out, my first thought was, “that’s a lot of Sweet Valley High books!”).

I discovered my bike again, started eating carrot sticks, and switched out my two regular sodas for one diet one. I skipped desserts, and took long post dinner walks with my dad. And it worked! I slimmed down to a weight that was appropriate. And I got to forge a much closer relationship with my dad…one that I still rely on today. I helped him lose weight too, encouraging him to cut out the sugar in his coffee and those big candy bars I used to steal from him.
My weight still fluctuates, but I attribute the healthier lifestyle that I lead to what happened in that difficult time. I give props to my dad, who although he could never fathom taking me shopping for a bra or other “girl” stuff, made a decision about/for me that helped change my life.
In fact, he still makes weight loss bets with my brothers and I. He won big for his own wedding, and we’re now setting new stakes. It’s $5 a pound now, but the losers have to pay the winner. I’m aiming to get at least $50 from him this time…18 years
later.

Elizabeth, is it weird for me to tell you I’m proud of you?

Before I decided the winners tonight, I made a quick grocery run because Fletch has contracted my Pan Asian Death Flu. And as I cruised the aisles shopping for soup and juice, I couldn’t get Jennifer from Tempe’s story out of my head. It goes like this:

If you’re looking for some quality self abuse, take the exercise class I did last night.

Innocently titled 20/20/20, this class involves 20 minutes of cardio, 20 minutes of toning and 20 minutes of core training. I figured, Hey, I can do 20 minutes of anything! And since it was held at the local park district, I stupidly assumed that it
wouldn’t be too bad.

Well, after I met my perky instructor (i.e., The Nazi) Maria, I realized how my assumptions may very well kill
me.

She started us off with the cardio. Now, keep in mind, the
woman standing in front of me was probably about 60 and there were people of all sizes and ages. But that didn’t stop Maria from bringing her A game. Well, I THINK it was her A game, but I’m actually not clear on what happened after the first five minutes because I blacked out. The goal was to quickly get your heart rate up – but it didn’t work for me because my heart instantly exploded, popped out of my body and skidded halfway across the shiny gym floor before coming to a stop in front of one of the two men in the class. Luckily, his heart had already burst out of his body as well, so he didn’t mind, as he was passed out on his mat. And The Nazi DIDN’T EVEN BREAK A SWEAT. Nor did the 60-year-old. Go figure.


I finally came to when we started on the toning section of
the workout. The only good thing about this part was the entertainment value. We used long rubber bands in varying colors (each color offered different tension. I selected an imaginary one, because I don’t need any more tension in my life.)
And The Nazi didn’t tell anyone what the levels were, nor how to properly use them. So as we were going through the 10 different ways to pull a muscle, people were dropping like flies. Even better, as the 20 minutes passed, you would hear SNAP and then “Ow!” throughout the room. Turns out the bands were a little old, and that, combined with our inexperience with using them, meant that the bands were snapping mid pull and hitting people in the face. Great fun!

I must say that my favorite part was the core training section. That’s probably because we got to lay down for most of it. If I could figure out a way to do cardio without getting up or getting naked, I would. It was just too bad that every part of my body was shaking from the previous 40 minutes of exertion, so my core work looked more like a seizure than the smooth fluid movements The Nazi was expecting.

After it was all over, The Nazi had the gall to suggest that we eat something when we get home “Have some trail mix, cottage cheese or some yogurt. I’m going to have some delicious salmon myself.” Look lady – two people died in your class tonight – I’m going home and eating half a pie and then wash it down with a milk shake. Salmon, my ass.

And
this was THE FIRST CLASS. Only nine more to go. I can’t wait.

I have one extra book. And Jennifer from Tempe is getting it because her snapping bands made me snort up and down the aisles.

Shannon, Jennifer, Elizabeth, please send me your mailing addresses and I’ll get your books out tomorrow(ish.)

And the rest of you? Give yourselves a round of applause (or a cookie if you prefer) because you deserve it.