Hi! I’m Jess. I’m 25 and I live just outside Boston with my husband of one year. I teach 8th grade history for a living and spend my free time with my husband, seeing friends, playing the piano, exercising, and cooking.
My husband and me at his birthday dinner
Inactive and Unhappy
My story with my weight, eating, and fitness is a long one. As a kid, I was virtually inactive and had no understanding of what healthy eating was. I was the kid who forged my parents’ signatures so that I didn’t have to participate in gym class. In short, I did everything I could to avoid exercise! I didn’t know much about healthy eating, either. My sister, brother, and I lived with my single, working mom, who was not home much to make us healthy meals. Instead, we had a live-in housekeeper who made us meals like hamburgers and French fries. Going to school where kids were really mean, I became very self-conscious and uncomfortable in my own skin.
This lifestyle of poor eating choices and lack of exercise continued through high school. The concept of “eat when hungry, stop when full” was a foreign concept. I loved eating sweets of all kinds and various processed foods. I didn’t like how I looked and would sometimes try little diets (as early as age 14!) to lose weight. I remember secretly buying diet pills on one occasion and Slim Fast on another. No diet really helped me shed the weight I so badly wanted to lose. At my heaviest, I weighed about 145 to 150 pounds.
Forays into Dieting
Sensing my unhappiness with my body, my mom offered to pay for me to go to Weight Watchers towards the end of my senior year of high school. I lost about 25 pounds in two months, reaching an all-time low of 120 pounds. I would only eat food I prepared at home, eating the same meal every day and meticulously planning and counting every point. I also started running on the treadmill in our basement every other day. I was so obsessed with weight loss that I even continued running on a sprained ankle. I looked gaunt and had started develop an even more awful relationship with food, but I felt better than I ever had before. I would say that this is when my “all or nothing” approach to food and fitness really became entrenched.
Not surprisingly, I couldn’t maintain this lifestyle. Once I went away to college, I gained back all of the weight. Even though my eating habits took a turn for the worse, I never stopped exercising. It’s a good thing I continued this healthy habit because I would have gained a lot more weight otherwise. I would be “good” for maybe four days a week and “bad” the rest. This is when my problem with bingeing developed, probably as a result of this restrictive eating I subjected myself to. My all-time highest weight was close to 150 pounds, when I was studying abroad in Spain my junior year. I couldn’t stand the way I looked and hated my body.
Losing the Weight for Good
I rejoined Weight Watchers when I returned from Spain. I found a wonderful Saturday morning group where I was welcomed so warmly and I instantly felt like I’d found a place where I belonged. The leader is a wonderful woman and not only helps us find a healthy lifestyle that leads to healthy weight loss, but also teaches wonderful life lessons about discovering your own uniqueness. Going to these meetings taught me that it’s important to value myself, give myself the time I need for myself, and to speak to myself as if I were my best friend. Learning to think and see myself differently helped me to made the changes I needed to lose weight. It took over one and one-half years to reach my goal weight of about 132 pounds. Even though I managed to lose weight, I continued bingeing once or twice a week. It was clear to me that I still had more work to do.
Since then, maintaining this weight has been a struggle. I generally maintain a weight of between 136 and 139 pounds. As more time goes on, I am able to realize that a three-pound range is very healthy and reasonable.I know I look great; I am toned and have a nice figure. On my wedding day last summer, I was in incredible shape and felt beautiful. I’m still working on accepting my body and my weight. Until recently, I was still counting Weight Watchers’ points. I was still weighing myself somewhat regularly. Basically, I still had a diet mentality. I’m working on ditching this outlook on food and my body and establishing one where I wholly respect and accept my body for what it is and what it can do.