My blog is a confessional today.
I have fallen off the wagon, in a way. I've been struggling to get back on for about a year and, as I've struggled, I've become more and more unhappy with myself. But I'm fairly good about seeing a bad situation and, rather than staying in it, I find a way out instead. I brainstormed this morning, and I realized that my blog could help me. So I start today in turning things around, and I start here so that I can hold myself accountable, document my new journey, and glean some inspiration. Today, I'm going to start with sharing my story.
I've alluded to it a couple of times on the blog before, but I'll really get into it today. I've always struggled with my weight. My 8th grade graduation was awful: the dress I bought a couple months before suddenly didn't fit; I couldn't button it up and my mom had to do a quickie pin job. And it went from there. I felt fattest of all my friends in high school...I binge-ate...I tried bulimia (but failed)... College wasn't much better: vegetables hardly ever passed my lips, and I had a weakness for Velveeta and Snackwell's cookies. The Soul Twin and I used to share an entire tub of fat-free chocolate frosting in front of the TV, criticizing "those bitches" who had better metabolism than us, justifying the frosting binge since it was "fat-free". I admit this with shame, of course, but I don't know that I would change a thing; it was cumulated moments like that that helped me get where I am now. Anyway...
My pregnancy at 25 didn't help. I loved Arby's. I loved mozzarella sticks at Red Robin's. I gained 60 pounds and, by the time I gave birth, I was 200 pounds. At 5'5", that's not a small amount. And the struggle went on...
For 17 years, I was a size 10 at my best...a size 14/16 at my most heavy. Some of you reading this may scoff at that and say something like, "I wish I could be a 10...or even a 14." And that's your personal struggle. For me, though, at that weight, I don't feel good. I don't feel healthy. I don't feel sexy. I don't feel like I'm at my best. And that's a problem.
FRENCH WOMEN DON'T GET FAT by Mireille Guiliano. Again, scoff all you like, but that book changed my life. The very idea that I could eat full-fat, full-flavor food and lose weight at the same time? Revolutionary for me. I always sensed that I was doing it wrong, and what Mireille Guiliano was selling me seemed just right.
I threw myself into it - hook, line, and sinker - and I quickly (in about 3-4 months) went from a size 12 to a size 6. Without going to the gym. And without hardly stepping on the scale. And I was eating the best food of my life. This was in 2005. Ultimately, two years later, I was a size 4 (sometimes a size 2). And I never felt like I was skimping. As Mireille Guiliano says, I felt "bien dans ma peau" (which means to be comfortable in your own skin, to be happy with who you are) and all was well.
What I love(d) about FRENCH WOMEN DON'T GET FAT is that it promotes cooking and eating as a pleasurable experience, which probably doesn't seem all that revolutionary to most of you but it certainly was to me at the time. And as someone who has loathed and hated working out at the gym, the book also gave me permission to not go, pointing out that it is possible to eat pleasurably and sensibly and still lose weight, without the gym. Instead, I got to walk everywhere. I sought out the stairs (have you tried to find stairs in a suburban mall? It's damn-near impossible). I never left my grocery cart in the parking lot; I always walked it back to the store - I also parked in the furthest spot in every lot. FWDGF teaches you that every little bit of movement you do, every little bite or sip that you shave off of your meal counts. It's about subtlety and grace; nothing is ever extreme. All of this appealed to me, and it made me feel like I could be my Best Self.
But forward to today, and I'm off the French wagon. I've reached another "bottom". At least two-thirds of my closet is undeniably unwearable, thanks to my weight gain (I think I'm up 2 sizes or so...I still don't weigh myself). My proportion sizes are out of control. I drink too much. I hate pictures of myself. I don't feel sexy or pretty. I'm grumpy and short-tempered. I just don't feel bien dans ma peau. My French-ness has gotten away from me.
So that ends today. Here and now. And this blog is going to help me. Tomorrow I'm going to share my plan. Now that my story is out, I'm going to make my move to change it. It's not over yet.
Eat, drink, and feel bien dans votre peau.
ADDED NOTE: I should also add that Adam has gone on this journey with me. When I was 30, he was 32. At 6'5" he was 210 pounds, which was too heavy for him, as evidenced by his near-constant knee/hip/back pain that markedly decreased when he got down to 185 pounds, post-Frenchness. He has also fallen off the French wagon, as couples tend to do together, and we're recommitting together. Here we go!
Okay, first? I am so not going down the "Perspective, please!!" road, because hey, weight is an entirely personal issue and you feel what you feel, and that's completely valid. I will just say that you, my friend, are one of the most ridiculously beautiful women I know! The fact that you are stunning to begin with is merely the tip of the iceberg. Add in a gorgeous smile, one of the jolliest personalities it has been my privilege to know, smarts that just don't quit on a thousand different levels, AND a sense of style that would make Anna Wintour giggle like a schoolgirl, and you're like a Crack Den of Awesome. Be cranky all you want about the wardrobe issues or whatever, but never for a second should YOU be thinking you're anything other than exquisite in the looks/personality department. No lie! I have no other advice to give other than, "Cut that self-critical crap out! You rule!!" Okay, maybe some megadoses of Vitamin D for mood improvement, which seriously changed my own life. Hit me up if you want that info! Otherwise, you're perfect. :)
I really need a plan as well, and I, too, hate going to the gym (although I do it because I feel like I have to). Am right where you were--age 31, and a size 14/16. Please share your plan and keep posting--it will be so motivational for those of us who read your blog and want to come on this journey with you.
Camilla, you are a rock star and I love you! "Crack Den of Awesome"! I'm so using it! That said, it's not all about weight: it's just about feeling good, feeling your best. And you're right - that's so personal for every person. I just want to fit in my closet again and feel like I'm my best. And you're right about the self-criticism: I'm my biggest critic and that needs to stop.
Erin, you just gave a major shot of motivation. It can be done - I did it, I'll do it again, and so can you! I'll keep it up - and I'll be posting my plan tomorrow!
I'm rooting for you Laura. I made some changes last year and now at 41, I'm feeling better than I've ever felt. Don't fear rabbit holes, sometimes there's good stuff down deep. I'm looking forward to reading what's next.
I'm rooting for you as well, and with the warm weather fast approaching the east coast meaning lots of yummy fresh produce I may even come along for the ride.
I'm with you Laura. I downloaded "french women don't get fat" last night, just to understand the approach and follow along with your plan. A few years back I lost about 20 lbs and felt fantastic. I've since gained about 10 of it back and feel like I'm at risk of continuing the climb. I need to turn it back around, but how? With my wine bar about to open, my time to enjoy preparing meals at home has severely decreased, at a time when the amount of drinking has increased (it's work, right?). I'm so happy that you are posting and sharing your current struggles and to have you help motivate me to get my own body back to where I want it to be. Thank you!
Joe, you nailed it. It's all about feeling your absolute best, and that's such a personal thing for everyone. (And enormous congratulations to you! Feeling your best at 41 is an awesome accomplishment!)
Totally, Heather. We're at that time of year in the Northeast when I'd give my right arm for a warm peach or a fresh tomato! Almost here...almost...
Yes, Vanessa!!!! I think this could work out for you because FWDGF isn't really about depriving yourself of anything, which is important, I think, when you're at a major crossroads like yourself (a wine bar?!?! Where?! I'd love to stop by next time I'm in California!). And Guiliano doesn't even tell you that you need to cut out wine! 8-) Even if you don't have time to prepare an actual meal, I often find that several slices of apple, an AMAZINGLY flavorful cheese, and some fresh bread (plus a glass of wine, of course!) is one of the best meals out there. And it doesn't take more than 10 minutes or so to prepare. You can do it!
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