I like to think I’ve made some healthy progress since New Year’s Day 2011, my 38th birthday, when I shoveled approximately two days worth of calories into my mouth courtesy of a slice of The Cheesecake Factory’s Red Velvet Cheesecake (aka, every fat girl’s one true love). I looked across the table at my husband and said, “This is my last hoorah. After today, I’m gonna start losing weight.” Of course, that was like the eleventy-billionth time I’d said that during my lifetime. Anyone who’s been around long enough knows, I’ve always been heavy. My mother probably never thought that “Fat” and “Nat” would roll off the tongues of little kids so easily. Perhaps it was a self-fulfilling prophecy…or more likely, just really bad genes from my biological father’s side of the family coupled with poor eating habits–I have still to this day never met a Little Debbie snack cake I didn’t like. I was heavy as a toddler and little kid when it was cute to have chunky thighs and squishy little cheeks. I was chubbier in 3rd grade when kids started to get mean and thought it was funny to pick on me, call me names, and push me down. Then I just got fat which was really a great add-on to those awkward looking pre-teen and teen years. I went on my first real diet when I was in the 6th grade. In case you were wondering, a low-fat, low-sugar, low-calorie, low-taste, doctor-mandated diet that relies heavily on fat-free cottage cheese and alfalfa sprouts as a “nutritious filler” does earn you the moniker of MOST POPULAR GIRL EVER!!…NOT! So, imagine you’re playing in the big field hockey game (yes, I was the “fat goalie”) and your team wins the big game and wants to celebrate on the long bus ride home by stopping at the McDonald’s for a Big Mac, fries, and a hot apple pie, and the coach announces to you and the team that you can’t stop because “fat goalie” is on a special diet and there’s nothing she can eat at McDonald’s. I may have quite possibly been the original, and supreme, Debbie Downer! Since that time, I’ve been on every diet known to man and woman. Short of establishing a hearty cocaine or meth addiction to curb my appetite, I’ve done everything possible to lose weight, and until recently, I’d subsequently replaced every pound lost with two pounds gained back.
Anyone who’s been through it knows it’s a vicious cycle and I hope anyone reading this who gets it… well, I dedicate this blog post to you and want you to know I feel a tremendous amount of solidarity with your struggle. What??? Did someone out there say she doesn’t understand what I’m talking about?? Well then, you skinny bitch…why don’t you just slip into your size XS jeggings and your cute little knee-high boots that fit over your delicate feminine calves without any problems and sashay on out of here! Oh yeah, and go eat a cheeseburger combo while you’re at it–and supersize it!
Sorry. Where was I?? Oh, yeah…
So on January 2, 2011, I started…for real! I started by really taking serious notice of just how fat I’d gotten. It’s funny how you can convince yourself that you still look ok, even though you’re beginning to wonder why stores don’t make dress clothes and work attire in sweatpant material, and the number that you can barely see past your gut on the scale puts you into The Biggest Loser territory. I’m a huge fan of that show and have always looked at the fat contestants as they weigh-in, barely dressed in their spandex shorts and sport bras and thought, “I don’t look like that. My weight is more evenly distributed.” Or, “I just have really fat wrists.” Or…“Eeeewww. She has really nasty feet and should have gotten a pedicure before coming on the show.” And then my own reality hit… I was walking to work down a crowded Baltimore street. There was a huge plate glass window and I caught a glimpse of my profile reflection and stopped dead in my tracks. I was certain it was one of those funhouse kind of tricks where your reflection looks oddly warped. But then I noticed the others that continued walking past, and glaring at me like I was nuts, and their reflections all looked the same as they did in real life. Sweet Juvenile Diabetic Baby Jesus!! I looked like I was smuggling two Thanksgiving turkeys in my back pockets. If Oprah has “a-ha” moments then this was a “my-ass-is-the-size-of-an-aircraft-carrier-and-something-needs-to-be-done-about-it-STAT” moment.
So I actually lost 30 pounds pretty quickly…oddly, by eating a fair amount of turkey (and other lean proteins, and walking a lot)! It was so easy, I was sure I was doing something wrong and I’d gain it back in no time. I wasn’t perfect and my weight fluctuated a bit after that, but I definitely haven’t had any serious reversals of fortune since then. I did, however, plateau and didn’t lose any weight for almost 9 months. Then January 2012 rolled around and my crazy friend (who has since become my running sister and daily source of motivation) thought it would be a good idea to run a 5K. 5K?!?! That was just crazy talk. Fat girls don’t run 5K. Plus, I had a very strict rule: I WILL ONLY RUN IF I AM BEING CHASED! And even employing that rule, there was always a very good chance that I’d just give up and face a certain mugging and maiming, or possibly horrible and pre-mature death! Reluctantly, I agreed (fat girls are notorious for being “pleasers”) and after 3.5 months of training, I ran a 5K…and since then, I haven’t stopped. Even with some struggles and huge life changes over the past year or so, I’ve lost another 12 lbs and hope to keep slowly losing the weight…and run a 1/2 marathon!
Sounds pretty good, right?!? Lots of progress! Feeling good! Looking good! Way to Go! Yeah, well…cut to today. Walking out of the hotel that’s hosting the conference I’m attending, and always the vision of grace, I slipped on some rainwater that had collected. Like a veteran Rockette, my right leg came up above my head and I came crashing to the ground. Oh, did I mention I was wearing a dress?!?!?! I’ll give you a moment to work up a nice, colorful mental image of that. Let me help you out…the dress was blue, my flats were nude patent leather with a cute little buckle, and my hair was parted to the left…and the dress, well, it collected nicely right around my waist as I came to a full and complete stop on the sidewalk.
When you stop laughing, I’ll go on…ready? Ok.
So there I was, sitting on the wet, cold concrete unable to get up because I was so afraid that I was showing everybody my lady business. Immediately, these two, proper southern gentlemen who were smoking cigarettes and had watched the whole thing happen, came to my aid. The one man offered me his hand to help me get up and the other picked up my bag and bottle of water and asked if I was hurt (I will add that throughout our entire encounter he kept that cigarette pursed squarely between his lips–what a multi-tasker). As I righted myself and tried to determine if I’d hurt myself or not, I realized that I’d actually landed pretty softly on my left cheek. So feeling pretty embarrassed, I tried to make light of the situation (fat girls also use humor as a defense mechanism)…
Cigarette man [puffing away]: ” You ok? You didn’t hurt yourself, did ya?”
Me: “Yeah, no. I think I’m ok. I landed on my butt. Plenty of cushion there.”
Cigarette man: “Ya sure do.”
Me [feeling more embarrassed]: “I was more concerned that I gave you all a show and you could see my underwear!”
Cigarette man: “From what I could tell…you isn’t wearing any. Heh, just kiddin’!!”
Guy that helped me up [flatly]: “No. She is.”
And… end scene with me slipping back into the hotel to dry off and the two of them chuckling and finishing their smokes. I went into the hotel bathroom and found myself surrounded by walls of mirrors. As I took a good look at myself, I giggled about what had just happened (chalk up another clumsy moment for Nattie), and realized that while I may be nowhere near finished with this weight-loss and fitness journey I’m on, I have come a long way!!! Because even dirty and wet…my ass still looked pretty good in that dress!!