So many associate thinness with happiness - me included. But it's taken me falling so far down the health mountain to realize that even at my thinnest and healthiest I wasn't really that happy.
Growing up I had my chunky-going-through-puberty-freshman-15-moments, however, I always managed to lean out and stay fit.
I probably helped that I was a swimmer at heart who thrived on competition.
In college I hit the pool five days a week - two of those preceded by an hour of kickboxing.
I held down a full class load, two jobs and two internships. Sleep and food were rare if not always fast.
When I graduated college in 2001 I weighed approximately 135 pounds and wore a size 6-8, sometimes a 4.
I was in the best shape of my life, yet I didn't feel pretty or attractive at all - mainly because I didn't have a thick enough skin.
I always attracted those guys - you know the ones that if you don't put out after a few dates find a way to cut you loose by cutting you down.
Let's see.... One guy told me my boobs weren't big enough, another said I wasn't hot enough to impress his friends, and one said I was an 8 but the fact I didn't put out made me a 2.
Bad as those may have been it was a comment made by a very close relative of mine that to this day - 9 years later - still affects me the most.
We were perusing a local shopping center, having what I thought was a great time, when out of the blue said relative looked over at me in my t-shirt, jeans and flip flops and exclaimed (as though she had just witnessed Cloris Leachman and Bea Arthur sunbathing nude)
"My word Kristy! Look at that belly on you! That is not attractive. No man is going to want a women with a belly like that."
Please reference paragraph 7 of this blog.
I was 135 pounds and a size 6-8. I was primarily muscle.
The force of her words hit me so hard I felt as though I'd been hit in the chest by a Grizzly bear who'd just been waxed.
Wow! If this relative, whose opinion I always valued, who I looked up to, felt this way about me then now what?
It was around this time - college graduation - that I now recognize was my first encounter with depression and all that comes with it.
I lived in a town where I had no friends, had a job I hated, my closest relatives constantly criticized my weight and the ultimate breaking point - I was betrayed by one of the few people I knew in the area.
And so the cycle began. I ate because I was sad. I was sad because I ate. I slept because I hated to be alone and I was alone because I slept all the time and failed to get out and make friends.
By the time I snagged a new job near my hometown a year later I had gained 20 pounds and was a size 10. However, I didn't look unhealthy. In fact, given my Sicilian heritage the weight only made me a little more curvy and a lot more busty.
I eventually settled in at a comfortable 160 pounds, which I maintained for about two years.
In 2004 I married my husband and given that he worked crazy day hours and I worked crazy night hours, what little free time we had we spent not at the gym or outdoors but well...eating.
Both of us were usually too tired to cook and so we paid someone else to do it for us.
With a year I was pushing 175 and fitting into a comfortable size 14. Yet I still didn't feel unattractive - unless I was around that certain relative who felt the need to always point out my growing extremities. (She once asked my mother if I was going to fit into my wedding dress by the time the ceremony came around)
Upon our 1-year-anniversary I unexpectedly because pregnant with our son David.
Complications from a medication I'm on, helped push my weight up to 245 at it's highest during my pregnancy. I was so swollen I was literally unrecognizable.
(When I was 8 months pregnant a wife of a former coworker of my husbands once looked at our wedding photo and asked who was in the picture with Robert. Being the grumpy pregnant lady I was, I promptly said "Oh that's just Robert's first wife. I like to keep a picture of their wedding photo to remind him of how good he has it now")
Luckily, with a combination of sleepless nights, breastfeeding, walking and scattered eating I soon found myself back to 170 and a size 12/14 within just two months of David's birth.
It didn't last long.
Soon I found myself on a roller coaster of craziness where every time I thought things were slowing to a stop life would throw me another loop-de-loop.
A family emergency, expensive house repairs, two grandparent deaths 5 days apart and two 90 day patrols shocked me so hard they left me numb.
I felt like I was repeating that first year out of college, only this time I sank deep into this bout of depression faster than a toddler sinks into a pack of unattended oreos.
A new found embarrassment of my body - which was pushing into a tight 14 and tipping 190 on the scale- kept me from going to the gym (what would people think of my poor husband seeing his fat wife, workout clothing was uncomfortable, my knees hurts too much... my back)
When you are in that lonely place you will find any excuse to shelter yourself from the outside.
Food was my comfort and so was sleep. The bigger I got the more angry I got and more angry I got the more I pushed the people who truly cared about me away.
How Robert didn't leave me during this dark time is any one's guess. Work must have seemed like a four-star resort compared to the firing range he came home to. Forget nitpicking - I was full on hurling grenades. Nothing was good enough or made me happy enough. If he said the wrong thing the wrong way, watch out.
Depression had made me paranoid about who I could trust and to me trust is everything.
Finally things came to a head between us where for the first time in our 5-year marriage we found ourselves in a huge shouting match where I told him to leave.
Luckily I still had some wonderful friends who recognized I was emotionally drowning and fought against my emotional tidal waves to help rescue me.
Deb,Beth and Melissa D listened and helped me keep focused on the one hobby I still had - crocheting - encouraging me to keep going with Moose Threads despite being uninspired.
Shannon W and Katie forced me to get out of the house by inviting me to the park, lunch, playdates - anything.
Jessica stayed up with me online through all hours of the night letting me vent and talk through a lot of the turmoil that was going on inside me.
And Karen - thank god for Karen - worked her schedule to allow me to start seeing a therapist every month.
I was so lucky I had this support system because right in the middle of my climb out of my dark emotional pit I almost lost my grip.
A trip home and another encounter with this particular relative -who I always want so badly to please- was like ramming head on into a Mac Truck.
With me tipping the scales at 220 pounds - my highest non-pregnancy weight - and busting out of a size 16 - I was a great target for a lot of jabs.
Although I had started therapy and was feeling better I wasn't prepared for comments like:
"Pull your pants up you look like a plumber. Why don't you find pants that fit?"
"Do you really think you should be eating that?"
"I thought you were losing weight, it doesn't look like it."
But the real kicker was aimed toward my parenting skills
"Do yourself a favor and don't have any more children. Focus on the one you have because he's obviously a child you have difficulty with."
Later that night Robert - who could see I was in distress- tried to lighten my mood by asking if this relative was walking around here on earth who was running hell.
This was in February of 2009.
Now I don't want to give this relative credit for pushing me back into the gym but in a way they did.
I wanted so badly to prove them wrong. To show them that I was stronger than the heavy words they piled on me all the time.
Though I was embarrassed and my workout clothes consisted of my brother's old t-shirts and sweat pants by March I managed to return to the gym.
I didn't really know what to do and workouts consisted mainly of 30 minute sessions on the elliptical.
But this was BJAD - Before Janice and Deb.
It was meeting these two amazing women that truly changed the way I look at myself.
To be continued......