Health at My Size

By Guest Blogger
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As we get closer to Health Weight Week, from January 19-25, we wanted to re-share one of our most popular guest blog posts from 2013. Kate from the blog “This Is Not a Diet, It’s My Life” writes about health at her size.

Hello, my name is Kate and I am a recovered yo-yo dieter.

not a diet

I have been losing and gaining weight pretty much all my life, including losing over 100 pounds, gaining it all back, and losing it again. Between those episodes, there were also many smaller losses and regains. I would estimate I have lost over 400 pounds if you added it all up.

The First Time I Lost 100 Pounds: Eating One Meal A Day

Losing weight has always been relatively easy for me. I’m a driven person and when I decide to do something, I become rather unstoppable. Losing weight always seemed quite simple: eat less, exercise. The first time I lost 100 pounds, I was 22 and I basically restricted myself to one meal a day and walked all over the city where I lived at the time.

“Losing weight was so rewarding. Everyone complimented me. They were awed. They had questions, wanted to know how I did it… I was basically starving myself and everyone was congratulating me.”

I knew what I was doing was probably not the smartest, healthiest thing, but I didn’t care. Losing weight was so rewarding. Everyone complimented me. They were awed. They had questions, wanted to know how I did it.

On one hand this felt great. On the other hand, it was disturbing. I knew I was basically starving myself and everyone was congratulating me.  There was a part of me that was angered by this. I remember defiantly thinking, “You want me to lose weight? I’ll show you weight loss.”

The Next Time I Lost 100 Pounds: Counting Calories

The next time I lost 100 pounds was much more recent. It started in 2009. I had long let go of the idea of being skinny and I told myself I wanted to lose weight to be healthy. I was out of shape, eating poorly, sitting at work all day then sitting on the couch. I got out of breath going up stairs and I couldn’t do some things I wanted to do. I had been down the road of exercising before and I knew I could do this, it would just take time.

So I joined a gym and started working out 4 days a week. This did not result in immediate weight loss. So I started thinking about how to approach my eating in a more reasonable way than what I had tried before.  Then I found online calorie counting and online diet communities and decided to try that.

Read Related Article: How Calories Really Count
For the next 2 years, I became a regular on a certain weight loss forum. I counted calories using this site every day for over 3 years. I got really good at it. I increased my exercise routine. 5 days a week.  6 days.  7…  I lost 125 pounds total, went from a size 24 to a size 8 and was feeling really good about it.  I had also found the idea of eating whole fresh foods and I had become much more aware of what I was putting into my body. I became vegetarian for the second time in my life.

The Effects of Yo-Yo Dieting On My Body

At my lowest weight, I had just barely dipped into the “healthy” weight range on the BMI chart. But I did not look like I expected to look. Losing that much weight over and over again, and being older (I’m 35 now), things just didn’t bounce back the way they once had. I lost a significant amount of breast tissue, going from a DDD to a small C. My thighs drooped.

But I made peace with these things. I had lost weight, but I had also found the body acceptance movement. I accepted my flaws in a way that was very freeing. Despite this, I continued to want to be thinner, even though I was nearly 20 pounds less than the original goal weight I had set for myself.

“I continued to want to be thinner, even though I was nearly 20 pounds less than the original goal weight I had set for myself.”

At the time, I would have said this was all great. I was working out a lot. Between my job, the gym, and cooking myself dinner, I didn’t do much else. On some levels I felt good. But in other ways, things weren’t quite right.

Back Pain, Dizziness, and Continued Weight Obsession

In 2012, I started suffering from chronic back pain. I had always had back pain flare ups, but this one flared and didn’t go away. Yet I kept pushing myself. I modified my work-outs but I never cut back. I also started to suffer from dizziness every time I stood up from sitting or kneeling down.  The doctors found nothing wrong with me aside from low blood pressure and advised me to stand up more slowly from now on. They also congratulated me and asked me for weight loss advice.

Almost exactly one year ago, the day after Labor Day, I hopped out of bed early in the morning because I heard my cat making noises in the other room. It was still dark outside. I was standing in the doorway between my bedroom and living room trying to see the cat.  The next thing I remember, my boyfriend was very upset and was waking me up. I had passed out and whacked my head on the floor? entry way? I still don’t know. There was a lot of blood.

“It suddenly became clear to me that the spent the majority of my time thinking about my weight… I simply couldn’t do it anymore.”
I had suffered a concussion and experienced symptoms for several months after that. This was the tipping point. I had a much reduced capability for dealing with life in general or stress. It suddenly became clear to me that the spent the majority of my time thinking about my weight. I weighed myself daily, changed my eating habits depending on the number I saw, continued to work out almost daily. I simply couldn’t do it anymore.

Stopping the Yo-Yo Dieting

I also lost the ability to simply suffer through my back pain and I started seeking treatment. I slowed my work outs. I stopped weighing myself altogether. I was nauseated by the concussion and the only food I found appealing or edible were simple carbs. Pasta and tortilla chips. I had been recording my weight daily for years. This seemed clearly insane to me when I stopped to think about it. What did this stronghold I was keeping on my weight have to do with my health?

The answer was clearly “nothing,” so I let it go. Just like that, I accepted that I did not want to live my life that way. I read the wonderful book, “Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight” and I knew I was finally ready to give up dieting for good.

You see, all the time I was calorie counting, I had convinced myself I was not “dieting,” it was a lifestyle change. I intended to keep it up forever. And that’s what I did until I simply couldn’t do it anymore.

Self-Acceptance and Health At My Size

When I stopped, my weight rebounded. I understand the physiological reasons for this and I accepted it before it happened. I have gracefully adapted, bought larger clothing (again!) and continued to love my body. As my curves reappeared, I found I felt so much more attractive. And it occurred to me, what if I focus on how I want to live my life, which includes habits that support my health, and let my weight be what it will? Isn’t that really what this is all about anyway? Wasn’t it supposed to be for my health and fitness?

I finally understood some things about myself. With my particular life history of childhood obesity and subsequent yo-yo dieting, I am never going to maintain a low weight without extreme effort. Effort I am not willing to give.

Health At My Size: Happier and Healthier

So now I am focused on Health at MY Size. I can’t say what’s right for anyone else, but for me, I am happier and healthier now than I was at my lowest weight. I no longer get dizzy. My back pain finally subsided after a year of constant pain. My hair is thick again and growing fast.

I still love the healthy habits I taught myself when I was losing weight. I am still vegetarian. I eat a mostly whole foods diet with a ton of fresh local produce. I hike or walk most days of the week and practice yoga as often as I can. I don’t eat fast food. I don’t drink soda. I always eat breakfast. I pack my lunch for work.

I am happier and healthier now than I was at my lowest weight. I no longer get dizzy. My back pain finally subsided after a year of constant pain. My hair is thick again and growing fast.
I’ve also added back in some of the things I stopped doing when I became so engrossed in my weight. I sketch daily. I read fiction. I’m working on personal art projects. I’m planning the next phase of my career. I’m spending more time trying to relax and enjoy. I am finding my balance again.

According to the government and the AMA, I am a disease. I am an epidemic. I am not as small as I should be and my size is destroying the very fabric of society.

In truth, I am a unique individual with a unique life history. My size is the least interesting thing about me. I continue to learn and explore every day with a focus on living my life in a way that will help me stay active into later stages of life and enjoy each moment as fully as possible.  That’s what health is all about to me, not a number on a scale.

Kate writes the popular blog This is Not a Diet – It’s My Life. She also runs the popular Facebook page This is Not a Diet – it’s your life.


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9 Responses (Add Yours)

  • Harriet Krivit says:

    I keep saying how individual a disorder this is. When folks say: “Losing weight has always been relatively easy for me.” Not me. As difficult to lose as to maintain. Also weighing myself, counting calories, compulsively exercising, going just vegetarian
    or any rigid food plan or diet. Nope. And no matter how fulfilling work/hobbies etc. For me it is an eating food addiction. My remisssions have always been the wedge an immediate connection with another woman who struggles with this as well. Need hundreds of women to have this work. I had it and how incredible not to be propelled by subconscious “eat food now” propaganda. This was a beautiful and free 5 yrs. till the group disbanded.

    • K8 says:

      I’ve found this to be true. I feel that weight loss is easier for me than most people, who knows why. Some combination of genetic predisposition, metabolism, life situation, etc. In some ways this is great because I can lose weight whenever I chose to. In other ways, it is the reason I have yo-yo dieted all my life. I still struggle to this day NOT to diet. Because the reality is that if I wanted to, I could start dropping weight tomorrow. But I’ve finally reached the point where I am strong in my conviction that I am not going to do that. I am not going to restrict what I eat for the sole purpose of weight loss. It’s a very difficult decision to make when the entire world treats you as a hero for losing weight and a failure for being heavy. But that’s okay, I’m finally at peace with myself which is what matters most. -Kate

  • Erika says:

    This is a fantastic and honest. I bookmarked it for the next time I need inspiration. It’s great to read about someone else’s self acceptance and how they make it work. Thank you!

  • Lisa says:

    Erika – Kate writes great, insightful stuff. Be sure to follow her blog, too, at http://thisisnotadiet-itsmylife.com/.

  • Ilse Wenzel says:

    Kate, loved your blog.
    I recognize myself in some parts and I totally agree that we are not our weight or size provided our numbers are healthy.

    I admire your determination, it sounds that you have put the brakes on now and had an AHA moment.
    I do everything with gusto and have had many injuries working out because of it. Dr finally said “remember you are not 30/40 anymore. Have always felt if I am going to put in the time I will do my utmost at exercise. I have now learned that pain is no fun and have slowed down a bit.

    Frankly I want to stay as healthy as I can. I am alone now since my son died in February so I don’t want to end up in a care facility and have to help myself to stay as healthy as I can by eating good, whole food (mostly vegetarian)

    and my regular exercise which includes Yoga.

    put on the brakes a bit and that is a good thing. Stress

  • Carolyn says:

    Fantastic! Great post!
    “My size is the least interesting thing about me” Wow- I wish the thoughts in my head would support that idea and in my heart I know it’s true but the “ugly” thoughts keep popping up. Body image issues are so hard! But it is a daily journey and I am so glad to be on this path.

  • Leslie Ann says:

    There is so much here to think about. Like most women – fat or thin – I have dieted for many decades. But then, I don’t know any woman who has not/does not diet on a regular basis. Even women I know who are rail thin, diet all the time. Or, they run to excess or eat only one meal a day. I know men get heavy and want to lose weight and diet, too. But, by far, weight issues are women’s issues. So thinking about everything you’ve said, Kate, is akin to aging backwards . . . losing a year every year. I so rarely do what I want to do. Or maybe I just say I want to do those things because I rarely give myself permission to do anything that I don’t feel obligated to do for someone else. Art? Reading? Music? Walking? Building my own studio BY MYSELF. Taking a vacation all alone? I say I want to do all these things. Where’s my courage? Where’s my sense of “I-have-a-right?” Some women think that being in a marriage in which the husband does everything for his wife would be Heaven. I call it prison. I’ve been here so long that I don’t know if I can stop being the one “taken-care-of.” So, I have much to think about. And a difficult task ahead of me to GRAB my courage by the arm and drag it with me, kicking-and-screaming, into the New Year!

  • Harriet Krivit says:

    Reading and appreciating all of the responses…”how individual a disorder this is”…so why expect the solutions to be? Right now for me it’s a healthy fear of not wanting to go to bed uncomfortable that is keeping me conscious as to simply the amount of food or kind of food I eat, particularly late in the day.

  • Harriet Krivit says:

    meant to say WHY SHOULDN’T THE SOLUTIONS BE INDIVIDUAL?

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