Tuesday, September 11, 2012

My life in pictures

This is the only little baby photo I have of myself.
My birth mother carried it in her wallet up until a
couple of years ago when we met and she gave it to me.

It wasn't until about grade two that I began to gain weight.  From about age seven and under, I was just a regular sized kid who pretty much ate what I wanted and was pretty active too.  That was before the days of video games and cable.  Either you were outside playing with friends, or you sat inside twiddling your thumbs.  We lived on a residential street that was littered with young families, so there was never a shortage of playmates.

I'm not sure what happened that made me begin to over eat.  My mother didn't let us go into the fridge whenever we wanted, but I became a master at stealing and hoarding food.  I remember sneaking into the kitchen when everyone else was in the basement watching tv and making myself a couple of peanut butter and jam sandwiches, then taking them to my bedroom to eat in private.  I had a pretty uneventful childhood, but my mother was a bit of a controller, and that could be overwhelming at times.

I'm about 6 months old in both of these photos.

Once I started gaining weight the inevitable comments began.  I have two older brothers who would make comments and tease me about my weight.  And so would their friends.  That was really hard to hear on a regular basis.  The one place where I found comfort was in my binges.  Food soothed me and made me calmer.  My mother would also make food a reward for us.  It worked fine for her normal sized children (which was everyone else), but not for me.  I would obsess over food rewards and that would be the focus of my day.  This is a behaviour I took into adulthood.  That is why I don't use food rewards for weight-loss (ie: binge days, or days where I can eat a special meal if I lose x amount of weight).  Brings me back to obsessing about food and that is not a comfortable place for me.


All the above photos were taken between the ages of 4 and 7.
In the top two I'm 4, the flower girl and ringlets I'm 5,
sitting on Santa's lap I'm 6 or 7.

So I struggled through primary school with a significant weight problem.  I was obese and I was made fun of on a regular basis.  "If only you could lose weight, because you have such a pretty face" became my mother's mantra.  My mother's, my aunt's, my mother's friends, the neighbour's, they repeated the same thing to me over and over.  It was tough.  It was hardest to be the sole obese member of a family of 8.  I'm sure my schooling suffered because it was the place I least liked to be.  I liked to learn, I just hated getting picked on.

Me at about age 10.  I don't think I need to point myself out.
And don't even get me started on the hair...
That's my childhood home on the right side.

Fast forward to my first year of high school.  I was brought to the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, and put on a protein sparing modified fasting diet.  This was a diet that was monitored by one Dr. Stanley Zlotkin.  He was super nice man and the plan was for me to kick start my weight-loss by being on this diet for 2 weeks, during which time I was hospitalized.  All I ate was protein, and a HUGE amount of vitamins and supplements.  I was in grade nine and weighed 210 pounds. By the time they released me, I weighed 190.  I remember that so clearly.  I stayed on a modified version of the diet for several months and had to go back to the hospital every few weeks for a weigh-in and consult with Dr. Zlotkin.

I didn't see the diet through to fruition.  I mean, being in high school was hard enough.  Being in high school obese and having to do a special diet was even harder.  I couldn't stay on plan and gave into the inevitable teenage junk food.  I did however manage to maintain my weight around 200 throughout high school.  I was obese, just not morbidly so...yet.

High school was a very difficult time for me.  I was awkward (due to the extra weight and the huge tortoise shell glasses I wore...thank GOD the perm grew out by high school).  Awkward and a clown.  Since no one would like me because of the way I looked, I made friends with humour. Humour which included laughing at myself.  A behaviour that was very self-deprecating, but won me some friends.  I was the token funny fat girl.  Little did all my high school friends know that I was dying a little more inside after each joke or snide remark I made about myself.

So after high school came my first crack at college.  I went away to college because I just thought I needed to get away from home and have a new experience.  I met one of my very best girlfriends (Elin) at Loyalist College in Belleville.  I love that I met her and Scott (her hubby) there and that they are still an important part of my life. I managed to stay around 200 during the Loyalist College years,  but sadly never made it as a photojournalist.  And if I need to be completely honest, photojournalism was not something I longed to do.  I chose it because it would take me away from home.

This is me at about age 23.

After I finished up at Loyalist College, I went onto Centennial College in Scarborough, a suburb of Toronto. I took the Child and Youth Worker program, and work today as a CYW.  So this program really was my calling.  I also gained a huge amount of weight.  Probably about 100 pounds.  See the photo above.  That's me during my Centennial College years.  I struggled at this weight for several years.  I binged, I partied, I didn't get any physical activity.  I was a HUGE mess and I had less than zero self-esteem.

This post is getting much longer than I anticipated.  I'm halfway through my life right now.  If you feel so inclined, please tune in on Thursday when I will continue My life in pictures...part 2.  My 20's and 30's promise to be much more unsettled. It was a difficult time, but I did have some happiness too.  I married my husband, and gave birth to my son.  Both the happiest times in my life.  Stay tuned:)