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Fighting “Fat” at 13…

I don’t remember exactly when I discovered I was ‘fat’.  It was like a lightbulb went on and all of a sudden, what used to be fine now repulsed me.  My body, I mean.  It’s hard for any of us to pin-point when we become ‘body aware’.  And, unfortunately, it’s getting younger and younger.

My Mom will argue that I was ‘never fat’.  No, no, I was ‘plump’.  “You were cute!” she says.  And I love her for it… but let’s face it, I was fat.  I had cellulite at age 12.  I was teased at school.  I felt gross about myself (it seems) all at once… sometime in the seventh grade.

I remember leaving school in June and coming back in September of grade 8, 30lbs lighter.  The weight loss wasn’t done in a healthy way.  Quite frankly, it scared the crap out of my parents.  I didn’t really know how to lose weight properly – so I just started exercising like crazy (about 2-3 times a day if I could).  I also stopped eating much of anything.  Fat was especially the enemy.  I decided, for some reason, that 6 grams of fat per day was my limit.  I now realize how ridiculous that is!  (I’m also 40+ lbs heavier than I was then! HA!).

If we went out to eat (and our family did a LOT), I would never get anything but a Salad.  I knew every Salad at every restaurant in the greater Hamilton area.  If I consumed any food that I deemed to be “fatty”, I’d obsess over it and feel guilty for days.

When we went to Disney World in the Spring of 1997  (8th grade), I was thrilled to be ‘almost under 100lbs!’.  I was 5′ 7.5”.  I should NEVER have been anywhere NEAR 100lbs.  I had a Body Mass Index of 15.4, which is grossly underweight.  I did not menstruate until I was 16 because of my low body fat and extreme workouts.

Every entry in this diary from 8th grade involves food or my weight in some way.  It’s unbelievable.

Read these excerpts to give you an idea of my mindset:

Feb 16th, 1997-

“…Had a REALLY bad diet day today.  Too much chocolate!  I’m still a little sick… but not too bad… I weighed 104 pounds today!  Holy Moly!  I think my cold has got to me… I’m usually 107.”

Feb 20th, 1997 –

“Today I pigged out on Chocolate… BAD GIRL.  It was so good though.  Oh well, a little cheating once in a blue moon never killed anybody.”

Feb. 25, 1997-

“(My plan for next year highschool): 6:15am get up, 6:15am-6:45am EXERCISE, 6:45-7:15am Shower/get ready, 7:15am-7:40am Make luch, get ready, remember to EAT.” (Wow… can you say CRAZY!?)

Sunday March 2nd, 1997-

“Today I weighed 103lbs!  That is real small!  Well, I made up for it at Ding-Ho (we went there for supper)…”

Monday March 3rd, 1997-

“…I have band tomorrow, but I’m going to skip.  I need to do aerobics.  I really want the best body possible for Florida.”

The entries go on and on.  Partly, these diary pieces make me laugh and shake my head, but they also make me really sad.  The fact that I was so focused on how ‘skinny’ I was is bizarre and depressing.  My view of myself was distorted, because I was ridiculously skinny when I went to Disney World – to me, I almost looked

Me - age 13, approx. 103lbs

 immaciated. (See pic). 

But I remember the intense guilt I felt after I had a few Chips one night in Orlando.  The experience is burned into my mind because it was so stressful for me.  Everyone was eating Chips and chatting and I contemplated and agonized over whether to eat a Chip for what seemed like hours (probably more like 15 minutes).  Finally, I reached in the bowl and pulled out a single Chip and slowly put it to my mouth.  I remember wondering why no one was noticing that I was eating it.  It is such a strange memory – I can even recall the guilt mixed with elation upon consuming several Chips at once.  Yes, I was seriously THAT nuts.

I can’t pin-point WHY I felt so insecure about my body – whether it was images I saw on TV, in magazines, the girls around me… what?  I’m not sure.  I’m not sure I even knew.  I just knew that I needed to be skinny… and I was – but never skinny enough.  I was pretty unhealthy and had low energy and a distorted view of my body for many years.  And being thin didn’t boost my self esteem either, as I was mortified in grade 9 and felt like a huge loser at a School where I knew no one.  And I had a run of shoplifting that coming year which landed me arrested and in HUGE trouble.

I know there are so many girls who are this age and struggling today with issues of body image and weight… and girls, I really want to tell you that it will all be okay.  That you really don’t need to obsess over your body…  that you are beautiful inside and out, no matter what the scale says.  But I know those are cliche words… no matter how much I truly mean them.  In time, like me, you will become aware of the truth… that a skinny body does not bring beauty… that beauty radiates from within – that the more you focus on those around you, the less you’ll worry about how tiny your waist is.

Big hugs and blessings to you all.

Winter of grade 8… JTT, like, rules. Totally.

Most of my first 6 entries of this eighth grade diary simply list boring facts about my daily activities.  The first page states: “I have decided to write daily lists of blessings and thoughts. PS. Any real personal thoughts will be kept in a locked diary.”  So, I’m not sure how much ‘juicy’ info is really in this particular book (can’t find a date-coalated lock-diary?).  It DOES however, provide some great giggles – I was so young.

This was the winter we went on a family vacation to Walk Disney World, I chose which High School I’d go to, and I fell in love with Hanson.  But one man came before the HANSON obsession (which I’ll cover extensively, fear not… ha).

 

Actual diary entry.

JTT.  For those of you NOT born in the 1980s, that’s, JONATHAN TAYLOR THOMAS… and he just happened to be the babe of my world from age, oh 10 to 14?  He was little, had a high voice, and played the goofy middle brother on Home Improvement.  He usually sported a mushroom cut (nothing against them, really), and never seemed to bulk up – even into his 30s.

JTT in his PRIME! Um... I think I see nipple.

I really wish I could find the letter I wrote to him, because I’d scan it and provide you with at least 3 minutes of good of entertainment.  I never did send it, instead, I found it about 5 years later.  It was written in pencil crayon.  Not only did I ramble on about how “alike” we were (haha… because I knew him so well), I also drew a really poorly executed cartoon of myself wearing “my favourite outfit EVER”.  I also labeled the different parts of it with arrows – “overalls”, “T-shirt”, etc.  Oh, and I sent an awesome (no sarcasm, really…) sketch of him fishing.  (?)  Funny stuff.

For what it’s worth – I actually remember switching “favourites” from JTT to Zachary Ty Bryan (the eldest brother on Home Improvement) because I thought I had a ‘better chance’ with him because he was less good looking and less popular.  Great logic, in theory.  Ohhh, man.

Cheers, JTT!  I’m sure you’re out there somewhere.  OOoo!  I know – I’ll google him.  Not now, of course… uh, later.  When I’m not in Starbucks with a line of people looking over my shoulder.

To Think…

“To Think” (written August 10, 2003 – a month after I turned 20)

Only a short time ago,
does it seem,
I was such a child.
Enjoying the things of younger youth
Not worrying one moment on things of the future.
And now, it’s as if some heavy
Velvet curtain was raised up to reveal –
My Life.
The show has begun
My age reigns appropriate
For much maturing.
To think that in only a few years I could be
Married to the one man God has for me.
I could be comfortably successful at my job in media,
A young business woman,
Finally free from school-aged brains and lame time-waisters.
I could be considered a true –
Adult.
To think it-
Forces my eyebrows to rise energetically.

Reading this poem makes me laugh – partly because it’s really quite poorly written, and partly because of what I didn’t know.  At the time, I had no idea that I was already pregnant with my first child and would be married within 3 months.  Life is full of the kinds of twist and turns that make up award-winning novels, and mine has been filled to the brim with them.

I remember always feeling like I was trapped in my teenage years, and I’m sure many of today’s teens feel the same.  How can’t you?  You’re stuck in this painful limbo between childhood and full-blown adult responsibility.  You do things that “seem” adult-like, but you’re still considered unworthy and incapable in most people’s eyes.  I wanted to be an adult – but in my head, I was being held back.  By school, by friends, by my own brain, by my selfishness, immaturity, that “guy”  – by so many things that I knew at the time but can’t remember now.  Some I understood, others I was blind to.  Others I thought were holding me back when really, they were only propelling me forward.  I always had a plan in place but rarely did that plan ever come to be.

I was positive I’d be a very successful business woman.  I mean, c’mon, I was voted “most likely to run a corporation” in my graduating class… ha.  But I’m pretty sure I always thought I knew more than I actually did at the time.  This was a time when my future was smack in front of my face.  I had just graduated from 3 years of Media Communications, was working shifts at Dofasco and dating my (now) husband, Wesley.  Our relationship was really rocky due to our inability to “date” the way we thought we should (be committed but not have sex…).  I most likely wrote this poem late in the night or wee hours of the morning on a night shift in the steel mill, which is when I usually wrote.  I was likely curled up with my legs over my chair, leaned back against a greasy wall, head buried, trying to ignore my burning crush on my ridiculously hunky co-worker who need not be named.  *snort*  I was intensely preoccupied with my looks, doing at least 5 hard workouts a week… and I spent an hour getting ‘ready’ and wore really, really tight shirts to work on the Pickle Line.  The Millwrights and all the other boys and men started – just sayin’.  And, unlike now, I actually liked it.

And then enters that twist that spins you in debilitating circles.  When I realized I was pregnant, 3 weeks later, Wes and I knew immediately we wanted to get married.  Which may or may not sound crazy to you (especially due to my recently above mentioned burning crush on my co-worker… ha).  Sure, we were young and unprepared.  But we had been dating for over a year and, although we’d both casually ‘dated’ a couple other people in our ‘off’ time, we also both knew that no one measured up to eachother.  I think subconsciously we both knew we were supposed to be together.  We were just emotionally charged and ridiculous.  (Ha – I should post some of my diary entries from this Summer and how many times I wrote things like, “I LOVE WES” and then two days later, “Wes and I aren’t together any more, it’s too painful.” Too funny.)

Point is – we were very in love.  We just didn’t realize it until that moment when I shared news of the pregnancy with him and our hearts connected magically.  We both had an instant longing to have the baby and commit.  It looked like a big “mistake” to everyone around us, but to us – it was the best thing that could have happened.

So, I didn’t become that “successful” business woman in the media industry… haha!  Far from it.  I have, however, run two of my own successful businesses, one of which I sold for profit a year after starting it.  And I do have three beautiful children that I homeschool in our sweet little county home.  I write (a lot), I dream, I love God, and I’m NOTHING like the person I thought I’d become when I wrote this poem.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not promoting getting pregnant with your boyfriend at 20 or any other young age, for that matter.  For Wes and I, it worked out very well… we’ve been blessed.  But I know many other girls who did not have the same good fortune as I.  Also, it has been years of very hard work and determination, and a lot of help from God to get us through.  In our first year, many nights were spent sleeping apart, guilt imposed by certain family members nearly took over our life, and we were forced to seek counseling.  ‘Not making it’, though, was never an option.  We’re in it for life – one spouse, forever.  But, we’ve literally had to mature and grow up together, rather than on our own.  Both of us had never lived outside our parent’s house and within a year, we had gotten married, had a baby, and bought a house… the ‘three most stressful things people will ever intentionally do’, so they say.  Haha!

It’s been intense, but we are all the better for it.  Our bond is very deep and likely one of the least selfish ones you’ll find.  Especially, on my husband’s side.  (The kind of amazing husband who happily invites me to write blogs on my laptop and sip Jasmine Green Tea at 6:30 pm, while he handles dinner and bedtime alone with the kiddies.)

We’ve been married 6 years – and I truly, truly love my life. This poem is among the last I wrote in a series of poems throughout my teen years.  They are not all like this – not by a long shot.  Most are much more racy and intense (sounds fun, I know), and weird, and – well… really embarrassing.  It took a lot of mistakes and a lot of growth to get to the point I was at when writing this poem, and it’s been another 7 years of growth and maturity since then… and more to come, I know.

This is a taste of where I went.  Now I want to go back to the beginning, where I started.  Age 14.  The beginning of a ferocious, crazy, unpredictable teenage journey full of regret and triumph…  and I truly hope you’ll check in once in a while and join me as I travel back in time and marvel at what I find.

10 years of daily diaries… here I come.