I’ve always been big. I remember when I was little, my grandma took my sister and me Easter dress shopping, and she told the sales lady that her granddaughters were in the dressing rooms. She said, “The skinny one is in this one, and the chubby one is in that one.” That was the first time I really saw myself as being different because of my weight. In high school, I was really active. I played softball and volleyball on top of being involved in band. I just assumed that my weight was caused by genetics, despite the fact that I was drinking Mountain Dew and having a cupcake with lunch every day.
When I got to college, I weighed about 230 pounds. I tried really strict “diets,” which consisted of skipping entire meals. Though I would lose somewhere between 10 and 20 pounds at a time, I just put it back on by binge eating. The vicious cycle of yo-yo dieting lasted throughout those four years.
I met my husband in graduate school, where I was pursuing a degree in music. On our first date, he asked me where I wanted to go to dinner. I told him that I didn’t care, and he said he wanted to go anywhere he could get a good salad. I thought, “What man requests a restaurant that has salad?” I later found out that he had also been overweight most of his life and used the South Beach Diet to lose more than 100 pounds and keep it off. At that time, I was still at about 230 pounds and was looking to lose weight. He suggested that I give the diet a shot, so I did. The diet eliminated certain food groups for weeks at a time and wasn’t enjoyable. But it didn’t require a lot of working out—which was great because I didn’t think I had time to exercise. I ended up losing about 30 pounds on the diet, but my weight still fluctuated because it was hard to stick with.
After I graduated, my husband and I got married and I started my career as a band director. My schedule was packed, so I just ate whatever I could whenever I could. A lot of the time, that meant hitting up the drive-through window at fast-food restaurants after work. As a result, my weight started to climb again.
When I got pregnant, I basically threw caution to the wind. I decided to eat whatever made my body feel good in the moment. After gaining 50 pounds during my pregnancy, I weighed 280 pounds. I thought, “How did I get to this point?”
Not long after giving birth to a healthy baby boy, I weighed 267 pounds. Everyone told me that when I breastfed, I would easily go back to my pre-pregnancy weight, which was 230 pounds. But when that didn’t happen, I got really frustrated
I tried doing the South Beach Diet again, but it just didn’t work for me. I was too focused on my new baby to worry about all the phases and cutting out food groups.
A couple of months later, one of my friends called me and said that she was about to head to the local track to start …