Saturday, March 10, 2012

Then and Now--My Weight Loss Journey

A lot of people are envious of my thinness. Women especially. But I wasn't always a size 4. I was a size 24 for a long time, and had jeans you could fit two of me in now. Doctors take my blood pressure and some, swear to God, have had to use a pediatric cuff because my arms are so damn thin.

Many people don't realize that really skinny people get teased and made fun of just as much as people who are overweight. I've been on both sides of that coin.

This photo to the top right was taken of my brother, Steve, and I in September of 2011. 9/11 if I'm not mistaken, at the church picnic, setting up my drum kit for the outdoor contemporary service. That is what I look like nowadays. My brother is 43 years old, and looks like he's 20. I'll be 40 on May 9th and I think for my age, I look comparatively damn good. I'm underweight for my height, 116 lbs on a 5'8" frame (I'm a couple inches taller than Steve and now weigh less than he does.) Miklaszes age quite well, we're told, as our mom is going to be 69 in October and looks 45. She'd tell you otherwise, but she has, objectively, very few wrinkles and is still a beauty.

It took a lot of hard work to get me to where I am today if you look next to this picture of me, which was taken in 2003. The drinking years, before I decided my New Year's resolution in 2006 was to lose weight. Look at me. I look like the size of 3 Steves.

I worked hard through my own diet and exercise plan. I ate very healthily and worked out for an hour and a half a day, 6 days a week for almost a year and dropped 65 lbs, 47" off my frame, which still left me heavier than I wanted to be, but I wasn't morbidly obese anymore. To the best of my recollection, Craig didn't lose any weight when I was cooking the uber-healthy meals at home, as we were still married then. Must have been all the non-diet Mountain Dew he was consuming.

I remember the first time I worked out at Go Figure, this little females-only gym I joined in Park Ridge in January of 2006. After my workout, I thought about going to McDonald's to grab lunch, but I thought twice. I'd just spent an hour barely able to work through my workout, and said "If I did all that work, I'm not going to ruin it by eating THAT crap." So I started making better choices about food. My trainer at the gym told me not to concentrate so much on the pounds, but rather the inches I lost off my frame and my BMI, which was 45 when I walked into the gym for the 1st time. I started going to the gym every day (including Saturday) while Luke was at school or Craig was home with him (at that point, I was working at home, so I had the free time).

Anyone will tell you alcohol metabolizes in the body as pure sugar, and puts the pounds on. And I was drinking, over the course of a few years, a LOT. I really wasn't an alcoholic for THAT long. Maybe only 5-6 years TOPS til I hit rock bottom. No wonder my husband was distant and didn't seem to find me attractive anymore. I'd let myself go to pot.

Since 2006, I lost 65 lbs through diet and exercise, 25 lbs from quitting drinking (without working out--I'd quit going to the gym by then) and another 10+ lbs being chronically ill. My BMI is now 17, which is clinically underweight and I realize that. My doctors would like me to weight around 140 for my height, but that's sort of a pipe dream at this point. I'll gain a couple of pounds here and there, but I lose them quickly when I get sick and/or have no appetite.

Because of my blood sugar conundrum issue, I've been advised by my doctors to follow a low-carb, high-protein diet. So I try and do that, and rely on Atkins bars and shakes, and eat very little because I get sick from it so often. But I'll tell you--if you want to lose weight, the Atkins diet works very, very well!

I don't work out anymore and I really should. I tried getting back into working out (I joined Go Figure again) a couple of years ago, and was into it for about a month, but then started having serious health problems, and I dropped my exercise plan to put some lean muscle on, since I obviously didn't need it for weight loss. My health problems have left me skinny but very weak.

I'm the town weakling and my 12-year old is 10 times stronger than I am. He can carry in 2 cases of pop from the car at the same time and weak me is barely able to carry in the bags of groceries. If I need something opened up (like a difficult jar), Luke has the strength to do it where I don't. That's kind of pathetic in a way.

(Please don't ask me to do pull-ups on a bar, for my muscles are so atrophied that I totally wouldn't be able to do it.)

If I went back to exercise, I'd skip the cardio and machines. I'd take up yoga, Pilates, Jeet Kune Do (Bruce Lee's version of kung fu, which is his own system) or what I'd really like to do to vent my frustrations, BOXING. My dream is to take boxing classes and beat on shit but it's a luxury not in the budget at this juncture. (Everyone says, "You'd be able to afford it if you QUIT SMOKING!") True enough. That'll come when I'm ready, which I'm not yet. Everyone says I'll regain my appetite if I quit smoking, but I don't see that happening since eating frequently causes me epigastric pain and I have major GI troubles.

A lot of people stress or emotionally eat. Don't get me wrong--I don't fault the morbidly obese, but I have what my former psychiatrist and my therapist labeled as "conditional" or "situational" anorexia, because I stress-starve. When I'm under tremendous anxiety, I just don't eat. When I was working at Balderdash & Verities, I'd have my low-carb breakfast (an Atkins bar and some fruit or Greek yogurt w/blueberries in it) and only eat an apple as lunch every day, then I'd eat a decent portion of whatever my mom made for dinner. I came to the conclusion finally that the Chobani flavored yogurt had too much sugar in it, because while it was healthy for me, I was still having sugar attacks at work. I've since switched to plain yogurt w/berries that I can sweeten with Splenda because it's frankly too bitter for me to eat unsweetened. I still eat an Atkins bar for breakfast, and now typically, also a grapefruit, unless I'm too lazy to cut one up, in which case I have a different fruit with my tea.

Admittedly, I also have a bit of body dysmorphic disorder, where sometimes I dress and look in the mirror and still see that 216 lb woman I used to be and get worried that I'm getting fat again, though intellectually, I know that I'm very thin. That confounds everyone, and they think I'm being an attention-whore, or insane, but yes, I still freak out if I think I look fat in an outfit. I purged everything from my wardrobe when I was cleaning out my drawers and closet that were oversized or too big for me. If, by some weird circumstance, I gain weight again, I'll have to buy new clothes (yay!). But for the foreseeable future, I'm good in what I have in my wardrobe.

But the next time you look at me, please don't call me out on looking anorexic, because that's mean. Just as mean as me calling someone overweight by a slur. I'm glad to be away from Balderdash & Verities, where my weight was always under scrutiny and the heavier people told me I starve myself on purpose to stay thin, which wasn't true at all. It was just hard to eat when you were vomiting or had perpetual diarrhea half the work day, which they, like I've said before, didn't realize while I was working. (Coincidentally, I haven't had to obtain a refill on my nausea pills since I left the practice.)

I'm also a very picky eater, and prefer vegetarian healthy food to anything else (I still eat beef, though ground beef I buy has to come from my butcher and be prime, because of this "pink slime" issue in the news lately...I also eat turkey and chicken breast, but that's it for meat). I don't do tofu, which makes vegetarian food tricky for me. I wish my whole family would turn vegetarian, and the more I tell them about eating animals, the less they are inclined to do so, so it's a work in progress. I've been assigned a night to cook dinner now that I'm unemployed, so Wednesday nights are "Vegetarian Wednesdays" in the Miklasz household. I look up easy, reasonably cheap veggie meals, go buy the fixings, and whip up something healthy and meat-free for the family. My mom also cooks quite healthily for us, and Luke wants dibs on Saturday nights to cook from his Star Wars cookbook (when we don't have band at church, because after band we go out for dinner with the group typically). I'm all for it for Luke, who himself lost 25 lbs with diet and exercise last year. He's put a little bit of weight back on, but he's getting taller by the day and evening himself out. Sometimes, my son will hug me and complain that it hurts because I'm all boney and he tells me he misses "Squishy Mom" but that wasn't God's version of me anymore.

That kid's built like a brick shithouse. He's going to be, in my and his doctor's estimation, a big dude. The doctor thinks he'll be at least 6' tall. His legs have literally no fat on them, and he's all muscle. Same with his arms. What Luke suffers from is belly fat, which he's going to have to work off with exercise. Provided I am much healthier by this summer, we'll get him back into the swing of exercising too, like riding bikes together. Dieting was a lot of hard work and discipline and I never deprived myself--I had one night a week that was "Crappy Food Night" at our house, where we could eat whatever we wanted and pigged out. When Luke was dieting, he didn't even want a Crappy Meal of the Week. He was THAT intent on losing weight. Sure, now he's almost a teenager and teases me about my weight and says I have some weird disease that makes me really skinny, which is sort of true--nobody knows why eating hurts for me or why I have such GI troubles.

Thus, that was my weight loss journey....if anyone wants to know how I did it, that's how. I wish never to return to that weight. It was unhealthy and to me, unattractive. To all the friends and people who didn't believe I was ever that heavy, who didn't know me or see me back in the day--take a look. And please don't tease me because I'm little and weak. Because if I take up boxing, I'll learn how to punch ya! :)

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