(The first part is here.)
During my senior year of high school, I discovered step aerobics. My church offered classes twice a week, and my mom went and convinced me to try it. Despite my lack of coordination, I did it and was hooked. Soon I was going faithfully every week and really getting into it. I also started walking around my neighborhood. We lived fairly close to a park, so I’d walk there and then walk around the track, or I’d wind my way through the neighborhood. By the end of senior year, I was walking up to 5 miles at a time. I used to imagine myself walking in the Olympics. (Seriously. I imagined that there was a marathon walking category, and I took the gold. I have a rich fantasy life.)
I don’t remember how long it was before I started losing weight, but I lost some and was thrilled. I remember that for my birthday that year I got some sweaters from American Eagle, and I truly had never been so excited about clothes. For once I had some clothes from a “cool” store (even though I’m sure I managed to make them look completely uncool, given my less than desirable sense of fashion).
Soon people started to notice my weight loss and compliment me for it. I remember the first time someone at church called me a “skinny minnie.” I think I lived on that compliment alone for a few days, and yet I still felt so isolated and so desperate and so hopelessly unattractive. Being fat is more than just a physical issue; it becomes a state of mind, and I struggled with feeling like a fat person in a thinner body. I didn’t know how to deal with it, so I put on a happy face and was the perky, friendly Erin I thought everyone expected me to be.
One would think that losing some weight would make me happy, but in fact I was miserable. During that fall, I became deeply depressed and soon developed really terrible eating habits. I would eat some wheat thins and carrots one day, then binge on chocolate and potato chips the next, and so on and so on. I felt like my eating was the only thing I had control of, which is ironic because now I know I was completely out of control and used food as a way to make sense of all the emotions I was feeling. I lost 20 pounds in a small amount of time, and my mom actually took me to get tested for diabetes because she thought something was wrong with me. I didn’t tell her it was just my screwed up eating.
Only by the grace of God did I make it through senior year. I was an emotional wreck for a good chunk of that year, and my depression landed me in counseling. At the time I was so ashamed of this that only a few people in my life knew about it, but I’m through with shame and through with beating myself up. In my mind I was a “bad” Christian for needing counseling, but I’ve since come to learn that it was what I needed for me to be able to focus on God and my relationship with Him instead of going off the deep end.
I ended senior year on a good note, having worked through some issues and gotten a handle on eating and exercise. My senior prom was a dream because I wore a size 12 dress and felt like royalty. When I looked in the mirror, I couldn’t believe the person who was looking back at me.
Perhaps that disbelief is the reason why I didn’t stay that size. I didn’t really believe I deserved to or could be that size, and I “proved” that to myself in college.
To be continued…