Written By: Miss Ashley D
I woke up one morning just shy of eighteen months ago and decided enough was enough. I made a definitive choice that something had to give, that I had to be the one to create a change for myself. I stopped by the house of a trusted male friend and confessed to an open ear about my hardships. I verbalized my fears and concerns. I admitted out loud to another person that I was slowly killing myself and suddenly very, very concerned.
Together he and I walked in to the bathroom. He quietly and calmly reached for the instrument I feared most. The device that did not lie, the tool that I had spent most of my life imagining did not exist, or perhaps needed quite a bit or adjusting; a little recalibrating, as it may be.
I removed my shoes and sweater and I stepped up to bat. I glanced down to read the numbers. In a moment of both shame and revelation I realized I could barely see the red needle beyond my protruding stomach. I could barely make out the sum of the rapidly racing dial. As the springs and gears sputtered to a halt I grit my teeth and took a deep breath.
I looked down in disbelief; three hundred and twenty pounds at twenty five years old.
What in the world had I done to myself?
How could I ever repair the damage?
How could I ever have really loved myself?
How could I have been so obviously neglectful?
We are a part of a gluttonous society. A society that quite literally feeds us what is most profitable. We live in a nation that is so desirous to show our ability to grow, our innate wealth, and our strong stock that it allows our culture to poison and then repair us in a never ending cycle of health, disrepair, recovery, and wellness. It’s the foods we eat, the drinks we drink, and the mad chemist brews we subscribe to on a whim. It is fed to us during prime time, and day time, and lunch time, and crunch time. We are encouraged to be gluttonous about everything from Twinkies to tweezers. We have created an expansive market for the plus sized, the woman sized, the big and the tall. We are allowing and encouraging obesity. We are deeming it okay.
I was a victim of money and highly refined foods. I was a victim of sadness. I was a victim of myself, my society, and my culture and I refused to believe that what I saw in the mirror was true.
And then I just couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t take the physical pain. I couldn’t take the pressure on my joints and more importantly me ego. I couldn’t waddle around anymore. I did not want to have to prove my abilities; I was done trying to defy the odds.
Instead, I chose to defy my own odds. Using the internet as a research tool instead of its normal purpose in my life, piracy, pity, and pornography, and I began to calculate what it would take. I applied the little knowledge of mathematics I promised myself I’d forget in a whole new way.
A human being needs to consume about twelve hundred calories a day to survive. The average person is expected to consume between eighteen hundred and two thousand. At three hundred and twenty pounds I was consuming in excess of five thousand calories a day. The numbers alone were enough to make me want to burry my head back in the sand.
I didn’t though. I found a data base containing the calorie content and nutritional information of nearly every food you could imagine from big name brands to out door organics. I kept a detailed journal for well over eight months of my daily food and caloric intake trying to maintain a diet of around sixteen hundred calories mostly comprised of protein, fiber, and carbohydrates from whole, unprocessed grains and seeds.
I developed a sense of what foods actually tasted good. I opened my eyes to clever marketing and opted for the sensible, the healthy, and the required. I survived on fruits and nuts and leafy greens. I ate meat and sometimes I ate ice cream. I learned to love dairy and yet grew a firm stance against milk and cheese.
I also started moving. I walked my dog through snowstorms and sunny days. I obtained a used iPod Shuffle and a gym membership and I worked hard. I got sweaty and I got sore and I got winded. I learned about the power of endorphins and the maddening pain of stagnancy. I just had to keep going, keep moving, keep building. I had to keep melting away the years and years of neglect and building a new image. I had to repair my ego. I had to be better because of where I’d been mostly because I knew where I was wasn’t close to where I was trying to be. I labored for eighteen months through four pairs of stinky sneakers and six dress sizes and ninety pounds.
And all the while I managed to attend over thirty concerts, two festivals, and one life changing New Years Eve in the Big Apple. I had a chance in inhale Rocky Mountain Air, I paid off my debts, I changed my hair color twice, I wrote, I read, I went to work. I helped to open a new restaurant. And I fell in love with myself for the first time ever.
And without any kind of notice someone finally fell in love with me.
It’s not easy to change. It takes time and tears and sweat and pain but the rewards no matter how tangible, how visible, how feasible are seldom less than the cost. You have to actually stand up and roll the dice if you determine to play, if you have any interest in winning at all.