When I was 14 I was on my high school basketball team. Being on the team was a surprise to me, because while I’d always done some kind of sport, I was never particularly good at any of them. Gym class was always the C+ blemish on my report card of As. But in grade 8 gym class, when we were playing basketball, my teacher suggested I might think about trying out for the team next year in high school, since I was pretty good. It was the first time I remember being acknowledged for being good at something other than academics.
So, with that encouragement, I tried out for the basketball team in grade 9, and made the team. Not to diminish my accomplishment, but it was a pretty small school, so pretty much everybody who tried out made the team. But it turned out that I was a pretty good player. One of the best players on the team. Very often the game high scorer. I liked basketball. It made me happy to play.
One day, during practice, our coach started calling some of the girls into her office to speak with them individually. After the second girl was called in, I noticed that she was calling in some of the better players on the team. So when she called me, I was pretty excited to be in that company. Until I found out that the reason she was calling us in was to tell us how worried she was about our weight. To suggest that we should each see a dietitian. To commiserate over how it can be hard to make good choices when we’re not in charge of our own meal making, and we have to eat what we’re given at home.
In less than a minute, my focus shifted from trying to be a good player to how I looked in the uniform. I had been somewhat self conscious of my body for a while. I was bigger than other girls my age. But this was really the first time I remember being told it was a problem. By my coach, and she must be right. I’m sure her intentions were good. Her heart was in the right place. I wonder if she had any idea how much what she said could backfire.
That day I think was one of the huge triggers that made me start obsessing about my body, and about food. I started trying different diets, all of which I eventually failed at, because after too much restriction, I’d say “to hell with it” and binge. A cycle of restricting and bingeing. And using food to cope — it was (and is) my drug of choice. And guess what happened? I slowly got bigger. And bigger. By the time I was 27, I was probably 100 pounds heavier than I was when my coach told me I was fat. By the time I was 36, I’d added another 35 pounds.
Those who believe in the law of attraction say that you’ll get what you focus on. So if you want to get more money, for example, you focus on having abundance flow easily to you. I guess it works, because when I focused on my weight, I sure as hell got more of it.
I finally decided to end this cycle of wasted time, energy and money trying to lose weight. I have been on pretty much every diet you could think of, and I’ve had weight loss surgery (lapband). Last June, after 6 years with the band, 5 of which were spent with heartburn so bad I could barely function and throwing up more than 50% of my meals, I decided to have my band removed. A few months later, I decided to give up the mental battle and stop spending so much energy focusing on losing weight. I stopped weighing myself. I stopped obsessing about what I was eating and how much and whether I was “allowed” to have it or over my calorie range. And now I think my body is starting to heal from 3 decades worth of self abuse.
I still want to lose weight — both for practical reasons and for vanity reasons. But my path there is going to be different. And I’m going to be talking about that path here, from now on.
Just for shits and giggles, here are a couple of pictures of me in grade 9, when I was fat. Oh, and to my basketball coach — fuck you.