I remember the doctor who first told me to lose weight. I was eleven at the time, and growing, and I remember very little else. I don't know exactly how tall I was and what I weighed, I barely remember how I ate and whether I thought about it.
But I remember what the doctor told me. She told me I was going to have to start dieting. She told me I would have to work actively just to maintain my current weight, that I didn't have to LOSE as long as I didn't GAIN any more. She told me I was going to have to work hard about my weight for the rest of my life.
She told me I was going to face a “life-long battle” with my weight.
At age 11.
I remember being horrified. I remember protesting. I didn't want to spend my whole life fighting. I remember even that first time wondering what the point was, if I would never be able to win.
I tried dieting, I really earnestly did. I was proud of myself for making up chicken salad sandwiches in little pita breads, with celery pieces and everything. I look back and I realize I was discovering cooking, not dieting; learning how much better food is when you make it yourself and how much fun it is to explore and experiment. But my recipes came out of a diet book for preteens. I tried exercising. I promised myself 50 crunches every day! And then my belly would be smaller! When I forgot the crunches, and forgot the special meals, I soon gave up.
That's how my life has been really ever since. I try to commit every so often to a regiment. I'll eat x veggies every day. I'll go bike riding. I'll play wii sports. I'll do whatever it is on a regular basis. And then I never do. I panic myself, thinking that I can't keep it up, or I just forget and beat myself up so hard that it seems easier to quit.
It's a pattern I haven't been able to break 11 years later.
I bet she thought she was just giving me realistic expectations. Don't try to lose 50 pounds in a month, don't expect to be able to maintain by doing nothing. But she told me it would be a life-long battle against my body to tame it into the proper size.
I think so far, it's been a battle to accept myself in case I can't be changed. It's been a battle to find value in healthy food and regular exercise if it doesn't mean I'll get smaller. To find clothes that fit me instead of shamefully buying one size down and never wearing the clothes I should fit into. To actually get healthy and break out of my many ruts, instead of defeating myself at every turn with the idea that I can never rest, can never break, can never stop fighting or I'll lose. To see my body as my ally, not my enemy.
It really is a life-long battle.