I’ve never been skinny (well, not as an adult. As a toddler I was a rail). But in high school and early on in college I wasn’t heavy, and you could say I had an average body type. Not any more. Starting in college and then in the years following my butt and my gut were like the universe, forever expanding. A lot of that was the drinking- if you think there are a lot of empty calories in a bottle of beer, imagine upwards of 40 beers per week (plus some wine and other spirits). And of course, when you’re hungover all you want to do is eat food to soak up the booze and fill your stomach, so I was eating insanely unhealthy things, things that the microwave seemed to bring to life briefly before succumbing to being boiled to death in cheese and grease and industrial grade tomato paste. And who wants to go to the gym with an hangover (or after eating a large Domino’s Pizza by themselves?). You feel gross. So you sit in the dark in your apartment with the TV on because you don’t feel like moving. And then when you do feel like moving it’s to go out on a beer run. Looking back, any time I went for a walk in the past two or three years it was to buy alcohol 75% of the time. Easily. I weighed 230 lbs. You might say, “eh,that’s not so bad.” Except I’m 5’6. Now tell me about 230 lbs on that frame. Exactly.
When I stopped drinking and started treating the depression with medication and therapy, I wasn’t thinking about how I looked. I was thinking about how I make it to the next day without wanting to kill myself or drink myself into a haze to take my mind of wanting to kill myself. But day by day I was feeling a little bit better. Was sleeping better. Wasn’t taking on all of the calories from beer. Didn’t need to microwave a burrito or Hot Pocket at 11:00 every night. About a month after my suicide attempt I had a follow-up appointment with my primary care doctor (who saw me on that day and got me started on the medication). She noted that I had dropped seven pounds in that month. It really wasn’t on purpose- I was just taking in less. I was maybe a bit more active, but I wasn’t exercising to speak of, certainly not regularly. But I thought, wow, that’s not too shabby.
So I made a decision that as I worked on my mental health, I would also work on my physical health. So I’ve been watching the food I eat and how much I eat more closely. I try and go for long, brisk walks at least every other day. I recently got out in the kayak and plan on doing that more and more throughout the summer. I set up a home gym in the attic with some weights, resistance bands and pilates equipment (that I’m using a few times a week). I got an UP24 band so I can track my activity and my food intake. And yesterday when I weighed myself I was down to 209 lbs.
There’s still work to do on both the mental and physical health. But it can be done.