Today I want to talk about health, weight, body image and a lot of other heavy things. (Get it? Heavy?)
Here is a trigger warning: Weight, body issues, food and diet talk. Just FYI
The other day I posted the above picture to my Instagram (@pina_colada_mama) of a before and after pic. Only it’s a little different than your typical before and after. In the first picture, it’s me, 2 years ago. I’m at one of my lowest weights, and I am wearing a cute outfit. On the right is me a few weeks ago. I’m over 100 lbs heaver, and wearing shorts and a t-shirt.
This was a scary post for me. It’s been a long road to loving my body, and these changes have made it even harder.
So here’s the story.
When I was 16, I got sick. I started having gut issues: dropping weight, my hair fell out, and my skin got pale. Everyone at school thought I had cancer. We went to a GI, and were told it was IBS. IBS that made me drop 50 pounds in 2 months. When the stressors in my personal life got better, so did the illness. So I assumed I had IBS, and it was stress induced. This weight fluctuation continued for years. I finally found remission while pregnant with my first daughter at age 20. And I gained and gained and gained. When she was born, I weighed 350 lbs. This was the heaviest I had ever been, and I was also the healthiest I’d ever been.
During this time, I walked just about everywhere. We were broke so I home cooked all our meals and bought produce at the local farmer’s market. These years were filled with no fast food, and lots of activity. Yet I weighed 350 pretty consistently.
A few years later I had gradually worked up to 370 ish (I rarely weighed myself, so it probably went up and down) and was a solid size 26/28. After my divorce, and a surrogate pregnancy, I began shedding weight. I knew that stress must have brought back my IBS. I started cutting my trigger foods and taking care of myself with meditation. The weight continued to drop. When I met my current husband, I was about 280lbs, and a size 20/22. During our relationship, I was in flare. I started getting scary symptoms like Erythema Nodosum, and Peripheral Arthritis. I started doing research and suspected I had Crohn’s disease, not IBS.
When I got pregnant with my younger daughter, I got better for a while. After she was born I hit my lowest weight ever of 245 lbs, a size 16/18. That is when that before picture was taken. I was enjoying shopping in regular stores and only being a medium fat. I got a taste of thin privilege and I loved it. But my hair was falling out, and my skin and nails were frail. I couldn’t eat, or keep anything down. I was in pain all the time. The next year, I finally got my diagnosis: Crohn’s disease.
Then began the treatment: Chemo and steroids. When the chemo started I had already started to gain a bit of weight from a bit of a calming of my symptoms. I was up to 290. Then I started chemo, and in 2 months went up to 340 My doctor said my body had been in starvation mode for years, and now that the treatment was working, it was storing every bit of nutrition it could get. Then the steroids and the appetite increase they bear, have me up to my current 360(ish). This is remission. This is health. How can someone be healthier at 360 lbs than they were at 250? Well, I’m no longer anemic. My hair is growing back and my nails actually look like nails now. My skin looks better and I sleep, and I don’t ache every morning. I can walk again, and do yoga, and move and breathe and live my life. I work my ass off all day and play with my kids at night.
Accepting this change has not been easy. Do I have moments where I want to starve myself? Or punish this rogue body of mine? Yes. It’s hard. It’s hard to let go of those thoughts that are drilled into our young minds. Sometimes…. Sometimes I long for a flare. I’ll be in pain, but I’ll be thinner. And that is messed up diet think at its worst; damaging my body to fit in. It’s not ok. And I’m done thinking this way.
My name is Toni, I weigh 360 lbs and am a size 26/28. I am healthier than I was 100 lbs ago. I do miss it sometimes. I miss when plus size models looked more like me. When I could sit in a chair and not worry about it biting into my hips. When I could walk into Forever 21 or Sears and know I could find something in my size. I miss that a lot. But every day, I’m choosing my health over what some asshole on the internet thinks about my body. Choosing to love my body, and accept its flaws.