My Fat History: 1977 – 1997

It’s January, 2007. I’ve got decades of struggling with weight under my straining belt. Since the start of a new year is a time for reflecting on the past and pondering the future, allow me to take a jaunt down my fat’s memory lane.


There’s this really cute picture from 1977. It was summertime, and I was playing in the backyard with my neighbor and one-year-old brother. I had a two-piece bathing suit on. I’m five years old. One of my parents snapped a sweet picture of the three of us, all smiles, dripping wet from our idyllic frolicking.


When I saw the picture, I crinkled my freckled nose. Hmm. I didn’t know my thighs touched, or that my belly was a bit round. Of course, this was a normal five-year-old’s body, and the two other kids in the picture had their own “imperfections.” But it was the first time I saw my bodily flaws right there in front of me. Ick.


In second grade, I started taking ballet. As I stood next to the barre in my black leotard and pink tights with eight other ballerinas, it was clear I wasn’t one of those “little” girls. Those girls had knobby knees and pointy elbows. Their bodies were straight up and down. They were light on their feet, and the teacher complimented them on their form. Me? I was practically Marilyn Monroe without the boobs. According to my teacher, I had “a great arch, and nice muscle tone” – the latter of which broadcast itself to the world through my thick-ish thighs. All of this is hard to miss when there are full-length, wall-sized mirrors surrounding you. None of this seems like a good thing to a seven year old.


Flash forward to sixth grade, when I made a point to write in my diary that I weighed 95 lbs., which seemed QUITE monstrous, as I happen to know the “cool” chick in our grade weighed a whopping 80 lbs., if she weighted a deuce.


In junior high school, I recall being privately humiliated when I had to buy pants in size 6-8, when all my friends bee-bopped happily in their size 0-5 apparel.


Then came high school, when I weighed in each year for my varsity sports physical. I remember the number going from 125 my freshman year, to 128 my sophomore year, to 132 my junior year, then hitting a nauseating 136 my senior year. I was all muscle back then with a nice, tight bod, but since it’s common knowledge from the world that no woman worth anything was supposed to weigh more than 125, I KNEW I was a total Fattie.


Soon, college was upon me. Thanks to my new relationship with late-night pizzas and all-you-can-eat cafeteria meal plans, I gained the freshman 15 in a blink of an eye, going from 139 to 154 in the first semester. (Boy, I thought I was a butterball at 154. To think that’s a pie-in-the-sky goal weight now!)


I got down to 143 a year or two later. How? By banishing fat from my diet, stairmastering for an hour every night between 10-11pm while reading stuff by and about Milton Friedman, Sigmund Freud, and John Updike, and dancing my butt off at clubs for a few hours after that. (The calories consumed in alcoholic beverages didn’t stand a chance during those vibrant years!) Still, I was absolutely PI**ED OFF that the scale would not get below the 140s, no matter what I did. In my head, I was still officially way above what I was supposed to weigh.


Then the post-college bomb known as Real Life hit.

Soon, 145 became 150. 150 climbed to 155. Then, two years after I graduated, I’m bawling, BAWLING, because I just waddled into Jenny Craig to find I was up to a ginormous 159. Oh my GAWWWD, that’s nearly 160!!! Yipes!


After two months of eating these itty, bitty plastic containers of indiscernible mush with no significant weight loss to show for it, I gave Jenny the boot.


It’s at this point I knew I had to change my life.


I quit my job in a major US city to work at a resort outside of Yellowstone National Park. Fresh air, antlers, and Wrangler patches as far as the eye could see. Lots of opportunities to get active, breathe, remember what’s important, write, think, regroup, etc. I was 24.


Only problem was, the place where I worked was a resort for guests, and a veritable commune for employees. I got my room and board for a pittance, but the staff kitchen was run by a 75 year old woman who did all her cooking with gravy, butter, lard, potatoes, cheese, and sides of fatty, oily beef. Anything green was doused in a glaze of slippery sauce. Biscuits were aplenty. Pies and ice cream were the side dishes.

During the next five months, I gained 40 pounds.


Yes. You read that right.


So there I was, standing in the doctor’s office, crying my eyes out. I just found out I weighed an impossible 195. Five more pounds, and I’m officially a TWO HUNDRED POUND WOMAN. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror. Everything sagged and drooped. It was painful to smile, cuz I could feel my cheeks and neck looking for a place to go.


It’s at this time the good nurse practitioner slipped me a prescription for some diet drug that was all the rage in the outside world. The drug was called Phen-Fen. Or Fen-Phen. Or “that glorious little pill that gave me headaches, sucked the saliva out of my gums, left me sleepless, but totally, ABSOLUTELY took my hunger away.”

I called a friend in Los Angeles, asked her if she wanted a roommate, packed my bags and drove my little car 1000 miles to my new life. Warm weather, sunshine, skinny people everywhere. I was determined to reinvent my life and body.

Two weeks after I arrived, and less than two months after popping this amazing little pill, and I was down to 167. Life was starting to look up…

Until the drug was recalled. Something about heart attacks, and killing people.


It’s 1997. Ten years ago. And the last time I’ve seen the 160s.

The ascent begins in earnest.

One Response to “My Fat History: 1977 – 1997”

  1. I promise this is my last comment today!

    My boss, her mom, and my ex-fiance have the same problem of feeling desperately hungry ALL THE TIME. It’s as though the switch in the brain that tells you you’re full never turns off. Ephedra was great for flipping off that switch, but, well, you know what happened.

    But maybe there is hope?

    I just started taking Wellbutrin for a different problem and WEIGHT LOSS is one of it’s side effects! I believe right now it’s undergoing trials as a treatment for obesity:

    I’ve read a few online reviews from binge eaters who are using Wellbutrin “off label” and most (but not all) say it makes them less hungry. Unfortunately it can’t be used during pregnancy.

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