It's Not Just A Number | Teen Ink

It's Not Just A Number

April 9, 2012
By writingisthevoice GOLD, Montville, New Jersey
writingisthevoice GOLD, Montville, New Jersey
13 articles 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
"An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind."

165. This is a number that will stay in my head for the rest of my life. I cringe when I see it. I can picture it vividly in my head every time I eat. I am haunted and driven by the number 165.

At 13 and 5’3”, I was 165 pounds. I had never experienced the beauty of being thin, so I didn’t know what I was missing. Every year, I became more and more conscience of my weight, and by 7th grade I was completely miserable. People that I had known my entire life started treating me different. I used to tell myself their lack of acknowledgement toward my existence was because of my crazy hair (which actually may have been part of it) or my slight lisp from my retainer (okay that probably helped too). There was always that voice in my head- my “you’re too fat to do it” voice. The voice telling me that every single failure in my life was because of my extra pounds. I knew I couldn’t listen to it anymore, that voice like a hammer on my dreams.

I went on my first diet in the second grade. Maybe that seems unreasonable, and I wasn’t near obesity, but all the other girls were just so effortlessly thin. Being 16 now, I know that I was not alone under this pressure. Eighty percent of 10 year old girls in the U.S. go on a diet. I stayed on and off ridiculous, unsuccessful diets until the 7th grade. It wasn’t until that year that I got an exercise room in my basement… the room where everything that keeps me healthy today happened.

Before I could sell my soul to weight loss, I had to realize why I needed to. I forced myself to remember every reason I had to finally lose the weight, even the most painful ones. In first grade, a girl in my class had her mom come in for a class event. Her mother was about 6 months pregnant with a huge stomach, which fascinated my class. We were all sitting on the rug when she laughed and said “I can’t even see my feet these days! My stomach is as big as a basketball!” The class laughed and another boy said “No it’s not, but Deanna’s is!” It was loud enough for the back corner of the rug to hear, including me, but not anyone in authority. A lot of kids defended me, telling the boy how wrong and rude he was, but it didn’t matter. There’s a saying that a girl can be called beautiful 100 times and she still won’t believe it, but if she’s called ugly once, it will stay with her forever. I cried for a long time that night, and I know I’ll never forget what he said. I used this as my driving force.

As a result of my extra weight combined with excessive pitching for softball, I suffered back problems in seventh grade. This was a huge obstacle for me in losing weight because I could only use an elliptical for my cardio workouts. I was certainly blessed when my parents decided to get an elliptical for our new exercise room due to my disability. When my dad set it up, I was overjoyed and eager to use it, a feeling I rarely get now for the elliptical. I remember thinking it was like swinging, only my feet were on two different swings and were going in hyper speed. Not only was the elliptical fun, but it was an astonishing calorie burner too? I was in love the machine. My obsession was so strong that after I finished working out, I went on again about 2 hours later and didn’t even care how tired I was. Sometimes I need to remember the love I felt when I received the elliptical to re-focus my attention on exercise, which is the most important part of weight loss.

There were so many reasons why I hated running. I hated the way I looked. I hated the way running made me feel. I hated finishing the mile run last every year in elementary school. I hated getting out at first base because I couldn’t run fast enough. Everything about running seemed horrible to me… I wish I had known what I know now. In 8th grade, I played recreation basketball on a team that was comparable to the Bad News Bears. I, however, was a decent basketball player with an overly-competitive nature, so nothing made me more furious than my helpless team. During playoff season (after my team had lost all 8 of our games), my team gave up and lost another game that was crucial to making it any further. I was fuming when my parents drove me home, so much so that I didn’t even speak to them despite their innocence. Instead of changing to take a shower like I normally would, I marched into my exercise room and ran. Until that moment, my anger had never given me the desire, or maybe need, to run as fast as I could. I didn’t want to cry, or fight with my parents, or even write, just run. I ran for fifteen minutes, gradually increasing my speed until every last ounce of my anger was transferred into energy for running and I felt free. That was the moment I knew that I had wasted my childhood hating something that I needed and, well...loved to do. I became a runner that day, and by that I mean that running is my much-needed release from the world. My exercise room housed my initial love for my elliptical and my treadmill, and I remember that love every time I work out.

After about 2 years, I could finally consider myself thin. I never felt so proud and accomplished in my life, and I was showered with compliments everywhere I went. “My room” was no longer the place I slept? my room was the exercise room, the place I spent my longest hours and achieved my highest goals. I never knew that every emotion I felt could be expressed and healed through exercise, but once I learned this I was able to drop pounds rather efficiently. Once the weight was off, I faced a new obstacle: keeping it off. Many people think that losing weight is an impossible, unattainable thing for them, but I couldn’t disagree more. Anyone can lose weight if they find their will, but maintaining the weight, now that’s the hard part! I created the illusion for myself that once I reached my goal number everything would be happy rainbows and daisies…how arrogant I was! Being thin did not make the restaurants disappear, the mountains of junk food consumed at my friends’ houses, the Girl Scout cookies in the kitchen, the blue slushies at the movies, or even the sunflower seeds at every softball game; everything that turned me into that 165 taunted me at every moment. The temptation to skip a workout because my whole family was watching Modern Family and the sad excuse for a TV in the exercise room had problems showing channel 7, was still there! I don’t know why I thought my life would be easier, but I’m glad I was so foolish. The amount I’ve learned about staying healthy since I’ve lost weight is incredible and now I’m a stronger person, physically and mentally.

The reason I was able to maintain my new weight was not because of me, but instead because of the people I loved. I couldn’t go back to what I was after how proud everyone was (I hate disappointing people). There was one person in particular that really pushed me to stay healthy. When I first started using my exercise room, my Grandpa was really inspired. He couldn’t believe how much weight I lost and decided to go on his own health spree. He was always asking me how many miles I was running or how many calories I burned so that he could push himself to new limits. I was equally as proud of him for taking steps toward a healthier life, such as giving up soda and beer. One time my grandparents stayed at my house for a week, so there was always a line for the exercise room. I was on the bike watching the Parent Trap when my Grandpa came in wearing his workout clothes. He asked if he could use the elliptical while I used the bike, and I didn’t see a reason why not. I could tell we were both trying harder to impress each other, even though I don’t talk while I exercise. Just having my Grandpa next to me was really special because I was the reason he was in there changing his life. That was my favorite workout in my exercise room, and I know that I will never let myself slip because of my Grandpa. How could I gain back the weight knowing that he may too if I do?

Since the 7th grade, I have lost 30 pounds…and kept it off. Each day I still fight temptation, but clearly there are more victories against them than losses. I don’t regret a single sacrifice I have made for weight loss because I was so incredibly unhappy before. Everything that happened to me in my exercise room, especially all the love I felt in there, shaped who I am today (literally).

The author's comments:
This piece means a lot to me and hopefully it will inspire readers to be their healthiest.

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