Andrea Matthes 2008When people want to lose weight, I think the number one question needs to be, “What, why and how, did you gain your weight?” The reasons are different for everyone, but it’s important to identify the WHAT, WHY and HOW in order to change the WHAT, WHY and HOW– yeah? Like “they” say, you can’t fix something unless you know what’s broken! More on that coming soon!

For now, I want to share with you the What, Why and How of my weight gain…

Ultimately, like most people (with very few exceptions) I got to 328lbs by eating too much and not moving enough. The truth of that stings a little, but like I’ve said before, I don’t believe we ever “Choose to be Fat.”  It’s something that happens for a reason, often times without even realizing it until suddenly our whole life becomes different, and then we’re left thinking, “what the crap?!” And “what the hell do I do about this?!” It’s not something that happens overnight, even if there is a specific trigger, like a traumatic event, pregnancy, or illness– though those events can certainly accelerate the gain.

For me there wasn’t just “one thing,”  it took years of learned habits, bad hormones and…the snowball effect!

Growing up (and even still) my family-life has revolved around food.  For us, there was always an excuse to eat, no incentive to be active, and fewer and fewer reasons to do anything about it. My lifelong weight gain looked something like this:

REASON ONE: Just This Once

“Just this once” are words we used in my family over and over again in order to eat whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted it.  We didn’t need a special occasion to overindulge; every day was an opportunity to “be bad” (as my mom would put it) because “just this once.

Too busy to cook = just this once

Too tired to go to the grocery store = just this once

Mmmm…that sounds good = just this once

These day-old cookies were on sale = just this once

It’s been a rough day = just this once

No excuse at all = just this once

“Just this once” got me to 127 lbs by the time I was 11 years old; 165 lbs by the time I was 13; 207 lbs by 17; 265 lbs by 19; and, ultimately, 328 lbs by the time I was 33.

REASON TWO: Bad Hormones

I had (have?) PCOS (poly cystic ovarian syndrome) which is linked to insulin resistance.  Insulin is the fat storage hormone.  When you’re resistant to it, your body makes more of it which basically means your body stores more fat.  Coupled with wonky blood sugar levels, the body experiences the crave/crash cycle, perpetuating weight gain, which in-turn, make the PCOS/insulin resistance ever worse.

REASON THREE: The Snowball Effect

“Just this once,” coupled with bad hormones, created a snowball effect that I didn’t even see happening.  Because I had been overweight my whole life, I didn’t know any different.  My clothes weren’t suddenly tighter; the number on the scale didn’t suddenly jump.  It was a gradual progression that was just part of my life.  Unless something dramatic happened, like the time I broke a resin outdoor chair, or the times when I had to ask for a seatbelt extender on an airplane, my size and weight were pretty much a non-issue.  They were just part of who I was, part of my normal everyday life.

I know it’s hard to believe that I was so oblivious to it, but you see when you’ve always been overweight, a little extra is really no big deal–  the fat is almost invisible.

The best way for me to explain it is like this:

When you have one of something, let’s take balls for instance, and you add another one, you’ve doubled the amount.  But if you have 20 balls and add 2, you’re not going to see much of a difference.  Add another one here, another one there, and over time you end up with a LOT of balls and that’s when you realize, “Dude! I’ve got a lot of balls!”

It took me getting to 300 lbs to really notice that my body felt different.  Crazy, no?  But by then I was lethargic, my body hurt all the time.  My range of motion was limited, I couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded, roll over in bed without my heart racing or get off the floor without help.  That’s when it got worst of all.

300 lbs was when I realized that I really needed to get my weight under control.  300 lbs was when I really wanted to have a baby but couldn’t get pregnant.  300 lbs was when I tried and failed and tried and failed again.  With each try came some success only to be followed by a perceived failure which would lead to giving up, starting over tomorrow (or next week or after the party on Saturday or…?) and just giving in to being fat forever.

It wasn’t a choice.  I didn’t choose to be fat.  I just didn’t know how not to be.  It was who I was and who I thought I was meant to be.

What’s your What, Why and How?

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Andrea Matthes,

CPT-CFL1, Lifestyle Coach

Letting go of perfection to live a happy, healthy lifestyle.

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