Hi, My name is Barbara or "Lilacbear" and this is my story.
Negativity, for a person trying to lose weight, is soul-destroying. It comes from all sides, and can even seem positive at times.
As a child, the kids at school would chant such flattering things as, "Fatty", "Fatso", "Corpy" (this after we were taught the meaning of the word "corpulent").
They never picked me for their sporting sides, because I couldn't run as fast as them due to the weight, and try as I might, I could never reach that coveted acceptance that I craved. My answer to that was comfort eating!
Having a mother who was a pastry cook and who had scrimped through the Depression years didn't help. We were never allowed to leave even a crumb on our plates, and she would heap them too high. I found my solace through eating, and I have to say that her baking was mouth-watering to say the least.
When mum finally realized I was overweight, (something I had known since the age of about 4), she would then harp - there is no other word for it - harp at me. "You are too fat! Stop eating so much!" etc. then she would expect me to clean up that plate thoroughly at the next meal. I became confused as to what I was supposed to do.
She took to giving me just fruit, perhaps an apple and an orange, for lunch, which then made me feel even more different to the other kids, because they all had sandwiches, or pies, or whatever.
I just grew unhappier, and fatter, with each passing day. Every day became a nightmare for me, being teased mercilessly by the kids at school, and then going home to mixed messages from my mother. I was depressed, confused, and often wished I could die.
The years passed, and after High School I got a job, much to my mother's surprise. She had told me no-one would employ me as I was too fat. However, the local council decided I was a good enough stenographer to employ me, and I was happy and secure in that job.
However, I still managed to get fatter, because of mum's harping. She would feed me with all the wrong sorts of foods then say "Any wonder you're fat! Look at what you’re eating!" Also, my sister was killed at work, and the effect it had on me was to look for comfort in the only thing I had ever found it - food.
Her death also made mum rather paranoid, so when I decided I wanted to move and share a flat with a friend, she couldn't handle it, and to save ever more harping, I decided I'd stay home with her and dad. Looking back, I realize I should have gone ahead and done it, but we always see things better in hindsight.
After my dad died, mum became even more possessive of me. I was 21 and she hated me even going to work! I had a nervous breakdown, it had all finally got too much for me, and still I opted to eat my troubles away.
Not long afterwards, mum died, and even though we had our differences, I was knocked sideways, because that left me entirely alone in the world, as all our relatives were in England or Ireland. We came to Australia when I was about 6 years old.
I was engaged at the time to my now husband, and so about 3 months after mum died, we got married, and I got pregnant with our son fairly quickly. I was absolutely happy for the first time I could remember, and all through my pregnancy, I lost weight, so when I finally had him, I was actually lighter than when I got married. The same thing happened when I had my first daughter, then my second daughter.
After the birth of my third child I was talked into very reluctantly having my tubes cut and tied by my mother-in-law. She decided three was enough, and although I really didn't want to, with both her and then my husband, who was often swayed by her, telling me it was for the best, I agreed to have it done. I started putting weight back on.
When my youngest daughter was 7, she died very suddenly at home one Sunday night. She was crying, and whilst crying she vomited, and instead of coming out of her mouth, she inhaled it, and suffocated. We didn't know what had happened, and we just could not understand why she just died like that. There was no sign of choking, or lack of air, she just quietly stopped breathing! I was devastated! On went more and more weight.
The weight just kept piling on from then on over the next 18 years. The more I ate, the fatter I got, the fatter I got, the more depressed I got, the more depressed I got, the fatter I got, it was just a vicious circle and I had no idea how to get out of it.
I had many well-meaning people tell me about the latest diet out (Atkins Diet, South Beach Diet, Military Diet...), and believe me I tried all of them, none of them worked for me. I also had others tell me that I brought it on myself and didn't try to lose it (which was only a half-truth - I may have brought in on myself, but I certainly did try to lose it). I had others telling me I would die if I didn't do anything about it, and they either couldn't or wouldn't see that I didn't know what to do about it.
I had tried all I knew, and some, but no-one who criticized me had the answer any more than I did.
Finally at age 53, and weighing 412lbs (187kg), I saw a doctor who suggested weight loss surgery. Both he and I agreed that stomach banding was the thing to do in this situation, so off I went with my doctor's referral to see a surgeon.
Somehow, things got a bit mixed up about here, and instead of seeing a surgeon who performed this operation, I was finally seen by a plastic surgeon, who said he would remove my "apron", a great amount of fat that hung from my lower abdomen like an apron - it was so big it covered my knees.
I agreed to this, and a couple of months later underwent the operation. The amount of fat removed from me at that time weighed 33 lbs, and even though I still had 380 lbs to lose, I somehow felt empowered to try to do it healthily, and not have the stomach banding done.
It is three years since that operation, and I now weigh 225 lbs, which makes my total loss in those 3 years 188 lbs. I am very proud of this, even though I am still very much overweight, and need to lose around 88-100 lbs, I am proud of myself. I have changed my lifestyle, and my eating habits, and now try to eat only healthy foods (I try to stick to low glycemic foods). I have adult onset diabetes due to the weight, but the doctor and dietician both agree that it can change back to normal as I lose more weight. I was in a wheelchair for 7 years, due to the weight aggravating the osteoarthritis in my joints, but since April this year, I have not needed the wheelchair. I can walk around the house, I can walk around the supermarket. I can’t do quite as much exercise as I would like due to the arthritis, but I can do a whole lot more than I could before.
So that brings me to today. What am I like today? I am 56 now, still need to lose more weight, but feeling so much better both in myself and about myself. I can buy dresses off the hook, before I had to make huge “tents” which I hated with a passion. I can wear skirts and tops, something I hadn’t done in years. I can do the cooking and the washing and sweep the floors, thus saving my dear husband more work on top of what he already does. I am happier, I can actually play with my grandchildren without giving up out of breath within 5 minutes! It is wonderful to be alive, and to see them growing up so beautifully! I am working one or two days a week in my church office, I feel useful again, and the depression is under control.
I never tell anyone they are fat, or tell them about the latest diet, instead I encourage them and help them find their good points, and if they ask, I encourage them to eat healthy foods, and they appreciate it.
Each one of us has a story, some are horrific! What I found I had to do was forget all that had gone before, and forge a new life for myself, a life where I am in control of my feelings, I am in control of what I eat, and I am the person I try to please, not each and every person who passes by!
Today, I am a much more happy and fulfilled person that I have been in my entire life.