My name is Rachael, and I’m a 23-year-old newly-minted college graduate.
I live in Colorado—aka the thinnest state in the nation—and I was born and raised here, the place where people hike 14ers for “fun” after a 40-hour workweek and talk North Face, Nalgenes, and The Incline while drinking green smoothies after hot yoga.
I’ve never really fit in here.
You see, I’ve been overweight for the entirety of my life—really. I’ve never, ever been thin, and I can’t even imagine what that might be like. I’ve dreamt about it, though, ever since I was a little girl and a boy in my second grade class started calling me Tractor and Bulldozer instead of Rachael. It wasn’t long before almost every other boy “forgot” my name, too, and suddenly being thin became my private answer to the beloved question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
At 23, I’m technically a grownup, but I’ve yet to achieve that much-desired thinness.
On the contrary, I’ve actually managed to eat myself into an even more horrible, desperate situation, 10 cheeseburgers, 12 tacos, and a dozen donuts at a time.
I hit my highest (known) weight of 319 pounds when I was just 19-years-old. This isn’t all that surprising, though, seeing as, by that time, my eating was absolutely out of control.
When I was a young teenager—before I could drive—I used to order pizzas and pasta and breadsticks and chicken wings and two-liter bottles of soda from Dominos or Pizza Hut or Papa John’s when my parents were at work and I was left home alone. I’d order enough food for a family of four, and then I’d stuff my face until I was sick. My parents didn’t know what I was doing, so, logically, of course, I couldn’t put away any leftovers. Everything had to be eaten.
By the time I obtained my driver’s license at age 16, I’d mastered the art of secret eating. The added freedom that driving allotted me enabled me to hit the drive-thru any chance I got so that I could binge on Taco Bell 12-packs, 10 dollars worth of cheeseburgers off the McDonald’s Dollar Menu, multiple Whoppers and fries at Burger King, and, of course, lots and lots and lots of soda.
I’d eat and eat and eat, and then I’d go home and eat some more.
My appetite knew no limit, and for a really long time, food was the most important thing in my life. The first thing I thought of when I woke up in the morning was food, and it was the last thing I thought about before I went to bed at night, too.
It was a sad, sad existence, and I cheated myself out of a decent childhood and a normal adolescence because I just refused to stop overeating.
I didn’t get asked on dates. I didn’t go to my high school prom. I didn’t do anything.
And, even worse, when I went to college, I just let that pattern of nothingness continue. I didn’t go to parties or bars or clubs. In fact, after just one year, I switched to an online program because it was too hard for me to walk across campus without getting sweaty and red-faced and horribly winded. And probably worst of all… I didn’t really fit in the desks at school either.
I decided to change my life on September 10, 2014. There was nothing special about that day—nothing had happened on that day that hadn’t happened a thousand times before. But, for some reason, I decided that I’d had enough. I was finally tired of being fat.
Two days later, I walked into a Weight Watchers meeting, and the rest is history.
I’ve made a commitment and a promise to myself—one that I intend to actually make good on. I am promising to do everything within my power to become a better, healthier, and happier person, and I’m vowing to never waste another second of my life. There’s too much I want and need to do and see. The world has too much to offer, and more than 150 pounds of excess fat isn’t going to serve as an excuse to not go out and see it anymore! Carpe diem.
This is my journey—one day at a time.
Walk with me down this path. Please.
Let’s try a little harder to be a little better. Together.