Friday, March 29, 2013

my weight

Lately, my friends have been asking me,

“You bake so many tasty things, who eats them all??”

“The question we all want to know is: where do all the desserts go? You stay so fit even though you make so many yummy treats!”

“You look great, Rachel. I kept 10 lbs. after each of my 3 childbirths. Working on getting that off. You definitely don't have that problem.”

Let me start by saying that what I weigh now—I haven’t seen this particular number on the scale ever before. I think I skipped over it in 6th or 7th grade. I say that to give you hope that it is definitely possible to lose pregnancy weight.

I am nervous to write about my weight. It is a pretty personal issue for me, and I’d rather not admit that I was once overweight. I don’t know who will read this, and I’m not sure I want them to know that I used to have an issue with food.

I read this quote this weekend:
“When you refuse to hide your scars, they become a lighthouse for someone else.”

So here goes… this is one of my scars.

I was not chubby as a baby/toddler/child. In comparison to my friends, I never thought I was skinny, but looking at photos of myself, I was just right.

 my sister Hannah and me (on the right)

But early on, I had an obsession with chocolate. My holiday candy would always be gone long before my sister’s. I can remember sneaking handfuls of M&Ms from the pantry. I loved chocolate frosted donuts from Dunkin Donuts, chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream from Baskin Robbins, Thin Mints Girl Scout cookies, Fannie May holiday chocolate Santas, Marshall Fields' Frango mints, and Nestle Crunch bars.

I was also a picky eater, which my extended family always got on my case about. Public comments about my eating habits didn’t make me feel very comfortable. It was always, “Rachel never has any color on her plate. She only eats yellow and red.” (pizza, macaroni & cheese, lasagna, corn, bananas, hot dogs).

So when I got to middle school, I didn’t know anything about eating healthy. I still thought I was growing taller, so I could eat whatever I wanted. (In addition, I was not athletic, and didn’t play any sports.) This is when the chubby set in. I am mortified of most of the photos of myself at this age (11-13).

This one is still okay. It’s my 11th birthday.

Then came 2001. I lost my sister to cancer in February. My mom met a man, got engaged, and married to him in 6 months. And when she got married that August, we moved away from the only home I had ever known in Chicago… to Lincoln, Nebraska. The day before my freshman year of high school.

I was pretty quiet already, but I became extremely shy in my new school, my new church, my new everything. I spent my freshman year at a middle school (where the kids had already known each other forever). Sophomore year, I ended up at another new school—one that had just been built—and started the friend-making process again. These two years, when I went home after school, I would eat. I drank Pepsi and ate Cool Ranch Doritos. I would consume a whole box of macaroni by myself for dinner. My Friday nights were spent in front of the TV, baking chocolate chip cookies, and eating probably 8 of them. I was lonely. I didn’t have self-control. And I gained 30 pounds.

I can remember being in the church van with a group of my girlfriends, and they were comparing jean sizes. Most were a 0. Some were a size 2. I was wearing a 14.

When sophomore year wrapped up in June, I saw some photos of myself and knew that I had put on way too much weight. I remember hearing a boy in my class tell his weight, and I couldn’t believe that it was the same as mine. He was muscular and played football! I started refusing nightly ice creams, drinking Diet pop, eating smaller portions (no seconds was an important new rule), and going for walks. I was down 7 pounds in June. I received some compliments about it, and could not believe how good that those compliments felt.

That summer, I read my first SELF magazine. I absorbed their advice about healthy eating habits and exercise, and I was inspired by the fit models. I joined a YMCA around this time.

all covered up in black & a size 14, and slimmed down several months later.

I prayed for self-control, and God helped me resist a lot of temptation.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” Matthew 6:25

For a lot of reasons, that summer was the time I finally came into my own.

So my junior year of high school, I was down 35 pounds. I could wear whatever clothes I wanted to (not just baggy t-shirts and dark colors). I got my braces off. I felt like my outside matched who I was inside.

senior prom

I was nervous about college and the Freshman 15, but I went in pretty confident that I already knew how to eat right, and I wasn’t going to put weight back on. Unfortunately, I didn’t know how to handle the buffet-style eating. My friends and I calculated our meal plans—we were paying $7 a meal, and we felt like we needed to get our money’s worth. Nothing had calorie information, everything was free for the taking, and I ate there breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

I can remember a time my freshman year when my friends and I went out for deep-dish pizza. I ate garlic bread, almost half of a deep-dish pizza, and a piece of cake. I was stuffed so full, but I was almost forcing myself to eat more. The guilt was unbearable. I can remember other nights when I ate candy until I was sick. I quickly gained the Freshman 15.

That summer, I worked at camp and lost those pounds, promising that I would never do it again.

Sophomore year—I did it again. :(  I ate at the same dining hall, and had some of the same bingeing problems. I actually gained more weight. And I felt so ashamed of myself that I knew better, but chose to ignore myself.

Again, I lost the weight at camp. It helped to have an active summer, and not have access to a kitchen or a buffet. I turned 20 that summer, and one night in the chapel at the end of the camp season, I promised myself and God that in my 20s, I was not going to have these eating problems. And God has helped me stick to that promise for 5 and a half years.

I love food. I love desserts, especially. But I know how to control my portions. I weigh some of my food on a scale—chips, ice cream, noodles. I measure some of my food with measuring cups—cereal, milk, nuts. I write down what I’ve eaten throughout the day to keep track. And I am able to eat everything delicious in moderation. Steve and I really do eat ice cream with my hot fudge every night—it’s just in a tiny bowl.

I have some bad days when I overeat at a restaurant or splurge on a large sundae. But I start new again the next morning, and I don’t punish myself, which would only make the cycle continue. I don’t give up my goal.

When I got pregnant with Nolan, I still kept track of what I ate, and roughly how many calories, making sure to always eat around 2000 calories a day. I gained a healthy 30 pounds, which came off in about three months.

Now, an additional 10 pounds has come off naturally—let’s account it to following a toddler around all day! I unfortunately haven’t gotten much exercise this winter since it’s been so cold and snowy, but I will get back to daily walks with the stroller soon.

I continue baking because I love it. I get joy from sharing my cakes and desserts with neighbors, friends, my MOPS group, and our extended families. Steve and I do end up with the majority of it—so I wish we lived closer to all of you!!


  1. Wow! This is amazing! Thanks for sharing your story and not being afraid to be proud of your body now. You are lovely! :-)

  2. I SO appreciate this post, Rachel. As someone who still runs to food for comfort at times instead of the Lord, it is immensely encouraging to read your story! Thank you for your honesty and bravery.

  3. Love this post. I've fluctuated with my weight too and I keep saying that I will get healthy. However, I haven't yet and the more posts like this that I read, the more motivation that I get.

  4. Thanks for sharing your story. It's inspirational! I think many girls, including myself, had eating habits in school that still haunt us a little bit today. You truly are gorgeous from the inside out!

  5. Rach,

    I am so so so proud of you :) You look just as beautiful as you always have but you look happier! Thanks for being such an inspiration. It shows that just because you are married/got pregnant/stay at home/any excuses we always hear, you can still be healthy. Thanks for sharing your journey, its an amazing one!

    Ruthie <3

  6. Love Rachel! Thank you so much for sharing your heart with us. You have a gift with words. You are an inspiration. Blessings.

  7. Great to hear another person's story! I'm glad that there is someone out there who has moderation figured out!

  8. Thank you for being so honest and vulnerable with us, Rachel! I didn't even know you had an issue with eating because that was all before I met you. I think you look awesome and you are beautiful inside and out. You are right about sharing because someone may need to read what you have to say. It takes a lot to put your heart out there!

    Thanks for sharing!

  9. Thank you for this post sweet lady! Gives me hope that I will lose my baby weight! :)

  10. thank you so much for sharing your story! I too had some issues my first year of college with that darn cafeteria buffet and the all i could eat desserts {can you say sweet tooth??}. So happy to hear that you have been able manage your weight in a healthy way and can feel great about how you look {and you DO look great!}.

  11. Great post! This is always a tricky topic because everyone is different. My dad just rides his bike once a day and loses weight. Other people can watch calories and lose no weight at all, or just gain it back. I do think that making healthier choices and controlling portions is the key, as well as exercise.

  12. Rachel,
    This is such an inspirational story! I struggled in the same exact ways growing up. I've recently joined Weight Watchers with the 15+ pound addition since my wedding last June and I have such a big desire to lose the weight. It's hard though when you're an emotional eater! Instead of going for an apple or some carrots, I go straight for the salty stuff!!

    This post was a great reminder that us women CAN get there with strength, knowledge, and determination. ( And will power!)

    Thank you!

  13. What a wonderful story to share. I know how hard that must have been... Thanks for sharing!

    XO Bethany

  14. This was in the linked in at the bottom of your post I just read... A round of applause for you, you think you know someone right ?
    I too have weight issues with no success, and I don't think i could put it out there for the whole world to read. You are amazing Rachel. I wish you the best :)


Thank you so much for your comments! I enjoy reading each one!


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