By SUZANNAH COUCH, staff columnist
For the first time in my life, I am nervous about writing a column.
I have not always been comfortable discussing my weight. Or, more to the point, the fact that I am overweight.
My weight has been a source of humiliation, devastation and disappointment. It has triggered mean laughter, cruel words by others and sweaty palms when walking in large crowds.
I am nervous because I am putting my weight on the scales of public opinion for people to comment on. This is the most open I have been about such a taboo topic in my life.
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My weight has always been a struggle. But the bigger struggle I face is my love of food. Cheese, bread and chocolate — those are a few of my favorite things.
Since I was about 12 years old, I have lost my battle.
But not anymore.
For once in my life, I am setting boundaries. I am not letting food control my life. And I am actually winning the war.
Since late last summer, I have been on a journey that has resulted in the loss of more than 70 pounds — with a few more to go.
I am able to walk into Target, pick out a cute dress and confidently walk into the dressing room to try it on. I know it will fit.
The reason I won’t buy a dress is no longer, “Oh, it doesn’t fit’”but instead, “I like it, but I like this other one more.”
I am actually looking forward to buying a swimsuit this summer, too. In the past, once I found a suit that fit, I would wear it until it began to fade. I hated shopping for swimsuits that much. Not anymore!
My life is changing. I feel more confident, and I don’t feel like all eyes are on me when I walk into a room, judging me or my clothes.
I haven’t made an announcement on social media about my weight loss, but as I posted photos, people began to notice. I couldn’t bring myself to make an official “Hey, I am on Weight Watchers, and I’ve lost this much weight because I’ve finally realized that food isn’t everything” announcement.
It’s mostly because I was feeling shy and slightly awkward about this new me. But today I am holding my head up high as I write this because I am proud of myself. I am proud of what I have done to re-wire my brain to not crave eight pieces of pizza or go to a buffet and eat until I am sick.
I am proud when I look in the mirror and am truly happy with what I see. I am proud that my wardrobe feels brand new because everything fits much better now. I am proud of the fact that I can’t even wear certain pieces anymore because they are just too big.
Food is no longer my happy place. My happy place is a walk in the park, playing with my adorable nephew or spending time with the people I love the most.
Losing weight has also been a family affair. My nana talked me into attending her Weight Watchers meeting with her. With those sweaty palms again, I walked into the meeting room prepared to face the fact that I am overweight head-on. I am glad I didn’t turn back.
I have an awesome support system to thank for this, too. I have my tribe of supporters I text every time I weigh in — hopefully to announce weight loss. But I can always count on my boyfriend, parents, grandparents and sister for encouraging words even if I have gained weight. I also credit all of the beautiful souls who attend the same weekly meeting and offer words of advice or encouragement that are more satisfying than chocolate. Well, almost.
Part of my reason for writing this is personal. I’m taking another step along that road to self-acceptance and self-control. But I’m also writing this for anyone — no, everyone — reading this who relates to my struggle. If I can do it, you can do it, too.
It takes dedication and patience. It takes wanting to feel better. Most importantly, you must never give up. Even if the numbers on the scale are higher than last week, it’s all about sticking with it one day at a time. One meal at a time.
And I promise you, you will feel so much better. My doctors are happy that I am taking better care of myself. I feel confident. I enjoy walking. I walk with more confidence. I don’t shy away from photos being taken or request that the photo be taken from the chest up. I can walk through a large crowd with my head held high.
But most of all, I feel good. It makes me feel great knowing that others have noticed all of the hard work I have put in to being happy and healthy. When you start to lose weight — eating better, exercising more — you will know exactly what I mean.
Suzannah Couch is a reporter-photographer for the Brown County Democrat. She can be reached at 812-988-2221 or firstname.lastname@example.org.