When I finished college, I felt like the entire world was open to me. I had a degree, and therefore I knew I could get a good job and start a career. I would then be able to pay off my student debt, buy a house, and live my life to the fullest. The universe, however, had other plans. As the new year of 2008 dawned, and I set out on my post undergrad life, the housing market decided to collapse. My hopes of finding a good paying job were completely dashed as the country was sent into one of the worst economic crises since the Great Depression. Thankfully, I was able to snag a full time position at the local department store I had worked at during the Christmas season. Instead of wrapping gifts for harried holiday shoppers in the gift wrap department, I was now shilling sheet sets and electric blankets to old ladies in domestics.
While bad for my personal economic future, this was a decent turn in regards to my activity level. I was able to walk around at work, lifting things, bending and stretching. One day, I did get curious about exactly how much I weighed. We had scales over in the bathroom section for sale, and sometimes they ended up getting opened. We had one digital scale that we didn't even sell any more that had no package and my co-workers were constantly checking their weight on it (remember, this was a small local department store, we had few customers and much time on our hands). I decided to give it a go; I hadn't been weighed in nearly three years since my bout with mono in 2005. I slipped away from my area and popped on to the scale. 210. Wow. I mean, I wasn't entirely shocked but I was ashamed of myself. 210 is not a healthy weight for my height and I knew it. I decided that I should try to lose 20lbs. That should be easy, right?
I knew my activity level at work was helping me, so I decided to tackle the food issue. I thought that if I just cut the fast food and have some salads and Lean Cuisines for lunch I would be set. I think this lasted less than a week as I went back to my typical diet of fast food and potato chips. Not even saying that particular plan was even a good one. It had good intentions, but it truly wasn't something that would launch me into a complete and much needed lifestyle change. That moment though was important. For the first time as an adult I fully recognized that I needed to take control of my weight. I did make a conscious decision to try and lose weight because I knew I was fat.
Later on that year, life took another interesting turn. I had been applying at various companies to land a full time position and start my career but with no offers or even interviews. In exasperation I eventually applied to a bank as a teller. It was more money, and a decent place to be until I could maybe go back to school or find something better. I had interviewed twice, and while I did well I was never offered anything. They said they would keep me in mind. Well, by the end of the summer, I suddenly had a clock ticking over my head. That family run department store I was working in was going into Chapter 11, and my store was on the chopping block. If I didn't find anything else, by the end of that September I would be out of a job.
After the store closed, I was unemployed for a whole of two and a half weeks. I was still getting paid from the store because of some snafu the company caused and the bankruptcy courts ordered them to pay us wages through the middle of October (It was a pretty awesome two weeks, TBH). I did manage to get a position at good ole JCPenney's, which really sucked. But still, I had a job that kept me active. Of course, at that point I didn't really care what the work entailed, let it be active or not, I just really needed a job. I was working there for a about a month and a half, when I finally got the phone call I had been waiting nearly a year for. The bank I had interviewed with all that time ago finally wanted me.
And this is where all this background story leads to. With taking a job with the bank, I launched myself into a very different kind of work than what I had been doing up until this point. The customer service end of it was very much the same. What was different and completely blew me away was that as a bank teller I was allowed to sit down. This was huge for me, as previously I had spent my working days on my feet in various types of retail jobs with only 30 mins to sit down on break. While I gloried in not having an aching back and feet at the end of the day, this proved to be ultimately disastrous for my waistline.
Starting in my new career in banking, I was much more focused on the job itself, and I never really thought about how physical the job was itself. I was a teller which is the most physical job in a branch as there is more standing, lifting and bending. But, the activity level was nowhere near where my retail jobs were at. In conjunction with this, my diet did not get any better. I was still drinking soda by the gallon, indulging in sweets and fast food. Not surprisingly, I gained weight. I don't know exactly how much I weighed at that particular point in time, but I knew I was gaining weight because my clothes stopped fitting me.
Luckily, this was around the time the whole concept of plus-size became a more mainstream option. Before, clothes in larger sizes were always relegated to the back of stores, in some shadowy corner in an apparent attempt to pretend plus sizes didn't even exist. Now, stores like Torrid and Lane Bryant were available to me, and Target was getting a better plus size collection. But still, I could also shop in the "straight sizes". I had started to slowly accept my body more, as society started to accept the fact that bigger bodies do, in fact, exist. I stopped feeling so much shame over my fat rolls, I felt like I could actually finally feel pretty and sexy. One huge factor in leading me to this was my then boyfriend, now husband, Ed. He always (and still does) would tell me how gorgeous and sexy I am. He loved every wobbly inch of me, and I felt that if HE can find me desirable, and love my body, well so can I!
I began to eschew any indication of going on a diet. I decided that instead of trying to eat super healthy, I would make my meals more well rounded, with meats, veggies and some kind of grain. Here and there we would go out to eat or grab some fast food, but it wasn't always. I wanted to put a better effort into making our meals, so with some help from my mom I taught myself how to cook. I took to it like a fish takes to water and became a rather competent chef, if I do say so myself. With this new culinary world open to me, so did a new world of different kinds of food. I liked to experiment with different kinds of cuisines, trying out things that were easy and hard. We ended up eating rather well for a long period of time. Ed actually started to fill out more - he was always a very lean guy, almost to the point of too skinny.
As my cooking skills blossomed, so did my career in banking. I moved from being a teller to what we call switcher, meaning I would now in addition to teller duties, I would have the same duties as a banker would too. After a year of that, I took the next step up into being a full fledged banker, and moving to a new branch as well. This was a great move for me, as I ended up working three minutes from home (I know, right?) and with an amazing manager. I very much enjoyed the work, even though it came with a whole new set of stresses and concerns. Never-the-less, I was still happy where I was at. The problem was, I got very comfortable in my lifestyle that came along with this new position. Not surprisingly, my weight started to creep, and creep, and creep upwards. And yet, I still blithely continued on.
To Be Continued......
(okay, so I am trying for a little dramatic effect here, so sue me.)