At my heaviest I was a size 18. I have a twin sister, and so I became the fat twin for a while. Being 6' tall didn't help either. But not all my life, just the bit after 5 years of college. In my 6th year I found weight watchers. And then its started...a live long weightwatchers obsession.
Counting points, saving points, exercising, counting counting and saving more points. I did learn about food and I certainly became more aware of the food I was shovelling into my gob, but to the extreme. I lost loads of weight! So who cares! Before the weigh-ins every week I would pop to the loo, not eat and save half my days points (my total of 18 -22points) until after the class. I was always shakey, hungry and lightheaded but the scales were what mattered. If I went over my points which rarely happened, Id make sure to earn back the points with walking or doing some sort of fitness class. I remember after our final exam one year in college, my friend and I went for tea and cake in Bakers Corner pub near Dun Laoghaire. I felt so guilty I walked home...to Stoneybatter, 2 1/2 hours away. I did that a few times.
After college I moved home, couldn't get a job, so I ate. Then, I ate some more. Back to size 18.
With that came depression, anxiety and all round general misery. The next bit is a blur, but...
Then came weight watchers. And further obsession.
And a decision to stop eating meat...honestly to save points. Saving animals was a happy side effect and a guise to go under.
Eventually I saved enough money, moved to New Zealand to work in the film industry.
Three amazing, fun filled years of working in NZ and Australia passed. Id cracked the film industry, rubbed shoulders with the finest and worked my ass off like never before. But amid the helicopter rides, parachute jumps and new friends, my weight still yoyo'd . On Narnia - The Lion the Witch and The Wardrobe, I lived on dried pineapple and vegetables mostly and worked 86 hour weeks. After we wrapped I was size 10. One month later on King Kong I was size 12, and working mostly nights.
So..t.hen came...you guessed it, Weight watchers. Except this time the lady weighed me and told me I was below the minimium joining weight for my height...
I stayed vegetarian, played with veganism for a while by accident. Lived on a diet of soy chai lattes, scones and dried fruit.
I also stayed depressed, anxious and by this stage I hadn't seen a period in 2 years. When work was slow, I stayed up late writing and drawing in my local vege cafe open 24 hours. I would cry a lot. Think a lot. Worry a whole lot. But I was "happy". Of course I was. i was in New Zealand!
Skip forward to being back home in Ireland, working in the film industry here. The day I arrived back in the country, my period came with me! I must have forgotten to say Id emigrated for 3 years. The weight watchers cycle continued too. I'd work 6 months on a tv series, in a very manual, stressful job on set. Id get fat and by the start of the next job Id be skinny again, ready to get fat. But in 2010 I over heard a few of the crew talking about their personal trainer. They were eating walnuts. Walnuts were forbidden in my book - way too many calories! With the end of the job looming and weight watchers expecting my return I decided I had nothing to loose. It was expensive, and I had money. But no more expensive than WW and the endless supply of Pink and White biscuit snacks I bought (only half a point!).
Then came Personal Training, and with it, a love of weightlifting, weight training, of building muscle and loosing bodyfat. Dave in Metabolic Fitness was better to look at then a room of woman talking about how they slipped up on their points that week. He trained me and got me to focus on muscle, not fat....and I could eat walnuts. But...
Then came the obsession with training. Can you tell I'm an all or nothing person!?
I trained hard with him for 3-4 sessions a week, then one or two myself. I was still vegetarian. I was sore everywhere, everyday. And my periods packed up and bought a one way ticket to outtahere. But this was fine. Exercise lifted the depressed moods for a while. I stayed in. Stayed away. Didn't drink. I had less than zero interest in men, or sex or anything like that. And when a tv show got cancelled in 2011 and I was unemployed for a year, training became my job. Training was why I got up in the mornings...every single morning. I was "healthy", vegetarian, 17% bodyfat, and toned. That year, I had an ache in my foot for months. So I trained around it. For 3 months. Until after a 5k cross country run with my brother in law, it got bad. In the gym the next day, it got really really bad. I jumped off a weights bench and the pain cut through me. Tears rolled immediately and thankfully I was with my sister who helped me hobble home.
It was broken. And I had a heel spur. After 6 months of physio and crutches, it still hadn't healed. So I was referred to Dr. O'Bryan for a DEXA bone scan. I approached her on my crutches and she immediately asked "what kind of athlete are you?". I was never so flattered. By the end of the consultation she said I had the bones of a 60 year old (moderate osteopenia), I was training too hard, needed to eat meat, fuel my training properly....and I couldnt have children. The nutritionist she referred me to told me to leave after 10 minutes into our consultation when I questioned why she would suggest I ate cornflakes! I was shocked, embarrassed and sat in my car and cried from my gut..not knowing what to do next.
Maybe some day I'll write the rest...but you see where I'm going. Every nutritionist has a story, and this is just some of mine.
Now I eat meat. I train less. My periods are like clockworks (that took a long time!). My libido is back, my spirit is back and it didnt happen over night. 13 years later theres further health issues I'm dealing with like anyone. But I'm grateful I have the tools to deal with them.
Now my obsession is with learning, getting down to the very core of the cells of the body, knowing how food interacts in the broken body and how best to serve it. Food is life, food is medicine and its always changing. If we ignore its power then we will become powerless.