I was 12 years old when I saw a picture of myself that would impact my entire life. As an adolescent I had put on some weight, but not any height. I’m so short-waisted and short-legged that there was no place to hide any extra weight. Even five pounds is a big deal for me. In the photo, I was chubby and had an unflattering outfit, but more than that, my face was sad and unhappy. Looking at myself, I felt distressed.
So at age 12, I started to exercise and watch what I ate. I didn’t tell anyone, but when my mom commented that I looked different, I told her I’d lost 5 pounds. My weight went up and down by as much as 30 pounds during the next 8 years. It greatly affected my self-esteem. I also had a strange genetic disorder that resulted in my starting 7th grade as toothless as a first grader. Ages 12-18 were spent trying to lose weight and waiting for teeth to grow in. Needless to say, I was not a cheerleader or prom queen. Add the typical woes of adolescent acne and social challenges, and no one could pay me enough to do those years again!
I was chubby when I went off for my freshman year at BYU where I gained more weight. As I returned home for the summer, in my frustration of gaining the 10 pounds, I gained another five. I reached what was later my top maternity weight. I could see myself ballooning into a very overweight girl, much like my paternal grandmother and aunts and uncles, so in desperation, lonely and scared, I went to the local Weight Watchers. Thankfully, I lost the ten pounds and got a moderate grip on things.
As the years went by, I returned to Weight Watchers many times, and I thank this program from the bottom of my heart. It saved me from becoming obese. My happiness level went up and down through these years, but as I look back, it could have been much, much worse. Eventually I became a Weight Watchers leader. My years of sharing the importance of “A Balanced Diet of Fruits and Veggies! Meat! Dairy! Protein! Be Healthy and You’ll Be Happy!” were a lot of fun and were the foundation of my current writing and business.
During these years, Weight Watchers actually came out with a vegetarian program where you could “eat as much as desired of these foods until you are satisfied.” As I look back on it, it was pretty much a whole-food-plant-based program that I dismissed with “Who would ever do that!” I loved my skim milk, cottage cheese, weekly allotment of cheese, beef meals, etc. And with a sweet tooth that was never really under control, I sure wasn’t going to go that route!