My First World Problem

STORY BY Amber Willis

Published: March 28, 2014

Just like most women, I battle with my weight. I have since I was a little girl. I used to love spending summers at my great grandma’s house in the summer. She made all of my favorite foods and there was an endless supply of M&Ms and Little Debbie cakes. But, I would always leave her house weighing a little more that when I got there. I was young. It didn’t bother me, until an uncle made a comment on how much weight I’d gained. Of course he made the comment when I was in a bathing suit. My great grandma ripped him a new ass hole, but the damage was done. In my mind I was fat and needed to lose weight. I was about 8 years-old. As I got older I always thought about what the scale was telling me.

When I was 10, I began sneaking diuretics and using them after I ate too much. I remember waking up in pain in the middle of the night to use the bathroom after taking just one. The cramping was so unbearable I would curl up in a ball and cry on the tile floor, begging God not to let me die. But, I would wake up in the morning and weigh myself, see the lower number and realized it worked. So, I always did it again.

I didn’t use diuretics all the time. I only took them when I had eaten way too much. When I was in junior high I discovered diet pills. I would save my lunch money for a week so I could buy them. I hit a growth spurt in 7th grade and began cheerleading, so I slimmed up considerably. I noticed all the popular girls in my class were all thin and beautiful and had the hot boyfriends. To me, I began to think good looking guys only go for thin girls. I knew I had to keep my weight down if I’d ever get a boyfriend. I heard guys talk about girls in my class. They would talk about how fat so-and-so is, or the size of that girl’s butt. That stuck with me. I knew I was constantly being judged by boys about my looks. I was also taunted by other girls about my weight, the size of my lips, my nose, my frizzy hair, ect. The reflection in the mirror became my worst enemy.

My sophomore year I began dating a really sweet guy. My first real boyfriend. We went out to eat all the time. He was an athlete and ate… A LOT. So, anytime I ordered I wanted to finish every bite. I didn’t want to waste the meal he bought me (and the food was really good). He loved me, and the extra pounds I’d packed on, so I didn’t care that I gained about 40 lbs by my senior year. When we broke up, I used food to heal my pain (as I did during all the difficult times in my life). I then realized the monster I’d become. I’d stopped wearing make-up or fixing my hair while with him. I looked at myself in the mirror and hated what I saw.

I was able to lose 30 lbs in the next few years. I felt better and looked pretty good. But, when I graduated from college and moved out on my own, the weight piled back on. By the time I moved to Houston 10 years ago, my weight had reached 210 lbs. I carried it well. Men hit on me. I thought I was okay because men never turned me away. But, one day I looked in the mirror and realized I hated what I saw. It didn’t matter some guy’s opinion. I hated myself. And, for the first time in my life, I realized how unhealthy I truly was. I tried to lose weight the right way. I joined a gym, got a trainer and began changing the way I ate. It helped, but I wanted faster results. I began ordering diet pill over the internet, seriously abusing diuretics and realized that when I ate to much I could just throw it up. I really, truly did work my ass off in the gym. My trainer Dana can tell you, I was obsessed. I was in the gym everyday, sweating it out. After just 18 months I lost 80 lbs and was down to 130 lbs.

Then, I began dating an older, divorcee with kids. He was in great shape and made comments about other women’s weight. So, I made sure I didn’t gain an ounce. I went days without eating. One time his kids asked me when was the last time I ate, and I couldn’t tell them honestly, so I made something up. Part of it was because of my hectic work schedule, but when I did eat I threw it back up again because I didn’t want to be fat. I didn’t want him to look at me the way he looked at those other women who he called fat. By the end of our relationship I’d starved and purged myself down to 108 lbs, which is considered underweight for a woman my height.

After we broke up I slowly let myself get to 115 lbs. That was my happy weight. I didn’t gain above 120 lbs until I met my next boyfriend 3 years later. I’ve never been in love until I met this man. I was happy. We ate and drank together, especially late at night. I don’t think I had ever been happier in my life. But, after 8 months, I gained 10 lbs… then another 10. Of course it was “happy weight” but, when we stopped dating I wasn’t happy with myself. I’m still struggling to drop that 20 lbs, but I’m trying to do it the right way… without diuretics, diet pills, starvation and purging. It’s really hard. I’ve been tempted to go back to my old ways, but I haven’t. I’m proud of that

What I’ve learned through this life long struggle, is you can’t let others influence how you see yourself. Being thin doesn’t increase your value or the way others see you. Also, for years I blamed others for my weight problems. I blamed my great grandmother for letting me eat what I wanted, women in my life for always being on a diet, my uncle for his rude comments, my first ex for making me feel insecure and my other ex for letting me eat late and drink so much. But, in the end, everything we do is our decision. We decide how to live our lives and whether we let others influence us. Now I’m working on being my own influence in my life. Motivating myself to be happy, healthy and strong. I hope hearing about my secret struggles will help you let your true, inner beauty shine through.

**This is a special note for people who know me. Many of you are saying, “Look great. You’re tiny. You don’t need to lose any weight.” This is my reply– I dress myself very carefully to hide my weight. You aren’t there when I stand there in the mirror and see myself naked. You’re aren’t there in the mornings when I sit any cry on the bedroom floor because I can’t find anything to wear to work, except for the 5 dresses and 2 pairs of stretch pants I can wedge myself into. You don’t see the look of dread in my eyes when I get an invite to an event. I used to love going to social events, I went to about 3 a night sometimes. But, now all I can think is I worn both of my 2 event outfits and was photographed and seen in both. It is stressful to keep up appearances. I know that is a first world problem… but, it’s my problem.**


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