Less Leslie: One Year, 100 Pounds

Introducing Leslie J. Ansley’s new blog on how she will finally shed some pounds in 2010.

Leslie J. Ansley

February Starting Weight: 295 pounds
December Goal Weight: 195 pounds
Weight to Lose: 100 pounds
Goal Rate of Loss: 8-10 pounds per month
Time to lose weight: 12 months

Once more, with feeling.

This year, I’m fully committed to losing at least 100 pounds. I say “this year” because I said the same thing this time last year. So yes, I fell off the wagon, but at least this time I’m doing things in the right order: First, deal with the emotional crap, then the physical. I’ve always felt that dieting is 90 percent mental. Turns out I’m right.

Back around August 2008 I went to see Dr. Bean, my GP—who looks like Marcus Welby, BTW (if you’re too young to know who that is, shut up). I wasn’t feeling very well, kinda out of sorts, couldn’t seem to drop any weight though I’d been going to the gym, etc. Weight-loss surgery was not an option; I knew I could succeed without anything like that. I just needed … something. An appetite suppressant? A diet pill? Dr. Bean nixed those, and started asking me several uncomfortable, personal questions about dealing with the pressures in my life, and the next thing I knew I was crying and spilling my guts. He became my father confessor, then first doctor, ever, to have my complete medical history.

I left the appointment with a prescription for a depression medication. You know, loony pills. And an authorization form for counseling.

In a minute, I’m going to share with you why he did that because it’s central to this whole weight thing. I’ll try to make this as painless as possible because I’m not into sympathy, empathy or pity parties. I firmly believe in the importance of understanding how past events shape you—in my case, literally—but I’m all about the business of moving forward.

So here’s my story, in a nutshell: I’ve been overweight since around age 10. I can’t recall much about the years before that, and that has something to do with protecting myself from hurt. I can recall a few of the people involved over the years—the fact that I was repeatedly sexually abused is not something I’d ever forgotten, just never chose to dwell on. I didn’t see the point. This was not by family members, so home was more or less “safe” in that regard, and that’s where I stayed. Yes, I went from a skinny, outgoing kid with a cruising speed of “chaos” to a clinically obese introvert—in the span of one summer. I didn’t need a shrink to tell me why.

Except there was this thing called bulimia, which I’d battled since college. And this nagging bit of fear that I need to protect or hide myself in case I attracted the wrong attention. Oh yeah, and this other thing about feeling obligated to give in to those giving me the “wrong” attention—like I have no choice. And do tack on years of pain and trauma for being shunned and ignored most of my childhood.

I lost quite a bit of weight during high school by getting taller and forcing myself to join the volleyball and basketball teams, and later went up and down the scale, but mostly up, up, up post-marriage, babies and, especially, post-career: I slowly gained 50 pounds over the past 10 years.

I wasn’t unfamiliar with shrinks. I visited one several times while in Washington in the early 1990s, when going for counseling was almost a fad—just before Prozac Nation hit the best-seller list and Girl, Interrupted hit the big screen. Per usual, I wasn’t very honest with this psychiatrist. I didn’t have to be because he couldn’t (wouldn’t?) pull from me what, deep inside, I needed him to have.