Motherhood and Obesity

Back in 1981 when I got pregnant, you could get a discharge from the Navy if to stay in would cause you and/or the Navy inconvenience. Although I had longed to become an officer, I did not relish the idea of being alone in London for the delivery of my child. My husband’s tour of duty was up and he was transferring stateside. So, I got out of the Navy and followed my husband to San Diego.

I loved pregnancy. I only had about a week of morning sickness and, other than the flare up of Ulcerative Colitis, I felt strong and healthy. I slept well. I ate well. And, as I said earlier, I gained SIXTY pounds. By the time I was ready to deliver, people were asking me if I was having twins. I was huge. Sadly, delivering my daughter did not really make a dent in the weight gain. I nursed for nearly a year and even that did not really impact my weight. So I hovered around 200 for quite some time. And of course I felt very self conscious.

I told myself the weight would eventually come off. However, I was not really doing anything to help that process. I could not imagine how this happened. I had been a little chubby in the past, but never OBESE. At 22, I weighed more than my daughter and husband put together.

I was a stay-at-home mother for my daughter’s first 2 1/2 years. I sewed, cleaned, cooked, took her to Mommy and Me classes, and socialized with the other Navy wives on base. When I could stand this no longer, I took a part-time job as a file clerk. All the while, my weight stayed steady, steady at about 70 pounds more than I should have weighed. About six months later, a position came open at one of the Navy bases and I went to work full time. I cannot really remember how long I worked before that impatient inner athlete surfaced, but she would not stay buried.

Two things happened – one, someone told me about a doctor in Coronado who would prescribe diet pills – Tenuate Dospan and two, I decided to start swimming during my lunch hours. I went to Coronado and got the diet pills. I began taking them and adjusted my diet. On an average day I was not eating breakfast, had an orange for lunch, and then a baked potato with chili or broccoli for dinner. I know what you are thinking – certainly not a healthy diet. I would drive down the hill to the submarine base every day at lunch and quickly change, swim half a mile in 30 min, dry off and get back to work. On weekends, I would  swim up to a mile. As you can guess, in 7 months I lost 70 pounds. Coincidentally, my husband was on deployment this whole time and I looked wonderful when he got home. Even his lieutenant flirted with me. 

Unfortunately, my weight loss was not supported in my relationship and I was not a strong enough personality to do what was best for me regardless of external or internal pressures. So, slowly but certainly – over the course of a few years, the weight began to creep up again. And, as often occurs, I gained more than I had lost. I was now more than 200 pounds and more unhappy. 

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