By Molly Barreca - Over one year ago today, I looked pretty different. After finishing my freshman year of college I’d managed to actually beat the freshman 15 and had maintained the weight I’d been on my high school graduation day. Great, right? I conquered the fear of so many budding college freshman. It all would have been pretty damn impressive if I had been a healthy weight to begin with.
Instead, I was carrying around about 50 pounds of extra baggage, and lacked a whole lot of confidence. I wanted to be a “normal” college girl. I wanted to share clothes with my friends, I wanted to go out and feel great about myself, but most of all, I wanted to change.
With that in mind I began a nine-week intensive diet of three protein shakes a day and two protein bars a day (The regimen was doctor prescribed and supervised. Don’t try this at home, kids.) I learned pretty quickly that there are some things they don’t tell you about on all of those ads where people’s “before” pics are plastered up next to the same person now in a size 2 bikini.
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During that nine weeks, I was moody and miserable. Besides missing solid foods, I missed varieties of flavor and taste. In fact, I thought about giving up at least once a day. But I didn’t. And as I sit here now in my oversized shirt from the days of “Old Molly,” I know that some things are different for the better, and some were actually better off before I lost the weight.
On the glass half full side are the obvious benefits, I significantly lowered my risk of Diabetes (which runs in my family) and gained knowledge not just about health but about myself as well.
I realized how much I really, truly have a passion for food. Not eating. Food. They say you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone, and that was certainly the case for me. Once I slowly phased in “real meals” again, I didn’t want to eat junk. I didn’t want to ruin a meal by overeating. Food no longer became my weakness but my strength when I discovered how much I now knew about how it affects my body and how I was actually in control.
Before I lost weight, I never took pictures of, or even talked about, food. Essentially, I didn’t want people to know I ate. I realize now that this is silly for so many reasons. But at the time, I was so ashamed of how I looked, and was too afraid of what others might say if I posted an Instagram picture of something “unhealthy.”
Confidence manifests itself in so many ways. “New Molly” can go out in tight clothes and feel good, or go out in a flowy dress and feel pretty darn great, too. “New Molly” LOVES talking about food (particularly buffalo wings) because she knows no one is questioning whether or not she “should” or “shouldn’t” be eating that. I gained that through what I lost, and that’s pretty crazy.
Throughout the process, I learned a lot about my friends and family, too. First of all, I realized they love me regardless of how I look and would do pretty much anything to make me happy (thanks fam for eating literal pounds of kale with me). I know it sounds silly. Like, duh, your friends and family love you, but it meant a lot to see people just as proud of me during the very first week of the diet, when I’d only lost 5 pounds, as they are now, 50 pounds later.
But “New Molly” has some problems, too. One year ago, I never would have thought there would be negatives to weight loss. In fact, I doubt most people do. But there are. As happy as I am in this now not-so-new body, there are new challenges to face almost as difficult as the old ones.
My roommates can attest to the fact that I’m a little bit obsessed with my scale. In fact, a lot obsessed. This is totally a product of weight loss. Before my diet, I weighed myself once a year at the doctor and prayed the number wouldn’t be “too bad”. Now, I weigh myself at least once, sometimes even twice, a day.
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The scale love affair is the most visible representation of the paranoia that came with becoming who I am now. My weight tends to be the same to the tenth of a decimal. That being said, when I waver a couple of pounds, I panic. There is also a newfound guilt that “Old Molly” rarely felt. I never want to go back to where I was, and the thought of gaining back my weight is enough to give me nightmares (really, I’ve had those).
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For awhile, there was some fear associated with eating as well. I didn’t expect to be “afraid” to eat pizza or Chinese food, but after going without it for so long, it was a scary thought to allow myself to eat something I knew wasn’t healthy for me and truly enjoy it. Luckily, I am so over that now, and learning the lesson that one slice — okay two slices — once in awhile won’t kill you took a lot of time.
Probably the saddest part (for me anyway) about such a major change in my life is that there’s actually some embarrassment tied in with weight loss. Really, it’s true. Last year when I met new people, I tried pretty hard to avoid showing them any old pictures of me. How sad is that? But it’s a double edged sword. I am SOOOO happy about how I look now, and the heavier version of myself was pretty cool too, but I don’t want other people to think of me as that girl anymore. It’s kinda weird to me that I don’t really want people to see her because it’s such a drastic change.
The Silver Lining
Photos courtesy of Molly Barreca
It took me over a year to decide to actually write this article. And even now, as I sit here writing it, I’m having second thoughts. But kind of like when I decided to try this whole new “lifestyle change,” I know I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. People say lifestyle change because there’s never supposed to be an “end” when you’re dieting. That’s true for me, but writing this is also about as close to the end as I’ll ever come. Yes, I’ll still weigh myself every morning, but hopefully I’ll also start to be open about the physical changes to me too.
Words of Wisdom (Lol cuz I’m not that wise)
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A lot of people try and try to lose weight. I was one of those people for the first 18 years of my life. That’s a lot of failures. But all it took was one bout of perseverance and discipline to really change my life. I know it’s easier said than done, but I urge anyone to try.
Take the extra minute and think about what you really want. Do you want that second slice or do you want that feeling of knowing you conquered a craving and said, “Maybe next time?” That’s for you to decide. Trust me, making good decisions really does snowball, and before you know it, that number on the scale or person in the mirror will make it all worth it.
And P.S. Sometimes saying yes to the second slice really IS the right answer.