Dear Emily

This weekend, I’ve been in a super-reflective mood. Just very introverted and in my own head.

I have a Groupon to get some photos scanned to disc and also for old 8mm camcorder tapes to get put on DVD, so I spent several hours yesterday looking through my childhood things, trying to pull out photos that I didn’t want to fade with age.

I came across something in the closet, and knew I just had to read it:

Journal, circa 1996

Like many of you, I don’t ever remember NOT being on a diet. NOT worrying about my weight. It was ingrained in me as I attended my mom’s aerobics classes in the 80s (just as a spectator, but knowing that this is what you did to lose weight), did every fad diet with her imaginable, and had to shop from the “husky” section as a kid.

This journal gave me lost insight into my younger self, and the self-image I held.

Day 1. December 23, 1996. 15 years old

December 23, 1996.

Fat Grams: >20 (I suspect I was supposed to say “less than” 20, not “greater than”)
Hours between last meal/snack and bedtime: 3
Number of meals: 3
Number of snacks: 2
Minutes of exercise: 115
Level of exercise: 8/10
Weight: 250

This starts my “new diet.” I’m taking fen-phen for now and it feels like it’s helping me with my hunger. I had the hardest swim practice ever and I did step aerobics with sets of pushups and sit-ups. I am determined now to get the weight off. By the time I turn 16, I could have lost around 50 lbs (3 lbs a week). That would be a great present for me (A car would be nice also!) But I feel I need to do this for myself now – not anyone else like before.

Reading this in my pajamas 15 years later as 343 pound person who has just lost 112 pounds, I am in shock. I knew that I was on fen-phen when I was a teenager. I knew that I was always on a diet. I seem to have forgotten though that I was 250 pounds. In comparison to now, that is so small. It’s nearly HALF of my highest weight. Yet I distinctly remember feeling like the largest person on the planet. I came across this photo also from that same time period, my “after” photo from summer fat camp, and felt ridiculously huge.

I read the rest of the journal entries in the book, and just shook my head the entire time. I was working out at least 1.5 hours 5 times a week, eating less than 20 grams of fat per day, and still feeling like there was something wrong with me. I desperatley wish I could go back in time and talk to that young Emily.

Dear Emily,

You are beautiful. You are strong. You are healthy. You are loved. You are smart. You are caring. You are kind.

Love yourself. Love your body. Love your curves. Love your strength. Love your athleticism. Love your family.

Your worth is not in your weight, no matter what anyone has told you or made you believe. They’re pushing their insecurities and problems onto you. 

Living life is not about struggling through a day analyzing every calorie or minute of exercise. Right now life is about enjoying the time you have on this earth to have fun, being good to yourself, and being a kid! 

As you grow up, just work on maintaining your healthy self, just as you are. Stay active and do things you love because you WANT to, not because you’re trying to fit someones mold of what they think you should be. Move, play, run and have fun. 

You are beautiful. You are strong. You are healthy. You are loved. You are smart. You are caring. You are kind.

You know what the irony of that letter I just wrote is? It’s just a applicable now as it was 15 years ago (except for the “being a kid” part). It’s something I need to remind myself daily.

For a moment last night, I started to play the “what if” game, wondering what would have happened had I achieved whatever level of “success” I wanted back then. What if I didn’t use food to mask my emotions and gain 200 pounds more? I quickly stopped myself. I can’t play the game of what-if’s because this is a life of this-is. This is where I am, at this moment, and must accept it. I can use the reflection time to remember where I’ve been, but can’t let it determine where I’m going.

Each day we make thousands of choices that add up and lead us down one of the infinite roads life has to offer. Our pasts can help guide us down the right path, but we can’t go back and change where we’ve been. Here’s to enjoying the journey.

  • Fit to be Beautiful

    “You are beautiful. You are strong. You are healthy. You are loved. You are smart. You are caring. You are kind.”

    I need to write this down somewhere and say it out loud everyday. Thanks!

  • Costie

    I can relate to the feeling of being on a diet forever. I wish I would have spent my time realizing what I have to offer vs. being defined by my weight. I should have spent more time enjoying life instead of wishing for a future that still hasn’t happened yet.  Your journey is inspirational and thanks for sharing your story. You are my motivation. Keep up the great work!

  • MarcieT

    Thank you for sharing this! i’m going to work on replacing “what if” with “this is” in my head. That should help stop those nasty negative thoughts that only lead me on the road to depression. I appreciate your honesty in this!

  • phatmom

    You were and are beautiful and active and healthy. And yet someone told you to be different from what you were! It makes me so angry for you. I’m willing to bet that obsessiveness about  weight at an early age actually contributed to your weight gain, rather than helping you lose weight.

    Curvy young girls need to be told that they are beautiful, strong, and healthy just as they are. Yes, they should be active. But they need to know that their weight is just a number, NOT an indication of their worth!

    Keep moving for your health and happiness, Emmie! I’m so glad you are blogging these vulnerable moments. (And did you notice Oprah doesn’t look like that anymore either?) Fad diets come and go. Health is a lifelong habit.

  • Jules Big Girl Bombshell

    There must be something in the air.  I, too, have been doing self reflection and looking at a lot of those things in my past.
    You are beautiful. You are strong. You are healthy. You are loved. You are smart. You are caring. You are kind.

  • safire

    I think self-reflection is so important on this journey. I did a lot of introspection the last few years and I think it contributed to my ability to keep the weight off for good this time.

    Like you, I also tried for years to lose weight especially in my teens! 

  • Jill Grunenwald

    Whenever I look back at pictures of myself from high-school, when I wore a 16/18, the current me — who wears a 26 — wishes she could go back in time and tell the younger me that things will be okay and that I am beautiful regardless of what I weigh.

  • Tracy Webster

    Oh man, does this ever ring true for me, too.  I wish, I wish, I WISH I could go back and tell my 12-year-old self to love exercise, to love fruit, to stop hating herself.

    The only downside is I might have never grown to love Spin.  I might never have joined!  But I might be able to live with that.  I might have joined as a fit person looking for more exercise!  But oh god…

    Yeah.  I understand.  I read through my teenage diaries, and I just… augh.  I never kept any where I recorded my weight or anything, but there are a lot of entries of “RIGHT, THAT’S THE LAST SWEET/CAKE/PACK OF CRISPS,” and… yeah.


    I need to write a letter to my 12-year-old-self, too, I think.

    *HUGS YOU*

  • Marcy-jo

    Emmie! This was really an inspirational post! WOW…..I teared up a bit reading it but you should feel good about how far you’ve come and how many people I’m sure you’ve helped along the way! Incredible! Keep it up!

  • Lisa T

    Wow. What a moving and inspiring post. Emmie, you rock.

  • Jenny Zahnd Larson

    Wowzers!!! Must have been very enlightening to read. xo

  • Mary Jo M

    What wonderful introspection you’re experiencing.  I could sure stand to write a letter to my 15 year old self and I’d say so many of the same things.  I’d also apologize for how cruel I was to her; for how much the self-hatred would shape her life.  Great post!

  • LHA

    Wow!  A terrific post.  I had a similar conversation with myself after coming across a photo of myself at about age 10 in a bathing suit with a friend.  I looked hard at that little girl, the younger “me”, and thought how pretty she was.  I wasn’t that fat but I thought I was grotesquely obese!! My legs were a little chubby and my face was quite round, but the friend who I was standing next to wasn’t much thinner than I was and she was never considered “the fat girl” like I was.  I so wished I could talk to my young self and say that soon I would be developing curves and grow taller and would have quite a stunning figure….that things were going to be all right.  At the time of that picture I had been dieting continuously since age 6.  I had been teased mercilessly by other kids for being a “fatso” and a “tub of lard” for as long as I could remember.  My very disordered relationship with food was already formed by the time that photo was snapped and I was filled with self loathing. I have fought that battle for the whole rest of my life.  Fortunately, I am feeling better about myself now than I ever thought I would back then.  You are right, the present moment is what we have.  Being able to leave a load of negative feelings where they belong…in the past… is freeing and I am grateful for that!  Thanks for writing such a terrific blog. You are touching a lot of people in a very positive way.

  • Katie @ Katie Rose Fitness

    Emmie, I just found your blog and I am really impressed with your writing.  Everything is so well written, it just draws you in.  Although I don’t have weight to lose, the words you write to yourself apply to me too.  I think we all struggle to tell ourselves we are beautiful, strong, healthy, loved, smart, caring and kind.  Thank you for the reminder…I can tell you are going to be an inspiration for me!

  • The Woman Who Ate

    I read through my old journal entries not too long ago also and found the exact same thing, how I felt like the biggest person in the world yet I weighed maybe 80 pounds less than I do now. I just stumbled upon your blog and after only reading two posts I have to say I love your writing!

  • Michelle B.

    Emmie you are a very pretty young woman!

    First of all, I totally understand how you feel. I had purchased the same book 15 years ago after my mom died. Like you, I have been dieting all of my life. Continue to love yourself and put yourself first@60bdaa5c38b7c34cf6022d4cd3a266bd:disqus


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