I Lost a Third of Myself

And gained a whole lot more.

A long weekend away with two best friends from high school—I'd been looking forward to this trip all winter. But when I sat on the plane, I felt uncomfortable: There isn't enough room in this seat. I was spilling into the space of my friend Connie, sitting next to me.

That weekend, as we walked around Las Vegas, I thought, I shouldn't feel this tired just from walking. I'm 24 years old. At night, I woke in the hotel room and the first thing that popped in my mind was, I'm so heavy.

Back home, I had to face difficult truths: College is over. I've lost and gained the same 15 pounds this year. This isn't changing on its own, and obviously, I don't know what to do. When I confessed this to my mom, she admitted, "I don't know how to help you." She suggested I call Julie, who goes to our church.

"That's crazy," I said. "What am I supposed to do—call this woman I hardly know and say, 'Hey, I'm fat. Can you help me?'"

"Julie loves fitness, she loves nutrition," my mom said, "and when you have something you're passionate about, you want to share it with others."

The next day I picked up the phone, and Julie didn't hesitate or ask to think about it. We went to the gym, and she taught me a workout plan. As we rode bikes next to each other, she said, "I look more tired than you. Why is that?"

"I don't know."

Julie looked at me. "You need to feel like you're about to die or you're not working hard enough."

What Julie didn't say was that the physical challenge wouldn't be as hard as the emotional, social, and spiritual.

Abnormal, anxious, and ashamed

I wasn't prepared for how I would stick out. I would go to small group and watch everyone else eat cheesecake and wonder, Why am I the only person who can't eat dessert? On vacation in Williamsburg with friends, I couldn't afford to snack if I got hungry, so I became the person asking, "When are we going to have lunch?" I asked the group to eat at sit-down restaurants, rather than Wendy's; this cost them more, but I could get better options. My order became a long conversation with the waiter: "No croutons, no bacon, light ranch—on the side." I felt like Sally from When Harry Met Sally. After dinner, if they would order cobbler, I would watch them eat it. I worried, I'm making this trip so awkward for them.

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