Stories: How it all came on

I can’t tell you when I first crossed the 200 pound mark.  You would think for a girl, any girl, that would be a huge (and depressing) milestone to make.  The last time I weighed myself and remember seeing a number one at the beginning of the result was when I was wedding dress shopping, 11 years ago.  I weighed myself at my parents house and the scale said 184.  I was a little upset, but didn’t dwell on it for too long.  After all, I was months away from marrying the man of my dreams, and he loved me just exactly as I was.  I was young, happy and in love.  Who cared what the scale said!

After we were married, Rob and I made set up house in our tiny 500 square foot apartment, where instead of going out and doing something, we instead would go to the grocery store and shop for something new to cook for dinner that night.  We were the definition of foodies, and would you expect any less from a recent Culinary Institute of America grad and his drop out wife?  It was fun, we were happy and we ate GOOD.  It must have been during those first matrimonial months that I crossed over into the big Two’s.  I didn’t know it…we didn’t own a scale.

We packed up and moved to a single wide trailer that was owned by my grandmother.  It was cheap (score!) and was close to my family. (double score…free food!)  We worked full time jobs in the restaurant industry where we snacked on food all night at work, brought some home for dinner together after our shifts (at 11pm) and watched cheesy sitcoms until 2am.  After sleeping in until 11am, we would drag our moldy butts out the door to a diner for brunch, get some errands done, then go back to work.  Rob started working for a mortgage protection company which was set up like a pyramid, and our income skyrocketed.  We were approved to buy a house in October 2006, and felt like we were finally real grown ups.  I quit my job and started helping Rob build his business, recruiting new agents and helping with paperwork.  I also found out around that time that I was pregnant with our first son, Logan.

I thought every thing was wonderful, but we were living in a bubble.  We made some very bad (and very common) decisions with the money we were making, “investing” everything back into the business.  We bought into the mentality that we needed to show a certain lifestyle to attract more agents and therefore make more money, and completely overextended ourselves.   I truly think we might have been able to skirt by, lose a little money and learn our lesson, but in early 2o08, the mortgage industry collapsed.  Rob, and all our agents exclusively worked off of buying leads from new mortgages, and when people were not approved for new mortgages, the basis for our entire business disappeared.   We still had tremendous overheard, but no where near the cash coming in to cover it.  The picture below was taken at the last conference we went to for the mortgage protection business.  We should have been thrilled…Rob had finally made it to the six-figure club and was receiving his first income ring.  He was brought onto stage and applauded by thousands of people for having “made” it, while I sat in the audience dumbfounded.  If this was “making it”, why did we only have $50 dollars in our checking account?

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Groceries and gas expenses were put on credit cards, which was justified by thinking that if we just worked harder and made it through one month, the next would be better.  Once the credit cards were maxed out I started floating checks at grocery stores just to buy enough food, formula and diapers for our family to scrape by.  We had to choose which of our enormous bills were important enough to pay. On our fifth wedding anniversary, we awoke to pounding at our front door…it was a man with his tow truck, coming to repossess our new Ford Explorer.  Rob and I tried to keep up the facade on the outside, but we were fighting and tearing each other apart under the stress.  We had to sell items in our house and borrow money from family and friends just to keep our checking account balance positive long enough for the floating checks to clear.  Sometimes…they didn’t.

We put up with a lot, still with the belief that it would get better, somehow…it HAD to!  Rock bottom finally came while on vacation with my family in Orlando.  Rob and I hadn’t been able to afford the plane tickets, but my parents bought them for us.  We had listed some furniture to sell, hoping to make enough money so we could at least buy our own tickets into the parks.  Nothing sold.  We traveled to Orlando with $40 in our pocket, then signed up for timeshare tours for the cash reward some offered at the end.  Instead of spending this once in a lifetime vacation with my loving family, we left our son with them while we wasted our time with rude and pushy salesmen, all to make barely enough to pay for one part and help out with food expenses.  This picture was taken outside Universal Studios…

We were so unhappy and stressed!
We were so unhappy and stressed!

Our house was approved for a short sale, and we were able to get one massive expense off of our list.  We walked away from our mortgage protection business.  My family took us in, and we lived in their dining room while Rob tried to switch over to selling health insurance.  Rob’s parents wanted us to come visit them in FL, and Rob got his insurance license activated in Florida.  We packed up our mini Ford Focus with all that we had left over from the great purge and started on the 1,000+ mile journey.  We planned on going down and working for a month to boost our income and hopefully get enough to move out of my parents house.  One month turned into two, then three, and Rob gave up insurance and went back to serving at a beautiful restaurant on a waterway in downtown Fort Lauderdale.  Finally, we had actual money coming in…we were able to buy our own groceries again!  I saw a sliver of hope, after years of constant struggle.  This is my final “big” picture…taken while spending the day celebrating my in-laws anniversary.  Rob and I were the biggest we had ever been, but we were happy!

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Now that I knew we were going to be okay, the time came to face up to what living under all the stress and tears of the past years had done to my body.  286.  A mere 14 pounds away from 300.  Woah!  That was a lot bigger than I was expecting, but making some changes to my diet, and it slowly started to come down.  One measly pound at a time.  It took almost 6 years for me to put it all on, now it would take years for it to come off again.

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