This article belongs to Obesity and weight issues theme.

I had a lot of excuses for the weight gain, many of which I still see as valid.
The weight gain seemed sudden. As a woman of small stature, I found myself registering 163 pounds. I had a lot of excuses for the weight gain, many of which I still see as valid. I see these difficulties in many others, and I hope that my experience can help them.

At first, I had a great job and a new relationship in which I was comfortable. I was able to afford very good food, and I ate a lot of it: expensive premium ice cream and pasta at bistro-style restaurants; I found myself eating out for many meals because of my busy work schedule. I was happy making a large salary and enjoying life with my new partner. We became engaged.

I was barely able to walk to the door and I needed assistance getting out of the car.
Shortly thereafter, I lost my high-paying job. My fiance suggested a move from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Michigan (his home state) to which I complied. Our new living arrangement eliminated the expense of rent, so it seemed like a financially intelligent decision. Upon moving to Michigan, I learned that my publishing industry experience and Bachelors Degree were worth very little - the jobless rate was so high. When I finally did land a job, it was as a barista in a chain coffee shop.

Photo credits: Adam Blyweiss (photography), Kelly
Rowles (imaging/Photoshop)
My eating habits in Michigan grew worse. As a vegetarian living on the charity of omnivores, I often ate macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese, desserts, or small servings of side dishes as an entire meal. Working at the coffee shop and having so little money to spare, I found ways to take home 24 ounces of milk at a time as my drink allotment from the store. I also kept any muffins or cookies that expired that day and lived off of the allotted milk, coffee-based blended beverages, and inexpensive store bought food such as rice and eggs.

Our town also featured a few chain fast food restaurants, including McDonald's. McDonald's was always open. After working double shifts at the coffee shop, I did not feel like cooking, and McDonald's was on the way home. I could feed the both of us for less than seven dollars, so again it seemed like a practical financial decision.

One day at the end of my shift at the coffee shop, I felt mild back pain while lifting the coffee urns. My stomach started feeling funny, so I took one of the pastries with me and ate it while driving home, thinking my stomach was just unsettled. By the time I had completed my drive, I was barely able to walk to the door. I needed assistance getting out of the car, and had to be taken to the hospital. I had a diseased gall bladder (likely as a result of consuming horrible food) and my recent alcohol consumption at my bachelorette party did not help. My gall bladder was removed in an emergency surgery, sticking us with bills we were unable to pay.

After we wed, my new husband decided to quit his stable job. I took up another job at a bank and also began freelance writing; my day suddenly included three jobs and less time to cook, leaving McDonald's as a primary option. I frequently ate McDonald's grilled cheese, fries, sundaes, and McFlurries, and put on the pounds. Within a year, I had gone from being content at 133 to being miserable at 163.

It's not a coincidence that my weight increased when I had less money, more stress, and an overall poorer standard of living. Because I had no children (we decided to be responsible by not having children until we could afford them), I was unable to receive any sort of public assistance. The only saving grace was a tax refund, most of which my unemployed husband spent on a toy.

The financial stress led to an overall negative attitude on my behalf. I was accustomed to a higher standard of living and could not be content not knowing how sick my next meal might make me. I looked like a monster and hated myself for the poor choices I had made and for my unfortunate circumstances. I tried rallying together with my husband several times to rise above our situation, but to no avail. He would not work consistently and would not clean up around the apartment.
I decided to change my situation for the better, permanently, rather than face the possibility of further emotional abuse and maybe even physical abuse.

At this point I found it difficult to navigate around the coffee shop where I worked. I couldn't afford to look decent since I had no money to purchase even second hand clothes that fit properly. Now also a victim of emotional abuse, I decided to change my situation for the better, permanently, rather than face the possibility of further emotional abuse and maybe even physical abuse.

I left my husband. Due to the charity of my mother, stepfather, and aunt, I was able to pack up and leave the emotionally abusive relationship and the life that had assisted in that 30 pound weight gain. I transferred to another coffee shop back in Pennsylvania, but did not subside solely on what they sold as my family healed and nurtured me with more wholesome food.

About five pounds into my journey, I met a healthy, handsome former Marine who took an interest in me. He never sought to change me, but to help me with my goals. We hiked, worked out, and participated in various outdoor activities together. He showed me how to lift weights and I did a lot of running on my own. I was also able to improve my career, finding another job in the publishing industry.

Having the right attitude and seeing that things were going in the right direction was the most difficult part of the weight loss. I went from the 'obese' category for my gender and height down to 'overweight.' At 133 pounds, I am now in the 'normal' category and am only looking to lose 10 or 15 vanity pounds to look as great as I feel.

I strongly believe that my former situation and the negative situations of others contribute to the obesity epidemic. When there are no other options, McDonald's seems like a sensible choice because it is the only available option. It is difficult to say no to a high-carbohydrate meal if it is free when you have no money to purchase your own food.

Overall, weight loss has taught me to be grateful for the positive situations and people I now have in my life. I have a successful career in publishing and enjoy every day with a positive and supportive partner who takes an interest in my feelings and always asks for my input before making important decisions.

While others told me I was just 'making excuses' for my obesity, I understood my limitations. More importantly, I overcame them.