Here I am in a Kindergarten class photo. Puberty is still another 7 years away, so the fat is mostly contained in my face and belly. Little did I know that at age 12, it would explode and migrate to my butt, thighs, upper arms & anywhere it saw fit to migrate. I was fat. I had a lisp. And to top it off, my jack-o-lantern teeth had a green tint due to an allergic reaction to fluoride in the water. I should have shown up at school with a "Kick Me" sign embroidered into all of my clothes!

I’ve had some folks tell me that my attitude is keeping me single and fat, and that I should seriously ditch the self-deprecating humor, but that’s my personality – deal with it. Besides, it’s not like I can hide all this blubber – the jig is up. You can see my fat silhouette coming up over the horizon. Is it an eclipse? No, it’s me!

Despite my self-attacking wit, I have actually lost a few grams here and there over the past 18 months since I started this challenge, so it’s apparently working for me. I’ve been challenging myself to stop waddling toward the grave with such ferocity and trying to dig my own grave with a spoon, one mouthful at a time.

I was born in Dallas in 1968. I was premature, weighed in at less than 6 lbs., but boy, did I ever make up for it. I had a big belly by the time I was 3 and weight has been an ongoing issue for nearly 4 decades now. Note, it has been an issue – not a struggle. If I had actually been struggling this long, I would have won already. I have only truly been struggling for the past 18 months, and I’m winning!

I started blogging about my quest for smaller pants on facebook, sharing it with my coworkers and friends – an attempt at accountability, motivation, and facing my inner Jabba the Hutt.

I have been encouraged by friends and others for the past 20 years to get into stand-up comedy – but it has never seemed like something I’d want to do. Lots of people are funny – standing up and coming up with material in front of a bunch of folks smoking cigarettes and drinking martinis is a different kind of funny. In the past couple of years, though, others have encouraged me to write… and a number of my facebook buddies have prodded me to branch out from beyond my private blog.

At my all-time fattest, I decided to run for City Council. Can you see why men were not beating down my door asking me out for dates? I was fat, pasty, pale AND I had braces, so naturally, I wanted to speak in public and get all my chins in the newspaper. I rule!

Truth be told, I am working on a book, but it has nothing to do with this – it’s on a totally different topic.

In 1988, I was 20 and for the first time, height-weight proportionate. I had trudged through a hot summer at a residential camp for 3 months and the weight fell off while I wasn’t even trying – I was just trying to survive the heat and other people’s undisciplined children. I got to see what it was like to buy normal clothes, not tents with floral imprints. I got to see what it was like to cross my legs at the knee without having to hoist it over with the help of both hands and accompanied by grunting. I was young and stupid and had no idea how quickly the HWP state would flit away… one pound at a time. At my lowest weight, I still had a pooch, but I looked really good in jeans in the mirror. Really good. I got down to 133. By the Spring of 2006, I had ballooned to 240 lbs. Not over night, but one mouthful of chips and one TV show at a time.

At the apex of my obesity, at age 38, I was admittedly going through a slight mid-life crisis. I had been laid off from work, been unemployed, but managed to still find money to buy food to stuff in my fat face. Before the lay-offs, I had gotten braces, but then I couldn’t afford to have them removed or tightened while I was between jobs -so what did I do? I ran for city council – because I had a face that could scare away the competition, I guess. I had to speak in public, was on TV and in the paper – with 57 chins, braces and one gigantic eyebrow that was slightly parted in the middle. When I saw that photo printed in high contrast in the paper, I was so disgusted, I bought a pint of Häagen Daz Coffee Ice Cream and devoured it – because that’s what we fat people do when we’re under stress… self destruct!

When you're fat, you've gotta smile. No one wants to see a fat chick crying. This is life being choked by its own neck. Not fun.

About two months after the election, my father died and just pure unadulterated stress helped me to lose 10 lbs. in about 2 weeks. I noticed my pants weren’t cutting into me quite as aggressively, but if anyone noticed, it was because they thought maybe I had gotten my bushy eyebrows trimmed or something – when you have that much surface area, people don’t notice a 10 pound reduction. Somehow, I managed to keep that 10 lbs. off for months before I got my epiphany just a month after turning 39… I was on a business trip and after I got tired of waiting for the elevator in my hotel, I decided to take the stairs down to the lobby. That’s when I discovered my knees didn’t work anymore. There are 40-somethings that are professional football stars and Olympians – but here I was unable to walk down a flight of stairs at age 39. I determined to change my life, or die trying.

Too big and tired to do jumping jacks, aerobics, sit-ups, or just about anything else, I started walking.

My knees killed me, but I just kept walking and while I still have a long way to go, I’m in such a better place today than I would have been if I hadn’t started my walking in 2007. I am healthier than I have been in years. I feel better about how I look and frankly, I just feel better… and instead of dreading my next birthday, I’m actually looking forward to seeing what kind of cuter, smaller clothes I might be buying by my next birthday.

A more genuine smile because I look less like an ogre. I waxed back that pre-dawn-man hairline, waxed back my one long, Eddie Munster eyebrow into two less menacing brows, got braces and stopped cutting my hair like I was about to enlist in the Marines. Oh yeah - and I lost over 45 freaking pounds! I still have at least another 45 lbs. to go to feel good about how I look below the neck, but at least now, I only have one neck, not seven! And... as of 09/20/2008, I've lost yet another 5lbs - not updating the photo quite yet, but I'm now down to 185!

At 38, it was nearly impossible for me to walk down a step without feeling like my knees were going to flamingo in the opposite direction. I knew that if it was this difficult to just ‘be’ at 38, how much worse would it be when I got to be 48, 58 and 68… if I even lived that long.

Well, now that I’ve had 2 birthdays since the challenge began, I have seen great strides (pun intended). I have dropped from a size 24 to a size 18. People who hadn’t seen me in a year sometimes don’t recognize me at first – that’s a great place to be. I’m not proud to be a size 18 – but it is a milestone. I’m no longer 20 years old, so I know the pounds won’t necessarily melt off as fast, but losing even one pound a year is better than gaining 1 pound a month – which was what I was doing the last couple of years. I am falling out of love with food. I hate exercising, but I hate being fat even more. With less padding on my face, the crows feet are now more visible, but I figure I’ve earned them. I might as well show them off with impunity.

So – the challenge continues and I’m now going public with it. If I can do it, anyone can, including you.

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