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Yalla Habibi

Athena Perez

June 22, 2015

I would struggle with stepmom’s death for years. So many unanswered questions died when she died. I would never understand the “why” of it all and it would be something I would have to come to terms with. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t happen for nearly 15 years. I will get to that. 

When stepmom died, I couldn’t blame my weight on her anymore. I was an adult now and I clearly understood that. I wanted to do something about it. However, another thing I would come to know years later was that weight for me wasn’t something simply on the surface. They were habits, they were subconscious emotions, engrained beliefs about who I was, and etched feelings about my friendship with food during lonely times. If you don’t understand what those are, you can’t attack the problem. It will come back.  Why do you think so many contestants on the Biggest Loser gain their weight back? Weight is not the problem, it’s simply the outcome of the problem.  When you’re thin, you get to walk around and hide your problems; Shop-a-holics, gamblers, drinkers, drug abusers, porn addicts. Pick your poison.  People have vices, mine was just more noticeable.

I was determined to lose weight. I was 19 by this time and I didn’t care how I had to do it. If I could have cut it off, I would have, despite any pain that was involved.  I was an all or nothing kind of person so I plunged in head first. My daily diet consisted of water, a can of tuna, and a can of green beans.  I was working out like a mad woman; going to the gym sometimes several times a day. Within 8 weeks, I had dropped nearly 60 pounds. Some might say that was drastic but for me, it was getting rid of that obvious problem so that when people didn’t look at me, they didn’t see emotional tarnish. I hated that stigma.

I was feeling pretty damn good let me tell you. I was essentially starving myself, but I could fit into a pair of 18 jeans and it was the lowest I had ever been in my life. And then it happened…………………….. men.

Suddenly they were everywhere. Initially, it was marvelous. I was going on dates and having all kinds of experiences that previously were a locked door for me. Men that had known me months earlier were now asking me out on dates. I didn’t react to it all in a very positive way. I wasn’t happy anymore, I was angry. Was I the same person months earlier?  I didn’t like the feeling of being smaller. I felt like I was losing my security blanket. As odd as that sounds, it was a very real sense for me. If the weight was gone, what could I possibly hide behind? I put the breaks on that shit right away. No more losing weight for me. I thought losing weight would bring happiness and my life would be perfect but that’s not what it brought.  I lost interest.   Over the next year and a half, I had several boyfriends, a fiancé, breakups, a pregnancy, a miscarriage.  It was a busy year.

In February of 1998, I was having lunch in a busy place. Most of the tables were packed and I was sitting by myself at a four-top.  It was always busy in that place, typical of the area. It was located near a military base. San Antonio actually had seven military bases so soldiers were rampant. I had a thing for military guys so I liked the view. Anyway, this particular day I see this guy get his food off the salad bar and he was looking around for a table. There weren’t any free tables so I flagged him down and asked him if he wanted to sit at mine as I would be leaving shortly. He accepted the invite, sat down and we started talking.  We ended up sitting there for over four hours. Days later he would call me and ask me out on our first date; a night out to go see Titanic as it had just come out the previous weekend.  We’ll call him………. Hmm….. *thinking tapping forehead*. We’ll call him “Nick.”

He was a Lieutenant in the Army, Westpoint graduate. I couldn’t figure out what he saw in me. I thought he was beautiful; my complete opposite. He was a first generation American so we had cultural differences, and our upbringings couldn’t have been any different. He already had several degrees by this time and was making plans for Law School. I thought he’d be the stability I was looking for.  We would be together for nearly 11 years. 
I was in love.

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I’m Athena Perez, a Christ-loving dog mom and CrossFitter who has lost over 200 pounds on a long journey of self-discovery. I’m obsessed with sharing everything I’ve learned to help you too!  

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