Friday, 18 January 2013

Guest post: Jade Varden

Today I'm happy to introduce Jade Varden, my first guest post on this blog, to talk about her weight loss... 

The Day I Realized I’m Fat
By Jade Varden

I guess I was working my way toward becoming fat for a while, but didn’t really notice. I kept rotating my pairs of blue jeans to find bigger sizes. Then I switched to sweatpants with stretchy waistbands. Eventually, I woke up one day and realized that none of my clothes fit me anymore.

I was fat, and I was immediately worried. When had this happened? Why had this happened? I was exercising up to twice a week, for Heaven’s sake! So I went straight to the doctor that cold February day, and firmly told him I was going to need a full workup – check my hormones, check my blood, check it all. Clearly, something was physically wrong with me or my weight wouldn’t be so out of control.

I grit my teeth through every test, and waited patiently (well, in this version of the story) for the physician to return.

“What’s wrong with me?” I was anxious, and sweating, and on the verge of bursting through my sweat pants.

“Absolutely nothing.” He put my file down and turned to look at me. “Other than the weight, you’re in perfect physical health.”

“What about my hormones? I don’t have some sort of imbalance? I read on the Internet that a hormonal imbalance can cause unexplained weight gain.”

“Your hormones are perfect.”

“Well…why am I so fat?” I demanded desperately. My confusion was genuine. I’ve never been exactly happy with my weight, and I’ve always been a bit on the plump side, but after I stepped on the scale that day at the doctor’s office I knew without a doubt I was well past plump. I was fat.

“How many calories are you eating per day?” He fired right back.

I didn’t have an answer. I mumbled something about how I don’t count calories, but “I watch what I eat.”

He told me to stop watching it, and start counting it instead. So I left his office that February morning, and I went out to get myself a notepad and a pen. And I started to follow his advice…by eating 1200 calories a day.

Becoming a Thin Girl

Now, let me make this clear. I visited my doctor, and he suggested that I drop my daily calorie count to 1200 until I lost the extra 50 pounds I didn’t need. For many women, 1200 calories a day is just enough to sustain life. If you eat fewer calories than this, you will become anorexic and you will slowly starve to death. Even eating 1200 calories a day is dicey business…as I was on the brink of discovering in February, 2012.

I went over on the first day, up to 1350, and immediately felt like a failure. I could have just given up after that day, and buried my face in a jar of peanut butter instead. But I had come to a point in my life where I decided I was done. I was done with being fat, I was done with being plump. I was done with worrying about my weight. I was going to learn how to control it.

I was going to become thin.

So I went to the grocery store, and pretty much bought them out of low-calorie snacks and meals. I learned that yogurt and Jell-O can be decently filling in a pinch, that 80-calorie bread isn’t all that horrible once you get used to it, and that you can even get ice cream sandwiches that are less than 100 calories each. They are small, yes, but when you’re dieting on a strict basis any little treat is cause for celebration.

And I started to eat 1200 calories a day, every day, regularly. I had to buy more measuring cups, because I was tired of washing the set I had four times a day. I had to give up on peanut butter and baked potatoes. I discovered that mustard is zero calories, and made it my favorite condiment. I started putting pico de gaillo – a low-cal treat at only 5 per tablespoon – on everything.

I upped my exercise schedule to four days a week: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. I started out at 20 minutes per session. I built my entire daily schedule around exercise time, shower time, snack times and meal times. I had to start eating every three hours, because otherwise I felt like I was starving all day. Eating small snacks throughout the day made me feel like I was cheating, even though I wasn’t. A 60-calorie chocolate pudding becomes decadent when you’re on a severe diet.

I didn’t notice any results. That’s right: none. A month went by, two months. I began adding time and motions to my exercise routine, until I was up to no less than 90 minutes per session (yes you read it right – 6 hours a week). But dutifully I kept on eating just enough to prevent starvation, and sweating buckets four days out of every seven. I weighed myself regularly, and eventually noticed the numbers were dropping. My body was a lot slower to react – I guess it didn’t know I was supposed to be on this big-deal diet and exercise routine.

In this fashion, 6 months went by. I woke up feeling tired and grumpy one Sunday in the middle of a hot summer, and reached for a pair of shorts I like to schlep around in when I just don’t care. I put them on and made my way into the kitchen to get something to drink.

The pants fell down around my ankles in the hall. I rushed back to my bedroom and turned on all the lights, then stripped naked to stare in the mirror. At some point when I wasn’t looking, my body shrunk. I started trying on my clothes right then and there, and by the time I’d put on every single pair of jeans in my closet I realized that I’d done it.

I was a thin girl…or at least, I was going to be. Because my program was working. That was in early July, after I lost the first 40 pounds. I increased my daily calories at that point, to 1300, to slow down my weight loss a little. I knew I was nearing the end of my thin girl road, and would have to slowly work myself out of full-on weight-loss mode. I started the diet dramatically, so I knew I wanted to ease out of it a little more carefully.

It was right about that time that other people started noticing my weight loss, too, and commenting on it. This empowered me. I had acted on a plan, I had stuck with the plan, and I’d made it work. By that time, when people asked about it, I told them it was actually sort of easy to lose all the weight. I was so happy with the results, I forgot about those desperate days of hunger and desire. It’s hard to drive past the fast food places that tantalize you with sweet French fry scents, to sit through those mouth-watering pizza commercials that require you only to dial a number before this Heavenly creation is brought directly to the front door. It’s hard to eat 1200 calories a day.

It’s really easy to fall in love with what eating 1200 calories a day can do. I slowly increased my calorie count through the rest of the summer, and devised a more sane exercise routine that I can live with long-term (I still do it four days a week, but now my sessions are 40 to 80 minutes in length). By October 1, I reached my ideal weight.

A year has passed, now, since that day in February 2012 when I realized that I was fat. I weigh 104 pounds, and I eat 1500 calories a day because I have a very sedentary job (I can’t figure out how to jog and write at the same time). On the days that I exercise, I eat extra calories – up to 400, depending on how much exercising I’ve done. After eating 1200 calories a day for so long, I feel like I’m pigging out half the time. And sometimes I’ll have a small treat – a piece of birthday cake, two of those glorious Christmas cookies, a handful of those French fries. But I’m still on a diet.

I’m going to be on a diet for the rest of my life, because I’m always going to count my calories carefully. I’ve seen what happens when I don’t, and I know exactly what I’m eating every day. The simple act of writing it down is cathartic – you’ll either feel triumphant or defeated every time, and it’s a powerful motivator. I’m going to pay attention to the calories I eat and the calories I burn, because I’m thin…and I’m going to stay that way. Now, I know how.

Jade after in her
before jeans
Weight: 152lbs (10st 12lbs/68.9kg)
Waist: 36 inches (91.4cm)
Hips: 40 inches (101.6cm)
Jeans size: US 10 (UK 12)

Weight: 104 lbs (7st 6lbs/47.2kg)
Waist: 25.5 inches (64.8cm)
Hips: 29 inches (73.6cm)
Jeans size: US 4 (UK 6)

About the Author

In addition to creating young adult novels for teen readers, Jade Varden writes freelance articles on fitness and fashion. When she’s not crafting mysteries in her books, Jade blogs practical writing tips for other authors. Jade currently makes her home in Louisville, Kentucky, where she attempts to share exercise space with one very insistent cat. Follow her on Twitter @JadeVarden.


  1. Inspiring - and you look fabulous, Jade! Another really interesting post, Annalisa!