Well, hello there.
I’m Jennifer Reiter. But you can call me Jen. I’m an actor/writer/producer living in Los Angeles, and I have kept off 80 lbs. for over 5 years with Weight Watchers. Impressed? Inspired? Totally. I get it. But there’s always a but, right? Mine is that 80 lbs. used to be 105 lbs. So, much to my Weight Watcher Leader’s chagrin, I am no longer impressed or inspired by myself. In fact, for the past 3 years, I’ve walked through life feeling craptastic about myself. Knowing that I failed. Three years of carrying around 25 extra pounds, and a bazillion more pounds of guilt, frustration and shame. And it’s kind of getting old.
Perhaps the beginning is an appropriate place to start.
In 2003, I was invited to attend an event called The Barrister’s Ball at Georgetown Law School, where my then boyfriend, now husband, was finishing up his law degree. This was a ridiculous little party that I will hence forth refer to as “Lawyer Prom.” And it was a very formal occasion.
So I went shopping. You should know that I was not a shlubby fat girl. I rocked the entire Lane Bryant line of apparel and I rocked it hella cute. But Ms. Bryant did not have anything that came close to passing as formal wear. A polyester/rayon sundress wasn’t gonna cut it, no matter how much cleavage I showed off. So I branched out. And in those days that meant the plus-sized formal dress section of a major department store. I went high end to low end, Bloomies to JC Penny. Even Mervyn’s. (Remember Mervyn’s?!) All of them offered heavily beaded sacks, I mean “gowns,” with shoulder pads and high necklines. And my girls were my (ahem) biggest asset. I refused to wear a Mother of the Bride outfit at the age of 23. But at that point, I had been shopping for 2 months and Lawyer Prom was but a few weeks away.
So I did what any proud American fat girl would do.
I put on the same black dress I had squeezed myself into for the past 2 years on slightly formal occasions (read house parties, I was a theatre major at USC, let’s be real). I bought the most expensive pair of shoes I had ever purchased, did my make-up to perfection and gave myself a fabulous blow out.
Here’s what happened at Lawyer Prom:
I got too drunk and stepped on people’s feet all night; I insisted that a lovely young man who came in full drag pose with us in our Lawyer Prom picture (which means, she’s in the last fat pictures ever taken of me); at the end of the night I took off my shoes only to have my feet swell, requiring the help of two future lawyers of America to put them back on. Classy. I mean, you’re jealous, right?
Normally I would have come home, ordered a Domino’s pizza with a side of Domino’s Dots (pizza dough rolled into balls, fried, and doused with butter, cinnamon & sugar, in case you aren’t familiar), and watched “Never Been Kissed” starring Drew Barrymore, while I ate my meal for 4 and tried to forget what a fat loser I was.
But this time I was done. I was fed up. I had had enough. I was mad, sad, hurt, embarrassed, ashamed, and really really mad. All of it added up to done.
I went to a Weight Watchers meeting the day after I got home. And the rest is history.
Some of you want to know more about how I lost the weight. How did I stay motivated? How did I stick to it? I’m sorry to report that the answer is really simple—I went to Weight Watchers and I did what they told me to do. Sorry it’s not jazzier than that. I don’t mean to oversimplify, but after the first week, I lost 5 lbs. and I thought, “Well, I’m no dummy, I’m gonna do that again next week.” Yes, I hit plateaus—lots of them. But the thought of quitting never even occurred to me. The meetings were essential. My leader, Lynn, taught me all sorts of things, but most importantly—laughter. As Lynn would say, “It’s not cancer, people, its weight loss.” It’s just life, and it’s funny. I mean, really… who cares?
I’ve spent the last 3 years beating myself up for letting the pounds creep back on. I’ve taken myself quite seriously. I’ve done some deep thinking about why I eat when I eat, and I’ll continue to dig deeper on that issue. But so far, the answers that my tiny Jen voice has given me from deep within have been heavy and hopeless. But now I am done. I am fed up. I have had enough.
So I am here to laugh. And laughter is always better when it’s shared.
Blech, that makes me barf in my mouth a little. I promise not to be so cheesy in the future.