Reclaiming Myself, Part One

By Christine Lemmer-Webber on Wed 07 May 2008

I'm working to reclaim myself. That might sound silly, but..

During the two years I was working at Google, I was going to both work and school full-time. I had no time to do anything I liked during those two years. I also spent most nights either trying to finish schoolwork or work on projects for work (I would stay up all night working on projects I was totally unpaid for, just because I wanted to learn, to prove myself, and to do good for the company). Overall, I learned a lot, and of course both my experience at Google and my graduation are both invaluable. But there have been other problems.

I gained an unbelievably large amount of weight, to the point that people who knew me several years ago often can't recognize or believe that it's me today at first, or people who know me today can't recognize pictures of me several years ago. I have a picture on my desk of myself and my siblings taken three or four years ago. One woman at my work came up to my desk, pointed at me, and said, "Who's that?" I explained, that's me before I worked at Google. She kept coming back and staring at the picture saying "No way..." One of my other coworkers I showed the picture to said, "Wow, Google can do that to you?"

Of course, it wasn't as much Google that did it to me (though the daily lunches we had seemed to increase the weight of almost everyone on our team over time) as much as the late nights drinking energy drinks, eating snacks, etc, just to survive the crazy schedule I was working through. (Also, I actually had started gaining weight just the year before they closed Barat... during that year they closed our cafeteria but maintained that all residents on campus had to invest a mandatory 1000 dollars every 3 months into a meal plan that we could only use at the coffee shop, where they served greasy muffins, chicken nuggets, etc. But the weight didn't really pile on until I joined Google.) As I said in a previous post, I also had stopped biking entirely once I got my car and moved into the city. This certainly didn't help either, as I pretty much was stripped of all forms of exercise, other than the daily busywork of the datacenter.

The sad thing about all this is that, due to image issues I have with myself that date back to my teenage years, I have a very hard time looking at myself in the mirror. I gained most of the weight in just a few very short months, and hadn't really realized it until I stepped onto a scale. After that point, numberwise it appears that my weight gain was not quite as quick and drastic, but until I got out of the work and school cycle, I kept putting on weight.

It's been nearly a year since I graduated from school and started working at Imaginary Landscape. During that period I haven't gained any weight, but I really haven't lost any either.

That is, until recently. I've begun biking constantly (I have a new schedule where I bike a little more than ten miles every morning before work... today it was raining, I am totally soaked), and I feel much healthier and have less desire to snack so much. I'm counting calories and eating a lot of spinach salads. And I'm seeing the effects: the weight is peeling off. I lost a lot of weight very quickly the first week and a half, and it's been slower since, but its going down. I am slowly adding more exercises to my schedule. I can feel the effects of this. Surprisingly, I'm even enjoying it.

It's going to take at best a year for me to get back to my pre-Google weight, and hopefully I'll succeed in that as I'll then be in shape for our wedding.

And so begins part one of reclaiming myself: reclaiming my body. I'm now also trying to figure out how to handle part two, reclaiming my mind.