A person has to eat to survive. Food had became like an addiction, the only acceptable drug for me. Even at a good weight in college, I came close to becoming bulimic. Ice cream, cookies and chips or driving through fast food for a hamburger and fries, sometimes everything at once, I would head to a friend's house, eating as much as I could. When I was stressed, food became my obsession. Seriously considering bulimia to control the results of my binge eating, I remembered another friend whose sister was dying from this horrible disease. I chose to keep eating, no matter what.
Even when I was not overweight, the weight issue never stopped being a daily presence in my life, affecting my self-esteem - the way I lived my life. An expert calorie counter, I carried a paperback with every bit of information about any food, anywhere.
For years, every special occasion required a prerequisite quick and successful diet in order to enjoy myself. My mind was wrapped around pounds that were a primary source of my self worth. I think there are very few women who have not felt this way at some time.
Being pregnant was freedom. I was not my "ideal" weight but I didn't balloon with extra weight, instead, eating what I needed. My good eating habits left when I began to suffer post-partum depression. The urge to binge returned. I would order a pizza delivery, eating every bite of a large pepperoni, then tearing the pizza box up into little pieces for the trash. No one knew. Sneak eating became my new binge method. At the time, we couldn't afford the pizza and I couldn't afford the carbohydrates. On and on. This is just one detail of the path I headed down without control.
After a certain point, I never weighed. The weight doesn't exist without a number. Ha. Every overweight person knows the gig. A number can be hard to face, especially if it has been such a measure of worth. My clothes were truthful. I remember holding up my jeans. How could all of that space be me? At this point, I hated having my picture taken. Now I'm glad I have the pictures to prove where I was in life. Looking at them, I can hardly believe that is me, my life and mind have changed so much.
It was no secret I was miserable. No one knew what I was contemplating. Weeks were spent devising a plan I could live with and still lose weight. I was very scared to try again. It was all or nothing. I told myself I wouldn't live if I failed again. This had to work. These wobbly beginnings saved my life. And gave me the experience to share with others.
|Thank goodness for my good bag and good shoes|
|Woman swallowed by old jeans|
2. Time is limitless. I didn't care how long this process would take. Slow weight loss is easier to keep off. Life fluctuates. I have lost over 115 pounds but I'm still a work in progress. Being "skinny" is in comparison to my old self. I finally have given myself a goal range.
3. Live it. No diets. They didn't work in the long run. Making life changes at my own pace brought success. My first action was to cut out seconds and thirds. The next week or two I slowed down my eating time. With each success, a new idea was added to my live it process. Slow and easy wins the race.
4. Permission to eat. Nothing is off limits. No denial. This was a huge step for me. I don't like to be told much of anything, but especially what I can't eat. Obviously, it had not worked. Dieting is about denial. I couldn't live the rest of my life with pre-measured meals or measured points. I had to learn how to eat again. Diets had only reinforced my obsession with good and bad foods. I used to think about food all of the time. My life is happier because I don't have that obsession. Now when I see a Butterfinger Candy Bar at the store, I can buy one, if I want. One candy bar will not break the bank. No one likes to be denied anything. This freedom usually satisfies the want and has removed the guilt. The angst over giving in to "bad" food is gone. Usually, I decide not to eat the food. This control is powerful. And it is true freedom, after years of being tied up in "oh, I shouldn't have." Food is not bad.
5. The lack of restrictions is not permission to overeat. I can eat anything, just not all of anything or everything at one time. Even with permission to buy the candy bar, I go months passing it by. With time, choices become better.
6. Eat delicious calories. No calories wasted on anything that doesn't measure up. I don't eat Aunt Bessie's awful cake just to be nice. There are other ways to be nice. No more calorie counting but I do consider bad taste against good taste.
7. Choose to eat. When someone else plates my food, I eat only what I want. When serving myself, I take only the amount I want to eat. My membership has expired. No more Lick Your Plate Clean Club No Matter What Just Because Someone Thinks You Should. If my plate is clean, every morsel was delicious.
8. Eat half of everything. Eating less over time will shrink the stomach. This was hard because I was used to large quantities. A smaller stomach will feel full more quickly. Returning to large portions, took me back to old ways.
9. No weight loss without being hungry. No matter what the experts say. Depends on the degree of hunger. My first action was to eat only when I was hungry without an automatic breakfast, lunch or dinner. This helped me learn what I really needed instead of automatically turning to food. I would eat just until I wasn't hungry. From there, I went to smaller snacks every few hours like fruit, a glass or milk or a slice of cheese with a few crackers. Being a little bit hungry, all day long, helps me not gain weight. But being too hungry will lead to overeating.
10. Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast is my favorite meal. On a rare day, breakfast may be milk in my coffee. Usually I have cereal but I love eggs and toast. Not eating breakfast makes me too hungry all day long, resulting in overeating. Lunch is very light. Maybe half a sandwich and fruit. I eat a good dinner.
11. Weigh regularly. I didn't weigh once I zoomed up the scales. I began weighing again after there was a slight difference in my clothes. Wow. Shocker. The highest number would have been even more depressing. But not knowing is a dangerous game. Experts suggest weighing once a week. I weigh every other day. first thing before breakfast. Knowing my weight does help me regulate and know where I stand.
12. Eat slowly. I try to savor every bit and it helps me eat less.
13. Early on, I decided to try and eat only what was available to my grandparents. They ate plenty of delicious foods. Somehow, they managed without Big Macs, Fritos, Little Debbies or anything hydrogenated. Food in moderation didn't make me fat.
14. Drink plenty of water. Water is filling and quenches thirst. I don't think water alone brings weight loss but being full of water turns off hunger. I include my coffee and my iced tea because they are almost pure water.
15. Until recently, we didn't have a full length mirror. Big mistake. Everyone looks pretty good from the waist up, ready to head out, checking themselves out in the bathroom mirror. But a full length mirror opened my eyes. I had wondered what was sneaking up behind me.
16. Prayer for strength all along the road. Strength to roll out of bed and do life. Strength for the next step or the next breath. Strength for my inner voice. Strength to be around strangers. Prayers for encouragement during the slow process of years. Prayers of thankfulness for the changes in my life.
One spot is glaringly absent. I do not mention exercise. I have had many gym memberships. For some reason, I have a hard time sticking to this routine. Now that I have lost more weight, I really need to work on my core and tone my jiggles. Surely, my weight loss would have come sooner with regular exercise. Exercise is my next thing to tackle!
I never imagined I would become a before and an after. Never shy, I decided to throw this blog out there, wanting to share these points of possibility and the freedom they give me. I am proud of the results of my hard work. On the inside, struggling with a weight issue is very personal and private. Unfortunately, the struggle is obvious on the outside. My only yardstick is my own success. None of us should be judged by the size of our waist. Love is on the inside. It keeps us all going.
At my heaviest, I would look in the mirror and try to see my real self. Usually those glimpses would trigger the self-loathing always just under the surface. Looking at these old pictures now, I try to remember living in that body, hurting physically and mentally. My little voice kept me going. The love of others. It was an effort to put that smile on and do whatever task was at hand but I knew deep down I was still me. And she may be fat....but she's pretty.