My food journey
|Photo by Dorey Kronick|
Food is my drug of choice. I started struggling with my weight around the time I turned thirteen. I started having serious mood swings and sugar was a way to numb everything. My weight continued to creep up through high school and then ballooned in college. I've battled it ever since. I've done all the diets. Let me tell you as a vegetarian some of them were extremely limiting- I'm looking at you South Beach. As I think about it, it makes me sad how much time and energy I've spent on my weight.
It wasn't until 2008 when I went to see a food therapist, nutritionist and even had an appointment with a trainer (not a gym trainer but more of a physical therapist trainer) to help me figure out the best program for me, that I started losing weight.
Over the course of about two years I lost almost one hundred pounds. I ate less and moved more. I did not overly restrict my diet. I just used less of some things like butter, cheese or mayonnaise. I did stop eating dessert every night. Instead I'd have a couple squares of some really good dark chocolate. The reason it worked this time was twofold. One) I had been in therapy for a few years and dealt with some of the problems that had made me use food to numb myself. Two) I had a medical support network. I checked in monthly and that helped a ton. Pun intended.
Then I took a job in Iraq. I gained a few pounds, but then quickly started exercising more. Food was not that much of a challenge there, because I ate a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables. Although, I did probably eat more sweets then usual, because there were some seriously tasty goodies around. The real difficulty was I wasn't able to walk anywhere, and so I had to make sure I was doing exercise videos at home more.
Then I lost my job and shortly after that my grandfather died. To say my whole world was turned up side down is an understatement. The weight started creeping back and I gained almost sixty pounds. Then a few years ago I let stress at work really get to me and I gained another twenty pounds. So, I gained back all told 84 pounds.
I'm not going to lie, it's been hard. You get to move through the world differently when you are thin. People look at you in a different way. It's hard when your butt is too big for an airline seat, or when you wonder if you slide into that booth will you be able to slide out. Chances are if I fit in a booth my boobs are practically sitting on the table. I find myself getting anxious about simple things. If I'm crossing the street while fat will the person driving get frustrated that I'm moving too slow. If I'm walking with someone who is more fit will I be able to keep up.
There's this perception that fat people don't know their fat. Like Hello! I get it. I get that I'm overweight, but almost everything anyone has ever said has caused more harm and made me turn to food to comfort my pain and anxiety. My favorite moment was when I went to urgent care because my asthma was really bad. I had just had a month long cold/flu thing and I had hacked up a lung. The first thing the doctor says to me before hearing about my history with asthma, or any of my medical history, was you'd feel better if you lost weight. I could have walked in there with my arm amputated and he would have only commented about my weight. Never mind the blood dripping on the floor.
I embrace body positivity and I'm trying to love myself where I am today, but some days that can be hard to do. The incessant message that you are fat and therefore you are not worthy is hard to combat.
Over the last year I have lost some weight. I worked through some of the things that caused me to regain weight in therapy. I've found that there is almost a switch that flips in my brain when I'm ready to put down the food.
I did not consciously go on a diet, and in fact today I am not at all on a diet. I have a food plan that I stick to because it has had a huge impact on my mind and my body. My food plan was created with a doctor to help fix some of the other things that were going on with me. Today, I stick to my food plan and I move my body a little bit every day. I just want my body to feel good and feel good about myself, no matter what the scale says.