There has never been a time that I can recall not being hungry or food not somehow being in my thoughts. I remember always looking forward to eating. Sneaking in the kitchen to try and get snacks. I consider myself lucky that growing up, I was never more than 5-10 pounds overweight. But that is to my mother’s credit. As an adult, she told me that she had me on “diets” as a child even though I was unaware of it. I just ate what she cooked! When she noticed that I was gaining weight she would modify what she gave me without me being aware of it.
In high school I was always about 10-15 pounds heavier than I wanted to be. Again I consider myself lucky that I was not significantly overweight during these teenage years because I realize many who are face a lot of criticism and difficulty. This was, however, the beginning of diet pills and the long list of diet failures. I was always aware that I was overweight and it bothered me. Yet, food was my friend. It was always there for me when I needed it. And my love affair with food had been growing stronger with each year that went by.
In college, I quickly put on 50 pounds. I began using food in a much more significant way for every stress in my life. I even began to look for times when I could be alone. Just me and the food. Often I would pass on going out with friends if it meant a good 3 or 4 hours alone in my room with the freedom to binge.
Binge eating became a favorite past time. I would go to the grocery store and load my cart with every possible food that I could ever want. The things that made me the happiest. Then I would go through the drive thru of my favorite restaurants for more. At home, I would lay it all out around me and admire the treasure. This was pure bliss. All my best friends.
All through college, I toyed around with bulimia. I say “toyed around” because I was never very good at it. As if that’s something you want to be good at! I would never have considered myself a true bulimic even though sadly I tried to be. I have been good friends with anorexics and bulimics over the years. I think people with eating disorders just find each other. And strange as it sounds, I envied them.
But I loved the way I felt when I was stuffed with food. It was one of the only times I ever felt truly satisfied. One of the few times I didn’t feel hungry. In some ways, it was like a drug. I’d lay back feeling sleepy and completely at peace. Not a care in the world. And that is why I didn’t like throwing up my food. It only left an empty feeling all over again. Which led to just another binge. So instead I relied on those moments of peace that the food gave me until the next day when I woke up to empty doughnut boxes and fast food bags. Like an alcoholic trying to hide his liquor bottles, I would furiously try to hide my food wrappers hoping no one would see how much I truly consumed.
When I got married, there were sets of new stresses. Being an army wife and having 4 children. Homeschooling. Graduate school. And there was food. My friend through it all.
I swore I’d never see that number.
Wow, you came quicker than expected
But there it was and there I stayed. I spent years on diets. Diet pills. I tried it all but nothing worked because every single diet ended in a panic attack. Anxiety at not being able to have the food that gave me peace and happiness. The anxiety would overtake me and finally I’d fall back into the food all over again to escape the panic.
In 2003, I went on a low carb diet and for the first time truly experienced a relief from cravings. I learned that cutting out sugar and carefully monitoring other food sources that gave me trouble was a key to keeping myself from feeling constantly hungry.
This was a lightbulb moment for me and I lost 104 pounds by avoiding these trigger foods.
Then I gained it all back plus more.
The food still had a grip on my heart. There were other issues to deal with because this was more than just a biological problem of sugar cravings.
My heart literally loved the food.
Like some dysfunctional, abusive relationship where you know you need to get out. Pack a suitcase and flee in the night from this destructive and violent relationship that is killing you. But instead you stay.
And people think “Why?” because they can see the effects of it. Maybe not the bruises that you would see from an abusive lover but the pounds that are piling on. It’s obvious to everyone . This isn’t an addiction you can hide the way you might be able to hide your liquor bottles and appear functional to the world. This is an addiction that you wear like a sign around your neck. It is very public.
When my husband left me in 2006, I felt like a complete failure. Everything I had ever wanted to be was wrapped up in the title of wife and mother. And I had failed.
I was over 300 pounds. I had 4 children with two still in diapers. We had just bought our house and moved to a new city. I knew no one. My closest family was 1600 miles away. I had no job because my job was being a wife and a mom. No friends.
I wanted to die. I thought about it. Considered it. But I didn’t want the kids to think I wanted to leave them voluntarily.
So I decided to survive. And I did that by turning to the same abusive lover that always seemed to charm me back into its arms.
And with each passing year, I gained more weight.
Until I was over 400 pounds.
And now the pain. The excruciating, back breaking pain. Swollen feet. Almost unable to walk. Unable to fit in most any chair. Almost unable to even fit behind the steering wheel of the car.
My life was about pain. Emotional and physical pain.
Pain at being left behind after my divorce. Pain of being a single mother. Pain at not being the mother I knew I could have been had I not had such a destructive relationship with food.
But through it all, my Mom was there. She was the one that never gave up on me. She always believed that I could overcome this and she told me that as long as she was alive, I would never be alone.
And then she died. And I knew I wasn’t far behind. But I did not have it in me to keep trying.
Then my brother did something amazing. With great courage, he had weight loss surgery and learned how to change his relationship with food. Change his mindset.
He’s lost 275 pounds. He’s run multiple Triathlons. And now he’s a personal trainer.
So he got on a plane and he came out to see me to give me hope.
Very soon after that, I had weight loss surgery too. A vertical sleeve gastrectomy.
I willingly had 85% of my stomach cut out of my body. And I was never so glad to see it go. For it had controlled me all of my life.
I thought it was love but it wasn’t. Because love doesn’t hurt you like that.
I finally got up the courage to pack my suitcase and flee in the night. No longer willing to sleep with the enemy. To buy the lies.
Knowing that this lover had always had my death on its agenda.
Its goal was to kill me—slowly. And it almost did.
Now I’m losing 300 Pounds.
One pound at a time.
I’m learning to deal with my life instead of eat it.
I have discovered a faith that sustains me and gives me strength far better than cupcakes.
A love that is not abusive.
One that is filled with great promise.
And what I want more than anything in this world is to give hope to others on the same path.
Because there IS hope.
Lots of it.
And I want that for each and every one of you.
Never lose hope,