Today I got on the scale and it read 174.4 pounds. I looked in the mirror at my naked body and was able to see a worthy person looking back. Not without imperfections, not without the battle scars of 43 years of life, but a human being who has a place in this world and is ready to step out and claim her space.
For me, my relationship with food and eventually my identity as being fat began many years ago. I was trained as a child that food and mood/emotion walked hand in hand. When my father was happy, he would bring home a 3 gallon tub of ice cream and we would all sit in front of the TV with a spoon and destroy that pail. These moments were cherished. My father worked hard and was often frustrated and angry, so the moments we shared while he was happy were not frequent. Trips for fast food were another “good time” and carried emotional weight. Our normal diet was pretty healthy, at least healthy for the standards of that time.
My teenage years wer turbulent. I don’t want to go into the personal of who, what and why on the internet but I will share this: I felt a need to run, to hide from the world and food became my drug. When I look back at pictures I looked thin, but my memories tell another story. The name calling, the insults and the new identity as “fat”. I didn’t want this identity and I took diet pills and eventually became bulimic. It is interesting how the mind can play tricks on a person. I felt that I was in control, that I could feel the pleasure of food and now avoid the weight gain. How could this be bad? I joined the Army at 19 years old and although I looked fit, I needed to drop 15 pounds to make weight. My daily ritual was brutal, 2 mile run in a sauna suit, one huge meal a day followed by throwing it up within minutes of the last bite. The shame and worthlessness that followed…well, it still hurts my soul. I made weight and joined the Army. I used this method of weight loss throughout the next few years in the service and for a few years after.
At some point in my mid to late 20′s I stopped. Shame is the emotion that allowed me to begin and to end this madness. A friend of mine caught me purging and told me if I ever did this again she would be out of my life. I felt shame and worthlessness prior to this, but her words took it to a new level. That was not the last time I purged, but it was a couple of years before I did it again. I could continue on this subject for days, but I will save that for another post. I told myself that I needed to be strong and have control and I could be fit without bulimia. Funny how thin meant fit to me back then. Well, thin meant more than fit, it meant in control, it meant being worthy, it meant that your voice in the world had meaning.
Fas forward many years and many failed attempts to lose weight and get in shape. I worked out a few times a week, I tried so many diets and most of them worked as long as I stuck with them. The problem was (as we all know) diets mean withholding. Diets mean – there is something wrong with you, that you have to change the way you eat – you have to quit the thing that brings you happiness. You have to watch all those F-ing commercials at dinner time and tell yourself that those “drugs” are for other people…people who have self control. Eventually I would fail and give in, I felt weak and out of control and eating more and eating poorly made me feel better (while I was eating) but the emotions that followed were almost as bad as when I used to throw up.
Fast forward some more…to last year. I was ready to give up. My doctor suggested weight loss surgery. I had crossed the line (in my mind). I was (in my mind) a complete failure…so out of control that my doctor wanted to cut part of my stomach out. I fought this for awhile, working out every day at the gym. Looking for and trying the latest diets…anything to prove my doctor wrong. Again, same results…lose 5 pounds and gain 6 back. I told myself that I didn’t have it in me to lose the weight. I told myself that I would continue to “try” to lose weight and if I continued to fail that I would give in and have the surgery after completing graduate school (which I completed yesterday). So…this post is pretty important and emotional for me.
About 4 months ago I was in the gym, riding the stationary bike, reading a school book when a good friend of mine came up and jumped on the bike next to me to talk. Jenn and I were very close a few years back and she helped me lose weight and taught me how to hike, backpack etc. Distance was put between us for 5 years, but we were still friendly but we were not close like before. Now Jenn (since I have known her) has always been fit, but she was a new kind of fit now. There was something about her that was different. She was more lean and her attitude was different. She was excited about her new gym. She asked me to give it a try. I was resistant and told her that I had a plan and if it didn’t work I had plan B – the surgery. Jenn mentioned CrossFit a couple more times and I thought what can it hurt? I went in and did a workout and liked it. I told myself that if I could get under 200 pounds that I would join. I was on my current diet “Atkins” and was having good results. I didn’t want to change anything yet. I can remember being at YaYa’s coffee shop on a Sat. morning with a bunch of crossfitters trying to argue that I wasn’t ready yet It felt right and I joined. I jumped on the 1st paleo challenge offered and have no regrets. 62 pounds lost, my health is drastically improved. I have blasted past each goal I have set. My brain has not yet caught up with my body. Having a self image is not easy to change. So, today – looking into the mirror and feeling worthy, was pretty amazing. Eating Paleo is not a diet, at least it is not for me. It is/was changing my relationship with food. It is being good to your body and giving it what it needs. There is power in this – this being good to yourself. There is power in having a team of people, of friends who have become as close as family that “got your back”. I will end here, for now