*Steps on soapbox*
Don’t let my smile fool you. In this before picture, I was in a horrible place and depressed beyond comprehension. I’ve never admitted this publicly, but I was fighting a losing battle with food addiction (commonly known as Binge Eating Disorder). Food gave me the same comfort and “high” that some may experience by using other substances as a crutch. I hoarded chips, Pop Tarts, cookies, etc and hid them in various places around the house—even in the trunk of my car—so that no one could take them away from me. Multiple times a day I would get the worst cravings that caused me to salivate, sweat, shake, and become increasingly anxious until I gave in. Shoot, once I even woke up from a dead sleep at 3 AM and drove myself to Jack in the Box just to get a “fix.” Years passed and my physical and mental health rapidly declined to the point that Hector and I postponed our wedding twice. At almost 300 pounds and inches away from type 2 diabetes, I had to start giving myself daily injections to prevent my A1c levels from crossing that deadly threshold. The mirror became an enemy and self esteem a distant memory.
Then I got help.
With major assistance from my doctor, who happens to be my mom, I was admitted into an intensive eating disorder therapy program. For three nights a week over the course of about 4-5 months, I made peace with food and began seeing it only as fuel for my body, nothing more.
There’s a reason the weight loss market is a multi-billion dollar industry: they thrive on their repeat customers. For me, a lifetime of dieting taught me food was this divine substance that most people weren’t privileged enough to consume except in the rarest of occasions (and then, of course, we would be expected to say 10 Hail Marys and pay reparations for daring to eat something as gluttonous as a piece of cake, bag of chips, or even a hearty steak dinner).
While dieting may be a nice short term solution to weight loss, lifetime “success**” is seldom achieved. (**Note: I use that term loosely, because learning to love your body in whatever shape it is is the true success, not weight loss).
In other words, it’s a broken system made for broken people.
This is in no way the fault of the dieter. The dieting mindset, the subtle catalyst to most people’s “failure**” (**See note above^^) skews one’s view of food. The fact is food serves as the scapegoat to the real demon: our brains. (Dun dun DUUUUUUUUN)
Through support, I continue to conquer the demons in my head and adjust my perception of eating. (And yes, over time I found the strength to throw my secret food stash away).
That’s where my journey began—not through dieting, but through new perspectives.
You want to know a secret? One the weight loss industry will never tell you? No matter what size you are, your stomach and mind work together and “talk” to you all day every day. They tell you when they’re hungry (I mean really hungry, not just “hmmm, I guess I could maybe eat” hungry), and more importantly, they tell you when they’ve had enough to eat. Many people mistake this feeling as an uncomfortable, gotta-unbutton-my-pants-and-lay-down kind of feeling, but in fact, that is the feeling of overeating. Fullness is actually comfortable. It’s the quiet moment when you realize your stomach is no longer growling and you feel simply satisfied. Your body will always give you these signals, you just have to listen for them.
Wanna know the real secret to weight loss? YOU. Even if you’re like me and need some help along the way, you are all you will ever need to make peace with food, the scale, and most importantly, yourself. Diets and miracle cures will inevitably let you down (as they’re supposed to), but the wonderful, unique body you were born with NEVER WILL.
The truth is I will never diet again, nor will I ever promote it. After freeing myself from these shackles, I no longer fear food nor the scale. I eat whatever I want to eat whenever I want to eat it, but I eat in small quantities until I feel satisfied. At that point, if I’m just not ready to throw the food away or my appetite (NOT my hunger) is telling me to keep eating, I’ll package it up and save it for when I’m hungry again. Because you know what? It’s not going anywhere and I can come back to it whenever I want.
Obviously no one is perfect and I make “mistakes” daily. I get occasional cravings I give in to, accidentally overeat/eat for emotional reasons, or make other choices that cause the number on the scale go up—the important thing is that I still remain aware of my weaknesses, acknowledge I gave in, forgive myself, keep in mind the number on the scale represents my gravitational pull on this earth and nothing more, and KEEP. MOVING. FORWARD.
I started my journey 2 years ago at almost 300 pounds and a size 24 (believe it or not, I wasn’t even at my heaviest in these photos). Now I’m proud to say that at 185 pounds (which is actually 20 pounds less than I was at my wedding) and a size 12, I am officially the lightest I have ever been in my adult life! I know I will never be skinny because my body simply wasn’t built that way, but now I know that physical and mental wellness is the goal, not thinness. That, my friends, is the real victory and the true definition of “success.”
Thank you for coming to my Ted talk.
*Gets off soapbox*
To learn more about Binge Eating and other eating disorders, visit https://www.nimh.nih.gov/…/top…/eating-disorders/index.shtml