I did not get to 385 pounds without overeating, eating the wrong foods, binging, taking short cuts, sneaking food or denying to myself that all of the above was true. The first thing that I had to do was to become honest with myself. This was not easy. But as difficult as it was for me to become honest with myself and stay so, it was the first step in my journey.
I was a chubby kid who eventually became a chubby teen. I was a fat bride at age twenty, a fat mom giving birth to our first daughter when I was twenty-three. During that pregnancy my gall bladder had to be removed. Gall bladder disease is often caused by obesity, and by poor eating habits. Did surgery change my eating? No. The first food I had after surgery was gourmet ice cream, a whole pint that was in 1985. By 2002 I was up to between half of a gallon and three-quarters of a gallon of ice cream on most days. I was close to 330 pounds when I gave birth to our second daughter in 1988. For the next eighteen years I was almost always over 300 pounds. My top weight was 385 pounds in the year 2003.
On January 3rd, 2003 I started the Atkins Diet and, in five months, I lost sixty pounds. Though I was losing weight on this high fat diet, I was not in a healthy place so I came off of it by August of the same year. In January, one year after I started, I had already gained back thirty of those pounds.
I figured this was my wake up call and I would now “be good." That wasn't the case. I was better, but still insane with food-obsessive thoughts and sick behavior. Even though I was sporadically eating the wrong foods and still not exercising enough, I did manage to keep off the eighty-five pounds I had lost prior to surgery, and I lost another ten pounds by the end of 2005. But it was becoming harder to not binge and not go back to foods I really craved.
In 2006 I was determined to increase my weight loss and I got tougher with myself. I wrote down everything I ate and accounted for the carbs, protein, fat, fiber and calories each day. I exercised at least three times a week. I read Dr. Oz's books. I watched his show and paid attention to the gems he shared: stay away from HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup), eat enough to keep my metabolism burning calories, and give up soda. I watched "The Biggest Loser" and cheered for the losers. I watched TV shows about food addiction and read books about food addiction and still did not find the answer to the one question that I had: How do I keep from gaining back the weight? Every diet ended with a maintenance plan. By the end of every book I read that I could now eat anything I wanted in moderation. None of the books told me how to get my brain or my body to understand what moderation meant.
I felt like it was hopeless. By Thanksgiving week I knew that I would eat poorly straight through December and Christmas if I did not get help. I knew it was probable that I would gain 30 or more pounds in that short time. Yet I was full of so much ego that I believed I could do this by myself--if I could just get through to New Year's Day. I had the crazy idea that I could go to a support group for compulsive eaters just for the limited period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It would keep me from gaining over the holidays and then I could leave on January 1st and go back to “what I knew was best."
When I find myself wanting food and trying to think up excuses to make what I wanted to eat to be okay. I needed to really look at my food plan and be honest about what was causing this repeat insanity. I honestly already knew the answer. What I needed was the willingness.
Once I became willing to give up all milk fat: butter, cheese, cream, non0skim milk products, I found the freedom I was seeking and was released from the desire to overeat. Since that day I have learned to look at my food plan with an open mind anytime I am considering the idea of shuttering the windows, disconnecting the phone, canceling my appointments and ordering a large extra cheese pizza with a half gallon of coffee ice cream. In addition to milk fat I have removed sugar from my food plan--this has also increased my willingness to stay in a healthy state of mind, where food does not call my name. Today, food is something I eat to live instead of living to eat.
I must constantly practice complete honesty in all things, even when I don’t necessarily like it. This most-important commitment to honesty has been the saving grace in my life in that the truth really has set me free. When you lie to yourself it can be hard to be honest with others.
I have lost 220 pounds (and counting) by changing my food habits and behaviors, being open to what has worked for others, practicing a commitment to a way of eating and living and through the support of a fellowship of people who share this disease of food addiction.
I can only continue keeping the pounds off if I continue to do what brought me to this place today. I still exercise in moderation. I continue to weigh, measure and write down my food every day. I do not eat foods that lead me back into the hell of compulsive eating.
I have not taken some kind of sworn oath to abstain from the ‘bad’ foods--I do not scream their evils from the rooftops, insisting that you must repent and expel these foods from your life. The foods I am addicted to may not be problem foods for you. Only you can decide what foods cause your problems. I only suggest that you remain open to possibilities.
The story continues. My desire is to get down to 150 pounds. Any excess weight still on my body after that appears to be redundant skin. Someday, if I am blessed with the financial resources, I hope to have it removed.
So, for today, if you want some insight into keeping the pounds off, please read my blog. If you can find something that helps you - I am happy that I shared it with you here. If you have an idea that works for you, please leave a comment. Your solution could help me, too.
In our journey of keeping the pounds off always remember that together we get better.
Thank you Jane so much for sharing your personal story, you are an inspiration! Please visit Jane over at her website Keeping the Pounds Off.
Excerpts from The Motivational Girl are protected by copyright and used here by permission of The Motivational Girl, 2011.