My weight has been a constant battle since the age of 4 or 5. In the above picture, I want to say I was anywhere between the age of 11-13 and in the 6th or 7th grade – of course the photograph on the right is me a few weeks ago. Considering I have been overweight practically my entire life, I know the emotional torment. I know how it feels to be teased and made fun of. I know how it feels to feel hopeless and helpless.
Early on in life, I learned how to cope with food. I would eat when I was happy, sad, angry, hurt, etc. I also learned that if someone made food for me, it was a way of them expressing their love for me – so I had to eat it. My grandmother watched me for my parents while they were at work and she would ask me what I would like to eat that day. Regardless of what I told her, the food was delivered – and in abundance. If I wanted French toast, magically pile upon pile of French toast would be delivered to the kitchen table. The same followed suit with any other foods my grandmother would cook – potato pancakes, fried eggplant, grilled cheese, etc., etc.
I learned that food was a means of celebration. Food (whether made for someone or being consumed) made people happy! As I got older, I then learned how to suppress my feelings with food. If someone said something to me that I didn’t like, I turned to food for comfort, to put a band-aid on my “boo-boo”. Food was and had become, essentially my best friend. Food never judged me. Food never told me “you shouldn’t eat that”, food never snickered behind my back, and food never did anything to “hurt” me.
I was also (and still kind of am) a picky eater. I did not and don’t eat certain foods. My parents always cooked – they’d only order out on Friday or Saturday. It was never really a matter of what they were cooking; it was merely a matter of portion size. I had my first peanut butter and jelly sandwich at 17 simply because I wanted to try it. I admit, I was rather spoiled because if I refused to eat dinner I’d whine and whine and whine until, my mother (my father wouldn’t give in) would take me out to get my favorite food as a child – a hamburger from a fast food restaurant.
The cycle continued and into my teenage years, I developed a habit of having dinner before dinner. By this I mean eating something “quick” at a fast food establishment (usually hamburgers, tacos, etc.) before going home to eat the dinner that my parents prepared.
Fast forward into my adult life and I simply continued doing what I knew: emotional eating, eating dinner before dinner, eating in abundance, and merely eating just to eat because I’m also a boredom eater. I don’t look back at my life and wonder how I ever got to nearly 400 pounds. Sometimes I wonder how I wasn’t more than that. For decades, I had a pair of blinders perfectly cemented over my eyes, which didn’t allow me to see what I didn’t want to see. Me.
Before joining Weight Watchers in February 2010, I was able to remove the blinders and see myself for the first time. I, the emotional and boredom eater, was able to grasp hold of her life and decide that I needed to be healthy and happy. So far, it's been the best decision I have ever made. I needed to do a lot of work – physically and emotionally, and I am still working on myself today. Old habits die hard and sometimes those old habits or feelings can creep back up – but it’s up to me to decide how I am going to deal with them. This isn’t an overnight revelation; it takes work – days and even years. I found it takes a little digging deep down inside to find out why I do certain things. Talking about them, getting things off my chest to an unbiased individual made it so much easier. It’s not always fun diving headfirst into the deep stuff – but once you do, it gets easier and a weight begins to get lifted.
The difference in me today versus me years ago (and truthfully my whole life pre-weight loss journey), is that I have control and I know what I need to do to make my lifestyle livable. I’m still a work in progress. I’m not perfect; there isn’t a single person on the planet that is (well … aside from my beloved fictional Mary Poppins). I’m still learning every day – things about myself, about life and just things in general. As I always say it may not always be easy … but it’s worth it.
190+ pounds gone but not forgotten because I never want to become that girl again ... and I won't because I have control of my life now.