The following is a collection of essays I did for an online support group. Most are from the stand-point, and aimed at Weight Loss Surgery post-ops, but, those who are on any diet program, or are simply wanting to feel the support from someone who’s been there done that will, hopefully, gain insight and encouragement from these as well.
They come straight from my heart and reflect the struggles and triumphs I’ve had a long the way to a healthier body and mind.
My trip is not finished. But at least I’m on the right road, now…most of the time!
April ’11 – Why Do I Eat?
Boredom, anger, excitement, joy, sadness, frustration, celebration, fright…RARELY for hunger.
Not a good thing, especially when you’ve lost 200 pounds and are trying to keep it off.
I have always turned to food to soothe or calm and – let’s face it – I ate because I just LOVE food. Every event in our family has centered around it. Doesn’t matter what it is we eat with it! People come to my house – they eat. I go to someone else’s house – I bring food to eat. I adore WATCHING them eat my cooking! I love my family and friends through food.
And I love AND hate ME through food.
I will find myself standing in front of the fridge or cupboard rummaging, looking, searching…nothing and everything sounds good. I don’t want it, but I do. I know I shouldn’t, but it happens. I am satisfied for a moment and then angry with myself in the next.
LOSING the weight was super easy for me. I was so gung-ho and the dropping pounds gave me more than enough motivation to keep on plan. I lost fast…way lower than my goal and was thrilled.
A couple years later – the instant gratification was gone. The everyday was back. And the reasons I ate – the feelings I wanted to enjoy or eliminate – were still there. What to do, now?
I am several years out and some days the battle is still raging. I AM NOT PERFECT and lose that battle now and again. But I am gradually beginning to gain the upper hand.
I have realized that sabotaging myself and causing myself pain and anguish – hating my behavior – is too destructive. It does me no good…makes me feel badly about ME, and has the potential to destroy everything I’ve worked so hard to obtain.
I don’t want to go backwards. I want to stay thin and healthy. I can’t go to that place again…where I was desperate and beyond frustrated, where my health hung in the balance and Morbid Obesity was in control.
I have had to find ways to keep the balance in my food-life. Talking to myself, DAILY, is the way I’ve come to cope with it. I actually discuss, through journaling or sitting with my eyes closed and concentrating on JUST that, WHY I feel the need to eat when I’m not hungry or scheduled to.
I have bargained with myself in those times of potential disaster…give me 5 minutes of reading, cleaning, pulling weeds..whatever. Just 5 minutes, then we’ll rethink the situation.
Most of the time the craving has gone, or the feelings are under control and the urge to medicate with food is over.
I’m maturing in my emotional state. I’m becoming my best advocate instead of my worst enemy. I’ve begun to look out for myself instead of finding ways to cheat. I’ve started feeling the feelings…and, frankly, sometimes it’s awful. No one wants to FEEL bad, sad, lonely, angry, or pain.
But eating never took those away in the past…and there is no evidence that says eating will take them away now.
What do they say? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?
EXACTLY. Exactly what I’ve been doing all my life. Eating to cover the feelings…hating myself because of overeating. Eating AGAIN because I hate myself for overeating. Hating that I overate because now I’ve gained weight…so I eat to make myself feel better…
The cycle never ends unless we END IT!
I don’t want to be insane over my weight any longer. I don’t want to fight this battle into infinity. I want to win the war.
I WILL win the war… one bite NOT taken at a time!!
January ’10 – Is Comfort Food REALLY Comforting?
Oooooo…comfort food! Just the thought brings us to our knees…swooning over our favorite wrap-your-arms-around-me-eating-pleasure!
I didn’t discriminate when it came to knoshing myself better….nothing was off limits, everything was fair game and I wore it all on my hips for the world to see just exactly how comforted I was.
When I started this journey I was positive that I didn’t eat for emotional reasons. I couldn’t think of one time that I found myself neck-deep in something ooey-gooey, or crispy-crunchy because of my mood. I wasn’t THAT far gone…I mean, come on, now….
I knew what my problem was. I LOVED FOOD. Loved to cook it, touch it, shop for it, read, think, and daydream about it…and yes, loved to eat it (and frequently, I’ll admit, I enjoyed it a wee bit too much), but I had to eat to live, right?
The word ‘Obsessed’ was thrown out there by a few people …but I could certainly control myself around it, knew when it had it’s proper place, and would never abuse it simply to make myself FEEL better.
Sure, I did eat out of fear, anger, frustration, because I was sad, mad or bored….
Okay, okay…for COMFORT…..ya’ happy?!
Why is that so difficult to admit to ourselves? Why is it such a hard thing to kick to the curb? Why do we find ourselves turning to our old friend over and over again, even though we don’t really want to and know better?
Fast forward 5 years and I’m finally starting to realize, through journaling and self-talking myself down from the ledge, just how often – in my fat past – I dove into the fridge and how much food I REALLY ate in any given day.
Because of the exercises that help me become aware of why I want some food at that particular moment, I’m cognizant of feelings and moods more than I ever was before…and yes, some of them are very scary.
I don’t want to feel the yucky-ickiness. I don’t want to cry and be weepy. I don’t want to forgive just yet and let it go.
But I also don’t want to be over 350 pounds again. I don’t want to wear size 30 and not like myself. I don’t want to return to the C-PAP, or high blood pressure meds, have diabetes, or chronic sore knees, hips, and ankles. I don’t want to hate my body and wish my life away.
So…I am trying to relegate food to it’s rightful place. I am trying to co-exist with it peacfully and positively. I am learning to acknowledge the feelings and then let them go. And I’m realizing that even though I FEEL the sadness and anger, without soothing my nerves with food, life is MUCH better afterwards…..
…..because there’s no more guilt.
This has not been an instant fix – I might not perfect it until the day I die, but I’m definitely working TOWARDS a life without comfort food.
Don’t get me wrong. The FOOD is still there, but now I eat it out of hunger and joyfully nourish myself with it. Life is meant to be full and pleasurable and food is part of that for me. Eating is now fun and in-the-moment…instead of mindless and unaware.
Some may say I am still just a tad obsessed with food.
Shopping, researching, planning, creating, cooking, photographing, and yes, taste-testing for my friends and family’s health and well-being…somebody’s gotta do it.
(I’ll make the sacrifice. You can thank me later!!)
October 09 – Do you still see yourself fat? Or are you accepting the new and improved YOU?!
I think I’ve been lucky in that I never saw myself in my mind as morbidly obese. It helped that I wasn’t always MO…only half of my life!
I took care of myself…tried to dress well, bought nice things – always had my hair, nails, and toes done. Then I would see photos or video and just about come unglued. I really did not THINK of me like that.
So as I lost those 200 pounds I was able to see the girl that was stuck in her Body-Prison break free and I RECOGNIZED her!! Sure it was a little unnerving seeing that face from 20-some years ago, but it didn’t take very long before I finally felt like myself! The one I KNEW was in there!
I didn’t have any negativity towards my decision to have Weight Loss Surgery…at least none to my face! Because I didn’t allow it. Maybe someone, somewhere thought it was ridiculous, but I never heard any comments like that. I think because I was quite ill…everyone who knew or cared about me realized that it would save my life. It was more a medical intervention than for vanity – as some folks think we are doing it for.
I am also a firm believer that we make our own weather…and how we project ourselves is reflected back to us. Of course there will always those who are poopy-pants about ANYTHING, not just our surgery or how much weight we have lost. There will always be those who want us to stop losing, or not get reconstructive surgery, or not go thru WLS in the first place.
But most of the time if WE have a positive attitude towards WLS – if WE create the climate of acceptance and excitement – if WE are thrilled and bubbly about our decision, most people won’t argue with us about it. They will take their cue from us and be thrilled, too.
It’s not fair to YOU to let someone else steal your joy when it comes to all you’ve accomplished on this journey. I don’t care if it’s a spouse, child, parent, friend, boss, coworker, waitress, or the man in the moon…do not let ANYBODY take away what you’ve worked so hard for: Physical improvement and better self-worth.
Part of getting others to treat you as you deserve is for You to decide right now to accept the new you with love and tenderness.
Along with the physical, we do change, emotionally, to some degree. We may be frightened by how we have to now deal with our troubles in other ways besides eating. We may be raging, angry, hateful, resentful, and terrified. But we are still ourselves, at the core.
Don’t be afraid of the person you are becoming just because they may be a stranger. Get to know this changed person…the good and the bad. Accept the girl or the guy in the mirror with the understanding that they have faults, fears, traumas, worries, and may be unfamiliar with the ways of self-love.
Treat your new self as you would a new home or car. Yes, it will take some getting used to but now you’ve GOT the time! And the excitement of NEW is FUN!
Most of us find that when we accept that new body, we also become empowered and enlightened. We no longer allow others to step all over us, we are no longer wall-flowers, or church mice. We gain confidence and strength and the world doesn’t stop when we stand up for ourselves.
You have awakened to a fabulous new day! Life CAN be great…but it is what you choose it to be. No matter your financial or physical circumstances YOU can be wonderful!
There should be no fear in living in a thin and healthy body…don’t make it scary. Make it fascinating!
Rewrite the script….with yourself as The Star!!!
September 09 – So You Got to Goal…Now What?
This is for those who have had Weight Loss Surgery, especially. But anyone with a history of dieting can relate.
WOW. I don’t know how many times I’ve slithered off to the corner and turned my back on everyone while I wallowed in shame and disgust at gaining a few pounds. A LOT.
All the worst of my worst behaviors and habits would come roaring back because I felt lost, saddened, afraid, guilty, and hopeless. I ate to feel better and felt worse. So I ate to feel better…but felt WORSE. So I ATE.
We’ve all been there. Not one of us hasn’t felt that shame and guilt. Not one of us can sit in judgment of others at backsliding, or regain. We are ALL capable of it and but for constant diligence and care we’d ALL be in the same boat.
I shudder to see a new post op who is still high on surgery and results say that the xxx amount of pounds are gone forever. YES…it can be possible. But I’m so afraid that the way it’s said puts the work on the surgery and not on themselves. The surgery is the catalyst, but the workhorse is US.
I, in no way, want to discourage anyone or rain on someone’s parade. I simply want everybody to be aware that there is danger lurking if we aren’t constantly on watch. We need to learn the tools to use…the weapons that will work at striking down the carb monster, the snack-demon, the low self-worth that insists the way to happiness is through food.
When we embark on this journey ( be it WLS or another diet, or just to live and eat healthier) we also have to be ready to WORK for the results. They are every bit as exciting and thrilling as you’d expect them to be…but the defeat that can come if you aren’t careful or get lazy, can be as devastating as the triumphs are exhilarating.
Don’t ever take this new life for granted. Don’t ever get cocky and think you can do it alone…or that protein isn’t important, or THAT THIS IS A DIET and once you are to goal, life can finally get back to normal. Don’t lose sight of the prize, even when you are sitting smack in the middle it! It can be gone in a flash.
August 09 -Feeling the Feelings
I don’t know about you, but I’ve had my share of emotional turmoil over losing this weight and now trying to keep it off. Never in my life have I had to dig so deep and feel so much to accomplish what I’ve set out to do.
I always knew that there was more to becoming morbidly obese than just overeating. That was the how, but what was the why?
I’m a work in progress still, but I did realize I was afraid of feeling the feelings. You know…the sadness, irritation, boredom, anger, frustration, pain, hurt, desperation…all the things that drove us to comfort ourselves with food.
It’s NOT fun and enjoyable to deal with them, but the stinkin’ thinkin’ comes into play when I tell myself that I’d rather eat than be mad, sad, or hurt. Does that work? Eating instead of feeling? For a minute…maybe through the entire package of old-fashioned donuts…but, dang it if more negative emotions aren’t added to the mix when the package is empty.
GUILT. And then FEAR. And then more anger…at ME. And that hurts worse than anything, because if I can’t trust myself and be happy with myself, then it seems a lost cause. And the cycle begins again.
I’m finally learning that I will NOT die from the feelings. They DO hurt me at first….but they can only have POWER if I dwell on them and stuff them down. When they are out in the open and dealt with they lose some of their intensity.
I’m in no way diminishing the horrid pain that some of us have endured. I know there are circumstances that have wounded many to the very core and will take years to heal from. I realize that most of us probably need counseling and help to heal from those wounds and the scars will never fade.
I’m not talking necessarily of those things…but the everyday issues that we face. The little things that will derail us just as quickly and be just as devastating to our success. But learning to recognize the day to day irritations that have us swan-diving into the Ben & Jerry’s will help in overcoming the bigger problems, too.
Baby steps…one small victory at a time will give us strength and courage…and fire. I think the mistake so many make is feeling they have to fix everything at once. Start small. Learn to deal with the screaming kids, the spouse who acts uncaring, the boss who’s being jerky, the traffic that goes nowhere fast, the bank account that’s always in the red, the mother who is hyper-critical….ONE AT A TIME.
Each instance of breathing deep, letting go and realizing that in the bigger scheme of things it REALLY doesn’t matter, will make the next time so much easier. Running to the fridge or drive-up will never help…and we ALL KNOW THAT!! After eating ourselves silly, the brat will still be on our nerves and the check will still bounce, but so will the scale!
So…let’s work on forgiving ourselves…practice grace and tenderness on YOU. Give yourself permission to take care of yourself like the precious treasure you are! Think of your body as the most prized possession you’ve got. Remember you can’t do for anyone else WELL, if you don’t first do for YOU! – Linda