Monday, July 11, 2011

I've said for years that the weight was the last hold on me

I don't want to say I had a troubled youth, because I didn't. But, my youth was difficult. First, I am the oldest of four kids and my parents, especially my dad, were very young when they had me (21 and 19). But, my parents were married, I was not an oops baby (born 10 months after they got married) and in that regard all was good. I was not physically abused and in the beginning, we had a fairly normal life.

My dad though, for some reason, really picked on me. I was a fairly picky eater and that was an issue. I didn't like any condiments (ketchup, mustard, mayonaise, salad dressings, etc). Which means I didn't like potato salads and most pasta salads. I also didn't like eggs (the whites) or almost any milk product (milk, sour cream, most cheeses, yogurt, and cottage cheese). And then things like liver.

A tangent here, but not liking condiments actually has been a big gift. Who needs those things? Some things, with maturity, I learned were good - like yes, I don't like cottage cheese, but cottage cheese in lasagna is great and some salad dressings are yummy. And I now know that my dairy products issue is and probably always has been a lactose intolerance and was probably a milk allergy as a baby, small child. Even now, while I like more dairy, I can't have much or I get sick from it.

Dinner time used to be a nightmare for me as a kid. Not only was I being watched like mad about what I was eating or not eating, I was being watched for impeccable table manners too - "Don't chew with your mouth open." "Get your elbows off the table." "Cut your food." "Don't take such big bites." "Sit up straight." and so on. My siblings would be eating like pigs, but I had to eat perfectly because I was setting an example. Many a night I would be crying at the dinner table. Of course, the flip side is that I have really good table manners. In college when we had dinner etiquette lessons (mandatory), I knew and followed all the rules, but it was so wasn't worth the torture at the dinner table I went through as a kid.

My mom knew this was an issue and when my parents divorced, food battles stopped, but those first 9-11 years were rough.

While in many ways having my dad gone after the divorce was better for me (no more battles), other things  got worse. We lived in poverty. My mom was juggling single parenthood and schooling at the same time and I took on too much of that emotional weight. I wanted to. I wanted to be my Mom's support. I wanted to be included. I wanted to be grown enough, but it added burden.

And very early, I started to have an unhealthy relationship with food. Food was comfort. So, starting with puberty, I started to gain weight. Little by little, but it was coming on. At 15, I weighed 140-150 pounds. I was growing a lot that year too. By high school graduation, I was wearing a size 16 (today's 12-14) and weighed 178 pounds and definitely had a 'little' poochiness to me. In college I stayed around 185-190. And then with getting married, I kept going up - all the way to 275.

I was secretive about food. I didn't want people to know I was eating junk, so I hid it. After my failed weight loss attempt, I stopped doing that by coming clean to my husband about sneaking food, but also telling him NOT to tell me what I should and should not be eating - that by him trying to 'help' in that way, I found myself hiding even more. I needed the food to be out in the open.

That helped a lot actually, because then I didn't need to snarf a bag of oreos... I could have them there and eat them more slowly.

And I think, with time, and with counseling for a bit, and with just being more self aware, the emotional eating started to go away. Not as a decided action. I just didn't need it any more.  But I still overate.

Now the overeating was a coping mechanism for lack of sleep. AND I was carb addicted. I had worked through so many demons - feeling of being less smart. Feels of being less pretty. Feelings of being not worthy - all those things I was mostly working through and getting more self confident, but I still wore this badge of pain - my weight.

That is what weight is to most overweight people. You don't get very overweight - obese, morbidly obese (unless there's a medical condition causing it) by being mentally healthy. Something is eating away at you, so you eat away your life to cope.

So, while I had battled the demons that had gotten me fat. I hadn't battled the battle to make myself thinner.

For years and years, my weight was constant (or mostly constant if you take out pregnancy weight gains and losses and gains). And I knew that was a good sign after years of ballooning up. And twice I lost a chunk of weight and kept it off. So, I was winning the battle on the inside. With 20 years of gaining and gaining. I had 7 or so years of maintaining, but I was wearing the badge of PAST pain.

I know that in the United States many people are very overweight or obese, but not as much in the east and not as much with the educated and not as much with middle class. I would go to parties and always be the heaviest person - by quite a bit. I would go to a function at my husband's work and not a single person there would be overweight. Just me.  I hated that I was still wearing this badge of pain. I had come so far, but I still had to deal with this.

Now, I was afraid, very afraid. I was afraid of failure. To be honest, I didn't know if I could emotionally handle another weight loss failure. I had really only tried a few times and it had been 10 years since I attempted anything, but trying and failing was worse, it seemed, than not trying at all. My health finally forced me to do something and like is so often the case, the fear was much worse than doing.

Of course, I have no idea how life will be next year, in five years and so on, but I'm hopeful that I'm finally ready to shed this badge of pain I've worn my entire adult life. And where did this post come from?

Well, Saturday I had an oreo cookie. One oreo cookie. It was a new flavor, or one I hadn't tried before - strawberry milkshake oreo. Sounded yummy and I wanted to try one. So, I grabbed one. It is yummy and I was even tempted to grab another later until I read the calorie count. One cookie is 75 calories. Holy calories! 75 calories for one???? Do you know how many times I bought a package of oreos and ate the whole thing in one day by myself? Either that or I ate a bag of cheetos (not a small one, a big one) in one day. Eating like that almost every day for breakfast/lunch. Now I cannot even imagine doing that! Which made me realize even more that I've come a long way with my relationship with food and eating.

Stats for 7/11/11:

Beginning weight: 255.6  Now 197.6

1 comment:

  1. Adding what I wrote on a weight loss forum as it adds to my thoughts on this:

    I detailed more in my blog today, but it's interesting how a single food can trigger so much.

    On Saturday I ate a single oreo. I very rarely grab a sweet nothing and I knew when I did it that it wasn't a great decision, but I also didn't beat myself up about it. A single cookie was not going to be a problem.

    Later, I was tempted by another one and before taking a second, I looked up the calories as I track everything. How did I forget they were 75 calories PER cookie? Wow! I used to eat an entire package of these in one day. How many cookies are in a package? About 30. Regular oreos are 80 calories per cookie, so that's 2400 calories in JUST cookies.

    Of course, that wouldn't be all I ate for the day. I often times needed something salty to offset the sweetness. So, besides the oreos I would eat Cheetos Cheese Puffs - the entire bag. So, that's about another 2000 calories. THEN, I would eat a big dinner with my family in the evening. So, on average, I was eating 5000 calories a day several times a week. And all that crap!!!

    I couldn't ever stop at eating ONE oreo before - ever. In college my roommate would sometimes buy oreos. She would eat one a day. If she went away on weekends, I would eat them all and then would need to go and buy her a new package and eat down to where she was in the package to make it look untouched. Can you say trouble with food?

    Yesterday, my family was eating ice cream. I made our ice cream. I had one tablespoon - just enough to give me a taste. That's all I needed or wanted. Years ago? I would sneak a carton of Ben and Jerry's ice cream and eat it in one day. Calories in that? 1080. In one tablespoon of my eggless ice cream? About 25. And it's enough. I don't 'need' the entire package.

    Eating lower carb has definitely helped with not needing tons of carbs. I don't crave them as much, but I also got a better relationship with food over time.

    I wish I knew exactly how I got over the emotional eating. I have no idea. It just slowly evolved. Then my eating became more of a "survive the day" need. I had a child who didn't sleep and to make it through the day, I needed lots of caffeine and lots of quick releasing carbs. Waking 5-7 times a night for 4 years is a doozy. As soon as I started sleeping? I didn't need the junk any more.

    I keep reading over and over from people here that failures in weight loss can eventually lead to success and I'm beginning to understand that. My first weight loss journey was a starvation diet with heavy exercise. Lasted a month and I gained more than I lost. Second weight loss journey I was doing everything textbook, and weight watchers, but I was still emotionally eating and would sneak food for little treats a day after weigh in. I wasn't treating it as a life journey, but a temporary thing I had to do. I did a feeble attempt one other time and it was a "I just need to exercise, what I eat doesn't matter." And while I was getting fitter, I didn't lose any weight.

    Along the way, I've learned to slow down my re-entry to exercise to prevent injury. I've learned that I can't just exercise, it needs to be diet too. I've learned that keeping myself open and honest about food is key - no hiding my snacking and being accountable for it, even on bad days. And I've learned that eating lower carb makes me feel better, not deprived.

    Lastly, and more importantly, I'm learning this is a life journey, not a temporary state. So where before even eating a single oreo would have made me feel horrible, now I see it as, 'I ate one oreo. One oreo is not excessive, so it's OK. Just acknowledge I ate it and account for it and make good choices the rest of the day."

    It's all about how I mentally treat eating an oreo.