Wednesday, March 14, 2012

My relationship with food (novella).

I was reading Mir's blog today... she'd talked about the psychological issues between dieters and lasting success. You know, the whole re-evaluate your relationship with food thing.

I am lucky. I am young. Granted, I'm also the fattest person in the E2E challenge. So I'm not sure if that says my "issues" with food are more terrible or aggressive.. etc. But I still consider myself lucky to be attacking these habits before they'd become more engrained.

A lot of where we come from, or how we approach food starts in youth. Mom is a closet eater. Dad was morbidly obese. I have three older brothers who didn't pitfall into obsessive eating patterns. I didn't start packing on the pounds until I was in 5th grade and bodily changes started happening - of course. I started to feel bad for myself, particularly about always being the slow one at tag during recess and I compensated with books, knowledge and a quick tongue.

I earned my own money at a very young age by working for my dad. I would buy my own sweets and mom and dad couldn't regulate that. It was MY money. I always bought in excess and I was usually active enough that I didn't see the results until I stopped growing (vertically). Little Debbies, candy bars, string cheese. I loved to eat them one by one, layer by layer, while reading Rohl Dahl's books about poor unfortunate children overcoming evil parents and victimizing situations.

My brothers would sort of do the same thing. Joe had a padlock on his giant box of goldfish crackers and David had his power bars and Lincoln had Subway. So I guess our backgrounds were more similar than I'd thought. In a way we all struggled with addiction... except for maybe David. Lincoln was a meth addict, Joseph was always neck deep in something REALLY NERDY. Mine was food.

Food was how dad and I bonded. Food was how I made myself feel better. Food was how I distanced myself. Food was how I rewarded myself. Food was my secret indulgence. Food was also DELICIOUS. Food played a lot of roles in my life while growing up.

I really started fattening up when I gave up swimming. I used to spend entire summers in the pool, until I discovered I was a total freak and had a zit on my shoulder and then gave up the swim suit for 8 years.  I gained most of my weight in 8 years. It's incredible to put a number to how long it took me to gain 150+lbs.

During that 8 years our family went through Lincoln dealing with some severe drug problems. Which in turn, became family problems... emotional problems... escapism problems. We went through some family counseling. I only went to two or three sessions and the therapist told me that for having such tumultuous relationships around me and feelings inside, I seemed pretty well adjusted and then he concentrated on Lincoln.

Well-adjusted = being able to step back from a situation to protect myself from experiencing difficult emotions. I had a lot of depressive thoughts and terrible self-esteem. I used food to help create distance. I hid under a fat blanket. My body literally became a barrier between me and the crap in the family, community and school.

Then I escaped to college and the weight gain stopped for about a year. Then started again when school go tough. My instructors got personal and my peers were even more difficult to deal with... Then we start having issues with religion. I nearly quit my degree and then went into counseling.

In counseling we talked about the music department mainly and how I felt trapped and I needed to graduate. Ultimately the conclusion was that I needed to accept accountability for life and decisions. Life is not something that just happens to someone. We are not powerless to control our direction and "destiny."

The counselor tried to talk to me about weight and I went from weepy to fire breathing dragon in mere seconds. I wasn't ready to tame that issue yet. But I'm sure it was apparent that I was fighting my stress with food and inactivity and unhealthy choices. I'm sure that a lot of my stress, anger and feelings of being overwhelmed could have used some good cardio instead of tears.

However, having reached one giant understanding of my unhappiness (that accountability thing) and the end of the semester, I quit counseling. I did two more years of school without murdering my peers or professors. I got more involved in student government. I had some leadership positions. Because if I was going to complain about how things were run, I was going to try and help shape things or understand the system better. I stressed. I ate. I got angry... for two years. Then I finished my senior recital. Gave up my leadership positions. Started working out. Started eating better. Started working 40 hour weeks.

And that's where I am now. I am in control of my life... I am responsible for the decisions I make. PARTICULARLY concerning my body. Food is a my coping mechanism. It's where I turn when I'm angry, stressed, happy, sad, lonely. That's what I'm up against - emotions, really. When I experience emotion, I eat.

Now, I'm much better at keeping my emotions in check and level than I was before. So the temptations happen less. But not experiencing the extremes of my personal emotional roller coaster sometimes doesn't feel like really living. I'm not medicated. I don't think I need to be. I'm pretty good at being my own anti-depressant and sometimes I just need to experience my depression so I can get past it.

Not all of my days are good ones. But that's typical and healthy. Not all of my days are bad ones either.

I've been arguing with myself this week... I'm sad the artistic/angsty part of myself has almost disappeared. It provided me with a lot of good inspiration for art, music, writing... but I can definitely say that I am happier now than I've been since 5th grade.

Sometimes work sucks. Sometimes friends suck. Sometimes the negative blog comments suck. But I can let it go. Maybe not immediately. But I can feel my feelings and release them... instead of shoving them in my mouth (along with calories) and hoping that I can poop them out. heh! This is something to work on for life... and here I am, trying to accept that early before I become even more stuck in my own ways.

Big Fat Where I Come From Love,

Ps. If you made it through all that, you get six points. Redeemable for awesome.


  1. You really ARE lucky to come to these realizations so young. You are very wise for your age and I´ll be rooting for you till you get to your goal weight. I know you can do it!!

  2. For someone so "young" you have awesome insight. I read every word you wrote and thought "I'd like her if I met her". You are doing one very awesome job with your life.

    1. 6 points! You can redeem your awesome at anytime! :)

  3. Wise woman, as always. I knew I liked you. :)

    I'm not an emotional eater - the stuff just tastes good and I'm always hungry. I don't eat a lot, but I pick, pick, pick much of the day and love to tuck into a big, warm, comforting, hearty Mormon-mom casserole lots of the time. The whole count-calories thing makes my head explode and I get very depressed. However, the extra lbs. also make me depressed. I be ugly and I hate it. Toilet. How doooooo you do.

    Workin' on it, though, a bit at a time. I try with the FitBit I bought, the MyFitnessPal, the Paleo stuff...whatever. Meh - never goes well and I revert back to my usual routine, which, BTW, I kind of love. But, I don't love my clothing size and the ridiculousness of my tummy. Having a Doctor-of-Liposuction carve away at it sounds appealing. I'll work it off, I think, but I won't like it. You can't make me like it! :/

  4. YOU are the awesome one ;)

  5. Your history is a lot like mine. Even to the point where I was a music major during my first attempt at college. I couldn't take the pressure. It is good that you know yourself so well. It will help you to understand the problems so you can find the solutions. Solutions don't always come easy though. Knowing and doing are different things as you can see from my journey. I am struggling with the doing right now. You are doing a great job of making the right changes to get healthy. You should be very proud of yourself. Hang in there. I wish you the best.

  6. Thanks for your honesty, by telling us all you've learned through your journey. You said it: it's good that you recognize in such a young age. So, you can still hope for a healthy future. I hope, you will keep growing in recognition, just like we all still need to learn. There is a reason for all of us, why we got so fat (I stopped gaining, when I was at about 200 pounds and my knees started to hurt when I was going up the stairs). It's so great, that we all can learn from each other here.

  7. This is a great post. We have some similar issues with 'food'. You are right that it is a great time to be working through your issues now before you dig deeper into the abyss. You're doing great.

  8. this is my first time on your blog and i love it. very honest post. and great before/after pictures! i also love love love the title. so awesome :-)

  9. This post makes me wish I knew you better. And in real life, too!

  10. I appreciate you being open this way.

    It seems to me you have worked very hard to know your heart and soul and have a good vision of your direction. I respect your strength.

  11. Fabulous post, I am such the emotional eater that's been hiding under a fat blanket! It's hot under here too & not in a good way;-) you look really happy in the picture you posted at the end there, the fact that you've taken control over your relationship with food really shows in your eyes & that smile! I once lost a bunch of weight when I was your age & I wish I was in the same farm of mind as you are now cause I would have had a better chance keeping it off:-)


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