I thought it'd be interesting to give a history of my experiences as an eater, over eater and occasional dieter. Since I am working my way through Intuitive Eating, this is a reminder that no two experiences are the same. Well, here is mine.
I can't really remember a time when I wasn't overweight or at least bigger than normal kids. Seeing pictures, I know that I wasn't from about babyhood to maybe 3rd grade? Truth be told there was no major trauma that triggered my desire for food. As an only child, my family moved often and I found myself always trying to make new friends. It was tough, but I think that struggle helped me find my humor because everyone likes the funny kid.
I didn't like being seperated from my parents or forced to play outside because I was often alone. I remember finding pleasure in food then and while I wasn't an unhappy kid, I still sought out pleasure and comfort where I could find it. My parents didn't shame me for eating or over eating, I would guess this stems from their personal struggles with weight. We often referred to ourselves as the "fat family" as if that label took the sting out of the fact that we were fat and not happy about it. Food was really not a source of discussion in our house because it was always available. I ate what tasted good as often as I wanted with no regard for health or nutrition.
Fast forward to college and I am 270lbs.
Fast forward to my wedding day and I am 285lbs.
Fast forward to my turning point and I am 293lbs.
I am miserable and a bit defeated. Let us not forget all the valiant attempts I made to diet and exercise. Once my joints acclimated to the exercise, the act itself wasn't unpleasant. However, I would always crumble under all of the rules of every diet I had tried. I had no clue how to eat like a "normal" person.
On December 21, 2009, I had gastric bypass surgery.
I spent the first six months on the couch, losing weight and feeling sluggish. In hindsight, gastric bypass is really medically induced starvation. Your stomach is tiny, your guts have been rerouted to prevent nutrient absorption and it isn't an altogether pleasant experience. Whoever thinks it is the "easy way out" has certainly never travelled down that road. Losing a rapid amount of weight in a short time changes your identity, it changes the way you're able to relate to people since food is the center of so many outings and it often changes relationships with those closest to us. It is probably the most isolating experience I have ever gone through because no one close to you knows what it is like.
THAT SHIT IS HARD!
Surviving on milk, sugar-free pudding and creamed soup for months is HARD. Eating portions the size of medicine cups is HARD. Watching your hair thin is HARD. Losing every ounce of muscle tone you have is HARD.
When my weight loss stalled at 215lbs and my diet advanced, I got off my ass and started running. Running represented everything I could not do before I had surgery and I became obsessed. Running filled the hole once occupied by food and I literally believed I became an entirely different person.
As my body began to adjust to the operation and the "honeymoon" period ended, I was still left to face my food issues.
Post weight loss surgery, the diet I was given was unmanageable ESPECIALLY for a person who regularly engages in hardcore exercise. Honestly, I don't consider it to be healthy for the long term, but that is just my not medically qualified opinion. The physicians I worked with agreed that eating less than 50-75 carbs a day would not be adequate for marathon training, but it was still their recommendation. Also, I am not willing to limit my exercise to control my appetite, as recommended, so I've gone my own way. I don't drink 8oz glasses of milk for my two snacks a day, as recommended. I don't start every meal by consuming a meat-based protein, as recommended. Guess what? I'm okay. I have had some weight fluctuation as I have worked on my eating issues and my emotion issues, but I'M OKAY.
It feels good to say that to you. While I am a private person, I am in fact just a person with my own experiences and I am not ashamed of this one. It has taken awhile to get to that point quite honestly and while I would not call myself a proponent of weight loss surgery (MY GOD it is not for everyone), I cannot deny that it has served me well.
I plan on continuing the journey I have started by shifting my focus to the "how i eat" instead of the "what" because I believe therein lies the source of my struggle.
ps: Of course as I post this I am thinking of all the remarks and accolades I have received about losing weight "the right way." Well, I understand that some of you may feel mislead by my silence, this was my "right way."