For about 28 years of my life, I was so thin that people would ask questions like “are you anorexic?” “do you eat?” “how much do you even weigh?” Why anybody feels it is ok to ask these sorts of questions is beyond me. They are hurtful, self esteem damaging, and not very nice. But there I was, a very thin person. Metabolism through the roof. My diet was awful because I could eat anything I wanted and it wouldn’t impact me. After giving birth all that changed for me.
For the past 15 years, I have been on a weigh loss rollercoaster. In all that time I have never been one for fad diets. Just cutting calories and increasing activity. I would lose the weight only to return to my sweet tooth and love affair with french fries. The biggest challenge for me was turning 40 and my metabolism dropping. Medication, diet, exercise, and lifestyle affected the 40 year slump for me. I have tried a nutritionist, dietician, and talked extensively with my doctor. I struggle to stay on the course.
As a therapist, my recent thought is what in my past is affecting my present? Eating habits of childhood have an impact on how we approach food. As a child I faced challenges with eating; sweets were rewards and celebrated happy times, health food related to my mother’s violent husband who was a “health nut.” We didn’t exercise, I was not given the opportunity to play sports (my mother would use my asthma as a reason to say no), and we were supported by food banks for a period of time when I was in my early teens. In those teen years there were times I went hungry. I now fear deprivation. I now really dislike cooking.
When I eat at a restaurant my mind often enters an anxious mode. My brain tells me I need to order something I liked, no matter how unhealthy. The result, my cholesterol was high 213 at one point and for years now I have been pre-diabetic.
My mother hated cooking and I learned cooking was not fun. Now as a mom, meal preparation is extremely challenging. I have picky teens who aren’t always around for dinner and my husband and I have a different view of healthy. I could eat a plate of roasted vegetables and be happy. He can not and that makes cooking very difficult.
In August, I decided to try something new, an elimination diet. This is not like the trendy Paleo, or carb cutting diets. This is a way to figure out if you are allergic to certain foods. I was able to discover how my body reacts to certain ingredients. I cut sugar, caffeine, alcohol, soy, dairy, white flour, and coffee. The first two weeks were rough.
Cutting coffee and caffeine has to be done carefully. I was a latte drinker and started my day on 16 ounces of coffee. I was addicted. My body chemistry was off due to the caffeine. I have decided not to go back to regular coffee. I will occasionally have a decaf but now drink black tea.
Cutting alcohol was liberating. In a society where we need alcohol to have fun and relax, this was a challenge. I recognized I had developed a high alcohol tolerance but now feel much better with only drinking occasionally.
Cutting sweets, not so successful. I am still at war with my sweet tooth. That addiction has been my nemesis. My family is addicted to sugar. My husband even works for a candy company. This is a work in progress for me.
At this point, I have slowly moved back to bad eating habits. Sugar, dairy, white flour, wine and even fast food. I have recognized that as I struggle with my impulse control issues and this causes my unhealthy choices. How does a therapist help themselves? The work I do now is noticing triggers and feeling the emotion. I recognize this journey is a marathon and not a sprint. I continue my yoga practice. When I become upset with my body limitations in yoga, I remind myself it is part of this path. As of today, I am 5’7 and weigh 162 pound. My goal is to get back down to 140, but at 140 I need to feel better about myself.
Please, feel free to share your journey in the comments section.