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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A little history...

I have had issues with food and disordered eating since I was a child. I remember binge eating when I was 8 and stealing change from my dad to buy four or five candy bars to eat in my bedroom. I was never overweight as a kid, though, due to my child's metabolism and my high activity level. I did develop early, however, and I viewed my curves as fat. The other girls my age were small and child-like and I had the body of a woman. I was self-conscious. I was also treated like an older person - often in inappropriate ways. I looked 16 at the age of 12. I was over-sexualized. When I was 13 or 14, I began to starve myself for a couple days at a time and I dropped weight. I was skinny. My doctor even told me once that I shouldn't lose anymore weight. I loved it.

Living that lifestyle took a lot of work and after a couple of years I was more interested in my boyfriend and my job than I was in being so skinny. An unhappy relationship caused me to become overweight for the first time at the age of 17. I joined a commercial weight-loss program and lost 45 lbs. I was thin once more. The problem was that I lost weight by binging for three or four days and then starving for the two or three days before my weigh-in. I remember going through the McDonald's drive through and ordering enough food for two people and ordering a pizza delivered to my apartment and then shouting to the non-existent person in the back that the pizza was there. I didn't want anyone to know that I was going to eat the whole pizza myself.

This went on for awhile until I discovered a 12-step program for compulsive eating. I became abstinent from compulsive eating for the first time. I wasn't binging and I wasn't gaining weight. And then I fell in love.

I met Eddie in a meeting and I loved him deeply. But my feelings of insecurity and strong emotions brought about a relapse in my self-destructive behavior. For the first time, I began to actively engage in purging behaviors. I also stopped eating for the most part. I wasn't fat. Looking back, I don't know what the hell my problem was. I guess I just couldn't handle the idea that I was worthy of being loved. I reached the lowest weight I've ever been at as an adult during this time - 119. I am 5'8".

I went through a group-counseling program to pull myself out of this situation. I quit purging. I saw a therapist. When I was in group, all I could think about was how much I envied all the other skinny girls with anorexia and bulimia. Their neurosis fueled my disordered thinking. But Eddie said he'd leave me if I didn't knock it off so I finished the program and quit purging.

For the next several years, I managed to maintain a normal weight, but at times my eating habits were still pretty messed up. I didn't want anything to do with diets or being told what to eat. I was rebellious. I was tired of how screwed up my relationship with food had become. Mostly I ate what I wanted, but exercised regularly so I didn't gain weight. After four years, Eddie and I broke up. I gained a bit of weight in the next few months and jumped right through a new relationship and into a second new relationship. I married the second guy after four months of dating. For those who are wondering, I don't recommend this to others.

I got pregnant within six months. I gained 60 lbs. during my pregnancy. For the first time, I was significantly overweight. My daughter was born and I was yet again about 40 lbs. overweight. I went back to the weight-loss program when she was 10 months and was back at my pre-pregnancy weight by her first birthday.

I kept the weight off until I became pregnant again with my second daughter. I decided I wasn't going to gain so much weight this time around and I exercised as long as I could physically do so (until about two weeks before she was born). I gained 20 lbs, in the first six months of my pregnancy and 40 lbs. in the last couple months. Crap. I guess that is just how my body "does" pregnancy. Not discouraged, I went back to the weight-loss program right after she was born. I was 29 years and 9 months old. I dieted for two months. I didn't lose one ounce.

Beyond frustrated, completely exasperated, I quit the diet program and ate whatever the hell I wanted. I decided that it was too soon. I was still recovering from pregnancy. I was breast-feeding. Controlling my weight through periodic crash dieting had always worked for me in the past and now it didn't work anymore. I didn't know what to do. For the next six years.

I did have two periods of weight-loss during the ensuing time. The first happened when I spent a summer abroad. I walked a lot and the weather was hot. I was also sick from the dietary changes. I lost at least 25 lbs. that summer without any effort at all. It was awesome. But then I got a divorce from my husband and finished college and the stress was too much. I gained the weight back.

In 2008, I went back on that same diet program for six months and lost the 25 lbs. again. It was excruciating to lose so slowly and when I hit a weight-loss plateau, I became frustrated and quit. I've gained the 25 lbs. back since then. Maybe more.

I am at least 100 lbs. overweight. Although I hate being so fat, I am generally a happy person. I have a good job and two beautiful daughters. I am active in my church. I have good friends. I graduated Magna Cum Laude from college. I exercise every day. I seldom binge anymore. When I track my food intake, I usually eat about 1,800 calories a day. That's not a crazy amount.

What I really hate is that I am not a fat person on the inside. I value health and fitness. I have always exercised regularly. I have been a vegetarian for 17 years. I hate the idea that I take too much for myself, especially when there are people in this world who have nothing. I don't know how it is that my outsides so poorly match my insides.

So I guess this is my last resort because I have to do something. I am miserable being so fat. If I could just quit eating and never think about food again, I think that might be okay. I hate that I have to deal with it over and over throughout the day. Sometimes I make good choices. Sometimes I make bad choices. Why isn't there any evidence at all of the good?


Dirttrackdiva said...

OH MY GOSH! You sound so much like I used to feel. I'm literally moved to tears reading your story. I too remember how I felt before surgery.

How terrible it was to look in the mirror and see this ugly fat person staring back at me. I was once told to never tell someone you know how they feel unless you can cry with them. I'm telling you that I know how you feel. I am crying with you as I read this post. Not for you, because I don't want to give the impression that I feel sorry for you. I don't. I'm empathetic for you though. Something that I don't think overweight people get enough of. We get the pity and the strange looks, but never the empathy.

Keep your head up my friend. This is an amazing journey and I'm happy that you've started it.

Lee Ann said...

Amanda, wow, our stories are very similar. I too developed at a young age---looked 16 when I was 12 and had older guys looking at me. That's when I became self-conscious of my weight and figure and that's when the trouble and disordered eating began. I saw my hips and boobs as "fat" and flawed b/c the girls around me still looked like children. I started hiding my figure in big clothes and started seeing myself as "fat" even though I was 5 ft 2 and weighed 115, and could bench press 135 pounds! So I was strong and fit. I just saw myself as big. And I too put on a ton of weight--60 lbs--during both of my pregnancies.