At the end of each Finding Balance with Food post, I’ll leave you with one of the meals or snacks I regularly incorporate into my diet.
Finding Balance with Food is a series that I’m publishing on Thursdays in response to many reader questions about how I’ve maintained a 60 pound weight loss for nearly six years. My favorite inquiry was whether or not I quit eating gluten and sugar for health problems or only for weight management. I laughed until I cried. This person must have never been overweight.
There are the obvious health risks of being overweight, like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Others less obvious problems include increased risk of cancer, gall stones, osteoarthritis, gout, and breathing problems.
The mental and emotional impacts of being overweight are just as devastating, including depression, low-self esteem, and isolation. Obesity kills people a little at a time, and if it doesn’t take lives it takes souls.
I experienced huge periods of depression while I was overweight, yet I was never able to see the relationship. My self-esteem took years to rebuild after losing the weight. Luckily, I didn’t experience any other health problems. In the spring, though, I was diagnosed with a mild form early-onset osteoarthritis. It runs in my family. The first recommendation my doctor had as to keep my weight right where it is to minimize joint stress. Thank goodness I can do that today.
I also wanted to do this series because I feel that there’s an incongruency in my blog. I tell you that I’ve lost 60 pounds and kept it off, then I write about cakes and muffins, ice cream and cupcakes. I want to share with you how I live, what I eat, and the daily choices I make. I want you to know that you, too, can live a healthy life style and still enjoy good food.
More than anything, though, my deepest hope is that I can help you find the same freedom I’m so privileged to enjoy.
Quite honestly, I’ve been dreading this series. There is nothing I’d rather talk about less than my past food issues, my weight, my struggles. I know that maintaining a 60+ pound weight loss for nearly 6 years is a huge success that many others haven’t yet achieved. It sounds like cause for celebration.
For me, though, it brings a deep sense of gratitude and humility. The freedom that I have from food is a gift. Yes, I have done lots of work. I have, one day at a time, made choices about what I put in my mouth. I have been criticized, condemned, and shamed for how I eat. I’ve been told I’m too picky, too extreme, and too difficult. I’ve had to find the inner fortitude to stick to what I know works for me.
Living in a Big Body
Being overweight was like living in a prison that followed me everywhere. There was no way out for me. I tried relentlessly to escape, trying every diet and quick fix I could find. I failed at all of them. Yes, I could lose some weight. Sometimes I even lost a lot of weight. In the end though, I gained it all back and then some.
It was always a mystery to me, too. One day I’m a 6 or an 8 and then out of nowhere I fit back in the 12s and then the 14s, the 16s, and then they were too tight. How did this happen?
I tried to figure it out.
It must be that I shrunk my clothes in the dryer.
Or, maybe I need to switch to fat-free salad dressing and light bread.
I’m going to stop buying that light ice cream. It’s probably not light at all.
It’s just got to be that I’m bloated.
I think the store where I bought these pants runs a little small. I should start shopping somewhere else.
Could there be something wrong with my thyroid? I should get that tested.
Or, maybe I have a tumor somewhere. That’s got to be it.
If you don’t understand this line of thinking then this series is obviously not for you.
But if you understand how I used to think, and you’ve been standing in your bathroom, looking down, wondering when you got so fat that you can no longer see your feet then maybe, just maybe, my experiences can help you. Better yet, maybe we can help each other.
A Simple Action
Like I said, there are no quick fixes. And what I’m about to ask you to do may seem like a silly step, a waste of time. But here is the first action I took in finding a solution to my food problems, and I ask that if you are like me, you take the time to at least try this. You don’t have to believe it works. You just have to do it.
Get a plain, boring, spiral bound notebook. One that isn’t pretty so you won’t worry about messing up the pages. At the top of each page, write the day and the date. For today, the top would read:
Thursday July 30, 2009
Then, for the next seven days record everything you eat, how much, and what time you ate it. Maybe you found yourself wondering around the house, thinking about how you should start cleaning while you munched on a bag of pretzels. Or, did you stand in front of the refrigerator, door open, eating last night’s leftovers with your fingers while you thought about what to make for breakfast? Did you intend to eat just one brownie, and then noticed that half the pan was gone? Write it down.
If you have any feelings or emotional reactions, write those down too. Try really hard not to judge yourself. This is not about right or wrong. It’s about awareness.
For this week, that’s it. The very first thing that must take place is looking honestly at where you are right now. Bookmark this page and share your progress here. Let me know how you’re doing and what you’re noticing.
If you find, though, that you can’t stop eating or if you’re experiencing any medical or emotional problems that you think could be related to food, I suggest you either seek medical help and find a 12 Step Program, such as Overeaters Anonymous, in your area.
I want to share with you one of my favorite meals – Cottage Cheese & Fruit Salad. (I don’t like plain cottage cheese but I love this – try it!) It’s simple, quick, and keeps me going for hours without being hungry. I keep my daytime meals simple so that they never require much thought or effort. I eat this every day for breakfast or a snack.
Thank you to the hosts of the following blog carnivals for brining lots of fun to us every Friday: Food on Friday at Ann Kroeker’s, Amy’s Finer Things Friday, Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum, and Friday Feasts at Momtrends.
May you find Balance and Freedom!