|This might be one of the very few posts you’ll ever see at Humorous Homemaking that’s serious. I’m normally a cut up, so this is out of the norm for me. I’ve struggled over even writing this because it’s a journey that I’m still on….and will probably be on for many months/years. However, I think there are many women out there who struggle with this issue as much as me…..women who need help and support. So, I’ll just lay it out there – for the past five or so years I’ve struggled with an eating disorder. I’ve diagnosed myself as a Compulsive Under-eater. What does that mean? It means that I restricted my food intake severely…….and I did it all in secret. Luckily, Clementine St. Louis is a residential treatment program exclusively for adolescents of all genders seeking eating disorder treatment. This one really helped me recovered! I even kept it a secret from Barry and my Mama. There are members of my family that are going to read this and find it surprising – because I’ve never talked about it. But I’m ready to talk about it now, and hopefully by doing so I’ll be able to help someone else. How did it start? When Barry and I first got married, I went to the doctor for a yearly check up. He told me I was overweight and needed to lose some pounds. I knew I wasn’t skinny, but a doctor had never told me that I was in need of losing some pounds. I went home that day and immediately began to diet. I cut all my portions in half or less. Guess what? I started to lose weight – fast. I loved it……..so I lost some more. Then, I started an exercise regimen, such as using machines like Nordictrack vs Proform Elliptical. Every day at 4:45am, I’d get up and go out to run about 5 miles. Every day. If it rained, I ran…..if it snowed, I ran. One time I ran in the sleet and had a hard time getting back to the house. Barry was very upset……rightly so. He saw what I was doing to myself, and asked that I take at least one day a week to rest from exercise. So, I agreed and designated that day as Sunday.
I liked the control that losing weight gave me. I also liked the attention. I heard “Wow! You’re so skinny!” all the time. Never once before I lost weight did I hear “Wow! You’re just the right weight.” I placed a LOT of importance on what other people thought about me…..and that’s where my real problem started. If I could stay skinny, then people would think I was amazing and very self-disciplined. So, I began on a downward spiral of eating little and exercising much. I would eat when Barry was at home, but when he went to work I’d eat very small amounts of low calorie things, just to fill up so my stomach wouldn’t growl……..I ate tons and tons of fruits and vegetables. Sometimes I would tell Barry that my stomach was upset just so I wouldn’t have to eat. On Sundays we’d visit his parents or my parents and eat what they cooked. If I felt like I ate too much, then Monday when Barry went to work I’d take laxatives so that I could get rid of the extra things I felt like I’d eaten. If we went to a restaurant, I’d scour their website beforehand and choose the thing in the menu with the least amount of calories. It didn’t matter if I liked it or not…….that was what I was going to eat. I lost all joy concerning food. I couldn’t think about anything other than food. I didn’t want to eat ANYWHERE else but at home. Somewhere else didn’t give me the control I had at home. I was miserable…..a prisoner.
I got down to 110 pounds. I looked awful, but felt powerful. My family and friends were concerned, but no one would confront me. When Barry and I decided to get pregnant, the doctor told me I would need to gain some weight…..so I did. I gained up to about 125 pounds. That was VERY hard, but I wanted to get pregnant, so I kept telling myself I’d just lose it later. While pregnant, I gained the allotted 25 pounds. I guess I knew I had a problem when I asked the doctor as soon as Annie came out of my womb “So, when can I run again?”
Even though I knew something was wrong, I didn’t fix it then. I waited several more months. I can’t tell you what made me decide to change. I just remember that one day while feeding Annie I had an “awakening” moment. Did I want Annie growing up watching me eat? Learning how to eat this way? Thinking she was only successful if she was skinny? NO!!!!!!! I knew I had to change. I was miserable…..I was making Barry miserable because I was miserable. The last straw was when one day Barry found my little note pad in my bedside table. I’d been weighing myself every day and writing it down…..down to a tenth of a pound – very specific. He told me something had to change.
I did some internet research and found this book. It has changed my life. In it, Karen talks about how to change your thinking so that you aren’t a slave to food…..how to eat NORMALLY. A normal person eats when they’re hungry and stops when they’re full. A normal person says “I’m hungry. What would I like to eat?” Did you know a normal person will also eat if they’re having a craving……even if they’re not hungry? This was astonishing to me! I can be normal…..I will be normal. For Annie. For Barry. For myself.
I’ve been learning my hunger and fullness signals. I’ve been learning how to look at a menu and ask myself, what would I TRULY like to eat? Not, what looks like it’s the lightest option. It’s a daily journey. Daily. It’s hard……but it’s better than being miserable. I’ve eaten peanut butter after 5 years of staying away from it because it was “fattening.” When you read my posts and I say that I love butter, I really mean it! It tastes delicious! Now, I’m not eating the entire stick, but I am enjoying the flavor. Nothing is off limits. I just quit when I’m full or satisfied. God created it all…..moderation is the key. He doesn’t want us to be a slave to food.
One of the hardest parts of this journey is the weight I’ve gained. So far I’m up about 10 pounds….and it’s likely that I’ll gain more. I quit running because I felt like I needed to do it to keep my weight down. Instead I’ve been doing aerobics because I ENJOY IT! Wow. Running was because I wanted to stay skinny…..aerobics is fun. What a big change for me! I’m still well within healthy weight range…….but I know people look at me and see that I’ve gained weight. It’s hard for me to focus on myself when I worry about what others are thinking. Barry is helping me work through this……I need to focus on me, not on what others think of me. Barry has put up with a lot. I know he truly loves me…….I’m a very lucky woman to have a man who will be so supportive. He’s mine, so back off! 🙂
Did you know it’s ok to gain weight? TV and magazines won’t tell you this. Every time I pick up a magazine, it’s full of articles about how to lose weight fast…..how to deny cravings……how to exercise and get a flat tummy. It bombards me on every side. It’s hard being around other women too. They always want to talk about losing weight or trying to “be good” around food. Good grief. What have we done to ourselves? We’re pathetic. Shouldn’t we just enjoy the food that God gave us……eat when we’re hungry and stop when we’re full?
So, all that was said to tell you that I’m working through a journey. Barry and my Mama are doing great at keeping me accountable. I will make it……and for the first time in a long time I have joy around food again. You’ve seen it on here…hence all the butter! 🙂 If you’re struggling and I can help you in some way, by being supportive or just listening, please send me an email via the contact page. I’m not where I need to be, but I’m on the way! With God’s help, I’ll make it. I’m excited to get there.
I’d rather be several pounds heavier and happy than to be skinny and live in constant fear of gaining a pound. Life is too short, and I aim to enjoy it.
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