Posted with permission. . .
I remember using food to comfort myself from the time I was a small child. I had (have?) father issues, I could go on and on here but I won't. When I was 19 my step dad was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. I had been working out and making healthy dietary changes, but over time as my life seemed to spin more and more OUT of my control, I tightened the reigns on my eating and exercise. Very textbook, though I had no idea what was happening at the time. I thought I was simply "being healthy". At 5'5" I dropped from 145 pounds (a healthy weight for my height!) to 88 pounds and 5.5% bodyfat. I remember the day my weight read under 100 pounds. I couldn't believe it, it was very surreal, almost like a dream (nightmare?). But I didn't know what to do; I still wasn't satisfied with my body, I couldn't stop working out or carefully measuring my food, planning all my meals, counting calories... I was TRAPPED. I lost a handful of "friends", the love of my life... I shut out the real world so that I could maintain this strict, regimented lifestyle. This lasted for about 4 years. What a sad, dark, black hole in my life.
After about a year of nutritional therapy, when I was 23, I began to gain weight. I don't know how else to put it... when I say that something just CLICKED, like a switch being shut off, I mean it. Something finally gave and like THAT I was bingeing, something AWFUL. I couldn't focus in college, all I thought about was hitting up the vending machine for junk that I hadn't let myself have in literally years. My stomach was always horribly distended and bloated... the skin on my belly, hips and thighs was always SORE from stretching at such a rapid pace... in a matter of months, maybe 9 or 10 months, I gained over 100 pounds. I finally topped out at 205 pounds. I could not stop eating and with each bite I hated myself more and more. Again, I was stuck in a cycle that I didn't know how to stop.
I finally got a grip (somewhat) and am back to 145 pounds, but I stay here with rigid "dieting" throughout the week (6 small meals of veggies, protein and fruit each day) and inevitably bingeing my brains out on the weekend. I always say oh, I won't binge this weekend. I'm doing so well! It is the worst feeling ever to not be able to have just one cookie without it sending me into a total downward spiral of carb coma madness. It's shameful. It's not healthy. I'm always striving for something better, always telling myself that life REALLY starts once I'm a size 6 or 4 (I'm currently an 8/10)... I'll pursue my dreams/take that class/decorate the house/BE HAPPY once I reach a certain size or my body fat drops past a certain level. IT IS INSANE. And I ask you, why? WHY? Why does this make sense to me, why have I WASTED 27 years trying to fit that mold? FOR WHAT? I am the only one that really cares. I have a wonderful family, a loving husband, an amazing 2-year old boy, a great job... life is good. But it would always be BETTER if I could lose 10 or 15 pounds.
So yesterday I came across your blogs (editor's note: mine and Margaux's, Size Ate). I read through them during every minute of my free time. I'm missing out on life. Why not eat what I want? Go have lunch with my coworkers, order something that sounds delicious, eat slowly, enjoy everything the meal has to offer, leave feeling satisfied but not stuffed, and without that pesky internal calorie counter that just won't quit. I have an established exercise regime that I enjoy... I LOVE working out, love to move my body... but within reason. It's food that is my issue. And it has got to stop. I have got to stop obsessing. Every day I thank GOD for not giving me a baby girl. She'd be a total mess from the start. And my boy deserves better than a mom who looks at life as something that happens between unenjoyable protein and carb balanced mini-meals. How fucking sick is that?
There's so much more to it all than I've said here. Just know that I am going to FIGHT to get my life back. It's scary, I haven't listened to my internal hunger signals in YEARS... or ever? I know it won't be easy, but given that my other option is to STAY IN THE HELL I AM IN NOW, I'll take my chances and give it my all. I have nothing to lose! (Well, I could make a joke here but I won't. Sheesh.)
I'm finally getting to the point where I truly believe that it really isn't about food at all. Friends and family were (are?) aware, and lots of the questions I asked myself in my email to you were prompted by things that were said on your site. Let me tell you, years of therapy and two Geneen Roth books later I was STILL struggling, and your site is what FINALLY crossed me over to the other side. I just ate a bowl of raisin bran with soy milk. I love raisin bran. I haven't LET myself eat cereal in YEARS (but I sure have binged on it!). When I'm done I will move on with my day, ready to face whatever is thrown at me. And guess what? I didn't gain 100 pounds from letting myself have a bowl. Who knew? Freedom = an allowed, calmly eaten bowl of rasin bran.