Let’s get this over with. I’m fairly socially awkward, but I hide it well. I unwillingly eavesdrop on conversations and compulsively interrupt to inject my 2 cents. My life is a series of mishaps that are only now starting to reveal my place in the universe to me.
My son, I call him Bubba, is the light a joy of my life, but I’m not always able be present in the moment with him. I want that. I have ADD, self-diagnosed. Did I mention I’m a doctor? Well, I’m not. I have a fur baby named for a candy bar and a husband that loves me and who is underappreciated for it.
In a week I’ll be 42. Turning 40 was one of the hardest things I have lived through. It seriously put my mental health in jeopardy. The year between turning 40 and turning 41 was one of the worst roller coasters of my life. I went through so much trying to lose weight and it wasn’t until I was approaching 41 that I actually found relief. Let’s do the numbers. I turned 40 at a weight of 240 lbs (give or take). I didn’t write the number down so I don’t really have it, but my faulty memory has me at 242.4lbs. Since High School I have always been 5’6.5″ tall.
I resolved that 40 was the last birthday that I would get on a scale or look in a mirror and hate myself for being fat, for having no self-control or will power, no more excuses. I watched a movie that I thought held the answer. Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead inspired me to buy a juicer. I actually bought 2 thinking it would mean I would never have an excuse for not being able to juice. FYI, in my opinion the Breville Juicers are really high quality. So I juiced, and juiced and juiced and drank nothing but juice and it worked. I lost weight. As long as I could just stay on juice, which for me turned out to be a maximum of 10 days at a time, I would lose weight.
The problem with this plan is that I couldn’t stand to do it for more than 10 days, then I would break down and go back to solid regular Standard American Diet (SAD) food. I love that our regular way of eating in ‘Merica is the acronym SAD. The irony is bittersweet. So I looked for something else. I had already tried Weight Watchers multiple times and I know many lifetime members who have had great success with it. It didn’t work for me. Jenny Craig didn’t work either. I gave up trying those kinds of plans.
I actually started to contemplate surgical options. I knew people who had gastric bypass and were very successful in their recovery. I also knew a person who died having that surgery. So…maybe not surgery. There had to be a better way, right?
I found Joel Furhman and thought being a nutritarian could work for me. I sought out other source material about veganism and how to be a vegan. I cycled back and forth between juicing and nutritarism. I gained and lost the same 20-30 lbs all year long. Just before Thanksgiving my workplace sponsored a maintainance contest for the holidays. If you could maintain your weight within 3 lbs you won a prize. I had tried the same program 1 year before and failed to maintain. No prize. Why did I think this year could be different? I thought all that was missing from my plans for the year was accountability. This would give me accountability.
After my initial weigh in at 272 lbs, I started to juice fast. I lost a few lbs pretty quickly. Then we went to visit my mother in law for the holiday and I tried to eat sensibly. Success! It was working. We had a mid-point weigh in and I was happy to see I was already down almost 20 lbs. Maintain? I was losing weight, I was a rock star! Then the really holiday eating started. Candy, cookies, cakes, oh my! Peppermint Bark? Yes please. Salted Caramel Machiato? Where do I pay. By the time Christmas was over and I weighed in, I was 273.2 lbs. So, technically I maintained, but I was terribly ashamed. Knowing that I had been able to lose the weight, only to regain it over a 3 week (estimating) period.
New Years being what it is, I made the same resolutions I always do. I knew I needed help. I knew what I was doing didn’t work. I’m a pisces and my birthday was approaching. I was buying lunch at our workplace cafeteria one day when I ran into an old friend who had noticeably lost weight. She looked great. I asked her what she was doing to lose weight. She told me she was not eating flour or sugar. I was skeptical. I had tried a no flour/no sugar plan before. I lost a little weight, but nothing like my friend so I asked again. “I’ve tried no flour/no sugar. What are you really doing?” I was invited to eat my lunch with her and she told me what she was really doing.
Three weeks before my birthday I walked into a room that would change my life. It turned out my friend had joined a 12 step program for food addiction and it changed her life too. I started a program of recovery that taught me how to not only surrender flour and sugar, but also quantities of food. I am a food addict. I found the place I belonged. I found a family in those rooms. I found experience, strength and hope with the people in this fellowship. I found relief.
In the first 90 days of this program I learned how to go to my sponsor for answers and direction. I learned what it meant to surrender my will to a higher power. I used my outreach calls to ask fellows how they worked with their sponsor. I asked what kinds of things they talk about on sponsor calls and what they talk about on outreach calls. I listened and I learned about the program from others in the program. I am grateful now that I wasn’t able to share for those 90 days. I learned more about myself from others that I could have if I was trying to tell my story.
This is a program of attraction and I realized one of my missing pieces was a relationship with my higher power. I had no idea how to go about building that relationship. I had been raised a catholic, but my relationship was with the church, not with God. Would I even call my higher power God? I found people in program who had a strong connection to their higher power. I asked them how they achieved that relationship and was relieved to find out I wasn’t the only one who came in seeking that relationship. I had to define a God of my understanding. I had to build a relationship with God as I would with anyone. I had to spend time with God, talk to God about everything, both big and little. Most of all I had to learn to ask for help and let go of the resolution to my problems. This is probably the most difficult thing you will ask yourself to do.
Exactly 1 year after starting the program I am down 117.7 lbs and see numbers on my bathroom scale that I have literally never seen before. It hasn’t been easy. I have learned what it means to really feel my emotions and not bury them in food. Do I think this program is for everyone? I think it would work for anyone, but I don’t think everyone needs it or that it’s right for everyone all the time. I wasn’t ready for this 10, 20 or even 30 years ago. I found it at the time that was right for me, through the grace of my higher power.
Today I’m grateful I have a program and tools that allow me to be present for my son and my husband in ways I never could be before starting. Since November, I have had a series of breaks and I’m still building my abstinence in program. My second 90 days is proving to be more challenging than the first. It truly is easier to stay abstinent than to get abstinent, but I have been able to stay away from both flour and sugar and for that I’m truly grateful. Most importantly, I stayed in the rooms and didn’t believe the disease of addiction that talks in my voice telling me I could do this on my own. What I do doesn’t work. What works for me is working this program and using the tools I have to stay in recovery.