I never had a great relationship with food growing up as a kid. I was short, fat and I knew it at a young age. I remember my father always telling me to watch what I eat. I’m eating too much. I’m going to get fat. And the foods my parents cooked back then, everything fried, wasn’t always the best for us.
Now I don’t blame my parents for being overweight. My dad said the things he did out of love. His mother died from being heavy. She didn’t have a heart attack, her heart just got tired, and dad didn’t want the same thing that happened to her to happen to me.
Growing up I called many names by the kids in school. Chubby, Fat, Whale on the Beach. I used to cry endlessly. My dad told me to use humor to get through it, that letting others see it bug me will only make them do it more. So the kids would call me “What on the Beach” and I’d say “Yep, get the harpoons!” Sure, this made them stop, but the names kept on only just behind my back.
I never felt beautiful. Cute, maybe. But not truly beautiful in my entire life. You just get used to being heavy, how everyone sees you. You learn to live with it, and I allowed food to become my comfort. The problem was I became a closet eater.
My lack of self-esteem with the way I looked, and how I felt about myself led me to a twelve year relationship with an abusive partner. It became violent. So much so that I gave up friends, relationships with family members, and my closet eating only got worse.
I would wait until my spouse was asleep and sneak into the kitchen. Food was something that became nasty. I ate to fill a void deep inside me, which in turn created a love / hate relationship with the food I used to indulge the negative feelings I had about myself.
When I turned 30 years old, I made a decision to get healthy. I lost over 80 lbs. I cannot even tell you how amazing I felt, but my insecurities were still there. Losing the weight doesn’t take away the problems.
Meeting my husband, he didn’t care if I was fat or skinny. He loved me. More than that though, he taught me to love myself. It was then I realized heavy or not, by not loving myself I cannot feel whole.
So why am I still overweight?
In May 2005 we lost a baby. I got pregnant after we got married and I gained weight. I am not going to lie, getting pregnant wasn’t an easy choice. I had worked so hard to lose my weight and as selfish and shallow as it sounds, I didn’t want to gain it back being pregnant. But I wanted another baby.
After losing our child, I got pregnant again with my youngest. He was born with problems. Right from day one I knew something was wrong. So here I was married to a man with a brain injury who goes to sleep every night and forgets what happened the day before, one child who was five, an ex who was abusive and the abuse had filtered on to our son, and a baby with special needs. Needless to say my plate was full, and once again I turned to food.
Tonight I sat in a room with women and listened to dietary needs we all have, healthy choices we need to make and our speaker Gena started talking about how the choices she’d made reflected upon her children. What she said resonated with me so much, I broke into tears and had to leave the room.
I cried in the hallway because I realized then and there. This is my fault. All of this. The way I feel. The way I look. The weight I’ve put on. The food I’m eating. The food I’m feeding my kids. It’s my fault. And I could sit here and go over my childhood, how I grew up, pains I’ve gone through, losses, heartaches, abuse, neglect. None of it matters. Why? Because I am still capable of making choices, no matter what I’ve been through.
After wiping my tears, I came back into the room and I felt different. I felt empowered. I had a great week. I lost 4.6 lbs this week. But it’s not because of the weight loss that I feel so good. It’s because for some reason, all these years of closet eating food has controlled how I feel, how I think, the choices I make. And I suddenly realized no it doesn’t.
Food does not have power over me.
I have power over food.
Food does not dictate what I eat.
I choose to eat what I want.
Food does not make me feel special, beautiful, whole, or any of the other crazy things I’ve given it power to my feelings.
I love myself. I love my kids. I love my husband.
I also love food.
I just need to love food differently.
Because I finally get it.
I can love the food I eat.
I just can’t eat to feel loved.
I’m participating in the Total Makeover Challenge as one of the top 30 contestants. I appreciate all your support. Thanks for reading!