232

Here’s a story you’ve never heard before: girl gets married, has a baby, gains weight and then hates herself. 

I guess the question is did I hate myself because of how much I had disconnected from my body, to the point where I just swiped anything XL into the cart and called it a day, or because I had turned into the perfectly beautiful stereotype I promised myself (and my husband) that I never would? Probably a little of both.

Gaining weight was super easy. And delicious. And I kicked ASS at it. You eat, stop at gas stations for Turtles, put butter in and on everything, snack when you’re bored, tired or awake, bake the Southern sh-t on Pinterest, and don’t exercise other than vigorous diaper changes.

The psychology behind my eating, however, is deep and muddy and has a faint whiff of leftover childhood anxiety. My relationship with food was both cowardly and bold. I always wanted it. I found such crushing comfort in it. Whether it was in the fridge, beside me, in my mouth or being doled out to others – food equaled happiness, success, bliss, calm and warmth. Always.

When I was 17 there was a crack in my head. Teeny tiny black oily voices spurted out and I huddled with them and listened to them and then didn’t eat more than a few containers of yogurt a day for months. I was eventually diagnosed as anorexic. With a lot of help from my doctor, a nutritionist and my family, I closed the voices away in a dark crawlspace in my head and started to treat myself better. I caromed back to the other side, gaining a lot of weight, eating all the food I’d denied myself. Then, finally in my mid-twenties I discovered running and working out and boys, and when I was active, food was there and I could eat it and I liked it but I didn’t LIKE like it.

Right after I got married I had a job that paid really well but I was terrible at and hated and gave me so much anxiety that I just fed the fear. The slippery voices, stoked to be relevant once again, slowed their chatter when my mouth was full. There there there, yes, now, doesn’t that feel so much better? All day. They spoke and I listened.

I quit the job, got another job where I sat down all day, then got pregnant and gained 25 pounds. I felt pretty f-cking great for those 10 months actually. I wore form fitting tops for the first time ever. I wasn’t capable of sucking in this stomach so it was really a great time. I ate what the baby wanted and needed and was mindful and snacked on beautiful seasonal food that made me feel alive and perfect. 

Then the baby came and my life skidded off the side of the road and into a f-cking sh-storm. I ate to live, to stay awake when all I wanted to do was drug both of us and sleep for days. I was a zombie with lipgloss and I hated everybody who slept 8 consecutive hours, so here’s a cupcake being pounded down for breakfast standing up. F-ck you world, I will have three cupcakes, because this is HARD, I didn’t know this would be so HARD, and food is gentle and sweet and doesn't judge me for not running the seawall with the kid in the stroller right now.

Two years later. I needed to have my gall bladder out. The organ (and I’m viciously paraphrasing here) that deals with the fat you eat. I pledged allegiance to my body and to my Blog (for that extra accountability) that THIS meant some serious lifestyle changes. A medical intervention. THIS was the perfect time to stop being such a sh-tbag to myself. It didn’t take. I kept on keeping on and my body was fine, rebounded like a dream come true, so other than a fatty steak, I just kept eating.

Summer 2013. Almost three years since I gave birth. I weigh more than when I was pregnant. I’m not in pictures if I can help it. I don’t know what I look like because I only look at my face in mirrors. I don’t buy clothing I need to try on. I dread social occasions where I have to dress up and thus go buy something new and see the new number on the tags. Getting up from a crouch when I play with my kid is a joke – I’m a teetering sloth mess. I am the Before picture in Shape Magazine. I am sick with disbelief. The voices are my other kids now. Houseguests that I have accepted and change linens for.

I’m embarrassed if I let myself think about it too long. When your addiction is food, you show the whole world every day what your weakness is. They watch you grow. They feel it on your bones when you hug at the holidays. They see the progression of a girl who doesn’t know who she is anymore. Who am I? I’m always sick, always run down. I work full time, have a toddler, run a busy freelance side job and try to cram in time with my amazing friends and family, oh and sleep a little bit too.

After seven years and a really difficult summer filled with introspection and big choices and sadness and clarity, in September, the needle jumped on the record player. I gave myself a huge middle finger and stopped eating white sugar for two days. It felt like my body was simultaneously jet-lagged and thrown in a dryer. There were tears. I felt hungry then virtuous then more hungry, then I did a 10 minute workout every morning before work and suddenly it’s two weeks later. It began. I stuffed the voices away again and I became the padlock on the door that says: Eating will not make me feel better. F-ck that.

Today. I want to sever the power that food has over me. The emotional connection to food – the greatest relationship of my entire life – is an endless poisonous well. I am filling that cavernous disastrous and manipulative space with quinoa, hand weights, hard boiled eggs, Yyoga classes, running, fitness Apps, chicken breasts, taking the stairs and spinach smoothies.

It’s getting very full.

And I’m crying and there’s snot everywhere, but this is so big you guys.

I have escaped feeling like shit for the next 5, 10, what 15 years? I feel f-cking incredible. When I’m sweating I feel amazing. When I see numbers go down on the scale I feel amazing. I’m only two months in and I am so excited.

I first gave myself a year to lose around 90 pounds. But now time frames seem very flimsy and flaky. This is my life, my whole life. I have given myself permission to live it. A “bad” day is not a bad day. It’s yesterday. I know what feels good and I will always rebound back to this now. There is so much good here.

In my kitchen there is a bucket of Halloween candy. I was scrubbing a dish last night and frustrated about something and this thought sliced through my head: eating candy is not going to make you feel better. Oh, hey there, rad sensible voice. Want to hang out, like forever?

I am still overweight. There is a lot of work to do in my head. Every day I have to make good decisions, meal plan like a son of a bitch and make chicken breasts taste exciting and new.

When I’m exhausted and starving and feel weak, here’s my new bottom line: there is a 3 year old watching my every move. Every bite, every time I strap on my running shoes, every coping mechanism, every way I handle myself and food in this world, from minute to minute, I have another set of eyeballs sucking it in. So, even in the times when I am not in it for me, I am in it for her.

Stakes are f-cking high but I am SO down for the challenge. 

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{232 is my starting weight as you might have guessed. Such a gross number that takes my breath away. Here's to never ever seeing it again.}