Thursday, September 13, 2012

Reflections on "Dear 268 Pound Me"

I'm hoping for some more time to work on the blog this weekend but in the meantime, I'd like to repost my most popular post:  "Dear 268 Pound Me."  This week I'm celebrating five years of abstinence from compulsive overeating and reading this post just brings back so many raw but important memories.  Raw because it is very honest, almost painfully so.  Important because I need to remember the past with a loving heart to keep doing the daily work I need to do to maintain my abstinence.   I'm so incredibly grateful for the gift of recovery in my life and for all the people who came before me who shared their wisdom with me.  Enjoy!  

If you would like to share some of YOUR own health story in the comments section I know we would all love to hear the inspiration!!

Posted December 31, 2011:
Happy New Year my readers!  When reflecting on what to write for my 2012 New Year's resolution post I started to wonder what advice I would have given myself four years ago when I weighed over 268lbs (last known weigh-in, likely more).  So I wrote myself a letter.  This was very helpful to me so I wanted to share it with all of you!  As usual, with any advice I give (even to myself! :-))--take what you like and leave the rest.

Dear Me in 2007

2007 Me
I know your body is hurting right now and you can't make it up a flight of stairs without becoming short of breath. I know you eat chips & dip while hiding in your closet and sweets when you think no one is looking.  I know that the take-out wait staff in all the local restaurants know your name and what meal you want to order. And I know you go home alone to eat enough food for five people while sitting in front of the TV.   I know you try to hide your secrets from your friends and family because you don't think anyone will like you if you are honest about who you are and what "bad" things you do.  I know that you dream about going to sleep in this body and then waking up thin like an overnight miracle from God.  

But more than anything, I know that you hate yourself for weighing 268+ lbs.  I know you are sitting in your house today, New Years Eve, plotting your strategy to lose weight in the New Year.  As a side note, I also know that you went to your favorite restaurant today and got all your best binge foods to have a "last supper" of sorts before the clock strikes midnight and your new diet begins!

I want to tell you that someday you will be able to laugh with friends who share your disease about the crazy things you did for and with food.  Someday you will even have a body that doesn't hurt every time you stand up and a large size set of women's surgical scrubs instead of a XXX size from the men's section of the locker room.  Someday you will be able to be comfortable enough with your slender body to fall in love and marry a wonderful man.  Someday you will be proud to be a doctor who is living the advice you give your patients. Someday you will actually like who you are--inside & out.  

But that someday is not today.  Today I'm going to challenge you to forget your usual resolutions with weight loss deadlines & detailed plans of how to get there.  All I'm going to ask you to do is to do five things.  

1)  Throw away your scale and the negative self-talk that goes with it.  

Every year you start to lose weight and then one day you get on the scale and discover that you've gained a pound instead of lost one.  You shake this off but berate yourself for being "bad" that week and vow to be "good" from here on.  And then things get stressful at work, you don't have time to cook and you skip the daily intensive workouts.  Then next month you get on the scale and discover that half of the weight you lost in January is back, or worse, you are actually heavier than you were when the year started!  So you give up and go get a "treat" to feel better.  You look in the mirror and are disgusted with your laziness and your inability to have enough will power to change.  

Lets do something different this year.  The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.  So why don't you be a bit gentler with yourself and eliminate the opportunity for self-critique based on numbers on a scale.  

Guess what, you don't need a scale to tell you if you are gaining or losing weight.   You can feel what your body is doing--are your clothes getting tighter or looser?  Are you eating nutrient dense foods or junk?  Do you feel more energetic or extremely tired?  Let these questions be your scale. Weigh yourself every 3-6 months if you have to and tell your friends about your progress in clothing sizes.  Someday you will be able to say you went from a 26 to a 14.   

2) Write down your food plan each night & cook ahead on the weekends.  

You know this works.  So do it.  It doesn't have to be elaborate.  Keep it simple.  Buy a slow cooker.

3) Start eating more and more vegetables & grains until 100% of your diet is plants

You know that dying young is not your greatest fear.  Your greatest fear is becoming disabled and having your family have to care for you.  You know that most people who eat poorly or are obese don't die suddenly--they waste away, losing their independence slowly and painfully from strokes, congestive heart failure, pulmonary edema, GI bleeds, some cancers, depression and severe osteoarthritis.  Don't take chances and put food-based pleasure above preserving your independent lifestyle.  I know you don't like to change but you'll find that you actually really like vegan food when its done right.  And you will learn to do it right.  In fact, you won't even miss meat except at special occasions when its right in front of you.  But when that happens, you will look at your family over the dinner table, picture them having to take care of you as you age and that meat won't seem so important any more.  You will know that you made the right choice.

4) Give up sodas of all kinds, including diet soda

I know you love your diet sodas--especially your Fresca and your Diet Coke.  You gave up regular sodas and other non-water beverages years ago to lose weight and haven't picked it up since then but you think that diet soda is ok!  You may not have read this scientific literature but actually your soda is actively leeching calcium from your bones & changing the biochemical balance in your body to make you gain weight instead of losing it! So give them ALL up.

5)  Most importantly, find a free support group like a 12 step compulsive eating recovery program or form one of your own if the program is not for you 

I know you think you have this all figured out.  And I know you think that weight loss is just about the food & exercise.  Its not.  Its about a lot more than that.  You will discover that it has to do with your emotions and your spiritual center as well.  And to feel comfortable being honest about your overeating behavior, you need some supportive friends who share your struggles.  You need to hear encouragement from living, breathing success stories sitting in front of you.  You need to hear how someone hasn't eaten sugar in 20 years or that that cute guy over there lost 175lbs and you can't even recognize him from before even though you knew him.  You need to know the hard stuff too, that someone else hid in their closet to eat, snuck food from the refrigerator at night or ate until they felt sick but couldn't seem to stop.  

You also need to know that some people's disease is mild compared to yours--they just were tired of failing diets or couldn't manage to eat the food portions they wanted.  You need to know that some people's disease is worse than yours--they eat out of the trash, have been hospitalized multiple times or can't make themselves eat enough to stay a healthy weight.   You need to know that no matter what problems people have with their food, they are all accepted and acceptable.  You need to see others having the courage to be honest and to ask you to be too.

You are not alone.  There is hope for you yet Cat if you are willing to recover.  

You can believe me.  I'm you, nearly 100lbs lighter, in four years.


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    1 comment:

    1. Such an inspiring post and really worth the re-reading!
      I hope you are well and still get all the support and help you need!
      Thanks for posting!
      Silvia in Germany


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