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Confessions of a Food Addict

I was talking to someone about how hard it was to lose weight and she said, “It’s HARD. You know how hard it is… well, but you’re so skinny…” implying that because I’ve lost the weight, I don’t know how difficult weight loss can be.  I get these kinds of comments all the time.  And in a way, I get it. I’ve had similar thoughts of “skinny” people — what do they know?

“The problem doesn’t go away when you lose the weight. Food is always there and I HAVE to eat” is my usual response.  But it’s upsetting how people try to make you feel bad for now being “skinny”.  I worked for the weight loss. I didn’t just decide one way to lose weight and it came off.  And by the way, I don’t consider myself “skinny”. I know I’m healthy but I still feel like my overweight self most of the time and that’s mainly because I’m still working on my mindset.

At work, I wear a tag that informs you how much I’ve lost and when, but it doesn’t stop people from making comments such as “Oh great, some skinny person helping me…” or “It’s not like you’ve ever had a weight problem.”
That’s when I pull out this cringe-worthy photo taken the night before I started my last attempt at weight loss.

Before

I always joke that had I known that decision to give weight loss one more try would work, I’d have made sure to look decent. But honestly, it’s perfect. That photo says it all. I hated myself – physically and mentally. I was fed up with feeling like crap. I was beating myself up for being a “bad” mom for wanting to hide by sitting on the couch instead of taking my kids to the park or pool. I was embarrassed about my health screening results that showed I had high cholesterol.  And I didn’t think this weight loss program would work.

I did lose – about 50lbs. I could’ve hit the 50lbs but it would’ve put me in the unhealthy weight category and I decided it wasn’t worth it. It would’ve brought me back to starving myself and restarting a different cycle of weight issues.

The fact is, I’ve always had a food/weight problem. I may not have always been chubby or overweight but that struggle was there. I grew up being told I was fat by my family… “pig” was my nickname. I’d get picked on if I ate and guilted if I didn’t. I wasn’t overweight, by the way. Though according to Korean standards, I was big. (Korean mother but American father with Irish/Scottish/English background).

By 11yrs old, I was already dieting. I even declared myself a vegan/vegetarian, not to lead a healthy lifestyle. But because I hated most vegetables and I knew I could get away with not eating much by just saying no to most foods we had in the house because I no longer ate “animal products”. I always felt like an ogre, those words of “pig” was constantly on my mind.
It only got worse as an adult. I remember eating only 2 small bowls of rice crispy cereal a day, about a cup’s worth each, with a splash of rice milk. I would stay up half the night walking in place and somehow working out minimum of 2x a day at the gym between my 2-3 jobs.

After starving myself for a period of time, I’d go back to binge eating. And then drinking once I hit 21 – which led to more eating. But then I’d smoke like a chimney to cut back on eating.  The cycle was vicious.

Not quite at my heaviest.

Then came the babies. I gained so much weight with my youngest that I had one driver at our company ask me if I was having twins. And then he would come back and ask a few more times throughout my pregnancy if I was sure I wasn’t having multiples. With 2 kids and a full-time job, my weight kept creeping up as my self-worth plummeted. Once I was at my heaviest, I decided to invest a little on myself and give a healthy weight loss journey a try.

Food addiction, to me, means more than just wanting to eat all the time. There’s a thrill in “getting away with it.” I used to stop at the store on my way home from the gym to get a donut. But I couldn’t just get one, because the cashier would know it was for me. And I was still in my gym clothes. So, I would grab at least 2-3 donuts to pretend that I was buying them for my family. In my mind, this made sense. I’d finish off all the donuts, hide the evidence and head home. Then the shame would creep in.
For anyone who’s ever dealt with weight loss/health issues, it’s not as simple as “just don’t eat that… eat better and exercise for weight loss.”
Addictions, in general, are a bitch to deal with and it’s a lifetime journey to stay on course. Food in itself is tricky since we HAVE to eat and drink to survive.

It’s a wonder for me to watch people who I know for a fact have never experienced these issues eat. My hubby is one. If he’s not hungry, he doesn’t eat. Even if there are cakes, turnovers, favorite meals lying around. If he does indulge, he doesn’t think twice about it. Or my kids ~ when they feel satisfied/full, they’re done eating. That’s it. I, on the other hand, will binge the crap out of those desserts and make excuses why I can. And when I do indulge, I beat myself up over it. If do eat a little more than usual, I still feel the need to explain myself.

And as an ultrarunner and triathlete, I can usually justify the extra calorie intake. It just means I spend a little extra time determining if I’m actually hungry or if I’m “hungry” from being bored/angry/sad/tired, etc.

I’ve probably done a disservice by not eating enough calories for the training I do.  I lose sight of the nutrition aspect sometimes and focus more on how I look. “Do I look like a runner?” “Why am I not lean like the other triathletes??”
On the flip side, thanks to leading a very active lifestyle, I’m learning more about looking at food more for its nutritional values of different macros and how to better fuel/recover my body.

Wedding pizza buffet!

There are exceptions ~ race days/weekends, I indulge and not feel bad about a damn thing! I just have to plan to get back on track – when and how.

Skirt Sports Retreat 2017 ~ having fun with food.

 

And it’s not all gloom and doom. I’ve learned to make jokes about how much I COULD eat (and sometimes do eat…) I figure that if I can find humor in this, I don’t give food the power it’s had over me. It can no longer control me the way it has. Unless it pizza. It can control me the rest of my life, I don’t care.