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My Road to Obesity... and Hope for the Future!

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

BLC 17 Week 3 Challenge- Warning: This is going to be long! :)

At quick glance, my childhood would seem pretty close to perfect. My dad, mom, sister, and I lived in a nice house, had everything we needed, and most of what we wanted, as well. But looking back on things, I can see the roots of my struggle with obesity and food addiction.
I was always my dad's favorite and my sister was always my mom's favorite. I don't think either of my parents consciously set out to make that decision, but that was what happened. I thought my parents were happy together, but now I recognize all the signs that things were wrong. I remember many times that my dad was not home, my mom would cry, and then she would take my sister and me to the store where we would buy big bags of M&Ms and these chocolate covered orange jelly sticks. We would take them back to the house and pig out on them together. Then we would make sure we threw away the wrappers before Dad came home. I started sneaking food when I was in about 2nd grade. I was a perfectionist. Anytime I "failed," I would sneak food into my room and cry while I ate whatever I had managed to smuggle into my room.

My parents divorced when I was 10 or 11, and by the time the divorce was final, they were both already engaged to other people. Neither my sister nor I got along with our step-dad. My sister’s way of dealing with everything was becoming anorexic. My way was attempting to comfort myself with food, which my sister gladly assisted with (she was obsessed with food and loved to make things for me and watch me eat them). My step-dad was verbally abusive to my sister and physically abusive to me (usually after I would stand up to him for being terrible to my sister). After a couple of years, my sister moved in with our grandparents and I was left with a mom who would have preferred I left, too, so she could start over with her new husband. I'm crying writing this right now, and my mother would be horrified if she realized I wrote this, but it is true... even though she would never admit to it.

I ended up moving in with my dad just before 8th grade started. New town, new school, new friends, and a new step-mother who never wanted me there. She wanted my dad to take on the role of dad to her two kids (girl my age and boy 1 year younger). I loved my new friends and did well in school, but I never felt wanted in either family. My mom went on the road with my step-dad for work and was gone for months at a time, and my step-mom spent her time trying to make me miserable enough to leave.

As a teenager, I was 5'7" 150 pounds. Certainly not thin for a teenager, but not overweight either (although I definitely felt that way!). I would barely eat in front of people, but when I was alone, I constantly snuck food… both to comfort myself and because I was so hungry after not eating all day long.

I was sexually assaulted when I was 15, and the circumstances (it was a member of my step-mom’s family and, without going into too many details, I was blamed by my step-mom) led to me moving out of my dad's house and into an apartment that my grandparents owned right after I turned 16. A few months later, I met my now husband, and for the first time since I was a kid, I felt like I belonged. He was in his senior year of high school and I was in my junior year. We were inseparable. But I started gaining weight. He would take me out to eat most every night. The good news was, I stopped sneaking food. Unfortunately, I found a partner in crime. Someone who not only didn't judge me for my binging, but someone who encouraged it because he was the exact same way!

I found out I was pregnant in January of my senior year of High School and at my first appointment, I was already up to 190 pounds. I had enough credits to not take any classes from Jan-June and still graduate (with honors, I might add!). But I gained a massive amount of weight while pregnant. I had gone from a fairly popular, fun, active high school student to a pregnant, stay at home wife. I rarely heard from my friends anymore and really struggled with depression. I weighed 238 pounds a couple months after having my oldest son in 2002.

In the 10 years that passed, I went on diet after diet with varying degrees of success (first time low-carbing I lost 25 pounds in 7 weeks, but I couldn’t stay on track and gained it all back; tried low carbing many other times, but I never had the same success as the first time, and never felt it was something I could keep up; Medifast resulted in a 24 pound loss in 6 weeks before I could no longer stand doing it; Grapefruit Diet didn’t last long enough to lose more than a few pounds; same with my 800 calorie per day diet, Slim Fast (multiple times), extreme exercise plan, etc.) Every time I fell off the wagon, I would regain any weight I had lost and even more.

Six weeks after my youngest son was born in 2005, I was back at 238 pounds (I didn’t gain much that pregnancy- I was on bedrest for 5 months due to complications and I think I lost a bunch of muscle). But Jan 2006, I started counting calories and actually succeeded in getting down to 180 pounds. I had to have surgery to remove an ovarian tumor (non-malignant, thank God!) in December 2006 and never got back on track after recovery. I think this was largely due to the fact that I ate SOO much junk still. Probably 90% of my calories were from 100 calorie packs, processed foods, and fast food. I counted calories, but I was still super addicted to junk food. I also hoarded my calories until the end of the day, and then I would binge. In my calorie range, yes. Healthy, no.

June 2012 I was my highest weight: 276 pounds, and had been between 261 and 276 pounds since 2009. I had been walking 15 miles a week for months prior to this and just couldn’t lose any weight, but for some unknown reason, by the time I weighed in for the first day of my new lifestyle, I had gotten down to 266 pounds.

Fast forward 6 months to now (I’ll spare the details because I have blogged about this stuff on Spark People already), and today I weigh 204 pounds (-62 from my starting weight, -72 from my highest weight)!

I know that there are a ton of gaps, but this thing was getting ridiculously long and I felt like it was therapeutic to talk about the originations of my poor eating habits and the circumstances and feelings that contributed to them before I became obese because these are the things I need to face and change so I never go back to where I was.

Above all else, I know that I use food to avoid feelings, and I really feel like, this time, I’m finally learning that if hunger isn’t the problem, food isn’t the solution!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • JOYOUS1917
    I feel that if the truth be told, most of us who are over weight have had a lot of rejection and/or trauma in our lives. It is so difficult to believe in the goodness of anyone out there after experiencing what you have. I know being overweight can be very isolating too. We tend to not go out because...nothing to wear that fits or looks nice, people will criticize our size(and they do) it's just hard to lose the self consciousness. Spark People has been a God send for me. It covers all of the areas where I have been out of phase. Thank you for sharing ..it must have been painful to relive it. And, thanks for all the encouraging comments on my blog.
    You are a jewel. emoticon
    1713 days ago
    Thanks for sharing your story- you have been incredibly strong! emoticon
    1714 days ago
    Wow, I already knew you were a wonderful person ... now I know your a wonderful strong amazing person!

    You should be very proud of yourself for all that youve faced and fought through ... youve come so far ... emoticon
    1714 days ago
    This is such an inspiration to me! I feel like you're a clear example of what doesn't kill you makes you stronger!
    1714 days ago
    Thank you for sharing that story. It must have been so hard growing up without a safe place. So many times, kids who grow up like that run headlong into marriage as an escape and often it is the biggest mistake of their lives -- it sounds like you really got lucky? Chose wisely? whichever -- were fortunate enough to fall for the right kind of guy.
    1714 days ago
    This is an awesome blog. You have faced a lot of tough breaks and come out the other side strong and tough. Truly an inspiration :)
    1715 days ago
  • COOKIE_AT_51
    You have had a rough go of life ... so glad you are making this change and have accomplished so much! emoticon
    I think your statement at the end sums it all up perfectly and knowing this you are aware and armed with tools to focus on you and your health. emoticon
    1715 days ago
    Thank you for sharing.
    1715 days ago
    I'm so sorry that so many of these things have happened to or around you. But you're amazing for who you are because of--or in spite of--all of it. You really are a great inspiration to me personally.

    Somehow I'm not in the least bit surprised that I can relate to several of the things you've described from your childhood. Thanks for sharing all of this and I'm so happy you found your person. I told bf once that I loved him because around him I don't feel like a crazy person. I kind of get the sense that's the role your husband played uh n your life too.

    1715 days ago
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