This was supposed to be the last blog in my series of blogs on How to Lose Weight. I have put off writing it for several reasons. The first reason being that I am often not very nice to myself, so I felt like who I am to give advice on this. Sometimes I am very critical of myself (mostly about how I look). I do think I have come a long way in my thought processes though, and that is progress I am proud of making. The other reason is that I know I am going to get a lot of crap for what I am going to say. Many people are not going to agree with me, and that is fine, but I have thought about what I am going to say a lot, and I believe it's true for many people out there.
Most of my life, I have not loved myself enough. I grew up in a chaotic environment and I have always been a stress and binge eater. I used food to cope with anxiety, sadness, loneliness, stress..you name it. As a child you come to a point where you know what you're doing isn't right, but you don't have the maturity or insight to really stop it or figure out why you're doing it. I was put on diets as young as age 9 and never had role models for healthy eating. When I see overweight children now, I literally feel a pain for them, because I know how hard it is, and statistically, most overweight children will grow up to become overweight adults.
I believe that I am a food addict. Not everyone believes in food addiction, but I believe it can be an addiction to some the way alcohol or drugs might be to others (or overspending, or porn, or video games...basically anything you feel is hard for you to control that is negatively impacting your life can be an addiction). Even though I have lost a lot of weight, I am still a food addict. Almost always when I am stressed or anxious, the first thought that pops into my head is "I want food." Most of the time now I am able to fight those urges to eat, but not always. I am not perfect, and there are times I go a long time without binge eating, but then I have a bad day. What is different now is that I do have more control and I know how far I've come and I don't want to end up back where I was. I know I have to be consistent. And now, when I do have those moments where I turn to food, they are least not in the thousands of calories. I am mindful of what I eat.
Now, this is probably going to make a lot of people angry, but I am going to say it, because I feel it needs to be said. I believe that most obese people (I am not talking about someone who has put on a little weight from a pregnancy or someone who is just a little overweight) have a food addiction and likely have low self worth. I hear and see people saying all the time, "I don't have a problem with food. I just like to eat. I like food, and I don't like working out." This may be true, but if you are eating to the point where you are obese and have health problems, you have to ask yourself why you are doing this. It's destructive, and there are many many reasons and ways people harm themselves, and overeating is one of them. When you repeatedly overeat, especially unhealthy things, and know you're gaining weight, and know you're unhealthy because of it, there is a reason you are doing that.
I used to live in denial. Denial is how we cope when we know something in our lives isn't right. It's too painful to admit, so we don't. We lie to ourselves and pretend things are fine. We justify the reasons for doing things. I realize there are some overweight people who will say they don't have self esteem issues. They may honestly love their body and how it looks, but again, I ask you...If you are eating yourself to the point that you have high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, joint pain, you feel sick, etc, what is your reason for doing this?
I know for me, I did not care about myself enough. I have always had horrible self esteem and felt like I have failed at most things in my life. It kept me from trying. I thought, "Who am I to try and change?" All of my energy was put into taking care of my kids, and I felt like that was a noble thing to do, and I only gained more weight and became more miserable. It was when I really decided to take care of myself and be kind to myself that I started to lose weight, and keep it off. That voice inside your head is a very powerful thing, and if you let it convince you of something, good or bad, you will believe it, and you will live your life out based on that voice. You are where you are in your life because of the choices you've made, good or bad.
Please do not think I am trying to judge you or that I am trying to be harsh. I don't mean to be, but you have to be honest with yourself about WHY you do the things you do, whether it's in regard to your health, relationships, finances, or whatever. Until you start to work on what's going on in your head, it's going to be hard to lose weight and keep it off. I still struggle all the time. I've been in counseling for my depression and it has helped, but I still have bad days. I am a work in progress, but I won't give up on myself.
I read a book about a year and a half ago called Women, Food and God. It's all about why we overeat and use food to cope with varying emotions. It's very eye-opening, and I'd recommend it to anyone who is struggling with their weight. Now when I find myself standing in front of the fridge when I know I don't need to be eating, I am more able to think clearly about it, and I try to work out my feelings without stuffing them down with food.
Also, just because people are thin and don't have health problems, it doesn't mean they aren't abusing food either. Some people are lucky enough that they don't gain weight as easily, but not taking care of yourself, whether you're thin or heavy, will catch up to you. There are a lot of heavy people who might say, "Well, other overweight people might have health problems, but I don't. I am fine." That may be true--for now--but if you are repeatedly doing things to your body that are not good for you, one day you will have to face the consequences of your actions. The same goes for the naturally thin people who eat a crappy diet, never exercise, drink too much, or smoke. Think of why you do these things, and work on changing them.
If there is one thing I've learned in the last 3 years it's that you have nothing without your health. You get one body and one chance to take care of it. I abused my body for more than 20 years. I am thankful my body has forgiven me. It's stronger than ever, and I know now the importance of taking care of yourself. People in my family didn't, and they died young. I want to set a good example for my kids, and live a long, healthy life.