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July 9, 2013 - Day 39 on Atkins - How I Lost 100 Pounds, My Gallbladder and My Sanity

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

During college, I fell in love. I know, I know - me and about a billion other people. Not unique. But! For me, it was my first time, and I fell H-A-R-D! We were together for 5 years and it - our relationship - came to a screeching halt one day when I was completely unprepared. I had invested so much of myself in that relationship, that I found myself not really knowing who I was the day it ended. I remember packing all my worldly possessions in the back of my Chevy - the hatchback was broken - so I literally held the lid up with one hand as I tossed all my junk in the back of the car with my other - leaving no hands available to wipe away the tears that were streaming down my cheeks or the snot that was dripping from the end of my nose. I was beyond heartbroken! I was 261 pounds of blubbering mess, and I thought my life was over. As I left St. Louis, Missouri that day to make the long drive back to Kansas City (where my parents lived), I stopped for gas. My face must have been a dead give away, because a complete stranger walked up to the counter, purchased a single rose, turned and said - as he handed the rose to me - "this is for you, you beautiful woman." I concluded that he was blind. He had to be. Me and beautiful simply did not go together in the same sentence. . . total oxymoron!

I lost my appetite that day. My appetite for food. My appetite for fun. My appetite for life. I truly thought my life was over. I was 21. When I arrived home - back to mom and dad's place (where else does a 21 year old loser go when they think their life is over?), I stopped eating. I don't think I did it on purpose - not at first anyway. In the sadness of my heartbreak, I simply forgot to eat. I don't know how many weeks passed before it occurred to me that all my clothes were getting baggy, but because nothing seemed to fit anymore, I decided it might be time to step on the scale. So I did, and I discovered that I had lost 40 lbs. Wow! That's how I felt in that moment. . . WOW! It sparked something. There seemed to be a new light. I felt alive for the first time in weeks. My depression started to lift. This was it, I thought! I can funnel all my energy into this. . . that will distract me. . . that will give me new life. . . that will heal the hurt my breaking heart can't bear to feel for even one more day.

So I continued not eating. Sort of. For six months, I ate one salad a night. I started going to clubs to meet new people, to dance and to drink. And it worked! I started getting attention - for the first time in my life - and that attention only encouraged me to keep on going. . . to keep on starving myself.

And then. . . B-A-M! Out of nowhere, I developed the most gawd awful pain I'd ever experienced. It took doctors some time to figure out what the problem was . . . given my young age. The final diagnosis was "gallstones". My gallbladder had to come out! This was before laser surgery - so I was admitted to the hospital - my gallbladder was surgically removed - I remained in the hospital for 7 full days living off of IV fluids and pain medication - and then I was released. Did I learn anything from that horrid experience? NO. I kept right on . . . starving myself. It got to the point where I was eating only every 3rd day. 1 small potato with a handful of cheese and 1/4th can of corn on top. That was it. That was all the food I consumed every 72 hours or so. And it worked! I lost 110 pounds in 6 short months! Oh, and my gallbladder. But, the way I saw it - back then anyway - the gallbladder probably weighed 5 pounds - and I didn't really "need" it - so I was glad to lose it! Just helped the scale go down faster. My thinking was so confused that I actually day dreamed about losing a kidney - or maybe a lung - cause I could live with just one, right? And if I lost another body part, welp, that was just more good news for me. . . cause it meant a smaller number on the almighty scale!

I say I lost my sanity during that time in my life, because. . . I did. I did not care one wit what damage I did to my body, so long as I lost the weight. I did not care how I lost the weight, so long as I lost it fast. I did not care about Karen - I only cared what other people thought of me (or what I perceived them to think about me). And I naively believed that if I were thin, people would think better of me. That's all that mattered. The number on the scale. The size of my blue jeans. Whether I could fit into a "medium". In my mind, that - my physical size - represented "beauty". If I was small - I WAS beautiful. If I was not small - I was NOT beautiful. I wanted the "blind" man to be right in his assessment of me. I wanted to BE beautiful. To achieve that . . . food had to go!

I'm not sure that I ever really got over the relationship that ended - the one that lead to all of this. But! After losing a 110 pounds, my gallbladder and my sanity, I met someone new. Someone who loved me (thin). And that love, led to a new relationship and that new relationship led to a feeling of security. And that secure feeling led to food (after starving for 6 months, I was hungry!). And that eating of the food led to weight gain. And that weight gain led to. . . obesity. I didn't know how to eat. . . "well". I never had a "healthy" relationship with food, so I really didn't know how to eat and keep the weight off. Slowly but surely, I regained all the weight I had lost. . . plus some extra for good measure.

That was a very long time ago, and yet I remember it all as if it were yesterday. Why tell this story here and now? Because I want never again to do that. And, I don't want anyone else to do it either. Starvation is NOT a way to lose weight. Starvation can result in a whole host of health problems. Starvation can result in death. And death ain't living. Losing weight and being healthy are about life - about living - about sustaining life. After all these years, I'm still trying to learn how to "eat to live" - how to use food to sustain my life. For far too long, I lived to eat. I actually thought my purpose in life was to eat donuts and candy! But now I know the truth. And once you know the truth, you can do better. That's where I'm at today. Doing better.

Do you have a story that you can share - one that will help me and others achieve our goals? If so, please share it. If not here, then in a blog entry of your own. Take time to encourage others and in the process. . . you might just encourage yourself. I just did! Now I'm ready to go out and take on the day. . . whatever it might bring. Wherever you are, whatever you're doing, I wish you peace. Peace with food, peace with yourself, peace with the world.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Super retelling of that period of your life.
    1715 days ago
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1746 days ago
    Karen you are beautiful and a big blessing! What a strong woman you are. This blog was fantastic. Your bravery in telling us this part of your life story shines brightly. Thank you. emoticon
    1747 days ago
    What a struggle you endured. My sister went through something similar too and ended up a month in the hospital. She looked horrible. I'm glad you learned a lesson (right?) So glad you are a part of my life.. emoticon Donna
    1748 days ago
    That is great Karen that you are doing better. It's funny what love can do. I remember starving myself for a man, but I didn't do it for as long as you did. I did it when this guy many years ago had an accident. And I decided if he didn't get better I wouldn't eat till he did. I loved him , but he didn't love me. So he was hardly worth it.
    Experiences teach us so much about life and about ourselves.
    Keep up the amazing progress karen-because you are worth it emoticon emoticon
    1748 days ago
    Without going into tons of details, I was in an mentally abusive relationship for a couple of years, convinced I was madly in love....etc. During this time, I met a guy who became my platonic best friend.....I almost married the nutcase but walked away listening to what my gut said. That man who was the best friend stood beside me all the way during the good, the bad and the ugly.

    I woke up one day and discovered what I wanted was right in front of me. On July 28, we will be married 23 years!

    So that's the long and the short of it.
    1748 days ago
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