Let me tell you about a love affair that has lasted more than a decade. A love affair that flowed from flirting to passion to obsession to unhealthy fixation.
My fixation with food started like any other habit, slow but repetitive. Like a video game, once a level was accomplished I moved on to the next.
In high school I discovered the world and fad of diet foods. Special K for breakfast. Slim-Fast for lunch and dinner. Senior year I discovered exercise. Naturally I combined the two, which then led to my beloved hobby of calorie counting.
In college it was a game of “In and Out” or “Indulge and Cancel Out”. I drank and smoked like crazy. Ate processed and cafeteria foods. Indulging beyond the brink and then playing catch-up to cancel it out during breaks and summers with the tactics I learned in the years before.
Looking back, high school and college had only been a time of flirtation with my fixation. The full-blown love affair came after graduation as I entered the “real world”. In the real world I chose the foods that filled the pantry and fridge. As an adult I had no one to answer but to myself when it came to workouts and body fat counts.
Notebooks filled with calorie counts and workouts became trophies and grotesque souvenirs. I recall the euphoric feeling of recording every little calorie that passed my lips. I was like a crack addict but invisible. Unseen because my obsession wasn’t illegal it was almost celebrated in a culture of thin and fit.
The thing was I never saw a problem eating 250 calories at each meal and never more than 900 per day. I never saw an issue with working out before work, during lunch and then again after work. I never saw the problem. When my better half told me I had a problem I ignored him and it.
At the age of 23 was the last time I had my period without the aid of a hormone pill or shot.
At 24 I was married at the healthy weight of 111. Four months later, I was hovering near just 100 lbs. standing a bit shy of 5′ 4 inches.
By 2009, the year I celebrated my 25th birthday, the harm I caused to my body was irreversible. I spent the majority of that year in and out of fertility clinics. Through the support of my husband and the care of the right doctor we became pregnant with a little miracle in August of 2009. Believe me when I say I am one of the lucky.
Becoming pregnant , “I had a come to Jesus” with what I had actually been doing to my body. I was carrying a small miracle within the same body I had cursed, a tiny being that I loved so much it hurt. I came to the realization that in caring for my body I was caring for this little keeper of my heart. I ate the right foods and did only what my body felt right doing. I nourished my belly with healthy foods including fat and ate what my little one craved. I pampered my joints and limbs with swimming and yoga. I finally slowed down, listening to what my body and baby need. In April 2010 it all paid off with the natural birth of an almost 9 lb. healthy little boy.
Fast forward two and a half years later. After the birth of my twins I fell into a pattern again. The worst was downloading an app called FatSecret. The name should have been a red flag, like being fat should be a secret. It’s every day weigh in reminders, charts of my progress and that ever-nagging goal weight highlighted in red. It fed my hungry fixation. Again, I was trying to outrun the beast when all I really needed to do was face the monster as I had before. I needed to break the cycle not only for myself but also for my children. I needed to eat to be healthy not to be thin. I needed to exercise to be fit on the inside not skinny on the outside. I needed to find help, needed to find the answer and I did.
Since everyone is different I’m not here to “sell” my way. It worked for me but may not be the answer for others. My purpose in sharing my story is to let others know they aren’t alone. To bring awareness to those who struggle silently or courage to the friend who knows a woman struggling but doesn’t know if they should speak up.
Talk about the problem. Know you aren’t alone. The answer isn’t found overnight, the habits aren’t broken in one day. The fight is never over. However, my virtual door is open. My purpose is to keep my unhealthy cycle broken while motivating, supporting and assisting others to break theirs (or help a loved one in need). I’m here to share and listen as someone who has been there.
Mommies are superheros but also human. We all have issues and problems. Just like the children we raise and care for, there are times we need a helping hand to hold or guide us along a rocky path to a better self. Be that hand. Find that hand. Break the cycle.