Part 1 of 4: A Weighty Subject – Walking out of the food shame closet and how my kids helped me quit dieting

Part 1: My Weight History

Weight is a very personal subject to me. Honestly, I have anxiety and reservations about writing this, but I feel like publishing this is the right thing to do in order to stay true to the mission of this blog, which is to help readers “live at the epitome of your happiness quotient.” Hopefully someone will learn from my experience.

One last photo taken in between contractions before heading to the hospital to deliver Esther
One last photo taken in between contractions before heading to the hospital to deliver Esther

In 2011, I gained 23 pounds with my first singleton pregnancy, lost all the baby weight in 6 months, at the recommendation of my OB/GYN and current research, and an additional 7 pounds (nice).   With my twin pregnancy, I gained 50 pounds in less than 10 months. I have since lost about 52 pounds. I cannot tell you for sure how much I weigh now because I haven’t weighed myself in a while, but all of my clothes still fit nicely (yippy). How? Read on to learn more.

I am not a yo-yo dieter, but I’ve had a tumultuous and dysfunctional relationship with eating and food the vast majority of my life. I have never cut out an entire food group (complex carbohydrates are my friend, but my husband did point out I was a vegetarian for 10 years. Even so, protein is the food group, not meat). Moreover, I have never participated in a fruit, juice, or liquid diet cleanses, and the thought of being on a “plan” is just unreasonable for the life I want to live. I do not consider myself a dieter at all because I want to focus on living a healthy lifestyle instead of finding the new way to lose weight. And still, weight is a weighty subject for me.

I delivered the twins later in the day
I delivered the twins later in the day

I love good high-quality food, I enjoy eating, and I enjoy cooking. I am a self-proclaimed foodie. If it doesn’t taste amazing, I’m not really interested in eating it. But I am not a gourmet food snob. I think an overly sugary frosted sheet cake bought from my local grocery store is fabulous and I will be the first to cut into the nearly-neon brightly colored cake (probably a corner to maximize the amount of frosting I get) and help myself to a nice-sized (OK, very large) slice. Yes, I’m the girl who digs into the hummus dip first, subsequently putting a big gash into what looks like a serene golden sand dune. Like a samurai, I gladly slash the beautifully browned baked brie wrapped in puff pastry to get a hefty gooey wedge on my plate. And I will snatch more than a handful of sapphire red strawberries from the platter display during cocktail hour. They are not just garnish to me, they are meant to be consumed… by me.

Here is a bit of my personal weight history. Weight has been a major theme in my life. I was an overweight child told, at far too young an age, my weight was a “problem.” I remember wondering when my “chubby baby weight” would go away like magic. I do not have many memories of a time I wasn’t aware of my weight. I was given bribes/rewards for losing weight when I was 9 years old (which sounds totally weird and wrong when I think about it as an adult now, but I know the intention was good).

I did not understand healthy eating and grew up gorging myself with pre-packaged snack foods. As a child, we always picked up snack cakes like Little Debbie and Hostess, chips and diet soda at the grocery store. Strangely, these seemingly forbidden foods had to be eaten right away, which gave me the feeling these play foods were contraband. If I did not gorge myself on these items right away, they would be consumed by others before I even had a chance to sample any. So I started to hide food because I wanted to save treats for later. Still, I overate and I did not listen to my own hunger cues.

As a young teenager, I developed an eating disorder at a very chaotic time in my life (anorexia nervosa). During an annual school physical, I remember the school nurse weighing me and being alarmed. I actually felt a sense of pride at her shock. I recovered from my eating disorder and I learned it wasn’t about food; it was about controlling something when everything in my life felt out of control. After navigating my teenage years, I still had a really dysfunctional relationship with food in my early 20s. I just did not know how to eat well.

I met my husband in my mid-20s and put on some happy in-love weight. We ate out a lot and I was enjoying life with my wonderful man. Then, I wanted to drop some pounds but I realized I did not know how to do it in a healthy way. In my late 20s, I signed up for Weight Watchers and my food education began.

Weight Watchers taught me about healthy eating, portion size versus serving size (there is a difference), and how certain foods with more fiber and water content will fill me up and satisfy me better than others (like grapes compared to raisins). I learned to enjoy food; eat well and lose weight without deprivation.

I love how well Weight Watchers educated me. I love Weight Watchers because no food is off-limits, heck, there are even points free foods on the points plus system (most fruits and veggies) and the Simply Filling plan helped me lose pregnancy weight not only once, but twice. I was successful with Weight Watchers.

Still, I found myself obsessing about food. I do not want to think about menu planning, keeping a food diary, and planning how many points a meal will cost me for the rest of my life. I know there is no magic pill, program, or diet which will keep me slim. Also, I realize being slim and being healthy are not one in the same. I want to be healthy; I am not chasing down a certain number on the scale or a certain dress size. I just want to enjoy eating and set a good example for my three daughters. I do not want to fight with food. I want to redefine my relationship and ultimately show my girls, “Yes, you can enjoy life and eating food, ANY food, and maintain a healthy weight.”

Part 2: Why it was time to change my dysfunctional food relationship

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