Thursday, September 25, 2008

Another Weighty Issue

Since I could remember, after every birthday ritual of blowing out the candles or tossing a penny into a fountain or blowing a fallen eyelash or ladybug or wishing upon the first star I would close my eyes and combine my wish with a prayer. I would say, "God, I wish to be thin."

With all of the struggles I have on my plate, the fiercest of all conflicts is the one that I have been fighting with on a daily basis my entire life. That is my weight. You may recall reading my post titled, Confessions of a Second Grade Closet Eater,
where I discuss my life since the age of eight, and how food was always a battle for me and accepting my body as is has always been a struggle for me. I have always denied my real hungers to the point that I find it difficult to recognize it anymore. I have tried so many different diet strategies that my body has finally decided not to play with me. Like playing tic tac toe, there comes a time when no one wins and it just isn't worth the time or devotion to play. 

Five years ago, my daughter Sienna turned two. Right after celebrating her birthday, the fanfare and family left to go home, Sienna went to bed and I sat on the couch with my husband, Fred. I was tired but most of all, I was sad. When I was two, my parents divorced. I thought about how tender and sensitive of an age my daughter was in and I couldn't imagine leaving her. How then could my parents have split me in half, my life and my heart at the tender age of two? I felt so much sadness about this, that I slipped into an emotional coma. This depression was too great for us to handle alone and Fred and I decided that I should get some intensive therapy, once and for all we thought. 

It was also at this time that I had been trying to diet and get healthy. It had been two years since I was pregnant and no matter how much I denied foods and increased exercise, I could not get below 200 lb, let alone 230 lb! I was even following a new diet based on fasting and praying that I was learning from an extremist view about fasting from Stormie Omartian in a book titled, The Power of a Praying Woman. 

I became very dedicated to this methodology. Earlier that year, I fasted for three days. I didn't eat any thing in hopes that God would hear my cry and help me to lose weight. In fact, I didn't pray and dedicate my fasting to be self serving alone, there were other prayers and petitions I offered to God during this time too. But, at the core of my desires was the need to lose weight. For I believed that if I were thinner, all my problems would be solved. I now look back and cannot believe how immature my mind set was then. And, by the way, that three day fasting fiasco left me with a week long migraine and a dark night of severe body convulsions and throwing up. I do not recommend this exercise, nor do I believe many professionals would recommend anyone to try it either.

We then decided that I should take a brief leave of absence and take some time for myself at a nearby out patient clinic. This was a Christian clinic that helped others with depression. During that time, I learned that I was struggling with a lot of loss. My daughter at the age of two would not engage with me and was so difficult that I had decided earlier to put her into day care and go back to work full time. Also, my mother had been so challenging and disrespectful towards Fred and me that under the recommendation of my small group from church, I had to place some boundaries. These boundaries led to another period of estrangement with my mother. I was at a point in my life that I was not able to bond with my daughter or have a relationship with my own mother and I was so depressed that I wanted to just drool sometimes. I also had a secret death wish and would try to drown myself with Big Macs and fries chased by Snicker bars and Cokes. I had ballooned to a 250 lb wearing the same sweatshirt every day that was a size 3X. My daily drives to the clinic lasted for four weeks. Afterwards, I still met with therapists and took medication but I had gained so much insight about how to manage my life and cope with stress.

One major stress in my life that I learned through my time there at the clinic was that I had a life long eating disorder. I didn't think I was "good enough" to be a successful anorexic or bulimic. I joined support groups for this and met with a nutritional therapist weekly for a little bit over a year or so. During my therapy sessions with Iris, she would instruct me to eat, or refuel my body every three to four hours with whatever food I wanted. I needed to stop giving certain foods power by labeling some foods good and some bad. Moreover, she instructed me to learn to love my body. She once asked me, "Who do you think you are? God created your body to be just as it is and you are always trying to reshape it and recreate it. Maybe God created you to be a larger woman. What is so wrong with that?"

Every week, I would talk to her about how difficult it was to find clothes that fit me. She would tell me about her very tall husband who also had difficulty. I would tell her about the stress of my business and travel and how challenging it was for me to eat in public. She would help me through every case scenario. She would weigh me in every session but would not allow me to see the results. I was able to get down to 230 lb not dieting through restricting my eating or adding exercise, just by trying to trust my body and love it. 

I eventually stopped seeing Iris when I discovered that I was pregnant with Sarah. I also decided that I had a deeper desire to be successful in my career and she recommended that I see a business coach to help me build my company and career instead of meeting to talk about my weight. It has been about three years since meeting with Iris. So much has happened with my career since then, and with Sarah and Sienna and with all of our lives. One of the reasons we made the decision to move to a rural midwestern town was to simplify our lives so I could be a better mommy to our girls. Also so I could give myself the self care necessary so that I would not end up dying like my mother did at the young age of 62. 

Now, I struggle with my weight. Not so much because of the superficial reasons that kept my weight such a struggle from age eight to early 30s. I now struggle because I have been running, walking, bike riding and being very active. I try to eat healthy foods. And, with the increased activity levels since moving here 18 months ago, I find myself with an enlarging tummy, looking as if I am pregnant. I am trying to figure out how to get healthy with out struggling with diets and the slippery slope of obsession that spirals me into yo yo dieting. 

I think I will schedule to visit a doctor about this. I fear that he will just put me on a strict diet though and it will awaken that diet monster that has been hibernating for the past five years!


Anonymous said...

Honey I am right there with you in so many ways. Hugs. I know the pain, too. And I have struggled all my life. If you want to talk, just DM me on twitter!!

hellokittiemama said...

(oh hugs)

I understand. I have struggled with weight issues all of my life. I've gone from too thin to too fat and everyplace in between. Still, no matter what it just isn't good enough - the perfectionist in me. Now, I have a gym membership basically wasting because I can't get there with kids and my 2 hrs while Belle is in school have so far been packed with every other errand or school meeting. Must Must Must make a priority. I think I'll take your post as a reminder to call my doctor, myself.

Know that if you ever need a virtual hand to hold - I'm here and it doesn't matter to me the # on the scale but the wellbeing of the woman on the inside.

Stay Strong,

Anonymous said...

Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.

Elizabeth Channel said...

Oh this is such a tough issue! I don't have any great words of wisdom except make sure your thyroid is OK. It can really wreak havoc...of course you already know that probably.


Helene said...

Oh I could so relate to this post! My mom was so controlling over every little morsel that went into my mouth that I developed an eating disorder at a young age. And I find, now as an adult, I still struggle with it.

Sending many positive thoughts you way. I know it's a difficult thing to struggle with!

Anonymous said...

I guess all of us that read this post and responded feel your pain. It is so hard to see the body spread when we do all we can ti stop it. I would suggest you go to the doctor to see if you have a problem (thyroid) if not, then it may very well be the combination of the foods you eat.

I gave up a great deal of foods that I thought were good for me. I began dropping pounds because I just cut out some optional foods.

Good-luck with this.