Monday, May 26, 2008

My Addiction

I have struggled my entire life to learn the secrets of self-control. I learned at the tender age of three that I would always have to fight a battle with my addiction. You might ask, “What kind of addiction would a three year old girl have to battle with?” I will answer honestly. It’s my addiction to food. Not the food itself, but the interconnected feelings and emotions that are associated with food and the pleasure derived from partaking.

My mother worked with my father in his business and often left me in the care of babysitters. These folks didn’t care what I ate. I suspect now that it was an organized scheme to keep me, as it were, doped up with food so I would be docile enough to not be a pain in the rear. Having four brothers that ate like garbage compactors didn’t help either. My mother always cooked like she was feeding the hay bailing crew. Huge amounts of beef, mashed potatoes, gravy, homemade bread, and jam and calorie laden desserts decorated our dining table like presents under our Christmas tree.

I didn’t work hard around the farm like my brothers did, so when I ate the same way they were fed, I gained weight. At age ten my mother purchased me my first bra, and it wasn’t a training bra either. At age eleven, I remember vividly going to J.C. Penny in Salt Lake City to purchase huge clothes in their “Chubby” department. Yes, the store actually had a chubby department for us girls who had no idea about watching what we put in our mouths.

There were also happy times associated with eating. My Grandmother lived on a dairy farm in a small town south of our home. Going there was a treat. It was my job to go to the milk house early in the morning to retrieve the fresh cream from the milk separator for our morning cereal. I consumed tons of Sugar Frosted Flakes with fresh, butter rich cream. Mmm, I can still taste that buttery goodness. My grandmother was a great cook. We ate well from the farm animals that were slaughtered, preserved and then prepared with love, such items as bacon, pork roasts, smoked hams, beef roasts and steaks. My grandmother’s family was large and every occasion we got together included enormous amounts of food like casseroles, homemade breads, brownies, cakes, pies, and homemade ice cream. Who wouldn’t have become a plump, round little butter ball?

I was taken to medical fat clinics and pumped full of serums and pills in the hopes that the weight would magically melt off my over inflated body. Nothing seemed to work. I remember going to Weight Watchers as a teenager and being so discouraged that pizza, double patty melts and chocolate malts were not on the menu. I lasted a couple of months. Even the happy little stars you receive as a congratulatory recognition didn’t help me stay motivated.

For a time in high school, my doctor recommended amphetamines. Those lovely little pills worked great. I felt wonderfully spirited away. I didn’t care much about losing weight, school or anything else for that matter. My hands shook all the time and I was terribly nervous, and paranoid, but the weight seemed to melt away. By the time I was a junior in high school I weighed around 115 pounds. That was the least I have ever weighed. Then I met Cathy. She was a big girl. And I do mean big. She and I became the best of “eating” buddies. Our best times were spent in trying every restaurant from Covina to San Diego. We left no burger uneaten, no pizza in the box.

Over the years, I have gained and lost weight so many times that I have lost count. When I got pregnant with my son Michael, I was so sick that I was actually the same weight when I gave birth as when I got pregnant. But after Mike was born, I completely lost control. I gained about 150 pounds. And for the last 25 years of my life have lived in sorrow and regret. I never wanted to be in pictures. I never had any confidence. I hated myself.

Finding the motivation to lose weight came in spurts. I’d join a program, lose five or ten pounds, then discouragement would set in and I would stop and balloon up again, worse than before. My doctor was worried. My parents were worried. My husband and son were worried. I contracted diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. I even thought I had a heart attack once. Still all these medical conditions did nothing to motive me.

I decided in February of 2007 that I should join a ladies’ gym in Camarillo, called Contours. It took me an entire year to lose 20 pounds. Mostly because I was only exercising not eating correctly. I loved the activity and being with women who had the same fight. This year, 2008, I took part in a weight loss challenge. My partner, Murielle O’Brien and I won. We received a t-shirt for our trouble. In January, my husband Tim and I started taking our writing class taught by Professor Clive Leeman at Moorpark College. I started to work on my novel. I had written the best chapter of the book years ago, but never put a story around it. Suddenly my entire novel was finished. It’s pretty good, I think. This singular achievement has brought me a measure of satisfaction and accomplishment I had not experienced for a long, long time. Around the same time, I decided to add Weight Watchers back into my life.

The Weight Watcher program has changed and had two options: a points system, where you can eat what you like, and a system where you eat low carb foods. I chose the points system. Within four weeks I had lost 21 pounds. It’s not a lot considering what I have ahead of me, but I take solace in the fact that I’ve started. I’m on my journey. I’m doing something I love in my writing and somehow the motivation, the power and the control that has been lacking from my life has descended upon me like a blanket of newly fallen snow. I feel invigorated and enlivened. I write at night instead of watching T.V. I’m reading more books than I have in the past 25 years and I’m at last in control. With the help of Contours and Weight Watchers, as of May 26, 2008, I’ve lost a total of 60 pounds.

I will always be a “weight watcher”. Food will always be a severe addiction for me. But I will not let it be my master and my prison any longer. As one of my son’s favorite comic heroes, He-Man stated, “I have the power!” I have the power to change my life for the better.

Well did you like it? Did you find a point at which my motivation kicked in? Please write and tell me if you did. Thanks for your consideration.


Megan said...

I'm so glad you're taking such good care of yourself! As I'm getting into my 30's I'm understanding how much harder it is to maintain weight--and harder still to lose it.

I was going to Curves and counting calories... and still putting on weight. I've left both efforts behind and gained a "screw it" attitude. Perhaps this is also because I have friends who constantly tout their fitness and diet to me. I've always had to be the big girl in the circles that I've run in. It's no different as an adult.

Part of my problem is also being diagnosed with scoliosis. I live in constant back pain. I sleep in pain. It's hard to not eat it away. I hate taking medication for many things and knowing that this could be long term drives me nuts. I have had 3 babies over 9-10 lbs. (2 on pitocin) without pain medication. You know that I must be in some serious back pain if I'm complaining!

But enough about me!

I think you've found another passion besides food: writing. Isn't it cathartic? I find that sometimes we hit that "critical mass" where we feel like we just have to do something/anything. And you started with the gym for your body, Weight Watchers for your mind, and reading/writing for your soul.

The light bulb is on because you flipped a switch. You indeed have the power... in your hands! :)

backandthen said...

Losing "only" 21 lbs is much considering that you had lost 20 and you had not gained it back. I mean even one single little pound would be much since I am not talking about the amount you lost but the fact that you are working your way out of your addiction and succeeding.

I also wanted to tell you that the two pictures you have put on your blog actually show a difference. On both pictures I see a woman who needs to lose weight but on the first I see a woman who is being under the control of something else and on the second I see a woman (a thiner one by the way) who is in control and who looks happier. You smile on both picture but I see you happier on the second.

You know what?

You inspire me an idea.

I think I am going to take a pic of me right now so has to be a goal of what I shoudl not look like in a month, and then another one in a month and so and so...I think this is going to be a motivation for me.

ALl right time to get some stuff done now such as calling my housing company or find another job.
Will you call my housing company for me please? I hate to call them. LOL