So, my father is from a big family and a fairly new country (this year, it is only 70-years-old). In its early years, food was scarce and was not to be wasted. He was the primary cook in our family and boy was he good at it! However, with his upbringing, I think it stuck with him that you always need at least, "One more scoop,” of food and everything on your plate should be finished. I really did cherish my dad.
I remember thinking “Okay. I’m full, but I know he wants me to finish all of this. So I will,” at the cost of being over full at almost every meal. It made him happy to see me eat... I understood this. I feel the same way about my kids.
So, later on in my teenage years, it became a goal for me to finish every bit of food that was in front of me. It was almost like the food didn’t taste as good if every crumb wasn’t eaten. I don’t think I was an overweight child, but we sure did love food in our family. In high school, I loved to be active: running, weight lifting, lots of cardio. I really used to bust my hump to do my best in my P.E. classes. I was proud of that.
As much as I love my father, there was always one thing he said to me “You’re getting fat, Katie.” Even when I had not eaten for a day or two. I don't know if he was kidding. I never asked him to stop and he might have if I said it bothered me, but I just let it mold my eating habits. Due to my own choices in life, I became pregnant at the age of 16. My body wasn’t even fully developed yet and it was creating a life. Needless to say, having an almost nine pound baby at that age completely changed my figure. I was just a kid, so I didn’t have very many means to live with. I walked everywhere with my new baby and really didn’t have much money to feed him, myself, and pay for my rent.
So by that alone, my body was able to bounce back to pre-preggo weight, easily. Then, I had two more kids within 13 months of each other, both almost ten pounds each. That's when the father of my kids’ family used to make fun of my weight. Comparing it to my beauty and self-worth. It FREAKING sucked! It made me feel like crap on daily basis. My thought process at the time was, "If I’m already gross and ugly then what’s the point of changing?" That was my state of mind. I stayed with their father for almost seven years. One day, I was sick of being with him and his crap-tastic family. I picked my kids up and moved back home on a full tank of gas and $150.00 in my pocket.
After the move home, it was essentially like I was 16 again and all alone. Food and money were scarce. So, most of the time I would just feed the kids and tell myself I don't need anything. I would do a little exercise regimen and walk all day at work. I lived on caffeine pills, Mnt. Dew, and a bag of Cheetos. It’s all I could afford for myself to eat every day, because my company gave us a major discount when we bought anything from them. It cost me about $1.67 a day.
The pounds just fell off after a month or two. Totally an unhealthy way to do it. I was basically starving myself and exercising until my body was just too tired to think about food and I fell asleep. That lasted for about four years. Then, I got a better job and was able to afford more. Once I started eating a BIT more I would hate myself for it. I would always take at least six laxatives before anything I ate. I wanted the food so bad, but I couldn’t control my portions. I began to notice that I was doing just as my dad had done, even though my children would say they didn't want any more food on their plate I would put one more scoop and wanted them to eat it all, and I would do it for myself as well. After a lot of painful things happening from the laxatives that I was abusing, I decided it was time to stop with all of that.
Then, I found a new relationship and began what they call the “nesting/comfort” phase. Back to my old eating habits and not caring how much I ate. I easily gained 60lbs in the five years we were together. The relationship ended and I picked up my kids again and moved. At this time, I was noticing the weight was harder to get rid of with just exercise. So, one day I had an idea that honestly, never occurred to me before. What if I eat this food, as much as I want of it? Be satisfied with the flavors and the “hand to mouth” habit, then just go throw it all up? It’s a win/win, right? I get what I want and it doesn't stick with me. I can eat as much as I want. Well, with the newfound trick, I was buying thousands (seriously spending $1000s) of dollars in good, tasty food. I made sure I knew where every bathroom was and constantly kept a pen with me to make it happen faster so people I was with wouldn't know what I was doing.
In the beginning it was almost a rush. It felt so good to be in that much control of my body. Though, I didn’t see much weight lose, I wasn’t gaining it either. I had found a way to cheat the system... I did this for at least three years. I was beginning to notice horrible pain down my whole throat and stomach when I would drink even water. I realized, I couldn’t even brush my teeth anymore without triggering my gag reflex. I went to get my hair cut and I told my stylist that my hair was falling out in huge clumps. She was a friend, so later on I confided in her what I had been doing. She instantly said, "And you wonder why your hair is falling out?”
I knew I was depriving myself of nutrients but it never occurred to me that I was sabotaging other aspects of my body such as hair, skin and nails. It wasn’t a condition I was privy to run a Google search on, so I stayed ignorant to a lot of the side effects. Finally, I was tired of feeling like crap about all of my crappy choices. Go figure... I needed to seek help though. I felt absolutely disgusted by the feeling of food or fullness in my stomach.
One day, I had a doctor's appointment (and if you’ve read my other posts, you’ll know she diagnosed me with bipolar and manic depression) and told her once again that I needed help. I had a problem, self inflicted habit, addiction, whatever you’d like to call it. To my surprise, my doctor told me this was actually something a lot of people did that had the same mental health/sickness as me. It was a form of control. She was right. It was literally the only thing I could control in my life. I couldn’t even control my emotions for christ sake! My doctor was more afraid for me than I was. She knew I was such a work in progress, mentally, that she made me an offer I couldn’t resist. She told me if I would stop binging/purging my food for a month, that she would give me something to suppress my appetite for most of the day… OMG! If i didn’t jump on that, like flies on s***!
It absolutely was THE HARDEST MONTH OF MY LIFE, thus far. It felt like it took an army to stop binging and purging. I had to be honest with my family because I needed their help to keep me accountable. I asked each of my kids and my boyfriend to NOT let me overfill my plate, over order, or over eat. And, they definitely would call me out on my actions. I had to train myself to think that it was okay to NOT finish every morsel. I had to retrain myself to say, “It’s okay that this food is in my stomach. You do not need to throw it up!” God, that was probably the hardest part. Being ok with food again. To cut to the chase. I DID IT! Sort of... I mean there were days that I really felt like I messed up and would run to the bathroom for reprieve. Eventually, I went a month without binging and purging and giving a crap about how I might look to others. I went back to my doctor and I was given so much positive reinforcement. It felt so good. She stayed true to her promise, like I did.
Now, I’m not saying I got complete control of my life and turned it all the way around. No, the fact that I take this medicine in no way is a get skinny quick pill. You gotta have the motivation to still do the exercise to work that past crap off and there's no pill for that, haha! Now, I’m just learning to appreciate my body and how hard it works for me.
So, in short. Once again, I thought I was the only one with a problem and came to find out that there are millions of people struggling with it everyday. I’d be lying if I said I don't think about eating my feelings, feeling remorseful about it, then purging all of that negativity and compulsiveness away. Not true, it's the White Elephant in the room that still haunts me with every bite of food and every drop of extra coffee creamer I add to the whole pot that I drink everyday. But I’m here to say you don’t have to put up with not being in control of your life. There is help out there, if you’re honest with yourself and you truly are sick of being a slave to the little voice of lies in your head… If someone had told me this a year ago, I would have laughed and said, “I’ll never be able to stop”. For what it’s worth, I believe in you! YOU ARE WORTH THE TIME AND EFFORT TO BE FREE AND HAPPY!!!!!