Just finished the 24 Day Challenge with Advocare and am starting day 25 and forward. You may be able to relate to my life and my struggle for health, identity and weight loss.
When I was an infant, my Mom recently told me, when I would cry she would instantly find a bottle or some food to put in my mouth; part of that I’m sure was her not knowing what to do with a ‘whiner’ like me, but part of it also had to be the fact that I would always be prone to ‘feel better’ when my senses were satisfied. You see, I’m a ‘touchy feely’ kind of guy who feels emotions and moods very strongly. Whether I was born that way or became that way by my first taste of “sweet” I’ll never know. But since then I’ve been prone to the emotional side of eating.
When I was 6 years old my parents told me they were not in love anymore and would be getting a divorce. I was way too young to realize “self” at that level but I do remember from that day forward being insecure and afraid and unsure about a whole lot of things….and ALWAYS feeling better after I ate! (I will not be one of those people who write a book about how bad their childhood was and blame the parents, they simply didn’t know any better)
When I was about 9 or 10 I was in the bathroom one day and I turned around to the full length mirror and saw “for the first time” that I was knock-kneed, the first indication that I would be set apart and have something weird about me. I was consumed with the thought. No shorts for me, EVER. When it was hot in the summers I would vie for long pants, jeans, wool pants, whatever was available. No one would ever see my legs (years later I would find out that my legs were pretty darn attractive to my wife; muscular even!)
As an adolescent, the only memory of the annual “School Clothes” shopping trip was passing the aisles at Sears where the cool kids would buy their jeans and flannel shirts and being taken straight to the “HUSKY” section. It was called “The HUSKY Department”. I suppose Sears was looking for the right word for the future ‘Big and Tall’ shop but as a 12 or 13 year old seeing HUSKY meant “you were fat!”. Husky at that age is not a very cool dog but a LABEL in life that would be carried around and be implanted in my head and in the mirror.
My brother was on the wrestling team in Junior High and HS and would put on the plastic trash bags and run to get the weight off before the weigh ins; I followed suit. At the same time my Mom was buying Diet Rite cola as the household drink of choice and/or Sun Tea sweetened with Saccharin. She also showed me how to made egg drop soup and diet…. I once even found the big box of “AIDS” (not the disease but the diet chocolate chews) in her drawer and got hooked on them eating handfuls at a time. I’m sure that just taught me to get used to going to the bathroom several times a day!
And then there was the mirror… as a teenager and in college when I looked in the mirror I saw FAT and LOVE HANDLES and big legs and small chest, etc…etc. I did not see God’s creation the way God exactly formed me. Now when I look back at photos I see a skinny good looking guy that all the girls in HS should have been running to…hahahaha!
My senior year of High School I came to the conclusion that SUGAR was horrible for you in its refined state (read a very convicting book called ‘Sugar Blues’) and I cut sugar out of my diet for a whole year and got lean and trim and still say myself as FAT!
I worked hard in College to keep my weight down. I ran, I swam, I worked out. I don’t remember being very hungry most of the time. Probably because I was going through the “what in the world will become of me” stage of life. BUT, a couple big events triggered issues again (although now they are going to sound weird):
1. When I graduated from college my wonderful stepmother took me out to an incredible “all you can eat Seafood Restaurant” that used to be on the North side of Indianapolis. We sat and talked for hours (and I ATE for hours). I remember thinking to myself “WHY do I suddenly have the ability to consume so much delicious food, why am I not getting full?”. And I didn’t get full anymore… from then on I ate what I wanted and worked out and played the balancing game between amount in and amount burned off.
2. One of my very good friends took me aside right out of college and challenged me on my weight describing me as very overweight; remember I was about 190 pounds and 6 feet tall and look at myself in those photos and think “you looked good”: but it was the 80′s and people were proud of thin and in shape and Health Clubs were seriously the rage. That did a couple things to me: I bought a Triathlon Bike and went on a serious binge of working out and quitting the sugar again. I was fit and trim and yet still looked FAT!
When I got married I weighed a whopping 167 pounds, I must have been really thin but only noticed the ‘love handles’ on my sides and the weird sticks that I walked on! Fortunately I found an incredible woman who loved me for who I was inside and outside and NEVER, I mean NEVER made a big deal out of self-image or self doubt. She taught me two very important things at the beginning of our marriage:
1. One plate is usually enough 2. You can buy anything you WANT at the Grocery store, but “what do you need?”
OK, enough of all that. Now I’m 54 and after losing and gaining about 1000 pounds and settling out on the whole self image thing and thousands of hours overeating and over-working out, I finally found something out a month ago that I never knew…
FAT thinkers believe this: I must eat at least 3 times a day or I might miss out, get way too hungry, starve, feel deprived, feel emotional and angry and frustrated. If I snack in between or eat between meals I WILL gain weight and continue to get more and more fat. It cost too much to eat well and be healthy!
THIN thinkers believe this: Like all animals I am a grazer, I can eat small amounts all day long and stay satisfied throughout the day. The food I do eat will generate energy in my body and I’ll probably end up burning it all off anyway. Food is always around me and I can choose what is good and right and healthy and satisfying. I’d rather spend $20 on a good meal than feel gross with all the $5 meals that would make me temporarily satisfied.
I have LONG way to go… my goal (if I had to weigh myself) is to get back to around 200 pounds and feel wonderful about that. I don’t want to be on TV, be the Biggest Loser or inspire anyone with a Diet Plan. I want to feel good about how I feel about me, to enjoy putting on a regular size towel after taking a shower. That’s all. I want to be freed up to be LESS about me and more about others and serving and loving mankind.
And so the story goes on…..I found what works for me…