Today marks an anniversary for me. Last year on this day, I took some steps that changed my life.
After a divorce, dating, and other battlefields, I met the man who would become my husband. He is simply the best. We dated, we laughed, we went out to eat. Every day with him was fun, relaxed and comfortable.
Then it happened to me, the thing that happens to most people when they become happy. I gained weight.
We ate food while hanging out at home. We ate when we went out. Gone were the days of watching what I ordered (mostly due to cost), replaced by the days of, “Order whatever you want, it’s fine.”
Slowly, but certainly, the pants became a little tighter. The shirts and dresses didn’t fit the same.
I did not care. I was happy (And still am).
After a couple of years, the spread had become too much.
Still very much in love. Still being reassured daily of my beauty. I felt better in my skin than I had in years. I felt like myself.
It is important to note, that in order for me to make a change, it could not come from a place of unhappiness. It was just the opposite. I was finally comfortable, and that meant I was able to make some lasting changes.
I was not sleeping well at night. I experienced near constant heartburn. Headaches and migraines were part of my normal life. Many days required me to take a nap just to make it through the day. My back, knees, and feet hurt. A lot.
I had accepted most of these as normal.
I had also accepted as normal that I could not find clothing to fit me. I had to buy a specific brand of jeans at almost $100 each in order to find some that fit correctly. I ordered at least 5 Iowa Hawkeye tank tops one summer, in varying costs, only to have NONE of them fit correctly (my daughter did not hate this part).
I was comfortable in my skin, but not my clothes.
A friend challenged me to try a particular way of eating for two months. The first month, to allow my system to adjust. The second month to see how I liked it.
I decided I could do anything for a time frame and I agreed.
I cut all sugar, flour, wheat, grains from my diet. I also cut out soda. I had been drinking between 4 and 6 diet colas a day. I quit them cold turkey.
I thought I was going to die.
I went home sick. The first day was terrible. Each day for the first week, I felt slightly better.
Oddly, the sharp impact that cutting those food out had on me did not make me want to give in, it actually strengthened my resolve that maybe those items were in fact pretty bad for me.
I started counting carbs, fats, and proteins. I began learning what made my body work, and what made it lag.
I began to re-evaluate my relationship with food, to see food as fuel for the body, not as an event.
I began to listen to what my body needed, to eat when hungry, and to skip when not hungry, even if the clock says it is food time.
I started to feel better. One year in, I sleep better. I rarely have heartburn. Headaches are a thing of the past. I nap for enjoyment on the weekends, not necessity. My back still hurts, as it always will, but the pain is less and clears away faster. No foot or leg pain.
One interesting thing I have learned is that changing your own habits makes other people uncomfortable.
I have no idea why. I do not ever ask anyone who eat what I am eating. I never comment on what others are eating.
I was at a tailgate just over 2 months after I started my new way of eating. The people I was with, all well-meaning, kept offering me cakes, donuts, cookies, sandwiches. One woman was particularly offended that I was not eating the selection of breakfast foods. Why? None of these have any nutritional value. I was not preventing others from eating them. I was personally abstaining.
I cannot tell the number of times over the past year that I have been told, “One cookie won’t hurt.”
While it may be true for some that ONE cookie will not affect them, that is not the case for me. I very clearly have a sugar addiction. Some do not believe it is real, but I can assure you it is real, and it is terrible.
When I allow one cookie into my mouth, I find myself two weeks later scavaging my kids’ snack boxes for leftover fruit snacks. For me it is real, and it is dangerous.
I have learned that the hard way over the past year. I have failed quite a few times, I guess I am a slow learner sometimes.
For those without a sugar addiction, it is one cookie.
I can assure you, it was so many “one cookies” that led me to being over 260 pounds on my 5’4” body at my heaviest.
I have lost much of that, and am happily in the “Onederland” as it is called. I am still not at goal. I am still not a “small” person, and never will be.
I can, however, walk into a store and buy a quick pair of $20 jeans and have them fit, and that’s a pretty great feeling.
And I can pass on that cookie, that though harmless to you, just may, in fact, be the thing that kills my will, and me in the long run.