It may have taken only a little more than a year to lose over 100 lbs, but ridding myself of the excess baggage between my ears is an ongoing process. My self-talk used to go something like this; “you stupid, fat, effing slob”, followed by all kind of self-depreciating lines:
- You’ll always be an effing, stupid, fat slob.
- Nobody wants to talk to a loser like you.
- You’ll never amount to anything.
If I heard a mother in the store talking to her child that way, I’d call Child Welfare and report her, yet I spoke to the child in me in the most mean, degrading way possible. And it took a lot of the wrong foods to take away those feelings.
I had lost over 100 lbs at least twice before 1993, but gained it back and a little more for extra measure. Why was that? I could get down to a healthy body weight, but always returned to the kind of eating that contributed to physical morbid obesity.
What made the difference more than twenty-one years ago, is that I came to an awareness that my mind, heart and body were not in alignment. I did nothing to change my thinking. It did not matter how fat or thin I was; as long as I heard that degrading voice inside of me, I would be hard not to return to my ‘comfort foods’.
Isolation often accompanies obesity. If my head tells me that no one wants to talk to a big, fat, effing slob like me, I surely would gravitate away from people. On the worst night of my life, I felt so alone, couldn’t think of a person to call and my best buddy – food, was no longer working to take the edge off my emotional pain. I thought about killing myself. In physical and emotional agony, I reached out to a God I no longer believed in, and asked Him to help me.
Well, He did. When God feels a million miles away, it’s usually because I moved, not Him. I cried to a girl at work and she helped me to start this journey. I am grateful beyond words for the people who showed up in my life when I finally made the connection that there were no diets that could help my head and my heart – I needed a relationship with God for that. I love Wayne Dyer and his words ring in my heart often, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” What did I need to reframe in my thinking and my feelings, along with my body?
Somehow, I found a loving and caring God, and those negative feelings about myself started to go away. I finally believed that there was someone out there who truly loved me, unconditionally. If you do not feel this way about the God in your life, keep looking; you might not have found the right one yet. God to me means unconditional, always-available love and compassion.
I very gently and slowly began to move away from that mean self-talk as I continued to develop a spiritual life. I no longer felt deprived by taking those unhealthy combinations of sugar, flour and fat out of my diet and replacing them with delicious fruits, vegetables, lean meats, I filled up on the love of God. I began a daily ritual of prayer, meditation and journaling.
No one has ever died of hunger between lunch and dinner, so when I felt ‘hungry’ between meals, I began to call some friends. I learned that I needed to ‘share it or wear it’. Going toward the fridge was not the answer. Over the years, I have built a network of supportive friends that I can call and just talk, filling that hole inside of me with unconditional love. I like to call that army ‘God-with-skin.’ He will put people in my life to help, but I need to reach out and do the footwork.
My mind and heart began to change right along with my body. It doesn’t matter which weight-loss program I chose; as long as I made the changes in the other areas of my life to accompany that diet. It has been the key for me to increasing the odds of long-term weight loss and maintenance.
And here I am, twenty years later, maintaining the same healthy body weight. It has been an amazing journey of discovery, one I still embrace today! Food no longer is a ‘friend’. You are! And with God’s help, I can continue to see life in a new way and not need to turn to food when life happens.