Terry’s Success Story is going to sound awfully familiar to many of you. So many men and women today feel doomed to a negative, self-destructive relationship with food, regardless of weight or age.
You can be free from “Diet Prison“, I promise. When you’re finally free, it’s amazing. It’s like angels singing on high – LAAAAAAHHH! The guilt, the burden, the self-recriminations, the anxiety driven eating, it’ll all go away. You are not sentenced to an entire life of Misery By Food, YOU CAN JUST BE NORMAL, I promise, I swear. But you have to take action steps, because deeply engrained habits and addictions don’t just change spontaneously; it takes a plan, and a different belief system. Enjoy Terry’s story and let me know what you think.
When Debbie asked me to share my “success story”, I told her that I just didn’t feel all that successful when it comes to eating. It is difficult to look back on my life and see it as a success story. I think back on all the bad choices I have made, all the damage I have done and all the years I’ve focused on my weight in a negative way. Where was the success in my story?
My terrible habits began at the young age of 14. I was only in 8th grade when I was recruited to run track and field at a high school level. I was a good runner, I loved the competition and I especially loved winning. I was tall (5’9) and skinny which was an asset to my sport, but my coaches feared that I would gain weight. That negative attention towards my body made me very self-conscious and I began to hate my height and, more importantly, my weight. I was never overweight but any negative feedback during such a delicate developmental age was taken to heart. My fear of becoming fat made me crazy. I obsessed about it and started to search for anything and everything that claimed to be “fat-free”. I read labels, I counted fat grams and I watched the scale like a hawk. Bagels, pasta, bread, candy, yogurt were all “fat free”. I became addicted to carbohydrates and sugar but the self-imposed diet seemed to be working because I never gained a pound. Maybe it was because I was so young or maybe because I worked out at such a high intensity. It doesn’t really matter why I didn’t gain weight; to me it was proof my diet was working.
Sadly, weight fluctuations aren’t the only negative side effect of a bad diet. Looking back, I suffered from many side effects. I had terrible acne, I was depressed, I experienced moods swings, compulsive behavior, low self-esteem and body dysmorphia. I slowly began turning to food to eradicate all my irrational feelings. When I was tired, I’d eat. When I was sad, I’d eat. When I was happy, I’d eat. Eating was an outlet that brought me relief and eventually, like with any addiction, things progressed. Binging soon followed. After I binged, I would panic and need to get rid of it. These irrational feelings grew into an uncontrollable eating disorder that followed me through high school and into college. It wasn’t until my early 20’s, when I started a job as a nanny for three small children that my eyes were opened to the impact of my disorder. I was watching two little girls and a baby boy and I feared that I would pass my problems onto to them. I never wanted those sweet kids to do what I was doing. They saved me from self-destructing and I never did it again.
Writing about my past is weird. I rarely think about what I went through much less talk about it. It is not who I am anymore but it is an important part of my story. I abused my body for over 10 years – binging, purging, yo-yo dieting, excessively working out and eating chemically enhanced “fat-free” foods. I suffered through years of sadness, anger, low self-esteem and self-loathing. Changing my past behavior took time, healing my mind and body took more time but forgiving myself has taken the most time. The lesson I have taken from my journey is that you have to forgive the past you for the mistakes you’ve made. I cannot change what I did but I can forgive myself so that I can move forward and take better care of myself now.
Moving forward has been really exciting. I have been cooking real whole food meals for my family and friends for two years now. I have been writing for a blog, 11 Magnolia Lane, and I share many of my recipes there. I’ve also started cooking for friends who either work outside of their home, don’t like to cook or just need help with eating healthier. Cooking for my friends has turned into a huge blessing for me. It has helped me through a very difficult year and it gives me purpose. I feel like I was meant to help people reach their healthy goals. Debbie has been a huge part of my success. She has mentored me through this whole process and I have learned so much from her over the past two years. She has been generously sharing her knowledge through her blog and nutrition classes with me. She simplifies the physiology of digestion, she explains why certain foods are toxic and she provides healthy recipes and alternatives to processed eating. Debbie has opened my eyes and my heart to this real whole food movement. She inspires me on a daily basis to take better care of my family through education and nutrition. She has challenged the way I shop and she has encouraged me to prepare and cook nutritious food for my family and for others. Debbie has inspired me to take something that I was interested in for myself and turn it into something that I share with others. That 14-year-old girl who used to view food as the enemy now sees it as an ally – – something that will improve her life and the lives of the people around her and that is what makes this, in my mind, a success story.