From October 2015 until October 2016, I lost so much that the only thing I had left to gain was weight. I didn’t realize this until earlier this year, though , after having my doctor run a gamut of tests to determine if there was a physiological cause for my weight gain. After thyroid disease and other conditions were ruled out, the last thing to consider was my relationship with food and pinpoint the moment it became excessive.
I was able to trace my weight gain back to October 2015. Around this same time, my family lost everything in a flood. Living in a hotel and unable to cook, we didn’t have the most healthy eating habits. Once we were able to find more stable housing, I was able to cook again, but I found that my portion sizes were bigger than they had been in the past. At this point, I was eating for comfort and because it made me feel good and I felt like it was within my control. When I was nervous, I couldn’t eat so I felt like when I was able to eat that was a sign that my anxiety was under control. I didn’t realize I was eating to quell the anxiety.
In March of 2016, my husband and I were able to close on our first home. The moment of triumph was short-lived. As one part of our life flourished another failed. Our marriage was languishing and I didn’t know what to do. I was working out but I was also feeding my loneliness with food. By the summer, I was buying a whole new wardrobe because I couldn’t fit my clothing. By the fall, I was refusing to take full-length photos. As our marriage reached a crossroads, I found out I was pregnant. Becoming pregnant gave me an excuse to eat more. The insecurity, the weariness, the hurt, the fear-all of it went down well with food.
I wish I could say that I made these realizations and got professional help and began losing weight. That’s not exactly what happened. What happened instead was that before I addressed my relationship with food, I was confronted with some rather questionable decisions I had been making. Self-reflection and some intense conversations with my younger sister led me to realize that the decisions I had been making were made out of fear. Since losing everything, I had been operating under the pressure of losing again. The blow to my self-esteem during my marital issues had only exacerbated that and since then, I had been living my life as if the bottom were going to fall out beneath me. This realization made me confront my issues with food. During this same time frame, I gained 6 dress sizes. I know it was because when everything else seemed unstable, the food had given me some semblance of control. I could lose myself in taste and calories and for a long time, had no regard for the consequences.
I sat down with my husband recently and we discussed my relationship with food and what got me to this point. I felt safe doing this because we’re at a better place in our marriage than we have ever been. We both realize that my eating habits and practices have been unhealthy and that they can’t be undone overnight. I doubt that it will be as easy for me to lose six dress sizes as it was to gain them but I am now in a place where at least I can try. For 4 years, I let my self be guided by fear. I acted impulsively and ate with no regard for my health. Now, I’m putting down the fork and facing my fears. I know things won’t be easy and I know there will be days when eating would be the most comfortable and familiar thing for me to do in a world where things change frequently and without warning but that’s not how I want to live. I want to live, untethered from my table and worries, fearless and ready for the world.