Girl Smarts: 'I changed my relationship with food and lost more than 100 pounds'

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'I changed my relationship with food and lost more than 100 pounds'

Despite being on the pom squad with three-hour practices each day, I went from a size seven to a size 12 in just four years.

I started gaining weight in high school-eating was a social pastime with friends, so rather than listening to what my body actually needed, I indulged more often than not.

Despite being on the pom squad with three-hour practices each day, I went from a size seven to a size 12 in just four years.

After high school, I began turning to food for comfort-eating while watching TV helped me zone out. The weight kept piling on, until one day, I didn't recognize myself in the mirror.

At first, I panicked and searched for a quick fix through the latest diets or pills. But each diet I tried inevitably failed, and each time that happened I lost a little more hope that I'd ever reach my goal weight. But all of those diets failed for the same reason: I wasn't taking care of the emotional issues behind my eating.

I hit rock bottom when I saw my daughter mirroring my kitchen habits.

At just 1 year old, she walked into the kitchen pantry, literally following in my footsteps. She would open the pantry door and just stare at the food-she was copying my own habits. It was then that I knew I had to change for my daughter's sake and future health. 

When a friend heard I was struggling, but finally ready to lose weight, she loaned me an audio tape on the Weigh Down Diet. By then, I had been on every diet imaginable, and I was skeptical. Still, I gave it a shot-and I was pleasantly surprised.

 

It addressed the emotional component of my overeating. Rather than focusing on a strict regimen of what you can't eat, the program focuses on teaching you to recognize when you're truly, physically hungry, and how to stop at the end of a meal once you're satisfied. I realized the content of the food I was eating was not the problem-it was the huge volume. I began to differentiate between actual hunger and emotional eating.

I let go of all my old diet “rules” and disgusting foods (no more rice cakes!). I was so tired of chicken breast, egg whites, and salad that it made me sick to my stomach thinking about it. So when I felt my stomach growl, I started paying attention to what my body craved.

I never deprived myself: For breakfast, I'd have a banana with Nutella or peanut butter (or, if I felt like it that day, a small chocolate chip muffin). Lunch was typically a sandwich with just a few chips; for dinner, I'd stick to a small salad with steak, salmon, or pasta, and if I ever craved dessert I'd have a few bites of something sweet like ice cream.

At my heaviest, it was difficult and painful to exercise; but as I lost weight, I actually looked forward to being active.

I started going on walks with my daughter, pushing her in her stroller in the mornings. There's a mile-long loop in my neighborhood, which was great for tracking my mileage.

But it wasn't all about getting my steps in-mainly, I focused on nature and getting outside, which really helped my mental health. I used the time to pray and get my thoughts in order for the day.

 

I made sure to stay active when I wasn't going on walks too, through doing a fun adult ballet class, mowing the lawn, or doing yard work.

After just five months of eating better and exercising more often, I lost about 30 pounds.

Weight loss was different this time because I didn't just change what I ate-I changed my relationship with food.

Since I started this journey 12 years ago, I've lost 111 pounds. Through paying attention to my body and giving it what it needed, my desires and impulses completely changed. I learned to use food as fuel, not to comfort my emotions. I am so grateful for this new focus and consider it a gift that I get to pass this new life down to my children.

Before I lost the weight I was constantly in pain, and I didn't want to get out of my car to get gas because I didn't want to be seen. I was worried what people thought of me all the time. I was lonely, depressed, and had lost my personality and who I really was. It affected my marriage and kept me from going and doing the things I really wanted to be doing.

Losing the weight has given me hope, freedom, and a whole new life.

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