Thursday, April 15, 2010

Therapy Session

Ok, so there are a couple of things I’ve been thinking about. First, the concept of a “free” day. I’m really scared to allow myself to do something like this for fear that I won’t be able to get back on track. But, the thing is that on the weekends, my husband and I like to do things around town and often those things we like to do involve food and drink. We eat out at restaurants at least once per week, where I generally let myself order whatever sounds best. And I see now where that habit has gotten me. So, I’m kind of torn between wanting to live a normal life, enjoying eating out once a week and wanting to be strict about following my plan. What I’ve decided is that instead of a “free” day, I will have a “free” meal – one meal per week that I don’t have to track if I don’t want to. And if, down the road, I find that this isn’t working for me, I can make adjustments then.

The second thing I’ve been mulling isn’t quite as easy. I really want to understand why I let myself get this way. It’s not as if I woke up one morning and I was fat all of a sudden. I have a whole lifetime of memories about my weight/body image:

· Age 11 – become self-conscious of my large breasts
· Age 12-13 – I have a memory of standing in my bra and underwear in front of my mirror and thinking that maybe I had a pretty good body, but could probably lose a few pounds
· Age 14 (~140) – wanted to lose 15 pounds so I could wear a body suit like my tiny best friend
· Age 15 (~145) – wore a corset under my homecoming dress, worried my date would feel it
· Age 16 (~160)– first time on a formal weight loss program (Jenny Craig) – the center closed after I had been on the plan for a few months - I resumed my unhealthy habits
· Age 17 (~170)– first love called me “chubby” during a make-out session, broke my heart 1 month later (still not entirely over it)
· Age 18 (~180)– first year of college, I tried not eating for two weeks by claiming I “just wasn’t feeling hungry”, lost a pants size and resumed eating
· Age 22 – (~180) senior year of college, I resolved to lose 50 lbs before graduation to look good when my dad saw me for the first time in 9 years. Didn’t follow through.
· Post college (~180)– started and stopped WW at least 4 times with no significant progress
· Wedding – lost 25 lbs right before my wedding ( 155 lowest weight since age 16)

And now, since my wedding (4 years ago), I’ve gained 50 lbs.

So, why didn’t any of the previous times I’ve lost weight (or thought about losing it) work? My first instinct is that I’m lazy, but I don’t suppose that is a very good answer. Is there something more than that?

I do have a theory, but first I should share a couple of things – 1) I have really bad skin. The kind of acne that gets you pity stares in public. It’s a million times better now than in high school and college, but still it’s pretty embarrassing to be getting teenager zits when you are in your early 30’s. I will never forget the time when I flew home to visit my mom after college and when I got off the plane, the first thing she said to me was, “What happened to your face?” Thanks, mom. Missed you too. 2) I hate my breasts and always have. I think they are obscene and ugly. I’m not really sure who thinks that girls with big boobs like them, but it seemed that everyone thought that they were just grand, and I should be so grateful for them. But, I hated them. And since I was so overly sensitive about them, my good friends teased me about it in high school.

So, this is my theory: I was an only child raised by a single mom and around the time I was 11 or 12, she got a boyfriend (who I didn’t get along with) and I became extremely isolated and lonely. To comfort myself, I would come home from school and make cinnamon toast and milk. I’d start with two slices and eventually worked my way up to eating almost a whole loaf of bread in one sitting. I think that this is how food first became my “friend”. I learned to associate food with my emotions. And I think this was right around the time that I was pretty uncomfortable with people noticing me (my face and my boobs), and so I think that I kept on eating for comfort, and built up this little protective shell all around me. And I think I got really emotionally comfortable in my shell and I carved out a personality for myself which revolved around being the fat girl – being the girl who wanted things, but never got them; the girl who stared things but never finished them. I see this not only in my weight issue, but in my career, and my relationships as well.

I think that my relationship with my parents is also a factor in all of this. Not that I’m blaming them, because I’m an adult now and I make the decisions about my health, but I think these aspects are important to note. I don’t have a relationship with my father and have felt that he didn’t love me because I wasn’t good enough. My relationship with my mother is complicated and probably not healthy, and I place a lot of blame on her for the decisions she made when I was growing up. But the crux of it is that I’ve never gotten any optimism out of either of my parents – never any sense of “you can be or do anything that you want without judgment”.

So that’s my theory right now. I still don’t really understand how this emotional stuff gets all twisted around in the brain, but I guess no one really does. It’s really scary to think about unraveling the self-image I’ve had for at least 20 years – and it’s really terrifying to think that one day, food won’t be my comfort anymore. I feel sad about it – isn’t it crazy? I actually feel sad thinking that one day I’ll be so healthy that binging on pizza won’t make me feel safe and cozy.

Well, this has been a great therapy session – sorry for the super long post, but I needed it. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

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