FAT – and not the good kind

Free Kefir Recipe eBook from Cultures for Health

Things have been quiet around the ol’ blog lately, and while I’m sure none of you has been pining away wondering “where oh where has Erin gone,” it weighs on me when I go so long without posting. Summer is a busy time, particularly when there are motorcycles involved. The garden is largely in tatters (thanks to deer and groundhogs) or overgrown to hell and gone (thanks to an abundant crop of weeds.)

But rather than homesteady/failure posts today, I want to tell you about something I’ve been very very good at doing for a long time.

The primary thing I have been doing for, oh, about the last five years is getting fat.  While I have struggled with weight previously, I managed to get down to my ideal weight and into pretty good shape in my mid-thirties. Apathy and procrastination led to the weight all coming back – Every Last Damn Pound, and then some.

Let me show you a progression. Please note, I loathe having my photo taken. I am no good at looking like a normal human when someone is pointing a camera at me.

Spring, 2003 – The Starting Point

Looking at this photo, it doesn’t seem possible I weighed 200 pounds – but I was close.

Spring, 2004

This is me at about 155 – 160 pounds, right where I should be. It was the product of running two miles three times a week, and religiously adhering to the Weight Watchers Points system the summer before. I kept all of the weight off for a little less than 2 years, maybe.

Winter, 2004

Still doing ok here.

Summer, 2005

It’s creeping back on, but slowly.

Fall, 2005

By this point, my face was definitely fuller, and I was having a harder time fitting into my clubbing clothes.

2005 and 2006 were rough years in many ways, and I became pretty severely depressed. I stopped exercising, lost my physically-active job, and ate much worse. I had been vegetarian for a few years by then, but was eating a ton of pasta, pastries, et cetera. By the end of 2006, I was back in plus-sized clothing.

Fall, 2006

Spring, 2008

I had managed to get a bit of the weight back off again, but it was very, very temporary.

Spring, 2009

Spring, 2010

The Engineir had asked me for a photo to put on his desk at work. This was the best I could manage.

Winter, 2011

Summer, 2012

This was on our first wedding anniversary last week.

Last year, I decided to have a go at getting back into shape, for, while “round” is a shape, I know it’s causing more strain on my body than an optimal weight would. I bicycled about 100 miles per week all summer long… and lost pretty much nothing. I understand muscle weighs more than fat, but I didn’t lose a single pants size. Infuriating!

It’s as if my metabolism has said, “EFF YOU, lady!” Or, as the lovely and talented Valerie Whitmore said, “apparently my metabolism and I had a falling out because it just plain packed its bags and left.” Ah, the wonders of middle age!

In terms of overall health, I’m in good shape. I haven’t had a cold or flu since given up gluten over two years ago, and I rarely get any other sort of “sick.” However, my joints are definitely having more strain from all the extra weight, and my back is getting unhappy. When I went to the chiropractor last week about a pinched nerve/muscle spasm in my lower back, the first thing he recommended was breast reduction surgery. Ugh.

On the whole, most of what I eat is healthy – primarily whole, unprocessed foods made here at home. With summer in full swing, we have salads almost every single night (and I use a homemade balsamic vinegar/oil dressing.) My chief concern is how much I eat. It doesn’t matter if the foods coming in are all healthy and wonderful and full of awesomeness – if I’m eating two times more than I should, I’m going to get heavier.

Food and I have had a complicated, obsessive relationship for my entire life. It doesn’t matter if I’m “full,” my brain wants more more more. I know some people will roll their eyes at this analogy, but it’s like an addiction and I obviously can’t just quit eating cold-turkey.

“Obesity has long been blamed on weak willpower, overeating, genetics and lack of exercise.

Now scientists increasingly are seeing signs that suggest there may be an additional contributor: food addiction.

Recent research suggests that people can become dependent on highly palatable foods and engage in a compulsive pattern of consumption, similar to the behaviours we observe in drug addicts and those with alcoholism.

So, how does it happen? We all reward ourselves with treats, but food addicts overdo the comfort eating. Their brains become trained to see some foods as quick-fix mood boosters and suddenly they’re hooked.” – eMed

How many alcoholics are successful if they try to drink in moderation? Heroin addicts who just shoot up on “on special occasions?” Some, but not many. Addiction is a bitch.

While the side-effects of food addiction are certainly less devastating than drug or alcohol addictions, it still comes with its own host of health and emotional issues.Most of the problem is grappling with the compulsive need to shove food into my face. I’m not conscious of eating really fast, but twice in the last week, The Engineir has said, “you eat a lot faster than I do.” I’m sure he didn’t mean it the way I took it, but it was still a bit jarring. And it’s true.

Part of the problem is confusing thirst with hunger; I only rarely am conscious of being “thirsty,” and instead reach for a snack (this isn’t uncommon from what I understand.) Thus, I’ve made an effort lately to drink more liquids. Not being a fan of plain water, this can prove a challenge, but I usually add some lemon juice, drink water kefir or kombucha, have a glass of milk, or on rare occasion make a glass of SodaStream soda.

So. I’m going to do something about this, and I’m telling you guys so I have some accountability.

As I finish this post, I weigh 212.8 pounds and have a BMI of 34.2.

It’s really hard to put that number out there for people to see. I also took a photo of myself in my bra and underwear this morning, from which I will spare you (I know you’re counting your lucky stars right now) so I’ll have something I can look back upon and say, “wow, yeah – there really has been a visible change.” Or, at least, so I hope.


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12 responses to FAT – and not the good kind

  1. It’s a bitch fighting food love. K and I both are gourmets who enjoy finding amazing combinations of spice and seasonings with quality ingredients, and then I help myself to a second large plate. Ugh. I’ve been taking all the steps to start bring it in check…cutting out basically all sugar, drinking lots more water, replaced the desk chair with the exercise ball, etc. It’s coming off, very slowly, but it’s coming off.

    It’s not enough to diet. Your fundamental lifestyle and approach to food has to change, and that’s the hardest part of all. Good luck!

    • Erin D.

      It’s really hard to just Not Eat the Delicious Food. It seems like such a simple matter of willpower/discipline, but it’s more than that. Good job on the changes you’ve made so far, man. 🙂

  2. Ginny

    I’m a food addict too. My metabolism also said EFF YOU, Lady! and flipped me the bird and took off right around 35. I did some good work last summer, but then gained it all back and then some. So, all that to say I’m with you… wishin you the best!

    • Erin D.

      Thanks Ginny! It’s really frustrating to work hard, have it come off, then try to do it again and *completely* fail. I’m hoping my plan will see some quick initial results that will give me the motivation to keep at it. 🙂

  3. Mary

    I understand what you mean about food addictions. Food makes me happy…plain and simple. I have tried to think of food as sustenance to survive and nothing more, but it is hard. Every good emotion I have revolves around food (birthday parties, rewards for good behavior, holidays, etc). I’ve been to Weight Watchers…I lost the weight and gained it back plus 10 lbs. I watched my mom roller coaster with her weight and it is very depressing to watch. I didn’t want to do that. I started sparkpeople.com not long after I met Jim (about 4 years ago) and managed to lose 30lbs, but I haven’t been able to take off the last 30lbs since. It is frustrating because I know to be healthy I have to manage my weight and right now my weight is managing me. I don’t have any advice to offer, just encouragement because I am in the same boat as you. Hopefully we can both get to our healthy weights because I am tired of being fat too. 🙂

    • Erin D.

      Gosh, Mary – when I look at you, I really don’t see “a heavy person” at all, but I understand what it’s like to have personal goals that aren’t being met as easily as we’d like!

      I completely relate to All The Good Stuff revolving around food! Me too. We can totally support each other doing this!

  4. heather b.

    I am right where you are – I have been addicted to food since childhood: the texture, the taste, the experience, and needing to try everything…I became aware recently that it’s not enough just to taste something good, I need to get as much of it inside me as possible, and quickly – I realized that when I do this I’m not even tasting or enjoying the food anymore, I’m just cramming it in like a desperate crazy person – I also used a plan several years ago where I lost 40 pounds and kept it off for quite a while, only to see it all return in the past year or so (new relationship fat!) – I’ve recently tried several different methods to lose weight and any results have been short-lived, and also extra weight on top of my original start weight – It’s maddening – This morning I weighed almost exactly the same as you reported above, and I’m several inches shorter than you to boot! Let’s keep track of each other – I know we’re across the country but it is motivating to know someone else is going through the same thing! xohb.

    • Erin D.

      Heather, I had to laugh when I saw your Facebook comment about having babies and withstanding potato famines! I had utterly forgotten about that, thanks. 😀

      I’m right with you on how you’re eating – just more more more, even beyond the point where I’m consciously enjoying things. It’s just this compulsion to stuff food in my face. Paging Dr. Freud, Dr. Freud to the white courtesy phone, please…

      I get heavier when I’m happy, I get heavier when I’m depressed, because it all centers around food.

      Mary had said something on FaceBook about starting a support group – we should definitely do this. 🙂

      Speaking of you, I found that nail polish color page we made waayyyy back when. 😀


  5. Chris D

    I’m starting to feel some of those mental “want food” games. One thing that has helped me is that I almost always drink water, and now it’s my beverage of choice. Maybe it’s a taste that can be acquired? When I am at work, I have a 1 liter bottle of water with me at all times, and I try to drink at least one full liter while I’m there (more if possible).

    I hope you are able to get tweak yourself so your behavior is less extreme.

    • Erin D.

      Hi Chris! Wow, nice to hear from you. 🙂

      I hope an appreciation for water can be acquired – I’m not there yet, though. For now, I’m mostly drinking herbal iced teas, or water with a little lemon juice and stevia tossed in.

      Thanks for your thoughts!

  6. Judith

    I like the taste of some bottled waters more than tap, and recognized it as sodium bicarbonate (“mineral” water, ahah!) So now I keep a jug in the fridge with a VERY tiny sprinkle of bicarb. Takes the blah off just enough without adding significant sodium.

    • Erin D.

      Interesting! I had no idea they put baking soda into water and called it “mineral water,” but I suppose that makes sense.

      Maybe I’ll give that a shot tomorrow – thank you, Judith!

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