I posted this in the intro section but after reading through several sub-groups, this is where I fit in.
My name is Cathy. I have a long (long) history with food issues and dieting. For me food has been a substance and I'm in recovery from binge eating and bulimia. I have been as high as 285# and as low as 208# in the past 20 years. Mostly I seem to hover around the 250-260# area, weight left over from the binge eating and then merely overeating in the past 30 years in response to many triggers, the least trigger of all being actual hunger. I've gained and lost hundreds of pounds over those years on various diets both crazy and sound.
I have a crazy family with some being saner than others. One would think that at age 50+ I'd be over family issues and I am mostly. I could write a book on "How to Build a Fat Person." as I am partially the product of my mother's own body image and food issues.
I come from a long line of beauty conscious and appearance obsessed people on my mom's side. Fat was/is taboo. Anyone not slender was expected to "take care of it" even people of a normal, healthy weight that were built strong and fit. I came out of the womb as a sturdy (not fat) child and was subjected to diets and struggles for control over my body and appearance from around age 5. Every meal was a battleground, every clothes shopping trip a nightmare, every haircut or perm a disaster.
I learned to hate my body that betrayed me with it's needs and imperfections and began to live in my head as a young girl, well before puberty when that type of thing normally occurs. I used to hear nearly every day growing up that I could be "Miss America" if I lost weight, curl my hair, blah, blah, blah. What no one, myself included, stopped to consider was whether I wanted to be "Miss America" or whether that goal in itself was even a worthy one. As it turns out, I am a very reluctant "beauty".
I began sneaking food at a young age, at first because I was hungry, then because it helped provide comfort and fill emotional voids in our unkind household. Fortunately I was athletic and my physical activity countered my eating issues. My problems with weight gain began when I entered the work world and could no longer be as active. I countered the weight gain with crazy fad diets that kept my weight at least in proportion though 20 pounds heavier than I was in my teens.
In 1985 I had a disastrous encounter with quid pro quo sexual harassment with my young male trainer at work. I started bingeing to relieve the stress because in my very male dominated para-military profession, 1985 was the stone age. There were no reporting venues and those that did attempt to report via the chain of command were subjected to systemic retaliation for breaking the good old boy code. So I kept my head down and resisted at work and binged at home knowing subconsciously that a fat girl would not present such a target for predatory men. I didn't like what I was beginning to look like though (having fully assimilated my family's lookism towards myself) and I was outgrowing my wardrobe at a rapid pace so I began purging. Ultimately purging became unsustainable but I was stuck with my bingeing habit to relieve stress.
I binged for 4-5 years and gained roughly 100 pounds. Naturally I was ashamed of my appearance and my family was as well. I received tons of advice, meddling, controlling behaviors and distancing every time I went home for whatever holiday, funeral, reunion that called me back. I was fine with the distancing part and eventually found that my 100 extra pounds was an effective FU to my shallow family, (in the end a big FU to myself as well) a way of keeping visible "in your face" but counterproductive control over my own body. I met my lovely husband who accepted me as I was in 1989 right after an especially terrible spate of binges that left me afraid for my life and I was able to stop the bingeing at roughly that time and went to plain old compulsive overeating instead.
Since then I have been ineffectively dieting periodically, trying different programs veering between "control" and less than stellar eating. I found myself diagnosed as a Type II diabetic in 1997 and have not been able to incorporate enough long term changes in my lifestyle to go off medication. In fact the dosage has gone up as the disease progresses. Throughout I've been very active, almost fit really, only avoiding very strenuous activity like mountain hiking. Being fat has been useful to me in many ways until recently where middle age has taken care of the predatory male and high visibility issues and I no longer need or want the FU fat.
Two years ago a family secret was revealed to me in a wine fueled moment by my mother and I was driven right into therapy by it. Suddenly everything made sense but it was too big of a ball of wax to deal with by myself. I spent that spring and summer afterward in therapy unwinding the knots that comprised my life and my beliefs about myself and my family. Issues have slowly been sorting themselves out over time since then. One of those issues is that of food and eating.
Now I find myself not
waking in the morning plotting, planning, thinking of the things I can eat. What a victory! I realize that for me it will not be a program or a diet but rather a process of mindfulness somewhat akin to prayer to feel real hunger, eat with gratitude those things that are generally good for me, stop when I'm full and keep "treats" in their place. No rule or diet will cure what ails me in particular. I found a book (I always find things when I'm ready for them) called Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth and it speaks to my particular issues directly.
I am here looking for community. Most dieters that haven't wrestled with addictive behaviors like bingeing/purging will not be able to relate to this. Since my food knot started to unwind, I've lost roughly 25 pounds over the summer without trying really. I look forward to meeting new online friends to talk with about these things. As accepting as my husband is, he can eat anything and stay within bounds of normal and he tries, but he can't really understand or relate.
Thanks for reading.