I don't think I'm much of a source for sage advice, but I can at least relate to your struggle. I'm 23 also I lost 80 pounds or so in 2008-2009 (in a year and half), and gained all but 5 pounds back in 2011. I was the only overweight person in my family, and they were all so proud of me when I got thin. I started identifying with being "the small girl," to the point where I got obsessed with staying too thin for my body... Anyway, 2 years or so of restriction finally got to me, on top of the depression and anxiety that I've dealt with my whole life, and I binged daily for several months. My point is that it is extremely important to really take a look at the things that derailed you. It looks like you already have a clue of what happened -- you had a lot of emotional turmoil to deal with from a bad relationship, and then ended up in a relationship with a man who you were planning to marry and found out he cheated on you. I think that would drive a LOT of people (myself included, I think) to turn to their drug of choice. It's great that you didn't turn to alcohol, or worse, but food (especially carby food, if your oh-my-gosh binges are anything like mine) is still incredibly addictive and also tends to make emotional problems a worse instead of better. I'm sure you know that already, especially since you managed to lose >90 pounds once before, and you can't usually comfort yourself with food a lot while you're losing weight.
You can absolutely lose the weight again and keep it off. I have lost a little over 20 pounds since regaining all that weight, which is less than a quarter pound a week and perhaps not a total "success," but I don't feel like I'm hanging on for dear life and about to lose control at any second, like I did when I lost all the weight the first time. The thing that has helped me the most is something that I borrowed from Intuitive Eating- mindfulness. When I enter binge-mode, I generally turn my mind mostly off, which is a big part of the allure of bingeing in the first place. So, I made a commitment to myself to stay mindful when I eat junky food or a large quantity of food. I'm still "allowed" to do it (and believe me, I still do it sometimes), but I have to pay attention to how it tastes, how it makes me feel when I eat it, and how I feel in the following hours. Since I usually feel crappy enough as it is, being overweight and depressed/anxious without medication, I am really starting to prioritize avoiding things that make me feel even worse. It turns out that this is a better motivator to me than just wanting to be thin. After all, I was under 100 pounds for over a year and I was still depressed and anxious, even more so because I put so much pressure on myself to have perfect self control. So, now, I'm trying to exercise self-compassion instead of berating myself like a sadistic drill sergeant. I pay attention to how good my body feels after I go to the gym, and I think, I deserve to feel good like that, and so that helps motivate me to work out. Sometimes I daydream about eating a pint of Ben & Jerry's, but now the daydreams are usually cut short because they are accompanied by the feelings of sluggishness and depression that I know would come after consuming that much sugar.
I guess my main advice is to really try to be kind to yourself (which includes your future-self, whose fate is being decided by every action you take in the present), and focus on small improvements in your daily routine instead of the big picture of needing to lose 90+ pounds again. I don't think you necessarily have to get to a certain number on the scale to start being the person you want to be, so my last piece of advice is to NOT put your life on hold while you lose weight. That's easier said than done, and it's pretty vague because I don't know what types of things really make you happy... but I just wanted to say that your weight does not define you or how good/successful you are. You're not a statistic. You seem like a lovely person, and I have faith in you.
Good luck with your journey.
“Be not afraid of going slowly, be afraid only of standing still.” -Chinese proverb
I wanted to also write in and say I am 23 too! I understand how you feel about not feeling supported by those around you, I do not have friends or family in my "real life" to turn to about these issues. I am engaged and my fiance does not understand my struggles with weight. Since we've moved in together, he has gotten better with it, but it's hard for someone who has a healthy relationship with food to understand the plight of someone who doesn't.
I understand the bingeing thing too. I am currently on my first month of topamax to try and combat the issue myself. This community has been an IMMENSE help to me. I have been here for almost a year and check in almost daily. I don't always write, but I read almost every thread. It is so helpful.
You are not alone. People do not understand food addiction like other addictions because we need to eat. Drugs and alcohol are different. Those are avoidable. Humans do not need them to survive. We need food to survive. It's our sustenance. Best of luck and please come here to write often and check in as much as you need.
I have a similar story to yours. I have been obese my entire life. At the age of 20 to 21 I dropped a lot of weight. I went from well over 300 pounds to 217, which was skinny for me. I was already in a relationship and we were engaged for over a year. I lost all the weight while we were together. Unfortunately we had a lot of issues, so I decided it was over, but then I found out I was pregnant. I stayed with him through the pregnancy hoping it would get better, but if anything it got worse. I gained weight through the pregnancy of course, but I kept gaining after I had my daughter. I broke off the engagement shortly after she was born and became a single mom at the age of 22. Even though I was slowly gaining weight I was NEVER going to get to 300 pounds again. I swore to myself that under no circumstances would I let that happen. Well it took many years, but by the time I was 34, and a single mom of two kids now, I weighed 336 pounds (that's the highest weight my doctor had on record for me, but who knows if it's actually my highest weight). I was so depressed and cried all the time. During my early thirties I had to have radiation on my thyroid which caused me to have hypothyroidism and I was also diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. They put me on steroids for the RA, which helped the arthritis but caused increased appetite. I was in horrible shape physically and emotionally. I finally had had enough and decided I had to do something. My doctor took me off the steroids and put me on an antidepressant, along with a lot of other meds for my RA and hypothyroidism. I quit smoking and decided to diet. The first diet I was successful at was the Atkins diet. I dropped 86 pounds or so in about a year, but then I hit a plateau and decided to try weight watchers. Unfortunately through the holidays in 2012 I went totally off my diet and by June of this year had gained about 25 pounds back. Luckily the girls here at work all wanted to do a weight loss challenge and I finally got back on track. After the first 10-week challenge I lost all the weight I had gained. We waited a week and started another challenge and we already have the next one lined up as well. During the first challenge, as a group, we lost over 100 pounds! It was just what we all needed. Money is a big motivator for me I started out doing the Atkins diet again, but this go round I'm trying weight watchers. I know they both work as long as you stick with them. I started zumba in February and I'm doing 1-hour classes 4 days a week. I've met new people and I really enjoy it.
I'm sorry. I didn't intend to write a book. I only wanted you to know that you're not alone. I know what it's like to have everyone be so proud of you for all the weight you lost and then feel ashamed because you gained it all back. At least you didn't wait until you were in your thirties to decide to do something about it. You can do anything you set your mind to. Don't beat yourself up for gaining the weight back. Just take it one day at a time. This forum is a great place to go for advice and support. I've really enjoyed it and it has helped me through some tough days.
I was on the Atkins diet from July 2011 to October 2012 and I lost 73 pounds. October 15, 2012 started WW's and got down to 255. Gained 25 pounds through the holidays, but got back on track June 2013. Got off track through the holidays again and gained back 10+ pounds
I will continue my journey to the end, no matter how long that takes.
Hamoco350, something to think about: the harder you fall, the more likely you'll truly succeed. Call it hitting bottom. It sounds like you've gotten to a point where you just can't take it anymore. You'll do what it takes to stop suffering, even if that means enduring some suffering...as long as it pays off. Why suffer for no reward? I truly believe there's a way to really stop all of this, once and for all.
I also believe there's value in being obese. This struggle can teach you something that someone with a size 2 body might never have the opportunity to learn. It's a tough lesson, but at the end of the day, you know you use food to avoid pain. It's written on your body, clear as day, and the solution is simple: face pain. Stand and face it, stop running away and hiding from the things that hurt.
Denial of emotional pain is like an onion that keeps getting bigger, with more and more layers added to it. The onion is your body - every pound is equal to an emotion un-experienced. Us over-eaters carry our anger and sadness on our sleeve. When you look in the mirror, tell yourself this - instead of berating yourself, remind yourself that you hurt, and it's just showing on the outside for now. That's kindness toward yourself.
How angry are you about this? Be angry. Look piercingly at it, drill into your current emotion...like the game of chicken, see which one looks away first. Don't be the one to lose. The anger (or fear or sadness, whatever) will look away eventually, I guarantee. The anger in your belly will melt away along with the fat. The layers of the onion getting peeled, over and over and over, until at some point you see what was once real, genuinely you. And it's a big onion, trust me...feeling emotions is a tough thing when it seems like they just.never.go.away, and there are so many of them - caused by so many different things, so many wrong perceptions, so many things in the past, too much worry about the future. It can take a long, long time (or what seems like a long time) to start to feel better, and to really get it - to understand that there's food and then there's feelings, and never the twain should meet. A growling stomach should drive you to eat, nothing else.
What do you do with all that anger and emotion? Walk. Take up boxing. Run (not to be confused with running away), lift weights. The energy that's locked into your body will move out as you process pain during your activity. As you work out, experience yourself. What are you feeling? Stare it down. Feel your muscles burn, don't pretend they don't. It hurts, but it feels oh-so-good.
Denial is a tough thing. How do you know you're in denial, when you're in denial?? Try not eating. What does that feel like? Do you freak out? Do you get butterflies and anxiety, start to sweat, want to run? Feel that. Don't eat it away. Don't run away from it. Be prepared for a fight. What if you know you're going to a party with lots of food - do you freak out? Feel that. Stand your ground, don't run. Feel it and feel it and feel it until the wave of emotion washes over you and the swell surges and then fades away. In that moment, the craving will cease. The drive and compulsion will end.
I am not saying to stop eating. I'm saying - only eat when your stomach is growling. Understand hunger and fullness. Get to know it. I could write another whole post on those 2 subjects alone. How hungry should you be? Hungry enough to be sure you're stomach-hungry and not just compulsive. If that means saying no for hours, don't worry - temporary hunger won't kill you and you won't turn into an anorexic through this process. Be *certain* that your stomach is doing the asking. If you feel obsessed with the food, feel the feeling of the obsession. Pay attention to it deeply until you understand what it's telling you. Being afraid to leave the house without eating is not an excuse to eat. If you get hungry in transit, you won't die. If you fear it, feel your fear. Stare it down.
Is this hard? To do all the time? Yes. But it's harder to be in denial and pretend you're someone you're not. Do this and not only will you lose weight, but you'll lose the pretense - you'll meet You for the first time. It's amazing. Trust me on this.
Peccavi had some wise words. Especially this: "I don't think you necessarily have to get to a certain number on the scale to start being the person you want to be, so my last piece of advice is to NOT put your life on hold while you lose weight." What this meant for me is learning to appreciate myself in little ways, learning to do things I enjoyed - small things. For example, I hated the way I looked, so I wouldn't put any effort into my appearance. I thought, "why bother?" Then I learned that I cared about myself. I may not like my appearance sometimes, but there were times that I did. Sometimes I would look in the mirror and see a thing of beauty. I used to be ashamed of liking my appearance, as if to appreciate your own beauty is morally unacceptable, a slight to all other women out there. I decided finally, to hold onto what I liked, and not worry what other women might think of my high opinion. It was mine and it was precious. Sometimes, I would get discouraged by a photograph or a sideways glance in a mirror, but instead of throwing away the baby with the bathwater, I decided I would still appreciate the little moments where beauty revealed itself. I started to appreciate the things my body did for me, rather than the things it didn't do. I started to enjoy myself - did my hair a little better, ironed my clothes a little more, now I'm wearing earrings again. I realized I actually like earrings. They're pretty. Even if that evil photograph says I'm a horrible-looking slob, I still deserve some pretty earrings.
I hope, hope, hope this helps you (or someone out there). I learned a lot on my own journey and am just dying to share it. Good luck.
Your post was heartfelt and vividly expressed. I think everyone here knows just how you feel. As much as possible, try not to dwell on what's done. Just look forward. The fact that you regained the weight this time does not mean you're destined to do it again. Perhaps one of the things you can work on developing is a set of new strategies to cope with life's inevitable bruises. It's not easy for any of us, but ultimately doable.
This forum is full of smart, supportive people. Keep posting.
You need to learn to love yourself. I'm glad you got out of those horrible relationships because there are some great men out there. A lot of use have been through the losing weight, gaining it back. I made it to goal, and gained 40is lbs because of becoming happy. Now SO and I are on this journey together.
Hamoco, I've been following up on some of the threads I posted in, and I saw this. Hope you check back also so you can see that I did see your post! I don't have instant messenger, never really used that. Maybe I'll try to set it up later.
Anyway, I'm so glad that something I said may have clicked for you! I feel like I'm expressing so many things all at one time, which may be a bit overwhelming, a little nutty, and somewhat know-it-all. Honestly, it's probably all projection. By no means do I want to be a know-it-all, and I really hope I don't come off that way too much. At the end of the day, I bleed for us women - knowing that I'm not the only one having gone through this vicious cycle over and over again. It’s torture, in a way. And if anything I say can help, then yippee! Really, if I could shout from the mountaintops about how wonderful we all are, I probably would...I would shout that we are not the measure of our behaviors or of our appearance or accomplishments. We are bigger than that. To be bigger on the inside means you don't have to be bigger on the outside.
I will tell you something new I've learned (this is all new to me too) - I go on and on about feeling feelings and honing in on them. But, I think it may be more about being aware of feelings and then letting them go. I think I maybe had to go through the first step to get to the next step, if that makes sense. Without knowing I had feelings, actually experiencing them on a real level, I couldn't really let them go because that just turned them into denial. I had to acknowledge, accept, then let go. In truth, now I meditate (thanks to Desiderata pointing me in a certain direction - read some of her posts also). I am the center, thoughts and feelings and sensations come up, I catch, then release. In my near-moment of stress, I catch and release (basically saying to myself, don't make a big deal of this moment – acknowledge the feeling, but don't "identify" with it). This is just my practice right now, and it could change tomorrow. But, I think meditation and self-compassion are the keys to this whole journey.
Hopefully we can connect directly sometime. Keep posting for now!!
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