This is a recycled post from 2014 with up-to-date additions in red. Today is my six year anniversary of being abstinent from sugar, flour and alcohol.
I remember the moment I realized I was fat. It was a rude awakening to hear Dave Lamb infer it on “Come Dine With Me South Africa” and I was blown away by his cheekiness.
I was in a room full of people who were watching the airing of the TV show and cheering me on, even though we all knew I hadn’t won. At the very end of the show I declared “It’s over!” to which the narrator said “It is now!” as I laughed.
We have a saying in America – “It’s not over until the fat lady sings.” I was laughing my melodic laugh, a song on most other days – Most other days where I’m not called fat on nation-wide TV.
“Does he mean I’m fat?” I cried out loud - no one knew what to say. Not even Mario.
Mario had been in one too many of these situations and it was no-win for him. He could see I was hurt and just smiled, encouraging me (as did everyone else) that it was a joke about my laugh, not a crack about my weight. Somehow I got over it, but it always stung every time I re-watched the episode. After all, I knew what the narrator meant.
|Shooting Come Dine With Me in our neighbor's backyard|
Even after the episode of Come Dine With Me aired, my eating habits didn’t change much. After all, my husband loved me madly, I had a lot of good friends who supported me, and I was still a great hostess. My family has always been very supportive of me and wanted me happy, no matter what. Weight wasn’t a factor in me being loved or feeling loved, and yet, the truth was this: I was overweight. My husband’s opinion would not change that. Neither would my family’s or my friends.
After moving back to America, I took stock. I left my personal trainer behind in South Africa, I was starting over in Sacramento, and I recognized the crossroads in front of me. I had never been ready admit to myself until April 22, 2013. On that day, I decided to get the weight off, once and for all. So, I did.
I’ll keep it off, God willing. I know the patterns that made me overweight in the first place. I have the ganas, the desire to beat back death and sickness and the lies that used to live in my brain. I am currently in the process of being transformed and restored.
I wanted to share seven powerful truths that caused this change in my head, which is really where I’ve lost the most weight:
1. I got honest with myself.
I was overweight by anyone’s standards. Even though I’d never put a lot of faith in BMI charts, they are a good place to start in determining if I was truly overweight. A healthy human adult should weigh a certain weight for the height that they are, unless they are a bodybuilder or a gymnast. I was neither.
I was overweight on most days, using most scales, during every season. The reason I was overweight wasn’t because of my genes. It wasn’t because I was fifty and had an early hysterectomy. It wasn’t because I had supreme cooking skills and a lifestyle of hosting so many people in my home.
I was overweight because I ate whatever I wanted when I wanted it. I had rules for my overeating and they made sense to me: I was allowed to splurge at parties, on special occasions, on Sundays, bar Mitvahs, etc. My permission slips to overeat were surpassed by morning-after regrets, where I stood on the bathroom scale and vowed to eat clean, healthful foods from now on. I tried to eat right, I really did. I tried every weight loss program ever, and my weight loss was temporary, returning once again, when I gave myself permission to eat what I wanted.
I actually had a deeper problem – a terrible self-image and a nagging feeling that I didn't have enough of...whatever. Overeating was only a symptom of this problem.
2. I learned about food and the power it had over me.
A person who is overweight usually has other health concerns. I had chronic asthma and took my inhaler wherever I went. I had antacids at my bedside, in the kitchen and near the TV.
When I decided to follow an eating plan that fed my body (instead of my taste buds) I started taking care of the Janet who lay dormant inside of me. I studied the body and hunger, watched movies on nutrition, shopped for organic produce and fresh, whole foods. I started paying attention to which foods satisfied me most. I added gooey things, like aloe vera and chia seeds. I measured my portions and didn't get seconds, ever. I ate three meals a day and nothing in between. I had scientific proof that the food I was eating was enough to sustain me.
The first few weeks were brutal. My emotional response was very bad and I felt “hungry” all the time. The truth of the matter was that I was coming off white sugar and white flour–I was an addict to both–and the addict inside me demanded her fix.
Most of the time I was “hungry” I was tired - I needed rest. I tried to lay down every time I was hungry. It was excruciating, but I did it. Once I admitted I was an addict, I was okay knowing that. I had to start somewhere.
3. Alcohol had to go.
Alcohol is a food. It goes into your mouth and is processed by your several systems that keep your body moving. When I decided to be honest with myself I that included that I would have to be honest about everything that I was ingesting.
I suddenly was confronted with addictive patterns that didn’t belong in my life. I had been using food and alcohol to tranquilize my pain. I never processed the pain that was causing my compulsive patterns. Food I couldn’t eliminate, but alcohol I could. I gave up the best red wine, the finest martinis and said hello to water. Tea.
And I still haven’t said goodbye to Diet Coke. A friend who has watched my transformation up close suggested that I watch a documentary on aspartame. I groaned, knowing she was right.
4. I had to process sources of pain that caused behavior I didn't want in my life.
Read that again.
If I had to be honest and weigh and measure my food, AND give up the hooch…. I had to begin a journey into the center of my soul and start dealing with emotions and pain that I didn't like talking about. The journey of processing pain, forgiving, and then moving on, is not done overnight. It's exhaustive and exhausting, but much better than plastering assorted wounds without paying attention to why they are there, and addressing why they're not going away.
The funny thing about wounds is that they cause behaviors. I was stuck in these behaviors: acting angry or wounded when someone said something wrong, carrying hurts that I didn't deserve, needing attention at inappropriate times. I had real wounds inside of me that I wasn't taking care of, and they were bubbling up into my daily life. If I had to be honest, I would have said that I don’t have time to take care of them, or I didn't know how. On top of that, I was taught that if I believed God fully, my wounds would just disappear.
I've learned how to participate in a lifestyle of healing my wounds--working together with God, so I can fully understand the process. When I do this, I am less likely hurt others that I care about.
My new lifestyle included a lot of honesty, humility and reflection. I'd lived a life that discouraged looking within too much, so I had to give myself permission to tend to my own wounds. I'm a work in process.
5. I had to be accountable to someone safe.
What would I do without friends? I have so many who are lovely and loving – they genuinely care about me. One of my friends is my official “bullshitometer” on this journey. I can squeak past most friends with my old patterns, but not her--she had recently started a similar journey herself. She had a similar moment of awakening and, like me, was confronted with painful patterns in her own life. Because of her journey, she can relate to mine. We both are becoming “filled with sanity” little by little.
Because of her, I can be honest about my deep emotions and my food battles. Even sobriety and self-awareness can’t hold a candle to the beam of the truth that comes from a good friend. She understands the truth behind the truth.
6. I have rediscovered God.
Oh, boy...confessions of a missionary. In all the years that I've “served God”--and I mean this in the most humble way--I had neglected my true love. I loved being busy doing good things, but forgotten about the reason why I was doing them. He is my first love. This rediscovery of faith has been very personal and private, but very real. It's happened with grace and with love. I'm opening the doors of rooms I'd forgotten all about, by God's grace, and have been receiving with love…true love.
I get shy talking about this, mainly because it's about such a personal thing of how I am intimate with God. I spent years running around doing things for Him, even in His name, and now I realize that He wanted only me. That’s refreshing.
7. I started practicing gratitude.
The antidote for the poison of “never having enough_____” is gratitude. It doesn't matter what you think you have too little of, gratitude is medicine. Gratitude allows us to count our blessings, be content with slow progress, and celebrate minor victories.
When I came home to the United States, I swore I would eat mounds of pizza and heaps of Mexican food. My new lifestyle is in conflict with overeating, so this hasn't happened, but I'm grateful for raw and organic foods that abound here. I'm grateful for a grandchild's smile and streams of sunshine. I have to remind myself that inhaling and exhaling are gifts I’m not entitled to. I practice loving things that before I would complain about.
I adore raw red cabbage. I love raw cauliflower. I'm grateful for beans and legumes. I've got a long list of things I can't believe are mine. I have to say it over and over again several times an hour. Thank you, God! I am grateful.
The journey has just begun, six years later, it's ongoing, but I can tell you this: It has been three months since I started a journey of being kind to myself. In those three months I have lost thirty pounds (13.6 kg’s) in six years, I've lost a total of 50 pounds - or 22 kg's, but more important than this, is that I've kept it off for six years. It's a day-by-day process, but I'm incredibly grateful. I have a graveyard of unused inhalers, I don’t even know where Mario keeps the antacids and I haven’t washed a martini glass for three months. I have not had a drink of alcohol in SIX YEARS--not one drop. Praise God!!
Instead of feeling deprived, I feel free. If I were honest, the best reward is being free. This is still true, even after six years. That revelation is an example of irony, a funny one, that makes me laugh--but now no one says that the fat lady is singing.