Thursday, May 8, 2014

A Moment of Total Transparency

So, you all know my story - weighed 300 pounds, found a great doctor who put me on the diet that finally answered my weight-loss questions, lost 88 pounds and basically looked smokin' hot. I still had a ways to go, but dang, I was workin' it.

And then things happened. A long series of things. I broke my foot, and because I couldn't stand on one foot and cook my healthy meals from scratch, my husband got me some prepackaged food that I could make from my wheelchair. That's when it all started, when I started making excuses. Excuse after excuse later, here I am, having gained back half the weight I lost.

And I'm ashamed of myself for it.

At a writers conference about a year and a half ago, a woman came up to me and said, "Well, you still look good," like she'd expected that I'd lose all that weight and then gain it back. At the time, I was peeved. And now, I have to shake my head and admit that she was right.

Why? Why did I gain so much of it back when I'd been so excited to lose it in the first place? I'd been looking for my answer for years and when I finally found it, I should have clung on to it and loved it and been faithful to it forever. But I didn't. Why?

I've been thinking about this a lot. A whole lot. I've been trying to figure it out because I'm not happy with myself. I feel like a failure - yes, like a big fat failure. I had all the answers, I was able to inspire others, and did I mention that I looked smokin' hot - and yet I dropped the ball. Why? Why would I sabotage myself like that?

We'll start with the easy answers first. For starters, this diet that worked so many miracles for me is really hard to maintain. It's a no-grain, no-sugar, high-protein, high-vegetable diet, and when you love food as much as I do, it's hard to be strict. And yet, my body has to be strict in order to lose weight. That was the key I was missing for so many years. When you eat this way, you're hungry all the time because you metabolize so fast, and so therefore, you're cooking all the time because no prepared foods match the requirements of the diet.

Second was the fact that I was doing it for the wrong reasons. My doctor had literally saved my son's life, so I felt that I owed it to him to lose this weight, which he wanted me to do. It's kind of a crazy way of looking at it - my doctor wanted me to lose weight for my own health, and yet I thought I was thanking him by losing weight. That's a codependent mindset, by the way, which is another issue I'm working on. But anyway, I didn't lose the weight for me. I lost it for him.

Last fall, I had a miscarriage. I was only a month along, but it was deeply, deeply disappointing because my husband and I wanted that child so badly. All four of our kids were so excited to welcome another little Pinkston into the clan. But something wasn't right from the very start - I started having Braxton Hicks almost as soon as I conceived and I put myself on bed rest, and then I miscarried. If the baby had been healthy, I would have carried it to term - I wasn't overdoing it in any way. It just wasn't meant to be. But that didn't make it hurt less.

After the miscarriage, I told my doctor I needed a break. I was so tired of trying to get the weight back off and be good and please everyone - I just had to step back and think about myself. He readily agreed, and for the last six months, I've pretty much done my own thing without thinking about dieting or exercise or any of it. I've allowed myself to grieve the loss of the baby, although it's not something that has a definite end, and I'm coming to some conclusions about myself and my life that are really important.

Some of them I won't share here because they're too personal or might involve others. But I will share that because food has always meant security to me, restricting my food makes me panic. I feel better when my rules and regulations are a little looser, and then I can choose for myself how strictly I want to live. Additionally, food means comfort, as it does for many other people. When I'm sad or upset, if there isn't something "good" to eat, again, I start to panic, like I won't be able to control my feelings.

I had an important realization the other night. I was watching Star Trek: Into Darkness, the scene where Spock is explaining to Uhura that Vulcans do have feelings - their feelings are so deep and so overwhelming that they must make the choice to bury them or they'll be consumed. This is exactly how I feel. I'm such an emotional person that if I don't keep a tight, tight lid on every feeling, I feel like I'm going to spin out of control. And I've been doing it for so long that I don't know how to stop.

To a person who doesn't have food issues, this probably sounds goofy. But it's actually pretty common. There are many, many people who can't feel emotional wellness without food. They either don't have the tools to do it or it's so encoded in them from their pasts that they, like me, panic. When I was living the diet before, I was analyzing everything I ate, feeling guilty if I "cheated", felt panic if there wasn't something healthy immediately available, and basically drove myself crazy. I looked awesome, but internally, I was a mess. This wasn't my doctor's fault at all - this was me being codependent and emotionally addicted to food for my sanity.

To go back to a previous point, I was also using the wrong motivation. I was losing weight to please my doctor, and then I decided that I should lose weight to have a healthier baby. When I lost the baby, it felt like, "So I did all that for nothing." I didn't have the motivation anymore. If I'm going to miscarry while I'm eating healthy, why eat healthy? I just haven't had my head on right, and then I felt resentful of everyone who wanted me to lose weight.

You've seen me post a lot of "I"m getting back in the saddle" types of posts. Each time, I thought I'd figured it out, that I had the secret, that I was now going to be "good" again. And each time, I was wrong because my emotions were in charge, and not my brain. I wanted my brain to be in charge, but when your emotions are so strong, so overwhelming, they will control you no matter what you do.

Today is different. Today is different because I'm not saying "I'm back in the saddle" or making any promises whatsoever. Today I'm learning how to decide for myself how to approach this. I'm going back on the diet because I know it's right for my body, but I need to figure out how to make it work for me emotionally. I need to honor who I am and what I've been through without allowing the opinions of others to sway me.

And I need to find a new motivation, one that is based solely on me. If I do it for my doctor, I resent my doctor. If I do it for a pregnancy, I resent the pregnancy. I can only do it for me, according to what my soul is telling me, and it's telling me that I want to feel good about myself again. I loved putting on those size large clothes after wearing a 3X for so long. I loved watching people's eyes bug out of their heads when they saw how awesome I looked, and I appreciated how I was treated as more of a professional because no one was getting hung up on how fat I was. I could just be me and do what I needed to do.

So there you have it, where I'm coming from right now. I've been eating a baked yam and drinking lemon water while I wrote this, two very healthy choices, and I feel good about them. Later I might grab some chocolate - I don't know. My task is to find my balance, the one that makes me happy physically and emotionally. The one that tells me I can do this.

I want to thank all of you for cheering me on during this process. I had no idea what a journey of self-discovery it was going to become. I've had to face some dark inner demons and issues from my past, and it's been difficult to look at them square in the face. But it's part of healing. It's part of what I need to do.

I realized this morning that for many of us, the body's outward appearance reflects the soul's inner condition. I'm working on my soul, and that will translate into the health of my body. One step at a time. And this time, I'm doing it for the right reasons.


Donna K. Weaver said...

I feel ya, Tristi. They say something like 95% of people gain lost weight back within 5 years. Not an encouraging statistic. About 80% of people are emotional eaters. Add on our crazy, busy lives and is no wonder so many of us struggle.

And the older you get, the harder it is. As if I wasn't already 'metabolically challenged' when I was young, now I'm doubly so.

I like your new philosophy. Doing it for you, so you can feel good is excellent. We both know it still wont be easy.

Alice W. Gold said...

Your honesty sounds like you are on the emotional journey that you need. I've taken the same one. Learning about my codependence and working the 12 steps have been the most helpful. Therapy isn't bad either. Proud if you!! Keep up the transparency, honesty, self-love, and reflection and you'll be better than ever....and you'll also discover you ain't so bad right now exactly where you are.

karalee Mackay said...

Oh Tristi. You just put into words what I have been feeling. In 2013 I lost 100 lbs in 10 months. I have put back on 26 lbs since October 1st. I feel so ashamed. I don't know how to get off this roller coaster I am on. When you shared your feelings about emotional eating it was like a light bulb went off in my head and said, "Karalee this is you too".

I think I need to do some work on my soul too. Thanks for sharing and for your incredible honesty.

Annette Lyon said...

If more people understood that food addiction is just as real and powerful as other addictions, help just might be more available. Way to diagnose the issue! I know some people simply must be food addicts but who just shrug and go, "Hey, I like food."

I've heard that the Church's 12-step addiction recovery manual is fantastic for all kinds of things aside from the classic addictions we think of. I have a friend who even goes to the meetings to help her with her addiction to codependency in certain relationships. May be something worth checking out.

You got this!

Kimberly Job said...

Thanks for being so transparent. We've known each other all this time, and we are more alike than you know.

"I realized this morning that for many of us, the body's outward appearance reflects the soul's inner condition." This statement really made me think. I feel like this is true for me as well, but I'm starting to feel stirrings of change on the inside. Hopefully they eventually manifest in changes on the outside as well.

If you ever need a workout buddy, let me know. I'm not far away!

G. Parker said...

Oh been there. I totally understand. I still haven't found out what mine is totally about yet - I lost 100 and have gained 80 of it back. It's depressing, it's demoralizing to realize, hey! I was there! I was doing it! and then it just stopped. Mine started with reaching a plateau and we could never figure out how to get past it. Then it started creeping back on. I still eat healthy, but chocolate is there. So I've begun to wonder if I have to give up chocolate to be able to get past it...I don't know. But I missed seeing you at the conference. You were probably there, but I didn't see you. :( I just want to say that somehow we'll do it. You'll keep up the good work, you will continue to inspire many.
the Lord is on our side. ;)

Heather Moore said...

I fall off the wagon all of the time. It's part of our "natural man"... My goals (whatever they may be) are sometimes met, sometimes not, and then I have to start new goals. I also need breaks from all the discipline. Sometimes we need to take a day off from all the structure, or a week, or a month. Then we can re-evaluate and hopefully not beat ourselves up too much. As far as weight, any time I "restrict" or tell myself "no" then I am suddenly obsessing over that choice. It becomes the forefront of everything else I do. If I tell myself--just make the better choice--then I can follow that most of the time. Not all of the time. But flaws are what makes us compassionate toward others. Dare I say that it's impossible to maintain a strict diet? So we are setting ourselves up for failure from the beginning (although it's not really failure, it's human nature, and how we were created, so why do we hate that about ourselves?). I think we need to be kinder to ourselves and focus on our health more than the numbers the scale say. If our size is a couple up from our neighbors, yet we are getting in some exercise and making good food choices overall (throwing in some desserts--because we do need some joy), I'm good with that :-)

Lisa Swinton said...

Go Tristi! For all the right reasons!