Anyone who has watched an episode of The Biggest Loser or any other popular weight-loss show, they always try to get to the root of why people are overeating. I struggle with this for myself because to be perfectly honest, I have had a fairly comfortable life and a pretty normal childhood. When asked on college entrance essays about “the biggest struggles I ever faced” I had to roll my eyes because honestly, I’m a white girl from an upper middle class family who hasn’t ever really wanted for much. So I had to think back to when I started to gain weight.
Looking back my weight gain started right about the same time as I was really hitting puberty, and unfortunately the same time we realized that our family history of depression and anxiety had not passed me by. While hormones probably played a role in the early stages, I was then put on anti-depressants which, for me, had the side effects of increasing my appetite and killing my already kinda sluggish metabolism. I don’t think I was ever born to be a svelte little gymnast, but the combination of teenage angst and a broken metabolism caused me to turn to food for comfort.
I can’t blame my parents in the least for the situation I’ve gotten myself into. I was always a picky eater, and naturally I gravitated to the worst foods for me. Ice cream, mac and cheese, chicken tenders, and, of all things, peas. I went through a Cesar salad stage, but even then the pounds kept coming on. I was once on my way to becoming a reasonably competitive swimmer, and suddenly I couldn’t hack it at practice, much less at a Saturday meet.
And that’s when I stopped moving. I ate crap, I drank more soda than water, and I spent a lot of time on the internet. My life was kind of out of control emotionally between the boyfriends, occasional bullying, and eventually the move during my last year of middle school and food was my comfort. I loved to cook, and despite my family not always being on board with what I made (too spicy, too vegetarian, etc) I did enjoy making family dinners and meal planning. Then high school came, and I realized how much weight I had gained, and realized I needed to diet, but like any teenager, it was never in a healthy way.
I remember every year for homecoming and prom all but starving myself to fit into the perfect dress and then ordering pizza the following day because I deserved a reward for doing so well. High School was just a never-ending cycle of yo-yo dieting and hating myself. I would lose 10 lbs and then gain 15, lose another 10 and probably gain another 20, and by the time I was leaving for college I was over 200 lbs and nothing worked anymore. My body was a mess, and no level of calorie restriction or gym loyalty could get the numbers to budge. Food never stopped being comfort, and as over-stretched college student I had set my body up for failure.
I apologize that this is a wall of text, and a bit of word vomit, but this blog (at least at this stage) is also a bit of therapy for me. If I put it out there, it’s not my dark little secret and I can move beyond it. I’ve moved beyond dependence on anti-depressants, and now I just need to move beyond using food as a crutch as well.