My health is a product of the choices I have made in the past. It has seemed so easy to deny that in the past – they were not choices! I have thought countless times that if I was already at a healthy weight, I would be able to maintain that body. Sadly, this just hasn’t been true, because times when I have lost some weight it’s come back again. There’s those damned choices again! But unless you know what they are, then how can you change them? Here’s a look at where all my body issues began.
When I was still in primary school, a classmate suggested one day that if I lost some weight, perhaps I would look better. It’s funny what an impact a cruel comment from one child to another can have on their life. I have never forgotten that day when I first began to be insecure about the way I looked. I was 10 years old.
It would probably be around 15 years now since I first read a “Reader’s Digest” article about how to lose 5 kilograms. Funnily enough, we never had bathroom scales at home, so I didn’t know how much this would be, or even what and ‘ideal weight’ was. I began to focus on how to lose the baby fat I had but as my body matured, I gained weight. Looking back, my weight was actually never excessive even through my teenage years. Unfortunately, the more you obsess about certain things the worse they get, which was the case with my body. Why? Because I developed the habit of eating to dull the pain of the dislike I felt towards my body. Later on food dulled the stress I felt through exams, or when I was unhappy, or when I fought with my boyfriend. But most of all it dulled the pain of looking in the mirror and not liking what I saw.
Food is my drug of choice for alleviating inner emotional turmoil. That’s pretty normal for women, apparently it’s related to the comfort and closeness we felt to our mothers as babies breast feeding. But it’s effectively a drug because it creates a vicious cycle – I feel unattractive therefore I eat and then feel worse because I know my choice to eat is helping to make me feel unattractive. When eating is used for every emotional state, then that becomes the choice you make to end up living in the body you are in.
What can I do to change my eating habits?
1. I recognise that initially it was my poor body image that resulted in eating as medication. Nothing has changed there, so I need to improve my body image.
2. I need to identify all the triggers for my emotional issues and find ways to address my emotions without resorting to food.
Is it possible to lose weight without addressing emotional issues first? Yes, it is. And I have in the past – healthy weight loss over a reasonable length of time. But I never addressed the reasons behind my emotional eating or poor body image. Believe me, it’s easier to join a gym than it is to stop and face yourself. The problem was though, that the moment life threw some challenges at me, I returned to my old friend food. That’s why it’s 2009 and I’m still trying to lose weight! So, I’m celebrating the slow road by going for a walk.