I love food.
I love everything about it. I love how it brings people together. I love how it can soothe a broken heart. How it encourages a couple to snuggle up in bed while sharing a beautiful bowl of buttery popcorn and enjoying a good movie. I love how the perfect fruity ice lolly can cool body, mind and soul on a scorching summer day. I love exploring new ideas and recipes. Blending spices to create unique dishes to share with loved ones. I find solace in creating and eating a good meal.
Food is my go-to when I’m excited, nervous, devastated, in love or even just when I’m bored and have nothing better to do with my free time. It has been my crutch during trying times, my best friend who never judged me for the poor decisions which I’d made that day, or the pity party I may have been in the midst of, it has celebrated milestones and achievements with me. It completed me.
But as with all things in life, with the good comes the bad. It’s given me a great big fat ass and an ever expanding, embarrassingly large waist circumference. My relationship with food has become an unhealthy one, the friend that you know is bad for you, the one who you should break things off with, but you keep them around, for reasons you wouldn’t really be able to justify if you had to sound them out loud.
There comes a time in life where we need to face reality, and so, with the arrival of our daughter and innocent comments by my husband about my weight and physique, came the realisation that I needed to change things up drastically. It was time for an intervention for myself.
I thought I was ready for this a year ago. I set myself up some new year resolutions (you know they NEVER work), bought a pair of running shoes and thought it would be enough to motivate myself. But it wasn’t. I’d set myself up for failure before I even had one foot out of the door.
This is the thing with weight gain and being overweight that those who haven’t travelled this jiggly road struggle to understand. We haven’t chosen to be fat, this is not the life we envisioned for ourselves. There is so much more to gaining weight, and losing it, that can be misunderstood. The psychological contributing factors involved need to be addressed and processed if you truly want to conquer the demon that is muffin top and firelighter thighs.
My pregnancy with Charlotte was not an easy one. Her arrival a full 14 weeks early added insurmountable emotions layered thick with guilt over circumstances which were beyond my control, but as a woman who had failed to perform the very basic function that her body was designed to do, I felt a complete failure. Her first few days were lived hour by hour, not knowing if she would survive, if she would be OK, not knowing what her future held, for both her and for us. We spent the first two months of her life watching her grow inside of an incubator, living off meals supplied by loved ones and the hospital coffee shop. Her first few months home were not the blissful exhaustion described by new mothers. They were laden with days, nights, weeks and months of a traumatised child who was suffering, both from the stresses of her new environment, undetected medical issues, numerous hospital admissions and invasive medical procedures done in an attempt to diagnose her.
Through all of this I turned to food for comfort. We’d lie in bed for hours, her on my chest (the only place she wouldn’t scream), me with comfort food beside me. Through it all the weight piled on, my insecurities grew and the hopelessness of my situation had me seeking more comfort food. I stopped looking at myself in the mirror, I couldn’t bare to look down at my own body. I gave up on even attempting to brush my hair, putting on makeup, wearing clean clothes, let alone the effort to shower or shave my legs.
While I’d decided a year ago to lose weight, I hadn’t really addressed any of my underlying insecurities, guilt or emotional issues. I also had the threat of possible long term medical conditions which could affect my health, from the illness which caused Charlottes early birth. So, a few weeks into my new fitness regime, when I felt a twinge of pain in a kidney, I marched off to the GP for tests.
The first remark made when I walked into the rooms after a two second visual analysis of a woman with knotted hair, wrinkly clothes and serious bags under her eyes, was that I was morbidly obese and I needed to make a plan. The words deflated me, the little hope and motivation that I was clinging to was ripped from me and thrown into the rubbish bin. I tried to talk about how I’d come to this point, but again I was simply told that I needed to stop eating junk food and lose weight. I could sense the feeling of disgust related to my appearance. There were no questions asked about the rest of my state, how I was coping, or even what had caused my weight gain, all that was supplied was remarks on my massive weight gain. I went home devastated, feeling hopeless and gave up right then and there, but not before picking up some of my best non-judgemental friends along the way to soothe my broken heart.
And for the next few months the vicious cycle continued. Until my daughter started walking. I struggled to keep up with her, I was out of breath from 2 minutes of playing. I was too embarrassed to put on a swimming costume to swim with her, too embarrassed to join friends on the beach for fear of having to wear something revealing.
Around the same time we also made some break throughs with her health and development, I saw a psychologist and I made a commitment to myself to get fit. I wanted to enjoy my daughter, I wanted to feel confident when my husband showed me affection. I wanted to wear something other than my maternity pants. It was time for change.
My mom was overweight when I was a child. I didn’t understand it then, I couldn’t care less how big or small she was, I just wanted my mom to do stuff with me. I understand know why she hid away. I realised that I was going down the same road with my daughter. I knew it was now or never. I understand her fears, her anxieties and I wish she was still here, that I could tell her it didn’t matter to me, that I loved her regardless of what she looked like. But I also knew I didn’t want my daughter to experience the same emotions.
I evaluated what my strengths and weaknesses were. And I looked for a program that I could relate to. One which would keep me motivated and on the path towards a healthier way of life. I knew that while I was motivated and in the right head space this time, that I would need a support system of like minded women. For me, joining a gym, hiring some freakishly super fit trainer who has no idea what is it to be overweight was not going to work. I needed a massive support structure, from people who had walked this road before and were going through it now.
I had heard about Amanda and ‘Choose Your Hard’ at the beginning of 2017. Her journey, her struggles, her story, was inspirational and exactly what I needed. We made contact and I’ll be honest, I was gutted when I had to wait 6 weeks for the course to begin! I just wanted to get cracking, immediately!!!
I’m in week three of ‘Choose your Hard’, part of an amazing team of women from all walks of life. We all have the same goal in mind though, getting fit, confident and healthy, the weight loss is just an added bonus from this journey. My muscles ache, I’m awake at 4:30 every morning to get to class on time. I do core exercises, walks and swims additionally to build up my fitness levels. When I feel low I’m instantly picked up by one of these amazing ladies who keep me on my toes, laughing and feeling like nothing is impossible now!
Most importantly, I’ve re-evaluated the relationship with my BFF, food! I acknowledged that we had a toxic relationship, and while we loved each other dearly, we needed to change how we worked with each other, rather than breaking things off completely, we all need to eat something after all. So, my new challenge is to work with healthier choices, continue to enjoy cooking up delicious and creative meals, but with smarter choices and healthier alternatives. Food and I will always be the best of friends, but how I choose to allow it to control my life and habits has changed, for the better.
I love food! Always have, always will. But I’m no longer looking at it as a crutch to support my emotions exclusively. Along with the revelation that we can have a healthy, happy relationship, the support of my husband, the tiny motivator that is our daughter and a team leader like Amanda and the rest of the amazing ladies in our group, I know I can make it through this journey and be stronger when I walk out of the other side!!!