In third-grade, I sucked in my stomach and held my breath to button my too-tight corduroy pants. My heart beat fast walking up my elementary school stairs. At lunch, I nervously looked for a place to sit, knowing even my friends wouldn’t really want the fat girl lowering their social status.
I was an anxious kid, with an anxious life. On the way home from middle-school, I’d scrape up 50 cents for a candy bar. In the middle of the night, I’d sneak downstairs and eat half a container of ice cream. The sugar calmed my nerves, at least temporarily.
I had a brief reprieve at fifteen, when a kind PE teacher encouraged me until I could finally run a mile. A mile! After years of dreading PE, of fearing the teasing from other students, I felt so proud of myself. I kept running, and went from 200 to 150 pounds.
Unfortunately, my eating wasn’t sustainable – I’d begun to eat only non-fat yogurt and bagels, with a non-fat latte thrown in occasionally. And when I moved away, to a place very different than my Portland, Oregon home, my eating and running faltered.
I secretly ate food in the far-away corners of fast-food parking lots, not tasting it, but craving the calm. Wendy’s, Dairy Queen, Taco Time…keeping my head down when I ordered, afraid someone would remember me.
I weighed 265 pounds when I stopped weighing myself.
I moved to Seattle, and the lifestyle – walking, biking, everywhere! – was so healthy that I dropped to 215 pounds within a few months. And it stayed there, through lots of changes, until a couple of years ago.
What happened next still feels like magic.
I met my now husband. And he’d lost weight by not eating sugar. That was pretty much it. I balked. Fruit had sugar, but it was healthy. I made up lots of other reasons this wasn’t a good idea.
But I was desperate for health. I was desperate to not hate myself after secretly bingeing on pints of ice cream at 2 a.m. I didn’t want people to look at me as the nice, fat woman anymore. I wanted to just be me, although who that was without being overweight was a mystery to me.
So I tried it. I cut out sugar almost entirely. I read every label. Bread, cereal, spaghetti sauce were full of sugar. As was almost every processed food of any type.
After two weeks, the worst was over. I began to know what I was hungry, when I was thirsty. My blood sugar began to stabilize. I started losing weight.
Since then, I want to tell people, “it’s easy!” And really, it is. You just need to know how. I tried so hard, for so many years, and now – I have a great diet, lots of wonderful food. My husband makes a great curry, a fabulous kale & veggie sausage dish, and last night we had (a treat) of fish and chips. You can have a great diet, love eating, once you learn to listen to your body.
The changes in my life are incredible. For better or worse, people sure treat me better. I can handle a bunch of stairs, a ton of steep hills, no problem. We hike overnight, carrying all our stuff with us. I’m horseback riding, a childhood dream. I’m running again.
I’ve never met a person who is overweight who wants to be that way. It sucks in every way I can ever tell you. What I have met are a lot of people who are overweight, who learned bad eating habits or are using food for comfort, and who don’t even know what to try next. So, my hope is, they’ll try walking away from sugar.
At my highest, I weighed at least 265 pounds. In February of 2011, I weighed 215 pounds. I’ve been at a healthy weight for a couple of years now, and today I weigh 142 pounds.