Why did I believe that the only other option I had was to stuff myself till death?
The answer is very simple: eating was (is) my coping mechanism. The coping mechanism more familiar to me, since the age of 8. I eat because I feel low, I eat because I want to comfort myself, I eat because I am bored, and I even eat to celebrate! Being Italian does not help the cause neither. Our culture is 100% based on food and it is all so delicious that It is almost a crime not to eat it!
In the years I failed all the attempts of dieting. And trust me, I tried many diets, even the more ‘flexible one’ like slimming world. You name it, I tried it. And I always failed. I always finished a diet with a gain rather than a lost. Funny enough eh? How I promise myself to finally lose weight and, instead, I manage to gain kgs!
To not mention the ‘day before the diet’. Oh yeah, if you are an over-eater too, you know that the day before the diet is always the best day! That’s the day when you can eat whatever you want and as much as you want, it is the perfect excuse to ‘go wild’ because anyway from the next day you will be on a diet. Can you think of all those foods that are not allowed on a diet? Exactly, the day before the diet is the good excuse to eat them all, and you should eat them all because you have no idea for how long you are not allowed to eat them! It’s a bit like ‘Freud and his last cigarette’. And you probably are smiling by this point, because you know it is true.
I lost the number of many of those days I had.
So yeah, why do I think my other option was stuff myself to death? Being obese unfortunately causes many health issues too. So, if I kept on eating the same way I was eating when I was 21, I would have probably been very unwell by now.
For many years I heard people telling that I should go on a diet and I should lose weight. If I am fully honest with you, for what the word ‘diet’ means to me, even just hearing it made (makes) me feel like wanting to eat.
Because diet is about “forbidden food”. The more I forbid myself chocolate the more I want it. I cannot concentrate till I have it. I would even start to ‘hear a wee voice’ about how eating chocolate is going to make me feel better (replace chocolate with any craved food). Those forbidden food come with a price, the price of “guilt” because you know you shouldn’t eat it, it is bad for you and it makes you fat and unhealthy. And the more you feel that guilt, the more you want it, the more you eat it. Our brain can be a bit funny sometimes.
Diet only taught me to deprive myself, it hasn’t help me to change my view and my relationship with food.
If I am an over-eater is because I love food and I feel pleasure by eating it. Therefore, when I try to remove that pleasure to myself it feels like a self-harm rather than healthy. It is like a reminder that I am not good enough and that’s why I need to work harder to deserve it. As a result, diet put my head into a negative state of mind. When I am on a diet I start to think even more about food – like I can spend hours thinking about what I am going to eat– and I binge even more. That’s why dieting is not working for me. And it will never work.
So, when I was 22, I had two options: hold myself or let myself go. After such a big disappointment, the most painful event, I could see myself, in a parallel reality, just keeping eating and never stopping. It is scary. But likely, in this reality, I was (am) strong enough to make a positive change in my life. And I changed my life out of love rather than fear.
And I lost weight without a diet. I lost weight by working hard to change my relationship with food and my body. I decided to look for other coping mechanisms but, first, I accepted myself for who I was, a 22 girl with lots of extra weights. I did not dislike me anymore. In the mirror I was seeing a beautiful human, a proud human, and good human.
A human that decided to define herself for how good she was inside, a human that decided that a number on the scale was not a good way to measure her self-worth.
And before I knew it, I was losing weight. There was so much I wanted to do in life and I started to focus on those dreams rather than self-blame. So, I committed myself, daily, to keep a positive state of mind and to work every day with my relationship with food. I accepted that loosing weight was not going to happen overnight, but it was a slow journey and if I kept staying positive, I was going to get there. I was learning every day and every day I felt more energy and enthusiasm towards my goal. Because I wanted to be able to walk without getting tired, I wanted to do so many things that unfortunately I was not able to physically do with so many extra weights.
And it felt good, because I was doing it with a positive attitude. It was not about changing a number, it was about my relationship with food. I finally felt that food had no more control over my life. It felt great.
I also followed Paul McKenna’s dvd ‘I can make you slim’ and perhaps it helped me a lot during my transformation journey. So, I should also say Thank you to Paul!
Now I am working hard on trying to adopt that framework again. Because it was the only thing that worked for me: seeing myself for how much I have to offer.
Only by using love and hope as tools for transformation we can make positive change, in ourselves and in others.
Note: To those people who tell others – especially young people – to lose weights, even if you do it in good faith, bear in mind, that the message might be received as “You are not good enough”. That’s how I received it for many years and, perhaps, that’s why I never lost weights. If someone is struggling with their weights, probably it is because they are struggling with their mental health too. Rather than telling them what they should do and how they should do it – they already know – tell them how much you appreciate them, why they are unique and especial, tell them they are good enough!
We all are good enough. Because we are all trying, and that’s good enough.