Oh, where do I start?? I have to think hard to go back that far. This is going to be long —
Age 10 – Went on Jenny Craig with my mom and teenage sister because I was probably 10 pounds overweight after a stressful move across the country.
Age 11 or 12 – After not losing any weight on JC and gaining even more, I went on Weight Watchers (this was back when it was packaged meals). Also at that time I read lots of Seventeen and Teen magazine and decided to lose weight by limiting my meals to just breakfast. So I’d eat a bowl of cereal and then try to starve myself the rest of the day. Quite unsuccessfully, of course – I usually binged by 2 or 3pm on whatever junk I could find. I also started weighing myself daily. I gained even more weight and by the time I was 14 I wore size 14 adult women clothes.
Age 14 to 18 – Drank diet coke to replace meals and joined my high school track team for exercise. Ran daily and mostly didn’t eat. I lost about 20 pounds, became a size 8, and got lots of compliments from just about everyone. Also became a vegetarian somewhere in there, partially to give people an excuse for not eating. I also used Dexatrim and these disgusting chocolate flavored laxatives. I tried vomiting but didn’t take to it. Struggled with depression throughout high school. Contemplated suicide more times than I can even fathom now. Horrible, horrible time.
Age 18 – Went to college, became more “health” focused. Ran 6 miles a day, but ate a bit more. Still drank tons of diet coke. Gained about 15 pounds.
Age 19 – Went to study abroad in Italy. Became a vegan to further keep myself in check. I didn’t even TASTE gelato while I was there because I was a crazy food freak. Replaced food with alcohol. Lost about 10 pounds, but gained acne towards the end of the year.
Age 20 – Transferred schools, met my future husband who thought I was beautiful and totally crazy for hating on my body. Started eating again. Dropped veganism, but stayed vegetarian. Gained about 15 pounds back.
Age 21 – 28 – Stayed vegetarian, attempted veganism a few times but always felt awful. Did Weight Watchers five times. Lost 25 pounds just before I got married, gained it all back within TWO months of getting married after a family crisis sent my stress through the roof. Did the Master Cleanse three times. Liver cleanses. Cabbage soup diet.
Age 28 – Had my first child. Gained 60 pounds while pregnant even though I was restricting calories and exercising 5x a week. After he was born, discovered my hormones were so out of whack I was unable to breastfeed. Saw lactation consultants, was on heavy duty meds to get it going…never lactated at all. I was devastated. Used a milk donor for a few months. Dropped vegetarianism, tried Weight Watchers a few more times. Cried myself to sleep because not only couldn’t I lose the baby weight, but I was still gaining despite very strict eating habits (mostly low fat, calorie restriction). Tried Intuitive Eating and hypnosis.
Age 30 – Pregnant with my second child. Even heavier now – after he was born I was almost 80 pounds overweight. Even with prep (metformin during pregnancy, domperidone after) I was still unable to breastfeed.
Age 31 – Had weight loss surgery in desperation. VSG (no malabsorption or rerouting). Lost 65 pounds in 10 months eating tiny bits of protein.
Age 32 – Pregnant with my 3rd child. Worried I wouldn’t be able to eat enough to sustain a pregnancy (I could only eat about 1000-1200 calories a day without extra effort) I worked to get enough calories. It worked! I gained 60 pounds again. Since I was smaller when I got pregnant, post-pregnancy I was about 40 pounds overweight. Dropped about 10 pounds by restricting calories. Nada on the breastmilk.
Age 32 – 35 – Delved deeply into nutrition and health. Spent hours pouring over books and websites. Did South Beach, then Atkins, which led me to Gary Taubes and Cate Shanahan. Read all the books in between. Low carb all the way. Lost about 20 more pounds, felt good. Thought I’d found the holy grail. My Dad is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease after decades of ultra low calorie dieting (always slim, he had what I now see as an eating disorder and serious fat phobia).
Age 35 – SURPRISE 4th pregnancy! Gained about 30 pounds eating low-carb while pregnant. Had my tiniest baby ever. Still couldn’t breastfeed.
Age 35 – 37 – Tried losing the rest of the baby weight with low-carb. Primal, then Paleo. Found WAPF and incorporated fermented foods and started my kids on raw milk and sprouted grains. Zero sugar in the house. My baby is now almost 2 and I have gained about 10 pounds. Strict Paleo the last year or so. Very few cheats. Interval training. Gaining weight, skin getting worse, weird rashes showing up on my body. No sex drive, exhausted. Sad. I realized I’m sending the wrong message to my kids. I want them to love and respect food, but not obsess over it. I traded my diet coke starvation diet for an orthorexic mindset. If it’s all in the name of health its ok.
Last week – after reading Diet Recovery a few months ago, I looked Matt Stone up again and saw his new book. Read it in a few hours and called my husband at work. He was totally onboard (what a sport – he’s never complained about my “clean out the cupboards, we’re starting a new eating style!!” mania). I don’t know if I’ll ever be less than 40 pounds overweight, but I’m starting to think that 40 pounds overweight and eating stress free is much better than my past ways of living. I don’t aspire to “skinny” anymore. I just want to feel comfortable in my clothes, have energy for my kids and live a productive, happy life (and hopefully not get Alzheimer’s).
My kids were jumping for joy because I made mashed potatoes last night with dinner. They’re so used to eating Paleo that they think mashed potatoes are candy. I already feel happier. It’s fun eating. It’s much less stressful planning meals that I know my kids (and I) will enjoy. Tonight we’re having homemade chicken pot pie and they’ll gobble it up and that will feel really good. Honestly, it never occurred to me that what I was doing was disordered eating, just like when I was in high school. All these years I just needed a big food hug.