This is my first time writing in a journal in a very long time. When I was younger I would write in one almost every day. One time in 2nd or 3rd grade I brought it to school and some girls stole it and read it aloud to the class, telling my then crush I liked him…so elementary school. From then on, I was very protective of the journals I kept. Admittedly, I stopped writing as much after that incident but recently I’ve come to realize that it might help to start again. Moreover, I think it might help others to hear my struggles.
So, a little bit about me: I am 23 years old, married to the most amazing man, a published scientist (times 5), and obese. These are the things about me that I identify with the most. This journal will mostly be about my weight and the struggles I go through in life because of it. I’m hoping that by writing about this and sharing my story that others who read this will know they are not alone, a feeling I have felt for so long.
Right now I am ~255lbs (155kg for those in the sane part of the world who use metric). This is the heaviest I have ever been. I started to really gain weight when I had to move from my hometown to a town that was an hour away during the Summer between 8th and 9th grade (I was 14). I became depressed because I had to start high school not knowing a single person, and my high school was pretty big (my graduating class was 400). During high school, I dated a person who was probably close to 400 lbs if not over that. Their eating habits transferred to me and that’s basically all we did was eat. When I got to college, I started to eat more because of the stress I was under. It got to the point where what and when I was going to eat for my next meal was always on my mind. In the span of four years, I gained 70lbs. I tried seeing therapists but they never seemed to help and it was hard with my busy schedule (I took 21 credits every semester and spent all the time I wasn’t in classes in my research lab) to go. I can’t even count how many times I tried to diet and work out. Every time I tried to eat better, I always fell off because after one time of eating poorly I just said F*** it. It wasn’t until last year, after lots of online research, that I realized I had an eating disorder. Binge eating disorder is the eating disorder that no one talks about. Fat people are always just assumed to be lazy with no self-control but it’s so much more than that. It’s literally feeling so controlled by food that you keep eating even when you’re full. It’s eating when you’re sad or anxious or happy. I like control in everything I do but food is the one thing I’ve felt powerless to. The other thing no one thinks about is being addicted to food is one of the hardest addictions to treat because you need food to survive. It’s not like alcohol or tobacco where you can live, and your life is better without them. But the past few months I have worked really hard on dealing with my eating disorder. For example:
A few months ago I would about a pound of steak for dinner (plus mashed potatoes), the past couple months I have cut that steak into thirds and freeze them so I only eat a third at a time. The other day I ordered a (really yummy) calzone for dinner and only ate half of it, saving the other half lunch the next day. Every week I go to Wing night Wednesdays with friends. When I first started going, I would order 12 wings and eat all of them, despite feeling really full at about #8. Now, I order 6 eat those and usually don’t order more. When I do I almost never eat them when they finally get to the table.
While these instances don’t seem like a big deal to an average person, for someone who struggles with binge eating they are HUGE. I don’t mean to sound arrogant here but part of the reason I started this journal was so I could write down and visualize my successes (and failures, don’t worry we’ll get there).
So now time for the hard part: the recent failures
Last night I didn’t do any of the schoolwork I should have because I had such bad anxiety about it. Instead, I ate almost constantly throughout the day. I started with half a calzone (not the same one as before) then had a piece of cake (not a big piece so yay?). I watched TV in bed all day and eventually fell asleep around 5 (ugh). When I woke up at 7, I decided I wanted my husband to bring me McDonald’s on his way home from work at 11 so I ate an ice cream cone, leftover rice, and a can of olives until he came home. At 11:30 PM I ate 10 nuggets and almost all (but not all!) of a large fry. Now one might say “Brit you didn’t really eat THAT much throughout the day”. This might be semi-true but the real problem is WHY I ate and slept the way I did yesterday: because of my anxiety. I let my emotions control my eating which made me eat horribly throughout the day and caused me to take a 2 hour nap when I knew I had to be up early today. That is a failure in my book. Fortunately, I’ve learned that failure doesn’t mean you give up. As mentioned before, I am a scientist. I am an author on 5 papers, just from my undergraduate career. Currently, I am accepted to a PhD program in biomedical sciences and will be starting in June. If there is one thing research has taught me is that science is mostly failed experiments. That doesn’t mean you just stop trying. So, today will be better. I am staying in my office until 4 to get work done instead of napping and constantly eating.
Before I end this, I want to mention one failure that I can’t seem to overcome…yet. Exercise. Being in the science community can be especially hard because I know what being overweight does to your body. I know that for every pound you’re overweight there’s four extra pounds of pressure on your knees. I know that the pain I feel every day in my knees, shoulders, elbows, and wrists are because I am obese. I also know that if I exercise I can help alleviate some of those aches and pains. I am only 23 for Christ’s sake. I hate that my 40-something-year-old friends walk so much faster than I do. I know that when I can keep up with them it’s because they’re pity-walking slow. I know that I should be able to walk up a flight of stairs without flinching every time or being out of breath. I know that walking into town (only 10 blocks or so) shouldn’t seem like a monumental task. I shouldn’t have to mentally prepare myself to stand up from a chair. I want to so badly fix it. I’m not really sure what’s stopping me. Tonight I am going to my weekly dinner group and our car is acting up so I really want to walk. It’s not very far away. Even as I’m typing I can hear myself saying “you’re not really gonna walk. You know you’ll end up taking the car. It’s too painful to walk. Plus, you’ll have to walk home too”. But I really really really want to. I’ll write tomorrow and let you know whether I can put this instance under successes or failures.
This was way longer than I thought it was going to be. But I’m glad I started. Time to go do work I’ve been putting off.