After being whooped by diet after diet since childhood, I found myself (after two 100-lb. regains) at age 29 weighing in at 306 pounds. I was both horrified and resigned at the same time. I could no longer give calorie counting, weighing and measuring my meals, eliminating carbohydrates, drinking a gallon of cabbage soup daily, etc., etc., any further opportunities to try and bear fruit. Anyone who has ever struggled with weight gain and dieted knows the dilemma and frustration of pinning hopes on…insert gimmick of your choice…I knew it just wasn’t happening for me.
Therefore, I thought it best that I quietly throw in the towel, declare food the winner, and settle in for a life of recreational eating. No more rules! This was MY time. And the plan of action that brilliantly melded my eating mission with my career path: become a food writer who ate her way through life and got paid for it.
I lived that plan to the letter for nearly 20 years, knowing in the back of my mind, at the deepest center of my soul, that the eating wasn’t all about recreation. I was misusing food as an escape, stress relief, punching bag, and hand-gun. And so it went, until my date with destiny…
January 5, 2009
Two unforgettable things happened on this day. First, a visit to the doctor revealed I’d hit an all-time high of 345 pounds. Hours later, as I sprawled on the living room chaise lounge with a bag of potato chips in one hand and a brimming bowl of clam dip in the other, I lay back to hear Oprah confess that she’d fallen off the wagon. The chips I’d become accustomed to ingesting were no ordinary potato chips. The dense little discs of potatoes deep-fried in lard and they served to flawlessly execute what had become customary for me: being sedated by food. Nothing gave me a flavor high and then put me under like those greasy, fragrant little bits of manna from heaven. Fortunately, I wasn’t sedated enough to miss the most important part of the show that day: a satellite appearance by pop singer Carnie Wilson, who happens to be my genetic twin. She and I have battled a crippling love of food and ensuing excess weight since we were children. We were both well versed in the yo-yo-go-round and both of us had spent many a year in excess of 300 pounds. Carnie was only shown from the waist up that afternoon, but she looked amazing. And not just her svelteness. Carnie radiated serenity and bliss. And she mentioned that a man named Dallas helped her achieve the current state of balance she was enjoying.
I ricocheted out of the chaise to the computer and did a frantic Google search until I finally found this man named Dallas…
How it Happened for Me
This is one of my before pictures.
I’m smiling through the delusion that wearing all black will make me smaller. When I showed it to my mother again the other day she assumed I posed as an intentional ‘before’ shot. I did not. Jan. 1 may have been days away, but I had no plans to jump on the resolution bandwagon. Long ago I gave up dieting after regaining 100 pounds back a second time. Instead I embarked on a 20-year radical course of self-acceptance. It was exactly what I needed to do and I would not trade it for anything. Because all the skinny in the world won’t help if you’re not feeling good about yourself from the inside out. You may think dropping weight or changing your hair color or getting a few lines lifted is the door you need to walk through to feel on top of the world once and for all but it won’t. Take it from someone who’s been there a few times. I was battered physically and emotionally from dieting and regaining so I stopped. And besides, I loved food too much. So I ate as much as I wanted.
You don’t have to do 20 years of self-acceptance but you do have to start where you are. The important thing is that you begin, with whatever amount of willingness or ability you have to start to think of yourself as shining with worth. Period. No matter what the scale or clothing size is. It’s both empowering and healing and will lay the silent foundation of making better food choices naturally, not out of stern and rigid discipline.
Now back to this man named Dallas. Life, it seems, must have deemed me ready after two solid decades of doing the inner work and giving up on dieting, because suddenly… BANG…in walked Diamond Dallas Page.
There’s no magic bullet, and Diamond Dallas Page will be the first to tell you that. There’s only determination and commitment and the willingness to put one foot in front of the other. A slender and serene Carnie Wilson was all the motivation I needed to order his DDPYOGA fitness system. It was while listening to his motivational CD’s I realized that DDP had designed this system for anyone who wants to get in shape – whether weight is an issue or not. For DDP, it was an issue of mobility. He was literally laid up in bed with ruptured discs after his pro wrestling career. Eventually, he discovered the healing power of yoga and was restored to health and flexibility. He created DDPYOGA to be a blend of no-impact, high cardio, slow-burn calisthenics, mixed martial arts and dynamic resistance. In a nutshell, it’s like doing a routine of weight training, yoga, and cardio at once and in a fraction of the time all three would take.
I joined the online Team DDPYOGA community where a bunch of supportive people with similar goals and intentions share triumphs, woes, ask questions, and post recipes. It’s a great place where I found unconditional support from the members and from Dallas.
When he saw I was taking it seriously by doing the workouts regularly and addressing the emotional root of why I overate, he agreed to provide some mentoring and that’s when the acceleration began. Dallas said the gluten and cow-dairy had to go. I balked at the cow dairy especially but it turned out to be not as painful as I’d imagined. And it was so worth the sacrifice. My body balanced out like never before. Bloating, mucus, and stiff achy joints subsided. And the weight really peeled off.
Please remember, there’s no magic bullet. It wasn’t just the DDPYOGA, it wasn’t just going gluten-free, and it wasn’t just smaller portions. It was the whole picture. I finally reached a point in my life where I was willing to look at why I used food as a drug. There were some tangible reasons (a toxic job, an unhappy relationship), but also, it was as simple as eating in volume had become a habit. Recovery is a mosaic. Or another metaphor I like to use is: there are many bridges to be crossed. And every bridge has to be taken one at a time. Enjoy the journey…