The date was January 5, 2009. The occasion: my annual check-up at the doctor’s office. I looked at the white Formica scale head-on that afternoon, the way an MMA fighter locks eyes with her opponent. The scale and all its unwelcome factual information had been a thorn in my side since the age of 9 when I was ordered on my first diet. Except for a few brief moments when a sudden burst of willpower triumphed over a dull and meager food plan, I generally dreaded stepping on the scale. This day was no exception. I’d become accustomed to admonishing the nurse that I didn’t want to know the status of my weight as I kept my eyes shut tight during the intake. Wearing black every day of the year, barely fitting into most chairs, getting winded doing just about anything was punishment enough – I didn’t need the upsetting numerical details. And yet…seconds after I wobbled onto the scale on 1.5.09, I looked down and stared at the digitized revelation of 345 pounds. It was an all time high, and oh, was there history involved. Food was only one of the contributing factors that had me headed in a direction that diminished my life force in tandem to the scale numbers rising.
How was I going to get out of this one, I thought. Would my love of food land me at the 400-pound mark by next year? How, how in God’s name could I reverse the tide when my relationship with food was so entrenched in excess? Eating was a release, a pleasure, and probably a genetic predisposition. I come from a long line of eaters; but that’s a side-topic. There was another, very significant reason I ate ferociously and with attitude: My size 28 body was the perfect vehicle with which to flip off a size-bigoted society.
You don’t like how I look? Screw YOU, I’ll get bigger! You think I shouldn’t eat that donut? F&^k off, I’ll eat three! You think I should start a diet on January 1? Watch me do an eating tour of Little Italy instead. After years of shame and swallowing society’s Kool-Aid that I was a defective failure of a human being because of the way I looked, I decided to start fighting back. You don’t like the way I look? That’s YOUR problem. And that is an immutable truth that I cherish to this day.There was just one not-so-tiny glitch. The 180 excess pounds had become a burden that kept me from living life fully.
I was 100% clear that the weight did NOT make me a bad person, just a trapped one. Trapped not only by the weight but by towering denial, the way an anorexic denies she’s alarmingly thin. In my mind I was a little Zaftig at best. Besides, wearing black erased it all. But then, there’d be a moment of truth, like having to navigate a crowded restaurant without knocking into tables, or worse…PHOTOS! Always sobering, a photograph refused to let my delusions about my bourgeoning size run the show.
As I often do when feeling overwhelmed, I drove home after the doctor’s appointment and retreated to my chaise lounge for an hour-long snack while watching the Oprah Winfrey Show. Cracking open a bag of potato chips, I settled in to hear Oprah declare that she’d fallen off the wagon. Oprah confessed, and I commiserated with her. And then…an unexpected jolt of inspiration that changed the course of my life for-EVER. To my fellow strugglers who read this, all I can say is, after years of inner healing and doing work to repair my battered self-esteem, I can only conclude in retrospect that my time had come. I’d cleared enough debris out of the way to begin the final step of the journey – the exterior. For years, I’d been told by intuitives and wise women I sought out for counsel that the weight would be the last thing to go. Turns out they were right.
But who could have guessed that my guru for the final leg of the journey would have been a high-octane, somewhat intimidating former professional wrestler? Crazy but true. And Diamond Dallas Page’s powerhouse personality was the perfect fuel to propel me into action. I should point out, very notably, that I was ready and willing to take the action. No one can fill that void for you. For more in-depth details about how the journey unfolded, read my first book, “Clean Comfort,” and my most recent, “The Untended Soul.” I outline it all so those seeking freedom and a lighter way of being will have a blueprint for their own journey.
I write this today as a means of celebrating the path that I’ve created and am still on – ten years later. It never, EVER gets old. Most of my life was spent in a tailspin of dieting or binge-eating. I couldn’t keep weight off for 10 weeks let alone ten years. But I’m living proof that anything is possible. This new life of freedom doesn’t feel so new anymore; it has become my new normal. And don’t let the litany of marketing techniques and glitzy women’s magazines fool you: losing weight doesn’t give you a permanent pass to happiness. Know anyone who has one? I don’t. During these ten years there have been roller coaster rides and challenges I never could have predicted. But I ride it out. I stay for the show rather than run away. I write this with a mild case of the winter blues and the melancholy that goes with it. Mindful of all that I’m grateful for, I also wish I could live somewhere warm for half the year, be 20 pounds lighter (thank you menopause), and be already settled in our new home. The latter will be a done deal by month’s end, the other two, not quite as quickly. But you know what? Feelings like melancholy, anger, frustration, and sorrow are part of life. They revolve in and out of everyone’s life. I’d much rather take ‘em as they come rather than eat to escape and then have the compounded problem of carrying energy-zapping weight.
Ten years later, my normal state of being is to be surrounded by life: by people, activities, challenges, and emotions, all kinds of emotions that I used to shove underground with family sized cans of ravioli, buckets of fried chicken, and lots of white bread and butter. It’s my life, only lighter. And I love it.