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Artist's Way
Weight History

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An exploration of 38 years of being overweight

I gained weight as a baby (I was overweight in kindergarten) in order to be noticed and in hopes of getting some attention in a family of 5 children in which I was the youngest and the unwanted one, at least by my father. Later I learned to use food to sooth emotions I didn't know how to feel or understand. My parents didn't express emotions. My mom used cigarettes to placate hers. My body became my cacoon as the children in grade school teased me.

I went on several diets, starting when I was about 10 years old. I would lose weight, but it never was good enough. I have a picture of myself at the age of 12 looking mighty slim. I remember the day the picture was taken. I remember an adult telling me that I was "looking good" and that soon I would reach my "ideal weight." Even when I lost weight, there was no acceptance....no one there saying I was loved and that I was ok. I gave up and the weight went back on.

As an adult, I learned more about healthy eating. I went on diets and, when my body refused to lose any more weight, I made healthy choices for my daily meals. The weight came back on. Dieticians had no answers for me. They just kept telling me to reduce the amount of meat I was eating. I was down to about 2 oz of meat a day and restrictions on all other foods, too, and still I was gaining weight.

Seeing that diets were not helping me, I turned to the "no diet" school of thought and learned about "starvation mode". I discovered that by putting my body on a diet, I put my body into starvation mode. It experienced a "famine". When the time of famine was over, my body held on to every last morsel of food it could get its hands on. It had to re-gain the weight it had lost, and then some, in order to prepare for the next famine. This fit my body to the T. I had been on too many diets. My body had experienced the cycle too many times.

The answer for "no diet"ers is to look at the root cause of their weight, find out what benefit there is still to hold on to the weight, replace emotional eating with physical hunger, and stop eating when you are physically full. This has been my focus for the last 12 years. I have looked at the cause/purpose from every angle. I have gotten in touch with my emotions (which was VERY difficult...at first I couldn't even name what I was feeling) and, primarily, eat when I'm hungry. I admit there may be a few emotions that I can't identify as an emotion and consider them hunger, but I have made significant improvements.

Have I lost any weight? No. I believe my weight is my scar from the many years of abusing it with diets. It's also my scar from the lack of love I received as a child. It's my protection from ever being hurt from rejection as I did when I was a baby and all through my childhood. When you live with something as a protection for that many years, I don't know how you convince your brain that it is no longer needed. When the person who has withheld love from you for so many years is still a part of your life, and still can't show his love, I don't know how a body could be convinced that it is safe. I've done everything I can to believe, to drop the responsibility I felt as a child for being the person I thought could gain acceptance from my father. I've done everything I can to convince myself that I am loved, I am acceptable, and that I don't need the protection, yet the weight remains.

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