When did I start living to eat instead of eating to live? At about the age of 6. I was raised in a chaotic home. My mother was an alcoholic. My father was a rage-a-holic. Food was comfort between the storms. By the time I was ten, I weighed 180 pounds ---the same weight as my dad who stood 5’11” tall! There is a picture of us in our family album standing side by side, and I’m bigger around than he was. My brother and I were both considered morbidly obese, and my mother had the good sense to march us off to Weight Watcher’s meetings with her. She even cooked low fat for the whole family to assure our success. We both lost 55 pounds each. It was the beginning of our weight losses…and gains….and losses….and gains.
I have to say, I did pick up some healthier eating habits along the way. By the time I turned 13, I weighed 128#. At 5’4” tall, that was not a bad weight. I managed to keep a relatively trim size 12 physique through high school and my sophomore year in college. Then I got involved in my first serious love relationship at the age of 21 and started taking birth control pills. The pounds started piling on! My fiancé was quite a party animal, too, so I wound up drinking heavily with him. My life and my weight spiraled out of control. By the time we cancelled our wedding, my weight was back to 180 pounds for the first time since I was ten.
Needless to say, I stopped dating and poured myself into school and work. I needed to focus on getting well. Unfortunately, I was suffering from depression and did not make any attempt to lose weight. Instead, I gained another 50 pounds over the next three years By the time I earned my Bachelor’s degree at the age of 25, I weighed over 230 pounds. I remember sobbing over the blood red stretch marks on my abdomen from gaining weight so fast. It was a pivotal moment in my life that brought my focus back to self- improvement. Unfortunately, partial successes were followed by setbacks.
I was diagnosed as borderline diabetic at the age of 33 and put on oral medication. Fortunately, I had already quit smoking and drinking alcohol a few years before the diagnosis. I still suffered complications of diabetes, like cranial neuropathy. My doctor never prescribed insulin. It was hard for me to give up sugary desserts. And I was depending too much on fast food when I worked a lot of overtime….and I worked about 68 hours a week during spring and summer in 2002 when, suddenly, while chowing down a chicken sandwich and washing it down with diet Coke before work one afternoon, I suffered a sudden onset of pancreatitis. I was hospitalized for 7 days in severe pain and discomfort. Apparently, there is no cure for it. You just can’t have anything by mouth. Morphine and anti-inflammatory drugs were only temporary relief. My PCP finally put me on insulin, but he failed to tell me that insulin causes weight gain. My blood sugar stabilized but my weight soared to 362 pounds within 2 years.
Here I am at 362 pounds (5'6" tall) ready for a permanent change. I’ve cleaned up my diet, started back on a daily bike regime, and I’m ready to resolve my diabetes and achieve my ideal weight of 123 pounds. My motto is: No excuses! Do the work! At least I can admit now that I need some surgical intervention to assure a permanent result. It’s been a long journey. It’s exciting to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel for my health and for my life. ---AlmaRene