My fiftieth birthday was fast approaching.
I had spent the two months prior to my birthday
planning, obsessing and tracking every food choice. I meal prepped food on
Sunday so I had a pre-planned, pre-portioned meal every day of my work week. I
controlled my food with a military like precision. It was the control I knew I
needed, as my life had seemed so out of control in the months before.
Fifty was the point where I decided to not give up on
This change was supposed to have happened a decade
earlier. My best friends from high school decided we would be forty and
fabulous, but, as things happen, there was a falling out, a rift which
splintered our decades old group. I plummeted into the throes of being a
working mom and fell prey to the “I’m busy” mindset, when in reality I chose to
be the very last on my list. For years and years.
Fifty was part of the reason I woke up. I wasn’t ready
to die, and I knew I was closer to the end rather than the beginning. I didn’t
even have hopes of being fabulous at fifty, simply healthier.
Emotional eating does not disappear. After decades of
stuffing down emotions by stuffing my face, it lies underneath the surface,
waiting to reemerge through the cracks of any pain or hurt. Or celebration.
As my birthday inched near, I fixated on cake. I love
cake. I can eat cake for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I don’t, but I could. I
decided that I would have every cake I wanted on my birthday and bought 3
different kinds – carrot cake, chocolate cake, and cannoli cake. I ate a piece
of each and threw out about 90% of them. Then my attention went to the next
eating fest, a month and a half away.
To celebrate my birthday, many of my friends were coming
together for a girl’s weekend in my favorite place on earth: the White
Mountains of New Hampshire. We rented a huge house, complete with indoor pool, and
I began planning my food, many days away from vacation. I worked my plan every
day, with the vision of pancakes, lobster rolls, pastry and maple syrup as a
reward for my steadfastness. Not the
healthiest relationship with food, but it was the one I had to work with. Going
from one food reward to the next.
The result of the food control, the planning, cooking,
and tracking, began to show. By the time Memorial Day rolled around, I was down
twenty pounds. It was the first time in years that weight began to come off. 18
years before I had followed a low carb diet to be at my lowest weight in years.
Then I put all of the weight back (and more) over time
and life – life which happens while you are planning other things. Miscarriage.
Pregnancy. Birth. Post-partum depression. Leaving my career. Losing my
identity. Working a side hustle to make ends meet. Not having 2 nickels to rub
together. Losing my stepfather to leukemia, after struggling through a bone
marrow transplant. My mother moving away. Evaluations of my child which
blindsided me with the level of delays she had. Dealing with IEPs, 504s and
therapy sessions. Marital stress. Father in law with Alzheimer’s. Work stress.
My career changing in front of my eyes, yet being tied into the medical
insurance and the pension.
You know. Life. The roller coaster that it is.
When you manage your emotions with food, you will
never get healthy.
My mental health was struggling, and it showed on my
Yet, here I was, down 20 pounds! I went on this trip, and reality set in when I looked at the pictures.
I did not look any different.
I was so morbidly obese, that 20 pounds was just a
drop in the bucket. I was still in the same size of clothing (2x shirt, 16
jeans.) When I put on 5 pounds, it was hard to tell. When I took off 5 pounds,
it was impossible to see, also.
At work, seeing the same people every day, no one
At home, none of my friends noticed.
Months and months of hard work. The scale inched down
to the tune of twenty pounds.
No one noticed.
I spent the Girl’s Weekend completely off plan, and,
to be honest, I did not regret one single bite. Not one. That’s because of one
thing that changed.
When I went home, I went right back onto my journey.
Back to planning. Back to cooking. Back to tracking.
Normally, I would be derailed. I would think, “Well, I
screwed up. Fuck it!” And Fuck It eating would be the new norm. I would go back
to eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.
This time, I just decided to continue on with the
planning, cooking, and tracking.
This time, I would not quit on myself.
This time would be the last time.