Does This Coffin Make Me Look Fat? (Food Diary, Part One)

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Does This Coffin Make Me Look Fat? (Food Diary, Part One)



I could lie and say “I didn’t always struggle with my weight,” but for the sake of brevity, I won’t. I’ve always had some sort of struggle with my weight. For instance, I know exactly what I weighed in 5th grade, just before I turned 11-years-old. The fact that I wanted to know, and then recorded, such information shows that a struggle was there from an early age.

I’m also not going to talk in great detail about the family struggles here, except to say that obesity runs in my family. It hit my brother when we were kids, but, thankfully, he’s healthy now. And a badass runner. Still, it runs in my family, and is most prevalent in the women. While losing weight was never a constant discussion in my household, weight was ever-present.

The scale in the household bathroom, the brother crying from being bullied about his weight, the best friend suffering the same fate, and the fad diets that found their way into—and out of—my parents’ house through the nineties. Dexatrim and Slim-Fast, anyone?

I went through puberty relatively early, giving me a very grown-up body well before I entered high school. I studied eating disorders then, but none of them took. I won’t go into detail there, either, because I’m not about to give anyone any ideas, but I researched them in theory and practice.

By the time I got to high school I was a three-sport athlete with major body-image issues. My other athlete-friends were long and lanky or short and petite. I don’t recall any being obese, like I’m seeing in high school sports now (another post entirely) but at 5’7” and 155 pounds, I was usually one of the biggest on the team—and I wore size 10 jeans.

I joined Weight Watchers two different times in high school. I still don’t really know why—since I wasn’t overweight—but I do remember the excitement about a possible “vaccine” for the obesity I was certain awaited me in 5-10-20 years.

Oh, I forgot to mention that my eating was crap.

Sure, I was mostly a vegetarian and ate decently well a lot of the time, but the rest of the time was carbs and sugar. And, as a member of the cross-country team, I could eat like that all day long and burn it off with relative ease. My weight stayed basically the same from sophomore year through my freshman year of college.

I started school as a Food and Nutrition major. I can honestly, at 31-years-old, say that while the choice in major was about my interest in the topic, it was another self-deceiving ploy. I didn’t want to become fat, and figured if I studied hard enough and built a profession around it, then I’d be free. More snake oil in my backpack.

By that time, I was dealing with an incredible stress that was later diagnosed as Panic Disorder, with Generalized Anxiety disorder thrown in for in-between fun. I began eating 100{43d0d1614ecc8ec385b3ea9940a88627e26eaf9be88a0641399e0be0c80ef276} for comfort. It’s not that I felt I needed comfort all of the time, but when I sat down to eat, I would choose foods that would make me feel cozy, or better, or just—comforted. I liked the feeling of eating creamy tomato soup in a bread bowl with a turkey lavish wrap with mayonnaise and BBQ chips.

All of that. For one meal. Not to mention the weekends filled with obscene amounts of beer (I’d apologize to my parents at this point, but, they’re not fools. I drank underage. Now you all know, too) and 2AM pizza.

Let’s join together for the surprise gasp at the fact that I gained roughly thirty pounds my sophomore year in college. I didn’t gain the “Freshman 15” but the “Sophomore 30” was aiming to be coined by yours truly.

I was drugging myself to avoid panic attacks, but I didn’t consciously realize that’s what I was doing. All I knew was that food made me safe. It mentally brought me back to my parents’ kitchen, the local bakery, and holiday dinners. And, I wasn’t doing drugs like an unfortunate number of my friends were. It was just food, and I couldn’t overdose on it.

In short: the food wouldn’t kill me.


I lost the thirty pounds over the next summer with Weight Watchers. By then, their philosophy and science had changed (they really are excellent in keeping up with the current science behind food, nutrition, and weight loss) and I was feeling great. I started my junior year as a transfer to Cornell University back at my high school weight.

I still loved food, though, and as my anxiety worsened (hello Ivy-League pressures), I continued to eat but white-knuckled my true food cravings and desires. AT this point, I added in roughly an hour, to an hour-and-a-half of exercise almost every day. This way I could get some endorphins but, most importantly, eat like an asshole and still zip my jeans.

Exercise Bulimia is what this is called, though I wouldn’t know this term for many, many years.

I graduated college in 2005, got engaged that September, and married in April of 2007. I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, within reason. The binges were harder to white-knuckle now. I’d often eat a huge salad for lunch, and use that to later justify a post-dinner pint of ice cream. I was actively working with a trainer at the gym at this point (and still at 1-1.5 hours a day) and I just “couldn’t understand” why I wasn’t losing weight. Keep in mind, I had no “goal weight” in mind. It was always just “less.” I don’t know what would have been “enough,” but that didn’t matter because since my eating was such a wreck that damn scale didn’t budge for years.

Cliffs-note’s for the next 2 years look like this:

*Got pregnant in June 2007, gained 65 pounds

*Gave birth in Feb 2008 to a NOT 65-pound baby

*Lost maybe 1/3 of the weight before getting pregnant in Feb. 2009

*With twins

*Gained 42 pounds that pregnancy (was very focused, and had lots of morning sickness to “help” … yes … help)

*Gave birth to 13 pounds of babies in Oct. 2009


This is where it gets really, really ugly. Children, leave the room.

Within a few weeks of coming home with the twins, I’d lost almost all the weight I’d gained with them, but still had most of the weight from baby #1 on my body. I’d quit my job and become a stay-at-home mom (never in my life plan) and was now home alone with three babies all day. And my marriage was falling apart.

Don’t blame the twins. We all know the statistics for divorce rates among parents of multiples. It wasn’t them as people. It was us as people. We were unprepared as a couple for much of anything at all, and the intense stress of this ginormous life-change really shook out who we were as people.

And neither of us loved who and what we saw.

I’ve mentioned before that I won’t discuss the nitty-gritty of those days in my failing marriage. For many reasons. But, mainly, my now-ex-husband is a person. He’s a person with his own version of the story, and his own feelings, and he’s a dad my kid’s adore. Also, if you were there with me then—in the trenches—then you know the story. It told itself.

But for me? I lived on food. Literally. It was all I had to look forward to. I had Food Network on all the time, devoured food blogs, and began cooking, well let’s be honest, BAKING something new every few days.

Somewhere between midnight feedings, screaming matches with my husband, and crying myself to sleep, I surrendered. I surrendered to the obesity that beckoned me with each whiff of sugar every time I opened a can of frosting and submerged a graham cracker into it.

It’s truly remarkable, and maybe a component of God’s grace, that I didn’t completely let go like a blowfish. I lost some weight while training for a half marathon (in the middle of a vegan cleanse, no less), but put those 6 pounds back on, then gained 5 more for good measure. And, that’s where my weight stayed for another three years. Between several-month long stints at the gym, cleanses and diets of all kinds, and frequent binges, my weight stayed exactly the same.

While my soul began rotting from the inside.

I was consciously using food to drug myself at that point. I mainlined sugar, fat, and salt while my children napped, and when they finally went to bed for the night. Despite my crumbling marriage, we managed to eat together. And a lot. Pizza and mozzarella sticks when I came home from my weekend hostessing job at a local pizza place, sometimes FOLLOWED by a pint of ice cream (each) was a regular occurrence.

The way I saw it, if the anxiety and depression didn’t kill me, the marriage might. And if that didn’t work, at least I’d have food. But, what if that killed me? It started to dawn on me that at 29-years-old, my insides probably looked like hell. The anxiety kicked in and assured me I’d drop dead of a heart attack, and probably in front of my children.

Then, the worst fear of mine wasn’t dying. It was this:

If I did die, then I’d be in an open casket somewhere and people would be staring at my soft, flabby body. Spread out from laying down and unable—due to the death, and all—to suck anything in or pose a different way.

They’d all see how fat I’d become.


It’s just occurred to me that this posts is incredibly longer than I’d intended, and I left a lot of stuff out of the pre-baby days. That’s okay. The most important part is the change. The spark. The give-a-damn that altered it all.

Looks like this is a two-parter, folks.

I’ll keep writing and try to post about my emotional and spiritual resurrection in a day or two.




Photo Credit: Colin Broug

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