Living to Eat or Eating to Live?
I have food issues. I know, I know - you're going to tell me that every chick has food issues. Can't you let me feel special for one moment? Jeez.
I was raised half-Italian, half-French - which basically means pasta and pastries. And no, I'm not exaggerating. Spaghetti was a staple in my house growing up. So were pizza and mac and cheese. So were decadent desserts. It was lovely.
There was never any talk of "portions" in my house. Seconds were customary, dessert was mandatory. We ate frequently. When we weren't eating we were eagerly planning our next meal. My family lives to eat.
At the age of 16 someone mentioned something to me about my losing a few pounds. I was honestly shocked. Why in the world would I lose weight? No one had ever mentioned my weight before. As you can probably tell - it wasn't something we talked about much in my family. I broached the topic with my family and well, their non-reaction told me that it was probably true. I was heavier than I should be.
Somehow, at age 16 I had escaped all of the weight and body image issues that some of my girlfriends had. I had the opposite problem! I thought I was svelte and in reality I was a bit...well, not. I had danced for 10 years, I was on the high school dance team, I played sports, I swam - I was active. I could hold my own in a kick line as sophisticated as the Rockettes for 20 minutes at a time and keep my heart rate up for an hour or more without huffing and puffing.
But I was a 5'8" and a size 14.
I graduated high school as a 12.
I dropped to a size 10 my first year of college but I eventually ballooned to a size 16. One day I looked in the mirror and I didn't recognize myself. So I started watching what I ate. I consulted a nutritionist. I started learning about nutrition and attempting to change my view of food - from living to eat to eating to live.
That was 10 years ago and it has not been an easy road, though I am happy to say I've stayed a size 12 or under since that time. Most of that time has been spent as a size 10, though I'm now happy at a size 8. But the journey is hard. I had spent a lifetime developing an unhealthy outlook on food and I still love to eat. And I don't exactly love to eat brussels sprouts. Nope. Cream sauces, dessert, chocolate, pasta, chips - all my favorite food groups.
So how do I deal? Well I still eat the bad for me stuff but now I just eat a little bit of it. Two spoonfuls of mint chocolate chip ice cream satisfy me when I want dessert - not two scoops. Strawberries with splenda make a great snack. Pasta is still in my diet, but I have a few forkfuls with a huge salad. Diet sodas are the only kind of soda I drink. San Pelligrino is a staple at my table - bubbly and satisfying but with no sugar.
Of course I still have food issues. Every bit of food I eat makes me feel guilty. I often tell my fiance' - "don't worry, I won't eat all of this". He looks at me like I'm crazy and says "even if you do, that's just fine you know."
I worry. I had no idea I was overweight before, so now I'm borderline paranoid that I won't be able to recognize if I'm in an unhealthy state again. I weigh myself every morning. I know, that's not healthy either.
10 years in and I'm still struggling to find a happy medium. With my wedding coming up in September, I seem to be struggling with it even more than usual - I haven't even shopped for my wedding dress yet because I want to be at my "ideal size" even though I don't know what that is. I always feel like people are judging my size when they look at me - it's a real problem.
How do you deal with the day to day stress of staying in shape? Were you raised eating to live or living to eat? Do you have any tips and tricks that you can share? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments - I'll come back and jump into the conversation - so please share!