Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Answering the Why

Beth, from Beth's Journey, brought my attention to this fantastic blog yesterday morning, Can You Stay for Dinner, by Andrea Mitchell, a 26-year-old foodie, who has successfully lost and maintained 135 pounds. I'm really excited to share this passage from her blog:

"I read a lot of weight loss stories. I’m always interested to see how others have gone about their journey. More than the path they chose and the foods they ate, I’m looking to see introspection. Not the diet, not the will power, not the tips. I want to know the ‘why.’ Because at the end of the day that is the only question that matters."

Andrea eloquently and simply summed up exactly what I've been pondering lately: Why did I get so overweight in the first place? There are some easy answers that come to mind. Lack of portion control? Absolutely. Love of junk food? Sure. Disdain for exercise? Okay. But somehow I don't think that those reasons adequately explain why (at my highest) I was carrying 90 extra pounds on my 5'5 frame.

As I've gotten closer to my more "normal weight"--i.e. the weight I was in high school--I've become more aware of the deep-rooted issues that caused me to become overweight in the first place. After a year of doing Weight Watchers, I have re-learned how to eat healthy (for the most part) and I've developed a better sense of portion control. But at the same time, I've continued to struggle with binges. I am, by definition, an emotional eater (by the way, I truly resent that term. It makes me think of that prissy character from Gone With the Wind, Mrs. Pittypat, who reaches for the smelling salts every time something unexpected happens). I'm not entirely sure what causes me to eat compulsively, but I'm trying to gain a better understanding of the problem.

I met with a therapist the other day, and I explained my problem to her. Her response was interesting. She said, "Nothing happens randomly. People are fairly predictable." Her point was that by thinking my binging was random and could happen at any time, I'm allowing the binges to take away my feelings of control. If instead, I can gain a better understanding of the problem, I might be able to change. I've struggled with this since I was 13-years-old, so I'm not saying it's going to be easy. But it's something I'm going to try to work on.

At some point, I'd like to have a better answer for the "why." I'm curious to hear others' responses...do you know why you struggle with weight issues?


  1. This is a terrible answer, but I blame my upbringing - my mom was ALWAYS conscious about her weight, and it definitely got passed down to me. Clean your plate, dessert after dinner, focus on food tasting good rather than being good fuel for your body, all of that.

    I'm relearning everything I know about food now, portion sizes, which food makes me feel better and gives me more energy, etc.

  2. Hmmmm... Other than, "Eating disorder", I cannot think of anything for my "why". But why did I ever develop disordered eating??

    I guess my answer is probably pretty typical: depression and VERY BAD self esteem.

    If you hate yourself, you are less likely to take care of yourself. And I HATED myself.

    I'm so glad that I have learned to love myself, that has really been the key to losing weight for me, even more important that relearning portion control and exercise.

  3. I really like how your therapist put it about emotional eating. I definetly feel like I have let it define me in the past, and I use it as an excuse.

    Why did I gain all the weight? I'd say because of low self esteem. I didn't see myself as worthy of trying to lose, food was too desirable. I also was really good at excusing my behavior, and lying to myself instead of facing a reality.

  4. The million dollar question. I think I gained all the weight because my parents had a really unstable relationship that I was often put in the middle of, and food was something I could devote all my attention to and numb myself with.

    Also, food was the one thing that tied my parents and my entire family together, so it was easy to focus on.

  5. I could write a whole post on this. But I will sum it up.

    Moving away from a controlled food environment, where nothing junky or snacky was kept.
    My parents' divorce.
    Depression in college.
    Taco/nacho Tuesdays in school caf.

    And there you have it.

    I could make the MAIN focus of my blog on the "why" but I'll try not to!!

  6. This is the question I struggle with the most. I know I wasn't raised with the knowledge of even how to eat healthfully, or how to live healthfully. Pair that with eating my emotions and I can see why I am overweight.

  7. I think I've written a book or two about my "Why" :)
    It's refreshing to hear someone else exploring it. Too often, magazines, books, and programs give advice that's really topical and prescriptive, rather than addressing the real issue. Figuring out the psyche is the best place to start. But, of course, it's also the hardest. Thanks Katie :)