Food For Thought

In my first or second post, I talked about how I have two issues in my life that I’d really like to change.  The first is my depression, the second is my weight.  I also mentioned how I’m comfortable discussing, or even joking about either one.  Well, I’ve spent a lot of time talking about depression, I guess now it’s time to go after the weight.

In the Salt Lake City area, there is a group for multi-racial LDS families called Genesis Group.  My sister and her husband started going to it when G was first born, but stopped as he got a little older–mostly because meetings start at the same time they are trying to get G wound down for the day–and it take HOURS to get G wound down.  Sis went for the first time in a long time on Sunday, and she said that the speaker was a health expert/fitness guru type guy (we had this conversation online, at like 12:30 am, so my recollection might be a little fuzzy.)  The speaker talked about how we use food as a spiritual and emotional bandage, and we won’t be able to change our bodies until we ask our Heavenly Father to heal those spiritual wounds.

I thought this idea was very apropos to my situation. I was diagnosed with depression at the age of 10–right before puberty, a spiritually and emotionally difficult time for everyone, even those not dealing with the extra stress and emotional crap of The Experiment. I hurt emotionally and spiritually, and food made me feel, if not better, then less bad. In a time of my life when everything felt out of control, food was something I could control. I was always kind of a weird kid, and didn’t (and still don’t) really care about what other people thought of me, so I went with the overabundance, rather than the anorexic approach, though in retrospect, I could have gone either way.  Plus, I really liked eating.

It’s not that I haven’t tried to loose weight over the years, but the thing is, it’s never really been my idea.  It’s always been my mom, or my sister, or something else that’s put the idea into my head.  I’ve never been that committed to it.  I’ve done Weight Watchers, I’m a member of Curves, I’ve done hypnosis, I did Phen-Fen, I’ve done pretty much every diet imaginable short of gastric bypass–often times with my mom or my sister.  And nothing has really worked, mostly because I wasn’t committed to the idea.

The most dedicated I’ve ever been to a weight loss plan was between the period of time when I was called on a mission and left.  When I received my call, I also received instruction to loose weight.  An exercise and diet regime were part of my mission preparations.  I remember walking on the treadmill in my parent’s basement, imagining that I was walking to Canada.  Of course, since I don’t really know the geography and landmarks between Salt Lake City and Winnipeg, I made it to SLC (in my mind, while walking on the treadmill) and kind of gave up–on the walking to Canada bit, not the treadmill bit.  I don’t know how much weight I lost before I went on my mission, but I know between my pre-mission physical and the time I came home, I lost 35 lbs.  Which of course, I’ve gained all back, and then some.

When I returned from my mission, and started seeing my current therapist, when I started talking about my weight, she stopped me.  She said she never encouraged her patients to loose weight as part of their therapy.  While she does recommend exercise and a healthy diet it’s more for emotional health–any weight loss would be an additional benefit.

This was a revelation to me.  Consciously or unconsciously, I’ve always linked being fat with being depressed–maybe because these are the two things about myself that I would change. (Well, that and the crippling shyness, but that’s part of the depression) I’ve changed the way I look at what I eat and how I exercise from trying to loose weight and trying to be healthy.

After switching my anti-depressants from one that has weight gain as a side effect to one that suppresses my appetite, I’ve lost between 15 and 20 lbs without really trying (I’m not sure what my weight was when I started the Lexapro).  I’m now 5 lbs less than my pre-mission weight, but I’m in a lot better shape than I was then.  I remember receiving my mission call, and trying to run across a parking lot back to my apartment–maybe 500 feet.  Now, I can run and walk much farther, miles even–as long as there isn’t much of a slope.

I have a long way to go before I reach a healthy weight or fitness level, but I’m working on it, slowly but surely.  I think I’ve come to grips with my relationship with food–to the point where I can keep chocolate and cake and cookies in the house without devouring them all in one sitting.

I firmly believe that you have to embrace the part of you that you want to change before any change can happen–as well as having a sincere reason to want to change.  And for me, looking good just isn’t a good enough reason.

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