Obesity and It’s Silent Struggle

C and T

Myself and Christina

Christina and I hit it off quickly when I first met my father and his family. She was my sister, not by blood, but by soul. We had a lot in common, including our obesity.

Let me take you back to the 90s.

We tore up the city of Wenatchee, Washington and Dallas, Oregon. I can’t count how many apple orchards we woke up in after a long night of partying.  She quickly became my best friend. We did everything together. She knew secrets about me no one else did and I knew the same about her.

One evening she came home and says, “Tonia, there’s this guy who just broke up with his girlfriend who I know and now he’s single. His name’s Jose.” Now, I’ve always liked my men spicy so of course most of their names were Jose. Ha! I yell from the other room, “Does he have brothers named Pedro and Raul?” Laughter erupted from the both of us. Later, I became pregnant with my first child. Four months in, I lost him. My sister was there the entire way. She always had my back. Always.

I moved back to Montana (a few times) and when I did, Christina and I lost contact. We chatted here and there on Facebook but made no plans to meet up again. The excuses we made were silent but clear; we both had families and not enough time.

I get the text. She’s not doing well. Her kidneys are shutting down. No one knows how much longer she has. I later found out that she had lost her leg, the result of diabetes. She was told, while coherent, that she was dying.  I spoke to her on the phone and all we could do was cry through words. I asked her why she didn’t tell me that complications from her weight were this bad. She cried back, “I didn’t want you to know.” I got that. I really did. Secrets. Nasty secrets. She made it clear that she didn’t want to die and was very worried about her 4 children. I told her I loved her and would be seeing her soon. That night, I packed a suitcase and headed to Oregon. I arrived at the hospital late in the evening. Seeing her in that hospital bed was nearly unbearable until I approached her bedside and saw her grey, soulless eyes. I grabbed her face and wanted to kiss her badly but she had patches of some sort of medicine pasted to her. She was wailing in pain. I have to tell you, the sound of her still haunts my memories. Crying, I told her over and over again that I loved her. That she was my best friend. My only friend. She passed away March 7, 2014.

I went back to the hotel and cried uncontrollably. I was sorry and pissed off at myself for not being there for her. If only we had both been honest about our weight and our struggles. What we were going through was nearly identical. As I watched her dying I thought, “Is this it? Is this what it’s going to take for me to make the change?” Sadly, it was not. I continued to eat. I continued to not treat my diabetes. Being overweight and struggling with your weight is real. Food addiction is more than just overeating. It’s eating away your secrets, your stress, your pain, and worries. Ironically, it’s a way to slowly kill yourself and sometimes nothing, not your kids, not your family or friends, is enough to stop the madness. Rest in peace, my dear sister.

 

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C

Taking Back Control

You’re not alone. A lot of people have a hard time opening up. I mean, who wants to put their business out there? I was scared to first start this blog. Who would judge me? Who would say things behind my back? Who would leave nasty comments and try to discourage me? Amazingly, putting my business out there has helped me begin the healing process. I can say will all honesty that writing my life to you has slowly helped me open up and be honest with myself.

My sweet reader, I know this is something you can do too. It’s scary, embarrassing, unknown and unfamiliar but it’s also liberating! I’m trying not to worry about what people think of me. I’m me. Love me or hate me. The choice is yours. I’m taking back control. No one is allowed to damage me, control me, or deceive me any longer. Repeat after me, “I’m taking back control.” Close your eyes and repeat it once more. Go ahead. I’ll wait. Makes you feel just a bit more free, doesn’t it?

Many of my readers have sent messages of encouragement and inspiration. It makes me feel so good that I want to pay that forward to you. I want you to know that a complete stranger cares about you. A complete stranger gets you and understands your pain. Healing is a day by day process. Today, take back control. Tomorrow you may feel different and that’s OK. Really. By the way, why is it that we don’t give ourselves the credit of the good things we do. We beat ourselves up because we’re supposed to fit society’s “normal.” We are expected to be skinny, successful, happy….perfect. Well f*** that! I’m me. Get over it. Some of my closest friends are not skinny, successful, or happy. I love them for that. It’s like, “Finally!! People like me!” 

Be crazy. Be loud. Be happy. Be over the top. Be dramatic. Just be you…

Check out the video below. Really think about how these things make you feel. I bet by the end of the video, you’re smiling.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPmA6W-WD90

The Devil’s Hold

god and food

The smell of seasoned steak over an open fire, teasing your senses with a longing for more. The taste of a warm cookie fresh from the oven. The melted chocolate kisses your lips and caresses your palate. The feel of a warm croissant on a cold day cupped in your hands ever so gently. Opening it’s buttery layers one piece at a time. Hungry?

This is my food addiction. Sensual, sexual, romantic, food addiction. It’s a relationship that is hard to let go. I mean, let’s face it, you HAVE to have food to live. There is, however, an ugly side. It’s killing me. Slowly, it wraps the rope around my neck and lowers me enough to gasp for air but not enough to completely shut me down. It slowly raises me back up with the alluring taste, texture and touch of its beautiful ugliness.

Food, I refer to as the devil, will over power you and convince you that you’re not full. It plays with your mind until you can no longer hold on. You give into seconds and thirds and before you know it, you’re snacking at midnight and crying at 2 a.m. Because you’re now sad, you open your night stand drawer and reveal your secret. Your eyes widen and your mouth waters. You open it and eat your divine treat until your tears dry up and relief kicks in. Then shame. Shame that you must have a secret to begin with. Shame that you have to hide it because it’s yours and no one else will understand. Shame because it’s now 3 a.m. and embarrassing enough, you want more.

You weigh yourself and become sad AND pissed off that you gained weight. The scales flashes your numbers back at you as if to scream, “You fatass! Look what you did!” You look down wondering how the hell it happened. Promising that you’ll never eat like that again, you head to the kitchen. You open the fridge. The cupboards. The hiding spots. Back to the fridge. The devil is toying with you. Convincing you that there’s food to satisfy your desire. You leave the kitchen and try to get your mind on something else. No matter how much you try, craving, boredom, and a sense of needing to feel satisfied overtakes you. This revolving door leads no where and you know it but it’s not enough to stop you. Addiction. A nasty vicious cycle that hates you but that you love more than anything.

Disease has finally caught up. Diabetes, sleep apnea, joint pain, trouble breathing, high blood pressure, peripheral neuropathy. The devil smiles, “Come here, I will take care of you. Everything will feel better. All you need is this large plate of carbohydrates and fat. Remember, you need me to live.” You feel alone in your darkness but food is there to help ignite a passion in you that no one and nothing else can. The devil steps back with a low laugh and whispers, “Eat.”

Portion Out of Control

If two heads are better than one, then what about double chins? On that note, I will help myself to seconds.” 
― Jarod KintzThis Book is Not FOR SALE

I’m such a bread whore. There’s something about walking through a bakery that leaves me excited and tingly. The smell kisses my lips and leaves me wanting more. The warmth whispers in my ear and entices me to try a sample. It’s heat sending shivers through my body. The softness wraps around my body and squeezes gently leaving me toasty inside. Ah. Food Porn.

Going to the gym today. I am totally going! Don’t look at me like that. I’m really going! Where are my shoes? Where’s my gym bag? Damn it! Keys?? Forget it. Just getting out of the house is too much of a hassle. Besides, looking for all those missing assholes gave me my own workout. Tomorrow. Yes. Definitely tomorrow.

I swear it only took a week to gain 100 pounds. It’s going to take the next 100 years to lose it. I can look at a candy bar and gain 50 pounds. I hear myself getting fatter staring at the yellow packaging on the Butterfinger. If it’s in ONE package together, that’s ONE serving size right? So king-sized is a perfect portion for me. This is my belief and I’m sticking to it. I’ve come to a point where it’s like, “Eh, I’m already this big. What’s this ONE piece of cake going to hurt?” Before I know it, that sucker is gone and I’m a cave woman on the hunt for more.

phil

My stoic expression seeps through my face as I blink at my nutritionist. She hands me a pie chart. Mmm, pie. “As you can see here, this is the portion size that is considered the normal portion size to maintain a good weight,” she says, trying to convince me that what she’s saying makes sense. She’s a tiny, little thing and as I’m sitting next to her, the room seems to get smaller. “Look, I appreciate what you’re saying but I don’t think this is the correct portion size for a 400 hundred pound woman. I mean, could you imagine if I tried to eat protein the size of my fist?” She stares back at me with a smile and nods.  “Yes. You’d lose weight.” She’s trying to be nice, bless her heart but I am over this conversation and am looking at the door wondering if I’m quick enough to make a break for it. If only I had gone to the gym, I’d be fast enough to make the exit before she could say portion size.

 

Black and White Part 2

He’s been in jail 4 months. Now there’s no income. The cable is the first to go. Then the power. Then the food. This is all my fault…

I’ve made very few friends in the three years I’ve lived here. I break down and ask for their help. They bring over a few things to make sandwiches but I know they’re having struggles of their own. I feed my kids and go without because I’m not sure when we will get food again. Forget asking the neighbors. They hate me anyways. They’ve made that perfectly clear with the rocks thrown at my screen door and the yells of “cracker,” “honky,” and my personal favorite, “white bitch.”

From the dark living room, I hear my kids going through the Sunday newspaper that I took from the broken newspaper box. I hear my son exclaim, “Oooh I want that! And that one! Oh my God that one looks really good!” I walk towards them to see what they’re reading. “You can have that one. I will have these three.” I see little bodies lying on the floor, faces illuminated by a flashlight. His precious, short, little, five-year-old fingers touch the pictures of burgers and fries. “Sunday newspaper ads always seem to have the best deals and coupons on fast food,” I sadly think to myself. I turn my head and begin to cry. I’ve done this to them out of my own selfishness. What kind of mother am I?

I have GOT to fucking do something! I walk through the projects to get to the only payphone. There are young black men everywhere. Standing around as if waiting for a taxi. I hear, “You straight?” “Hey sweetheart, you straight?” Lingo for, “are you looking to score drugs?” NO MOTHERFUCKER I’M NOT STRAIGHT! My rent is due. My power is off and my kids are hungry. You gonna fix THAT? Ignorant. I reach the payphone after weeding through the drug dealers only to have a dozen more at the barbershop asking me the same question. I break down and call mom. She’s my only hope. I beg her to send money. Just a bit for the kids to eat. “I’m broke too, Tonia. There is no way I can send money right now.” I’m every emotion possible. All at the same time. I’m losing it.

There’s another shooting. This time, a prostitute was left in the bushes next to our apartment complex to die, naked and humiliated. There’s a backwoods club down a dirt road about 150 yards from the complex. I stay indoors when the club is open because there’s no way I’m letting anyone know a white “bitch” lives here. One night, shots rang out and four policemen….FOUR policemen show up. There are hundreds of people swarming the streets. I watch from my second story window. The police are outnumbered. What the hell can they do? I feel so safe. *insert sarcasm and hopelessness*

The police are no better than the drug dealers. Example, the neighbor’s son got pulled over with three pounds of marijuana in his trunk. When he went to court the judge told him he was being charged with two pounds. Now you tell me, what the hell happened to it and are you going to argue? I was pulled over on my way to work. I received a ticket for no proof of insurance while driving my cute, little ford focus, didn’t pay for it and didn’t appear in court. I was arrested and taken to jail. On the way there, the officer says, “You smell great. Don’t worry about Hall County Detention. Those officers like pretty girls and are usually pretty lenient.”  Think someone would believe me if I told? Do you believe it? I know I didn’t but that’s the way it went down. The feeling of helplessness and defeat will overtake everything innocent that you believe in.

Tonia

My husband was finally released after 8 months. The power came back on, the fridge was full, and the kids were happy. Life went on but we were never the same. After spending 5 years in the projects, I had had enough. I moved back home to Montana with the kids and left him in Georgia.

Georgia left me hateful and blind and I couldn’t stand how that made me feel. I learned to hate because I was hated.  Eventually, I moved on and learned that things didn’t have to be that way. The world was full of color and flavor and it was up to me to reach out and taste it. When will racism, poverty, hate crimes, and general judgement cease?  It’s up to you, my dear readers. The world is not always……..black and white.

Carnival Ride To Nowhere

“It seems like you may be an emotional eater.” I stare back at my therapist blinking rapidly, thinking about him sitting at a desk in college taking notes on paper instead of an electronic device. He seems totally outdated. He’s a great guy, don’t get me wrong, I just don’t think he quite gets food addiction.

Way back when my grandparents were growing up, everything came from their OWN fields and hen houses. Now, it seems like everything is genetically modified. Sprayed chemicals on our fruit and veggies to help them grow faster and larger. Hormone injections are put into our cattle so that they grow faster and larger. Anything to feed our hungry and obese. I am the starving fat lady. God knows I need my over-sized burger and gigantic fruit!

So perhaps it isn’t the food itself we are addicted to. Like a heroin addict during withdrawal we are addicted to the chemical. It leaves us wanting more. It tickles our insides when we finally have it. Add a dash of convenience to the mix and you’ve got a hot ass addiction. We try to do good. I know I do. I can’t count how many diets and life change rodeos I’ve been to. Just eat better and exercise. Oh, that’s it? Thank God you’re here to tell me that. What a break through! meme Can you imagine if I tried to exercise all the calories I consumed? There aren’t enough hours in the day OR night to burn those suckers off.

My shame is unlimited. I walk into a restaurant and the first thing I look for is whether or not the booth tables are movable. Before going to an unfamiliar movie theater I call ahead to be sure their seats are large enough. Carnival rides? Forget about it. Being overweight you are constantly reminded just how fat you are. Every where I go I have to think about my weight. Can I walk that far? Can I fit? Will I be looked at and judged?

So do something about it! *nods at the stupidity of that statement* You know those little excited wind-up toys? You wind it up until it takes off real fast and then eventually it burns out and slowly winds down until you crank it up again. Well, that’s my “doing something about it.” I start out excited and ready to go. I take off! Full steam ahead! Then, I start to wind down. I no longer have the energy or care to try and I am back where I started until something else comes along to wind me up again. The roller coaster is unreal. All I know is, I want off this damn ride. Get me back to the concession stand. I’m starving.

cake

 

My Safety Shell

Oh Tonia! You are so pretty. I look down at the floor as if to feel ashamed. “Thank you,” I say politely. You know those kids, teens, and adults that model clothing sales in your local ads? Well, one of them was me. I remember the embarrassment when one of the women said, “This is for maternity. Let’s stuff this pillow in.” Looking back now, she was paying me a compliment without knowing.

I married years later, popped out a few kids, and got comfortable enough in my relationship to no longer care what my body looked like. The compliments dwindled down to “Oh Tonia! You have such a pretty face.”

A few more years later and I gain even more weight. The compliments have ceased and I take a breath of relief. It’s not that I didn’t appreciate the feedback people gave me. I truly did because they didn’t have to say anything at all. But I cringed inside when I heard them. “What do you want from me?” “You are JUST being polite and don’t really mean that.” Inside I feel my gut turn and my heart race. It takes everything I have not to scream out, “SHUT THE FUCK UP!” But that wouldn’t be very lady-like of me, now would it?

Perhaps it was the conditioning and abuse. Years of molestation by many different people damaged me beyond belief. I was tainted. I was dirty. I was no longer whole. I kept my secret for many years. It ate at me like a worm to an apple. It took over my core and left me feeling bitter, angry, and unsure. To hear someone compliment me on my looks made me cringe and I have my abusers to thank for that. When I finally did tell a family member they scolded me for not telling sooner. What the fuck did you want me to do when I didn’t trust anyone? The adults in my life betrayed me and I was taught to respect them. Thank you sexual molesters for ruining my life, oh by the way, here is your dosage of respect. It was much easier to just get fat. It has become my shell and well, I’m comfortable here.

I will definitely cover more of this later. But for right now, leave me to my donuts of despair.

Rewards With Consequences

“You’re going to finish all that is on that plate.”

“But I’m full.”

“Don’t move from that table until it’s gone.”

Ever hear this in your home growing up? It was always important to eat everything on your plate even if you’re not the one that dished it all on. So what you’re telling me is, you piled all this food on my plate not knowing how much I would eat and you want ME to finish it? I’m sure my parent’s parents told them the same thing. So, who breaks that cycle? Who will tell their child that it’s perfectly OK to throw food away? That wasting food is OK. That making your own choices about how much you put on your plate is OK. Once we’re adults it’s embedded so deep in our minds that we don’t even realize that we’re doing it. So we dish up our child’s plate and control the portion ourselves, not knowing our child’s OFF switch. So why not scoot Johnny up to the counter and have him dish his own? Within common-sense of course.

What about advertisements? Stop for a moment and think. How often do you see a food commercial after 5 pm? How many food advertisements on billboards did you read on the way home? How many grocery stores announcing great deals on their orange-bulb sign did you read?

Two for five!

One free when you buy two!

Kids eat free on Tuesday!

Buy 1 Get 1

The list goes on. Think about how much our grocery bill would shrink if we only bought what we NEEDED. Because it’s on sale, does it mean you should buy it? Do you write a grocery list to shop and then pick up a “few extras?” Does convenience outweigh obesity?

Rewards with consequences. Food becomes the reward. Obesity becomes the consequence.

When I first learned to tie my shoes, it went like this:

Over, under, around and through,
Meet Mr. Bunny Rabbit, pull and through.

“You did it! You tied your shoes! Every time you tie them on your own you can have a Twinkie!”Ah grandma’s house. I love grandma’s house.

Besides feeling hungry, when do you eat? My nasty cycle is, “You celebrate, you eat. You’re rewarded,  you eat. You’re fussy, you eat.  You go out with friends, you eat. You’re sad, you eat. You’re happy, you eat.” And again, it doesn’t help that there are signs and colors and smells… oh my! So today (just try for today) step back and take a look at your surroundings. Count up the billboards, the signs, the coupons, the sales! Take a list to the store and only get what is on that list. I will walk this with you and will post results! You can leave yours in the comments. Are you going to be the first to break the cycle?

My results done on 4/10/2015 within a 15 miles radius

  • 4 fast food commercials in 2 hours.
  • 6 food billboards
  • 4 family restaurants with large advertisements.
  • 18 fast food restaurants!

Thirty-two!! So at the least, 32 times a day I am subjected to food advertisements and how great food is and how cheap and easy it is!

 

Love Thyself

I’m just going to walk upright. More straight. That’s it. Not too stiff. Just straight. Ugh! Now I look like an overweight ostrich. I swear I had a neck last week. I think it’s moved up into my now forming double chin. So perhaps I’m NOT getting fatter. I’m just……moving.  UGH! I’m a continental drift! That seems reasonable considering that my boobs were once upright and in place. My butt had some firmness to it too! Oh God! Where’s my ass?!?

I don’t think I ever really appreciated my young body. I stare at myself in the mirror. Maybe it’s this shirt that makes me look pregnant. I take it off. Nope. It wasn’t the shirt. Are those stretch marks? An ex-boyfriend once said, “No baby, it’s fine. You’re thick. Thick’s good.” I slowly turn to him, “Really? THICK is good?”  “Well…..yeah?” Did he just put a question mark on that?!? This might explain why he’s an ex.  

meme

People always say to love yourself.  What is love? According to Wiki, “Love is a variety of different feelings, states, and attitudes that range from interpersonal affection to pleasure.” Is this what I have with food? Perhaps. I think the band Whitesnake got it right when they asked, “Is this love?” Is it what I’ve been searching for or am I dreaming? This must be love ’cause it’s really got a hold on me. Food, you really do. Maybe we really need to see less of each other. Before we do though, how about one last rodeo?

Ahh…hello cinnamon roll. Let’s heat you up a bit and make you feel warm and toasty. I know you will repay the favor evenly.

fridge 2

My Precious Secret

It’s 1991. The high school halls are filled with familiar faces. The smell of paper, bad personal hygiene, and bubble gum fills the air. “Tonia!! Hey! Want to go over to Fort Missoula and have a smoke?” How can I turn down this exciting offer? Class starts in 15 minutes, we gotta make this quick. We sit, smoke and talk about how big of rebels we are by getting away with it. We head back and she asks if she can come over tomorrow. I’d have to ask my mom.

The next day the same conversation only this time she asks if it’s OK to come over after school. “I asked last night. She said that it would be fine just as long as we worked on some homework before doing anything else.” After the last bell rings for the day we giggle with excitement, grab our stuff and hitch a ride on the bus to my house. Mom comes home later. Finally! I’m starving! We excitedly rush down the stairs together laughing all the way. Mom opens the door before we reach the bottom she looks at my friend, then looks at me with fury. Laughter ceases. What is it this time? “I told you NO ONE was allowed in the house while I was gone,” she yells while pointing her finger in my face. “Mom, we talked about..” “DON’T tell me! I make the fucking rules. Your friend, GONE! NOW!” Could she really say the word “friend” any more sarcastic? I’m mortified that she would not only embarrass me but make my friend feel awkward and uncomfortable as well. God knows what she is going to tell her mom about my dysfunction.

I say goodbye to my friend and start to head back upstairs to sulk and be pissed at the world. Mom yells before I reach the top, “You better get your chores done, NOW!” “Mom, I did them.” “Really? Let’s take another look! I see this…and this..” I think sometimes she forgets I’m 15…..or human.

The house is quiet and dark. Finally everyone is in bed. A big bowl of ice cream sounds so…comforting right now. Just me and that ice cream. I go downstairs quickly and quietly. I open the freezer and staring back at me is this beautiful generic brand strawberry ice cream. “Forget the bowl, Tonia,” it whispers seductively. I grab it and rush to the spoon drawer snatching the biggest spoon I could find. I head upstairs to my room. Peace and excitement surrounds me. My secret. No one will need to know….