The chubby, pig-tailed girl in this picture is yours truly. Back in the 80s and early 90s most kids didn't have a weight problem. I was one of the few who did.
I grew up in a loving, supportive home with my dad, mom, and four sisters. My life wasn’t perfect, but I had a happy childhood and did not experience abuse or trauma. When I was 5 years old, I started gaining weight. To my knowledge I didn't turn to food for comfort or to escape my feelings, but simply loved food and had developed bad eating habits.
My mom was into health foods and healthy eating. So, we didn’t typically have junk food or sweets at home. Occasionally, we would have ice cream or my favorite snack, Rotel cheese dip. It was my kryptonite. Once I started eating it, I couldn’t stop until I was miserably full. I remember being at a friend’s sleepover and eating my beloved cheese dip. All my friends were stuffed from eating so much, but not me. I could have eaten twice the amount of my friends. Only the fear of embarrassment kept me from eating more. Cheese dip wasn't the only food I pigged out on. Overeating had become a normal behavior.
As my weight continued to increase, so did my unhappiness with myself. I wanted to do something about it. I tried counting calories, but restricting calories left me feeling hungry and unsatisfied. I hated being hungry. In the sixth grade, I joined Weight Watchers. It didn't work for me. I was only 12 years old and lacked the maturity and discipline to stick to a diet.
My sophomore year of high school, my mom mentioned that her friend lost weight by counting fat grams. I was hopeful it would work for me too. I figured I could eat as much fat-free food as I wanted and not be hungry. I started limiting myself to 20 grams of fat a day which was the recommended amount for weight loss at the time. I ate healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, and lean meats. But a majority of my diet consisted of processed foods like low-fat Snack-well cookies, fat-free Fig Newtons, fat-free Saltine Crackers, gummy bears, frozen yogurt, sweet tea, and soda. As unhealthy as those foods are, the diet worked. I lost about 1-2 pounds per week. We now know this was a very unhealthy way to eat. If I ate like that now, my blood sugar would be so out of whack I wouldn't be able to function.
I reached my goal weight and maintained it into my 20s by continuing to count fat grams and exercise. After my second son was born in 1999, I had a stubborn 15 pounds to lose. I switched to the Somersize food combining diet. Foods are broken down into groups. For example, proteins can't be eaten with carbs and carbs can't be eaten with fat. I lost the pregnancy weight, but the diet was too complicated and not sustainable long term. I needed something simpler.
Even though I was eating healthy foods there were many times that I would eat too much. I had an aha moment one day when I noticed the eating habits of my four-year-old son. He never overate. He enjoyed his food and ate as much as he wanted until he was satisfied but not stuffed. He loved chicken nuggets, but he never ate too many. Sometimes he would leave only one bite of a nugget on his plate. How many adults leave one bite of something that they really love? Not me.
I started becoming mindful of how much I was eating. At meals, I allowed myself one serving of whatever I wanted but didn’t go back for seconds. By watching my portions, I began to retrain my brain and stomach to recognize when I was satisfied. I stopped over eating. I began to hate the feeling of being too full. I didn’t count calories or macros. I didn’t worry about food combinations. I simply ate healthy foods and learned to eat just enough to satisfy my hunger. This became a lifestyle habit and allowed me to easily maintain my goal weight. That was almost 20 years ago. My four-year-old son is now 23 years old.
Currently, there is so much noise and confusion in the nutrition industry. Even those who know what to do, often lack the desire, focus, or motivation to follow through. Others are confused about where to begin. I recently had a friend share with me that her doctor told her she needed to lose weight in six months. He gave her a handout on the Mediterranean Diet and sent her on her way. She was on her own to figure it out.
I know what it is like to want to change, but not know how. I have learned so much over the years on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It is my passion to help others with similar struggles.
If you are struggling with weight management and are ready for a change, contact Jessica to see how the Storm Fitness team can support you on your own health journey.