We often struggle with weaknesses in life. For Heather, her weakness for sweets and food began taking over her life, preventing her from so many things. Once she was able to get the help she needed, Heather was able to achieve a career, relationship and healthy lifestyle that she had always wanted. Heather was able to accept and achieve an identity that was right for her.
About three years ago, I decided I’d had enough with food taking over my life. Even if I ate well, the thoughts about food and weight dominated and didn’t leave room for what I really wanted out of life – connecting with friends and family, a fulfilling career and a long-term, healthy romantic relationship. I remember the day it changed.
I had just gone to a Music-in-the-Park event with friends and I left early because I was feeling nauseous. When I got home, I started eating sweets and was soon struck by how irrational my behavior was. I became willing to do whatever I needed to do to get my life back.
I started attending support group meetings and acknowledged that – contrary to popular advice – I couldn’t handle eating sweets in moderation. I was simply a sugar addict. I gave up eating sweet dessert items and miraculously didn’t feel it was the huge sacrifice I’d anticipated. I realized sweets provided no true happiness in my life. That kind of joy was always fleeting, only to be quickly replaced by misery. I gained real satisfaction from connecting with loved ones, being of service to others and taking good care of myself. About nine months down the road, I took things a step further by seeing a dietician. I added fruits and veggies to my diet, removed processed foods and adhered to reasonable portion sizes. I learned to deal with my feelings without using food and was able to lose about 30 pounds in just under a year.
In the past, when I was upset or down on myself, I would plan compulsively. I’d obsessively outline my food for the next week, calculating calories and how many pounds I could lose if I worked out vigorously each day. Inevitably, I would not stick to my plan since it felt like a punishment and then I’d feel even worse. My new approach meant letting go of that need to control everything. Although I wasn’t religious and wasn’t sure about the notion of God, I took a more spiritual approach, praying and asking the universe for help, choosing to do the next right thing rather than planning 10 steps ahead. I became more gentle with myself, acknowledging that I was valuable despite my shortcomings. I knew that beating myself up only lead to more destructive behavior with food. I realized I’d been wishing my life away living for the future, so I tried to stay in the present moment. I also took this time to work through some of the difficult issues from my past that were holding me back. I attended therapy sessions, journaled, and learned from others who’d traveled a similar path.
A couple years after this journey began, I went on a date with Paul. I was able to be more open than I’d been in the past and I was able to (mostly) reign in my need to plan and predict the future. Now we’ve been together over a year and I’m so happy that I did the work I needed to do on myself before meeting him. Like all couples, we have our ups and downs, but Paul is my best friend and we’re able to talk to each other about anything. Now, instead of dwelling on what’s wrong, Paul and I share three things we’re grateful for every night before bed. It’s helped me to realize that even “bad” days have good sides and that I need to focus on the positive. Whatever I focus on seems to magnify, so why not make it good?
Now happily on the other side of my war with food and nestled in a loving relationship, I also have the fulfilling career I’d hoped for, working as a psychotherapist and health coach to help others deal with their feelings about life and food.
See how Heather answers our Identity Five Questions:
1. What have you accepted within yourself and/or within your life? Is there anything you are working on accepting?
I’ve accepted that I’m not perfect, never will be and that’s ok. I still need to remind myself of this regularly. I’m also working to accept that most of the universe is outside my control and I might as well just be in the moment and quit worrying about it.
2. What do you appreciate about yourself or your life?
I appreciate my sense of hope. I never give up.
3. What have you achieved, or what are you working to achieve personally, physically, or mentally?
I am working to grow my psychotherapy and health-coaching practice while maintaining sanity and self-care, after all, that is what I preach to my clients.
4. What is your no-so-perfect way? We are all unique with quirks and imperfections, so why not flaunt them and embrace them!
I am very Type A. At times, I’m very child-like and goofy. I am a non-linear thinker and somewhat ADHD too; I tend to forget and misplace things. When I studied abroad in college, family members placed bets on which country I’d lose my passport in.
5. How would you complete this sentence, “I Love My…” This has to be about you, physically or mentally.
I love my sense of curiosity. I’ll never stop asking questions and learning!