I have always enjoyed eating, and can remember how even as a young teenager I would binge on food. One memory that sticks out is of a time when I snuck into our laundry room to eat ice cream that was in the freezer. I was so scared of getting in trouble for eating something that I had been told not to touch that I did not even use a spoon to eat the ice cream. Instead, I scooped it out with my hands, as if I was a starving man who was raiding a dumpster. I wish that the stolen ice cream was an isolated situation, but that was not the case.
Once I had a job and was able to drive, my eating became an even bigger problem. I began using food to cope with anything and everything. If I was anxious, I ate. If I was sad, I ate. If I was happy, I ate. It did not matter what the occasion was, I could always find a reason to eat. Many times I would find myself driving to the local grocery store to get a chicken finger sub and a pint of ice cream, which I would eat in my parked car. During these little “excursions”, I would feel intense embarrassment for what I was doing. I knew that to those walking by, it looked pathetic to see a teenager sitting in his hideous minivan, stuffing his face with food, but I did not care. All I wanted to do was find comfort in the food that I was gorging on. This cycle of binging on food continued all the way up until I left for my freshman year of college.
Once I arrived at college I found that I did not have the time to binge eat. I was constantly moving from activity to activity and did not feel the urge to “eat my feelings”, but that did not last. After the first semester of college I began withdrawing from my friends. I had binged on my new friendships to the point that I had grown sick of them, so I backed off and ran straight into the arms of my comforter: food. It was during my second semester that I began buying a box of Poptarts a few nights a week. I would then come back to my room and eat all but two of the pastries as I lay in bed watching tv. In case you are unfamiliar with the calorie count in a box of Poptarts, by eating all but two of the pastries, I was consuming 1,200 calories. That is an insanely high amount of calories for a nighttime snack, and quite frankly, I’m amazed that I wasn’t even larger when my freshman year ended.
My binge eating continued throughout the summer after my freshman year and into my sophomore year, but it was during sophomore year that the eating skyrocketed. I am not sure what the reason behind the increase in my binging was, but I went berserk with food. I started the terrible habit of eating a cafeteria drinking glass packed full of ice cream at lunch and at dinner. Each of these ice cream desserts equaled roughly 1,056 calories since I would add a brownie, Oreos, and chocolate syrup to the ice cream before eating it. As if it was not already bad enough to be eating so much ice cream each day, I also began buying two M&M ice cream cookies, a 20 oz of Mountain Dew, and my trusty box of Poptarts to snack on most evenings each week. I would consume all of this food (except for two of the Poptarts) in places where I would not be seen by someone that I might know (the track field, my car, etc.). This totaled an astonishing 4,122 calories that I was consuming in almost pure sugar multiple times a week. It was after this year of binging that I reached the weight of 238. I am 6′ 3″, so I was able to hide the weight for quite some time. However, during the summer after my sophomore year, the binge eating was starting to show.
I came into my junior year with the same excitement as previous first semesters. I was ready to meet new people and make good memories, but my excitement began to taper off when I started noticing how fat I looked. I had reached the point where hiding the excess weight was not an option, and in pictures I could see how my stomach stuck out in an unsightly way and how my face looked extra round. It was at this point that I knew that change needed to occur. Thankfully, my close friend Olivia challenged me on my twentieth birthday to abstain from dessert for thirty days. It was this challenge that sparked a change that I believe has saved my life.
I initially agreed to the dessert fast with my typical, brief determination. I would oftentimes commit to something like this, only to fail after a day or two. However, one day into the fast, my sister called and told me that Olivia had said that she did not think that I would follow through with the challenge. I do not know why, but for some reason this really irked me. Even though I had failed more times than I could count in the past, I was mad that someone would verbalize my failures. Looking back on this anger, I can only laugh since I do not see why she would have faith in the person who had failed so many times before. It was at this point that I determined not to allow her prediction to come true. I resisted temptation and pushed through to the end of the thirty day goal, but it did not stop there. After thirty days, I was feeling much more energetic and healthy. Some close friends had even commented on how I looked a little thinner. I did not want this to end, so after my thirty days were completed, I chose to extend my dessert fast to a year.
I have now completed 212 days of my year of dessert fasting, and can happily say that I weigh 194 pounds. I feel so much better than I used to and have even begun running (which if you had known me before the weight loss, you would be amazed at). The main reason that I had for writing this post is to share how I lost weight. A lot of people have asked me over the past nine months what I did to lose weight, but they never liked my answer when I would say that all I did was cut dessert from my diet. I wanted to show that a person who seems completely happy and outgoing (like me during my time at college) can be harboring an addiction to something that is destroying them. If you know that someone you are close to is struggling with something, be a good friend like Olivia was to me. Help the person work through their problem instead of pretending that they are as happy as they seem on the outside.
And that is the story behind my weight loss. Sorry if you were expecting more of a radical tale involving a diet pill addiction or a dangerous gastric bypass surgery performed in Mexico. Maybe someday I will write a fictional story that is more dramatic.
Until next time,