In 2015, I shared one of my greatest struggles with my blog audience. In a post titled “The ‘Happiest’ Binge Eater of All,” I gave the reader a front-row seat for the fight against my food addiction. It was by no means a pretty sight—especially when I shared the lengths I would go to conceal my habit—but I felt like I could publish it since I proudly assumed that the binging was behind me. It turns out, it was not.
Fast forward to 2019 when I was working the most emotionally taxing job I’ve ever had. The fact that it was a fitness company that extolled the benefits of a healthy lifestyle couldn’t compete with the stress of working for a frightening composite of Miranda Priestly and Joel Osteen, and the bad habit soon became prominent in my life again. Near the end of my time at the company, my afternoon routine regularly consisted of pre-taping a “live” workout at 3 p.m. and curling up on the couch with two pints of ice cream for my afternoon snack by 4:30 p.m. As you can imagine, I don’t remember that time fondly and have no plans to add it to my life’s highlight reel.
When I (very publicly) resigned from my job, I assumed the binging behavior would disappear with it, but the opposite happened. Instead of tackling the root problems of using food to cope with stress and depression, I allowed the emotional struggles that came from a year of such abrupt transitions to dictate my response. This kept the binging center stage in my life, and while I would love to pin it all on the problematic job, I know that it stemmed from never properly dealing with the problem in the first place.
When I lost the weight in 2014, I did so by cutting dessert out of my life, and while it was immensely effective, it left me assuming that dessert was my only problem. Adding to that misdiagnosis was the pride I held about my achievement. I can’t even count the number of times I proudly told someone about how I’d been in a Buzzfeed article about weight loss, and that habit of living in the past kept me from confronting the current issues.
I don’t want to get into the grittiest details about my binging since I’m saving those for my forthcoming memoir titled Fat2Fit2Fat2Fit-ish; however, I will say that in my worst moments in late 2019, I was in the habit of consuming 6,900 calories most evenings. I had moved past dessert being my only vice and soon did not discriminate when it came to my food benders. As a result of this immensely damaging lifestyle, my weight and depression lethargically linked arms and increased simultaneously.
By May 2020, I was only three pounds away from the heaviest I’d ever weighed, and I knew that drastic change was needed. This epiphany came one night when I was in my home office feeling extra depressed because the next day marked the one year anniversary of quitting my toxic job in Florida. Let’s face it, sitting in my office eating two pints of ice cream with a king-sized Kit Kat bar was quite the contrast to staying in resorts and riding in a leased super luxury car.
For a moment, I started down the all too familiar path of wallowing that I’d grown so comfortable with, but something snapped that night and forced me to call it quits on the pity party I’d been hosting for the past year. I knew that the “lifestyle changes” (fad diets) I kept trying weren’t doing the trick, so I decided I would modify my 2014 weight loss strategy to address the issue. Instead of trying to lose twenty pounds a month by crash dieting, I was going to cut dessert out of my life, say no to second portions, and walk five hundred miles over the next five months.
It would be fantastic to be able to cue a montage of me walking every back road surrounding my rural home and emphatically saying no to seconds, but I have yet to figure out how to do that in a blog format. Instead, I will leave that up to your imagination and simply say that replacing the unhealthy habits I’d grown so accustomed to with healthy ones was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But like so many things that require dedication and sacrifice, it was worth it.
When setting my goals, I intentionally worked to reduce my obsession with the number on the scale by making it a point to limit weigh-ins to once a month, so you can imagine my shock when I stepped on the scale at the beginning of June and saw I had lost eleven pounds. The number was so shocking because I hadn’t achieved it by imposing diet restrictions that I wouldn’t be able to maintain long-term. Instead, I simply adopted an eat less, exercise more strategy.
As someone who used to work for a program was built on the promise of generating the QUICKest results, I can assure you that any program advertising “FAST RESULTS” or “LOSE X POUNDS IN 10 DAYS” is not the real deal. Get ready for the cold, hard truth: there’s nothing sexy about saying no to seconds and walking every night. And while there won’t be any slick infographics to tell you what to eat each day, I can promise you that taking your time to tackle a problem slowly and methodically can change your life.
This weekend represents the five-month mark, and I can proudly say I have officially walked five hundred miles and weigh the same amount as when I first began my job in Florida. In May, at the start of this journey, I wrote, “I want to go into my 26th birthday feeling amazing and having a passion for life again.” I am happy to report that came true since I’ve seen the return of the confidence I thought I’d lost in 2019 along with the desire to live a life that isn’t controlled by food.
The past five months laid a foundation of healthy physical and mental habits, but I will always have to work hard to maintain the perspective I’ve gained this year. I don’t want to make any bold proclamations about how I’ll never overeat again, but trust me when I say I plan to faithfully apply the moderation I learned this year so I’ll never need a third blog post describing how I tackled my binging. And my last piece of advice? Don’t wait until things are so out of hand that it takes five months to get your life back in order. I promise it’s worth starting today.