I, like so many of you out there, have battled with food and weight issues my whole life. Rereading old journals from when I was in 6th and 7th grade revealed an early hatred for my body (one that I’m sure was fostered by my life as a dancer). Of course now, I look back on my 12 year-old self and think, “My lord! I was so NOT fat in any way imaginable!”
Throughout the years food has been both a best friend and an enemy. As a young dancer I tried to starve myself. As a teenager I fed my sadness and loneliness with junk food. Through college I stuffed my face to stay awake and write papers or study for exams. As an adult I “rewarded” myself with cookies and cake when I was stressed and juggling too many things at once. I’ve always had secret stashes of food that I hid from those I loved. My weight constantly fluctuated up & down depending on what was going on in my life.
In the 2 years leading up to my breast cancer diagnosis I steadily put on weight. 20 lbs of it. I was stressed out, taking care of everyone else but myself, and turning to food for comfort. My mom was dying of cancer and I had a “fuck it” attitude. I started smoking cigarettes again. I stopped exercising. I ate whatever I wanted – whenever I wanted. And my weight steadily crept up.
Once those bad habits settle into place it’s so hard to break them. I had every intention of getting healthy once we settled into our new life in Ohio… But it was much too easy just to continue with the bad habits. So I did. Right up until I was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2011. That was my wake up call.
I started exercising again. Started eating healthy. Cut out sugar and processed foods. Started inching my way towards becoming a vegan. Started making myself (and my health) a priority again.
And it worked. During my 12 weeks of chemo when most women tend to pack on the pounds (thanks to heavy doses of steroids and health professionals encouraging us to eat whatever we want) I instead, started to lose weight. By the time chemo was done I’d lost 10 lbs. And in the months since then I’ve lost 10 more.
But the scale has been stuck between 150-155lbs for the longest now. Every morning I weigh myself I hope to see it dip below 150. But no luck. Until today. This morning the scale said 149. And I was elated!!! Triumph!
I don’t know why the number on the scale means so much to me. But I know that my complicated relationship with food has become even more complex since I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Now every morsel of food I put into my mouth is fraught with meaning. Every choice I make can either tempt my cancer cells to reproduce or keep them at bay. The guilt and fear I feel from eating a cupcake is magnified. What I eat is now a matter of life or death.
I am striving to find a balance. But admit that many hours in the day are consumed by thoughts of food. And changing my diet has been one of the hardest things in my breast cancer journey thus far (especially trying to give up sugar!!!) I try not to beat myself up about it. Remain flexible. And remember that one little bowl of ice cream or day of horrible eating is not going to completely derail my health. I just need to start fresh again the next day.
So to all of you out there struggling with your weight, eating disorders, food issues… I feel your pain. All I know is that the best path is the same one to use with any addiction or problem… Just take it one day at a time.
Today I’m 149 lbs. Today I feel good. Today I ate some things that I probably shouldn’t have… but I’m just gonna let it slide and start fresh tomorrow. And I will try my best to be ok if the scale reads 150 again in the morning.
Peace. – T