Friday, October 30, 2009

The reason I do what I do for a living.....

I received this email from my food client Michele. She has changed so drastically that I wanted her story so I could share it with others. Here it is in her words.......

My name is Michele and I am 36 years old. For as long as I can remember, I have had an eating disorder. When I was in high school, I developed anorexia. I had been mildly overweight and found that once I began starving myself by eating things like carrots and celery all day and occasionally a bowl of tomato soup, I dropped most of my weight. I liked being thinner and enjoyed all the comments made by others who noticed the weight I had dropped. I became consumed with controlling what I ate as a means for being thin. I discounted all the negative side effects like being constantly cold, having dry and brittle hair and nails, lacking energy and feeling fatigue. None of that mattered because I was thin. As I got older and had children, I continued off and on with this mentality of eating. If I ever overindulged, I would make up by starving myself. I yo-yo'd in terms of weight, sometimes as much as 20 pounds up or down, for many years. Finally, when I reached my late 20's, I realized I could not sustain never eating for long periods of time anymore. But instead of adopting a healthy eating pattern, I began to be a binge eater because eating made me feel guilty. I would make it, oh maybe, 3 weeks in a row with eating one meal a day, then I would feel starving and eat everything in sight for like 5 days in a row. In a day, I probably consumed as much as 5,000 calories on these binge days. Once I started to eat, I could not stop myself. I had the mentality that, well, I was eating, so I might as well just go all out. Never once did I consider that eating was normal or necessary. It was bad and I wasn't meant to do it. This may sound strange, because we need food to live, but I had developed a pattern over 20 years of my life that said I needed to feel hungry to feel thin and I needed to eat one meal a day consisting of 500-800 calories. Of course, a body cannot sustain itself over long periods of time eating this way, nor should a person even try. But, this is where I ended up: starving myself for as many days as I could handle it, then binge eating because my body actually WAS starving to death. I developed hypothyroidism as a result with all the symptoms: extremely low body temperature, severe fatigue, sluggish metabolism, hair loss, etc. Though you may think I was really thin, I actually wasn't. Because of the binge eating and because my body was in starvation mode, I actually stored everything I ate as fat. So, I had gained about 20 pounds of fat as a result of starving myself. How ironic!

During these awful years, I would become so full of despair over my eating habits (generally after I had gone through my binge eating spree), and I would journal my feelings. I would tell myself to stop doing this; that I needed to start eating healthy again, get control of my habits and change things. So, I would try to create a menu that seemed healthy and follow it for a time. However, I would slowly start to feel guilty for eating and because I was not feeling hungry all the time, I thought I was going to get fat. So, I would fall into the same habits again and be right back where I started.

About 5 weeks ago, I sat down on my bed and just started to cry. I was so tired of this! I didn't want to be consumed with food anymore. I just wanted to be normal and eat food, like everyone else. I wanted to have lunch with my sisters and mom when we went out instead of ordering a cup of coffee and taking an appetite suppressant. I wanted to break this horrific cycle, but I didn't know what to do. A friend of mine had been talking about the paleo/zone diet and when I was sitting on my bed, I decided to google it. I have many food allergies: can't have any grains, dairy, sugar, alcohol and I don't eat meat so this sounded like a great diet, but I didn't want to do it by myself. I googled "paleo/zone diets delivered, santa cruz, california" and Shari Keener's name came up for meal services. It turned out that she wasn't doing that meal delivery service anymore, but I found her phone number and decided to just give her a call. She answered the phone and I started to ask her questions only to find myself bursting into tears right there on the phone - in the first phone conversation I ever had with her! I was embarrassed, but felt like I couldn't stop myself. I needed help and somehow, for some reason, God put her in my life at that moment to help me. She was so kind and concerned about me and she didn't even know me. She asked to meet with me and she told me how I need to change my thinking about food. She wrote out a sample day of eating in the paleo/zone because of my food sensitivities. It was a 10 block day and it seemed impossible. I was terrified to eat, but on the other hand, there was something calming about having an exact science to what I was going to eat. I had to weigh my protein and measure my carbs and portion out my fat and she told me what time to eat and all the rules. So, I decided to trust her. I started on October 7 and took all my measurements at her request. I had been weighed at the doctor prior to meeting with her and so I had some numbers to refer back to later on. Today is October 29. I have not cheated on the diet once. Since that first day, I have lost 3.5 inches in my waist, 2 inches in my thighs, 3.5 inches in my chest and back and 2 inches in my butt and hips. I have also dropped 8 pounds. But, I am not starving myself! I am eating all day long. I must admit that I have had to call Shari numerous times during these last few weeks when all of a sudden I feel panicked because I don't feel hungry, so therefore, I must be gaining weight. But, she always reminds me that food is fuel. We need to eat! It's necessary to sustain life. It's not about being thin. We eat for health, not for weight. I had never thought this way before. It is very dysfunctional, the way I operated with food. And, it has only been about a month, so I know I have a long way to go. But, I know this for sure...I feel so much better! I am never hungry, I am never tired after a meal, I have energy all day long!, my hair is shiny and has stopped falling out, I do not retain water anymore, my stomach is always flat, my skin is absolutely clear and luminous and I GET TO EAT FOOD! This is freeing for me. And I have Shari to thank for all of this. She genuinely cares - for real! She always texts me and emails me and calls me to see how I am and offers helpful tips and offers encouragement and words of wisdom anytime I need it. I do not know how to thank her enough. She is a life saver and I want people to know, who struggle in the same ways that I do, that there is help and a better way to look at things. Shari rocks! I love her!

7 comments:

Anne and Leigh said...

What a great entry!! So insprational!! Congratst to you Michele for getting your eating on track!

Shari I always read your blog, but dont comment! Keep up the good work!

-Anne

Bill said...

Right on!!! What a great story. Better than any psychologist could do.

Mark Gleason said...

Great letter, good to hear you found Shari! She does rock and everyone loves her! Congratulations on your continued success.

Shari Baby said...

Mark---
I miss you!!! When can i come back to Canada so we can tear it UP!!??

Mark Gleason said...

Shari, you sooo don't want to be here now, you freeze to death hahahah. Let's meet in Vegas baby!!!

kelsalynn said...

I've been a lurker but this post was so touching I thought I'd comment. Keep up the good work both Shari and Michele. You've got a lot of people cheering you on!

Sparrow said...

Thank you everyone for all the encouragement. You are all so kind and it means a lot!