I am the woman in the size-4 jeans who has a terrible secret: Every day I fight the urge to eat. I am a food addict.
Like most fat girls, my childhood was filled with relentless teasing—and self-hatred. I escaped through dreams of being a dancer, until I learned, brokenhearted, that I was too fat for toe shoes.
My mother was clinically paranoid and self-centered. My absentee father showed up unexpectedly one night. He was cold and critical of me. I didn’t even get a hug. He seduced my mother after I went to bed. Later I walked in on them. Being the over-responsible kid I was, I demanded that he leave.
Fantasy saved me from my sadness. I dreamed of being a slender princess with an adoring kingdom. My body might be in the school auditorium, but my mind was in another world. Mental escape and numbness were the way I survived. Food was the anesthetic for my constant emotional pain.
Despite the ravages of my life, I was always feisty and I had visions of something better. In my youth I tried diet after diet, and cheated on them all. Finally, at age 17, I received a scholarship to Weight Watchers, against the protests of my mother. I wanted boys to like me and I wanted a life that I loved. Five years later, driven by my determination and my deep desire for a better life, I had lost 100 pounds. I’ve never gained them back.
The weight loss transformed my life, giving me greater self-esteem and even a waist. It brought men into my life. But I was left with excess folds of skin. I feared what men who were attracted to me would feel once I disrobed. Could they ever love me? I hung on to the knowledge that I looked good in clothes.
In intimate situations, men have sometimes rejected me. I have never held it against them. Men are visual, and regardless of personality, charm and wit, a woman’s appearance is crucial. It didn’t help to tell myself that beauty is fleeting for everyone, and that in the end the playing field would level out. In the end we are all dead! I needed a strategy in order to be seen and loved for who I am.
I had always presented myself with the defensive mask of the funny, smart girl who was beautiful inside. I was always very giving, often at my own expense, and hypersensitive to the needs of others. Through my childhood pain, I achieved an adult’s wisdom at an early age. So here is that wisdom— the recommendations of a formerly fat girl—tempered through trial, error, marriage, divorce, and the unceasing determination to attain a full and happy life. The strategy that has worked for me can work for you:
Be Yourself. You can’t really fool anyone. It hurts you to try. Rather than elevating your feelings of self-worth, denying who you are destroys them. Learn to enhance your best qualities. For example, are you funny? I myself am so funny that it’s in my astrological chart. What are you good at? Use it. Exercise it. You’ll be much happier, and your genuineness will attract a man who will love you for your true beauty. That’s the man you’ll want to love in return.
Love Your Man. Accept him as he is, honor and appreciate him. Men respond to a woman’s respect and genuine admiration. All too many women who meet a man begin immediately to think about what they can change. Reject that destructive mindset and focus on the things that count in your man. Don’t blindly accept bad choices or behavior, but soften your occasional criticism with self-restraint and compassion.
Be Sexy. This is one of your most powerful tools, but there is more to being sexy than meets the eye. Your attitude and self-confidence will shine through any negligee. Take risks. Be bold and daring. Learn from your intimate experiences. Develop your sexual skills and put them into action. He will clamor for more.
Have a Vision. Imagine the future and the things you want. Which ones will you achieve sooner with weight loss? Paint a mental picture you love, keep it uppermost in your mind, and remember it every time you face temptation or disappointment. If you wander off course, get back on and begin again. Weight loss is not about perfection. It’s about persistence. Visualize and stay vigilant forever.
Give Yourself a Break. Most people do not understand why you eat. Many think those who are overweight are lazy. We know better. Be your own best friend—now—and never compare the inside You with someone else’s outside. Someone who appears beautiful to you may be guilt-laden, depressed or worse. Take a giant step forward: stand proudly before life’s mirror and see all that is best about You.
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