We’ve all heard the saying “You are what you eat”.
When I weighed close to 300 pounds, I was defined by what I ate.
I was defined by how much I ate.
I was defined by when I ate.
It wasn’t unusual for me to wake up in the mornings determined to “Make today, THE DAY!” For
years decades, I wanted to put away the paper bags that told me to have it my way. That told me to think outside the bun. That told me I could eat fresh while eating fast. I’d stand in my kitchen and proclaim that I would eat oatmeal or have a smoothie…but by the end of the day I was hiding fast food bags down at the bottom of the trash can so that I could pretend to be hungry when dinner time came around. The energetic notion of wanting to cook in my own kitchen was washed away by the enticing idea of opening up a menu and having someone do my dirty dishes left behind with a smile and a tip.
I was defined by the processed shit I fed my body and in return my body felt like shit.
The Tara of who I wanted to be was being crushed by the Tara of who I was. Crushed under years of damage done by what I put in my mouth and what I didn’t ask my body to do. I sat around for hours each day. I’d get out of bed and sit on the couch. I get up from the couch and sit at a desk. I’d get up from the desk and return to the couch. I’d get up from the couch and return to the bed. Repeat. Again and again and again.
I wanted something different for my life but couldn’t begin to tell you what that different was. I didn’t want to be crushed under my own weight any longer. I didn’t want to be crushed by my emotional demons telling me this was as good as it was going to get. Telling me to settle in and get used to this life of morbid obesity because at 40 the chances of losing weight, let alone over a hundred pounds was literally slipping through my fingers and into that disgusting paper bag full of double bacon cheese burgers with super sized fries and a 32 oz diet soda that I could finish off before I even pulled into my drive way just a few blocks away.
As I began to make the life saving changes needed to get out of that life crushing morbid obesity, I would use that “you are what you eat” as my mantra. Making food choices, no matter how small, that while didn’t satisfy the 270 pound Tara satisfied the Tara waiting for me. Crying in a work kitchen because of the three large pizzas everyone else chipped into to buy became an almost daily ritual. The boxes of diet soda taunting me as I forced myself to drink water. The almost constant reminder that I could just sneak into a drive through, eat whatever I wanted and then before having to see anyone face to face, purge so violently all remnants of the binge could be erased, made morbid obese Tara so uncomfortable, new driving routes had to be found to avoid the temptation.
You are what you eat.
You are what?
You are what?
You are what you LOVE.
It took months and months for my body to cleanse itself of the crap I’d spent decades feeding it. When I began to understand that my addiction to food wasn’t the fault of just my own but a well laid out plan by the food industry to make cheap food just that: Cheap, I could turn away from the paper bags full of thinking outside the bun and focus on what actually was going INTO that bun you so convincingly wanted me to think outside of. The crying because I wanted to have it my way with the greasy foods pumped full of sugar and fat and laced with chemicals I couldn’t pronounce turned to anger. As my body shrank in size, I grew in understanding. Understanding that it’s really hard to swim upstream when the food industry is bombarding that stream with shitty foods that taste so good and unless I wanted to be crushed by that 270 pounds Tara waiting to belly flop right back into that old way of eating I was going to need to get strong and what I was eating before would not make me strong in the after.
We need to talk more about the “convenience” of convenient foods. It’s easier to rip open a box and throw it in the microwave. It’s easier to drive your hungry kids into a drive through and get immediate satisfaction (and much needed peace and quiet). It’s easier to walk down the aisle of chips and chocolate and liters of soda than stand in the fruits and vegetable section and figure out what to eat. It’s easier to pick up the phone and order something made in another kitchen rather than open the cupboards of our own kitchen and plan accordingly. Ease and convenient is pushed into our faces in almost every aspect. In weight gain. In weight loss. Prepackaged foods designed to either make your waist slimmer or just that much bigger you have to start shopping at Lane Bryant or Big and Tall.
I’m still defined by the food that I eat.
Still by how much I eat.
By when I eat.
It’s not easy staying conscious about food. I’m a very small fish in a very big ocean of EAT THIS, EAT THIS, EAT THIS!!! Being defined by “you are what you eat” looks a little (okay okay okay, A LOT) different for me than it did not that long ago. I am what I love and it took years to go from loving those golden arches promising me nothing to loving myself enough give myself a life of freedom from the addiction the food industry doesn’t want me to know about.
They don’t care about us. They don’t see us as humans. They see us as cash farms. The money that lines our pockets as we turn down our radios to order by a number (even ordering has become a matter of extreme convenience) is the ONLY thing they care about. When we’re waddling around in a diabetic stupor with our high cholesterol, heart disease and those damn XXL sweat pants that are getting just a little too snug wondering what the hell happened to us, that very same industry is turning a blind eye away from you and a very open eye towards the next
It’s not easy but we need to stop being someone else’s gravy train and start being in control.
It’s not easy.
But it is necessary.
Necessary for life.
You are what you (L)e(O)a(V)t(E)