I Was a Food Addict...
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10/4/10 | Jennifer Joyner | 0 Comments

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Jennifer Joyner, Author, Designated Fat Girl

By the time I was finally able to wear my wedding rings again, nearly sixteen years had passed since my wedding day. A year after I was married in 1993, my fingers were too fat to fit the diamond engagement ring and two gold bands I wore on either side.  I’d gained a hundred pounds in my first year of marriage, and that sent me on a 16-year struggle with obesity and morbid obesity.  I developed hypertension and Type 2 diabetes.  I gave birth to a 12-pound baby because I couldn’t get my gestational diabetes under control.  I broke toilet seats and was unable to bathe properly.  I was killing myself with food.

I was a food addict, but I didn’t know it.  None of the many doctors I saw ever suggested that I was addicted to food, so I didn’t consider it a possibility.  All I knew was that I desperately wanted to lose weight and I couldn’t.  I tried everything, every meal plan, every exercise routine, to no avail.  I thought I was going crazy.

Finally in March of 2008, I took drastic steps to save my life.  At 336 pounds, at 34 years old, I had gastric bypass surgery.  I was reluctant to do so; I thought having the surgery and “not losing weight on my own” was taking the easy way out.  Boy, would that prove to be a stupid thought.  I had terrible complications from the surgery that put me back in the hospital twice and caused me to have two subsequent surgeries.  I was terribly sick for months, and hopelessly depressed, thinking I’d made the worst mistake of my life.

But slowly, the sun started to peek through the clouds.  The weight came off so quickly my head couldn’t keep up with my body, and yes, that was nice, but something more important started to occur to me:  food did not have any power over me.  I was not a slave to the scale, and thoughts of what to eat did not rule over every minute of every day.  I was free.

I can’t remember getting below 300 pounds; I was too sick to really notice or care.  I do remember getting below 200 pounds, and I did celebrate, with a happy naked dance in my bathroom, alone.  And then I simply went about my day.  They were just numbers on a scale, and I didn’t need a scale to tell me how to feel.

But I absolutely remember putting my wedding rings on again.  My daughter Emma, then four and a half years old, had never seen the rings.  She grabbed my hand and exclaimed, “Mommy!  They are so shiny!  You look like a princess!”

I smiled down at her, gazing at my diamonds.  And then I glimpsed myself in the mirror.  Finally, I felt like a princess, too.

Jennifer Joyner is a mother, wife, writer and journalist. She is the author of Designated Fat Girl, a memoir about food addiction. Learn more about Jennifer Joyner on her website.

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