Have you ever felt like you were secretly sabotaging your weight loss? You know what I mean… you’re on a roll for a while, feeling good about your progress and your goals, you’re starting to like the way you look in the mirror and then BOOM – you suddenly can’t resist that chocolate éclair. You need that bag of chips (or 2) with your salad at lunch. You skip a couple of days at the gym, which turns into a couple of weeks, which turns into a couple of months… and one day you wake up and try to figure out how you got so off course when you were so gung-ho in the beginning.

I think it happens to all of us, because weight loss is so much more than a physical change. It’s a mental and emotional reckoning, and if you’re not prepared to deal with the mental reason that you physically put the pounds on, you’ll never push past it to get to your goal.

I remember the first time I read the e-book “Raw Emotions” by Angela Stokes. A friend of mine had been raw for a while and was always talking to me about different recipes, articles, and information she came across (I was interested in going raw at the time). One day, she told me about the breakthrough she had while reading about emotional eating, and I figured I would take a look at it. I remember the day so clearly – I was sitting on the couch, blanket wrapped around my feet, computer on my lap, reading through this book with such focus. Every page broke my heart. I cried like a friggin’ baby without even making it all the way through – so much emotion came up in me because I realized WHY I had been inhaling food like a vacuum. I realized that it wasn’t the food – it was the hurt that I was trying not to feel. I was using the food like a drug.

About 5 years ago, I had an epiphany in Boston’s Logan Airport. Boston is my hometown, and I was on my way back to DC from a weekend trip with an old friend. I don’t remember the circumstances or events that led to my awakening; all I remember is trying to crouch down behind a column and talking incomprehensibly to my mother on my cell phone while wiping my eyes and nose with my sleeve. Have you ever had a breakdown in an airport? Not private. Not private at all.

My epiphany: I’m scared of being extraordinary. Terrified. I feel that if I live up to my truest potential, that if I become the woman I was truly meant to be, I’ll lose everyone I love.

This started at a young age – when I was young, I was in the first, second, and third grades all at the same time. That meant that I had no friends at school, because I was always moving from class to class. In the second grade I was moved from a public to private school – one of the best in Boston. My brother, who is 17 months older than me, didn’t get in, so my mother told me not to make a big deal about the fact that I did so his feelings wouldn’t be hurt. It didn’t matter, though, because his feelings WERE hurt, and he called me names and ganged up with other kids against me on a daily basis. I’ll never forget him yelling at me in front of all the other neighborhood kids, saying that I was “smart at school but dumb at home”. In the fourth grade, I was chosen out of thousands of kids across the nation to act in a documentary in Mexico. I was away from school for a year. When I came back, the principal brought me into his office before I went back to class and told me not to make a big deal about it so the other kids wouldn’t feel bad about my achievement (but he was saying it in a condescending way that made me know he didn’t think I deserved it. Boston’s is traditionally a very racist town). It didn’t matter what I said or didn’t, however, because the kids treated me horribly. There were fights, name calling… and remember, this is fifth grade, and this keeps happening to me. All I want is to be a normal kid. All I want is to love my family, have fun with my friends, and be accepted… and I’m not.

So, I’m smart. I’m talented. And then, I turned out to be kinda cute, and all hell broke loose. Senior year was hell for me. I ended up dropping out of school because of the constant harassment from girls who thought I was trying to steal their men (even though I wasn’t – their men liked me, but I have never been one to see when someone is interested in me. I’m blind in that way). In my 20’s, I lost relationships with women that I thought were close because of the same thing. I felt like I couldn’t just be me. I couldn’t celebrate when something awesome happened. I couldn’t be pretty. I couldn’t be proud of myself. I just couldn’t, because there was always someone who would hate me for it – someone that I wanted to love me.

This pattern of behavior kept repeating until I (unconsciously) figured out the ultimate solution: I’D GET FAT. Eureka! Fat people don’t cause conflict. Fat people aren’t threatening. Fat people have lots of girlfriends. Fat people can have friendships with men that don’t turn ugly because intentions were misunderstood. Fat people can get love.

The ULTIMATE solution, ladies and gents.

That was my “aha” moment. At that moment in the airport, I realized why I had put on this weight – to protect myself from other people’s judgment and to also bring people closer to me. See, I rationalized that I could still be smart and “pretty in the face”, but if I was heavier, it was easier for the world to accept. If I’m smart AND beautiful AND a go-getter, I’d be alone.

This is my secret sabotage. It’s the tape that plays inside my head constantly. Sometimes it’s soft, but as I start to lose weight, it gets much louder… “You think you’re so cute? You think you’re so smart? You think YOU can be out front? Go ahead… you’ll be out there all by yourself. Everyone will leave you. No one loves a star.”

That’s why I cried when I read Raw Emotions. I mean, I saw the truth of myself YEARS ago, but had still let it hold me back. It took me years to discover that this was what was really going on with me, and I’m STILL dealing with it five years later. It’s still the reason that I haven’t lost the weight. It’s why I’ve only go so far in my progress – in the past, I’d lose about 15 pounds and then find some way to screw it all up. And what’s so screwed up is that I see it. I KNOW this is what it is, and I’ve allowed it to block me. I feel the pain of it now – I mean, I’m crying while I write this, because it’s been with me so long and I’ve let it beat me.

Damn. This “expressing all my real feelings in public” stuff is less than pleasant.

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