THE BLOG
06/06/2014 05:19 pm ET Updated Aug 06, 2014

Dropping 185 Pounds Required a Requirement: A Peace Accord Between the Stomach and the Heart

JGI/Jamie Grill via Getty Images

File this under further explanation of How I Did It:

In spite of some people finding it unbelievable, I'm sticking with my original story: I dropped 185 pounds without dieting. But that doesn't mean I didn't have a plan. I just chose to keep mine loose because my personality type dislikes too much rigidity. I need boundaries and structure, they're essential to progress, but too many absolutes and too few personal choices infringe on my dignity and assume that I have no personal power or intelligence where food is concerned. I once believed, vis-a-vis certain self-help philosophies, that I was powerless, utterly impotent where eating was concerned, and that food was a towering, fire-breathing version of Godzilla that would level me with a single swing of its tail.

In time and with patience (read: lots of trial and error) I learned I DO have the final say. Which lead me to the magical discovery of the importance of portion control. Such a logical concept, and one I'd resisted tooth and nail for decades. No one was going tell me how much to eat -- NO ONE! For years I'd not only bristle, I would become enraged at the idea of eating till I was satisfied but not stuffed. It's also important to note that these were the years I was in emotional crisis: In possession of both a toxic job and unhappy relationship, I also helped to care for my ill father. And rounding out the picture: I was imprisoned by 185 pounds of extra fat. I'd gotten myself into quite the mess, and the food was actually needed for me to survive my circumstances; that's simply where I was in 1995 from an evolutionary standpoint. Intellectually, I knew food wasn't the answer, but I was in too deep to simply "Just Say No" to the Little Debbies or the Cheetos.

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This next part is vitally important for anyone seeking a solution to the overeating/excess weight dilemma, or else you're probably going to continue attempts at fixing the situation with a food plan or calorie counting: Start working on what you can fix. If every fiber of you wants to comfort yourself with food, let it be. I'm telling you from experience that's too big a monster to tame in quickie women's magazine fashion. You'd have better luck getting Godzilla to heel and roll over using a poodle leash. Work instead on your innards: How are you speaking to yourself? Are you kind and patient, or are you vicious and demanding? What's getting under your skin... or who? Is there anyone you need to stand up to or set a limit with? That's scary stuff... and it sent me running to the chip aisle of the nearest supermarket or gas station. Are there people you're lashing out at or mistreating because of your own state of unhappiness? It may be time to face it and own up to behavior that is harming others, and ultimately, yourself.

These were all things I tackled, one at a time, with courage (because a lot of the time I was shaking with fear as I took the leap), and always with support of understanding friends and family members. I tackled them because 1) They needed my attention and could no longer be ignored, and 2) I wasn't ready or able to start redefining my relationship with food. I didn't have the inner strength. The inner work took years. Let's be real, it's never really over. But I got to a point where I'd done enough healing and eradicated enough demons that I no longer used piles of food to induce a state of semi-consciousness. Then and only then could I think about eating till I was satisfied but not stuffed. There would be no more lying down after a meal (or a binge) to ease the burden on my distended stomach. I'd eased my emotional and psychological burdens sufficiently to no longer need food as an urgent anesthesia.

Emotional distress comes and goes now. I deal with it as it arises, and it's kind of like drop kicking a tiny gargoyle out of the house. Tiny gargoyles are SO much easier to boot out of one's life than Godzilla.

And on those occasions, like this past Sunday, when a bountiful plate of food is put in front of me, I'm able, without a lot of hemming and hawing, to do the following: eat a little more than half of a gorgeous, delicious, three-egg omelet stuffed with sausage, caramelized onions, and melted Manchego. I didn't continue to eat past full, which meant no probability of fat storage. And I continued to reinforce the truism to my psyche that I no longer need to eat for three in order to be happy.

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The rest of the omelet went into a storage container until today, when I enjoyed the rest of it for lunch. I've kept the weight off for almost five years, and this is how I do it. There's no magic drink or superfood supplement or diet trick du jour. Just a steady, committed path to healing my inner wounds, listening to my body rather than ignoring it, and practicing moderation. Sure it's some effort. But I'd rather be free.

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