Monday, February 22, 2016

Looking Back: May 5th, 2013

I first shared this photo almost 3 years ago:

It was a day of excitement and wonderment!  For the first time since Junior High School I weighed less than 200 pounds!

I think most can appreciate that this must have been quite an accomplishment for me.  Some know just how big of one!   

At the time I was looking only at the future and what lay ahead.  I had it all mapped out and it would be smooth sailing!  I would finish my journey to lose 300 pounds, I would write a book about it, I would become a weight-loss guru and help countless others do the same.   Life would be the proverbial "happily ever after"!

That was three years ago and life sure did take some unexpected turns!  There was no smooth sailing.  In fact, these past three years have been the most difficult of my entire journey.  How was I to know that the path forward meant going backwards?  Way backwards!

The short story:  Food is powerful medicine.  Food can heal, food can help us lose weight.  Look what food has done for me!  But food is physical and it can only heal our physical bodies.  The truth is that I have a lifetime of emotional baggage.  I thought that the end of my physical weight-loss journey put an end to any emotional baggage associated with having been so morbidly obese all those years.

Not so.  Turns out that all the life issues that got me up to 500 pounds were still there, and that pushing forward meant dealing with those life issues.  Denying them and refusing to deal with them took me where I was...  and could do so again.

This came as quite the blow to me, and took me a good bit of time to sort out.  During that time I lost a grip on my eating.  Is this any real surprise?  Life was supposed to be perfect, I was supposed to be cured, and then one emotional train wreck popped up after another.  I started putting weight back on.   I think we have all seen or heard of people, who, like me, have lost large amounts of weight, and know that in most cases they end up putting it all back on.   I now understand why that is.  Once we fix the physical, and everyone expects us to be "cured", the real Pandora's Box of our past starts demanding to be dealt with, and that is very hard to bear.

Fortunately for me, I was so steeped in the food...   I knew WHAT to eat. I loved the foods that I ate, and although the amount of food I ate was out of control, it was, for the most part, healthy food. Although it resulted in weight gain, it didn't result in putting back on large amounts of weight.  The food bought me time.  Sufficient time to start dealing with my emotional baggage, my life issues.  It has taken me over 2 years since then to work through the process far enough to actually talk about it publicly.   Had I not been so firmly grounded in the food I would have easily put on enough weight to have caused me to given up completely.  That is how the story usually goes.

In addition to being so firmly grounded in the food, I am, and have always been firmly grounded in my life journey.  This life journey is one much bigger than my weight loss journey, and I'll share more of it in time.

So where am I?   Physically I am where I was about 3 years ago.  I am just under 200 pounds, inching towards my goal of losing 300, and just as determined to get there as ever.  Mentally, though, I'm in a much better place than 3 years ago.  I have been through the dark valley, I have dealt with enough of my demons to allow me to start moving forward again, and am continuing to work on the rest.

Don't count me out, and don't bet against me!   

-Raymond Cool