EST. May 2000 (AD)


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How I Overcame My Obsession With Food and Lost 60 Pounds!

By Margaret Neilson

I think it was while I was pregnant with my daughter that my food obsession became evident. I put it down to normal cravings but four years after her birth I knew I couldn't do that anymore.

I found myself thinking about food all the time--what I would have for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks-- I was out of control. Before long I tipped the scales at a hefty 184.

One day while I was shopping for a dress a very kind size one salesperson came up to me and said "There is nothing here for you." I was destroyed but I knew that I was in trouble. It hit me like lightening that it would only be a matter of time before my friends and relations shunned me and I'd need a poking stick. I made up my mind there and then to take control of my life.

My first realization was that food is not that important, it is only a very small part of a person's life. By carefully planning my menu six weeks in advance and writing down every calorie I consume, I am able to minimize it's importance in everyday life.

(An unexpected bonus--my math skills have improved! When I watch a commercial for a fast food product I am able to measure the calories within seconds. )

I really want to spread the word and I am anxious to help people. If I'm out to lunch with my friends (green salad no dressing for me please!) I try to assist my friends and tell them caloric content of each bite. I try to tell them food is only fuel, nothing more, that there is so much more to enjoy in life, that their obsession with mere fuel is dangerous.

I tell them that while they may be enjoying that 723 calorie fudge brownie, what they are really doing is letting food take over their life. I rhyme off all the healthy foods they could enjoy that add up to 723 calories and then scribble a menu on a a napkin for them to take home.

I'll share some other tips that may help you in your battle:

The first step: I refused to eat over 800 calories a day for six months. As I put each morsel in my mouth I would count the calories aloud. At first I was tired all the time and found myself falling asleep behind the wheel but I knew in the end it would be worth it.

Temptations: I have a weakness for anything that tastes like real food, so I try not to keep it around. There was an awful period three months ago when my four year old daughter wandered into the house with an Oreo cookie. Before I knew what I was doing I'd wrestled her to the ground. She refused to surrender the cookie so I started gnawing at her arm.

Luckily my husband came in before I broke the flesh, gave me a carrot and a laxative and things settled down. She knows better now.

I've kept the weight off for: Six months, one week, two days, three hours and 47 minutes.

Snack foods: I allow myself ten grains of salt midmorning and four Jello flavour crystals in the afternoon. If it's a special occasion I will allow myself a Saltine but skip my mid morning snack.

My exercise routine: I jog four miles in the morning before breakfast, I do 400 sit-ups in the afternoon before lunch and early evening I do a 45 minute aerobics workout at the gym.

Maintaining: I keep my total daily intake below 800 calories, weigh myself 6 times a day and take my measurements every four hours.

Advice: I'll be honest, it is difficult. But in order to look normal you have to make some sacrifices. I haven't had a bowel movement since Christmas and fainting is part of my regular routine but the rewards are plenty. I can tuck a shirt into my jeans and can now make jokes about fat people.

You can't afford to even think of food--that is a dangerous area. If you let your mind wander the next thing you're thinking of roast prime rib with a steaming mound of garlic mashed potatoes, golden brown Yorkshire pudding all smothered with Hunter gravy finishing up with a succulent German Chocolate Torte topped with two scoops of creamy premium vanilla ice cream--but at 2066 calories I refuse to even think about it.

I hope you take inspiration from my story and remember no matter how nutritious a muffin may sound it is still like cake.