Photo: Kate Sinnott
I went on my first diet when I was 12 years old. I had just entered 6th grade and started competitively showing horses around Maine, where I grew up. My riding coach commented that judges don’t like fat riders and “you’re not gonna win shows if you’re fat.” That was it, I was on my first diet…the Fat Free diet. Do you remember that one? You could eat everything you wanted as long as it had zero fat…oh and zero taste. I lived off chocolate skim milk, a couple of carrots, and bowls of Fat Free cereal. I lost weight.
That started the cycle that would stay with me through high school, college, and the start of my career. I’ve tried everything, from being anorexic and bulimic, to laxatives, diet pills, the Kashi Go Lean diet, Atkins, Slim Fast, juicing, no carbs at night, and Eat Right for your Blood Type. I could go on and on. I’ve probably gained and lost over 200 pounds in 15 years. It was complete and utter torture.
After I would lose the weight, at some point I would always gain it back and more. I could spend my entire day hiding under a baggy sweatshirt telling myself that no guy would ever want to date me, think I should shut my mouth because no one wants to hear a fat girl talk, and convince myself that the world must know I have zero willpower because I can never maintain a steady weight.
After going through a stressful break up three years ago, I lost 15 pounds almost overnight and it seemed everyone but me loved my new look. People would say how well single life suited me and that I had never looked better, but I felt like I was living a lie. It felt scary to be single after five years and the new pressure of trying to stay that thin was killing me.
Eventually, like always, I started to gain the weight back. This time it was different, though. I was working in TV and gaining the weight back in front of the entire audience of the number one rated Fox 5 News at 10! Oy…can you imagine!? I would do an Entertainment hit and within minutes people would Facebook, text, email that I looked pregnant and, “What happened to Sarah? She use to be soooo hot!” I was back to buying every single diet book I could find.
Sarah (in the red jacket) at her heaviest
My breaking point came after a night of binge eating. After consuming four cupcakes and two pints of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream in one sitting, I was in pain. I knew if I went on one more diet I would literally go insane. As if by divine intervention, I Googled “women and healthy living in the DC area” and found a yoga studio offering a mindful living weekend just for women. That was it. During that weekend I met Robin Mize, a mindful living therapist focusing on women who wanted to give up diets and actually listen to their bodies to guide them to their natural set weight.
That was over two years ago. Robin has been a gift from God. I’ve been working with her every two weeks and reading books like Geneen Roth’s ‘Women, Food, and God”, “Intuitive Eating”, and “Savor, Mindful Eating, Mindful Life.” It hasn’t been easy. For the first year I still bought every magazine that featured “10 tips to lose 10 pounds in 30 days”, but slowly I’ve seen progress.
I’ve actually started listening to what my body wants rather than what a diet tells me I should have. The best part is no longer hating myself and my body. The voice in my head that tells me I’m fat is still there, but it doesn’t pop up nearly as often. Learning that being kind to and grateful for my body is the only way to free myself from the dieting mentality has been amazing.
Sarah (Left) at a healthy weight at Fox 5
Giving up dieting can be scary, but if you are like me and the thought of one more diet seems unbearable, try it. Google mindful eating seminars in your area, pick up a mindful eating book, and give it a shot. It will take time, but isn’t feeling good about yourself and your body worth it?
Photos submitted by the author