When I turned 21, I celebrated the weekend with my first true love, a man with whom I was engaged to be engaged. A couple of weeks later a friend called to ask me if I knew he was engaged to his old girlfriend.
No, of course, I hadn’t known. I was devastated.
Clearly I could not trust myself with food or men. I immediately gave up on both and gained over 100 pounds in a year. Without any skills to cope with the loss of the relationship, I numbed myself with working, eating, and sleeping between irrepressible tears and self-blame.
Five years later, I was nearly finished with my undergraduate program in information technology. A well-liked student leader with great internships and top grades, I was the heaviest I’d been in my life. Over 300 pounds.
While I looked good on paper, I felt ashamed of my body. Interviewing for full-time work after graduation was confronting.
I felt like a fraud inside and I often thought, ‘How could a smart woman be so stupid? How could I be so capable in other areas and not be able to control my weight?’
I felt lost. I had fiercely negative self-judgments. I really didn’t want to deal with the issue. After trying dozens of diets that never worked in the long run, I didn’t know what to do.
So I decided to live from the neck up and focused on my accomplishments, my career, and my social life. But always, great pain and confusion lay just below the surface.
When not in denial, I had a deep sense that my weight was holding me back in my relationships and career. Both because of how I felt about myself and because of how I was perceived by others.
Weight discrimination provided outer confirmation for my negative self-worth. The blatant cruelty by strangers toward me because of my size added another level of suffering to an already barely tolerable situation.
Even though I was finally opening to the idea of dating again, I was cynical about the possibilities. I was as aware as anyone how far my body was from our cultural ideals of beauty.
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