Jenny’s Story

Sugar & Flour Free
Maintaining a 75lb Weight Loss
Clean and Sober 28 Years

Have you ever seen the movie Dirty Dancing?  That’s exactly how my parents met; in the borscht belt of upstate New York.  My mom was a dancer and my dad bused tables to put himself through dental school. They started off strong.  They had my two older brothers and built a house on the water but, by the time I arrived, their marriage was unraveling.

My mom was an alcoholic and my father had a bad temper.  They split when I was five and at six years old, I started to climb kitchen cabinets and check out friends’ junk drawers fishing for snacks.

I’m a Long Island girl, raised in an upper middle-class Jewish home. I remember being fed pickled herring, sardines and liver. It was disgusting and I was forced to eat my meals because, g-d forbid we should waste it. So, right out of the gate, my dynamic with food was flawed. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t on the look out for the opportunity to cop some junk food; chocolate being my all time favorite. My earliest memory of sneak eating was when I was seven. I hid in my closest devouring my Halloween candy after my bed time. Who taught me that behavior?

From an early age, I carried shame.  The houses in our neighborhood were comprised of young, budding families on both sides of the street. My mom was the block drunk and my parents were the first to get divorced.  In today’s world that’s not uncommon yet, in the early 70’s, it was a stigma and I absorbed it.  I was embarrassed by my mother and our family situation, so I compensated by pretending to be fine, just fine, but in the inside, I felt like an outcast, alone and less than. 

Extremely self conscious just being me and uncomfortable in my body, I gradually grew to a chubby adolescent and ultimately, to an obese young woman. The Diet Center provided me my first diet experience at age 15 and by 26 years old, the doctor called me morbidly obese.  Talk about mortified.  Those words burned a whole in my ears and, right then and there, I wished the earth would’ve swallowed me whole. I was so embarrassed.  I’ve had minor success on all the crazy diets I’ve tried but nothing ever lasted.  The weight always came back on, and then some.

The highest weight I’ve ever seen on the scale was 198 lbs. but I know it was way more at one point.  When I was in my mid-twenties living in Argentina, my mom came to visit and we traveled to Brazil. It was a great memory until we developed the film. I was unrecognizable in the photos from that trip and, being completely shocked at how huge I was, I instantly ripped them up. I regret that now.  I wish I had them to show you and remind me from where I came. 

My weight’s gone up and down too many times to count and I wear the physical scars of my addiction.

My need for food continued to escalate until I landed in an eating disorder treatment center when I was 21 years old; fresh out of college, fat and full of self-loathing. I wish I could tell you treatment gave me the solution, but it didn’t.  However, it did introduce me to the concept of weighing and measuring food and staying clear of sugar.  Unfortunately, for an addict like me, that wasn’t enough and my battle with food and weight continued.  The obsession and cravings were daily.  I literally never had a day of reprieve from thinking about what I was gonna eat, when I was gonna eat it, making sure I had enough stash hidden in the house, etc.  It was mentally exhausting and took a huge toll on my self-esteem.

My recovery journey began in treatment, but unfortunately it took me over two more decades to submit.  The pain, shame and darkness became unbearable. At almost 200 pounds and climbing, I couldn’t continue on the self-destructive path I was on, frequenting drive-thru’s, bingeing and isolating from the world. 

Finally, my epiphany arrived on my forty-fifth birthday.  I was morbidly-obese, in a loveless marriage, and knew that I was wasting my life and my potential. I was a disappointment to myself and to my higher power; something had to change.  Being sober in AA for 23 years at that point, I sought out a 12-step food program and that is where I learned that I had a serious allergy to sugar and flour. Who knew?! I was told that if I gave up those two substances that my obsession and compulsion would be relieved.  That was five years ago.  Today, I continue to abstain from sugar and flour and Coach others on their road to freedom.

 

Fun Facts:

  • I adore babies.
  • I’m passionate about motherhood.
  • I’m obsessed with books.
  • My favorite sound is my children’s laughter.
  • I love to play mahjongg.

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