Tuesday, June 05, 2007

At a traditional bath house B & B in Japan eating dinner with our contacts.
Yummy veggies at the open air market in London.
Some people think sickness is only spiritual. Others think it is strictly genetic makeup, while others believe it is brought on through repeated self-destructive behaviors. I personally believe it can be a combination of all of the above, and probably then some...

My earliest memory of wanting food for more than food's sake was in second grade. I used to come home after school to my own private smorgasbord. You see, I was a latchkey kid in elementary school, and as normal as that is for many children, I used the solitude to soothe the munchies. My dad, with good intentions, had said things to us kids like, 'Don't eat that, it will make you fat'. For some reason with me, it made me relate food with body image and fat instead of nutrients and energy. I always thought I was fat but when I look back at pictures, I had believed lies.


To sum up a long story, for 15+ years, I tried most diets, I exercised, I fasted, and I ate pretty healthily with family, though not so socially. I was always the tallest friend and physically mature beyond my years. In 9th grade a guy I had a crush on told me I was built like a football center. My 6'5", 250 lb dad told me he was sorry I was built like him. He didn't say it to hurt me, it was because I said I wished I wasn't so tall. My grandma constantly commented on my broad shoulders and how strong I was. I had been a competitive swimmer for 12 years, so I had a huge back and most certainly wasn't a rail. My freshman year of college in P.E. class, we had our percent body fat taken. I was 140 lbs with a body fat percentage of 11. I thought I was fat. I spent most of my finances my freshman year at Subway and eating Twix bars daily while washing it down with a Dr. Pepper. I didn't drink pop until my freshman year, and let's just say, I went overboard! By the time I graduated from college, I was 150 lbs, but my percent body fat had changed from 11% to 25%. I had only gained 10 lbs, but my body composition had changed A LOT!


Skip forward to my mid-twenties and I was eating healthily again, and exercising, but my body composition would not change. I gained weight slowly and began having bad back pain, digestive problems, and was literally awake every night for 7 years between the hours of 1:00 am and 3:00 am. I went to a G.I. doctor, but they said I looked great. I had a CT scan, but they didn't see the culprit to my pain and sleeplessness. After Emily was born in 2002, several months later, I was having a lot of abdominal pain and my back would go out quite regularly. I also began obsessing about food. It was all I could think about and it was all I wanted to do...eat. Salty, sweet, salty, sweet, crunchy, creamy, salty, sweet. It was a crazy non-stop craving. My mind was foggy, I was constantly bloated, I was short-tempered, lethargic, and had no short term memory. I was also very depressed.


My primary physician integrated conventional medicine with acupuncture. I began to see him for acupuncture for back pain while also seeing a regular chiropractor. My back pain was gone, but I still wasn't sleeping through the night and was craving food and thinking about it non-stop. I read books about diet, supplements and exercise, I walked and did lots of ab work to support my lower back, but I was still obsessed about my weight and what stared back at me in the mirror.


God led me to a woman named Dr. Julie Marchiol. She's a chiropractor and acupuncturist. She's a christian, too, and has since become a treasured friend, but it was under her care that we solved a lot of physical problems and are still working on a few areas, of which I'll share later. Though the one endocrinologist from Arizona who commented recently said we need to study genetics more carefully, I concur, but will say that hearing that someone has 'good' genes because they are 5'8" and 135 doesn't encourage me regarding overeating or food obsession. When you finish off the boxes of Suzy-Q's, consume mass quantities of sugar in pop, candy, extra desserts, binge, purge, eat more food in volume than your stomach can contain at one given time, you send your body years of bad messages. Toxins build up and those toxins are eventually stored as not only fat but also disease. Call it genetics or bad programming, but just like we can't blame every quirk in our lives on someone else, we need to take responsibility for what we have put into our bodies and what we have left out. Instead of daily Twix indulgences for 2 years straight in college while watching 'Days of our Lives', I could have been feasting on the Bread of Life, growing healthy in my walk with God. God created our bodies as machines to run on healthy fuel. When most of what America eats comes from refined flours and sugars, it's as far away from the way God created it as possible...


Anyway, for me, Dr. Julie found that I had parasites, raging candida, storage and absorption problems, along with low serotonin levels AND I was eating and craving many of the foods to which I am allergic. Through a lot of hard work, I got rid of my sweet little parasites, got my candida in balance, have balanced out my serotonin levels, and, am finally digesting food properly. The way I know this is I've been tracking my BMI, intra- and extra-cellular fluids and my resting metabolism with Dr. Julie. For those who know what this all means, my BMI went from 98 lbs to 121 lbs in a month and a half. My intracellular fluids are now higher than my extracellular fluids and my resting metabolism has gone from 1517 to 1768. I have only lost 2.5 lbs, but it is all fat and not muscle.


It's really late, and I still haven't shared the story of when God called me out on my gluttony, which occurred one year after Emily was born, and is integral in my attitude toward food and my body image. I will share that in the next couple of days, but first wanted to lay down the history of my journey.


I know this is a lot of information, but my hope is that it rings a bell with many different people in one area or another and encourages you to take back your health. I'll leave you with this thought...If I were a crack addict or addicted to porn or alcohol, being a recovering addict would mean I needed to remove those culprits from my life. Crack in 'moderation' would not be an option! The problem with overcoming a food addiction is that removing it as the culprit is not optional. Food is necessary to live and is something we can also enjoy. It is not the culprit. Our minds and attitudes toward it are what cause the gift of food to be anything more that what it is.

19 comments:

  1. Wow thanks for sharing this Adrienne, I can't wait to hear the rest.

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  2. Thanks so much Adrienne.

    I also was a competitive swimmer for the majority of my life (15+years) and I loved being in shape -- but when I stopped swimming I wasn't so much in love with my muscles that made me such a great competitor! I also was 'built like my father' and got all the muscle and big frame vs. the thin-framed like my mom and sister and it caused numerous problems throughout my teen years - but I have come to accept what I was given and do the best with what I have -- that's what life is all about! Make the absolute best with what you have and be grateful for it.

    After I had my son, Raymond, I was doing great getting back into shape but after some life stresses in the past months I have really 'let myself go' and I am really in need of some help to get my body back on track. I'm currently seeking out a workout partner - hopefully my husband will agree to get up earlier in the morning to work out while the baby is still sleeping.

    Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you as always for your words. You are beautiful inside & out! :)

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  3. Anonymous8:16 AM

    Thank you for being so open and honest. While I don't consider myself fat, I do consider myself an unhealthy eater 50% of the time and know that some moderate changes to my diet and adding excercise would do wonders. I'm working towards changing those habits for myself and my family. Thanks for sharing your journey through everything...

    Much love!
    -Annalisa

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  5. adrienne you have the body/build that is usually very difficult to appreciate as a teen but envied by all as a woman.

    does that make sense?

    anyway you look at it, you are beautiful. then, now...but even more so now because you are walking in the Lord's beauty and not the world's.

    thanks for your honesty.

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  6. Anonymous8:27 AM

    Thanks for the great posts, Ade. I've been thinking about you guys a lot - especially as 6/10 approaches.

    Thank you so much for this post - it is so timely. I have been completely obsessing about food these pas couple of months and am ashamed to say it has become my God. I've always struggled, but it's really bad right now. I'm totally using food as comfort and truly feel like it is an addiction. I pray in ernest to be freed and will continue to do so, but I'm getting really discouraged. After reading your post, I think consulting with an Eastern doc is probably the way to go. The cravings are out of control and perhaps there are some reasons beyond lack of will power and need for comfort?

    If anyone reading this would like to pray for my strength to turn to the Lord for comfort rather than food, that would be great.

    As always, miss and love you and have you in my prayers...xo

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  7. Thank you for sharing about this! I frequently have a nice little cry over your blog in the mornings :) but this one really hit home for me.
    I have been overweight most of my life and have always struggled with losing weight. It's always been a touchy subject and growing up, if my parents ever expressed concern and willingness to help me, I usually just shut them out. I've been on my fair share of diets and seen nutritionists but never saw results fast enough to keep going with anything.
    Like you have, I am coming to realize that it's really my attitude towards food that is the problem. I love to cook and to eat good food but the problem comes when I let it control me. When I worry more about what my next meal is going to be than I do about what I am doing right now. As I slowly change my view of food and not let it control me, I find that I feel much better about myself.
    I was reading a book in which the author talked about the practice of eating kosher. And, while she does not eat kosher all the time, the idea of being very aware of what you put into your body and only eating what is pure and good is an idea that she still adheres to. That really struck a chord with me. God created me with love and care and gave me the gift of this body and I proceed to ruin that gift by filling it with junk.
    The realization that my body does not belong to me, but belongs to God and I am only borrowing it for my time here has done far more for my health and eating habits than any diet has ever done in the past. I will never be a supermodel but I will always be a child of The King!

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  8. Hi Adrienne I wrote a week or so back under snonymous as I did not know how to have a blogger name but figured it out! I was the one who wrote how I will never argue over issues and politics as this is your way of expressing your thoughts and I still believe in no way have you ever condemned or pointed fingers at people and this just reitterates that I am right you have always pointed out your faults or things you have done in life that have not been so perfect and I belive you do so to help others and make them realize we all have sins or faults and that not one of us is perfect but again we are the ones that choose how we handle our mistakes and if we change them. You truly are an inspiration to all and everytime I think of your little Noah it tears my heart as it makes me think of my Noah who is 6 and his little smile and how he loves to cuddle with me all teh time and how I could not imagine life without him or any of my kids I so admire you and your faith and how you look at the positives that Noah brought and still brings to your lives and many others even though you would do anything to have him here but knowing that is not a possibility you make his life carry on and live forever and he will never be forgotten I honestly so not know if I could ever be as forgiving and as strong as you are and I look up to you for that. You really make me think about certain things in my life that I need to change I am so priveleged to be apart of your lives and Noahs thru this blog tahnk you!!

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  9. Anonymous11:14 AM

    Adrienne

    I love reading your blogs, and I love that you are so open. I feel as though I know you on a personal level even though we have never met. May God continue to Bless you with this gift!!!

    Love,
    Mary Geeslin

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  10. Thanks for the info..I am right in the middle of waging a war on this within myself right now. I have struggled with this my entire life. My earliest memories are when I was 7 or 8. I have a 2 year old and 8 month pld so basically I was pregnant for almost two years straight and used it as a liscense to eat whatever I could b/c for some reason I didn't gain weight while pregnant. Now, I find myself disgusted with my body and ashamed that I can't seem to bring this fully to Christ. I am trying but I am truly addicted to food! Help!!

    Susan

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  11. Hi Adrienne,

    What a great post. As a western Endocrinologist, I am constantly trying to encourage my patients to integrate western and eastern medicine, holistic approaches, nutrition and supplements (tea tree oil - not just for fishies) into their lifestyle.

    I completely agree with you that eating issues cannot entirely be defined by good genes. I wrote that in my first post in attempt to be lighthearted, but then, after contemplation and prayer, wrote again to clarify that there are MANY causes (physical, spiritual, emotional, genetic) that can cause weight issues and obsessive behaviors. My point (as is yours) was that the combination of the counsel of experts, introspection, lifestyle changes, medicine (old or new) and our faith can help us in our search for wellness.

    Just as each of our journeys are different, so will be our solutions and outcomes. What your story says to me is that you did not quit in your quest for good health. You fought for the answers and you/your doctors have designed a recovery specific to your needs. I hope that the people that read this will do the same for themselves.

    To those reading...as a dotor, I echo Adrienne's message. See a doctor you trust, look inside yourself, talk honestly, run some tests, and identify your specific problems (emotional and physical). If your doctor does not listen or you do not improve, see another doctor or try something else. Advocate for yourself. Fight for good health. Your recovery may not wind up looking like Adrienne's...chances are it may be entirely different...that's OK...as long as it works for you.

    Good luck and good health,
    Lisa
    AZ

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  12. Thank you for sharing this part of your journey with us...I can't wait to hear the rest, too.

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  13. Anonymous5:54 PM

    "I also began obsessing about food. It was all I could think about and it was all I wanted to do...eat. Salty, sweet, salty, sweet, crunchy, creamy, salty, sweet. It was a crazy non-stop craving. My mind was foggy, I was constantly bloated, I was short-tempered, lethargic, and had no short term memory. I was also very depressed." Wow, that is me right now. The foggy mind especially. I feel so stupid sometimes and I know I am very smart! I can't wait to read the rest of your story.

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  14. Melody in MN8:33 PM

    Hey Adrienne, I can totally relate to some of these food issues. After having my baby Kristiana last May I really started to eat crazy things and crave the salty and sweet stuff just like you. I too am working through some of these things. I appreciated your insights on what you have learned medically...thanks so much for sharing that. It really makes me think that I'd like to look into more natural health things. I have been trying to buy more natural and organic foods in the last year or so, and I truly notice a difference in how I feel when I eat those kinds of things.

    I hope you have a great week,
    blessings,
    Melody

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  15. Adrienne,
    You have affected my life on so many levels. I appreciate your honesty. The good news is that the story of your struggle with food/body image is not unique...there are so many of us who can relate/support one another. You have shared what I lived for so many exhausting years of my life...from the binging to the depression to the candida, etc...what a flashback for me when reading your story. The good news is that through prayer, friends, research and the desire to live a healthy life for myself and my children I am finally free from an agonizing lifestyle (this is what it became...a lifestyle) Unfortunately for some it becomes a battle for life. I'm interested to hear how God intervened for you...I'll wait to hear your next inspiring message. I know this is a difficult one for you to tackle but with so many checking in with you and so many afflicted with this horrible "disease" you, dear lady, have the power to help. Wow, no pressure, huh?! Thank you.

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  16. Wow... it's incredible how so many of us struggle with the exact same emotions and temptations.

    I spent the majority of my life overweight as well... I moved far away after college to a place where I knew no one... It was the best thing I could have ever done for myself. I found that suddenly, I was completely alone. It was just me and God. It was the first time I truly understood the meaning of being fully surrendered to the Lord. I lost 80lb with tons of prayer and a little Weight Watchers guidance. That was 5 years ago now...

    Just this past year the issues have begun creeping back. I have let the death of my little boy become a reason to faulter in my dedication and distractions have taken over.

    Thanks for sharing where you are at Adrienne. I know what it takes... I know what has to be done.. and it all revolves around my trust and dependance on my Heavenly Father.

    God bless!
    Meghan

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  17. Thanks for sharing, Adrienne. I'm always touched by your posts.

    My struggle with weight is an addiction of a slightly different nature: not paying enough attention to WHAT I was eating and not getting enough nutrition.

    Because I've lived alone for the past 10 years or so and really don't like the hassle of cooking for one, I tend to have interesting meals. Some nights it might be a can of soup and saltines. Some nights it might just be the saltines. Single people who actually cooked a balanced meal for themselves and sat down at the dining room table to eat it were, and actually still are, a complete bafflement to me.

    I've gone through spells where I would plan meals and cook, but the novelty wore off within a week and I was back to a "handful of something to ward off the hunger pangs." I've even resorted to sleeping because I didn't want to eat, but then people told me that's a sign of depression. I didn't care...I was tired, too!!!

    In February of this year I found some paperwork and discovered I'd gained exactly 30 pounds in exactly 5 years. How depressing!!! And I don't even have a pregnancy to blame it on!!!

    However, years of "abusing" my body like that has wrecked my metabolism and because at times my body thought it was being starved it would horde fat supplies and there's now a strange shaped spare tire around my middle. :-(

    I do blame the last 10-15 pounds of my excess weight on the medication I've been on for the past year...but if I'd have been in better tune with my body I'd have fought that particular drift. Actually, if I'd have taken better care of myself and eaten properly all these year, I might not have had to be on these meds (I'm off them this month, though, and have been working at eating more nutritiously, so hopefully things will be better soon!!!)

    So, here's too all of us trying to eat right, and the right amount.

    (I've had 3 servings of fresh fruits today, and 4 1/2 servings of fresh veggies. It would have been 5 servings, but I could NOT bring myself to eat any more of the fresh corn-on-the-cob after I discovered those bright green slugs!!!)

    Audrey in Arvada

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  18. Your an amazing person..God is using your life to touch so many others. Keep up the great job at spreading the word.

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  19. I'm at the point in my life right now where I'm trying to be healthier. I may not ever be a tiny size 6 again like many years ago...I'm tall and bigger boned and more athletically built as well.

    I just want to be HEALTHY---physically healthy, spiritually healthy.

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