Some days, I feel like a different person and then I remember that I am. Over the past 3 years, I’ve lost more than half my body weight and, along with it, a lifetime of obesity, disease, and pain.
Debilitating palmar-plantar psoriasis presented itself in my late 20s, and in the years that followed, I experienced the onset of several other inflammatory disorders and related comorbidities, including endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), irritable bowel syndrome, and metabolic syndrome. Being morbidly obese both led to all of these conditions and made them worse.
Managing disease and pain became a way of life for me and I was exhausted and ashamed. I was tired of hating myself, feeling older than my years, and lifeless. I felt ashamed of my body and the role I played in squandering the gift of my health. When I began this journey at nearly 300 pounds, I was at a crossroads physically, mentally, and spiritually. I decided that I could either continue living like I was already dead or try to save my own life. Somewhere beneath the extra pounds, I heard a whisper: “I’m here, I’m right here.” And so I started excavating to try and find her.
A Starting Point
Gastric bypass was suggested but off the table because of my ulcer history. I couldn’t stomach another failed diet trend, either. A lifelong warrior in the battle of the bulge, I experienced moderate success with Weight Watchers back in middle school, and so with a heart full of hope and a final splurge meal (a colossal bowl of pesto linguini, half a loaf of garlic bread, and a vat of pinot grigio -- all food triggers for my psoriasis flares and all things I used to numb my pain), I signed up online and never looked back. It was a Hail Mary in more ways than one.
Staring up at the mountain of excess that comprised the foundation of my off-the-rails lifestyle, I began to chip away at the toxic layers of sugar, fat, alcohol, and processed foods that kept me trapped in a cycle of shame, pain, and gain. I learned how to reduce and gradually eliminate unhealthy foods, replacing them with healthier choices. Slowly, I realized the power of portion control and that small changes can make a big impact overtime. For me, moderation was so freeing and the opposite of what I expected. Instead of feeling hunger and lack, I felt nourished and enlivened by nutritious foods and how much better I was feeling, sleeping, and moving. My joints felt better, my skin was clearer, and my body was remodeling itself from the inside out.
Maximize Impact, Minimize Damage
When I was halfway to my goal weight, I realized that I wasn’t only making physical changes, but also setting new standards of self-respect. I began to see new ways to level up in terms of healthy eating. Knowing that inflammation wreaked such havoc on my delicate system, I made it a priority to not only limit or avoid inflammatory trigger foods like fried foods, refined carbs, soda, and alcohol, but also to proactively combine superfoods like dark leafy greens, berries, eggs, legumes, and green tea with anti-inflammatory foods like avocados, fatty fish, and nuts as part of my daily fueling ritual.
In time, I came to appreciate and dismantle the harmful connection between inflammation and disease. Today food is no longer a coping mechanism for me, but a privilege that helps nourish, heal, and protect my body as it becomes lean, energized, healthy, calm, and strong.
Photo Credit: Krista Kellogg