Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.

The first time I read that, I thought to myself, "BULLS**T".  After all, I'm a pretty skilled cook, and can create orgasmic gourmet meals on the fly out of little more than a couple of random items lurking in the back of the cupboard. Having never given in to the typical recreational addictions people pursue, I had landed on food as my unhealthy obsession... and it was all about FLAVOR, baby. Many, many times my mouth would keep craving long after my belly protested, which eventually landed me in the morbidly obese hot seat.

Of course, at the time I was 225 pounds of post-baby, marital depression hotness, and as such resistant to anything that threatened the sanctity of the only reliable and faithful lover I had ever known... FOOD.

It was a difficult decision to walk away from that relationship.  I chose to leave on many occasions, and would get thirty, forty, and even fifty pounds away before food would slowly lure me back in and seduce me with fried bits of heaven and chocolatey goodness. It seemed it would never end, this on again, off again love affair.

Even the threat of a shortened life span, difficulty breathing, total lack of energy and desire for all things helpful were not enough to conquer this dysfunctional marriage I had entered into with food.  No matter what I just couldn't get the motivation to get out - and stay out.  My viscious lover was always waiting, always beckoning, holding me hostage one little pound at a time. Comforting me through illness, death, bankruptcy, divorce, and a thousand other losses... celebrating with me each tiny but rare victory that came peppered throughout. On again. Off again. I love you. I hate you. GO AWAY. COME HERE. It was a terrible obsession.

And then it happened...

I'd like to say it was some profound epiphany, that I had a spiritual awakening that inspired the apocolyptic battle that resulted in FINALLY breaking the bond and navigating my escape. Lord knows I had tried that approach many times with mild success on occasion. Nope. Nothing that cool.

It was a guy.

A very sweet, very funny, very entertaining, very hot .... guy.

And I wanted his attention.... BAD.

Unfortunately many of you will read that and be disappointed. You wanted to hear "I chose to be healthy!" or "I did it for me!". But I venture to guess most of you are going to relate, whether you want to admit it or not. As women, we just can't get THAT motivated for our own good. We HAVE to have outside stimulation. You see, it never dawned on me that I already HAD his attention - that he had already seen me as I was - through the barrier of the weight. No, this was no Shallow Hal... this was a real man. And I didn't get it. In my mind I imagined that I was suddenly having to compete with every 98 pound Russian Super Model on the planet... and I was NOT going to be bested by some skinny minnie. My competitive triggers were tripped, I had work to do. LOTS of work to do.

Long story short, that got me motivated to return to the battlefield and conquer this bitch once and for all. I put in the hours, adjusted my nutrition, found activities I could get happy about doing daily that would count as exercise. I set a goal, and a date, and went to work making it happen. I had my eye on THE PRIZE (and what tasty prize indeed!) and I was gonna have it no matter what it took. One day at a time I suited up and showed up, determination in hand, and eventually I hit it. The original goal. The body that could get the attention I imagined I was earning.

This is where the knight on the white horse rides in, right?  Not exactly.

Truthfully, "The Guy" is certainly an ever present intoxicating addition to my life. An appendage really, a piece of me that I cannot fathom being without. Did I "get" this guy you ask? Get to "snag" my crush? "Land" my man? Not quite like I intended to. Maybe in a much more fulfilling way than I had ever imagined. Instead, I got an amazing best friend on a deeper level than I have ever known, really. So I'm figuring out how to deal with being horribly in love with my "friend"... okay, I'm HIS friend... he's MY universe.... sigh.....

Oh don't worry ladies, I'm not giving up on happily ever after just yet. Good things come to those who wait.

The point is I also got something else along the way - I rediscovered ME. And now when I look in the mirror I recognize that girl! And I see her and I want to protect her accomplishments and show her off to the world. I am so proud of what she's done that I have found ridiculous amounts of discipline and self control to keep the evil Ex (unhealthy foods) away. And if not this Guy, eventually, someday, there will be another, and in the mean time the benefits keep rolling in....

The "Skinny Jeans" that I can button without sucking my belly in - and are in fact now too big.
The size "8" dress I put on yesterday that fit like a very flattering glove.
The super cute stilletto heels I can now wear without worrying about balance.
The energy I have. The way my body feels sexy to even me. The compliments I get from loved ones who haven't seen me in forever. The daughter that wants to borrow MY clothes for a change. The young guys who suddenly want to help me pump my gas, or open doors for me, or flirt with me at the check out stand. (They don't have to know my heart is already completely on hold and won't be swayed.) The spa technician that literally thought I was lying to her when I told her my age and how many kids I had given birth to as she worked on my slim naked body. The random strangers who suddenly want to strike up a conversation with me. THE WAY IT FEELS TO STEP ON THE SCALE AND WALK AWAY GRINNING!!!!! Yep all of this and more... feels GOOD. And you see, nothing I ever put in my mouth EVER tasted as good as all that.

So you see Virginia, NOTHING tastes as good as skinny FEELS.

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Emotional Overeating: Knowing Where to Turn

Emotional overeating can seem like a prison with no way out, and when you do think of seeking treatment, it can seem too overwhelming to consider. Sometimes it helps to have some simple steps and treatment programs laid out clearly, so it doesn't seem so overwhelming. Following is a list of common treatment options for emotional overeating disorder, as well as some tips on things you can do and some cautions on what not to do.

Common Treatments

First, recognize your problem. Know you're not alone - the number of people who suffer from emotional overeating disorder is significant.

* Counseling - Individual, group, or family counseling can prove very helpful for people who experience emotional overeating. Counseling treatment usually involves some nutritional and dietary guidelines and treatment of underlying emotional problems.

* Surgery - This is a somewhat controversial treatment for emotional overeating - it addresses the physical aspect of the problem rather than the emotional. However, in combination with emotional therapy and extensive medical counseling, surgery is a viable choice for some sufferers. Usually, surgical options involve decreasing the space available in the stomach, usually by a lap-band or gastric bypass procedure.

* Medication - Under the care of a professional, medications - usually anti-depressants - have been shown to provide relief for many who suffer from emotional overeating. This may be due to the suspected connection between overeating and depression - research continues to point to the relationship between the two problems.

Tips - What You Can Do

* Exercise regularly - Yes, you've heard this one, but it's really an important aspect of managing emotional overeating. Exercise may improve mood, improve energy levels, and increase your self-image - all part of overcoming emotional overeating. You can start with just 20 minutes of brisk walking three to six times a week.

* Eat well - What you do eat is as important as what you're "not allowed" to eat! Sometimes, emotional overeaters can be overcome by cravings for certain "forbidden" foods, like ice cream, candy bars, and potato chips. But if you're full of and surrounded by healthy foods, you can dig in without feeling guilty. Keep fresh produce on hand and eat lots of lean protein, veggies, fruits, and whole grains.

What Not to Do

* Keep unhealthy snacks handy - If you don't have the unhealthy food in the house, you will probably be less likely to head for it in times of emotional distress. In other words, make it hard on yourself to get the foods you want to eat when feeling bad - cross ice cream, junk foods, and fatty snacks off your grocery list.

* Crash diet - Trying to starve yourself or go on an extended fast is not recommended. You may compromise yourself nutritionally and/or physically, and crash dieting tends to result in more overeating afterward.

Could You Have an Eating Disorder?

Do you find yourself gaining weight during times of stress? Do you fear boredom because you know you'll simply eat to fill the time? These are just some of the symptoms of emotional overeating. If you think you may suffer from this relatively common eating disorder, here are some signs and symptoms that may help you identify whether or not this is what you're struggling with.

Mindless Eating

If you have a binge eating disorder or emotional overeating problem, you may stuff food in and not even really taste it or realize what you're doing. It's as though you are "out of it" and just mindlessly stuffing food into your mouth.

Feelings of Guilt and Shame

Many people with emotional overeating disorders feel really embarrassed and hateful of themselves after they've got through with an eating binge. The problem, of course, is that these negative feelings may make you reach for more food for comfort.

Eating in Secret

Because of being embarrassed, may emotional overeaters will eat in private, reserving their "naughty" foods for when no one is looking.

Always on My Mind...

Do you think about food all the time? Do you feel anxious about the prospect of leaving the house without snacks or money to buy food? Constantly thinking about food (food obsession) may be a sign that you have an emotional overeating disorder.

Feeling Sick

Sometimes, emotional overeaters will eat and eat to comfort themselves, and then feel sick afterward. Obviously, this is your body's way of telling you you've eaten far too much more than is good for you; but for emotional overeaters, this sickness does not necessarily deter the next binge.

Identify Your Triggers

Emotional overeating is usually triggered by something - emotions, yes, but sometimes we need to be more specific than that. Identifying your personal triggers can go a long way toward helping you overcome the disorder. Basic trigger categories include:

* Emotional - Eating to relieve boredom, stress, or anxiety

* Psychological - You may eat in response to negative, self-destructive thoughts

* Environmental/Situational - You may eat simply because the opportunity is there. Also in this category is the habit of eating while doing another activity, such as reading or watching TV.

Do any of these signs and symptoms describe you? If so, don't despair - there are treatment options available for emotional overeaters. Check with your healthcare provider for advice on therapists or specialists in your area.