I found solace from my abusive father through food, and I've been using food as a way to cope with my feelings since I was 5-years-old.
I hid under the bed to eat food, and I cherished it in secret. I loved mostly junk food: pizza, soda, ice cream, and breakfast sandwiches (one of my favourites).
At my heaviest, I weighed 142kg. I tried every diet under the sun, but I was also dealing with mental health issues, including a suicide attempt and bulimia.
I first learned about mindfulness when I sought treatment for my mental health—and that's been the key to losing weight.
I learned that I'm not thinking rationally when I binge eat. It's about eating as much as I can, as fast as I can. Instead, being mindful about what and how I eat (like thinking about how I chew or letting ice cubes melt in my mouth), has allowed me to be present while I'm eating. I also stop eating when I’m full.
Of course, I also eat healthier foods and exercise more. I set guidelines for myself at the start of my weight-loss journey in 2017, and I still follow them: I exercise every day (even if that means a short walk); I drink 12 cups of water a day; and I make sure to eat three whole meals and two snacks. Still, I credit mindfulness for my weight loss success the most.
Because I focus on mindfulness, I don't consider any foods off-limits.
I make sure to eat a healthy, balanced diet with lots of veggies, and I mix up my sources of protein and carbohydrates.
Here's what I typically eat in a day:
- Breakfast: Eggs with spinach and kale with a light English muffin
- Snack: Frozen mango, strawberries, or grapes with a mozzarella cheese stick
- Lunch: Chicken or shrimp (I go easy on the red meat) with string beans and a sweet potato
- Dinner: Bean pasta or a spinach and cheese wrap made with two-ingredient dough (Greek yoghurt and self-raising flour)
- Dessert: Enlightened ice cream
Being mindful about what I eat also means that I write my meals in a journal—not to scrutinise myself or count calories, but to log my meal choices and see what I can do differently (or what I should aim to keep a regular practice).
I also make sure to still indulge once in a while—just in smaller portions (like, sharing a dessert with a friend). And at restaurants, I immediately split my plate in half and put it in a to-go box. This helps me focus on eating what's in front of me (and pay attention to how I feel when I'm finished).
Mindfulness plays into my workouts too, which means I listen to my body more.
Most days, I do a mix of strength training and elliptical work (I sing and dance on the elliptical to make it fun). But I also take at least 20,000 steps a day.
Despite having a set routine, I still struggle with my binge eating. If I'm having issues with my father, or if I'm stressed about school and exams, I still turn to food sometimes. But even then, I always find a way to get back on track—mainly by reading supportive messages on Instagram, getting back into a daily routine, and paying more attention to how my body feels and what it wants.
In all, I've lost 50kgs. And while some people treat me differently now that I've lost weight, I didn't do this for other people to accept me. I have supportive friends, tools that help me stay on track, and a strong online support system—and that's all I need.
Colette Giaramita as told to Aryelle Siclait.
This article originally appeared on Women's Health US.