About 5 years ago, I was determined to meet my soulmate. I made up my mind up that I wouldn’t let another year go by caught up in my career or my eating disorder. I wanted to share my life with someone. I told myself that no matter how awful some of the dates might be I would keep going. I wasn’t going to shut down from failed attempts. This time I was going to put myself out there until I met the one.

I wrote a wish-list of 77 Must-Haves for my next relationship and I signed up for Plenty of Fish and Match.com.

I went on two dates with the first guy even though I knew we were mismatch. Whitney, give him a fair chance.

I started feeling serious with the second guy. His tall, superhero physique made me feel tiny in my 6 ft. frame but I wasn’t being swept off my feet. It felt like we were giving it a shot because we liked each other enough; enough to temporarily freeze our online dating profiles for about a month.

As our teeny-tiny relationship progressed, he let me know many times, “I don’t mind your weight. I think its fine that you’re a big girl. It doesn’t bother me at all”.

Every time he made these unsolicited remarks about my size I would play tough. I pretended his words weren’t shredding me to bits on the inside. My shame buried me into silence. He’s right. It’s no big deal. I am a big girl. He’s just telling me like it is.

If he had said, “I love your body exactly as it is”, or, “I love the weight you are”, I would have felt adored and secure.  I felt embarrassed every time he caught me off guard and brought it up. Clearly it was a big deal or else he wouldn’t be mentioning it over and over again.

I knew that if I stayed with him, I’d have to swallow my pride and grow accustomed to being referenced as a “big girl”. I’d have to accept that he was going to be matter-of-fact about my deepest shame. No girl wants to be called big.

In the time we spent together, he never complimented my hair, my eyes or my skin, instead he talked about how my weight and my size were not affecting him.

I wasn’t okay with how that felt.

We broke up before too long and neither one of us suffered from any heartache. I kept my promise to keep putting myself out there and the next day I winked at BigMike47. Third time is a charm. Mike is now my now husband.

Our new relationship bliss had us drinking and talking into the wee morning hours. I tried my hand at preparing extravagant recipes filled with decadent ingredients. The worry over gaining a few extra pounds was irrelevant because we were falling head-over-heels in love.

Our moment in the sun came to a screeching halt when I found out the mansion where I lived and worked was being sold. I would have to find another job within 6 months. The idea of being unemployed for a second time in my life lit a fire under my tail. Luckily, I was allowed to apply for jobs during work hours but I still ate through the stress.

I landed the Catering Director position at Arrowhead Golf Course. I was heavier than I would have liked to be, but I wasn’t overly concerned. I was building a foundation with the man of my dreams and we were having the courtship of our lives.

Once I experienced the chaos of a Denver wedding season, the weight continued to creep back on. How can this be happening, again? I started feeling weird muscle aches in my joints from commuting 2 hours a day. My right calf was in constant spasm from pressing down on the gas pedal and my hips ached from all the desk work and driving.

I developed plantar fasciitis in my right foot and I bought my first pair of orthotics from a strip mall doctor. The discomfort from my left toe was causing me to limp. The padded foot inserts created radiating pain from my ankles to my shins. I stopped wearing them. I was desperate to find a solution for my feet and my legs. The tenderness started affecting the productivity in my workouts. My body felt like it was deteriorating.

I was experiencing Charlie horses in the middle of the night and my skin was sensitive to the touch. Tickling and jabbing made me yelp out in pain. I beat myself up knowing that the problems must be caused by my increasing weight. I didn’t talk about it. I was too embarrassed that I was having so many “old people problems” that I never talked about it in depth.

After a year and half of dating, Mike proposed.

We chose to have a short, six-week engagement because some of our close family members were ill. I tried countless times in those few weeks to restrict my food intake before our wedding day but I just couldn’t stick to it. I’d breakdown and hit rock bottom and I’d have to pick myself up and start all over again.

The day of our wedding I was about 10 pounds over weight from they day we met. I tried making peace with my body while I dressed in the morning. You’re here now, so keep moving forward. My shadow voices crept into my thoughts throughout the day. You’re probably going to look huge in photos since you’re covered head-to-toe in an ivory tunic and pants outfit.

I gained another 15 pounds during our first year of marriage.

I didn’t understand how Mike could love me even though I was once again ‘out of control’. Something needed to be done. None of my clothes fit, I was embarrassed to be touched and I felt like a failure. I had married my best friend and I was now sabotaging myself out of fear. I don’t deserve him. This is too good to be true.

Vegtables

I watched the film, “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead” about one man’s quest to change the world through juicing. I watched the movie two times, researched countless YouTube testimonials and made up my mind. As suggested, I was going to drink raw, juiced vegetables for 60 days. Nothing else but juice would touch my system for 2 months. Brilliant! This is my way out! The golden ticket!  Forget the eating disorder, I was finally going to conquer this weight-thing. I’ll show them!

I wrote down a list of possible outcomes from my juicing. I entitled my list, “Reasons to Juice”. I swore to myself that this juice fast would be about feeling better in my body. This most certainly isn’t about losing weight.

Looking back on my list, I can see that almost every item actually contains undefined weight loss goals. I had nothing listed about the importance of treating my body like a temple. Here are some of the weight-focused bullet points I brainstormed-

Reasons to Juice:

Return to natural body weight

I will enjoy our honeymoon more if I’m smaller

Entire wardrobe would finally fit

I will enjoy tubing more this summer

I would go to Water World for the first time

I could wear a bikini for the first time ever

I would go to the water section of Elitch Gardens Amusement Park

Wow my friends

No double chin thoughts

No disgusted with my arms and legs thoughts

No one will ever think I’m pregnant

It will be easier to stretch with a thinner body

I will no longer be “the heavy one” in family or friend situations

It felt powerful to write down these wildest-dream-fantasies. I had never seen my weight loss daydreams outlined in a list format. As exciting as it felt to dream big, I didn’t understand that I was juicing for all the wrong reasons.

I couldn’t see past my own denial.

When I take a health kick seriously, I get crafty. I bought legal-sized copy paper and made my own flip calendar. I numbered each page, 1 through 60 and I told my family that I was to about to embark on a journey for my health. I wanted to keep my mission details private until I was ready to tell them.

I asked them to sign each flip calendar page with words of encouragement and support. After an hour of taking turns and sharing markers, each calendar page was filled up with words of love, inspiration, and a few weight loss motivation quotes.

I woke up and I turned the calendar page to phrases like, “First Day to a New Life…You Can Do This!”, “Nothing ever tastes as good as being thin feels”, “You won’t get the ass you want by sitting on it!”, “Skinny girls look good in clothes and fit girls look good naked”” and “Dear Fat: Get the F*ck off my body-Thank You”.

I was ready to begin.

I researched juice recipes and stocked up on fresh vegetables. Day 1 and Day 2 were rough, but I was hooked on the juice by Day 3. In a week, I started feeling a lightness in my body that I hadn’t felt in years.

My hair shined and my skin glowed. I was receiving compliments when the pounds began to drop. Friends started asking me those welcomed questions, “What’s your secret? What are you doing?”

I texted one of my sisters with daily weight loss numbers. Before my juice launch, I had asked her if she could be the sponsor I never had at Overeaters Anonymous. I checked in with her so I could be accountable.

I counted down the numbers and I felt my clothes fitting looser. I gained enough confidence to tell my family about the documentary I had watched and how it inspired me to, ‘juice myself skinny’. In addition to the weight loss news, I also told them that my body ached and my lifelong asthma seemed to have disappeared. The juicing was healing the inflammation in my body. I was a believer but the weight loss was still the more important focus.

My best friend, Ali, caught me red handed. I was on Day 23 when she called to check-in about my week. I started off the conversation with a numbers update. “Well, I’m down 20 pounds now.” She responded, “Whitney, this juicing stuff is so not about your health. This whole thing is about weight. Every time I ask you about your life, you immediately answer me with a number.  If this juicing was really about health you wouldn’t be so caught up with the numbers you see on the scale”.

She was right. Of course it was about the weight. My entire life had always been about the weight.

I was addicted to watching the numbers drop, so addicted that her concerned opinion no longer mattered. I was tucking in my shirts and effortlessly. I was slipping on the pair of jeans that I had bought two years prior, when Mike and I had first started dating. I had grown out of them much sooner then they were ever considered used.  I was getting closer to entering the ‘Land of Thin’.

On day 38 of juicing, I was down 25 pounds. It was a miracle in my book of dieting history.

Mike and I ventured to the outer banks of South Carolina for a long weekend get-away. On the first night of our island vacation, I broke my fast with rich, gourmet foods and silly amounts of alcohol. I overindulged to the point of being sick for the next two days.

Over the next year, I gained all the weight back and then some. This is when my bulimia started to tailspin out of control. I knew that I had to seek professional help, but this time, it had to work, something had to shift. It would be another 8 months before I decided I was worth the price of professional help.

Whitney Gale Signature