June 2008 Column Winner

Conquering the scales is a life lesson

By Shana Adkisson, The Norman Transcript

My parents raised me right. Mom taught me it was polite to always say "please" and "thank you." Dad educated me on the funnier things in life, and made me realize Boxcar Willie and Elvis were among some of the greatest performers to ever live.

I think I'm most grateful they took time to make sure I realized I wasn't a human being unless I took responsibility for my actions. Good or bad.

I understood at an early age saying "please" and "thank you" got me more stuff. Educating me on that was a simple task. The laughing came easy, too.

Unfortunately, all the other stuff would have to wait.

During my 20s I was consumed with the idea all my problems were someone else's fault. One of those problems was my weight. I have suffered from obesity my entire life. The more I suffered the more I blamed. I blamed genetics. I blamed the stress from work or school. I would blame failed relationships. I would even blame God.

It wasn't until a medical scare my husband had two years ago that I realized I had no one else to blame but myself for being overweight.

My ancestors didn't put ice cream, potato chips and candy in my mouth. I did. God didn't tell me to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted and how much I wanted. I did that, too. But I couldn't see that. I couldn't see the damage I was doing to my body. That is, until I was forced to see it in black and white.

When my husband was released from the hospital, we obtained his medical records. On almost every page someone at the hospital wrote the words "patient is morbidly obese."

That hurt me because of the word morbidly. It's such a gross word. It's such a harsh word. A word I didn't want to see. I stared at that word, hoping it would go away. I even got mad at whoever it was that wrote it. How dare they?

Then I stopped. I realized seeing that word really hurt me because, at the time, I weighed more then my husband did. My husband who was "morbidly obese."

It was time to take control. It was time to admit I had a problem and the only way to solve it was to own up to it.

I started my journey by writing in a diary "I am addicted to food." It took me awhile to write those five words. I put the pen down several times and walked away. Then I did it. Real quick. Like ripping off a Band-Aid.

Later, I just stared at those words. "I am addicted to food." After I committed to those words, I cried a long time - a really long time. Then, I closed the diary, put it on a shelf and I haven't opened it since. The blaming was over.

I started slow. A pound here. Maybe another pound the next week. Sometimes the scale would go the wrong direction and I would spend the day devastated. Through it all, I never gave up. I never said "I can't do this."

I did do a lot of praying. I found my faith again. I was hoping God would take pity on me and give me the extra strength I needed not to eat that chocolate chip cookie.

He pulled through for me a lot. Not all the time. He's a busy man. I can understand consoling a crazy woman jonesing for a cookie can't be on his must-do list all the time. I didn't blame him when I fell prey to a devilish dessert. I took the responsibility.

This week all that was worth it. I stood on the scale, looked down and saw a number I thought I'd never see. Through it all. Dinners with families that sometimes consisted of seconds, possibly even thirds.

Through double, chocolate fudge brownies, that were made with extra deliciousness, someone brought to work. Through the occasional glasses of merlot on the weekends. Through the moments when I wanted to take a baseball bat to the elliptical. I had managed to drop 100 pounds.

Victory.

My life has changed in so many ways. I can walk by a store, look in the window, see a dress and be pretty sure it comes in my size. I know I've increased my odds of being at my niece's high school graduation in nine years. I can take the dogs for a walk and not worry I'm going to die before I get home. I know I'm no longer morbidly obese.

I know I'll spend the rest of my life loving Elvis a little bit more than Boxcar Willie. Elvis had sexier hips. Something else mom taught me. And I will always know there is a diary on a shelf inside my house with a page that has the words, "I am addicted to food."