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May 7, 2017

How I Won the Battle to Stay Fit.

I was a chubby kid.

My struggle with weight began around second grade and continues today.

While I had been around 20 pounds overweight in high school, I was tall and carried a lot of the extra weight in my legs. I didn’t get upset about my weight until I got pregnant the first time. Even after the birth of my first son, I was still 100 pounds overweight.

Much of my family battles their weight. I knew this was not going to be an easy fight. At 20 years old, I could not walk through Walmart without getting tired. I was determined that I would not live like that.

That resolution has caused me to form some pretty strong opinions. I changed everything about the way we celebrate holidays and family dinners.

In our family, food is the centerpiece of all gatherings. Every holiday celebration, accomplishment, and even deaths are attached to food and eating. When I look back, I still remember the menu for each occasion because they rarely ever changed. The event day centered around cooking and eating. Directly following the meal, everyone often drifted off into food comas. The gathering culminated in eating and never interaction. I may have stumbled upon a cultural issue that reaches further than my family’s houses.

There is comfort in a traditional family dinner, but we have lost something along the way. Now that celebrations are taking place at my house, I move the focus onto the family and away from the meal.

It has taken years of trial and error to find the perfect balance of diet and exercise. Even with all my calories—in and out—calculated and reps tallied, my weight still yo-yos. I started strong, but then seemed to lose the ability to stay with my healthy habits. I finally realized what I was missing. The key ingredient to keeping myself on a mission was changing the reasons that I was eating too much.

I had not considered the taming of my brain as a significant part of dealing with a weight issue.

To change my eating habits forever, I had to change my perception of food. Our culture fosters a connection with our food to love, comfort, and security. Thinking of food as fuel instead of a cozy blanket gave me the missing link. I had been eating for all the wrong reasons.

With the understanding of my food addiction, I was able to see how to work with my problem. I learned to support my needs separately from my healthy eating and active lifestyle.

Our new family traditions find us playing Rock Band or Evil Apples. We drag out adult coloring books and enjoy conversation. Birthdays are often celebrated with bouncy houses or swimming parties. Connection with loved ones is the focus of our getting together. Small changes have introduced fun that far outshines the pies and casseroles. We are building stronger relationships and keeping that need separate from our meals.

Sure, we still have dinner together. There are still birthday cakes and even Christmas pies. Rather than the food being the center of our attention though, we center on the activities. Food is only to fill our tummies when they begin to rumble. We no longer fall into food comas; we eat lighter and move on to the next activity. We laugh together and listen to one another. The icing on the uneaten cake is that everyone still fits into their pants the next day.

I incorporate this same logic into my everyday. This is my new reality and not a temporary change. Every New Year’s Day the world is making resolutions. I am thrilled to have found the way not to have to resolve myself to lose weight, again. Those days are over.
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Author: Traci Burnam
Image: Author’s Own
Editor: Travis May

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Traci Burnam