Wednesday, January 31, 2024

How I lost 100 pounds without gastric bypass with the sleeping bag principle

Hello friends of this blog on how I lost 100 pounds without gastric bypass or weight loss drugs! Oh how I love to write titles that intrigue! You may be ( I hope you are!) wondering how I lost 100 pounds with the sleeping bag principle. Explaining is going to require sharing some painful past experiences but I hope it will help you. And talking about it, I've learned, helps me. 

I grew up learning that I was responsible for everyone else and to take care of others at the expense of taking care of myself. I didn't know that I wasn't supposed to feel constant pain, guilt and shame and self-hatred. I didn't know that I was supposed to take care of myself and so didn't have the slightest idea of how or what I even needed. 

Well you may ask what the heck this has to do with weight loss or gain, obesity or how I lost 100 pounds. And that's a good question. Actually, caring for others to the harm of myself meant I didn't get needs met. I didn't eat enough and in college, dropped down to around 100 pounds. I cut myself short at every turn. I was so used to going without (a bed, warmth, enough food, adequate health care, even a home) that I thought this was how it was supposed to be. 

So going without got me too thin, but it also got me overweight too. After losing two stillborn babies, I was depressed and miserable. I asked a doctor for help and he asked me what antidepressant I wanted (?!?). So I said Paxil which turned out to be the wrong prescription. But not knowing how to care for myself, I didn't wonder at a doctor asking me to prescribe my own antidepressant. 

Paxil didn't just impede healing, it slammed the door on it. I got more and more overweight, felt more and more apathy and got more and more depressed. Fast forward to 2011 and I'm in morbid obesity. I overate and over-drank because Paxil took out my limit switches. I was confused, exhausted and in agony,  mentally, emotionally and physically. And clueless where to turn. 

Then one evening, I had a flash of insight. I saw my obesity for what it was. And I realized that I could do something about it. But first, I had to reprogram those feelings of worthlessness. I had to redefine, or define, what I really needed. 

And I did that by looking at how I was able to take care of others. I knew what they needed: love, affirmation, safety, warmth, a home, a sense of self, security, nutritious food, health care when they were ill. I had to come to understand that I needed those same things. 

So about the sleeping bag. When I was 17, I went camping with friends. Everyone had sleeping bags, tents, overnight bags with suits, towels, sunscreen, you know, all the stuff you need. I didn't bring anything, not only because I didn't have most of them, it didn't even occur to me that I would need them. I had always been left to manage for myself, pretty much. A youth leader took pity on me and gave me an army blanket but I still froze at night and got a rash because turns out, I'm allergic to wool. 

I remembered this experience a few years ago and realized that it was by no means an isolated instance. As a kid and teen, I often lack basic necessities. And what wasn't provided, I learned to live without. But, oddly or not, I knew that other people needed these things. I never questioned why other family members had bikes, beds, pillows,  toys, desks, proper clothing and shoes while I had to buy my own, use cast offs or manage without. I understood that others needed a their own bedroom but that I had to sleep in the baby's room. That I had to do all the chores so others could relax. 

So while I didn't get the message that I required care as a kid, I knew, as a parent, my kids did. Looking at how I provided for them (not perfectly, of course, but doing the best I could), that I should give myself the same things. And I'm setting about now to get my head around how to do that. This is a huge part of how I weaned off Paxil, found more effective ways to manage depression and lost 100 pounds. 

Stay tuned for more on self-care. 

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