I’m a trained and licensed psychotherapist. I’ve spent almost 14 years in and out of the rooms of Overeaters Anonymous. I’ve worked in a substance abuse treatment center counseling countless alcoholics and addicts. I get addiction. I get it from helping people face and treat their own addictions and from facing and treating my own food addiction.

I read an article on Huffington Post this morning about the quest of women and girls to be thin and the extent to which the quest for thinness is a quest to be less. I can’t stop thinking about it.

I’m 38 years old and I’ve been overweight to some degree or another since I was a child. My “over-weightness” as a child was mild, but enough to make my pediatrician make comments when I was in the 90th percentile for weight each year at my check up. Enough to make me self conscious about my body from the age of 8. In high school I gained 50 pounds in 4 years and at a size 18 felt horrible about myself at my senior prom in a dress that made me feel like one of the Golden Girls rather than like my young and sexy friends. By college, I was bouncing up and down the scale fighting with the same 20 pounds I’d gain each year at school and then take off each summer. Post college was toughest and led me to the rooms of Overeaters Anonymous.

But I’ve always had other things going for me. I’m smart, and have a “pretty face”, and apparently I have “good hair”, or so I’m told. I’m funny and outgoing, reliable and loyal, confident and set others at ease. I’ve always known these things about myself. I’ve always taken pride in them and myself. I’ve always seen myself as more than my weight.

When I met my husband I weighed 175 pounds, I know because I was running, going to 4 or 5 OA meetings a week, staying abstinent, and weighing myself regularly. Three days after we got back from our honeymoon 18 months later I had no idea how much I weighed. I’d stopped running, was lucky if I hit one OA meeting a week, had lost my abstinence, and hadn’t weighed myself in months. So, I bought a scale and weighed in at 216 pounds. Six months after our first child was born 4 years later I was 246 pounds.

Despite a lifetime of struggling with my weight that was the point at which things finally changed for me. It was because when I looked at my six month old daughter I realized that this wasn’t about losing weight to be prettier, sexier, more attractive, or more conformist to our society’s expectations of beauty. At that point losing weight was about being healthy enough to get up and down off the floor without help, and being able to carry my kid up and down the stairs without getting winded, and being able to model healthy eating habits for my daughter as she grew up. Losing weight was about being able to live more freely.

Losing wasn’t about becoming less, it was about becoming a better version of me.

I confess that I get frustrated sometimes when people talk about eating disorders. They seem to focus on anorexia and bulimia and forget about binge eating disorder. (Of course the DSM doesn’t even include binge eating disorder yet so, I can understand the omissions of lay people!) But, it’s there, and pervasive, and developing a healthy eating pattern for life is an essential component of recovering from the illness.

When I struggle with my weight now, it’s really a proxy or stand-in for a larger issue. If my weight is normal then I am engaging with food in a healthy way. If I’m gaining weight then it means that I’m not.

When I’m engaging with food in an unhealthy way, eating certain types of foods and certain volumes of food, I become anxious and depressed. This is not good for me in any way.

Sometimes people who didn’t know me when I was 246 pounds act as though I must be crazy to monitor my food intake the way that I do. I’ve had people look at me and say things like, “You’re not on a diet? Are you?!” It’s hard to know how to respond. Do I say, “Actually, I have an eating disorder,” or “No, I’m just trying not to lose my mind from the toxic effects certain foods have on me,” or “I’m jut trying to be healthy.”

I know in my heart and in my brain it’s none of their business. But I gave up on the idea of anyone minding his or her own business about my weight a long long time ago.

But in the end I just want to say that sometimes weighing less isn’t about being less, as that author, and so many others, suggest. Sometimes, for those of us with this other brand of eating disorder, weighing less is about being more.

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