I remember the moment I realized that I had a serious problem. I had just eaten an entire box of ice cream sandwiches, telling myself each one would be the last. I decided I needed to hide the trash. I turned the box inside out, so it looked like plain old cardboard. I stuffed the wrappers inside and folded it up into a compact square. Then I buried it deep in the middle of my kitchen trash. The problem? I lived alone. I stopped, frozen in a moment of insanity. “Who am I hiding this from?” I asked myself.
I’ve had a complicated relationship with food my entire life, starting in childhood when a relative forced me to diet, including weekly weigh-ins. This was when I started stealing food so that I could devour it in private, later leading to a binge eating disorder as an adult. By the time I had my daughter at 32, I was 90 pounds overweight, and determined to fix it. I wasn’t down about it, just determined. No excuses, I told myself. You are going to figure this out.
My biggest and most significant change was honesty. I had to be honest with myself about what foods were really keeping me from my goals; the things I was abusing. I sat down and made a list: flour, dairy, candy, and wine. I admitted that for me, those things were like alcohol for an alcoholic. I could not enjoy them in moderation. They had to go. I committed to a 40-day fast from everything on my list. During that time, I didn’t touch any of it, not one single morsel. It was excruciating, and without question the hardest thing I’ve ever done. The only way I made it through was with prayer. The good news was that once I’d detoxed from my poisons, losing weight became easy. It felt like rolling downhill. I was amazed.
Along the way, I also learned how important sleep is for weight loss, and that when I was well-rested I made better food choices and had more energy for exercise. Finally, the most surprising lesson of my journey was how small of a role exercise played. It wasn’t a big factor in my weight loss at all. In fact, I lost 50 pounds before ever setting foot in the gym. I began working out for reasons that had nothing to do with pounds, like stress release, mental health, and fun.
Today, I’ve lost 90 pounds and am the healthiest I’ve ever been, mentally and physically. I still don’t eat my poisons, and without them I have a freedom I’ve never experienced. I eat only fish, chicken, eggs, nuts, fruits, vegetables and healthy grains like oatmeal. I exercise every day, sometimes twice a day, because I love the mind-body connection that it gives me. I don’t believe that I’m cured from my food issues, but I do believe that I now have the tools to fight them, and I’m so very grateful for that!
Like so many people, Mara Schiavocampo had struggled with weight for most of her life. She tried every diet on the planet, suffered a debilitating eating disorder, joined a bizarre food cult, took dangerous pills, worked out for insane amounts of time—and still tipped the scales at nearly 230 pounds. But more than reaching a healthy weight, Mara wanted peace and freedom from the constant mental torment brought on by food. A healthy and effortless way of life. For the rest of her life.