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The Diet Survivor’s Handbook: 60 Lessons in Eating Acceptance and Self-Care

Shaunta

Hello, my name is Shaunta.

I'm a wife, and a mother of a baby, a preteen and a teenager. Yeah. It's fun. Really, it is.

I'm a writer, just finished with my first novel. An ex-journalist who just can't put down the pen.

I'm a friend, a lover, my family's historian. I love photography and gardening and playing my guitar. I have eight siblings, two sets of parents, my ex-husband is my best friend.

And I weigh 300 pounds.

With all the things I have going on in my life—really good things—why is it that the last one is the one that defines me?

Why is it that I want to wear a sign sandwich-style that says "Yeah, but I used to weigh 323!"

I don't weigh 300 pounds because of my genes. Out of a very large family, only I am very large. I don't weigh 300 pounds because of a hormonal imbalance, or a "female problem" or my thyroid. I've had it all checked. Twice.

I weigh 300 pounds because I stopped dieting on May 1, 2006. I have no doubt that had I continued to diet, I would weigh a solid 350 by the end of the year. I weighed 323 pounds because I started dieting when I was eight, and it took me the next 25 years to get there.

I binged my way through a fairly promising athletic career. This is a secret that I've never told anyone before—I stopped swimming after my senior year so that I could eat. The four hours a day of exercise kept me in shape, in spite of the three or four candy bars I'd eat on my way home every night.

I binged through a lonely and traumatic childhood. Through a rough first marriage. Through three pregnancies. Through meeting the man of my dreams and becoming his wife. I binged through a quarter decade of living—starting in the third grade.

I stopped on May 1, because the number 323 scared me. And luckily for me, I came across a book about natural eating. It made sense—and I tried it. The first two weeks were pure hell. I started a blog—because I write. It's what I do. I need my blog to keep me sane through this. It gave me a place, everyday for two weeks, to talk about how scared the "not full/not hungry" feeling made me.

I started moving—not to lose weight, but because it feels good. Because deciding that I want to compete in a triathlon made me feel like an athlete again.

And 23 pounds came off. I know, I know… that's not the point. And really, it isn't. The point is that I'm not obsessed. I'm not making myself sick. I feel good. For the first time in a long time, I feel good. The anxiety that goes along with binging is gone.

Now, 23 pounds isn't much when you are my size. But for me, they are the most beautiful pounds ever. They tell me, every one of them, that I don't have to make myself sick anymore.