Even the shortest walk left me breathless, sweaty, and fatigued.
Mum used food as a means of emotional comfort, and food was the main way we related as a family. It was the answer to everything in life.
These conditions were a "perfect storm." I had an insatiable hunger for food. I was bigger than all the other kids at school, and by the time I was 12, I weighed close to 300 pounds (130 kg).
Rolls of fat had grown over my abdomen and under my breasts. Rashes and ulcers festered, my skin turned dark around my wrists, elbows, and neck, my period stopped, and hair grew on my face.
I was obese and felt ashamed of myself, and so did my parents. Discrimination followed me wherever I went.
My life was sedentary; the shortest walk made me breathless, sweaty, and fatigued. I could not fit into seats, my car dipped on the driver's side, and people stared at me.
My diet consisted of sweet and fatty food, and by my late 20s, I reached around 600 pounds (250 kg). My health was on the same road as mum's, who died young. Depressed and believing I was worthless, I lacked the motivation to change.
Then, a friend saw beyond the rolls of fat. She cared enough to let me know her. She wondered what her life would be like without me. I mattered.
This was the turning point. For the first time in my life, I chose to take care of myself.
Making a change
Working on my shame and the psychological pain of my past was the only way I could bring about real change to my lifestyle. There would be no quick fix. I set about dealing with my destructive coping mechanisms.
Hovering around 600 pounds (250 kg), I began walking. Exhaustion, blisters, hurting joints, burning legs, and a sore back made it difficult. But I walked every day. Some passers-by mocked, some worried I would die, and others complimented me. Rubbing worsened the rashes beneath my folds of skin. My posture was poor from childhood obesity.
I altered my diet, reduced my intake of processed foods, and ate reduced fat, low sugar, and low glycemic index foods instead. It was a slow process; changing one thing at a time, with my insatiable desire to eat drawing me back to old patterns.