“I have lost more than 100 pounds TWICE in my life. Once before I met my wife, then again after we gained 200+ pounds during our marriage. Let me back up a bit.
I had been waking up every day fat, lonely and miserable for years, but when I got the call from my doctor’s office telling me that my blood sugar reading was 300, I faced even darker fears. I imagined a lifetime of needles and meds, and the gruesome possibility of losing a limb. I was afraid of going to sleep and never waking up, dying alone in my apartment, undiscovered for days until someone noticed. I believed if I could just lose weight, if I could just be thin, my life would be everything I hoped it could be. There is no question I was clinically depressed and at an all-time low.
Fast forward a year and my life was virtually unrecognizable. My fear of diabetic consequences had propelled me to lose 120 pounds on a vegetarian diet. I enrolled in a graduate school program which led me to meet the woman of my dreams. Within a few months, I married my girl and became an instant family man with her two young children in tow. I thought all my problems were over and life would be easy and sweet. Boy, was I wrong.
I had struggled with my weight since childhood. I was a sad and anxious kid who used food to cope with uncomfortable feelings and situations, the stereotypical fat kid who dreaded gym class and shopping for new pants. As my weight climbed, my awkwardness around other people and poor self-image increased as well. I felt like an outsider in life, like everyone knew a secret that nobody thought to tell me. I watched other people my age socializing and having fun, but always hung back in the shadows convinced that I didn’t belong.
I grew from a chubby kid to a fat teenager to a morbidly obese adult, eventually reaching 280 pounds. My life became one long attempt to avoid being around other people more than necessary. I went to work, but my days mostly revolved around planning and eating massive amounts of food. After the diabetes diagnosis scared me into losing weight, I was still preoccupied with planning my next opportunity to eat. My outer appearance had changed, but on the inside, I still felt like the fat guy I had always been.
Kim and I got married in December 2003, and at first it seemed like all our dreams had come true. We were happy and in love, but it soon became clear that we brought more emotional baggage into the relationship than we realized. Dealing with the day-to-day realities of family life was stressful, and it wasn’t long until I was using food to cope with pressure and regaining the weight rapidly. At my core, I didn’t feel like I deserved the shot at happiness I was getting, so I was sabotaging it all. Thank God Kim was willing to see past my anger and sadness to something more worthwhile.
Although Kim had not struggled with weight as a child, we became ‘partners in crime’ with our eating, and she began to pack on the pounds as well. From our wedding through the decade that followed, she gained over 80 pounds, topping out at 240 lbs in a size 22W dress. She struggled with feelings of being the ‘fat mom’ at the kids’ school, while I felt guilt for dragging her down with me. We knew we were using food to cope with unresolved anxiety and depression, but it was easier to eat to avoid dealing with the big issues.
Our roller coaster relationship with food continued for years. Eventually we both lost a considerable amount of weight on separate diets. I lost 120 pounds again, this time with a low carb diet, an opposite way of eating from my previous weight loss. Again I felt like I had conquered my demons, but I was repeating the same mistakes. I was treating the symptom – food choices – rather than the underlying cause, my inability to handle my own emotions without burying them under food.
Kim called this our time of ‘semi-successful struggling.’ We were physically smaller, but also constantly trying to follow rigid – and different – food rules. Making meals together was difficult, and we again fell into a cycle of cheating on our plans and trying to get back on the wagon. We felt a sense of panic as our weight began to climb again. I was convinced I could never lose the weight a third time, so I desperately wanted a solution that would work, a way to eat that would not be crazy-making.
Our lives changed forever in 2017 when Kim discovered Gin Stephens’ book Delay Don’t Deny: Living an Intermittent Fasting Lifestyle while searching for dieting ideas on Pinterest. Kim read the book and immediately felt drawn to the simple power of Intermittent Fasting (IF). We committed to a daily clean fast and an eating window of 3-5 hours.
The results were miraculous. The extra weight melted off, but more importantly, we did it while eating all the foods we had denied ourselves for so long. For the first time in our marriage, we were eating the same meals at the same times and found a peace around food that we had never known before.
Eating in the same pattern helped us get aligned in our relationship. We communicate better and enjoy shared, non-food-related activities. Without food as our primary coping mechanism, we finally allowed ourselves to feel a lot of unresolved emotions and deal with feelings more constructively. For the first time, I feel like I have power in my own life.
We now live a life where the struggle is gone. The changes in us greatly transcend the physical. Peace and joy have replaced fear and angst – we truly feel FREE. Everything about our lifestyle now – the saved time and money, the freedom from cravings, the ability to eat intuitively and enjoy every bite of food – it all seems to too good to be true. But it isn’t – it is true, it’s real, and it is available for everyone who embraces the IF lifestyle.
At the time of this writing, I am down 115 lbs, weighing 165. Kim is down 95 lbs, weighing 145. We are so grateful for our new lives that we shared our full journey in a book Unbelievable Freedom: How We Transformed our Health and Happiness with Intermittent Fasting. We wish everyone a happy, healthy path to freedom!”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Ryan and Kim Smith of Bangor, Maine. You can follow their weight loss journey on their Facebook page, The Super Shrinking Smiths, or on their website. Do you have a compelling weight loss journey? We’d love to hear your story. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.
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