The Bipolar Diet

What is dieting success, and who defines the difference between success and failure?

Of all the posts I’ve made on this site, the one garnering the most likes has been my recent post “Soup du Jour” in which I talk about the inconsistency of my eating patterns. Did it strike a chord for people, or was it just that it wandered into a highly populated tag? I suspect the latter.

Whatever the case, eating and weight is always an issue worth discussing for me. People with mental health issues have trouble feeding themselves healthfully and consistently even if they didn’t start off with an eating disorder like I did. I’ve spent decades of my life traveling up and down the scales, eating every diet imaginable. At five feet seven inches, my lowest adult weight (for about ten minutes) was 145. My highest adult weight was 315 pounds. Today, and for about six years now, I maintain a weight in the range of 215 to 235 pounds.

Am I a success for learning to maintain a weight at least 80 pounds lower than my highest? Or am I a failure for being unable to sustainably go even lower? Depends who you ask. Certainly doctors, insurance companies, and clothing designers will never be pleased with me. But if you’ve never been as overweight as I have been, you don’t know what a difference that 80 to 100 pounds makes to my health and mobility. It’s night and day.

If anyone had told 17-year-old, 125-pound me, throwing up her Herbalife supplement after packing her 500-calorie lunch, that she’d one day be grateful to weigh 220 pounds, her head would probably have exploded. It would have exploded again if someone had told her that this future 220-pound woman would experience a level of self-acceptance unimaginable to the desperately thin girl.

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