By: Jen

One of the things I’ve been reflecting on in the light of the new year is the sheer lack of “work” I’ve done on this blog or on 7 Bites in general. I’m sure you’ve all noticed that I’ll post for a while, then stop. Or I’ll be gung-ho in writing and posting recipes and pictures, then nothing for weeks at a time. Well today I’m going to get very transparent and very raw with you guys and let you know what’s going on with me personally, and why I struggle with 7 Bites.

First, a little history. As you all know, I struggle with food addiction – I have walked through binge eating disorder alongside food obsession to self-medicate for depression and anxiety since I was younger than 10. For as far back as I can remember, I was obsessed with eating, not eating, dieting, not dieting, how much food I could shove in my mouth at once, how long could I go without eating, so on and so forth. I tried every diet known to man, and some that are really strange. I starved. I did vegetarianism, veganism, carnivorism, low-carb, high-carb, low-fat, high fat and everything in between. By the time it was all said and done I weighed 310 lbs, had high blood sugar, was dangerously close to high blood pressure, and the extra weight I was carrying caused damage to my joints that I am still living with today.

Triggers. Triggers are the root cause of every issue we have in our lives, regardless of what it is. We have triggers that cause us to be happy. Triggers that cause us to be sad. Triggers that evoke anger, curiosity, lust, desire, hunger, anxiety, and even triggers that cause extreme thirst (ever see that one commercial with that guy crawling through the desert searching for Evian?). My point is, triggers cause all sorts of responses in our minds: some good, some bad. When it comes to those of us with emotional or mental disorders, triggers can cause an adverse response that can, in turn, cause erratic and irrational behavior. A good example of this is someone with severe OCD. Now, OCD can manifest itself in many ways, but the most common form is by cleaning/organizing. A person with OCD can be triggered by seeing a show on hoarding, for example, then go into a rampage cleaning and organizing things that are already cleaned and organized, to a point that they lose themselves in the cleaning and organizing and forget about things like eating, sleeping, showering, etc. The behavior works similar to that of an addict. An addict will be triggered by something and immediately start craving his ‘fix” – a hit of this or a hit of that. This is also how food addiction triggers work.

That One Moment. We all have that one moment in our lives that we can go back to and see where it all started. That one moment in time that our illness (and, it is an illness) began. For me, it began as a child when I was abused by a family member. These moments remove some form of control for us. When that control is gone, we seek to find whatever it is in our lives that we CAN control. For me, I couldn’t control my abuser, but I sure could control how many slices of pizza I could shove down my throat. I couldn’t control the chaos around me, but I could control my food. And that became the theme of my life. I couldn’t control others, but I could control what I ate.

Then … Surgery. I made the foolish mistake of thinking that bariatric surgery was going to fix all of my food issues. I would never be able to eat large amounts again. I’d never be able to eat “bad food” again. I’d be thin. I’d be healthy. I’d be happy. Boy was I wrong. Looking back on it, I wasn’t emotionally ready for the surgery when I had it. I wish that I had gone into it with more research. I wish that I had known then what I know now. Not that I really regret it. I don’t. I’m glad I did it. Regardless of any other issues I’ve had since my surgery date, I am still healthier than I’ve ever been. That being said, the surgery was NOT the end-all of all my problems. In fact, in some respects, it was the biggest trigger of all. After years of obsessing over dieting and cooking, I finally had an excuse to spend the rest of my life on a diet. Because, isn’t that what it’s all about?

Reality Bites. When reality set in about a year and a half ago, I was a bit devastated. I had stopped losing weight and was sitting between 180 and 190 lbs. Why wasn’t I losing weight? I was doing everything right, darn it!! I was triggered. I started eating again – the “bad food” that no bariatric patient is supposed to ever be able to eat – chips, candy, popcorn, crackers. Basically any carb and/or sugar that I could get my hands on I ate. I regianed about 15 lbs. I became obsessed again over everything I ate. I began restricting. I began searching for the ultimate diet again. I started bouncing from diet fad to diet fad again. It wasn’t until I acknowledged that I had an addiction and sought help for that addiction that I was able to step back from it and to regain some self control.

And Now … I’m in a good place with my food. I am resting around 200 lbs and I am happy with that. I eat pretty healthy with a balance between protein, vegetables, and grains and I occasionally eat a treat (I don’t limit sugar or carbs anymore). But still … every once in awhile there are triggers.

Enter 7 Bites … 7 Bites started with completely good intentions. My mom and I had a lot of problems finding appropriate resources for people that have had the vertical sleeve as opposed to the gastric band or the RNY bypass, so that was, ultimately, our goal. To help those that were having the same problems we were finding support and resources. We’d always loved cooking shows, and we knew that recipes were popular, so that’s the direction we went. I didn’t realize, however, that going in that direction would prove detrimental to my emotional and mental well-being, and that it would end up being a huge trigger to my addiction. I spent more time obsessing over food, recipes, trying recipes, writing recipes, food food food everywhere food … I didn’t realize how big a trigger it was for me until last year. It was part of that reality that set in when my weight crept back up above 200 lbs.

While 7 Bites was meant for good, for me it triggered a roller coaster ride. I was once again “in the food”, in a whole different way. And I justified it because I was “helping others”. But one thing that I’ve learned in this journey is that you can’t help others if you’re not helping yourself. And so I took a step back. I had to for myself and for my sanity.

7 Bites has suffered as a result. I regret nothing, mind you. I had to get my head on straight and commit myself to full healing. But I also know that I haven’t put my full time and affort into this project. It’s very hard for me to, because with every post and every recipe I question myself.

As a result, I have had to make some changes in the way I handle 7 Bites. Not that my mother isn’t a part of things – she is. But I’m the one with the internet-savvy, therefore I’m the one doing the majority of the posting and technological work. So 7 Bites has had to change focus for me.
2016 is going to bring some changes. We will impart a site makeover, new content, and a lot of real-life posts. To be honest, this is going to be quite therapeutic for me. I am also having to undergo some real-life changes and those changes will likely show up in some of my posts as well. I want to show every aspect of post-bariatric surgery life, the good, the bad and the ugly. I want to be as real as possible with each of you. I want to share my struggles, my joys, and my successes. I want to share my faith, my spiritual life, and my love for Jesus. So this year will be the year of pure transparency for me.

We will still post recipes now and again, and there are several new projects we’re working on for this year, including a new cookbook. And we are looking forward to sharing these projects with you!

Remember that we are always here for you to offer support and a helping hand. Visit us on Facebook or join or Facebook Group. Feel free to ask us anything! We want this to be a family of support and encouragement.


Epilogue by Sue:

Jennifer is one of the sweetest people on earth, she will work her fingers to the bone, she will overload herself thinking that she has to do it all. She comes by this honestly. She is her mother’s daughter in more ways than she realizes or would admit.

This blog post is revealing, but also confirming. I do know my daughter, her dad and I have discussed a lot of what she has written here. This confirms that we also know that she has to make her own decisions and live with them.

When she had the gastric sleeve surgery Doug and I discussed whether she was emotionally ready for the surgery. We were pretty sure she really did not know what was going to happen.
Of course she knew the mechanics of the surgery. She understood that it was not a fix all, but deep down inside I think she did not quite get the lifestyle change that was going to happen.
I think that probably 80% of 1st time surgery patients don’t get it! I had the prior surgery for Lap-band so I knew that gastric sleeve was going to be more invasive and permanent. But for me I had 40 years of obesity and rebound dieting in my experience. I knew that this surgery was my last chance to have a healthy life. I did everything by the book because I was scared to death to fail. I think that is the difference in our way of thinking.

I love my Daughter and because I do, I don’t always tell her my feelings, she says I have no filter and really sometimes things do come out, but some of my feelings are kept inside. Reading her blog post made me realize that all my prayers are being answered, she is having the confirmation and understanding that she needs to continue with 7Bites and her personal journey. I hope that by making some changes we can reach more people and help ourselves as we continue to grow and change.

For many of you the thinking that when I lose the weight everything will be magical and perfect, our exposure of the REAL DEAL will be eye opening. Some of you will walk away, maybe you will come back, but the main thing is that we tell the true story and make it clear that you will work at your new lifestyle day by day, bite by bite.

I will be doing most of the recipes and research on food, Jennifer’s expertise will be where she is the best writing, speaking and computer stuff! We are a team and through our team effort we hope to continue to bring you information and ideas to help with your weight loss journey.