MollyGreen.com | Fall on the Homestead | Fall 2016 60
“You didn’t eat your asparagus or green beans. Weren’t they good?” my
friend asked as the waiter cleared
my plate. I had enjoyed salmon
with a buttery cream sauce after a
fatty appetizer of fresh pork crack-lins and baked pimento cheese.
“Nah,” I replied, “I don’t eat the
fattening stuff.” The waiter snickered. He didn’t know I had gone
from wearing a size 24 to a 10 and
maintained that loss by avoiding
“fattening” foods like vegetables
Three years earlier I was in my
mid-forties with the mobility of
someone twice that age. I carried
over 250 pounds on my 5' 1" frame.
Having had spine surgeries as a
teenager, I was then diagnosed
with stenosis, spondolysthesis, and
arthritis. Epidural steroid shots
didn’t help the pain and neither did
physical therapy or the three medications I took daily. Even short
walks were uncomfortable for me
and long walks were impossible.
The pain was worse in the evenings.
After work, I would prepare dinner
and go to bed. Often, the pain was
so bad that I went to bed without
eating. My husband usually had to
assist me to the bed. My children
were young, and it wasn’t often that
I could get upstairs to tuck them
in or play with them. My time in
bed was spent thinking of how they
each deserved more.
In addition to the back pain, I was humiliated by my obesity. Sixteen years earlier, I had
weighed 313 pounds and elected to have gastric bypass. After surgery, the lowest I ever
weighed was 178 pounds, and I wore a tight size 14. Eventually, once again, I weighed
over 250 pounds and wore a size 24! Between the pain, the obesity, and the worry that
my family deserved better, I vowed to conquer my battle with weight. Never mind that
I had battled obesity since I was three years old. Channeling grit and determination, I
promised to lose weight or die trying.
A calorie counter app helped measure every morsel of food that I consumed while exercising nearly every day. The first week, 5 pounds were gone. The second week I continued with 1000 daily calories of low-fat, packaged food-like stuff, fruit, veggies, yogurt,
and more exercise, and more water. I lost nothing. Not an ounce. I was hungry, grumpy,
miserable, and still morbidly obese. The desperation grew.
In spite of following every last bit of conventional diet wisdom, I felt like a failure. My
life had been all about conquering obstacles: earning a PhD as a first-generation college
student, having scoliosis, building a nice house, and pursuing a respected career. Weight
was my constant failure. I phoned a friend from my Sunday school class, “You have to
pray for me.” I explained the misery of two weeks of dieting.
By Kristie Sullivan, PhD