In 1987, my family was planning a move from upstate New York to Tennessee. As I was not even 3 yet, I didn’t have much say in the matter, but my mom still asked what I thought about moving to Tennessee. My response? I crossed my arms and kindly stated, “I want to go to Ponderosa.” Priorities, right? We have all heard the phrase, “Eat to live, don’t live to eat.” My understanding of this concept was a journey of tears, laughter, and many instances of overeating…
- Age: 10. Setting: My sister’s high school graduation party.
We had a picnic table that was prone to tipping over when the weight on each side was not balanced. So when this picnic table, along with my plate, took a dive, I cried, not because I was hurt, but because my overflowing plate of Korean ribs (super delish and still my fave) were scattered in the grass, and I hadn’t even taken the first bite. There is a picture in a family album of this— me with my arms crossed (my go-to move) and tears freely flowing. Seriously, I cried over spilled food. This was not my brightest moment in time.
- Age: 13-14. Setting: Family lunch at my sister’s house.
As a teenager, I was fully aware that I had some weight issues, and I was always “on a diet.” Of course, my definition of “diet,” at the time was questionable. At lunch with my family, I cleverly made a display of avoiding cookies for dessert whenever someone offered them to me, to show off my stellar dieting skills. Instead, I continued to blindly munch on potato chips, to fill the dessert calories I was avoiding. Finally my brother said, “Just have the cookie!” This is still a catch phrase in my family whenever someone is on an infamous “diet.”
- Age: 18. Setting: Grocery shopping with my BFF in college.
By the time I was in college, I was determined not to gain the “freshman 15,” and I was making better diet choices or so I thought. My best friend and I made weekly trips to Walmart, and my grocery list always included sugar-free popsicles. One afternoon, on our way back to the dorms, he asked if he could have one of my popsicles. I was embarrassed to inform him that I had already eaten them…all of them— the whole box. Also, not one of my brightest moments, ever.
- Age: 22. Setting: Spring Break 2007.
Same best friend, different instance of over-eating. We were hanging out, watching movies, when we decided we needed some ice cream. By this time, I had been hitting the gym and eating healthier for several months, so I figured a little ice cream wouldn’t hurt, key word being “little.” We had some ice cream, watched some movies, and long after he fell asleep, I kept eating. So when breakfast time rolled around, and he went looking in the freezer he was surprised to find an empty carton—which served as a lesson learned, you shouldn’t eat ice cream for breakfast, anyways.
As you can see, having a healthy relationship with food took quite a while for me. Eventually, I changed my perspective on what a healthy diet entails, and I learned that the food I put in my body needed to serve a purpose. I began eating to live well, instead of living to eat, well, everything. And most importantly, just because something is perceived as a “diet” food doesn’t mean you should eat the whole box…or carton.
Playlist Songs from a Former Over-Eater:
“Cheeseburger in Paradise” Jimmy Buffet
“Big Girl (You Are Beautiful)” Mika
“Fat Bottomed Girls” Queen
“Eat It” Weird Al Yankovic
“Baby Got Back” Sir-Mix-A-Lot
Ashley Shih has lived on the Space Coast for the past 5 years, and she can be seen training for marathons on the beaches of Brevard. Her goal is to share the ups and downs of her fitness experiences with readers, in order to help them with their lifestyle goals. Please email her with questions or feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org