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Eating to live or living to eat?

My mother tells that when I was a toddler, I had a rather bizarre appetite. I ate hand lotion, baby aspirin and drank kerosene. There was one time mom left me in the car while she ran into the grocery store. She had parked in front of the large store windows and was only gone a few minutes. I had managed to find a can of HEET (fuel line antifreeze) which I somehow opened and attempted to drink. When mom came back to the car she could smell it on my hands and face.

In early elementary I remember not wanting to eat. Mom would buy me special breakfast bars to start my day. I am sure my three older brothers were jealous that I got 'chocolate bars' before school.

Both my parents cooked large delicious meals and feeding us is their way of showing love. Mmmmm, my dad makes the best mashed potatoes and mom's lasagna is a family favorite. Mom still makes a pumpkin pie just for me during the holidays.

My three older brothers were big growing boys with huge appetites. When I found a food I liked, I ate all that I possibly could because I knew if I didn't it would be gone. And keeping up with my brothers I began to pack on the pounds. I wasn't fat, just chubby.

I maintained a size 14 though high school and college. The numbers on the scale didn't matter to me but in my mind, size 16 was fat.

When I tried dieting, I didn't find losing weight as hard as maintaining it. After reaching my goal I would soon gain the weight plus some. So I chose not to play that game, or at least not that often.

I became a graphic designer at the Pioneer Journal. Working at a computer and not being as active, I found myself wearing size 16. I lost some weight and then got pregnant. I was 30 and a mom -- wasn't I entitled to the extra girth? In the following 10 years I began wearing an 18 and got married to the man of my dreams. A man who loves to cook, bake, can and grill, he's perfect for the girl who loves to eat. He also shows his love by feeding me. In our honeymoon phase we both gained quite a few pounds. I now wear a size 20.

At my last physical, the doctor told me I was morbidly obese. What? I am fat but I can still tie my shoes! I thought being morbidly obese was someone who was limited by their pounds. The fact is I am 43 years old and I weigh 249 pounds. But I surely don't feel my age nor my weight.

On Jan. 9, 2012, my husband and I signed up for his employer's Biggest Loser, a supportive weight loss competition. The goal is not just to lose weight but to do so by eating sensibly, exercising daily and reshaping eating behavior. Access to a weight room, cardio equipment, basketball court, racquetball court, swimming pool, sauna and steam room is provided. Group lunch-n-learn educational meetings and individual weigh-ins are held weekly with a Registered and Licensed Dietitian.

So far I learned my eating habits needed to be reshaped. I rarely ate breakfast, we ate out for lunch and then I would consume huge amounts of food at the evening meal. This eating schedule spikes insulin levels which is not very healthy. I do not want to become a diabetic. My goal is to eat small meals and snacks, choosing snacks with high nutrition and low calories. I have to learn portion control. Water. I need to drink water.

We were given a food journal to track our eating and exercise, which also keeps us accountable. It can also be another tool for the Dietitian to help us get on the right track.

I am truly enjoying spending the quality time exercising with my husband and so thankful for his commitment and support.

The competition is only 12 weeks, a mere jump start for my goal is to be a size 14 by my 44th birthday in the end of July. This is more than a diet but a life style change.

I have a long way to go. To help me, I will envision it as a journey, traveling across country at night seeing only where the headlights shine in front of me. We will keep driving until I get there. And I promise not to drink HEET even if I am left in the car alone.