As I read the Last Judgement by Nonita Kalra, I felt alive! Not only because I felt she was writing about me but because she was putting into words my inner turmoil, the one that I’ve been desperately wanting to break free from, for the longest time. I believe I’m finally at the brink of doing just that!

Yes, the story sounded similar. From weighing 54 kgs in college to 84 kgs now – life’s been good, bad and ugly. The weight pendulum over the years has been happily swinging from one end to the other – at times, at its own pace and sometimes overwhelmed by my need to keep myself happy and satisfied. At other times, it was encouraged by my need to beat myself up for failures, express the anger, hurt within and punish myself for my shortcomings.

I can find numerous reasons why my weight bore the brunt of life’s challenges and pleasures but most importantly, I suppose it did because I allowed it to happen – because that was the easiest way for me to deal with it all – by simply internalizing all the emotions and fears. My inability to rightly express my views and opinions, and letting the world dictate who I am and should be –  just made me neglect myself over the years.

The more I tried to get out of the vortex, the more I sunk within, with ease! And all for the sake of the comfort and warmth of a place to hide – within me!

Beginning my career with an MNC, getting my first salary, receiving the ‘Professional of the month award’ within a month of joining, falling in love, getting married, learning to live with in-laws, adjusting and compromising to remain ‘happily married’, changing lifestyles, changing cities with husband and finding happiness, battling with a bitch at work, being childless, loosing friends, struggling for a foothold and trying to win over new colleagues in a new city, getting due recognition for a job well done, family reunions, buying property, loosing my job, becoming pregnant and giving birth to a miracle, being a mother, learning to be strong for the family, dealing with mid-life crisis, struggling with inner demons – at every step of the way, my only true companion has been food!

This bond with food has only grown stronger over the years. My relationship with food isn’t as much to survive but my dependency on it is at the core of who I am – my emotional being. It gives me utmost pleasure, happiness, fulfillment. Binging allows me to release the tension, anxiety and hurt. When I was told that because of this excess weight I could never get pregnant, I blocked the thought by heaping more rice on my plate. I hate myself, my state of mind when I’m unable to control the urge to grab that piece of cake, or when I know I’m full but need that extra sandwich to feel satiated. When I look at the mirror, go shopping for clothes – I hate myself even more! When I see a skinny woman sweating herself silly on the treadmill I’m angry and go for another chocolate chip cookie, when I visit a shop with a dwindling rack of XXL sizes or meet the ‘unapologetic’ salesgirl who blankly stares at me and says that a particular sexy lacy lingerie doesn’t come in my size – I freak and have an extra chappati. I joined the gym but couldn’t stop letting go of the french fries. Portion control didn’t sound like the ideal solution.

I’ve always viewed myself through the eyes of the world – what people thought of me mattered more than what I knew about me. The struggle to be the person I was expected to be rather than being who I really was – only led me to binge even more. As if every time I looked into the mirror, the question nagged ‘mirror, mirror on the wall – whose the fattest of them all?!’ My reflection stared back at me unblinkingly! I had my answer.

One fine day I began baking – cookies, cakes, pudding. I loved it. I not only enjoyed the process of baking but could spend hours on YouTube watching people bake and decorate some of the finest looking desserts. I felt relaxed navigating the world of Nigella Lawson, Laura Vitale, Stephanie Jaworski, Byron Talbott, Rosanna Pansino, Ann Reardon amongst numerous others. I baked for family, friends and went berserk baking for my daughter’s first birthday! To me the ingredients mattered – it wasn’t about calories. It was about putting together the essentials in their right proportions to create a mouthwatering feast. That’s what made them uniquely delectable!

And of course, the downside of it all was that I equally loved eating what I baked. It was pointed out to me that ‘my hobby was pure sabotage’  – for me and my health! I resented it as I felt this lack of interest in my personal outlet was just another means to stop me from being happy. But was it? Wasn’t this a justifiable means for me to continue piling on the kilos under the pretext that I baked because it helped me relax, destressed me and made me happy? And because I was happy I binged with the happiness increasing manifold especially when my creations looked delightfully appetizing!

There I was at the crossroads again – having to choose between what I wanted and what others wanted for me.

I had to stop! I had to choose what I loved about me, what brought a smile on my face, what made me come alive – no one was going to stop me from being happy. All I had to do was break the bond I had created with food and what it meant to me. It was time to give food a new meaning. It had to be relegated to the position of something that I needed to live – not make it the sole means of my survival. I had to accept the real me, accept my body as it was. The mirror wasn’t my only reality. I had to let go and stop hiding behind the facade of food and fat. I had to believe that people who truly loved and cared for me would accept me just as I am.

It was time to change companions – from food to my own body!