Putting on weight isn’t inherently bad, but for some people, it can be indicative of a wider problem or a symptom of something going on in their lives.
That was the case for Renatta Keith, 37, from Hunstville, Alabama, who found herself comfort eating after a series of deaths in her family.
In 2009, her mother died after battling an opioid addiction that was secret from the family.
Just a few years later, her father, who served a soldier in Iraq, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease upon his return and died not long after – and Renatta was the one to find his body.
Then, just a year after that, Renatta’s brother died of asphyxiation from alcohol.
For Renatta, she used binge eating to cope, and soon was drinking at least a litre of Cola a day, as well as eating most meals from drive-thru restaurants. Her weight eventually peaked at 20.7 stone.
‘I experienced the sudden loss of my mother out of the blue in 2009,’ said Renatta.
‘She had been hiding an opioid addiction from the family and it got out of control really quickly. In 2012, my father came home from Iraq and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s.
‘One day I had found him dead and the imagery was very difficult to deal with and escape from.
‘I began eating to deal with the grief. The very next year my brother died of asphyxiation due to an alcohol binge.
‘He had been dead for several days before we found him and again my grieving process included a lot of food to cover up my pain.’
But it was an incident on a plane that caused Renatta to find a turning point, as she needed a seatbelt extended during a flight to LA.
She said: ‘The humiliation and experience made me realise I had to do something about my weight. I needed to treat my body better.’
Then-35-year-old Renatta also damaged her spine, something she was told was due to the pressure of her weight. As a result, she had to undergo an anterior lumbar interbody fusion operation to mend her bones together.
Renatta said: ‘The recovery and pain from this made me realise how I had taken granted of my body and had to lose weight to stop further damage to my spine.’
There was no quick fix to healing Renatta’s relationship to food and bingeing, and her journey began with tracking the food she ate via an app to get a better idea of what the issues were.
As well as cutting out fizzy drinks, she eventually reduced her carb intake to begin a Ketogenic diet.
Renattaalso had a personal trainer and worked out with him three times a week,focusing on a mixture of cardio and strength training.
‘I started tracking my food and seeing how much sugar I consumed daily,’ Renatta said.
‘This visual really helped me learn what was in the foods I was eating.
‘I cut out diet soda completely and my taste buds changed. I could taste food again and stopped craving unhealthy foods full of sugar.
‘This helped my joints felt better and I could move my body with less pain.’
Over the course of two years, she has gone on to lose over 10 stone, and says that she feels ‘reborn’ now that she no longer has an unhealthy relationship to eating.
Renatta says: ‘When I made a mistake instead of giving in to eating whatever I wanted the rest of the day, my next meal would be back on track.
‘I stopped the ‘well I made a mistake today; I’ll start back tomorrow or Monday’.
‘I got off this roller coaster and broke this cycle. This realisation and the time I spent getting mentally fit was where the magic started happening for me.
‘Working through my grief with a professional was the key for me. I found ways to cope with my heartache besides food and that changed my mentality, which in return changed my life.
‘I feel reborn, funny because that’s what my name means! I feel free. All the energy I spent wanting to lose weight is now used enjoying my life.
‘Instead of being consumed with grief and heartache with the loss of my family, I can now guide others out of pain and offer advice.’
Renatta has documented her journey on Instagram, and now has over 40,000 followers who enjoy pictures of her healthy meals and workouts.
She hopes that – much like the support she received from boyfriend Matt and 16-year-old daughter – she can offer support to those who are trying to overcome grief and get control of their mental and physical health.
In a few words of advice to others who are embarking on their own healing and weight loss journeys, Renatta said: ‘Instead of just diving in another weight loss program spend some time working on and nurturing your mental health first, figure out your why. Why did you gain this weight?
‘Why are you overweight? I learned losing weight wasn’t enough until I changed all the behaviours and negative thinking about myself that got me there.
‘There are wonderful doctors out there so never be ashamed of reaching out and getting mentally fit, not just physically fit.’
Source: Read Full Article