Food is Good.

I like food.

Everything about it. The way it looks. The way it tastes (obviously). The way it makes me feel. I love cooking, especially for others. Nothing makes me happier than seeing people enjoy my cooking. My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving for goodness sakes, simply because the whole point is to gather with loved ones and be thankful for the piles of food that we can stuff in our faces.

I come from a very big Catholic family. My mom is one of nine living children, I am one of 30 bajillion grandchildren. Sunday evenings, holidays, any reason for family gatherings really, were centered around food. Grandma ArLee was an amazing cook and I’m so thankful to have learned from her; she spent the majority of her life cooking three meals a day for her brood. My favorite spot was sitting on her counter, watching her prepare meals. I also had the innate way of being in the serving line right behind her – by the time I was around, she was given the honor of first to dish up. That’s also where I learned the art of inhaling my food; if you want seconds in the Killion household, you learn to eat fast.

The Killion family does everything big. Big meals, big voices, huge amounts of love. My grandpa Leonard was a big man with big opinions and big vision. Well over six feet tall, he was also obese for my entire life, likely many years before. In his later years, he needed a pacemaker. After the surgery, the heart surgeon would tell the family he had a “VERY BIG (insert hand gestures here) heart.”

Having developed early in life – I’m blessed with the female Killion gene, more commonly referred to as “big boobs” – I’ve always been very body conscious. Growing up, I wasn’t particularly active and I obviously had a big appetite. In high school my lunches regularly consisted of a Snickers bar and a Mountain Dew, with an Otis Spunkmeyer cookie if I had spare change. As a shift supervisor at Subway I munched my way through every shift; my favorite meal was a footlong plus a 6-inch BLT with double bacon, extra mayo and onion. My Taco Bell order was five chicken soft tacos with sour cream. Yeah. Thankfully, being in marching band burned off enough calories to ensure I wasn’t as big as a house. I shudder to think what I was doing to my intestines though. When I moved away to college, I got a job as the nighttime security monitor at McCollum Hall. My shift was 11p-3a, prime time for late night munchies. Jimmy Johns delivers fast and late, my nightly order was a #9 Italian Night Club and chips. Compound that with my other poor meal choices, subtract the marching band and Sarah’s booty ballooned fast. When Bill and I started dating and later got married, our food choices didn’t improve. There were days of no breakfast, Sonic for lunch and Chipotle for dinner. Some days we’d add McDonald’s for breakfast. My booty size did not improve either.

For perspective, I will use actual, honest numbers. I am 5’5 and when Bill and I got married I was at my non-pregnancy heaviest of 163. My wedding dress was a size 16. A few years into our marriage I became unhappy. Unhappy with Bill, unhappy with our life, and most of all, unhappy with myself. My beautiful friend Heather (whose thin frame and long blonde hair I envied because, duh, who wouldn’t) started going to Body Boutique and was taking a nutrition class they were offering at the Merc. I tagged along for something to do and my eyes were opened. Wide. They showed how many teaspoons of sugar are in a can of soda, with real sugar in an empty glass. They demonstrated how many grams of fat are in fast foods with building blocks. They had a gross yellow lump of rubber that indicates what a pound of fat looks like. They cooked healthy, delicious, low fat meals loaded with vegetables and whole grains for us to try. After the class, Heather and I went to Body Boutique to work out. From that day forward I was motivated to make serious changes. If you know me, you know once I set my mind to a task I do it all the way. I started buying fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats and whole grains. I started reading labels like a mad woman. I stopped buying junk food. We stopped going through the drive-through. I started going to the gym every morning before work. The pounds started melting away. When Bill noticed how I was starting to look but realized I was still unhappy, he started going on long walks every morning. Lifting weights. His pounds started melting away too. Overall, Bill lost 90 lbs (if you didn’t know, he’s 6’7 and still a pretty big guy) and I lost 54. Which meant at my lowest I weighed 109 lbs. At the time in my body-dysmorphic-disordered mind, I still thought I could lose weight. Thankfully, as our relationship strengthened, my weight increased to a more healthy 127.

And then came Madeleine.

Pregnancy is when you’re eating for two, right? I don’t know why but in my first trimester all I wanted to eat was junk. McDonald’s french fries were a siren’s song. One night I bought a can of Grands buttery biscuits and ate them all with grape jelly. All of them. By myself. Having never liked mexican or spicy food before, Salty Iguana became (and still is) my favorite restaurant. On the day the doctor decided to induce me, I made Bill take me there for lunch because I knew it would be a while before we could have it again. I blame Maddie, that girl is a chips and salsa FREAK. Anyway, the day I delivered Madeleine I weighed 171.

Breastfeeding helped shed the majority of my baby weight but I never got all the way back down. Workouts stopped completely. Lack of sleep and adjusting to parenthood led to drive-through dinners. The sale of Sunflower Broadband and the subsequent loss of my job led to some serious stress eating. Over the past three years my weight has bounced around between 140-150.

And here we are. Remember up there when I talked about my Grandpa Leonard’s pacemaker? He passed away from congestive heart failure. My Grandma ArLee? While never obese, she fell victim to the same disease. I’ve seen the movie Food, Inc. and read Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Food Rules. I’ve learned about the obesity epidemic in the United States and watched it skyrocket over my lifetime. I’ve learned it isn’t just about my weight, it’s about being active, healthy and making the right food choices. It’s about shopping on the outer edges of the grocery store and avoiding the processed junk. My favorite places to be are the Community Mercantile, Lawrence farmer’s market, Pendleton’s Farm and Steve’s Meat Market. Thanks to Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, my daughter will be the kid in school with a non-Lunchable packed lunch. She’s a fruit and vegetable freak as well.

I now work at a Health Care IT company who is proactively concerned with the health and well-being of their associates and the community. Thanks to my teammate Luke Schnoebelen, I joined the ranks of the standing desk crowd and I walk on a makeshift walking desk every day for at least an hour. I am actively participating in the KC Slimdown Challenge and with 7.57% of my body weight lost I’m currently ranked third among Cerner associates in the Employer Challenge. My official weigh-in weight was 146.7 and according to my trusty bathroom scale I’m down to 133.5. I can see that pre-pregnancy 127 right around the corner and I know it’s just a matter of time before I get there.

I know it shouldn’t be about the numbers. But for me, that number signifies a goal I can and will accomplish. Accomplishing goals feels good. Having my clothes fit better feels good. Having my husband look at me with hungry eyes feels good. For the first time in my life, I’m starting to feel good in my own skin. And isn’t that what it’s all about?

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About sarahkscoular

Sarah K. Scoular (@sarahkscoular on twitter) has 15 years customer service experience including face to face, over the phone and via digital interactions. Sarah is currently Enterprise Community Manager for uCern, the enterprise 2.0 social platform where Cerner Associates and Clients connect and collaborate. She ensures the 100,000+ member network is connecting people with others in similar roles or special interest groups, sharing information and finding answers to the questions they're looking for. Sarah helps others who are helping to revolutionize Health Care. Outside of work, Sarah is the wife of a graphic designer/laser engraver and the mother of seven-year-old Madeleine. She loves to cook clean, plant-strong foods and is a certified yoga and Les Mills BODYFLOW instructor.
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11 Responses to Food is Good.

  1. Wow, Sarah! This is an amazing story (and your family reminds me so much of mine). Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Dave says:

    Very good read – but I’ve learned that’s to be expected from you (no pressure, you’re just awesome!).

  3. Thank you guys! And thanks for the motivation to keep being awesome Dave 🙂

  4. Josh Davis says:

    Thanks for a great post Sarah. They level of detail and honesty in your posts makes them truly special and relatable.

    I struggle with making weight loss part of my routine. I see my Father suffer at over 500 plus pounds. And while I feel ok at my current weight, I know that life will be difficult as I age if I don’t make changes. Though my family, I learned that when one felt stressed, unhappy or generally bored, food could solve it. As a child there was no drinking, smoking or drugs, but there was food to make everything better. As an adult I learned different habits, but I still have remnants of “food solves unhappiness” in my general though process.

    I have been going to a personal trainer twice a week since November, and I notice a number of of positive results, but I have been slow incorporate better food choices into the mix. I give myself credit for getting more active, but since weigh loss rarely has a deadline, I haven’t given healthy eating the focuses it needs.

    The fact that you can make so much progress with a busy life, a new commute and having a child is inspirational. Whether I am too the tipping point of even making additional small changes is honestly still a question.

    • Thank you for your honesty too Josh! It’s funny how food and emotion are inextricably linked for many people. I also credit you for inspiring me to write this, thank you so much for the push.

      It’s awesome that you recognize the need to change and for using a personal trainer, that’s really the first step! Just moving more than you currently are for 15 minutes a day, whatever that movement is, can make a big difference. I also know that making the right food choices isn’t easy, it does take effort. My Sundays are devoted to grocery shopping and food preparation, that way all the work is done for the week. I prep vegetables for salads, roast a chicken, and cut up fruit into individual containers as soon as we get home from the store. If I even take a moment to sit or say “I’ll do this tomorrow” the food rots in the fridge. If it’s already cut up, it’s easier to just grab and go.

      I’ve found tons of recipes and ideas on skinnytaste.com, that might be a good place to start. If I can motivate even one person to make changes by this post, I will be happy. I’m always here to offer tips and advice, each and every one of us has the ability to do it!

  5. Great job and very heartfelt. Nice capstone to some of the twitter chatter from yesterday and the separation between healthy food choices, the number on the scale and self image. It’s a terrible cycle.

    The phrase “For the first time in my life, I’m starting to feel good in my own skin” concerns me as it reinforces the relationship between body size and self-esteem. If you gain weight back for whatever reason and whatever amount, I hope you continue to feel good about yourself. With your great eating choices and lifestyle, that’s unlikely but it can still happen due to an injury or a medical condition. You did it the right way by learning and making health decisions rather than used quick solutions like fad diets, pills or shakes. Congrats!

    I saw that as the focus of the conversation yesterday, once you start gaining weight and don’t feel good about yourself, you start making wrong choices, your health suffers and you start feeling bad about yourself. Body size and shape are important indicators, but should not be the bench mark about health or feeling good about yourself.

    The size equation goes both ways. I see those too-skinny American Apparel or other retailer ads and don’t find those women healthy looking. They may be, but it saddens me to think they are a goal. No wonder body image is whack…that is an unattainable goal for most women. One image is considered healthy (too thin) and another unhealthy (too fat). Total BS and marketing crap. I’m always fascinated that Unilever bought Ben and Jerry’s and SlimFast the same day. They figured out the cycle of eating and binging is extremely profitable. Being fat makes money. Your point about Wal-Mart was important. Making plus sizes more normal indicates the shifting waistline of their shoppers. They have limited space in the store and thus are shifting their selection rather than expanding it (no pun intended). Wal-mart has an incentive for fat people to shop there. Fat people make them money so they want to make more money for it. Some of it is truly making fashionable clothes accessible to bigger women (which is good), but it also shows the shifting demographics. They don’t care, it’s what their customers demand. Done right it can be a positive and empowering way for women to, as you said, feel good in their own skin. However, the obesity epidemic is undeniable and a key piece of evidence is the change in the sizes in the women’s department and I agree that it is a commentary on the current American health problems.

    • Dave, every single one of your points are right on the money. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment, very insightful.

      I agree that the phrase “feeling good in my own skin” is tied to my weight, but it isn’t the only factor. When I was at my thinnest, I still wasn’t happy. Now that I’ve learned to see the entire picture – that exercise makes my muscles feel stronger, my body parts feel tighter, my HDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels are lower, my IBS is more manageable, that I enjoy my food more and I look into the fridge and see tons of fruit and veg – these are the things that are making me the happiest. The weight loss is simply a nice byproduct.

  6. Jennie Sass says:

    Very well spoken Sarah or should I say written! Thank you so much for sharing, you are such an inspiration. As a nurse in both a college and hospital setting, it really is scary how much the obesity epidemic is killing our country. It is so refreshing to see someone grab the bull by the horns and take charge.

    • Thank you Jennie! What hurts my heart the most is seeing children affected by obesity. Seeing an entire section of plus-sized clothing for little girls at JCPenney is what sparked this post. While I fully understand there should be a variety of size options, it saddens me that the need for plus-sized KIDS clothing has become this great. I’m determined to do whatever I can to stop the cycle. I know Maddie will likely be close to 6 feet tall and may have trouble finding clothes but I will make sure to not contribute to her body size unnecessarily.

  7. Neal Scoular says:

    You and Bill are an inspiration to me. Because of the 2 of you I have done what you have seen. I hope to stay on the same track forever. The 3 of you are my life blood my reason for being. Along with Jean and Mark your motivation makes me want more.

  8. Neal, you’re too much! I’m so proud of what you’ve accomplished and I’m so lucky to have you as my father-in-law. 🙂

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