I turned 70 three months ago. Now generally speaking, a woman would never divulge that she would be entering that decade. However, this is the first time in fifty years that I am free, sane, and liberated from the world of dieting, calorie counting, purging, bingeing extreme exercising and all else associated with society’s vision of how weight loss should come about. All of this changed a year ago, November 23, 2016 a year where I dropped the shackles of dieting and began to truly live.

I started my first serious diet in my mid twenties. For almost all of my entire life growing up I was the chubbiest in the class, the fattest among my group of friends and the one that was either pitied or taunted. It was in this realm that I sought comfort, predominately in bread, pasta, donuts and chocolate bars. Isolation and secret eating became my way of life.

In my twenties I wanted desperately to fix all of that and so I entered the false promises of the weight loss industry. Diet pills, fasting, Herbal Magic, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers (I have more shares in that than Oprah) and a myriad other plans that promised a quick fix. When all these failed and only more weight piled on I turned to the ultimate quick fix of all times, Weight Loss Surgery. For almost a year I rode a high of quick loss only to come to a screeching crash. You see, I gradually began to transfer my food addiction into alcohol. On came back the pounds and again began assuaging my pain with baguettes, bagels, bonbons, and booze. I was suddenly a fat, malnourished, diabetic, alcoholic with high cholesterol and blood pressure. It was at this point that I thought I was hopeless, helpless and at my age not worth saving. I was an ashamed failure, a mentally and physically sick woman.

By the Grace of God as I call it, I found a comment online about a woman who was entering Renascent for food addiction. I inquired about this and found out that this program was literally in my back yard. I made the phone call.

A year later, I no longer take eight metformin to control type 2 diabetes, my cholesterol and blood pressure is normal. The greatest reward though is that I no longer obsess about food or alcohol. My mad cravings are gone and I religiously follow the food plan given to me during my stay at Renascent. Diet is not a part of my vocabulary any longer. No carbs, no sugars, no alcohol is truly doable under any circumstance. Case in point, to celebrate my seventieth birthday I went for a week to the Grand Canyon to whitewater raft and hike. With advance notice and preparation I was able to stay on plan. Eating out is a breeze as is any social event. What a gift I’ve been given: Health, peace, and well being.

I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the visionary pioneer of food addiction, Dr. Vera Tarman and all the counsellors and staff at Renascent. I was also the fortunate and last client to be the beneficiary of a generous donation to the Food Addiction Program. I am truly, humbly grateful. Oh and as an extra bonus, I lost forty pounds and am in the normal BMI range. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Members of Renascent’s alumni community carry the message by sharing their experiences and perspectives on addiction and recovery. To contribute your alumni perspective, please email alumni@renascent.ca.