If your story does not serve you anymore, and you think you can’t change – read my story! If I did it, anyone could do it!
Remember, it is never too later or too early to re-write your story.
So, here is a story of my food addiction, recovery, and transformation.
Food has been my number one addiction for some time. It offered comfort and filled the gaps within my soul. Unfortunately, these gaps were too large. Instead of fulfillment, I packed myself with extra pounds. As a result, the endless illness and suffering became my life.
“As a child, I felt myself to be alone, and I am still, because I know things and must hint at things which others apparently know nothing of, and for the most part do not want to know.” ― C.G. Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections
I spent my childhood in the sunny and friendly Soviet Tashkent – the capital of Uzbekistan. The fourth largest city in the Soviet Union.
Both of my parents had full-time jobs. They were shifting from poverty and moving towards the middle class. So, my grandma raised me. She survived the war and hunger. My grandma loved me wholly and unconditionally. She loved to cook and feed our big family with traditional Jewish meals with Uzbek influences. The diet was rich in meat, wheat, pelmeni (meat dumpling), some fish, and pastries rich in sugar and cream.
Also, due to the warm climate, there was an abundance of grains and legumes. As well as, a great variety of fruits and vegetables: grapes, watermelons, melons, gourds, greens, berries, etc. Similarly, veggies and fruits were always on the table but only as a side dish.
Moving to Teenage Years
I moved from my grandma’s house to my parents when around ten years old. My parents had a lot of friends. They loved to have fun, go out, eat, drink and dance. By the time I was 11, my parents were doing pretty well. Life was good for a while. My folks went to restaurants, museums, theaters and on beach vacations. Not to mention, all these activities were accompanied by food and alcohol. And I was a part of the scene.
But, my parent’s marriage was falling apart by the time I was 12. My dad became ill. He had diabetes and was severely depressed. To begin with, no one heard about diabetes and depression these days. So, my dad’s illness was not treated properly. As he started his decline.
Under those circumstances, my parents were always fighting. As a result, my life became a living hell. Provided that, I found my rescue in food and books. At the same time, I picked up a smoking habit and got my first taste of alcohol. I became aware of my sexuality. So that, all the worst boys in my neighborhood somehow became my best friends.
Eventually, my dad moved to New York. By that time, I was hooked on alcohol, cigarettes and my fast and furious slide towards the rock-bottom. While the gap in my soul became larger with every bite.
Growing Up in USSR
I’ve had many thrills since the age of 12. At the same time, Mikhail Gorbachev became a president of the USSR. Gorbachev introduced glasnost or political openness. Glasnost eliminated traces of Stalinist repression. Like, banning of books and the omnipresent secret police.
It was perfect for me as I was a voracious reader with a curious mind (even though I’ve done horribly bad in school). When I wasn’t drinking, I’ve spent hours reading about philosophy, art, history, Soviet repression, mysticism, and Sufism. I believe this expanded my conscience and saved my brain cells damaged by alcohol.
One of the other perks was that Gorbachev believed in private initiative and innovation. As a result, the individuals and cooperatives were allowed to own businesses for the first time since the 1920’s! Consequently, nightclubs and fancy hotels were popping up everywhere.
However, high-ranking members of the government put Gorbachev under the house In August of 1991.
Of course, I was staying in a fancy hotel with a friend at the same time. At that instance, tanks, soldiers, and an angry mob tried to take over the city. Quickly, we flew back to Tashkent in a small plane in the night. It was scary. Luckily, the military regime didn’t come to power, and we were safe! But it was very unsettling. People knew, Russia will always be corrupted. The first big wave of immigration was on the go.
Life was fast, and fun filled with drunken parties, boys, and food. I would fly to Moscow to go out dancing all night, and fly back home with a few friends I’d met along the road. On one of these trips, I stayed with one of these ‘friends’ who stole all my money and kicked me out. Luckily, I’d met a guy while waiting in line at a night club (with whom I’ve stayed for a week in the drunken haze). Eventually, I ended up on the streets practically homeless.
One of these days, I will write a book with all these stories, but there is not enough room here.
Thus, by the age of 17, I had already had an abortion and was totally addicted to booze. I was starting to feel sad, empty, wandering the streets alone and questioning my motivation to go on living.
I began to crave changes. I moved to Moscow where my life got gruesome very quickly. So, I moved to New York.
New York Bound
“The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world.” ― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
I came to New York just in time for my 19th birthday. New York was a dreamland; with skyscrapers, culture, architecture and a variety of everything imaginable and unimaginable. It was like a dream. Unlike many other fellow immigrants, I’ve known that I can always go back to my mom. I’ve been very fortunate to have many choices in life.
I’ve learned that my dad was suicidal and nearly died. Ultimately, he recovered and moved in together with an incredible woman. However, my dad was a complete stranger to me. I hadn’t talked to him for about three years. But, I was willing to get to know him. Af first, life was tough, and we fought a lot. I was rebellious. I was still smoking, drinking, and bringing different boys home. After a life of luxury, I found myself in a poor neighborhood living with a stranger who wanted me to get a job, quit drinking and smoking? Not to mention, my dad was fantasizing about me meeting a sweet boy to get serious about my life! In other words, pure nonsense!
Also, I missed my mom terribly. I’ve been dreaming of waking up in my old apartment with my mom is making fresh coffee every night for a year. Then, I would open my eyes, realizing it was just a dream and would cry for a few minutes before going on about my day.
Time to Work
There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.
I came to New York with $500 and two bags. I was eligible for welfare. I showed up in the agency once. It was enough. There and then I’ve decided that I couldn’t and didn’t want to stay poor. Not Now, Not Ever!!! I needed to find work.
At first, I worked in retail stores, cleaned houses, and waited tables. I spoke very little English. I worked during the day and studied English at night. As always, food came to the rescue. I made new friends and met many great people who helped me a lot.
However, my desire to learn and excel in life fueled with my inquisitive mind allowed me to quickly expand my education and transform my skills to the New York IT market. As a result, I landed my first job as an IT consultant with a large bank. Later, I got another offer from a brokerage house. Followed by another one a few years after.
My typical “New York” routine included a host of unhealthy and body-stressing practices: hard work with little to no physical activity, poor eating habits, and cigarette smoking. Working and making money was everything to me. As a result, I was stressed and ill. At the same time, my doctors fed me with antibiotics while I fed myself with burgers. My size 14 pants were getting very tight. Next, I was visiting the emergency room nearly every other month. Things were getting progressively worse. Finally, I could barely walk up the stairs. My face was decorated with pimples. I suffered allergies, sinuses, belly and join aches. I was feeling like old women by the age of 22 and something had to change…
I was feeling like old crow by the age of 22. I was not ready to die. But, I felt that if I wouldn’t change I will eat myself to death.
“Change is not something that we should fear. Rather, it is something that we should welcome. For without change, nothing in this world would ever grow or blossom, and no one in this world would ever move forward to become the person they’re meant to be” – Anon
My work project was finally over. My mom moved to New York. Instead of jumping into another job, I took a month off and decided to travel. At the same time, I couldn’t eat much due to the horrible allergies (reactions to all the antibiotics I’ve been taking). So, I’ve started to finally lose some weight.
Time To Get Fit!
Randomly, I picked up a few fitness magazines and got so inspired by the articles and women in fitness as soon I got back to New York.
I wanted to be like Alicia Silverstone and kick ass like Jennifer Nicole Lee! I wanted to quit smoking, to be able to run and swim, have a clear skin and be able to wear short skirts.
But, I was so far off. I had to start with eliminating my allergies and being able to walk without huffing and puffing.
The first thing I read is to write down what you eat and associate the food with feelings. 20 years later I still keep the food log. This was a revolutionary idea. Smoking and drinking had to go as well.
I got married by the age of 23 and found a full-time job. I was all set! I embarked upon a new regime: with determination, I quit smoking (after five unsuccessful attempts), replacing that nicotine fix with exercise that included running and working out in the gym.
Success Goes Up and Down!
But the long stint of physical idleness took its toll and thwarted I rebounded. In my attempts to improve my health, I ruined my knees and the discs in my back gave out. My marriage was falling apart as well. I had my first setback. I fell in love with my husband’s cousin. She was a few years younger and just moved to New York. We hit the New York and Miami clubs and restaurants just as if I was 16 again. At the same time, I also had another affair, causing me a lot of grief. I began drinking and eating again. This time the destination was Miami Beach. I had a blast flying to Miami, dancing all night, skinny dipping in the ocean, and meeting strangers. It was madness. This time, when I returned, I came back home with pneumonia and bad knees. My marriage was finally over. I stopped seeing my husband’s cousin and my mysterious stranger. Finally, I saw a physical therapist, who suggested trying yoga. Sometime in the year 2000, I took my first yoga class in a yoga studio and thus my life has begun.
People never change. The transformation is only bringing what’s already inside up to the surface.
I courageously faced the unknown allowing myself to continue to grow and evolve. I followed my inspiration and allowed positive changes to happen. Often I stepped back into what was more familiar, my ‘other’ not so constructive state. Every time the comeback became easier. Choosing the discomfort of the unknown, inspired, unique, and finally, totally breaking out of my shallow shell is the only way to evolve. The feeling of a new part of myself emerging and coming forward was awesome. Choice, I had a choice! A choice to living dead, die young or change and embark on a new trip.
My joints were getting better. I became more active and went on my first hiking and camping trip for my 25th or 26th birthday. I finally moved into my very first apartment. I was practicing yoga daily. It helped me to be more mindful, cultivating the ability to observe what was happening internally, establishing a link between mind, body, and my environment. The hole in my soul was filling in. I’ve worked with personal trainers, yoga teachers, and nutritionists for guidance. Most importantly, I was doing daily homework. The fat started to melt away; I was getting muscle definition, and my allergies were becoming a thing of the past. I was becoming healthier and feeling most alive than ever! I was learning how to create a more balanced life for myself continuing my education about nutrition, health, wellness, and yoga.
Lucky in Love
I’ve met my best friend. He later became my husband in 2003, followed by 13 years of magic. Of course, we’ve had many arguments and fights. But, it has only made us stronger. I’ve completed over 700 hours of yoga education. I’ve studied and practiced Ayurveda and Pilates.
I never felt like I’ve been sacrificing anything. I wanted to feel and look good and to have energy. So if meat was making me sick and fat it had to go, I’ve adapted a diet of organic plant based diet.
My husband and I moved to Colorado about three years ago and adopted a puppy. My food addiction has been dormant with the occasional binges and setbacks. The comeback has become quicker and easier with time.
I’ve tried numerous diets over the course of 20 years. I became a scientist, with my body as a lab. I often think of myself as a garden, which constantly needs attending. With proper soil and nourishment, the flowers will blossom while weeds will weave over if food is not provided. The weeds never disappear – they just become dormant.
Thanks for reading my story! Now, you turn.
How can you re-write your story?
Read on to Part II – by clicking here.