When I started changing the way I ate, and blogging about healthy foods, it seemed way WAY too disgusting to admit I had weighed close to 250 lbs. I actually never lied, I just didn’t tell the whole truth.

Much the same thinking I approached my eating disorder with. If I didn’t talk about it, I didn’t admit it, then maybe it didn’t really happen. These photos tell a different story, they tell the truth. Honestly as I look at these I think I was probably over 250 lbs at some point, but my guess is I handily avoided the scale and all Dr.’s visits during this period. I know I was well into the 280’s pregnant, but I don’t think this really counts. This isn’t denial, I just never felt bad about being heavier pregnant. After two miscarriages prior to my first-born I wasn’t going to give one single “pregnancy pound” a second thought. I also felt “released” from dieting, and finding the magic potion. That felt incredible.

There are not many photos of me at this weight…the “delete” button is an amazing gift when you don’t want to be held accountable and you are actively erasing history as you go. If I don’t see it, and you don’t see it, then it didn’t really happen! But it did.

I have showed these photos to several people and I am always amazed to hear, “Oh please, you had just had a baby!” Ummm….really? I am holding a 11 month old!!! I always want to say, “Is this what you looked like 11 months after having a child?” I think not.

It has been a lifetime of punishing myself, hiding from the elephant in the room, and hoping the right “diet” or “pill” would miraculously transform me into a super model overnight and then I could get busy living.

So the day I had to input my starting weight into MyFitnessPal I decided to put the weight I was that year. And that is ok. It was what I weighed. But I never confessed to all those supporting me, or asking me for advice, that I had actually been much heavier. Skinny people reading this might be thinking what is the big deal? But heavy people, struggling with their weight-loss will understand why it was a breach of trust. In a way, I was posing. Pretending to have a little more self-control, to be a little bit less of a glutton than others.

Most people would think when you are losing weight you want to get credit for Every. Single. Pound. That is the difference between a normal person looking to lose some weight and an addict. I was hiding a gross, disgusting, nasty laps in self-control. No one I was meeting going forward was going to know how big I had been.

But as I started to realize I could never erase my past, as I stepped out of the shadows of the “old me”, the me I hated, truly loathed….I had to drop the cloak. I had to stand completely naked (metaphorically people, there are different websites for that) in the middle of the room and own all of my faults. I had to wrap a warm blanket of love and forgiveness around that sad, lonely, empty girl and tell her it was going to be ok. In order to do that there could be no lies.

I am a compulsive overeater battling a very real disease on a daily basis, and my heaviest, non-pregnancy, documented weight was 244 pounds.

At 244 pounds I was obese. A BMI of 37.1.

What’s in a number? For a compulsive overeater, the truth. The truth is what is in that number. Until you are honest with yourself, there is zero chance of longterm success. Until you look in the mirror and accept where you are, and I realize how painful and impossible this will feel, I know…but until you are able to own where you are today, and start loving the person you see in the mirror today, I can promise you you will never get better. You cannot outrun any addiction. You must heal, and that takes self-compassion and love. A kind of love that no one else can provide for you, it must come from deep inside of you where the pain lies, and once it starts growing you will be unstoppable.

I am Jennifer, I am @HappyBodyFood, and this is my journey from unhealthy to healthy…but more truthfully this is my journey from self-hate, to self-love.

Originally published at happybodyfoods.com on October 4, 2016.