She lost 100 pounds and has kept it off. Her weight loss journey was successful and her story is inspiring! Shannon Hammer was an overweight child that struggled with her weight as far as she can remember. After a lifetime of yo-yo dieting, she was finally able to lose over 100 pounds and has now kept it off for over 10 years.
‘Today I live a life beyond what I thought was possible for myself. I work out 6 days a week, I’m happily married, I have a fulfilling career, and I’ve been maintaining an over 100 pound weight loss for 10 years.’
“I was put on my first diet when I was 4 years old, so I’ve never not known some type of a dysfunctional relationship with food. This was back in the 70’s, so it was called The Stewardess’ diet and that’s when these poor stewardesses were forced to have weekly weigh-ins to keep their jobs. It was basically a scoop of cottage cheese, a hamburger patty and some syrupy peaches.”
This imposed diet, taught her at an early age that there was something wrong with her. That being overweight meant being bad. She says, “It distorted my sense of self. I would look in the mirror and I would see a fat kid and that had never happened before.” More over, it taught her how to sneak eat. “It created a pattern that would follow me throughout my entire life of eating one way in front of people and another way when I was by myself.”
The Stewardess’ Diet didn’t work, so from then on into her teens, she was going from one diet to the next. Shannon remembers, “[…] being 8 or 9 years old, starving myself and taking my mom’s laxatives.” She would work out after school and skip dinner in her attempts to “fix” herself. It escalated up into her teens when she started doing drugs to try to drop the weight. She was still gaining weight even though she was taking speed pills, smoking crack and doing cocaine. Shannon jokes, “It (speed) didn’t help me lose weight it just enabled me to eat faster.”
Her weight peaked at 230 pounds due to her binge eating. Shannon goes on to describe in detail what she would eat and how she would live as a binge eater. “I would eat huge amounts of food in short periods of time.” She talks about the different types of eating disorder habits such as the “grazers”, “weekend warriors” and binge eaters.
“I would feel nothing and that is what I wanted to feel. Nothing. I ate for oblivion.” she explains. Shannon attributes her eating disorder to the inability to cope with emotion. Wether she was happy or sad, all of her emotions got channeled into eating. “Part of my recovery has been differentiating the different feelings, identifying the different hungers and dealing with it appropriately.”
She was in a cycle of denial about her body because she became accustomed to looking at herself from the neck up. That cycle was broken in January of 2000, when she was looking at photos of herself from the holiday season the year before. “I remember opening these pictures and seeing myself at these parties and being absolutely horrified. It looked like somebody had superimposed my face on an obese person’s body and I was shocked. I had no idea I had looked like that.”
At her lowest moment, she was terrified and hopeless. She started to look at her habits and assess what worked and what didn’t. She found that looking at the scale was not helpful, but more discouraging than anything. “Basically, I took all those years of suffering and basically used it as a laboratory of what’s going to work and what’s not going to work.”
She learned that there are no quick fixes and that she also needed to work on the inside as she worked on the outside. Had she known those two things earlier, she might have been able to save herself from years of struggle.
She took the emphasis off of the number and put it on getting well, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Journaling saved her. Both food journaling and regular journaling. She found that the food journal helped her learn to work in conjunction with her body. “I started to be come friends with my body. Now that I’ve got the food under control, what do I do with all of these feelings? So, I started to journal and that absolutely saved me. It was like a binge on paper.”
Shannon talks about having bad anxiety and using her weight as a shield that would protect her from men. She became A-sexual until she was ready to live in this world in a thin body. After much healing, she began to date and is now in a happy marriage–something she thought would never be possible. She believed that no man would want to marry her.
‘In 2007 I married the man of my dreams, Mark Hammer. He’s never seen me fat but he’s seen the pictures! We met on match.com and before I even met him I knew I was going to marry him.’
It took Shannon 3 years to loose the full 100 pounds. She eased into it, losing about 6 pounds a month. Sometimes it scares her to think that she could go back there. She considers it a healthy fear. That it’s best to have a healthy fear and not get too cocky because she knows she’s capable of going down an unhealthy path.
‘My book, The Positive Portions Food & Fitness Journal, was published in Jan 2010 and I went on a whirlwind of book signings, speaking engagements, and media appearances. People told me how much they loved the book, how much it helped them, and how my story gave them hope.’
“Being thin does not mean being well,” is something she learned in her journey to health, “The weight was just really a symptom of a much bigger problem.”
If you’re struggling with your weight, I think Shannon’s story is a great reminder to check in and ask yourself what’s really going on for you.
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