WHO: Leigh Costa, youth support worker
CITY: Hamilton, Ont.
By The Numbers: 310 pounds at my starting point, and currently 165, total weight loss 145 pounds.
The Weight Gain: I grew up in a European and Scottish family. I was adopted as a baby and my adoptive family did not have weight issues. I was a normal-sized child and at the age of seven I started gaining weight steadily. I had spent the majority of my life morbidly obese.
I began to hoard food and eat in secret when I was seven. I'm not 100 per cent sure why I started binging at such a young age, but I do know it was around the same time I learned I was adopted. I can't say if one thing had to do with the other, but it seemed likely because up until I knew I was adopted, I did not look to food for comfort.
My mother had me seeing a pediatrician regularly. It wasn't until I was 14 that I was referred to the Eating Disorders Clinic at the Hospital for Sick Children and put on a Protein Sparing Modified Fast Diet. Although it was very restrictive, it helped me lose weight at the beginning of high school. I was able to stay just under 200 pounds during my teen years, but it was due mostly in part to me becoming bulimic. I continued to struggle with binging and then bulimia throughout my teen years. My mother discovered my "secret" and I stopped binging and purging when I was 19. I did continued binge and saw my weight go up to over 300 pounds in my early 20s. When I was 27, I went to a weight-loss clinic where I paid a huge amount of money to go on a very low calorie diet. I lost over 100 pounds, got to my (then) lowest adult weight of 185 and proceeded to put all the weight back on plus another 20 pounds within a year. I have tried every diet you can think of.
The Final Straw:
My family and I were vacationing in Williamsburg, VA, in the summer of 2011. My son, who was three at the time, wanted me to go on rides with him at Busch Gardens. They were kiddie rides, but were built to fit adults as well. I went to go on one with him and couldn't fit. It was embarrassing and devastated me. But it was also the wake-up call I needed.
I felt like my son thought I was rejecting him because he wanted me to go on rides with him and I had to tell him I couldn't. That was definitely my lowest point because I know that he did not deserve this childhood with a parent who couldn't play with him.
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