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Let’s talk about… the stigma that people living with obesity face.

Let’s talk about… the stigma that people living with obesity face.

My name is Sandra Elia, I'm passionate about the work I do to help those living with obesity because my story includes overcoming obesity.

I’ve lived two lives. One life suffering from morbid obesity, eating out of control, and experiencing paralyzing depression, my entire life was spiraling out of control. Another life as a happy, healthy, vibrant woman, mother, and Food Addiction Counselor!

Travel back with me to 2001 where I begin my journey from the darkest point in my life. A point I never thought I would reach >>>

>>> I'm 29 and I’m out of control, detached from my body, my feelings, and my passions; merely going through the motions of the day, only seeing what’s exactly in front of me and nothing more. I have blinders on. I have no interest to plan, dream, or focus on anything but surviving.

Using food as my only source of power and comfort, it is my almighty drug. But this drug has left me feeling beyond empty, and with the reality of being 100 pounds overweight, I am uncomfortable and unhealthy.

My entire body aches from the extra weight, I can’t move freely. I isolate myself from friends, activities, and family. I feel like an outcast, as though I have no right to be a part of this world that values beauty so highly. My worth is measured by my size' the bigger the size the less I am worth.

The truth is my weight is merely a manifestation of the life I'm living . . . a life completely out of control. I am clinically depressed and in a bad marriage; it's chipping away at my spirit. I'm on extended sick leave from work taking care of my sick, bipolar, obese mother.

From this shallow point, I rebuilt my life.

Somehow through the fog, I realize no diet or get thin quick scheme could help me. No number on the scale can give me peace, acceptance, or love. The diets have all failed me. They've robbed me of money, dignity, and self-respect. They've given me false hope and brought me further into my disease.

Yes, I have a disease, it's called obesity and I sought treatment.

I start this journey by looking inward. I had to see my beauty and learn how to love and accept myself exactly as I was --- all 262 pounds of me. I had to change the mental tapes that had been on replay for so much of my life, that I was undisciplined, lazy, and ugly. This could no longer be my truth. I had to choose to love myself. Unconditionally.

What I learned very quickly was that love is energizing, and I needed all the energy I could muster to recover. I also discovered that no different than if I spent time with a negative hateful person, my own self-hating thoughts drained and exhausted me.

I could no longer speak to myself about myself that way. I made a pact with myself to not say anything unkind about myself. Ever.

Obesity is a disease that will require lifelong treatment that will give me a more rewarding life.