“I quit emotional eating’and dropped five dress sizes.”

Steffani Cameron took control of her emotional eating by educating herself about healthy eating’and discovering the triggers that caused her to overeat

Source: Web exclusive: February 2010

In the summer of 2007, Steffani Cameron hit rock bottom. Overweight since she was a teenager, the 36-year-old reached a new peak at 277 pounds. She could link the recent extra weight gain to a few triggers’injuries and a really bad boss’but ultimately, ‘I was an emotional eater.’ The single Vancouverite says that nothing was fulfilling to her anymore. ‘What happens is you just eat because for that moment, when you put something in your mouth and it tastes fantastic, you get emotional freedom. In that moment, everything is nice.’

The breaking point

Cameron, overworked and completely exhausted, quit her job after her boss asked her to cancel her vacation. ‘I was completely dead. And my self-esteem was shot. I hated the way I looked,’ she says. ‘Even though I was always fat, I could still cycle and hike. I had reached the point where I couldn’t do those things.’

The challenge

To beat her emotional eating tendencies without sacrificing her passion for food.

The plan

Cameron went to see her doctor for advice. ‘He said, eat less, exercise more, which sounds like common sense. My problem was that I never realized how bad my diet was.’ She began to consciously focus on how her body was feeling in relation to food. ‘I’d ask myself, am I really hungry right now, or just thinking I want to eat?’ Then Cameron researched portion sizes and calories on web sites such as livestrong.com and fitday.com. ‘Honestly, I never realized that I was eating 3,000 to 4,000 calories a day.’

Because she loves to cook gourmet, Cameron educated herself about fat, protein and carbohydrate content in food and decided to eat no more than 2,000 calories a day. She also began blogging about her weight loss. Writing stories about her eating experiences forced her to think through psychological issues, such as when she first began to overeat as a child, and also helped her discover triggers.

The biggest obstacle

Losing weight has forced Cameron to reexamine her self-image and her self-identity, in part because she has had to buy new clothes for her shrinking frame. ‘When you’ve been fat since your teens, you don’t get to choose your style, you choose whatever fits.’ Finding confidence with her new self is a learning curve, she adds. ‘When I go to a movie now, the chair arms don’t cut into my hips. I keep forgetting I’m not a fat person anymore.’

The results

To date, Cameron has shed 70 pounds, dropping to a size 14 from a size 25. The key to her success has been consistently watching her calories, and monitoring the emotions that overlap with cravings. Little by little, her confidence is improving. ‘I make more eye contact with people. I’ve got more friends.’ Her long-term goal is loose’she’d like to be a size 8 or 10. And her attitude is easy-going. ‘It’s not about the size. It’s about feeling like I have the energy to do all the things I want to do.’

The tips

Knowledge is power
‘If you’re only eating 1,800 calories a day and you know that burger is 800 calories, that’s pretty empowering. You can make better choices.’

Avoid time limits
Cameron says weight loss isn’t about a weekly outcome. She’d tried diets and never succeeded over the long-term because she always set time limits. ‘It’s a journey, and the best thing you can do is take it slowly.’

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