When quarantine first started, it didn’t seem like a forever thing.

Life went on as per usual.

I went about my days with the idea that this would be over as quick as it started.

And I had lots to look forward to. A trip to Los Angeles. Parties, dating, hanging out with friends.

But soon the weeks melted into months and I melted into my bed.

I stopped exercising as much.

The guy I was seeing broke up with me.

And I hadn’t seen my friends in weeks.

So, when all hope was lost, I did what I do best. Turn to food for comfort.

“It’s been a long day,” I’d tell myself before diving into a pint of ice cream.

“Whew, I’m glad I made it through another week,” I’d remind myself. “I deserve a little treat.”

These little treats turned into a daily occurrence.

And it started to show.

Around my waist and in my cheeks.

I’d fallen off the wagon. The diet wagon, that is.

I couldn’t find a reason to keep dieting. What’s the point? It’s not like I’m going to see anyone any time soon anyway.

I went full-on Cookie Monster mode.

And I couldn’t blame myself. It’s what I’ve always done.

My childhood wasn’t exactly a walk in the park. I was severely bullied in middle school, junior high and high school.

While my classmates were going to football games with their friends and sneaking out to go to parties, I stayed home. With my friends. Ben & Jerry and Little Debbie’s and just about anything I could get my porky little hands on.

The people I went to school with left me feeling empty. And the only way to fill me up was to fill myself up. With lots and lots of junk food.

Whenever I was hurting, I knew that food would be there to make me feel better.

It was my crutch.

When I started college, I exchanged the food for friends who treated me better than any snack could.

But when my friends, who were all inconveniently one year older than me, graduated and moved away, I found those old habits creeping back in.

I was turning back into that little big girl I was when I was younger. And I didn’t know how to stop it.

My relationship with food has always been one-sided and toxic, but it always felt too personal to share.

This big secret was weighing on me in more ways than one.

Somehow, some way, I snapped out of it post-grad.

I decided to change my eating habits.

I replaced the carb-heavy meals with healthy alternatives, and after a while, I could notice a difference in the way I acted, the way I looked, the way I felt.

I was shedding the pounds and the harmful thoughts that swirled around my brain.

It’s not easy, and I try to stray from the candy aisle at the grocery store.

Until about a month ago, that is. That’s when I found myself falling back into my old ways.

With nothing to look forward to, I couldn’t think of a reason not to eat everything in sight.

I felt sluggish, but a quick pick-me-up from the vending machine at work would surely cure that...!

I don’t know exactly why it happened, but over the weekend as I was making my second batch of cookies, I had an out of body experience.

I was doing it again. Eating to fill the void.

When I looked in the mirror, I didn’t know who was staring back at me.

I mean, she looked like me. A bloated, sad version of me.

And then it hit me. I was doing it again.

I quickly grabbed my mask and raced to the grocery store to stock up on healthy meals and snacks that wouldn’t make me feel the way I was feeling anymore.

Life is hard and quarantine isn’t helping.

But for the first time in a long time, I feel hopeful.

I’m ready to get back on track. No more treating myself simply because I made it through another day.

No more feeling sorry for myself because I can’t hang out with my friends or go on the trips I had planned this summer.

This will end... (I mean... this has got to end, right?)

But even if it doesn’t, I don’t want to pump my body full of quick fixes while I wait for things to go back to normal.

I deserve to be happy, and I do deserve to treat myself, just not for every meal.

Food is not my main source of happiness.

My friends and family and job are.

This last week, I’ve been beating myself up for the six pounds I gained on my bender.

But we’re human. It’s perfectly normal to fluctuate.

I need to remember these things next time this happens.

Life is hard enough as it is, I don’t need to make it any harder on myself.

Contact Averil Gleason at agleason@fbherald.com.

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