So, who is Alicia Leitzel? Who am I, really? Well, for starters, I live in the mountains of Pennsylvania with my wonderful husband, three beautiful daughters, and two spoiled cats. (Okay, if I’m being specific, my oldest beautiful daughter is married now and lives with my son-in-law in the next town over.) But anyway, at the time I write this, Greg and I have been married for 26 years, and our daughters are 25, 21, and 15. We’ve gone through the whole cycle- Barney and Bratz dolls, and Boyfriends, oh my! While my husband, Greg, is incredibly supportive and loving, he is also a man of very few words, so it’s certainly been interesting!
When I say my husband is incredibly supportive, you have no idea how deeply I mean those words. Other words for “supportive,” according to Dictionary.com, include: encouraging, caring, sympathetic, reassuring, understanding, concerned, helpful, nurturing, and protective. Check, check, check, check… well, you get the idea. Greg checks all those boxes, and God bless him for it, too, because he didn’t know what he was getting into when he married me!
In my first blog post, The Blooming Onion Theory, I mention that I have a past. Well, that past has A LOT to do with this “giant” I was telling you about. It’s kind of a long story, so buckle up! Okay, okay, just kidding. I will try not to bore you with too many details. Suffice it to say, I am an adult survivor of childhood abandonment, neglect, mental & verbal abuse, and sexual abuse and assault. I’m sure as I keep posting to my blog and sharing my life with you, I will get into these stories a little deeper, but for now, let’s get back to my Goliath.
Hello. My name is Alicia, and I am an Addict. A Food Addict, that is. Bleck, it even sounds disgusting to me. I know what you’re thinking… “That’s it? That’s her big reveal? Who isn’t these days?” But no, I really, really mean addict– 1) a person who is addicted to an activity, habit, or substance; 2) to cause to become physiologically or psychologically dependent on an addictive substance; 3) to habituate or abandon oneself to something compulsively or obsessively. Yep, those are the boxes that I get to check. And my substance of choice is food. Not even necessarily junk food, either, although I have been known to put away quite a few brownies and double stuff oreos! It’s not just food choices, though; it can be about portions, it can be about bingeing, it can be about sneaking food when no one is looking… the list goes on and on. Some people refer to compulsive overeating as the “acceptable addiction,” I mean, with the fast food industry sweeping our nation by storm and all, but I, for one, am not okay with that. An addiction is an addiction. According to the Bible, murder is no different than telling a little white lie, and addiction, to me at least, is just as bad as the rest, regardless of the choice substance. It has controlled my mind, habits, thoughts, actions, and even relationships for as long as I can remember.
I do have a theory, but, we’ll get into that another time. First, let me give you a little back story so you have some insight as to who I am. After all, that’s what this page is all about! I don’t have very many vivid childhood memories- “abuse related amnesia” my therapist called it- so the earliest age I can remember actually “dieting” was around fourteen. Chances are I was pretty self-conscious about my weight all along, though. I have a little snapshot of memory regarding a time when I was pretty young, but very embarrassed, when my belly literally got caught in the zipper of my red corduroys. I had a huge crush on one of my Aunt’s friends from school, and it happened right in front of him at a party. *shudder*
Okay, back to the point! Coming from a large Italian family, the love of food was instilled in me from the very beginning. We celebrated with food, and we drowned our sorrows in food. My grandmother would always say, “You have such a pretty face,” but she would say it in that sad, what-a-shame tone. All the while, she would force us to have seconds and thirds of dinner, or she’d think we didn’t like her cooking. If you were too thin according to her standards, she thought you were ill. This lifestyle, along with my history of abuse, caused me to be an emotional eater who was seriously addicted to food from a very early age- I just didn’t know it yet. I ran through the whole gamut of excuses. “I’m not fat; I’m big-boned,” and “it’s genetic” were two of my most-used phrases, even if I was just saying those things to myself. In short, I believed I was destined to be overweight and unhealthy forever.
I was much more active as a teen, so it was a little easier to maintain a “chunky” status as opposed to an obese status, and I had no shortage of boyfriends. When I met Greg, though, and we got engaged, I got comfortable. I was staying home with him all the time instead of going dancing or roller skating. We were new home owners, and we wanted to enjoy it! The weight began to slowly creep up, and then we had children. I kept my “baby weight” and then some, more and more with each kiddo, I’m ashamed to admit. When the kids were little, I still hadn’t yet realized that I was an emotional eater or that I used food to cope. I hadn’t learned that until later. But whether I was eating with friends & family or sneaking in unhealthy snacks and hiding the evidence, the food, beverages, and desserts I consumed in any given day was slowly killing me. Fast forward to 2004, and I had reached a new all-time high following the birth of our third daughter. I had reached a number I never thought I would see… a whopping 291 pounds!
That last baby girl is sixteen years old now, and I’ve definitely ridden the diet roller coaster more times than I can count. It’s like I was a prisoner in this universe where I was the only one who kept reliving the same scenario over and over again, like Bill Murray in that movie Groundhog Day. Every time I started a new diet, I was excited and motivated, and I felt hopeful again. I would see results, but you know the story. As soon as I went back to “normal,” I would gain all the weight back plus some. I had eventually reached a point where I was maintaining around 275, and I thought that was it; that’s where I was going to be for the rest of my life.
Because of my physical condition, I had incredibly low self-esteem. I was also filled with self-doubt, self-loathing, and self-condemnation. I knew how much I loved God, but I was riddled with guilt. I believed I must have loved food more than I loved Him, since I couldn’t seem to put my relationship with God before my relationship with a big bowl of chocolate marshmallow. My roller coaster rides included so many battles of the mind I thought I’d go insane! One minute I was having a conversation in my head about why I would regret giving in to the temptation in front of me, and the next I was beating myself up because I had done it again, anyway. It was a vicious cycle that I couldn’t get out of no matter what I tried, and I became ashamed of the “secret sin” that I thought made me a bad Christian.
I had made countless trips to the alter through the years, begging God to deliver me. I have a whole box of flash cards that contains all the Scripture verses that were relevant to my particular spiritual battle. I’ve done a multitude of topical bible studies regarding strongholds and addictions, but still, to this very day, I struggle with this giant. Until now, I lived a life of defeat. I always felt overwhelmed and hopeless, to say the least.
Then one day, I developed this bright idea. I wanted to start a blog. About what, I had no idea yet. I just knew I wanted to encourage and motivate others. I wanted to share my past experiences to help others have hope. I bought three or four of those “Blogging for Dummies” books to try to help me take on this new project of mine with some sense of direction. Many of them encouraged their readers by saying something like, “everyone is an expert at something!” Ha! Me? An expert? At what? Oh yeah… well, I guess there was this one little thing…..
I decided that I can’t possibly be the only one who struggles with the spiritual battle that determines whether or not my body is a temple or a trash can. And by now, you’re probably wondering how on earth I can call myself a “health & wellness coach” right? Well three years ago, I was introduced to something new that changed my life forever. It was an all-natural supplement company that promoted optimal health. They weren’t all about the number on the scale, and I found that intriguing! What made them stand out is that they educated people about what they were putting into their bodies; they weren’t just about putting a band-aid on the problem for a quick fix. I began learning about clean eating and fueling my body with protein. I released more weight in two weeks than I had in two months on any other program!
Ultimately, I dropped fifty pounds and two pants sizes, and I finally found relief from my chronic migraine condition, too! I have since partnered with that company, and now I make it my life’s mission to help others learn what they can do to reach their health goals, too. I am absolutely fascinated with all of the new things I’m discovering, and the more I learn, the more I want to know. Now I can say, although my struggle with food addiction will always be a part of my life, the hopelessness I wallowed in will never be a part of my life again! And that is what I bring to the table for you, my readers. Hope and truth. And after all, Jesus IS our hope and truth! I am NOT a “bad Christian,” and Jesus died on the cross for me to know that I am His, and He is mine. I have since made it my mission to share the truth about our TRUE identity in Christ with other women like me who tend to forget who we really are!
I not only want to share with you the love, hope, and freedom that Jesus brings, but I want you to know you’re not alone. I want to share my every day struggles with people just like me who think they will never be free from this burden. I believe in miracles; I’ve seen them happen. But I have learned over the years that if God doesn’t answer our prayers the way we think He should, or when we think He should, then we either have something to learn or a job to do first. I’ve learned (and accepted) that this giant will always be there, but there is a purpose for it, and I feel that my job is to be that person for you who “gets it.”
I want you to know that when you think “no one understands,” you’re wrong. I DO! I want to be the person you come to when someone tells you, “you just don’t want it badly enough.” I happen to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you want it for yourself more than anyone else could possibly want it for you. Let’s walk this journey together. I will do my very best to encourage, educate, and edify. And if nothing else, I will be your shoulder to cry on.
To join me on this journey, visit my Alicia & Goliath page where we can share our struggles and victories and “carry each other’s burdens.” (Galations 6:2) Thank you, and God bless!