So, who is Alicia Leitzel? Who am I, really? Well, for starters, I am a brand new grandmother! My preemie twin grandsons were born in January 2021, and I maintain that they are the best thing that came out of the Covid-19 quarantine! This new “Noni” lives 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 the one who is married now, and she lives with my son-in-law and their two new baby boys in the next town over.) But anyway, at the time I write this, Greg and I have been married for almost 28 years, and our daughters are 26, 23, and 16. 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. The super short version is that I am an adult survivor of childhood abandonment, neglect, mental & verbal abuse, and sexual abuse and assault. (Whew! That’s a whole lot of information in very few words!) 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 all that accepting of it. Addiction is addiction, regardless of the substance, and my food addiction has controlled my mind, habits, thoughts, actions, and even relationships for as long as I can remember.
Allow me to give you a little back story so you can have a little more 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 married, 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 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 Sunday morning alter through the years, begging God to deliver me. I have dozens of flash cards that contain all the Scripture verses that are relevant to my particular spiritual battle. I’ve done a multitude of topical bible studies regarding strongholds and addictions, but with this giant, I struggle still. 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 that God gifted me with writing, and I wanted to use it 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? Experienced, yes, but I was surely no expert. I felt defeated, yet again, and I put the crazy notion out of my head as quickly as it had entered it.
But then I decided I wasn’t going to let the enemy win. I knew I couldn’t possibly be the only one who struggles with this spiritual battle, and my passion in life is to share God’s hope and truth with others like me. Surely God wouldn’t have put that into my heart, had He not wanted me to act on it. To accompany me on this journey of reflection and sharing, I began to learn about clean eating. I began taking all natural health supplements and had begun to lose weight. I was feeling better physically and spiritually knowing that I was following God’s leading and stepping into His will for my life.
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 want to be the person you come to when the enemy tells you, “you will never be enough.” I happen to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you want freedom and peace 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 read more about my passion and God’s truth, visit my Princess and the P sticky post at the top of my blog page. Happy reading, and God bless!