Hello, My Name is Deb…

I recently came across an old videotape of my  band opening for Quiet Riot in 1992 in Minneapolis.  I paused when I saw the video cassette because this was “The Video”, the one that changed everything for me when I first watched it 21 years ago.   It was one of the lowest points in my life and to be honest I wasn’t super interested in re-living it.  But I figured I had come so far and maybe it would do me some good to remember what started it all.  So with the morbid fascination of a driver slowing down to look as they pass a car wreck, I popped in the video to watch it again.

Screen grab from The Video (1992)

Screen grab from The Video (1992)

I was instantly brought back to the last time I’d seen the footage.  I had barely paid any attention to the musical performance at the time.  I was horrified and humiliated by how I looked and within minutes I left the room in tears.  I couldn’t talk to my husband Rob for almost 3 days. I was embarrassed and depressed and wondered what he saw in me.  We had just been married earlier that year and I think I was giving him a chance to leave because I sure didn’t feel worth sticking around for.

I realize now that somehow I was always able to “compensate” for my weight by joking about it or complaining to Rob just so I could hear “I love you no matter what you weigh”.  (Which in my mind gave me permission to keep eating…but that’s another story!)  So to actually SEE myself pacing the stage looking bigger than all of the guys in the band was really, really depressing. I sure didn’t think I looked that big when I looked in the mirror.  And while the number on the scale was a concern, it was not a shocker because it had crept up so slowly.

I wish I could say after the “reality check” the video gave me I turned my life around, lost all the weight, and never looked back.   But that’s not what happened, although it wasn’t for a lack of trying.  I didn’t know about food addiction then; it wasn’t as widely studied as it is today. So I just thought I needed to go on a diet and kick it into gear and lose some weight.  And that was enough to give me some willpower for a couple of months.  So I started counting calories and I discovered running and doing exercise videos (the “Cher Workout” was my favorite) and I lost weight. But of course I gained it back in no time, even though I had kept on exercising. The food-bingeing consumption was just too much to maintain a lower weight even with exercise.

So over the next few years I lost and gained over and over because the addiction was never under control. I was trying to cure the symptoms instead of the underlying problem. And I was never, ever free from those accusing thoughts and feelings of guilt and shame. There was never an hour that went by in all of those years that I wouldn’t hear a voice inside say how fat and unacceptable I was.

Christmas 2012

Rob & Deb playing Christmas music at a Nursing Home in Nashville, TN – (December 2012)

“My name is Deb and I am a believer in Jesus Christ who struggles with food addiction.” I spoke those words for the very first time at the very first Celebrate Recovery 12-Step program at my church in Franklin TN in March of 2010. And as the Worship Leader for the ministry I have spoken those same words every Wednesday night since, to a room of anywhere from 60-100 people, all gathered here to work through issues that cripple their lives in one way or another.

Never in my wildest imagination could I have pictured myself doing that or saying that! I always thought recovery groups were for weirdos. And I was just the singer asked to lead the band for their meetings on Wednesday nights.  But as usual God had bigger plans than I realized.  During one of the very first teachings I heard the question; “What do you think about the most during your day?” Boom. There it was. FOOD. FAT. WEIGHT. EXERCISE. EATING.

For the first time in my life I realized I was a food addict. I realized I was spending an insane amount of time every single day thinking about what I will eat, when I will eat it, how much I ate, how bad I feel for eating so much, how I will punish myself, how fat I am getting, how I wish I was thin, how I am craving something sugary, how I wish I wouldn’t have eaten that last night at 3:00am, what diet I will go on, WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME? I CAN’T STOP THIS!

So in a strange way, and as awkward as it was, it was a relief speaking those words on that stage for the first time. I knew right then I had started a journey I could never turn back from.  I felt safe and that I was among friends I could trust not to judge me.  That’s the amazing thing about Celebrate Recovery: everyone in the world has a hurt, habit or hangup they are dealing with.  Everyone.  Those of us in CR have finally admitted it to ourselves and we’re working on it.  We’re loving and supporting each other as we all work through the process toward healing.

Getting to the point where the pain caused by the addiction is greater than the desire for the drug is what recovery programs call hitting your “bottom”.  From there you have nowhere to go but up. For an alcoholic or drug addict it might be a car wreck, an overdose, a broken marriage, or time in jail. For me, it was The Video.

Deb Running

A much healthier me this year!

I’ve come to find that recovery is so much more of a permanent solution than a measly diet! I have discovered so many things about myself and I am so much more aware of other issues I have that were behind the food addiction, like fear, control and guilt issues. I am working through those too.  I still struggle with food and body image issues and it’s a “one day at a time” journey.   After watching The Video I was glad to see that I’ve come a long way.  But I certainly have not “arrived”, and I don’t know that I ever will this side of Heaven.   If anything I’ve learned this process is about progress, not perfection.

This blog was created out of a desire to offer hope to anyone struggling with the same issues I struggle with who feels as if they have nowhere to go. I am not a nutritionist, a psychiatrist or any kind of specialist on eating disorders. I am a lifelong food addict who has experienced freedom from my struggles and my hope is to share the tools that have worked for me and others.

Thanks for joining me for the journey!

4 Responses to “Hello, My Name is Deb…

  • Thanks for your honesty,Deb. I agree that it is a 1 day at a time journey. Food, fat, weight, exercise, eating. Those were my daily foci as well. 4 of the 5 don’t haunt/taunt me any more. As you said, it’s about progress, not perfection.

    • debsolberg
      6 years ago

      Yes, and I remember at the beginning of this journey I was always trying to define what the”perfect” eating day was because I just wanted to be recovered already! For an alcoholic that would be not drinking that day. But for us, part of the journey is finding out what recovery looks like for each of us individually because we each have our own triggers and behaviors. Turns out I have learned that the “perfect” eating day is feeling free in your mind because you ate when you were hungry and stopped when you were satisfied and didn’t use it for what it wasn’t intended for.

  • Deb,
    Thanks for sharing your story. Although I’m focusing on recovery in other areas right now, I could certainly warm a chair in the food issues group. I was a slave to food and diets for years. Whether up or down in weight, my focus was on what I ate or didn’t eat for the day. And yes, shame was a big ugly monkey on my back. An eyes wide open moment for me happened when my weight topped 200 lbs. You are so right when you say that it’s important to understand the underlying reasons behind the food issues. Loneliness and unmet needs were triggers for why I would either eat compulsively or diet compulsively. Both were traps. I am still aware of the temptation to turn to food for comfort or to base how I feel about myself on my weight versus my actual, inherent worth as a child of God. I’m so grateful that God is helping me replace old, broken ways of doing, being and thinking with His ways of doing, being and thinking. Several years ago I adopted Psalm 34:5 as one of my life verses and it is like GOLD to me. Such a relief to accept progress as enough and walk in greater freedom! Thanks for sharing your story and your talents with us at Celebrate Recovery. The worship and music you bring are just beautiful and fill my heart and spirit each week.

    • debsolberg
      6 years ago

      Amber, thank you! Wow -sounds like you’ve done some solid “excavating” 🙂 You are so well-connected with your true self (the self that Christ created)! The chair is always open should you need it!

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