I feel like the majority of people are not addressed when it comes to the health and wellness industry. We only look at the extremes, people that are super in shape or morbidly obese. There are entire TV shows dedicated to both, helping the obese people lose weight and we praise their successes and pity their failures, and contests of physique or strength. We glamorize the in-shape people and we shame the fat. But what about most people that are in the middle? We get victimized by predatory weight loss scams that promise overnight miracle weight loss at premium prices by being made to think we must be Arnold Schwarzenegger or else we are on our way to being John Pinette (RIP). The truth is that most Americans are overweight, we eat the Standard American Diet, it spells SAD for a reason, and that is how I have spent most of my life. In school I was always fat enough to be made fun of, but not so fat that people felt bad about it. When I enlisted in the Marine Corps I got into great shape, but through bad diet I remained forever on the high end of my weight limits, always having to cut weight before weigh ins. And when I got out and had no reason to stay in shape, I ballooned. At my highest I was at 250 pounds, I grew a beard to hide my double chin, I wore baggy clothes, I did everything I could to hide my weight. Was I dangerously overweight? Absolutely not, but I was deeply depressed by it, and had been most of my life. The struggle of loving food and wanting to be thin is a vicious cycle that I feel a lot of people go through. I have tried both ends of the spectrum of extreme diet restrictions, from 100% vegan to ketogenic. Both were hard, but keto didn’t work well for me, both times I tried it I lost 10 pounds the first week as expected, but nothing after that; and I spent most of the time going through bouts of extreme energy to extremely lethargic. In 2017 I was fully vegan and intermittently fasted, eating only one meal a day, I lost 60 pounds and it was amazing! Unfortunately it was short lived, I gained it all back in 2018 after backsliding into the SAD. From all of these ups and downs I have learned many things about my own relationship to food, but I think the most important part about what I have learned is the importance of forgiving yourself. Every time I would eat bad that wasn’t a scheduled rare inappropriate, I would beat myself up which would drive up the chances of another bad meal. Learning that I can be happy in my body while wanting to slim down was a challenge, and even though they seem like opposites, both feelings can be true at the same time. Right now after being mostly whole food plant based vegan for the last 3 or 4 months I am down 30 pounds and feeling better than ever, I still have a ways to go to get to my target weight, but I am focused more on fixing my broken relationship with food. This will hopefully lead to lifelong change rather than one good year.