When I was in my early thirties I was in a very stressful very unhappy marriage. From a size six on our wedding day I had ballooned up in to the "X" women's sizes. I could no longer find clothes off the rack. I felt frustrated that size 16 seemed to be where department stores stopped, I was by no means the largest woman I knew. I stopped weighing myself at 150, so I can't tell you in good conscience exactly how big I got. My former husband, however, to this day would say that was the beginning of the end for him. Four short years to pack on 30 addition pounds! A bait and switch was how he described it, I was NOT the woman he had married, I was two of her.

From my own perspective I would say the unhappiness predated the weight gain. Ladies, if you've wanted to avoid men in your life simply gain some weight. Trust me, men will stop saying hello. No longer will doors be held open. Sales people of both sexes will render you invisible. It's better than wearing a fake wedding ring. Your own kids might start to squirm and feel embarrassed around you, that's hard. And the health drawbacks are hard. My knees and my back strained under the additional pressure. I could no longer enjoy jogging, I took up hiking instead. One day when my sister in law and her family came to visit we all decided to walk up the steep hill behind my house. All the kids had run up and back twice before I could even get half way. I was having such a hard time, it wasn't fun for me. "What's wrong with you?" demanded my husband in shame. His own sister wasn't super thin, and she wasn't out of breath from the climb.

Here I am at 44, although they say losing weight is harder as you get older, I am much thinner now. I have fit into a size 4 pair of jeans for the last three years. What's the secret everyone wants to know. There is a simple part and a not so simple part. Very simply I eat when I am hungry and I stop when I'm not. That is the essence. I notice a difference in how well I can HEAR my body. Back when I was sad, when I was hungry I tended to eat fiberless foods that numbed my ability to feel full. I was downing things with absolutely zero nutritional value, such as soda. Talk about throw away calories, and coffee drinks laden with extras. Today I still drink full cream in my coffee. I don't use sweeteners, false or real though. Fat when mixed with sugars seems to have a numbing effect on the body's ability to say "stop."

There's something to being able to eat when you are hungry. My overweight friend likes to starve herself, for the discipline. The practice hasn't helped her lose any weight. In my opinion waiting too long like that makes you ripe for bad practices, i.e. stuffing a candy bar down because that's all they sell at convenience stores and vending machines. If you carry around an apple, or a bottle of water, or a boiled egg to take the edge of off your hunger you would eat less cookies when you saw them. I think that's a trick: eat when you ARE hungry NOT when you are starving. . . .

What you eat, when you eat is important at well. During my heavy days I didn't eat very much fiber. White flour, processed meats, and prepared foods are not high on fiber. I had quite a thing for potato chips. They taste so good! French fries too. I find I can eat a little bit of either one, once in a while now that most of my diet consists of whole fiber breads, salads without dressings, fruits and vegetables. The lower on the food chain you eat, the more fiber you will find. The less processed your food is, the cheaper it is as well. Take the lowly potato for example, a five pound bag of them is pretty cheap by the pound. Take that same potato and process it into canned potatoes and it becomes much pricier by the pound. Process it further into frozen crinkle cut fries, and you still haven't reached the top of the market. Buy the same potato as a ready made potato chip and the price is now astronomical by the pound.

Which brings me to another point, once when I was heavy and I was trying to starvation diet myself down to a normal size I tried cutting back on calories. In a whole day all I ate were two plain potatoes I was cooking in the microwave. No butter mind you, no sour cream, not even an organic chive was passing my lips. You know what? I never lost a single pound. I was hungry and crabby all the time. I saved a lot of money, and the pudge didn't budge! I have a theory on that. Because today I eat a lot more calories in a day than that. I think it's because the potato didn't have much fiber. The thing about fiber foods is that they make you feel full in addition to whooshing through your body without depositing a lot of fat on your hips.

My current favorite fiber food is ground flax seed. Look on the side of the package, it actually has a lot of fat calories by ratio – and yet the fiber content is so high it isn't fattening. Other good fiber choices are whole grain cereals, hot or cold such as real oatmeal or shredded wheat. Once again I have found that adding butter or cream or eating cold cereal in cold milk isn't fattening as long as you have an abundance of fiber in your diet. Sprinkle a little bran on top of yoghurt or cereal for even more fiber. I gave up ice cream because I have trouble digesting it. IF you like it, I suspect buying the premium ice creams made with real ingredients and no artificial additives would not be too fattening either if you a) ate them in moderation, and b) used healthy toppings like flaxseed, blueberries or nuts in lieu of candies and caramel or chocolate.