Structure House

Hey everyone,

So due to popular demand, I thought I'd write an entry about my time at Structure House. Structure House, located in Durham, North Carolina is a residential weight loss center. I was there for three weeks in summer 2004, so a lot might have changed since then, I'm not sure. My decision to go there was a tough one for me - I had to take a month off of summer camp, something staff technically weren't allowed to do and something I hadn't done in twelve years. Still, I knew what a big opportunity it was to go somewhere to focus on the problem I had just started to admit was one.

I arrived and moved into the "on-campus" apartment I had. It was really nice living situation, my own bedroom with living room with a TV, I had the internet there, etc. I was amongst the youngest people there at 18, and a lot of people would "adopt" me as a little sister or daughter even. I was quite lonely and homesick, as confronting my problems with my weight without a support system was super tough.

The weight loss program at SH is all about structure. Structure to them meant planning out all your meals in advance from their menus - I hated most of the food and would eat faux grilled cheese with low sodium ketchup at least half my meals. I ate more fruit than anyone there because I refused to eat so many of the choices and my weight loss stalled because I was only eating about half of a 1200 calorie diet. Once I found a groove, food-wise, I did end up losing a bunch - I went from 244 to 217 in three weeks. I hated it though. Sure I had some fun times - going off campus to a bar with some older girls, sneaking baked doritos, chewing sugar-free cinamon gum every moment of every day, and smoking cigarettes. And putting tobasco on everything. Those are my biggest memories of SH.

What I disliked about the program is that, to me, it was replacing one type of disordered eating with another. For anyone who wasn't fat to regulate their intake the way they wanted us to it'd be considered anorexic. Reduced-sodium ketchup, for pete's sake! I lost weight there because the food was so limited and unappealing to me, and because it was so bland and unexciting I learned to not care about what went in my mouth. When I said that in group they acted like it was a good thing... But I love food, and I'd hate to have such a vibrant fun creative side of my life just vanish like they said it should. I struggled with finding a groove there - I never got into regular individual or group therapy, didn't participate in classes except for exercise ones. After three weeks, my parents agreed to let me come home - it was just too emotionally draining to be going through so much alone.

There were some positives to my experience. The first was that I got to finally know other fat girls. We all have different backgrounds, and for me, I'm literally the only girl who weighs more than 200lbs that I know. Seriously. I can think of one girl who i took some classes with in college, and a couple of coworkers, but my social circle and the snobby Toronto world I come from just doesn't happen to include anyone else like me. I was particularly close with two older girls who taught me a lot about confidence and about sex and about a lot of things. I am still in touch with both of them - both of them, despite repeated 60 days at SH are varying degrees of overweight. I don't think the program doesn't work for everyone, but it saddens me to think that it's a program that strongly discourages WLS.

I also learned the value and effects excercise had on me. It wasn't like I never stopped working out since then, but I did get into being strong and fit, and being in an environment where my size was assumed let me break through of a self-consciousness I used to feel when working out, which is totally a non-issue to me now.

So that was my experience. If you have any questions I'd be glad to answer them...



The Dash! said...

Ahhh so Structure house was a weight loss centre. I guess the idea is sound, but whats with the low sodium tomato sauce..? I mean it's not like we eat sauce like say, a bowl of soup. Would it really make any difference? (I'm guessing no.)
Thanks for this post. Was really interesting to read.

Brooke said...

I really agreed with your post about replacing one style of disordered eating for another.

And like you said, it's a lot easier not to overeat when everything is bland and tasteless.

I was also browsing through the rest of your site and wow, you have been doing an amazing job. I am so inspired. I am definitely adding your blog to my list so I can follow your journey.

Tiffani said...

INTERESTING! I would have loved to go to a place like that growing up just because I had NO good examples of healthy eating at home. Not sure it would have helped but I dreamed of going to fat camps and stuff... weird.

Thanks for sharing!

Catherine55 said...

That is really interesting. I've always dreamed about going away for a month or two to a spa or WL facility, but never did it. My impression is that it would be great while I was there, but once I left, I'd be making up for lost time and unable to sustain the lifestyle. Was that your experience, or no?

I hope all is well with you!


This is me now... at 160!

This is me now... at 160!
with my bestest friend!

Mini-Goals and Statistics

A Quick Reference - 111lbs down
Height: 5'8
Highest Weight; January 2009: 270
Surgery Weigh; March 4th: 255
Tummy Tuck December 15, 2010!
Current Weight: 150s
Current BMI: healthy!

Mini Goal 1: 240 - re-reached April 29th - 15lbs/9 weeks.
Mini Goal 2: 230 - reached June 12th. - 10lbs/6 weeks.
Mini Goal 3: 220 - reached July 18th. - 10lbs/5 weeks.
Mini Goal 4: 210 - reached September 2nd. 10lbs/7 weeks.
Mini Goal 5: 199 - reached October 19, 10lbs/11 weeks
Mini Goal 6: 189 - reached December 18, 10lbs/9 weeks
Mini Goal 7: 179 - reached February 23, 10lbs/9.5weeks
Mini Goal 8: 169 - reached March 26, 10lbs/4.5weeks
100 lbs down!!

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