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January 2, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Woman

Most people turn to food for comfort. But when the going got tough for Kim Izzo, she did just the opposite.

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Photo Credit: cynoclub

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I was naturally skinny as a teenager and right up into my early 20s — I'm talking 5'10" and 130 pounds. Then, at 33, I landed my first 9-to-5 job. The sedentary lifestyle, coupled with a boyfriend whose idea of a romantic evening was lying on the couch inhaling buckets of butter-drenched popcorn, caused my weight to inch up to 160 pounds, the heaviest of my life. Intellectually, I knew I was supposed to embrace my curvaceous self, but let's face it — Rubenesque may have been the look circa 1633; in 2003, fat was just fat.

Then a serendipitous thing happened — I got sick with an intolerable combo of bronchitis and the Norwalk stomach virus. I'll spare you the details, but I dropped 10 pounds in two weeks without effort. This jump-started my weight loss, and in less than a year, I was 145 pounds. Healthy. Normal. I had no idea what was lurking up ahead. Within one horrible month, I was reeling from a trio of traumas: I lost my dream job, my close cousin died after an 11-year battle with cancer, and, due to my mother's chaotic financial mismanagement, I had to sell the family home that I co-owned and move into a tiny apartment I hated. Many people might have turned to food for comfort. I was too angry and depressed for that. Instead, I stopped eating.

As my world hit rock bottom, so did my weight. A mere six months later, I was a skeletal 120 pounds — and it felt like consolation. I was convinced that my severely skinny state snagged the affections of a man 10 years my junior. We started seeing each other regularly (after I dumped the couch potato), and while things were going well, staying thin, I reasoned, was the only way to hold his interest. I even bought a scale for my apartment, weighing myself whenever my mood needed a boost, which was often.

While I was clearly unwell, many of my friends, especially those in the fashion business, saw my whittled-down physique as entirely attractive. Clothes looked fabulous on me, like they do on hangers. In my vulnerability, I lived for their compliments, their genuine envy. But it wasn't the real nourishment I needed.


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