onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Is This Growth?

Obviously, this is my blog about how I have and keep my sugar addiction under control. And one of the ways that I do that is by keeping boundaries around my food. Part of that is weighing and measuring most of the food I eat. There are lots of rules and they make me feel safe. Having hard and fast rules means that I can eat guilt-free. Which was not a part of my life when I was eating sugar and eating compulsively.

But I am still an addict, and I still love to eat. One of the rules is that I can have half a cantaloupe for breakfast. And one of the ways that I and other people who have the same eating boundaries I do work the system, is to find the biggest cantaloupe we can. I once heard a woman tell a group of us she found one that weighed 8 pounds. And we all laughed and cheered and nodded. We all would have bought that 8 pound cantaloupe. It is not breaking the rules or crossing boundaries to do this. It is in bounds and fair game.


I have had people who don’t do what I do or understand my lifestyle tell me that buying an 8 pound cantaloupe or a 1 pound apple is “cheating.” Which only goes to show that they are mistaken as to the game I am playing. I am not on a diet. I am not trying to get skinny. I am trying to navigate my eating life, so that I am nourished, sated, and serene. I do that by keeping my boundaries. But my boundaries have a lot of room for personal choices inside them.

But over the past 3 or 4 years, my cantaloupes have gotten smaller. I mean, they are still really freaking big. But I started to realize that I don’t always love the way I feel overstuffed after breakfast when I automatically buy the biggest cantaloupe I can find. When I told a friend with food boundaries she laughed and said, “Yes, I don’t need a basketball sized cantaloupe. A volleyball sized one will do fine.”


I am still an addict when it comes to food and eating. I still always want more. Even when I am stuffed. Even when I just ate. Eating still holds all of the charge that it did when I was eating compulsively. But having boundaries is the best way for me to keep my feelings out of my food life. I can make myself sick with cantaloupe and still not feel bad about it. And I can finish a meal and be done. Even if it was wonderful and I wish I could have more. I can. At dinner. Or tomorrow. There is always another meal coming.


But I also want to say that sometimes, I eat 8 ounces of pineapple for breakfast. A nice, “normal” sized bowl of fruit. And it’s enough. More than enough. It is delicious and satisfying and gets me through the morning to lunch completely content.
I guess what I am saying is that so much of my eating life is still about how much I love to eat. How much I want to eat. How much eating still makes my life better and happier. It is not now, and never has been, and I expect never will be about eating to live, or food as fuel. It is still about eating as a joy, as a comfort. And in these times of great discomfort, food as a true comfort, without guilt and shame, is a wonderful blessing. But maybe another blessing is that I ate the second half of my very large cantaloupe for breakfast today and tomorrow’s breakfast fruit is going to be a 12 ounce apple.

Fat Bitch Running

On my jog the other day, a guy, a stranger, rolled down the window of his car, and took a turn way too fast and hard, to take the opportunity to yell at me that I was a “fat bitch.”


When I was 19, I weighed 300 pounds. So if you think this is the first time I have been called a fat bitch, you would be mistaken, and frankly, grotesquely naive.


I mention all the time in this blog that I am not particularly thin. I often call myself chubby. And I have had people tell me they do not think this is true.


But one of the biggest problems and questions I deal with when I think about fatness, is who is using the word fat, and how are they using it? Because I am not using it as an insult. Merely an adjective. But many people use it as an insult. And it doesn’t even have to be “true” for them to use it and for it to hit home.


So if I tell someone I’m chubby, and they say “you’re not!” I am not clear if they hear chubby and think I am insulting myself, or if, from their perspective, I am not even chubby. Because fat women who describe themselves as fat are *often* told by friends and family and acquaintances that it’s not true. When it objectively is. But their friends see it as a jab, and want to assure their fat friends that they would never insult them.
The problem there is that the underlying idea is “fat is evil, but I love and respect you, so you can’t be fat.”


Friends, get over the idea that fat is bad. And stop telling your fat friends that they are “special fats.” That you don’t see them that way. They are not special. They are not different than other fat people. It is the connotations that you add to fatness that are the problem.


Trolls know that to be called fat in our fatphobic culture is devastating to most women. To women who have bought into the idea that thinness equals “goodness” and “morality” and “true womanhood,” to be called fat is to be called “lazy,” “shameful,” and “pathetic.” When a woman is committed to the idea of thinness as a virtue, what she hears when someone calls her fat, is that the one dishing out the word thinks she is unworthy of love and respect.

And those women don’t even have to be objectively fat to feel this. To be fat in the United States in 2020 currently only means “to not be thin.”


Does she have a belly? Call it fat. Wide hips? A big butt? Fat and fat. Thighs that touch? Fat.


I am 5’ 6.5” and I wear a size Large or XL, depending on the cut, and I have all of the things I mentioned above. I have a belly, and wide hips, (though not much of a butt I guess) and round thighs that touch. But most people would probably not consider me fat. *I* certainly don’t consider myself fat.


But a stranger in his car was so invested in the idea of the fatness of my body that *while I was working out* he felt the need to call me a fat bitch. The bitch part was just for existing, I suppose.


Much like AOC, I was not deeply hurt by this. It was just another day and another moment dealing with another asshole. I also worked in bars and restaurants in New York City, and have walked city streets and taken public transportation. Lots of men are like that. Lots of women too. (But more men. In case you were wondering.)


I want to close with this thought. If you are going to describe me as being fat, use the word fat. I don’t think if it as an insult. I hate euphemisms. Fluffy? Makes me want to gag. I am not a dog. And there is no fluff. Only jiggle. Heavy set? I am a beautiful woman, not a lumberjack. Big Boned? It’s not my bones that are big.


And don’t expect that yelling out a window that I am a fat bitch will do anything more to me than inspire me to write a blog about you. Because fat doesn’t bother me. And neither does bitch. As a woman with integrity and boundaries, with whatever adjective they choose, I expect people will call me a bitch for the rest of my life.

My Body as a Temple

There is a saying. My body is a temple.

Now that is originally a quote from the Bible. And the short, paraphrased version of it is that our bodies are temples to the Holy Spirit and that our bodies do not belong to us, but to God.

Yeah…look, your body may, indeed, be a temple to God with a capital G. But mine is not.

My body is a temple to me, to my own life, to the things I want to do and the person I want to be. To this amazing vehicle! I remember I was in my 20s when I realized that this body was the only thing in the world that I owned outright. And I take that seriously.

When most people use that quote, “My body is a temple,” they are usually talking about why they are eating unappetizing food or doing some kind of intense, strenuous exercise routine. And they are often bragging (overtly or covertly) about how they fit neatly into the modern Western beauty ideal.

From my point of view, their body is a temple to the fitness and beauty industries. Those are gods I refuse to worship.

It is true that I gave up sugar and carbohydrates to be thin. And I was really thin for a while. And I hated fatness, and I hated myself for having been fat, and I hated the poor fat kid I had been.

But I did not stay very thin for long. I was pretty thin for about 5 years. And really skinny for about 2 years. But that was it.

But I didn’t ever go back to eating sugar and carbohydrates. Not because I continue to try to be skinny, but because my body *is* a temple. And I am freer, happier, less anxious, and more peaceful since I quit those foods which are poison to me. I am not honoring thinness. I am honoring my own life.

I hated myself so much and for so long and so completely, that I didn’t even know that I hated myself until it stopped. And it stopped when I gave up sugar and carbohydrates. It did not stop when I lost weight, though I did lose weight. And it did not come back when I gained weight back. And I did gain some back. It was not my weight that was the true issue. The true issue was sugar and how I was using it as a drug. And how I was addicted and behaved like an addict. I was a liar, a cheater, a thief, and a master manipulator. And sugar made that possible for me the way alcohol makes those things possible for an alcoholic.

When I say my body is a temple now, I mean I honor it as a way of honoring my life. And my life is not marathons and intermittent fasting. Hell, it’s hard enough “fasting” between dinner and breakfast!

I honor my life and body with regular exercise and water. With fruit at breakfast and raw vegetables at lunch and dinner. With flossing. With meditation. With skin care. With limited caffeine.

But also, giving up sugar and carbohydrates gave me a new, better ability to sit still and focus. To learn new things. To have the patience to fail and keep trying. So I honor my life and body by knitting blankets and crocheting dolls.

It gave me the ability to get things done and fulfill my duties and commitments, and then to give myself time to rest. So I honor my life and body by lying on the couch for Netflix binges and YA Fantasy audiobooks.

I learned to love my body as beautiful, even when it doesn’t fit into society’s beauty standards, so I honor my body and my life by buying clothes I love for whatever weight or shape I am, and by seeking out and following models of all shapes and sizes on social media. Because seeing only one kind of body portrayed as beautiful made me hate the body I was in.

My body is a temple to celebrate myself. And in my temple there is exercise and hydration, but also bacon and homemade chocolate ice cream. And that is a temple I am happy to worship in. Good thing too. It’s the only temple I’ve got.

My kitchen as a church

I am home! As in my own home! I am so happy and grateful to be here, and with no job in the foreseeable future to send me away again.


And I am overjoyed to be in my very own, customized kitchen. I have my fancy double oven, and super swanky refrigerator. I have my top of the line dishwasher that is so quiet the first time I used it I messed up the wash cycle because I was afraid it wasn’t working. I have my funky, guitar pick shaped dining room table, and my farm sink with my luxury kitchen faucet. I have a restaurant quality vent fan, because my husband hates the smell of cooked vegetables and that is a huge part of my diet. I have my stone ware dishes and pretty silverware. And any number of specialized kitchen gadgets from the deep fryer for deep frying onions or Brussels sprouts, to a meat grinder to make my own Italian sausage.


My kitchen, whatever kitchen I called my own at any given time over the past 14+ years, has always been a holy place for me. Because it was the place I learned that my relationship with life and with with food was sacred. It was the first place I learned that what I put in my body, and how much, and when, was not about who could see me, or who would judge. It was all about a commitment I made to myself. It was where I learned that it didn’t matter if anyone else saw. I was the one who saw. I was the one who knew. I learned that the boundaries were my boundaries. They were between me and me. They were between me and god, or truth, or life, or whatever you want to call it.


I have learned how to make do with whatever kitchen I have. We just spent a month in an extended stay type hotel with two burners, no oven, and only place settings for 2. But we still ate really well.

Granted, there were fewer meals on the rotation. Not having an oven severely limits what one can cook. At least it limits what one can cook well. Who wants a 2” thick filet mignon pan fried? Or at least who can pan fry a filet so that it is cooked properly? Not me.


But there is a kind of giddy joy to having a kitchen that is made for you. A kitchen that you chose for yourself. (Yes yes, plenty of this kitchen is by and for my husband. He has his own kitchen gadgets. He just bought a sous vide and a vacuum sealer. And he has a tortilla press for making his own tortillas. Also, the double oven was so he could cook potatoes at a different temperature while I cooked the meat. I promise, he is taken care of.)


Here’s the thing. Most people who hear about my eating boundaries think that it is a punishment and a burden. That I do it reluctantly, like a bitter pill. Now, I truly am sick. And my eating boundaries are most definitely medicine. My food and my food boundaries are serious business. But they are also the gateway to my joy. And in many ways, that fancy kitchen is a monument to that joy. A church, a place of worship. And just like any church, it is not about the riches, though the riches are certainly nice. It is about the spirit. It is about the reverence, the homage, the honor, and the gratitude.

Food may be fuel, but that’s not why I eat it.

I love to eat. If you have read my blog for a while you know this. I know that a lot of people maintain their weight by only seeing food as fuel. I do not do this.


For one thing, over the years I have come to understand that being fat was not my problem. What I was eating was a problem. But not because I was fat. Because I was miserable. I could not stop eating and that made me feel shameful and crazy.


But also, I don’t know how to stop adoring eating. I don’t *want* to stop loving my food. Food is a refuge 3 times a day. It is a daily joy.


When some people start treating food as only fuel, they are potentially making food and eating a moral issue. I don’t ever want to live that way. I choose not to eat most sugar and carbohydrates because they get me high, and then make me feel bad about myself.


But I don’t want my life goals to be about the size of my body or how little I can eat and how skinny I can be. I want to keep my addiction under wraps, but I want to love my food.


So I will tell you that one of my favorite things about traveling is finding new things I can eat. So here in Nebraska, I found a new brand of flavorings that has an almond flavor that is to die for, and a banana flavor that, when I add it to yogurt, makes it taste like banana pudding! So They are delicious and fit in my boundaries and that makes me so happy. So I am stocking up while I am here to take them home.


I expect I will love my food forever. And I am not trying to have it any other way. If food being fuel makes your life better, then I salute you. But you know what makes my life better? Yogurt that tastes like banana pudding.

Amends are the worst! And also the best!

I have had a very hard week emotionally. I have been crying a lot. I have been thinking a lot. I have been trying to reconcile a lot of things. I have been restless, irritable, and discontent, as they say. And then yesterday I was a real asshole to two different people. A stranger and my husband. And I had to make amends.


Ugh! Making amends is the worst. But it is also, of course, the best.


I won’t go into details, because they are boring and would be filled my in-the-moment justifications for why, exactly, I acted like a jerk. But just rest assured that I did, indeed, act like a jerk.


The stranger let me have my way, not because I was right, but because it was easier for him to deescalate the situation. So I got what I wanted by being obnoxious.


Then later my husband and I got into an argument about a misunderstanding and a miscommunication. Because he has been frustrating and annoying me all week. But not because of him, or what he has been doing. But because I have been unhappy and frustrated and stretched thin myself.
To both my husband and the stranger, I admitted that it was me, and not them, that was the problem.


But amends are something else. Not just an apology. A mending. It’s right there in the name.


So for the stranger, I wrote a sincere note of apology. I admitted that I was entirely in the wrong. But I also left $20 in the note. Because I had gotten everything in that interaction, and he had gotten nothing. An apology, even a sincere one, doesn’t give him back his time. An apology wasn’t going to dry his clothes. In order for it to be a sincere amends, I felt it should cost me something. And while money is not the only way to make up for such things, it was the easiest way with a stranger.


With my husband, on the other hand, the amends has to come with a change in behavior. In order for it to be sincere, I have to hold myself accountable to being the kind of wife I want to be, even when I am sad, or hurting, or depressed, or struggling.


This morning I feel better, cleaner, freer, having taken responsibility for my own bad behavior. I am still not particularly happy. I still have a lot of things to work through and deal with for myself, but I have had a wake up call to show me that whatever is going on inside, I am still responsible for what I do and say and create on the outside.

My body is not an issue

I have been writing a short gratitude list every day for the past few months. And one thing that has been coming up for me a lot is how grateful I am that my body is not an issue.

A little over 15 years ago, I was doing some volunteer work for a self-help seminar. The idea was that you gave them your time and you got the seminar for free. I was poor and that worked for me. At a prep meeting, the seminar leader asked me what I wanted to get out of the seminar, and I said “I want my body to stop being an issue.”

Because for basically all of my life up until then, my body was on my mind, in some form or another, all of the time. I was obsessed with sugar and carbohydrates, and I was obsessed with my body. I was constantly worried about what it looked like to other people, what other people were thinking about my body. And what they were thinking about me because of the size and shape of my body. My own body was my enemy. I hated it. I was ashamed of it. And I was continually thinking about how to change it. Or perhaps it would be truer to say I was continually trying to figure out how to eat the way I wanted to eat, but at the same time have my body look/be socially acceptable.

Over the course of that one six month seminar, I went from being on a diet and in the first stages of being an exercise bulimic, to being an all-out exercise bulimic, to abusing laxatives, to making myself throw up, to giving up and eating myself 30 pounds heavier.

But on the last day of that seminar, I had my current boundaries around my eating in place, and I was weighing my food in the restaurant around the corner from the building where the seminar was held. In other words, by the time it was done, I had gotten what I had asked for. Or, if my body had not ceased to be an issue quite yet, I was doing the thing that would let me stop thinking and worrying obsessively about my body. I mean forever.

I don’t want to imply that I have *never* had body image problems since I put boundaries around my eating. When I quit smoking and gained at least 30 pounds, that sure did freak me out. And that was a difficult time for me emotionally.

But for the most part, in my daily living, I don’t think about my body. It doesn’t even cross my mind. I don’t walk around thinking anyone is looking at me in judgment. I don’t worry about someone saying an unkind, unsolicited remark about my body.

Before I changed my eating, I was eating myself to misery. I was harming myself, physically, emotionally, and spiritually with food. With addictive foods that made me feel crazy and unhappy.

I have often noticed that when we harm someone, we have to do one of two things:
1) Own up, take responsibility, and make amends,
Or
2) Double down and make it their fault, so we don’t have to feel bad for being the jerk.

I did this to my body for most of my life. I fed it foods that are poisonous to me, and then blamed it for looking a way I hated. (Which, in retrospect was just internalized fat phobia.) Blamed it for my difficulty of mobility. Blamed it for being sub par and not as “pretty” or easy or socially acceptable as other girls and women.

But today, there I have a peace around my body that I never expected. And the even more unexpected thing is that it’s not about the size of my body. It’s not about how skinny I am, because I am not. It’s about how comfortable I am with the way I treat my body. My food is in line with my commitments to it. My exercise is to love it and care for it, period. Not to make it thinner, or shaped differently. In getting my eating under control I got to stop judging my body.

Basically, though it was fraught with difficulties at the time, I got exactly what I wanted out of that seminar. More! Because all I was looking for was to stop thinking about my body, and instead I got to love it.

Not dead yet…So expecting change

One of the most useful things about having my eating under control is my ability to change, often gracefully, sometimes less gracefully, but always with sense of well-being. If I’m not dead yet, well, then more will be revealed.


When I first put boundaries around my eating, parts of my life got very small for a while. I had to live through the withdrawal. I had to figure out how to reconfigure an entire life that had been centered around eating, specifically eating sugar and carbohydrates.


But then my life had all of this unused time in it. Time that had been spent pursuing and eating sugar. And my head had all of this new space. Space that had been taken up by my food obsession. And eventually I had both the capacity and the free time to try new things and think in new ways.


Change became a muscle I was building. It’s a muscle I continue to build. And it is invaluable in times like these. Times where flexibility and adaptability are currency. In times like the times we are living in now, people like me, who can get swept up in the current of a present in flux and an uncertain future, and just ride it until we get spit out onto the shore somewhere, are in a great position. We have the power that comes from being present in the moment. We have the power of freedom.


I have this gift because my eating is under control, which means my head is clear from both sugar fog and food obsession. I have it because upon getting the clarity of mind, I realized I had to live honestly and with integrity in all areas of my life, or I was going to end up back in food hell. I have it because I had to take on a way of life where I am rigorous with myself and deal with my own life, rather than looking to blame others. Even when others are wrong. Even when I am right and my anger is righteous. I have this gift because I got to move away from centering my life around what I want, and move toward the power of choosing what I wish to do with what I actually got.

I had to learn to make friends with my food issues. I had to learn to work around them, and make them work for me. And through that, I learned to make friends with what is so, and to not fight against the actualities of my life and my world, but use them. Or at the very least, learn to accommodate them.

Changing my eating and behavior around food also rewired my brain. In actively changing both my thoughts, and my actions, I changed a lifetime of compulsions and defaults. And I got good at change in the process. And it is a gift and a blessing that goes far beyond food or eating or the size of my body.

Turn and face the strange ch ch…

I have had a very busy week and next week is a busy week again.


We left Oklahoma for good last week. Hooray! And we have been in our home since Wednesday, which has been wonderful! But tomorrow we leave for a new job in Nebraska.


I am good at change because I have my food and my eating under control.


The world is changing. I am able to change with it. This is a blessing. Because when I say my eating is under control, I am not saying I am on a diet. Diets have never worked for me. Not to shrink my body and most definitely not to help me with my life. I have a way of eating that keeps me clear-headed and available, and a way of living that has me focus on what I can do to be the kind of person I want to be in the world.


I can examine my moods and adjust my relationship to my experiences because I have my eating under control. I can go with the flow of life because my eating is under control. I can accept that life is always changing anyway and act accordingly because my eating is under control. I do not have to hold on to the way anything used to be because my eating is under control.


If I am not numb, I am forced to look any and all situations in the eye and deal with them. If I am uncomfortable, I have to sit in it until I change enough to get comfortable.


The world is going to change. Always and forever. Sometimes in big ways, sometimes in small. But I am available to see it and meet it and change with it because my eating is under control.

This One Is About Racism.

It’s so hard to know what to write in a blog about food addiction and eating disorders when both the world in general, and your country specifically are in turmoil.


One thing that happened to me when I got my eating under control was that my head cleared. Partially because I was not high on sugar anymore. And partially because I stopped lying.


They say you can’t kid a kidder, but I think that is wrong. When I was lying, I was easy to lie to. Because you have to put yourself in a particular head space to be a liar. You have to muddy the waters for yourself if you are going to convince everyone else. So lying made it hard for me to see clearly.


In order to stop eating compulsively, I had to stop lying about my food. And in order to keep not lying about my food, I had to take lying off the table. It’s like the saying “How you do anything is how you do everything.” I had to be truthful in all ways to continue to be truthful about my eating.


So I have a clear head and a clear conscience. And that means I see things, all sorts of things, clearly now. And I can tell you that I see the race problem we have in the U.S. And I can see the police problem we have in the U.S. And I can see that police all over this country kill Black people without ever facing justice. Kneel on their necks until they are dead, or bust into the wrong house and shoot first, killing them in their beds or while they watch TV. And white people hiding behind the idea of “law and order” brazenly and lawlessly kill Black people.


I can see that our government has armed and armored the police to go to war with the civilian population of our country. But they can’t seem to be able to provide PPE for doctors, nurses and medical professionals in the midst of a global pandemic.


I can’t not see these things. There is no cake to numb me anymore. I am not trying to get anything over on anyone. I can’t not feel the fear and the sadness and the terror. And I can’t help but notice how many people in my life are quick to defend the actions of police and condemn the actions of Black people who are angry and scared and who have been assaulted and murdered without ever getting justice. For generations.


I was 15 when the police who beat Rodney King were acquitted. I am 42 now. I was a sheltered white girl at the time. I assumed there were things we didn’t understand. I believed that police would not do such a thing without good reason. I believed that police were doing their best in a dangerous job. I have have now had 27 years of experience. And after almost 3 decades, I no longer feel that way.


How is this about eating disorders and sugar addiction? See, when I was eating compulsively and using sugar as a drug, I could escape any yucky feeling. I could pretend the electric bill didn’t exist, until the electricity got shut off. I could pretend the deadline for the writing assignment I got for the online magazine didn’t exist. Until eventually it didn’t. And these were things that affected me directly in very real ways. I could eat a cake and pretend that it didn’t exist. And I would not have to feel…anything.


So I most certainly didn’t have to feel the pain of living in a society that prioritizes white property over Black lives. And if I did feel it, I could slip comfortably into the idea of “Why didn’t they comply? They should have just complied.” “Cops are doing a dangerous job and we have to give them some room for error.” “I understand that people are upset but violence never solved anything.”


But I feel everything now. I live it and I experience it and I can’t escape my feelings anymore. And I can’t pretend it doesn’t exist. And I can’t pretend like those things I used to make me feel better, both the cake and the bullshit justifications, exist for me anymore.
One thing about the way I live now is that I have to be responsible for “cleaning my own side of the street.” So right now, the dirtiest part of my street is that I don’t say it enough. Black lives matter. Police brutality is a problem all over this country, in every state and on every level. Peaceful protests have not worked.


Stop killing Black people. Stop defending the killing of Black people. Stop making excuses for the killers of Black people.

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