onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the month “February, 2016”

It has to be about my head, not my butt.

I have been keeping up with my running. 2 miles a day, 5 days a week. (I may call it running, but I am unapologetically super slow, so what I really mean is jogging…)I like it. I like the way I feel. I like the sense of accomplishment that comes from keeping that kind of commitment. I like the way it feels to know that I can count on myself. Especially since I grew up telling myself all sorts of things about how much I hated exercise, how bad I was at it. And I was alway looking for the time that I would never have to do it again. Now I am jogging in the hopes of doing it for the rest of my life.

But there is another side of my exercise commitment. It is sneaky little thoughts about “more.” That I should run longer. That I should run faster. That if I do that, I might lose more weight. Maybe even get more food.

This might seem innocuous enough. Normal eaters with healthy weights might think that makes some sense. Many normal eaters and exercisers manage their weight like this. I am not a normal eater. I am a compulsive eating sugar addict, exercise bulimic, with body dysmorphic disorder.

I want to run 2 miles a day, 5 days a week for the rest of my life. And I want that to be enough. I will probably get faster, because I have already gotten faster without trying. But even if I don’t, heck, even if I get slower, I want to be satisfied that I’m doing something loving for my body, not something to “fix” it.

I don’t want to burn out. I don’t want to get injured. I want to run. Slowly and consistently. Because, as a friend pointed out to me, as a food addict, exercise can’t be about my weight or my size, it has to be about my head.

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A big-girl-panties kind of day

So I talk a lot about how I live with a steady stream of low-level anxiety. I especially worry about doing things wrong. Friday, I was feeling pretty anxious. I had to drive for an hour by myself to apply for an apartment. And the lady said she couldn’t give me the keys to the apartment until I got all of the utilities turned on in my name. So I drove to the Municipal Utilities office and took care of that. Then I drove all over the new town, and ran my errands: Ordered furniture, set up a cable and internet installation, went to the bank to deposit a check, etc.

It’s not that I wasn’t anxious. I was. But after years of having my eating under control, I have learned that I don’t have to feel confident to do something. I just have to do it. I just have to take the next right action, one baby step at a time. 

When I was eating sugar, I got high to deal with my anxiety, like a form of Dutch Courage. When I gave up sugar, I had to get myself some real courage.

I know that what I had to do was not that big of a deal. People do those kinds of things all the time. But to me, it was a “big-girl-panties” kind of day.

I kicked a** and took names on Friday. I did everything that needed to be done to get the keys in my hands that day.

I was anxious every step of the way. And I won’t say it went off without a hitch. But it all got done, and it went smoother than a worrywart like me ever expects.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have an apartment to move into.

The luxury of comfort 

It has been a long week. Cleaning, packing, driving 7ish hours, and unpacking, on top of the usual everyday life stuff. But I’m with my boyfriend again. (Yay!) And we’re on the road.

I’m happy. But I’m also raw. It’s emotional. And that’s uncomfortable.

Driving in this town is very different from the suburbs I am used to. It is stressful for me. I am going out every day to practice, but it I’m still not at ease on the roads here. The internet at the hotel is bad, so I called around to Internet and phone companies, and thought I got better web access. But after all that, I couldn’t get on to send out the invitation to an important video meeting. Then we decided to start looking for an apartment closer to my boyfriend’s job site. Plus keeping in touch with various people who are taking care of our house. 

It’s a lot. And I feel it. Of course, I feel it. I’m not high on sugar and carbohydrates.

I was talking to some friends the other day, and one of them was talking about how she was feeling nervous, and anxious, and worried that she didn’t know how to do some things she was doing. And then she realized that she was feeling like that because she was doing new, exciting things. She was pushing her comfort limits. She didn’t know how to do things because they were things she has never done before.

I could live a very small life with relative ease and happiness. I can find a million reasons to say no, stay home, take my usual path. I like the usual. It’s comfortable and comforting. 

But for some reason, I have repeatedly chosen to do things that make me uncomfortable. Or perhaps it’s just that I have decided that comfort will not be a major factor in whether or not I do a thing.

I ate sugar and carbohydrates to feel comfortable. Dazed, zoned out, numb, heavy. They call it a food coma for a reason.

Being aware can be uncomfortable. Even when it’s beautiful. Even when it’s pleasurable. I have to make decisions. I have to take actions. I have to be in new, uncertain, scary situations. It’s just the way it is. 

When I quit sugar I agreed to be uncomfortable. Not only did I have to sit in feelings I had been avoiding by eating sugar, but I had to sit in the feelings of withdrawal too. Thank God I stuck it out. It turns out the feelings I was eating are almost never as bad as sugar withdrawal. And even the most painful feelings, the ones that are worse than sugar withdrawal, pass so much more quickly, and are ultimately so much more easily soothed and satisfied. 

Being okay in the face of discomfort is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets.

I don’t mean to say that I don’t enjoy comfort. I do. Maybe I love it all the more for keeping it as a luxury, rather than a necessity. A thing my compulsive eating self would never have understood.

Eating and driving

On Tuesday I leave home and head out to meet my boyfriend in Indiana, where we will be staying for the next 9 months to a year. This past week and a half or so has been about preparing to go there. A big part was getting my driver’s license and getting comfortable driving. I have been driving every day. Since I got my license on Wednesday, I have been making sure to go out by myself every day too. I need to get used to it.

I have a lot of anxiety. It’s part of the way I have always been. Except that when I was younger and eating sugar, I numbed that anxiety by getting high on food.

I think the hardest part of learning to drive at 38 is that I am no longer fearless, like teenage drivers, and I am no longer numb, like I was when I was eating sugar. I feel everything, and everything includes a lot of fear.

When I talk to people who are giving up sugar, I like to talk about “a healthy fear of the food.” Look, sugar and carbohydrates are dangerous to me. I am an addict. When I put it into my body, I set up a physical craving and a mental obsession. And that leads to a lot of addict behaviors like lying, cheating and stealing. So I am right to be a little afraid. But chocolate cake is not going to jump into my mouth of it’s own accord. I take responsibility for my part of my food boundaries and I trust the rest will go the way it’s supposed to. I know people who have boundaries around their food who have a kind of panicky fear around the food. But I can’t live like that. I got my eating under control to find peace, not to feed my fear.

I have a similar experience when it comes to driving. I want to maintain a healthy fear of driving. I want to remember that I am controlling a dangerous machine, but not in a panicky way. No, the metaphor is not perfect. After all, when I deal with my eating, I am the only one who is putting the food in my mouth, where as when I am driving, I have to negotiate roads with other drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists. But for me, there are similarities in the way I want to look at food and driving so that I can have the most peace around it. I do my best to be a safe, and courteous driver. I pay attention to what I am doing. I take responsibility for my part and I trust that the rest will go the way it’s supposed to.

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