onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the month “September, 2020”

Excuse me while I go grow

I have recently been given a job at work that is bigger and more complicated than any job I have done before. I am going to have to learn new things. I am going to have to stretch and grow as a person. And I am scared.

I don’t mean I am terrified. I don’t mean I am paralyzed. But I am most definitely anxious and worried that I will not measure up.

I know that I am good at what I do. I am a good leader, willing to take responsibility for the things other people shy away from. I am smart and organized. I know how to think ahead and keep an eye on potential problems before they become actual problems.  And I have enough humility to admit when I have made a mistake or I am in over my head and I need to call for reinforcements. 

I also know what I am bad at. Diplomacy is not my strong suit. I’m a straight shooter who values honest, efficient (blunt) communication, and I have a hard time with the idea that we can’t just say what is right in front of us. But knowing what areas I am weaker in is also a strength. I am not leading a meeting to find out why we haven’t gotten paid or where our money is. And therefore, I am not messing that up with my bluntness. Besides, my husband is excellent at that. And I am happy to let him be reasonable and charming with clients while I be exacting behind the scenes.

But if I were still eating compulsively, things would be very different for me. First, I would not be good at my job. And I might not even have this job. Because when I was eating compulsively and high on sugar all the time, I was not the list of assets above. I became paralyzed easily, and as soon as I got a job or task, I could become overwhelmed to the point that I shut down. I could not think ahead. I was terrified of responsibility and would avoid it at all costs. And if I did end up in a position of power, I used whatever means necessary to pin any blame for failure on someone, anyone, anything, else. I was not organized or focused because the sugar fog I lived in made it hard, if not impossible, to stay focused or organized. What I was was very smart. Probably even smarter than I am now, but it was almost useless. Like I had a big bucket of paint, but no brushes or rollers or tools. I just threw it around, with no precision. And that worked as well as it worked. Which was better than I had any right to expect, frankly.

But even knowing all of this about myself, about my gifts and the tools I have at my disposal, and the honesty and integrity I live by now, and the willingness to admit mistakes and faults and problems, I am scared. My fear of failure, and its consequential humiliation, is still very much alive in me. And in many ways it is worse since I gave up the sugar that used to numb those particular feelings. But it is also better. Because I don’t have to work (eat drug foods) to avoid those feelings today. I can be scared. That fear can hang around in the back of my mind. And it doesn’t have to mean anything. It can just be fear, skulking around in my head, with no calculable effect on my actions. 

When I gave up sugar over 14 years ago, I did it to lose weight. And I did. But I also changed the way I thought and lived and worked and related to people and the world. And my life is better for it. Not just my body, though that too. But my whole life. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go grow into a new set of skills.

Even in a hard world, my life is easier

I feel rather out of sorts this week. My routine has been off. And some things have gone wrong. My hormones are slightly out of whack. Our very expensive kitchen faucet broke and I won’t get a new one for at least a week. Our refinished bath tub is peeling and the guy is coming early tomorrow morning to fix it, which means getting my run, shower and breakfast in before he gets here. And this is on top of what has been a hard year for me, like it has for everyone.


I am tired of feeling so stressed out. I am tired of worrying. I’m tired of the uncertainty of so many important things. I’m tired of all of it masquerading as normal in my head so I can deal with the day-to-day.

There is a thing that I have noticed. When I am faced with having to actually deal with something I don’t want to, as in take an action or even just look at the honest truth of it, I have a thought: “I’m exhausted.”

It does not mean what it used to mean to me. Exhausted used to be a body experience. It was what happened after a long day of physical exertion. It was the kind of thing that was satisfying. It meant a good, restful sleep. It meant a feeling of accomplishment, or at least it felt earned.


But when I say it now, it means something entirely different. It means emotional fatigue. It means spinning and spinning without ever feeling like I’m getting anywhere. It means a kind of spiritual and emotional impotence that is hard to put my finger on, except that it feels like I should be doing something, but everything I think I could do feels too small to make a difference. It feels like fight or flight with nothing to strike out at and nowhere to go.


But my eating is taken care of. And that means that other things, important things, are taken care of. My integrity, my self-esteem, my relationships. All of those things are in a place where I can look myself in the eye and feel like I’m honoring myself. I’m sad, and I’m frustrated, and I’m just so tired, but I still like me and love me. And I lived so many years hating myself, even when things were going right. Even when circumstances were easy, my life eating compulsively was hard.


I try to remember today, and every day, that life is not always easy or fair. And I am allowed to be having a hard time. And I am grateful to have tools and practices in place to help me take life a day/minute/step at a time. But most of all I remember to be grateful. Because even in the face of a scary world on the outside, treating myself with love and honor, first around food, but also around everything in my life, is a better life than the one of shame and self-loathing I had when I was eating compulsively.

Wrong, But Quite Alright

I made a mistake with my food yesterday. It was a stupid mistake. I weighed out some raw veggies and they came out to 4 1/8 oz. And then I weighed out my cooked vegetables. And I should have weighed out 11 7/8 oz, because the total weight of my lunch vegetables should be 16 oz. But instead I got confused and weighed out 12 1/8 oz. So I ate 16 1/4 oz. 1/4 more than I was supposed to.


Again this was a mistake and an honest one. And the amount I went over is most definitely not a big deal. But I called someone and told them anyway. I “turned it over.” And I have told the truth of it and given it away and I don’t have to live with it.

Now, you might be thinking that it’s strange that I made a call over 1/4 oz. And it was broccoli. So it wasn’t even something all that decadent. (Though it was cooked in butter, *and* olive oil, plus hot sauce, so it was super yummy.) You may think it “doesn’t count.” Or “isn’t worth thinking about.” But the deal for me is that it all counts. Every morsel and crumb. Because I can’t stop thinking about these kinds of things. My thinking is not normal around food. I am obsessive about it. Or at least I am when I don’t keep boundaries and follow rules. That 1/4 oz was a chink in the armor. It was a small hole in a dam. As in small for now, but with enough pressure behind it, the whole thing could burst.


I hear all the time how crazy what I do seems to people. I see how extreme they think it is. How it looks exactly like the obsession I claim it curbs.


Here’s the difference. When I was eating compulsively, I was obsessed with food, especially sugar and simple carbohydrates, and I was miserable. Now I eat my portion controlled food, I love it, and when it is done I am no longer thinking about it. Now I am meticulous with my food, rather than obsessed, and I am joyously free. I am happier in my life than I have ever been before as a direct result of giving up sugar and weighing my food.


And part of that is making a call to say that I made a mistake, and that I want to give it away so I never have to think about it again.

I was raised Catholic. So I used to go to confession. And I always thought it was a punitive measure. I thought it was about humiliation and shame. I thought it was about having to be judged by God and God’s agent in the human realm.


But now I can see how telling the truth about things, mistakes and missteps and falters and failures, is freedom. It’s a lightness that I never felt telling a priest I had lied, which I had to tell a lot of priests because I told a lot of lies.


I understand that for many people, there is no need to turn over 1/4 oz of broccoli. Hell, most people aren’t even weighing their food to know! But that meticulousness and honesty are the foundation for me to have an honest relationship with food. One where I am not ignorant of what or how much I am eating, or ashamed of what I have eaten, or embarrassed to make an honest mistake. One where I can say I was wrong, and still feel quite alright.

Work Wonders

Having my eating under control has transformed my work life in ways I never expected but I am so grateful for it.


When I was in the food, I was a terrible student and employee. I was either high on sugar, or crashing from it, all of the time. I couldn’t concentrate or think straight. And I was so afraid of being reprimanded that I was willing to be dishonest or disingenuous to keep blame off of myself.


One of the things that I got from putting boundaries around my eating is the ability to be wrong, even very wrong, and be honest about it. Just let it be. And take the consequences as they come.


I did not know how to do that growing up. I didn’t know how to own up, apologize, or make amends. And I did not have any idea how transparent I was to everyone else.


I see it all the time now. The way people humor liars, cheaters, and thieves. The way they pretend to believe and accept. And the way the offenders, relieved, believe they have gotten away with it. And I suppose they have. Though not in any meaningful way. They have escaped outward consequences, if not the judgement of peers and superiors, but they have not escaped the internal consequences. Knowing you have lied does something to you inside.


I should know. I was one of those offenders for much of my life. Fear ruled me. And appearances, the appearance of innocence and rightness, seemed to be the most important part of getting through life.


In getting a handle on my sugar addiction, and fixing the wrongs I have done in my past and my present, I have changed the way I think about “trouble.”


Trouble used to be what I got in with other people. It used to be me against them. Now trouble is something I get in with myself. Now it’s me, my Ego and my fear, against me, the person I respect and like and love.

That shift has made me an excellent employee. It has made me an excellent coworker. It has made my work life one of pride in my work, and camaraderie with the people on the teams that I work with.


And not being high or strung out all the time has meant that I do quality work. I understand what I am taught. I learn quickly. I am willing to stretch my comfort zone and take on new and more complicated responsibilities. I am also up front about what I don’t know and what I have attempted but failed at.


My husband and I have just been given two new jobs to run for big clients. It’s a big deal. And there will certainly be a learning curve and probably more than a few hiccups along the way. But I don’t doubt my ability, or my worth. I know I can rise to this challenge, because I don’t have to be perfect. I just have to take it one step at a time, be honest about where I am, and willing to do things that are scary or uncomfortable.


And those are all skills I got from giving up sugar, putting boundaries around my eating, and cleaning up the messes I make in my relationships with people.


I did not expect my work life to change when I put boundaries around my food. I thought it would change my relationship to men, certainly, because when I was in the food I thought my love life troubles were about being fat. But now I can see that my troubles in all areas of my life were about my addiction. And with the sugar out of my system and out of my life, so much is different and better in ways I never expected but am eternally grateful for.

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