onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the month “November, 2022”

The living declaration of my priorities

The other day I was talking to somebody who is just starting to give up sugar and put boundaries around her eating and she was saying she is worried about not being organized enough to do what I do. Which is an understandable fear when you hear me talk about all of the things I do to keep my eating boundaries.

But there is a secret I told her that I will tell you. It’s not about doing all of the things like shopping and chopping and preparing. It’s about *making the commitment* to get your eating under control and *having the willingness* to do it no matter what.

You can still keep your eating boundaries without doing all of these seemingly time consuming things. It’s just harder. It’s just a lot more work. It just doesn’t make sense when you are going to keep the boundaries anyway. But the prep and the time and the effort do not create commitment. All of the trips to the grocery and the hours in the kitchen are the symptoms of that commitment.

Someone on social media once asked “how do people start working out first thing in the morning?” When I am working, I work out in the morning. Often when it’s still dark out. And the answer is, first you make the commitment to work out. And you do it whenever you can. And eventually you realize that you don’t want to take two showers a day. Or you don’t want to have to bring a change of clothes with you. Or you don’t want to have to stop back at home after work before going out. So you work out first thing because that is more convenient. But it’s only more convenient if you already knew for a fact that you were going to work out no matter what.

Someone once told me that making a commitment changes the whole trajectory of your life. And I didn’t understand that until I got my eating under control. Until I chose to get my eating under control and decided it was the most important thing I could do in a day. A commitment is a kind of living declaration of our priorities, and I love that my life is an example of that.

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A memory of exhaustion

The other day I was writing my stream of consciousness meditation pages and I wanted to stop. Just stop in the middle. More like the beginning, but I had already started. I did not stop, but it gave me a kind of emotional flashback.

I used to do this particular form of quitting all the time when I was eating compulsively. It is specifically around some commitment I have made to be a better person. Or at least a person I personally like better.

There is a particular example of this that I sometimes think about just because of the timing. In September of 2001, I was taking a self-help seminar in the World Trade Center. I think the seminar was on a Wednesday or a Thursday so it was probably the 6th or the 7th, and I don’t specifically remember but I am reasonably certain I didn’t do my homework, and I was probably ashamed of that. And just in general I didn’t want to show up, and I knew that I should. And on this particular day, I schlepped myself all the way there to the World Trade Center, which was nowhere near anything else I did like my job or my home. I walked in the big doors into the giant corridor with the security stations and the big banks of elevators on the other side, and then I just turned around and left. Got all the way to the seminar, spent all of that time and energy to travel there and still didn’t show up to take care of myself. And of course, I would never go to the WTC again.

I did this with all sorts of things that I had started doing to make myself feel better, feel good, feel like I had my shit together. I would get my running clothes on, and start a jog, but I would just quit. In the middle of a jog. Just stop and decide I didn’t want to do it anymore. And I would feel awful about it. But the idea of effort was so terrifying to me that I often just shut down. I feared any pain, but especially the pain of growth.

It was interesting to have that feeling again about a writing meditation. Kind of scary, a little uncomfortable. Because that part of me is still there. But since I got my eating under control, it doesn’t win. I can feel it, acknowledge it, but not bow to it. I can want to quit and not quit.

When I put boundaries around my eating I got what some people call “abstinent references.” I learned, first hand, that I would not starve if I didn’t eat between meals. I learned that I would not die if I admitted my mistakes and made amends for them. I learned that effort is not the level of suffering I always feared it was. I learned that that once something was begun, like a workout, or showing up at the place I was supposed to be, it was actually easier to keep going and follow through than to quit. That the level of justification I would have to maintain to not feel awful about myself over it would be way more effort than just doing the workout or attending the meeting.

To remember what I used to be like is to remember how exhausted I was all the time. Because second guessing myself and stressing about everything, and being afraid of the world, and being afraid of my life was so much more exhausting than all of the food prep work and the shopping and chopping and working out and writing and meditation and that I do.

My Recurring Holiday Miracle

There is no Halloween candy in my house. But it doesn’t matter. Because I didn’t want it and I didn’t eat any of it. And that is my recurring holiday miracle. 

Yes yes. I think sugar is poison. To me at the very least. But I am not the food police, or anyone’s parent. And also, I remember Halloween as a kid. The dressing up. Walking around the neighborhood I lived in with friends and cousins, ringing doorbells, shrieking with excitement. All the other kids doing the same. And the candy was so exciting because it was the big prize on top of all of the fun! So yes, I give out candy at Halloween. And I always buy more than I need. 

But the morning after I packed up all those left over mini chocolate bars and sent them to work with my husband. Big men doing physical labor all day made quick work of it.

But I never thought about it. Never craved it. Never thought about a single morsel of it as mine. That is not mine. It’s poison to me.

When I put sugar in my body, it sets up a craving for more. But there is the other blissful side of that. When I don’t put sugar in my body, and by now it has been well over 16 years, I don’t crave it. I don’t even really see it, let alone have any kind of feelings about it. 

I did work to get to this point. I had to change the way I thought about food. I had to stop romanticizing thoughts about sugar. Stop thinking pastry sounded good and start thinking it sounded like a slow, painful death. I had to keep myself away from it entirely for a long time. Stay out of particular grocery store aisles. Cross the street to get away from certain street vendor smells. Avert my eyes from the dessert case when I went to get a cup of coffee. I had to do these things for years.

But the work is done. And now my job is maintenance. As in stay away from the first bite of sugar. But that part is so much easier when my body doesn’t remember it. And remembering every day that I am an addict, keeps me from reintroducing them.

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