onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the category “Inspiration”

The great relief of not eating my feelings

I don’t know what to say today. Except that quitting sugar is still the greatest thing to ever happen to me.

I have been sad and emotional this week. But yesterday I turned a corner and have been feeling better.

When I was eating compulsively, my funks never lifted that quickly. Sugar fed my depression, even if it felt like it was helping in the moment.

I am not happy all the time since I stopped eating compulsively. I am a particularly emotional person and that didn’t change when my eating changed. But what changed was my ability to change. To honor a feeling and then let it go. To be with the hurt, the frustration, the sadness, the uncertainty, the fear, and then trust. Trust that it would all shift, and that the shifts would, over all, move on an incline.

Yesterday I was talking to somebody about what it is like to have had the kind of life that “wasn’t so bad.” That others have “had it worse.”

And that is fine. Perspective is great. But it doesn’t mean that my traumas weren’t traumas. It doesn’t mean that my fears aren’t valid.

I have had a job, and a safe one, through this whole pandemic. I work from my apartment and have no need to meet with people for any work related reasons at all, except for my husband, and he was going g to be here anyway. And I have another job lined up right after this one ends. So there is at least another month of money coming in. I am grateful for the money security. I am grateful that I have it so good when so many people are struggling.

But I am scared. I am sad. I am angry. I am frustrated. I want to go home and rest for a while, and try to wrap my mind around what comes next, because I don’t believe there will be a “back to normal.” And I feeling let down that I don’t get to have a minute to pause and process that.

And I am so grateful that I am not eating those feelings.

I won’t say that food never solved anything. I believe it helped me when I was young and had too many too-big feelings for my little self to navigate. But it turned on me pretty early. And now it’s a burden I am grateful I don’t have to carry anymore.

So I am navigating a lot right now. My unhappiness as well as my great good fortune. And how to reconcile those. But sugar and the oblivion it offers is not an option. And that is a great relief.

Whatever it is, it doesn’t have anything to do with my food

I don’t have much in me today. I am emotionally exhausted, unhappy, scared and just generally anxious. And I have been crying on and off for the past 2 days. But it doesn’t have anything to do with my food. I eat 3 portion controlled meals a day, with no man made sugar or refined carbohydrates, and I don’t eat between meals.


The only “comfort food” I indulge in are my 3 meals. What most people call comfort food does not comfort me. It makes me feel numb, or crazy and out of control.


My feelings suck. I hate them. I have always hated them. But I do not eat my feelings anymore. And eventually they pass. This funk will pass. But even if it doesn’t, it doesn’t have anything to do with my food.

I’m no monk. I’m “The Drinker.”

There was a funny video on Twitter the other day about “types of people on Zoom meetings,” and one had a mug, and a cup, and a water bottle, and kept switching between them. This person was “The Drinker” and that is 100% me on Zoom meetings. But also, that is 100% me in real life. And it has been for at least as long as I have had my eating under control.


I am drinking coffee, water, herbal tea, or zero calorie soft drinks all day, every day. Because it helps. Even 14 years later it helps to have something in my hands that I get to ingest right into my body.


I feel like the way people talk about people changing their eating (*if* they are even talking about eating instead of weight loss) is as if the people changing have now become monks. Like they gave up cake for God and now they do yoga, and pray, and train for marathons in all the time that they now have that they are not eating.


I am all for all of those things if that is what gets you through. But that is sure as hell *not* what got me through.


What got me through my first two years was a pack of cigarettes a day, hours upon hours of anime, comics and books, pots and pots of coffee, bottles and cans of diet soda, and packs and packs of sugarless gum.


I quit smoking almost 8 years ago now, but for many years it helped me not eat compulsively. It was bad for me, of course. But eating compulsively was killing my soul. And I am 99.99999% sure that if I had not given up sugar and carbohydrates first, I would not have been able to quit smoking. I quit gum more than a decade ago, and to be honest, now even the thought of it makes me a little sick, and the sound of someone chewing it gives me the heebie-jeebies. But it sure did get me through in the beginning. I cut way way back on the diet soda, except when I go to a bar to hang out with my husband and/or some friends, and I may still have one as an occasional treat at home. But I don’t generally keep it in the house. And I don’t drink coffee after noon, except perhaps once in a while when we visit my mother-in-law. But there is always some drink in my hand, ready to go in my mouth.


And it’s definitely not usually water. For me, water is a thing I *force* myself to drink as an act of self care. Like my workout. It’s not a thing that helps the addict in me calm down.


I definitely believe in quitting the thing that is killing you quickest. I expect to continue that road until I’m dead. But even 14 years later, I still have my crutches to “get by.” And I am so fine with that. Better than fine. Overjoyed!


There are many things that I have learned over the years of having my eating under control, but one particularly important one is knowing that some things are “good enough.”


Did I pour 7 cups of coffee down my gullet between 7 am and noon? Maaaaaaaaybe. Did I stop at noon and switch to herbal tea? Yes! Good enough!


Knowing that I don’t have to be, or even appear, perfect is important. Because I am not. And I don’t want to worry about that. I don’t need you to look at me and think that I am a paragon of spirituality. I am just a lady who doesn’t want food to run her life anymore. And if a case of Vitamin Water Zero is gonna help with that, I’m gonna stock up.


I have done a lot of spiritual work. I had to in order to get to this place. But it has been a journey. And there are currently bacon and pork rinds on this journey. And coffee in the blender with ice and artificial sweetener. And days where all I do is eat my portion controlled meals and watch streaming TV, or read comics.


I am no monk. I am “The Drinker.” I am just a happy woman who learned to be happy with “good enough.”

Delicious and Shameless

There is a prevalent theory about eating disorders that I see a lot as someone who likes to stay abreast of what is going on in fat acceptance/body positivity communities. The idea is that food is neutral, and that food addiction, especially sugar addiction, is “false.” It does not exist. It is a made up concept created and fueled by the diet culture.


This kind of frustrates me. Only a little. Because I know very clearly sugar addiction is not only true for me, but knowing it and acting accordingly, has transformed my life for the better. I want others to get the opportunity that I got, but I don’t have to worry about it because I am completely taken care of.


Is this selfish? Sure. Do I care? Not particularly. One thing I learned early in keeping boundaries around my eating was that *if* people want what I have they can do what I do. That I am planting seeds all the time. And that what other people put in their bodies is none of my business. I keep my eyes on my own plate.


But I read a post by a dietitian and fat activist the other day. This is a person who is entirely anti-weight loss and claims quite emphatically that sugar addiction does not exist. Which is fine. But they had one post where they listed a number of questions to ask yourself if you are having trouble with guilt or upset over your eating while in quarantine, and another with the recommendation that one “sit in the yuck.”


So I have to say that I whole heartedly agree that “sitting in the yuck” is crucial! And the questions they asked were excellent!


But how can someone like me do this if we are high on the food we are feeling guilty over eating? And for me, to sit in the yuck necessarily means not eating the foods that get me high and make me numb. I can’t feel the yuck and be numb at the same time.


Perhaps if one is not addicted to certain foods this makes perfect sense. But whether this person believes it or not, I am addicted to certain foods. And this advice is missing a crucial aspect if the person using it can get high on cake and not have to actually feel the yuck.


There is a saying I always appreciated. If you want to know what you are using over, stop using. When I quit smoking, it became glaringly clear to me that smoking was how I kept from feeling, or having to acknowledge for myself, others’ judgements of me. When I went to the grocery store for the first time after I quit, I was forced to see the way that the checkout ladies rolled their eyes and sneered at me. (I insisted on packing my own grocery bags since I had to carry them a mile home on foot, and I could get everything perfectly into 3 shoulder bags and they always packed them light and then just put what was left in plastic bags I would have to carry in my hands.) I used to light up a cigarette right after I shopped. And when I couldn’t, because I didn’t do that anymore, I broke down and cried on my walk home, loaded down with a week’s worth of groceries.


But ultimately, I was taken care of because I took care of myself. And I sat through the yuck. And I learned not to care that these women didn’t like me. Really not care. Not artificially not care because I was hopped up on nicotine.


I don’t pretend that everyone is addicted to sugar. And even if they are, I don’t care about that either. I met my husband (again – we were childhood friends) after I quit smoking, and moved across the country to be with him and eventually married him when he was a two-pack-a-day smoker. I don’t care what you eat! I don’t care if you smoke! I don’t need to judge anyone.


But if food is killing you, physically, spiritually, or emotionally, and you are trying really hard to get sane and you can’t, maybe it’s not just about what is in your head and your heart. Maybe it *is* about what you are putting in your body. And maybe if you are desperate, you should try putting down the foods that you are feeling guilty over.


I will end with this. The absolute, 100 %, no-doubt best thing about putting boundaries around my eating, from day one until today (5,235 days later – a little over 14 years) is guilt-free eating. Bacon? Guilt-free! Homemade Sugar-free chocolate ice cream? Guilt-free! Deep fried onions? Guilt-free! Pork rinds? Guilt-free! I have boundaries, but that doesn’t mean I am deprived. I love my food. I love every bite. And I am so grateful that there is also always an end. Every meal concludes. And there is always another one coming. And it’s delicious and shameless!

The First of Many Ways I Learned to Honor My Body

Today I am sharing the link for a documentary that I was featured in that I am really happy to be a part of. It’s called Follow me, and below is a link to rent or buy it on Vimeo.com. If you are interested, I highly recommend it.
https://vimeo.com/ondemand/followmefilm

As a person who was fat and hated it for my so much of my life, I was still terrified of giving up sugar and carbohydrates 14+ years ago. Now I treat those foods as poison, but then, I didn’t think I could have any joy if sugar was gone from my life.


But I have said it before and I will say it again: Giving up man made sugars, grains and starches is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.


When I was eating sugar, I ate even when I did not want to eat. I could not stop. My eating was completely out of my control. And that lack of control was terrifying and shameful. I felt like I was morally inferior to thin people. And because it was written all over my body, people treated me that way as well. And they were allowed to. For all of my life, fatness has been a thing it was OK to mock, and fat people a “fair target” for shame and abuse.


For a while now, I have been moving away from focusing on weight and weight loss, and moving more toward looking at freedom and happiness. Specifically, the freedom I have from food addiction and the happiness I find in having my physical cravings and mental obsession lifted.


Look, I am significantly happier in an easy body. And I am not ashamed of that. And I am grateful to not be subject to the kinds of judgement I was a target for when I was fat. And I am not ashamed of that either. But that doesn’t mean I think it was or is OK. I am just relieved to not be on the receiving end of it. That is natural.


But whatever my body looks like (and it has looked a lot of different ways over the past 14 years – skinny, strong, curvy, chubby) giving up sugar and carbohydrates has created freedom for me from not only compulsive eating, and sugar addiction, but also from the shame I felt in not being able to stop eating.


In having freedom from my sugar and carbohydrate addiction, I can have a much more gentle view of my own fatness. I can love myself and my body, in all of its various shapes and sizes through my life. I can see how beautiful I was when I was fat. Something I could not see when I was in it and cowed by food. And I can see how beautiful I am now. I can see that how much I like and love myself doesn’t have to do with my size or shape, but by how I am willing to honor my body. And for me, putting down sugar was the first of many ways I learned to do that.

PSA: Your Quarantine Fat Jokes Aren’t Funny

So, a little public service announcement to those of you making quarantine fat jokes:
The fat people in your life can see and hear you and it is most likely making them feel shamed, ugly, and judged.

Here’s the thing. I understand that some of us are not used to having this much time, plus this much stress, and many are stress eating and boredom eating. If that is how you are coping, I don’t have any judgment about that. Maybe you have, are, or will gain weight. It happens. Bodies change, and we change our bodies through what we put into them and what we use them for.

But if you are grossly exaggerating the amount of weight you have gained “as a joke,” please know that you are shaming someone that weight. If you went from a size 8 to a size 10 and you are taking about being 300 pounds, and talking about it like it’s an impossibility, because “who could let themselves go to that extent” please understand that I weighed 300 pounds. And not in a pandemic. That was just my life and my body. And I was just as valid and valuable a human as I am now.

Or if you are bemoaning the weight you have gained and are talking about how it has made you ugly, or shameful, or somehow unworthy, you are telling the fat people in your life that you have been seeing them that way this whole time.

Or if you are making or sharing pictures, gifs, and memes with unflattering and humiliating images of fat bodies, you are sending a clear message to the fat people in your life that you do not respect, honor, or appreciate them. You are telling them that you are willing to make jokes at their expense. And not particularly funny jokes at that.

And chances are they won’t say anything. I never would have when I was fat. I would have kept it to myself and it would have festered in me. Or it would have killed a little bit of my soul and my joy. But to bring it up would be to put a spotlight on my own fatness. A target. And I never ever wanted to do that because it had painful consequences.

I did not like being fat. It’s true. But to this day I have a hard time separating and differentiating between not liking being fat because of my own physical comfort, and not liking it because the world at large was so cruel to me for it. And the world was certainly cruel.

I will not lie to you about how grateful I am to not be eating compulsively right now. I am so grateful that my eating has had boundaries for a long time. It has made my life easier and better for the last 14 years, and it makes it better now. I have “built up that muscle” so that not stress eating or boredom eating is the norm. And that is a blessing to me. But that is about my eating, and my eating disorders. Not about my weight, or size, or fatness, or beauty.

If you are having trouble with your eating or your weight, I am sorry. And I wish you well. But please remember the people you love. They may not have the words or the willingness to tell you that you are hurting, humiliating, or shaming them. But they feel it. I promise.

Count my blessings, do what I can, and love my meals

Yesterday I was talking to a friend who has the same eating boundaries as I do, about people who find something else and do that instead. She said she just needed to call somebody who does what she does and say that she doesn’t want to know how other people do it. That she has a way of eating that keeps her well and happy and she doesn’t need to go looking for another solution. 

I was happy to hear it. I was grateful to be the person who she wanted to say it to. And she chose me because I am safe. I am safe because I agree. I want to do this thing I do for the rest of my life.


I am aware that everyone is different. When I hear that someone else has taken on a new way of eating that is not my way, I wish them well. I wish them peace and success. And then I remember that I already have peace and success. So I keep my eyes on my own plate and love my food.


I know a lot of people are stress eating right now. And I get it. Food is a powerful mood alterer. I know. I used it for the first 28 years of my life. But I am so incredibly grateful that I am not right now. Because to a lot of people, that eating is a temporary balm. A much needed soother. But food hasn’t been that for me since I was probably 9 or 10. That young I was already obsessed and craving. I was already lying, cheating, and stealing for a fix. And if I were to try to use it again, it would backfire on me hard and immediately. So I keep my boundaries and love my meals, and find something to do to take my mind off of my existential dread.


But truly, I have had some level of existential dread for much of my life. It’s part of being motionally sensitive with an exceptional imagination.


I am so deeply grateful to have a solution to my eating problem as well as a way of life that gives me tools to ease my worries and anxieties. I am not saying I am “fine.” I am nervous about the future. I am worried about what comes next, not just for me, my husband, my family, my life, but also the world.


But nothing in *my* life is wrong. My loved ones are all healthy. The people I know who have been infected and sick with coronavirus/Covid-19 are are all over the worst of it and are making a full recovery. I have money and food, and I genuinely like spending time with the guy I am stuck inside with. So really, I’m as lucky as it gets. I will remember to count my blessings, do what I can, and love my meals.

Eating like a queen will have to be good enough for now

My self-imposed quarantine will technically come to an end Tuesday. It will have been 14 days since I was out in a public space. In my case, to buy groceries for two weeks. Since, I have only been to the outdoor track across the street from my apartment complex by myself.


And people were sometimes there. And, to my chagrin, often refused to try to keep 6 feet from me, which meant I had to take all of the responsibility for keeping the distance. So I did. Because one of the most important lessons I have learned in 14+ years of keeping my eating boundaries is that I am responsible for taking care of what is important to me. If 6 feet of distance is important to me and not to other people, then it’s my responsibility. So I did what I needed to do. But it made me angry.


Because I am scared. Here’s the thing. I am in a small town in Oklahoma. And where I am is a “hot spot” in terms of per capita spread of the coronavirus according to a recent map in Scientific American. In other words, there aren’t enough people here to be a hot spot like New York or Chicago, but in terms of percentage of the population, we have a rapidly growing problem. And my expectation is that in a week or two, it will be a crisis here.


And the other thing is that starting on Monday, my husband goes back to work. It will be 14 days since he was on a plane or in an airport, so they will let him back on his job site now. The work we do here is considered essential. Which is nice in one way. I am grateful to have money coming in. I am grateful to not be worried about money when so many people are.


But it also means my husband will be going out into groups of people. And then coming back home. While we are in an area with a rapidly growing number of cases of the coronavirus. And I am going to have to manage my stress over it.


But so much of my life is the same. And can be the same. My food is the same. My exercise. My work. And that is a blessing. It keeps me grounded and sane. Or as sane as I can be when I am worried and stressed.


I am grateful I am not face first in the food today. Because while food certainly helped me deal with a lot of feelings and fears as a kid, it only worked until it didn’t anymore. And when it didn’t work anymore it was a powerful burden. So eating compulsively cannot help me now, and I am grateful that my food is under control. My three meals a day keep me grounded. They keep me in the moment as much as possible. And that keeps my stress levels at a minimum.


I don’t know what will happen. And I am allowed to be worried if I want to be. I am probably not going to leave the house until next Saturday’s grocery shopping, except to jog . Because while my 14 days after the airport is just about up, I don’t want to go out into a busy store in a hot spot.


Today I will cook some frozen vegetables for the week, instead of fresh. And I thankfully had the foresight to buy 5 jars of some really delicious pickles, along with lots of bacon, when I was in the Chicago suburbs two weeks ago. So I will still be eating like a Queen for the next week. And that is going to have to be good enough for now.

It was always life on Life’s terms, but now I accept it

I am sitting home on the 6th day of my self-quarantine after traveling Sunday and Monday. I am feeling well.


The thing is, my life has not changed from my life before this corona virus outbreak in any noticeable way except that I didn’t go to the grocery store yesterday.


Yes, I have more than enough food and supplies to make it the coming week. Maybe maybe at the end I will need more water. The water in this town doesn’t agree with me, and gives me a bad stomach. But other than that, my food supply is fine.


And in general, things are much the same. I go on my jog alone in the park across the street from my apartment complex, like always. I work from home, and thankfully still have a job, like always. I, apparently, am one of those actual introverts (which might surprise people who know me since I am a friendly, loud, social being when I am around people), because I wasn’t leaving my house more than once a week before and I am certainly not leaving it now. And this in no way upsets me. And I am apparently not the rebel I sometimes believe and sometimes fear I am, since I am not itching to go anywhere simply because I have been told not to.


But I am not peaceful. I am not calm. I am maintaining an admirable level of outward calm, but my body betrays me.


I am having a hard time focusing on work. I am not doing any crafts. I can’t even seem to read or listen to audiobooks like usual.


And I have a lip twitch.


I have known for many years that I live with a steady, manageable stream of low-level anxiety. I learned to make friends with it about a decade ago. I think it’s helpful to know what you can change, and what you have to manage. Like I can’t change my addiction to sugar and simple carbohydrates, but I learned to make friends with that and manage my eating. I also had to make friends with my anxiety, and learn not to give it the microphone. It can chatter away all it wants, but I don’t have to listen.


But I also know that stress lives in the body. And because I know how to manage it, sometimes when things are particularly intense, I get an eye twitch. It’s my body’s way of letting go of the stress without me crying and screaming and stomping. (OK, sometimes I cry. But usually over fiction, and it’s an excellent catharsis, even if it is not strictly about my own life.)


But this lip twitch is new. And it is particularly uncomfortable. And a little scary. Probably because it is new.


I don’t want to pretend everything is “fine” because my life looks the same as it did a month ago. Things are changing. And I am not immune from the heightened sense of fear that everyone is experiencing right now. And I would not be doing myself a favor if I acted as if nothing is wrong. Even if nothing is “wrong” in my life at the moment.


And the last thing I want to say is that having boundaries around my eating has created a structure for me that is invaluable in an upside down world. I learned 14+ years ago how to do things “no matter what.” Like my 3 portion controlled meals a day. Like my jog. Like my wake up and bed times.


Aside from not eating myself into oblivion out of anxiety or boredom, which I am particularly grateful for, I am not ruled by circumstances. It feels great to go about my life. To feel the fear but not be overwhelmed by it. To know that this too shall pass, as all things pass. To understand that no matter how the world changes, that I know how quickly I can adopt a “new normal.” To know that having my food under control has taught me how to adapt and change. The world has always been “life on life’s terms,” but it wasn’t until I got my eating under control that I could understand how to accept that. And once I learned how to go with the flow, even when the flow is like white water rafting, I can hang on and, if not enjoy the ride, certainly make it to the shore.

Just a short one about being prepared

Another short one for this week.


I just want to talk about being prepared. Again. Because obviously, the world is a crazy place right now.


Our original flight from Florida got cancelled, and we had to spend an extra day in paradise. (Poor me…oh the sarcasm!) But with plans in general so subject to change at this time, I spent the extra time before we left to pack 2 full days worth of meals. I only need the one, but I wanted to be fully prepared and not worry about if my eating boundaries could be met. Packing 2 days meant that if we got to the airport and we could not get a flight out and had to go to a hotel for the night, my food would still be taken care of. And that was a load off of my mind.


I don’t want to be a person who panics in general. And I most definitely don’t want to worry about how I am going to meet my food needs.

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