onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the category “Relationships”

Vanity, Pride and wanting to be skinny enough to be loved

I was talking to some friends who do what I do with food the other day. And I was reminded that the difference between me as a kid eating compulsively and me as an adult with boundaries around my food is much bigger inside than outside. I did lose a lot of weight. And that is one thing. But most people I still have in my life didn’t care about my weight when I was fat. And they really think that I am basically the same as I ever was. Only not fat. And they don’t care about that.

This is interesting to me because I feel like an entirely different person. On the inside. And not just because I don’t think about my weight or my body anymore, which is HUGE, because when I was eating compulsively I thought about my body and my weight all the time. I worried about what other people thought about my body. But more importantly I worried about who was going to humiliate me because of my size and shape. Because people loved to humiliate me. People love to humiliate fat people in general.

But aside from not having that constant nagging fear and shame, I feel entirely different than I did when I was in the food. And it is about having my addiction under control. I have a clear head. I have a clear conscience because I have done my best to clean up my past messes and to “clean as I go” in my relationships now. I have a peace around not only my actions and words, but also my circumstances. I have a new relationship to what happens to me and how I react to it. One where I assess what is the reality of the situation, accept it, and act (or abstain from acting) according to who I want to be in my life.

Here is the deal. I believe whole heartedly that the people in my life would still love me if I were fat. I believe my husband would still love me. I believe my friends and family would still love me. That they would not see me as all that different.

And if what I do with food were only about being thin, and I knew that people would still love me fat, I would have quit. A long time ago. If it were about my body, and my weight, and I knew that my husband did not really care about my weight, I would have said screw it. I would have gone back to cake. Because when I got my eating under control, it really was to be skinny enough to be loved.

But now I do what I do because when I do it, I love myself. And I do not love myself because I’m skinny. I am not skinny. I love myself because I do what I say I am going to do. I be where I say I am going to be. I tell the truth and I honor myself. These were not things I could do before. Because how could I have been honest about anything when I could never be honest about food? I have sometimes heard “how you do anything is how you do everything.” And I was a liar about food. How could I not be a liar in any other aspect of my life?

As time goes by and I get more clearheaded, I know that weight is less and less important to me. That I don’t keep my eating boundaries for physical vanity. Though I’ll admit it is a kind of vanity. I like looking like I’ve got my shit together. But also, I like that I actually have my shit together. So maybe that’s more pride than vanity. (Do I sound like Mary Bennet now?!?) Either way, I am grateful that my happiness is not all tangled up with my weight anymore. Even if it is still tangled up with my food.

Delicious but different

Today my husband and I are having some family over for a late lunch. Two of our guests are picky eaters. And not only are they picky eaters, but they don’t like the same things. One will eat beef but not pork, one will eat pork but not beef. One will eat pasta, but the other won’t. You get the point.

My husband told them that they had to figure out what he was going to make. And they did! They wanted chicken parmigiana. And roasted potatoes. And my husband decided to make himself and his mom some bruschetta as an appetizer, and hopefully the picky eaters will like it too.

But there is almost nothing on this menu that I can eat. (I will possibly eat the tomato topping from the bruschetta as part of my salad.) And that is not a problem.
I learned early in having my eating boundaries that there is a difference for me between the meal and the company. I learned that I don’t have to eat at celebratory meals. I don’t have to eat at dinner parties. I don’t have to eat at restaurants. I can literally just go and be with the people, have a coffee or a soda, and talk. I can eat before or after. Or like today, I can eat my own food while everyone else eats the food my husband skillfully and lovingly makes for them.

I love to eat. I love my food. My husband regularly makes me special foods just for me. He made me homemade barbecue sauce just this week and I have been eating it twice a day since he made it. Lunch and dinner!

And I don’t miss my drug foods. So I am not jealous of their chicken parm. I am not jealous of roasted potatoes. I am not sorry to miss anything that is being served today. I only want to see my guests and enjoy chatting and spending time with them.

When I was eating compulsively, I probably would have been more excited for the food than the company. I probably would have been in a fog. And trying to get more than my share. And feeling bad about how much I ate.

But today I am excited to talk and laugh. I will still love my food. Whatever I decide to make. And it will be delicious, but different. But I don’t mind being different. And my company, not the potatoes or the bread, will get all of my love and attention.

How not to ruin someone’s holiday

This week I saw a social media post reminding everyone that commenting on someone’s weight is not a holiday greeting.


So friends, I am reiterating that lovely reminder, and adding that other people’s bodies are none of our business. What other people are eating is none of our business. How other people dress their bodies is none of our business. Yes, I am talking about your mother, your sister, your nephew, your children and grandchildren. That love is not conditional on beauty, or behavior, and not health either. If you can unconditionally love someone with lupus or cancer or epilepsy, you can unconditionally love your fat friends and family, even if (and it is an “even if” and not an “even though”) they are unhealthy.


There are things that 12 steppers are regularly reminding one another of: That our friends and families have their own Higher Powers. That unsolicited advice is a form of abuse. That we keep our eyes on our own plates. That we worry about cleaning up our own side of the street.


Also, nothing anyone has ever said about my body ever changed my life for the better. It never made it easier for me to love myself. It never made it easier for me to control my eating. In fact, when I was fat, it pretty exclusively made me eat things to numb the pain those “well meaning” people caused with their “concern.” Now it just makes me feel like I can’t trust the people who say those things.


So here is to happy holidays to you and yours. May you spread love and good cheer.

My body just is.

Ah…It’s officially holiday season. And it is not my favorite. Not because I crave or miss the foods I don’t eat anymore, but because for just about everyone else in the world, holidays are about food. And also how upset or resigned or worried they are about their holiday weight gain. And also what diet they are trying in the new year. And how unhappy with their bodies they are currently, or are afraid they will be shortly. But it’s the holidays, so…pie anyway apparently.


I don’t care about food anymore. No. That is not true. I don’t care about foods I don’t personally eat anymore. I don’t miss pie, or cake, or seasonal cookies. I don’t miss any of the things I thought I would miss when I first got my eating under control.

I do, however, still care very much about food. Which I guess is probably the single most important thing that I have that keeps my eating under control. I am not on a diet.

Again! I am not on a diet.

I have a physical reaction to sugars, grains and starches that first gets me high, and then leaves me with intense, overwhelming cravings, and finally, makes me hate myself. I am an addict. So I am not on a diet. I *have* a diet that does not include drug foods.

So how do I not eat outside of my food boundaries? I make absolutely positive that I love my food. I fight the food with the food. I make sure my meals are all always delicious and satisfying. I don’t eat things I don’t like. And I don’t eat things because I want them to change the size and shape of my body. And I don’t *not* eat things because I am *afraid* they will change the size and shape of my body. If they are allowed on my food plan, and I like them, I eat them. I don’t worry about gaining or losing weight. I don’t think about my body in terms of weight at all. I have food issues. That is separate from my weight.

It took years of having my eating under control to come to this point. My life for over 35 years was all about how “broken and ugly” I thought my body was because I was fat. Or how proud I was for having wrangled into a socially acceptable size and shape; how I had “accomplished” that.

But now I love my body as it is. And it is just me, not an accomplishment or a failure or a measure of anything about me. It just is. And it just is me.

No such thing as comfortable misery (anymore.)

When I was growing up, I was often told, both implicitly and explicitly, that I didn’t understand how the world worked. That the things that I wanted were silly, impractical, simplistic or impossible. That the plans I wanted to make were ridiculous and juvenile. And especially if/when I was trying to act from a place of growth or transformation. (I read a lot of self-help books and went to self-help seminars.) I knew that I was not happy where I was in life, and I wanted something better. And people scoffed. 

I am sure they wanted me to “not get hurt.” But I was already hurting. And I am sure that a lot of my wishes didn’t come with particularly good plans to accomplish what I wanted to accomplish. But the message I continually got, at least the message I continually *heard* was “stay in your lane. Accept this existence. This is the life you got and there is no way to change it.”

I certainly got shot down a lot for a long time. And I certainly succumbed to that fatalism for a very long time. But there has always been a nonconformist in me who refused to fully accept the finality of my situation, whatever situation that might be. There has always been a searcher and a seeker and a believer in me. 

That part of me never really got going in any useful or practical way until I got my eating under control. But also, it is that part of me that let me get my eating under control in the first place.

I have talked before about how it makes people uncomfortable that I have a particular food plan. No, I’m not *on* a diet. But I *have* a diet. And that really messes with people’s heads. They want me to eat cake at least sometimes. It would make them feel better. They want me to not be so rigid. They want me to not be so disciplined. 

But I have never needed to fit in in that way. I have never needed to be like everyone else, and I have never particularly cared about making other people comfortable when it comes to my life and my choices. Is that selfish? Perhaps. But if so, I am so selfish that I don’t really care if it’s selfish. So I am rigid, and disciplined, and I have, indeed, transformed my life. Not just my eating, but the way I work, and the way I love, the way I take care of myself and the way I take care of others. Who I am in the world for myself and in my relationships is completely different than it was before I put boundaries around my eating. All for the better. All leading to me becoming a person I like and love and respect.

Now that I am coming to a place in my life where I want to transform (again) my work life, I can feel all of the “practical” advice I have been given all of my life bubbling up. I can feel all of the people who don’t want me to go blindly into a new chapter in my life. They want me to play it safe. To stay in “comfortable misery.” But the problem is that in having my eating under control, there is no such thing as comfortable misery anymore. There is only miserable misery and my own spiritual need to get out of it.

People in my life definitely didn’t want me to be fat anymore when I was fat. But oddly enough, they also did not want me to change in any way that would be uncomfortable for them. They wanted to have their cake and for me to eat it too. They wanted me to have a great life, as long as it didn’t push up against their beliefs about the world.

I have to keep reminding myself lately that in choosing to leave a job that no longer serves me, I am telling Life that I am ready to accept something better. I learned that by blindly giving up sugar 15+ years ago. By willingly doing this crazy, rigid, extreme thing with my food all in the hopes, but with no guarantee, that I would get something better. And I did.

I will close by saying this. I know that a lot of people say it’s unwise to leave a job without already having another one. And I have to acknowledge that I have the privilege of being in a two income household, which makes a huge difference in terms of money and survival. But the truth is, I have never done that. I have always left a difficult situation first, even when I was poor. Has it always been wise? Absolutely not. But I also have to ask, while I am at this job that is making me so unhappy, how do I create a space in my life for something different? How do I get a better job that suits me better, when I am living in the energy of this job with this culture. How do I “vibrate on a different level” when I am still here in this place. How do I not just make a lateral move to an equally unhappy job if I am living in the unhappiness of this one? I don’t know that I can. And I don’t think I want to try.

The devil I knew had a lesson I didn’t

I never know when my life will take a turn. And then another. I never feel like anything will ever get better, but then it does. They say that fear and excitement are the same physical experience in different circumstances. 

I gave my job two months notice a couple of weeks ago. My company has already found my replacement, whom I have been training, and I *might* be let go of earlier than expected. (Which I welcome wholeheartedly. The only thing keeping me there longer is having given my word that I would.) And the level of relief I feel is astounding. 

And even if they decide to keep me through December, there is someone to share the workload with. Which is my biggest issue at the moment. Either way, I win.

When I got asked to do this particular job, I had not been working very much, only about 10 hours a week, and I had been about to start a job hunt. I knew I didn’t like the culture of the company. I knew I didn’t really want to work there for reasons other than no work or too much work, feast or famine. But the opportunity to work came up, and I am not independently wealthy, so obviously, I took it. 

I already *know* that when I make a decision to change my life for the better, to take a spiritual step up, Life will always give me the opportunity to go back. To choose the devil I know. *Always.* Jobs, men, friendships, anything that I value in life.

I fully understand that this job was a test. And that I chose to go back. But clearly I was not ready to make the big leap. And so in going back, I also learned some things I needed to learn. I needed to have someone (who was not my husband) see that I was *great* at the job. And my boss did. And that was important. And I needed to be reminded that I am not lazy. That I not only do work hard, but that I love it. That for as much as I love, cherish, and literally *need* (literally meaning literally, not literally meaning figuratively) my free time and my down time, I get high on being spectacular. My best friend likes to remind me that everyone gets the majority of their self-esteem from their job. And I am sure that it’s true for me.

Yes I am terrified to find a new job. To even just look. To have to prove myself. To fight through the imposter syndrome. To have to *trust* that it will all turn out better and not worse. 

And I have to remember all of this if/when my company comes back to me and asks me to work again. Especially if I don’t have a job yet. Especially especially I have been searching for months and it feels like I will never get one. 

In order to get my eating under control, I had to start trusting Life. I had to trust that everything was going exactly the way it was supposed to. I had to trust that all was well and would only get better. When I did that, I didn’t have to drug myself with food. I could stay calm and clear and take the next right action, whatever that was. I could feel my feelings and let them be signposts pointing me in the right direction. 

For the past 15 years and 9 months of not eating my drug foods, I have gained greater clarity and peace. And to be so uncomfortable and unhappy is to see that I have outgrown old beliefs, about the world and about myself. It is time for me to move on to something better. 

I will end by saying that about 10 years ago was the last time I went through a personal, emotional, and spiritual upheaval like this while my eating was under control. I came out of it on the other side with a life beyond my wildest dreams. With a relationship/marriage better than I ever could have imagined, and a relationship with my body based on love and gratitude, instead of judgement and punishment. (And this blog, which might have a lot to do with all of those things.)

Halloween connections >>>Halloween candy

It has been a while since I *really* did Halloween. I have cobbled together a handful of last minute costumes over the years, but nothing like I used to do when I was young and/or single.

But this year I decided I am going to do it up, as the kids used to say when I was a kid. (I don’t know what the kids say now because I am old and out of touch.) This year I am dressing up as a Fae Princess, which is very on brand for me since I am obsessed with YA Fantasy novels about Faerie courts. My costume this year is complete with wings and a flower crown and pointed ears, and lots of glitter. And doesn’t “trick or treat” sound like faerie bargain in the making? 

When I was eating compulsively I loved everything about Halloween. I loved the costumes and the atmosphere charged with endless possibilities, some fun and some dangerous (I grew up in the 80s and 90s. We were given way more opportunities to do stupid crap unsupervised.) And I loved candy and I loved that on that day, I could eat candy with abandon the way I wanted to. And the other kids could and were too. I didn’t have to feel so shameful about it on that day. I was just one of many on Halloween, unlike most other days for the rest of the year.

When I gave up sugar and my drug foods, Halloween didn’t lose any of its appeal for me. Even though I thought it might. I thought I would be hard to watch people eat candy and get drunk when I could not. (I got my eating under control at 28, years past legal drinking age.) Instead, it became more about the costumes, the dancing, the pretending. And I got to enjoy it without all of the self-consciousness, and the out of control feelings, and the obsession with food. I got to have more “moments” with friends and strangers. It became about my and other people’s creativity. It became about connections. 

One of the best things I’ve gotten from getting my eating under control is my ability to connect with people. When I was in the food, everything was about food. Everywhere I went and everything I did was colored by either the food there or the lack of food. Every celebration was a celebration of food and food alone. When I put boundaries around my eating, celebrations became about relationships, and experiences.

I love that I still love Halloween. I love that I don’t need candy to love it. I love that I don’t need alcohol to love it. I love that food is not why I love my life, and yet, in between the moments of experience and relationship, I still get to love my food.

It’s not science, it just works.

When I was eating compulsively, I spent a lot of my time looking for spirituality. I tried out all sorts of religions. At first I tried to get really into Catholicism, the religion I was raised in. Even when my mom started going to a different church after she got remarried, I still went to Catholic mass every Sunday by myself. And when that didn’t do it for me, I tried Wicca, and I looked into Judaism, and I gave a shot to Zen Buddhism. (If you know me I’m sure you can imagine how good I was at sitting still for any length of time, let alone long stretches.) I tried self help books like “Conversations With God,” and “After The Ecstasy, The Laundry,” and “The Artist’s Way,” and I even looked for meaning in books on theoretical physics like “The Holographic Universe,” and “The Elegant Universe.”

There is a saying I learned in 12 step rooms that made perfect sense to me. I was “trying to fill a God-sized hole.” I tried to fill it with food. And I tried to fill it with religion. And I tried to fill it with science. And none of those things worked. Certainly not for me.

There is a thing that happens a lot when I meet somebody new and they have opinions about my food plan. If they care, they often get upset that I can’t eat certain things. “Avocados are so healthy!” “Why can you have peaches but not nectarines?” “Dark chocolate is filled with antioxidants.” “Red wine in moderation is good for your heart.” 

I didn’t make up the food plan I use. It was made before I was born by people I don’t know and have never met. And this brings me to a very important point. I don’t do what I do because of science. I do it because it works. I do it because for 30 years before I found it, it had been working for a group of people who, like me, couldn’t stop eating until they tried doing it. And it works for me when science did not work for me. 

In fact, science kept me miserable and suffering. Science kept me on the hamster wheel of “moderation.” Moderation never ever worked for me. It only makes sense to eat one cookie if you are capable of eating one cookie. I am not. I am an all or nothing cookie eater. That is why I choose nothing when it comes to cookies.

I do believe in science. I am vaccinated. I know the Earth is round. And if I had a problem with malnourishment, or allergic reactions, or some other physical ailment, I would absolutely go to science to look for the answers.

But my problem is not wholly scientific. It is personal, emotional, and spiritual, as well as having a physical aspect.

So don’t come at me with “but science” when it comes to my food. Better yet, don’t come to me at all when it comes to my food. What I do is not science and I don’t need it to be. I do it because it works. It’s as simple as that.

Hands off the food. Hands off the wheel.

My husband was feeling sick and he tested positive for covid yesterday. We are both vaccinated (two shots no boosters.) So I am not particularly worried about him, though I am sorry he is suffering at the moment. And I am not testing, but I assume I have it and I am just asymptomatic. But what it also means is that neither one of us can go into work for the next week! And seriously, hooray!!!

My husband can’t do his job from home, but  I ertainly can. I will still be working. Probably the same number of hours every day. But no hour long commute each way means more sleep, more personal time, and most importantly, more quality time with my husband. Maybe we can even eat a few meals together once he is feeling himself again.

I have been feeling burnt out over the past couple of weeks. I think Life knew I needed a break. I really like my job. I like it the way people like things they are great at. It gives me a lot of pride and self-esteem. It brings in good money. I don’t need or want to not work. But having work be the only thing in my life has been a struggle. 

If you know me, you know I am very much *not* a workaholic. I am a perfectionist. And I am a hard worker. And I have lingering people pleasing tendencies from when I was in the food, but I always want to work less, not more. I am currently working 60 hour weeks, dreaming about the end of night shift, when I can probably get down to 50 hour weeks. And some day, when this job is over, maybe I can get myself a cushy 40 hour a week job! That would be living the dream!

A few weeks ago, my office got me a temp to help with the workload. She and her family had just moved back to Illinois from Tennessee, and she told me several jobs had fallen through on her in the weeks before she started with me. And that her fiancé had not been able to find work either. But the construction industry has a labor shortage right now. And the union has a program to get new people started, and potentially get them in the union down the line. Unions are often exclusive groups and getting in usually has a lot to do with who you know. 

So my company got my temp’s fiancé a spot in the new program. And while her job with me will end when the night shift ends, she found out about how to get trained as a Safety Manager in the construction industry by our Safety Manager. In other words, in not getting all of those other jobs, not only did their family go from no jobs, to one job, to two jobs, she and her fiancé potentially gained two careers in construction, a field she didn’t know anything about until she got a temporary admin job on our construction site. And she said to me this week, “When they say ‘everything happens for a reason,’ I think this is what they mean.” 

Putting boundaries around my eating taught me to stop fighting Life. It taught me that so many of the things I thought I wanted paled in comparison to the things Life wanted to give me. I’m certainly not happy my husband is sick. But I am also certainly not sorry that he gets a break from our brutal work schedule. And that I do too. So I trust that Life is right. And I can see that, and feel it in my heart, because my eating is under control. I’m still peddling, doing what I can to the best of my ability, but I am willing to take my hands off the wheel and let Life steer. And so far, with my hands off the food and my hands off the wheel, Life has not let me down.

The gap is never that big

I am writing today’s post from a plane, flying back home from L.A. where I got to see two different friends, and this whole trip has been fun and wonderful. And an exercise in trust and patience.


For the most part I get really stressed out and anxious when I fly. Because I worry about timing. And I especially worry about the TSA when I am traveling with food. And I am *always* traveling with food. Plus, I worry about the logistics of doing literally anything I have never done before. And I had never driven myself to the airport and parked in long term parking before.

And yes, on my way to Midway I missed the parking garage entrance. But I didn’t panic. Ok, I panicked a little at first,  but I got it together and looped around. And it was probably easier to get into the garage from the other side anyway. Making a right is easier than making a left. So I parked. And then I got into L.A. and I got a little nervous, because I wasn’t sure how to get a ride share, but I followed the signs marked for the rides share pickup area and called a car. Ans it was easy. And again, this morning, I needed a ride share to get to the airport and the app told me there were no cars in the vicinity. I panicked a little then too. And then I asked the hotel lobby to call me a regular old taxi and even then there were none available. But I tried my ride share app one more time and got my ride. (I knew that in a pinch I could call one of my friends, who had generously offered to take me to the airport, but 5 AM is ridiculously early and I didn’t want to do that to her if I didn’t have to. And thankfully I didn’t.) 

And other minor, difficult things happened. Like when I went out to to eat with one friend the waiter got both of our orders wrong. But what came out was within my eating boundaries, so I kept it and it was delicious. And when my other friend and I went to the botanical garden, they wouldn’t let me bring my own food in so we had to walk back to my friend’s car to leave my lunch there while we walked around the gardens, and then go back to retrieve it and eat out in the picnic area when we got hungry. And then when I finally got to my gate this morning, the last gate all the way at the end, and went to buy a drink, the register wasn’t working so I had to walk all the way back through the terminal to grab a coffee so I could eat my breakfast before we took off. 

But none of these things ruined anything for me; not my mood, or my day, or my trip. I had an amazing vacation! 

When I was eating compulsively, any little thing could shift my mood. I lived at the whim of circumstances, and thought pessimistically. In my head, nothing ever changed for the better. Things only got worse. And when I panicked, I stayed panicked. I might even say that I liked to panic. That I got high off of it. I definitely got high off of difficult emotions when I was in the food, like sadness, and anger, and most especially righteous indignation. 

But in having boundaries around my eating, and in giving up my drug foods, I have taught myself – I have given myself the opportunity to teach myself – how to manage my emotions. Not to ignore them, because they are still very useful. But to use them as tools. To see what the moment’s circumstances are and how they affect me, and what I am going to do about it. 

And there is another thing that has shifted for me since getting my eating under control, and that is the trust that I have that everything will work out in the end. Because I now have experienced that everything really does always work out in the end, one way or another. I could have called my friend this morning if I really needed a ride to the airport. And even if I missed my flight, there would be another flight. Neither being in a snit, or having a panic attack, was going to change anything except my own personal experience, and the experience of anyone who had to deal with my foul mood.
When I was in the food I could never think past the thing that was not meeting my expectations. I just knew that my food was wrong, or I needed a ride and there were no drivers, or that I somehow missed the parking garage entrance and didn’t know where I was. I only had room for fear and anger at how hard life was. But with my eating under control, I have the clarity of mind to stay clam, assess what I need and come up with options to bridge the gap between what I got and what I needed. And when I am calm, the gap is never as big as I am afraid it is.

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