onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “eating disorders”

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.

It Sucked, But Then It Passed: A Life Story

This past week was challenging. In particular, because so many things happened all at once. One of the wheels on one of our sliding glass shower doors broke, so we couldn’t touch that door at all, or the door would fall off the track into the tub and inevitably shatter. But then, our pipes got clogged and we had to call a plumber to snake out the tree roots that grow in our pipes sometimes. (It’s an old house with old pipes in a neighborhood with a lot of trees.) So we needed to make sure everyone knew not to touch the door while neither of us could be there personally. And of course that was also the day the mechanic called to say that my car, which had been damaged in a small accident a month ago, was finally ready to be picked up. And we had been paying a lot of money for a rental car. All while I’m working 12-13 hour days with an hour commute each way, and my husband is doing the same, only also on Saturday and he works the night shift. 

Thankfully, I know how to ask for help. My mom and step-dad really came through for me. Coming to my house to deal with the plumber, *and* picking up my car from the body shop. 

I also know how to take care of things myself. I drove my rental back to the airport, and took a ride share back home on my own so my husband and my mom didn’t have to deal with that as well after doing so much. 

And my husband ordered parts for the shower door and managed to fix it himself. Though the parts didn’t come until after the plumber came. 

In other words, it all went to hell in a day or two, and within another day or two, all of it was resolved. 

This too shall pass. 

I don’t want to say that it was easy. And it would be a lie to say that my husband and I didn’t fight over logistics, and who needed to be responsible for what. Because we did. Because we are both tired and overworked and having emergencies come up in our personal lives, while we are already putting out work fires left and right, is a lot, and sometimes felt like it was more than we could handle. Or at least more than *I* could handle. But in the end, it was manageable. And together, and with help, we managed.

When I was eating compulsively, I could never see a way out of any difficult situation. It always felt like every problem would persist eternally. And that terrified and troubled me. And it often made me make stupid, reckless decisions. Or paralyzed me so I couldn’t do anything at all, a kind of stupid, reckless decision in itself.

The truth is, I can’t usually see a way out of difficult situations now, either. The difference is, I know now that all things pass. I know that situations change and work themselves out. I know that resistance usually makes things worse, not better. I know that if you ride the ups and downs, they all smooth out in the end.

That surrender, that willingness to trust that this or that rough patch will get worked out, either by me, or someone else, or perhaps just by life, is something I got only by putting boundaries around my eating. The addict in me has no use for patience or peace or trust. Chaos was a great chance to retreat from the world and eat a cake. Both because I wanted to forget the chaos, and because I got so high on the cake.

When I was in the food and eating compulsively, my life was mostly trouble and chaos with very few moments of peace and clam, or at the very least it felt that way. Since getting my eating under control, my life is mostly peace and calm, with a few moments of trouble and chaos. Part of that is my perception. But part of that is also my ability to take action with a clear head in the face of fear. The fear has always been there. It just gets less of a say in my life now.

In a loving relationship. With time.

One relationship that has been transformed for the better for me since getting my eating under control is my relationship to time. I need lots of free time. And getting my eating under control has allowed me to really look at my schedule, at what needs to get done in order for me to be truly content and happy, and how much time that *actually* takes. 

I have a real, live 3 day weekend this weekend. (Technically, it is the morning of day 2.) And I considered if I wanted today to be my lazy day. But then I realized that I want my 3rd day to be my lazy day. That I really want a whole day with zero obligations except to eat my weighed and measured meals. 

So I decided that I would keep today to do all of my cooking and the laundry and run the errands I need to run.

But also, I don’t need to rush them today. I can take breaks. Rest in between tasks. Because normally, on a Sunday, I want to get through all of my obligations as quickly as possible, so I can really take one big block of time to relax and zone out at the end. But this weekend, if I get it all taken care of today, that big block of time won’t be hours, but a whole day! And considering how much I have been working lately, this sounds like pure, lazy heaven. 

In the food, I was a constant procrastinator. And that brought me a lot of stress. In having boundaries around my eating, I learned to *choose* to do things in a timely manner. Not because someone in a position of authority told me I should, but because it made sense to me and my happiness.

I will finish up with this thought. Before abstinence from my drug foods, many people told me what I “ought to” do. And I often did those things, but begrudgingly. I hated them, and the changes didn’t last. But as a person with eating boundaries, I do so many of those very same things, but by my own choice and for myself, not to please others. And in my experience, changes made for others never last. But changes made for myself by myself have helped shift the way I think, and therefore the way I live.

“How do I flip this PDF?”and other terrifying questions.

I have been having a hard time thinking about what to write today. Because all I do right now is work. But I suppose there is something to say about work in my food addiction blog. It’s about what I sometimes call my “primordial brain,” and how much of my thinking stems from a deep seated expectation that I am always in trouble. 

Regularly in my job, my boss will call me into his office. And every time he does, my immediate thoughts are that I am in trouble. That I have royally screwed something up. That I have single handedly, through some colossal data entry error, cost my company *billions* of dollars. And every time he calls me in, it is over some form of IT trouble he is having. Why won’t this print 11×17? How do I flip this PDF over? How do I get rid of/add this line to a Word doc?

For over a month I have been having a mild panic attack every time he calls out to come to his office. Even though I have never been in trouble. Because being in trouble is so old and historic that it lives in my body like a truth.

So here is why having eating boundaries saves my life. When my eating is under control, I can feel the primordial panic, tuck it away into a far corner of my brain, and walk into the office. Once it is clear that I have not cost the company billions and brought ruin upon my home and family for all of eternity, the little nugget of panic can fall away. 

But if I were eating my drug foods, that panic would eat at me. I would hear that call and immediately begin cataloguing all of the things I did wrong. Or potentially did wrong. Or could be perceived as wrong by someone in charge of my job. I would be coming up with excuses to make and people to blame for problems that didn’t even exist. I would be figuring out how to avoid going into that office. The point is that even if I didn’t do anything wrong, I would do “wrong,” or desperate, or disingenuous things to avoid getting in trouble. I would be *making* trouble for myself to get out of my fear of being in trouble. It wouldn’t matter that I had not done anything wrong in the first place. 

When my eating is under control, I see things clearly. I see myself clearly. And I don’t have to project my greatest, and unfounded fears onto the future. I can stand up, walk into the office and face whatever there is to face. Like a frustrated boss asking, “why can’t I open this attachment?”

Living the life I actually have

I recently stopped running. It was a difficult, and frankly, really scary decision to make. But I made it. And I am grateful and glad I did.

About a week after I started my new job, the job changed. The workload quadrupled, the stakes were raised for my company, and my personal stress level went through the roof. (I started to break out in hives! Hives!) 

I told my boss that I needed help, and he told me that they would get me an admin, but as of yet, I don’t have one. And it means that I work over 12 hours a day 4 days a week, and 9 on Thursdays when I have my food meeting for people with the same food boundaries as me. I am working about 60 hours in 5 days. I insisted that I could not work 6 days. Since my husband is also working over 12 hours a day, but he *is* working 6 days a week, and he is running the night shift (I cannot tell you how much I hate it.) I need two days off to do all of the things that he now can’t do for himself. I have to do his grocery shopping, his laundry, and keep the house as tolerably clean as I can (my friends, it is not particularly clean) on top of my weekly food prep, which now includes breakfasts as well as lunches.

So I leave for work at 5:30 in the morning, I work from 6:30 in the morning until 7 at night. I get home around 8 pm, and I only have time to get my food and clothes ready for the next day, scarf down a small dinner and get into bed by 9:30 to get about 7 1/2 hours of sleep. 

It was my husband who recommended I stop running for now. And I was terrified at the prospect. It is a thing I have done for so long as a commitment and a priority that to give it up felt like I was going to become unreliable again, like I was when I was in the food. It felt like I was going to slide down that slippery slope of laziness and shame.

But I am not the person I was when I was eating compulsively. I am a person who knows how to go with the flow, and how to adapt to new and uncomfortable situations. And ultimately I am grateful for my husband’s loving suggestion that sleep is more important than exercise when both are just really not an option.

And I am happy to remember that this too shall pass. That this job will slow, and eventually end. That all of this should be calmer by Christmas, and the new year should see me settled back into my slower schedule and more peaceful work life. I can trust that I can get back on the pavement in 2022.

Getting my eating under control taught me about priorities. At this moment, my job is a priority. Sleep is a priority. And of course my food boundaries are always my first priority. But when I have more time, more than just to sleep, and work and honor my food boundaries, running will go back on my priority list. But for now I am going to live the life I actually have.

Does my ice cream bowl miss me?

My week has been insane and full of ups and downs. I have been under a huge amount of stress. And I have not been hungry. Which is an interesting thing for a compulsive eater. 

Perhaps I should rephrase that. It is not just that I am not hungry. I have lots and lots of experience eating when I am not hungry. I mean I don’t want to eat. I mean I am forcing myself to eat my meals. I mean I am choking them down. 

Because of this I have changed what I eat for some meals. For example, at dinner I have been eating 2 eggs, instead of my delicious delicacies like my homemade ice cream with soy nuts, or pork rinds. And I have also had to make a few calls to emotionally recommit to eating my food. Because I have not wanted to eat so much that I scared myself with the thought of not eating.

I eat my meals because eating my meals is what I do. I am not on a diet. Not being hungry isn’t “a great chance to skip meals and lose weight.” Not being hungry means I make my meals as small as possible within my boundaries and eat them anyway. Because I eat three portioned out meals a day. No matter what.

If you think what I do with food is about weight and weight loss then this may be confusing to you. But I do what I do with food because I don’t have a normal relationship with food. I don’t know how to “eat intuitively” and I don’t know when I have had enough. For right now I may not want to eat, but this, too, shall pass. And when it does I want to be right here where I am with my food addiction under control, my boundaries in tact, and my ice cream bowl sitting in the freezer just waiting for me to make ice cream.

A life beyond your wildest dreams will spoil you for anything less

Oh guys. This one is going to be short because I am tired. 

I worked 56 hours this week. Fifty-six. And that doesn’t count my hour commute each way. (Thank heaven for audiobooks! They make the commute a pleasure rather than a chore.) If you know me, you know this is not how I roll. I like a lot of free time. I like my time even more than I like money.

Since I took this job (19 days ago. Not even 3 full weeks.) the workload for me alone has increased fourfold. And my husband, who was not even on this job, has agreed to run the night shift. An actual night shift. Until December. So we will barely see one another for the rest of the year. 

Here’s the thing. I am not entirely unhappy. I do really like the job just because I am that good at it. In many ways, this job was custom made for me. I was trained for exactly this kind of detailed tracking. And the company I work for just gave me a *huge* raise. I mean, I asked for it, but they gave it to me. 

But I am tired. And I hate the idea that I won’t get to spend time with my husband. I married him because I genuinely love his company. We have talked about the times we can spend together. 4 am, my wake up and before his bedtime. The time we may be at work at the same time when he has a break. And I am trying to work out the best way to get the job done and still take care of myself. How to fit in my run and my meditation and my full night’s sleep and cooking my meals for the week.

Because, as I have said in this blog before, self care is not all bubble baths and spa days. Self care kind of sucks. I don’t want to wake up at 4 to run. But I do. I don’t want to spend hours of my precious weekend cooking for the week. But I do. I don’t want to stop and meditate and have to be still for 3 minutes when I am busy and already feel like I don’t have enough hours in the day. But I do. (OK, mostly I do. I sometimes forget. But I am committed to 3 minutes daily.) I don’t want to put down whatever I am doing to go to bed….Actually, nope. That last one was a lie. I like the shit out of going to bed.

Having my eating under control gives me the possibility of enjoying living the life I have instead of lamenting the life I think I should have. It lets me be flexible. It lets me prioritize. And it keeps me clear about the reality of my situation. If I come to be miserable, if it starts to hurt my marriage, if I make myself sick, I know that I can ask for help, or back off my hours, or even just quit. Having my eating under control lets me see myself clearly, my options clearly, and the reality of my situation clearly. 

Putting boundaries around my eating offered me a life beyond my wildest dreams. I am not going to settle for less than that anymore. So for now, I am going to do the best job I can. And if it ever no longer serves me, I know that I can move on. I will trust that life is giving me what I need, and that it will continue to do so.

Maybe the least weird thing I have ever done with food

This week I am going to talk a little about the practical aspects of keeping my eating boundaries.


I work on the office side of construction. I do things like make sure workers get paid and keep the paper trails of what was built when, and who signed off on it. And a lot of times, the thing getting built is getting built where there was previously just a big field. So often there are no restaurants or grocery stores close by. When I have a job where I go into a physical office, especially when that job is in the middle of nowhere, I keep backup food on the job site.


Today I will cook and pack meals for the week. And every morning I will pack my bag with a breakfast and a lunch to bring into the office. And they will be decadent and delicious.

But sometimes something happens. Sometimes things go wrong. Food spills or spoils. Or heaven forbid, I *forget* to pack my food and I drive the 45+ minutes to the job site. 

In my office I keep an emergency food bag. It has an extra food scale and extra batteries. It has canned pineapple and a can opener. It has boxes of milk that last for months without refrigeration. It has several kinds of protein options like cheese crisps, bags of pepperoni, and soy nuts. Plus a jar of wheat germ and a jar of pickles. It is more than enough to feed myself within my boundaries for two entire days. I keep all of it in a little box in the corner of my office. In a perfect world it will all go bad and get thrown out at the end of the job. But it is not a perfect world and I am not perfect.


The items in this box will not add up to a decadent meal. They will be fine. Even tasty. But not anything as delicious or exciting as the meals I will make myself today in my kitchen with everything at my disposal. But they will make meals that are 100% within my boundaries. And that is the most important thing for me. Even if the meal is meh, I will still have my abstinence. And the chance to eat another guilt-free, 5 star, 10/10 meal at dinner.

I have kept my eating boundaries for over 15 years by doing things like this. By having a plan for trouble. By putting preparations in place in case trouble comes. By protecting my eating boundaries from circumstances. 
Getting my eating under control is still the best thing that ever happened to me. I want to live like this for the rest of my life. It is not a chore or a punishment to me. It is a gift and a blessing. And I will do whatever it takes to keep it. 

When I think about the things I did to get sugar – the lying, cheating, stealing, manipulating, the ways I ignored danger – just to eat, I think that keeping a box of food in my office may be the least weird thing I have ever done with food.

A job, some fear and anxiety, probably a miracle.

One of my favorite things I had the opportunity to learn when I got my eating under control is how to go with the flow. How to let life happen as it does (because it will) and to make the best of it. To handle new and difficult situations with grace and ease.


On Tuesday morning this past week I got a call from management in my company, asking if I would take on a new position. And could I start the next day?


I was certainly happy to take it on. I have mostly just been working part time for almost a year now. And while I have enjoyed it, because I love having lots of alone time, the truth is I like work. I like being of use. I like being good at what I do. I like the feelings I get when I accomplish things. I like being impressive. My best friend’s old therapist said that a huge portion of our self-esteem comes from our job.


And there is another part of it for me right now. I am not working with my husband on this job. My boss is someone I just met for the first time on Wednesday. And while I love working with my husband, and we make a great team, there is something exciting about getting the chance to show someone else what I can do. And knowing that what he has to say means something different to the company, coming from a stranger and superior, than it does coming from the person who chose me as a life partner.


The other important thing about getting my eating under control when it comes to this job is that keeping my food boundaries has taught me how to manage my fear and anxiety. Because for as excited as I am to do this job (and I am very excited), my brain goes on a little merry-go-round ride of thoughts and feelings, and a good portion of them are fears. Fears that I will fail, that I am not as good as I think. That I am not good enough in general.


It doesn’t matter that these thoughts are irrational. Anyone with irrational thoughts will tell you that knowing you are being irrational does not change the experience of it. It’s why self-knowledge was never enough to lose weight when I (and seemingly everyone else) cared so much about my weight. (I’m sure the world still cares about my weight because it cares about weight in general. I just don’t care that it cares anymore.)


But in getting my eating under control, I learned how to stop thoughts. I learned how to change my mind. I learned how to change my thinking. I learned how to harness control over my thoughts as a tool.


Eating compulsively always had me too high on sugar to manage anything, especially my thoughts. It had me foggy, and careless, and numb. These are not ideal circumstances to take control of one’s own brain. The point of getting high was always to stop thinking and feeling entirely, not to control myself.


I am very excited about getting a new opportunity. And if you read last week, I do believe that this job came straight out of a miracle door. So I am going to keep meditating on miracles and the doors they emerge from. And I am going to keep my eating boundaries. And I am going to do an amazing job! Probably. And if not, I expect there will be another miracle coming through another door. But for right now I’ll do the work in front of me.

Opening My Own Miracle Door

If you have been reading my blog for any amount of time, you know that so much of keeping boundaries around my eating is a spiritual practice. It’s as much about honoring my word, my soul, my heart and my relationships as it is about not eating sugar. The food came first, but the spiritual stuff keeps me from turning back to the food. They feed each other. I do the spiritual work, I don’t need to eat over being a jerk. I don’t eat, I can delve deeper into the spiritual work.

So months ago, I was talking to a friend who does what I do with food. And she was so angry because she had an addict friend/work partner and he would get sober for a few days and miracles would fall in his lap. People offering not just help, but opportunities! Big, gorgeous, sexy opportunities around work and art and life. And she was pissed! My friend has been sober for decades and she wanted miracles!

So, as my husband likes to (only half) joke, I got into my Lucy booth and gave her some really quality advice, if I do say so myself. I told her that she is a person who meticulously turns over rocks. That she is the epitome of leaving no stone unturned. But that she certainly has a “miracle door” just like her friend. And that she should go look for it and start opening it instead of metaphorically crawling around on her hands and knees flipping rocks.

Well a year later, my friend is having all of her dreams come true. She is making more money, working less. The pandemic changed the way she works and she has used it to her very great benefit. She has been performing her music in new ways. Is working on multiple new music projects. And she just got engaged *and* bought her vacation home in a Southern town she loved and lived in as a girl. 

And wouldn’t you know it, I got jealous! In my head I kept thinking “How come *she* is getting all of these miracles?!?!” 

I love the irony of this story. I love how proud I was of my brilliant advice. And how it never occurred to me to take it for myself. And how in the end I ended up in the same position as my friend. 

I have started looking at pictures of doors. Mystical woodland door art and photos of old colorful European doors and Arabesque doors with arches and key-hole shapes and round Hobbit hole doors from blockbuster movies and anything I can picture opening to let myself into a miracle, or to let a miracle out.

I am no stranger to miracles. Getting my eating under control felt like a miracle in a way that very few people can understand. When I was growing up fat, it felt like being fat was the worst thing I could be. I was shamed and humiliated, and I was put on diets, and I was told how simple it was to just stop eating. But it was not simple. In fact, it felt impossible. There was diet food. And I ate diet food until I had lost enough weight to go back to eating the foods I wanted to eat. Which would make me gain all of the weight back, plus more. And I knew that I could not live on diet food forever. And I knew I could not eat the foods I wanted in moderation. It was going to take a miracle for me to stop eating compulsively.

But I got that miracle. I have gotten to keep that miracle for 15 years. And it still feels like a miracle. It is still as wondrous and magical and awe inspiring to me as it has ever been. It has lost none of its shine. In fact, I am more grateful and honored to have found a solution now than I was 15 or 12 or even 5 years ago. My eating boundaries have carried me through so many difficulties and so much worry and sadness.

So I am looking for my miracle doors today. And I am grateful to have a way of life that reminds me that all I have to do on any given day is keep my eating boundaries. And that if I do that, I have a chance at something else. A relationship, or an opportunity, or a blessing. That I got one big miracle and it gave me the chance to find all of the other miracles.

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