onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “feelings”

Can I Borrow a Feeling (iykyk)

I am obsessed with feelings. I have always been obsessed with feelings. But in the past 5-10 years, I have come to understand a lot about the reality of that.


What I mean is, when I was eating compulsively I wanted feelings. But I only wanted the feelings I wanted. Comfortable feelings. And when I say comfortable, I don’t mean pleasant, I mean any feelings I wanted to feel. Feelings with a payoff.

When I was a kid, I watched the same movies over and over again. I know that this is not unusual for kids. For the most part all kids do this. But I also did it well into my twenties. And not just with movies. When learned to read and I got into books, I read the same books over and over again. For many years I read all of Jane Austen’s novels at least once a year. And sometimes more often than that. And I had other books that I would keep going back to. I think it was easier for me to pick up an old familiar book or movie than to delve into a new one. Especially if the familiar one gave me the kinds of feelings I wanted. The feelings I already knew I loved. Revelatory relief, vindication and victory after deep humiliation, love against all odds, and selfless sacrifice, to name a few.

There were also in-real-life feelings that I cultivated over others. I still loved vindication, but also hilarity and pride. I was good at despair, resignation and righteous indignation too. I was comfortable with these. I knew what I would get from these emotions.

But when I got my eating under control, this particular skill set, the ability to curate my emotions, especially through media, was a solution to a problem. I have mentioned before that when I first put boundaries around my eating, I watched the same anime series over and over again. (It’s called Fushigi Yuugi, in case you are curious. People have asked in the past.) I would play the 3 dvds in order from the first episode to the last, and then just put the first episode right back on. By the end of that first two years, I wasn’t even having the feelings anymore. The sad parts didn’t make me cry. The romantic parts didn’t make me flutter. The funny parts didn’t make me laugh. But I still got the echo of those familiar, comfortable, desirable feelings.

I’ll tell you what that did for me, though. It quelled the cravings for sugar. It got me high without getting high. It helped me manage my feelings until my feelings were more manageable.

Now I only occasionally go back to reread books, or rewatch movies or shows. (With a Goodreads goal of 100 books a year, there is no time for slacking!) Though when I do, it is always because they offer the kinds of feelings I want to cultivate. 

But I am no longer afraid of new feelings. I have learned that what I feel doesn’t have to mean anything to anyone but me. I don’t have to act out in my rage or my fear or my sadness. I can feel what I feel, and still act according to my values. And if I want to manage my difficult feelings, I have tools for that too. 

I got the opportunity to understand all of this because I am not eating compulsively. Eating did things to my feelings; changed them, muted them, buried them, warped them, but never let me move past them. In having my eating under control, I can feel my naked, real feelings. And then I can let them go. Unless they are worth keeping, and then I can hold them dear.

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.

Managing in my contentment

It is sometimes the hardest to write this blog when I am happy. And I am happy now. I am content. My life is free of real-world drama and filled with fictional drama, exactly how I like it. But it makes it hard to think of something to write here.

When I was eating compulsively, my life was filled with drama. And not the kind I find in novels and comics. 

I sometimes write about learning the skill of changing thoughts. In fact I wrote about it last week. And for the most part it is not really something I deal with consciously anymore. Because I have already done 2 things. 1) Created a new set of “default settings,” and 2) learned to keep my mind elastic enough that changing my mind is not that complicated.


My default settings growing up were always selfish and nearly always to argue. I did not trust anyone to do anything in my best interest. I expected the worst from people. Or I had a thought about the way something or someone should be and any deviation from that created a need to fight in me. Well…fight or manipulate. I was a better manipulator. I was a kid, and I knew that kids don’t win fights. At least not fair fights.

My current default settings are to trust. They are to trust Life, but that also means to trust people. I don’t mean blindly. I am sure I will never be that trusting. I am not now, nor do I expect I will ever be a “turn the other cheek” kind of girl. If you got the one cheek, that’s life. But I don’t believe in anything like a Christian heaven. So the other cheek will stay facing the direction it is, thank you.

But there is a relief to trusting first. I don’t think I ever understood to how much energy I used in being constantly ready for battle. There is peace in not always expecting war. This is obvious in retrospect. And certainly when you put words to it like battle and war and peace. But growing up it felt like the way it was. It felt like reality. I didn’t understand what choices I had or even that there were choices. I felt like the world, or life, or other people threw circumstances at me and I had to throw them off as best I could in order to just survive. How exhausting.


And as I said last week, I have learned how to change my mind. I know how to stop a thought in its tracks. I know how to change a thought. I know how to switch my focus. It’s not always easy to accomplish, but it has stopped being hard to fathom. The obstacles to it are usually about pride and self-righteousness, or about not wanting to give up my grasp on something, or about not wanting to lose. They are about being right and wanting to be right. They are about willingness, not capability.

Growing up addicted to certain foods affected my braid chemistry which affected my thoughts which affected my actions which affected my habits which affected my food. My food life and my inner life were like an echo chamber, feeding and reinforcing more of the same, taking me deeper and keeping me ever more entrenched.


What changed was I changed my food. I stopped giving myself the fix. I stopped giving myself the drug foods that perpetuated the same cycle. I interrupted the pattern in a very specific, concrete way. I did not only change my mind, though I did, indeed, do that too. But I also acted differently. I acted differently by eating different foods and that stopped a literal, physiological, chemical reaction. And then I continued to do that until what felt normal to me was something new. Something I created.

I created my own peace. It was not easy. And it was not immediate. And it is not even done yet. I am still working at it and growing into to it and pushing toward it. But I created it for myself and made myself into a different person.

I made myself into a person I wanted to be. And now that person is happy and content. And happy, peaceful me still managed to write a blog post in the midst of all of my contentment, so wins all around I guess.

Contentment: It’s not about where I am but where I’m going.

I have been off of work this week while I wait to get assigned to a new job. I have been cleaning my house and listening to audiobooks. Working out in the afternoon instead of first thing in the morning. I have been enjoying the freedom to get things done in my own time and on my own schedule. And I am feeling ridiculously content. 

Contentment is absolutely a direct result of having my eating under control. I don’t think I ever experienced it until I was literally years into having boundaries around my eating. Perhaps when I was a very small child I was content. But definitely not once I was school-age. For nearly all of my memorable life, I was anxious, worried, fearful, unhappy, and/or overwhelmed. Life was hard for me. Not because I got a bad one. In fact, on paper I got a great one. But that didn’t really matter. It didn’t mean I was happy. It didn’t mean I was grateful. I was not. 

I think a thing that happens to a lot of people is that we can see how good we have it, and it makes us think we *should* be happy. We can see who has it worse. We can see the disparities and it makes us feel like jerks. And society tells us we are jerks. There are children starving. There are kids with nothing. We have it so much better than the ones who came before us.

And all of those things might be true. But what getting my eating under control has taught me is that it is ridiculous to compare my life to anyone else’s. For the good or the bad. It is not a competition. It is not a race. It is not a zero sum game. There is no winning or losing. There is only my experience and my journey. There is only my path, and the places my path intersects with other paths. 

There is a saying that people who do what I do with food say: Keep your eyes on your own plate. This is practical advice. That person may be eating cake, but I don’t need to look at the cake. I don’t need to judge the cake eater. I don’t need to be jealous of the cake eating. And I don’t need to romance thoughts about the cake. I don’t need to focus on who has what I don’t. Especially when I have a full plate right in front of me. (Especially especially when my plate has bacon and homemade chocolate ice cream and melt-in-your-mouth carnitas.)

There is always a thing I think I want, because someone else has it. Sometimes I read a book that is so good, or beautiful,or creative that I am insanely jealous that the writer both had it in them, and could get it out so perfectly. Sometimes I see a dress that is so stunning I ache for it, but it is prohibitively expensive or made for a different body type than mine, and I have to mourn that I cannot have it. Sometimes I see someone do something I have no talent for, like drawing, or ballet, and I get frustrated that I cannot simply have it just because I want it. 

This used to seem so unfair. I was filled with envy and cruelty and shame. 

In these past 15+ years of keeping my eating boundaries, I have learned to treat the acquisition of skills as a practice rather than a gift. If I want to learn ballet, I can learn. I may not have a natural talent, or be naturally shaped the way most ballet dancers are, but I could study it if I wanted to. I could practice. I could try. I could put in the hours and the sweat. I don’t know what the results would be. But that really wouldn’t matter. I could write a book if I wanted. I could read up on the craft, and plan and plot, and sit in front of the blank page and see what uniquely me thing came out. I could give up on the expectation of genius or grace or perfection. I could be willing to make bad art.

One of the best lessons I have learned in my life is that in order to make great art, you have to be willing to make bad art. This is not just about art. I have learned to be willing to make bad life too.

The contentment that comes from having my eating under control is about accepting what is so, deciding what I want, and taking actions to create the life I want to have. It is about eliminating expectations and being willing to do something, anything, without knowing that it will turn out the way I want it to. It is about doing for the sake of doing. And not for the outcome. 

When I was eating compulsively, food was control, even if my eating was out of my control. Food helped me control feeling my feelings, which felt entirely out of my control most of my life. If those feelings were too much for me to handle, food made me numb, so I didn’t have to handle them. Getting my eating under control helped me control the experience of those feelings without feeling like I had to control the results. I could let them wash over me, use them as sign posts and guidelines, and then make choices with my higher self: my head, my heart, and my conscience.

I am still an anxious person. I am still an addict. I am still occasionally jealous and regularly ache for something that seems out of reach. But more than any of those things, I am content. I learned to choose what I already have first, and to strive for something better second. I learned to put in the time and the effort and let the chips fall where they may. I learned to define myself by how willing I am to move forward, rather than where I stand at any given moment.

Happy to be wherever here is

I am not a person who likes change. Or surprises. Or being unprepared. So this week was not my favorite.

My husband and I were set to head to a job in Connecticut. So we did all the things we do when we head out to a job. We found an apartment, and set up utilities. We went into the garage and packed up our second “traveling” home with another set of dishes and small appliances, and sheets and towels, and all of the things that make our home ours when we are working on the road. We even have a traveling Alexa device and a traveling meat grinder. We are not messing around.

My husband had to be there a few days before me, and it was going to take 2 days to drive,  so we picked up his truck and he left on Tuesday. He drove all day Tuesday and then woke up on Wednesday and got half way through the day’s drive, just a few hours away from the apartment we would be renting, when he got a call. The job was canceled. Turn around and go home. 

That is correct. Canceled. Not postponed. Not delayed. Just plain canceled. 

I was kind of devastated. I have friends in that area. Some in Connecticut. Many in New York City. I was looking forward to being driving distance from them. And with the vaccines getting distributed, I was looking forward to getting hugs and in-person laughs. At least at some point in the year. 

And we had made lots of plans for the money we’d make there. Fix up the outside of our house. Have new concrete porches poured in both the front and the back, have the driveway redone, and have the siding on our house replaced. We counted our chickens before they were hatched.

I was also really stressed about money. We had already signed a lease on an apartment. I did not know what that would mean for us financially.

But the apartment complex terminated the lease and it only cost us the security deposit, which was the best case scenario. So all that I really had to do was mourn the lost expectations of living back on the east coast near my friends and the money I had already spent in my dreams. And I did have to mourn those things. So I did.

But a lot of really good things came out of this as well. For example, in a row, we had some little things go wrong right before we left. Our plumbing was wonky because roots sometimes grow in our pipes, so we had some plumbers come over and snake our outside drain. My husband would normally do this himself. But we were busy packing and getting ready to move, so we hired someone and in terms of both time and money, it was the best thing to do. It cost less than it would have for my husband to rent the machine and do it himself. And we are kind of procrastinators, so if we had not been on our way out, we might have left it longer. And then our furnace stopped working so we had someone come out to look at it. Thankfully it was an easy fix. Both of these turned out to be easy fixes and we took care of them quickly, and now they are done.

And then, since he was on his way back to our house, my husband looked to see if he could get a PlayStation 5 and they had one at the store just a few blocks from our house. So because he had to come back, he got the thing he has been wanting most for the past 6 months. Not the worst consolation prize.

But maybe most importantly, my husband and I were both working on a project that was causing us a lot of stress and frustration and we are now in the process of getting out of that job. Today we are writing a letter together to say that we cannot go back to that job. That in leaving it, we realized how it had been affecting us detrimentally, both individually and as a unit, over the past several months.

I will tell you that one reason I know I cannot go back to that job is because I know what it feels like to give up poison, and to know that I cannot go back to feeling like that. I did it with sugar.

I know that some people think I am crazy for keeping my eating boundaries. They think it’s extreme. They think I must be suffering because they believe they would suffer to give up cake. I need to express to you that I could not do what I do every day for over 15 years if I did not get one hell of a payoff. That payoff is not feeling toxic or poisoned or trapped. I felt all of those things when I was eating compulsively. Now I feel free and light and able to take life as it comes. Like when a job I was really looking forward to falls through at the very last minute.

Leaving this job feels a lot like giving up sugar. I feel sort of disoriented. I am afraid of what I just gave up and what I will lose because of it. Money security in this case. And potentially the good will of certain people in the company we work for. But also, when I even think of letting it back into my life, everything in me screams that I do not want to go back there ever again. I do not want to feel that way ever again.

And in general, I do not want to go backwards. I want to move forward all the time. I want to keep getting better, and to keep getting a better life because of it. That is also a gift of having my eating boundaries. Growth.

We don’t know what is in store for us moving forward. We don’t know what our next job will be or where it will be, at home or on the road. But we did learn some things about ourselves. 1) That we miss the road. 2) That we can’t do that awful job that we may have ended up stuck in for years if this canceled job had not come up. 3) That we are resilient. 4) That we are excellent at packing quickly at a moment’s notice. (Actually, we already knew that but this was a nice reminder.)

I will tell you what this feels like. It feels like a fresh start. It feels like someone hit the reset button. It feels like exactly what I need and where I want to be, even if I am not sure where, exactly, I am.

To be filed under: This too shall pass.

Remember a few weeks ago when I lost my shit on a work superior? (Oh, me too…) Well, this week I was told that my husband and I are leaving that job and going on to another. And I could not be happier.

We are going back on the road. This time we head to Connecticut. (Amazon distribution centers aren’t going to build themselves.) And I am so excited for a lot of reasons!

First, people! I will be an hour away from one very close friend, and 2-3 hours away from my friends in NYC. Now, I don’t know what socializing will look like. I have been taking COVID very seriously for the past year. And that means that I have done precious little socializing since March, and none at all since about September. But at least some of my friends have gotten their vaccinations, and my husband and I are eligible for them because of the work we do. (Though currently we have not been able to get an appointment.) So I have high hopes for safe hugs with friends while we are there.

But also, I didn’t want to be on a job for over 2 years working under someone whom I don’t respect and who clearly does not respect me. One of the blessings/curses of having my eating under control is that I see things so clearly. I cannot fail to see them clearly, even if I want to. And my emotions are also front and center, and they are also clear sign posts. That job was either frustrating me with the bureaucracy, angering me with the lack of accountability and leadership, or filling me with dread over the general expectation that we (my husband and I) would turn a bad job good. 

Look, my husband is pretty damn magical at what he does, and he can take something good and make it great. I have seen him do it over and over. But it’s a lot to ask, and an entirely different thing, to take something bad and make it good. And now we don’t have to attempt that anymore. 

A few years ago, I stopped meditating. It was too hard to sit quietly because I was constantly afraid for the future. It was too hard to trust that Life, or the universe, or God, or whatever you want to call it, really was looking out for me. I was terrified all the time. And that made me angry at Life/God.

For a whole decade before that, I had built a life of peace and joy around trusting that Life/God had my back and was giving me only the best. Even if the lesson was painful, I trusted it. I wasn’t afraid of pain anymore. I knew how to sit in it and work through it. But over the past several years, I didn’t trust the pain, or the lessons, or that Life/God was right. I managed my fear, but that was all I could do. 

In probably April of last year, I made a commitment to start meditating again. And it was hard. And I had a hard time being still and trusting. But I did it. Because meditation is meant to be a practice, not a solution. 

The past few months have been a slow release of pressure for me. Not because of meditation. But because of circumstances. And slowly but surely I feel like I am easing back into peace. And easing back into trust. After all, I learned a lot about myself in these past few years, and a lot about who I want to be. And I learned what I wanted to change about myself for myself. This time was a crucible. And I have come out on the other side with much of my past thinking burned away. In other words, Life/God was right. And was giving me the best all along.

And now, being taken off of this particular job is one more piece of the peace puzzle. But the truth is I should have known that peace would return. At least eventually. Because all things pass. And it would do me good to remember that that includes this new found peace. At least for a time.

I’m giving away social currency.

Over the past 9 years, this blog has been an excellent catalyst for my growth. It is a whole thing to not just have thoughts, but to also send them out into the world. When they rattle around in my head, they are a lot more like blunt objects. Imprecise. Doing a lot more harm than good.

The other day, I was writing a post for this blog about social currency. It was, if I do say so myself, an interesting topic. It’s one I think about a lot. I am a conventionally attractive, still young-ish (43) white woman in a socially acceptable sized body. That is a lot of social currency. 

The thing that made me put it down was that I was having a hard time saying that I want to devalue thinness. 

I am not skinny. I say this all the time in this blog. I am about a size 14 (US.) A L/XL. But I also need to point out that I have been a size 28 (US) and that is objectively fat. 

So at 33, when I was skinny and young and white and just plain gorgeous, I was socially rich in a way I had never experienced before. (Maybe when I was 4. I was a really beautiful little kid.) And now I am the equivalent to upper middle class social currency wise. Still beautiful and white and kind of young. But not skinny anymore. But also not fat.

So I guess what I want to call myself out on today is that so much of what is going on in my head is about my social currency. And how I want to keep what I have. And also how I do not want to be that girl. Because there is another girl, who is also me, who would have had an easier, better, more peaceful life if thinness were not of so much value. And I don’t want to throw 12 and 16 and 18 and 23-year-old Kate to the wolves so that 43-year-old Kate feels like she can keep some societal leverage before she is too old to be “attractive” anymore. And it’s not just young me that I want to protect. I don’t want to throw all of the current fats to the wolves either.

The last several years, but especially this past year has taught me a lot about who I want to be. It has made me ask if I want things at the expense of others. Or if, on the contrary, I am willing to have less than I currently have so that others can have a share. 

I don’t want wonderful things at the expense of others. That, in fact, if it comes at the expense of another person, it is not wonderful. Of the very many things I have learned from having my eating under control, one of the most important is that I have my journey, and everyone else has theirs. That not everything is for me. That life is not a zero sum game. That I don’t need to look at others as competitors. That there is plenty to go around. And that just because some will grasp and claw to get the biggest piece, doesn’t mean I will. Or that I want to. Or that the biggest piece will make me happy. The biggest piece will not, in and of itself, make me happy. That I am very clear on.

When I am thinking rationally, and not out of fear of deprivation, I remember that I *do* want to devalue thinness. Because humans are worthy and lovely and lovable by virtue of existing. Not based on what they eat or if they exercise. I can love a person who is unhealthy (though I am *not* saying that being fat is unhealthy) just for being alive and near and available to be loved. I don’t need people to earn my love with thinness or the desire to achieve thinness, or perceived health. (Though not being an asshole helps a lot!) And I don’t want to live in a world where that makes me weird. So that means I have to devalue thinness myself. For myself. About myself and everyone else.

I also want to reiterate that I love my eating boundaries. That I do not want to give them up. This is not me angling to get some cake. I am happy to live without cake. I just want the fat people who *do* want cake to be able to have it and eat it too.

Also also, this has made me want to go back and revise my post about thinness as social currency. So maybe you’ll see that in the next few weeks?

Problems vs Situations

It is the last post of 2020! And thank heaven! 

On January 1st this year, my husband made our favorite meal, carnitas! And as he took it out of the oven, we heard a weird creaking, and the Pyrex dish that we had been cooking our carnitas in for years, kind of imploded and covered our delicious nuggets of melty, crispy, perfectly seasoned pork with glass. And I had a thought. “I hope this is not an omen for the whole year.”

My friends, it was.

I have been very lucky this year. I have not suffered financially, or been personally sick, or lost a loved one to sickness. I have not personally minded being stuck at home. I like home. Even more than most people. It’s where I wear jammies and read books and comics. And I’m kind of antisocial.

But it has still been a hard year for me. Emotionally. I am an anxious person. I am an emotional person. I am a peri-menopausal person. And it has also been a year of clarity. Of me seeing some things clearly for the first time and having to come to terms with them. Or failing to come to terms with them. All of those things have meant that I have been on a rollercoaster ride of feelings for the majority of this year.

But I did not eat compulsively and I ate all of my strictly portion-controlled meals. Even when I didn’t want to. Because food and eating for me cannot be about my weight or my body. And I cannot safely decide to not eat any more than I can safely decide to eat compulsively.  And that very clear set of boundaries and rules to eat by has made this year bearable. 

There is a saying I like. “Food is my problem. Everything else is just a situation.” 

I can deal with anything as long as I have my eating under control. And I can know that I don’t have to “deal with” everything. Or I can deal with it on my own terms and in my own time. I can get through the day and the week and the month and the year without hating myself. 

I don’t know what will happen in 2021. Let’s face it. The coming year could be worse than this one. There is no guarantee that things will get better. And there is nothing magical about January 1st. Calendars are a man-made construct, obviously. The “new year” used to begin in March for the planting season.

But one whole trip around the sun is still noteworthy. And as this last trip has been a bumpy ride, I’m willing to hope for a better year ahead.

But of course, my point is that no matter what this new year brings, the most important thing for me is to keep my eating boundaries. That way even if Elon Musk hires Carol Baskin to train an army of murder hornets to drive cars, that will still just be a situation to deal with. And not an actual problem.

Gratitude for my very normal, very human body

I used to be angry at my body all the time. It was my enemy, and I treated it accordingly. Mostly, I hated it because it was not the size or shape other girls’ and women’s bodies were. It did not look the way magazines and television told me it should look, and indeed *could* look if I worked hard enough.

I was smart and interesting and funny. I had a wonderful mind. So I felt like a brilliant human stuck in a broken vessel. Broken is a great way to express what I thought of my body. Broken like a machine. Bad parts. A lemon.

When I got my eating under control I started to think about my body in a different way. First, giving up man made sugars, and most grains and starches, made my body smaller. And while I could not really change the shape of my body without surgery, I started to think about all of the ways that it served me, even when I was abusing it. 

And I didn’t just abuse it with drug foods. I abused it with over exercising to the point of injury, and still exercising more because I wanted it to be thin, but I couldn’t stop eating. I abused it with laxatives. I drank castor oil. Eventually, I started to stick toothbrushes down my throat to make myself throw up the food that I could not stop eating. 

But when I got my eating under control, I necessarily had to have a different relationship with my body. I had to ask not what my body could do for me, but ask what I could do for my body. Not to whip it into shape. Not to make it lovable and attractive to anyone who happened to be in its vicinity, but to make sure it was taken care of. For me, because it *was* me. Make sure it was nourished and hydrated and strong and healthy. 

And that changed how I dealt with all of the unappealing parts of having a body. I am 43. My hormones are crazy right now. And I should probably expect that to continue for maybe another 10 years. That is a whole *decade*!!! But also, that is normal. It is completely expected for my woman’s body to experience this.

And this past week was hard. I was exhausted all week. I needed to lay on the couch and do nothing, not even knit or crochet! I had several outbreaks of cystic acne which are painful as well as ugly. I was cranky and sad and did lots of crying. And at least half of it was *not* over imaginary characters in novels, comics and TV shows. And of course, I still had to do all of the things that I have to do. I had to prep food and clean the kitchen (I totally half assed a lot of that, and my husband did some as well) and do the shopping and go to work.

But because I have a level of clarity about my life and my body from having my food taken care of, I am not angry at my body. I do not blame it for doing what bodies do. I feel like it is a very modern concept to think of one’s body as getting in the way of one’s life. We have created so many workarounds to get out of dealing with our physical humanity, that we don’t necessarily see what is natural and good. We spend so much time powering through, that we think our bodies are the problem, and not the lifestyle we have created that doesn’t have any room for the basic needs of actually *being* a carbon-based machine.

My eating boundaries have given me a sense of reality about my body. Not only about what it can and should look like in the real world (not according to the latest Photoshopped ad for designer jeans, or the ad promoting some supplement guaranteed to make you lose 10 pounds in 10 days), but also how I can expect to feel and what I can expect to be able to do. Realistically. Because I have a normal body doing normal things.

I like my full life. I like my job and my commitments. I like the people I work with and the friends that I have. I am not campaigning for less modern conveniences. I love my gadgets and my technology. I just don’t want to forget that my body is not some separate gadget. It doesn’t need an upgrade. It isn’t in the way of my life. It is my life. It is me. And I show myself how much I love me, by loving my body and honoring it exactly as it is. Flawed and sometimes uncomfortable, and gloriously, normally human.

The Blessings of Benchmarks and Bare Minimums

I have been particularly fortunate over the past several months. I have been working less, but I have been working consistently. And while my husband and I are not making as much money as we were last year, we have never suffered financially through this difficult time.


I have enjoyed the lightened work load, frankly. I am not a workaholic. I like more free time, not less. I like to do nothing. I like to do nothing for whole days. I used to feel like this made me lazy. And I am sure that is how it occurred to people when I was in the food and getting nothing done.


But in having my eating under control, I have learned how to manage work and rest. I have learned how to be incredibly productive, and also make time to be a vegetable on the couch. I know how to feel accomplished by accomplishing things, and to accept that I not only like, but need, a ridiculous amount of down time.


When I got my sugar addiction under wraps, my experience of time changed much like my experience of food. When I was eating compulsively, I was obsessed with food, but I was miserable all of the time. Either I was eating something I wanted, but felt guilty for eating it, or I was eating something I felt I should be eating, but hating it the whole time. I was either lamenting chocolate cake while it was in my mouth, thinking I was a bad girl, or suffering through lettuce or celery, hating the experience of being a good girl. Either way, I had set myself up to be miserable around food.


But then I put boundaries around my eating, and suddenly I was eating guilt-free. And that was a revelation. That was the greatest part of getting my eating under control; following rules eliminated guilt by giving me bare minimums and benchmarks. As long as I hit my marks, I could eat with impunity.


Time is much the same for me now. Before I was trapped in my own narrative about not being good enough. I thought I was lazy. I thought I was incapable. I thought I was ill-equipped to do anything worthwhile. And in many ways, my addiction made that true. I was always second guessing myself. I was easily overwhelmed. I was constantly afraid of failing, and failed because that fear meant I was unwilling, or unable to try. But since I got my addiction on a leash, I can see the bare minimums and the benchmarks. As long as I hit them, do the work that needs to get done, send the email, make the call, follow up, get to the next right action, I don’t have to worry about a day spent watching mindless TV, or listening to a book, or crafting. I don’t have to feel guilty about a day in my pajamas.


I was never super woman. But somehow I always felt like I should have been. Now I don’t worry about how to be “great,” I worry about how to honor my word and keep my integrity intact. And I often end up being great anyway. And sometimes I’m just meh. And every time, whether I’m just so good, or just so-so, it’s enough.


I am in the beginning stages of a very big job right now. I am doing the slow dance of bureaucracy, getting big things done, one small step at a time. But it is stressful. And it is exciting. And while today I have to go grocery shopping, and prep lunches for the week, and be emotionally and practically ready to jump through hoops and wait in lines and navigate a maze of red tape, yesterday I did a whole bunch of nothing. And it made today possible, and bearable, and I don’t feel bad about it at all. And to not feel bad about myself is perhaps the second best thing about getting my eating under control. Because guilt-free eating is still, and will probably always be the first best thing ever.

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