onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “food boundaries”

The ability to just exist

My whole life growing up and even a few years into having my eating under control, I was obsessed with my weight. I thought about my weight all the time. I don’t mean that figuratively. If I was awake, some portion of my mind was occupied with thoughts about my body, specifically my fatness. I was constantly on the lookout for potential shamers. And I mean always and everywhere, since many of them were in my own family. Someone asking me if I was sure I wanted to eat that. Someone making a roundabout fat joke. Or a blatant fat joke. Someone assuring me that I was somehow lacking. Lacking willpower, lacking proper pride, lacking beauty, lacking sense. 

Even when I first lost weight after I gave up sugar and carbohydrates, I was still very much obsessed with my body. With its new thinness. With the (often, though not always) exciting attention I was getting as a suddenly conventionally beautiful woman. But also, with what occurred to me as a kind of lie. Beneath my clothes there were stretch marks and loose skin. I was not smooth and lean and perfect. Beneath my clothes was the evidence that I was not a “regular girl.” There was a fat girl under there.

That is one of the meanings of the title of this blog. Once a fat girl. Once, as in the past. But also, there is more to that saying. Once a fat girl, ALWAYS a fat girl. There were things about growing up fat that will never go away. There is a kind of trauma to it. And that trauma is not about what I did to myself. It’s not about eating or food addiction or the ways I dealt with or felt about my own body. Because in getting my eating under control, I got to work through those things. I got to confront myself, and look at my own soul and mind and life.

But in many ways I am still not over the trauma of the way I was treated by others because I was fat. So let me say it clearly. It was abuse. I was traumatized. I was harmed. It was not OK. 

The greatest gift of putting boundaries around my food is guilt-free eating. But right up there is the fact that I don’t have to think about my body. Almost ever. I don’t walk into a room wondering who is going to shame me. I don’t have to look around for potential abusers and make a plan for how I will escape. I don’t have to think about how I am going to be judged. I get to just exist. 

Fat people don’t get to just exist. And I think that is a terrible thing for everyone.

A Case of Unshaken Identity

For a long time now, years, more often than not, it is hard to think of a topic for this blog. Committing to write weekly is a lot. And more than once I have wondered if it is time to put the blog down. For one, the name, which I thought was so clever when I started, hasn’t aged well for me, since my journey has steered me well away from weight and more into food addiction. And I definitely consider myself more interested in fat liberation now than in teaching someone else how to lose weight, which is not how this started for me.

But then I think about how keeping my eating boundaries is the most important thing in my life. And how not eating sugar, and honoring that there are behavioral aspects to my addiction, has led me to a life I love and to me being a person I respect. Which was not the case when I was eating compulsively. 

Being a sugar addict, and specifically being a sugar addict in recovery, and abstaining from foods that turn into drugs in my system, is my primary identity. More than knitting and crochet. More than fantasy novels. Even more than audiobook versions of fantasy novels! The first thing I do every day is know what I am going to eat, and when, and how. And writing this blog every week is just one more reminder that my eating boundaries are my first priority always. 

So for now, I will keep writing posts. And I will keep figuring out something to say. Because while I hope you get something out of it, mostly I do it because I am positive that I get something out of it. To claim my identity.

Panic! At the Grocery

On Monday last week I dropped my phone in the grocery store (I do basically everything on my phone including keeping my shopping list) and it broke. The screen did not work at all. 

It was very upsetting for me. Number one, how was I going to remember what I had on my grocery list? (And yes, I did, indeed, end up missing a couple of important items that day in my panic. Yes I managed anyway.) But also, as I mentioned above, I do everything on my phone. So I was totally out of sorts. 

There was a store from my service carrier in the same parking lot as the grocery store, though. So I went in there to discuss my options. And friends, they were anything but helpful. Two of the three employees in particular were rude, gave me condescending looks and side eyes, and made it clear to me that I was interrupting their conversations. They basically told me that I needed to take it up with Apple. Even though I had insurance through them. 

But I had not eaten lunch. Which would have to be my first priority because keeping my eating boundaries is alway my first priority. And I had promised my husband that I would do laundry that day because he was running out of work clothes. And I had just made a promise to my career coach that I would get him my first draft of my cover letter and a revised resume by the end of the week. And now, on top of that I needed to find an Apple repair place and everything would be more difficult until I did.

I was pacing around my apartment, on the brink of hyperventilating, too distracted to do one thing at a time. Making part of my lunch, but then walking away to sort laundry. And then looking at the time and realizing I still hadn’t eaten any lunch. Too worried about getting everything done to get anything done with any grace. Too muddled to finish a task. 

This is a default setting of mine. When things seem too complicated and unthinkable to process, I just don’t process them. I shut down.  

And then I made a decision. I was not going to deal with my phone that day. I just made the choice and let it go. I made lunch and then sat down and ate it while watching Bridgerton. Again. (Don’t ask how many times. You really don’t want to know. Or at least I don’t want to admit it to you.)

In making the choice, I was able to stop my mind. I decided that when my husband got home, I would use his phone. I would call and make an appointment at an Apple repair place for the next day. And I would manage for the following 24 hours. 

And moving forward, everything went smoothly. I used my husband’s phone to make an appointment. The next morning I ate breakfast and packed myself a lunch. I got there on time. They took my phone and told me to come back in an hour. And I had Apple Care so they fixed my phone for free. I got back home with a working phone in time for lunch.

The ability to pause, to actively make a choice, to *accept* that it is always life on Life’s terms, is a gift of having my eating under control. My default may be to pace and mutter and flit from unfinished task to unfinished task, but I now have the option to *choose* something else. 

Does that take something? Some effort? It does. I had to learn how to do it. I have to continue to practice it. All the time. And even after 16 years of having boundaries around my eating, that panic still pops up first. But in having priorities, especially when my first priority is that of self-care, I can change the way I think and act in any moment.

I love convenience only slightly less than getting what I want

I went to a new grocery store yesterday. And I ended up hating it. Which was kind of unexpected. It was significantly bigger than the one I have been frequenting. It was fancier. I drove farther to get there. The parking lot was packed. I had high hopes. But in the end, it was just really frustrating.

Both the meat and frozen vegetable selections were bigger, but didn’t have the things I specifically wanted. The produce was no better, but noticeably more expensive and several things I needed were sold out. The layout was confusing and sprawling, and frankly, a little maddening.  And in the end, the smaller grocery store closer to me is the owned by the same company as my local grocery store in my Chicago suburb neighborhood. So I already have a discount account for it, unlike the big fancy one. 

But there were actually 2 things I wanted that I can’t find at the closer store. My very favorite yogurt, and fresh half sour pickles. So that means I will almost certainly stop by that grocery store every couple of weeks to stock up on them.

Because I love convenience. But not as much as I love getting what I want. Especially when it comes to food.

I eat within my eating boundaries. I am fastidious. But I can be because I don’t feel deprived. I am not struggling against a diet. I am not struggling at all. And part of not feeling deprived and not struggling is giving myself those things I have the power to give. And fancy yogurt and fancy pickles are definitely in that category.

Right or Married?

This week was my sixth wedding anniversary with my husband. We have been together for 9 years. I am still madly in love with him too! And I am positive that it is because I have my eating under control.

When I first put boundaries around my eating, I lost a lot of weight. And I had always believed that my fatness was why I was single. So I really expected the man of my dreams to show up right away. I was gorgeous! (I had always been gorgeous, but then I was thin and gorgeous and in a socially acceptable body.) So where was my husband?

In the end, it would be over six years of having my eating under control and a pretty significant weight *gain* before I found (was reunited with) the man of my dreams.

My husband has always been supportive of my food boundaries. He bought me a refrigerator full of vegetables the first time he flew me out to stay with him. But he told me early on that he would not care if I were fat. That if I wanted to give up my eating boundaries, it would be OK with him.

I believed him that he didn’t care about my weight. But I don’t think he knows what he would get personally, spiritually or emotionally if I gave up my eating boundaries. 

We argued just yesterday. It happens. We are humans in a relationship. But we are not still in an argument. Because having my eating under control allows me a certain amount of clarity. What is worth standing my ground on, and what is better to let go? What is my fault and my responsibility? What are his triggers and fears, and how can I not rub up against them?

I never cared about anyone but myself when I was in the food. I didn’t know how. And I didn’t trust that anyone would care about what I wanted. So I lied, cheated, stole and manipulated. 

In putting boundaries around my eating, I learned how to take care of myself so well, that it was not a burden to care for another person. I was so nourished personally by my own hands, that I had more to give. More time, energy, compassion and grace. 

I really believe that all of these things are dependent on my eating being under control. So yes, I am so grateful to know that my weight is not an issue for my husband. I am happy to know that he can see my beauty as not directly linked to thinness. But I like my insides as calm and peaceful and happy as they are now. Because that peace extends to all aspects of my life. Including, and especially, my marriage.

Priorities and Resentments

I am good at change because having my eating under control taught me about priorities. I often say that my eating boundaries are the most important thing in my life. What I am really saying when I say that is that taking care of myself is the most important thing in my life.

In many ways that can be seen as a weakness, or at least a mark against me. Shouldn’t my husband be the most important thing in my life? Shouldn’t I be focused on others? Isn’t that where my worth as a woman comes from? Even in 2022, I see messages every day across all kinds of media that tell me what my priorities should be. And in general, they are not, apparently, supposed to be me.

But my life is better because I do have priorities. And my husband’s life is better because I am my own first priority. And it comes down to one word. Resentment.

I am madly in love with my husband. He and my marriage are absolutely my second priority. But a big part of that is that I don’t put myself in a position to resent him. I don’t put his needs above my own. I take care of myself first. I take care of him second. Everyone and everything else falls into place when I act on what is most important to me.

I used to poison myself with people pleasing as much as sugar. And the sugar facilitated the people pleasing. I wasn’t even very good at people pleasing, for all of the numbing I did with sugar and drug foods. I *did* the thing to please, but I did it in such an unpleasant way, that everyone was unhappy. And then I ended up with a resentment on top of everything.

In getting my eating under control I learned to say no. It started out about food. No, you can’t have any of my food. No, I won’t eat the thing you are offering me. But it grew to be something more. No, I can’t help you. No, I am not available. No, I don’t have time.

And eventually I even stopped feeling guilty about it. I could say no with joy! And no hard feelings. At least on my part. And I learned how not to worry about hard feelings on other people’s parts too.

Putting boundaries around my eating created a ripple effect that has ended up transforming every aspect of my life for the better, letting me set boundaries, and honor my own priorities. I get to say how my life goes. And frankly, it goes pretty smoothly.

Nothing went wrong with my food

Today’s post is going to be extra short because I am already tired and out of my routine. We are living temporarily in New Jersey just outside of Philadelphia. So last week I secured a temporary apartment, and this past week I got ready to move. Then Friday I drove 12 hours to a new town and yesterday moved into a new apartment.

It’s small. It’s expensive. You know, very East coast.

One thing didn’t change. My eating. I made days worth of food ahead of time. I packed easily transported meals. The night before we drove, I actually packed the food up in the coolers I was going to use, and packed them into my car, only to take them out and put all of the food back into the refrigerator overnight.

Is that weird and obsessive? Perhaps. Did it make me feel better to already know at 5 o’clock in the morning exactly how the food was going to fit into the coolers and the coolers into the car? Absolutely.

I know what my priorities are. And I plan for them accordingly. Especially with food. And nothing went wrong with my food.

This one can tide me over

I mentioned in my last post that I was having a hard time getting my internet provider to come fix my internet. That continued, so on Monday I set up an appointment with a new provider and cancelled my service, which meant that I was without internet for 3 days. And friends, I LOVED it. 

I knit and crocheted and listened to an amazing audiobook series, and just generally had a very peaceful time.

I had some homework to do for my career coach, rewriting my resume and creating a LinkedIn page, but I would get internet on Thursday and I could do it on Friday. 

But while the internet technician was here on Thursday, I got a call that my husband had been asked to run a job in New Jersey for 4 months starting next week. 

So I got internet just in time to have to find us temporary housing immediately. 

All of a sudden, my Friday became grocery shopping for the week, and finding an apartment on almost no noticed, on top of creating a LinkedIn page, researching resumes and updating my own resume for my career coach. 

I was overwhelmed. I was frustrated. I felt in over my head. And it made me feel physically ill. 

And then I realized two things. Those feelings were tied up in very old stories about myself and whether or not I am lazy and if I do “enough.” And that I felt like that nearly every day for nearly all of my life when I was eating compulsively. 

I was a kid who never did my homework. I procrastinated. I intended to do it later, but by the time I knew I must do something I had waited long enough that I was too exhausted. I was easily paralyzed. I was afraid of doing wrong, so it was easier to do nothing. And having to rewrite my resume felt like that. I knew I had to find housing. But it felt awful to do that first, and not my resume. And by the time the housing was taken care of, I was too exhausted to deal with my resume.

So I did a thing I did a million times when I was a kid. I told myself I would do it in the morning.

I slept uneasy. I tossed and turned. I kept thinking about that resume and how I didn’t know what I was doing and how I had a meeting with my coach in the morning, and how I was in over my head. 

But here is the catch. This time I really did do it in the morning. Because I keep my promises. To myself. To other people. And then I had an amazing call with my career coach. And once that was done I felt spectacular. I felt free.

When I was eating compulsively and I hated myself, I thought I hated myself because of who I was. That I was broken. That I was lacking. But I hated myself because of what I did or failed to do. And in getting my eating under control, I learned how to do things. Not to be perfect or right. I learned to do them so I could sleep at night. I learned to do them so I could like myself. 

It is no coincidence that these feelings are coming up when I am looking for a new job, a new career, a new way of living and making money. They are all caught up in what I am worth. 

But the first thing I ever did that made me feel that I was worthy was to promise myself and another person that I would stop eating sugar and put boundaries around my eating, and then to keep that promise. 

I am always grateful for these moments when I get a glimpse of what it felt like to hate myself again. To remember that that was my reality for 28 years. After 16 years of keeping my eating under control and loving my life, it can escape me how much pain I lived in thinking there wasn’t a way out. But don’t get me wrong. This can tide me over for a long time. I don’t need any more reminders for the time being.

Every Feeling In Its Place

It has been a few days of what some people like to call “broken shoelaces.” These are not life or death problems I’m having. They are manageable troubles that happen to everyone. They are just life. But gah! They sure do suck!

My car battery died. And the store only had the really expensive replacement battery in stock. My internet won’t work. And I can’t get my provider to send a technician. I just end up on the merry-go-round of their automated system. But also, if we change providers, we don’t know it will be any better, and they may have to drill holes in our cinderblock walls. Sigh. 

I am frustrated. I am annoyed. I feel like none of this will ever be resolved. But of course it will. Because I am not drugging myself with food. I am not making myself numb enough not to care.

I don’t like these feelings. I am not comfortable being frustrated, feeling powerless, feeling invisible. I don’t enjoy not being able to get what I want even through my own actions.

But I know how to manage those feelings. I know how to be with them. I know how to sit in the discomfort until it passes, either from me fixing it, or sometimes, life fixing it. Everything passes. And sometimes it passes because I made it. And sometimes because things change. But however it happens, in the mean time, I know how to be calm, or more likely how to calm myself. I know how to accept my situation and take stock of my opinions. And I know how to be patient. To not need everything right now. 

And I learned that through practice. And the first thing I had to practice was not eating compulsively even when my thoughts and my feelings were screaming for cake.

Having my eating under control gives me a kind of control over my thoughts and actions that I never had in the food. And it puts my feelings in their proper place. They are signposts and guides. They are warnings and signals. But they are not the truths I used to take them for. 

I am still annoyed. I am not an angel or a saint. But I am in control of my life in a way I was not when my sugar addiction was active. I am in control of my actions, and my thoughts, and how I present them to others. And that makes all of these broken shoelaces feel like what they are, inconveniences, rather than the overwhelming problems that I used to be afraid everything was.

A Pickle On An Easy Path

One thing about having my sugar addiction under control for so long is that I do not want sugar anymore. I do not crave it. But also, I do not want it. There is nothing in it for me anymore.

The idea that a little would be a “treat” is ridiculous to me now. Because when I was addicted to sugar and eating compulsively, it made me numb. And it made me embarrassed and ashamed. And that had some connection to my weight. But separately, it was connected to all of the ways I failed to show up in my life. It was connected to all of the ways I lacked integrity. It was connected to my being dishonest and manipulative and cruel. Because it made it so that I didn’t have to look at myself or contemplate what kind of person I was being. It made me numb enough that I didn’t have to be confronted by my own actions.

I am an addict. And I, personally, don’t believe that once you have become addicted to something you can ever cease to be addicted to it. You can’t get the cucumber back once it’s a pickle. But even if you could, why would I try? Why would I potentially throw away 16 years of growth and peace and happiness? Why would I give up my eating boundaries for a moment of flavor when I don’t know what other consequences would come with it?

I think that fact that I do not crave the things I used to be obsessed with is a pretty good sign for me that they were always an addiction. If it were really just about food being delicious, then 16 years later, you would think I would still want it. But I look at cake and I don’t see anything. I don’t see deliciousness or excitement or even that hit of getting high. Much of the time, even if it is right in front of me, I literally don’t see it, as in it does not even register.

I am so grateful that it is so easy to keep going down the path. Because getting on the path was hard. It was uncomfortable and painful and difficult. And it lasted a long time. It didn’t really get easy for a year and a half. And that is a long time to stick with pain and discomfort.

But it was worth it. I am free from my eating disorders and my sugar addiction. I am free to enjoy my food and also enjoy my life. And I don’t miss foods I don’t eat.

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