Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “giving up sugar”

Ups and downs and how little control I have over them

I don’t weigh myself. I haven’t for about 10 years. I used to. Once a month. Most people who do what I do with food weigh themselves on the first. 

But when I quit smoking over 10 years ago, I gained a bunch of weight. I was keeping my eating boundaries and gaining weight anyway. It was really difficult. I was having nightmares about my weight and getting on the scale. And I would weigh myself on the first and be relieved that I didn’t have to do it again for another month. But the relief only lasted a week, tops. And then I was obsessed with what I could do to not gain more weight by the next time.

But I was not overeating. I was not doing any of the things that conventional wisdom tells us make us gain weight. I was eating less and less calorie dense foods and weighing more.

I started losing weight about 6 months ago. And since we have moved back home and I got a mini stepper two months ago, the weight loss is quicker. The other day I put on a dress that I bought 5 or 6 years ago and that used to be just the right amount of snug on me. Now it hangs off of me. Pants that used to be tight are now way too big and I have to roll the waistband down twice to get them in a comfortable position.

A lot of people who do what I do talk about how they still wear the same clothes from years ago. But that is not my story.

My story is that my weight has changed many times in the past 17 years. Not just when I quit smoking. And that I personally don’t have any answers as to why. I have gained weight eating all salads. And I am currently losing weight eating ridiculous amounts of bacon and pork rinds. Weighed and measured yes. So there is a limit. But bacon and pork rinds don’t weigh all that much.

I decided years ago that I would concentrate on keeping my food addiction under control and not worry about my weight. That whatever weight I am when I am weighing and measuring my food is exactly the right weight for me to be. 

But I still live in our society. And I am most definitely conditioned to think that getting smaller is always automatically good. So I keep an eye on those thoughts. I don’t entertain them. And I won’t make any major lifestyle changes, like longer or more intense workouts, without talking to a trusted person about them first.

I want to be strong and healthy. I want to love my body. But I don’t want that love to be contingent to my weight or size. I don’t want that love to be contingent on anything.


Isn’t it ironic?

I have been thinking about writing about the weight loss drug, Ozempic, for a while. There are so many things about it that I have thoughts, but maybe more importantly, feelings about.

So first, I want to say that I don’t want it. Even if I could get it, I would not take it. I have a solution to my eating problem. And I have learned to separate my weight from my eating problem. It would not do me much good to be thin and obsessed with food. The obsession is the problem. My guess is a pill can’t fix that. And also, I have no proof that it would work better for me than my eating boundaries. And I am not interested in messing with a 17 year proven solution.

Second, weight loss drugs have been around a long time. And yet, individually, none of them are still around. I am personally old enough to remember Fen-Phen. And I am old enough to remember the commercials in the subsequent years claiming that if you had heart problems from it, you might be entitled to financial compensation. Plenty of women who have the same eating boundaries that I have remember being prescribed amphetamines by doctors when they were younger. Plus downers so they could sleep at night.

Third, you need to take it for life. Which actually  makes sense to me. I mean, I have to do what I do for life. But a lot of things can go wrong with something like that. The drug could be taken off the market. It has already become prohibitively expensive for most people. 

But I guess the thing for me that makes it all the more frustrating is that while it really may help people who have diseases like diabetes, it is mostly being used by celebrities and various rich people to stay skinny and cultivate “a look.” A friend of mine was even on it for a while and lost a lot of weight. But then he was no longer big enough to “qualify” for it, and his prescription was taken away. But like I said, you have to take it for life for it to work.

I suppose ultimately it’s all tied up for me in the fact that we have scientists making junk food addictive on purpose, we have a “fitness” industry telling us that if we would only work hard enough (and buy the right products) we could, and should, look like a magazine cover model, we have a culture that hates and vilifies fatness as a personal and moral failing, and when we do come up with a possible medical solution, wealthy people commandeer all of it to fit into a smaller size for their social media accounts.

I’m just going to be over here reading ingredients and weighing out my food. Ironic, but honestly, seems so much simpler than taking a pill every day.

When it’s not about the sugar

I accidentally ate sugar. Everything is fine. Nothing is wrong. It wasn’t very much at all and I didn’t notice until days later. And an honest mistake doesn’t count against my eating boundaries. But I ate sugar. And when something like that happens it really really matters that I acknowledge it. 

I saw something on social media the other day that the first thought you have in a situation is the thought you are conditioned to have. And even after 17 years of being honest about my eating and my food, my first thought was to not say anything. After all. It wasn’t that much, and I didn’t even notice it until days later, when something urged me to read the ingredients list on the pork rinds I had just bought. The same kind I had eaten the other day. And they had both maltodextrin and brown sugar. 

I did make a call. I told the truth to a person I trust who does what I do with food. But it’s particularly interesting that I wanted to lie. About an honest mistake. About one rare lapse in rigor even after over 17 years. I should have read the ingredients before I bought them. I will be more careful moving forward. But that instinct to hide any imperfection or weakness, to deny the truth of any blunder or error on my part, runs deep. 

And that is the reason it matters that I acknowledge it. Not because it is so terrible. But because if I don’t acknowledge it, it becomes shame. And then it is not about the sugar. It is about the lie and the shame.

A new spin on the same old cantaloupe story

About once a year I write a blog about how I found a giant cantaloupe at the grocery store, and ate half of it and made myself sick. I can have half a cantaloupe for breakfast and it doesn’t matter how big the cantaloupe is. I get half of a 1 pound cantaloupe or half of a 10 pound cantaloupe. And usually my eyes are bigger than my stomach. So I see that giant fruit and get excited and then…I don’t think regret is the right word, but I don’t enjoy it as much as I think I will. 

Well, when we got back home a few weeks ago, I bought myself a small, cheap step machine. My house here does have stairs, but they are from the 1940s when this house was built. And they are steep, and they have a turning at the top, and they are just not conducive to a safe workout. So I got a machine and it turns out that this machine makes for a much more intense and rigorous workout than I was doing before. And I have to say that I love it. I get kind of excited to do it on workout days!

Ok, back to the cantaloupe. This week I bought a ridiculous cantaloupe, I cut it up and put it in a giant bowl for breakfast on Monday, and while I was doing that I was thinking to myself, this is going to make you sick, Kate. But I was starving! So insanely hungry! And I surprised even myself when a huge breakfast of bacon and eggs and half of a cantaloupe as big as my head did not make me sick. In fact. I could have eaten more!

I don’t know if it’s entirely the new, more intense workout, or the fact that I am breathing better all the time, including when I am working out. Or my body recognizing the change of seasons and no longer wanting to hold on to weight and warmth. Or just that sometimes, for reasons I don’t understand, I am hungry when I am usually not. But I am hungry lately and I am eating heavy. 

One thing I love about my food boundaries is that I have lots of leeway to eat in a way that makes me happy. I can eat light, with more salads and lean meats, and fewer things cooked in fat. Or I can eat heavy, with veggies sautéed in butter and giant fruits and more bacon. 

Having rules has made it so that I don’t have to question my food or my eating. I don’t have to ask myself if I am doing something I shouldn’t be, or something that doesn’t serve me. I don’t have to be afraid of food or ashamed of anything that I eat. If it’s in my boundaries, all is well and I don’t have eating taking up precious space in my brain.

Change is inevitable. But I don’t have to like it.

A month or two ago, the manufacturers of my favorite zero calorie drinks changed their formula. And in a brand new turn of events, they didn’t change it so I *can’t have it* anymore. They changed it so that I *don’t want it* anymore. Except that I do. Of course I do. But I want the same old one I have been drinking for years. Not the new, sort of plastic tasting ones.

This has happened to me many many times over the past 17 years. Something I love, that I consume regularly, changes. Usually it changes so that it doesn’t fit my boundaries anymore. It now has added sugar or starch. Or alcohol. But however it happens, something I want stops being available to me. And I have to mourn it.

I feel like the socially acceptable thing to do is shrug and say “oh well” other people have it worse. And of course they do. In the grand scheme of the world, I am rich and privileged. And I do know it. And I am grateful for it. But I am still sad. I have still lost something that made me happy. And I still have to mourn it.

For the past several weeks I have been looking for and trying alternatives to my drink, on grocery store shelves and pages and pages into an Amazon search. And so far, no joy. But I do not doubt that I will come up with a great solution and find a drink I love the way I loved my old one. 

Change is the nature of life, but I can still hate it. Especially when it comes to my food. The things I eat and drink still bring me joy and happiness. Now they just don’t get me high to do it.

A testament to how far I have come

I was reminded yesterday that I don’t generally eat because I am hungry. I eat because it is time to eat. And yesterday I almost forgot to eat lunch. 

My husband and I are officially home just in time for Spring, and expect to be here at least through the end of the year. And over the past few days we have been running around doing super fun errands. Like buying and building a new patio furniture set.

Yesterday we got home from a few stops out and about and I was excited to finish building my outdoor chairs. And then the set was built and we were out in the sun enjoying it on the first really beautiful day of Spring and I suddenly gasped! “Oh F***! I forgot to eat lunch!”

It was early enough that I didn’t have to make a call or skip a meal or do anything other than prep and eat a meal late and push dinner back half an hour. But it is a testament to how far I have come since being an active compulsive eater. Because I forgot about an entire meal. About a third of my food for the day.

It was a nice little reminder, frankly, that I am getting enough food. That I don’t feel “hungry” more than 3 or 4 times in a year. That I can enjoy things other than food and eating. 

Don’t expect me to forget to eat again any time soon. I certainly don’t expect that. Eating is still one of my favorite activities. I just do it with boundaries now. And that late meal was spectacular and so was my late dinner. I enjoyed every bite. But I was once a slave to food and yesterday was one more piece of evidence that I am not anymore.

A process not a project

Not too long ago, I started knitting a gift for a family member who is getting married next year. And I got about 1/10th of the way through (used 3 of the 30 balls of yarn I bought and spent several hours knitting it) and then I just sort of stopped working on it. And finally, after some time, I realized I wasn’t working on it because I didn’t like it. That I was unhappy with the design I chose. And I unraveled it and balled the yarn back up. (Thank heaven for my yarn winder so I didn’t have to wind the balls by hand!)

It is one of my favorite lessons from getting my eating under control. It does not matter how much work was done, how much time I spent, how much energy I expended. If I am unhappy, it is worth it to undo all of that progress and do it again. 

And there is the other side of that same coin. That I can leave a mistake. That I don’t need to be perfect. That if I *don’t* want to unravel a project, I can leave a flaw right where it is. I can even call it a “design feature” if I’m feeling saucy. 

Since getting my food taken care of, so much of the trajectory of my life has to do with the way I subconsciously act when I am actively working to take care of myself. When I first started to go to meetings, people would talk about “smart feet.” They didn’t *think about* getting to the meeting. They just let their bodies take them. They let the momentum of recovery guide them to the things that are best for them. 

In the beginning of arresting my food addiction, sometimes something would go wrong with a meal. My scale would turn off in the middle of weighing my meal. Or I poured the oil too fast and too much came out on my food and I could not get enough off to fix it. And the answer was to throw the food away. Even when the ingredients were expensive. Even if I spent a long time making that meal. Even if it was the last of my favorite thing in the house and I had to have something I liked less. Even when there are children starving in the world!!! I learned that my commitment to myself was more important than anything else. And eventually I learned to 1) be more careful, and 2) throw it away without a second thought if it could not be salvaged.

Understanding how to let my life be a process and not a project or an object has let all the things I do be part of a process too. Progress is more important than perfection. 

I could have struggled through the original blanket design. Maybe. But the truth is, I might not have. I might have ended up with over $200 in yarn and a twinge of guilt over knowing I bought it for a gift that never got made. All because I could not give up on the time I spent on my first design.

But now I can let things be what they are and make my own judgements about them, and take my own actions accordingly.

Change takes change

There is a sentiment that I have heard many times from women who are already married or in a relationship when they get their eating under control. Their spouses say things like “I just wanted you to lose weight. I didn’t want you to change.”

When I first got my eating under control I had a kind of revelation. That if I was going to change the way I ate, I was going to have to change the way I ate. But also it meant I had to change other things about how I went through my day. Because eating was a major part of my day-to-day life.

Before that, I had wanted to change my body. And I was only vaguely aware of the fact that it had something to do with my eating. (Sugar is a hell of a drug.) But I didn’t want to change anything significant. It didn’t occur to me that success in arresting my compulsive eating meant I had to change anything except to do the few very specific things it took to “keep to a diet.” And I somehow expected it to work. 

Except that I didn’t. I always knew, and always FELT deep in me, that whatever diet I was on would not work. Wouldn’t work for me, at any rate. 

And I was right. Because there was no endgame. I was eating to get thin enough that I could eat the way I wanted to without judgement. But I did not want to stop eating. I simply wanted to avoid the consequences of it. 

I certainly could not have put that into words until I got my eating under control, but ultimately that was what it was. Because what I did NOT want to do was give up sugar.

What I really learned early on in recovery was that in order to make a real and lasting change in my eating and my body, I had to make other lasting changes. And in many ways, the things I had to do to get my eating under control made that part easy. It meant I had to go to the grocery store. I had to schedule that into my week. I had to cook meals within my boundaries. I had to figure out how to do that and still get to work on time. And I had to figure out how to get to meetings and talk to other people recovering from their own food addiction. I had to make time and put in effort. All of those things changed the shape of my days. And changing my schedule was the perfect way to change my actions and my results.

To change my life and get something different from what I have had, I have always had to change my life in practice. To take new and different actions and approaches. To behave differently. And it has always been worth it.

Commitment and follow through >>>

One of the ways I have created a life I enjoy is through the liberal use of benchmarks and bare minimums. There are things that I do daily or weekly as means of self care, and I do them because I do them and not because I like to. Not even because I like the results. (Though I do like the results of my commitments.)

I never feel like exercising. Ok. That is not entirely true. About twice a year, I really look forward to it. That leaves another approximately 258 days a year in which I know I should work out, for my physical health, my mental state and my spiritual life, but still really really REALLY don’t want to. (Ok, that last REALLY is probably a little bit overboard, but just a little.)

This past week I had a hard time getting myself to exercise. I did it, but I started later than usual because I was unmotivated. My ass was draggin’, if you will. And it took days to realize that it’s because I’m a little sick. (I swear! I have been sick more in the past year than I have in the past 20.) Nothing crazy. Not covid. And not bad at all. The kind of sick that pre-2020, I would have easily gone into work with. The kind that barely phases a person. 

But it made me deflate at the idea of working out. And then *that* made me feel bad. It made me feel like I was wasting my time. That two weeks ago I was done before 9:30 in the morning and here it was, after 10 and I was still not moving.

So I started to remind myself this week, that it is a matter of my priorities. And that I don’t have to do things perfectly. 

My acts of self care are a priority. But I can be hard on myself for the way I feel about it. Or I can get caught up in the “right way” to do those things. Or I can be upset about not doing them as early or as quickly or as enthusiastically as I can, or did yesterday, or feel like I should. 

These kinds of feelings used to take me out. Exercise was an hour later than yesterday? Might as well not do it at all. I didn’t drink all my water before noon? Do I really care about drinking water? I didn’t do my writing meditation yet? Is it really doing anything for me anyway?

My life is made better by my “practices.” The things I do because I do them. Not because I’m looking for results. The irony, of course, is that doing things as a practice rather than with an eye towards results is the best way for me to get actual results.

I am remembering today to be kind to myself. That I do the things I do because the act doing makes my life better. Because the commitment and the follow through are creating results, whether or not the workout itself is.

Risky Business

I am a person who can, and does, eat the same thing every day. There are parts of my dinner that I have literally eaten every day for over a decade and a half.

For me, it is more important to know I am going to love my food than it is to have variety. 

But my husband…not so much. (Poor husband…) So we have been trying new dishes for dinner. And at least the roasted lemon chicken is a success. (We are giving the pork tacos another shot this coming week on Taco Tuesday!)

But it is a whole mental gymnastics routine for me to prepare for something new. Because I have a literal fear of a bad meal. Hell, I don’t even like it when my meal is mediocre! 

I spent my life before my eating boundaries worried that there would not be enough food. And in many ways, there wasn’t enough to satisfy me. I mostly ate sugar and carbs, which set up a craving for more of the same, so no matter how much I ate, I still wanted more.

So when I started weighing my food, knowing there would be a limited amount every day, I became much more devoted to making every bite as delicious as I could possibly make it. And that had served me well.

But when one of the most important things in my life became to eat delicious food inside my boundaries, I got rather risk averse. (Hence the whole eating the same thing every day schtick.)

But I set those worries aside and tried some new meals and they absolutely paid off. And the truth is, even if they hadn’t and one or more new recipe turned out to be a dud, there is always another meal coming. So if dinner was meh, I just have to make sure breakfast is spectacular!

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