onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “giving up sugar”

It’s not science, it just works.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

Truth *and* consequences

I’m listening to a book series right now that I do not want to put down. (I am a huge audiobook fan. I can do so many things, like exercise or cook, and enjoy a novel at the same time.) But I have things to do right now that require all of my attention, like writing this blog or doing some work for my job, and I have to put it down. Waaahhh!!!

When I was eating compulsively I would have just continued with my book, and the consequences be damned. I let a lot of things fall by the wayside before I had boundaries around my eating. I did what felt good in the moment.

But of course there were consequences. The biggest was the stress that came from being out of integrity. And I didn’t even think of it that way. I didn’t even know at the time how to acknowledge that I owed something and that in not paying up, I was harming myself to myself. It always looked to me like it was about other people. The people I owed something to: teachers, friends, parents. 

For me, the consequences never ended up being as bad as the stress I caused myself. But also, the consequences never registered for me as completion. 

When I got my eating under control I learned how to let things go. But here is the important piece that I never understood before then. You cannot let something go until you see and acknowledge the truth of it. So if I, let’s say, didn’t do a homework assignment, and I got a bad grade, I could not look at either my responsibility to do the work, or the fairness of the grade. And therefore it never left me. I never moved on. I still had the yucky feelings of both my bad behavior and the consequence. Even though I already *paid the consequence*!

You would think that having paid the consequences would mean that I could move on. The transaction was complete. The fine was paid. Except I never wanted to look directly at the infraction. I never wanted to acknowledge what was my fault, my doing, my responsibility. I never wanted to see what I was doing, and by virtue of that, who I was being in my life.

In getting my eating under control I learned how to look at what I did and did not do within the framework of my integrity, my word, and what I wanted to create and put out in the world. 

A friend of mine sometimes talks about thinking about herself when she was eating compulsively as “a floating head.” She didn’t want to think of her body as herself. She could not confront the idea that she and her body were one.  

I often thought of my integrity that way. I thought that what I liked and admired, what I thought and believed, was who I was. But of course who I am is what I do in the world and how I interact with its inhabitants.

So for this moment I am keeping my commitment to write this blog. And in a minute I am going to do the work I need to get done. And then, with a clear conscience, when it is time for cooking or knitting or relaxing, I will get back to my book! And there will be no consequences except the exquisite feelings I get from a good novel.

Self-awareness does not always make us wise

Today I ate half of a terrible cantaloupe. What’s funny is that I bought it because it seemed ripe (it was not) and it was not huge. I thought I was doing myself a favor by only buying a very large cantaloupe instead of a gargantuan one. And instead it ended up *feeling* like the biggest cantaloupe ever because I had to force myself to eat it. (Before you worry about why I ate a cantaloupe I didn’t want, let me assure you there was nothing *wrong* with it. If it were rotten or even just tasted bad I would have been able to make a call and eat a different fruit. But it was fine. Just flavorless and kind of hard.)

My eyes are definitely bigger than my stomach and I have a long history of buying cantaloupes that are bigger than my head. When I buy them I am excited to eat them but then when I *do* eat them, they are often too much. I fee a little sick and a little overstuffed. But I do it anyway. I forget that it’s too big. I forget that I get enough food every day. I forget that when I have a “mere 8 ounces” of fruit weighed out on my scale, it is plenty of fruit, and along with the rest of my big breakfast will keep me satisfied for many hours until lunch. That I don’t need half of a 4 pound cantaloupe to be sated.

Even after over 15 years, something in me is often worried that I will not get enough to eat. That there is not enough for me. That I will end up…HUNGRY!!!! It does not seem to matter that I have learned to live with hunger when it occasionally happens. It does not seem to matter that I am almost never hungry anymore. That perhaps I have the experience a few times a year. It does not seem to matter that I know intellectually that I eat enough food every day, no matter the circumstances. 

I think this is an important thing to note as a food addict. I forget about the reality of my food situation all the time. I forget the ill consequences of my eating. And I always have. Addicts call it a “built in forgetter.” We forget about the outcomes of our actions. This was true when I was eating compulsively, yes. But it has stayed true on some level since I got my eating under control.

For years since I started putting boundaries around my eating I have bought cantaloupes that made me kind of sick. And I ate them and got kind of sick. And then went to the store or the farmers market and bought more ginormous cantaloupes that would make me kind of sick in the coming week.

I am going to throw away that 2nd half of cantaloupe today. But here is an interesting thing to me. I am going to throw it away because it does not taste good. Let me assure you, however, that if it were delicious, and all it did was make me a little sick and a little overstuffed, I would eat it tomorrow as planned. I would look forward to it. Because I have my priorities when it comes to food, and taste is way up there in importance. And being a little sick from too much fruit is a thing I forget easily when the fruit is delicious. In fact, if the fruit were delicious, I would not be writing this blog. And I would have *already forgotten* that this morning’s breakfast was too much.

Self-awareness is lovely, but doesn’t always make us wise.

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.

Post Navigation