Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “keeping my food boundaries”

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.


Less stuff. More love.

On Monday my husband and I had a dumpster dropped off in our driveway, and since then we have been deep cleaning our home. We pulled everything out of our attic spaces to clean them, and go through all of the stuff we had in there and decide what was worth keeping. And what was not.

It feels amazing.

I have never been great at letting go. It wasn’t until I got my eating under control that I learned how to let go of things that didn’t serve me anymore. Then I lived in small New York City apartments that had limited storage space. So twice a year, when it was time to switch out my seasonal wardrobe, I would do a big cleaning purge. What I didn’t learn right away was how to stop acquiring new stuff.

Baby steps.

First, I had to see the clutter I had everywhere, then get clear about how stressed out it made me. And then get to the point where the pain of letting it go was less than the pain of keeping so many things.

Part of learning how to stop eating compulsively was to learn how to sit in discomfort. “How to not numb a feeling with cake” eventually turned into “how to not numb a feeing with an impulse buy.” (But let’s be clear. In the beginning, those impulse buys made it possible to not eat the cake. I always quit the thing that’s killing me quickest. It’s just that when the food got easier, I could let go of those little “treats” too.)

Getting addiction under control is almost always about connection. I regularly feel like there is a giant hole inside me. And I tried to fill it with food. And stuff. But the only thing that really fills it is being in relationship with other people. It gets filled with love and laughter and tears and compassion. It gets filled with quality time and acts of service. 

It feels amazing to have taken a real, exhaustive inventory of what I have, and like a huge relief to have a dumpster full of the stuff gone. It leaves so much more room in my head and my heart for the people in my life.

Enjoying my butt and my bacon

I have been losing weight over the past few months. And quickly. And I don’t know exactly why. But I suppose I have an idea. I have started a more vigorous step workout. And I can breathe easily. But the truth is my weight has fluctuated significantly since I got my eating under control. And I don’t always know why.

Recently I had to get rid of my size XL yoga pants. They were too big to stay up. And I am starting to shrink out of my size L yoga pants. And I am super hungry so I am eating really greasy, fatty proteins. Lots of bacon. Lots of pork rinds. Lots of full fat Greek yogurt. Even that has not slowed down the weight loss.

Plus, I have been starving after my workout, so I have pushed it back to right before lunch, so I can eat immediately afterwards.

I am really loving the changes in my body. I am watching my shape transform in ways that make me happy. And it’s not about thinness, or getting smaller. In fact the point is to get a bigger butt. (I have never had a butt. Just hips.)

But I have a complicated relationship with my body. I need to keep an eye on my thinking. I don’t want to end up in “diet head.” I don’t want to get obsessed with working out. I don’t want to love losing weight so much that I lose my mind. I have lost my mind over weight loss before. Yes, I was thin. But also crazy. 

I spoke about this with a trusted friend who does what I do with food. She hates that I am hungry. So do I. One of the best things about my food boundaries is that I don’t have to be hungry. But this is a choice. I could go back to jogging instead of my step machine. I could take a break from working out all together. (I don’t have any plans to do that right now.) I could do a million different things to get different results. But for now I am just going to keep on the same path. Enjoy my butt and my bacon and maybe buy myself some new pants.

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.

Keep doing what I do and maybe a little more

A lot of things are changing in my life right now. From being back in our house, to the start of a new personal health journey, to cleaning out our attic, to changing aspects of my workout and eating (but still within the same old boundaries I have had for 17+ years), things are shifting a lot for me right now.

When I was younger I was really into self-help. I read books and went to seminars and did workbooks, alone or with friends. But I was never really able to use the tools I learned from these things until I got my eating under control. Perhaps it was because my brain was too foggy. Or because so much of my personality was tied up in food. But either way, I was not able to implement a lot of the really quality advice and coaching I was getting from these sources.

I wanted change, but I didn’t know how to do that. And I didn’t want to have to change myself. I just wanted my circumstances to change.

Here’s a thing that I understand. When I keep my food boundaries and my eating under control, I change. And it usually looks something like a series of nearly imperceptible changes and then a big, noticeable change. And I *think* I am on the precipice of another big, noticeable change.

Practice and consistency have changed my perspective, and yes, even my circumstances. Weighing my food, doing my writing and meditation, working out. All of these things are practices. I do them consistently. They are my priorities in action. It is me telling me that my body is beloved, that my mind is important, that my life is mine to honor. And it has occurred to me that maybe I need a new practice to tip me over the edge into some new, elevated state of being. Some new something to put in place to move me along. And I have no idea what that could be at the moment. But if there is one thing I do understand it’s that my change is a product of me changing something.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. Either things will shift in a big way or they won’t. The only thing there is to do is keep doing what I do. And maybe do a little something more. If I figure out what that is, I will keep you posted.

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.

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