onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “personal choices”

I do not have as many hours as Beyoncé. So I have priorities.

I have occasionally written about my bare minimums here. It is the way I manage my time, and therefore, my life. And another way to say that I have priorities. 

One of the lessons from getting my eating under control that took a little longer than many of the others was that I could not get everything done. Not just that I couldn’t get all of the things done today. That I could not get done all of the things I wanted to, period. It was never going to work. 

It was a bit of a hard pill to swallow, frankly. I had my sugar addiction arrested. I was sleeping enough, eating nourishing food, keeping track of my commitments, paying my bills. On time! These were huge, empowering, life-altering shifts to my day-to-day operating. But I still could not get everything done that I wanted to. 

There is a coffee mug that says “You have the same hours in the day as Beyoncé.”(Look, you don’t. Neither do I. Certainly not if you have to drive yourself 45 minutes to and from work. And grocery shop. And blow out your own hair and do your own makeup. And cook dinner for yourself and your family. But I digress.) I hate that saying for more reasons than the fact that it is a lie. I hate it because it implies that there is something grand and specific that you and I should be doing with our time. And that if we are not, we are wasting it.

That mug is implying that there are priorities that you should have and they are in line with the priorities of a multi-millionaire superstar.

Right now, my priorities are basically food boundaries, relationship with husband, bare minimum self-care (exercise, water, meditation), work, and making sure there are clean dishes to cook and eat my meals. That is it. That is the sum total of what I have the energy for. My house is a mess and I don’t care. I am not knitting or crocheting. I am not cooking interesting meals. I am not doing my regular grooming rituals like doing my nails or deep-conditioning my hair. 

One of the best things about priorities is that you have to be really honest about what you want and the amount of time you have. Before I used the tool of prioritizing, I didn’t have to look at the truth about what I could get done because I was living in the lie that I could get it all done. Because, at least in theory, I had the same 24 hours as Beyoncé. But in having the clear head that was the result of giving up my drug foods and having my eating under control, I could see that the math didn’t work out. That it was never going to work out. And I had to make choices.

One of my priorities is, and truly always has been, rest. I need a lot of down time. A lot. I need to daydream. I need silence and space and solitude. 

For much of my life, that seemed like a terrible thing. It was seen as laziness and vanity. It felt wasteful and shameful. And perhaps it was when I had no priorities. 

But now I have priorities. And I honor them. I manage my time and my life. Once I really looked at my life and got specific about what was most important to me, my priorities were obvious. Food first. Husband second. And once those were settled, everything else just clicked right into place. Simple. 

But for me, food first is the priority of all priorities. Without the clarity and peace that having my addictive eating under control brings, I have one priority: sugar. And that “one” priority comes with its own set of other priorities. How to get it, how to eat it without anyone judging me, how to get it out of myself without it showing on my body, how to stop once I started. And with that many priorities, how can anything else stand a chance?

If I can’t do anything else, I can still be present

I am a person who cries. A lot. And I always have been. But I don’t cry when people expect me to cry. I cry out of frustration, and anger. I cry over not being seen or heard. I cry over being misunderstood or misrepresented. But I don’t cry much over death, real or fictional.  I cry about life and relationships (also real or fictional.) 

Over 10 years ago now, my dad’s mom, who was my first love and the other love of my life besides my husband, died. But I barely cried at her funeral. Because while she was in the hospital from April 2010 to July when she finally went to sleep and didn’t wake up again, I cried. I cried a lot. And I didn’t do almost anything else. I went to work, and I came home, I choked down my meals and I laid out on my roof and I thought about all of the regrets I had; the things I took for granted, the ways I was selfish and self-centered, the times I failed to show up for her even though she showed up for me without fail. 

But I will tell you the other thing that I was doing while I was crying and devastated for 4 months. I was mourning. In real time. So that by the time she was truly gone, all of the shame and the regrets and the sadness of losing her had been dealt with. I came out on the other side of her death having internalized it, dealt with it, and I was complete. 

Look, it helps that we truly liked and loved one another. It was an easy relationship. It was filled with fun and joy and mutual love and respect. We didn’t have a lot of issues to work through. We didn’t have unfinished business. 

But also, my eating had been under control for over 4 years at that point. And I was clear headed and present. I was able to look at myself honestly. I was able to see the world clearly. 

Right now, the US is in a precarious position. For many reasons and due to many factors. And I am so grateful to not be eating compulsively. Because I am dealing with the fear and the uncertainty, the anxiety and the horror, every day, moment-to-moment, in real time.

I don’t have a lot of energy lately. I don’t want to do the things I love. I don’t want to be in touch with people. I don’t have it in me to get things done and take care of the things that need taking care of. I don’t want to clean my house, or paint my nails, or deep condition my hair or any of the things that I do to take care of myself emotionally or physically. 

But I keep my eating and my food under control. I do that without exception no matter what. And thank God. 

I know that a lot of people are eating compulsively right now. And I am not judging. Let me assure you that eating compulsively saved me in my early life. When I didn’t have an understanding of, or a way to deal with, those huge emotions that lived in my little kid body. Eating sugar and using it as a drug *saved* me!!!

But over the past 15 years, after giving up drug foods, or really *because* I gave up my drug foods, I acquired some important tools for managing my stress, for living in the present moment, for listening to my own truth and honoring my head and my heart both.

And I believe that, like I was able to get through the end of my beloved grandmother’s life present and in the moment, I will be able to go through these national and global situations and circumstances in real time, and come out on the other side of this political turmoil having internalized it and dealt with it. I know that I am already dealing with the world, the country, and my place in it. Because I have the tools to manage it. Because having my sugar addiction and compulsive eating arrested means that I can fully digest the events of my life and the world. Even if I can’t do anything else. 

So I fully believe that as long as I keep my eating under control, I can take each moment as it comes and trust that when the dust settles, I will already be complete.

Moving forward clear-headed and confident

What do I have to say today? Good lord. Who even knows. 

My food has not changed. My addiction didn’t magically disappear because of political turmoil or personal fear and anxiety. So my solution remains the same.

I am afraid. About the future. For myself, and my country. But the events of the past week have offered an excellent reminder. I see things clearly. I understand what I am seeing. I don’t need to second guess myself. I don’t need to doubt myself. And I don’t have to wonder if I am making the wrong choices.

Over the past several months, I have sometimes wondered if I was overreacting in regards to certain relationships, relationships I needed to step back from. I wondered if I should put differences aside. But whenever I really thought about it, thought about letting go of certain personal moral standards, I would cry. Not just cry. Sob. To the point where my husband would get upset. (He is already really bad at dealing with my crying in general – I cry a lot –  and this was serious toddler-level ugly crying.) 

But now I am clear that those tears were helping me. Those were emotions that were reminding me how to honor myself; they were saving me, protecting me, taking care of me. And I could really see and experience and understand them because my food is under control, my addiction is arrested, and my head is clear. 

I don’t know how to move forward from here. But I guess the point is that that is fine. I have done right by myself until now. I will continue to do right by myself as we go along. Because I have my addiction under control, my head is clear, and my commitment to myself, my honor, and my integrity are in tact because I keep my sugar addiction on a tight leash.

I don’t think any of us really knows how to go on right now. The dust hasn’t even settled yet. But when it does, I want to be clear headed and confident. And I do that by keeping my food boundaries and staying well away from my drug foods.

15 years. Still grateful. Still angry.

Yesterday was the 15 year anniversary of having boundaries around my eating. Every day. No cheat days. No extra bites. No special exemptions for birthdays or holidays. 

To this day I am grateful for the solution I found to my eating problem. 

When I started this blog, it was about my weight. And I still really love living in a smaller body. I posted some pictures on social media yesterday. 3 from when I was a teenager, and 3 from this year. And it is strange to look at that body that I lived in for so long. It is easy to forget now what a prison that body was for me.

It was hard to move in that body. Hard to be mobile. Hard to get to where I needed to go. It was a cumbersome, uncomfortable vehicle. 

But more than that, it was a humiliating vehicle. And that is something that is still hard for me. Because I am still angry at the ways I was treated. I am still angry at the things people said to me. Family and friends. Strangers and acquaintances. And that was not about me and my food issues. That was about society and the issues of our culture.

I am so happy and grateful and filled with peace, because I got my eating and my sugar addiction under control. I have no interest in or intention of changing my food. I am happy to never have another bite of cake again. I mean that. Really and truly happy about it. 

But I don’t do it for anyone but myself. And I am still sad and angry that society told people, and me, that for the first 28 years of my life I was unlikable, detestable, shameful, pathetic, contemptible, unqualified for respect and unworthy of love.

I understand if you are impressed by my having lost weight. I can see how it can look impressive. But I will tell you what is really impressive. That I was able to honor myself and my body, even when people were telling me that that body meant I was grotesque and disgusting. That I was able to love myself enough to honor myself when the general consensus seemed to be that I was broken and wrong.

If you love a fat person, maybe just love them. Exactly as they are. Even if they can’t or won’t do whatever things you think they should do to be healthy or happy or whatever it is you think they should be. 

So on this 15th anniversary of me doing this crazy thing that resulted in long-term weight loss, I am going to tell you that the weight is not the actually answer. It never was. The answer is in honoring myself. Bodily, emotionally, and spiritually. The answer is that food was killing me and now it’s not. The answer is that if it’s your body, it’s *your* answer to find. And if it is not your body, the answer is to love the person in front of you. Not who you have decided they should be.

Problems vs Situations

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

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

My friends, it was.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Eternal Holiday Without the Fun

Since I gave up sugar, I have started to care less and less about holidays. 

When I was growing up, I looked forward to holidays. I mean really looked forward to them. There would be parties with special foods, and lots of people. My cousins would all be there to run and play and make an ungodly noise with. Both sides of my family were boisterous. There was always a lot of laughter and funny stories. But child Kate often forgot that those times were also, inevitably, too much. That I would become overstimulated, overwhelmed, overemotional, and overindulged.

As a grownup with her eating under control, I love the ideas of holidays more than I love the days themselves. A holiday is a way to acknowledge certain universal experiences we have because we are humans in bodies living on Earth. Christmas is the celebration of the return of the sun. If, as centuries and cultures, and empires have risen and fallen, it has taken on some other aspects, for example, the return of “a son,” well that is all well and good too. It is still about getting through the long darkness and trusting in the promise of the return of the light and the warmth. The promise that we won’t *all* starve to death. 

And a holiday is a day to forget our personal troubles and celebrate the enormity of life. It is a time to raise our consciousness above the idea of self and embrace humanity.

Addiction is a lot like trying to live in an eternal holiday. You’re trying to ride the same wave as Christmas, but every day, while nobody else is celebrating, and you don’t get the time off of work and school. It is like trying to forget your mundane self, and only live in the ecstasy of universality. But that is just too much for an individual to maintain. Trust me. I did the research for you.

When I gave up simple sugars and carbohydrates, I had to come to appreciate the simplicity of the day-to-day. I had to come to appreciate when nothing special was going on. I had to get comfortable in the calm. And I came to discover that I loved the calm. Once I had exorcised my demons, anyway. 

I realized that I had hated the peace of daily life because I didn’t have any peace. If I were calm for a moment, I would think about the wrongs that I had done. I would be haunted by the things I was ashamed of. And the ways I had hurt others and disappointed myself. But I had done a lot of those things *because* of my addiction. It was a vicious cycle and I didn’t know where it began or ended. And I could not seem to unravel it.

It turned out that giving up my drug foods was the answer. Or, at least the first step. There would be many other things to do about it. Acknowledge my wrongdoings, make amends for them, change my actions, shift my thinking. But all of those things started with getting my eating under control.

So now my eating is under control. And I love my day-to-day living. I am happy with my integrity, and my willingness, and my life. And I don’t need to live like every day is a holiday. In fact, I don’t even need to live like holidays are holidays. 

I will miss my nieces and nephews this year. I will miss tickling babies and reading books to the bigger ones. I will miss exclaiming over dollar gifts from the elementary school‘s Santa’s workshop. But I will still be perfectly happy laying around in my adult-sized onesie and drinking coffee and doing nothing this year. There will be more Christmases to come. And as for this year, I don’t have any shames or fears or worries that I need to numb.

Still a pillar, just a little wobbly

The other day I went into my boss’s office and I said (cried in frustration, actually – thank God she’s a woman, because, let’s face it, a man would not have been able to deal with that) that I was overwhelmed. I said that I felt like I was the only person who knew what was going on for one of the 3 jobs I was working on, that I was already in over my head and that I felt like I was set up to fail. I told her I could not do everything that was expected of me well or gracefully.

And the first thing she said was. “Nobody expects you to do this gracefully. We expect you to fuck up.” (It’s construction. People swear a lot.) “And there is nothing you can mess up that could be worse than people have messed up before you. You were given this job because we have faith that you can do it well.”

And then she told me that one of the other ladies in the office will familiarize herself with the job I was so worried about, so that at least 2 of us know what is going on.  And she took one of my jobs away and told me to work on the other 2 and stop worrying about the 3rd.

When I was in the food, I was a terrible employee, like I was a terrible student. There is a saying I appreciate. “How you do anything is how you do everything.”  And when I was in active addiction, how I did everything was how I did food. Lots of sneaking, lying, cheating, manipulating, and blame passing. So the idea that I could be vulnerable, go to my boss, tell her my fears honestly, tell her I felt overwhelmed, tell her that I didn’t know what to do but that I knew I needed support, was the opposite of that. It was exposing myself, letting her and the company know that I was not the unshakable pillar of excellence I often feel like I am, and that I regularly offer.

So to be told that I was not expected to be great or graceful was a blessing. 

The truth is, I am a pillar of excellence. Much of the time. And I pride myself on it. And the fact that I am overwhelmed or unhappy or feeling under qualified does not negate that. 

When I was in active addiction, I was obsessed with what things meant. Especially what things meant about me. Because like I believed that my fatness meant I had a broken body, I believed that how easily I became paralyzed by fear and overwhelm meant my character was also broken.

But in getting my sugar addiction under control, I started to recognize how much of my life didn’t *mean* anything at all. Things were simply the consequences of specific actions (or inactions) I had taken. And I started to see how many of my choices and actions were fueled by these beliefs I had created about myself because of the ways I fed, and floundered in, my addiction.

Being free of the food let me know that I not only could be, but was, say, both a pillar of excellence and an overwhelmed worker in over her head. That those things are not mutually exclusive. That those things are both valid at the same time. 

And the other thing I learned from giving up sugar is that being a pillar of any kind is not particularly useful if I don’t know how to keep myself standing. And the trick to that is *I* can’t keep myself standing. At least not alone. I need help. And that is why the best tool I have to keep my addiction under control is a community. And that is true for work as well. When I need support, I reach out for support. That way I stay upright, like the pillar of excellence that I am.

It was bad, but it passed.

And just like that, over a month’s worth of yuck is basically gone and I feel like myself again. 

It is sometimes hard to remember that these feelings and funks and unhappy times are just part of living in a body. That so much of it is just chemicals and hormones and things we don’t understand. Well, most of us don’t understand. *I* don’t understand. (Apologies to any endocrinologists and neurologists reading this blog.)

Of course, in order to really get back to my usual, content self, I did have to have a difficult conversation. And that meant I had to get the other party to agree to have a difficult conversation. But we did. And I was able to do that. To know what I needed, to ask for it, and to be available for it.

When I was eating compulsively, I felt like every feeling was eternal. And every circumstance was the last circumstance. It felt like life never gave way to anything better. Only worse. If it ever gave way at all. 

But now I can see that so many of my troubles were in my hands, but I lacked the imagination, or the confidence, or the will to change things. I had deeply held beliefs about how the world worked, and who I was in the world. And those beliefs were wrong, but I kept proving them over and over and was sure that meant they were right.

And I can see that so many of my feelings were a product of my food addiction and/or my normal body functions. But they seemed like so much truth and so many explanations about myself and my failings.

I can now see how many of my feelings are just feelings. And I can see how many of my feelings are lessons and roadmaps. And I can do something about them. Or not.

I know we live in a society of “positivity” right now. And I am a firm believer that we can change our thoughts. And that by changing our thoughts, we can change our reality. 

I mean, I am proof. I have changed my thinking, and changed my eating, and changed my lifestyle, and changed my circumstances. I live a life beyond my wildest dreams. 

But positivity has at least one foot solidly planted in changing our reactions to fit the status quo. And because of that, I don’t think positivity is the cure for the world’s ills. I think it is much more important to listen to those feelings of disquiet and discontent, and figure out what it is we need to change. What we need to change within ourselves, and what we need to fight for in the world. 

I am grateful to be feeling better. Especially because even though I know intellectually that “this too shall pass,” when I am stuck in the middle of a long run of emotional distress, it can be hard to believe that everything passes. So here it is, written out. It was bad, but it passed.

More safe, less sorry

On Friday I was up at 5, went on my jog, took a shower and got ready to head into the office, and then my husband said he had a little sore throat. So we agreed that he should get a Covid test and neither of us should go into work until we get the results.


Before anyone gets worried, he is feeling fine right now. We have not officially gotten the results back, but he has not had a sore throat since. He does not have a fever. Chances are he is just fine.


In the past, he probably would have gone to work. And I absolutely would have gone to work. But these are strange times. And to go to work feeling a little under the weather is to potentially put people at risk. Our office also agreed that it was better that we stay home.


Here’s the takeaway for me about the positive aspects of having boundaries around my eating. I am not afraid of what my boss or coworkers think of me. Because I know that I am always doing what I think is right and for the best. For myself, for my coworkers, and for my company.


When I was face first in the food, I would have been terrified and overwhelmed by this monkey wrench. Any and every circumstance of life that was not me going along in my usual routine, threw me for a loop. I would have been worried about my personal standing, my personal money, my personal well-being, and would not have thought about how my actions affected anyone else. As a food addict, I am an addict. Just as selfish, reckless, and destructive as any addict.


But with a strong foundation of having my eating under control and a way of life that facilitates that, I can trust in my decisions. I can trust myself to deal with my life as best I can in the moment. I can trust myself to be calm and rational, even when I am afraid.


A friend of mine in New York City, who had a particularly scary bout of Covid in March asked me if I was worried for my husband. And my response was that I was terrified. (I am *much* less terrified now that he is feeling well again.) But not paralyzed. I was nervous but I was moving right along, doing the next right thing.

My eating being under control does not mean that my life is without terrible moments and circumstances. Having my addiction under wraps doesn’t keep my loved ones or myself safe from illness or accident. What it does save me from, at least mostly, is me making terrible rash decisions, and awful, selfish mistakes.

Excuse me while I go grow

I have recently been given a job at work that is bigger and more complicated than any job I have done before. I am going to have to learn new things. I am going to have to stretch and grow as a person. And I am scared.

I don’t mean I am terrified. I don’t mean I am paralyzed. But I am most definitely anxious and worried that I will not measure up.

I know that I am good at what I do. I am a good leader, willing to take responsibility for the things other people shy away from. I am smart and organized. I know how to think ahead and keep an eye on potential problems before they become actual problems.  And I have enough humility to admit when I have made a mistake or I am in over my head and I need to call for reinforcements. 

I also know what I am bad at. Diplomacy is not my strong suit. I’m a straight shooter who values honest, efficient (blunt) communication, and I have a hard time with the idea that we can’t just say what is right in front of us. But knowing what areas I am weaker in is also a strength. I am not leading a meeting to find out why we haven’t gotten paid or where our money is. And therefore, I am not messing that up with my bluntness. Besides, my husband is excellent at that. And I am happy to let him be reasonable and charming with clients while I be exacting behind the scenes.

But if I were still eating compulsively, things would be very different for me. First, I would not be good at my job. And I might not even have this job. Because when I was eating compulsively and high on sugar all the time, I was not the list of assets above. I became paralyzed easily, and as soon as I got a job or task, I could become overwhelmed to the point that I shut down. I could not think ahead. I was terrified of responsibility and would avoid it at all costs. And if I did end up in a position of power, I used whatever means necessary to pin any blame for failure on someone, anyone, anything, else. I was not organized or focused because the sugar fog I lived in made it hard, if not impossible, to stay focused or organized. What I was was very smart. Probably even smarter than I am now, but it was almost useless. Like I had a big bucket of paint, but no brushes or rollers or tools. I just threw it around, with no precision. And that worked as well as it worked. Which was better than I had any right to expect, frankly.

But even knowing all of this about myself, about my gifts and the tools I have at my disposal, and the honesty and integrity I live by now, and the willingness to admit mistakes and faults and problems, I am scared. My fear of failure, and its consequential humiliation, is still very much alive in me. And in many ways it is worse since I gave up the sugar that used to numb those particular feelings. But it is also better. Because I don’t have to work (eat drug foods) to avoid those feelings today. I can be scared. That fear can hang around in the back of my mind. And it doesn’t have to mean anything. It can just be fear, skulking around in my head, with no calculable effect on my actions. 

When I gave up sugar over 14 years ago, I did it to lose weight. And I did. But I also changed the way I thought and lived and worked and related to people and the world. And my life is better for it. Not just my body, though that too. But my whole life. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go grow into a new set of skills.

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