onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “personal choices”

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.

Wrong, But Quite Alright

I made a mistake with my food yesterday. It was a stupid mistake. I weighed out some raw veggies and they came out to 4 1/8 oz. And then I weighed out my cooked vegetables. And I should have weighed out 11 7/8 oz, because the total weight of my lunch vegetables should be 16 oz. But instead I got confused and weighed out 12 1/8 oz. So I ate 16 1/4 oz. 1/4 more than I was supposed to.


Again this was a mistake and an honest one. And the amount I went over is most definitely not a big deal. But I called someone and told them anyway. I “turned it over.” And I have told the truth of it and given it away and I don’t have to live with it.

Now, you might be thinking that it’s strange that I made a call over 1/4 oz. And it was broccoli. So it wasn’t even something all that decadent. (Though it was cooked in butter, *and* olive oil, plus hot sauce, so it was super yummy.) You may think it “doesn’t count.” Or “isn’t worth thinking about.” But the deal for me is that it all counts. Every morsel and crumb. Because I can’t stop thinking about these kinds of things. My thinking is not normal around food. I am obsessive about it. Or at least I am when I don’t keep boundaries and follow rules. That 1/4 oz was a chink in the armor. It was a small hole in a dam. As in small for now, but with enough pressure behind it, the whole thing could burst.


I hear all the time how crazy what I do seems to people. I see how extreme they think it is. How it looks exactly like the obsession I claim it curbs.


Here’s the difference. When I was eating compulsively, I was obsessed with food, especially sugar and simple carbohydrates, and I was miserable. Now I eat my portion controlled food, I love it, and when it is done I am no longer thinking about it. Now I am meticulous with my food, rather than obsessed, and I am joyously free. I am happier in my life than I have ever been before as a direct result of giving up sugar and weighing my food.


And part of that is making a call to say that I made a mistake, and that I want to give it away so I never have to think about it again.

I was raised Catholic. So I used to go to confession. And I always thought it was a punitive measure. I thought it was about humiliation and shame. I thought it was about having to be judged by God and God’s agent in the human realm.


But now I can see how telling the truth about things, mistakes and missteps and falters and failures, is freedom. It’s a lightness that I never felt telling a priest I had lied, which I had to tell a lot of priests because I told a lot of lies.


I understand that for many people, there is no need to turn over 1/4 oz of broccoli. Hell, most people aren’t even weighing their food to know! But that meticulousness and honesty are the foundation for me to have an honest relationship with food. One where I am not ignorant of what or how much I am eating, or ashamed of what I have eaten, or embarrassed to make an honest mistake. One where I can say I was wrong, and still feel quite alright.

Outsourcing the tough choices is a definite life hack

There is an aspect of my food boundaries that is very important to me that I don’t talk about a lot. Mostly because it doesn’t come up a lot. But there are times when I don’t make decisions about my food, when I have other people make those decisions for me.

The primary reason it doesn’t come up a lot is because I don’t make a lot of mistakes with my food. I am generally meticulous and focused when it comes to my food because i take my addiction seriously. But, if I do make a mistake or have a problem, I don’t decide what to do about it. I call someone and they make the decision for me. And this is a thing that has saved my life and my sanity more than once. And it happened this week.

So the short version is that I knew I was going into the office this week – they had work for me to do that had to be done on site – so I prepped my food over the weekend. And one thing I did was weigh out some raw peppers and wrap them in foil and put them with all of the other food I had weighed out. But my husband cut an onion, wrapped it in foil, and instead of putting it back in the produce drawer, he put it on the shelf with my pre-weighed lunches. So when I got home from work and packed up my lunch for the next day, I thought I was grabbing a pepper, and instead grabbed half of a raw onion.


When I opened my lunch the next day, I had a moment of panic! But then I made some phone calls. And I managed to reach a friend and she told me what to do about it. So I just did what she told me to do. And it was done. And I could eat my lunch in peace and calm and not have to worry about it.


Here is the deal. I am crazy when it comes to food. I am addicted. I am obsessive. I can go in crazy circles. And if I had made a decision about the onion-pepper problem myself, I could have second guessed myself right into a chocolate cake.


True, it may not have happened immediately, but the chatter in my head could (would) have led to other decisions that bent rules. After all, I would have already made a choice that was not strictly within my boundaries. And that could have led to lies to myself and others about my food or my eating. And that most certainly would have led me to eating foods I am addicted to.


I want to say that I chose these boundaries. They were not forced on me, nor was I coerced. I chose them because my food addiction was ruining my life and they were a solution because 1) they exclude foods I am addicted to, and 2) these boundaries come with a community for help, support, and camaraderie.


So when I say I don’t make decisions about my food, I don’t mean anyone tells me what to eat on a regular basis. I have a huge list of foods that are available to me for guilt-free eating and I choose the foods I love. I make those food choices every day. Lots of people who do what I do don’t eat pork rinds, or make their own sugar-free ice cream, which are favorite choices of mine. And unlike many of my comrades-in-eats, I am not going to eat a chicken breast, or lettuce, or celery.
But when it comes to a moment of upset, problem, or panic, it is a great relief to not have to make a decision, and instead to give it to somebody else.


The other part of that is that I am available to make those decisions for someone else. And I do regularly. And let me tell you, it is *much* easier to make a decision like that for someone else.


So I am grateful to the people who do what I do. To the ones who have picked up the phone to give me guidance when my heart is pounding and my head is spinning because there is a problem with my food and I don’t know what to do. I have a community in place that assures me that in a scary or difficult food situation, I don’t need to know what to do. I just need to make a phone call, and be willing to heed the advice on the other end. And that is a safety net I never knew I needed or wanted but feel very lucky to have.

Lots of love, but no pretending

When I first started this blog, I wanted to heal the parts of myself that had been squashed and damaged by all of the self-preservation I had put in place. I wanted to work through the default thoughts and actions of my life to that point that kept my life small. That kept me protected from any kind of hurt or embarrassment. From really any kind of emotions.

Also, I hated fatness. I hated being fat. I hated seeing fat people. Even the ones I loved and liked and admired and respected. And having given up sugar and lost over 100 pounds, I felt incredibly self-righteous. 

Since then, I have grown and changed a lot. Much of the change was because of this blog. And one thing that I have changed my mind about is fatness. I am so much less judgmental. I have love and compassion for my fat self, and that love for myself has overflowed into love and compassion for others.

But there is a place that I stand that is very much considered fat phobia by fat people and fat acceptance culture. And it is that I do not want to be fat. 

It doesn’t matter that it is about me and nobody else. It doesn’t matter that I have been fat and hated it. To not want to be fat is to value thinness. (Sigh. Again. I am not that thin. I wear the biggest of straight sizes and I have plenty of chub.) But I do value not being fat. For myself. For my life. For how I feel about my body. For how I feel about navigating the world in this body. 

I am writing this because I saw a social media post that said “If you don’t want to be fat, that is fat phobic.” And I immediately thought “No! Not me! I’m not fat phobic!” But maybe I am. Probably I am. 

My body stays relatively thin-ish, because I don’t eat most sugars, grains or starches. And I don’t eat those things because I am addicted to them and I have the same kinds of behaviors as an alcoholic or drug addict (btw, sugar is a drug for me, so I really am a drug addict.) I lie, cheat and steal. I manipulate. I am self-centered and emotionally volatile.

I don’t continue to abstain from sugar because of my weight. I do it because I don’t like the person I am when I eat it.

But I also don’t want to be fat! And I don’t want to have to feel bad or ashamed or uncomfortable or like a heartless asshole because of it. And I guess if that makes me fat phobic, then I am. And I don’t feel the need to do any work on myself over it. 

I remember what it was like to be treated like a disgrace for being fat. The way people would comment on my body with laughter and jeers and sneers. Strangers and acquaintances and people I considered friends. And how people would stand by and let it happen to me. And to this day I hate doctors, and the medical community in general. Because the way they treated me as a fat person always made me feel like I was a failure as a human being. I always felt ashamed and embarrassed. And I was scrutinized and reprimanded whenever I went for an appointment. And yet, I was never offered a solution that worked. (Willpower is not a solution, my friends.)

I see other people, fat people,getting the same hate and cruelty that I received for so long, and I am so sad and hurt by it. When I listen to the casual fat jokes and dehumanization of fat people in all forms of media, I still feel an echo of the excruciating pain I used to feel as a kid when I saw a fat joke or a fat shaming on TV shows or in movies. Some of those movie lines and jokes are burned into my psyche.

I want to be trusted and accepted by the fat acceptance community. Because even if I don’t look like it, I feel like fat people will always be my people. But maybe I can’t. And maybe I shouldn’t. And maybe I need to let that go. Because the actual, absolute truth for me is that if someone wants to do what I do – give up sugar, weigh their food and keep strict portion control, keep boundaries about when and how and how often they can eat – I want them to. Because it is without a doubt, the greatest thing that ever happened to me, and it is the foundation for the life that I have which is a life beyond my wildest dreams. And I didn’t get it because I wanted to have a spiritual awakening. I got it because I didn’t want to be fat anymore when I was in my 20s.

So I am going to keep following my fat brothers and sisters on social media, and loving them and their hot fashions, and their beauty. But perhaps I am going to have to give up wanting to be accepted, and a true part that movement and that moment and that group. Because I have a different set of experiences. And I don’t know how to be over here, grateful to not be fat, and still make fat people feel loved and honored as themselves.

Maybe I can’t. Maybe I can, and I just don’t know how yet. But I love having an easy body. And I am not willing to pretend I don’t.

My kitchen as a church

I am home! As in my own home! I am so happy and grateful to be here, and with no job in the foreseeable future to send me away again.


And I am overjoyed to be in my very own, customized kitchen. I have my fancy double oven, and super swanky refrigerator. I have my top of the line dishwasher that is so quiet the first time I used it I messed up the wash cycle because I was afraid it wasn’t working. I have my funky, guitar pick shaped dining room table, and my farm sink with my luxury kitchen faucet. I have a restaurant quality vent fan, because my husband hates the smell of cooked vegetables and that is a huge part of my diet. I have my stone ware dishes and pretty silverware. And any number of specialized kitchen gadgets from the deep fryer for deep frying onions or Brussels sprouts, to a meat grinder to make my own Italian sausage.


My kitchen, whatever kitchen I called my own at any given time over the past 14+ years, has always been a holy place for me. Because it was the place I learned that my relationship with life and with with food was sacred. It was the first place I learned that what I put in my body, and how much, and when, was not about who could see me, or who would judge. It was all about a commitment I made to myself. It was where I learned that it didn’t matter if anyone else saw. I was the one who saw. I was the one who knew. I learned that the boundaries were my boundaries. They were between me and me. They were between me and god, or truth, or life, or whatever you want to call it.


I have learned how to make do with whatever kitchen I have. We just spent a month in an extended stay type hotel with two burners, no oven, and only place settings for 2. But we still ate really well.

Granted, there were fewer meals on the rotation. Not having an oven severely limits what one can cook. At least it limits what one can cook well. Who wants a 2” thick filet mignon pan fried? Or at least who can pan fry a filet so that it is cooked properly? Not me.


But there is a kind of giddy joy to having a kitchen that is made for you. A kitchen that you chose for yourself. (Yes yes, plenty of this kitchen is by and for my husband. He has his own kitchen gadgets. He just bought a sous vide and a vacuum sealer. And he has a tortilla press for making his own tortillas. Also, the double oven was so he could cook potatoes at a different temperature while I cooked the meat. I promise, he is taken care of.)


Here’s the thing. Most people who hear about my eating boundaries think that it is a punishment and a burden. That I do it reluctantly, like a bitter pill. Now, I truly am sick. And my eating boundaries are most definitely medicine. My food and my food boundaries are serious business. But they are also the gateway to my joy. And in many ways, that fancy kitchen is a monument to that joy. A church, a place of worship. And just like any church, it is not about the riches, though the riches are certainly nice. It is about the spirit. It is about the reverence, the homage, the honor, and the gratitude.

Food may be fuel, but that’s not why I eat it.

I love to eat. If you have read my blog for a while you know this. I know that a lot of people maintain their weight by only seeing food as fuel. I do not do this.


For one thing, over the years I have come to understand that being fat was not my problem. What I was eating was a problem. But not because I was fat. Because I was miserable. I could not stop eating and that made me feel shameful and crazy.


But also, I don’t know how to stop adoring eating. I don’t *want* to stop loving my food. Food is a refuge 3 times a day. It is a daily joy.


When some people start treating food as only fuel, they are potentially making food and eating a moral issue. I don’t ever want to live that way. I choose not to eat most sugar and carbohydrates because they get me high, and then make me feel bad about myself.


But I don’t want my life goals to be about the size of my body or how little I can eat and how skinny I can be. I want to keep my addiction under wraps, but I want to love my food.


So I will tell you that one of my favorite things about traveling is finding new things I can eat. So here in Nebraska, I found a new brand of flavorings that has an almond flavor that is to die for, and a banana flavor that, when I add it to yogurt, makes it taste like banana pudding! So They are delicious and fit in my boundaries and that makes me so happy. So I am stocking up while I am here to take them home.


I expect I will love my food forever. And I am not trying to have it any other way. If food being fuel makes your life better, then I salute you. But you know what makes my life better? Yogurt that tastes like banana pudding.

Turn and face the strange ch ch…

I have had a very busy week and next week is a busy week again.


We left Oklahoma for good last week. Hooray! And we have been in our home since Wednesday, which has been wonderful! But tomorrow we leave for a new job in Nebraska.


I am good at change because I have my food and my eating under control.


The world is changing. I am able to change with it. This is a blessing. Because when I say my eating is under control, I am not saying I am on a diet. Diets have never worked for me. Not to shrink my body and most definitely not to help me with my life. I have a way of eating that keeps me clear-headed and available, and a way of living that has me focus on what I can do to be the kind of person I want to be in the world.


I can examine my moods and adjust my relationship to my experiences because I have my eating under control. I can go with the flow of life because my eating is under control. I can accept that life is always changing anyway and act accordingly because my eating is under control. I do not have to hold on to the way anything used to be because my eating is under control.


If I am not numb, I am forced to look any and all situations in the eye and deal with them. If I am uncomfortable, I have to sit in it until I change enough to get comfortable.


The world is going to change. Always and forever. Sometimes in big ways, sometimes in small. But I am available to see it and meet it and change with it because my eating is under control.

This One Is About Racism.

It’s so hard to know what to write in a blog about food addiction and eating disorders when both the world in general, and your country specifically are in turmoil.


One thing that happened to me when I got my eating under control was that my head cleared. Partially because I was not high on sugar anymore. And partially because I stopped lying.


They say you can’t kid a kidder, but I think that is wrong. When I was lying, I was easy to lie to. Because you have to put yourself in a particular head space to be a liar. You have to muddy the waters for yourself if you are going to convince everyone else. So lying made it hard for me to see clearly.


In order to stop eating compulsively, I had to stop lying about my food. And in order to keep not lying about my food, I had to take lying off the table. It’s like the saying “How you do anything is how you do everything.” I had to be truthful in all ways to continue to be truthful about my eating.


So I have a clear head and a clear conscience. And that means I see things, all sorts of things, clearly now. And I can tell you that I see the race problem we have in the U.S. And I can see the police problem we have in the U.S. And I can see that police all over this country kill Black people without ever facing justice. Kneel on their necks until they are dead, or bust into the wrong house and shoot first, killing them in their beds or while they watch TV. And white people hiding behind the idea of “law and order” brazenly and lawlessly kill Black people.


I can see that our government has armed and armored the police to go to war with the civilian population of our country. But they can’t seem to be able to provide PPE for doctors, nurses and medical professionals in the midst of a global pandemic.


I can’t not see these things. There is no cake to numb me anymore. I am not trying to get anything over on anyone. I can’t not feel the fear and the sadness and the terror. And I can’t help but notice how many people in my life are quick to defend the actions of police and condemn the actions of Black people who are angry and scared and who have been assaulted and murdered without ever getting justice. For generations.


I was 15 when the police who beat Rodney King were acquitted. I am 42 now. I was a sheltered white girl at the time. I assumed there were things we didn’t understand. I believed that police would not do such a thing without good reason. I believed that police were doing their best in a dangerous job. I have have now had 27 years of experience. And after almost 3 decades, I no longer feel that way.


How is this about eating disorders and sugar addiction? See, when I was eating compulsively and using sugar as a drug, I could escape any yucky feeling. I could pretend the electric bill didn’t exist, until the electricity got shut off. I could pretend the deadline for the writing assignment I got for the online magazine didn’t exist. Until eventually it didn’t. And these were things that affected me directly in very real ways. I could eat a cake and pretend that it didn’t exist. And I would not have to feel…anything.


So I most certainly didn’t have to feel the pain of living in a society that prioritizes white property over Black lives. And if I did feel it, I could slip comfortably into the idea of “Why didn’t they comply? They should have just complied.” “Cops are doing a dangerous job and we have to give them some room for error.” “I understand that people are upset but violence never solved anything.”


But I feel everything now. I live it and I experience it and I can’t escape my feelings anymore. And I can’t pretend it doesn’t exist. And I can’t pretend like those things I used to make me feel better, both the cake and the bullshit justifications, exist for me anymore.
One thing about the way I live now is that I have to be responsible for “cleaning my own side of the street.” So right now, the dirtiest part of my street is that I don’t say it enough. Black lives matter. Police brutality is a problem all over this country, in every state and on every level. Peaceful protests have not worked.


Stop killing Black people. Stop defending the killing of Black people. Stop making excuses for the killers of Black people.

Whatever it is, it doesn’t have anything to do with my food

I don’t have much in me today. I am emotionally exhausted, unhappy, scared and just generally anxious. And I have been crying on and off for the past 2 days. But it doesn’t have anything to do with my food. I eat 3 portion controlled meals a day, with no man made sugar or refined carbohydrates, and I don’t eat between meals.


The only “comfort food” I indulge in are my 3 meals. What most people call comfort food does not comfort me. It makes me feel numb, or crazy and out of control.


My feelings suck. I hate them. I have always hated them. But I do not eat my feelings anymore. And eventually they pass. This funk will pass. But even if it doesn’t, it doesn’t have anything to do with my food.

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