onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “self-love”

Vanity, Pride and wanting to be skinny enough to be loved

I was talking to some friends who do what I do with food the other day. And I was reminded that the difference between me as a kid eating compulsively and me as an adult with boundaries around my food is much bigger inside than outside. I did lose a lot of weight. And that is one thing. But most people I still have in my life didn’t care about my weight when I was fat. And they really think that I am basically the same as I ever was. Only not fat. And they don’t care about that.

This is interesting to me because I feel like an entirely different person. On the inside. And not just because I don’t think about my weight or my body anymore, which is HUGE, because when I was eating compulsively I thought about my body and my weight all the time. I worried about what other people thought about my body. But more importantly I worried about who was going to humiliate me because of my size and shape. Because people loved to humiliate me. People love to humiliate fat people in general.

But aside from not having that constant nagging fear and shame, I feel entirely different than I did when I was in the food. And it is about having my addiction under control. I have a clear head. I have a clear conscience because I have done my best to clean up my past messes and to “clean as I go” in my relationships now. I have a peace around not only my actions and words, but also my circumstances. I have a new relationship to what happens to me and how I react to it. One where I assess what is the reality of the situation, accept it, and act (or abstain from acting) according to who I want to be in my life.

Here is the deal. I believe whole heartedly that the people in my life would still love me if I were fat. I believe my husband would still love me. I believe my friends and family would still love me. That they would not see me as all that different.

And if what I do with food were only about being thin, and I knew that people would still love me fat, I would have quit. A long time ago. If it were about my body, and my weight, and I knew that my husband did not really care about my weight, I would have said screw it. I would have gone back to cake. Because when I got my eating under control, it really was to be skinny enough to be loved.

But now I do what I do because when I do it, I love myself. And I do not love myself because I’m skinny. I am not skinny. I love myself because I do what I say I am going to do. I be where I say I am going to be. I tell the truth and I honor myself. These were not things I could do before. Because how could I have been honest about anything when I could never be honest about food? I have sometimes heard “how you do anything is how you do everything.” And I was a liar about food. How could I not be a liar in any other aspect of my life?

As time goes by and I get more clearheaded, I know that weight is less and less important to me. That I don’t keep my eating boundaries for physical vanity. Though I’ll admit it is a kind of vanity. I like looking like I’ve got my shit together. But also, I like that I actually have my shit together. So maybe that’s more pride than vanity. (Do I sound like Mary Bennet now?!?) Either way, I am grateful that my happiness is not all tangled up with my weight anymore. Even if it is still tangled up with my food.

Musin’ from a Bruisin’

Last week while I was coming downstairs in my house, one of my slippers came off and I slipped down the last few steps and banged hard on the back of my thigh. And I mean hard. My vision went black from the pain at the time. I have a giant purple bruise bigger than my hand just below my butt. And it sucks.

So this week I attempted to find a workout that was gentle enough. I tried yoga for literally the first time ever and it made me nauseated! And when I looked it up, I learned that apparently that is common. COMMON!!! (Are you guys seriously doing this and it’s making you sick?!?!? Anyway, I hope not but that is none of my business.) So the next day I went for a long walk. Which was mostly great, except that it was below freezing the whole day and there were patches of ice everywhere. I had a few precious moments, though I managed to stay upright. But I decided I didn’t want to do that either. The last thing I needed was to fall on the bruise again!

I decided that until the bruise is healed a little more, I am not going to work out. And that is a blessing. But also kind of scary.

It’s scary because I have a story about myself. That I am lazy and that I can’t be trusted to follow through on a commitment. It’s scary because I have a very old voice in my head that says I will get fat and my body will be ugly (again.) It’s scary because I wonder how slippery that slope is, and will I eventually give up 16 years of having my sugar addiction under control if I don’t keep up all of my commitments? No, none of these thoughts are particularly rational, but they are deeply emotional, and it’s always the feelings that hook me, not the ideas behind them.

But it’s a blessing because in getting my eating under control, originally in order to not be fat anymore, I acquired the ability to separate my fatness from addiction. I learned to stop hating fatness. I learned to stop hating the girl I was when I was fat. And I learned to hear that voice that is terrified of being fat, and let it hang out in the background like radio static. I learned to feel those feelings that stemmed from those irrational thoughts, and then unhook myself from them. I learned to love my body. Not tolerate it as long as it “behaved.” To really love it. Exactly as it is. (That is what love is, arguably. The acceptance of someone or something exactly as it is.)

When I was eating my drug foods, and worrying all the time about my fatness, all exercise was exercise bulimia. I mean as young as 11 and 12 “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” with my mom and Richard Simmons, all the way up until I put boundaries around my eating, it was only ever about managing my weight. There was a kind of mantra in my head that was probably there the whole time, but would come through loud and clear in my mid 20’s. Getitoutgetitoutgetitoutgetitout. Get it out! I did not exercise to be healthy or strong. I did it to get rid of any and all food I ate before it showed itself on my body. I did it to wrangle my body into a socially acceptable size and shape.

I don’t need to exercise right now. I am 44, not 24, and a hand-sized bruise is a trauma. I *do* want to workout even if I love having worked out more than I enjoy the act itself. I love the ways it makes me feel, physically, and emotionally. I love the ways it clears my head. I love the ways it signals to my beloved body that I do love it. I love the ways it helps me regulate my feelings. But I don’t need to do it at the expense of my physical health. And this bruise, like all things, shall pass.

One more thing I want to express is that when I got my eating under control, and got sober from sugar, I also started a new way of living. And that way was to learn to take life as it comes, and go with the flow. To trust that Life was always giving me the right things. To stop fighting against what was so, and start taking the path of least resistance when it came to circumstances. I stopped my regular workout in August to take on a 60+ hour a week job. But since I left that job, I have been feeling like I need to get back into my workout routine. Soon. Now. I decided that I rested long enough. Perhaps Life is trying to tell me that it has not, in fact, been long enough. Perhaps I should listen.

Here’s to many more

Today is the 16th anniversary of my giving up simple carbohydrates and man made sugars and putting boundaries around my eating.

There are things about that time of my life (mid to late 2005) that I don’t think about too often anymore. But at the time I was 28, and I felt crazy. I had lost a significant amount of weight through dangerous restriction of calories, over exercise, and laxative abuse. And none of those things was sustainable. And it was becoming very clear to me that any of the weight that I lost was on its way right back. And that was terrifying.

At the time, agreeing to eating boundaries was about my weight. And that was a blessing in its way. If you had told me “if you give up sugar you’ll have peace around food.” I would probably not have even understood what you were offering. And I definitely would have kept eating cake. But there is saying among people who have the same eating boundaries that I do. “Come for the vanity. Stay for the sanity.” And I did not know then that the sanity would be the best part, but here we are.

I have a different relationship to my weight now. I am not skinny. I don’t worry about being skinny. But one thing I will say about the difference in my weight, I am incredibly grateful to have a body that flies below the radar. People don’t really notice it. But they sure did when I was fat. And that anticipation of cruelty and judgment from others made me think about my body all the time. I almost never think about my body now. And that is a huge relief.

For well over a decade, I have not had to think about my body. I don’t hate my self for either my body or my inability to control my eating. I don’t think about what I look like or if people are judging me. I am free from my obsessions! Ok, I’m still pretty obsessed with fantasy novels. And yarn craft. And…oh, you get the point! What I am not obsessed with is getting high on food and then making sure nobody can tell by my body that I am obsessed with getting high on food.

So happy anniversary to me! And (fingers crossed) many more.

How not to ruin someone’s holiday

This week I saw a social media post reminding everyone that commenting on someone’s weight is not a holiday greeting.


So friends, I am reiterating that lovely reminder, and adding that other people’s bodies are none of our business. What other people are eating is none of our business. How other people dress their bodies is none of our business. Yes, I am talking about your mother, your sister, your nephew, your children and grandchildren. That love is not conditional on beauty, or behavior, and not health either. If you can unconditionally love someone with lupus or cancer or epilepsy, you can unconditionally love your fat friends and family, even if (and it is an “even if” and not an “even though”) they are unhealthy.


There are things that 12 steppers are regularly reminding one another of: That our friends and families have their own Higher Powers. That unsolicited advice is a form of abuse. That we keep our eyes on our own plates. That we worry about cleaning up our own side of the street.


Also, nothing anyone has ever said about my body ever changed my life for the better. It never made it easier for me to love myself. It never made it easier for me to control my eating. In fact, when I was fat, it pretty exclusively made me eat things to numb the pain those “well meaning” people caused with their “concern.” Now it just makes me feel like I can’t trust the people who say those things.


So here is to happy holidays to you and yours. May you spread love and good cheer.

Listen to your h…ives?

When I eating compulsively I was willfully disconnected from my body. I hated my body. I blamed it for not being good enough. Mostly not pretty enough. But I didn’t really have an alternate way to relate to my body. Everyone made it clear that bodies were made to be beautiful, and that if mine was not, it was worthless.


That is a thing that happens in a fat-phobic society. We learn to internalize hatred for any body that is considered bad, mostly as a defense mechanism. To love your fat body is considered shameful. To be ashamed of your fat body shows that you are properly embarrassed by your shameful body. That you are on the “right side” of what is good and right and honorable.


I have spent the past few years actively shifting my view of fatness. It has nothing to do with my eating. At least, I am working consistently at disentangling my love of my body from its shape and size. I am an addict. I keep my addiction under control through the way I eat. I think of my eating as a way to honor my whole self, emotional, physical and spiritual, not just how pretty I am by societal standards.

So I have reconnected with my body over the years. I have learned to love it for all of the things that it has done for me, all of the ways it serves me. All of the things it wants to teach me. And it has taken a long time to get to understand it as well as I do. And I know that there is much more to learn.

One thing that I have come to understand over the past 15+ years, since I put boundaries around my eating, is that my body shows me how well I’m doing through my skin. I can feel “fine.” I can look on the outside like I am doing “fine.” I can seem to be managing everything just “fine.” But my skin can tell a whole different story. This is coming up this week because I am officially hive-free, for the first time in 4 months, since I started the very stressful job that I left this week.

In late July, I started a new job. And less than a week after I took it over, it got crazy, and I started to break out in hives. They were on my chest, in my armpits, and in my bellybutton. 

And as I changed the job, personally developing and implementing structures and procedures that streamlined the process while still capturing all the necessary information and creating the needed output, some of those hives went away. First my chest cleared up. And then, eventually, after many weeks, my armpits cleared up. But my bellybutton has been hanging on to those hives the whole time.

But I left my job on Monday. And yesterday, for the first time in months, my skin, all of my skin, is clear. There are no more hives anywhere. And it makes me a little weepy to realize how unhappy I was, and how I was holding it together with pure willpower.

I can remember having had stress-related skin conditions as far back as high school, though I didn’t know it at the time.  I could barely walk at graduation because of a terrible outbreak of dyshidrotic eczema on the bottom of my feet, that at the time was misdiagnosed as athletes foot. 

But when I was eating compulsively I thought about my body as little as possible. I just sort of suffered through. And I had lots of practice, since I avoided thinking about my fatness because it hurt my heart to be fat.

I want to acknowledge my body today, for always trying to look out for me, even when I treated it like the enemy. I want to be grateful for everything it has done for me, even when I was actively hating it, and sometimes trying to hurt it, with exercise bulimia, and good ol’ fashioned stick-things-down-my-throat-bulimia, and abusing laxatives, and drinking castor oil, and binging and starving. I want to be grateful that I have learned to listen to it, with love.
I am grateful to be in a place in my life where I can see that those hives were a defense mechanism against me harming myself. That my body was telling me that I was in the wrong place. That there was something wrong. And I am especially glad that instead of blaming my body for the hives, instead of treating them like one more way my body was broken and wrong, I could see them as a loving warning that something was wrong outside of myself, but within my control. And it took me a while, but I managed to listen and do something about it.

My body just is.

Ah…It’s officially holiday season. And it is not my favorite. Not because I crave or miss the foods I don’t eat anymore, but because for just about everyone else in the world, holidays are about food. And also how upset or resigned or worried they are about their holiday weight gain. And also what diet they are trying in the new year. And how unhappy with their bodies they are currently, or are afraid they will be shortly. But it’s the holidays, so…pie anyway apparently.


I don’t care about food anymore. No. That is not true. I don’t care about foods I don’t personally eat anymore. I don’t miss pie, or cake, or seasonal cookies. I don’t miss any of the things I thought I would miss when I first got my eating under control.

I do, however, still care very much about food. Which I guess is probably the single most important thing that I have that keeps my eating under control. I am not on a diet.

Again! I am not on a diet.

I have a physical reaction to sugars, grains and starches that first gets me high, and then leaves me with intense, overwhelming cravings, and finally, makes me hate myself. I am an addict. So I am not on a diet. I *have* a diet that does not include drug foods.

So how do I not eat outside of my food boundaries? I make absolutely positive that I love my food. I fight the food with the food. I make sure my meals are all always delicious and satisfying. I don’t eat things I don’t like. And I don’t eat things because I want them to change the size and shape of my body. And I don’t *not* eat things because I am *afraid* they will change the size and shape of my body. If they are allowed on my food plan, and I like them, I eat them. I don’t worry about gaining or losing weight. I don’t think about my body in terms of weight at all. I have food issues. That is separate from my weight.

It took years of having my eating under control to come to this point. My life for over 35 years was all about how “broken and ugly” I thought my body was because I was fat. Or how proud I was for having wrangled into a socially acceptable size and shape; how I had “accomplished” that.

But now I love my body as it is. And it is just me, not an accomplishment or a failure or a measure of anything about me. It just is. And it just is me.

A chance to make healthy choices

I started my morning workout again this week and it has been amazing! I am only doing 1 mile instead of 2 for the moment. After months of no exercise, I decided to ease back into it, rather than jump in with both feet. But it feels great. I look forward to getting back up to 2 miles. And I can see that I was doing myself a disservice by not doing it.

I knew when I took my job that I was not going to be able to work out and work the hours I was working. At least not if I wanted to sleep. And sleep is a huge priority for me. This is not meant to be a judgement on my choice. I did what I needed to do with options I had. I chose the job and the money. It seemed like the obvious right answer at the time. And even if I can now see that the choice did not serve me as well as I would have hoped in terms of happiness and self-esteem, I learned when I was dabbling in Zen meditation that there is only ever what actually happened. The past could never have been a different way. If it *could* have been different, it would have been different. Even in Multiple Worlds Theory (or Many-world Interpretation) there is still only one outcome in the world I am in. Hindsight may be 20/20, but it is also useless in a practical sense.

I have also had a revelation about my meditation practice this week. A realization that for years now, I have not been doing the “praying” part. That I have only been doing half of it. I have been trying to do a lot of listening to what Life had to tell me, but I was not doing the part where I tell Life what I am willing to offer. I had stopped offering my service, and my surrender. I was all take and no give.

I am reminded this week that self-care is hard but worthwhile. That doing the things that suck in the moment, like working out, and praying, and drinking water, make my life easier and better. And that I have suffered for letting them fall by the wayside. And that I didn’t even recognize that I was suffering from the lack of them until I started doing them again.

Everything feels better in just a few days with just a few changes. And I look forward to everything getting even better from here. And I want to note that I never got lax with my eating boundaries. And it is because of that that I can move forward to more and better self-care. Because as long as my addiction is under control, I have a chance to make good, healthy choices.

No such thing as comfortable misery (anymore.)

When I was growing up, I was often told, both implicitly and explicitly, that I didn’t understand how the world worked. That the things that I wanted were silly, impractical, simplistic or impossible. That the plans I wanted to make were ridiculous and juvenile. And especially if/when I was trying to act from a place of growth or transformation. (I read a lot of self-help books and went to self-help seminars.) I knew that I was not happy where I was in life, and I wanted something better. And people scoffed. 

I am sure they wanted me to “not get hurt.” But I was already hurting. And I am sure that a lot of my wishes didn’t come with particularly good plans to accomplish what I wanted to accomplish. But the message I continually got, at least the message I continually *heard* was “stay in your lane. Accept this existence. This is the life you got and there is no way to change it.”

I certainly got shot down a lot for a long time. And I certainly succumbed to that fatalism for a very long time. But there has always been a nonconformist in me who refused to fully accept the finality of my situation, whatever situation that might be. There has always been a searcher and a seeker and a believer in me. 

That part of me never really got going in any useful or practical way until I got my eating under control. But also, it is that part of me that let me get my eating under control in the first place.

I have talked before about how it makes people uncomfortable that I have a particular food plan. No, I’m not *on* a diet. But I *have* a diet. And that really messes with people’s heads. They want me to eat cake at least sometimes. It would make them feel better. They want me to not be so rigid. They want me to not be so disciplined. 

But I have never needed to fit in in that way. I have never needed to be like everyone else, and I have never particularly cared about making other people comfortable when it comes to my life and my choices. Is that selfish? Perhaps. But if so, I am so selfish that I don’t really care if it’s selfish. So I am rigid, and disciplined, and I have, indeed, transformed my life. Not just my eating, but the way I work, and the way I love, the way I take care of myself and the way I take care of others. Who I am in the world for myself and in my relationships is completely different than it was before I put boundaries around my eating. All for the better. All leading to me becoming a person I like and love and respect.

Now that I am coming to a place in my life where I want to transform (again) my work life, I can feel all of the “practical” advice I have been given all of my life bubbling up. I can feel all of the people who don’t want me to go blindly into a new chapter in my life. They want me to play it safe. To stay in “comfortable misery.” But the problem is that in having my eating under control, there is no such thing as comfortable misery anymore. There is only miserable misery and my own spiritual need to get out of it.

People in my life definitely didn’t want me to be fat anymore when I was fat. But oddly enough, they also did not want me to change in any way that would be uncomfortable for them. They wanted to have their cake and for me to eat it too. They wanted me to have a great life, as long as it didn’t push up against their beliefs about the world.

I have to keep reminding myself lately that in choosing to leave a job that no longer serves me, I am telling Life that I am ready to accept something better. I learned that by blindly giving up sugar 15+ years ago. By willingly doing this crazy, rigid, extreme thing with my food all in the hopes, but with no guarantee, that I would get something better. And I did.

I will close by saying this. I know that a lot of people say it’s unwise to leave a job without already having another one. And I have to acknowledge that I have the privilege of being in a two income household, which makes a huge difference in terms of money and survival. But the truth is, I have never done that. I have always left a difficult situation first, even when I was poor. Has it always been wise? Absolutely not. But I also have to ask, while I am at this job that is making me so unhappy, how do I create a space in my life for something different? How do I get a better job that suits me better, when I am living in the energy of this job with this culture. How do I “vibrate on a different level” when I am still here in this place. How do I not just make a lateral move to an equally unhappy job if I am living in the unhappiness of this one? I don’t know that I can. And I don’t think I want to try.

The devil I knew had a lesson I didn’t

I never know when my life will take a turn. And then another. I never feel like anything will ever get better, but then it does. They say that fear and excitement are the same physical experience in different circumstances. 

I gave my job two months notice a couple of weeks ago. My company has already found my replacement, whom I have been training, and I *might* be let go of earlier than expected. (Which I welcome wholeheartedly. The only thing keeping me there longer is having given my word that I would.) And the level of relief I feel is astounding. 

And even if they decide to keep me through December, there is someone to share the workload with. Which is my biggest issue at the moment. Either way, I win.

When I got asked to do this particular job, I had not been working very much, only about 10 hours a week, and I had been about to start a job hunt. I knew I didn’t like the culture of the company. I knew I didn’t really want to work there for reasons other than no work or too much work, feast or famine. But the opportunity to work came up, and I am not independently wealthy, so obviously, I took it. 

I already *know* that when I make a decision to change my life for the better, to take a spiritual step up, Life will always give me the opportunity to go back. To choose the devil I know. *Always.* Jobs, men, friendships, anything that I value in life.

I fully understand that this job was a test. And that I chose to go back. But clearly I was not ready to make the big leap. And so in going back, I also learned some things I needed to learn. I needed to have someone (who was not my husband) see that I was *great* at the job. And my boss did. And that was important. And I needed to be reminded that I am not lazy. That I not only do work hard, but that I love it. That for as much as I love, cherish, and literally *need* (literally meaning literally, not literally meaning figuratively) my free time and my down time, I get high on being spectacular. My best friend likes to remind me that everyone gets the majority of their self-esteem from their job. And I am sure that it’s true for me.

Yes I am terrified to find a new job. To even just look. To have to prove myself. To fight through the imposter syndrome. To have to *trust* that it will all turn out better and not worse. 

And I have to remember all of this if/when my company comes back to me and asks me to work again. Especially if I don’t have a job yet. Especially especially I have been searching for months and it feels like I will never get one. 

In order to get my eating under control, I had to start trusting Life. I had to trust that everything was going exactly the way it was supposed to. I had to trust that all was well and would only get better. When I did that, I didn’t have to drug myself with food. I could stay calm and clear and take the next right action, whatever that was. I could feel my feelings and let them be signposts pointing me in the right direction. 

For the past 15 years and 9 months of not eating my drug foods, I have gained greater clarity and peace. And to be so uncomfortable and unhappy is to see that I have outgrown old beliefs, about the world and about myself. It is time for me to move on to something better. 

I will end by saying that about 10 years ago was the last time I went through a personal, emotional, and spiritual upheaval like this while my eating was under control. I came out of it on the other side with a life beyond my wildest dreams. With a relationship/marriage better than I ever could have imagined, and a relationship with my body based on love and gratitude, instead of judgement and punishment. (And this blog, which might have a lot to do with all of those things.)

Halloween connections >>>Halloween candy

It has been a while since I *really* did Halloween. I have cobbled together a handful of last minute costumes over the years, but nothing like I used to do when I was young and/or single.

But this year I decided I am going to do it up, as the kids used to say when I was a kid. (I don’t know what the kids say now because I am old and out of touch.) This year I am dressing up as a Fae Princess, which is very on brand for me since I am obsessed with YA Fantasy novels about Faerie courts. My costume this year is complete with wings and a flower crown and pointed ears, and lots of glitter. And doesn’t “trick or treat” sound like faerie bargain in the making? 

When I was eating compulsively I loved everything about Halloween. I loved the costumes and the atmosphere charged with endless possibilities, some fun and some dangerous (I grew up in the 80s and 90s. We were given way more opportunities to do stupid crap unsupervised.) And I loved candy and I loved that on that day, I could eat candy with abandon the way I wanted to. And the other kids could and were too. I didn’t have to feel so shameful about it on that day. I was just one of many on Halloween, unlike most other days for the rest of the year.

When I gave up sugar and my drug foods, Halloween didn’t lose any of its appeal for me. Even though I thought it might. I thought I would be hard to watch people eat candy and get drunk when I could not. (I got my eating under control at 28, years past legal drinking age.) Instead, it became more about the costumes, the dancing, the pretending. And I got to enjoy it without all of the self-consciousness, and the out of control feelings, and the obsession with food. I got to have more “moments” with friends and strangers. It became about my and other people’s creativity. It became about connections. 

One of the best things I’ve gotten from getting my eating under control is my ability to connect with people. When I was in the food, everything was about food. Everywhere I went and everything I did was colored by either the food there or the lack of food. Every celebration was a celebration of food and food alone. When I put boundaries around my eating, celebrations became about relationships, and experiences.

I love that I still love Halloween. I love that I don’t need candy to love it. I love that I don’t need alcohol to love it. I love that food is not why I love my life, and yet, in between the moments of experience and relationship, I still get to love my food.

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