onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “sugar-free”

It’s not science, it just works.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hands off the food. Hands off the wheel.

My husband was feeling sick and he tested positive for covid yesterday. We are both vaccinated (two shots no boosters.) So I am not particularly worried about him, though I am sorry he is suffering at the moment. And I am not testing, but I assume I have it and I am just asymptomatic. But what it also means is that neither one of us can go into work for the next week! And seriously, hooray!!!

My husband can’t do his job from home, but  I ertainly can. I will still be working. Probably the same number of hours every day. But no hour long commute each way means more sleep, more personal time, and most importantly, more quality time with my husband. Maybe we can even eat a few meals together once he is feeling himself again.

I have been feeling burnt out over the past couple of weeks. I think Life knew I needed a break. I really like my job. I like it the way people like things they are great at. It gives me a lot of pride and self-esteem. It brings in good money. I don’t need or want to not work. But having work be the only thing in my life has been a struggle. 

If you know me, you know I am very much *not* a workaholic. I am a perfectionist. And I am a hard worker. And I have lingering people pleasing tendencies from when I was in the food, but I always want to work less, not more. I am currently working 60 hour weeks, dreaming about the end of night shift, when I can probably get down to 50 hour weeks. And some day, when this job is over, maybe I can get myself a cushy 40 hour a week job! That would be living the dream!

A few weeks ago, my office got me a temp to help with the workload. She and her family had just moved back to Illinois from Tennessee, and she told me several jobs had fallen through on her in the weeks before she started with me. And that her fiancé had not been able to find work either. But the construction industry has a labor shortage right now. And the union has a program to get new people started, and potentially get them in the union down the line. Unions are often exclusive groups and getting in usually has a lot to do with who you know. 

So my company got my temp’s fiancé a spot in the new program. And while her job with me will end when the night shift ends, she found out about how to get trained as a Safety Manager in the construction industry by our Safety Manager. In other words, in not getting all of those other jobs, not only did their family go from no jobs, to one job, to two jobs, she and her fiancé potentially gained two careers in construction, a field she didn’t know anything about until she got a temporary admin job on our construction site. And she said to me this week, “When they say ‘everything happens for a reason,’ I think this is what they mean.” 

Putting boundaries around my eating taught me to stop fighting Life. It taught me that so many of the things I thought I wanted paled in comparison to the things Life wanted to give me. I’m certainly not happy my husband is sick. But I am also certainly not sorry that he gets a break from our brutal work schedule. And that I do too. So I trust that Life is right. And I can see that, and feel it in my heart, because my eating is under control. I’m still peddling, doing what I can to the best of my ability, but I am willing to take my hands off the wheel and let Life steer. And so far, with my hands off the food and my hands off the wheel, Life has not let me down.

How’s That for Woo Woo Magic?

I don’t want to meditate lately. And I haven’t been. And I have a friend who holds me accountable for meditation so I had to have a conversation with her the other day, and make a commitment to figure out what I was going to do. What I *am* going to do. Which I already know can’t be nothing.

I was very excited to start my miracle door meditation two months ago. The problem is, it worked too well. I got miracles. Big ones. Huge miracles that I didn’t have the skills to step into right away. So it was learning curves left and right. And that was overwhelming. And stressful. 

I am afraid of that. And what that comes down to is that I am afraid of my own power. 

This may all sound very “woo woo” to you. It may sound silly or impractical. And I certainly couldn’t tell you *how* it works. But if getting my eating under control has taught me anything, it’s that “practical” thinking has never gotten me anywhere I wanted to be the way “magical” thinking has. Because how in the world could putting my food on a scale and giving up sugar, grains and simple carbohydrates change my life entirely, all for the better? In practical thinking terms, it couldn’t, wouldn’t, shouldn’t.


When I first put boundaries around my eating, people would say, “weigh and measure your food and your life will get better.” And I was incredulous. How could that really *do* anything? But in reality, it has shifted everything for me so completely that from in here, this body and mind and life, every last little thing is entirely transformed. I went from hating myself and my miserable life, to loving myself, and rejoicing in a life beyond my wildest dreams. And I could never get to this place before by being practical.

When I think about all of the ways everyone in my life tried to encourage me to lose weight when I was fat, and all of the advice from doctors and dietitians, and all of the regimens set up for me, and all of the money spent on programs and prepackaged meals, I see a lot of practical thinking strategies that got me absolutely nowhere new. They enforced all of the old things I thought about myself. And none of them were kind, or pretty, or in any way loving toward myself. 

But when I followed that crazy advice to weigh and measure my food and expect a great life, I got a great life. 

I do want to keep getting miracles, even if I am a little scared at the moment. I know I don’t want to work for the company I work for forever. I know that I want to go somewhere with a culture more aligned with my values. I want to make the kind of money I deserve for the caliber of work I do. I want something better for myself, even if I might not be able to imagine it right now.

But of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t note that there is a practical side to these “woo woo magic” opportunities. I got the miracles because I sat still and did the meditation. I got my eating under control because I weighed and measured my food. And of course, once I got the fancy job, I had to *do* the fancy job. 

I don’t know what I will do about my meditation practice, and my miracle doors, and my spiritual life. Maybe the answer is to just do it, and stumble forward over the stumbling blocks. But another thing getting my eating under control has taught me is when I don’t know what to do, I don’t do anything. That the answer will always come in time. How’s that for woo woo magic?

Can I Borrow a Feeling (iykyk)

I am obsessed with feelings. I have always been obsessed with feelings. But in the past 5-10 years, I have come to understand a lot about the reality of that.


What I mean is, when I was eating compulsively I wanted feelings. But I only wanted the feelings I wanted. Comfortable feelings. And when I say comfortable, I don’t mean pleasant, I mean any feelings I wanted to feel. Feelings with a payoff.

When I was a kid, I watched the same movies over and over again. I know that this is not unusual for kids. For the most part all kids do this. But I also did it well into my twenties. And not just with movies. When learned to read and I got into books, I read the same books over and over again. For many years I read all of Jane Austen’s novels at least once a year. And sometimes more often than that. And I had other books that I would keep going back to. I think it was easier for me to pick up an old familiar book or movie than to delve into a new one. Especially if the familiar one gave me the kinds of feelings I wanted. The feelings I already knew I loved. Revelatory relief, vindication and victory after deep humiliation, love against all odds, and selfless sacrifice, to name a few.

There were also in-real-life feelings that I cultivated over others. I still loved vindication, but also hilarity and pride. I was good at despair, resignation and righteous indignation too. I was comfortable with these. I knew what I would get from these emotions.

But when I got my eating under control, this particular skill set, the ability to curate my emotions, especially through media, was a solution to a problem. I have mentioned before that when I first put boundaries around my eating, I watched the same anime series over and over again. (It’s called Fushigi Yuugi, in case you are curious. People have asked in the past.) I would play the 3 dvds in order from the first episode to the last, and then just put the first episode right back on. By the end of that first two years, I wasn’t even having the feelings anymore. The sad parts didn’t make me cry. The romantic parts didn’t make me flutter. The funny parts didn’t make me laugh. But I still got the echo of those familiar, comfortable, desirable feelings.

I’ll tell you what that did for me, though. It quelled the cravings for sugar. It got me high without getting high. It helped me manage my feelings until my feelings were more manageable.

Now I only occasionally go back to reread books, or rewatch movies or shows. (With a Goodreads goal of 100 books a year, there is no time for slacking!) Though when I do, it is always because they offer the kinds of feelings I want to cultivate. 

But I am no longer afraid of new feelings. I have learned that what I feel doesn’t have to mean anything to anyone but me. I don’t have to act out in my rage or my fear or my sadness. I can feel what I feel, and still act according to my values. And if I want to manage my difficult feelings, I have tools for that too. 

I got the opportunity to understand all of this because I am not eating compulsively. Eating did things to my feelings; changed them, muted them, buried them, warped them, but never let me move past them. In having my eating under control, I can feel my naked, real feelings. And then I can let them go. Unless they are worth keeping, and then I can hold them dear.

It Sucked, But Then It Passed: A Life Story

This past week was challenging. In particular, because so many things happened all at once. One of the wheels on one of our sliding glass shower doors broke, so we couldn’t touch that door at all, or the door would fall off the track into the tub and inevitably shatter. But then, our pipes got clogged and we had to call a plumber to snake out the tree roots that grow in our pipes sometimes. (It’s an old house with old pipes in a neighborhood with a lot of trees.) So we needed to make sure everyone knew not to touch the door while neither of us could be there personally. And of course that was also the day the mechanic called to say that my car, which had been damaged in a small accident a month ago, was finally ready to be picked up. And we had been paying a lot of money for a rental car. All while I’m working 12-13 hour days with an hour commute each way, and my husband is doing the same, only also on Saturday and he works the night shift. 

Thankfully, I know how to ask for help. My mom and step-dad really came through for me. Coming to my house to deal with the plumber, *and* picking up my car from the body shop. 

I also know how to take care of things myself. I drove my rental back to the airport, and took a ride share back home on my own so my husband and my mom didn’t have to deal with that as well after doing so much. 

And my husband ordered parts for the shower door and managed to fix it himself. Though the parts didn’t come until after the plumber came. 

In other words, it all went to hell in a day or two, and within another day or two, all of it was resolved. 

This too shall pass. 

I don’t want to say that it was easy. And it would be a lie to say that my husband and I didn’t fight over logistics, and who needed to be responsible for what. Because we did. Because we are both tired and overworked and having emergencies come up in our personal lives, while we are already putting out work fires left and right, is a lot, and sometimes felt like it was more than we could handle. Or at least more than *I* could handle. But in the end, it was manageable. And together, and with help, we managed.

When I was eating compulsively, I could never see a way out of any difficult situation. It always felt like every problem would persist eternally. And that terrified and troubled me. And it often made me make stupid, reckless decisions. Or paralyzed me so I couldn’t do anything at all, a kind of stupid, reckless decision in itself.

The truth is, I can’t usually see a way out of difficult situations now, either. The difference is, I know now that all things pass. I know that situations change and work themselves out. I know that resistance usually makes things worse, not better. I know that if you ride the ups and downs, they all smooth out in the end.

That surrender, that willingness to trust that this or that rough patch will get worked out, either by me, or someone else, or perhaps just by life, is something I got only by putting boundaries around my eating. The addict in me has no use for patience or peace or trust. Chaos was a great chance to retreat from the world and eat a cake. Both because I wanted to forget the chaos, and because I got so high on the cake.

When I was in the food and eating compulsively, my life was mostly trouble and chaos with very few moments of peace and clam, or at the very least it felt that way. Since getting my eating under control, my life is mostly peace and calm, with a few moments of trouble and chaos. Part of that is my perception. But part of that is also my ability to take action with a clear head in the face of fear. The fear has always been there. It just gets less of a say in my life now.

In a loving relationship. With time.

One relationship that has been transformed for the better for me since getting my eating under control is my relationship to time. I need lots of free time. And getting my eating under control has allowed me to really look at my schedule, at what needs to get done in order for me to be truly content and happy, and how much time that *actually* takes. 

I have a real, live 3 day weekend this weekend. (Technically, it is the morning of day 2.) And I considered if I wanted today to be my lazy day. But then I realized that I want my 3rd day to be my lazy day. That I really want a whole day with zero obligations except to eat my weighed and measured meals. 

So I decided that I would keep today to do all of my cooking and the laundry and run the errands I need to run.

But also, I don’t need to rush them today. I can take breaks. Rest in between tasks. Because normally, on a Sunday, I want to get through all of my obligations as quickly as possible, so I can really take one big block of time to relax and zone out at the end. But this weekend, if I get it all taken care of today, that big block of time won’t be hours, but a whole day! And considering how much I have been working lately, this sounds like pure, lazy heaven. 

In the food, I was a constant procrastinator. And that brought me a lot of stress. In having boundaries around my eating, I learned to *choose* to do things in a timely manner. Not because someone in a position of authority told me I should, but because it made sense to me and my happiness.

I will finish up with this thought. Before abstinence from my drug foods, many people told me what I “ought to” do. And I often did those things, but begrudgingly. I hated them, and the changes didn’t last. But as a person with eating boundaries, I do so many of those very same things, but by my own choice and for myself, not to please others. And in my experience, changes made for others never last. But changes made for myself by myself have helped shift the way I think, and therefore the way I live.

“How do I flip this PDF?”and other terrifying questions.

I have been having a hard time thinking about what to write today. Because all I do right now is work. But I suppose there is something to say about work in my food addiction blog. It’s about what I sometimes call my “primordial brain,” and how much of my thinking stems from a deep seated expectation that I am always in trouble. 

Regularly in my job, my boss will call me into his office. And every time he does, my immediate thoughts are that I am in trouble. That I have royally screwed something up. That I have single handedly, through some colossal data entry error, cost my company *billions* of dollars. And every time he calls me in, it is over some form of IT trouble he is having. Why won’t this print 11×17? How do I flip this PDF over? How do I get rid of/add this line to a Word doc?

For over a month I have been having a mild panic attack every time he calls out to come to his office. Even though I have never been in trouble. Because being in trouble is so old and historic that it lives in my body like a truth.

So here is why having eating boundaries saves my life. When my eating is under control, I can feel the primordial panic, tuck it away into a far corner of my brain, and walk into the office. Once it is clear that I have not cost the company billions and brought ruin upon my home and family for all of eternity, the little nugget of panic can fall away. 

But if I were eating my drug foods, that panic would eat at me. I would hear that call and immediately begin cataloguing all of the things I did wrong. Or potentially did wrong. Or could be perceived as wrong by someone in charge of my job. I would be coming up with excuses to make and people to blame for problems that didn’t even exist. I would be figuring out how to avoid going into that office. The point is that even if I didn’t do anything wrong, I would do “wrong,” or desperate, or disingenuous things to avoid getting in trouble. I would be *making* trouble for myself to get out of my fear of being in trouble. It wouldn’t matter that I had not done anything wrong in the first place. 

When my eating is under control, I see things clearly. I see myself clearly. And I don’t have to project my greatest, and unfounded fears onto the future. I can stand up, walk into the office and face whatever there is to face. Like a frustrated boss asking, “why can’t I open this attachment?”

Living the life I actually have

I recently stopped running. It was a difficult, and frankly, really scary decision to make. But I made it. And I am grateful and glad I did.

About a week after I started my new job, the job changed. The workload quadrupled, the stakes were raised for my company, and my personal stress level went through the roof. (I started to break out in hives! Hives!) 

I told my boss that I needed help, and he told me that they would get me an admin, but as of yet, I don’t have one. And it means that I work over 12 hours a day 4 days a week, and 9 on Thursdays when I have my food meeting for people with the same food boundaries as me. I am working about 60 hours in 5 days. I insisted that I could not work 6 days. Since my husband is also working over 12 hours a day, but he *is* working 6 days a week, and he is running the night shift (I cannot tell you how much I hate it.) I need two days off to do all of the things that he now can’t do for himself. I have to do his grocery shopping, his laundry, and keep the house as tolerably clean as I can (my friends, it is not particularly clean) on top of my weekly food prep, which now includes breakfasts as well as lunches.

So I leave for work at 5:30 in the morning, I work from 6:30 in the morning until 7 at night. I get home around 8 pm, and I only have time to get my food and clothes ready for the next day, scarf down a small dinner and get into bed by 9:30 to get about 7 1/2 hours of sleep. 

It was my husband who recommended I stop running for now. And I was terrified at the prospect. It is a thing I have done for so long as a commitment and a priority that to give it up felt like I was going to become unreliable again, like I was when I was in the food. It felt like I was going to slide down that slippery slope of laziness and shame.

But I am not the person I was when I was eating compulsively. I am a person who knows how to go with the flow, and how to adapt to new and uncomfortable situations. And ultimately I am grateful for my husband’s loving suggestion that sleep is more important than exercise when both are just really not an option.

And I am happy to remember that this too shall pass. That this job will slow, and eventually end. That all of this should be calmer by Christmas, and the new year should see me settled back into my slower schedule and more peaceful work life. I can trust that I can get back on the pavement in 2022.

Getting my eating under control taught me about priorities. At this moment, my job is a priority. Sleep is a priority. And of course my food boundaries are always my first priority. But when I have more time, more than just to sleep, and work and honor my food boundaries, running will go back on my priority list. But for now I am going to live the life I actually have.

Does my ice cream bowl miss me?

My week has been insane and full of ups and downs. I have been under a huge amount of stress. And I have not been hungry. Which is an interesting thing for a compulsive eater. 

Perhaps I should rephrase that. It is not just that I am not hungry. I have lots and lots of experience eating when I am not hungry. I mean I don’t want to eat. I mean I am forcing myself to eat my meals. I mean I am choking them down. 

Because of this I have changed what I eat for some meals. For example, at dinner I have been eating 2 eggs, instead of my delicious delicacies like my homemade ice cream with soy nuts, or pork rinds. And I have also had to make a few calls to emotionally recommit to eating my food. Because I have not wanted to eat so much that I scared myself with the thought of not eating.

I eat my meals because eating my meals is what I do. I am not on a diet. Not being hungry isn’t “a great chance to skip meals and lose weight.” Not being hungry means I make my meals as small as possible within my boundaries and eat them anyway. Because I eat three portioned out meals a day. No matter what.

If you think what I do with food is about weight and weight loss then this may be confusing to you. But I do what I do with food because I don’t have a normal relationship with food. I don’t know how to “eat intuitively” and I don’t know when I have had enough. For right now I may not want to eat, but this, too, shall pass. And when it does I want to be right here where I am with my food addiction under control, my boundaries in tact, and my ice cream bowl sitting in the freezer just waiting for me to make ice cream.

A life beyond your wildest dreams will spoil you for anything less

Oh guys. This one is going to be short because I am tired. 

I worked 56 hours this week. Fifty-six. And that doesn’t count my hour commute each way. (Thank heaven for audiobooks! They make the commute a pleasure rather than a chore.) If you know me, you know this is not how I roll. I like a lot of free time. I like my time even more than I like money.

Since I took this job (19 days ago. Not even 3 full weeks.) the workload for me alone has increased fourfold. And my husband, who was not even on this job, has agreed to run the night shift. An actual night shift. Until December. So we will barely see one another for the rest of the year. 

Here’s the thing. I am not entirely unhappy. I do really like the job just because I am that good at it. In many ways, this job was custom made for me. I was trained for exactly this kind of detailed tracking. And the company I work for just gave me a *huge* raise. I mean, I asked for it, but they gave it to me. 

But I am tired. And I hate the idea that I won’t get to spend time with my husband. I married him because I genuinely love his company. We have talked about the times we can spend together. 4 am, my wake up and before his bedtime. The time we may be at work at the same time when he has a break. And I am trying to work out the best way to get the job done and still take care of myself. How to fit in my run and my meditation and my full night’s sleep and cooking my meals for the week.

Because, as I have said in this blog before, self care is not all bubble baths and spa days. Self care kind of sucks. I don’t want to wake up at 4 to run. But I do. I don’t want to spend hours of my precious weekend cooking for the week. But I do. I don’t want to stop and meditate and have to be still for 3 minutes when I am busy and already feel like I don’t have enough hours in the day. But I do. (OK, mostly I do. I sometimes forget. But I am committed to 3 minutes daily.) I don’t want to put down whatever I am doing to go to bed….Actually, nope. That last one was a lie. I like the shit out of going to bed.

Having my eating under control gives me the possibility of enjoying living the life I have instead of lamenting the life I think I should have. It lets me be flexible. It lets me prioritize. And it keeps me clear about the reality of my situation. If I come to be miserable, if it starts to hurt my marriage, if I make myself sick, I know that I can ask for help, or back off my hours, or even just quit. Having my eating under control lets me see myself clearly, my options clearly, and the reality of my situation clearly. 

Putting boundaries around my eating offered me a life beyond my wildest dreams. I am not going to settle for less than that anymore. So for now, I am going to do the best job I can. And if it ever no longer serves me, I know that I can move on. I will trust that life is giving me what I need, and that it will continue to do so.

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