onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “sugar-free”

Nothing went wrong with my food

Today’s post is going to be extra short because I am already tired and out of my routine. We are living temporarily in New Jersey just outside of Philadelphia. So last week I secured a temporary apartment, and this past week I got ready to move. Then Friday I drove 12 hours to a new town and yesterday moved into a new apartment.

It’s small. It’s expensive. You know, very East coast.

One thing didn’t change. My eating. I made days worth of food ahead of time. I packed easily transported meals. The night before we drove, I actually packed the food up in the coolers I was going to use, and packed them into my car, only to take them out and put all of the food back into the refrigerator overnight.

Is that weird and obsessive? Perhaps. Did it make me feel better to already know at 5 o’clock in the morning exactly how the food was going to fit into the coolers and the coolers into the car? Absolutely.

I know what my priorities are. And I plan for them accordingly. Especially with food. And nothing went wrong with my food.

This one can tide me over

I mentioned in my last post that I was having a hard time getting my internet provider to come fix my internet. That continued, so on Monday I set up an appointment with a new provider and cancelled my service, which meant that I was without internet for 3 days. And friends, I LOVED it. 

I knit and crocheted and listened to an amazing audiobook series, and just generally had a very peaceful time.

I had some homework to do for my career coach, rewriting my resume and creating a LinkedIn page, but I would get internet on Thursday and I could do it on Friday. 

But while the internet technician was here on Thursday, I got a call that my husband had been asked to run a job in New Jersey for 4 months starting next week. 

So I got internet just in time to have to find us temporary housing immediately. 

All of a sudden, my Friday became grocery shopping for the week, and finding an apartment on almost no noticed, on top of creating a LinkedIn page, researching resumes and updating my own resume for my career coach. 

I was overwhelmed. I was frustrated. I felt in over my head. And it made me feel physically ill. 

And then I realized two things. Those feelings were tied up in very old stories about myself and whether or not I am lazy and if I do “enough.” And that I felt like that nearly every day for nearly all of my life when I was eating compulsively. 

I was a kid who never did my homework. I procrastinated. I intended to do it later, but by the time I knew I must do something I had waited long enough that I was too exhausted. I was easily paralyzed. I was afraid of doing wrong, so it was easier to do nothing. And having to rewrite my resume felt like that. I knew I had to find housing. But it felt awful to do that first, and not my resume. And by the time the housing was taken care of, I was too exhausted to deal with my resume.

So I did a thing I did a million times when I was a kid. I told myself I would do it in the morning.

I slept uneasy. I tossed and turned. I kept thinking about that resume and how I didn’t know what I was doing and how I had a meeting with my coach in the morning, and how I was in over my head. 

But here is the catch. This time I really did do it in the morning. Because I keep my promises. To myself. To other people. And then I had an amazing call with my career coach. And once that was done I felt spectacular. I felt free.

When I was eating compulsively and I hated myself, I thought I hated myself because of who I was. That I was broken. That I was lacking. But I hated myself because of what I did or failed to do. And in getting my eating under control, I learned how to do things. Not to be perfect or right. I learned to do them so I could sleep at night. I learned to do them so I could like myself. 

It is no coincidence that these feelings are coming up when I am looking for a new job, a new career, a new way of living and making money. They are all caught up in what I am worth. 

But the first thing I ever did that made me feel that I was worthy was to promise myself and another person that I would stop eating sugar and put boundaries around my eating, and then to keep that promise. 

I am always grateful for these moments when I get a glimpse of what it felt like to hate myself again. To remember that that was my reality for 28 years. After 16 years of keeping my eating under control and loving my life, it can escape me how much pain I lived in thinking there wasn’t a way out. But don’t get me wrong. This can tide me over for a long time. I don’t need any more reminders for the time being.

A Pickle On An Easy Path

One thing about having my sugar addiction under control for so long is that I do not want sugar anymore. I do not crave it. But also, I do not want it. There is nothing in it for me anymore.

The idea that a little would be a “treat” is ridiculous to me now. Because when I was addicted to sugar and eating compulsively, it made me numb. And it made me embarrassed and ashamed. And that had some connection to my weight. But separately, it was connected to all of the ways I failed to show up in my life. It was connected to all of the ways I lacked integrity. It was connected to my being dishonest and manipulative and cruel. Because it made it so that I didn’t have to look at myself or contemplate what kind of person I was being. It made me numb enough that I didn’t have to be confronted by my own actions.

I am an addict. And I, personally, don’t believe that once you have become addicted to something you can ever cease to be addicted to it. You can’t get the cucumber back once it’s a pickle. But even if you could, why would I try? Why would I potentially throw away 16 years of growth and peace and happiness? Why would I give up my eating boundaries for a moment of flavor when I don’t know what other consequences would come with it?

I think that fact that I do not crave the things I used to be obsessed with is a pretty good sign for me that they were always an addiction. If it were really just about food being delicious, then 16 years later, you would think I would still want it. But I look at cake and I don’t see anything. I don’t see deliciousness or excitement or even that hit of getting high. Much of the time, even if it is right in front of me, I literally don’t see it, as in it does not even register.

I am so grateful that it is so easy to keep going down the path. Because getting on the path was hard. It was uncomfortable and painful and difficult. And it lasted a long time. It didn’t really get easy for a year and a half. And that is a long time to stick with pain and discomfort.

But it was worth it. I am free from my eating disorders and my sugar addiction. I am free to enjoy my food and also enjoy my life. And I don’t miss foods I don’t eat.

The self-esteem of estimable acts.

It’s amazing to me the way taking an action can shift everything in my life.

I have a very nice acquaintance who is helping me navigate the world of changing career fields. And I had been behind on my homework for him. Which made me feel bad. And then I sent it and didn’t hear back from him. And I thought that perhaps I had taken so long to turn in my work and he didn’t want to work with me anymore. That I had failed to meet his expectations and he now considered working with me to be a waste of time.

I was afraid of being told that I was not good enough, and I did not want to hear that. I did not want to know. So I avoided it. And it made for a week of not getting anything done. No knitting. No working out. Very little cleaning. I don’t even know if I could tell you what I did. But I didn’t feel good about myself and every day I didn’t do anything made me like myself less.

So last Monday, first thing in the morning, I wrote to my career coach and basically asked if he was still interested in working with me. I told myself and the universe that I was willing to look at the reality of the situation. And if what there was to learn was the ways in which I was lacking, so be it. And I didn’t hear back from him.

But here is the interesting part. It did not matter that I did not hear back. It suddenly did not matter whether or not he liked or approved of me. Acknowledging that I had been late, and that I was willing to accept the consequences of that head on, made *me* like me more. It shifted everything. It shifted *me* and where I was in my own head.

With that email sent out, I did my meditation, drank my water, did my workout, cleaned my house, responded to friends I owed emails, and worked on a novel I am writing. It gave me room to accomplish all of these things every day. Every. Single. Day.

And then this morning I heard from my career coach. My emails had ended up in his spam folder. He *is* still interested in working with me.

When I got my eating under control, I got a crash course in how integrity leads to greater integrity. That doing estimable acts makes me proud of myself. And doing things that make me proud of myself makes it easier to do other things that make me proud of myself.

I’m not saying this wasn’t already true when I was eating compulsively, it just means I wasn’t present and aware enough to recognize it. And hopefully the next time this happens, because humanity always happens, I will use my tools to get myself back on track even quicker. (But it’ll be okay, even if I don’t.)

It’s not what it looks like and other unbelievable truths

I have been thinking a lot lately about what having my eating boundaries looks like from the outside. And I really get how it looks crazy to some people. I can really see how it can look like an eating disorder instead of a solution to my disordered eating.

I weigh all of my food with some very few exceptions, and even those have rules. I entirely avoid a whole group of foods that most people all over the world eat every day. I make a point of *not* trusting my body and it’s feelings about whether or not I am hungry. So I really get how that can look crazy and weird.

So here is what I think the real difference is. I am happy and at peace in my life in a way I have never been before. And I never want to lose that. I would rather be this happy and never eat sugar again while simultaneously dealing with how upset people get when they learn I plan to never eat sugar again.

I can’t trust my body to tell me when to eat. And I know that because I have eaten things I didn’t want and didn’t like because they were there and I just could not stop eating. I have eaten when I was full to sickness and did not physically want anything more, but I could not stop eating. I have stolen food and lied and cheated for food, even though I felt intense guilt and humiliation, because I just could not stop eating.

Whenever I tell someone what I do with food and their reaction is to tell me that they “should” do what I do, I tell them that I don’t care what they eat. I am not judging. I am not the food police.

I eat the way I eat because I am an addict, and eliminating my drug foods is a solution to my eating problem. Not a weight problem or a health problem. A self-esteem problem. A self-love problem. A sanity problem.

I have had/do have eating disorders, by the way. Not just binge eating, but also exercise bulimia, and stick a toothbrush down your throat bulimia, and I have occasionally exhibited anorexic behaviors, though not very often. I have never had much “willpower” when it comes to food. (If you have read my blog for any period of time, you probably already know that I don’t believe in willpower.) So I want to say I have points of reference for eating disorders. And I never felt less peaceful or more crazy than when I was “managing my weight” with actual eating disorder behaviors.

So if you look at what I do and you see an eating disorder, I don’t really blame you. If I were doing what I do and starving (I am not, by the way) I would also be worried. But I am happy, joyous and free. I love my life. I have relationships that I never thought I could. I do things I never had the courage or drive to do before. I love my life *because* I have boundaries around my eating, not in spite of it.

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.

Delicious but different

Today my husband and I are having some family over for a late lunch. Two of our guests are picky eaters. And not only are they picky eaters, but they don’t like the same things. One will eat beef but not pork, one will eat pork but not beef. One will eat pasta, but the other won’t. You get the point.

My husband told them that they had to figure out what he was going to make. And they did! They wanted chicken parmigiana. And roasted potatoes. And my husband decided to make himself and his mom some bruschetta as an appetizer, and hopefully the picky eaters will like it too.

But there is almost nothing on this menu that I can eat. (I will possibly eat the tomato topping from the bruschetta as part of my salad.) And that is not a problem.
I learned early in having my eating boundaries that there is a difference for me between the meal and the company. I learned that I don’t have to eat at celebratory meals. I don’t have to eat at dinner parties. I don’t have to eat at restaurants. I can literally just go and be with the people, have a coffee or a soda, and talk. I can eat before or after. Or like today, I can eat my own food while everyone else eats the food my husband skillfully and lovingly makes for them.

I love to eat. I love my food. My husband regularly makes me special foods just for me. He made me homemade barbecue sauce just this week and I have been eating it twice a day since he made it. Lunch and dinner!

And I don’t miss my drug foods. So I am not jealous of their chicken parm. I am not jealous of roasted potatoes. I am not sorry to miss anything that is being served today. I only want to see my guests and enjoy chatting and spending time with them.

When I was eating compulsively, I probably would have been more excited for the food than the company. I probably would have been in a fog. And trying to get more than my share. And feeling bad about how much I ate.

But today I am excited to talk and laugh. I will still love my food. Whatever I decide to make. And it will be delicious, but different. But I don’t mind being different. And my company, not the potatoes or the bread, will get all of my love and attention.

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.

I’m no mathematician, but one day at a time sure adds up

Christmas is done, and my eating boundaries are still in tact. This is my 15th Christmas with eating under control. It’s funny to think about it that way. It’s kind of hard to fathom, even having lived it. No matter what, it’s still a day at a time.

I didn’t just “end up with” 15 Christmases with my food issues handled. I quit eating sugar and put boundaries around my eating on January 2, 2006. And since then I have had to make choices every day. And some of those days, and some of those choices, were *hard.* There were days when something went wrong with my food 3 or 4 or even FIVE times with just one meal, and I had to throw some part, or all of it, away and prepare the meal again (and again.) There were times when I could not get what I needed at some restaurant or another and I had to leave a get-together early to get home and eat my dinner by midnight. There were times I had a food problem in the middle of an event or at my lunch break on a work day, and I had to make a call to have someone help me figure out what to do. And every time, every single time, I had to make a choice about my eating boundaries. I had to choose what was important in the moment. Because a commitment like the one I have is about the moment I am in.

One of the things that freaks people out about what I do is the thought that if they took it on for themselves, they would *never* have (insert favorite comfort food) again! NEVER! It’s all they can hear. It’s all they can imagine. No cake for the rest of eternity! The horror!

And I am, admittedly, a bit of a weirdo in that I am perfectly fine with the “never.” I don’t miss cake. I don’t miss foods I don’t eat. And I am very comfortable with “never again.”

But most people are not. Which is really normal. And one helpful thing to remember is that for most people, it’s enough to say “not today.” Or even “not at this moment.”

That is what we tell new people. *Don’t* think about the infinite future. Just make the decision about right now. Will you keep your commitment today, this meal, this moment? It’s a day at a time, or a meal at a time, or a minute at a time, or a second at a time. You can feel free to break up the time in as small or large increments as you see fit to get yourself through a rough spot.

But for me personally, in making each of those individual choices to honor my commitment to control my eating , I have racked myself up 15 Christmases. And a week from today, if I keep my eating boundaries (which I have every intention of doing, but I know not to get ahead of myself) I will have kept my addiction at bay for a full 16 years.

In all that time, I have never been sorry I didn’t eat cake. And I have never been sorry I took the time to make that meal that 6th time. And I have never been sorry to end a holiday with my eating boundaries well in place. Not even once in 15 years, 11 months and 3 weeks.

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