I struggle. More than I care to admit. Not necessarily with my thought process – with comparison, body image, etc – but mostly with food. I’ve always had a bad relationship with food – especially with candy. When I was young – likely starting around age 7 – whether it was my Easter basket or Halloween candy haul, I would eat until I was sick. I could easily eat ALL of my candy in less than two days (Easter was often one day, but Halloween was often two)
Even when it wasn’t around the holidays, I would gorge myself on sweets. My mom was an amazing baker, so there were almost always cookies around the house. Even though I had some in my lunch for school – and I’d have them in my lunch tomorrow – as soon as I was home from school, my hands was in the cookie jar – and QUIETLY I would eat several cookies leading up to dinner.
If there WASN’T cookies (or brownies, or some sort of sweet square) around, there was typically chocolate or butterscotch chips in the pantry. I’d crack open the creaky bi-fold door the minimum I needed in order to slip in to grab a handful – sometimes I would pour a bunch into a dish so I wouldn’t have to keep replenishing.
When I was in high school. I wasn’t always the best at eating the lunches my mom made – I really didn’t like sandwiches, so they would often get obliterated under piles of books at the bottom of my locker and only discovered at the monthly clean up when I discovered the science experiment growing at the bottom of my locker… or when the smell got too bad. Eventually my mom got tired of making lunches I wouldn’t eat, so she’d give me money to buy my own lunch. I’m certain her hope was that I would buy something… at least somewhat healthy. In the morning I’d run to the convenience store right next door to the school and get a chocolate bar. During breaks, it would be candy. Lunch, potato chips and pop. Afternoon break, another chocolate bar. This was my habit for YEARS! I should be happy I wasn’t morbidly obese and diabetic considering the shit I ate and for so long!
Unfortunately, those eating habits from my childhood carried on into my adult life. The only time I was free from eating crap was when I traded one eating disorder for another – then I would bounce between binge eating and obsessive compulsive healthy eating (which I can’t remember the term for it) but this behavior lasted for 2 decades – and that doesn’t include my eating disorders as a child/teen. That’s a long time to abuse my body.
I’m undecided as to how, if social media was around when I was in my teens, if it would have made things better or worse. I can see how social media can be both a catalyst for change and a burden exasperating existing issues. I have a sneaky suspicion it would be the latter of the two… Hell, I’m a grown-ass woman and I have issues looking at social media! It’s HARD not to get impatient, frustrated, depressed… whatever!… when looking at someone’s highlight reel! There’s been plenty of people on IG that I start following for one reason or another, and after a while I’ll stop following them. One woman my husband suggested as she has a similar body type as me – or, rather, I could easily have a similar body type to her if I tried. I followed her for a while and, yeah – it was great! Her body was motivational for me… however, over time, I found her content disgusting. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with posting scantily clad pics of myself, but her? It was blatant sexualization of her body that I hated – and the comments left on the pics were equally disgusting. To me, the only thing it showed was that you have to present yourself in a certain way in order to get likes, followers, endorsements, etc – and I didn’t like that. So I unfollowed her.
I choose the people I follow very carefully. What I’m looking for are people who lift each other up, motivate, live a transparent life to show the crap as well as the good. I might follow someone, but if I don’t like the content, I will unfollow. If I look at someone’s posts and it in any way makes me feel less, I will unfollow. If their posts steer my thoughts into a direction I don’t like, I will unfollow. And I expect anyone else to do the same to me; if I don’t provide content that people find motivating or inspiring, I expect people won’t follow to begin with, or unfollow. I have been open and honest with my diet issues and eating disorders – even my substance abuse – and I finally seem to be making some head way.
This particular Monday morning, I woke exhausted; I had a shitty sleep, I woke extra early (4am) and felt like crap. I obviously still had sleep meds in my system as I was extremely dizzy when I got up to go to the bathroom. Knowing the cats would not let me go back to bed, I went downstairs and lay on the sofa in hopes of catching a little more sleep to at least shake off the dizziness. I did feel better, despite no additional sleep, but I had other concerns…
This is a recipe for disaster. THIS is when I would go to the store and buy a bag of candy. THIS is when I binge. THIS is what starts a shitty week and takes DAYS to recover.
Yes, my thoughts went there. Yes, I was like “Oh, what do we want to binge on today? Am I feeling like chocolate or candy?” but then things shifted… like something clicked into place.
I don’t WANT to have candy. I don’t want to feel physically ill – isn’t being mentally exhausted bad enough?
Okay, mind… how about a chai latte and scone (which, seriously, I doubt the scone is vegan) but, you know what? I like them… but I don’t REALLY enjoy them! Every time I’ve had them over the past couple of weeks (cause a chai latte and scone is much better than a bag full of candy… right?)
But every time I had them, I didn’t REALLY enjoy them. I didn’t enjoy them enough to want to have them this morning because, when I really paid attention, they upset my stomach.
I’m TIRED of eating things that make me feel like shit!!!
… you know what? It’s not even that! I’m not mad or frustrated at the destructive behavior that I’ve been constantly plagued with – that I’ve allowed to happen for most of my life. It’s almost like a calm voice over road that desire to binge. The thought was there because that has been my habit since forever. I sleep like shit, I eat candy. I’m tired, I eat candy. I’m stressed, I eat candy. I’m depressed, I eat candy.
But today? I didn’t want candy…
I was tired. I had a shitty sleep. My day started like crap. But I didn’t want candy. Why? Did it really make me feel better? Hell no! As I ate it, I’d berate myself. I’d tell myself I should stop, then after a while, it would be “well, you blew it, you’d might as well finish the bag”, and 800-1500 calories later (depending on what I got) I would feel like shit.
Lately, I’ve been asking myself: Is what I’m doing benefiting my best self? Is what I’m focusing my energy on getting me towards my goals? No? Then cease whatever activity and do something that IS benefiting me – either mentally, emotionally, artistically, or physically. I don’t know what happened… but something just clicked. Maybe it’s the repeated listening to Rachel Hollis’s books – at the moment, “Girl Wash Your Face”; I am the creator of my own life! I have the power to create a life or mood! I am stronger than the craving or the trauma. I control my fate – I have the ability to work towards my goals.
We’ll see how long this lasts… but going against everything the past has shown is a really, really good start!
The frustrating thing is – and something I find so coincidental – the night after I wrote this post (as I schedule my posts, so they don’t often go live for a few days or a couple of weeks) I was on social media, and a couple of meme’s popped up on a hashtag I follow – they were literally one above the other – and it kind of upset me:
It bothers me that they are saying that sugar is non-addictive. It was like they were invalidating my experiences over the past 35 years – especially when I see WAY more evidence pointing to YES, sugar addiction is real. I wanted to comment on their posts arguing that sugar addiction is real, but I knew arguing would be pointless and reading the comments, I knew I would be setting myself to be mobbed against what I had to say.
When I was at my worst, I would literally have a bag of sugar and spoon and eat it right from the bag. I think back now and find that completely disgusting, but at the time, I would do anything for a “fix”. But, no… sugar addiction “isn’t real”.
They may say that you want what you can’t have, and that the intense sugar cravings I experience is because I deprive myself of sugar – but again, this is not true. I typically have something sugary at least once a week – and we’re talking something like ice cream, not something that’s a “healthy” alternative! – and I have several servings of fruit daily.
SO… yeah… I’ve learned to pick my fights, and this fight wasn’t worth it. I find people will believe what they want – yes, I hear what they’re saying, but I have 35 YEARS of evidence that says otherwise. Yes, some people can eat sugar without what I went through that might indicate sugar is not addictive, but that doesn’t mean it’s not addictive. Sure, I might be physiologically prone to sugar addiction – just like someone might be more prone to addiction to tobacco or drugs – but it’s still addiction and shouldn’t be discounted.
No matter what you’re going through, keep working at it. Keep trying to overcome whatever you’re trying to do and fail at it again and again and again – because one day, something will just click. You won’t even know what happened, only that one day you’ll be like “Nope. I don’t feel like (whatever destructive habit you’re trying to overcome)”.
Doing it just once at a time that you know you should be reacting a certain way is all you need. Doing it once will show you that you CAN overcome it. Doing it once is all you need to build the road to success. Even if you fail down the road and slip into bad habits – THAT’S OKAY!!! Because you know that you can get back on track.
You ALWAYS have an opportunity to make the day better.
EDIT: It has now been over a week since I actually wrote this, and I am ecstatic to say that it’s been about 10+ days since my last binging on sugar. This is a major thing for me as my period started today – and typically I would be a slave to my insatiable sugar binging for days leading up to my period and a few days at the start. Nothing. Nada. Zero interest. This makes me SO happy!!!