Think Smaller

I haven’t kept secret the issues I have surrounding eating healthy, struggling with eating disorders, re-establishing exercise routines at the gym and mental health. Sometimes I have no issues and I do really well for, sometimes, weeks at a time. And then other times, I struggle. A lot. And, right now, I happen to be in a bad place. Mental Health, I seem… okay – I don’t feel depressed or anxious or anything – I just can’t seem to break this destructive habit loop.

Thankfully, though, I just finished my newest Mel Robbins audiobook “Take Control of Your Life”.

It was a hard listen – not because it was boring or anything, but because I could see myself in a lot of her case sessions but I had a really difficult time finding a physical response right before I binge eat. I also tried to find an instance from my childhood that may still be affecting me today.

My childhood was good – great even! My parents were married (46 years or something!) until my dad passed away and they never fought. I only ever remember one heated discussion surrounding my brother. Basically, my brother didn’t want my dad to go to his track meets because my dad can get loud when cheering and my brother would get embarrassed. That’s a tough problem, I know – our dad wanting to go and cheer us on at whatever event! My dad had a shitty job and he worked 6 days a week – graveyard shift – but it never stopped him from us doing things as a family. We would eat dinner as a family, watch TV together, play board and card games even up to the last Xmas before my dad died. Though my parents never had any hobbies or friends, we (my brother and I) always were doing things – Brownies/Girl Guides and Cubs/Boy Scouts, gymnastics, soccer and various sports in school. I don’t ever remember getting belittled about my school grades. I don’t remember my mom ever dieting or saying anything about my body. Yes, my dad commented about my paintings – he was highly critical about my art and I was raised in an environment where only photo-realistic paintings were deserving of the “artist” accolade. It created limited beliefs in my art, but I have since gotten over those and it’s been completely liberating.

Everything around my body and fitness – or most – came from external comments.

I had a teacher comment “Why can’t you be more like your brother” – he was the athlete in the family and always had excellent grades. I was teased about my weight and size as I was never “skinny” – but there was always someone else who had it worse than me. I was never a great athlete but I always played on the teams – though that stopped once I got into high school when bullying got too bad.

One thing I did pick up on was my relationship with my dad and his behaviors. People always said I was very much like my dad – and I resented that. I remember comments from him when I was younger that had me perceive him as a bigot and a racist – and I have no tolerance for that – even back then! He was also overweight for most of my life and suffered from many issues associated with a sedentary lifestyle and being overweight; diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. He also had a sweet tooth and would always sneak sweets – my mom was an amazing baker so there were always treats around. However, because of his diabetes and weight, my mom would (obviously) disapprove of his sneaking food. I can’t remember things being said, but we all knew he did it and we all knew how bad it was for him.

And this is where the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I have written about my sugar addiction in length but, just like my dad, all of my binging is done in secret – though I’m certain I eat way more than my dad ever did. I will often refuse sweets at work, then have it secretly. I feel shame in eating certain foods so I do it in secret and that secrecy I learned from my dad.

I try to not label food – and when it comes right down to it, food is food. Food can’t be “good” or “bad”. Yes, it can be considered healthy or unhealthy, but even then, it’s assigning it a label. For instance, avocados are extremely healthy, unless you’re allergic to them, then they’re very unhealthy! All foods can be consumed unless there’s a negative reaction to them – whether it’s an allergic reaction, a medical condition like celiac or crohns disease, or addictive behavior like I have with sugar. In that case, they should be avoided.

I think, part of it for me, is I feel like a hypocrite when I do it. Here I am, wanting to be a coach for women who are recovering from eating disorders, breaking diet culture, empowering self-acceptance, body positivity, and forgiveness… and yet, I’m not even following my own advice! “Do as I say, not as I do”. I feel shame and feel like a fraud. And the thing is, I’m not even afraid of people “finding out” because I openly talk about it and confess these issues. I know that silence creates more shame – and once you can open up and talk about it, the shame holds less power.

… but if that’s the case, why do I continue this destructive behavior of binging?

I believe – with the help of “Take Control of Your Life”, is that I’m focusing too much on the BIG picture and, you know what? It is DAUNTING!!! She says when people focus on the big picture and everything that needs to happen, it can become overwhelming and then NOTHING happens! For me, it’s a vicious cycle: as I go to work, I’m thinking about the day, what do I have to do, planning on when and what I eat, going to yoga, getting to the gym in the evening. And you know what? I am sick and tired of eating the same foods repeatedly! I have zero excitement about eating my lunch. And, I feel, in my desire to have pleasure in my food, I reach for candy and chocolate. Then I feel shame in that so I eat it in secret, usually before my coworkers arrive at work. And because I overeat sugar, I get a migraine and feel sick so I don’t go to the gym in the evening. And because I make batch meals, the cycle happens the next day. And the next.

What you need to do – what *I* need to do! – is break it down into easier, manageable chunks. Bricks. For me, I will be working on two things: diet and exercise. My overall health.

So, for me, the biggest chunk I need to deal with is my health because, I grudgingly admit, I AM very similar to my dad and if I don’t make changes now, I’ll be heading on the same road as him.

This has been challenging for me. I know how to lose weight and lose weight fast, but it’s unhealthy both physically and mentally and is smack in the center of diet culture! Plus, it includes eating meat and I’m just not willing to go there. Losing weight as a vegan is new to me – and even though I’m now certified as a vegan nutritionist, it’s still challenging. I want to eat intuitively and I don’t want to do it by living off salad. And at the moment, I am NOT inspired by what I’m eating – which has been part of the problem! I go for something that gives me instant pleasure – which is candy and/or chocolate.

So for the “diet” brick (which I HATE using the term “diet” as most people associate “diet” as restricting calories, whereas I use it as how you fuel your body) and coming to the realization that I’m hating my current diet, when my hubby got home from work, I went to the grocery store and picked up a few more things. One thing I’ve noticed is that I always reach for sugary items in the morning, so instead of trying to stop that habit, I’m going to change what I reach for – which will now be fresh strawberries. Additionally, I’ll make a chia pudding – with an added scoop of protein powder – topped with coconut yogurt and frozen berries. This will give me a good combination of carbs, fat, and protein – which is essential for satiety. My actual LUNCH, I’m struggling with. The latter part of the week I should be good – I just have to make it through today – then it’ll be a matter of finding healthful yummy recipes this weekend for next week.

Additionally, I’m starting to leave my wallet at home. No wallet, can’t buy anything!

For my fitness brick, this is where I’ve been struggling getting back to the gym. Yoga, not a problem! I love yoga and the time I spend there. But I know going to the gym and working on my strength and endurance is equally important! Especially endurance. My fitness goals are aggressive and I need to improve these areas – and, yes, losing weight will help! Being 210 lbs isn’t healthy for me. I’m noticing all sorts of problems that I never had when I weighed less. The 5-second rule has helped a lot, but when I get into the sugar binging cycle, it grinds to a halt and it’s challenging to get it going again. Plus with the issues I’m having with my knees, my physiotherapist says no running – which I really want to do!

But that is out of my control! I CAN control going to the gym and doing resistance training. I CAN control using other pieces of cardio equipment that isn’t the treadmill. At home I can do my physio exercises and work on core strength.

Having a big dream is awesome… but if you’re not actively working towards it, you have to ask “why not?”. You need to dig down and really give your life an honest look. If you see patterns, you need to figure out where they’ve come from – and then you need to figure out what to do to learn a new habit in place of the old one. If you find yourself having a fear of failing, you’re not living in the present and you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and break it into chunks. Bricks. Manageable steps to get you heading in the right direction.