Weighty Matters

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We Aren’t Terminally Unique

Before I hit rock bottom with my compulsive overeating/binge eating and started going to Overeaters Anonymous, I carried around as much shame as I did body fat.  There were so many things that I’d done with food or behaviors I’d employed to try to hide my overeating, stuff that I just new nobody normal would even consider.

If someone who was a drug addict or an alcoholic had told me that they’d stolen drugs or that they’d sneaked drinks so nobody saw them drink, I wouldn’t have thought twice.  Those behaviors seemed logical to me for addicts.  But I, like many, many other people, didn’t really believe that food addiction or any eating disorders were also diseases.  I believed that all of the activities that brought me so much shame were the result of my not being able to enforce my own will power.

I lived in terror of someone finding out about my abnormal food behaviors and, even worse, confronting me about them.  The shame was a constant presence that I couldn’t walk away from any more than I could leave behind my own skin.

One of the earliest and best lessons I learned in OA was that I was not the only person in the entire known universe who did the things that I did.  I was not terminally unique.

I can’t begin to adequately describe my relief.  My spirit, so weighed down at that point, lightened immeasurably.  More and more people in the OA meetings shared their stories and they’d done so many of the same things.  Over time, the shame dissipated.   I wasn’t a bad, crazy, awful disgusting person.  I was a human being with a problem, a disorder.

Many, many years later, I still feel that glorious freedom and I remind myself time and time again that I’m not terminally unique and this is a very good thing.

I can see by the stats that there are a lot of people dropping by to read these posts, although the vast majority of you do not leave comments.  That’s absolutely okay.  It’s your choice whether to comment and share your stories.  I respect that and honor your anonymity.  That said, I believe that some of you are also struggling with eating disorders and it’s possible that you’re dealing with shame of your own about behaviors around room.  Maybe you need to hear that you’re not terminally unique, that you aren’t the only one.   I thought I’d share some of my past food behaviors as well as some of the things I’ve never done but that I’ve heard shared by others.  Hopefully, if you’re in a not-so-great space right now, hearing these will help ease some of your shame, too.

Friends, you are not the only person who has ever . . .

Gone through a fast food drive-through and ordered two drinks so the staff would think you were ordering to feed two or three people.

Sneaked food out of someone else’s refrigerator, freezer, drawer, cabinets or candy dish and eaten it when nobody else was looking.

Faked a conversation with someone else while ordered pizza or some other delivered food, again so it looked like you were ordering for multiple people.

Slept-walked to the kitchen in the middle of the night and eaten food, but had no memory of doing so the next morning, even when you saw the empty wrappers and containers.

Eaten a small, “appropriate” amount of food in front of other people in public, and then gorged on more in private.

Thrown food out, determined to not eat any more and then dug it out of the trash and eaten it any way.

You are also not the only person who weighs so much that you’ve . . .

Had a chair collapse or break under you.

Had to get out of a ride at an amusement park because the safety features wouldn’t close around you

Not been able to climb up into a van or truck without help.

Gotten stuck in a bathtub.

Been unable to adequately “clean” yourself and maintain good hygiene.

Not been able to buckle a seat belt in a car.

Gotten momentarily stuck in a turnstile.

Been unable to have a medical test or scan done because you weighed more than the equipment’s capacity

Been told that they had to buy two seats on an airplane

There are probably 100 more examples I could give that I’ve heard or experienced over the years, but this looks to be a pretty good start.  Hope it helps!

 

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Truths that Should be Self-Evident

It’s time for a reality self-check.  I’ve been doing great, even to the point where most of my food choices are automatic and stress-free.  I feel terrific. My check-ups at my doctors are excellent.  I am consistently happy and excited about every day ahead of me in my future.

I realized today, however, that I do still need to remind myself of certain realities.   Even with a miniscule stomach post-surgery, I still have an eating disorder.  I am still a compulsive overeater.  There is no cure for this disorder.  Just like there’s no real cure for alcoholism or drug addiction, I will always be a compulsive overeater.  All of my hard work on my mind and emotions, the drastic step of cutting out most of my stomach — these things are tools to help me recover from the behavior of compulsive overeating.

I cannot fool myself into thinking I’m cured and will never eat compulsively again.  That mindset will lead me into trouble and relapse.  The sleeve gastrectomy might be my most effective tool ever, but it isn’t a fix.  I still need to prep, plan and guard against inappropriate use of food.

What lead to this post today?  Simple.  I went to the health food store to get additional vitamins and another container of the protein powder I like.  I browsed the aisles of organic, natural, healthy food and happened upon the chocolate selection.

I love chocolate.

I can have chocolate, but like every other food, only in very small portions.   “No problem,” I told myself.  I can buy this entire bar and only eat a single square.  Nothing to it!”

I was right.  I could eat a single square, savoring the lovely chocolate flavor as it melted in my mouth.  A single square — what restraint.

It lasted about ten minutes and then I went back for my next single square and, several minutes later, my third.  In short, I compulsively returned to my chocolate bar and ate two more servings than planned.  Luckily, I successfully put on the brakes before I polished off the entire bar and made myself sick.

Yes.  I am still a compulsive overeater and always will be.  That is a truth that needs to always be self-evident.

So, what could I have done differently?  What can I do so that I don’t repeat this behavior but still give myself permission to enjoy the occasional small piece of chocolate?  First thing, the chocolate bar gets stored in the fridge.  It was just too easy today to reach into my desk drawer and gobble down another square.  It is more difficult to be compulsive when I have to get up out of my chair, leave my office and walk to the building’s kitchen, reach in, open the bar and break off another piece.  Secondly, I can limit my purchases to a single piece and not buy the bigger bar in the first place.   So, there you go.  Two possible strategies I can employ.  I feel better for having worked through this and I am definitely not beating myself up about the extra chocolate.  Progress not perfection and I already feel back on track.

When I look back on the day, I embrace the experience as a valuable reminder and good lesson.  Above all, I’m grateful for the clarity with which I examined my behavior and processed it.  That’s a huge improvement and I really am better and healthier as a result.

 

 

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Nothing Earth Shattering

I didn’t have any deep, dramatic new realizations today about my weight loss surgery, improved body, old relationship with food, new relationship with food or anything else.

It’s kind of cool.  What I realized is that in not-quite-ten weeks, a lot of the stuff has become more automatic and common place.  I don’t stand in front of my refrigerator in the morning, agonizing over what to eat or what to pack to take to work.  I have plenty of choices in the fridge and make my selections in about a minute or less.   When it’s time to eat a snack or get out my lunch, I don’t think about foods that I didn’t select or wish for other possibilities.

To live a day like this when food is not an all-consuming obsession is truly remarkable.

I still have a long way to go.  I goofed up yesterday and got so caught up in conversation at a picnic that I wasn’t mindful of how quickly I ate.  Luckily, I was able to quell the “foamies” and nausea that arose through some slow, steady breathing and avoided throwing up in front of the group.  I’m not a pro or veteran of the weight loss surgery journey by any means.  But I’m learning and changing in positive ways.  I need to remember that it’s all about progress, not perfection.

I’m sure there will be more than several days ahead when I stress again about food choices or resent some aspect of my new life or just hit a rough patch for no discernable reason.  I am absolutely positive that I will continue to uncover new realizations, “aha” moments, and all sorts of things that will help me continue to improve my physical, mental and emotional health.

But just for today, everything’s on an even keel.  Nothing earth-shattering and that’s more than fine.

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Accepting Compliments

It should be really easy to accept a compliment.  Two words suffice, “Thank you”.

Not so easy when you’ve spent most of your life feeling like you don’t deserve compliments about your appearance or feel like the person saying something nice about you to you must be delusional, lying to be nice, or out of their ever-loving mind.

Following through on the idea of unconditionally accepting myself, I’m going to work on graciously and sincerely accepting compliments on my improving appearance.  I need to stop deflecting by saying things like, “I have so far still to go”.  Even if I reply “That’s very kind of you to say”, I can practically hear my unspoken “but you’re wrong” hanging in the air.

All I have to say is “Thank you”.  For an articulate woman, this should not be difficult.  Even if I’m having a bad moment or not quite feeling worthy, I’m still going to stay thanks.  And mean it.

It isn’t that I don’t appreciate the kindness and support shown to me with each and every compliment.  It’s just that I’m still repairing the internal emotional wounds.

I think I made some progress earlier today.  I went to a picnic of members from the Tai Chi society to which I now also belong.  Even though I’m still a beginner and haven’t learned all of the moves and sequences, when the group gathered to do a full set, I took my place with the others who represented a wide range of experience.  The folks who have done this set for years encouraged us to participate and keep going even when the group moved beyond the moves that we know.   I was really pleased that I could follow along pretty well.  At the end of the set, one of the instructors asked if it was my first time.  When I said yes, she then complimented me on how well I’d done.

Oh my goodness.  A compliment about something I did that involved my body and movement!  I started to get all “look down and scuff my foot” about it, but I remembered my earlier resolve and simply said, “Thank you”.

In that moment, it wasn’t as difficult as I feared.  I’m going to build on the experience and practice doing it each time I’m complimented.  I’m going to a convention in a few weeks and will see several people for the first time since before I had surgery.  I know my friends will comment on the weight loss.  My attitude about the comments in a choice.  I’m going to accept the compliments with grace and, by so doing, accept myself with a little more love each time.

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