Friday, June 13, 2014

June 13th, 2014 Hazard Signal ON, Literally and Figuratively

June 13th, 2014 Hazard Signal ON, Literally and Figuratively

Today was cruising right along just fine. I felt good, I planned and prepared food. I was confidently accomplishing tasks at work, getting everything done I could before a long weekend. I had no idea that my resolve would be tested by a sudden and stressful event late in the afternoon.

My plan after work was solid. I would workout on the elliptical at the YMCA, exchange my vehicle for the station vehicle, then head home for a good nap before my Friday night rodeo broadcast. The plan was working beautifully until shortly after I picked up the station vehicle.

I noticed the station vehicle didn't have the same power it did the day before. I guess I thought it would improve the more I drove. Instead, it got worse. Finally, it died on the busiest strip in town. I was stranded in the middle of a major roadway at the busiest time of day with traffic whizzing by me. I immediately engaged my hazard signal. I even turned on the green and yellow light bar on top. Traffic didn't seem to slow as much as I had hoped. I was nervous because I just knew at any second I would be rear ended by an inattentive driver. My imagination went further, picturing a chain reaction pile up because of my stranded situation. My stress level was going sky high.

And that's when I started thinking about food. I've had nearly two months straight without too much of these kind of thoughts, and suddenly there I was with my brain trying to convince me that a binge would make this all better. Even after the tow truck was called, loaded the vehicle and was transporting me to the mechanic, I was still having an internal struggle...To eat or not to eat. I spoke with a friend, I sent text messages to another and I shared a fraction of what I was feeling. As the tow truck drove past an old familiar binge food source, I had errant thoughts about the fried chicken and fried pies they had inside.

This wasn't brought on by simple sugar because I haven't had any significant amount in two months. This struggle was brought on by stress. My brain's survival instinct was trying to convince me that I needed a binge to survive this ordeal. I was also very tired and needed a nap, so I was frustrated because my nap time had become this crazy stressful time and the clock was ticking. I had to be at my broadcast by 6pm. It was 4:50 by the time the vehicle rolled off the flatbed tow truck and into the capable hands of the mechanics. By this time I knew a nap wasn't happening. I started to feel hunger. This was genuine hunger, not simply obsessive binge thoughts--although they were still dancing in my head.

I was messing around with three of the four HALT items.  HALT is a term used in recovery circles, it stands for: Don't get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired. I was hungry, angry because my plan was in shambles and I was way too tired. Add to that the fear of being late for my location broadcast--and I was a mess.

The transmission fluid was bone dry. Knowing my schedule of location broadcasts over the next 36 hours, the mechanics filled her up with fluid and looked for obvious leaks. It seemed to be holding for now. They tested the transmission and it engaged!  I was advised to immediately get a case of transmission fluid and a funnel to keep inside the vehicle, then after this busy broadcast weekend--get it into another shop, because they were booked up until after the 4th of July.

By 5:15pm I was headed home. I passed back by the binge place, not stopping, and I started thinking of things I could throw together for a snack before rushing off to my evening broadcast.  I finally decided to hurry to the BBQ place not far from my house for some smoked turkey breast. The plan was to order 8 ounces worth, double check it for accuracy when I got home (last time I ordered 8 ounces it was more like 12oz), and then graze on it during my broadcast. I was running out of time. I still needed to shower, shave and change was just after 5:30pm and I had less than 30 minutes before I needed to be ready for the rodeo broadcast. The drive through of the BBQ place was four cars deep, easily a 20 minute wait at a place like this. I quickly turned around and decided to go inside. Bad idea. The line stretched the length of the building, all the way back to the front door. I had mixed emotions. On one hand I was frustrated because this meant no turkey for me. On the other I was silently taking credit for their rush of business, since I had just voiced and produced a rather elaborate and specific commercial for their rodeo week special.

By 5:45pm I was pulling into my parking space back at my apartment. I literally ran upstairs, turned the oven on and threw in two corn tortillas directly on the rack. While those were getting crunchy, I hurriedly cleaned up, shaved and changed clothes. At 5:55pm I opened a can of fat free/sugar free refried beans and weighed a 100 calorie portion. I placed it on a plate and into the microwave for 40 seconds. Took out the crispy corn tortillas, divided the beans between the two--then topped each with 15 grams of light sour cream before plating them and rushing out the door with absolutely nothing covering these "Bean and Cream" tostadas. I live 3 minutes from the rodeo arena and since my first on-air break wasn't scheduled until 10 minutes after 6pm, nobody seemed to notice I was four minutes late.  Once there, I took the time to log this critically important snack, take a picture and tweet the thing with the 260 calorie count.

By the time I had finished the tostadas, I was feeling much better. It wasn't the food and the ending of my slight hunger that was having the biggest impact on my improved feelings, it was because I had felt a familiar "command" in the middle of all that stress and I survived.

Learning that I am capable of making it in the face of extreme stress was a wonderful thing. In hindsight, I really should have expressed to my support buddies just how powerful it was and how powerless I felt in the heat of the moment. I suppose I did just enough to make it through.

Why would I hesitate to share the degree of difficulty I was facing? Out of shame? Like I'm not allowed to struggle anymore?? We both know that's baloney. Recognizing the struggle, identifying the source--and shutting it down was a wonderful accomplishment today. But it could have been very different. I'm not superman even though lately I've felt like I'm flying in a zone of peace and calm...I'm human and I'm a food addict. Part of my behavior with food is the emotional/stress trigger followed by the survival instinct to eat. Breaking up this behavior pattern was a nice victory today.

I'm exhausted. My first broadcast isn't until 11am tomorrow, so I plan on sleeping in as late as possible. I have 9 hours straight tomorrow, so you better believe I'll be planning and preparing for success tomorrow morning as I put together breakfast, lunch and a couple of snacks.

Thank you for reading,


  1. I used food as a drug for 43 years. Whenever I was stressed out, I ate that feeling away. So even now, after 21 years of no flour/sugar/wheat, I have days where I freak out over something and the thought of eating crosses my mind.

    The more often we don't buy into that old thinking, the stronger the resolve not to live like that any more becomes.

    1. If you don't mind, could you tel me what your alphabet soup stands for. I don't recognize those credentials at all. Thanks. Deb

  2. So proud of you for finding the strength to win this battle. It will make you stronger for the next. Hang in there my friend! You have what it takes to win the war. :)

  3. You did so amazingly well! That was a difficult situation and you came through with flying colours.

    From my experience with post-natal depression, I know it can be too difficult to talk about at the time it is happening because you feel too ashamed and guilty that you are even having those feelings. How could I admit to not having the right maternal feelings, being so very imperfect? I can talk about it a bit now because it is past, and I can say I got through it. So I think it is normal to not want to reveal vulnerability while it is happening. Later, overcoming it can seem like a victory rather than a failure.

  4. Wow. You know that I know how that struggle feels. You were victorious over it. And sounded grateful rather than smug. Awesome. On both counts.


  5. Thank you for sharing that you have not "arrived" at perfection, Sean. Being vulnerable, honest and aware will keep you moving down the right path, helping countless others along the way. I have a friend who has lost a great deal of weight who now feels he is beyond the opportunity to mess up or struggle, and has no tolerance for people who don't do it perfectly. He is a good person, just has forgotten where he came from. You are learning that you CAN make good choices, as hard as it is, in the middle of stress. I liked reading how you knew the difference in real hunger and the compulsion to overeat in the middle of the stress, and dealt with each in the appropriate way. I am learning so much from you. I used to think that arriving at that place where we no longer struggled was the goal. My mind is changing now to an acceptance that I will always struggle from time to time, but that struggle does not have to define the outcome anymore. Thank you for teaching me that. Shirley from TN

  6. Recognizing struggle and admitting it means I can recover from it without breaking my food sobriety. It was only when I ignored the struggle, hid it, denied it and called it by other names that I got into trouble. We can do this Sean. Thank you for your continued honesty.


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