The Mental Dynamics of The Binge and Impossible To Cheat Revisited
I was so scared of the weekends when I first started this journey. I relied so heavily on my structured weekday work schedule to keep me on track---and the weekends, well—they presented extra time, and idle time scared me. The weekends don't scare me anymore. This lifestyle change of habits has taken hold and now it doesn't matter to me if it's a Saturday or a Monday, give me the day off or work me all day long, it doesn't change my behavior with food. It is easier on a busy day---and I'm not saying that non-busy days are a complete breeze, but with a little extra self-talk and a dash of extra will, making better choices is almost automatic. This is exciting for someone like me---someone who is a food addict---learning to control the addiction. That's what it is---controlling the food instead of allowing the food to control me.
I received an e-mail from a reader recently. She was having some serious issues that are very familiar to me:
I am struggling really bad right now, as of this moment ... I was reaching for a big bag of chocolate-covered nuts just a minute ago, just before coming over to the computer to write this ... I knew that eating them would make me feel really gross in a little while because I would let myself eat a ton of them because they taste so incredibly good ... but I also knew that they would let me forget my pain in the short-term, and that short-term satisfaction and numbing of negative emotions seemed like a benefit outweighing all the long-term disadvantages of letting myself eat them. I wanted to "just eat" to make myself feel better. But despite the overwhelming desire to "just eat" and enjoy the pleasures of eating in order to forget about what is troubling me, I knew that behaving in that way goes totally against what I am trying to achieve for myself overall. But I did not know what to do to get myself to stop ... the only thing I could think of was writing to you. Haha isn't that silly. What in the world could you possibly do to stop me or help me? But I know that you are strong and so I guess by writing this to you, I am allowing myself to feed off of your strength instead of feeding on those dang chocolate-covered nuts or any of the other stuff we've got in the house. I hope there is still enough strength left in you after this for you and for all the others that I'm sure are wanting a piece of your strength on a daily basis. :)
I had a really bad eating day yesterday ... it started out well in the morning but turned into major binge-style overeating in the afternoon, to the point of a lot of pain in my stomach, but that did not stop me from eating more. I got a grip in the evening and felt good and in control for the first part of today, but some major emotional turmoil regarding matters of the heart in the course of today led me to where I am now ... reaching out for help in a desperate attempt to stay in control, because losing control over food has been my big issue for the past 20 years and I need to stop this endless cycle.
Feeling better now. Phew.
Sometimes, just writing out how we're feeling can be enough to stop those urges. But if you're like me, the emotional damage of the binge is already done before we start writing. Still, the writing can help. My reply:
You and I are two of a kind. We're food addicts, pure and simple. But we can over come these urges to go off on a horrible binge.
It's not easy at all. I actually thought it would be easier to battle these urges as time went on---but now...things are different, I'm in a better place physically---like you---so why would this bag of chips hurt me?? Or this 1700 calorie loaded nachos?
It's true that an occasional indulgence probably wouldn't affect me or you in the least. We still workout---I don't plan on ever stopping that...But it does affect us in a very profound way. It rocks us mentally. One binge leads to another---and I know this. I know that if I give in to one out of control binge---it'll make it 20 times harder to resist doing it next time. And I refuse to ever go back to that place---I never want to feel so trapped, like I did at 505.
But you know what? I still allow some "binge" foods occasionally---just to satisfy. But you know how bad I am? Check this out: If I plan on having a food that I've traditionally went nuts on---I try to make it at a time I'll be around others. There are certain foods I just don't trust myself around if I'm alone.
The damage to us is considerably more mental than physical. I know you already know this. You've got to battle yourself---and realize that the food isn't going to change the situation you're down about. It doesn't make anything better. It only compounds the bad feelings you're having.
The consequences of an all out binge can be incredibly devastating---we both know that. Fight it, fight it with everything inside you, because you're better...You deserve to have peace within.
Battle, battle---and throw up your steel curtain zone---let those emotions bounce off.
Decide right now that nothing is going to steal this away from you. NOTHING. This is YOUR TIME. This is it. And it's too important to take lightly---or justify a binge. It just does too much damage.
If you've already binged----Clear your mind---remind yourself of why you mustn't let food control you. You're in control, not food. This is your life. You decide the course. And you're a recovering food addict like me...and I understand exactly from where you're coming.
It's something, those urges, that still plague me to this day. It's scary. But they will not take this success from me. I decide how my story goes---and it will not fall in defeat to an empty bag of chips and a carton of ice cream. It will not happen. I will win. I must be strong. There's too much at stake. Our lives.
It is a mental battle---but the wonderful feeling that comes over us when we defeat these urges, is so worth it. She writes a reply about this very feeling:
I had gotten as far as having my hand in the bag of those nuts and even had one in my hand, ready to eat ... but I forced myself to put it back, put the bag away, and went (ran!) to write you. I was THAT close, but I came back from the brink. And after that ... I felt like a champ! For resisting, for overcoming myself, for overcoming the super strong urge to "just eat" anything and everything, for being stronger than I had thought I could be, for having the courage to do do what I really needed to do to be good to myself, and even for having the thought of reaching out to you and doing it.
Yeah the mental effects of either giving in or being strong and resisting are huge. I had been feeling pretty gross about myself yesterday after the previous day's horrible overeating, feeling really fat and unattractive and not wanting to even look in the mirror or down at my legs or stomach, just not liking my body or myself as a whole at all, and just not feeling like myself, feeling mentally tired and old and weak, like my "old self", and not like my happy, youthful, energetic, strong "new self". But soon after this "victory" I had to go out to pick up the kids and since I was feeling better about myself, I changed out of my sweats and put on cute jeans, a shirt I feel good in, high heels and earrings, fixed my hair and put on some makeup, and guess what ... I suddenly went from feeling like a "bag lady" as some of your friends like to say :) to feeling like a million bucks, super sexy and all that, within a matter of minutes, as a result of that victory and the cascade of changes in feelings and behavior that it subsequently led to. My self-perception and behavior, as well as my perception of the whole world, totally changes, instantaneously, depending on whether I am feeling in control or out of control in regard to food and my body. And I know all this. I have known this for a long time. But in those moments of weakness, I usually choose to forget or deny this fact and just focus on the taste of the food that I want.
Aw yes---the taste of the food! I love the taste too! It taste good, it makes me feel good...oh it's so good! And this is why, in my opinion and experience, nothing is off limits. I'm not going to tell myself I can't have something, because we want what we can't have. I can eat anything and I will control it, enjoy it, and completely feel good about the experience.
I always said that I binged because the food tasted so good. That's not true. Well, yes...it taste really good, but the taste was just the refuge...that momentary comfort and escape from the emotions that brought it to my lips in the first place. Taste good equals feel good, for however long it takes to finish off this pile of food---But I never binged because I was after the good taste of the treats. I was after that feeling of “everything is right with the world.” I was escaping my emotions, food was my blanket—and I was hiding under the covers.
I found this excerpt from May 1st, 2009, exactly one year ago along this road:
My number one rule from the beginning has been to keep it simple. And I do, completely! It almost sounds too good to be true. I've lost 156 pounds so far because I've kept everything simple, there's absolutely zero deprivation, and I have the freedom to adapt to any food situation. Nothing is off limits. I've decided that there are no “right” or “wrong” foods, only good and bad calorie values. This makes a huge difference to me psychologically. In the past, one wrong food choice and I was done until next time. Next time might be a week or a month away, in some cases a year or two away. Why I ever allowed one meal or one food item to completely derail my efforts in the past, I have no idea. But I'm not the only one! I've talked with several people who have said the same thing. One double cheeseburger and, “Well, I failed again. Maybe next time I can keep it together, let's go get a banana split!” Not anymore, and that's a major difference in my approach this time. Could you lose weight if it was impossible to cheat? That's why it's so effective. Now of course you have to watch the serving size. You have to be honest about the portions and the calories, but for me there isn't a food that simply eating would be considered cheating. Really, it all comes down to being honest with yourself. Complete 100% honesty is paramount to my success. The rationalizations and excuses that made me feel better about overeating were completely eliminated as soon as I made myself get honest about my habits. Suddenly I was free to excel.
I had a remote broadcast appearance at Fido Fest 2010 from 9:30am to 1:30pm, then some work at the station, and by that time I needed to get ready to be the MC at the Poncan Opry tonight. It was a very busy Saturday!
I didn't make the best clothing selections for the Opry tonight. I was trying to overcome some clothing insecurities by letting go of the over-shirt or big sport coat---but with the over-sized selections I made, I actually made myself look bigger. I thought the opposite was true until I opened the picture below. I'm wearing a Peterbilt Trucker hat and gloves for a comedy bit that completely bombed...anyway---the shirt is a size too big and the pants are a couple of sizes too big. I really must find some time to shop for clothes. I can't stand the picture. I almost didn't post it, just forgetting about it---but no, I must deal with my clothing issues head on if I ever plan on changing the way I look at and feel about myself. I've come such a long way on this road—-and I'm still learning, that never stops.
I enjoyed a half a chicken breast in the dressing room tonight. They always have an amazing spread of catered food. And it's country food---bbq ribs, potatoes, bread...and some smoked chicken breast. I like to keep it very light before a show, and I was really looking forward to preparing the dinner pictured below as soon as I arrived home.
Thank you for reading. Goodnight and...
Tonight's dinner. I made this Flat-Out pizza with shrimp, mushrooms, mozzarella, and tomato sauce. It checks in at 300 calories. The baked fries—-just a serving, says 120 on the bag---I count it as 150. Why? Because the bag saying 10 pieces is 120---doesn't take into account that the size of each piece is different. 3 ounces is suppose to be 10 pieces...this is slightly more. Still—-a 450 calorie pizza and fries dinner, yeah---I can live with that! I'm going to eventually replace my cheap food scale with a digital model!!!
Looking at this picture makes me want to immediately wash and donate these clothes to a charity thrift store. They are clearly too big. I was resisting the urge to wear an over-sized sport coat or an over-shirt. I did that, but in choosing this combination---I made myself look much bigger. Hmmm. The trucker hat---just not me really, but fun for a moment! Photo credit: Rick Logan