Sunday, May 2, 2010

Day 593 The Mental Dynamics of The Binge and Impossible To Cheat Revisited

Day 593

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, 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...

Good Choices,

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


  1. I think we should submit your name for a clothing make over. A "What Not To Wear" type of deal. It's different if you were comfortable with your choices, but you have clearly stated more than once that your clothing no longer reflects Sean Anderson. Come on bloggers, what can we nominate Sean for? I'm not an American, so I don't know all of your shows/programs. This outfit clearly needs help! :)

  2. Sean that was such a heart-felt response you gave to your "reader in trouble". As I was reading their play-by-play ordeal I could feel the emotions. Kind of weird. Thanks for taking time to address such huge issues that your readers have. You are a God send.

  3. Dude, they have a cheap digital scale at walmart that I always use. It's 20 dollars and worth every penny...I asked my husband for it last mother's day. He got it for me.
    And yeah, that shirt has me hearing dueling banjos.
    Get some button up shirts in white. It would look good...
    Good luck shopping. (Take your daughter with you.) lol.

  4. Dawne is absolutely right!!!!! We need to nominate you for what not to wear!

    Your pizza looked amazing!

  5. Personally I dont think a 'not what to wear' is the right way to go - do we need to have our noses rubbed in these things?? More help would be a 'what to wear!' makeover if you wanted to subject anyone to that sort of thing. I go along with Cmousier - button up white shirts - nice nice nice! (cribbed from Leslie Sansone lol)

  6. I agree you are in desperate need of new clothes. How about some nice white golf shirts. The collar might help your insecurities. New pants .... nice denims or some khakis. Take someone with you for opinions. Can't wait to see photos of whatever you get. I'd love to help you out, but I'm a bit far for that. lol!

  7. I really identify with your struggle with the clothes. I'm finally overcoming the need to hide behind oversized items and for me, it's not overshirts, it's hoodies. Like you, pictures are part of the impetus - I'm seeing that stuff that fits shows off the brand new hard won lines of my body, and stuff that is too big blows up my size artificially. The last couple of days I've been sporting a size medium t-shirt - never thought I would be able to say that! And I've had tons of compliments. I'll bet the moment you step out in clothing that really fits you, the comments will win you over. It might be unconfortable at first, when you're not used to all your clothing touching your skin and hugging you body, but you'll get used to it.

  8. P.S., despite all that, I don't think you look bad in that picture! Just a trim man in oversized clothing.

  9. Don't stoop to her level.

  10. I'm back Sean...I went away..found myself....and am ready to do this!! There is no pro's to being this weight, only cons! Thanks for the Blogs they are so appreciated!!

  11. I'm glad you have found a way to eat that works for you. Just as you believe you are addicted to food, in general, I believe I am addicted to carbs. I guess you would feel deprived eating the way I do. But for me it is a blessing. As long as I keep my carbs below a certain level, I never feel tempted to overeat, never feel hungry, never feel deprived. Different strokes for different folks. Makes the world more interesting. :)

    God bless you!

  12. Sean, you need to get passed worrying about the way you look in photographs. Camera's do lie! Just wear what you feel comfortable in, which is what you did. And you look great! Doesn't matter what anyone else sees at this point. Every one will make judgement regardless of how you look. I think you look pretty darn cute! And I loved you before you lost all of your weight. I loved your spirit, and still do! God Bless you!

  13. Oh, and I am looking forward to trying your pizza:)

  14. Sean, I'll be honest here, I think you need to take an honest look at the last 6 months of your life, and specifically your weight loss journey, and do some hard soul searching about what has changed with that.

    Go back to November 1st, or the first weigh in after that, and you were at 278 pounds. 6 months later you're at 257.

    One way to look at that is to go, good, I'm still on the right track, I'm still losing. And that is a good thing. But another thing to consider is this....that averages out to about 3 pounds...a month.

    I sorta stumbled across your blog around that time and have been reading it since then. I had decided that after a couple years of depression following a difficult divorce and some other personal issues. After being disgusted with myself for putting on 100 extra pounds I decided to clean my shit up and get the problem fixed. I started in November 22 pounds heavier than you were at the time, and at this point....I'm 57 pounds lighter than you.

    I'm not encouraging calender regret (as you like to put it), but I'm suggesting you seriously look at what you're doing different, because if you were placing a high level of importance on getting to your goal weight, you'd have been there 2 or 3 months ago.

  15. I have a feeling that brian may be right about your priorities shifting...but while he put on weight through a difficult time, your still taking it off.
    So keep that in mind.
    You are doing two things differently..
    Your workouts have decreased and your calories increased. the thing is, you are headed for maintenance....YOu are getting their slowly. But It has been in my brain pan a while now that slowly and incorporating different aspects in your life is better than rushing to the finish line and asking, "Now what?"
    I think You are doing really well sean. The 'finish line' isn't the answer...learning how to live like this long term is...and you have extra skin. I think you would drop 20 lbs if you had it removed.

  16. Brian makes an interesting point. But since the whole endevour is not about who can lose weight the fastest, the issue may be moot. What matters most is keeping off the weight, and when someone has been obese for a lifetime then 3 lbs lost per month, after such a huge drop in weight, might be just what Sean's body and mind need to sustain progress. Well intentioned he may be, but I think Brian might be projecting his own drama onto Sean.

  17. Darn...just checked out "What not to wear" website. By the wording on the instructions, they seem to only take females! Not fair!

  18. Brian, I'm just curious why you think that you're doing so much better than Sean in the last 6 months. On November 1, he had already lost 227 pounds. You've only just begun your journey, and its your smugness now that will put you in a tailspin when your weight loss slows the closer you get to goal.. good luck I hope your positive self talk keeps you focused. *golf claps*

  19. Trust me, keeping the weight off is THE battle. Dieting has its rewards -- the scale, the tying of shoes, the belts. It's in maintenance that real growth begins because you're not hiding or excusing yourself because of your fat or your diet.

    Brian might keep in mind that you lose weight more slowly when you're near goal. The calories someone a hundred pounds overweight expends in walking to the bedroom is something like three times what it is for the normal-sized. As well, bodies tend to have a settling point, as though saying (if you're eating properly), "This is what you really weigh. Get used to it." NO ONE can call that except the body &, perhaps, a medical expert.

    So Brian? I'd keep my eyes on my own plate if I were you. There are more important things than how quickly you lose weight. Like life. Like the life Sean's won for himself.

  20. Brian sounds a little jealous to me. This was never a competition with Sean. I bet Sean is a whole lot better looking:) Bring it on Brian...Big Guy, Mr. Big Stuff:)

  21. I hope this sounds as supportive as I intend it: after pregnancy & the accompanying weight gain, I was told again and again that if it took 9 months for my body to change one way, I should at least allow 9 months to allow it to return. If it has taken your whole life to develop this clothing mindset, give mindset time to catch up to your current situation. I like your healthy attitude of realizing that you are undergoing not only a physical change, but a mental one as well. Add the other life changes you are experiencing, and the total comes out to one truly inspirational job of staying on track in the face of a time in your life that will probably encompass more changes than any other. It is so important to remember, as others have commented, that this is about the rest of our lives, not just the next hop on the scale. Thanks again for sharing your story. It is more helpful than you can imagine, and very generous of you.


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