To put it simply without sugar coating it (mmm sugar), I have developed some sort of psychosomatic eating obsession. Ever since the start of 2016 I’ve noticed a lot of old patterns and habits resurfacing. I guess we people are, in our own ways, creatures of habit, and it’s only likely that we end up going back to things that are familiar. It’s been quite hard to come to certain realizations about myself, but as a whole, I’m grateful for the awareness.
In my life I have gone through extreme weight fluctuations, hormonal imbalances, gastrointestinal issues, depression, anxiety, and candida. Regulating the candida overgrowth solved a lot of dietary problems I had for a most of my life, but it has been difficult sticking to that way of living entirely. On a positive note, succeeding on that diet, paying attention to eating clean, staying away from yeast products, and introducing my body to gut healing foods and probiotics, my system had been repaired immensely.
So, what happened to listening to my body?
Let’s go back to August when I began a 12 week workout program. I have been consistently working out for over a year now and wanted to try something different. You gotta change it up, right? The program had three phases along with a clean eating, macro balanced diet plan. Not one for being good at sticking to diets at all, this plan was very simple to me: eat real food, limit carbs at night, vegetables to your heart’s content, and a focus on protein intake. Of course there were suggestive meals and snacks that I did try out. I liked some, especially the protein snacks, since I definitely did not eat enough protein.
At the beginning of the program I hurt my shoulder, which basically meant I couldn’t successfully do all the exercises. Though I was completely bummed out, I stuck with it the best I could, including the meal plan. The first part of this program was all about building muscle. I became way more hungry than usual, especially after leg day. Oh, love to hate you, leg day.
I used apps to keep track of everything I ate and would cheer when I hit my macros perfectly. However, the more food I consumed and tracked, I quickly was turning into a bottomless pit. Cravings for carbs and sugars were increasing rapidly. As soon as the weekend hit, I was reaching for every baked good and sugar laden item I could get my hands on. At first I let it go because slip-ups happen.
Soon, however, I was just eating a lot of food, period. The good and the bad. I felt like ravenous beast all the time. This would leave me so down and out. The more I stressed about eating better, the more self sabotage took place. I felt discouraged about my injury and that it would never get better. My stomach wasn’t right and I wasn’t feeling very good about anything. I’d still log all of the food I ate religiously, and would find myself frequently syncing my Fitbit to check my calories-in/calories-out to know how much more food I could or couldn’t consume. It was a weird fixation that I never had before, and at the time, didn’t really see it happening.
I was entering a downward eating spiral.
Eat too much.
Feel bad about it.
Rinse and repeat.
Then, my best friend passed away. You can imagine the shock, the temporary numbness consuming my entire being, and all the emotions that followed. The week after that unexpected event, I was exhausted from crying and sleep deprived. Hello sleepy carb cravings! I finally gave myself a little slack. I ate the chocolate, OD’d on carbs, sucked down caffeine, and just let it all go that week. Thankfully, I maintained my workouts, which were the only thing making me feel better through all of this. I attempted to get back into my regular routine after the memorial service, and had an upcoming trip planned to Florida.
The day I left was the completion of the workout program. That didn’t stop me from tracking like crazy in Florida. Staying at an Airbnb which was nice because I had my own kitchen and didn’t have to buy all my meals out. Huge plus on saving some money and self-control. I also felt better about being active everyday in the beautiful weather and maintaining some balance. Overall, I did pretty well. My stomach had obviously grown so I easily chowed down more than I needed at times. I wasn’t hating on myself for it since this was a very, much-needed break.
The time away was absolutely wonderful! Being alone and on my own for a few days helped me realize that I had developed a horrible relationship with food. It brought some clarity to the fact that I haven’t been too happy with myself or my lifestyle. Through the year I’ve been stressed a lot, worried often about my future and my life, how I was going to change things, trying to have the body I’ve been working so hard for, and all the while I was making myself sick over it. My eating habits were, and still are, a reflection of all that. Drinking, too, became comparable to my early twenties. The difference in your thirties is you don’t bounce back like a 23-year-old. So on top of the shock of putting too much alcohol into my once healthy system, the aftermath could last for days and sometimes weeks! Not to mention the not-so-awesome choices that were made in the process, but we won’t get into that right now.
Since I have been home, I know I am in need to make some lifestyle changes. It took me a good 4 days to resist the urge to open My Fitness Pal app. Still, sometimes after I eat, I think about it. Now I only sync my Fitbit after workouts, once during the day, and before bedtime. I know it sounds silly, but for the most part, these little apps were dictating my life. I can’t say that I have been eating better or haven’t gone on a binge since, but I am aware of what is going on. Right now, it’s just better to not know what very single food item I’m consuming is calculated too.
Besides turning me into a fixated mess about perfecting my diet for results that obviously didn’t happen, I appreciate what the 12 week program did do. It showed me how to structure my workouts differently, and introduced me to new exercises that I really liked. Workouts are my jam! I feel good about that, and in time, will see a better outcome. Exercise is something I really enjoy.
Regarding my mental and emotional state? Well, I’m still worrying about where I’m going to end up in the world and my career, but I have slowed down the rapid thought process. Here’s what I need to drill into my brain: nothing is going to happen overnight, but it will happen. I’m always thinking “big picture” and harping on how to get there. No wonder I get discouraged all the time and find myself in fork-to-mouth therapy. I have to relearn to be patient. It’s very apparent that stress, hormonal depression, and perfectionism are taking a huge toll on my health this year.
With that said, I am going to cut myself some slack on the food front for now. It’s clear that I need go through whatever phase I’m in, eat the damn cheeseburger, and just enjoy food the way I used to without restriction or macro counting. Getting so hung up on that put me on a whole other level of eating. I lost absolute control, and it was all because I was trying to control it! Crazy, right? The more I said “no” to myself, the more I did just the opposite. I couldn’t be perfect on the program and so I sabotaged it.
So, I am done. I’m prepared for the slow progression out of the obsessive behavior. Sure, I may gain some weight (and I have), and I may not feel at my best right now, but I can’t stress about it so much. The truth is we all know what our bodies need if we listen to them. I stopped listening. The plan now is to be patient, relearn how to feed my body what it needs vs what it wants, and show myself a little grace in the process. It’s not going to be perfect every time. If I could find balance in my life before, I can surely find it again.
Thanks for sticking with this post till the end. Love you, guys!