Leaning Into Who I Am (A Compulsive Eater)

No, I didn’t forget how to write, or lose my want to share.  I did lose my interest in exposing other people’s privacy unintentionally, which was brought to my attention a few times.  I needed a reset.  I’ve had pulls to put thoughts to paper and share what’s been going on many times but paused to see through that pull and if it was valid intention.  Not that I can’t share whenever and however I choose, but I have had to take careful stock of what is appropriate and what is premature and what is fair.


To me.  And also, to you.  I share for me, but I share to give – to give the connection that we all need sometimes to remember that we’re never alone.  To give the permission that we all need sometimes to remember that this too, is OK, and that this too, shall pass.  I share to learn more about myself, as every time I do write, I uncover some truths about myself that I wouldn’t get just sputtering in my head or writing in my journal.  It’s my art, and I choose to believe that God gave this to me.


In April, I left the food program I was utilizing that combined a software app with a personal coach.  This program really helped me: it brought a new level of awareness to what worked and what didn’t, how different foods and macros worked for the body for energy and basic functions, and how delicate the balance was between amounts and quality and timing.  I learned how effective planning my meals ahead of time were in combination of logging them into a system that kept track of the details.  I learned how the scale fluctuated, and how it dropped just as fast as it increased and that it always settled back down.  I learned that the number on the scale had a lot of influence from things that had nothing to do with my actual body weight: inflammation from a hard workout or a high sodium meal, inflammation from any kind of stress or hormones, release from sleep or activity, or from less food.  I learned how vital food is for energy and living the kind of life that I want to live.  I also learned how normal it is to experience ups and downs, and how sensitive we all are to these different pits and stops on the journey that is our body.


While using the program, I had to toggle between multiple software apps.  I also ported information over from Garmin, which is the watch I wear at all times (literally, except to charge) for tracking my body’s information (heartrate, sleep, steps, etc.).  I would upload my weight in the morning, update yesterday’s steps and heartrate if it changed, and port the macros over and nutrition from MFP.  I would then update my coach on how I was feeling both physically and emotionally, upload my workout when I did it, share pictures when taken, and as one can probably feel by reading, I became overwhelmed.


I then added another app from the FODMAP dietician who needed information to help learn what was hurting my body from what I was eating.  FODMAP taught me invaluable information about my body.  It taught me what foods hurt my stomach immediately, and what foods take a few days to knock me out.  It taught me that certain amounts of some things are OK and that any amount of other things won’t work at all.  It made food very personal and helped me elevate my level of self-care and self-love, and awareness.


Most importantly, and unexpectedly, it reset my boundaries with food.  It gave me permission to pack my food again to tricky situations and to only eat what I knew I could handle.  I had a few months period of elimination and then testing and didn’t realize how long I had actually been suffering symptoms until they were gone (extreme bloating, awful gas, distention, cramping, etc).


As my symptoms dissipated, I had a renewed want to take the best care of myself and only that.  I had a new want not to harm myself with food, whether that meant the amount of or the type of.  I had a renewed resolve to do what is expressly best for Alison, finally finding supreme gratitude for the detailed logs I take of myself and the detailed information I have.


So, what happened?  With anxiety and intense fear, I let go of that other program.  You can read how burdensome it got to be, and how crowded my morning got that I like to pride myself on being reserved for me and quiet and reflection.  While it had some personal nuances, most of it was algorithmic and not catered to me, and I had come to a place of certainty that my body was rebelling because I needed different than what I was getting.  I kept MFP so I could keep planning my meals ahead of time.  I took what I knew worked and left the rest, open to feedback as I went ahead.  I did a lot of reading and took a short break from the body scale.  I jumped through some training hoops and landed back into way too much before I found where I’ve been now for the last 12 weeks in bliss.  I have a very close friend who knows every nuance of my day with food and training, but she is not in recovery, so I also kept up with my recovering support group so that I was accountable and had a landline.


And I got to work.   I got to work listening to myself, and to my body.   I got to work fine tuning when I ate certain things and what the result were in my workouts.  I got to work figuring out how much food I actually need, and what hunger did to my psyche.  I decided to get back on the scale, as the scale provides information because my eyes are not informative.  My eyes tell me what I feel, not what I see.  And what I feel always changes what I think I see.  I continue to weigh myself because it helps me know if I need more food, or less.  It is information and feedback for me, just like my heartrate and my sleep trends.  Just like knowing how much fiber I eat gives me feedback for why my stomach hurts when the foods didn’t change.  Just like knowing I need to add salt because I train hard and my sodium count for the day is negligible from the whole foods I choose to eat.  Just like watching my heartrate spike because I’m freaking out about closing a deal, or it’s low because I am relaxed and detached and balanced.


I also wanted to lose a few pounds because I had become really uncomfortable in my body.  Part of my leaving that program was because I knew my body was settling at an unnatural place, and I felt I deserved more personalization than I could get there. So, I listened to a podcast with earnest (8 episodes) and took notes, and then applied them.  I educated myself on the math and the timing while also taking into consideration the emotional toll food can have on me and the concession that I am a compulsive eater at my core, no matter what app, program or plan I follow.


And I did it.  I am doing it.  I lost the weight I had added, and some.  I look so good; I can’t believe it.  I have built a body that I am fiercely proud of, with programming I absolutely love and look forward to doing every single day that I do.  I have a lot more muscle than I did a year ago, so losing some fat has revealed a very different shape.  I have so much energy, so much power, and so much give.  I say I can’t believe it because my life story has been “lose weight, gain weight, because you’ll never be happy with yourself”.  And today, I can say, that is not true.  That is no longer my life story and I am proving my disease wrong, one day at a time.


This isn’t about only feeling good if you look a certain way.  This is about doing for you what feels right for you, and not asking for permission or validation.  I didn’t want to lose weight for anyone but Alison.  Now that I’m writing it out and remembering why I do write, know why I have been quiet.   I didn’t want publicity.  I didn’t want praise or encouragement.  I got it from my deepest self, my closest friend, and God.  I knew what I did last year did not fucking work and did not yield sustainable results, so I tweaked some things and by God, I can’t believe it.  It is amazing to be in a place of self-knowledge: emotionally, spiritually, and physically.  Yes, this can be true for you, too!  If you want it.   I didn’t want it for a long time because I didn’t think I could have it.


I write today from a place of shock (beyond my wildest dreams), gratitude, and love.  I also write from a place of recent reminders of my disease being there regardless of how “well” I am doing.  That is recovery for me – getting bruised and reminded that my will is never stronger than my compulsive eater, and that my rigidity keeps me safer.  My rigidity keeps me sober from binging and purging and the constant obsession of “is it too much? Am I enough? Am I OK?”.


And by rigidity, I mean planning my meals a week in advance, and planning my macros on days I go out, too.  I mean not changing the meal unless I ran out of a food.  I mean not eating emotionally or because I’m hungry or because I feel like it.  I mean honoring my plan and if that means adding more food, which it has lately, then doing it regardless of my fear in doing so.  I am 6 full weeks out of my diet, went on a 10-day vacation where I didn’t pack or track or weight myself or my food, and still losing weight.  6 weeks of slowly increasing my calories again.  6 weeks of letting my body tell me what she needs and listening to her.  6 weeks of winding myself down slowly, losing some weight safely, and coming back.  I am maintaining.


Yes, I care about how I look, and I also care a lot about how I feel: physically, spiritually, and emotionally.  It’s a delicate balance for me, being in recovery and also being a total geek about fitness and health and physique.  And as I shared with having a reset for FODMAP, I really care about staying this course and waking up every day proud of myself, and empowered.  When I eat food that doesn’t work for me, I wake up shaming Alison, disappointed and ashamed.  Like this morning.  I knew I needed to add more food because my weight dropped again, and I thought I could handle a “refeed”.  In theory, this absolutely can work, but for someone like me – a compulsive eater with a tendency for more with certain foods and ideas – it does not.


I had a temporary lapse in memory yesterday.  I forgot it wouldn’t work for me.  So, I had a day that ended in “more” –shit that I didn’t need, I didn’t want, and that made me feel awful when I woke up.  Not physically – my body needed the food – but emotionally and spiritually.  And emotional and spiritual wellness trumps all, because when I am ashamed of myself, I am thinking about myself more.  I am cut off from you, and the sunlight of all spirits.


And that, is why I measure my food, my body, and keep track.  Because it keeps me sober from my fucking self.  It keeps me available for you.  It keeps me safe.


It keeps me, me.  The way I choose to believe my God wants me to be.

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