I feel my purpose here is to give as honest an account of my experiences with food addiction and weight loss/gain as possible. So when Karen asked me to write this month, I figured since she is launching her “On Track” group coaching program, I wanted to tell you all the ways I managed to spend years of my life “Off Track” – ’cause it’s all about balance right?
Do you like roller coasters?
I’m not talking the emotional kind (although, HELLO, I’ve been on a few of those every week for the last lifetime) I’m talking the actual – made of steel – kind.
I really really do. It is the combination of feeling the wind in your face and your stomach somewhere up in your throat as you plummet down winding tracks and turn corners at high speeds. It’s that feeling of adrenaline (fight or flight chemical) followed by a surge of dopamine (the happy chemical). I kinda get the same feelings before and after eating a donut or a slice of cake.
As the bar drops down over your legs there’s a little part of you thinking, how the fuck am I not going to fall out of this thing?
Just last month I got to go on several roller coasters at Legoland in Windsor, England. My 6 year old squeezed in beside me because he wasn’t tall enough to ride on his own. Poor kid. As my body spilled out all over the place, he looked almost suffocated as I crammed my legs into the small cart and watched as the woman checked each safety bar in front of us by giving it a hard yank.
I hoped that the worst wouldn’t happen.
As she approached I started to get those pre ride jitters. Of course, the bar could come loose and we could fly off the ride in spectacular fashion, be projectile launched into the side of the NexoKnights Castle and die.. or the worst could happen. The woman could come over and tell me I was too fat for the ride.
The woman came over and lifted the bar to check it was locked into place and it was.. (crushing my thighs but not even close to touching my child). I winced, but she nodded to the person behind the glass window and we started our slow ascent along the tracks. Oh fuck. We’re going to die.
Approximately 2 minutes later we were back where we started, with just enough time to do it all over again and again.
During that time I tried not to dwell too much on ‘how weight distribution effects roller coasters’ and if, in fact, I could make one of those little carts fly off the rails by my size alone. Now I am wondering how it is possible that we are able to keep 10,000 pounds of steel on the track but we can’t follow a week of clean eating without feeling like all the joy is being sucked out of life?
Totally legit questions and in the distant corner of a search engine we could find the answers – but instead I want to tell you how I managed to stay OFF TRACK for so many years and where thattumultuous ride has taken me.
1.I ignored my health.
You may have done this too because it’s very easy! I simply ignored all warning signs – like not being able to climb the stairs, and being out of breath getting up from the couch. The aches and pains that I was having in my twenties weren’t bad enough to worry about. I felt like I had so much more to worry about – like if I was going to be hungry in the next half an hour.
2.I kept putting myself in positions where food was going to be a huge challenge.
I didn’t give myself a structure to work around. I didn’t use strategies to help me in social situations where food would be present. I used those times as an opportunity to eat as much as possible and plant myself directly by the food and ate mindlessly and without any control.
3.I kept saying, “tomorrow”.
One last pizza? I’ll just start tomorrow. or Monday. or next week? or never?
I was always one last meal away from change. This has been one of the hardest roller coasters to staying off track.. because even now, with the power and knowledge and awareness I have over my own food addiction – I can slip into the “tomorrow” mentality any time and a week can pass by before I have realised what’s gone on.
4.I thought I was the only one
I felt so out of touch with people and felt like people would judge me for having these problems, so I shut down. I spoke to professionals along the way but didn’t really connect to any groups of people who might understand me. It is hard feeling like you are the only one.. (you are not.)
5.I couldn’t say NO
To anything or anyone. I couldn’t resist the last handful of chips in the bag. I couldn’t say no when people placed demands on my time, or needed my help. I had absolutely zero fucks to give about myself because I couldn’t see how important putting myself first was. It didn’t even occur to me to prioritise myself because I had spent my life serving others (and that is not to say I do not value being of service to people) but you also have to have boundaries.
6.I had the fear
I feared being a failure just as much as I feared being a success. “If I don’t get my shit together and manage to lose weight, ” I thought. “People are really going to judge me.”
At the same time I was so scared that I would lose weight and become a different person that it kept me in a weird stand still for years.