Binging.

Hello, friends.

So, I’ve been several weeks binge-free now, and Weight Watchers has helped me achieve that. Everyone has different reasons as to why they overeat or compulsively eat. I’ve been accused many times of being an emotional eater or using food to cover up or hide away from trauma, but I have always vehemently disagreed with those ideas and accusations. For me, I can confidently say that the root of my eating disorder and my incredibly dysfunctional ideas surrounding food stem from a need for control, and this is because I grew up in an environment in which I had ZERO sense of control over my own life.

I went to private school for the entirety of my young life–from kindergarden all the way up through twelfth grade. We were forced to wear uniforms, we couldn’t dye our hair or “over style” it, we couldn’t have piercings beyond two in each earlobe (note the specificity of the word earlobe–cartilage piercings were forbidden), we couldn’t have any visible tattoos, and we couldn’t do anything else that would, in any other way, modify our uniform dress code or make us stick out amongst the crowd.

So, basically, we were forced to sacrifice any and all sense of individuality and self-expression.

This made me feel very, very out of control.

My home life was also very out of control back then. My parents fought day and night, 24/7. I honestly have no idea why they are still married after all this time, because they certainly can’t get along–even still–for more than a day at a time. Back then, though, my mother was rarely home because her job was the absolute most important thing in her life, and, for her, our little family got pushed to the back burner. There were times I would go a week without even seeing my mother even though we lived in the same house. She would leave for work before I woke up in the morning, and then she would drag herself home long after I’d gone to bed later those evenings. And, overall, things just got messy. I spent an inordinate amount of time with my maternal grandparents, and my life, while, overall, a relatively happy one, was just so, so chaotic.

My family members were overfeeding me back then, too. My dad used to make my plate for me at mealtimes–even when I was a teenager. It’s only been the last 6 months or so, actually, that he’s stopped preparing my plate for me when we eat meals together. I finally ended up losing it a few months ago when he would not stop nagging me about eating more when I didn’t want to and when he, once again, just shoveled food onto my plate when I didn’t ask for second helpings.

It’s things like this that I always remember about my childhood and adolescence. It’s this consistent theme of being out of control and having the simplest choices taken from me that I fixate on.

By the time I was old enough to get my driver’s license when I was in high school, I’d long since realized my life was anything but my own, and that’s when the self-aware overeating started. I wasn’t binging yet–that didn’t happen until I went to college–but I did start to eat more frequently. I’d have a bowl of cereal before I left for school in the morning, and then I’d either stop at a fast food joint or hit the school cafeteria as soon as I walked in in the morning to indulge in a second breakfast. Then I’d have lunch at school like normal, but after school I’d often stop at another fast food joint and have a second lunch or an early dinner. When I got home, I’d eat whatever my dad fixed me or brought me home for dinner, and then later I’d maybe have a dessert or a midnight snack when my dad had gone to bed and my mother was at work and I was basically all alone.

Because it was only when I was by myself that I could exert this control.

When I went to college, I started binging, and, at times, it was really, really bad. Again, control really came into play. I’d sit around and meticulously plot my binges. I’d think about waking up in the morning and going to Sonic or Del Taco to gorge myself on breakfast burritos. I’d think about going to McDonald’s for lunch, planning to order 6 or 7 or 8 double cheese burgers and then I could eat them in my car, alone–in my solitary place. I might go to Little Caesar’s and get a $5 pizza and eat the whole thing alone in my bedroom. And when no one was home, I’d order enough food from Dominos Pizza to feed a small litter, and then I’d eat it all until I was literally sick, spending the rest of the afternoon or evening either vomiting or just lying around, trying to sleep off the gargantuan amount of food I consumed.

I didn’t do it all the time, but I did it enough–just enough to make myself feel in control of some part of my life.

I think that’s why Weight Watchers has helped me so much these past few weeks, to be honest–it’s because I’m measuring and tracking my food, very meticulously. So I am still able to control my food now, but I’m doing it in a way that’s helping versus hurting me, and that’s what’s enabling me to starve off the compulsions to binge. Weight Watchers gives me an incredible amount of control over my own life.

I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t still get compulsions, though. Last night I had a really, really bad one. In the middle of the night, I almost jumped in my car and drove to a fast food joint, but, somehow, I managed to stop myself and control it. I started thinking about all that I’ve worked so hard for, and I made myself focus on how disappointed I was last week when I had a 1.2 pound weight gain on weigh-in day. And then I decided not to throw it all away so carelessly–not like every other time I’ve ever attempted to lose weight and stop this horrible, horrible pattern.

Another thing that’s helping me aside from Weight Watchers? A new type of binging: binge watching TV shows. I’ve become enthralled with and fascinated by several British shows I’ve recently stumbled upon on YouTube: Fat Doctor and Supersize vs. Superskinny  and the BBC’s The Truth About Food. Last night I put on an episode of Supersize vs. Superskinny after I overcame the compulsion to binge, and seeing the health complications and everything else that fat people end up suffering from due to weight laid out on the table so plainly set me straight back on course. I don’t want to continue to let my weight get out of control. In 5 or 10 years, I don’t want to be like these people–I don’t want to be 100 or 200 pounds heavier. If I am suffering now because I’m limited by my weight, it’s only going to get worse and worse and worse if I keep packing on the pounds.

It has to stop, and it’s going to stop. These ridiculous compulsions to binge aren’t going to win anymore. I have to keep pushing forward, and I cannot get off track. Getting off track is no longer an option.

~//~

So, that’s what’s going on. I’m sorry for the detailed personal history lesson there–sometimes it’s just helpful for me to articulate myself like that. Knowing what’s at the root of my problem helps me find ways to better understand this journey that I’m on. And maybe my story can help others understand their own journeys, too. If hearing about  just how bad my binging once was can make even one person not feel so alone in their struggles, then that’s a good thing. That’s a big part of why I’m writing this blog. I want to be honest, and I want to connect with people over this terrible, terrible weight monster that has trapped and held down so many of us.

rachaelxoxo

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6 thoughts on “Binging.

  1. I totally get this. I have a very type A personality, and I am an overachiever. I was always the smart one, the talented one, the driven one. That need to perform and be “on” actually feels out-of-control. So, it comes from a different source, but I also have that need to control my food. It’s like food is the one thing that I can control to such an extreme, and it’s not letting anyone down or hurting anyone but me. Up until recent years, that eating wasn’t preventing me from succeeding in all the other areas that I intrinsically need to thrive.

    This control eventually gave way to full-blown food addiction, but that’s another story 😉

    And when I’ve “fallen off the wagon” in the past, it’s felt rebellious and good, like I was taking ownership and making my own decisions about it, even though the only person I was hurting was myself. When I feel that rebellion rising up, that’s what I have to repeat to myself: This isn’t hurting anyone but you. You aren’t “showing” anyone anything.

    I think it’s phenomenal that you’ve identified the root cause of your overeating. Keep on this path!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, Alison!

      “It’s like food is the one thing that I can control to such an extreme, and it’s not letting anyone down or hurting anyone but me.”

      YES. YES. YES.

      You articulated my own thoughts perfectly. Food is the one thing I can control totally and completely and to whatever extreme I want to, and it’s all about me. My food consumption has nothing to do with anyone else–it’s all about me, me, me.

      I have always been very reclusive and secretive when it comes to food. I can eat like a “normal” person in front of others so that it seems as though I’m thriving, but behind closed doors, I know better. Food has controlled my life for far too long. It’s absolutely terrifying how much I think about food (even still). Food is absolutely an addiction for me–one that I feel like I’m sort of learning to deal with now, but I’m definitely still a newbie when it comes down to fighting this battle. I am hoping not to “fall off the wagon” anymore (because I’ve certainly been down THAT road before), but I also know that it’s one giant balancing act all the time.

      It’s hard because if you’re, say, an alcoholic, you can give up alcohol if you so choose to fight your addiction. But food? You can’t give up food–we must eat to survive. So every day we have to learn how to navigate consuming just the right amount of our addiction without going overboard, and we constantly have to fight cravings and overcome compulsions and desires and whatever and whatnot. It’s pretty much a never-ending struggle.

      It’s an uphill battle, but I’m more determined than ever! This time is going to be different. It just has to be!

      Like

      • I keep saying the same thing about food vs. alcohol addiction! In regards to food, people always tell you that, “It’s ok to indulge sometimes,” but you would never tell the same thing to an alcoholic! It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that I AM addicted to food, and every day is another lesson in managing that addiction. Fortunately, as a result of all the compulsory, controlling behaviors, I also have immense discipline and willpower when I set my mind to something… But I still haven’t figured out all of my triggers. I keep reminding myself that food is fuel, and I’m eating to live, not the other way around.

        I am right there with you on the secretive eating, too! It’s like you’re reading my mind 🙂

        This time IS different. I refuse to continue to let food control me, even though I’ve tried convincing myself that I’m in control when I’m binging.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes! That is so true! People with food addictions are probably the only addicts out there that people actually occasionally encourage to “indulge” in the things they are trying to overcome. It’s such a shame that more people don’t understand this! It’s hard for my family to get this–they seriously don’t understand that, yes, actually, that one gigantic piece of triple chocolate fudge cake IS going to hurt me! That’s not what I need right now AT ALL — “one time indulgence” or not.

        One of the girls I’ve made friends with at my WW meeting said that this idea of addiction is exactly why WW is not a diet but a forever change. She said that once someone who’s addicted to crack cocaine, for example, finally cleans up their act and gets themselves together, they don’t just say, “Hmmm… I’m clean now and have great willpower, so I think I’m going to go on a crack bender this weekend! I can go back to being clean on Monday–it’s okay to do crack just this one weekend!”

        When you kick an addiction of any kind, you have to kick it forever–you can’t just go back to your old ways once you meet your personal goals. That’s why dieting doesn’t work for a lot of people, I think. They lose the weight thanks to the diet, but then they go right back to what they were doing before, so the weight comes back. That’s what always happened to me when I dieted, at least.

        That’s why WW (or really anything you choose to do) has to be something you can do forever. I’ve finally figured THAT out at least.

        Like

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