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.