(Warning: Some talk about diets and weight loss below.)
I don’t feel good.
It started last night with a belly ache, continued with a bad night of tossing, turning and crazy dreams, and has culminated this morning with that hung-over wrung-dry feeling.
I don’t feel good because yesterday I ate a roll of Mentos, a bag of cherry balls, three Wurther’s originals, a dozen salt water taffies and two servings of creme brulee.
Was it a binge? Not entirely. It took me a long time to get through all that sugar, and I was hungry when I ate it. In other words, when I was hungry, I ate candy instead of some other food starting after I got home from the grocery store at about 2 in the afternoon and lasting until I staggered to bed at about 10:30. When I was hungry, I asked myself what do I want? And the answer was candy–all afternoon and evening long. But it did have the feeling of a binge, as I continued to eat food that I knew would make me sick eventually.
Was it a smart idea? My body is pretty much screaming at me “NO!”
Did I know better? Yes. I knew that I needed some protein to counter the sugar that was quickly putting my body into imbalance. But I didn’t want protein. I wanted candy. Do I sound like a spoiled three-year-old? I felt like one, too. And last night I indulged that feeling.
Divorcing exercise from weight loss has been a joyful and not-to-difficult process for me. I have a history of identifying as an athlete. When I was a kid I was never bullied for a lack of athletic ability, I was never humiliated by a PE teacher, the word “athlete” was never stolen from me, so I started this with knowledge that I have the right to athleticism in tact. Some people don’t have that privilege. And I do recognize it as a privilege. They have to rebuild and it isn’t easy.
On the other hand, eating is a firestorm of problems for me. I have been on a nearly constant diet (or preparing for the next one) for decades, even though I’ve never lost more than a few pounds on any of them. I also have some–I don’t know, traumatic stress?–regarding food. I spent my teenage years worried about how my brothers and sisters and I were going to eat. Later I spent a lot of pretty lean years concerned about how I was going to feed my own kids and myself.
Now I can eat what and when I want. (Another privilege.) And there are certain things that are hard to the point of feeling traumatic for me. Leaving food on my plate is really difficult. Not putting “enough” food on my plate is not easy for me either.
When I was younger, I binged. I never purged, but I would go to different fast food restaurants and get my favorites from each. Or I would hole myself up in my house when my babies were visiting their dad and stuff crushing misery with French bread pizza and chocolate cake and whatever else I could find.
My life is more stable now, and I haven’t binged that way in a really long time. But I still have a hard time with certain things. I can tell when I’ve had enough to eat, but I have a hard time leaving food on my plate, for instance. The last bites sometimes have that manic binging quality to them. And I’m clearly struggling with balancing “eat what you want, when you want it, until you’re satisfied” with my health.
Because I was really sick last night, and I’m not feeling so hot this morning either.
This part is so much harder for me. I want to eat intuitively. I want it so bad. But I don’t know how. I don’t know if it’s okay to say “that candy sure looks good, and it’s what I want, but I think I’m going to eat a meal instead.” Is that going against HAES? Am I supposed to eat candy for eight solid hours if that’s what I want?
This probably sounds really stupid to some of you. Like–hello, obviously Health at Every Size doesn’t mean eating pure sugar until you’re drunk on it and actually have a hang over the next day.
There are things I’m really good at. Things that I’ve mastered. I’m over dieting, for instance. I don’t think about counting points or going to weekly weigh-in meetings. I’m done. In fact, reading or hearing about diets isn’t even a trigger for me.
I’m at the point where I have stopped obsessively trying to shave fat grams and calories off of every meal that I make, too.
But this intuitive eating thing is hard. It’s so damned hard. If I choose to eat foods that fuel my body a certain way or make me feel a certain way, is that a diet? How about if the thought that I want to eat something enters my brain, but I choose not to do it? Is it okay to write down what I eat, but not the calories or fat grams or anything, if that makes me feel more secure in making food choices right now? Isn’t that a diet, though? What about if I plan my whole day’s meals in the morning, in writing?
I’ve figured out how to move for reasons that have nothing to do with weight loss. I need to get a handle on learning how to eat for reasons other than weight loss, too.
Here’s another issue. I am a fat athlete. In fact, it is likely that I will always be a fat athlete. But I’m afraid I won’t ever be able to run a marathon or compete in an Ironman if I can’t get a handle on eating past the point of satiety. If I make choices based on how they affect my ability to perform athletically, is that the same as a diet?
It seems to me that there must be a way to choose not to make yourself sugar drunk, even though that is what your brain wants, while still eating intuitively and not dieting. I just need to figure out how.