Monday, January 4, 2010

Why can't this be E-Z?

I'm getting an attitude about something and I need to spill it before it starts eating at me, which will likely result in me eating at anything or everything not nailed down or locked away. I've learned in AA that if something is irritating me endlessly, or I'm getting a resentment about something, best to just put it out there so that it doesn't become a dirty little secret. Harboring such thoughts can erode one's well-being and lead one back to a drink, or in my case now, bad eating behavior.

Before I share it, let me say that I'm doing pretty well on this 2nd official day of tightening up my "program" (and hopefully my physique in the process). I'm feeling motivated and enthusiastic, but not in a fervent way that makes me feel like I've just witnessed a miracle of untold proportion. And while I'm feeling okay, this simply isn't easy, and I have frequent thoughts of wanting to eat crap I have no business eating. No matter how far into a successful run of clean eating I go, I always have bouts of "food desire", or maybe more accurately stated, "eating desire"; and hunger or cravings often have nothing to do with it.

Having quit drinking 18+ years ago, I've been through this with alcohol. Once I'd finally had what turned out to be my last drink, I still had a daily desire - actually an obsession - to "do it one more time" ("it" being drinking, or in my case, drunking). This is a widely recognized occurrence among people who give up an addictive substance, or behavior. For some it disappears quickly, but for others, it can go on for years.

In my case, the daily desire to drink lasted about 9 months, and it was tough. Some mornings I'd wake up and say to myself, "Today I'm just gonna do it. One more time and then I'll be done." I'd rail at AA meetings that I felt I was worse since I'd stopped drinking than prior, because now I was utterly obsessed with thoughts of alcohol, where I hadn't been before. The folks would just nod their heads and tell me to "Keep coming back", and "This too shall pass". One person actually came up to me at the break one day and told me the reason I was feeling obsessed was because I wasn't acting on the impulse to drink. I didn't feel that way when I was drinking because I didn't abstain from it. So no need to feel that uncomfortable obsession. Well DUH! But I hadn't thought about it that way, and it actually helped. That little interaction happened around my 9 month sober anniversary, and very shortly thereafter the desire to drink was finally lifted and has revisited me very infrequently since - and with much less intensity or tenacity. Translation - it got better and easier.

As a non-religious but very spiritual person who still considers myself a Christian, my belief and faith in God has been strengthened incredibly from this slowly unfolding experience (of my life!). I'd tried a million times to quit drinking on my own. I meant it with all my heart every time I tried. But eventually I'd decide (after days or weeks or vivid awareness that I wasn't drinking, which no non-alcoholic would experience) I wasn't really an alcoholic and didn't really have a problem, and the switch in my brain slid from off to on regarding drinking. Off to the races again I'd go. For me to finally be able to stop, find not only sobriety but an incredible rich life as a result of the fellowship of AA, had to have been ordained, or at least aided, by Something Greater. For me, that Something was/is God, and it was only because God saw fit to lift the alcohol obsession from me a day at a time that I was able to receive the gift of sobriety.

I wasn't planning on giving a thumbnail version of my AA story here, but I guess it was supposed to flow as background info for me to get on with confessing my gripe here. Obviously I've been through a difficult letting go of a completely maladaptive self-destructive substance/behavior. It was hard. I whined and gnashed my teeth and wrung my hands day after day as I didn't give in to the obsession to return to the behavior. I have every reason to trust that I can and will be able to let go of bingeing and crazy eating of unhealthy crap food, and though it might take time - it will get easier. Right?

But this is so much harder for me. I always say that for me, food and overeating is my oldest primary issue - baby's first addiction. I truly want to do this - let go of eating as a life strategy and replace it with eating as a healthful practice, resulting in weight loss, improved vitality and strength, and a more conscious day to day existence; I know I can, but when obsessive food thoughts swarm, it feels harder to resist than when thoughts of a drink would pop up. Having meetings where so many other folks had been through it helped tremendously. I know there is a 12 step program for food which I've been to a few times over the years and really don't like at all. So I guess you - the wonderful supportive blog community is my equivalent of a place to vent and celebrate and deal with what comes along as I travel this path - which is what I'm doing now.
So my gripe? The way that for some bloggers, it seems there really isn't much struggle with this - it's just all pumped up enthusiasm and certainty and cheerleading and "Just Do It" mentality - which I love, which helps, which I understand and appreciate, but which I "Just Don't Got" for now. I think at the core is that I'm jealous that it just isn't going to be that way for me. It will be a struggle. I do believe in a God that sustained and sustains me through getting and staying sober; so why can't I trust that the same God will help me when every cell in my body wants to excape into the oblivion of food coma? Bottom line - I want to be normal about food. I WANT TO BE NORMAL. I'm not. NOT NORMAL. Acceptance is the key to moving on with what is and getting through the trenches when they surround. But still I yearn to be normal.

For today, I feel strong and am pretty sure I'm going to have another good day. But see how just one clean day has me antsy enough to have this rant of a post? If you're rolling your eyes and thinking that I whine too much - oh well. It's my blog and I'll whine if I need to. I just have to say that just because I want something doesn't mean I can get it by doing affirmations in the mirror and defining who I am and what I want. At some point, this will take tough gutting it out - not eating when I'm feeling driven to - and then dealing with the feelings that percolate up when they aren't stuffed down by Tastykakes and Wheat Thins.

So to all the cheerleaders out there, please keep cheering and encouraging and's good stuff, helpful and important. Motivating and inspiring. I need it even when it makes me crazy, just like I occasionally need someone at an AA meeting to tell me I'm off my beam temporarily. I know I can do it, but I also know I can't do it alone. And I don't have to, given that I have my beloved blog community and my Something Greater who I chose to call God.


  1. I can relate. Sometimes I get very resentful that my relationship with food is very different from other people's. I even get angry when someone out there just talks about "backing away from the table" - like it's easy. But like you say, some of us are not "Normal" when it comes to our food. Our lives and our relationship to that sustaining energy will just be different.

    Good and thoughtful post/rant/vent. I understand.

  2. I completely get you. I have days where I get so "mad" at this process that I almost sabotage myself til I realise the only person I'm getting back at is myself.

    I am reading The Beck Diet Solution and Beck addresses this issue as well.

  3. Awww... I can understand why you need to vent about this. I'm one of the 'fired up' folks you talk about (hope you don't hate me right now!) and it's not always like this... In the past I've had my own demons and I didn't get to 420lbs finding weightloss easy... ;o) I hear what you're saying about the switch in your brain, and I think that's happened to me. Of course, the newly-discoved fact that certain, fairly innocuous foods used to drive me daily (even hourly) mega-binges has truly helped me overcome my previous negative behaviour and attitude towards food and my body... I know it's easy for me to say (and I know this won't work for most people!) but just cutting those foods - potatoes, white bread, etc. - out of my diet has completely eradicated (hopefully for good) some seriously fucked-up, food-related behaviour!

    I'm sorry you're finding this so tough... I'm not Christian, but I hope your asking God for assistance in this will help you, as it did with your amazing success against drinking alcohol.

    Take care

    Patsy x

  4. I think the problem with "Normal" is that it really does have a different definition from person to person. You have to find YOUR normal and then it will get easier. Maybe ask God to help you find that.

  5. Food is the MOTHER of all addictions! For sure! I could relate to the entire post.

    Normal is all relative. Don't compare. Easier said then done. I do it all the time. NEVER with a good outcome. What is it they say about doing the same thing over and over expecting different results??

    You can do can!

  6. Hi Leslie. Baby's first addiction = Love.

    Make sure you give yourself plenty.

    Bearfriend xx

  7. I kept nodding my head as I read your post. I can identify with it on many levels. You have such a way with words Leslie.

    Hang in there lady! WE are going to do this!

  8. I think you pick up different vibes because we are all at different progress points.

    someone that is cheerleader like to read NOW - might have been a whole different story years ago.

    I am like that.

    what you read now - from me - is very yoga like.

    I wasn't blogging for the first several years. What I would have written that first year and a half would have had a lot of tears and nashing of teeth and major drama and hysteria.

    The version of ME that started out with my therapist and my psychiatrist is not even recognizable to the ME that you 'know' now.

    The food has not been as hard for me as finding EVENness. the food and that fat were the visible parts. they were also the parts that I cried A LOT over. The inner part has been very hard for me. But it is harder to see and harder to verbalize.

    I LOVE your AA stories. I learn so much from them.

  9. And someone said to me part way through my process - WHAT IS NORMAL ANYWAY?

    I needed her to say that when she did.

    What (specifically) is IT you are picturing when you yearn for 'normal'?

    Because it might be better to focus on those specific traits or habits that you see as normal than lumping it all into one general category.

    I think that sometimes what we perceive as 'normal' isn't actually what thin/healthy/fit people DO.

    The thin/fit/healthy people that I know in real life - do pretty much the same things that I do - and the general population would NOT consider me to have 'normal' food habits.

  10. I've missed you so much girl. Struggling right now so haven't been commenting regularly, but I think about you ALL THE TIME.

    I could have totally written this post. I've done some cheerleading before, part of that "fake it til ya' make it" crap, lol. I've also done some seriously depressing posts. I just put it all out there, whatever I'm feeling and wherever I'm at. I'm cutting out the depressing crap though....just checking in during that time briefly.

    There are a couple of people that started blogging way after I did and have flown past me down the scale. As much as I'm proud of them, and need to hear it too, I'm supremely jealous. How can you not be...if you're human. They seem super-human. I know exactly what you're feeling.

    I'm afraid that it might be a lifelong battle for both of us and we're just going to have to face that demon and do the best we can as we go along. I do believe it gets easier, just not as easy as it is for some. But if you've got God on your side, then that's all the strength you need. You know that. :)

  11. I was thinking a lot about what you wrote.

    Another thing that I remembered is - not everyone that loses, maintains it.

    Not wishing evil on anyone - but it is a fact.

    A LOT of inner stuff has to change for the outside stuff to STAY changed.

    The ones that tend to maintain have not only re-styled their life habits, they have changed their thinking habits too.

    And that tends to result in a fair amount of angst.

    So, deep struggle might be a good thing in the long run.

  12. We have all done this. The first few months are so hard. Then, you wake up and it's become a habit and unlike when you take a drink and have an "aaahhh" moment where you instantly feel better, the food you give in to makes you feel like crap after you've been on a better eating path.
    I had a powdered donut yesterday morning and I felt like crap. Nauseated, jittery (from the sugar I guess?) and just plain like crap!
    I really think that the reason the food addiction is harder than alchol is that you can totally remove alcohol from your life. None in your house, don't go to bars, remove the social situations that may have alcohol, etc.
    However, you can't remove food from your life. It's there. The good, the bad, the ugly, ALL of it. It's at the gas station, the restaurant, school, church, etc. And unlike alcohol, LOTS of people ENCOURAGE you to indulge. They want you to because THEY do it. They will tell you that one won't hurt, etc.
    I don't have a magic answer, just that it IS hard and I think it probably is HARDER than beating an alcohol addiction. (Disclaimer - never been there, not lessening that addiction in ANY way)
    I know you can do this.

  13. I'm sorry that the support group for eating didn't work as well as AA did for you. Would you consider giving it another shot?

    One thing that really stood out in your story was how powerful one person can be in helping another person. When you talked about the person who made the comment that really helped you to understand, it seems like you had a real break through.

    All the best.