binge

It’s a slippery slope

recovery-ants

Ants in recovery-unaware of the direction but aware of the path.

I got sober in January of 2015 and I’ve been in recovery from an eating disorder since November of 2015. Yep, 2015 was a big year. The action of being in recovery looks different every day. Today, alcohol and I do not struggle. On occasion I’ll have a fleeting thought that a drink might be nice or something will happen that makes me crave the relief from just one drink. Usually when I think that way about booze I remember I am sober, check myself and move on. The eating thing…that is an entirely different beast.

Last year at this time, I was educated by a team of very smart therapists, doctors, and nutritionists about eating disorders – specifically binge eating disorder. I was taught how to go through a day of planned eating with scheduled snacks. With this plan, I  moved swiftly through the days…even with the  emotional turmoil that is life as a working mom, friend and wife. I was able to have loads of snack foods at my disposal, even in my pantry (the favorites were peanut butter pretzels, peanut butter M&Ms and chocolate peanut butter ice cream.) I divided these snacks into normalized portions in little plastic baggies. (except for the ice cream of course ) At snack time I would eat a portion and move on. I was done eating and THINKING about eating.

My disease has morphed. It tries to sabotage me. I tricks me into thinking I am normal. I have noticed in the past few weeks that I grab at the peanut butter pretzels at  will and I ask the husband to head to the store to pick up chocolate peanut butter ice cream whenever I want it. These foods in and of themselves are not bad. I don’t vilify food. But, unplanned eating is dangerous to me.  If I pre-commit to a snack – whatever it is – I can eat it without judgement.

When I grab the unplanned food, I know this is not what recovery looks like. But what I tell myself is that “I am WAY far in recovery and I don’t need to plan and pre-commit. I can eat whenever and whatever I want.”

Last night, after I had gone through the day of planned eating, I absentmindedly/knowingly grabbed a handful of peanut butter pretzels, realized what I was doing and still proceeded to shove some in my mouth. I did this knowing that the action was counter to my recovery. In the next few minutes, I started to feel the guilt and shame of being “owned” by a food. Why wasn’t I as strong as I was a year ago?

Instead of finishing off the rest of the bag, I took the remaining peanut butter pretzels, put them in the sink, got them super wet and soggy (cause you know, if they were dry and crispy I might chase them down later) and washed them down the drain. After that, I felt safer.

It’s true, a year ago I could keep those foods around and they wouldn’t faze me. Recovery looks different today from how it looked it did last year. It will be different three weeks from now. What I have to do today is make sure I create a safe space around food. Today, I can’t have my obsessive foods in my house. I have to be intentional and aware with food because we need it to survive.

These are some rules I try to follow to stay present and active in recovery.

  1. I do not pay  for alcohol…it’s a slippery slope.
  2. I don’t hang out in bars…unless there is a group and I have control of leaving.
  3. I do plan my  meals and snacks….it’s a slippery slope.
  4. I do stick to this plan…it makes life so much less complicated.
  5. I do reach out to people who struggle like me…they have saved my life…over and over.

Shaking the Tree of Disordered Eating

treeeatingdisorderAt some point in my life I started to challenge my fundamental belief that my self-worth is tied to how much I weigh. I believed that if I lost weight I was good. If I gained it I was bad. That might sound ridiculous, but I share this belief with millions of people. Ask a friend if she can relate to this, my bet is she can. We are sent thousands of messages each day confirming this idea. I sit in a room full of FABULOUSLY BRILLIANT women 9 hours every week talking about removing this core belief from the shelves of our souls and chucking it into the ethereal compost bin. I can’t get the Peter Gabriel song Shaking the Tree out of my mind. That’s what we are doing, shaking the tree of disorder and throwing away the rotten fruit. This core value, core belief is not fair, it is not true, and it is deadly.

Our culture praises weight loss and thinness and loathes fat. Imagine someone saying, “Your ass looks so much bigger in those jeans than it did last week.” How do you think that would go over? But for some reason the opposite statement is ok. We justify it by talking about the health impacts of weight, makes us feel all “doctor like” as we criticize someone else’s food choices and weight gain. If I lose weight, it doesn’t mean I am healthy, it could mean I have cancer! But ultimately, it is my body, my business.

I don’t know a thing about how healthy you are based on what size you wear. I don’t know your blood sugar, A1C, blood pressure, cholesterol levels or when you had your last period just by looking at you. Are there negative consequences to being overweight? Yes and there are medical professionals available to help you. I don’t happen to be one. It can also be dangerous to be underweight which is why there are health professionals for that too. Call one. Please. Quickly.

A couple of years ago when my blood sugar levels were getting dangerously close to pre diabetic, my doctor advised me to lose weight. She told me it was easy, I just needed to keep the carbs out of the house. In that moment I almost lost. I was dejected, I knew I had an eating disorder but I had already “dealt” with it. My doctor, my trusted advisor had invalidated my struggle. It was so simple, why couldn’t I just do it? I kept going up and down and up and down with weight loss and gain. I am fortunate she saw my despair and put me in touch with mental health professionals for eating disorders.

With that I ask you to remember that giving weight loss and dieting tips to someone with disordered eating is like giving an open case of beer to an alcoholic. Just don’t.

Resources and Links:

  • Ascend CHC offers the Midwest’s most comprehensive behavioral health treatment.
  • Insight Behavioral Health Centers provide specialized treatment for eating disorders, mood and anxiety disorders and obesity at five Chicago, Illinois treatment centers.
  • Dr. Lisa Oldson “…an Obesity Medicine physician coming from a Primary Care background, I understand the impact of obesity on health as well as on self-esteem, employment, relationships, mood and productivity.”

My Triggers….Bang Bang

Shh....reprogramming in progress.

Shh….reprogramming in progress.

Before I quit drinking my eye used to twitch all of the time. It was a tiny twitch that no one else could see. I would point to my eye and ask a friend if they could see it and inevitably they couldn’t.

For years I used alcohol and food to mask my frustrations and feelings. I could always get myself into a place where nothing bothered me. Rough day at work? That’s okay, have a bottle of wine. Friend pissed you off? Binge on the popcorn, beer and Homeland, why not, you deserve it. But that little twitch, that was my tell. I didn’t always know right away WHAT I was stressed about, but I would mentally scroll a list of possibilities and once I got to the culprit the twitching would begin.

It is amazing how the mind body connection works. Only rarely now does the twitching flare up. Today is one of those days. This is because I am headed on a weekend of firsts. My first weekend to my parents’ home solo and sober, my first bus trip sober, my first trip where I plan to NOT act on my disordered eating.

There will be a lot of triggers – brown foods and buffets of southern Indiana, sugar cream pie, discussing restaurant options, relishing in the carefree atmosphere of not being a wife or mom for a few days, basking in the “daughterness” of my parents’ home, and sitting in the natural discomforts that come with lifelong relationships that have formed who we are.

I am grateful to have this opportunity. Many of my friends and family no longer have parents to share these experiences.  I have ton of coping tools. Some of which you are seeing here in black and white on the blog. I’m ready. Eye twitch and all.

I’m A Liar

I lied to you for years. I lied to myself as well. Here I was on this quest for a healthier, happier me and I was hiding behind a shameful veil. As I hung out with you at the bar or restaurant drinking one or two beers, I was secretly wishing the time away so I could get back home to the full bottle of wine waiting in the cupboard for me drink … without judgement.

I tell you this now not to ask for forgiveness, but to get a little closer to understanding that addiction is astounding. I am addicted to alcohol, just as I am addicted to compulsive eating and binging. I have been sober from alcohol for nearly 10 months and am on a fresh new start to recovery for my disordered eating. I am still a proponent for health and body at my size, but I have to incorporate my mental health and wellness in this journey. I had no idea how closely one played into another. Not to mention the spiritual connection. Much much more on this all later.

I needed to set this record straight so that I can continue to share things I enjoy with you. I feel like I am on track. If sharing my stories, adventures, and struggles can help you, or someone you know, then I’ve been successful.

I wanna hear from you. Do you struggle with addiction? Is it a secret?

Art showing the 12 steps of AA.

I beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start.