This is the raw post I was talking about writing. This doesn’t have anything to do with home decor or painted furniture. It has to do with me and a constant struggle I’ve had since middle school. This post is about food, body image, addiction and cravings. It’s going to be real and honest. I’m going to lay it all out there, knowing that a lot of you can relate.
Soooo…this would be a long story, but I’ve told parts of it before. Of course, I gained weight after having two babies 19 months apart. And then I lost 35 lbs. And I put it back on. And I lost some of it again. And I put some of it back on. I’m a classic yo-yoer. I’m an “I’ll start on Monday”er. I have every good excuse in the book as to why I should eat something or shouldn’t exercise at any given time. I’m an optimist when it comes to the latest plan I’m going to try. I declare victory as I slip on a smaller size, only to feel defeated when I start lopping over the waistline again. My mood is often dictated by the number on the scale in the morning. I weigh without my glasses, even though I can’t see the scale, because I am so much lighter without my glasses. I hate clothes shopping, because it feels like the garments are judging everything I’ve decided to eat in my entire life.
It’s just a mess. Does it all sound familiar? I’m sure it does to some of you.
A few weeks ago, a thought occurred to me. I’ve had it before, but I just laughed it off. Here was my thought…
I am addicted to food.
Even saying I’m addicted to food sounds silly. I know the graphic above is a joke, but it does seem really silly to call a craving for chocolate an addiction. I mean, I have to eat. So, I’ve always laughed off that thought and continued the self-destructive cycle of inevitable defeat when facing my struggle with food.
I have finally faced some truths, though, that gave me permission to admit that I am addicted to food (and here’s where it gets embarrassing)…
- I hide food. I don’t have a huge stash or anything, but I tuck stuff at the back of the pantry, so other people won’t see it. Sometimes I’ll put something in my bedside table.
- I get anxious about being out of a food I’m addicted to. What if I want it and it’s not there? (The end of the world, that’s what.)
- I sometimes eat like it’s a race to the second helping or the bottom of the bag and I have to beat whoever might be in competition with me.
- I am a mild mannered person and I will actually get angry at someone for eating something I had planned to eat. I am very territorial about “my” food and will give you the stink eye if I hear a crinkle in the kitchen that sounds remotely like “my” chips.
- I’ve looked at elimination diets, but I have been scared to death at the prospect of not eating cheese, butter, sugar, or any grains at all. Terrified.
I was talking to my sister-in-law about all of this over Thanksgiving and she suggested the book Made to Crave. I am about 3/4 way through it and it is an amazing book that speaks right to my struggles. It’s just what I needed to acknowledge that I don’t need to “try harder” or fire up the My Fitness Pal app and count calories again.
Is anyone else just sick of that? I remember a moment a year or so ago when I was measuring my breakfast and typing in my calories. “Is this what the rest of my life is going to be?” That thought was really depressing to me. And selfish when stacked against my T1D son who will have to count his carbs his entire life. Will I ever have a proper perspective on all of this?! Will I ever eat well just out of habit? Will I ever only eat when I’m hungry and to fuel my body?
So, I don’t need to try harder and start fresh on Monday. It’s got to be about more than just being skinny. There’s got to be a better option than counting calories, making sure I save enough at the end of the day for my double-serving of dark chocolate chips. That always ends in failure.
It has got to be about conquering the hold that food has on me. It has to be overcoming the addiction. Going through the withdrawls and coming out the other side a changed person.
That thought is unbelievable to me. I can’t even imagine not being taunted and tempted by food. I can’t imagine taking one bite of something delicious and having that be enough or to not even be interested in it in the first place. I can’t imagine being able to bake cookies as a treat for my boys without the fear of eating the entire batch. It’s sad that my lack of self-control means I can’t bake cookies and yummy food for my boys. Sad and embarrassing.
Now, I’m going to insert something here, because some of you might look at the pictures of me and think I am just being way too hard on myself. Well, I am too hard on myself and that’s part of the problem. I felt this way even when I was 45 lbs lighter. There’s always more weight to lose, more exercise to be done and some splurge to beat myself up about. Food is always the ultimate treat and my nemesis all at once.
Made to Crave gave me the push to change things. That book really speaks to the heart and the spiritual aspect of the struggle with food. It’s so encouraging. Some of the things Lysa shares about herself…removing her hair tie before she weighs, splurging on Sunday nights before the Monday diet begins…are totally me. Her words were like a hug from a friend and an assurance that I’m not alone. And, the fact that her book is a NYT best seller indicates that it’s not only me and Lysa.
Enter book #2…It Starts with Food. This is the book that lays out the Whole 30 plan – where you eat certain real, whole foods for 30 days. No sugar, no dairy, no grains, no legumes, no alcohol, no cheating, no excuses. Yeah…a little scary. This book deals with the science behind the addictions, cravings, overeating and why traditional calorie-counting diets more often than not end in failure. The Whole30 plan is available for free on their website, so you don’t have to buy the book, but I was interested in the details, so I bought it.
I started reading this book and Melissa Hartwig’s testimonial about conquering her struggle with food just about made me cry. I was reading it aloud to Jeff and he put his hand on my arm. “Can you imagine that for you?” No. Not lasting victory, anyway.
The book gets fairly laborious when it gets into hormones and what’s going on in your gut and all of that, but it’s very eye-opening as well and encouraging. Understanding the science behind what’s going on in my body somehow makes it easier for me to commit to these changes and see it through.
I decided on Whole30, because I need a plan that is black & white. I did very well on P90x, because it had a schedule for a set period of time. I committed to it and I did it and I saw a big change. But I was never really committed in the food area. I allowed myself cheats and “relaxed weekend” and I know I didn’t see the kind of results I could’ve if I had committed 100% to everything. Once the plan was over, I floundered. I kept the weight off for about a year, but then it started creeping up again. Now I’m up 10lbs and my oldest son asked the other day, “Mommy, why don’t you do your exercises anymore?”
So, with food, I need a black & white plan. Whole30 is exactly that. It’s strict and bossy and answers the “buts” with tough love and things we all know are true, anyway.
I think with an elimination diet, it’s important to focus on what you can eat. My mom and I were talking about it and she pointed out that I can eat steamed artichoke dipped in homemade mayo! I’m all over that one! I painted a picture for Jeff of the kind of dinners we could have…roasted chicken, garlic dill potatoes and green beans. (I’ve been a vegetarian for 2 1/2 years, but I have decided to eat certain meat for this plan.) I can snack on pomegranate, cashews, olives…all of which I love. I can eat eggs for breakfast, which I do anyway. When I start looking at it in terms of all of the delicious foods I can have, it makes it easier.
I’ve been working on writing this post for several days. This one took a lot of thought. It feels like I’m sharing a lot and I have waffled over if I should just do this and keep my mouth shut about it on my blog. I mean, some things just don’t need to be shared on a decorating blog. But, I know a lot of you followed my P90x journey and I know some of you struggle with the same thing and might want to take the leap with me. It’s always easier to do this sort of thing when you’re not alone. Jeff, my mom, dad, sister-in-law, Tai, and Allison of The Golden Sycamore will be joining me as well, which is awesome!
I won’t be writing full blog posts about this regularly, but I will give updates and share a post here and there when I have something to report. I’ll share more on my Facebook page and Instagram using #whole30. If I find some amazing recipe or tip, I’ll share that, too.
Now, I don’t know if this shift in thinking, this acknowledgement, these books or this plan will be the key to victory. Maybe a year from now, I’ll be writing another raw post just like this one and I’ll be trying something else. I hope not. Right now, I am all in. I’m going to approach this with a hopeful optimism and give it everything I have and I doubt I’ll regret it.
We will be starting January 1, 2015 (yes, on a Thursday, not on a Monday), so you have a few days if you’re interested.
PS – Let me know if you want to join us (all the way.) If we have a few people, I can start a Facebook group for us to encourage one another. Just leave a comment below or send me an e-mail…