Moderation. That’s what posts, friends, news articles, fitness emails tell me. Eat moderately, workout moderately. Have a cookie, but just one. Raise your hand if you have the will, and I’m being serious not silly, to eat just one (or no) cookies.
My hand is not raised. As we speak, my stomach aches in hunger, even though I’ve eaten more than enough today. I’ve had my calorie intake, so why do I want EVERYTHING sweet, full of carbs and chocolaty? Because I have self-destructive tendencies when I’m having a hard time with my mental state. If I eat that cookie, the whole plate will be gone and I will feel like throwing up. Gross, I know, and not enjoyable.
I am having a difficult time right now, overwhelmed with a few little changes, and summer is a time of changes: schedules change, the kids are home, people vacation, outings are planned. My routine is kaput. And routine is really the only thing that makes me feel really sane. I like schedules, but I cannot seem to find a consistent one, as a mother of preschoolers, an author, a part-time college instructor, a person who wants (and actually has been medically ordered to workout for an hour or more a day), and it’s just so much to keep changing my daily life according to the whims of well…everyone, except my body which just wants to shut down.
I want to share a little piece of accomplishment with you. Last year, at this time, I weighed 255 lbs. Obese, even as tall as I am. In pain, mentally and physically. So I found a class that was consistent and started attending it, working out three to five times a week, and eight months later I was at 200 lbs. I even dropped below 200 and was super proud of my myself and fit into my favorite jeans. I’m not a petite gal (all muscle and large bone structure and 5 feet 11 inches tall) so 195 looked really good on me, and, more importantly, it felt great. I was in a size 12 jean for the first time since high school. And I had so much energy. My attitude was more positive and I didn’t feel like cramming my face with cookies. Then my schedule changed and my teaching gig took over the time slot my workout normally accompanied. I’ve gained 10 to 15 lbs back, maybe more, and I am tired, sad and feel like a lump of wet clay.
I know I take on too much, but I am a doer, and I love doing so many different things, that it’s hard for me to fit it all in. So, when I can’t find the time to feel sane, I eat. A whole bag of cookies, three doughnuts, pretty much anything loaded in sugar and carb-heavy. I don’t even WANT to eat those things. My body craves them like I’m pregnant. And this is not a new thing. I’ve been that way since I was a fat pre-teen. I’ve had times where things were going well for me and I could fight those urges. I still believe I can but, it’s harder for me to fight eating a cookie than it is to stop drinking caffeine. My body shakes, my mind becomes a fog of daydreams about pastries, and it’s birthday season, and I don’t say no to cake. Then I feel terrible, full of sugar with nowhere to put the energy, no time to run it off, and extra weight to bog me down.
I know that I have obsessive tendencies and that people with bi-polar disorder also have a high rate of eating disorders. I remember watching my grandmother eat through a whole bag of Dove chocolates. She didn’t even want to, in the end. I know that because I don’t want to eat a huge chunk of cake. It makes me feel sick, but I crave it. In the end, I have to be stronger than my urges. I usually am, but it’s been a hard go, lately, and my brain is fairly uncooperative, sending me all sorts of signals that make my body react in a desperate manner: trembling, obsessively concentrating on what I should not do, sending me compulsive urges to binge eat. I think it’s an added difficulty, for women, whose hormones run haywire once a month, when I already want ALL THE CHOCOLATE.
But I’m going to use my wise mind, ignore the impulses. And I’m getting better at that. It’s all about practice doing what I need to do. My whole life has been one impulse after the other, and my reaction on those impulses has been truly heartbreaking, at times. But just because I have bi-polar disorder doesn’t make me unable to do things that rational minded people do. I KNOW what rational is. I understand what I SHOULD do, and, with much talking myself off the cliff and making sure to listen to the good advice of counselors, getting exercise and putting my credit cards away when I feel like binge eating could be replaced by binge shopping, I am slowly making progress. I hope that if you feel anything close to what I’m talking about, you know that it’s not impossible to stop being destructive, though it is fairly difficult. Keep reminding yourself that life is short, that you will feel better and even put some time on the clock by putting down the things your body does not NEED, perhaps that just wrap you in a fog.
It’s okay to enjoy something delicious, if you’re the type of person who can moderate. I am not. And I know that. It’s why I stopped drinking. I got sick of dehydration, more severe depression and headaches. I am an all or nothing type person, and it’s good to know who you are. Many virtual hugs to all those slogging past pastries. I’m right there with you.