I have been successful at many things in my life. I’m smart and I know how to work hard. I have read everything I can find on health and fitness.
So, why was an educated, hard-working woman unable to control her eating?
I realized there were many reasons I couldn’t, or wouldn’t.
Being in the military, every aspect of my life was controlled and dictated. I was told what to wear, where to live, who to be friends with, etc. I didn’t want to be told what and how to eat too. Oddly, being out of control made me feel in control, at least temporarily.
I had also been hurt in many relationships—love and otherwise. If I made myself unattractive, I thought I wouldn’t have to worry about being hurt again. I wouldn’t have to worry about anyone getting close to me. My weight could give me an excuse to retreat into isolation.
Going back to my senior year in high school, my best friends since the 5th grade, told me I got everything, so they didn’t want to hang out with me anymore. I was crushed!
Sure, I was the Valedictorian, Captain of the Soccer and Powerlifting teams, first chair trombone in the band, etc., but I only worked so hard because I never felt good enough. To me, those things were empty and couldn’t fill me up. And now, my success caused my friends to abandon me.
As an adult, my male friends told me to lie to men about my education level and income, because men would find me intimidating and wouldn’t want to date me. I was told they wanted someone smart and successful, but not someone smarter or more successful than they were. So, I made myself big to be small. I thought I was less intimidating that way.
After I got sexually assaulted, I didn’t want any attention from men. I had only been able to fight the man off because he was smaller than I was. If I was big, I would stay safe.
If I controlled my eating and lost my weight, I would lose my control and my security blanket.
Over the years, I had collected a lot of baggage. I didn’t want to deal with any of it. So, I ate to stuff down all my feelings.
It was also easier just to focus on having to lose weight. Then, I could avoid all the other problems.
The Costs of Binge Eating
So, those were my perceived benefits of eating and staying big, but they came at very high costs. My blood pressure had skyrocketed to 170/102. I was on the fast track to heart disease and diabetes like both of my parents. I was constantly sick to my stomach, had heart burn, and had very low energy. I woke up exhausted and by mid-afternoon, I could barely stay awake.
My whole body hurt when I walked, even more when I tried to do the activities I loved (running, biking, hiking, etc.). I had pain all over my body—in my hips, knees, ankles, back.
I once asked a physiotherapist what that crunchy noise was when I stretched. Decrepitus! I wasn’t even 40. I was too young to be decrepit!
I remember looking at my credit card bill and being appalled that I had spent over $270 on eating out and food delivery in one week! And that was a normal week. It was not uncommon for me to hit the McDonald’s drive-thru on my way home and then get food delivered for dinner. The restaurant always included 2 sets of plasticware, because that amount of food had to be for 2 people, right?
The temporary pleasure of food turned to guilt and shame before the food ever touched my lips. I hated my body. I had myself for being weak and having no self-control. The extra weight and declining health reinforced my already low self-esteem.
I felt self-conscious trying to be active. My weight limited what I could do physically. It was common for the activity’s gear to be extremely uncomfortable on my body. I loved scuba diving, but the dive shop’s largest wetsuit was usually so tight that I couldn’t breathe, and I stopped enjoying it.
I also wanted to partner with an active man, but I didn’t feel like I could attract an active man looking like I did. I remember scrolling through online dating sites and thinking “He’s cute! But, he wouldn’t want someone like me.” My assessment was based purely on my weight. I dismissed any advances I did get, because I was sure he had ulterior motives.
When you lack confidence, you sabotage relationships before they start. You also attract different types of people and invite different treatment when you don’t love yourself.
I was very resentful. I felt like everyone was always telling me I wasn’t good enough, and I believed them. The only way I felt I could be good enough was to have a perfect body and be at a perfect weight.
If I was going to recover, I had to figure out why I wanted to be healthy for me. I had to do a cost-benefit analysis. Was my recovery worth the effort I would need to put in to get it?
I made a table like this one. If I continued binge eating, what were the costs? What were the benefits? If I could control my eating, what were those costs? What were the benefits?
|Continue Binge Eating||
High Blood Pressure
Risk of CVD/Diabetes
Feelings of Guilt and Shame
Fuels Depression and Anxiety
Get to Avoid my Feelings
Push People Away
I get to Eat like Everyone Else
I am not Restricted
|Control my Eating||
I feel Deprived and Controlled
People may not support change
Love my Body
Sex with the lights on
Feel more Attractive
Decrease Health Concerns
Feel in Control
I can focus on Living my Life
I can Stop Isolating myself
I can be a Role Model
Long, Healthy, Active Life
If I controlled my eating, I felt like I was being deprived. I wanted to eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. But, I wanted my life back more than food. I wanted to stop wasting my life obsessing about eating and ways to lose weight.
I wanted to love my strong, beautiful body. I wanted to have sex with the lights on and walk around in a bikini at the beach with confidence. I wanted to be active without all my body parts hurting. I wanted to live to be over 100 years old and live quality, active years. I wanted to lower my blood pressure and not end up with heart disease and diabetes like both my parents. I wanted to enjoy clothes shopping and look awesome in fashionable clothes. I wanted to be a role model for other women, especially those struggling with eating disorders.
Thankfully, I realized that some of these goals weren’t even tied to my weight. They were tied to my thoughts and beliefs. I could love my body at any size. Confidence is an attitude, not a size or a number on scale.
When I faced challenges and temptations, those internal motivations were the only ones strong enough to keep me motivated.
What does your cost-benefit analysis look like?
What do you gain from holding on to the weight? What can you gain by taking control of your eating?
Share your thoughts below.
Join me on my next webinar to learn How to Beat the Binge and Take Control of Your Life
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Don’t waste another minute! Your benefits far outweigh the costs.
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~Love. ~Live. ~Connect.