Sunday, April 20, 2014

Stop lying to yourself about your eating habits

This Guest Post graciously submitted by Juan

I used to have an eating disorder, actually I still do, I’m just no longer lying to myself and in total denial of it.

A swimming pool edge with the word NO painted in redWhen I was at school and college I was very active. I was always in a Lacrosse team and got into the outdoors in a big way. I did as much hiking, climbing, skiing, mountain biking as I could. Those adventures were usually weekend or longer activities, sometimes even weeks. I had the time then to disappear into the wilds.

Then I grew up, got lots of responsibilities, a loving wife, two cute kids I would do anything for, a real job with deadlines and targets and stress. My boys keep me pretty active but there was not the time to exercise like I used to. I could hardly get an hour to myself, let alone sneak off for a day in the mountains. The closest I got to an overnight walk was walking from the transit station to home, four blocks in the dark after a late night at work.

Without regular exercise I was starting to get unfit and unhealthy. I didn’t even notice at first there was so much going on. As I was approaching my 30th birthday it all came home.

One of my best childhood friends died from a sudden heart attack. The bathroom scales were telling me that I was officially obese. My Doc was telling me the same and that if didn’t starting sorting myself out I would be heading down the same path as my friend. My wonderful wife was very diplomatic about it, but I could tell in her eyes that she was concerned for me.

I promised my self that tomorrow I would get started eating healthy and doing more exercise. I didn’t get there that tomorrow, but promised myself again, that the next day would be different.  My future self never kept the promise, there was always a reason, kid’s ear aches, birthdays parties, visits from my family, work deadlines. In fact the more time passed the more I promised myself that I would change, the more the lies built up, the unhappier I got. It was a vicious circle, the more I broke my promises to myself, the more I felt I was sick of myself, the more despondent I got. This only fueled my use of food to prop up my beleaguered self worth. I tried various fad diets, well I promised my self tomorrow that I would start this or that diet. I might last a few days, but something would occur, my self esteem or energy would take a knock and I’d be lying to myself how I would start over tomorrow.

What I didn’t realize at this time was the all these promises were really just lies. I was in total denial of the depth of the lies I was telling myself every minute of everyday. I actually believed that I was going to start tomorrow, after I just got this or that excuse sorted out.

And so the lying went on.

About six months ago, slumped on the couch, kids in bed, munching down half a bag of Hershey’s kisses, I was at a real low point. I was flicking around cable channels hoping to find some distraction, when I came across a show hosted by Jamie Oliver. I don’t know what the show was called. What finally broke through my denial was that he said something like “just take control of what you put in your mouth”.

Taking control of my actions, what I put in my mouth was exactly what I wasn’t doing. I was just making excuses for not doing that. Lying endlessly to myself. That night I went to bed thinking of just simply taking control of what I lift up to my mouth. How hard could that be?

Six months down the track the change on the outside of me is noticeable, but the real change is on the inside, just taking control of myself has been remarkable. My confidence is back, I’m a much better Dad, with time to love my kids and wife. My work life is an order of magnitude easier and less stressful. I’ve got a long way to go still, however my bottom line has changed. I try my hardest to not lie to myself anymore. And that has changed my life.

A post-note to this post from Juan, because many people asked HOW he stopped, took control of his actions, etc.  His addition is here:

The big thing was understanding myself and getting a real, true understanding of the way denial works and therefore why I was employing it. Denial is a protection, protection from what – well it depends on you. I did need to do some ‘therapy’ to better understand myself, I needed to ‘face my fears’ to a degree, so now when I ask myself ‘why are you ‘needing’ to use food right now?’, I can talk myself through who I am, what I’m really feeling and what I’m running from – through eating’. It takes a lot of dedication sure, and it’s painful to look at yourself but now I can ‘therapize’ myself through the answer with words and understanding, not food. An awareness of behavior was key for me — to watch myself, see what ‘triggered’ the urge to eat, then mindfully grab myself before the eating frenzy state and talk to myself about what is really going on inside. This — surprisingly — DOES fulfill the gaping hole in my heart/soul/being that I was trying to fulfill with food. Through an honest, free-from-denial explanation it was my first attempt to employ mindfulness.

Comments

4 Responses to “Stop lying to yourself about your eating habits”
  1. This piece offers the reader nothing. I’m happy that the writer went on to find solutions to his problems, but “just take control” is a useless bit of information. It doesn’t explain how the writer went from having little or no control to suddenly having it. This is the crux of the problem for people with eating disorders, especially people who habitually eat too much. They can’t manufacture “control”. It’s not some magical on/off switch in the brain. They need a road map to finding it, not just told simply to be responsible for what they put in their maps.

    This is disappointing because it comes down to, “just do it.” If it could just be done, people would be doing it, but they can’t. This sort of post just makes people who can’t make that transition feel worse. How did the writer get from point A to point B? That information, which is what would make this helpful rather than self-congratulatory, would be extremely useful.

  2. Thanks for sharing your story. I struggled with anorexia for a few years and kept telling myself the same thing “tomorrow I will make better choices.” It was always tomorrow. Then finally I made the decision to take control and turn my life around for the better. Keep up your good work! Recovery, no matter what end of the spectrum one is on, is SO worth it.

  3. Juan (author) says:

    Thank you for the feedback… I think! Yeah SFG fair enough… I was just sharing but that doesn’t offer you much. The big thing was understanding myself and getting a real, true understanding of the way denial works and therefore why I was employing it. Denial is a protection, protection from what – well it depends on you. I did need to do some ‘therapy’ to better understand myself, I needed to ‘face my fears’ to a degree, so now when I ask myself ‘why are you ‘needing’ to use food right now?’, I can talk myself through who I am, what I’m really feeling and what I’m running from – through eating’. It takes a lot of dedication sure, and it’s painful to look at yourself but now I can ‘therapize’ myself through the answer with words and understanding, not food. An awareness of behavior was key for me — to watch myself, see what ‘triggered’ the urge to eat, then mindfully grab myself before the eating frenzy state and talk to myself about what is really going on inside. This — surprisingly — DOES fulfill the gaping hole in my heart/soul/being that I was trying to fulfill with food. Through an honest, free-from-denial explanation it was my first attempt to employ mindfulness. I hope this is more helpful. Sincerely, Juan

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