Or should I say the problems…
Me and food have a complicated relationship, and I haven’t really gone into it much on this blog because I have been all about the fitness and all about moving forward into a new healthy lifestyle.
Don’t get me wrong, I am still all about that.
But I thought it was time to tell you about some realities relating to me and my general diet and attitude towards food, and a little bit about where I think it has come from.
What made me have this thought right now, I hear you ask…
Well it came from a twitter update I made on Tuesday and a conversation I had with a work colleague on the same day.
The picture was this one:
That was me (left), 3 months before I started this blog and that is me now (right). I am very proud of it because it shows me how far I have come but I also keep it as a warning to myself of what I can do to myself when I don’t pay attention. I can be quite self-destructive when I put my mind to it.
Or should I say when I take my mind off it. Because this weight gain was a result of mindless overeating pure and simple!
Which brings me to the conversation I had with a work colleague. It was about how she feel she is putting on weight and can’t seem to stop. And I pointed out that constant snacking and eating unhealthy food can lead to this, and showed her my picture. To which she said..
“well that isn’t just because you were eating too much is it”
I had to point out that it was exactly because of that. What ever the reasons behind the eating, generally, eventually excessive over eating leads to me circa 2012!
All this lead me to start thinking about (over analysing probably) the reasons why I have crazy crazy eating patterns and why I still, if I am not paying close attention, could eat the entire contents of the sweet shop! (I don’t do that any more I promise…but the point is, I could).
I will start with a bit of ancient history, in the hopes of attempting to explain where all this started. So…
Long long ago (in a galaxy far far away…) I was a tall skinny child. A tall skinny child who could eat for england! Real food, I was not into junk food or sweets really…but boy could I eat! Then I became a teenager and the ability to eat myself silly and not put weight on deserted me along with my height.
Ok…not exactly my height, I didn’t get shorter but I did stop growing…at age 12 and developed the normal metabolism of a teenager. So I put on a little weight. Not a lot, I was never fat, or even overweight, but I was bigger than I was used to be but I was healthy and I exercised, I cycled 6 miles a day to school after all. I honestly can’t remember if I was bothered about it at first but I do know that when I was 15 I was applying for military sponsorship and a girl in the year above me applied for the same thing and was told she was overweight. Now, I was smaller than her, but this fact passed me by and as soon as I heard that, I made the promise to myself that I would no under any circumstances be told that.
So I stopped eating.
(I don’t think this was the only start point or the only reason for my food issues but it is the most substantial single event in the process.)
I don’t mean I stopped eating altogether in one hit…that would have been a) impossible and 2) noticed immediately by everyone around me!
I mean I started to restrict what I was eating.
I cut out breakfast, that was easy, I just got up later and said I would be late for school if I didn’t leave then.
I cut down on lunch too, that was easy too, I took the money my parents gave me for school lunch, bought the smallest cheapest thing on the menu (one jacket potato about 100g cooked if that costing 10p) and tell all my friends that I was doing it to save money.
I cut down on dinner…this was harder but
I took advantage of the fact that both of my parents worked and by the time 1 was in the sixth form all three of us ate at different times and different things. I often told my parents that I had eaten already when I hadn’t some times I would have chocolate on the way home to keep my going. Sometimes I would eat a sandwich or something small with the explanation that I had already had my main meal at school.
At weekends it was different, if I was in, I ate whatever one of my parents was eating so I was getting food. I wasn’t cutting it out altogether, but looking back now I can see a good deal of craziness!
In the end, I didn’t get the RAF sponsorship…I got turned down for having short arms and…drumroll…for being underweight. I was about 7.5 stone (105lbs). You would think that this would be a wake up call for me but it wasn’t!
At this point I though food was the only thing I had control of. The thing I had wanted to do my whole life (be a RAF Pilot) was now never going to happen and I was a teenager which is when everything feels out of control anyway. I did some crazy things and thought I had made my parents hate me (I hadn’t!). So I continued this meal skipping, food restricting lifestyle I had got into and told myself and everyone else that it wasn’t a problem!
This lead me to a cycle of putting weight on at the start of Uni followed by a return to stopping eating when I wanted to lose it again… this cycle continued and spiraled into unpleasant purging techniques which I could only keep up for a short time. It continued until I got married, when I put weight on, but stopping eating became a lot harder…
I ended up binge eating to a large degree then joining weight watchers then binge eating and comfort eating again and again and never really fixing my issues with food and control. (weight watchers is an awesome way of restricting your calorie intake…why have all 28 (or whatever) points when you can save some up and live on 20 or 19 or 15…
I have heard people say that this sort of behaviour will break your metabolism. I used to believe it because it was easier to believe that I had a broken metabolism than it was to believe I could stop doing what I was doing to myself. It isn’t true.
Except extreme cases you can’t break your metabolism long-term. You can however, break your psychological attitude towards food. You can set yourself up with deep-rooted self-deception techniques which allow you to eat 4 or 5 times the calories needed for life while still telling yourself and others that it is ok and you are ok!
I hate to say it but these techniques are still very present in my brain. This is why I have to be really careful when I am sad, or stressed. This is why I have to be careful when professional type people recommend diets to me which cut out food groups or restrict calories drastically.
This is why I am telling you all of this. I am using this as a self check mechanism to make sure I am never going down that road again!
This is why I am so against anything that doesn’t teach about healthy choices and lifestyles!
And, above all, this is why I am so proud of that picture at the top!
So proud of that picture just there…
I did that in a healthy way!
I didn’t starve, or purge, or do anything crazy. I paid attention, I ate healthily about 85% of the time and I exercised!
I have to point out that during all of that food restriction and binge eating, I was never diagnosed with an eating disorder, and I don’t believe I really had one but I definitely had aspects of one (or several)
I managed to fix myself, but I don’t believe that is in any way possible for people who have real eating disorders. If anyone is reading this who thinks they might have an eating disorder, or is struggling with any of this things I was doing then I highly recommend getting help.
This is a good place to start: