Ahh, blessed sleep.

I finally got a good night’s sleep last night. No bad or wacky dreams. Ethel-the-13-yr-old-pug didn’t wake me up at 4am to pee. There was some semblance of sun outside my window when I woke up a little bit before my alarm clock. Yeah. That’s some gooood sleep.

I was reading a fellow blogger’s comment on my last post (also a booze and cigarette quitter), and she said she has gravitated toward much healthier food now that she’s essentially cleaned her palette. Which is so awesome. And in that moment I realized suddenly that I haven’t really done that yet. I’m still hooked on nicorette gum. Like, in a big way actually. At least 15 pieces a day.

The gum messes with my taste buds a lot. Certain foods taste terrible if I’ve just had a piece of gum. Certain drinks too. And the nicotine messes with my hunger signals. And I bet the chemicals mess with my sleep, too. No wonder I can’t really settle into intuitive eating and movement; I’m still actively messing with my body’s signals.

So, while I’m still super proud that I don’t smoke anymore, I’m now actively concerned about my nicorette habit. Which is kind of a bummer because I had given myself all the permission in the world to keep chewing the gum until I was solid in my (badass, rebellious) sober and smoke free life. And I even gave myself permission to chew the gum until I finally truly shed diet mentality and am living life without body hangups and anxiety around food.

But it feels like a blocker. It feels like I’m hanging on to the old shit, and I know for a fact that I’m afraid of the NEW life I’ve started to create. Chewing nicorette gum feels like a last thread tethering me to the old me. A me that I quite liked at times. Gluttonous. Fun. Wild. I don’t want to throw her away. Letting go of the gum is SO symbolic. Which sounds SO dumb, but damnit it’s true.

Love,

Fatty

 

 

The struggle is real.

I wonder how many blog posts have this title. It’s a cliche because it’s true, right? Riiiigggghhht???

I am 13 months sober, 12.5 months cigarette free, and now about two months into Isabel Foxen Duke’s “Stop Fighting Food” master class. I feel kind of navel-gazed-out, if that is a thing. I’m bored with self improvement. But then, old shit keeps floating to the surface. So I’m back here, wishing I had more interesting things to say.

I’ve been a travelin’ girl lately. Two weeks road tripping with my husband from Seattle to Palm Springs and back, then a few days at home, then a weekend in NYC, then a week in SF for my new job. Really what I’m saying is that I haven’t been in a routine. And I’ve been eating shitty food.

Consequences of this recent month of eating crap? Zits. BIG ouchy zits. Tight jeans. Aching back. Pins and needles if I cross my legs too long. Headaches in the morning. Tummy ache as I fall asleep (ice cream/cookies upset my tummy right before bed). Weird stressful dreams (could be a result of so much shit going on, and the stress of a new job, but I’ll blame it all on food – m’kay?)

So, almost every night this past week I’ve gone to bed thinking:

“I feel bloated and over-sugared.” Or over-fatted. Or over-full. Or just greasy.

Then I think: I am not afraid of getting fatter anymore. Those are the patriarchy’s rules about how a woman should look. I don’t need to believe in those rules. I can live free from society’s bullshit. DAMNIT INGRID, STOP THINKING (secretly) THAT YOU’RE TOO FAT!!

Then I think: well, it’s not just that I feel fatter, I am also run down. Tired. Greasy. I don’t feel HEALTHY. How in the f*ck am I supposed to separate my desire to eat more healthily and exercise more so I can feel better physically, from my old-timey desire to be thinner and, by the world’s rules, prettier?

This is hard.

Love,

Fatty

 

One year. Holy Shit.

One year sober and cigarette free as of April 15th. I am in utter disbelief. My life feels so different and yet I am settling nicely into taking it all for granted. I worry about that, but I guess it’s human nature.

That pic on the far right is me in a bikini. Yah, you heard that right. A fucking bikini.

Here’s what I looked like a year ago before I quit drinking, smoking and dieting:

IMG_0575

As they say, it’s always in the eyes. My puffy face and dead eyes make me sad when I look at this. But I’ll say this, one year ago I set my intention to be free from booze, smokes and food/weight obsession. I am well on my way and it feels so good. I highly recommend it.

Xo,

Fatty

359 days booze free, 343 smoke free

I’ve been wanting to hide for a week. I resigned from my job (of seven whole months) to take an amazing role at a startup in San Francisco. I’ll be working remote, mostly, from my home in Seattle. It’s SO so good. But this past week at work has felt pretty much awful. And in all my free time at work and at home I’ve felt guilty and weird and UNCOMFORTABLE. Major discomfort.

What I want to do is just snap my fingers and be out of my current job without any hard feelings or loss of reputation, and move directly to “I’m happy and comfortable at my new job”. But I know that can’t happen. There’s so much anxiety yet to be lived through.

First, there’s the actual leaving of the job (next week is my last week). With that comes all the good-byes, the many nuanced variations on my story that I’ll tell people, fielding the many assumptions about why I’m leaving, people telling me my story for me, the linkein frenzy, and then the middle of the night: “did I make a mistake??” ruminations.

Then after being done with my current job, there’s the blessed break I am taking in between jobs. Three whole weeks. I can’t really truly comfortably afford to take off three weeks unpaid, but I’m doing it because it is a special chance to do it. Because I technically can do it, financially, even if it’s kind of dumb. But I want it. Or, really, I wanted it back when I wanted to quit my job so badly. Now I’m just feeling anxious about those three weeks. My husband and I are doing a road trip to Palm Springs to visit his dad and step-mom. It will be so relaxing, I know. And honestly, it’s the cheapest vacation ever. But I’m worried. I’m worried my husband and I will fight on the long ass drive. I’m worried I’ll spend too much money. I’m worried I won’t really relax properly during this ONE CHANCE I have in between jobs to relax without checking email.

After Palm Springs I’m flying to NYC for the SheRecovers event where I will meet literally hundreds of women in person after knowing them intimately online in private sober groups on Facebook. It’s intense as a prospect, let alone as the icing on the cake of my magical time off and fancy new job at a cool startup in San Francisco.

And then there’s the starting of the new job. We all know that anxiety. It’s hard work. It’s new people. It’s proving myself while staying low profile until I actually have a meaningful thing to contribute. It’s a lot of pressure, and I’m nervous about it.

So, with all of this shit to worry about, I then think: what the fuck is my problem? Literally every single one of my big problems are the definition of great problems to have. So I feel unsettled and weird and privileged and like a fat ugly American who has too much and wants too much. This big gluttonous girl doesn’t deserve one stitch of this goodness.

And all I want to do is escape.

I’ve been clocking 9+ hours of sleep every night and dragging my ass out of bed in the morning. I’m drained and anxious. I recently started walking again to get out of my head. I’ve been eating a little more sugar for escape, but also consciously getting more fiber and fruits and veggies so my bod doesn’t feel bloated and extra tired. I’ve been listening to my Isabel Foxen Duke “stop fighting food” modules and coaching calls. I’m trying really hard to take care of myself in the best way I know. And you know what? It’s working. And the anxiety does pass for little periods of time.

But you know what else? With all this (first world) anxiety, I still haven’t wanted to drink or smoke. Not once. I did think about it a couple of weeks ago, but not now. Not while I’m squirming with itchy discomfort over all the crazy changes in my life.

I remember reading Holly Whitaker’s list (on www.hipsobriety.com) of a million things that she accomplished or that got better since she quit drinking and thinking to myself: BULLSHIT. It’s utter bullshit. It’s not all because she quit drinking. That’s absurd. But is it?

My next post will be a proper list of the new and good stuff that’s happened in this past year of being sober and smoke free, but as I sit back and think about it, there’s a lot that has happened. Maybe the best part is my improved connection to my true self and with new friends. But there’s other stuff too. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Food addiction=diet addiction

When I feel out of control desire for sugar, is it because I’m addicted to sugar, or is it because sugar is a food I fear because it makes me gain weight?

If sugar makes me gain weight, then it is a bad food. Gaining weight = bad. If it is a bad food, I fear it and restrict it. If I restrict it, I want it more. If I want it more than I want other foods, and this cycle of restriction and bingeing drives me fucking crazy, then I must have an “addiction” to it. The only answer is to eliminate sugar FULL STOP. Otherwise I’ll get fat.

How would I feel about sugar if I truly did not care if I gained weight ever? If my body size were predetermined and I was not actually able to make it different? Would I restrict it?

What if we replaced sugar with pizza, or chocolate, or broccoli? What if someone told you that you were never allowed to eat a salad ever again because it would make you fat? Would you eliminate salads?

When I eat lots of sugar and then feel ‘bad’, what I’m really feeling is fear of getting fat (and maybe a headache or spike/drop in blood sugar… those are the physical ‘bad’ feelings). Guilt and shame. And when I over-eat sugar what I’m thinking is: I am planning to eat correctly in future so I won’t get fat, so I need to eat this sugar now before I get into proper restrictive eating. I am feeling both hope and despair when I over-eat sugar.

The tomorrow hope is a pretty exciting feeling. It gives me permission to eat everything I want today, knowing that tomorrow I will get started on eating right. Because eating less sugar makes me feel physically/mentally steady, and it also helps me manage my weight. And I know it’s possible because I’ve done it before. Many many times. One day I’ll get it right, and that day is TOMORROW.

This cycle is actually quite addicting, I think. And there’s no chance in hell that I can fathom eating sugar without the attendant feelings of hope – the euphoria of hope – that everything will be better tomorrow.

But what if, like me, tomorrow doesn’t really come. Or it comes, but the sugar restriction only lasts a day or two, or a week or two, because amazing cupcakes were handed out at a team meeting at work. And then it starts again – might as well eat all the sugar in advance of the next restriction period. Because sugar = fat, and fat = bad. And even though my body has been around the same size for 35 years, this will be the time that I alter it for good.

I don’t think I am addicted to sugar. I think I’m hooked on the hope of a better tomorrow, when I’ll finally fit into society’s standards for a beautiful body. That hope creates a situation in which I decide to eat more sugar than I really want because tomorrow is coming, and tomorrow I will be good.

It is especially important for me to remember that this is always going on in the background, even if I convince myself that sugar is poison to all people (thin or fat) and that I am just doing the healthy thing by eliminating it from my diet. I think there are probably healthy people out there who eliminate sugar from their diets for this reason, but anyone who says that they were “addicted” to sugar aren’t those people (IMHO).

Close to one year booze-free…waffling.

Close to one year booze-free…waffling.

I’m going to take a breather from my food stuff today and go back to what started this whole journey: quitting drinking and smoking on April 15th, 2016.

I’m 344 days sober today, and that means I’m very very close to hitting the one year mark.

It’s pretty hard to avoid having thoughts around re-integrating wine into my life. I’ve gotten through all the big holidays, birthdays, events that happen in a year. I’ve quit and started a new job. I’ve made new friends. I’ve even gotten an old friendship to a place that isn’t totally awkward without wine. I am laser focused on freeing myself from dieting and body hatred. These are all amazing accomplishments. AMAZING (for me, anyway).

So why drink again? Well, I keep wondering if, with all of this mental clarity and progress learning how to cope with feelings without wine (and now, without compulsive eating/planning diets/dieting), isn’t it at least possible that I could drink once in a while and not slip back to my escapist routine?

So I wrote some lists to help think through this:

Times I would like to drink in future, in priority order:
  • Holiday meals/events
  • Birthdays
  • Dinner/lunch/brunch with girlfriends
  • Vacations
  • Vegas
Times I actually drank, in order of volume/frequency:
  • Alone on deck with cigarettes
  • Alone on couch
  • With co-workers on business trips (including Vegas)
  • With co-workers at work/right after work/office functions
  • Alone but on the phone with friends/family
  • Before going out with girlfriends
  • During going out with girlfriends
  • At parties
  • At birthdays
  • At holiday meals
  • Vacations
Why do I “want” to drink again?
  • To fit in at work
  • To relax with friends/family (stop being the sober sore thumb)
  • To feel “high” and loose once in a while
Why do I want to fit in?
  • To be included and feel wanted
  • To feel lovable… to forget all my flaws for a while
What’s the truth?
  • I felt more insecure about not being included/wanted at work while I was drinking
  • I hated myself WAY more when I was drinking and smoking than I do now, even though I can’t escape my body and body-hate-thoughts with wine anymore
  • I felt weighed down by drinking and smoking
  • I felt like a weak trapped unhealthy human who had no right to get healthy in other ways because I was poisoning myself daily.
  • I don’t actually believe that wine is a necessary part of a healthy, joyful life anymore. I don’t think I can un-learn that now. I feel so much disdain for our society’s assumption that wine=fun/relaxation/happiness/sociability.
What’s the answer? UGH.

 

Addiction doesn’t apply to food.

Addiction doesn’t apply to food.

Today I want to dive deep into an idea that I have been mulling over (and over) after quitting drinking, smoking and dieting.

First, I think we can all agree that the word addiction is over-used (especially in a casual way) and misunderstood (duh, scientists are working on this).

Since we know and agree that there aren’t clear scientifically defined boundaries around what constitutes “real” addiction, I want to propose that it cannot and really truly should not ever be used in relation to food. It can be applied to dieting, binging, purging and any other disordered eating behavior, but I don’t think it can be applied to specific FOODS. I am saying, without any scientific support, that a person cannot become addicted to food.

I know that this is a pretty unpopular point of view (who am I to tell people whether or not they are addicted to sugar, fast food, pasta, pizza or ice cream??), and it may piss you off a bit. In fact, it would have pissed ME off three months ago. So let me explain.

When I thought to myself, many times, that I am addicted to carbohydrates and sugar in all forms, here’s how I came to that conclusion:

  1. When I ate certain foods (ice cream, french fries, pasta, brownies, cookies, etc.), I felt like I couldn’t stop once I started (I did actually eventually stop, but not until after mindless overeating until I felt sick)AND I WAS AFRAID THAT THIS KIND OF EATING WOULD MAKE ME FAT. AND FAT IS BAD. I FELT SHAME WHEN I ATE THESE FOODS, SO I ATE THEM IN SECRET OR ATE A TINY AMOUNT IN PUBLIC AND FELT DEPRIVED FOR DAYS AFTERWARD.
  2. When I would stop eating sugar and refined carbohydrates periodically, I would feel like I was going through withdrawal, especially gastro-intestinal changes and initial headaches/flu-like symptomsBUT IT WAS OK BECAUSE I WAS AFRAID THAT EATING SUGAR (etc.) WOULD MAKE ME FAT. AND FAT IS BAD. MY SHAME LIFTED WHEN I SUCCESSFULLY ATE IN ALIGNMENT WITH MY DIET. I WOULD FEEL VIRTUOUS BUT ALSO AFRAID OF WHEN (not if) I WOULD FAIL.
  3. When I ate sugar and refined carbs, I would experience a noticeable high, and a noticeable crash (fatigue, low energy, grouchiness, etc.) afterwardAND THIS JUSTIFIED QUITTING IT ALTOGETHER BECAUSE I OBVIOUSLY CAN’T HANDLE SUGAR (etc.), AND BESIDES – SOMEONE SAID IT IS “EMPTY CALORIES” AND IT MAKES ME FAT. AND FAT LIMITS ME AND SAYS THAT I’M UNHEALTHY TO THE WORLD.
  4. I would crave sugar sometimes, so the only solution (I thought) was to make anything sugary completely illegal in my mind – off the table, not an option, and completely poison. Just a “little bit” in moderation just wasn’t realistic for a girl like me.CRAVINGS ARE A NORMAL PART OF DIETING AND RESTRICTION. FIGHT THE URGE, INGRID, BECAUSE OTHERWISE YOU WILL BECOME FAT.
  5. Over time, after eliminating sugar (for example) for 3-4 months, I would still feel deprived if I saw someone eating a donut. Or pasta. Or if I was offered pizza and I was hungry and knew I “couldn’t” have it.I KNEW A LITTLE SUGAR WOULDN’T LITERALLY KILL ME, BUT I WAS AFRAID THAT IF I EVER ATE SUGAR AGAIN I WOULD NEVER EVER STOP EATING SUGAR AND I WOULD GET SO FAT THAT A TRUCK WOULD BE NEEDED TO GET ME OUT OF THE HOUSE WHEN I DIED.

So, this sounds like it could be addiction, right?

Here’s what it was like with cigarettes, for comparison:

  1. I woke up wanting a cigarette, but I would wait until I had a nice cup of coffee in my hand to go outside and have my first (and usually “best”) cigarette of the day.BECAUSE MY BODY WAS USED TO NICOTINE AND IT WAS IN WITHDRAWAL FROM 8 HOURS OF SLEEP. BUT I KNEW I WOULD GET CANCER OR LUNG DISEASE IF I KEPT SMOKING. DARK CLOUD OF SHAME WOULD FORM OVER MY HEAD.
  2. Like clockwork, I would crave a cigarette every 45 minutes to an hour. If I didn’t have one (because I couldn’t for whatever reason), I would go into nicotine withdrawal, which feels like an empty uncomfortable insecure feeling that is only resolved by a cigarette.BECAUSE MY BODY WAS USED TO NICOTINE AND IT WAS IN WITHDRAWAL FROM AN HOUR OR SO WITHOUT IT.
  3. When I tried to quit smoking, many times, I went into withdrawal for three days to one month (depended on the attempt- can’t explain it). The physical craving for cigs would stop pretty quickly. The psychological desire for a cig remained, and would kick in full force if I was drinking and didn’t have my defenses up.I WAS A SMOKER FOR 20 YEARS. TOUGH HABIT TO BREAK.
  4. I would start smoking again because the urges seemed too great. Also, I was afraid of life without them – the concept of forever would freak me out.I WAS A SMOKER FOR 20 YEARS. TOUGH HABIT TO BREAK.
  5. Now that I’ve quit smoking for 10 months, I can say that unequivocally I have zero desire to smoke – emotionally, physically or mentally. Time passing has resolved this addiction for me. I’ll admit that when I see a bunch of giggling smokers outside of a bar I have a wistful “oh I wish I were young and reckless and smoking again”… but that lasts all of 2 minutes then disappears.BECAUSE NICOTINE IS NOT SOMETHING I WAS BORN WANTING OR NEEDING. MY BODY AND BRAIN ADJUSTED AND NOW EVERYTHING IS FINE. FOR REALS.

And now, with drinking:

  1. I would wake up and need my coffee and cigarettes (luckily, never craved booze in the morning… yet)IT WAS MY ROUTINE. I DO KIND OF MISS THAT ROUTINE BECAUSE IT MEANT I HAD TO STEP OUTSIDE EVERY MORNING. I FORGET TO DO THAT NOW THAT I’VE QUIT SMOKING.
  2. Towards the end of my drinking days, I started craving wine at around lunchtime, but would only indulge at brunch on the weekends, or big work lunches where everyone was drinking. Otherwise I would wait until 3-4pm to start drinking if I could swing it. I worked from home for an east coast company, so that was my “happy hour” since it was 6-7pm for my coworkers in CT an MA.ONCE, I HAD TWO GLASSES OF WINE AT 3PM AND THEN WAS ASKED TO JOIN AN EMERGENCY WORK CALL. IT DIDN’T GO WELL.
  3. When I started in on wine, I would fill a very large stemless glass and drink it very quickly – sometimes in the 10 minutes it took to smoke a cigarette and check facebook. Then it just was too hard to stop. The second glass got me to that perfect buzz, and then it made lots of sense (every single day) to keep the buzz going with a third glass. Then, well, why not finish the bottle? And whoops, I really could use one more glass before bed, I think I’ll open another bottle. And finally I would either cry, pick a fight with my husband, hit on my husband (yes, it’s a thing when you’re a drunk), or pass out. More often than not I wouldn’t remember what I said/did in the waning evening hours when I woke up in a dehydrated panic at 2am.WHEN THIS CYCLE DIDN’T STOP EVEN THOUGH I PROMISED MYSELF EVERY SINGLE DAY THAT IT WOULD, I REALIZED I WASN’T JUST A GLUTTONOUS MAGNANIMOUS SOCIAL DRINKER. I WAS ADDICTED TO THIS SHIT AND IT WAS KILLING ME AND MY SOUL.
  4. Shame cycle and spiral finally led me to try quitting drinking. Then I finally was able to do it for a while (today, 316 days of not drinking).SHAME GONE. CRAVINGS WERE STRONG FOR THE FIRST 30-90 DAYS, THEN THEY FADED. NOW THEY FEEL LIKE THEY ARE GONE MOST DAYS, MOST HOURS. RARE CRAVINGS DO STILL CROP UP, BUT THEY ARE WEAK AND EASY TO DISMISS. MY CRAVINGS ARE FADING BECAUSE MY BODY IS ADJUSTING TO THE ABSENCE OF A POISON THAT IT NEVER WANTED OR NEEDED IN THE FIRST PLACE.

So, from my subtle ALL CAPS notes, you might have noticed a theme, especially at the end of the stories. With food, my brain and body continue to want anything that I decide to restrict, and that feeling never goes away. Everyone says that sugar cravings fade, and yes, they do a little bit in the physical sense, but its allure (cupcakes, brownies, ice cream, WHATEVER) never really fades. Just the physical craving might drop a little. I believe this is because our bodies are literally hard wired to prevent starvation. I am not saying that people are born needing sugar – not at all. I’m saying that if we restrict sugar, we are kicking off a baked-in mechanism in our minds that makes ‘not eating sugar’ a form of starvation. That kicks off obsessive compulsive responses to sugar. This chain reaction isn’t automatic with chemical substances – it takes time and use to train your brain to recognize the substance as a thing that makes us feel normal (like food).

This means, to me, that the feeling of having a food “addiction” is a feature, not a bug. When we do go ahead and restrict food intake, our bodies are designed to slow the fuck down. The weight loss plateaus. So, we can either eat less, exercise more, or we can give up and binge (or just eat normally again, if you’re not at all like me). If you repeat this cycle enough times you will wind up fatter than you started out before you ever dieted. This is proven by science (I’ll link to supporting data soon). Diets make you fat because your body wants to survive the next one.

So how do you get out of this cycle? You don’t quit the substance you’re addicted to. That’s FOR SURE. Because all you’re doing when you eliminate a food is feeding your body’s panic response.

I am learning a ton about unrestricted eating as a “cure” for disordered eating, including dieting. The message to me is this: you CAN abstain from dieting, and all other ways of eating that trigger the body’s natural “don’t starve me!” response. You can’t abstain from foods to “cure” an addiction. You can certainly choose not to eat certain foods if that choice isn’t made due to fear of fat/ugliness/unlovable-ness. This is the key. I am working on this key in my day to day life, right now. IT’S HARD, I tell you. But I have faith it will be able to re-train myself to understand that food is abundant, I am fine as I am, I will be fine if I gain weight, I will be fine if I stay the same weight, and I will be fine if I lose weight. Weight doesn’t equal worth, no matter what society and the medical world tells us. Even if I get sick from being overweight, it is not a moral failing.

What do you guys think?