As a pretty much life-long Weight Watchers member (started for the first time in the 6th grade), I have always known that I had a difficult time with food. It wasn't until this past year, that I realized that there was more to it that just liking to eat and having trouble with portion control and binging.
There are some people out there that just don't have food issues. I really envy them. They can eat what they want, when the want, stop whenever and don't appear to bring emotions into it. I really envy these folks. Sometimes I look at them like they must be aliens, how do they do it? I also often think they must look at me and people like me and just not get it. Why we have food problems, why it may be harder for us to lose weight, just eat a little, not binge, etc.
I should have known there was more to it than taste only when I use to walk home from work and go "Duane Reade-ing." For those that don't know, Duane Reade is like CVS. We have them on almost every block and they have those wonderful isles, chips, sweets, chocolate, season candy, pretty much anything inappropriate that a binger could find to binge on. On those stressful, busy days, on the way home from work, I would stop by at either our local Duane Reade or grocery store and often buy a bag of Cheetos, a box of Entennmann's glazed donut holes and some type of chocolate.
I would get home, crawl into our comfy bed, put a classic episode of Seinfeld, Friends or The Cosby Show on and just eat. I would have a few bites of each, so I would have a few Cheetos, a few donut holes and then a few bits of chocolate and then get up in disgust. I would get up and throw it all away. A true binger. I know it probably sounds disgusting to people who don't have food issues, but, hello, my name is Patricia Rose Landry, I am 33 years old and I have food issues.
The scary part is that it wasn't even really about the food, what I was eating, it was about the feeling I would get. The calmness would immediately come over me. It was like wrapping myself up in a warm blanket. It was just such a calmness and such a good feeling I would get. I can only imagine it may be similar to someone who may smoke, or something like that. It would also, I have to admit, numb me. For those few seconds (before I got totally disgusted with myself) I would feel like everything would be ok. I felt like a small child, taking a nap, with my bottle, all of my worries and problems were gone.
The entire time I worked at one particular job, it was a daily battle of fighting the urge to go in and buy my binge favorites. For awhile, it felt like the only way to avoid it was to go the long way home. Although, in the city it really is hard to avoid some type of bodega, CVS, Duane Reade, Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts, or a grocery store. There is stuff everywhere. It also use to help while Greg was in school. I knew he wouldn't be home until 8 or 9pm, so I would have a good 2 hrs, or so, to be in this state, of inappropriateness.
I think my reliance on food to help sustain my emotional well-being, really depends on what else is going on in my life. If there are other stressors that take priority, I seem to do better, or manage in other ways. The reason I bring this up, is because after leaving the job that lead to so much binging, I did well for awhile. I had put on weight and I would binge from time-to-time, but it wasn't such a huge part of my routine. I was at least eating inappropriately in public.
Fast forward 3 years. The next time I realized the emotional place food plays in my daily life was last October. I bought a Groupon for a 3-day juice cleanse. Some of you that are friends with me on Facebook may remember me talking about it. I was having a lot of anxiety at that time about there being something wrong with me, so the 3-day juice cleanse was a huge step in so many ways. I was really determined to show myself I could do it and my body was strong.
What I did not anticipate is how emotional not eating food would become. The first day was ok, until I got home. I was given 3 juices, two coconut waters and then could have as much hot water, water and tea as I wanted. The juice was actually extremely tasty and has turned me onto juicing, in general, just not exclusively. I got home that night and knew I only had one juice and a cup of hot water with lemon and tea to make it through the night. I drank the juice as slowly as possible, to make it last as long as possible. I then had a glass of hot water and lemon when I found myself getting hungry again. It was shortly thereafter that I actually found myself crying hysterically on the couch. It was like something that I didn't realize brought me comfort and soothed me had been taken away. I found myself breaking down emotionally. I am sure part of it was being tired and stressed, but I found it so crazy and a bit scary that not being able to eat food for an entire day (only one day, how do people fast by choice, or go hungry, by no fault of their own) brought so much emotional distress. What did this say about my weight problems and food challenges.
Day two continued and I was so proud of myself for sticking with the program and not breaking "fast." I had been told by a good friend how difficult it would be and was asked what kind of prepping I had done. I guess I didn't realize what I was getting into and I also didn't fully acknowledge the amount I rely on food, not just for nutrients, but for dealing with my daily emotions.
I got to work that day and continued to do well. I found myself feeling great, actually. A lot of energy and really feeling good. I was fine through "breakfast and lunch." Once again, I got home that night, had my last juice, then a cup of hot water and lemon and again, by 9 p.m. found myself emotionally breaking down on the couch. Crying hysterically that I wanted food. Both nights, I found the only way to deal with it and my emotions was to just go to bed. It was the easiest thing to do. It was just too hard to be awake and not eat food. Looking back at it, it was a really eye-opening experience. I don't really know that I was hungry, as much as there was some type of relief that food provides me with that I wasn't aware of and wasn't getting during my cleanse.
Day three started off ok. I started to get really anxious about the fact that I hadn't eaten. It is amazing how the smallest things can trigger my anxiety. On the subway, I started to feel a little light-headed. If I was a non anxious person, I would have been able to write it off, but I was fairly confident I was going to pass out, or die. When I got to work that morning, my office mate looked at me and told me he thought I should eat something. I am sure it was mostly me freaking myself out. So, he was kind enough to go get me some food, and that is how my 3-day juice cleanse became a 2-day juice cleanse. I was a bit embarrassed at first, but in the end, I am proud of myself. I proved that I was capable of doing a juice-cleanse, for 2-days, which was more than ever before. I also learned a lot about myself. I learned that my food "issues" ran deeper than I ever anticipated. I honestly felt like a baby crying for their bottle ( I am sure Freud would have a field day with all of this).
The last example, is actually what is inspiring this blog. I didn't feel well today, so I stayed home from work. I actually felt a bit of a fever coming on and had some allergy and stomach issues yesterday and today. I did, however, have a personal trainer session. I was starting to feel a bit better this evening, so I decided to still go and not cancel it. I did a hard 30 minute session (felt like field hockey double sessions all over again) and then some more cardio after. My trainer has been trying to help me with not only a work out routine, but also a diet to follow. Small meals five times a day, consisting of protein shakes, fruit, chicken, turkey, rice and salads, basically.
I have been doing really well on Weigh Watchers, because Weight Watchers is all about points and staying within your points. There is obviously a huge focus on healthy foods (fruits, veggies, lean meats, etc), but you have your points and you stick to that. These past few days, I have been struggling with a new diet, knowing it could really throw me. I have decided I will try his suggestion for a week and see how I do. I have no doubt I will lose weight faster, but I need something sustainable. I do not think of this as something sustainable, I think of this as short-term, fast weight loss. I have agreed to try it and try my hardest.
It wasn't until I was leaving the gym this evening and I started crying that I realized my food issues, even though I have lost about 30 lbs, were still there. I called Greg crying that I just wanted a chicken Parmesan sub and french fries, that is all I wanted. I also called Greg because sometimes I get exercise anxiety. Since my gram passed in 2007 of congestive heart failure, when I workout, I pay way more attention to my heart rate than I should. I also had a weird heart marker come back in 2010 which threw me for a loop. My doctor had said it was probably just a false result and ran more tests and I have been told again and again, I should exercise and all is good. Yet I still get anxious. It is really sad and really frustrates and saddens me that someone who use to be a three sport athlete is so fearful of exercise. Heck, someone that ran a marathon. It really takes me a lot to fight through it. I am really trying so hard, so hard. I will say doing the elliptical helps because I am able to see that my heart rate is ok. So, I called Greg out of frustration and a bit of anxiety.
I needed to go to the store to buy supplies for my salad (yum, sense the sarcasm) and I was a bit nervous to go by myself. As soon as I saw Greg, I started crying again (the things he has to put up with-- I love you, Greg). I just kept saying I want food, I want to eat what I want.
I then said, I need to blog about this.
I guess I am just realizing this is a real challenge and a real issue for me and maybe I need to be easier on myself. Maybe I need to try and find a way to gently inform my trainer about the delicate balance I have found with WW. You see, for those of us who have food issues, it really is a daily battle, and during those stressful times, it can become an hourly and even minute-to-minute battle.
As I sit on my couch, stressed, there is nothing I want more than a cheeseburger and french fries, or some pasta (carbs anyone). Apparently food does more than I ever imagined. It has an emotional soothing and satiation effect and it makes me feel happy and calm. In times like these when I want food and cannot have the food I want, I need to find other ways. I also have acknowledged that the worst thing you can tell me is that I cannot have something because then that is all I want.
I am not quite sure how I am going to get through these next 6 personal training sessions, looking for all of the support I can get. I apologize to anyone around me if I am more emotional than normal. This is really hard for me and I guess I just need people to understand that.
And thats all she wrote....