The Vanity of Change

In my early thirties, it seemed like my life was one big crisis after another.  I was newly remarried with small children.  My eating was disordered and I was convinced that I had to take medication to keep myself together.  One time, wanting some sympathy from my mom, I jokingly told her I felt like I was the family drama queen.  Instead of sympathy, she blurted out, “You are the family drama queen!”

The realization that I did things to get attention was devastating.  What others had seen in me for quite some time, I finally saw.  For most of my adult life, I had staggered in and out of programs, religions and philosophies trying to fix myself.  Now I realized that in the quest for a “cure,” I was making myself crazier.

That made me realize I wasn’t in this thing alone, that my behavior affected my family and friends. I didn’t want to be the family drama queen, I wanted to be the wise one, the stoic one, the lucky one, the happy one -anyone but the one you would roll your eyes at when she walked into the room.

I wasn’t sure what to do.  And for a long time, I clung to the belief that things had to be exactly as I wanted them to be and that I had to be thin to be happy.  But little by little, I began to be honest with myself.  I realized that life could be good even if I wasn’t perfect.

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The further I get into this binge free journey, the more I appreciate my life and everything in it.  Finding peace with food has taken so much stress out of my life that it makes me wonder what I could have accomplished if I had done this many years ago. But since I try not to ruminate about my past or base my value on accomplishments anymore, those thoughts are fleeting.  Mostly I just enjoy the moments I am in and let my thoughts meander in and out of my brain.

If my thoughts are disrespectful to myself or someone else, or negative in some way, I let them come and go.  By not worrying about them or chastising myself for having them, they will fade away.  When I first began this change, I used to purposely replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts -and every now and then I still do this.  But mostly I just let the thoughts be what they are, and my mind will flow in a positive direction.

Being content and happy is a good thing but it can lead to something not so good -pride.  And I don’t mean the healthy kind of pride in ourselves that helps us feel confident, I mean the kind of pride that makes us think we are better than someone else -also known as vanity.

Vanity has a way of seeping into our brains and propping us up with lies about our significance.  It validates our worthiness by pointing out the faults of others.  So, when I find myself thinking how great I am because I ate well today, or having thoughts that I must be better off than someone who struggles with food, I have to stop and check myself.  I am the same value whether I have an eating disorder or eat the perfect diet, whether I am thin or fat or in between.  And this is the same for everyone.

So, I find myself feeling good about where I am today compared to my past.  It could be called pride, but it is more a feeling of relief.  I didn’t work to get where I am as much as I just allowed myself to be.  I now allow myself to be content no matter what I am feeling.  This means giving myself the luxury of wasting time, being wrong, or being selfish or boring  – all things I used to try very hard not to be.

In accepting my feelings and unshackling myself from guilt, I have become more compassionate to others and more productive when I worried about these things.  This is still not to say that anyone else’s journey will begin or end like mine. Or that my way is the only way or even he best way to change.

It was the best way for me because I truly believed it was.  I could have taken a different road, but chose this path.  Just as you will choose your path and you will know it is the right one.

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If you are new to my blog, you can read about how I began this journey and the steps I took to make it happen.

 

How To Surrender… And Win

After yo-yo dieting and binge eating most of your adult life, eating whatever you want may seem impossible.  When I first began my binge free journey,  I told myself I would eat what I wanted, when I wanted, where I wanted.  I took all restrictions off food.  In case you are wondering, I did not picture myself eating ten thousand calories worth of chocolate cake every day and not gaining a pound, but I did picture myself eating meals I liked and food I wanted, including chocolate cake, with no restrictions on type of food or portion sizes.

Somehow, I knew this was the right thing to do.  I was overeating at almost every meal and bingeing in times of stress. I  know, it doesn’t make sense.  If you want to stop eating too much, you should be able to say to yourself, “Stop eating so much.”  And poof…you stop eating so much.  I tried this for 25 years and it never worked, and it never will work, so why do we keep doing it?  I finally gave up dieting to save my sanity and maybe even my life.

When I say the words ‘gave up,’ I don’t mean I considered myself a failure and started eating because I’ll never lose weight anyway or that food defeated me.  It’s quite the opposite.  I took control of my eating by allowing myself to eat what I thought my body wanted at any given time.  Instead of succumbing to the food I used to restrict, I now eat my fill and it doesn’t rule me anymore.

I didn’t throw all my knowledge about nutrition out the window, but I did buy and eat foods I never allowed myself to eat in the past.  It seems ironic that I eat less of those foods now than when they were restricted.

When you restrict food or even have thoughts of not eating in the future, like starting a diet on Monday, your body gets a stress signal – ‘food will be scarce.’  So, it encourages you, rather compels, you to eat more now.  How many ‘last suppers’ have you had?  If you do happen to thwart the compulsion and reduce your calories for any period of time, your body slows down your metabolism to conserve energy.  At some point, you will give in to hunger for more calories and go off your diet, which causes you to feel guilty and eat more.  There you are, back in the vicious cycle.

To stop this cycle forever is not difficult if you really want to do it.  The hardest part is to be faithful to it.  As with any change, you must make a concerted effort to stick with the program.  This means eating cookies when you have a taste for them and not thinking of ways to make up for it later.  It means telling yourself you can still eat whatever you want the next time you are hungry, regardless of what or how much you just ate.  It means taking the guilt out of the eating process entirely.

Once you get used to this process and quit second guessing your decision to not diet, your body and your psyche will stop being at odds with each other.  And once they get on the same side, you will feel a peace that you may have not experienced in a long time.

For tips on Motivation click here.

“I used to ask the question -Why do I always do stuff that makes me feel guilty? When the real question is -Why do I feel guilty for the stuff I do?” MD

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