Today has been painful. I was on plan today and it HARDCORE sucked. I was hungry all day, thought (thinking) about chocolate constantly, and doubled booked my yoga and nails (nails won). I am 100% over salad as is Grady and we both wanted pizza for dinner. We had BBQ pulled pork (on-plan thanks to Walden Farms BBQ sauce), a green salad, and some grilled eggplant and zucchini. Blah. I caved and am eating a Frango. It tastes like freedom and happiness.
I went through my food shelf today just to take inventory and help my brain get serious to the fact that I am on-plan again…working REAL hard to get back on plan. I have enough 30/10 food to last me for 8 weeks I think. I am super low on breakfasts but have 50 lunch packets. Lunch is obviously the meal that I struggle with the most. That was my lunch today- sloppy joe over sautéed spinach. It was meh. I could not bring myself to also make the salad that I was supposed to have at lunch. I also busted out the calendar that we use for meal planning in hopes of dreaming up some meals that do not sound immediately like I don’t want to eat them. Dinners are usually ok. I think it is because by the time we make it to dinner we are so exhausted fighting off food demons all day anything will do. (I say “we” know because Grady is also on the 30/10 train!) And really about half way through dinner the salad starts tasting like dirt and the protein is gone…all hope is lost. That is about when I slip in a chocolate craving that could take the place of Bertha- the tunnel boring machine currently eating up the Seattle underground. Such is life at the moment. It’s these times and I wish I had a super bad cold and lost my ability to smell or taste. I SWEAR that would be a way to lose weight and stay trim- when I am sick food loses its delicious smell and taste. I simply eat when I am truly hungry and never look forward to a meal because I can’t taste it. I should start calling around to see if there are any doctors who can zap these senses for a while. I could be on to something big here…
I started reading a book called Hunger, Hope, and Healing; A Yoga Approach to Reclaiming Your Relationship to Your Body and Food by Sarahjoy Marsh. It was a random Amazon find; I was reading a Facebook article on yoga and body image and was so enthralled by the passage I read I went to Amazon to buy the book. And of course Amazon said that most people who bought that book also bought THIS book. OK Amazon…you can have MORE of my money. But if you burn me on this double sale…NEVER AGAIN! (Not really but a threat IS a threat).
Anywhoos…the book so far has been CAPTIVATING for a few reasons. From the very first page of the first chapter, I found my story in her words;
“For some of us, out relationship to out base physical hunger, our appetites, our body, and our very selves has become confused and painful, eliciting feelings of shame, powerlessness, isolation, and despair. Caught in the cycles of bingeing, emotional eating, compulsive eating, yo-yo dieting, or compulsive exercising, we are also caught in the cycles of fear, self-hate, anxiety, depression, hopelessness, and deep doubts about our self-worth. Life becomes a series of strategies to manage these cycles: we feel hopeful about the newest diet or exercise fad we initiate, while also feeling a lurking sense of doom of failing again.”
There are a few things there that I connect with. My hunger confuses and frustrates me. I HATE being hungry…in fact I get hangry. I turn into a different person if I get too hungry and it aint pretty. I eat when I am emotional, I eat when I am bored (I also cannot stand being bored), I eat when there is just a shit ton of food and won’t stop until I feel physically ill.
My life really had become a cycle of despair; eating too much and feeling like shit, signing on to the newest shiniest weight loss program or plan, finding out it was too restrictive or too hard-in hindsight not holistic- and failing at it…again. Then in comes the shame- “You must be an idiot because you couldn’t even stick to _____. You KNOW what do do…why the hell don’t you just DO IT?”. That shame leads to eating more food until the cycle starts again and I would find a new program to try. AWESOME (said in a sarcastic voice). There really is a lurking sense of doom in that life…your failure and accompanying shame is always visible down the road. You know its coming…thats why you never get rid of your fat clothes because you know you will need them in a few weeks.
Hunger is at the root of my addiction. I . Am. Always. Hungry. And hungry in the physical sense. Sometimes it’s even painful. Sometimes I just can’t function when I am hungry. It sucks. Hunger is primal- we are all born with hunger. It how we know we do not have enough of something. Clue the lightbulb- if I am always eating why and I hungry? Sure some of the food was not giving me what I needed nutritionally but I am really hungry for something else…and my guess at the moment is I am hungry for understanding of my current state. Sarahjoy-the author- believes that when we are loved in all the ways we humans need it, our hunger for everything in life is satiated. “Babies twinkle more when we twinkle back at them”. If Sarahjoy knew how much twinkling I had as a baby she would wonder why I am reading this book. I didn’t walk until preschool because I was carried everywhere like an Egyptian queen. I was “The First” grandchild in my era…I was holy…it was awesome. But something changed in life and the love I was feeling went away or started to feel different. When? I have a slight idea- elementary school. “Alternatively, the feelings of not being seen, for feeling cherished, feeling chronically and painfully misunderstood, or feeling not cared for causes the primary hunger to branch out and make the myriad other hungers unable to satiate us.” AHHHH!!! MY PARENTS SCREWED ME! Oh wait…they were always there…I mean ALWAYS there! Ruining reading times and movie parties and bed time Nazis…So I dont think it is 100% their fault. I DO have this overwhelming issue with equity and fairness and honesty and treating people like people and not as hierarchical pawns in a social experiment. As an adult it drives me bat shit crazy when I see it in public or at work. I just cant take it anymore- I am THAT person who WILL say something in public or call people out for it an feel NO remorse after the public shame that I imposed on them. I call it out in my classroom, on social media, we talk about it in my family, and I try to maintain equality in my social groups. I remember growing up people would say something about my little sister and I would cut them off. Now don’t get me wrong here…I made plenty jokes and jabs at her expense and excluded her a few times (culvert, under the trailer, blackberries- all of which I am still not sorry about). But I always made a point to include her in everything. Just because she was younger and smaller and had puny muscles she deserved to have the same fun that we were having! And if people didn’t like it they could go screw. Deep down I think this mentality screwed me a bit- but only because that is how we should ALL think and that is NOT how society thinks. I knew something was off way back then and just didn’t have the capacity to see it as I can see it now as an adult. When shit went down I was the kid that left with the kid who got left out…making me also the one who got left out and I took that personally. So I created a band of merry misfits and life was good for a few years…until shit got real in like 4th or 5th grade. Boyfriends and fashion and hanging out suddenly became en vouge and I still wanted to play Micro Machines wear my soccer shorts and watch Marry Poppins on Sundays. I was slow that way and when I finally did catch on the trends they had shifted and I was once again on the back end of it all. And this continued through the entirety of public school. High school was the worst 3 years of my life I think. Everyday was a battle between caring and not caring about whatever the teenage kingdom deemed worthy of attention and admiration. I just never fit- I played violin and enjoyed school and studying and learning, history was my favorite class, I LOVED the X-Files and football, I did not drink or take drugs, I had traveled to some cool places and knew a bit more than the rest but that knowledge was not valued by most at the time. And the people I had in my life were people who were OK with all that. I had a really great group of friends who loved me but they were not the “cool kids”…they were kinda people like me. And two of my closest friends did not go to school with me…they were not their during the daily battles in the hallways and classrooms. And by the time I got to spend time with them talking about all that bullshit was the furthest thing from my mind. I just wanted to paint nails and talk about boys. DUH! For some reason these friends seemed unphased by the disrespect and judgement and inequality that was all around. Maybe they just understood it better or dealt with it better than I did. Or maybe they too were so tired with it they didn’t feel like talking about it. And when you dont know the people you loth so much it takes a lot of energy to give the back story. Then other things happen in life- I had a family member just say some awful and shocking things that just reinforced what I was already feeling…awesome all over again. At 16 how the hell do you call out a family member? I didn’t even know what calling someone out meant! And who says fucked up things to their own family? (I know the answer is most family members in most families…but when it happens to you its SHOCKING) Crazyness…I just observed and bottled…observed and bottled until senior year. I was so sick on trying to gain the attention of “the” group I said fuck it and strove to only socialize with people who seemed more equitable and kinder…people who would not judge. I found them and senior year was tolerable; even though most were not college bound, drank, did drugs- they did not shame me for not participating and actually wanted to hang out because I was fun to hang out with! Imagine that. Looking back I think those people saved me…they proved that a more equal, less judgmental social experience could be achieved…it was out there.
In college I found my people and all became right in the world. I took some time but I found people who shared the same interests and actually enjoyed school and celebrated our smartness and our creative ways for transporting booze in dangerous weather conditions…effortless. My people have never ONCE made me feel inadequate or less than or misunderstood and left out. If I am in the wrong they call me on it, if I have let them down they let me know, if I have over reached or pushed to hard they draw a line. They are honest and true and genuine and good people. They value the same things I do and push me to think of things differently when it is required. Its awesome. So why share all of this? Because it took me 20 years to LEARN that it is ok to seek out “your people”, that being popular or on-point or someone who you are not comfortable with is NOT how to live a life…to learn how to call people out and recognize these things for what they are- mean and unproductive…to learn that I can live what ever life I want to lead and have in my life who I CHOSE to have it in…to learn that I am ENOUGH and that the person who I truly am is a ok person…I am worthy of a spot on the planet, to respect and appreciate all the people who tried to show me way back when I was not open or receptive to what they were trying to show me (Jonna, Joe, Nicole, Mike…this one is for YOU!) …But in those 20 years that I was learning ALL of this and more I turned to food to get me though. Food is what brought comfort and stability in my messed up mental world. When you dont have the words or the capacity to think through or talk through all that shit…you turn to something to get you through. I turned to food. But you know what- I HAVE to get OK with that to get good with my hunger and get past my addiction to it. I have to start looking at my addiction in a positive light. HOW THE HELL CAN I DO THAT? Sarahjoy has an idea…she says:
“The choices you have made with addiction were once intelligent, adaptive life skills intending to support your very survival. Everyone’s “life skills” set is generated out of his or her earliest life experiences and experiments. Our early attempts to understand, soothe, enjoy, connect, belong, or express ourselves, to name a few of our fundamental human needs, were all mini-research experiments for life…your early research discovered that food…worked to soothe, numb, or distract you, or to create a sense of agency of control. Food became a medium through which you met your needs. Sadly they became painfully overused, maladaptive, and ineffective. This leads you to your current circumstances: with a skill set that lacks a diverse set of tools for responding to life.”
By the time I left college (8 GLORIOUS years) I was starting to feel better about life. I also had a skill set that was so cemented in my being that even though I kinda no longer needed it to cope with life it was now apart of my life. When the tiniest thing went wrong I turned to food. Sometimes I turned to friends and family and that worked…but I usually turned to food or booze. Thankfully food…not food AND booze stuck…and instead of dealing with it then…I piled on more school and more work and more jobs and more food and more booze to stay busy so I would NOT have to deal with it. Everything was FINE! I had lots of friends…I had money to play with…I traveled with friends…I shopped at Nordstroms for God sake! But then as friends moved back home and real LEGIT jobs came and stress mounted and holy shit you have a home to take care of and health care to worry about…shit gets REAL. And how do I deal with REAL? I eat food. Oh…hey…a guy likes me! I think he likes me a LOT! I must not look THAT terrible…I am good looking! OH…he wants to get MARRIED! Oh shit…this is really real…lets throw in a Masters degree with that marriage and BHAM! Food for YEARS! Towards the end of my journey it was not even BAD food! It was just too much too often. It was a serving and a half at breakfast…then Starbucks…and Starbucks AGAIN because fuckingA I have ANOTHER MEETING afterschool! Then happy hour with all the teachers because that is the ONLY way we survive what we call a work day…then the TRUE cycle begins: “Oh man I am getting FAT! Time to join Weight Watchers! Oh…this sucks…how the hell do I calculate a Frapp? Oh…no movement on the WW scale? FUCK THIS SHIT! Eat some more even thought I really don’t want to but this is the only thing that makes me feel better…oh man…these pants do NOT fit. Time to get REAL! JUICING!” You see where this is going.
A few years ago a bunch of teacher friends decided that we were going to ALL lose some weight together and we were going to try HOT YOGA! Its HOT…you sweat…you HAVE to lose weight! So we all went. That first class WAS PURE TORTURE. Who DREAMS THIS SHIT UP! If you have never done hot yoga just go ONE TIME so you can share this understanding. The room was like 120 degrees…I could only do half of the class…I was too fat to even get into half of the “moves”. As I was gasping for air on the mat before class ended I was cursing the friend who put us all in this sweatbox of torture. The class thankfully ended and I somehow got my ass outside on a bench. When I regained consciousness and said F-U to all my teacher friends something happened. I took a GIANT gulp of water from my bottle. I felt the water travel down my throat, through my esophagus, hit my stomach and slosh around. I could feel the coolness of the water and my pores sucking in the hydration. I thought I was dying. This f-ing class had torn my insides and I was dying…water was leaking everywhere internally and I was actually going to drown. Then the teacher came out and sat next to me..asked me how class went. I glared at her and told her about my impending water drowning. She laughed in a nice way and simply said- “That’s the power of yoga. In that short class your body has realigned parts to where they should be. Imagine how amazing you will feel tomorrow!” Ummm what bitch? TOMORROW? That heat has gone to your hear…you have done LOST YOUR MIND. You are telling me this is how I should feel ALL the time? Are you nuts? The power of yoga is killing me not “realigning my insides”. I am PERFECTLY aligned thank you very much! I went home and dwelled on what she said. It pissed me off. Fine. I will go tomorrow and PROVE to you that this is a bunch of bullshit new age crap. Realigned…I am going to realign YOU! I went the next day and did not die. I felt the water again and was able to not lay down as much as I did the day before. So I went the next day…and the next…and for 30 straight days after that. Hot Yoga was the most amazing thing I had ever done. I felt like a new person. I was discovering muscles and sensations I had never experienced before. I was actually good at it…and I could say that without judging others. I felt good at the progress I was making because it was my progress. I was not being judged by other people or the teachers…I knew nothing about yoga but I could feel my body being able to do new things every class. Even if it was a millimeter…it was movement in a positive direction. To really “do” yoga you HAVE to listen to yourself. The teachers words are there to guide your movements…you are the only one who knows how far you can take those movements. The teacher responds to your response to their teaching…they just see you coming closer to the pose…they have no idea where you started or where you are going…nor do they care. They care that you are there and listening to their guidance and yourself and not twisting and bending in a way that will hurt you. You get closer to the poses by listening to yourself. I will get closer to understanding my hunger and my addiction by listening to myself. I have to start “talking” to my hunger and to my cravings and start listening to my feelings- which I have learned to keep oh so bottled and hidden for all these years.
So as you can see this book has really got me thinking. Sarahjoy offers hope and healing though yoga- yoga can become the tool that teaches me how to listen and respond. Yoga can give me all of the things I have been seeking in food. In the 2nd chapter she asks the reader to think about what food gives you. For me if gives me comfort, numbness, a sense of calmness, space to breath and not think about anything…she then asks (if you have been practicing yoga) or tells you what yoga can give you in your life; comfort, numbness, calmness, space for nothingness…yoga really can give me ALL that I have sought from food. When I read this section I just stopped in amazement. What food has provided yoga can provide.
Is there something wrong with replacing one thing for another? In this case I am attempting to replace something damaging with something healthy. I am replaced no-thought with total and complete thought. I am replacing constant chatter with stillness so I can listen to my body and my thoughts. Yoga can give me hope that I can break out of the cycle of addiction and live a life free of the fear of hunger. There is hope in this situation. She defines hope as “the combination of our ability to open up to possibility paired with clear information about our circumstances and a dose of willingness to try something new.” I have been open to yoga as a method of learning to listen to myself, with 30/10 and David and my lust for learning I have CLEAR information about my circumstances, and I am EXTREMELY willing to try something new…a new way of living. So in this case, swapping one thing for another will provide some relief and a way out of addiction. Of course I will keep you posted on my progress 🙂
“If we can approach the process of change form the perspective of appreciation for the brilliance of our early choices, we’ll be able to move forward with kindness, perspective, and hope, rather than overwhelming ourselves with self-hatred, condemnation, and the alternating feelings of chaos and rigidity that accompany the cycles of painful behaviors.”