Friday, January 15, 2010

Breaking Point

I've been thinking about how people seem to have a breaking point... a point at which their unbalanced lifestyle is causing them too much pain, emotional or physical, to continue. You know, when the addict can't cope with his messed up life anymore and goes to rehab, or the alcoholic looks at her shattered life and says "enough" and goes to AA. For my mother, I think her breaking point was when she tried to kill herself and take me with her when I was a little child. As she watched me close my eyes to drift off into eternal slumber, she was suddenly overcome with the fear that I would die and she would not, and then how could she live with herself? She got me to safety. She went to AA. She found religion. She saved us both.

I guess for everyone, the breaking point is different. For compulsive eaters, binge eaters, those with an out-of-control food problem, there often comes a point when you say, "I cannot live like this anymore. I HAVE to do something!" And that's when the "diet" kicks in. The problem is that the pain is quickly forgotten, the desire for those old comforting foods and habits is strong, and people very frequently go back to their old ways until they have yet another breaking point to turn their lives around.

A couple of years ago, I was living a pretty miserable existence. Yeah, I had my kids (thank goodness, because that was the only true joy I had at the time), but I was in pain *every day.* I couldn't walk... I limped. My knees, feet, shoulders hurt ALL the time. My house has the laundry room downstairs, and when it got to the point that I could only go down the stairs using "baby steps" (both feet on each stair, very slowly) and only once or twice a week, that is when I hit my breaking point. When I couldn't go downstairs to kiss my children goodnight, that is when I said, "I cannot do this anymore. It hurts too much." When I could barely walk out to get the mail, when I broke a lawn chair at my son's baseball game, when I couldn't play with my kids, when I was embarrassed to be seen anywhere, that was my breaking point. The culmination of emotional pain and physical pain was the point at which I said This Is It! I started a blog and started changing my life.

My life *is* changed. I *am* living now, more than I have in years, and I am so thankful for that. Every so often *something* happens that turns me back to some of those old habits, though. Maybe it's the holidays, or PMS, or some emotional event. Maybe it's an injury or lack of sunshine or a sick kid. Stuff. Just the usual life stuff. Old habits pop up sometimes and I grab my old friend macaroni & cheese or chocolate cupcake because, well, I *like* them. For a few days I can *forget* how much improved my life is because of the healthy eating and lost weight, and then it hits me like a ton of bricks: a new breaking point. I cannot live like this!

It hit me yesterday. I've been going about my life, eating pizza once in awhile, having a nice sugary dessert after dinner, drinking homemade lattes with caramel in them. Oh, it feels SO good! So tasty, so comforting, so familiar. I think to myself, "nah, I will make that pot of kale tomorrow. Tonight I was some pasta and french bread! Mmmm!" But eating like that is foreign to my body now, and my body reacts. I start getting daily headaches. I feel bloated and heavy and tired. And then my joints go all to heck. Seems like when I eat sugar, the pain flares up in a huge way. I got up this morning and limped to the bathroom, every joint in my body aching and my feet feeling like I was walking on broken glass. Good heavens, why am I doing this to myself? I cannot live like this. And that's the new breaking point.

So the sugar is gone, the kale and apples are back, life is good. It makes me SO happy to see how quickly I reach that breaking point and *need* and *want* to return to my healthy lifestyle. A couple years ago, I could go for months eating junk before I felt bad enough physically to say ENOUGH and try to change. Now? Days. After a few days of eating poorly, I hit a wall and cannot take it anymore. That is not my life anymore. I don't want it to be my life. The pain is just too great. Seriously, I feel like a 90-year-old woman hobbling around when I eat too much sugar! No fun.

Everything has a trade-off. For a long time, Big Macs and french fries were *worth* the limited life I got in return. I actually loved that fast food meal so much that I was willing to trade my mobility for it. You have to reach a point where it is just not worth it to YOU anymore. Where you want the rich, joyful life instead of a candy bar. It really is a trade-off, for me. One I am now willing to make.


Anonymous said...

Your background story is so very heartbreaking. It makes your recovery all the more admirable. Wow. Just thinking about what you described here with your mother is so is understandable you put mechanisms into place to "blot" this out. Treat yourself kindly; you've survived so much.

Kyle Gershman said...

Super post! You've come sooo far and you should be so proud.

Knowing, not just hoping, that you have a new lifestyle is very liberating.


Jack Sh*t, Gettin' Fit said...

There's a weight-loss blogger dude that is attempting to lose weight but still wants to eat all the crappy food that he loves (just a little less of it, I suppose).

It's probably the first blog in forever that I'm simply going to drop off from reading because, frankly, I'm afraid the guy doesn't stand a chance.

Fat, sugar and salt (and especially those fast-food concoctions that bring the trifecta into play) are totally addictive substances. The more processed the food, the more addictive it becomes.

Good for you, Lyn, for recognizing the trap you'd fallen into and managing to do something about it. I know it's not easy, but you're doing great work. Keep it up!

Autumnforest said...

Wow! You know, you're actually using skills from cognitive-behavioral therapy. You're taking the time to evaluate the pay-offs. I've decided that the crazy high I feel after a workout--where your muscles are warm and you feel young and happy again, is my new addiction. I realized that sugar was making me an emotional wreck and ruining my body and didn't have lasting effects. One morning workout kept me "high" all day. You start noting the benefits of doing the right things and it reinforces it. I realize I grew up in a screwed up family, as well, and that tends to bring the food-for-comfort issue, as what other drug do kids have? But, I missed the sneaking around with my drug of choice feeling that I got when I snuck into my room on my own and wolfed down a candy bar or two. I decided to make exercise my little naughty secret. I do my workout in the morning, but then keep my workout gear on all day. I work from home, so I can sneak back in there and do a quick sprint in the workout room on the elliptical or bike. It feels kind of sneaky and naughty and it's wear all those balled up feelings you're used to keeping to yourself because your family either wouldn't listen or ridicule you, can be worked out on the machine--just like chewing a candy bar, except the side effect is self esteem and health and confidence. Yeah, I feel at least 25 years younger when I work out and for up to 8 hours afterwards. Not bad. Beats feeling ancient and having excessive pain after sitting for any period of time and getting up. I'm 47 and used to feel 90, now I feel about 47. I think when I reach goal and am carrying less pounds, I'll feel 27! Keep it up! You really "get" it.

Enz said...

Your posts always give me something to think about. You are so honest and so giving of yourself and I know this is a huge help to all of us who read you.

jenn said...

Wonderful post and very encouraging. It's amazing how quickly your body will rebel from unhealthy foods once it's used to better stuff. I was talking to my cousin about that last night.

Carrie @ Journey to Bliss said...

I know exactly what you mean. But I'm always shocked that I want to go back to old stuff so often. Even though I know I'll hate myself and the way I feel. Addictions run deep I guess.

Steelers6 said...

Super de dooper that you can think it through, point to the problem...I have had times where I pass on a sugary item bc I know a headache could be part of the package. That is real progress for me.

So glad you recognize your need and desire to return to your healthy lifestyle so fast now! I know you get all types of comments on here, but you ARE making progress, oh yes you are, and bonus--you truly are helping others along the way with your forthright posts.
thanks friend. Chrissy

Patsy said...

It's amazing how you're able to sum up such a huge event in your life into one paragraph... I applaud you for everything you have done.

Anonymous said...

You write from the heart and its easy for all of us to identify with you....we see ourselves IN you. Thank you for showing us that we can do it. You continue to inspire us everyday.

God bless you and keep putting one foot in front of the other, its OUR journey to success!

Tammy said...

I just love your blog. :)

The Chubby Girl Diaries said...

So true so true. You have come so far!

Good for you for recognizing all of that and turning the boat around.

We are all rooting for you!



Anonymous said...

Lyn, once again your honesty is refreshing. I'm so glad you have realized you were heading in the wrong direction and are correcting your course!

Your post reminded me of the struggle we ALL go through. The pain/embarrassment/inconvenience gets to be too much, we reach the breaking point, we start losing, we feel less pain/get less embarrassed/are less inconvenienced, and so we fall back into bad behaviors.

I'm reading the Beck Complete Diet for Life and she teaches readers about cognitive behavioral techniques we can use EVERY day, even when we are doing well, that will remind us QUICKER of why we want to keep up with our healthy behaviors even when we don't feel like it. One of the techniques is to write advantages cards and response cards. They care cards where you write down the advantages of losing weight and the responses you can train yourself to have when you experience a self-sabotaging thought.

Maybe those might help you avoid the detours a bit more often?

In any case, congratulations on taking the first step back towards your healthy living path. Keep it up.

Fattie Fatterton said...

I really love your honesty, Lyn. And it's so accessible to many of us, as I think a lot of folks with weight issues did come from varying degrees of abusive backgrounds.

And I appreciate that you are a blogger who says, hey, it's taking me a long time to get here, but I'm here and I see where my pitfalls are. That makes you human, as we all have them.

It makes me sad that some people are so judgmental that if people stumble on their way to weight-loss/getting healthy, they are loathe to support them. To me, that's when you know a real friend from a fake one. The real one is there even when you are not the best version of yourself.

Thanks again, Lyn, for being real and allowing us to join you in this journey.

Ms. PJ Geek said...

I see myself in your words everytime, and we are not perfect people. It seems we are prone to geting this crazy amnesia once in a while that pulls us down the path of a little something here or a little sugar there and it builds and builds until we are full scale back in the sh*t. I remember several breaking points I've had a long the way. Even though I guess you could say I back slid my way to another breaking point. They all are adding up to get me here which is better in many ways than when I was there. Maybe that sounds like gobbeldy gook, but hope you know what I mean. Your post was a good reminder to me.

Thrice Blessed said...

Great post! Too much sugar does the same thing to me. I'm okay with a small amount, if I can stop myself after a small amount, which is very difficult to do. But if I eat lots of either sugar or salt, I get joint pain the next day.

Kristi-Bisti said...

I reached my limit thas past summer after my 3rd baby was born. I started gaining weight within a month! I chose to have weight loss surgery. I really believed it saved the rest of my life. I had tried and tried to control my eating and beat myself daily if not hourly for my bad choices and not being able to remember how awful I felt only a few short hours earlier. I am still a newbie from my surgery - 2 months - but relish the emotional freedom from the guilt and shame of overeating.

chrissie said...

Congrats! It's awesome that your body (and you!) have health as the norm instead of healthy foods being a once in a while thing.

NeutralMonkey said...

I'm dealing with the after-effects of too much starch today, and have had the sore joints etc. all day. Luckily it doesn't take long to reverse that!

Anonymous said...

Lyn, again a thought-provoking piece which I am sure SO many of us can relate to.
You are very honest in that you say you LIKE the taste of all the sugary, fatty things which make us fat. Amen to that!

Does that loving of those tastes ever go away, or will it be a life-long struggle to resist the foods we love eating?

I often ask myself if I lose all the weight I need to (at least five stones)will I then lose my obsession with things like doughnuts? Every single time I go to the supermarket I have this crazy struggle with the dougnuts. I haven't had a doughnut for about six months but still, every time I see that six-pack of jammy sugar-covered dough, I so want one! I know that if I take a six pack home I'll eat every single one, I might be disciplined and eat them over a period of hours rather than minutes, but by night-fall I will have stuffed down six calorific doughnuts, and enjoyed every one of them.

I have fought this demon, but the desire doesn't go away! They tempt me still!

I suspect the 'little and not often' philosophy regarding our favourite foods is the only one we can employ. I just don't see myself becoming a saint because I lose weight...I am hoping that as my resistance builds up I'll be strong enough to one day say that I'll never want to eat a doughnut again. Here's hoping.

I too fall by the wayside often, but not as often as I used to, and not for long periods of time either...but that question about the eating insanity that comes over us every now and then, even when we have been right on track for ages, is an interesting one. It's made me think about the ways I try to banish cravings and my ability to resist the foods that so sorely tempt me.

You are doing so well. I hope the light helps you get out of the doldrums soon. Your attitude and thoughtfulness really inspires me.

DBDee x

Claire said...

I am sorry to read that story about your mother. wonder you struggle with caring for yourself. It is very good that you are talking about it. xxx