Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Detachment and the Obesity Connection

I've often shared how, when I was eating a lot of junk, I'd go into a sugar fog: a sense that I was seeing the world through a grease-smeared windowpane and not feeling fully "alive." The funny thing is I often didn't even notice I was *in* the fog until I got out. Get off sugar and junk for 3 or 4 days and suddenly the world comes alive: colors seem brighter, everything is clearer.

I never realized until recently how profoundly disconnected I was from my body when I was mistreating it with binge eating and the sluggish, self-centered lifestyle I'd adopted as a morbidly obese person. While I was stuffing my face with every imaginable goodie, I was transcending the 278-pound prison of pain that surrounded me. I wasn't a big tired woman eating brownie batter in the kitchen; when I was eating that sugary, fatty blend, I was a princess floating on a pink cloud with rainbows and unicorns dancing by. All the world was right for those few minutes when the batter was slipping down my throat. My eyes almost rolled back in my head in pleasure and I was in another dimension. And then the bowl was empty and I'd snap back to the reality of being a sad lonely single mother in a 3X t shirt with pizza sauce stains down the front and holey stretch pants. And to counter that reality, I needed a bag of potato chips.

I was so detached from my body that I honestly didn't know how big I'd gotten. I remember squeezing into my size 26 jean shorts, being almost unable to button them, and yet I never really *got* that I had gained more than 100 pounds. I wasn't stupid, I wasn't even truly oblivious. I mean, I had to buy bigger sizes as I went along, but I still saw myself at about 225 pounds when I looked in the mirror... much the same way I see myself at 235 when I look in the mirror today weighing 216. I never really *got* how much I weighed until I had lost about 30 or 40 pounds and looked at the pictures I posted on my blog. My jaw dropped. I had been THAT big? I don't remember seeing THAT body in the mirror. I *do* remember being in pain, being unable to walk for more than 2 minutes or go up and down stairs, and I remember sleeping propped up because if I laid down I would wake up choking on digested food that came up my throat in my sleep. I remember walking through a party supply shop, turning around in and aisle and knocking an entire glass shelf filled with merchandise onto the floor. I remember standing red-faced in the resultant pile of glass shards and wondering how my hip had caught that shelf... surely I was not as wide as the narrow aisles. I remember breaking chairs when I sat down, but I somehow was still so detached from my *body reality* that I didn't really comprehend how large I had gotten. Until I started to lose weight.

I wasn't just detached from my body... I was detached from life. I spent a lot of time in my head, thinking about food, planning the next binge, making up recipes, wondering if bacon would taste good in a butter-grilled peanut butter sandwich. I *saw* the stuff around me, but I was somewhere else a lot of the time. Sadly, I was so focused on food that I was missing out on other, more important (and more pleasant) things in life.

A lot of the time when I am in a sugar fog, I am largely detached from what is going on around me. I don't notice things and I don't feel like doing things. I want to sit, watch TV, spend hours on the computer, and eat. THAT is what I call "living in my head." Heck, I wouldn't even need a body at all if I had some way to get cupcakes and hot dogs into my alternate reality... I just used my body as a means to experience the pleasures of eating. Not much else. Oh, I'd do the basics, clean the house, care for the children, etc., but I was not *present* for cleaning the house. I didn't *play* with my children on the playground... I just *watched* them and *thought* about how much I love them. Big difference.

When I am out of the sugar fog, and not obsessing about food, I feel so much more grounded to reality... to my body. I am not living in some imaginary world in my mind... I am actually interacting in my environment. I am not trying constantly to escape reality by eating. I am actually *enjoying* reality. Creating it. Living it.

I feel so very alive now. I see things that need to be done and I embrace the challenge instead of dreading the work. I see the sunshine outside and I want to be out there *in* it... not burying my face in a Big Mac Meal or a computer screen for hours on end. I feel like I have stepped back into the real world. I feel like I have awakened from a decade of detached slumber. I am awake, alive, and present.

Be present for *your* life. It is there, waiting to be enjoyed and embraced.

46 comments:

Mishe@EatingJourney said...

This is beautiful. I LOVE it. I am SO glad that I found you. It's so true. It's exactly what I need to remind myself of. There's this old part of me that is holding on dearly to not living, for it's afraid of the beauty..it's almost too overwhelming for me. But you're reminded me that I deserve it and can handle it. Thank you so much. Amazing post.

Autumnforest said...

That's actually a really self-preserving feature in humans. If we don't want something to be, we will our attention away from it. I think the thing that got me the most was seeing myself in photos--that startled me a lot. At first, I said someone just took the shot from a bad angle, then they kept coming back looking like a bloated stranger. When you look in the mirror, you generally see yourself in a 2-dimensional realm and you seem acceptable. Put yourself in a 3-way mirror and whoa! Yeah, it's really just like alcohol or drugs. You know those shows for interventions? That could be done with a morbidly obese person in the room with family and friends reading letters and making them see how their behavior affects everyone around them who loves them, as well as their own health and life, how they give up doing fun things or going out in public and let everything go so they can be alone with their addiction, how they think about their next "hit" at the fast food window. Yeah, the mind helps us when we go through trauma the same way so we can take it, but that mental amnesia can hurt us too. You're very perceptive. I love how you can look at life and be objective. That's all it takes for permanent change--get back to logic and away from emotions to make decisions.

Kate said...

I love how honest your post is. Very raw and truthful. Keep up the good work, you truly are a beautiful person. :)

Sarah said...

I relate to basically everything in this post.

Anonymous said...

I have checked your blog 5 times this morning already waiting for this post, any post, a new post.....THAT is how much I look forward to reading you, you are amazingly insightful. You address the issue in truths, not side-step it. I LOVE that I am sugar and gluten (and basically carb free) free now for 4 1/2 months, not one day, not one smidge of sugar could make having it worth it. I have been living again, I got my life back. I have about 30 more pounds to lose but I am happy with the 30 that are gone so far, what a HUGE difference.

Bella (Stilettos on the Streetcar) said...

Very candid, insightful, and relatable. Thank you.

Leslie said...

Amazing post, Lyn, and so true. A sugar fog totally puts a thick layer of invisible haze around me, and into my mind.

So glad you're out of the fog and soundly in the world! In the present moment, which is the only place life can be lived.

Deanna - The Unnatural Mother said...

Great post, love your words! Be present, it's so important isn't it? I snapped out of it for a little bit, and have come back. I am so very thankful that I snapped back quickly and only gained 5 pounds. In the past, I would of been so lost in my despair, that I would of lost the connection to my body as you described yours. I can't believe how many people encounter the same feelings yet at times we felt so alone. Thank God for Blogging!!!

that TOPS lady said...

This post is so true. Sadly, I can relate to the fog. I am in it more often than not. :(

Anonymous said...

Hi Lyn,

Awesome post as usual. I love reading your blog. One day at a time getting to where you want to be. I find comfort in your words today because they convey exactly how I have lived my life for the last 30 yrs. I want my life back, and no longer do I want to just be a watcher of life going by, but rather a doer. I want to participate. I am a prisoner of my own body. My 400lbs body is tired and begging me to change. Today, I surrender to making that change because I want to live. Truly live. Thank you for always being so raw and honest in your postings.

Hugs,
Linda

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

Embracing the challenge instead of fearing the work. Beautifully put, Lyn. Beautifully put.

mbm1forever said...

I so very much look forward to your insightful posts. This one does not let me down on! Very, very, good. Funny thing, I still see the fat person I was 58 lbs ago when I look into the mirror. Present, I think I will try that.

Anonymous said...

Don't know. I'm not in a sugar fog but I still can't embrace housework.

spunkysuzi said...

I have spent many weeks/months in a sugar fog and know exactly what you mean! I'm so glad that i'm not there anymore.

Dreidl said...

Thank you for encouraging me to look at myself and my behaviours from a frank and honest place. You are teaching me that I am worth it and that I can be successful at this.

Laryssa said...

Well written post. I know what it's like being in that junk food fog. I still struggle occasionally with it and I'm hoping to conquer it for good soon. I was just thinking this morning that maybe what I need is to to cut sugar out of my diet completely for a few weeks. Maybe that will help me not feel so sluggish.

Anonymous said...

Exactly what I was talking about, fabulous.

:-)

MargieAnne said...

Thank-you.

Sometimes the truth hurts but it's true and it's real.

All of us who overeat now this is truth. I do hope we are all doing something about it.

Blessings.

Police Girl said...

Hi! I'm really glad I found your blog by accident!
Great post!
I'm in a sugar fog right now:(
Sometimes when I overeat I have a "food hangover" the next morning. Gotta stop wasting my body

Mad Woman said...

So true, so very true. I'm down about 43 lbs now and it's only that I now see that number and see my dress size dropping that I am fully aware of how large I really was. How large I STILL am.

But you know what? We're getting there. We're getting smaller every day and that's awesome.

Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Hi Lyn, Is there any chance that Medifast will run another coupon through your blog?

I am desperate and will probably try something very very low carb anyway, but it would be nice not to have to make menu choices. I need a break from measuring and deciding!

I've been eating 1400 calories per day and I walk 2 to 3 miles each day. (I was also doing strength training until I got discouraged this week. I'm unable to exercise more because of arthritis.) I weigh and measure and record every bite, right down to my fish oil capsules.

My point: I have only lost ten lbs in 3 months. I am 5'7" and weigh 273. I am hungry almost all the time, and feel like a B*tch to live with. If I eat more calories, I stop losing altogether or I gain. This week I gained 4 lbs!!! I have exceeded 1400 cals only twice in 3 months, and even then my max for those day was 1630/1680.

I think it MUST be the carbs causing some metabolic problem, hence I'm seeking a low carb option, which medifast seems to offer. I've only eaten sugar once in over 6 months (a piece of pie at Christmas). The only carbs I eat now are in fruits, sweet potatoes, and special high fiber cereal/bread.

Sorry to cry on your shoulder like this. I am getting depressed. I don't even want to read diet blogs anymore because they make me feel worse than I do now. Yours gives me hope because you're eating differently...no just low cal but low carb.

Thanks. Keep up the great work with your writing and increased insights! Take care.

Julie said...

Beautiful post Lyn and thank you. Can relate.

Emma from Born Eater said...

I can really relate to this. And really, I've never been obese. Over weight, yes, but never over 170 pounds. But still, the feeling I had are jsut the same. My body became nothing to me - food was all that could make me feel better, but ultimately so much worse. thanks again for writing this!

Lyn said...

Anonymous~

It's ok! DOn't feel bad. You are okay, and you are not your weight. But I certainly know how you feel... the desperation and the desire to change. Wanting to make your life better is good. I do think a low carb plan might help you. Have you tried South Beach? I do get not wanting to make menu choices...

The coupon code Lyn50 will give you $50 off a $275 purchase on Medifast, and is good through 5/31/10. I wish you all the best. Let me know how you're doing.

Seth said...

I love the idea of being present and enjoying life. good post.

Anonymous said...

Lyn YOU ARE AWESOME. I am a mother to many as well and have just filed for divorce. My husband was a great guy, I think I ruined him. He is fighting the divorce.
I am of course overweight after many children and have hypothyroidism.
I live on the other side of the world (did you know you have international readers?) and am well just sick of being fat and dont have access to Medifast or other programs.
My biggest problem is my oldest daughter who is 15 and obese, it breaks my heart. She was born big, is big boned but now is just huge and hates herself. She has a range of health problems that are either caused by the obesity, or cause the obesity.
Do you have any advice for me about her?
Is there anyway we could email privately?

Mother Of Many.

RedPanda said...

Wow - You are such a talented writer, I do hope you get a book deal.

I could relate to every word you wrote about the cognitive dissonance of not fully realising you had gained so much weight - scary!

Anini said...

Great Post. So true, it is time to begin fully enjoying and living life!

~ChubbyMommy said...

This is a fantastic post. It's one of those 'print and keep' posts that one must read over and over again...

Thank you for sharing your heart...

Fat Grump said...

You describe that 'hiding away' from the world so well Lyn. I am guilty of hiding behind the computer screen, sitting down too much, putting off jobs which need to be done and deciding that going outside is becoming scary and takes too much effort. I think fat people do become slightly reclusive and then ironically turn to food for companionship and comfort. Being able to break that chain gives us freedom to be who we are meant to be, slowly, slowly. We can take our place in the world once again, feeling so much more confident about our future. Thanks for reminding me that is where I want to be.

Lyn said...

Anonymous (Mother of Many)~

You can email me and we can talk! My email addy is on the left side of my blog under "contact me" and is escapefromobesity at gmail dot com.

Debbie said...

Great post as always. I love reading your blog. You give me inspiration to keep on with my weight loss journey.

Big Momma said...

Hello from a first time commenter. I am an overweight woman who is just starting out on the weightloss journey. Your progress really inspires me. This post, in particular, calls to me because I can't see that light at the end of the tunnel yet. But I hope to one day. I'm still trapped in my sugar fog. Anyways, I just wanted to say hello and let you know that I'm reading and following along. :)

Scale Junkie said...

This is such an amazing post Lyn and I can feel your words right down to the core of my soul. The sugar fog and feeling so detached. I'm sugar free for three days now and my body feels so alive. I just keep thinking to myself 'so this is what normal people feel like every day' This is what it feels like to live in the present.

Physicallee Fit said...

Thanks from someone else who is emerging from the "sugar fog".

Fattie Fatterton said...

Completely relate to this. Thank you for writing it, Lyn.

April said...

i have to say thanks for sharing your story! and your journey! i found your blog a few weeks ago, and i'm on my own personal struggle. it's hard so hard. and right now i'm trying to get back on track. i have a good habit of going to the gym, and now i'm trying to get the food that goes into my mouth to match my workout routines.

littleshorty said...

If you can overcome a sugar
fog, so can I. Do you just
go off sugar cold turkey?
Wonder if you can be addicted
to It? I am glad I came across
this blog. Thanks so much

Reese said...

What a great post. The part about being disconnected from your body...I have never thought about it that way before, but that explained it for me so perfectly. That is what I was doing to my own body.

Theresa said...

Lyn,
At the start of your post I was worried you were about to begin a process of hating yourself as an obese woman and only loving yourself smaller. I should know you better than that! I've had to stop reading a different blog becasue they are so harsh about the "obese" person that once was and so smug about the new thin awesome person. I had a moment of insanity thinking you might be changing! As I kept reading I realized it was your usual wonderful insightful self. Thank you so much for all of your help through your writing. I'd be in a different place without you. Does that sound good to you? It should. Your blog helps me so much.
:)

Lyn said...

Thank you all SO much for the wonderful comments. You really make my day! I can't tell you how happy it makes me when I write and people relate. This blog has SO helped me not feel alone anymore :)

Littleshorty~

Yes. Cold turkey is, I think, the way to go. It is HARD, with headaches and withdrawals for a couple of days but then life is so much better. When I did South Beach diet was the first time I "detoxed" from sugar and realised what it was doing to me. I am so much better off without it.

Salted with Shadows said...

I relate so much to this post in every way, not only because of the sugar fog, but because I tend to dissociate from my body as an incest survivor as well. I may have to try to find my own words to blog more about my own dissociation, because I'm trying to articulate it and having a difficult time. Thank you, as always, for the inspiration, honesty, and insight.

Jennifer said...

Hi Lyn. I had this same realization the other day too. I blogged about it as well. How had I put the weight on "not realized" even though it was obvious. I was buying bigger clothes and was even embarassed when I would run into someone I hadnt seen in a while. And it isnt until NOW that I see the weight coming off and things are clearing up. It is very eye opening for me. I am learning a lot about me through this journey with Medifast.

Jennifer
http://wecanlosethepounds.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Hi Lyn,
Im the anonymous from yesterday who asked about the medifast coupon and complained (CRIED!) about being hungry all the time. Well, today I went nearly carb free, lost of protein and healthy fat. I already feel soooo much better! It's hilarious crazy because my total calories were actually less than usual and yet I haven't felt hungry at all. I think I've been fat deprived (fat in food, that is) for years. Weird what a difference a day can make. Thank you so much for your encouragement and kind words. My friend loaned me all her South Beach books, so I'm going for it!
--Rebecca

letterstokiki said...

I am so glad you shared this! Thank you.

KK @ Running Through Life said...

Awesome post! And your last sentence is right on! Thanks!

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