Thursday, September 15, 2011

Free

I have pretty much determined that I will stay on Medifast until I am done with this weight-loss thing. I feel like I have tried so many methods and ways to get my binge eating under control, and this has been the only truly successful thing for me. Even when I did lose weight with other methods, like calorie counting, I was always struggling and battling my cravings and drive to binge. It was like a nightmare with a monster always lurking in the shadows, waiting to grab me. I hated it. I really hate that feeling, like there is something wrong with me, like I am not in control of myself, like I cannot conquer the monster. I hate the anger at myself when I'd cave and binge. I hate the way I felt when I started to eat junk again; each time, it was like falling into a pit and trying desperately to claw my way out, only to be knocked back down into the mud by something stupid like a cupcake or a bag of chips. I hated feeling like an addict. I honestly felt powerless against food. Against the binge monster, the overpowering sensation that I MUST EAT THAT, and the drive to consume.

I don't know what it is about this particular diet that releases me from that prison. I never thought I'd become a person who feels so strongly about a diet plan. I have gone over and over in my head (and in my life, in action) what it could be that makes this different. I had a similar feeling on South Beach, but only during phase 1. When I started adding other things back in, all was lost again. I went back to craziness about food.

I wish I could explain to some of you who do not have this kind of disordered eating what it is like to feel absolutely out of control of what you put in your mouth. It is horrible. Sometimes I'd win. I'd throw the brownie in the trash, or never buy it in the first place. I have sat in my bedroom and cried in angst because fighting the craving/obsession is SO PAINFUL. Not doing what the addiction says to do... it is absolutely gut wrenching. I wish I could explain.

It is not as simple as just subtracting some certain food groups or substances out of my life. Oh, I have done that. But why... why is it that on Medifast there is sugar in some of their foods, wheat in some of their foods, fruit and dairy in some of their foods... yet, they do not affect me so? I am sure it has to do with keeping my blood sugar levels stable. People leave comments and say I need counseling; but why, if it is a mental/emotional thing, why am I doing fine NOW? If my binge eating is all because of some hidden emotional issue, how is it I have gone for months on Medifast and never binged? Why is it that the compulsive eating only comes to the surface when I take a "day off" and eat junk again? Surely eating a hoagie and chips and a cookie is not what triggers some underlying emotional issue that makes me binge. Surely it is that food's effect on my blood sugar and my body that makes me want to eat more, and more, and more. Yes, emotions and 'issues' play a part in what gets me to take that first bite off plan or that "day off" in the first place, but it is not the heart of the binge issue. I have worked through enough of my baggage, with and without counselors, to know that.

I eat a Medifast meal and I don't want anything else. I am okay. Some days are harder because I get hungrier, like the days around my cycle. But I don't crash and lose control until that first bite of bread, crackers, ice cream, candy, or noodles crosses my lips. Then it's all over. It can take me days, weeks, even months to get it back under control. It truly feels like what I imagine a drug addict goes through trying to rehab. And while I have never been a drug addict, personally, I have watched family members struggle and rehab from drugs and alcohol and I can see the pain and difficulty they suffer when they truly WANT to get clean but it is so, so painful to withdraw. Maybe you think I am exaggerating about how I have felt about withdrawing from certain foods, but I'm not. Painful.

Back when I first started Medifast, I never for a second imagined it would help me in the ways it has. To me, it's not just a weight loss tool. It is like a path to sanity with food. I also never thought I would go on and on about Medifast the way I do sometimes, about how much it has helped me in ways perhaps I have not been really clear about on my blog. I never wanted to become any kind of spokesperson for Medifast; they give me free food, I blog about my experience with it. That's it. I told them up front, "hey, if I think this stuff is crap, I will say so. You can send me your food, but if it sucks I will be saying it sucks. I am not for sale." And I have done that... I have done reviews on some of the products and said how horrible I think they are (the beef stew, oh my goodness yuck) and I have talked about the good and the bad here, always. I don't get anything more or less from Medifast whether I mention them once a month or every day, whether I link to them 1000 times or once, whether 500 people who read my blog go buy Medifast or nobody does. I just get the food, and even though I have royally screwed up the past 6 months and have not been exactly a shining example of the kind of weight loss Medifast can sometimes bring, they just keep sending me the food if I want it. Nothing more or less. I know some people get turned off when I go on about it, but this is important to me. It's not about reviews or free food anymore. It is about me fixing what's broken. It's about doing what is best for me even if people think it sucks.

I sit here just a week and a half into my re-start on Medifast and I am more clear-headed than I have been in months. I feel better and the most amazing thing is I am FREE... FREE I tell you, of food obsession. NO binge head games, nothing. This is absolutely PRICELESS to me. I never want to lose it again. After weeks and weeks of fighting every hour just to stop myself from buying a box of cookies, this peace is just... well, I treasure it. The peace, it is a calm silence where chaos used to be. I am just so grateful.

I have every intention of sticking with this until I lose all the weight I want to lose. I know I am not 'cured' and I can easily slip back into the chaos. I am one bite away from addiction. But if I can prevent that one bite, and stay sane and at peace, I can make this work. I want to make it through the Transition and Maintenence program this time. If it is anything like this weight loss phase, it may just be the key to my getting to a true place of peace with food for the rest of my life.

24 comments:

Deb Willbefree said...

Re: that overwhelming desire to eat and the struggle...

I do not think you are exaggerating. I know exaclty what you are talking about.

And I'm just a little sorry that Medifast doesn't have a gluten and soy free version. :}

Stay free. You may want to put this post somewhere you can easily reread it--just in case a brilliant idea crosses your mind about "a better way" for you to lose weight. :}

Deb

Lexi said...

I read your blog often, spent almost two weeks backtracking through all your older posts, but have never commented before. So first I want to say what an inspiration your blog has been to me and secondly.... You posted a comment on my blog today and it was like a celebrity siting for me. LOL, just thought you should know.

I think it's great that you've found something that works for you, that's all any of us can do: Find what works for us. There are always ups and downs!

Karen said...

If you figure out what it is in Medifast foods that keeps the urge to binge at bay, let me know.

Same here. On MF, I'm free, too. Amazing.

I had a counselor (non food related) tell me that it was similar to an allergy or food sensitivity to wheat, sugar and foods like that.

I've had it since I can remember. And most of my school memories are tied into food related items.

Good for you for finding something that works. I'm going to be working through the Habits of Health and the Habits of Health workbook this fall, in preparation for transition and maintenance.

I don't plan on eating refined sugar, wheat products, high carb foods, or fried foods, even after I'm in maintenance. If I have an MF brownie with PB for every birthday for the rest of my life, I'll be happy!!!

I know you can do this, Lyn! It will be fun to read your blog as you get to this next phase.

PS- I really can relate to Celebrity Rehab. It's sad and helpful at the same time. :0 Interesting....

Anonymous said...

Good luck Lyn, you sound really determined this time.

PaulaM

Rachel said...

I like your analysis of biological versus psychological drivers behind the crazy eating, because it is the same for me: yes, there are emotional/mental factors at play with my binge eating, but it's far more about the blood sugar rollercoaster and addiction centers in the brain being triggered by particular foods than it is about "filling some sort of emptiness" or whatever. I've never filled my life's emptiness with broccoli; I have never quieted my existential angst with a skinless chicken breast. Ya know? If all I wanted was to feel full in order to alleviate pain, compensate for some sort of lack, or nurture myself in a way that the adults in my life failed to do, I'd be willing to get full on anything. Cauliflower. Carrots. But that's clearly not the case.

My question about Medifast products is: what is the largest amount of carbs/sugar that any of them contain? When you are following the program to a T, how much of a sugar/carb "hit" do you get at any one time? Maybe the fact that the products contain wheat, dairy, sucrose is besides the point; if it's a low enough amount of carbs, it doesn't trigger you. (?) That's my guess. So maybe grains, dairy, table sugar etc. is only going to work after transition if you can keep the carb counts similar to where they are now.

I'm curious what kind of eating you see in your future, and also rooting for you.

Lyn said...

Rachel~

very good points and questions.

The Medifast meals vary a bit in sugar/carb content, from 10-15 g carbs and 0-10g sugar. The homemade Lean & Green (dinner, usually) meal gets carbs from vegetables and is supposed to be under 15g carbs.

So, the highest carb hit at one sitting would be 15 grams. Highest sugar would be 10 grams. Now, they do allow that if you run out of time in the day and miss a meal for whatever reason you can double up and have 2 Medifast meals at one sitting, but it isn't recommended. I've done that a handful of times and been ok. But even with that extreme you wouldn't ever go over 30g carbs at a sitting, no matter what.

Interesting, I never thought of it that way. Maybe instead of carbs/day (<100) I will eventually need to look at carbs per sitting.

I still plan to have a whole foods (local when possible) eventually but I think I will have to be careful with fruit and watch my carbs always. I plan to follow the Medifast transition and maintenance plan. I wrote a pretty detailed post about what that will look like here: http://escapefromobesity.blogspot.com/2010/11/getting-off-medifast-or-what.html

PlumPetals said...

I like Deb's suggestion of you printing out this post (maybe even several copies) and keeping it in places where you will read it to remind yourself of these thoughts and feelings.

You need to remember how you feel after bingeing - the guilt, irritation, or whatever - and remind yourself that you ARE strong. You CAN make the right decisions ... what point is there of having ice cream if you're only going to regret it later?

If the Medifast plan works for you and helps you control your eating and lose weight and basically keep you mentally calm, then you should stick to it.

Diandra said...

From what I have read, Medfast restricts the things you can eat pretty much, and you have written yourself that you like the fact that you do not have to make decisions concerning your food (except for, "What of this limited assortment will I have next?" or "Which lean and green will I cook tonight?"). Maybe that is the reason it is so good for you - there are rules, you do not have the "freedom" to eat whatever you want, hence you do not feel you "have to" eat whatever you want.

A few months back, when we had something at home which I considered a treat, I would not stop until I had eaten *all* of it. All the crisps. All the ice cream. All the peanut butter. You see, we were poor, and I had sisters. We had to be fast to get our share. Once I understood that particular mechanism, it became easier, and these days I simply don't obsess about the treats anymore. If I want some, I can have it, and if I don't want any more, I stop and put it away. Never thought I'd make it that far.

Forty Pound Sack said...

I think that blood sugar spikes can wreak havoc in ways we don't fully understand yet. Kudos to you for never giving up ~

Tony said...

As long as you are seeing results with whatever plan you go on, then all the doubters/negative nancys can shut up.

timothy said...

first off the haters need to back up!
it really doesn't matter why it works it simply does, and as long as it does just keep right on keepin on and smile at the naysayers. i'm glad you're back i've been hoping you would go back on i can tell the difference when you're doin medifast ( can i do my told you so dance now? lol) i was worried there for a bit sweetie so you just do what you KNOW is right and don't fret one little bit about anybody but you! (except me of course since i'm PERFECT! LMAO) you have yourself a great day now you hear!xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

lisa~sunshine said...

Yeah..... I'm happy.. your happy.. and that things are going well again.. There are so many ways to lose weight and no way is the right way.. We each have to find what works for us.. None of this is easy.. so when we find something that makes it .. at least bareable.. then go with it..

Theresa said...

My MF experience is the exact same regarding the loss of desire to binge/over eat. It's an amazing product for those of us who struggle with this problem. I'm back on MF again too, just a few days in and I feel less bloated already. :)

Debbie said...

I'm glad that you have found what works for you. That is all any of us can hope for. I have been struggling lately to get my eating back under control after we had a graduation party for my son & I have had to face all of the yummy leftovers. I hate the out of control feeling that a binge brings. I know that I will gain control again & feel the freedom you talked about & I can't wait. As always I appreciate your raw honesty, thank you Lyn for sharing your heart.

Janis said...

"People leave comments and say I need counseling; but why, if it is a mental/emotional thing, why am I doing fine NOW? If my binge eating is all because of some hidden emotional issue, how is it I have gone for months on Medifast and never binged?"

Because Medifast keeps you from having to think about it. The control is exercised for you. You don't have to think about it.

Honestly, I've found that the best solution to a problem is often the one that people resist the most strongly. You do spend a lot of effort resisting the idea of talking to someone in a professional capacity about what's at the bottom of this.

Medifast is like letting someone else take care of you. It's like a distant mom, making all your meals for you and sending them from far away. Yes, that is emotional. There is nothing WRONG with having emotions; we're supposed to have them.

Rachel said...

Hi Lyn,

Thanks for answering my questions. Wow, a maximum of 30 grams of carbs (with a norm closer to 10-15 grams) at any given sitting is really low--no wonder the program prevents those horrible cravings and the energy/mood peaks and valleys. Very cool.

Setting a limit for carbs/day makes sense, but maybe some of us have to go a step further and think about how we spread out those grams during the day (much like diabetics do). I know that eating, say, thirty grams of carbs three times a day, perhaps separated by four hours each, affects me differently than having 90 grams of carbs at lunch. A high carb load at midday is going to have me jonesing for ice cream by 3 p.m., no matter how low carb my breakfast, dinner, or snacks happen to be. No matter what kind of mood I'm in, too. The mechanisms behind this are no mystery (but yeah, I still struggle to get it right)!

One thing that has helped me is taking some chromium picolinate when I happen to eat a carbier dish. It tames, sometimes even eliminates, the sugar cravings I would normally have after ingesting such food. But it only works if I don't completely "override" it by taking in tons of sugar. So it's effective if I'm taking it alongside a sandwich; not so much if I'm taking it with half a pie. Anyway, chromium supplementation may be worth researching.

I know you'll find your way and I'm glad you are in a good place right now.

Deb Willbefree said...

Hey, Lyn. I considered doing this when I left my initial comment, then knew you already knew all this stuff, but...

On the sidebar of my blog, just above the "followers" square, you'll find a label re: food addiction. If you click on it, you'll find, among other things, a series of posts I did recapping a seminar I went to last year.

Scroll all the way to the bottom so you can get the oldest posts. (The initial, most current ones, aren't from the seminar.)

The seminar, basically, provided research indicating that binge eating is NOT all emotion-based, but has biological component. And not simply blood sugar related biology but, rather, bingeing is resultant from the effect certain foods have on brain chemistry.

Like I said, I doubt that there's much new info in it for you, but just never know. I found some new tidbits in it.

Deb

Allison said...

The End of Overeating really struck a chord with me. After reading it, I decided to try Paleo. I've been on it for 6 weeks now, and it's helped me to learn a lot about my triggers and my blood sugar swings. And while I'm certainly not strict paleo now, I still don't eat sugar or gluten more than once a week.
Like you, I've found clarity and strength, and I've done it in a way that works for me. Sounds like you've found what works for you too.

N.R.E. said...

I completely understand what you're going through, having been through it myself. I know that for me, I do best when I just put things like cakes and cookies off-limits. I really don't do moderation well, for whatever reasons. Right now, I'm going basically sugar free and low carb because of my diabetes, but this is the healthiest I've eaten! I don't feel cravings for sweets simply because they're not an option for me anymore. I'm not sure how Medifast works, but it seems like even after you're through with it, you should stay away from trigger foods. Hard to do, but it becomes even harder once you have a taste and want more. Good luck.

Karen said...

Best of luck, Lyn, though you don't need luck...you are gonna do great!!!

Lyn said...

Janis~

on Jenny Craig, I had all my food chosen for me, too. All prepared and ready to eat, except for my dinner (similar to Medifast). But I did not experience this freedom from food obsession on that plan. Probably because Jenny Craig was portion control, not low carb, not high protein, not stabilizing to my blood sugar.

LHA said...

This post and all of the comments are so interesting! First, Lyn, I will also add my congratulations to you for feeling that you have found the thing that works for you. That is often a life long quest.

I am carb sensitive too, but I am also deprivation sensitive so I have to be careful. If I go too long feeling deprived and give up too many things for too long, that is the time when a binge is most likely to occur. I know from reading your blog for quite a while that you have had some of these feelings too while on medifast. If you find a way to avoid that feeling of deprivation that leads to unhealthy eating I will be interested to hear about it. I don't expect to be free of cravings for my whole life, but I am working on a plan to minimize food obsessions and overeating. It does involve not restricting foods to the point of making me overeat those very foods.

Good luck on your journey!

Anonymous said...

I haven't read all the replies here, so maybe someone already covered this...

Not only sugar/carbs make you release insulin. Protein does as well (to a lesser degree than sugar/carbs). Your stomach being "full" causes your body to release insulin. (Eating a head of iceberg lettuce, although it has almost no calories will cause your body to release insulin because your stomach is full). Fat does not cause an insulin release. As you transition to "real" foods after being on Medifast, you will probably find that to keep your binges/cravings in check you will have to have smaller, evenly spaced meals that consist of no more than 12 grams of carbs (what Dr. Bernstein recommends for Diabetics to avoid blood sugar swings - and also roughly what your Medifast meals are providing). You will probably have to stick to smaller portions of meat eaten WITH the carbs to slow down the blood sugar spike. Those of us who ate a lot on atkins (binging on cheese/bacon/meat) may have trouble with that plan because of the high insulin levels we still experience.
The rest of your calories would probably be best made up of fat. So what you would be eating nutrient wise would look the same as what you eat now, with additional fat to up the calories.

So for example, instead of an egg white omlette for breakfast you might eat a whole egg omelette or for lunch instead of a salad with chicken, veggies and low fat/low carb dressing you might have full fat ranch or bleu cheese dressing. For dinner instead of tilapia, green beans and brocolli you would have tilapia, green beans and brocolli with melted cheese on top.

I think that you could have a very successful whole foods meal-plan that accomplished the same thing as medifast for you.

The fact that you like carbs as much as you do really shows the addiction and trigger aspect of them.

Please remember as you go forward and keep saying how "healthy" fruits are, that 100 years ago people had fruits available for only a VERY short time of the year and they would not have had the high sugar varieties we now have abundantly available.

My $0.02.

Good luck!_

Renee said...

@Deb, Medifast does offer gluten-free and soy-free options! All of the info is here: http://bit.ly/hbz5yX.

To all, I love reading the comments and feedback that you give Lyn!

Renee
PR Coordinator, Medifast