What is really hard is when you get caught in the cycle of eating stuff that is not conducive to weight loss for whatever reason, and every time you get up in the morning and start out "on plan" (whatever your plan may be) but then it all falls apart before dinner.
I lived in that "diet cycle" for years and years, swinging back and forth repeatedly between 250 and 280 pounds. It was my LIFE, really. I would count my calories and measure my food (or eat from the South Beach Phase 1 food list, or count my Weight Watchers Points, or count my carbs for Atkins) all morning and then something would trigger me to throw it out the window so I could eat xyz and "start over tomorrow." And I start-over-tomorrowed myself through morbid obesity for the better part of a decade. Not a good thing, any way you look at it.
But so many... SO many... people are caught in the same cycle. You want to lose weight, but *in the moment* you want potato chips more, so you eat the chips because you can start over tomorrow. Or worse, you eat the chips and then since you are starting over tomorrow, you hurry and eat all the other things you want like cake and ice cream and fried chicken because when you start over tomorrow, you won't be able to have it (or at least not in the quantities you can NOW!) But then tomorrow goes the same way, and the next day does too, and it all melds together into one big off-plan eating festival with a sprinkle of dieting on top. Only, this festival does not bring you joy. It just makes you sad.
I got out of that cycle, and that's the reason for me being able to maintain about 60 pounds lower than my high weight for several years now. But the last couple of days I have gotten the taste of that cycle in my mouth again and I've been fighting it tooth and nail. I know if I fall back into that cycle, all the weight will come back and I will be extremely unhealthy. And I know that once I succumb to that cycle, it would be only a matter of time before I'd start up the binge eating again. Because once you start having the pressure of a diet or weight loss or "lifestyle change" looming in front of you and you start eating junk in a short, set frame of time ("I will just eat whatever I want tonight, and then start over again tomorrow") there is a lot of pressure to eat as much as possible before the "deadline." Thus, the binge eating disorder arrives and once it does, it is most difficult to rid ones' self of.
I have not binged in a very long time. More than a year... maybe two? I'd have to go back and look. I do not binge and do not want to binge. But in order for that the remain true, I can't start up the cycle of restrict-overeat-restrict-overeat. The timing of that cycle can vary and, in my experience, is very important... meaning if I am restricting (calories, carbs, junk, whatever) for weight loss 95% of the time but have an "off" day (non-bingeing, just ate too much or unhealthy choices) here and there, once a month or less, it's not going to lead to binge eating. But if those off days are getting strung together like beads on a necklace and you find yourself pretty much eating off plan *every day* or even *every week* with restriction thrown in occasionally, that is what can lead to big problems... and no weight loss.
I am talking about this because last night, I had some of the biggest stress ever with one of my older kids. I felt helpless and extremely upset. I grabbed a handful of bite size mini Kit Kat bars and sat alone on the couch unwrapping them and shoving them in my mouth. I ate five of them and then stared at the little pile of shiny red and green wrappers on the end table and thought, "oh my gosh. This is how it used to be." Only it used to be a much bigger pile... a whole bag, literally. I did not enjoy the Kit Kat bars. I am used to having a small square of very dark, high quality chocolate once in awhile when I am eating Primal. The Kit Kats tasted like absolute junk. But I was not eating them for the taste. I was going very deep, to an instinct of numbing that used to be a way of life for me. This is not where I wanted to be, and the wrappers and the rest of the bag of Kit Kat bars went into the trash.
I found myself toying with the old mindset, though. I ate off plan, I may as well enjoy it. Hey, I ate off plan a few days ago. I ate off plan on Christmas. I may as well. And instead of making split pea soup for dinner (which was no longer on the agenda anyway because of the issue that was stressing me in the first place) I ate a plate of crackers, cheese, and summer sausage. I didn't OVEReat them. But I ate them, I shrugged and thought I'd start over tomorrow, and then I sat there and thought, "when will it end? This stress is going to continue for weeks, months, maybe YEARS. If I start back up in the cycle of stress eating/restricting/starting over tomorrow, I am going to find myself cornered by disordered eating and back to morbid obesity in a heartbeat. When will I stop? If not now, when?"
I got up this morning and thought about New Years, a family birthday party coming up, a several-day trip out of town to a medical specialist next month. I thought about just tossing everything and deciding to start over AFTER all of that. I also thought about how I can gain ten pounds in a week if I screw around. I thought about my pain and my life and how far I've come. I don't want to give it up. But I am in a place of struggle right now.
I had my black coffee this morning. I intend to be on plan today, and tomorrow, and the next day. It is very difficult in my current mindset. I feel like the kid stuff is so overwhelming that A) what I eat doesn't matter and B) I need food to cope. I am glad I don't drink because I'd be in a bad place with that right now if I did. But I am worth fighting for. I am worth taking care of, even when things are not going well. This really sucks but eating to cope with the heartache is not going to benefit anyone in the long run.
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