bingeing

Preparing for a Binge

Something I remember all too well is that intense feeling of excitement right before a binge session. It was an overpowering excitement, like the feeling you got on Christmas Eve as a kid. The anticipation was almost better than the actual event.

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When I was 250 pounds, I definitely had food issues. I didn’t know what a calorie was, I didn’t know what a portion size was and I didn’t care. I thought I was eating healthy. I wasn’t. A lot of my problems were Boredom Eating. I used eating as an escape and as a hobby. Most of the overeating was in front of the television. I was bingeing on food and mindless TV.

But every once in awhile, I would participate in what I’d call an “intentional binge.” I planned it. It was usually on a weekend, so Friday night I’d stop at the store and get a bunch of treats that I wanted. It was usually a carton of my favorite ice cream, some mint oreo cookies, a gallon of milk to go with the cookies and maybe some candy bars, too.

I’d go home and order a pizza and eat the whole thing by myself and then tear into the desserts I’d bought. While this didn’t happen a lot, it happened more often than it ever should have. And I loved it! I ate all of my favorite foods and enjoyed every sweet bite of it.

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Check out some of my old posts regarding binge eating:

Bingeing

Coping- Then and Now

Instant Gratification or Long Term Goal?

Redefine Your Relationship with Food

The Challenge is Always There

Food is Not The Answer

Why Wednesday – Why I Don’t Have a Cheat Day

Binge Eating Demons

Food Addiction

Like I stated in the beginning of this post, the anticipation of the binge was often more enjoyable than the actual eating of the food. I don’t know why–maybe it was comforting, or familiar, maybe it was just about the ritual of eating my favorite foods in massive quantities. The point is that it a mindful act: I prepared for it.

How are things different for me now?

While I still struggle on occasion with binge eating (often times more fighting the desire than actually doing it again), I am doing pretty well. It’s been years since I’ve actively planned a binge eating session. In fact, I don’t even remember the last time I did it.

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Having a steady exercise routine helps a lot with the urges to binge. I find that when I exercise I feel happier, healthier and in turn I want to eat healthier things. I also find that when I consistently eat healthy foods, I don’t crave the JUNK as often, either! I firmly believe that junk food has additives in it that makes you crave it more–but if you cut it out, that craving disappears.

Something else that helps is having a partner who is supportive and (usually) understanding. There’s also a level of embarrassment — I don’t ever want to binge eat in front of Michael. The idea of it makes me cringe, and that cringing keeps me from ever doing it! It brings me out of that moment of “oh, I would love to eat a bunch of my favorite foods that I haven’t had in years” and back to the moment of “I really don’t WANT to do that.” It’s funny, Michael was out of town for work a few months ago and I had that anticipation of “I could do anything I wanted and eat anything I wanted all weekend long!” What did I end up doing? I bought some Indian food from Trader Joe’s and watched a bunch of Netflix. 🙂 Not exactly a binge. Thankfully!

Now your input: did you PLAN binges?

The Challenge is Always There

The struggle with food never really ends. Even after losing a tremendous amount of weight and keeping it off for three years, there are still moments when the challenge presents itself again. I’m fortunate in that it doesn’t happen often and I usually get a handle on it pretty quickly so that it isn’t an issue. I feel like I’ve changed a lot in the last few years and my relationship with food is much healthier.

Everyone has a normal amount of stress and anxiety in their lives. Maybe they suffer from depression from time to time or maybe the stressful cycles are seasonal. I definitely suffer from stress and anxiety but having a healthy exercise routine keeps that at bay. And when things “get tough” occasionally, there’s nothing like a really good sweat session to get it all out. I don’t turn to food as much to put a salve on those feelings. The exercise gives me a boost of endorphins and happy feelings, and it releases whatever stress and anxiety was clogging my brain up.

Unfortunately, when something out of the “norm” in terms of stress pops up, it’s easy to get derailed. Recently I had one of those “derailing” moments. Michael went to Costco and I’d already eaten a very satisfying dinner. I didn’t even WANT to eat candy but I did. Michael recently bought a 6 pound bag of Gummy Bears at Costco. I don’t even LIKE Gummy Bears but those suckers are in the house taunting me. Same with a freakin’ Costco bag of M&M’s (which I do like).

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I stood at the kitchen counter and instead of measuring out serving sizes, I stuck my hand in the bag and poured the M&M’s into my mouth. I probably ate 2 servings. Did I track them? Nope. Did I measure? Nope. That was as close as I’ve gotten to my old days of “bingeing” and it wasn’t pretty. Did I enjoy the M&M’s? Not at all. Did I feel bad after I ate them? Yes.

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And I did go swimming. And I avoided the candy at work, only ate one serving of those stupid Gummy Bears and tried not to beat myself up about the misstep.

I realized that too much of my life has been obligations lately. This is not to say that I haven’t had fun. I’ve loved snowshoeing with Michael, celebrating the holidays and of course the recent buzz my little story received. I still love working out, despite the fact that this time of year it’s more annoying trying to get a machine in the gym. But once in awhile exercising feels like a chore or obligation. When the fun has been taken out of it, it’s time to think of something different to do. Exercise can’t ALWAYS be the solution.

It’s important to find a balance in life and when the scales are not balanced it starts to show the effects. Stress eating, exhaustion, sickness, depression, lots of things can happen as a result of not taking care of ourselves. My counselor gave me a list of “Adult Pleasant Event List” and suggested I try doing some of these things to find a balance in my life. I’m going to skip #115 “Eating gooey, fattening foods” and try to incorporate some of the other things into my life. For example:

  • Take a class (I’m already signed up for a manual photography class next month and I’m thinking of taking this class)
  • Walks in the woods (perfect for practicing with my new camera)
  • Playing with animals (Fat Kitty needs lots of play time if he’s going to lose some weight)
  • Going to Museums (I bought a Groupon for one so I will be doing it soon!)
  • Sitting in a sidewalk cafe
  • Discussing books (I’m thinking about starting a book club)
  • Going to the beach (I only live 90 minutes from the Oregon Coast, day trips are fun)
  • Practicing yoga (desperately needed)

I like my list. I like planning things. I like making lists even better. Maybe this will give me some focus so that food is not where I turn when times get tough.

Not only that, I think it’s time to ask Michael to hide HIS treats away from where I will find them. My food issues do not mean he can’t have the treats he likes, but my hope is that he can enjoy them without involving me. 🙂

I wanted to share what was going on in my life with my readers. Yes I have a good relationship with food and exercise but I am not perfect and I still struggle sometimes.

QUESTION: How do you find a balance in your life?