Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Blazingly Honest - Even if it Hurts

Even if it hurts. Ouch.

I have been silent for a long time. I have often said 'silence on a blog is not a good thing'. This silence has not been a good thing. I apologize to everyone who was wondering how I was. It was impolite not to respond to your emails and comments in a timely manner.  I am sorry. 

My last post before this one talked about cookies and how I had planned to make them work. The writing was on the wall. I am grateful that today I can see it because I sure ignored the warning that was ringing all through that post. To tell you what has been going on I have to  go back over 100 days ago . . . . 

My brain started listening to the squirrels back in October when I had the thought that I would make cookies for the Christmas holidays and I would eat them in normal quantities. What I would do when I wanted to have more did not enter my mind. I forgot I am not capable of having sane sugary food thoughts on my own. My rational limits button is forever broken.

I had the thought to make two types of cookies and that is it. Two types immediately became three when I remembered a third favorite. By the last week of November I had amassed 12 different 'must make' recipes for cookies, bars and brownies. My brain retained enough sanity (barely) to acknowledge the insanity, so I cut the list down to seven recipes - all the while spouting cautions against this behavior to others but not accepting it in myself. 

I KNOW what this crap does to me. I know I am not special and have nothing that will prevent me from a complete and total relapse if I eat the foods that lead me into food obsession and overeating yet there I was, planning my slow and painful death by cookie and calling it a' planned choice'. 

There is no such thing as a good half measure. I know I cannot have one. If one is wrong and 12 is wrong, then seven is still wrong! You cannot be a little bit pregnant and you cannot be just a little bit addicted to food.

I don't know what I was thinking. I know I was NOT thinking about the pounds I could gain, the pain I would feel, the damage I would do to myself or what I would write. When I thought about it at all it was always "it will be okay, I know what I am doing." - despite all past experience and ample evidence to the contrary, I believed this to be true.  This is a cunning disease. I was completely caught up in my own bullshit. I cannot write my own prescriptions for sugar foods. I am not a doctor and I do not know how to live with just 'a little' dessert. I wouldn't offer a drink to an acknowledged alcoholic - why do I think I can have a cookie? Why, why, why??? Because I am a food addict, that's why, and I let the food become more important than anything else. 

In December I started amassing the ingredients called for in each recipe, keeping everything in my daughter's old dorm fridge, which is stored in our garage. Bags of different sugars, chocolates, coconut, flour, butter and cans of sweetened condensed milk all waiting for me to begin cooking. The plan was to only make half or quarter recipes of each cookie, toss out the extra ingredients and give away any extra cookies.

I met a friend for coffee and talked about my plans. She asked me if I could picture myself having a limit of two cookies and stopping and being satisfied. I thought about it and admitted I didn't even care about the finished product - what I wanted to do was eat the cookie dough. I wanted to taste the ingredients more than the cookies themselves. I then told this to my mentor and stated that I planned to lick the spoon, beater, bowl and avoid the baked cookies. I was encouraged to remove myself from the cooking process.

I did that for the first type of cookie. Removed myself from the cooking process. Someone else did the mixing and baking. The cookies sat in their containers without me touching them or even looking at them. The next two types of cookies I did not remove myself from the process. I ate a small taste of the dough from one and licked the beater from another. That was day one. I didn't make any others or touch another cookie for almost ten days. They sat in the house, in containers, waiting for others to eat them or to be given away. The additional ingredients were 'safely' outside in the extra fridge, where I did not need to see them or think about them. I saw the containers every day. I didn't touch them. I thought I could do this. I thought after all this time I could pick up a taste and have it in reasonable amounts and NOT CRAVE MORE.

Cravings can be quieted and they will lie dormant for a very long time but they are not gone for good. They can and will return if they are triggered with a re-introduction of the taste that enlivens them in the first place. On the 10th day we went on to bake recipes four and five. I tasted the ingredients, then the dough, then the baked cookies. I started sneaking a cookie or two when I passed the containers the next few days. Then the day before Christmas, when I had already been stewing with this gradual relapse into a sugary-shit world, I made the last of the cookies, eating dough, extra chocolate chips, eating the warm baked cookies and eating the ones from the previous baking. A southern caramel cake was delivered to the house - I ate one slice on Christmas, 2 slices the next day, three the day after that.

And I kept silent about it.

On the 30th of December I couldn't take the loud silence anymore. I fessed up to my mentor and committed to being honest, craving only to be released from sugar lust.

There was a lot of cookies but I wasn't bingeing. I say that not to excuse or rationalize my behavior - which would be impossible. I state this because it is important to understand what was happening in my body even though I was not bingeing. First of all, I could feel myself breathing very hard and that was just sitting on the soda. My clothes were tight -grossly tight and I felt not just the gaining of pounds but also the stretching of skin, the water retention was horrible. My knees hurt - lots of body parts hurt. My brain was in a fog. My body, un-use to flour,sugar salt or diet soda held on to horrible amounts of fluids along with toxins from the sugar, salt, flour and fat. In 12 days my weight went up thirty-two pounds. That is correct - 32 pounds.

Five days at 1600 calories with no sugar, wheat, soda or added sodium and 18 pounds were gone. I ate my normal healthy foods and only did 30 minutes of exercise every other day. By the 10th of January I had lost all but five pounds and I was feeling better. Sometimes feeling better has the dangerous side effect of causing amnesia. I forget the pain, the fog, the consequences of the first bite. This makes me ripe for another fall. We were leaving on a cruise on January 12th. A seven day cruise. I made it until day five. 

First five days on the cruise I stayed away from sugar and flour. Then on the fifth day I was offered something and I said yes and ate it. The fuse had been lit. I woke the next morning knowing I was going to eat more sugar that day. Someone stopped me for a conversation at breakfast and I didn't get the fix as planned. I held off until dinner, resisting but not openly acknowledging that I was struggling. Dinner brought desserts. Then I planned a time to be alone so I could get more without anyone who knew me seeing me with it. The squirrels were doing the dance in my head.The Dance of Denial and Dishonesty. I was a ready dance partner.

We got off the ship on Sunday. I bought a candy on the way home (I don't even like that candy). At the store I bought cookies and ice cream. I ate most of it and disposed of the rest. I got through most of Monday but had the sudden desire for junk that afternoon and by evening I gave in to a pizza overload.

Desire for junk? Holy shit, girl, can you see how sick you are? My attitude was getting hostile. I was nitpicking words with my husband, not answering the phone and showing only a happy face to anyone who cared about what I was doing to myself. When I got on the scale the day after we got home it was back to the gain of 32 pounds. That is frightening yet it didn't stop me from eating the pizza and on Tuesday it didn't stop me from eating ice cream and chocolate. This is the world of the food addict in active addiction. 

I was now about as far down as I could get - emotionally, physically and spiritually. Tuesday I purchased two half gallons of ice cream, a candy bar and six miniature cans of sweetened condensed. This time when I started eating the ice cream I found the desire to keep shoveling it in wasn't there. I waited 30 minutes for the urge to reappear. It didn't. I found I didn't want to hurt anymore and that feeling was more important than the food at that moment. I melted almost a gallon of ice cream, 5 cans of milk and 1/4 of the candy bar down the sink. Then I reached out for help. 

I am now 24 hours clean. The squirrels are still doing their dance but so far I am not dancing with them. When I got the desire to compulsively eat today I made a few phone calls and read some food addiction literature instead.  I ate my planned normal foods. I am going to bed now and I feel good that I have today. 

It is not a strong record to fall back on - only 24 hours, but it beats what I had 48 hours ago. It will be a struggle everyday going forward until the squirrels get quiet again. Then it will be easy unless/until I take another first bite. The disease will always be waiting for a weak moment . . . 

I believe food addiction is a progressive disease. I can arrest it today or I can let it get worse. In action, it will always get worse, never better. The day will not come when I can suddenly eat cookies or a candy bar or an ice cream sundae and not suffer the consequences of a relapse;  that is not going to be my story. My body does not react normally to my addictive foods and neither does my brain. No amount of time without, no amount of debating myself and no amount of lies to myself or to you will ever change that. You may think that sucks. It does suck. Sucking does not change the facts. 

If I can accept that, I have a chance to recover again - one day at a time. 

By this weekend I will have my weight chart updated, a new photo on line and hopefully be in a place where I can continue the journey of keeping the pounds off. There is no failure in falling. There is no shame in getting back up and trudging onward. I will do so honestly and hopefully I what I learn from this experience it will be of assistance to someone else in the future. However, if all it does is keep me from taking the next fatal bite, it will still be a valuable lesson. 



A said...

What an amazingly honest and courageous post. I look forward to ready about your victories moving forward. Best wishes to you.

Karen said...

Thank you for sharing your story with us. It helps me immensely. You are the blogger that I related to the most as I moved from transition into maintenance.

I am the same - if I eat cookies cakes or even pizza again, then I choose to return to my disease. Even looking at cookies or thinking about cookie dough is rough going.

Thank you again. Onward. You are brave and courageous and strong for stopping, getting back on track. Karen P

Caron said...

After baking our traditional cranberry pie this year, I was hanging by a thread wishing Christmas would just go away. I did gain a bit but finally managed to get back to my normal eating.

I've played this game with good bakery bread and also with peanut butter telling myself that "this time" I will only have a measured amount. I know as I'm planning it that I will probably not be able to do it.

I also know from experience that it can be hard to get back on track, but you can do it. Don't be a stranger, as they say in the south. Keep writing and we will encourage you. :)

Vickie said...


Joan said...

I am so glad you posted. For us, but even more so for you. Thank you, Jane.

downsizers said...

I have been thinking about you and wondering if times had gotten rough. I have been thinking of Al as well. He hasn't posted for a time. Things like this keep us humble don't they? It also helps us be more empathetic to others who struggle. I know I have gotten cocky and judgmental when I am on top of the mountain and have been called out for it. I have had struggles as well during the holidays but am back to sanity as well. Glad you're back.

Anonymous said...

Awesome post. Inspiring.

I like the reminder of "There is no failure in falling. There is no shame in getting back up and trudging onward."

((big hugs to you))

Glad you are back.

Sean Anderson said...

Of all the blog posts I've read or written, none perfectly capture the dynamics of food addiction like this. Thank you so much for your gift. I'm with you, relating 100%--and fighting everyday, reminding myself what's at stake... And fully appreciating that I'm truly not designed to ingest certain foods. I've tried and succeeded--and I've tried again and failed miserably--and I've picked myself up and started taking my life back step by step...Our freedom is too important to sit by and allow it to be taken away again... I'm appealing this sentence, knowing full well my faith, honesty, hope, desires and willingness to recover are the judge and jury...

Thank you again, Jane. And I'm here--and many like me are here, you know this--we're people who are fluent in the language you speak. We understand where you are. And we're here anytime you need someone.

My best, Jane... There's tremendous power in this blog post--in your heart and mind...

Norma said...

Jane, I am so glad you posted; so sorry you've been going through this. I hope the process of writing contributes to your staying clean going foward. I've missed you.

Kelliann said...

I am so happy to see you hear and to read your incredibly honest post. You know what to do, you have the tools and you will be OK. You have tremendous strength. As always, I look up to you.
much love

Unknown said...

This truly is a progressive disease, and we can so quickly develop amnesia about what we have to do to stay healthy. Bravo for your honesty and for picking yourself up and moving forward. I'm struggling myself, but I will never give up, because dealing with food addiction is at the core of my well-being.

Unknown said...

Jane, for some reason my comment came out "unknown." It's E. Jane at "janeisweighingin. Hugs to you...

MaintenanceDiets said...

Thanks for sharing the details of your daily struggle to maintain your weight loss. So many of us suffer with the same squirrels, even if we're not always able to admit it. Your story is inspiring!

GGeise said...

Thanks so much for your brutal honesty! It really is a struggle - for me and many others. I wish you the best!

Rebecca said...

I can't tell you how much this speaks to my heart and situation. I hope you were strong today, and will soon be able to claim 48 hours food sober.

Thank you for being real and sharing your stuff.

Beth said...

Thank you so much for this powerful and moving post, it is such a vivid description of this addiction and the insidious nature of our thinking and the destruction that follows.

You've always been an inspiration to me, Jane, with such a big weight loss. And you still are, even in the middle of this gripping trial.

I wish you all the best as you claw your way back to the stable eating that you have enjoyed in the past.

All the best.

Life Coach Gerri Helms, PCC, CSC said...

The truth shall set us free, my friend. Thank you for your honesty and if I can support you in any way, I'm here for you!

Life Coach Gerri Helms, PCC, CSC said...

The truth shall set us free, my friend. Thank you for your honesty and if I can support you in any way, I'm here for you!

bbubblyb said...

Sorry you're going through so much Jane. You are so very strong I know you will get through it. We are all here for you too. *hugs*

Anonymous said...

Wow, I never thought about it as an addiction before. It sounds awful and yet I can see myself in some of it too. At least you get to the point where you know you have to stop - I hope you keep it up! I sometimes think of something I can make as a treat, just a one off, but I know I will probably eat the whole thing and then eat terribly all week. Arrgh!