This is a topic that I have wanted to write about since I changed my life 6 months ago. I have so many things in my head and in my heart to share about my personal battle with food addiction. This is something that I will fight for the rest of my life. My eating habits were embedded into me when I was a child; at my most vulnerable and most crucial learning stages. Unfortunately, since the habits were embedded into me as a child, they had over 18 years to grow and develop.
I would like to preface by saying we are all in a sense "addicted to food". We must consume it in order to live. Furthermore, it is the American and probably an all around human way to celebrate achievements, birthday's, anniversaries, etc. with food. However, there is a balance that is built around those. We must eat in order to survive and be healthy. Celebrating with food is not just about the food; it's about the togetherness, being social, laughing, and creating memories. Survival and celebrating include food, but food is not the main focus. For me, it was.
Some may not believe there is such a thing as an addiction to food. I am here to state otherwise. I am openly admitting that I have a problem with food. I have an addiction. I had an obsession. I have an emotional dependency. I finally recognized this 6 months ago when I started my new weight loss journey. This time, on my new weight loss journey, I thought extensively and in depth about my issues with food. I decided that my new weight loss journey was going to be even better when I lost weight back in 2008. I am older, wiser, and this time I need to permanently instill proper eating habits, continue my education, and most of all, overcome my addiction and emotional dependency on food.
I put on over 65 pounds between the end of 2012 and 2013. I was going through so many problems and hardships. The problems were in all sorts of areas; I felt as if I could not escape. Medical, personal, and professional. I was mentally and physically hitting breaking points. In order to survive emotionally, my brain was prompting me to find comfort, which lead me to food. I was lead to food because for the first 18 years of my life, so much of my happiness revolved around it. When I started to result back to that habit in 2012, I knew that food was not the answer; food was just a temporary void. I knew that and I would indulge in it anyway. For months and months, I heavily gave into my addiction. The more I gave in, the easier it became to make binging and bad foods a regular habit, and the faster I started to gain weight and undo years of training and weight loss.
When I was growing up, food was easily handed as a reward, a treat, a celebration and rarely were restrictions issued and healthy choices presented to me. I could have cake and ice-cream for breakfast, and I did, many times, and I could eat 6 slices of pizza at dinner, and I did, many times. When I would get bullied at school, my junk food was there for me. When a former family member would call me worthless and told me the only thing I would ever be good for is sex, and that I would never make anything out of myself, junk food was there for me. When I was sad, junk food was there. When I was happy, junk food was there. When I was bored, junk food was there.
When I started my initial weight loss journey in September of 2008 I did not realize I had an addiction to food. I knew that I overate and binged at times, but I did not consider the root of my actions. I did not grasp just how huge the problem actually was. I was 19 years old and all I knew is that I wanted to enjoy my early 20's and not spend it showering with the light off because I could not stand seeing my naked body in a big bathroom mirror.
For about 3 years, my weight was under control. I slipped a little, here and there, which I expect, but I still continued a lot of the habits from when I was a child, without realizing it. It was October of 2012 that my addiction to food surfaced like never before. I turned to food for everything. Food consumed my thoughts. I constantly thought about my next meal and what was it going to be. I would still buy healthy food and food prep, but it all went to waste. It would come time to eat my clean meals and I wouldn't because it didn't make me happy. Going to buy pizza and ice-cream made me happy. I would avoid going out with my friends because all I wanted to do was go buy a bunch of junk food and be alone. At my old job, our office was right beside of a large grocery store. I could not tell you the times that I walked over there and purchased ice-cream, chips, subs, and more. Some nights I would crave fast food so bad, that at 10 PM, in my pajamas, I would go get it and put the bags inside of my purse or a large bag so no one could see me walk up to my apartment with it. I would get so sick feeling from being so full, but I would still continue eating because it made me happy.
Because of the downfall that began in October of 2012, I passed up one of the biggest opportunities I have ever had in life. Well, I actually didn't "pass it up", I let it slip. In July of last year, producers of a big day time talk show were relentlessly contacting me to negotiate a weekly, permanent, weight loss and fitness segment on their show. I never returned calls or emails. By this time, I had been in a bad place for nearly 9 months. I was consumed by emotional pain and the weight was piling on. In the back of my head, I always knew what I was doing was wrong. However, the temporary fill that food provided me ruled my coping and ability of reason.
I honestly felt like all hope was gone. I was in such a sad place in my life and everyday I tried to fake a smile to the people around me. I faked my happiness on Facebook, my blog, and to the outside world and people who knew me, you would have never known the inner battles I was facing. I constantly looked at my body naked in the mirror and I would just tug at the fat and cry. I would look at myself in disbelief that I was letting myself go. I was disgusted by myself. Even my mother noticed the changes in my behavior when she came down to stay with me. I would hate going to the gym because I knew people could see I was getting heavier. I would cry on my kitchen floor and in the shower because I felt like I was such a nobody. I was a young adult who was in a relationship that was awful, I had a dying job... I applied and interviewed constantly for new opportunities and nothing was coming through, I was healing from medical issues, and I was losing my passion for life. I felt like such a waste of life. I was a nobody, living a nobody life, barely getting by, living for my next meal, and simply existing. Last year was the darkest time of my life. I made food become my comfort to temporarily heal and deal with the pain.
This past November, I finally started to come back to the woman I know I am. I obtained a new job that I am so damn grateful for and happy at, I ended a bad relationship, moved into a new apartment, joined the old gym I previously worked at, and it felt like a fresh start for me. I got to work. I knew this time losing weight, I wanted to face my addiction to food head on. I wanted to fight it. I wanted to change the way my mind thought about and saw food. I knew this time that I had a problem with food that needed to be addressed and dealt with. If you have an addiction to something, do not let the problem define you. Do not become a victim seeking pity. Let your fight define you. Let how you overcome the problem define you.
I am writing about this now because I am really implementing changes. I coach myself every single day. And for once, I am really, really proud of the strength and control I now exude when it comes my nutrition. I believe that more people have emotional issues with food than they realize. By sharing my story, I hope to help at least 1 person. If just one person feels like they can fight and overcome their battle with my words, then my openness is worth it.
When someones asks me how I have overcome this addiction and/or lost weight; the answer is always simple, and I feel like my answer disappoints a lot of people as well. I have done this simply because I accept that it is up to me to do so. I do this by coaching myself. I do this by educating myself and by making my mind and heart stronger. This is called motivation. Motivation is the number 1 thing a person needs to lose weight and/or transform their life from any problems they are encountering. However, here is the stipulation about motivation; it cannot be bought. It cannot be surgically implanted. It cannot be taken every morning with a glass of water. Motivation has to come from a person being mentally stronger than they have ever been. It comes from one being able to push through the "hard".
"I tell myself that I am going to start looking at food differently. Food does not fix my problems. I tell myself this everyday. If I make a habit of telling myself this, I will eventually believe it". This worked. I believe it now. When I first started losing weight, I would tell myself this everyday and I would repeat it when I felt like I wanted to binge. It stopped me many times."When I find myself reaching for food. I always stop and ask myself; am I really hungry or am I doing this out of habit?" Engaging in this habit has saved me so many times, especially at night, which is my biggest problem. Actually, I stopped myself at least 4-5 times over the past few weeks. By doing this, I make myself stop and realize what I am doing. This causes me to think about my actions, not just give into a sudden craving.
The biggest tip I can offer above those listed is that every single small healthy choice you make is a step in the right direction. Because when you do make good choices, and you do it often, it becomes a habit. You may feel overwhelmed with transforming your life, and that is why you take it one day at a time. Think of it as starting a new job. Most people walk into that not knowing anything. They learn all new processes, rules, and more. We all feel overwhelmed with that. However, we spend time learning and we work everyday. Overtime it becomes second nature. This is the same thing. The hardest part is just believing in oneself because it requires so much motivation and dedication... and no one can provide you that except for yourself.