Change sometimes happens at an imperceptible level. Intention and patience are paramount – they were for me when I so desperately wanted to rid myself of 100 pounds-plus. I was unhappy, had little physical energy, and even less enthusiasm for life.
And yet, the binge-eating served a purpose. It always does. As miserable as I was, removing my pleasure-foods and their mountainous quantity was out of the question. Potato chips, quite literally, got me through the ‘90s. Oh, but I was a determined one. When I was in my 20s and had loads more energy, I dropped 100 pounds – twice. Turns out I was under the false impression that being ‘thin’ would bestow automatic happiness. Not really. The inadequate fat girl was still dwelling within, and no amount of fixing the exterior would assuage her pain.
When the realization came that obsessing on getting the weight off was putting the cart before the horse, I was free to delve into other aspects of transformation, such as accepting myself right were I was – a radical move during the ’90s, long before Melissa McCarthy cinematically showed the world that women of size were through being the butt of jokes and other sundry attempts Hollywood made at insisting large women are nothing but buffoons. Melissa gets it and so did I: Forward-movement was not possible without the crucial step of self-acceptance.
After trying repeatedly to invoke change through drill-sergeant-harshness and self-recrimination, I was humbled to wave the white flag of surrender, and commence kindness. It felt peculiar at first, but got easier. The trick is, I didn’t turn my back on the new practice. And there were other focuses: therapy, self-help books, 12-step meetings, Kundalini yoga classes, and easing up on the people-pleasing.
When enough inner-wounds had been salved, I was free to find healthier ways to deal with food. Not just deal with it, but develop a more balanced friendship with food. This took years and the evolution continues. I allowed change to happen at its own pace without excess force, some of my old drug-foods fell by the wayside. You know, the ones I thought I’d NEVER give up because they meant too much to me. I don’t play the ‘never again’ game with some of my favorites. If I really want fried chicken, I’ll indulge…without a shred of regret. The difference is now, I don’t pair it with buttered biscuits and a mound of mashed potatoes. And there are some binge-foods I’ve simply lost interest in, like those once-crucial potato chips. The realization of it still kind of blows my mind.
I was reminded of just how far I’ve come when I caught a glimpse of a former drug-food on television today. It was a typical food-porn commercial of a close-up of mayonnaise being slowly spread across a slice of commercial bread in near-erotic fashion…and I cringed. I CRINGED! At something I once lusted after. I have no more interest in that now than I do inhaling a party-sized bag of Cheetos.
It was a change that happened without my orchestrating…all while I was doing some mighty ferocious work on myself.
Stacey Morris is a Loudonville-based food blogger DDPYOGA instructor, and health coach. She has written three cookbooks on clean eating including “Clean Comfort: Finding Peace, Balance, and My Perfect Weight.” Visit www.staceymorris.com for more information.