Last night as I finished up dinner (Chipotle Burrito Bowl thanks to Andy!), I started to think about how my life has changed over the last few years. I thought about how my views on myself have especially changed.
When I was in high school I had virtually no care in the world. I was fearless and definitely had a zest for life. Also at this time, I didn’t have negative thoughts about myself or my body.
I honestly can’t remember ever being worried about what I was going to eat next and how it would make me feel.Will I feel fat and bloated? Will I feel gross? Will I vow to not eat this much again? Those thoughts were non-existent in my teenage mind. That is until this point in my life when tragedy struck and I began using unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with life rather than actually working through things.
From about 18 years of age until my early 20’s, I was pretty food obsessed. Sure, I still enjoyed myself and I have a lot of great memories from this period in my life, but I struggled mentally with self acceptance.
Freshman year of college, 2004
I started an online journal on a fitness forum around this time and was excited to interact with others that shared the same passion for nutrition and fitness. The forum is now deleted…and I am thankful it is! I don’t think I could go back and re-read my posts.
But to be honest, this was a very unhealthy time for me. The interaction with most people was based on strict dieting and obsessive exercise habits. Most everyone was after the “perfect body” and being at the “perfect weight” and so almost everyone’s journal was about being on a diet.
I admit that I got sucked into this life (or perhaps the life was sucked out of me?) and I read everything I could get my hands on pertaining to dieting and fitness.
I even toyed with the idea of competing in a Figure Competition and ended up training and dieting for 6 weeks (read more about it here). I ended up quitting(not ashamed that I am a quitter! Best decision I could have made).
I went through a period of being depressed and down on myself, since I was suffering a terrible rebound. This filled me with anxiety and more negative thoughts about myself.
During this time in my life, I think that food ruled my world. As much as I enjoyed it, I feared it. I thought about it constantly. What will I eat next? Am I getting enough protein in this meal? Should I be eating carbs this late in the day?
On the outside I looked completely normal (at least I think!) and didn’t really discuss food and dieting with anyone around me (only online). But there was certainly a mental battle happening inside.
A Look into the Mind of the Food Obsessed
I’ve tried to dive deep into my memory to show what it was like for a period in my life. Here is what I have come up with. So let’s take a walk down memory lane into the mind of the food obsessed:
Alarm goes off, I wake up and go to the bathroom. I pee first because I need to weigh myself. Surely my pee weighs a few pounds and I want to get an accurate reading. I see the number on the scale and hate it. I should not weigh this much. Why don’t I weigh 135lbs or less? I am 5’7 and I should weigh 135lbs, not 140lbs.
As soon as I wake up, I instantly think: When am I working out today? What will I eat for breakfast? It needs to have the perfect combination of fat, carbohydrate and protein. And I need to make sure I am getting at at least a gram of protein for every pound that I weigh.
My workout will either be lifting heavy (no more than 6 reps because higher reps are useless) or I will be doing a 25 minute HIIT session on the treadmill. Steady state cardio is for the birds.
I pack my lunch and snacks before heading off to work as a Graduate Assistant. Heaven for bid I am without a snack or without a plan. I’d be lost without my protein shake. I need that protein!!
I am starving by dinner time. But how could that be? I am eating enough (5-6 small meals a day..it’s the only way to eat) and a 300-400 calorie meal should be more than filling. I had a tablespoon of peanut butter for God’s sake! That good fat should be filling me up. But I begin to daydream about pizza, cereal, and ice cream.
I eat the ice cream. Then the cereal. Then I lose it and eat whatever I can find. Toast with peanut butter? Sure, why not! I’ve already ruined my day. Oatmeal? OK! I am a loser and can not control myself therefore I will stuff myself senseless and go to bed upset.
I repeat this sequence of events for years…
During this time in my life, I still felt like I was a happy person. But my idea of happiness was all wrong. I believed I was supposed to feel this way about myself. I believed that happiness came when I reached a certain weight and could maintain it. I believed that if and when I competed in a figure competition everyone would praise me and announce that, yes, she has the perfect body! Hip hip hooray! I believed that happiness was based upon looks and appearances.
This was my food obsessed mind at a glance. Luckily, things have changed.