Category Archives: Body Image

A Look into the Mind of the Food Obsessed

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.

Source

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.

Food Obsessed

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.

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Eating just to Eat

Last night of course was Taco Tuesday…and surprisingly we are still not sick of it! I think we’ve been on our Taco Tuesday kick every week without fail for well over a month, if not more.  Bring on the Mexican food! 🙂

For our tacos we had:

  • Re-fried Vegetarian Beans
  • Cheddar Cheese
  • Sour Cream
  • Tomatoes
  • Onion
  • Salsa
  • Hot Sauce
  • Chips

I made a taco pile and enjoyed a glass of Skinny Girl Margarita.  I just can’t seem to eat tacos without it!

It was a delicious dinner but I was completely stuffed.  Two taco piles will do that to ya I guess!

Family Walk

After dinner Andy and I decided to take the dogs for a walk.  We have not done that in so long so it was nice to get out and spend some quality time with our lil’ family.

Plus, these two crazy monsters needed to do something with their never-ending energy:

Who, Me?

This is just our warm up

We walked around the neighborhood for about a half hour and enjoyed the nice, warm evening.

When we got back everyone was looking a bit tired

I'm not ready for bed, I just need to rest my eyes

Andy and Sophia even shared a special moment relaxing on the couch:

She is quite the Diva in the household

Eating just to Eat

Once I sat back down on the couch and caught up on the latest episode of Millionaire Matchmaker (holy first date in the hot tub!), I felt hungry. Well, to be honest I wasn’t all that hungry but I really wanted something sweet to munch on.  A small bowl of cereal did the trick!  Sometimes I eat just to eat.  There, I said it 😉

I don’t care that I do this sometimes and in fact, I enjoy it.  I enjoy food so much and sometimes I do just eat simply because I want to.

I also sometimes eat because I am bored, tired, happy or upset.  I admit that I do use food for comfort from time to time.  But I am OK with it. I don’t do it often, but I do think it’s completely normal to want something to comfort you, and for me it’s sometimes just a warm, filling meal.

My focus on food and exercise has changed dramatically over the last few years.  I’ve gone from meticulously counting grams of protein, carbs, and fat (especially during Figure Competition prep) to counting scoops of ice cream at Dairy Queen (and making sure I get plenty!)

I’m not saying I don’t care about what I eat (because I do!), but I certainly don’t go crazy.  I’ve found a balance that works for me.  To some, my diet may be unhealthy.  I mean I ate tortilla chips, cheese, and sour cream at dinner (which is just fine by me).  But by others’ healthy living standards it may be junk.  It’s all just food to me and I like it all.  The good, the bad, and the extra greasy.

Question:

Do you ever eat just to eat?

Getting Back on the Healthy Track

When holiday weekends or vacations arrive sometimes my healthy habits can go out the window. For instance, when my girlfriends came over for a visit on Friday night I felt myself reverting back to the 21-year old me and stayed up late partying, bar hopping, and drinking way too much.  And when attending the 4th of July picnic at Andy’s parent’s house, I just about ate my weight in chips and salsa amongst other things.

And while I think this is completely healthy and fine for me to indulge often and let go of the reigns so to speak, I also feel it’s equally important to know when to get back on track and make healthier decisions.  What helps me from not totally giving up on my healthy lifestyle is getting right back on the healthy track after my vacation or holiday weekend.

Planning

For me, it all starts with planning.  For instance, on Monday night after the 4th of July picnic I made sure to pack my workout clothes to take to work the following day to get an exercise session in on my lunch break.


While at work, I completed this 30-minute interval treadmill run:

This workout was just what I needed to feel back on track with exercise.  Plus, with taking a couple of days off from working out on the weekend I felt that I had tons of energy.  The extra rest can certainly make a difference!

Along with packing my workout attire and getting right back on track with workouts, I also packed my lunch and snacks for the day and made sure to have a wholesome breakfast to start my day off on the right foot.

By taking these steps I seem to fall right back on track with my healthy lifestyle. Plus, I just feel so much better when I am exercising regularly and eating wholesome foods that it makes it easy to keep up with.

My Healthy Lifestyle

Everyone’s definition of a healthy lifestyle is different, but what I’ve come to learn is that for me I need to not feel like I have two different lives: A healthy one and a non-healthy one.   I have just one lifestyle and I consider it a healthy one.

For example, I don’t swear of ice cream or sweets during the week and eat myself into a coma come Saturday.   I’ve done this before (with the so-called cheat day) and it doesn’t work for me.  I still incorporate treats into my week no matter what day it is.  In fact, Andy and I enjoyed our beloved Dairy Queen hot fudge sundaes last night after dinner:

By “getting back on track” I mean that sometimes during a holiday or vacation I indulge a lot more than I typically do (like eating Taco Bell at midnight), but it’s OK! I find it all balances out if you have an easy going approach to food and exercise and you don’t totally abandon your exercise and nutrition habits after vacation. Trust in your self!

Question:

How do you get back on track after a vacation or holiday? Or do you stick to the same type of eating and exercise schedule?

Self Acceptance: My A-Ha Moment

The number one thing that allows me to feel good about myself and keep disordered thinking and eating away is true self acceptance.

The idea of self acceptance sounds so simple, yet for many can take a lifetime to achieve.  However, I fully believe that it can be achieved right now and at any moment in time when you are willing to fulfill your desire to truly accept yourself.

Self Doubt

I remember days in junior high and high school where I truly felt lost in my body.  I felt uncomfortable and I was often consumed with thoughts on what others thought about me.  Does anyone think I am pretty? Do people think I am weird? Am I wearing too much make up? Is there something in my teeth? Am I too tall? Will anyone ever want to date me? The questions went on and on and on in my mind.

High School Graduation

I was filling my mind with negative thoughts and plain old self doubt.  I didn’t believe in myself in the slightest and often sought out others to feel validated.

As I look back on those years, I do have good memories.  I had great friends, who I still keep in touch with regularly, and we had a lot of fun.  But I would not want to relive those days.  Sure, I was younger, skinnier, and didn’t worry about my future or paying bills, but the negative mindset is something I would not want to experience again.  There’s something to be said about aging.  You certainly do get wiser.  That is if you choose to…

Flipping the Switch

Through my college years, I was inflicting misery upon myself with my disordered habits.  It was my doing, yet I thought it was helping me cope with life.  In reality, it was making my life an unhappy existence.  When a diet becomes your friend, that’s a problem.  A big problem.  And for a moment in time, my dieting habit became a friend.  I relied on it to fill a void in my life.

As time went on, I became increasingly aware of how my “friend” was really not  a friend at all.  And eventually I flipped the switch and turned my negative existence into a positive one.  I chose to change my life by changing how I viewed myself.

True Me VS Physical Me

I spent a lot of time reading and getting in touch with my spiritual side.   For me to accept who I was, I had to make a separation of the true me and the physical me.

The true me is not my physical appearance.  It is my true essence and being.  It is who I am as a spirit and it’s my heart.  It’s how I think and feel about myself and the world around me.  It’s my love, my compassion, and zest for living.

My physical body is just my outward appearance.  It’s my vessel that I use throughout this lifetime.  But it’s not truly who I am.

A-Ha Moment

As Oprah puts it, I had my “A-Ha Moment” when I finally got it.  I finally understood how to separate myself from my physical body and my spiritual self.  Somehow, it just clicked inside of me and I really understood what that meant.

With this understanding came self acceptance.  I can’t change my appearance.  This is who I am on the outside and I can either choose to accept it and live happily or I can choose to speak negatively about myself and pick my body apart, limb by limb.  I think I’ll choose my first option.

I can tell you with the up most honesty and truth that because I have chosen to truly and fully accept myself, my life is filled with so much joy, love and peace. My life really is that much better because of this simple choice: self acceptance.

Source

I hope you too can find your own self acceptance if you have not already.  Choose to be happy, loving and peaceful towards yourself and that will radiate to the rest of the world.

Have a wonderful day everyone!

Breaking the Pattern: Disordered Eating and Thinking

I clearly remember when I began having disordered thoughts and actions about food.  I was 17-years-old and was dealing with the tragic death of my best friend’s mother.  The death was shocking, and at 17, I didn’t know what to do, let alone how to be there for my friend.  If I was feeling this way, I couldn’t even imagine what she was feeling.  All I know is that during this time in my life, I felt myself shut down emotionally.

Control

Not long after the tragic news, I turned to food.  I had never done this before.  I had never given it a thought.  It just came to me.  I realized that food has always made me happy and therefore I can use it to my advantage now to feel better about life.  Food can be my friend, my confidant, and my way to control the world around me.  The fact is, I knew I couldn’t control everything in life, but I could control what I ate and how I ate.  It was my body and I was calling the shots.  I wanted control.

I started cutting back on what I ate and it didn’t take long for friends and family to realize something was up.  I was not the same person.  Luckily, my mom put me in counseling and for the first time I was able to understand how something tragic can make you turn to unhealthy patterns for comfort.  I stopped my disordered ways, and eventually, I felt like myself again.

The Pattern

Although I beat disordered thinking early on, it didn’t go away 100%. My past of disordered eating and thinking has come back to haunt me on a few occasions since then.  After about the third time of it rearing it’s ugly face again, I saw a pattern.

I realized that my negative self-talk and thinking would return when I was faced with extremely stressful situations.  High stress is my trigger. For instance, when my first boyfriend broke up with me while I was a freshman in college, I immediately wanted to go on a diet to feel better about myself.  And when I graduated college and had no clue what I was doing, I wanted my diet “friend” in my life.  Then there was just last year when I lived out of state and desperately wanted to be back in Ohio.  I started up a new diet plan to have my old pal back in my life.

With all of these instances, I was seeking control for what seemed like an out of control situation.  I wanted to call the shots in my life and food was how I could do it.

Breaking the Pattern

Most recently when I was in a minor car accident (that made me feel out of control and stressed), I felt the negative thoughts come creeping back.  I even started making a mental plan of how I can begin to restrict my intake and diet.  But before things got out of hand, I made a conscious decision to stop. 

I knew that going down this slippery slope of dieting was not fun.  Sure, in the beginning, I feel a great sense of control and accomplishment for being able to stick to a plan. But it doesn’t last long.  I begin to beat myself up when I slip up and go off plan.  My self esteem takes a dive and I feel even worse off than I did before.

Being Aware of the Problem

The first step in breaking the pattern of anything is to become aware that there actually is a problem.  So that’s exactly what I did.  I chose to become aware of what I was doing.

With this added awareness, I realized I was putting myself through my own self inflicted misery. I was choosing to deal with my emotions in a negative manor rather than actually feeling my emotions.

Stress Relief

Stress, I’ve come to realize, is a powerful thing.  If not dealt with properly, it can cause all sorts of mayhem in life.  Adequately dealing with my stress has been one of the ways I’ve effectively beaten my pattern of disordered thinking (which can lead me to disordered eating).

Exercise is one of my main stress relievers.  It’s essential for me to do.  Even just a walk outside allows me to decompress and let my mind rest and have my thoughts wonder.

Stress Relief

Nurturing my relationships with my family and friends is also another way I relieve stress. I love my family and friends so much and spending time with them, either in person or on the phone, automatically makes me feel better.  Even just anticipating a get together in the near future with friends and family makes me happy.   My relationships mean everything to me.

Nurture Relationships

Another way that I relieve stress is through reading.  I love to read and recently I can’t get enough of it.  I even find going to the bookstore to be stress relieving.  I love being around books and stories and I love getting lost in a story of characters.

Find Your Outlet

These are all things that relax me and help me be a better person who can adequately deal with the stress of life.  My point in sharing these examples is to say that everyone needs to find positive outlets in life to deal with stress. I truly believe it’s essential to living a healthy and happy life.

My Outlet

Self Love

Having self love is another factor that has allowed me to break the pattern of disordered thinking.  Love is a powerful thing and I’d go as far to say that it is the most powerful thing in life.  Loving yourself is absolutely crucial in life.   I’ve written posts on how to stop food obsession and really, they all boil down to having self love.

Loving yourself to me means being kind to your mind, body and soul.  Living out your dreams and passions in life, taking time out to relax and unwind, eating well and exercising, spending time with loved ones, and having fun are all ways to be kind to your mind, body and soul.

Take time out to enjoy nature

It’s OK to do things for yourself and for your own well being.  When I became more aware of the importance of self-love, my disordered thoughts have almost diminished.  I can say with confidence that I go many days without a negative thought about myself. This is a huge accomplishment coming from someone who would go weeks on a restricted diet and demand my body to become something it clearly isn’t.  Those days are long gone and I’m a much happier person because of it.

Not Seeking Perfection

Am I 100% happy and positive all of the time? No, I still get stressed and still have negative feelings. I’m not seeking perfection here. Heck, just a couple of months ago I was starting to fill myself with doubt about my weight. I thought that this doubt was coming from my weekly weigh-ins and being number obsessed.

After taking the scale away, I realized it wasn’t the scale I was angry at.  I was feeling negative towards myself because I thought I shouldn’t be at that number. Those pesky negative body thoughts were creeping back in and I was for whatever reason attaching my worth to a number.  When I made the decision to accept that this is where my body functions optimally and where I feel great health-wise, I realized my thoughts were silly.  It really is just a number and it’s where my body likes to be.   I chose to accept it and to not worry about it anymore.

With having more love and acceptance of myself I am much more aware of how to deal with the negativity that can arise in me. I am able to turn things around much quicker and see the greater picture in life rather than sweat the small stuff.

Making the Choice

The most important thing I’ve done in breaking the pattern is to make a conscious choice to do so. I’m the creator of my own happiness and I choose to live my life in a positive way, not wrapped up in my own negativity.  Making this choice has made my life much more enjoyable and full of wonder.

Make the Choice to be Happy

Source

Question:

How do you handle negative self-talk?

Scale Challenge Results

What a beautiful day it is here in Cleveland!  For days it kept raining and raining and we had pretty bad storms. And now the storms have finally gone away and the sun is out with a nice, cool breeze.

Sunny Skies

I took full advantage of this weather and took Boo and Sophia out for a walk around the neighborhood.  We walked for 30 minutes, which is our typical amount.

Boo

Sophia

After our walk I made breakfast and watched Live with Regis and Kelly.  Today I work at 11AM, so I have time to relax and enjoy my morning.

Today’s breakfast included:

  • 2 eggs, over easy
  • 1 orange
  • 1 whole wheat english muffin
  • Coffee with half and half

Lately I’ve been craving eggs after being on a cereal kick for what seems like years! It’s amazing how cravings can change over night.  Cereal doesn’t sound appealing to me at all!  So eggs have been on the menu for the past week or so.

Scale Challenge Update

So it’s been a month since I posed the challenge to myself to not step on the scale for a month…well, it didn’t go as well as I hoped.  I cheated.

My curiosity got the best of me and I weighed myself two weeks in.  My weight was in my normal range, which is great, but then I felt guilty and a bit mad at myself that I couldn’t stick to my challenge.

Challenge Loser...

And to be honest, I weighed myself the following week too!  So, my challenge turned into the “two week no-scale challenge” instead of the month long challenge.

On the positive side, I feel really good about myself without the scale.  I didn’t have that pesky number “weighing” on my shoulders so to speak and I feel great!

Happy Lindsey

Increase in Happy Weight

However, after my vacation I weighed myself, and for the first time in nearly 7 years I’m a couple of pounds over my happy weight range

I think weighing myself weekly all of these years has kept me accountable.  Since I didn’t weigh myself weekly I found myself getting a bit too relaxed with the junk food.  I figured, why not? I won’t have to weigh in. Unfortunately, that kind of decision making has made my weight increase past my comfort.

My plan right now is not to freak out about the increase in weight, but to place more emphasis on what I am eating and for what reasons. I’m not going to go scale crazy either, and will only weigh myself weekly or bi-weekly.  I really just want to focus on being more intuitive with myself.  Lately I’ve felt a bit mindless when it comes to eating, just going through the motions.

Over the past few weeks I’ve found myself eating a lot of sweets after dinner because they were there.  I wasn’t even craving it or hungry for it.  So my plan is to be more aware of what I am eating, but NOT restrict in any way.  I think getting back on track with being more mindful should bring my weight back down to my healthy range.  I’ll keep you posted on “Plan Healthy Weight”!

What I’ve learned over the past month:

My weight is in a very healthy range, even if I don’t always like the number on the scale (which is absurd..it’s just a number, and a perfectly healthy one at that!).  I have come to terms with the number and realize that it really is just a number.  It doesn’t reflect my level of fitness and does not dictate my worth.

My healthy weight range is for my body and may not be for someone else.  I’ve chose to accept that this is where my body likes to be and where it optimally functions.  Even now having gained a couple of pounds I’ve found that I am not as hungry as I typically am with my activity level.  Perhaps it’s my body’s way of trying to get back to it’s “range”.  It’s saying “pay attention to me!” and now I am…sorry I over fed you body 😉

Lessons learned!

No More Scale: A Personal Challenge

This year I’ve experienced a lot of growth within myself.  I’ve been on the path of  learning to deal with my feelings rather than turn to disordered eating habits, which I had previously done in my past.

I am choosing to live my life in a positive way, rather than turning to negativity.  I am choosing to live with happiness and optimism rather than fear.  I am choosing to live my life by my rules.  The key is that I am calling the shots. I am in charge of my life and the decisions that I make.

Happiness

A Realization

With all the progress I have made over the last year, there is still something holding me back. This morning I came to a realization.  I am still bound by the number on the scale.  I still care about the number that I see, for whatever reason.

Bounded by the Scale

I’ve mentioned that I weigh myself about once per week to keep my self “in check”.  For over 6 years I’ve maintained the  same weight (plus or minus 5lbs), yet I still feel the need to make sure it’s not going up.  I still have a voice inside my head that says I need to weigh myself once per week.  I feel as though if I don’t weigh myself  I’ll blow up like a balloon.  But each week I weigh myself, I am still at my body’s happy range.

Something else that bothers me is that each time I weigh myself I think that maybe this is the day that I magically lost weight.  But why? Why do I think that seeing a smaller number will increase my happiness? Why do I think I need to see a smaller number? WHY!!?!?

I can tell you that when I prepped for a figure competition and was on a rigid diet, I did see a smaller number.  I can also tell you that I was miserable at that number.  Having to maintain a strict diet in order to maintain that loss sounded like pure hell to me.  I enjoy my freedom with food way too much and eating plain chicken, tilapia, and green veggies was not my idea of a lifestyle.  So I chose to forgo the competition and I also chose to gain that weight back (well, that just sort of happened when I ate normally again!)

A Personal Challenge

Today was no different than any other week.  I step on the scale, I see the number, I wish in my head that it was a different number because for some reason I believe that I should be at a smaller number, and I step off and go about my day.  I don’t restrict my diet or over exercise because I have these thoughts, but the fact that I even have those negative thoughts because of the number just really bugs me.

Today I made the decision that in order to get over these irrational thoughts about my body and my weight, I need take back the control that I allowed the scale to have, and I need to start living my life not based on my weight.  As much as I’ve overcome in the last year, I’m not where I want to be with self acceptance.  I know that my body is where it wants to be in regards to health.  I just need to come to terms with that.  I’m healthy and fit and my body does a lot for me.  I shouldn’t bash it because of a silly number.  I know better than that.

No More Scale

I decided to go a month without weighing myself.  And to be honest, it’s scary.  But I am choosing to let go of the number and start trusting my body.  I am NOT the number.

No More!

If after a month of not weighing I want to weigh myself, I will.  But hopefully I’ll be able to keep going and not ever need a scale and learn to trust my body.  But along with this, I also need to work on listening to it more.

Inspiration

One of the reasons I love to read blogs is to be inspired by others. This post and this post over at Oh She Glows has really inspired me to look deep within myself and work on self acceptance and ditching the scale is the next hurtle in my journey….and I’m ready to tackle it!

Question:

Does the number on the scale hold any power over how you feel about yourself?