Successful weight loss and weight maintenance is what led to my obsessive, disordered eating behaviors.
After three years of struggling with these issues, I had had enough. I was sick of the secrecy, the misery … and “came out” about my issues via blog.
Yet oddly, it wasn’t traditional therapy or blogotherapy (the two proactive recovery steps I took to get better) that inevitably got me to stop the ugliest of the disordered eating behaviors (chewing and spitting).
While those two steps helped in their own right, it was actually a phone conversation last March that I had with my younger brother that actually got me to stop chewing and spitting cold turkey, that got me to see the light.
Knowing how guilty and unhappy my anxious behaviors were making me, he convinced me to see that I had the power to choose pride over guilt.
It didn’t matter that my parents, husband, friends had been trying to get me to see the same thing for months (i.e., that I had a choice; that I could stop the behaviors; that I was empowered to do it)… somehow the way he explained it just clicked.
Maybe I was just ready to hear it when he said it? I honestly don’t know. All I do know is, I haven’t looked back since.
Throughout the past ten months, I’ve tried to adapt and apply his “choose pride over guilt” mantra to other disordered habits I’ve worked to overcome, including over-exercising, midnight eating, and emotional eating.
It doesn’t always work, but when it comes to chewing and spitting, I’m proud to say I haven’t done it since March 2009.
I don’t know if we ever “get over” disordered eating issues (I know I still think about food and exercise and body image) but I do know that putting the onus on myself—instead of seeing myself as a victim of circumstance—was the single most influential factor in my recovery journey.
We can blame society, our hardwiring – and don’t be fooled; they very much play a role – but ultimately, we need to accept our own responsibilities and change our thoughts about our behaviors.
For a long time, I didn’t want to stop. In fact, I likened it to “the bases,” in that I could enjoy the experience without ever “going all the way” (as in, into a full-fledged eating disorder).
To this day, I have never purged or starved myself, but chewing/spitting was my “rebellion” from perfectionism, if you will. I liked the sensation of buying something and mutilating it. It was my coping mechanism for stress, anxiety, etc.
And I liked it … until I didn’t like it anymore.
One day, I started feeling badly afterwards … guilty. And I didn’t want to feel guilty any longer. I didn’t want my day to be deemed “good” or “bad” based upon my relationship with food.
So, with my brother’s words, and the support of my family, friends and the blogosphere, I stopped cold turkey.
I am still struggling with body acceptance (I weigh 10-15 lbs. more than my happy weight) but overall, I’m extremely proud that I was able to get the help I needed, have the support I needed, and garner the confidence I needed to dig myself out of the trenches.
And you can do it, too. You just need to be ready and willing to take on the challenge (through therapy, seeing a doctor/nutritionist/etc.). It might take baby steps, and you might stumble … but believe me, you can overcome disordered eating issues.
Because, to quote L’Oreal’s ad slogan, “you’re worth it.”
And when you believe it, you start to live it. And, in time, I have a feeling you, too, will find yourself choosing pride over guilt.