Sunday, February 13, 2011
I've done it since I was a child. I always tried to do it in private, I was so embarrassed with my habit. I've kept it hidden since I was very young, stashing stuff all over my bedroom where my mother wouldn't find my stuff. I stole spare change from my mother when I was a child just to fuel my habit. I would do it in the middle of the night just so my mother wouldn't know. I stressed about when I would get my next fix, would worry that it wouldn't be satisfying enough, that I'd have to do more the next time to satiate the hunger...
Literally, the hunger.
Food has been my best friend since the car accident that caused my older brother's death when I was 5 years old. That is when the depression and binge eating started. In the midst of major depressive episodes, food was there for me, always, comforting me. There is a lot of debate about whether "food addiction" is a real addiction, or if those of us who struggle with binge eating disorder are simply weak-willed and choose to "let ourselves go." Some argue, "How can you be addicted to food? You have to eat, so if you can't control yourself, then you should be ashamed." I can understand if you've never had the impulse to overeat, to want to binge so badly that you are trembling, that it would be easy to dismiss someone with binge eating disorder as someone who doesn't care about their well-being. I can understand if you've never obsessed over food--whether it be during a binging phase or a phase where you're neurotically restricting food--that binge eating disorder would be viewed as an excuse to eat whatever we want.
It is only recently that binge eating disorder is being acknowledged and addressed as a true eating disorder, but the American Psychiatric Association has yet to officially define binge eating disorder as a true eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia. Bringing up overeating problems with my doctors has been dismissed with, "Just stop eating so much." I assure the nay-sayers that binge eating disorder is a very real impulse control disorder, like any other addiction. Recent brain imaging studies have shown that the same addiction pathways are triggered even by the sight of food in people who have binge eating disorder (for example, Schienle, Schafer, Hermann, & Vaitl, 2009). This poorly-understood disorder is starting to come to light, and hopefully that means that better treatment options are on the horizon. The medical field must recognize binge eating disorder as a true addiction to lift the cloud of shame surrounding this impulse control disorder.
I'm done with letting my best friend hurt me and with being ashamed of struggling with this disorder. Rather than being an excuse, acknowledging that I have binge eating disorder has allowed me to more easily recognize my eating patterns and control them much faster. Being at peace with binge eating disorder has given me something to work with, rather than just a vague notion that I have no "willpower." I am now much better at recognizing situations that will trigger me to want to binge, and I can avoid them, or at least have a good plan to avoid a binge. I don't allow food to rule my life any more. Food is fuel, and don't get me wrong, I still enjoy every bite, but without that panicky and frantic feeling that I must stuff myself until I'm nauseous. My best friend and I have some new rules to live by now.
So if you have ever struggled with these same problems, do not be ashamed. My struggles are all too common, but people are reluctant to discuss it because we feel that we should just magically be able to stop eating so much. We are used to the instant gratification of binging, and we get frustrated when we don't see the same instantaneous results in weight loss. Take the time to heal your mind, and the rest of the changes will follow.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
We all know we should get enough sleep, we hear it all the time. "Yeah, yeah, sleep is important, got it." But who has time to just lay there and do nothing? Fortunately, SparkPeople has taught me the value of restful sleep.
I now track the number of hours I sleep each day and have a goal of getting a minimum of 7 hours of sleep every day (preferably all at once). Additionally, I have set a rule that I need to skip working out (or do something very low-intensity) if I get less than 6 hours of sleep. I have found that I just don't function well if I get any less than 6 hours. Workouts exhaust me when I'm too tired and then I get discouraged. The neurotic exerciser in me fights back, and sometimes says, "C'mon, do it anyways," but I have learned to respect my limits.
I have been much more energetic since making an effort to get more sleep. So thanks, SparkPeople, for giving me permission to do "nothing." Okay, well--*yawn*--that's all for now. Nighty night!
Saturday, February 05, 2011
I graduated with my Bachelor of Science from the University of Minnesota in December, 2010. The journey of this degree started almost 15 years ago when I took my first college classes at the University during high school. I was very excited to start college back then and did fairly well. I continued with college after high school, working towards a B.A. in psychology. I struggled with depression from age 19 onwards and eventually flunked out and was put on academic probation.
When I was 24, I went to school to earn an associate's degree in veterinary technology. I was in a good place and earned straight As. I have had a satisfactory career as a certified veterinary technician. But that incomplete Bachelor's degree nagged at me. It taunted, asking why I wouldn't finish. I returned to the University in 2005 to take another stab at it, and earned decent grades for the 2 semesters I attended, but my work was very inflexible and it became impossible to continue.
I started my current job doing poison control for animals in 2007. It's a good job and they were much more education-friendly, so I decided to try, once again, to finish my degree. I found an individualized degree program where I could incorporate my previous psychology coursework with coursework in kinesiology to complete a B.S. I attended full-time while working full-time so I could finish within a couple of years.
Sometimes I wanted to give up, sometimes I wondered if I would make it through, and sometimes I questioned if all of the stress (mental and financial) was worth it. And then, one day, it was over. I had reached my goal and all of that perseverance and hard work had paid off. It was a slow, not-so-steady, and sometimes painful process, but I did it. I have worked hard on my mind, and now I can put forth the same effort to make my body strong and healthy.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
I graduated with my Bachelor's degree a little over a month ago, and let's just say my fitness and weight loss goals were a little derailed with working full-time and going to school full-time. I am finally feeling a bit more "settled" into a routine, and a less hectic one at that. I have made health goals my first priority and have been diligent about eating better and working out, feats which seemed impossible during school.
The New Brighton Triathlon is just 6 short months away, and I am doing the bike leg with a team. I have done many triathlons in their entirety before, but I feel so out of shape compared to those days! I am building my cardio base and am happy to have an acheivable medium-term goal to prod me forward. I have been enjoying learning how to use kettlebells--it helps so much to have a novel fitness goal to keep things interesting.
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