Admitting it...the first step!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

(WARNING: This blog will have a LIMITED AUDIENCE PROBABLY...but I wish 1000s of people would read it...because I have questions I would like answered!)

Despite the occasional bump in the road...I LOVE this journey!

I have met runners...who now make their lives all about running!
I have met chemist...who measure, formulate, and document EVERY SECOND of the day!
I have met moms...happy to just lose a few pounds and hopefully work to keep it off!
I have met younger seniors...that continue to inspire me with their work ethic!
I have met coaches...that love Spark SO is now their life work!

I LOVE THEM ALL! I have supported ALL OF a fault! I have listened...learned...grown!

But often...I am left feeling like I am alone! I have taken time to learn about them...but they RARELY return the favor! Now...that is NOT why I support...AT ALL...I support...because I am a good Christian guy from the midwest and my mom taught me right...but COME ON ALREADY!

I am curious if I am the ONLY PERSON ON SPARK WITH THIS ISSUE! Are there other articles out there? Are there others that are scared...LIKE ME!

I STRUGGLE WITH FOOD! There...I said it! In my 20s...I had an eating disorder to stay thin. As I grew older...I kept that disorder...I just went the other way! You can call it ADDICTION TO FOOD (as one friend quoted yesterday) can call it LACK OF WILL POWER (but trust me...the effort I put in daily to fight these feelings is greater than ANY EFFORT a marathoner puts out)...or you can call it AN EATING DISORDER...I struggle with food! PERIOD!!!

Eating the right things...controlling portions when there is lots of it around...knowing what is too much...too little...right...wrong...I STRUGGLE...DAILY!
I REFUSE TO DIET...they got me here! I REFUSE TO STARVE...I have done that...for TOO LONG! I understand and do the exercise portion of this is the FOOD that I STRUGGLE with! I am the child of an alcoholic! Is this what he struggled with daily? At least you can put alcohol away...avoid it...but YOU NEED FOOD TO LIVE!

I wish others on SPARK would just admit it...I can't be the only person struggling with this! I can't be the only person alone in the world. I was made to realize...through a tough and shocking intervention...that I don't TRY HARD ENOUGH! How would THEY KNOW? How would they know of my DAILY STRUGGLES?

I am resigned to the fact...that I need to PUBLICLY ADMIT (though if you read past blogs...I thought I had for MONTHS) that I have a problem.

Hear me...and if you have answers...PLEASE share them...this is a HUMAN BEING we are talking about here...not just some "inspirational" blog!

Hi! My name is Todd James...and I have an Eating Disorder!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • RAD062010
    I do hear you Todd! I like when people are honest. If everyone were as honest as you, the world would be a much better place.

    We all have addictions and compulsions.... we are imperfect, human beings.

    The fact that you can take a hard look at yourself and recognize your own imperfections is the first step to taking control of them. We will never be perfect, but when you do the best with what the good Lord gave you, you know that you are on the right path.

    I applaud your public blog and wish you well on your journey.
    3682 days ago
  • no profile photo CD7462245
    Hi Todd, my name is Sherrey and yes, I am a compulsive eater, especially when it comes to refined carbs, sugar and oh, yes, chocolate! I wish like my friend Nancy who responded earlier I could say I'm recovering but I'm not; I wish I had her wisdom to share; I wish I had known years ago what she has just shared with us all. And yes, I'm the child of a recovering alcoholic, who was recovering when I was born. I agree with your statement that if this is what my dad went through, I don't know how he managed to move into recovery. I know I'll never be "cured" of this food disorder, and I believe it is a disorder, but I do believe that with the right tools and support in hand I can move into recovery mode. Before your reading your blog and Nancy's response, I had already committed to starting afresh on Sunday, the Sabbath, the first day of the week, to put boundaries around certain foods. It won't be easy, but I can make that first step.

    Todd, there's one thing I'm good at, and that's being a Christian friend and support. If you want to connect as friends, let me know. I don't just add people to have a big number of friends; I add them because I hope they'll support me and that I can support them. Again, you say the word!

    I'm praying for you, for me, and all the rest who have this problem but aren't ready to admit it. Thanks for this blog today! I needed it!

    3683 days ago
    Hi, Todd,

    My name is Nancy, and I’m a grateful recovering compulsive eater. I, too, struggle with food addiction - especially to refined carbohydrates. There is actually a scientific explanation of why I overeat refined carbs—just know that it has to do with the pancreas’s ability to keep blood sugar under control, and I just over trained my pancreas. Another scientific explanation is that due to the number of antibiotics that I took from being a sickly child, my body is/was/can be over-run with Candida - a yeast that CRAVES refined carbs.

    Enough of the excuses – the truth is that I am powerless over people, places, and things – and that includes food. What I have learned through my 16 years of working the 12-Step program called Overeaters Anonymous is that many of us have been touched by alcoholism somewhere in our life. Alcoholism is a family disease, and we all catch it – there is no immunity. We catch it in different ways – some family members become alcoholics, some drug addicts, some food addicts, some workaholics, etc… And we all become codependent because of the association with the alcoholism.

    As you say in your blog, you can’t avoid food like an alcoholic can avoid alcohol. I’ve said that many times myself. But, there are certain foods that I can put boundaries around – and those are the foods that consistently cause me to overeat. The sugary and salty foods are the main culprits for me. I've learned that once my hunger is satiated, the only things that my taste buds can detect are sugary or salty foods. So, if I’m turning to those foods, I know I’m in my addiction. When I go grocery shopping, I do the “saliva test.” If I’m looking at a food, and it makes me salivate, I don’t buy it. I have yet to salivate over fresh fruit, veggies, brown rice, whole grain pasta, fish or meats (as long as I’m not shopping on an empty stomach). I salivate over some bread, but not all breads. But I salivate every time that I read a chip or candy nutrition label trying to figure out if I can eat this one in moderation. Believe me, I’ve tried again and again to bring a bag of those sugary or salty things home and promised myself and God that I could eat a single portion. I have yet to be able to do that. So, when I salivate over a certain food, I thank God for the visible sign that this food isn’t for me – and promptly put it back on the shelf.

    The book “Alcoholics Anonymous”, affectionately known as the Big Book, is the study guide for all 12-Step programs. On the bottom of page 84 and top of page 85 of the Big Book, it says (I am going to substitute an appropriate food word in parenthesis for any word that refers to alcohol) “And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone – even (food). For by this time sanity will have returned. We will seldom be interested in (overeating). If tempted, we recoil from it as from a hot flame. We react sanely and normally, and we will find that this has happened automatically. We will see that our new attitude toward (food) has been given us without any thought or effort on our part. It just comes! That is the miracle of it. We are not fighting it, neither are we avoiding temptation. We feel as though we had been placed in a position of neutrality – safe and protected. We have not even sworn off. Instead, the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us. We are neither cocky nor are we afraid. That is our experience. That is how we react so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition.”

    Todd, I know your heart. I know that you are a man after God’s heart. And you know that I am a woman after God’s heart. But, sometimes I want to do my will instead of God’s will. Or, I want to play god and try to control some person, place, or thing and that’s when I get into trouble with food. You stated that you had an eating disorder in your 20’s. Have you ever attended a 12-Step program? A few that may be helpful are Overeaters Anonymous (OA), Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA), or Codependents Anonymous (CODA). I’ve tried them all to figure out which one worked best for me. I stayed with Overeaters Anonymous and had a wonderful sponsor who was more like a mother to me than my own mother. She has since gone to her Eternal Reward in Heaven, but I know that she still guides me daily. One of her favorite sayings to me was, “Don’t give ____ free rent in your mind.” The blank was whatever I was obsessing over – could be food, could be work, could be my (ex) husband. Whatever it was, as soon as I turned it over to God and quit giving it free rent in my mind, God would take care of it.

    Do I still overeat? Yes. I’m not perfect. I especially get tripped up at buffets. And I usually can’t just eat one piece of chocolate or one serving of chips. So I do my best to avoid them or put healthy boundaries around them - like only buy an individual serving size. I strive daily to have conscious contact with God, as I understand God, and let Him do for me what I cannot do for myself.

    Todd, you know that you are my biggest mentor and best encourager here on Spark. You are the one who has given me personal challenges to take a baby step to improve my health. You are the one who challenged me to lose just one pound to break the 150 lb barrier. I responded to your mentoring and encouraging. I worked harder to live up to your vision for me than I worked for my own vision. I don’t what that’s about, but I know it’s true. Forgive me if I have not been an encourager back to you. If you want to talk privately about this, I think you have my cell #. If not, email me and I’ll send it to you. I love you, Todd. I’m here for you. Together we can do what we cannot do alone!
    emoticon emoticon

    3683 days ago
    Todd ~ I hear ya! Do I think I have an eating disorder, no..but I'm addicted to sweets (aka CHOCOLATE). I know what I need to do, but I've been on my journey for so long that it seems endless. I have a mentor helping me to focus on each day as it's own. To not focus on the past and all the what ifs, but some days it's hard. My issue that I'm dealing with most days is not having the support from my family (my husband) in the way that I need to make right choices everyday. Don't get me wrong he does support me, but when I want 'me' time to workout he makes feel guilty by some of the things he'll say. I'm learning to block it out and just don't it since he won't workout with me.

    Keep your head up YOU are not alone.
    3684 days ago
    I have no sage advice except to be there for you and be supportive. As I told people when my mOm died, just having people there makes a big difference!
    3684 days ago
    Todd - my friend!

    I stuggle with lots of things in life, food is one of them. Do I have an eating disorder, no, but I struggle none the less.

    I HAVE NO ANSWERS FOR YOU......what I do have is a commitment to a friend! I told you one year ago....I WILL support you if you start this journey. Well, you've started and done well so far. I will support you!

    Keep your chin up my friend...keep walking....keep fighting one battle at a small victory at a meal at a time!!

    YOU ToddJames, can do anything!!
    3685 days ago
    Thank you for having the courage to speak what so many others feel. Your blogs always seem to resonate with me ...

    3685 days ago
    Hey Todd! My name is Sheila and I have an eating disorder too. I am addicted to sweets. Cake, candy, ice cream. I never had a weight problem until the past 10 years. Problem is, I never changed my eating habits as I aged and became less active.
    More importantly though, I want to address your opening statement about people not (my words) digging in to your personal life. I may ask questions when someone posts about their personal life. however, I do not usually ask questions as a friendly gesture. I tend to believe that people will say what they want about themselves or ask opinions when they need an answer.

    So, it is not that I don't care about you enough to ask questions, it is just the opposite. I respect a persons privacy until they indicate they don't want privacy. So, consider yourself warned. No more privacy allowed for YOU!
    Hope you make it to Kansas this weekend, even if it is just for a quick visit.

    3685 days ago
    I hear you brother!!

    I don't have answers for you - I wish I did. (I do not have an eating disorder - I have other problems - but not that one).

    I read through all the responses - wow. I like them all and I think BetterThanEver might be onto something. But it's hard to tell from way over here.

    I've learned one thing that rings true - When you are in the middle of a forest, sometimes, it's hard to see the trees.

    I've been there and believe me YOU CANNOT DO THIS ON YOUR OWN. Search out a Life Coach, Group Therapy, a Psychologist, or one that can provide expert help.

    This might sound scary because somewhere in coded our DNA/society is something that says asking for help is weak. ACTUALLY the exact opposite is true. Asking for help takes courage and courage is a sign of great strength. Wanting to improve oneself, to grow as a human being (your words), to become better - that takes strength and desire.

    I've always said, "doing the same thing and expecting different results is insane." (Yea, I said it first and you could quote me on this). But its true. You've got to change. Start now. Get help (real help).

    You can do it - your stronger than you think. You might not know it - but I do.

    Get to it brother,
    3685 days ago
  • GALSAL59
    Your courage is amazingly commendable! emoticon
    3686 days ago
    I'm the son of a just barely subclinical anorexic single mother. I don't have an eating disorder. I have, however, had an up and down relationship with food all my life though. For a while now I've had someone helping me come to a better relationship with food.

    I _am_ guilty of not listening to my body very well many times. And I also seem to have a problem in which my hunger levels are set to have me eat just enough extra to gain weight slowly (and continuously). That probably isn't really fixable, so to control my weight well I will probably have to exert some degree of conscious control over my intake for the rest of my life.

    Some have mentioned that they take care of others all the time, and others generally don't take care of them. Well, probably you just happen to not be in contact with those that can readily help in the way you need, and it's important to keep life in perspective at those times. Everyone helps in their own way and as they can. Sometimes people around us just can't give us what we need, and that's unfortunate. But I think it's generally important to not assume ill will; in fact for long term relationships it is very important to always make an assumption of good faith.

    It's also very important to tell someone what you need. Sometimes you get what you don't request, but it's often just by sheer chance. We usually shouldn't leave it to chance; we need to face up to asking for help. That can be difficult in a bunch of ways. But it's one of those difficult things in life that often pays off in a large way once we get over our hesitation.
    3686 days ago
  • no profile photo CD5217955
    Okay I just wrote a long response and it go erased! Sigh. I agree with all. You not alone. We all could write this blog. Don't give up. Continue to reach out. We are there to reach out back to you.
    3686 days ago
    You are not alone.

    I, like 'SANDIEGOJOHN' mentioned earlier - I don't think I have an eating disorder HOWEVER, I certainly struggle with wanting more food than I need, often.

    I have dealt with other issues in my life and believe the "I'm the only one syndrome" is far more prevalent than people recognize on many levels.

    3686 days ago
    Oh Todd!! It's like you wrote it right out of my head!! I had an easier time quitting smoking than staying on the right track to lose this weight. I could convince myself that I wasn't a smoker anymore so I didn't really want that cigarette; but, how can one give up on food? It seems as though the harder I try the worse it gets. It seems to consume my whole being. I do well for a couple of weeks, lose some weight and then blow it. I"m tired of the battle. I'm tired of the isolation. I know I'm not the only one with this struggle but I still feel isolated.
    That being said.....I also know that I need to be the friend that I want to have. I need to communicate more. I need to rekindle my spark. It was big before...and I know that it is still smoldering somewhere inside. I'm glad that you posted this blog. Sometimes it's good to know that someone that inspires you and you admire has the same demons as yourself!!
    3686 days ago
    Hi, I am Sylvia Perlowski and I have an eating disorder. I have realized for years the irony of addiction to food versus addiction to alcohol or drugs. We are all here because we are addicted to food and struggle with that addiction. Some of us are more open and verbal. Others choose to be more private. No matter how we deal with this "addiction" we found Spark People and are here because of our struggles whether we have several hundred pounds or only a few pounds to lose.

    Todd, I get notices and read your blogs. I do not always respond. Maybe I should give more feed back and encouragement. I struggle more with the exercise aspects. I have found that we each have to follow our own paths and find our own ways for what works for us. What might work for me might not work for you. If you try my way and it doesn't work, does that mean you will blame me for the failure? Have you noticed that counselors are very careful to not give advice or tell a client what to do. They can only listen and ask pertinent questions to help guide the client in making choices that the client thinks might work best for him/her self.

    You are not alone. Just that we all have busy lives. I have found that when someone asks for help, many folks step up with suggestions and encouragement. Thank you for being brave enough to bare your soul and put out your quest for help and encouragement. In the end, we do need each other, but we also have to do this for ourselves. I have learned that in many areas of my life, I have to be my most ardent advocate. Asking for information, help, and even sometimes distancing myself from toxic people. I offer my encouragement, you are strong in more ways than one and you are a survivor and will win this battle!
    3686 days ago

    Comment edited on: 4/13/2011 8:56:28 PM
    Dearest Todd,
    As the mother of a child who almost succumbed to an eating disorder, I have spent years researching anorexia and the havoc it puts your body and mind through. Mary so aptly (as she always does) hit the nail on the head when she inquired as to whether your food addiction is actually a guise for something else in your life that's bothering you - something you don't want to deal with??? Our intake of food is the only thing we can actually have total control over. Our obsession with it robs us of living as we spend most waking moments thinking about food and missing what's going on in our lives. Kudos to you for not just admitting your addiction to yourself, but sharing it with people who care about you. After all, we are all in this together. We all need food to survive, but you are absolutely right in stating that we all need to feel loved and valued. That's food for the soul!

    Take good care of yourself!
    3686 days ago
  • no profile photo CD4764832
    Todd - you are not the only one! I struggle everyday. I too was like you, I was anorexic when I was a teen and it turned into overeating as an adult. It is how I cope, bottom line.

    When I made the commitment to lose weight and keep it off this time, I knew I had to do a couple of things. Figure out what was actually eating me. As I come to terms with these issues, then food becomes less important. But, I have to be diligent in how I eat, because the bottom line is, in order to make the changes, you have to change your life style. I hate to exercise, and I struggle with it, and I know I could eat more if I exercised more, but it is not going to happen. So, I have to find that balance, and day by day, with more and more self discovery, it gets better.

    Thanks for the blog! You are not alone! Keep plugging along!
    3686 days ago
  • no profile photo CD7632332
    I am proud of you. This blog took courage.

    First, you are courageous to admit that you feel alone. You didn’t go as far as to say so, but you feel that you have been let down by fellow Sparkers. You have been the cheerleader for so many--all the time needing to be cheered on yourself. I understand this. I often feel the same way. I have always been a people-pleaser. I take care of everyone around me, while no one seems to take care of me. I cannot explain why people constantly take--without giving back. Do they not realize what they are doing? I do---I often feel unappreciated, invisible. Yet I continue to give, because, as you said, I am a Christian. I give of myself to others, without getting much in return, because it is just the right thing to do. But, I must admit, sometimes it would be awfully nice to be noticed…to have someone be as interested in me as much as I am in them. You will continue to give and give, because that is just who you are.

    Most obviously, you are incredibly brave to admit, on the world’s most popular diet and fitness website, that you, Todd James, have an eating disorder. That had to be hard. But, it is also huge. I hope you have opened the door for others to know that they can also admit that their “dieting” lifestyle may not be what they purport it to be. I, for one, have danced back and forth with diet pills for two years---yes, even while sparking! I got off them, and danged if the weight didn’t come back--all of it and some more. Maybe I have an eating disorder and I don’t even know it.

    Interestingly, I am also the child of an alcoholic. My father chose to never drink again after I was born. He stuggled his entire life, but he survived without the alcohol But, you are right--- we HAVE to have food to survive. There is no all or nothing fix to eating.

    Todd, you are smart. What I am about to say is probably something you already know. Is your eating disorder really the problem, or is it just a symptom? Are you dealing with emotional and stress related problems in your life? Is your eating disorder an attempt to control, hide, avoid or forget emotional pain or stress?

    I am cringing as I type those questions. It’s hard to take that kind of a look inside. I, of course, do not expect you to answer to anyone except yourself. I don’t mean to insult you, and hope you won’t take my words as such. I have suffered from severe depression for many, many years. I ask those questions to myself often. I go for counseling when I feel the world caving in around me.

    I have no answers for you--only some things for you to ponder. While you do that, remember this----I love you (funny since we have never met). I will always be here whenever you need me. Life can be so hard…but there is no need for you to fight your battles all alone.
    3686 days ago
    Like Abettrme, I don't have answers or I wouldn't be here either. I guess my eating and exercise habits are a "disorder" of's called depression. My eating and exercise habits are worse when I'm depressed. I do everything within my power to control depression, but obviously NOT ENOUGH OR I WOULDN'T BE HERE.

    By the way, did you read my 9-month SparkVersary blog? In it I ADMIT that I have fallen short of my weight and exercise goals. In it I also mention that I intend to re-read "The Spark" by Chris Downie. While it is everything that is already put into work here, there's just something about reading his story and the stories of many others, AND EXPOUNDING UPON THE "BUILDING BLOCKS, ONE STEP" that just put EXTRA SUPPORT into why we're all on this site. That's the only recommendation I can make to you.

    Keep Sparking Todd, you've come a long way...and you know I'M HERE any time you want to shout out. And if I remember correctly, you should be close to your 1-year SparkVersary??? So just look back to where YOU WERE and WHERE YOU ARE NOW!

    emoticon Gwen
    3686 days ago
    In high school I struggled with bulimia and as an adult I was addicted to food. Of course I struggle with it; I think everyone does but i don't dwell on it. I have been trying to eat healthy for just over a year and I lost tons of weight and I am down to my goal size. Is it still a conscious decision to eat right? Yes. Is it easy all the time? No. Do I snack every now and I again? Yes, in fact just yesterday I had one of those candies from way back when called "Big Cherry." I ate it; the whole 200 empty calories and do I hate my self for it? No, because I planned it. I still only had 1460 calories yesterday. It was delicious and I enjoyed every single bite. Oh, and I didn't blog about it. I didn't seek advice or support. I decided I wanted it a week ago, bought it, thought about it and then realized that one candy isn't going to make me gain my 50-some pounds back.

    I have recently given up my negativity in every aspect of my life. Was it easy? No. Do I still feel depressed sometimes? Yes. But I deal with it differently than I use to.

    People handle things different than others. Just because someone doesn't voice their struggles on here doesn't mean they don't have them.

    I see what you're saying though.

    3686 days ago
  • no profile photo CD4429274
    I wouldn't say that I have an eating disorder, but I definitely like food... and too often, the wrong kind and in the wrong amounts. And sometimes, I eat more than is food for me. I try not to beat myself up about it. I just enjoy it for what it was, then get back to my regular eating habits.

    I wish I had a great solution, but I don't. I just get through each day doing the best I can.
    3686 days ago
    Hi Todd! Let me introduce myself. My name is Chelle, and I too have a struggle with food. It started as a child, and blossomed as an adult. I used food as my emotional barometer, instead of being emotional. Now, in the last few months I have learned to be emotional. My poor hubby, your friend JMERLAU, is learning to deal with a whole new person. But, he finally has a whole person to deal with! I sometime still get overwhelmed with these emotions, and fight very hard to hold back from diving into the goodies in the pantry. I am still learning that I can say what I feel, and the world won't fall apart or abandon me. It is a process, and probably always will be. I have to say, that now I am learning to walk, or get on the eliptical to try to work out stress. Like I said it is a learning process. Thanks for your honesty, and your willingness to share.
    3686 days ago
    I do not have the answers. If I did, I wouldn't be here. I deal daily with portion control problems. Quite simply....I LOVE food! I have little problem eating healthy foods for the most is HOW MUCH I eat. Sometimes, I win and other days I lose. I just have to believe that if I keep at it....I will eventually make a noticeable difference and be a winner of sorts.

    I have read the progress you have made. That is awesome. But, common sense will tell you, that it had to be very difficult at times. I wish I had some pearls of wisdom...but, I don't. Just here to congratulate your progress, commend you for your honesty and wish you the extreme best on this journey...for that is what it is.
    3686 days ago
    I do not diet...I eat what I want...I just get my exercises in daily and drink my water often...

    Wendy :)
    3686 days ago
    I am addicted to food myself. The addiction started as a child. I asked God to help me and he is. Do I slip, stumble and fall at times...ABSOLUTELY. I keep pressing forward.

    I have been your spark friend since you joined. I am on and off of here ALL the time. If you need to vent or talk, stop on by.

    I just wrote a blog on breaking "out of the food box". Stop on by sometime.
    3686 days ago
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