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The Hunger Games

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The novel is on my list of "must reads," but this isn't a blog about a book.

I'm terrified of being hungry. There - I said it. I'm STUCK right now because I can't bear the thought of being hungry. The thought of being hungry scares me so much, I binge eat in anticipation of maybe, possibly, ever being hungry at some point in the future. When I was over 300 pounds, I couldn't possibly even imagine trying to lose weight because that would most certainly involve being hungry. And I CAN'T be hungry. Being hungry triggers the worst possible feelings and reactions and instincts deep down inside me. Every trait that I have that makes me "all-consuming" is triggered by my hunger. And I have come to understand that if ever someone speaks poorly of me, it is usually because they have witnessed a behaviour that is the product of my hunger. Being hungry is a bad, bad thing for me, and I do everything in my power to make sure it never happens to me. And unfortunately for my weight loss project, that includes the physical consumption of A LOT of food.

But we're talking about two different kinds of hunger here. Otherwise - I'd still weight over 300 pounds. Somehow, in April of 2009, I got over the fear of physical hunger and managed to lose 100 pounds. Thinking back on that year I can't remember ever being physically hungry. I wasn't in pain. I wasn't depriving myself. In fact, I was being fed plenty. I lost over 100 pounds eating over 2200 calories a day. That's a lot! I am living proof that you don't have to starve yourself to lose weight.

So what the heck am I so scared about lately?

I always knew that my weight loss journey was going to have 2 chapters. I had a pretty even 200 pounds to lose that I figured would happen in two 100-pound increments. Getting to the first hundred was the first hurdle and I galloped over that line with what I look back on now as a blaze of glory. But I have just recently realized that what was supposed to be two equally weighted chapters has become, over the course of the last year, three. I am not ready for the final chapter yet. And my fear is telling me that fair and square. I am not yet mentally ready to lose another 100 pounds. And that sucks. Because like the scale, you can't will the brain to move quickly. Chapter 2 is about taking time, and work, and love and faith to move that mountain of mass in my head. I don't doubt that it will happen for me. Just not as quickly as I wanted it to. This isn't going to be a clean fight for me. And why I ever expected it to be, I don't know. This has been a dirty duel since day one (and day one was a LONG time before April 15, 2009).

So right now, I'm fighting the fear. The fear is the unknown factor. Because the known factors are actually fairly simple. I am at a point where I need to reduce my daily calorie intake to approximately 1550 calories a day. When I do that, and stick to that plan, the scale responds accordingly with a loss. So I know the math works. But what doesn't quite work yet is my mental willingness to stick to that number. Even though I have proved through a number of days of eating at that level that I WILL NOT be physically hungry, my emotional hunger is taking over. I'm using my running as an excuse to overindulge. It feels good, so I continue to do it. Heck - Hal Higdon tells me I can eat PopTarts? Best believe I'm gonna go get me some PopTarts!

I can tell that I'm in the midst of a down and dirty mental battle with my brain when I start instilling ridiculous "Game Rules" on myself. The post-it on the box of PopTarts that says "Only if you run 5+ miles," the note on the container of ice cream in the freezer that says "Only to be eaten when Nikhil is present" because I know I won't binge in front of him, the constant talking with myself all day long about how many calories I consume and when I can consume them - "If you wait until you go home, you can have a latte on the way." I'm so obsessed with consumption, I'm actually consuming myself! I've been playing the game for long enough now that I know the rules inside and out and therefore, I also know how to get around them. But in playing the game I'm not actually listening to myself. I talk to myself daily about numbers - numbers on the scale, numbers on the tape measure, numbers attached to the foods I'm eating - but I'm NOT talking to myself about my feelings which is not allowing myself to know when I'm really, physically hungry. My life, and my health, and my happiness is NOT a game. So I need to stop playing for a bit and listen. I need to stop making deals and bartering with myself, trying to "win" when all I'm doing is ensuring that a different part of me is going to "lose." And that's the part of me that is so scared right now and hanging on for dear life. She's not going to let go and give up the ghost when she's so threatened.

Mentally, I'm back in 2009, before the change. In many ways I have come SO far. In many ways I have made amazing movement to something more positive. But I think the fear that I am feeling now is attached to my core issue, and the closer I get to that issue, the tighter I hang on to my old habits. SOMETHING happened in 2009 that allowed me to let go. Something happened that made me trust and through practice convinced me that my worst fears of being hungry weren't going to come true. So I'm continuing to put in the work right now to find that something again. Because right now, I'm too hungry not to be fed and I'm sitting at an All-You-Can-Eat Buffet called "Life" - And I'm fighting with all my might the temptation to try a little bit of everything.
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  • BECKYB73
    Loved the novels....LOVE this blog.

    I like how you're looking your fear square in the eye and KNOW that you're going to beat it!
    2590 days ago
    There must be hunger in the air -- I've been blogging about it too-- and am like TRAVLGRRL a huge fan of the Dr. Judith S. Beck approach set out in The Diet Solution. She "trains the brain to think like a thin person" . . . using techniques from cognitive psychology one step at a time over six weeks. It's helped me . . . . might be worth a try???
    2595 days ago
    I really feel your pain and can understand how scary this is.

    Have you ever read "The Beck Diet Solution?" One of her main tenets is "HUNGER IS NOT AN EMERGENCY." In the book she deals with the panic that can come with worrying when your next meal will be, and actually has practice exercises to help you overcome the fears you mention.

    It's a battle, it's always a battle, but I know you will be successful. Good luck.
    2595 days ago
    You have worked so hard and I know you still have the fight in you!! You amaze me, your spirit, your beauty, your intelligence and tenacity. That hunger you are talking about is tough to feed, but I know with all the hard work you have done and will do, you will learn how to feed it and as god is your witness, you will never go hungry again, (mentally or physically)!

    2596 days ago
    I am so right there with you. I don't have any words of encouragement except in the infamous words of Dori from Finding Nemo, "Just keep swimming." You are in the midst of lots of stuff going on in your heart, your head, your body. Work through those things, give yourself time and be gentle with yourself. You know the rest will come. You are doing important heart-work that will last your lifetime. I love you!
    2596 days ago
    Numbers are important, but at the end of the day our brains and hearts really control how much we can improve ourselves and how much weight we can lose. I think we all hit a wall at some point, where our minds are holding us back. Congrats on having the courage to realize that and start working on the real issue. emoticon
    2598 days ago
    The closer you get to the *hidden* truth the scarier it seems to be. Kick the door down girl and shine a light into the darkness. I believe you're right at the door . . . when you're ready, kick it in.
    2599 days ago
    So true, sugar!

    Like, for real.
    But we will get through this.


    cited advice - I've heard that getting out of the habit of rewarding yourself with food helps.)
    2599 days ago
  • SUE5007
    Sounds like you might be on the verge of mental burnout. That's what I get when I start playing mind games like that. I get so sick of thinking about calories in and out, it consumes me, I hate it so I quit.
    Sometimes a fast helps me. I go two meals without food. Once I get the first hunger pang, I am worried about how much worse my hunger will get...but it never gets worse. I am able to ignore it a lot. That gives me confidence when I start to be afraid of being hungry--I get that too by the way.
    Also, if you can find something else you are afraid of and do it anyway it might help. For example, I was at the gym with my hubby and he asked if I wanted to try bench press with him. Honestly I was afraid and didn't want to. I told him no, I'm afraid...but let's try it anyway. It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be and that gave me a tiny bit of courage to try something else.
    Be patient. Explore. Be honest with yourself. Keep a positive attitude.

    emoticon Good luck. Keep up the hard work!
    2599 days ago
    I hope you wrestle your fears to the ground and leave them out for the count. You've been so brave, worked so hard and come so far to let a little fear (or a big one) keep you from the life you want to live. We're all out here rooting for you to throw those issues to the mat.
    2599 days ago

    Comment edited on: 2/7/2012 3:44:19 PM
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