*Warning* Long post ahead! But, it is oh-so-important.
Today, I want to tell you a story. I want to tell you my story and it all has to do with food. It is a story of how I went from restriction to freedom.
This journey really begins way back in childhood.
I grew up in a very good household. I have zero complaints or problems with how I was raised. I am the person I am now because I was raised by an incredibly loving and supportive family. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am blessed beyond words to have the family I have.
I was raised in the 80’s and the 90’s and I remember vividly the impact of the ‘Low Fat’ and ‘Low Calorie’ methods of dieting. My parents were doing their best with the information they had. You want to lose weight? Eat low fat and low calorie. That meant cakes with whipped icing instead of cream cheese icing. That meant unsweet tea and ‘low fat’ versions of all our favorite snacks. To my very moldable brain it was the first example of food restriction . I want to be thin or skinny so I must restrict all the foods I enjoy and eat the foods I don’t enjoy.
I started down the road of food restriction and food indulgence.
College became a nightmare in my food journey. I went off to school and was in complete control of what went in my mouth. My school had dining halls that were “all you can eat” and they had so much food. It was all good tasting food too. I know that’s hard to believe at a college but it was true.
I ate and I ate and I ate and I ate. And I gained 50 lbs. in college.
I would take note of my weight gain and I would go into restriction mode. I would go to the gym. I would run around campus. I would walk to classes instead of taking the bus. I would lose weight.
Then, something would happen to upset me emotionally and all the hard work would be flushed down the toilet. I would gain that weight back plus some all the way to the 50 lbs. I went from 130 lbs to 180 lbs in college.
As I look back at college, I can see how formative those years were for me in many ways. I defined who I am as an individual. I experienced true pain and hurt through a couple major losses. I also experienced TRUE LOVE by finding my Savior and finding my future husband.
I left college knowing I was at an unhealthy weight. So, I did what I knew to do. I adopted a low fat/low calorie way of eating. I ate 1200 calories a day (at 180 lbs. ) and only 20 grams of fat a day. Guess what? It worked. I lost weight pretty consistently each week without much exercise. When I hit a plateau I started going to the gym and I got my first taste of weight lifting. The weight loss got back into gear and I was down to 140 lbs. by my wedding day. It took me a year and a half to lose that 40 lbs. That was on the rather slow side but I did it and I was happy.
But, let me share something with you that occurred during that time. I would restrict my food very heavily during the week (Monday – Friday). Yes, I was hungry but I adapted and I learned tricks to help along the way. I told myself I could have a ‘cheat day’ on the weekends but that often meant a ‘cheat weekend.’
Those cheat weekends became ‘binges.’ It has taken me a long time to admit it but I would definitely BINGE on the weekends. I would eat everything in sight. I would eat till I was sick.
Then I would restrict even more during the week to ‘correct’ my indiscretions over the weekend. It was a nasty cycle.
Sometimes the cheating of the weekend would flow into the week for various reasons. Perhaps I was stressed from something or I thought, “Oh, what’s one more bag of chips? I’ll get back to it tomorrow.”
THIS has been my way of eating for a very long time. I restrict and then I binge. I feel guilty about the binge and I restrict even more. The restriction deprives me of so much nutrition that I can’t stand it anymore and then I binge again. Round and round we go.
This mentality has taken many different forms.
I have done meal replacement shakes. If one meal replacement shakes doesn’t help me reach my goals, I will drink two day.
I have done green smoothies. (Note: I think green smoothies are still nutrition powerhouses and I still drink them. It was my attitude toward them previously that was the problem). Same as the meal replacement shakes. One doesn’t work? Drink two tomorrow.
When those didn’t work I started eliminating entire food groups. The problem was always something in my diet. It had nothing to do with something missing or wrong inside me.
I have gone vegetarian and I have gone vegan not because I thought those were the best option for my overall health but because I thought RESTRICTING something in my diet was the key to success. It is the animal proteins keeping me fat not the rather frequent binges.
I have done an elimination diet that fed into a more Paleo lifestyle of restricting dairy and grains. The elimination diet, for me, just confirmed what I already knew that I have an intolerance to dairy. I did see results from eliminating dairy and grains from my diet. But, guess what? I would binge! I would binge until I was sick.
Oh, and how could I forget. I also adopted a competition diet for a time. I would follow what girls who compete in figure competitions and I would eat what they ate to diet down for competition. When done without proper guidance, this is EXTREMELY restrictive. Ten points to the first person who says what would happen quite often during this period of dieting. Yeah. You got it. BINGE! It was horrible and I was miserable but I wanted to be LEAN….by golly!
During this time I was heavy into weight lifting and I was learning a lot about exercise and food. I realized, oh my goodness, I wasn’t feeding my body enough! I loosened up a bit on my food. I allowed myself more calories. And my weightlifting improved. All my lifts got heavier. My body started responding and I was happier and more content.
Slowly, but surely my goals moved from being ‘appearance’ based to ‘performance’ based. I went from “what should I NOT eat so I look lean” to “What should I EAT so my deadlift or squat get heavier?”
Here’s the exciting part. My body really responded to the training and the extra calories. I was leaning out even though the scale rarely budged. I embraced my muscles as beautiful. I started to actually like my body. *GASP*
It has been a LONG journey. It has been a very emotional journey. It has taken a lot of PRAYER and soul searching. But, I can honestly say for the first time in my life….
I HAVE FOUND FREEDOM WITH FOOD!!!
It has no control over me like it used to.
The true root of this discovery is acknowledging that food has been an idol in my life for way too long. I allowed food to control me. I allowed food to dictate my mood. I allowed food to be my comfort when it should’ve been Jesus.
I now allow myself to EAT THE FOOD and BE HAPPY!
Does this mean eating everything in sight? Nope.
It still means making healthy choices. I eat more fruit and vegetables than chips and soda.
I still have performance goals and junk food does not support those goals. So, I don’t eat junk food. I’m okay with that. I don’t crave junk food anymore.
Why is it different this time? Because, I know that I can eat that junk food any time I want to. I choose not to because my goal is bigger than that temporary junk food. Also, my GOD is bigger than that junk food and far more FULFILLING than that junk food.
Do I eat apple pie at small group? Yep.
Do I feel guilty about it? Nope.
Do I binge anymore? I am so happy to say now that the answer is NO!
I can eat one slice of apple pie and be content. I don’t eat two or three thinking I’ll never have apple pie again. I can have apple pie again if I want it. So, I eat one small piece today and am happy.
This is a good place to be. 🙂 I pray more people can find this place.
This is a BIG, HUGE, ENORMOUS reason why I chose to become a NUTRITION COACH! I long to help other people find that peace with food and their own bodies that I am experiencing now. Feel free to message me if you want to talk!
I am ALWAYS listening!!