Life In, and Out Of, Diet Culture
I used to wake up every single morning with thoughts of food. "I'm going to be good today. I have to. I have to get this weight off." I'd step on the scale, disgusted and deflated. "Yup, definitely have to be good today. I have to get this under control. I can't gain any more weight."
Cue more thoughts of food, coupled with self hatred and shame. I'd change clothes a hundred times and stand in the mirror, critical of every inch & feeling embarrassed and disgusted, no matter what I put on. Each meal was a fight in my head, for hours leading up to it.
"I'm gonna skip breakfast and I'll just have a little chicken for lunch. That's not gonna fill me up so I should have some vegetables with it. Ugh, I don't want vegetables.. so gross and they never fill me. Maybe I'll just have one piece of bread with the chicken. That'll help me feel more full. Ugh, I shouldn't though... it's carbs. Gawwwd I neeeeed something sweet and want a burger and fries sooo bad. Maybe I'll just make a burger and have it open faced. But I can't have a burger without fries. Maybe I'll just have a couple fries. Ugh, I can't do that, I won't be stop and I'll eat too many. I'll just be good and have chicken. Gawd I don't want chicken. I'm gonna lose it if I don't get something sweet like RIGHT NOW. Maybe I'll just have some chicken and one cookie. Ugh, I can't do that cuz I won't be able to stop at one cookie. Screw it, I'm just not eating anything."
Come lunch time, I'd be eating everything in sight and telling myself "I'll start again tomorrow". I'd spend the rest of the day eating all the things I "couldn't have anymore" when I "started again" the next day -- all while haaaating and berating myself for being such a disgusting, pathetic failure. Everywhere I went, every where I looked, I was always on the look out for something that promised miracles. Everywhere I looked. Everyone I talked to... the convo always turned to good food, bad food, how fat we felt, what new diet we just saw... etc. If it promised quick and easy and told me I wouldn't even have to think about food, I was ALL in... because I. Was. SO. Sick. To. Death. Of. Always. Being. Consumed. With. That. Food. War. In. My. Head. I wanted it to just stop. That was life for years -- just my normal. And it only got worse (waay worse) when I actually lost the weight and bulimia hit.
I vividly remember how miserable it was to live like that -- stuck in the diet cycle, trapped by a diet culture that told me they had the answers to my weight problem, to my unhappiness, to my low-self worth. I couldn't be trusted to make my own food choices. I had to ignore my own body and eat what they said, when they said -- and if I struggled, I just needed to work harder, to want it more, to build my "willpower" muscle. (btw, sincerest apologies to anyone who ever heard those same messages from me when I was a PT and perpetuating the standard fitness industry drivel). I always thought, if I just lost this many more pounds, I'd be happy. If I just got this much leaner, I'd be happy. If I could just see a litttle more definition in my abs, I'd be happy. If my stomach was just a little tinier, then I'd be happy. If my butt was just a litttle bigger/tighter/rounder, then I'd be happy.
THEN, I'd be happy.
I'd have that perfect body and life would be perfect. But I was never happy and they only seemed to just keep making life harder with all their rules. If only I could stop eating all that bad stuff. If only I could stop bingeing until I felt like I was going to explode. If only I could control myself around food. If only I could just eat like a normal person. If only I wasn't always so consumed with thoughts of food and the subsequent guilt and shame over what I put in my mouth. I had no idea that it wasn't a normal way to live, nor did I know how to change or why I was even like that. I just kept ragging on myself. I mean, I knew better. I knew what I "should" be eating. Why was I so broken and stupid? Why couldn't I just get my shit together? I felt like I was broken beyond repair for years. I felt like I'd never, ever find my out and was terrified by that thought. The thought of spending my whole life living that way was too much to bear. This may sound weird but looking back, I'm actually grateful that it got so bad for me because so often I hear other woman talk about living that way for 40 or 50 years. I cannot even imagine living that way for that long. But, if it hadn't gotten so bad for me, I may not have become so desperate to change it and perhaps I'd still be living it. Perhaps I would also have ended up living that way for 40 or 50 years. Because that's the thing about diet culture -- once it sucks you in, very few ever manage to find their way out. But 20 years was more than enough for me and it was my desperation that saved me. I knew I only had two choices, live the rest of my life in that war with weight, food and myself or fight like hell to change -- and living like that forever was simply not an option.
I mean, don't get me wrong, it took awhile for me to get to the point that I was ready to change (the diet culture lure is strong, it runs so damn deep and it's literally everywhere you look) -- but eventually, I did. It was not a fast process, nor was it an easy one. In fact, for awhile it seemed like things almost got worse before they got better.
Change is scary. Healing is painful. It was ugly and it was hard. But it was the best thing I ever did for myself. Now, every single day, I'm grateful and in awe of how different life is. I never wake up with those "I have to be good today" thoughts. Ever. I never have the intrusive food thoughts or that fight in my head over what I should or shouldn't eat. I just eat. I never feel bad or guilty after eating. I never stand in the mirror in disgust. I don't compare my body to everyone else's anymore. Well, I almost never do... eventually I never will. It's a work in progress. I don't change a hundred times before going out. I never worry or even think about my weight. I never binge, or even over eat. The other day I threw out gingerbread pastries that have been in my pantry since Christmas. Yeah, yeah, I know. I should clean out my pantry more often -- that's not the point. ;) A few years ago, I'd eat an entire box in one day, or even one sitting. I couldn't even keep bread in my house or I'd eat the whole loaf. Now I always have bread in my house and usually end up throwing out half the loaf past its expiration date. Not that I'm advocating food waste, but you have no idea what a miracle it is to just eat like a normal person after living the way I used to live. I never diet. I never fall for any of those stupid ads or waste money on supplements anymore. I'm just living. It's glorious. I'm in awe of my own growth every single day.
I'm at peace. I'm proud of myself. And I'm sooo very grateful my food & weight war is over. If this resonates with you and you're still stuck there the first thing you have to know is that what got you where you are right now, will not get you out. You cannot, will not, ever, diet your way to weight and food freedom. It's just not possible. Freedom only happens when you're ready to say, enough is enough and walk away from diet culture for good. That's the first step.
If you're there and you need help finding your way out, drop me a message. I can help and I want to. You deserve the kind of freedom and peace I'm living now.