Monday, June 28, 2004

When is a bag of pretzels not just a bag of pretzels?

Monday afternoon. I did it. It had to happen sometime and now it has and I'm feeling really devastated, shaken, and adrift. I ate off of my program today and it doesn't matter that it was only a 220 calorie bag of pretzels, which easily fits into my caloric intake for the day - I didn't follow my plan, the plan which has been so good to me and for me for just over three weeks. I know, I have three weeks of exceptionally positive, strong, and healthy eating to my credit, my blood sugar readings are very nearly where they're meant to be (125 fasting instead of 100), my weight continues to drop, and (physically) I feel really good. None of those things matter, though, when I start to think about all of the bad omens of late and today's Pretzel Incident.

I'm so afraid. The fear is not really about bingeing or falling completely off of the Ten Percent Challenge, it's about this nagging feeling I've had, all along, that the idea of keeping my motivation positive and pure was too much for me to sustain after a lifetime of hating myself and my body. Some part of me knew that it all seemed too easy, too effortless. Making a healthy life for yourself is hard, it's work, and it shouldn't feel easy and happy - these are the beliefs that have formed the structure of my life since my first diet at 13. Hate your body, hate yourself and then use that hatred to fan the flames of a fanatical, desperate program of deprivation. Feeling good about myself and wanting to care for and nurture my body is foreign, it's like a pretty, new pair of shoes which look lovely on the rack and on the 6'3" fashion model but pinch terribly the first few times you wear them.

Let me be clear, I've not eaten over my caloric limit since Friday, June 4th and I've not done less than five days of on program cardio since that day, either. I've been drinking plenty of water and taking my vitamins, too. Outwardly, logically, scientifically speaking, I'm still "on program" and nothing untoward has happened. Inwardly, I'm quaking in my Brooks running shoes and waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I feel all of the old habits coming to the fore - eat less to make up for it, double your exercise today (maybe tomorrow, too?) - and always there, in the background, is the steady drumbeat of the familiar songs: "you're not good enough to be loved (even by yourself)", "you're going to fail eventually so why do you keep trying?", "hurry up, hurry up...you need to lose weight faster so that you can be thin and happy", and the most insistent and insidious of all, "it doesn't matter what you do, how little you weigh, or how hard you work to make your entire life absolutely perfect, you're a failure, you always will be, and there's nothing you can do about it, so why not just get it over with and do it (binge)? You know you want to, you know it's the only thing that will make this pain go away, and it's been the only consistent source of happiness in your life, so why are you fighting it?"

The pain right now is tremendous - it feels as though my heart is going to be rent in two by the opposing forces inside me. I still feel confident that I'll be able to keep to the eating and activity portions of the Ten Percent Challenge, and that's somewhat comforting, but then I think about why I feel so confident, and I know that the source of my strength is not where it should be - self love - but, rather, my old enemies, self loathing and fear. This cannot continue because this isn't about - CANNOT be about - my weight or the size of my stomach, it's about taking care of myself and loving myself more than the food or more than sitting on the couch watching Life pass me by. I'm tired of sitting on that couch! I'm tired of killing myself slowly by ignoring my blood sugar and letting my adoration of binge eating create diabetic complications that will shorten my life. No, damnit, no. NO! Not this time.

Not this time.

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