You are what you eat, and I’m tired of feeling like junk. So, guess what? I’m finally doing something about it.
Since adolescence I’ve used unhealthy foods to deal with uncomfortable feelings of anxiety, stress and depression comparable to a drug addict or an alcoholic. I’m 45 now, and this has been a big issue in my life for the last 30 years. I’m 5-foot-6-inches tall and I’ve been as heavy as 215 pounds and as light as 125 pounds, but no matter what weight I’ve been, I’ve never given up on the junk.
Even when I was at my lowest weight, which turned out to be too thin to maintain, I still consumed lots of candies, refined carbs and diet sodas, so I was never the picture of health.
“You’re a thin person in a fat person’s body,” a gym owner once told me in my second hour on his sweat-soaked treadmill. I was insulted at the time, but he was right. I was skinny from my calorie-restricted diet and my workout overloads, but I wasn’t healthy. As always, I was treating my body like a garbage disposal unit.
Why? Initially I didn’t know any better. As a tween I slept with bricks on my stomach thinking that would flatten my belly. It didn’t. As a teen working at McDonalds, I’d survive on Big Macs and chicken nuggets, gain weight, and then suddenly limit myself to grapefruit juice and mixed nuts. Of course I’d lose weight on a silly diet like that, but I’d always gain it back.
After succeeding and failing on so many different diets over the years, I started learning more about my physical make-up as well as what’s psychologically driving me to self-sabotage when I’m just starting to feel and look good.
This is a complicated issue, and anyone who thinks dieting is pure mathematics obviously doesn’t have the same problems that I, and millions of others do when it comes to food addiction. Or perhaps I should say junk addiction, because it’s not real food that’s the issue. It’s the processed crap that passes for food in the grocery store and often has little or no nutritional value whatsoever.
“I stick to the outside perimeter of the store when I go grocery shopping,” my friend told me recently. “Haven’t you ever noticed that all the packaged stuff that our bodies don’t need is in the middle aisles?”
I have noticed that, and I’ve had that pointed out to me many times. Yet just because you know the facts doesn’t mean you’ll make wise decisions. Any smoker can tell you that.
As I mentioned, I’m tired of feeling like junk, so I’m not putting any more of it into my body. No more pop, candy, processed foods or anything else that ends up making me feel gross.
It’s easy to say these words in a moment of strength, but what will I do when I get that overwhelming desire to self-sabotage like I always do? My plan is to write about the experience in a journal and record everything I consume on MyFitnessPal.com, a free diet and fitness site supporting people with health goals.
I want to know the reason I deliberately spoil my well-laid plans, and the trick to conquering this behaviour. I think it’s different for everyone, but if anyone wants to share what worked for them, please leave a comment below or contact me here.
Knowledge is power, and I’m ready to accept any advice that will help me climb out of my garbage can.