How To De-Arse One’s Head

I’d say that, for the vast majority of the spring, I had my head up my arse and my mind on the next bingey trip I’d take to whole foods to “have salad bar for dinner,” which we all know means a massive amount of somewhat healthy food, followed by a pint of ice cream for dessert, and probably one of those mini loaves (“single serve” or whatever) of cornbread for an “appetizer,” which I would enjoy on the walk from Whole Foods to my apartment. I got to that “food is my vice — I can’t help it” mode of thought, and, despite continuing my (somewhat excellent) exercise regimen, I’d rarely have two binge-free days in a row. I wasn’t really tracking my food or really even aware of the quantity of extra food I was eating. It wasn’t exactly surprising that clothes were becoming tight (which is a bit of a problem, since I’d been giving my clothes away the moment they got too big), but I have to admit that when I got on the scale and saw that I had gained back SEVENTEEN pounds, I was kind of shocked. I mean, I guess a box of granola isn’t a smart late night snack when dinner was a bag of chips & pile of guacamole….?

Yup, this is one of those posts that, as I’m writing, I’m thinking, “holy crap, Sarah–you really want to share this with the world?!”. But I do, because I know that these thoughts/head issues are not ones that only I have. So I’ll continue to share, with hopes that what I write is not only for my benefit.

I was waiting for something to click in my head so that I would stop with the excessive, uncontrolled eating. I figured that it was just some phase I was in, and that it would eventually pass and I would feel in control of myself again soon. But then I remembered thinking the EXACT same thing just about every day on my way up to 300+ pounds. So, rather than waiting for something to click, I forced the click. Fake ’til you make it, right?

It’s not the first day of forced controlled eating that’s the hardest–it’s the second. On day two of “Sarah, You Do Not Eat Like A Psychohead Anymore–You are In Control Of What You Put Into Your Body,” I wanted to eat all of the candy in my office (there is a LOT) and then go try a few more seemingly interesting pints of Ben & Jerry’s. But instead, I did something which I’m actually more embarrassed to admit. I downloaded Jill Michaels’ self-helpy book “Unlimited,” and began secretly reading it on my kindle. Kindles are great, because no one knows what you’re reading unless you tell them.

I am stubborn. I also think that I know everything, and that if I don’t know it, I can figure it out by myself. These are not necessarily good characteristics, but I am stubborn, so shut up. I know where my head needs to be to live a healthy life, and I know that, on my own, I can get my head there.  I like having all of the skills and knowledge that I need to succeed because, as messed up as it is, I like being all that I need to succeed. So downloading any kind of “You Are Great And Strong And Worth It And Here Is Why” type book is not something I want to admit I did. I guess our society suggests that there should be some sort of self-shame in reading self-help books? Like it’s admitting that we don’t have it all figured out?–I’m not sure. Whatever it is, it’s stupid. But I’m not immune to it.

Reading Jillian’s book was sort of what I needed. As arrogant as this makes me sound, it made me realize that, you know what?–I do know this stuff. I know that I am worth the work, and I know that I have the strength to accomplish what I want to accomplish. Reading this book made me realize that I am lucky to have had such a relatively easy life, and that I already have worked through a lot of the headstuff necessary, and that there really isn’t much holding me back. Well, except myself & my own stubbornness.

In conjunction with starting this book, I started journaling, sort of. Every day since June 6, I have just quickly thrown down any thoughts in my head re: thoughts on food in general, how I feel, plans for exercise, and I don’t know — I just do a general evaluation of each day. It’s just for me, so I only detriment myself if I don’t do it. I try to write positive statements (“I will eat excellent food today because that is what will benefit Future Sarah the most”) instead of things which have negativity in them (“I will NOT eat a ton of crap because that is BAD!”).  Eating is not “Bad” or “Good” — we can fuel ourselves in smart ways or in not-smart ways, but personifying food as “bad” or “good” I think gives food more power than it should have. But this journaling thing has been great for me. There has been one binge-type incident since June 6, and I did manage to stifle it before it got truly out of control, which  means that the next time a binge-type thing starts coming on, I know that I have the strength and ability to stifle another one. I also like having an excuse to carry around this little moleskin book.

I also have been eating in a vegan-type manner for about 9 days. My food is completely plant-based (don’t worry, yes, I am getting enough protein, iron, zinc, b12, etc), and I’m enjoying the way it makes me feel a lot. It makes eating seem more like a scientific process than a “ooh what would be yummy right now?” type process, since my options are more limited, I guess. My body feels like it’s operating more efficiently. Also, it’s a LOT easier to clean dishes this way, since chickpeas just aren’t able to create a lot of stuck-on-mess. I’m not sure if this is something I’ll continue long-term, but for now I absolutely love it. Of course, I’ve been brainwashing myself by reading sciency-stuff about humans not being built to ingest animal-based products, but I am classy enough to not soapbox or push eating patterns on other people. This works really well for me right now, and I’m really enjoying it. So. I’ll keep with it for a bit longer. Those of you who want me to write a post on different ways to cook meat, don’t worry — I’ve come up with a clever way to do it without defrosting the pack of chicken that’s in my freezer.

Once I finished Jillian’s book, I started reading “The End Of Over Eating,” which is just fascinating — I recommend that everyone who has ever had any brush with binge-eating type behavior read it immediately — it’s $2.99 for the kindle/nook, etc. It talks about how the food industry crafts food to make us want to eat insane amounts of food of low nutritional quality, and, most importantly perhaps, it makes me feel like I AM NOT A CRAZY PERSON for having these food/weight/binge issues that I do. It scientifically explains why people over eat (like talking about brain chemicals, etc), and why it’s a hard problem to overcome. I’m just getting to the bit that explains how to overcome it, but just being aware of the forces at work in my brain and in the food industry makes avoiding the unnecessary bits of the grocery store a LOT easier. It’s an amazing book, and I hope you look towards reading it. Seriously. This is normal stuff that we struggle with. But. We can overcome it. This book is fascinating.

So I think those have been the steps to the de-arsing of my head. The scale is agreeing that they are good steps, but more importantly, I feel really good right now. My body feels efficient & strong, and my mind feels clear & happy. I feel like this headstuff becomes more manageable when I actually deal with it and pay attention to it, which of course makes sense. I am super happy to really feel like I’ve Got This and that I’m living in a place, both physically and mentally, which will set Future Sarah up for the best life possible.

All is well in the world.

In other news, this weekend some friends and I are biking the MS 150, a 150 mile ride from Boston to the end of the Cape to raise funds and awareness for people living with Multiple Sclerosis. As I write this, I am $180 away from my goal, and while I agree that the blog is a place to share thoughts, rather than fundraise, I would appreciate anything you are able to contribute to support me & this great cause! Funds contributed go towards MS Research, training caretaker volunteers, scholarships for children of people living with MS, and all kinds of other important things. Thanks!

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9 Comments to “How To De-Arse One’s Head”

  1. This post reminds me so much of what I’m trying to avoid. I injured myself in November and wasn’t able to run till early spring and getting back into it without re-injuring myself has been difficult. I’ve found myself not really thinking about I what I was eating, which quickly turns into a problem when I can’t push myself as much as I could before due to the injury and not eating right. It’s always good to hear about this from someone and to read what helped them. Thanks!

    • So much of it all is just being aware of what we’re putting on our bodies & how we’re treating ourselves, huh? It’s so easy to not pay attention to that kind of stuff because we’re so used to it. But it’s key!

      Good luck with the recovery, both from your injury & your eating stuff 🙂

  2. And, hey, you WALKED to Whole Foods! And have you posted the story of your new road bike yet?

    • well, whole foods is 0.2 miles away from my apartment, so walking there is sort of expected. 🙂

      And the road bike post has not been posted! Man, I have a lot of posting to catch up on!

  3. Thanks for sharing your struggle and not keeping it to yourself – I try to do that, too – I realize some people may see me as a perfect person (BWAHAHA YEAH RIGHT) because I mostly blog positive – yay, let’s do this and this, and oh my I love running, and yoga, and all these other fitness activities – but I also have my weak spots that I work on and my tendencies and whenever I post those someone almost always comments about how WOW, I’m so glad you said that because if you can do XYZ and still make mistakes, it makes me feel more confident about my own success. Anyway – you know what to do. ME TOO. I’d rather be about 15lbs less right now but I haven’t been making very strong strides that direction. I get on track for a bit, and then willy nilly for a bit and I’m ending up maintaining – been at this weight for …. about 2 years now. So it’s not awful – it’s still a healthy weight and I only have one pair of pants I can’t wear (those jerks!) but still.

    • we’ve all got our weak spots, and I think it’s pretty neat that how when we share them with others, people are like, “DUDE! SAME!”

      hopefully enough weak-spot-sharing will make us all more aware of our weak spots and better able to respond to/react to/avoid/live with them!

  4. I wasn’t sure about it at first (I totally judged the book by it’s cover), but have you read Skinny B*tch? Awesome book that reinforces why we should eat vegan/not fill our bodies with crap (don’t drink soda, don’t smoke, and other generally known healthy habits). Worth the read if you haven’t read it!

  5. Dude! Same! Well, as much as i can tell as my head is only partially emerging. I have been over-eating and under-minduful for over a month and up 6 pounds. I know I have more head work to do on this – I can’t break through this particular point….your post helps me know it is possible to get unstuck. Thanks.

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