Oh gosh, this is going to be a long, winded, emotional post. Forgive me, because this post will be up and down and sideways with all my thoughts spewing without chronological order or filters. I’ve never addressed this issue with any of m’fitties before(that’s you guys), and this is really hard for myself to share.
I’ve been a comfort-food eater for almost all my life. When I was sad, I ate, mad, I ate, and happy, I also ate. I distinctly remember a time in grade 6 when, every night after dinner and before bedtime, I would put on a show, sit in front of the TV and the food my mother brought home from her workplace. Cookies, chicken, pie, pasta–everything. The thing was, I wasn’t even hungry. It just became entertainment for me, and then developed into a habit. My parents were furious with my gluttony and told me if I was hungry to go fix myself some rice from the rice cooker. I felt like a 6-year old who just got her lollipop yanked from her mouth.
It was only a matter of time in my teens, that I looked at myself in the mirror and didn’t like the person I’ve become. I’ve used food as a means of numbing my sorrows, and as a way to battle bordem and depression. It was not an effective coping mechanism because it only added to my list of problems. I remember doing track and field at school one day and not being able to walk for the next 7 days because my legs were so sore, I couldn’t wait properly. I didn’t want to sit down, and when I did, I didn’t want in stand up. It was the first time I realized I wasn’t fit.
Fast forward to middle-high school. Somewhere along the way I fell into fitness. At first I wanted to get into exercise because it’d help me lose weight, but I eventually liked the emotional component of it too. It made me feel alive. I ran track and field and cross country for almost 2 years in high school, I was introduced to yoga through a school program and I loved the way I felt. As a bonus, I also felt myself getting thinner, an I was thrilled. My fitness journey went up and down as I went through phases I would workout on a regular basis versus not, but it continued.
It peaked last year–I was fittest in my life in May 2015. I looked incredible.
Today I ate lots of BBQ pork…not entirely #ketopaleo friendly but I seriously was craving it today for at really crispy skin. It was her and humid so I didn't exercise as much because the weather was such a downer, so today is an unplanned rest day. Sometimes it's okay to give into excuses, but remember more often than not, if you want results like mine, you gotta push through and bite the bullet!
And for prom, I looked great. I also felt comfortable and confident in my body and also my drive.
I don’t know how exactly I started, but I started binging somewhere along the way, during high school. My way my family ate also didn’t help. In Chinese culture, we push food a lot and we use it to express our love and thanks. Usually we bank on the carbs through rice, dumplings, and buns. Starch is a staple in our culture, and on top of that, my parents didn’t purchase the healthiest types of foods, and this attributed to my eating disorder. I was I guess you could say, carb/sugar-dependent. The environment did little to set myself up for good choices.
I loved the way the food felt in my mouth. It could be chewy and glutinous, sweet and creamy, savoury and amorous–I loved that I didn’t have to think about anything else while I was eating, and the way I ate was fast and furious. I found comfort and pleasure in these attributes of food. If I were to put it in “freudian terms”, I suppose I could say I loved feeding my “Id”. It started off as overeating. Then it got worse.
I ate an entire pizza once and cried because my stomach hurt from the volume, and yet, my mouth still wanted more. I wanted to try everything and anything–get it all in. The self-shame and hatred started from there. I know that in my teens I was going through a tough time declaring my independence and finding out who I was among my friends. I always felt like an outcast and word spread that the guy I liked dumped me (keep in mind this was all in middle school and looking back, I never had a legit relationship with him). I fought with my parents a lot and started battling with depression for the first time in my life, and my maladaptive coping mechanism was food. I was ashamed and didn’t understand the addiction I had. I felt lost and scared, and that made me hide behind food even more. I felt less and less like myself, like my true self was suffocating under the weight of my body.
I remember the feeling of excitement, euphoria, and anxiety I had when I felt a binge coming on. It was like a black monster that seeped into my mouth. It was a black hole, sucking everything in uncontrollably. I felt scared because I didn’t want it to happen, but I knew it was going to happen and… I wanted it to happen.
I always struggled with overeating as a child, and all throughout middle and high school, it transitioned into that and binge eating. Sometimes I was emotionally distraught with my day and the stresses of what I should eat, starting over tomorrow, screwing up and just bingeing the rest of the day, that I felt like retreating from my responsibilities, like homework, or that audition to Musical Theatre school where I, you guessed it, binged on free food there while waiting for my turn. All through these years I would eventually gain back control only to lose it again. It was emotionally stressful.
I knew I wasn’t food-deprived when I binged because if I was, I would have stopped binging when I gained weight. I used to think binging was an intuitive sign from your body that you weren’t eating enough and it was trying to get all the nutrients it needed, but I read “Brain Over Binge” and thought differently. If I was so nutrient deprived, then why didn’t my binges stop when I gained back all the weight I lost? Because it was a habit. I had programmed myself mentally to do so.
This was myself at the top of my fitness, before I went on back to China with my mother.
In China 2015, I gained about 25 lbs in just 3 weeks. I struggled with bingeing most on my trip because I was completely and entirely out of touch with my regular routine of food and exercise. And throwing myself out of routine is one of the hardest things for me to do. It gives me incredible anxiety and this channeled my bingeing more. My relatives showered me with love through food. In Chinese cultures, we aren’t overt with our intimate emotions, but rather do so through cooking. I bloated up like a balloon, had pitting edema (when water retention forms in your legs and if you press your fingers against your shin, it leaves an indent), felt full all the time, had bowels stuck in my digestive system, was tired and hot. Oh, I was really, really hot and the humid weather there didn’t help at all. I am surprised I survived it all because I kid you not–I wanted to die. All the time. Physically because I was feeling so bad, and mentally because I was devastated at how bad my bingeing began and at the greed my animalistic, binge-brain had. I had dim sum, fried gluten, pork, glutinous rice, pork belly, fried eggs, noodles, seafood, everything.
Here I am with my Cousin in China when I went to travel. I know I looked happy, but I was an anxious mess inside.
I hid under big clothing.
Despite some of the bad things that happened along with going on this trip, some good things happened as well, and for that, I'm grateful. This is my cousin and I. We spent our days eating sushi and talking about anime as I stayed over at her house. I'm finally back on Instagram now that I've returned from China! 🙂 it was blocked there and I'm ready to get back on the wagon with fitness and health. It's so good to feel the Canadian weather again. Wind cool against my skin and people not smoking!
I remember having anxiety attacks because I couldn’t stop drinking milk and eating cookies and I knew I couldn’t stop myself so I kept eating, and tears poured down my cheeks as I did. I gave up eating keto-paleo altogether. My body…my body was the worst it’s ever been. I smiled and tried to have a good time, as you can see from my part 1, part 2, and overall recap, but inside, I was a mess. I was a psychotic, anxiety-ridden, out-of-control mess. I felt helpless and so incredibly pathetic because I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t stop myself and that was one of the scariest things I’ve ever felt.
I’ve never been a severe binger. By that I mean, I didn’t go through months with myself binging every single day, but rather periods going on and off of binging. That’s not to say my sessions with food weren’t severe. They were severe. Working at Chipotle where employees get free food for every shift they work didn’t help. I battled with my urges; tried reasoning with them, tried finding out what to do and why it was happening to me. I would even skip class to go on my own to food courts and just eat alone. I spent tons and tons of money on food. One week at university, I spent over $190 eating out. The more I ate food, the more it consumed me. Why didn’t I have this under control? How had I become food addicted?
I was consumed by food.
I cried. I cried so, so so incredibly hard. I cried at my lack of self control, I cried at my weight gain–my puffy face, my heavy body and pinched at the fat around my stomach. I felt hot and sweaty and tired and nauseous all at once. I didn’t know how to stop the uncontrollable anxiety attacks I had and I would lay awake at night, hyperventilating. I couldn’t stand myself. I cried at the fact that underneath all my fat lay other problems, like that my life was a mess–there would be no career for me because my parents didn’t support my love for the creative arts (I didn’t want to be a doctor or lawyer). I felt like a burden to my mother by the way she always looked at me and yet I longed for her love, and despised by my father who look at me like I was garbage on the street. I could see the hate in their eyes and I couldn’t bear it. I cried because no one loved me, I cried because I felt lost, I cried because I hated who I had become. I cried because my dream art school wasn’t the utopia I had imagined. I didn’t have friends and I rarely got the spotlight, and that crushed me. And I cried because I was fat. I cried because no one understood my feelings and I had no one to go to. I cried because, on top of it all, food was ruining my life, not helping me.
Eventually, somehow, I lost some of the weight I gained from my China trip, but no longer did I have the body I had prior to the trip. I still don’t. I don’t know how I pulled myself together enough to make progress, but I’m glad that I did. I never want to fall back down there again.
Where had all that self-hating energy gone into? I still try to do this today; I channel the negative energy into fuel for exercise and into the arts. Oh my goodness, fitness and performing saved my life. I felt purged of all the evil toxins living in my heart, my body when I acted, sang, or dance. I never felt so free and confident than when I danced jazz. I never felt so satisfied after a run when I cried and pretended that with each pounding step while tears are streaming down my face, that I was getting farther and farther away from my problems.
I also admit, I used to exercise because I feared getting fat. I’ve used that fuel to power myself through the toughest of workouts, gotten my ass up to do 21k of running, and conquered through incredible things that I am proud of–I have proved myself to be so strong, mentally and physically. I was determined, and people looked up to me for my ambition. I finally began to feel like the self that I was meant to be when I felt myself getting stronger and more fit and also more skinny. I felt confident in myself for the first time since grade 6.
But, I also want to change my attitude towards fitness now. I no longer want to be powered by fear. I want to be motivated by passion and inspiration, and I discovered through a humbling experience in December 2015 when I couldn’t exercise and my anxiety was getting through the roof (because I started losing self control in other aspects of my family life) that I had food rule my life, and now I wasn’t going to now let fitness rule it. I wanted to rule my life. And sure, I had and still have, hopes that I will be who I dream I will be–and that’s to be in love with fitness–but I want to be driven by my love for exercise, not by fear of not exercising. Because that’ll make my happy, and that’ll lead a sustainable, active lifestyle.
2016 Is a year of humbleness and gratitude towards my health and fitness goals.
So…what had happened to my binge eating? It’s getting better. Like I said before, I go through on-and-off phases where it gets really bad, then it gets better and I do it less often. I’m by no means I think, cured, but the periods “recovery” periods in between binge seasons seem to get longer and longer, and for that, I am grateful. Some things that have helped me in my journal to stop binging is:
- Eating Keto (because I no longer am addicted to carbs)
- Running (believe it or not, but this only helped to a small extent because it only acted as a distraction but sometimes encouraged a bigger appetite)
- Trying not to have an all-or-nothing attitude. By that I mean, if I ate something “bad”, it doesn’t mean I should self-sabotage the rest of the day by eating everything in sight.
(My nervous self in the bathroom gathering myself together) Throwback to Easter Sunday, when I went to a dinner with Heather, a woman who I consider to be a Godmother / Pseudo mother to me. She is so kind and so generous and I love her so much. I was nervous about binging and also socializing at the dinner with the 8 other people, but the latter didn't happen (i didn't get social anxiety!) And as for the binging–it didn't happen either; i just over ate, but doesn't everyone at Easter? And I'd overeat any day if I had the choice between that and binging. All turned out well, and all because I took the risk to go out and not succumb to my fears and anxiety. It's silly to let it rule my life!
So I really, really hope that this post will help some of you out there. You are not alone. I have felt what you have felt, and I hope I inspire you to keep battling your BED–it is conquerable.
I would put a picture of my body here as it is now, but I feel a little too self-conscious for that. Perhaps in the future. But the bottom line is: I am still a work in progress. I am working every day to transform my body and transform my mindset, and I hope you’ll join me on my journey.