Status Day 20:
SW: 470 TW: 422.0 TWL: 48.0 lbs Lbs to Goal: 197.0
Okay, first for the good news, I am below my first threshold – under 200 lbs to my goal. I was there a few days ago, but mysteriously gained some weight back. I believe I am far enough under it now that even if I should swing it wont be enough to take me above the threshold. You know, it’s funny, even though I know how much I have lost so far, there is still a fear in me that I will wake up tomorrow and the weight will all be back and I will still be at 470 lbs. and feeling hopeless. “Fat” has been my reality for so long, that adjusting to my new reality is going to take a while.
Which brings me to the main thing running through my mind: Addiction. Now, precisely, on one hand we are all food addicts, even the healthiest among us. We have to have to have it, we crave it, we get irritable when we don’t get it. Unfortunately it is a need we all share, even those of us who are juicing or dieting. On the other hand, I am not sure I even believe that it is possible to be addicted to food in the classic sense of the word. Psychologist may disagree with me. (That’s okay, it is their right to be wrong! 😉 )
So, if I don’t believe in it, why even bring it up? Because today at lunch I realized that even though I may not be addicted, I have some of the same behaviors as an addict.
For example, take a look at this list based on reasearch of all types of addicts, looking into root causes and addictive behavior:
- Impulsive behavior, difficulty in delaying gratification, an antisocial personality and a disposition toward sensation seeking.
- A high value on nonconformity combined with a weak commitment to the goals for achievement valued by the society.
- A sense of social alienation and a general tolerance for deviance.
- A sense of heightened stress. This may help explain why adolescence and other stressful transition periods are often associated with the most severe drug and alcohol problems.
As a morbidly obese person I can attest to the times that I have, at the very least, eaten impulsively. Others who know me might recall other impulsive actions, as well. As I have discussed on this blog previously, I have a difficulty delaying gratification. I am impatient and impetuous and hate being told no.
In the realm of food, one of the most dangerous places for me is at a buffet or church pot-luck. I want to taste everything. So I do. It stems from not wanting to limit myself. The cruel irony is, the result is that I have ultimately limited myself by not being able to do or be all that I would like.
I cannot tell you how many times at a drive-thru I have ordered both the nachos and the burrito or both the chicken sandwich and the burger. It was not because I was THAT hungry, it was because I didn’t want to have to choose and by choosing, deprive myself of the other flavor. So I ordered and ate them both so that I could be “satisfied.” In this, I was not trying to satisfy “hunger” but a sensation, primarily one of taste but possibly some emotional sense of well-being also. Maybe even something as bourgeois as knowing that “I can afford it, now.” When in previous times I would have been raiding money from couch cushions just to buy off of the dollar menu. I was not seeking nutrition, I was seeking a sensation; a sense of satisfaction.
A high value on non-conformity and disdain for socially accepted goals: CHECK. Not necessarily sure how this applies to food but anyone who knows me knows this is the case. I’m not sure if it was my three-colored hair or my barbie-doll-head earrings as a teenager, but somewhere I got labeled as a non-conformist. 🙂 Perhaps, if it does relate to food, it is the “ideal body” mentality, or the definition of success being a tailored suit, great hair, and perfect teeth. Admit it, that stuff is pretty shallow. But by fighting against it, I have not hurt anyone else in the world but me. AND, judging by its increasing prevalence, I don’t think my one man crusade has been that successful. What’s a Don Quixote to do when the windmills don’t budge?
Most morbidly obese people feel socially alienated. Truly I do believe all of them do, some just mask it better. We feel like this world is not ours. At times that is due to projection, at times it is because of the looks we get, the stares. Although it is our own fault, it is hard when you are moving through a society in which you just don’t fit. Literally. Seriously, try being 470 pounds and fitting in a booth at a restaurant or sitting in a theatre seat or on an airline. Imagine walking up to a buffet and see people looking at you wondering just how much food you are going to take away, assuming you’ll leave nothing but the apple from the entire suckling pig. Imagine boarding an elevator and seeing people cut their eyes nonchalantly, but nervously, to the maximum weight capacity sign. Or imagine the feelings I and others like me have felt when they can’t ride the roller coaster at the amusement park with their kids because the safety harness will not close around you. Its even worse when your kids are younger and that means that they can’t ride because they are too young to ride alone. So do I feel, have I felt, alienated from society. Yeah, you betcha. Every day.
So you see, most of the behaviors that thrust people into addiction, I share with them. We share with them.
Further, what about the behaviors they display as addicts, what are the symptoms of addiction. Well, these are what I found via the web:
- Symptom # 1 Unable to meet responsibilities at home, school or office.
- Symptom # 2 Continues to use substances or engage in behavior even when it is dangerous.
- Symptom # 3 The need increases to engage in behavior or use more of a substance to achieve the same effect or feeling.
- Symptom # 4 Has tried but failed to stop using the substance or end the behavior.
- Symptom # 5 Continues to engage in the behavior or use the substances even when they are aware of the dangers.
Again, going through the list, I know that I am unable to meet responsibilities at home and at the office. No, it’s not like I am derelict in my duties or that I am showing up for work hung-over. But, I get tired easily, I have to do manual labor in stages, I am not able to play football any longer with my son in the backyard or go kayaking with my kids.
I do continue to eat food that are killing me, even though I know the dangers.
I have tried repeatedly to diet and to “just stop” as some have suggested.
And it definitely requires more and more food to achieve the same level of satisfaction.
So, again, my behaviors and results are similar to an addicts.
What has me thinking through all of these things. It is not to slap a label on something and thereby excuse it. Nor is it to give me an out. But today after church, I went to lunch with my wife’s family. They were eating from the menu, I was sipping on juice and water. It gave me time to stare at their food and to think about a lot of stuff. I had to face my demons and a lot of emotions.
I realized at that moment, that like an addict, I was having to learn how to do things all over again. How do I relate to people without eating, when eating is so much of our families culture? Every time we get together food is going to be served. It may be a full meal, it may be light snacks or a sandwich but at some point food is going to come out. Going to the movies and not eating popcorn or drinking a bathtub sized coke. Going shopping without stopping at a restaurant. These were all previously a part of the process, they were socially acceptable ways to express my “addiction” to food. How do I do them without food as my counterpart?
Today at lunch, the physical side of it was easy. Emotionally though it was tough. I felt awkward, unsure, nervous. I felt like everyone was staring at the fat guy who wasn’t eating. I mean really, who comes into a restaurant to NOT eat. My waiter even seemed offended.
The point is though, as gangly as I felt on my “new legs”, I made it. I have a lot more firsts coming up. But like the recovering addict I can and will figure out how to cope with my new reality.
And that is the fact of it isn’t it? For this to be permanent change, it has to be my new reality. Like the alcoholic, two is too many and one isn’t enough. I can never be off my guard, even when this juicing phase is through.
Each holiday, each church social, each event, each business lunch is now forever changed. I will have to learn how to get by without my crutch.
The good news is, I can. In fact, I already have. I made it through lunch today. And that is all I really have to do; make it through today, through this meal. Tomorrow can worry about itself. If I give in to the spectre of the future, I will buckle under the monumental weight of it all. For now, now is enough.
And for now, I did not cave in today. I stood strong. I am closer to my goal, if only because I survived this battle. I have proven that I am stronger than my urges. I found a way to do something old in a whole new way.
Yes, today, I have won.
Juice on; Join the Journey.