Why do you eat?

I've been working on this for more than a week, and I'm still not sure I've got it right, but I'm just going to publish it and be done with it.

Okay, well there is the obvious answer to this question. Because you're hungry. Or is it just because you think you're hungry? Or maybe you're not even hungry, something just compels you to pick up that brownie.

I've been overweight for most of my life. There were a few brief periods where I was thinner, but for the most part, I've always had a weight problem.

I don't know why I ate the way I did when I was young. It was probably similar to the reasons I've discovered for my eating in my adult life.

I was reading The Crazy Woman Inside Me the other day, and got to thinking about the reasons that I eat. I'm a binge eater. I always have been. However, years ago I got it mostly under control. At least in that I don't often eat to the point of making myself physically ill anymore. So for the most part I can keep my weight pretty stable. There have been periods of time, however, where this was not the case. Periods of time when I gained large amounts of weight in a very short period of time.

The first that comes to mind is right after I miscarried our first baby. I'd been dieting and lost 50 pounds so that I'd be healthy when I got pregnant, so my metabolism was primed and ready for a horrific amount of weight gain. I gained about 40 pounds in 4 months. When asked why I was gaining weight so quickly, I said that I was depressed. Which was true, I was horrifically depressed. As in I didn't want to get out of bed and life had no meaning at all depressed. But the more I think about it the more I realize that it wasn't just that I was depressed. It was that I was punishing myself. Punishing my body for not taking care of my baby. I know logically that this makes absolutely no sense, but I felt guilty and I felt betrayed.

Some statistics say that as many as half of first pregnancies end in miscarriage, but that made no difference. I was absolutely certain that I'd done something wrong that had killed my baby. So I ate and ate and ate, even though it didn't make me feel any better in the long run. It just numbed things for a little while. I continued to gain a lot of weight after I got pregnant. I was eating healthy food, but just way too much of it. I gained 70 pounds when I was pregnant. Now about 40 of that was mostly water weight, because I had pre-eclampsia and I lost it within a month of having my wee one. I was still depressed even after I got pregnant again. It wasn't that I wasn't happy to be pregnant, but I didn't trust my body at all. I didn't really believe until he was born that something wasn't going to go horribly wrong and me lose him too. I'm sure that fueled my eating as well.

The second period of time was when I was living in Denmark. Let me preface this by saying that Denmark is a lovely country, full of charming people. I have nothing against Denmark. Unfortunately, I hated living there with a passion! Let me also say that I absolutely love my husband with all my heart, but things were hard and money was tight and nothing went the way it was supposed to. I could go into details here, but I think I'll just leave it at that. So I was living in a studio apartment in a city that made me very uncomfortable (I'm a country girl. Cities make me very, very nervous.) in a country where I didn't speak the language with no money and no ability to get a job, because no one will hire you to do ANYTHING if you don't speak Danish.

First I actually lost weight, because we had no money to buy much food and I had to ride my bike everyday to Danish classes because I couldn't afford a bus pass. I was in fact probably thinner than I've ever been in my life. I learned Danish pretty quickly and started a job working in the kitchen of a local hospital. After that I got REALLY depressed. I got up very early to go to work and when I got back from work I would sleep for hours until Bryon got home. When I wasn't sleeping, I was eating. Depression was my excuse again, but it again went deeper than that. I'd given up my full tuition scholarship at school to move to Denmark with the assurance that I'd be able to study there as well. Unfortunately when I got there and applied they told me that I, in fact, would have to go to the Danish version of high school first…despite the fact that I had gone to American high school and a year and a half of college here. I blamed myself for not getting it in writing before I ever moved there that I'd be able to go to school. I felt completely out of control of the situation and like a total failure.

So what this all boils down to is that I eat when I feel like I've failed and feel guilty for something. I guess I punish myself for what I've done. Whether that thing was completely out of my ability to control or not. I've never really felt very accomplished at anything. I was never good at sports. Never very popular (always the weird kid). Never a beauty queen. I did well in school, but I wasn't the best. Good grief my brothers are both engineers! I've never gotten any of my writing published. I guess I feel like I've never done anything that anyone would ever be proud of me for doing. Bryon's proud of me for everything I do. He's always my champion, and I love him so much. But I even find it difficult to accept it when he's proud of me, because I'm not really proud of myself. But there are things in my life I've done that I should be proud of!

I've always heard that old saying, "You can't love someone until you truly love yourself."

I think that's bull. You can love others with all your heart even if you loathe yourself, but you can't allow yourself to be really loved until you love yourself. Because no matter how much they love you, you won't be able to accept that love. You'll think every compliment is meant to get something or because they felt like they had to say it, rather than because they genuinely meant it.

So I guess I have some tasks in front of me…

  • Learn to love myself more
  • Stop punishing myself for things, whether I can control them or not
  • Try to accept compliments as genuine
  • Allow myself to believe that I am worthy

Seems like four pretty simple things… We'll see.


Julia said…
Wow that took a lot of balls! And that is a complement by the way. I think most of the battle is identifying what the "battle" actually is and with that done you are on the path to conquering it. I really mean it. You have worth and worthiness!!!!!

You can do this.
Oh, man, my friend. I TOTALLY get where you're coming from; I've been going through a lot of similar thoughts myself, lately (and I'm not sure why. Maybe because I've been sick?).

One thing that helps me a LOT is exercise. It makes me feel good about myself and that I'm strong. The rest falls into place from there.

Hang in there. If you need a pep talk, holler.
Anonymous said…
As Julia said, acknowledging what you think you need to work on, is the first and possibly biggest step. I had to learn a long, long time ago to not punish myself for my mistakes. I will own up to them. I will even admit that a lot of the really bad stuff in my life is because of my own decisions. But, I always, always tell myself (and anyone else cough*family*cough) that I can't change the past, I did the BEST I COULD, and that is all I ever ask of myself. Do the best you can with what you got.
MsSnarkyPants said…
Thanks, all of you! *HUGS*

Julia, you're right. I think a lot if it is seeing what it is you need to fix. I've come a long way already, just gotta keep truckin'.

Susan, the best thing I've found for me is running. I think it's mostly because I never thought I could do it, but I'm succeeding at it and that makes all the difference!

Vixen, exactly. Everyone makes mistakes and bad decisions. No one is perfect, and doing the best you can is all you can do.
I love the conclusions you came to, Lesley, and the tasks you set for yourself. :-D

Self-exploration can be hard as hell for dieters but without finding what's wrong inside us we'll never succeed in keeping the weight off that we work so hard to lose.

Your post was heartfelt, interesting and just plain wonderful. :-)

MsSnarkyPants said…
Susan, thanks, it was a hard one to write. I agree. Definitely. If you can't figure out what caused it in the first place, then you can't heal yourself and the number on the scale means nothing.

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