Numbers and the way they rule my world….
I’m not sure how or where to start this post.
When I was at my heaviest weight, before I decided that I needed help, while I thought that I was just fine the way I was…. when I had given up on the idea of ever losing weight again… I never looked at the back of a package. I never looked at the nutritional values of the foods I was consuming. I didn’t care about how much protein, or carbs or calories they contained. I didn’t care about the scale, because I didn’t step on it. I didn’t care about the size of my clothing, because it was easier to buy something that read 4x than it was something that read 26. I didn’t care. My relationship with food was unhealthy. I overate. I ate to comfort myself. I ate to fill an ache inside. I ate what ever I wanted, despite the consequences. I didn’t care. Right there… is a disordered relationship with food. I was a comfort eater, an over eater.
When I started my pre-op journey I paid very careful attention to the number of carbs that were in the foods I ate. I stuck to high protein, low carb. I didn’t count calories. I knew that in the end, my goal was simply to lose some weight, to get use to a different way of eating. Cutting those carbs was difficult at first, but once I got over the hump of it, I breezed through to my surgery day.
Once I had my surgery, I was told to count that protein. Make sure, no matter what, that you get in enough protein. So, I pushed through with shakes and bars and eventually my God send, Greek Yogurt. Protein protein protein. How many grams? I was looking at those packages! I was documenting 12g here, 14g there, 21g here. Eventually, I had to start taking my calorie content into consideration, and I struggled so much. No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t find a way to get in over 800 calories in a day. I just couldn’t do it! I started to journal my daily meals. And I started to obsess.
I knew that as long as I stayed below 1000 calories I wasn’t going to lose any more weight. I HAD to make changes. We all know that change is difficult, but what followed was something I wasn’t prepared for. I started to have anxiety about eating something more substantial than yogurt. I worried that eating something with more calories would easily slip in as the norm and before I knew it I might lose the control I had worked so hard to gain. To have a breakfast that was more than 220 calories threw me over the edge. I swapped yogurt for protein bars. I got my calories up, I lost a little more. But then I noticed that those protein bars had carbs! And carbs were what I didn’t want, and well now the panic really took hold. Because I needed the calories, and I needed the protein but I didn’t want the carbs. And I felt helpless and scared and out of control. I felt panic, I had tears. I had anxiety about food!
And then the pendulum swung the other way again, and I started to slip into the helpless feeling and resigned myself to not being able to control anything, and I stopped counting the calories and the protein. I ate things that I knew were low carb and I stuck with that for a long while. And I continued to lose and I figured I was okay. Until… one day I hit the plateau, and it lasted months. And now I’m back to that stupid food journal, and I’m back to the obsession. And I am realizing that I have allowed little habits to creep back in.
I use to snack on some raisnettes and almonds when I felt like I needed a treat. A few went a long way with me. Now, instead there were straight up candy bars. no almonds. I’ve been eating crackers with my cheese. I didn’t do that before. I was blissfully happy with just cheese. I find myself stealing a bite of the kids bagels here and there, grazing as I walk through the kitchen, eating simply because I’m bored.
So I go back to the food journal, to keep myself accountable, only now I realize that I am once again in a state of constant obsession. How many calories is that? How much protein? HOLY CRAP! DO YOU SEE HOW MANY CARBS? UGH! It is maddening! I am driving myself crazy, and I don’t know how to make it stop.
I’m sharing this little insight of the crazy, because so many of you pre-op folks have asked me if I would do it again. Yes, I would. Do I like my choice of surgery? YES I do! BUT…. there is this thing that comes along with it… for many of us in the community. As an obese adult, you never imagine that you could ever resemble a person with an eating disorder. And then one day you wake up and you think to yourself…. “I think I saw an after school special in 1988 that resembled ME! Do I have an eating disorder? Could I? Maybe?”