Me Too.

I never talk about this. It’s something I’ve buried so deep that I often forget about it, which I’m so thankful for. I have many friends speaking out as the “Me Too” movement has risen to take a stance against sexual harassment and abuse. This is my story…

I was 21. A good girl. The girl who was waiting until she was married to give herself “fully” to the man of her dreams. The girl who was dumped several times because she didn’t “put out”. Not just because that was how I was raised, but because my virginity was something I was in control of. I loved the power and uniqueness it gave me. I remember thinking often, “I’ve waited this long, I can wait until I meet ‘the one'”. I was far from a prude, I just knew what I wanted…and that was to wait.

It was New Years Eve and a childhood friend of mine, we’ll call him Joe,  was in town from Pennsylvania. I’d had a crush on him since I was 8 years old, but those feelings faded as I grew up and we just enjoyed each other’s friendship. Since he didn’t have many friends in town and was staying with his grandparents, I invited him to a friend’s New Years Eve party with the plan of introducing him to one of my best girlfriends, knowing they would hit it off. Joe fit in perfectly with everyone at the party, he’s always been a social person and was easy to get along with. As midnight approached, we were all pretty tipsy. The drinks and glasses of champagne were flowing freely.

I remember borrowing a friends bathing suit to swim in their indoor pool and after that things get a little blurry for me. I remember laying down in the basement on one of the couches and passing out…when I woke up my entire world was flipped upside down.

[This is where things get a bit graphic] I woke up to a bloody condom next to me, my bathing suit untied, disheveled and barely covering me and Joe laying next to me. I remember running to the bathroom with tears welling up in my eyes, thinking “No. No. Not Joe. He would never do this to me. He knew I was a virgin. We’ve been friends since we were children. He just wouldn’t do this.” As I sat on the toilet, sobbing from pain and heartbreak, I wiped away the blood. After pulling myself together and putting my clothes back on, I walked out into the room where he slept. His boxers were covered in blood. My blood. I wasn’t on my period. My heart sank and I ran to my girlfriends in the other room. Scared because I couldn’t remember anything. Heartbroken because my virginity was gone. Lost because I felt like I’d no longer have anything to offer to my future husband. I have never spoken out or claimed that I was raped. Rape is a scary word, especially for women who aren’t sure. I never accused him…in fact, I gave Joe, in his blood stained jeans and boxers, a ride back to his grandparent’s house the next day. I never talked to him again after that awkward car ride. He never attempted to contact me again.

I forgave Joe long ago, not because he asked…just because I couldn’t live with the pain anymore. I’ve heard he’s married now with a daughter. I always wrote off that night, telling myself, “We were both drunk. Maybe I told him I wanted it?” It tore me up inside for years. Years of broken and dysfunctional relationships. Complete desperation for acceptance from the guys I dated. I remember being told “welcome to the club!”, “at least he had the decency to wear a condom” and “well now you might as well sleep with your boyfriend since you aren’t a virgin anymore.”

Today, I am here to say that if you want to wait, WAIT! And if you don’t, your value hasn’t decreased! Your value doesn’t rest in your sexual encounters, wanted or not. You are valuable just the way you are. Beautiful, worthy and precious. 8 years later, I’m engaged to the man of my dreams. He loves me despite my brokenness and insecurities. He embraces me, all of me. Even the dark parts I try to bury deep.

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Hiding the evidence…

I live in a sweet little home with the love of my life and our two pups. We have a fun life with great friends and lots of travel. Many nights are spent with him queuing up a movie or Jeopardy while I whip up some form of a meal. Sometimes I get really fancy with dinner and then sometimes I make quesadillas in the microwave.

I think I mentioned before, I started taking Vyvanse many months ago to help curb my binge eating. It has worked great for me during the day. I am focused and the thought of food is pretty much non-existent. That is awesome, except for the fact that I rarely binge eat at work anyway. I binge at home, secretly and quietly when I’m alone. Sometimes I wait until after my love has taken the dogs to bed so I can avoid their begging eyes for the food that I shouldn’t even be eating. By this time, the medicine has lost it’s affect and my will power is all that’s left. This blog post idea came to mind after a recent grocery trip to Aldi.

I typically do a great job making healthy-ish choices when I grocery shop. We haven’t had soda in our home in months, cut out chips (with the exception of tortilla chips & salsa), and Little Debbie snacks. This one particular grocery trip, though, I felt very weak. I didn’t go crazy, but I LOVE jalapeno chips and I told myself “you can buy the bag if you promise yourself to take baggies of them to work, instead of the whole bag.” I’m sure you can guess, after I got home and put everything away, I sat down on the couch to have a couple of my delicious, spicy chips. Within minutes, it seemed, the ENTIRE bag was gone! I was so mad at myself…but even more than that, I was embarrassed. I knew I couldn’t put the bag in the trash because then Sean would see it and I would have to admit to eating an entire bag of chips in one sitting. So what did I do? I folded the empty bag up and slid it under the coffee table to hide until the next time I took the trash out. I had to hide the evidence.

BED sufferers face moments like these ALL THE TIME. I’m still doing good and am in a much better place than I was a year ago…but I’m still weak. I still have moments where I lose awareness of my eating and that’s when I struggle. Even in my struggles, I feel positively encouraged. I feel brave. And hopefully someday I will feel fearless in the face of temptation. Until that day…

“Shame Pants”

After being diagnosed with BED (Binge Eating Disorder), so many things in my life suddenly made sense…and then a lot of stuff didn’t. I remember telling Stephanie one day, “I think you’re going to be really proud of me. I’ve been putting little reminders all around the house to keep me aware and accountable of my eating and my size. I even hung a pair of my ‘skinny pants’ in the window so I see them every day while I get dressed to motivate me to fit into them again!” I was so pleased with myself. Well, that satisfied, pride-filled grin on my face was fleeting as Stephanie responded, “you mean you hung ‘shame pants’ in the the window? To remind yourself that you were thin enough to wear those in the past?” Her correction was sobering.

I thought I was doing the right thing by hanging onto all those cute clothes I used to wear when I was a size 10 or 12, or even 14. What I didn’t realize was that every time I opened my closet and saw some of my favorite outfits folded up, untouched, gathering dust, I got a little further from loving my body. Every time I pulled that pair of super awesome and unique newspaper-print skinny jeans down to try on and see if I’d lost enough weight to fit back into them and didn’t, the more I analyzed and hated the way my love-handles hung over pants that used to fit, the way my belly rippled if I didn’t wear a girdle, how my back fat had started to roll under my bra, or the way my arm flab stretched sleeves until they left rings around my arms from being so tight. Looking back, you’d think I would have decided to get rid of these clothes because they obviously didn’t fit comfortably anymore. But I didn’t…why? Because I was convinced I would fit into them again. That I would lose the weight and look like I used to.

This flawed mindset created a cycle of body-hate that I couldn’t even see until Stephanie pointed it out to me. Fitting back into my “shame pants” defined the satisfaction I had with my body. I perceived my value by how tight or lose my pants fit. I had no body-love for my shape. Stephanie asked me later that meeting, “If you stood naked in front of the mirror, what would you change?” I turned into a puddle. “Everything…”, I whispered. Before I was able to list all of the things I hated about my body, she asked me to tell her one thing I loved. “My freckles.” That was a start. Stephanie began to explain to me how much body image is tied to BED. Constant scrutiny of your body will cause you to only see the parts you don’t like. BED isn’t a food problem. It’s an intense and very real psychological problem. No amount of dieting, exercise, weight loss, etc. will help you see something you love in that mirror if your mindset stays the same. Stephanie’s homework for me? To fall in love with my body. And not fall in love with it because it looked the way I wanted it too. I needed to fall in love with it just the way it was, rolls and all. Easier said than done, that’s for sure.

Body-love tips that helped me:

  • Stop weighing yourself. In fact, don’t have a scale in your home at all.
  • Lose the “shame pants”. No, seriously. Donate them, sell them to a consignment shop…just get rid of them. (I chose to sell mine and made about $50!)
  • “Pride pants”. Buy some new clothes that make you feel confident and fit comfortably. Maybe even buy your new “pride pants” a little lose and wear a belt if you’re like me and obsess over every bit of bulge that hangs over the side.
  • Trash the mirrors. Take that full-length devil mirror off your door and get rid of it. Do your best to stay away from mirrors in general. This will cut down significantly on negative self-talk and harsh self-judgement of your body. (Less mirror time also caused me to cut WAY down on the amount of make-up I wore everyday, which improved my punctuality to work, let my freckles shine and I started to like the way I looked without makeup better than with…all good things!)

Finding peace with my body wasn’t an overnight success. It’s a process…a slow process. It’s the kind of thing where the changes to your mindset are so minor that you can’t see your progress until months down the road. I haven’t stepped on a scale in almost a year. I haven’t curled or straitened my hair in months because I don’t like to waste the time…my natural waves look just as good. Here’s the humdinger, though. My boyfriend and I went to the beach a couple weeks ago for vacation and, without even realizing it, I found myself running around on the beach like a child IN MY BATHING SUIT. Showing my thighs and all their glory while doing handstands in the ocean. I had fun and my mind wasn’t consumed by the fact that I was in a bathing suit, on a beach, where people could see me! Small changes like the ones listed above can create BIG changes in your ability to love your body and help you to lose your self-conscious, negative thoughts overtime.

Go on! Show yourself some body-love ❤

Let’s Ketchup

It’s been a while! Last time I wrote, learning that I was a food addict was still a sour realization. Like eating a Warhead before it turns sweet and tolerable. I’ve had a few months now to digest my diagnosis and figure out the how’s, what’s and why’s of Binge Eating Disorder (BED).

About 8 months ago, through tears, I admitted to my primary care doctor that I thought I had a problem. I told him that I had lost control of my eating and my awareness of what “full” felt like. I remember sitting there on the table with my head buried in my hands, ashamed and embarrassed, sensing that he was staring at me like I was speaking another language. He was so caught off guard and uncomfortable by my outburst of emotions and transparency that he just handed me a card and said that a therapist would be in touch within a couple days. Well, big surprise, weeks went by and no one contacted me. I felt like I was crazy for saying something and that it must all be in my head. I tried numerous apps, diets, failed workout plans, etc. to get myself back on track and nothing stuck. It was like no matter how hard I tried to get it together, I was weak and out of control. That’s when I decided to set out on my own to find a therapist that specialized in eating disorders…and that’s when I found Stephanie.

Stephanie is one of the best things that ever happened to me. She validated what I was feeling, but not in a holier-than-thou, I’m-a-doctor way. She was cool, drank lemonade like a fish and put her sneakers up on the furniture. She didn’t write when I spoke, yet somehow she always remember the names of people and stories I’d told her in previous sessions. I will dive more into what I’ve learned about BED in later blog posts. My issues with food really had nothing to do with a craving or hunger…it was a tangled web of stuff I’d carried around for so long. Stephanie and I slowly untangled that web for about 6 months and my life has changed significantly since.

The most important thing I can say after coming out on the other side of this journey is to trust your gut. Sometimes we have to do things for ourselves, by ourselves. I feel a sense of pride when I remind myself that I asked for help (which is something I RARELY do). I have a sense of control now over my health and I feel better in-tune with who I am. I’m the girl who recognizes when the train is off the tracks and I put in the work to keep that darn train in it’s place! Aweeee yeah!

Pound cakes.

If you read my blogs, you know I do a lot of research. I have been at war with my body for several months now, slowly trying to understand what’s happening to me. Taking in all the information I can, trying everything I can…all for some relief. I found this book at Barnes and Noble the other day called “It Was Me All Along” by Andie Mitchell. The cover is a chubby little girl standing on a beach and it was a memoir of her weight loss journey. I’m not usually attracted to this type of book…I like grab-life-by-the-horns/the-world-is-your-oyster type books. I like reading philanthropic novels, how-to’s and books about other cultures. I felt almost ashamed checking out with that book…like I wanted to say “oh, it’s for a friend.” It only took me three days to finish it. I realized only a few pages in that this book was about me and I cried…a lot. Memories that I’d pushed away came flooding back and that’s where I am right now. Drudging through all of these food-buried memories.

I remember this moment like it was yesterday. My 7th grade gym class was standing in two lines, the girls separated from the boys, to weigh-in. Why on earth we had to do that publicly is unknown to me, but nevertheless we did. I was 5’10 in 7th grade and was on the cheerleading squad, in band and tried out for (but never made) the volleyball and basketball teams. I was a clumsy thing. I was next in line as Mrs. Hale called my name with her clipboard in hand and I stepped on the scale in front of her. 167. I weighed significantly more than all my friends and I burst into tears. This is the first time I remember having a perception of my size…and I got to realize it with every girl in the 7th grade watching. My mom assured me that I was perfect and beautiful and I was just tall. Being tall became my excuse for my weight all my life. I was never thin but I was never fat. I have been average my whole life, all 27 years of it. I always felt that no matter how hard I exercised, I stayed the same…but this book helped me to realize one thing. Food is my best friend. It’s my go-to comfort and it has been that way for so many years. I subconsciously call on my best friend and that’s when things get out of control. It wasn’t until Andie made me realize I had been abusing food all my life that all the little things suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks.

The little things. Like getting home from school and eating a package of fudge pop-tarts and then devouring an entire can of pizza pringles and hiding it deep into the trash to avoid someone calling me out about it. Like getting up for seconds after my first plate, only to fill my plate to the brim again and proceed to eat an entire second meal. Like stopping at the gas station for a snack while driving home from college and realizing I’d eaten the ENTIRE bag of Combos and a slim-jim. Like when I’d heat up the entire bag of pizza rolls, get full after 12 but think “there’s only 4 left…not really worth saving…” so I’d eat them despite feeling like I could burst. Like ordering Chinese take-out and saving the rest for dinner, only to eat it 20 minutes later. Like making a full pot of Whirley-Pop popcorn (my favorite thing ever), dousing it in butter flavoring and salt and sitting down to watch the Voice and noticing that you ate the whole bucket without realizing it…even cleaned the butter off the sides of the bowl with your fingers. Like driving through Starbucks for a coffee and ordering a pumpkin muffin too, because why not?

When I was young, food comforted me when I was teased for being a giant with red hair. It comforted me when we moved from school to school growing up because if my surroundings weren’t consistent, at least my bowl of Lucky Charms was. Papa Johns and Bosco breadsticks were my jam at lunch when I felt like people could tell my clothes were second hand. When I got into high school and the insecurities really set it, food was there. When I fought with my parents, food was there. When I left for college and hated going to a private school and missed my friends and family, food was there. When I moved even farther to be with my then boyfriend, food filled the loneliness. When we broke up, so much food helped me forget that hurt. Today, I feel numb to food. It no longer draws me by aroma or taste, it’s just as a filler. Just something to distract me from the hard things in life. Something used to celebrate the good things in life. Something that I love and hate. Food is a bittersweet part of my life anymore, it is rarely eaten without guilt following close behind.

These scenarios played over and over in my head as I read her words. I realized that I am totally and completely addicted to food. I am a binge eater. I am an emotional eater (and shopper…but we’ll save that for another day). I don’t want to do the work it’s going to take to beat this, honestly.

Now that I have exposed all of that on the internet, I’ll let you know that I’m talking to my doctor tonight at my appointment about referring me to someone. Whether it’s OA, a psychologist or a nutritionist…I just want to escape this buried feeling and find joy in cooking and savoring again. Here I go!

desserts

Do-nut Talk to Me Today.

It’s National Coffee Day I guess…which was evidently reason enough for every department to pick up a box of donuts and email everyone to come “help yourself!”. Of course this happens on the day I had to reach for my leggings when I got ready this morning because none of my pants would button. As an emotional eater, ALL I WANT IS A DONUT. I am practicing the theory that the more you say “no”, the less tempting sweets become. I have been so stressed out lately with the house buying process, working 3 jobs…and of course, my size and health.

My emotional response to stress? Garlic Cheeseburgers from Steak and Shake, Rally’s French Fries, a large soda, Jalapeno Cheetos or a DONUT(S). I have become so addicted to coping with food that I don’t even notice that I’m not actually hungry, I just know that a french fry would really make me feel better because as long as I’m stuffing my face with sugar and fried foods, then I’m happy. Wrong. This is the other side, where I’ve coped with food long enough that my pants and bras don’t fit and coming to terms with the fact that I have lost control of my weight.

My last post was pretty optimistic and I did well for a week, but as I started to feel better, I started to backslide. This wagon is so freakin’ hard to not fall off! But here are a few of my updates:

  • I started taking Turmeric by MegaFood. It’s a Turmeric, black pepper and black cherry blend. I read that in order for your body to absorb it well, it would need to have black pepper. I take one a day. The bottle says two, but when I take two it makes my head foggy and gives me a slight headache. I think I have noticed a difference with digestion and the feeling of inflammation in my intestines, but it’s only a slight improvement so far.
  • I’ve been trying to cut out gluten where I can. I found this bread at Meijer that is gluten free and actually quite good, but it’s expensive. Like $6.39 on sale! But as someone who eats bread rarely, that will last me a couple weeks. I’m not a gluten-free fanatic, but it can increase inflammation and doctors are suspecting that I have Inflammatory Bowel Disease…so I’m trying to eat less of it to see if I notice a difference.
  • Okay, my food trigger trials. When I have a craving, I look at the clock and wait 20-40 minutes and drink a glass of water. So far, once my time is up the craving is gone. It’s helping me to be aware of my stress triggers as well as be mindful about what’s going in my body. 20 minutes is a long time to talk myself out of something that’s probably going to bloat me and make me feel gross. I’ve also been better about packing my own snacks for work (today I have apples and peanut butter for morning snack and sliced tomatoes, mozzarella and balsamic for afternoon).
  • I’ve also started using My Diet Coach. For a free app I feel like it really lets you do a lot without many ads. It reminds me to look at my motivational pictures. It also has a pretty decent food diary. I HATE FOOD DIARIES. They are annoying and time consuming…but a necessary tool for someone like me, who gives no shits about the calories I’m stuffing my face with.

My next few goals are to keep going, even when I backslide. Last night I ate wayyyyyy too many tortilla chips, but instead of just going to bed I thought “Well, I blew today’s caloric intake…guess I’ll have some popcorn.” Self control and I do not get along so well. We are like jealous step-sisters. Also, food prepping. I DON’T WANNA…but everyone I talk to says it’s a necessary part of weight loss. But I hate it. So I’m going to try to find ways to like it and do it faithfully and will share those tips with you…if I’m successful. Lastly, exercise more. I can totally do a small workout regimen daily, but I’m lazy. So today, I’m walking with my friend Angie after work. Baby steps.