Sunday, January 23, 2011

Why I'm fat - Part One

I've been trying to write this post for over a week. I would write a couple paragraphs on the topic, read it the next day and delete it. I've done this several times. In an effort to prevent this from being the longest post ever written, I'm breaking it into parts.

Part One - How I deal with emotional pain

The simple answer of why I'm fat is that I eat too much. The not so simple answer is something I've been trying to figure out my entire life. It's about so much more than the fact that I like to eat. There's a reason for my issues with food, and although I think I understand the "why" of my situation, I've yet to figure out how to fix it. Notice I said how to fix "it". I'm finally understanding that it's not really me that needs to be fixed, it's a behavior of mine that needs to be fixed.

As a member of the Dead Daddy Club (a phrase coined by Roxie) I learned at a young age how to deal with pain. At barely 13 years old I watched my father die suddenly from a heart attack, at home with just my mother and myself watching helplessly. At the time we were living on a homestead in Alaska in 1968, without a phone and eighty miles from the nearest hospital.

After this happened I learned the best way to deal with heartbreak was to a.) pretend it didn't happen and b.) eat your way through the pain. I've used this learned behavior my entire life, every time I'm facing something unpleasant.

I've written about this before, it was something I figured out at a Geneen Roth workshop last fall. That workshop was difficult because I had to face some things in my past and my present. Things I'd really rather not think about.

That's the problem with me, as soon as I start dealing with something unpleasant, I stop dealing with it. I don't want to go there. I don't want to deal with something that might open up old wounds, or make me face something in my life right now that's unpleasant. If there's any way I can avoid it, I will. What better way to escape than by eating? It's a cheap, legal and short-term fix to shutting down the pain.

I'm reading a book, Bob Greene's The Life You Want. It's really no different than the dozens of other weight loss books I've read over the years. Just like the other books, I find myself doing the same thing I've done before. 

I start reading the book, I get excited because I feel like the author is speaking to me. I completely identify with what they're saying. Then I get to the part, "let's figure out how to fix your problem" . That's when I put the book away. I'm done with it. I don't want to do the hard work it takes to fix it. It's emotionally challenging. It hurts. I'd rather not do it.

That's where I am right now. I either do the work or I continue gaining weight until I'm right back at 240 pounds or more. As Grace said in a comment the other day, you can't white knuckle your way through an eating disorder. She's right.

Do I have an eating disorder?

Eating disorders refer to a group of conditions characterized by abnormal eating habits that may involve either insufficient or excessive food intake to the detriment of an individual's physical and emotional health.

Yes, I have an eating disorder. Now it's time for the hard work.


Alexia @ Dimple Snatcher said...

Beautiful sharing, Diane. I think the underlying issues and self acceptance stuff matter so much. Personally, I believe if I don't tackle that sort of stuff I'll never keep the weight off.

Thanks for sharing. Be well :)

Roxie said...

Diana, the inside work is tough. However, what I'm finding is that I (and you, too) have a much better set of skills to tackle the painful stuff than we did at the time this was all set in motion. It will be okay. You already are.

Carrieheff said...

Can't wait to read the following "parts" because I'm at exactly the same place you are. I know what needs to be fixed and why I overeat, I just have no clue how to fix the issues I have in my brain short of therapy. I'm interested to see how you are going to "fix" your issues.

But just knowing what your issues are is a major step in the right direction. Good for you!

Joy said...

I know it was probably really tough writing this blog. I haven't yet mustered the courage to write about the "why."

When I was reading your post it sound a little familiar. It's because I am reading Bob Greene's book The Best Life Diet. I'm really enjoying it so far. I'll have to check out the one you are reading as well.

audreygeddes said...

Thank you for sharing your journey, Diana. It's difficult to find the right 'diet' book since there are so many, but one that I have found that has really helped me is called, Full: A Life Without Dieting by Michael Snyder, M.D. I've learned some simple and easy to follow ways on eating the right foods that have actually helped me stay full longer. I highly recommend Dr. Snyder's book to anyone who is tired of diets and diet books. I wish you success in your weight loss!