Getting Personal: Confidence and Compulsive Eating

Confidence and Compulsive Eating

“At some point, you just pull off the Band-Aid and it hurts, but then it’s over and you’re relieved. ” – John Green

I had always felt like a pretty girl but was very well aware of the fact that I was fat. I hoped that my intelligence, docile nature and sweet personality would somehow mask my bulging waist line. I dared not ruffle any feathers and felt obligated to make sure others were happy so that no one would feel the need to judge my fatness or the fact that I- the person who was always cool, calm and collected… in control of every other situation , could not control herself and what she did to a box of doughnuts or to a bag of Sweet Tart jellybeans. As hard as it still is to admit, I was an emotional and compulsive eater. And while I did a great job of pumping and pepping myself up and putting on a good face, I really wasn’t happy and never truly, genuinely felt comfortable in my skin.

I use to think the whole category of disorders devoted to eating was completely bogus. Being the evolved, thinking beings we all are, controlling what we consume should be easy! But yet I’d find myself feeling compelled to eat until I was completely stuffed and top it off with dessert because I couldn’t say no to a slice of *insert any flavor* cake. The truth is, my eating was out of control and I felt and still feel embarrassed about it. Contrary to what I had convinced myself, compulsive and emotional eating are very real. Emotional eating is when you eat your feelings. Whether you’re happy, sad, angry, you self-medicate  with food consumption. Compulsive eating is when you eat way more food that you need and just don’t stop when you’re full. Everyone overeats every now and again, but consistent overindulgence (we’re talking daily, folks) is compulsive eating. Talk about a double whammy.  The worse part about emotional and compulsive eating isn’t the excess calories, it isn’t even the extra pounds associated… it’s the guilt and shame that you feel after you’ve allowed yourself to spiral out of control. The guilt and shame that lead you to keeping this whole issue under wraps (along with your confidence) and hidden in the dark. When has hiding anything ever really helped?  It doesn’t.

That didn’t stop me from trying. I mean, c’mon, I didn’t say I had NO confidence… I had a speck or two so I did what any self-respecting person would do: I tried to cover the shit up! The world did not need to know that I couldn’t control myself. So I figured I’d “fake it til’ I make it” and put on the façade of confidence and try (really hard) to convince myself that I was Fat and fabulous. (Please don’t misunderstand, I completely understand and truly believe that beautify comes at in all sizes, but I didn’t feel beautiful. Some people are naturally confident and that’s what makes them stunning regardless of their dress size, but that just wasn’t me.) I’ve always been a relatively optimistic so of course I’d put on the happy face and just be grateful to have a body (and pretty great personality). Besides, I grew up in a traditional black southern home and my folks didn’t believe in therapy, eating disorders, depression or any of that so I sucked it up and ate.

This fitness journey has been about way more than just losing weight. I’ve had to pull the band-aid back, reflect on what caused the pain and heal it. Sorry to go all Dr. Phil, but I had to acknowledge that I had an issue before I could fix it. Fixing it didn’t come overnight. It’s taken time, it wasn’t easy and honestly, I’m still working on it… I always will be. Not out of obsession but from a place of consciousness and self-control. As much as Atkins, South Beach and diet pill companies would love for us to believe, pills, potions, and elimination diets aren’t sustainable solutions to weight loss. You have to figure out what’s causing the behavior and change it, one step at a time. The steps add up and eventually you’ll find yourself miles from where you started. You’ll find yourself stronger, more courageous and willing to take a stab at something new worrying less about who’s looking at you and ready to judge your fatness, and more about how awesome life is. You’ll find yourself at a place where you’re comfortable and happy in your skin  with no need to compare yourself to anyone else in the room because while they’re amazingly cool people, I can never be as good at being them and they could never be as good at being me. That’s my definition of confidence – being great at being your authentic self and loving every part of it.

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