Life Is Worth Living
"These, then, are my last words to you:
Be not afraid of life.
Believe that life is worth living.
and your belief will help create the fact.
William James (1842 ~ 1910)
I have lived my life as a compulsive eater and I have known many other compulsive eaters. I believe I can say unequivocally that life is much more difficult in so many ways for us than for many others. I denied that what I suffered from was a disease; yet I watched as over the years it robbed me of so many things others take for granted. Most of us will acknowledge early on that the manifestations of compulsive eating affects us spiritually, emotionally and physically. Volumes have been written about each of these so most reading this know the devastation it causes. When I began to inventory my life and saw how much the quality of it had suffered, it saddened me greatly.
I believe one of the most difficult ways the disease of COE, or any compulsive illness, affects us is the way society looks upon us. Because I have experienced life both ways, I know how behavior and attitudes change in interacting with a COE vs a non-COE. We wear our disease on the outside ... but the extensive damage is far more wide-spread than just the physical. The disease wrecks havoc in every area of our lives as we silently go about our life doing the things expected of us. We don't dare scapegoat the disease. After all, this is not a cancer ... or heart disease. Yet it can be just as serious.
Many decades ago, a group of alcoholics gathered and, as a result, life began to change for those of us who struggled with the disease. When I reached the point in my life that I could actually acknowledge that compulsive eating was affecting it and that I had done everything possible to stop it and couldn't, it was one of the most freeing moments I've ever experienced. I learned that I was as powerless over this as I would have been suffering a heart attack. I also learned that I couldn't handle it alone. I learned that there were twelve steps that were absolutely necessary if I were to survive emotionally and, perhaps even physically.
I went from fighting the disease to acknowledging it. Because of the Steps I learned that there were tens of thousands of others exactly like me and that we all spoke the same beautiful language. I learned not to be afraid of life ... and that, despite this despicable disease, life is truly worth living. I was told to "act as if" and by doing this it became no longer an act.
One day at a time ...
I affirm that my life is worth living. One day at a time, I affirm that I will not be afraid of anything that makes me feel otherwise.
5 Years at GOAL! (Blog, 12/31/13)
Today is a great day because I celebrate 5 years at goal. On December 31,2008, I reached goal after staying committed to the 5/1 for 29 weeks. 5 years ago today, I changed my life permanently. I didn’t really KNOW at the time, that I’d changed my life permanently……….but today I know it for a fact.
The 5/1 enabled me to develop a solid routine with respect to eating meals on a regular schedule. It trained me to view food as ‘fuel’ instead of entertainment, comfort, or relief from boredom. For decades I was using food for all the wrong reasons, and as a result, I suffered from obesity.
When I took on the 5/1, I’d been researching lapband surgery, after yo yo dieting for 4 decades. I’d lose a nice chunk of weight with a new diet, and then proceed to gain it ALL back in short order. With a few extra pounds, just for fun.
An ad popped up onto my computer screen that day, and I learned about Medifast for the first time in my dieting career. Sheesh, at that point, I thought I’d tried EVERYTHING on the market. But I hadn’t. I never tried the 5/1, so I thought I’d give it a go.
I ordered 1 month’s worth of food and ‘tried’ the program for 1 week. I wasn’t really ready to commit myself 100%, however, because I wasn’t willing to give up drinking at the time. I managed to lose 5 lbs that first week, in spite of not staying 100% OP.
I realized that the 5/1 was not a program that I should be fiddling around with. I realized I needed to commit myself 100% to the program, but the time wasn’t quite right. So I put the boxes in the back of my pantry for one full year.
On June 10, 2008, I opened a box of clothing I’d purchased on EBay, for a Cancun vacation my DH and I were taking. When I SAW how much fabric it took to cover my body, I was suddenly ‘ready’ to commit to the program that would ultimately change my life. I was ready to wear a size Medium rather than a 2X or 3X. I was also ready to stop drinking, permanently, because it was TIME.
I started the 5/1 the very next day, and put all of my tried-and-true excuses to sleep. I would NOT drink nor would I go off plan for the duration of the weight loss journey. Period. I didn’t care how ‘tempted’ I’d be, I didn’t care what anyone else had to say on the matter, either………all I DID care about was reaching goal AND keeping the weight off. I had 100 lbs to lose and it felt overwhelming. So I set my ticker at 25 lb increments, and I immediately felt better. The ‘overwhelming’ journey ahead suddenly didn’t feel quite so overwhelming anymore. All I had to do was stay the course, put one foot in front of the other, and DO IT, by God!
And that’s what I happened: I did it. I lost 76 lbs in 29 weeks & reached my initial goal of 149 lbs. When I got there, I still felt a bit chubby, especially in photos, and I would be damned if I worked THIS hard to STILL feel chubby!
So I went for another 10 lbs before I began Transition. During the Transition period, I lost a few more pounds before beginning Maintenance, based on my calorie budget of 1,500 per day, and based on eating small, healthy meals at the same times I ate during 5/1. I’d programmed my BODY to tell me when it was time to eat, and to quit feeding my MIND whenever I felt like it. THIS was the key to long term weight management: feeding the BODY instead of the MIND. Whether I ‘felt like it’ or not, I ate on schedule, and I still eat on schedule, 5 years later.
Everything in my life has changed for the better, now that I’m 100 lbs lighter than I was in 2008. I am no longer self-conscious about how I look. I can buy clothing anywhere on earth, in almost any store, without having to deal with Plus Sizes. I can move around freely, cross my legs, and reach my feet in the shower. I can embrace a new adventure without worrying if I’m too fat to actually accomplish the goal. I allow people to take pictures of me nowadays, and that’s a BIG one………….because I’d forbid anyone to capture me on film when I was obese. Who wanted to SEE my image in a picture? I mean, yes, I knew I was a large woman, but to SEE it on a photo was another story.
The 5/1 was the tool I used to help me change my life. I often refer to MF as Miracle Food, but I did the hard work involved in creating the miracle. I allowed myself NO excuses, no ‘outs’, no ‘just this once’s’. I stuck to my Food Plan like glue during the 5/1, and honestly, I stick to my Maintenance Food Plan like glue now.
There is no ‘easy’ way, unfortunately. The TV ads promise us weight loss like ‘magic’ if we purchase this pill or that product. There IS no magic. There is only hard work and self-discipline. And the 5/1 is THE program to GIVE you the self-discipline you’ve probably lacked.
I’d like to say that the past 5 years of weight management have been a breeze, but they haven’t. It took me a full year to develop a Food Plan that was manageable and that I could TRUST without weighing myself every day. In year 4, I struggled with a 15 lb gain, the first significant change in my weight since I first began this journey. I re-committed to the 5/1, and to total abstinence from sugar, and I lost the excess weight, thank God. For me, sugar is something I cannot deal with, period………so I don’t. It took me 4 years to arrive at that conclusion, however, and I did have my share of struggles until I finally reached the point of Acceptance.
The key to success here is different for everyone, I suppose. I’m sharing MY journey and what its taken for ME to arrive at a place of peace & serenity with food. I don’t know what it will take for YOU to reach YOUR happy place, but I DO know this: Staying committed to the program entirely WILL help you tremendously.
If I can do this, YOU can do this. You CAN change your life, one packet at a time, one day at a time. Once you commit to staying OP all the time, no matter WHAT, the ROUTINE takes over. This is what gets you to goal: the familiarity of the routine. You replace your old, bad eating habits with new, healthy eating habits. It becomes totally normal to eat 6 small, healthy meals a day in Maintenance, just as you did during 5/1.
Today, December 31, 2013, is a huge milestone for me. I've been sober for 5 1/2 years now, having had NO alcohol since June 10, 2008. Not only did the 5/1 help me lose a whole lot of body fat, it helped me get and stay sober as well. My life is no longer devoted to food OR booze, thank God, and for that I am eternally grateful. I don't take my recovery lightly, either, because I KNOW I'm always one bite or one sip away from disaster. But, for today, my program is solid and I'm choosing to keep it that way.
Wishing you all a blessed & peaceful 2014. Press on, my friends, and MAKE your dreams come true this year!