Something super nice happened today that I appreciated so much, I had to blog about it. But as I began to write, it turned into a whole other thing. You see, something happened today that meant so much to me– I actually had to think about WHY it meant so much to me.
You see, I try not to be much of a complainer— but I have been pretty vocal about how uncomfortable I’ve been sharing a “mega cube” (ie. 4 people’s cubicles that make up one big one) with a table that is often the house for food for everyone in the cubicle. Don’t get me wrong. I love the cube (I have a super standing desk) and I love being near my coworkers and chatting with them daily (they are super awesome, if I do say so myself).
But today, instead of piling on more treats on that table, a kind soul redirected birthday treats to a neutral location that didn’t have to stare at me all day. It was so nice for someone to actually help me out in this way.
Before ever moving into the cubicle, I made it known lightheartedly how I wasn’t looking forward to having junk food be my neighbor. A different coworker just looked at me and was like, “Um…easy. Don’t eat it.”
It stung. Um…obviously.
But for people who have struggled with food issues their whole lives, it’s more than just not eating it. Having it near me constantly can pose such a distraction. The smell. Seeing it. Hearing people come in to get seconds or thirds… I can’t stop thinking about it.
The truth is, especially lately, I USUALLY don’t eat any of it (I mean, why would I when I’m working SO HARD every day to achieve my goals). And a lot of times, I will just drink my protein shake and let the amazingness of Shakeology take away my cravings.
But you know how it is…even if I do resist, NO ONE WANTS TO TAKE THE LAST PIECE. So then I have to stare at it. Or, like I’ve done before, physically removed it myself from the table by dumping it on someone else’s desk. Otherwise…I end up feeling as pathetic as this picture portrays me:
But the truth is, even though I’ve had a decently good track record succeeding, sometimes it’s really hard. And it can be a huge struggle. In fact, it’s been a struggle I’ve had my whole life. And the bigger truth is– I know myself and I know that sometimes, I cannot stop.
But I’ll be darned if someone tries to make it seem like I have no self-control just because I personally struggle with an issue like this. Tell me I don’t have self-control when I map out my week around fitness, keep track of my food, commit to eating predominately fruits and veggies daily, and continually work toward setting and achieving goals for myself. If anything– that’s the definition of control!
And I’ve worked hard to get to this place, especially because I’ve had issues with food. And I admit it.
I have a weird childhood memory of when I was around 8 years old drinking orange soda and I made a random comment to one of my parents saying that I didn’t think I’d ever drink alcohol because I cannot ever stop eating or drinking things that taste good– using my orange soda guzzling ways as an example.
I remember one of my parents looking confused and saying, “Well it’s good you know that about yourself.”
Well here I am at 24 and I’m telling you I’ve never had a single issue with alcohol. But food? It’s taken me YEARS to get to where I am today. And by years, I mean my whole life and on both sides of the spectrum. And I’m still a work in progress. I’m definitely not perfect, and I definitely struggle.
My mindset growing up used to be that if there was ever free food, or something new to try, or someone made something– you ate it. And why eat healthy stuff like fresh veggies or a side salad with dinner when that will just fill you up, keeping you from eating as much of the “good stuff” you were chowing down on right then?
That was my mindset up until Junior high/ high school.
Then it was a wave of up and down and up and down. I remember one time packing lunch with some tuna and counting the crackers out only to have my mom see how little I packed and give me a lecture on how I needed to actually pack more food for lunch because really— I was being CRAZY and overly limiting my food in an unhealthy way.
Some days, I’d eat so little, I’d wake up in the middle of the night because I was so hungry and just binge eat when not a single soul was awake.
Then in college when I was stalked by a boy I tutored who then confided in me plans to blow up our school’s football stadium– resulting in police escorts for myself and obviously counseling– there was a weekend where I was too afraid to leave my dorm room and ate nothing but Oreos and vending machine food. I ate SO many Oreos that I got sick of the cookie part and began “harvesting” the cream so I could eat big chunks of the center. My roommate and dear friend came home after a long weekend to find me in a bathrobe mid-gigantic bite of Oreo cream and was horrified.
And so was I. Not that she caught me. But the fact that I let crippling fear keep me from real food. That I tried to self medicate stress with sugar. And that really, I had to admit I had issues instead of hiding them. That semester, I gained around 15-20 pounds in three months. And I wasn’t even a freshman! I was a senior!
Yes, I admit I have had my share of some very dysfunctional food issues over the years, and it’s taken me a very long time to actually be able to say it out loud.
But no, it’s not as simple as “just not eating it” like one coworker suggested when I “lightheartedly” shared my honest anxiety about moving into a food cubicle. When food used to rule your life in a weird roller coaster and you FINALLY seem to have a handle on it, you don’t want to tempt yourself weekly–sometimes daily– with free food that not only sits behind you, but that countless coworkers enter to get and then talk to you about it as they eat it.
And for those who know me or read my blog regularly, you know that faith plays a huge role in everything I do. Within the past two years especially, God has convicted me about the way I treat my body and how abusing it in such a way like I had, doesn’t glorify Him.
Yet, many people and even Christians find it hard to acknowledge food and obesity as a sin issue. But temptation is temptation, no matter how you look at it.
You wouldn’t do that to an alcoholic or drug addict, would you? You wouldn’t let someone who got out of drug rehab babysit your medicine cabinet and say, “just don’t take anything, but look at it all day”…. right? Oh, and then if they did slip up after you chugged that nice cold one in front of the recovering alcoholic, would you really tell them they’re a weak human being because they couldn’t take it any more?
Yeah…if you’re a jerk.
Sure, I’ve been managing pretty well being in the food cubicle these past couple of months– only giving in occasionally. But today, having someone actually think about me and my honest, hard attempts toward living a healthier life and respecting them meant the world to me in a way that I’ve never had before. Very few people do understand that struggles with food are real beyond the obvious in-your-face eating disorders (which still, many people can disguise pretty well). But they are.
Now, after admitting to the past, I have to tell you about the present (which naturally plays into my future). I am NOT legalistic with food now. And occasionally, I will allow myself to have that muffin or a treat. As an Italian (and a human being), I believe food is an experience that brings people together and can bring both healing and joy— so I’m never going to DEPRIVE myself of anything.
But as an educated adult making strides toward a healthier lifestyle– I know there is a time and a place for treats. And that is not everyday. I know that food is meant to fuel you and empower you– not make you feel terrible about yourself or make you crash in the afternoon.
And I will NEVER be that person who people can’t go out with because of fear of what will be available. I am that person who will be knowledgeable of healthy foods and options and let myself make the best decisions I can in any situation WHILE ENJOYING MYSELF– and then not worry about whether they were “good enough.”
I will never be that person who beats myself up over what I eat– whether its a slight indulgence or even a slip up. I am human and I forgive myself and strive to be better.
The BEAUTY of working out and keeping track of what I eat is that I know what I’m putting in and how much work I need to give out. After YEARS of feeling out of control, I feel so empowered with how I’ve been taking back my life and know that I really am able to make smart decisions. There is no stress when you feel in control of your life and you don’t let food control you.
But just because I’m a strong woman making great strides toward a healthier me, I’m not going to surround myself with temptation if I can help it. So, again, thank you awesome coworker and friend who did a simple gesture that meant so much. I wish more people were as understanding and respectful as you.
If you struggle with eating disorders or any kind of eating issue, you’re not alone. But it is OKAY to seek help. Please ignore the mean people who don’t understand that your struggles are real. They are real, but you can overcome them. Find help now.