Thursday, October 9, 2008

Happy Belated Blog Birthday!

I missed my own “Birthday”September 13th was my one year blog birthday! Oops! It’s ok, that is pretty much my MO. Unless someone in my life walks up to me and says “it’s my birthday.” You can pretty much guarantee that I’m going to be late on birthday wishes and a card. Apparently my blog is no exception.

So, in celebration, and as a result of a comment on my previous post, I thought I would tell my story. I’ve told snippets of it here and there, but not in a conclusive, organized (ha ha) manner.
So here goes.

Enter Allison age 8
Eight is the age that I first wrote in my journal that I needed to go on a diet. Isn’t that heartbreaking? I was bigger than the other little kids, and I knew, through society and my mother, that losing weight and being smaller is what would make me socially appropriate.

I didn’t diet. I don’t think I changed my eating habits at all. But I felt fat. Fat! At age 8! For the record I was an active little kid. I played Soccer from age 6-15 and I did gymnastics from 4-12.

At Nine, my parents separated. At nine I started sneaking food. That is what I called it. Not bingeing, sneaking. Sneaking food meant finding any dessert in the house and sneaking some. Cookies, candy, etc. I did not associate this behavior with my parents split…yet.

Ages 9-18. I continued to sneak food. Knowing what I know now about bingeing, my binges were different. I didn’t eat dinner and then eat two pieces of toast and a bowl of ice cream and 3 cheese sticks or anything like that.
My binges were specific and private. Example, I was a Girl Scout. Girl Scout cookie time, was terrible for me. One year my mom was the “cookie mom” meaning that all of the troops cookies were delivered to our garage and then doled out. Including the extras. I would take whole boxes of cookies and hide them under my bed, probably eating a whole box in day. I knew exactly how many cookies were in each different type of box. 16 cookies in a tagalong box, 21 in do-si-do’s….40 in Thinmints.
I should probably mention that My parents got back together when I was 10, and the bingeing, the sneaking, did not stop.
Eventually the power of sneaking, the need to sneak moved past just true dessert type food. Anything that could be construed as “sweet” I sneaked. Waxy covered protein diet bars, baking chocolate. Finding the bag of chocolate chips and melting it down and eating it with a spoon before soccer practice.

My parents tried to help me, they mentioned that maybe I should go live on my Uncles Farm for a summer, doing farm work. I can’t remember the wording they used, but the implication was that this structured environment would help me. I violenty refused that idea.
The thing is, the whole time this was happening; I didn’t feel consumed by it. I mean, I was. But it didn’t totally run my life. I had friends, and extracurricular activities, and stuff. It was just a part of my life. I didn’t recognize it as an eating disorder or even disordered eating.

Fast forward to college. Freshman Year: Sneaking food in a dorm, is a lot harder when you don’t have a stocked fridge and pantry to raid. But I still managed it, in different ways. My roomie and I had a mini fridge, in which we often had a tube of raw cookie dough. I never bought any. I realized that was ridiculous, but my roomie did. And when she was gone at class, or out somewhere, I would sometimes sneak spoonfuls of her cookie dough, quickly and with the fear of being caught.
But….by circumstance…the sneaking…lessened and got better.

Sophomore Year: There was this guy, I was wildly into him. He was also my best friend and a psychology major. I don’t remember how we got on the topic, but somehow we got to issues with parents, and I just sort of blurted out that I started sneaking food when my parents separated. He looked me straight in the face and said, “you have an eating disorder.” Now, I should also mention that I have a slight problem with authority. Generally whenever anyone tells me something about myself that I disagree with, I tend to get a little defensive. This was the firs time that I just..didnt’. I looked him back in the eye and said, “I guess you are right. I do.” And then, he made me an appointment at our student counseling center. I have an aversion to counseling….but that is another story for another time.

I went to the one appointment, talked with the student counselor. And I acknowledged my eating disorder. I talked with her for a bit, and to be honest, I don’t remember the appointment at all. I remember filling out the form, and putting my reason for beign there as “eating disorder” but I don’t remember anything else that was said in my appointment, other than our initial 3 minutes of pleasantries and why I was there.

I made a follow up appointment, and then “accidentally” on purpose slept through it the next week. I never went back. But that day changed me. Looking my problem in the face, acknowledging it’s presence made worlds of difference for me. That same year I wrote a paper for my personal and exploratory writing class about having an eating disorder, and used it as a tool for guiding myself through the “why” of it all. It did come down to my parents separation, and trying to fill the void that I felt, but it continued. It became a habit, it became my coping mechanism for stress.

In the following years I moved off campus into an apartment, and eventually graduated and got married and now I live with my husband. And I can honestly say, I’ve probably had only 3 or 4 issues with “sneaking” food since then. It’s been six years.

Losing weight has been a completely separate journey for me. I didn’t lose a ton of weight when I stopped sneaking food, in fact I was probably at my lowest weight since high school when I had that counseling appointment.

My breaking point for weight loss happened on my honeymoon. I was getting ready in the bathroom to go to a nice dinner with my husband, and I realized that I had stretch marks on my stomach. I’ve always had them on my thighs, and breasts, and on my love handles, but never on the front of my stomach. That was it for me. I started slowly and surely working on getting healthy. Going to the gym and eating properly. That was in February, I didn’t start losing weight until July. It took me a while to find my groove. It’s been a long road. There have been ups and downs, both literally and figuratively.

Not to get all Jillian Michaels on everyone, but I know that I wouldn’t have been able to succeed at having a healthy lifestyle if I hadn’t conquered my eating disorder. Even if I gained 40 pounds between overcoming it and choosing a physically healthy lifestyle. I wouldn’t have been able to do it with out knowing certain things about my self.
It’s sort of like love, you can’t truly love someone else until you love yourself. You can’t lose weight/get healthy/ pick your phrase, with out knowing why you put too much food in your mouth in the first place.


Janie said...

Thank you so much for posting your story. I have slowly worked my way through all of your archived posts and I find you so inspiring. Your story is similar to mine with the binging/sneaking food, although my parents have never sperated. My mom also dealt with stress and emotions by sneaking food, and it is a learned behavior for me. I too thought I was fat and needed a diet while still in elementary school. I have always thought I was too fat, even at my skinniest. I am 5'2 and 208 pounds, my highest weight ever. I know I need to be exercising and eating better but it all seems so overwhelming to me. I have been a member of Weight Watchers off and on for years, but it has never worked for me. Sorry to leave such a long comment! I've read tons of blogs, but never found one I felt I connected to so much. I hope to find the inspiration that I need from your site.

Allison said...

Thank you! I'm glad that you feel connected. I know what you mean about reading tons of blogs and never quite feeling connected. I feel that way too! Do you have a blog? I would love to read it.

Janie said...

Hi Allison-

I don't have a blog, but I have been thinking about starting one, just as a way to reflect on how I'm feeling. I know I need to get over the emotional stuff before I can even really think about trying to lose weight. I just don't know where to start. (By the way, I am the same person (anon) who asked you to tell your story. I decided I didn't need to be anon, too confusing!)

Allison said...

I've found the blog to be helpful. I kept an "online journal" for years over at but so many of my real life friends used to read it, that I could never be real. No one I know in real life reads this blog (I don't think) so it's easy for me to open and honest, about everything. From saying what I weigh, to talking about my eating disorder.

I figured you were anon. :) I think talking to people is a good wya to start, or having a journal. anyway that you can state either outloud or in writing the truth and honesty about your emotions.

Janie said...

Thank you for your comment. You are absolutely right. It may sound really corny, but just in this limited amount of contact that I've had with you I already feel like I'm in a better place. I don't feel so hopeless and overwhelmed anymore. I'm going to be a regular reader, for sure:)

Janie said...

I started a blog...

Allison said...

I am going to check out your blog this minute!!!