Friday, March 30, 2012

Formerly Food Addicted #5 - Overeaters Anonymous

I was listening to a health themed podcast the other day, and a woman shared her positive experiences from going to Overeaters Anonymous. She mentioned that her chapter encouraged members to abstain from sugar, as sugary foods can lead to binges. I have only been to about 5 OA meetings, but particular foods were not mentioned when it came to abstinence. Most people spoke of abstinence as it related to days without binges.

Still, it seems logical to avoid sugar. Aside from the obvious reason that refined sugar lacks nutritional value, it is interesting to consider that the sugar actually promotes binge behavior. I have been pondering lately the food-mood connection. For so long I attributed the "monster" of binge eating to my emotions. The more I read about nutrition, the more I am starting to believe that certain foods feed the monster. Perhaps being free of those particular foods is just as important as the prayer and counseling and support groups.

So, are there any OAers out there? Are you encouraged to avoid sugar?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Formerly Afraid #1 - Afraid of What?

 There was a time when I was afraid of so many things. Now is the time to trade in my fear for a little bit of faith. I am already changing, and look forward to continued growth in these areas.

So what was I afraid of? So glad you asked!

Social interactions – The thought of going to an event that may require interacting with people I didn’t know used to be crippling. The easy way to deal with this was to avoid situations like this. I explained it away by saying that I was shy or a homebody.  But really, I was afraid. Simple things like eating in the break room when new to a job, or attending a party where I only know one person. They were terrifying experiences. The fear of what other people would think of me would overcome me. There were several times in the past when I would get dressed, in an attempt to go somewhere, only to chicken out as I was grabbing my keys to head out the door. I have come such a long way. I am not exactly a social butterfly now, but I do go places. And I even challenge myself to strike up a conversation every now and then.

Writing – As an elementary school student, I received recognition and won many awards for my writing. Somewhere along the way, I stopped making time to write. By the time I entered college, and then grad school, my life was consumed with academic writing. While cranking out paper after paper, I had no desire to do additional writing. This has led to my current struggle. The part of me that loves writing wrestles against the part of me that criticizes my skill – or lack thereof. I can’t help but ponder what kind of writer I could have become if I had never laid my pen down. What if I had continued to cultivate my craft through high school and college? Would I have been published by now? I have decided that rather than dwell on the what-ifs, I will just write. I am 34 years old. So in the grand scheme of things, there is still time to take classes and cultivate my skills as writer. That way I won’t be here 20 years from now, still wondering what if.

Cute guys – I know, I know. It’s crazy. I mean, of course I want to end up with a cute guy one day, so why would I be afraid of them? I remember a few years back when a friend was going to introduce me to a guy she knew from church. We were walking towards him, and the next thing I know, I was making my exit out the nearest door. It wasn’t until after she said to hello to him that my friend realized I was no longer next to her.  LOL. I could bore you with all the baggage from my past that fed this fear, but I won’t. I just know that it’s time to move on from this. The past year has been significant in that I have forced myself into situations that would require me to have small talk with men. And guess what? It didn’t kill me. As I have grown more secure in who I am in Christ, I don’t worry as much about what others think of me.

Let's grow!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Formerly a Sad Single #2 - Barrenness

In a previous post, I talked about how I was formerly as depressed single. I also admitted that in my new found place of joy, I still have some “moments.” Last year when I turned 34, I had a series of “moments.”

I had been in a mostly contented frame of mind for a few years. There was something about turning 34 that jerked me into a reality I had not considered – that I may never have a biological child. I know that fertility decreases each year after the age of 30, and pregnancies at 35 and older are usually considered high risk pregnancies. To further complicate things, I have PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome), which is one of the leading causes of infertility in women.  Of course I know that I can be a mother by adopting, and adopting is something that I actually want to do. And of course I know that God can overrule infertility. Still, considering that I may never experience personal pregnancy – that was a hard pill to swallow.

As a Christian, I used to have a distorted view of emotions. Somehow I had concluded that expressing hurt or disappointment was also expressing a lack of faith. But I don’t think God gave us emotions so that we can spend our lives repressing them. Healthy emotional expression is necessary. I am thankful for the minister who recently reminded me that I can cry out to God and let him know my frustrations. And that is just what I did. I grieved my barrenness, and allowed him to be part of the grieving process. I let God know how disappointed I was about not having children. I cried, and I felt His love and concern. 

I am back to my place of joy. I still want to be married. I still want children. But those desires are back in proper perspective. Ultimately, God’s will is what I want –even if it means giving up some of the selfish things I desire. Technically I still have some child bearing years left. If more years pass, and I still find myself without a child, I will probably have to allow myself to grieve again. And that is OK.
By the way, if there are any married people who may be reading this, please stop trying to encourage your single, barren friends, by telling them how Sarah in the Bible gave birth in her old age. That is NOT encouraging. The thought of giving birth at 90 is enough to make someone depressed. LOL! Seriously though, allow your friend their space to grieve. Don’t discount their emotions. Cry with them; let them know that you love them.

To those who may be grieving barrenness, please know that God cares about your pain. He cares about your tears. He’s big enough to handle your disappointments. He’s great enough to heal your hurts.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Formerly Food Addicted #4 -Garbage Eating

Well, giving up sugary foods during Lent has been a challenge at times. Overall, my time spent in prayer is increasing, and that is the main purpose of this fast.

I will admit that it hasn't been perfect. There was that box of brownies, and that episode lead me to what is dubbed the "secret shame" in the video below.

Those who struggle with binge eating disorder/food addiction know all too well about the secret shame of garbage eating. It's when you've gotten so fed up with yourself in the midst of the binge, that you throw the food away in order to save yourself from further damage. You know - you bought 12 cupcakes, and after eating 10 of them (in addition to the other foods that were a part of the binge), you throw the last two away. Your hope is that by putting it in the trash, it will be off limits. But unfortunately, when the binge monster strikes again, you find yourself digging through the trash can, frantically searching for those 2 cupcakes as if they are you life source. It doesn't matter that they're buried in trash. You sit there, feeling helpless, and out of control. And you eat them, because it's the only way to get the monster to stop it's nagging.

I've been there so many times. I've never shared this with friends - before now - because it is so embarrassing. Still, I have hope.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Formerly a Sad Single #1 - Journey to Contentment

So why do I have a section titled "Formerly a sad single?" Well, I once viewed singleness as the bane of my existence. I thought God was punishing me, and was determined to figure out why. I'm still single today, but I am learning to – dare I say it – ENJOY my singleness.

My parents were married when they were in college, and I assumed I would have a similar story. So when I found myself with a Master’s degree, and no prospects of a husband, I felt lost. I had imagined that I would be starting my adult life as a married woman, and wasn't sure what to do with my single fate.

Friday nights consisted of listening to love songs, while crying into a pint of Haagen Dazs. Saturday nights were spent poring through the pages of bridal magazines, planning a wedding  that I could only pray would happen sooner than later. It was miserable to go day after day thinking about how no one had chosen me. No one deemed me good enough to be a wife. The thought of being single forever began to haunt me. I felt alone. I felt stuck - because after all, life didn’t really start until you met your life partner, right? 

Today, at age 34, my single life is different. I am enjoying my life. I am enjoying my friendships.  I am living. I still want to be married, and I definitely still have days when I cry out to God and ask “When?” But those are usually just fleeting moments. Most days I appreciate my single experience. I appreciate being able to manage/spend my money how I want without having to consider someone else. I love to cook. But, I appreciate the days when I can come home from work exhausted and have cereal for dinner, without anyone expecting me to produce a meal. In the winter time, I don’t feel the pressure to keep my legs shaved, because no one else sees them. :-) I can plan vacations on a whim. I can go wherever I want, whenever, without checking first with a spouse, and without worrying about securing a babysitter. See, there’s lots to enjoy about the single life.

There were a series of turning points that led me to where I am now. If I went into all of them, this post would be never ending. I will say that God was a part of each turning point that led me to a healthy view of my singleness. In future posts, I hope to encourage those who may be where I once was. I will also share my struggles and how I work through them.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Formerly Food Addicted #3 - Fasting

Fasting is a spiritual discipline practiced by many Christian denominations (and other religions too for that matter.) In the past I have done full fasts and partial fasts. Though it can be a challenging process, it always resulted with a feeling of spiritual renewal. But in the last few years that my food addiction has been out of control, I have not attempted to fast - because the last time I attempted one, I ended up binging, and I felt so defeated.

I decided to give it a go, on a small scale. During the Lenten season, I have decided to give up refined sugar - cupcakes, candy, cookies, donuts, etc. I chose sugar, for one, because it will definitely be a sacrifice for me. But it's not only sacrificial, but symbolic of my struggle against the compulsion to binge. Binges always consist of sugary treats or other unhealthy foods. So I feel that this fast is in essence waging war against the desire that seeks to control me.

I entered this fast with a different perspective. Instead of fearing failure, I go into this accepting my own limitations. I go into this acknowledging God's power to help me overcome temptation. I go into this acknowledging that God loves me enough to forgive me if I mess up, and He will receive me when I try again.

To all those fasting during this season, may we all grow closer to God and experience a spiritual awakening.