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I'm not gonna lie, a major reason why I decided to be friends with my inner fatty is that she's a real persistent bitch. Omg, constantly hounding and harassing me. I finally realized that befriending her was my only chance of some peace and quiet.
Turns out she's not very quiet either way, but I have found some peace. Actually, as much as I don't want to admit it, I'm kinda sorta starting to like her (don't tell her I said that).
Along with peace, I've made a couple revelations that have really helped me. I'm hoping they will shed some new light on your journey as well.
It's weird to me how the people in my life look at me now. Because I've been able to maintain my weight loss for six years and keep a healthy and active lifestyle, people think I have my shit together. You wanna know what I think about that?
LOLOL. Oh God are they wrong. So so wrong.
It's the age-old mistake of judging a book by its cover. Do I eat healthy? Yes. Am I active and fit? Yes. Do I struggle to do these things? Hell Yes. Do I falter at times and have setbacks and gain some weight back? Most definitely yes.
I may be fit, but I'm still fat in my brain. I still want to eat naughty stuff. I still want to skip workouts.
I am a food addict. Food addiction is a real thing. Food is a drug to me. My inner fatty is the girl I used to 'use' with. She still wants to 'use'. She tries to tempt me... all the time. I tried for so long to fight her and ignore her, she just wouldn't go away. She didn't give two shits how hard I worked to lose 120 pounds. She just wanted her eating buddy back.
It's so easy to fall down in times of stress (or even in times of celebration where there's food everywhere). Over the past six years, I have relapsed many times. A 25 pound gain is the most I've let it get to before I get back on the wagon. I can't tell you how hard I used to beat myself up for those setbacks. But guess what? I don't anymore.
Here's the dealio. Life is hard.
Life has a nasty habit of kicking you in the balls just when you start taking deep breaths again. We all have our weaknesses, things we turn to when we are needy or sad. My go-to is food. Most of the time I can keep my shit together and continue making healthy choices, but sometimes I slip. And you know what? So fucking what. I refuse to punish myself for it anymore. I refuse to feel like a failure. I am not a failure, I am a human being. Life gets messy and we make mistakes. Period.
Mistakes make you human, but refusing to make up for them makes you a victim.
So many times over the past six years I'd find myself not fitting in any of my clothes and feeling bad about it. I'd gain 20 pounds in just a few months like it was nothing. I'd wallow and get sad about it. What? Why the hell are you feeling sorry for yourself? Get your lazy ass up, stop eating slop, and do something about it! Instead of manning up, I'd sulk and play the victim. Victim? You've been eating chocolate like you're getting paid and skipping workouts like a sloth. How are you a victim?
I started to see this pattern and the light bulb went on. I needed to accept that it's okay to screw up once in a while. No one can be regimented and motivated 100% of the time. NO ONE. So yes, I was going to slip up sometimes. The solution? Get my ass in gear and do something about it.
So here's where my inner fatty comes in. This bitch was always messing with my head. There was always an inner dialog between us. Her always trying to get me to falter and give her fat ass what she wanted and me always telling her to STFU and mind her own business. Well let me tell you, that gets old real quick... and tiring.
I decided to stop fighting her and really try to get to know her. I mean I was stuck with her, I had to find a way to get along with her. So I stopping yelling and started listening. Like really listening. It turns out she's not all that bad. She's not really the bitch I always chalked her up to be. She's really just a sad and lonely girl who uses food to fill up the voids in her life. You see, the present day me fills her voids up with healthy and restorative behaviors. If I'm stressed, I hit the gym extra hard. The endorphins take the place of my former food highs. If I'm feeling overwhelmed, I have learned to ask for help. If I'm feeling run down, I soak in an extra long bath or I hit the hay earlier. I don't gorge on oreos and milk to make myself feel better. But the past me did.
I used eating as a coping mechanism my whole life. You can't just erase something that has been such an integral part of your life. You can store it on an old shelf and keep it in check most of the time, but every once in a while, it's going to dust itself off and show up unannounced. When it does, you have to deal with it.
The present day me has learned how to replace old, unhealthy coping mechanisms with positive and productive mechanisms. I don't make a pan of brownies and hide it from my family so I can eat it all without anyone knowing. But here's the thing, no matter how much I have learned and how much I have accomplished, there will always be my inner fatty who still has a presence in my conscious mind. She is part of me. I can't just love part of me, I need to love all of me. I need to accept ALL of me.
I understand why she was always pressuring me to slip up. She wanted comforted in the only way she knows. With food. I don't fight her anymore. I work with her. We have come to understand each other. We have an agreement. I get my way 80% of the time and she gets her way 20% of the time.
When I was fat I thought once I was lean and fit that all my cravings, food obsessions, and my close relationship with food would stop. I was wrong. It took me a while to accept that no matter how long I'm healthy and fit, I will be married to food in some way. Food used to be my best friend. It cheered me up when I was sad, it soothed me when I was worried, it made me feel full when I felt empty. Food was my drug. It fit the bill for any ailment or emotion. It was my universal answer.
When I lost my weight, it scared the shit out of me that food still took up such a huge part of my brain. I thought that would go away. It didn't. For a few years the way I dealt with it was I ignored it. As soon as I would start thinking about a food I was craving, I would immediately put my brain on lockdown. I'd go workout or instantly change what was doing to get my mind off of it. When I would yearn for that sickening full feeling after overeating, I would munch on crunchy carrots or chug water. I'd do anything to ignore what my brain was obsessing over. Most of the time it worked.
Sometimes it didn't.
Sometimes I would have a weak moment and not have the strength to block it out anymore and I'd take a swan dive into my craving. I'd binge for a day or two and then snap out of it. Luckily, most of the time, I'd come to my senses and start making healthy choices again. But sometimes over the holidays or in times of more stress, my binging period would last longer. Sometimes weeks or even months. I'd gain 10-20 pounds and again, I'd snap out of it and get my ass moving. I'm so grateful I was able to reel it in all those times and not fall off of the wagon for good, which can be easy to do.
I just started to accept that this was my life now. I'm healthy and fit but I'll always have to work like a beast each and everyday to not fall prey to my fatty brain and its hold over me. I'm totally okay with it. I'm so very grateful for my weight loss journey and I'm so very blessed to be living a healthy life. I'm not upset in the least that my hard work isn't (and never will be) over. I finally realize that this new healthy life isn't the walk in the park I thought it was going to be. It's hard. It will always be hard.
But #1: It won't ever be as hard as not being able to tie my shoes, not being able to walk up a flight of steps, or not being able to fit into a restaurant booth or an airplane seat. It won't ever be as hard as watching my little girls run around the yard and not be able to run with them.
And #2. It will always, ALWAYS, be worth it. It'll be worth every damn second of it.
And that's what I choose to hold on to... that I get to pick my hard. I'm going to pick the hard that allows me a full, active life. I'm going to pick the hard that allows my body to chase after my little girls. I'm going to pick the hard that allows me to live my life and not merely exist in it.
Once you finish your weight loss journey, you just can't stop. You can't stop eating healthy and you can't stop exercising. Otherwise you'll just gain the weight back. You weren't on a diet, you changed your lifestyle.
Everything stays the same but everything is different. You have to keep doing all the same things, but for different reasons. It takes a while to adjust. Even good changes come with an adjustment period.
It wasn't until four years after I lost my weight that everything clicked. Ya, I know, I'm a little slow on the uptake. But I think I've finally seen the light.
It's totally okay that I have a fatty living in my brain. All this time I've been trying to ignore her and squash her. That shit doesn't work. You know as well as I do that sooner or later your obsessive brain will win. Trying to bury the thoughts or fight it is futile. You need to learn how to live together. Having a constant battle inside your mind is tiring and depleting. It's a waste of energy. I've learned how to work with my inner fatty so that we can both be happy. I consider her a friend. A friend who still tries to get me to eat cupcakes, but a friend nevertheless.
I encourage you to become good friends with your own inner fatty. Believe me, she may still get on your damn nerves every once in a while, but it's a helluva lot better than constantly fighting with her. Listen to her. Teach her better ways to find happiness. If you give her the love and acceptance she desperately wants, she won't look for it in food anymore.
1. Dealing with cravings.
I was born into a family that uses food for comfort. Food is like our teddy bear. I can't change that. Believe me I have tried. But when something has been ingrained in you since birth, reason doesn't have much of a leg to stand on.
I have learned that you can give into a craving without it being some kind of massive personal failure.
The absolute key to satisfying a craving is portion size. One piece of cake will not make you gain weight. It will not make you a bad person or a weak person. It's a piece of cake. One small triangular piece of dessert should not hold any power over you.
If you are in control of your cheats, you can take your power back. Make a conscious decision to have a small portion of what you're craving and be done with it. Don't beat yourself up about it. You're allowed to have a piece of cake. Eat it, ENJOY it, and move on with your damn life.
2. Making your own version of your inner fatty's favorite comfort foods.
It's okay to trick your inner fatty. What that bitch doesn't know won't hurt her. If she wants lasagna, give her lasagna. If she wants fudge, give her fudge. But make your own... and make it healthy. I'm telling you, you will not believe how delicious and scrumptious healthy food can be if you just learn how to make it.
You don't have to come up with this on your own. Google healthy desserts and recipes. You'll get thousands! The trick is knowing what's really healthy and what's just saying it's healthy. Look at the ingredients. Use your common sense. A lot of people call their recipes healthy or sugar-free just because they don't have white refined sugar in them. But yet a recipe will call for brown sugar, rice syrup, and corn syrup. Uh, that isn't healthy, those are just other names for sugar. Be mindful of the ingredients a recipe calls for. Do a little research, school yourself on healthy swaps, and eat delicious healthy food.
3. Being lazy for a few days.
Your inner fatty is going to want you to skip workouts. She's going to encourage you to be lazy. Well guess what? Every once in a while, listen to her. You need the rest anyway. So you get some rest and repair time and at the same time, she gets what she wants too. Again, follow the 80/20 rule. Stick to your regimen 80% of the time. And give it your all, no half-assing. But make sure you allow yourself some downtime.
As a general rule, I stick to a 5-6 day workout schedule each week. Up until a few years ago I'd get so disappointed with myself if I failed to adhere to that schedule. It's so easy to fall into the failure pit. We set goals up and if we fall short, even a little bit, our first instinct is to feel bad about ourselves.
You know what? Screw that. I'm sick of maximizing all my faults and minimizing all my successes. I started to pat myself on the back for my hard work. I have also started listening to my body. If I'm feeling extra sore or extra lethargic, I get lazy for a few days. Listen to your body!
Give yourself a few days every once in a while to rest your muscles and slow the pace. Take that time you would normally be working out and take a bath, read a book, clean out your purse, phone a friend. Anything that you've been wanting to do or meaning to do but just haven't made time for. Hell, maybe you just need a damn nap.
It's okay to rest, reset, and chill the hell out every once in a while. Again, if YOU make the conscious decision to do this, then it doesn't hold power over you. You don't feel disappointed in yourself because you've 'slacked off' for a few days. You don't beat yourself up. Guess what? You can actually enjoy the time off and indulge in stuff you never allow yourself to do. Wow, there's a novel idea... be nice to yourself. Holy shit, who would've ever thought that might be a good idea? Pfft, not many of you, I bet.
We always spend every single spare moment on everyone else. We leave ourselves open to being taken advantaged of and we never spend any of our moments making sure that we are okay.
Well, it's about damn time you start making sure that you're okay.
The REAL Reason We Get Fat