Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Beautiful Struggle

A look back on my Friday-Monday. A step-by-step look at how failure is created.

Friday: After coming in with a 6 pound weight loss for the last week, I choose to eat a little more carelessly - not binge - but allow myself a little more freedom than usual. I choose not to work-out. I am not mindful enough in general to remember to write down food & water intake. I don't read as many blogs in the evening as I normally do.

Saturday: I choose, a little less mindfully/consciously than the day before, to continue the relaxed eating. I choose, again a little less mindfully/consciously, to not work out. I remember to write down food and water for the day before, but do not remain mindful enough to write down anything for the actual Saturday itself besides breakfast. I don't stay nearly as active and read nearly as many blogs as I normally do.

Sunday: I eat a big breakfast and eat almost nothing for the remainder of the day. I am mindful enough to write down breakfast, but not anymore food choices or water intake. I work out briefly in the afternoon, doing 30 wall push-ups. I don't think I read any blogs. Late at night I am famished and get the urge to binge. I give in to the urge extremely fast without giving it a second thought. The binge consists of McDonald's: 2 double cheeseburgers w/mayo, 1 spicy chicken sandwich w/extra mayo; Taco Bell: 2 cheesy double beef burritos, 3 cheese roll-ups, 1 cheese quesadilla, 1 side of nacho cheese; Jack in the Box; 1 ultimate cheeseburger w/extra mayo, 1 breakfast sandwich w/mayo. Local fast food Mexican place: 1 cheese quesadilla.

Monday: I wake up with the desire and urge to binge. By 2:00pm I have eaten three enormous meals consisting, in total, of: 3 servings of potato curry, roughly 6 servings of frosted shredded wheat, 4 hard boiled eggs made into egg salad with 2 1/2 heaping tablespoons of mayonnaise, 1 can of beef tamales heated and mixed with 3 heaping tablespoons of mayonnaise, 10 flour tortillas. I do not write down what I eat or my water intake. I do not exercise. By nightfall I am incredibly miserable. I read no blogs.

(FYI: Tuesday I didn't eat anything all day and was out for the count because around 9:00pm Monday night I came down with food poisoning - instant karma? ;) - which went strong through Tuesday night.)

Here is what I feel there is to be learned from the experience of Fri-Mon: I largely attribute the slide into complete chaos to a number of choices that slowly increased and created a less mindful, more disconnected self. As the days went on I slowly started removing all the daily elements that serve both as important structure in my days, as well as the conscious reminders of my goals (short and long term).

I think the lessons to be learned here are far from shocking, but still a perpetually important reminder to me: I must stay in the moment. I am much better served to live my days with a high level of awareness of the choices I am making. I am much more likely to succeed when I actively work to maintain the various structure-creating elements in my day (blogging, reading blogs, commenting on blogs, writing down what I eat throughout the day, keeping track of and writing down my water intake, exercising)

I think a success here to be noted is this: While I did come down hard on myself Monday for the binging and gave myself some hateful self talk, it didn't last as long as it used to. In the past a cluster of binges such as this coming on the heels of a month of success would've likely thrown me into 2 months to 2 years of more binging, emotional/mental shutdown, and on the off occasion I wasn't shut down - extreme depression and self hatred.

In this case however, by Monday night I was able to share the reality of my actions and my feelings around them with a supportive loved one and was able to deal with my unhealthy choices via healthy guilt.

As Brennan Manning writes in his excellent book A Glimpse of Jesus:

"Unhealthy guilt is self-centered; it stirs our emotions to churn in self-destructive ways, leads to depression and despair, closes us in upon ourselves...Healthy guilt adds not a single paragraph to the script for self-hatred. To the contrary, (it) leads to realistic confrontation, ruthless honesty, and self-knowledge; it stimulates compunction, contrition, the desire for reconciliation and inner peace."

Beautifully, though I am still a ways off, I feel that with every misstep, failure and struggle, I come a litter bit closer to having healthy guilt replace unhealthy guilt as my "gut reaction" attitude.

I accept my choices this week - I have processed them, dealt with them, felt the myriad of feelings that came with them. So now, simply, I choose to move on.

One action and One day at a time.

I will do all that I can: make my next choice a good one.


  1. What a great post! I really like that "healthy guilt". You are so right about mindfulness being the rule of the day - as soon as I allow the first mis-step its a quick slide down to eating without thought.

    Thank you for the great and well wrote reminder! I've been stepping off my eating awareness for a while now too.

    Getting back on track now.

  2. I was thinking of you over the weekend wondering how you were doing. I always struggle the most on the weekend. Glad you are realizing the difference between healthy and unhealthy guilt. I never gave it much thought but your quote was eye opening for me too, thanks. I missed your posts and comments, you always have good things to say. Glad to see you back.

  3. I was nodding throughout that post. Yes, I know the process well! Well done for picking up the pieces quickly this time. It gets easier...

  4. Man, what an insightful post. I've never thought of there being any kind of guilt except for the unhealthy guilt. And yeah, binges suck big time. I've realized along my journey as well that conscious eating is extremely important. Good job picking yourself up again :).

  5. I hope you're feeling better now. What do you think it was that gave you food poisoning?

    Yes, this is only a minor setback, and can't continue unless you let it. And it sounds like you are choosing not to let this turn into anything more, so good for you!

  6. Good job on recognizing the weekend struggle for what it was and for getting back on track and moving beyond the bad choices. Knowing that this journey is indeed a struggle (sometimes harder than others) is a key component that we all need to learn/know/live.

  7. ...and I was wondering where you were because you had been posting more often. I wish I would've commented and asked how you were doing.
    Your binge of visiting several fast food places is very familiar to me. I would go home with bags and bags of food to stuff down. Of course I'd start eating in the car. It's painful to think about because of the desperation I felt during the process.

    It's funny you mention this because I started bingeing right after I posted a weight I haven't been in several years. Coincidence? Nervousness? I don't know.
    Were you feeling this at all?
    I really like how you've dissected your actions to figure out what happened here.
    I'm VERY happy that you've chosen to post about it as opposed to completely disappearing and giving up. So you're learning :)
    and it was definitely a success to stop the cycle in its tracks.
    and in your words...

  8. Yes for some reason if i'm going to binge it usually comes after a great weight loss!!
    And yep i can relate to your binge! It wasn't that long ago that i can remember going to the store and on the way home stuffing my pockets with candy bars because i didn't want my husband to see them! And i'm not talking just one by any means.
    For now i find taking it one meal at a time or even an hour at a time helps me be a little more mindful :)
    Thanks for the very insightful post.

  9. Thanks for yet another insightful post. One day at a time. Binges.......yep, I have had them. Still have them. I hit my 10% goal and binged, just now getting over that.

    Stay strong. Keep the faith!

  10. It's good to hear you're learning from the missteps, rather than letting them eat at you! It can also be important to learn what the thought processes behind those missteps are. For example, what was it that gave you the urge to binge? Was it just the progressive slackening on the routine? Or was it an emotional response to that slackening? Or was it something else? In my experience, binges are rarely just about wanting to eat.

    Anyway dude, it's good to hear you've put it in the past and are moving on :)

  11. I was just telling Mary Beth, this morning, that I was a little worried about you since you hadn't posted in a while. We both tend to disappear when things aren't great. I was really happy to see you post today.

    I'm glad you were able to be open about this. I really believe the truth will set us free and your willingness to be honest shows how healthy you really are. I just hope you know how much I respect you. We all have our setbacks, but it's what we do after these setbacks that define who we are. My hat is off to you. I know you have a wonderful destiny ahead of you and through your struggles, you help so many. You still are daub in my book.

  12. I'm so proud of you for being so HONEST. It's also good to look at it instead of "forget and move on" - so you can learn, and we can learn from your experience. It really is true that 6 small meals throughout the day will prevent the binging... when you feel famished, it's really easy to just shovel food in. (I've been there.)

    We're all here for you through your journey. Keep posting, keep exercising, keep tracking. :)

    ~Jenn (Ex Hot Girl)

  13. HEYMUTHERFUCKER! I AM GLAD YOU GOT BACK ON, FRIEND! I had a feeling... A lot of the time people disappear in blog land when they have issues! It is funny though... you can't get away from your TFC friends because we know where to find you and have more than this blog to get ahold of you! HA! And I know of this lady with blond hair that you like...

    I liked your own version of confessional. I have never heard you explain what your version of a binge is and now I know. When we used to joke about my "birthday cake" lust... it was for real... I can do dirty things to a sheet cake...!

    Anyway. Glad you are back on board. I hope you keep us updated over the next few days on what you are doing to get back on course for your goals!

  14. I really appreciated the honesty. I have freqently binged or overate after having a good string of good eating days or a good weekly weigh in. For me I think it was a self sabatage thing. Or perhaps I thought I deserved a reward for all my recent hard work and so well I just reward myself with food. NOT!! a good thing. Whatever the reason you delt with it and you had the insight.

    Just so you know we missed hearing from you:)We were worried and hoped you were okay.You have alot of people out here that care about you.

  15. This kind of honesty is incredibly refreshing. I have had spells like this where I feel I am spiraling out of control. If your binges are going out for fast food, try to just not get in the car. Go out, but leave your wallet at home. I'm glad you are back on the horse.

    Jared from

  16. So happy to see you! You didn't quit, right? You shared your binge and feelings behind it. You came back for support and now your right back on track. And, I'm very happy you are. Missed you and your words.

    Thanks for the comments on my blog. :-)

  17. Glad to see ya back! Missed your bloggin' bunches. Keep at it, one day at a time, it's all you can do :)


  18. I'm glad you are back, you've got a lot of people who care about ya. :-)
    Confession is good for the soul (so they say). I'm glad that you recognized what was going on early in the game and it sounds like you are back on the hard beaten path. Keep it up, you will reach that goal.
    We are here for you.

  19. How do you do the wall push ups? I think I need to add that to my workout. I can't do a traditional push up, yet.

    Jared from

  20. There's a lot to be said for routine. Days off are the hardest for me. I tend to graze my way through them, which is binge behaviour, if not an actual binge.

    Congratulations for accepting it for what it was, learning from it, and moving on. And, of course, for sharing your experience.

  21. Hey man we all have those times that the binge gets us when we are not looking, the only thing we can do is grab it by the throat and slam it against a wall and walk away, sometimes that doesn't happen. might I suggest that the next time you feel a binge coming on, take your shirt off and move the eating into the bathroom or a bedroom with a mirror and watch yourself eat all of the bad food. if that don't stop ya...

    but seriously you know that it was not the best thing and you can admit it and thats the first step in getting back to the keepin on. I am glad that you can admit and accept the choices and if you need an ear or a bit more support just email me (link is on my blog) and I will do what I can, seeing that we are on the same side of this fight right now I can relate.

    stay strong

    As Ever

  22. Oh Man...I am standing and cheering!!!! What a victory!