Confessions of a food addict

Addiction runs in my genes, and it’s something that I’ve always had to battle my whole life. There has been an addiction to gambling, a slight addiction at one time to alcohol, and an addiction to smoking hookah. They’ve all been overcome at some point, and rarely have I slipped up, except with the exception of smoking the hookah. I tell ya, thank God I can’t stand cigarettes, as the nicotine addiction is truly a devil in disguise. While smoking a single bowl of hashish, it is only the equivalency of inhaling two cigarettes. Considering a session is about 60-120 minutes, that ain’t too bad. But when you do it every day, it’s a problem.

But I’m digressing a bit from my original point of this post. While addiction is real, at least I can survive without that sweet taste of nicotine coated in a sweet fruit flavored molasses. BUT, the body needs food to survive. You need to nourish your body to live day after day, and even if you put the bad stuff in you, at least you’re feeding your body to expend (or store) those calories. Though, I know I should eat better, and that I should stick to a diet that is best for me. The problem arises when I’m stressed. I binge eat. I consume things because my mind has told me it fills this void deep within my soul, and only that delicious concoction can satisfy that need. It has been something I’ve struggled with since my later years as a preteen. See, I wasn’t always fat, but when my family moved and I had no friends, my comfort was coated in the decadence of ice cream, quesadillas, and string cheese. My eight year old body morphed from that of a kid with visible ribs, to shopping in the husky section over summer between third and fourth grade.

It was humiliating, here I am going into a new school, and now I’m going to be known as the fat kid. Sure, I was overweight, but it wasn’t as bad as it could (and would) become. Also this was a time that I learned that the layer of fat carried on my body could be used as a protective barrier for my feelings. Someone didn’t like me, it was because I was fat. If I was horrible at sports, it was because I was fat. And when hormones and puberty came into play, it could always be used as the reason why I’m single. It worked for a bit, and it was also used as another level of protection for other issues I was dealing with at the time, until 8th grade. Hormones were a flutter, girls were the basis of too many of my thoughts, and I started to lose some weight. I slimmed up. I still had some extra weight, but I was partially comfortable in my body, minus the ugly body hair. But that’s a whole different post.

Through high school the weight came back on. The suppressing of issues allowed me to eat my feelings again. I wasn’t popular in those years, but I wasn’t a complete outcast. I had a good core group of friends, and I was content with that. The fat layer was used as an excuse as the reason I wasn’t popular. It was the reason why I wasn’t dating. And it was also helping me hide some internal struggles. Once again, I was addicted to food, until my senior year. It was a year of change. My first and second girlfriends. The time of “becoming a man”. And between inner struggles and feeling like I should care about my body if I care for someone else, the weight came off. Part of it was due to high levels of stress. I would eat one meal a day and sometimes I would throw that up. It was a vicious cycle of me losing 24 pounds in a month and ultimately going from 204 to graduating at 159… one pound less than I started high school at.

Then depression hit. It hit so fucking hard. Inner struggles and fights. My lose of interest in school as I felt I wasn’t being pushed to my fully capacity. Problems at home, even if some of them were just typical teenage angst. And the idea of my first longterm relationship falling apart. I was a mess. And one day after the feelings got lower than low, I seriously contemplated suicide. To me, there was no reason to go on. There was nothing to live for if I had to continue to fight what was inside of me, the things I hated about life, and the thought of my future crumbling. So I started writing my manifesto. I bitched. I moaned. I was so fucking emo in this thing, but I realized that writing could be cathartic and a way to let off steam. To vent those daily frustrations. And to put my thoughts out there when I wouldn’t want to bother any friends with my asinine issues.

The last page, in huge letters I wrote one thing. I NEED HELP. I wanted a future. I wanted to beat this horrible moment in my life. I was at a low, but fuck, it could get better. I could hopefully climb out of this funk and hopefully live a life with a smile from time-to-time. And to this day, I must thank Robin for seeing the hurt in the letter and calling the authorities. I spent three days and some hours in a mental health facility working through some of my issues that I never explored. Sure, I didn’t go through everything, as an eighteen year old doesn’t know how to comprehend everything that is in the deepest recess of their mind. I saw I had friends that cared. That the family was supportive. That there was a great support network as my basis of surviving. I wouldn’t have to do this alone, even if the end I was left heartbroken.

Over time the weight fluctuated up and down. Always ranging between that low weight of 158 and the high 180s. Yeah, still fat, but not completely obese. Then I fell in love with another girl. She became my everything. I still adore Christine to this day, and it makes me happy that she found her true happiness and has two little kids that she always wanted. But she allowed me to be me. She loved me for me and didn’t judge anything about me. Then when the shit hit the fan in my life, I slowly pushed her away. And to this day I can’t apologize enough for what I put her through, but at least she ended up happy and with everything she wanted.

With the changes going on in the personal life, the weight slowly crept up. Work also started becoming a drag. I hated what I did, and as the creative side was suppressed more and more, the weight came on and before I moved to LA, I was at 219 pounds. I was eating, but I was throwing up almost daily on my way to work. I knew a change needed to happen and I moved to LA. The land of skinny folk, which was another tough battle. I was still slinging the wireless phones, and lost a little weight, and then went to trying to write full time. Sitting on my ass, eating like shit, and not really having many friends, the weight came on, and on and on. Then I got a job where I sat on my ass for 40+ hours a week. Plus all the networking with food and alcohol. My weight continued to creep.

Then the economic collapse happened. Another go around with this sweet girl Kelly became a possibility, even though I thought it would never come to fruition. We had planned to get married in Vegas, but soon before the day, we both decided to call it quits. We barely knew one another. We hadn’t spent enough time with each other over the years, and ultimately I like to think it was the best thing to happen to her. She grew. She flourished, and has become a great success in her chosen field and with an awesome husband.

But I was battling things. I was hiding from trying to be myself. I hated the way I looked, especially in the land of size zero and skinny jeans. I was an anomaly. And I decided to try to make a go at weight loss in 2010. I went up and down. I tried every diet known to man. I kept losing and gaining the same weight over and over. I was using food to cope with so many different things and I would start and stop a million times. I would waste so much money and effort on buying healthy food, only to stop for something of comfort in the drive through lane on my way home. The battle continued. I constantly lost.

In 2014 I started getting serious about my fitness. I’m starting to hit the back half of my thirties, so it’s now or never. Plus I was sick often, not knowing what was causing the constant battle with countless bugs. Some of it was stress, some was depression, and part of it was even living in a building with toxic mold. My body was sick, and I was sick and tired of being over weight. I still constantly started and stopped, but the first time some people saw me after a while, they would comment on how much weight I’ve lost. This was only with twenty pounds gone, but it made me start to feel better about myself. I could do this! I could overcome what people push off as “it’s just genetics”. Though I would constantly plateau between 235 and 245 for the next year and a half.

One night I was browsing Hulu trying to find something to watch. I came across a show called My Diet is Better Than Yours, and as a fan of watching Biggest Loser, even if I feel such shows are toxic for the overweight viewers, I was hooked with one trainer and his plan. Abel James was constantly motivating his contestant. The results were phenomenal, even if these weight loss shows are truly unobtainable for the average human. They have dieticians, coaches, doctors, and are constantly being monitored. This is the reason why so many put back on the weight after they leave the programs and real life kicks back in.

Though Abel James’s plan seemed simple. It’s semi-paleo, and it doesn’t make fat the enemy. Basically you can summarize his Wild Diet as “buying the best foods you can afford.” You want a great mix of healthy fats, quality proteins, and vegetables. When I’m on plan, my calories break down to about 60% from fat, 30% from proteins and 10% from carbs. I jumped in, as the low fat craze makes for very boring food. Fat is where the flavor is, and being able to not feat fat, I was loving it. Sure, I still had my cheat meals (or days), and sometimes I had more than I should have due to stress and my food addiction, but I was losing weight.

I also got on an awesome workout plan at Orange Theory Fitness. This place kicked my ass. The first session I spent 48 minutes of the 54 minute class in a heart rate zone of 85%+, with about 18 of those minutes at 91% or above. I was out of shape, but I enjoyed the workout. I signed up for their classes, dropping an astronomical sum of $129 per month for eight classes. This is basically how much I pay per year to attend LA Fitness. Part of the problem, spending so little left very little loss if I never used it. And within my first month at OTF, I attend more workout sessions than I had in the previous five years of paying for LA Fitness. Money was a motivator for me, and if I’m going to pay that much, I might as well lose it.

So finally I’m getting my life under control. The eating is going better, even if I’m only being good about 70% of the time. Then after dropping 40 pounds in total from all my starting and stopping and this new venture, I hit a plateau. Things were stressful in my life, and some stuff I’ve buried starting brewing up to the surface. I started cheating more and more on my eating, and then one night my inner critic said the worst thing ever.

“No matter how much weight you lose, you’ll never have the body you want.”

Seriously, FUCK YOU to my inner saboteur. I hit a high point in my depression. Something I hadn’t felt in years. Hell, even in over a decade since before I moved to the city of LA and Broken Dreams. This kicked me in the gut. I cried. I felt like shit, and I did what I always do when I feel like shit, I went to the store, got a large pizza and some ice cream. I ate that whole sucker to myself. Digiorno Pizza (and all other pizza brands) would like you to believe that it should be 5 servings. Ha! I laugh at your assumptions as I can easily pack this all away by myself in one sitting. We all know left over pizza doesn’t taste the same when reheated, so why ruin it. Eat it all! And I did just that, along with the pint of ice cream. Over a full days calories in that short window of so many minutes. And I probably had a shitty lunch earlier in the day. If I go back at check MyFitnessPal, this will 100% be confirmed, but I’m in the zone for writing, so there’s no time for research.

I felt horrible. And while I know I would never take my life, I couldn’t help but feel I was in that same place I was almost 19 years earlier when I ended up in the ward. So I started writing for myself. To explore the inner depths of my mind. What is bothering me? What does my saboteur mean that “I’ll never have the body I want?” I know I’m broad chested and bigger shoulders, and no matter what, I know I’ll never be super skinny, as it would look weird. I can’t explain it here, but in a future post I know I can dig deeper and fully express what I mean. Now is not that time, as this is food related.

So I started the writing and the tears flowed as my fingers clipped away on the keyboard. Words spewed out of me, and part of me is upset that I didn’t save that file, as I’m sure it would be wonderful to reflect back on as a moment that would finally start to alter my life. The writing gave context. The words formed to tell me what I’ve always battled. Why I go to food. Why I use my weight as a barrier to keep my protected from outside sources. And that’s when the research began.

As anyone who truly knows me, I like to go down the rabbit hole of the web. I’ll start with a simple search and continue to dig, refine and read my way through all sides of the issues that I’m battling. So I started with food and addiction. I went back to the thoughts of body dysphoria from my time with the 5150. I went through and looked up other people who hated what I truly hated about myself. I went to the negative side of things for far too long, and it didn’t help with all that pizza and ice cream sitting in my gut. Then I started to come out the other end of the spiral. I started to find people that tackled the issue at hand and work to truly make themselves happy.

I ended up in this awesome loop of videos on YouTube that showed me I wasn’t alone. That my story was similar to many that battle this every day of their life until they say enough is enough. Sure, not all were the same story, but the biggest motivator was seeing when the person in the video went from being depressed with their situation, to fully living life. Not only did their smiles change from those of being forced to actually being genuine, but most had a new light in their eyes. The pain was finally gone, while not completely with some, but you could finally see the shift of the interior soul. And then I saw the video that would finally give me hope. No, I won’t post it here, but I will in a future long-winded spiel. I promise.

The next step would be therapy. I would start to address my issues. The ones buried under years of hiding, the love-hate relationship with food, the battle with my body, and anything else that I could uncover in my weekly sessions. It was easy to navigate my insurance’s website to find someone nearby that would have a specialty in all my messed up issues. And I found him. If you need a good guy in LA, let me know and I’ll pass along his information privately. That first session was scary for me. I almost threw up on the way there, but alas I sat across from a stranger and let the words flow, just like I am now, and the tears would follow. While talking about some things that bothered me, I learned I smile as a defensive mechanism to try and hide the pain. And as I saw the clock was counting down, I mentioned the biggest thing bothering me. Something that I never said out loud, and it felt freeing. And in the following weeks we’ve started working through all the issues and I can’t tell you how refreshing it is. Tracking on my sleep shows I’m less restless and my resting heart rate has gone back down.

Yet the food has still been a battle sometimes. I stress eat and I eat things that I know are harming my body. I KNOW I feel better when I cut out gluten, but the best pizza isn’t gluten free nor are the best hamburger buns. I know the brain fog is gone when I avoid it. I know the lethargic nature is non-existent when I eat this way. But yet I also wreck my progress. I always let that inner voice cause me to slip up more than I should. Then I do my weekly official weigh-in, and then I feel down again. It’s a never ending cycle that I want to improve, yet for some reason I couldn’t.

Finally, I can’t slip up anymore. I have to make changes and change my way of thinking. Not because I want to, but because part of my healthy has deteriorated. I ended up with walking pneumonia a few weeks back and was put on antibiotics. Not the normal Penicillin or Amoxicillin as I have an allergy to those two, but one that I need to eat with, otherwise my stomach becomes a mess. So as I’m relegated to bed rest to kick this to the curb, I’m still keeping my calories up to avoid stomach issues. Then, a couple days later I ended up having a pain in my lower abdomen. I went back to urgent care and after the doc touched my gut, he quickly had me head to the ER to check for appendicitis. Here I am, bed ridden and now probably having to go under the knife to remove this thing that is possibly killing me. My mind was a wreck, but once the CT scan was done, I was told it was diverticulitis.

What is that you may ask? It’s an inflammation of the gut, and I’ll leave it at that, as I don’t know the last time you ate anything. And as a foodie, I know how important it is to keep that delicious food down. Can’t let it all go to waste. I was put on a liquid diet, one that I also included protein shakes so I wouldn’t lose too much muscle while I had more days of bed rest added to my new set of antis. I did my research. I went down the rabbit hole of this disease, but so much information conflicts with other information. Small seeds are bad. No they’re not. Surgery is the only option. Diet could keep you from undergoing surgery. Then I found out a writer I knew was misdiagnosed with the disease but then found out it really was colon cancer. I wish he was still around as I’d love to ask him his symptoms. But alas, he lost his battle with the disease earlier this year.

Thankfully my insurance got me into a GI specialist. I’ll be going under the scope soon to make sure the diagnosis is what the CT scan said, but I’m still stressed about it. The doc also talked over my other digestive issues and is assuming I’m lactose intolerant. It’s a bummer he won’t run an allergy test, but instead he prescribed an AIP Diet. Basically you cut out everything that could be an irritant or something you’re allergic to. No grains, no eggs, no dairy, no night shades, limited fruit. I also need to make sure what I’m eating is low in FODMAPS as some of those could also be the bastard who is causing my gut (and body) so much pain. This will be followed for 4 to 8 weeks, or whenever my gut and body finally feels better. At that point I could slowly start to reintroduce different things (though they advise to still always avoid gluten), so I’ll probably start with cheese, as my food addicted brain is causing my mouth to go all Pavlov just typing out this sentence.

So while it sucks that my body has gone into such a broken down state that it is causing so much hurt within the body and the soul, at least I know I HAVE to follow this eating pattern to the T. I can’t cheat on a meal. I have to avoid the chocolate, the sugar, the pizza. Avoid the stuff that makes this fatty want to eat. I have to find the culprit and lock it away, otherwise I WILL never have that body I want. I will never being running at one hundred percent, partially due to the decades of neglect, but at least I can get it running as smoothly as possible. There is a bright light at the end of this tunnel. And while I won’t be able to have everything I’ve loved ever again, some stuff I can still keep around if it isn’t that dang thing my body just doesn’t compute with.

So this food addict he did what he always does. I went and had all my favorite meals over the last couple days like a dead man walking. I had the pepperoni pizza. I savored every bite of the garlic burger from Coral Cafe. I had Baskin Robins Gold Medal Ribbon. I had some carne asada nachos from this little hole-in-the-wall spot on Santa Monica that I don’t know the name of. I ate these meals. I savored every bite. And before and after every single meal, I meditated. I wrote about the meal. I wrote what I liked, but I also listed why it is bad for me. Why it is harming me from the inside out. I waved goodbye for now, and if they aren’t one of the bad stimulants, I’ll have you again. But I know, I know my body deserves to be treated with respect. There’s only so many years here on this planet, and I’m slowly working on healing my mind (

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