Cousin Binge Revisits

It happened.  I had a little food binge.  It started at age 12, when I went to my parents’ bedroom, closed the door, and declared I had something very important to tell them:  I was going on a diet the next day, so they shouldn’t make me eat.  I expected them to meet the announcement with opposition, but they didn’t.  That first diet consisted of grapes, chicken breast, and milk….every single day; along with several daily trips to the basement to jumprope.  I lost a few pounds the first week, then stopped as my body went into “starvation hold on to every calorie mode,” and then I wreaked havoc on my metabolism; shocker.

That first diet started the first series of binges.  I don’t think it ever amounted to what you would call official bulimia, but it was certainly disordered eating.  Have way too many calories over a couple of hours because I was deprived and starving, then spend the next several days eating nothing to make up for it, and then repeat.  A hamster running around like crazy in a little wheel all in the name of weight maintenance.  I didn’t make myself throw up, I didn’t take laxatives, but it was definitely disordered.

A life-long battle of dieting ensued.  It’s included a few Weight Watchers memberships after my pregnancies and a little time at Jenny Craig, and hours wasted reading every diet book ever published.  Did I mention that I have never been fat?  Oh yeah, I’ve never been fat.  Not by anyone’s definition.  Not when I was 12, not even when I was 9 months pregnant.  But you and I know that women’s relationships with food are much more complex than that.

As I got older, I guess I grew up a little.  I continued to periodically binge, but I couldn’t afford a 2000 calorie binge anymore, because I couldn’t make up for it in 3 days of starvation anymore; so they became smaller calorie binges that occurred less often, but still came on regularly; a volcano laying dormant that eventually erupts.

In the last few years, they became rare; almost disappeared.  And when they ambushed me, I didn’t quite hate myself to the same degree; my thoughts didn’t spiral from you ate too much food to you are a complete fake failure in life.  Well, I just assumed that I had finally grown up, turned 40 and left the ridiculousness behind me.

Then last night**, after months, cousin binge revisited.  In the form of frosting and sriracha popcorn and Tostitos with melted cheese over them.  Sugar, salt, fat.  Later I’m taking a shower and I’m thinking why did that happen; it was so out of the blue; I thought I was over this.  A ginormous DUH slaps me !!! I didn’t run today….I DIDN’T RUN TODAY !!  I used to eat through my emotions, and now I run through them.

There probably hasn’t been a single day when I’ve run and then binged later.  I’m not 100% sure because Ms. Obsessive over-thinker and over-analyzer never thought about it until now!  The high of a run and the low of a binge are INCOMPATIBLE together on the same day.

The mental wash of a run prevents the need to suffocate your feelings or stress with food.  Now that I’m saying it, I can’t believe that I didn’t put this 1 + 1 = 2  equation together sooner.  I took AP calculus and had years of post-graduate training, but it took me 3 years of running to solve this simple problem.

As I’m writing this, I’m thinking that you the reader will NOT believe me when I say that I didn’t figure this out sooner.  The only explanation I have is that it wasn’t that every time I was emotionally frustrated I said, “why don’t I go for a little run; that will distract me from the need to muffle my pacing irrational overwhelmed brain with food.”  It’s that I almost always run first thing in the morning, and so that mental rumination and the post-run energy result in a day in which the need to binge on food as my drug rarely came up.

The revelation is powerful.  A true cliche Oprah A-HA moment.  Life-changing, really.  It doesn’t mean that I’ll never binge again; that I know for sure.  Because there are days when I can’t fit in a good sweat session, and I have stress, self-doubt, and unrealistic self-imposed expectations; and undoing 30 years of emotional eating forever is not that simple.  This type A girl doesn’t have all her sh#t together and doesn’t have all the answers.  But now I know again, how necessary this run is for me, how vital to my well-being.  Would I rather binge through my emotions or run through them?  I’ll take the run.

**Said binge occurred on 2/15/15, and the first draft of this post was written the next day.


About Paria

Runner, mother, pediatrician, blogger

15 comments on “Cousin Binge Revisits

  1. Paria – it is so good. So, so good and brave of you to put this out there. I think so many of us can relate this these issues, and you have neatly captured your own processing. Lover it!

  2. This feels so familiar (esp going for carbs carbs carbs when the weather is gross gross gross) and so grateful for your honesty and courage to write about this topic that affects basically all of us. Disordered eating is so common and something I am dealing with now….the cravings and bad habits can be so strong. Too many carbs, overeating, not eating all day at work then overeating at night, so many bad habits that put on the pounds. I love how you express your advice to ‘run through your emotions rather than eat through them’….Like a healthy and wise mantra to focus one’s intention upon. Thank you.

  3. Paria- you have blessed the universe by sharing your unique, sincere penmanship that is thoroughly refreshing. I applaud you. Thank you.

  4. I actually love that you binged on my birthday! If we had been binging together that day it could have been much worst! We would have had to hit every dessert menu in town. :0)

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