Victoria, 29, wrote me a while ago, saying she was worried that perhaps she’s spent so long bingeing that she won’t be able to change. It’s never, ever too late, I say…
Q: I’m now 29, and the eating has overshadowed a whole decade of my life. It makes me very sad when I look back on the past ten years, and, for each of the big landmarks (turning 21, graduating, first day of work, meeting my husband etc), I can remember:
– how much I weighed
– whether I was in the restricting or binging part of the cycle
And these thoughts actually dominate over the memories and joy of the actual event.
I’ve now finally got up the courage, and tolerance, to say to myself: You are more than your weight. Your value doesn’t change according to the reading on the scale. Your family and husband love you for the person you are, not for the kilos you weigh, and they don’t love you less (or more) when your weight changes. You need to love yourself and accept yourself to, not constantly fight a war against your body.
I think one of the biggest things that is motivating me to change now, is the realisation that this has gone on for ten years. T-e-n years. So many days, so much heartbreak. I’m not prepared to live the rest of my life like this. I’m also tired to the bone of living my life like this. I need a little more self-acceptance. Perhaps that means accepting myself at a weight of 70 kg not 65kg, but if the price of not bingeing is 5 kg, then I’m prepared to do that (although that probably means I will never again fit into my ‘skinny’ jeans).
I get the feeling from you, Sunny, that your own eating challenge lasted for a while? Is that right? Because one of the things that scares me is the thought that, given that this has gone on for so long now, perhaps I’ll never be able to beat it? I know that my attitudes to food and eating and body are currently changing quite dramatically, and hopefully this will be enough to get me through. I guess, no matter what the obstacle is, and no matter how long it’s been around, it’s always possible to overcome it. —Victoria, 29
A: You’re absolutely right, Victoria: My eating challenge lasted for a long while. I binged off and on, to varying degrees, for 15 years. It was right at your age, 29, that I really decided to take the final step that pushed me over the edge in recovery. I’d gone to therapy and read lots of books, but it was going to a face-to-face support group that gave me that final tools I needed to stop.
I love so many of the things you say here: That you finally believe you are more than your weight and are willing to accept your body as is I think is absolutely key. I know it was for me. Getting out of that binge-and-restrict diet mentality allowed me to focus on the inside instead of the outsides, and that’s truly where all of our food and body troubles start.
I also love that you’re recognizing that your attitudes are changing. Once we stop using the scale or some “diet” plan to measure our success and growth, we have to replace those measures with other things. Recognizing small and large changes in our thought patterns, in the amount of time we spend thinking about food and our bodies, recognizing a reduction is nasty self-talk, noting that we’re being kinder to ourselves—these are all helpful and healthy ways to measure our movement toward sanity when it comes to food and our bodies.
Now I’d especially like to hear from HealthyGirl.org readers who are 30 and up (although everyone’s welcome to chime in!): Did you ever feel like it was just too late for you to get better? How’d you snap out of it? xo…Sunny
For Food- and Body-Sanity Tips of the Day, follow Sunny on Twitter!