Using Food and Weight To Take Yourself Out of The Game…

I’ve been watching the Olympics this week, seeing all of the strong, brave athletes and thinking about all sorts of games.  Using food and weight as a “distancer” and a way to take myself out of the game has been an idea I have gone back to multiple times in my recovery. When I say “game,” I am referring to a whole lot of things and you can insert your own personal concept of game, but really it’s living your life and letting yourself really have a shot at things without self-handicapping…A few examples: the social game, the relationship game, the employment game, the taking a risk game, the buying pretty new clothes game, and the list goes on and on.

Sometimes I think it is really easy to use food, weight and body hatred as a shield to take myself out of the game without even thinking about it. “Everyone at the party will just be staring at my thighs, so I may as well not go.” It’s a protective measure perhaps gone too far. In a way, it’s safe and easy, but it also causes a lot of pain and suffering as well.

Here’s a little example that isn’t my favorite to admit to, but I’m just going to share. In the past I think I have used food and weight to take myself out of the the relationship game and being close to someone. I let insecurities about myself and my body get in the way and start a really unfortunate situation. It was a terrible cycle that sort of went like this (very much abbreviated): “I don’t think I’m skinny enough for him to really like me like that. He always dates skinny girls. Why would he want to be with me?”…Then my insecurities about all of my own body stuff lead to me sort of pushing him away and not feeling like myself around him…Then things didn’t really go the way I wanted them to (how could they have?!)…Then I used my body as an excuse (“See, it’s true! I knew he wouldn’t actually like me!) and blamed my lack of self-esteem, and ultimately felt badly and then emotionally ate.

To further this extreme case, the emotional eating, overeating or bingeing then lead to more feeling uncomfortable in my body so then I didn’t even want to try any more or put myself out there. This then creates the irrational thought of, “No one likes me!” but really, I haven’t even given anyone the chance to-I took myself out of the game before it had hardly even begun! Thinking like this can perpetuate the self-image that I am not good enough and only further reinforces the negative feelings. It also completely disregards all the other (more important) parts of me like being smart, strong, kind, and funny that I should really be focusing on. It’s important to recognize and interrupt the cycle!

Fortunately this was quite a while ago and I have built up a lot more confidence and love for myself throughout my recovery, but it wasn’t always that way and sometimes I need to give myself a gentle reminder to not slip into habits of taking myself out of the game, whether it be with someone I want to be with, or applying for a job I want, or going to a challenging yoga class. Next time you hear yourself saying “Well, I can’t do blah blah blah, because of my body, or weight,” it’s sometimes worth checking in a little deeper about what’s really going on.

Can any of you relate to this? Have you ever taken yourself out of some sort of game? -Morgan

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18 Responses to Using Food and Weight To Take Yourself Out of The Game…

  1. Sunny says:

    Oh my God, Morgan. Did you read my diary from my mid-twenties? Seriously-I took myself out of so many games because of food insanity and body hate. I beat myself up about it for a long time. But finally, I accepted the fact that it HAD to be that way. That was my path; I felt I needed to be protected because life was too scary, so my brain and body did whatever it had to to get me that protection. Life is so much bigger (and yes, sometimes still tres scary) and fuller and better once you open yourself up to life and stick it out through those fears. Yay recovery! xo…Sunny

  2. Lauren says:

    I do this all of the time - still - especially as a way to avoid relationships/ intimacy. I’m currently getting help, but if anyone has any advice about how they were able to allow themselves to be in the game, I’d love to hear.

  3. Rachael says:

    This is a fantastic post Morgan and rings so true for me.
    I have used my body/weight as a safety net or excuse for so many things.

    Not taking dance lessons, not pursuing a guy.
    Using my body issues as a somewhat excuse or blanket in case i failed at something - “well its because I’m a binge eater” or “Im too big to do that” or never even trying in the first place.

    Thanks for sharing Morgan :)

  4. Heather says:

    This was/is still sometimes, totally me. I gained a whack of weight after I got divorced and kept telling myself that I would date again when the weight was off. It’s been over 2 years now since my divorce and half of the weight is gone…however, waiting another 2 years to drop that other half before dating suddenly seems ridiculous. It turns out, I was actually just using it as an excuse to avoid getting hurt again. I went out last weekend with a pretty amazing guy and had an amazing time. He told me that I was ‘gorgeous’ and for once, I didn’t say my usual ‘oh, I will be once I’ve lost the rest of my divorce weight’ as I so often do. I just said ‘thank you’, and smiled my superstar smile, looked at him with my big blue eyes (neither of which are at all affected by my weight!!)

    I realized, for the first time in a long time that there was no need to pull attention to my issues. If he thinks that I am gorgeous, who am I to argue? We just had fun and laughed and I made the decision to not let my weird issues come into play. I’m tired of apologizing for something that is not actually a problem. If he doesn’t have an issue with what I look like, why should I make it one? It just seems crazy. So, what the hell? I’m going to get back into ‘the game’ and I am just going to have to accept the fact that I am a pretty sweet catch…I’m successful, charming, funny and have a killer smile…and honestly, at the end of the day, if someone doesn’t like me because I have thighs, then they are probably not actually worth being with.

  5. Lizzie says:

    Oh my gosh! These have been my exact thoughts since I was 16! This is why I love this site; it gives credence to all the experiences that I have been through, and lets me know that yes, someone else has felt the same way as I have and that I’m not alone. But, yeah, I’ve kept myself from experiencing a ton of things because I though that I was fat and ugly and didn’t deserve to have fun, be liked, etc. I’m tired of feeling this way and I’m slowly working on changing it.

  6. rachael says:

    Heather - thats beautiful. Good on you!

  7. Tamara says:

    You have a good head on your shoulders. I try to be patient, but it’s so aggrivating when people blame their appearance for failed relationships. In my lifetime, I’ve watched a total of 2 minutes and 40 seconds of “The Biggest Loser.” I was curious, so I checked out the first episode of this season, but when the contestants started saying, “I’ve never once been in love!” with tears in their eyes, that was the end of it. The only thing a person’s size prevents them from doing is fitting into tiny spaces-everything else is an illusion.

  8. Claire says:

    This is exactly what I’ve been struggling with for the past year and a half — after finally recovering (or so I thought) from a long course of an eating disorder, feeling happy and wanting to be social after basically not having a social life for about 7 years, I started to feel more and more uncomfortable about how I looked and started to withdraw. The cycle has gotten worse and worse, and I’ve continued to gain weight over the past year and being social has been increasingly difficult. My therapist keeps trying to persuade me that these feelings will go away if I just give it a chance and don’t avoid situations from the beginning because of being so afraid of what people will think, but it’s really hard not to believe that people are as harsh as I am in my own head. And of course the worst is seeing people who knew me from before I gained a significant amount of weight — I know that they notice, and presume that they think less of me and that I’m generally pathetic. I don’t think that about me because I know how the whole thing has played out, but I’m still so afraid of what other people think (despite wanting, badly, not to care). I’m doing my best to stick to what I’m doing and not care that everything in the media (e.g. the Biggest Loser, as seems to be well discussed here) is telling me that I’m not acceptable. My greatest comfort is knowing that there are some people, even if there aren’t a lot, that think the way that people on this site seem to — and that those people can help to push back on the overwhelming force in our culture that equates being thin with being happy, and that makes people (like me) feel ashamed to do something because of not looking the way they’re ‘supposed to’.
    Sorry for being so long winded … post struck a cord with me. I’ll be sure to do something this week, or today, that I normally would tell myself I can’t because of my weight.

  9. Trish says:

    OMG, Morgan, have you secretly been living my life?? After my ex cheated on me, and we broke up, he told me he didn’t love me anymore because I was fat, and that no one would ever love me if I stayed this weight. That, coupled with the heartbreak of being cheated on, really took me out of the game — for almost THREE YEARS. Once I let go of the hurt from that relationship, and started to treat myself the way I deserved to be treated, I put myself back in the game I had avoided for so long. I accepted myself for the way I was, and I told myself over and over again that if a guy is going to not be interested in me because of my weight, then that’s not someone I’d ever want to be with anyway — whether I was fat, skinny, or something in between….I don’t have time for that shallow crap!! Anyway, I realized that guys WERE attracted to me even at this size, and my self-esteem skyrocketed!! It inspired me to continue working hard to feel good about myself. And my ex — TOTALLY WRONG — someone DOES love me, and doesn’t seem to have any problem with my size 14 jeans.

    • Katie says:

      What kind of dirtball would say that “nobody would ever love you if you stayed at this weight”? I want to punch him in the throat. What a low (and untrue!) blow.

      • Trish says:

        Oh, that just scratches the surface of the horrible things he said…and he was the one who messed up, not me! He’s a terrible person who has such deep personal issues there’s not enough time in his life left to figure them out. All I can say is that I’m in a much better place than he will ever be, and I’m so grateful for that!!

    • Veronica says:

      That’s horrible!! Guys can be such jerks!! ugh!!!

  10. Veronica says:

    Omg!! That sounds just like me!! I am that way and it soo crazy! I don’t date or have a social life because I always think that guys don’t like me because of my weight. I don’t let guys get close to me because of my weight. I see girls who are as big as I am and they have really good looking boyfriends so I know that for them their weight is not a problem, they just have confidence in myself. I don’t have any confidence. I constantly think that once I lose this weight I’ll be very happy and confident and guys will want to date me. But I know that is not the case…

  11. Laura says:

    I’ve for many years not done things because I felt since I’m not a size 8 that I am not good enough to be out and about. I’ve tried to force myself out of the habit of looking at a number for my weight. Being 5’11 and 165 just means I’m not emaciated looking and I look healthy but not fat. Sometimes I take pictures of myself to force my brain to look at it because they are not ugly and I don’t have a horrible body. Oh well.. you can only do so much at one time right.

  12. Danielle says:

    My sister pointed this post out to me, and actually highlighted the part that she wanted to get across to me because she knows I have been struggling with my self esteem and guys for a while. I am a college student and have been in a constant battle with myself ever since I was in junior high to attract guys to prove to myself that I am beautiful, skinny, and worthy of affection. It seems as if it has gotten worse over time, because every year that goes by without having a boyfriend, I blame my body and myself more and more. I never thought of the way I was self- destructing though, which Morgan articulated so well. With every guy I seriously have feelings for, and doesn’t work out, I directly blame myself for not being skinnier or more beautiful. But in fact, that guy might have thought I was pretty but because I already convinced myself that I was “not his type” he never really saw the real me. Then after rejection, I use it as justification that as long as I’m curvy, guys will not be attracted to me. It makes me feel better to hear that I am not the only one struggling with this, and pin pointing this problem might make me more conscious of my actions and feelings around men. Thanks again!

  13. Emily says:

    If I had been writing a diary in my 20s, this would have been it. And today, too, for that matter. I’m still very much in this struggle, even when I have good days or a period of good days. My total internal monologue is that I don’t deserve to go out because I’m too fat, that I’ve gained weight and people will notice and not like me (and to be honest, I have some friends who liked me better skinnier and would say so - they’re not in my life anymore). On top of all the other things that scare me about going out - all the food! all the alcohol! all the strangers I should charm with my public persona! - feeling fat is just another barrier to having a good time. So far the past few weeks, I’ve mostly turned down invitations, stayed home and ordered takeout instead. Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy. But reading about all of your experiences helps me feel like I’m not alone and that there is so much love and kindness to be had in the world - I just have to seek it out, and give it to myself.

  14. Victoria says:

    Wow. I only just stumbled over this website, but it’s so comforting to find people who are going through similar things. I have had problems with eating for over half my life now (I’m 29), and one of my greatest sorrows, looking back, is not that I was fat or thin at certain times in my life, but that I limited my life because of the way I felt about myself. I really feel as if half of my life has been conducted in secret, in the dark, and I’ve only had half the amount of energy to live the rest of my life. Despite this, I’ve had a lot of adventures, and got married, and have a successful job, but I do mourn the lost days and nights, and I can’t help thinking what else I might have done if I hadn’t always been dogged by this very big problem… Whilst you can’t blame your love life on your dress size, I know that my size was the single biggest thing that dictated how I felt about myself and whether I was confident to go out and meet new people, and I know that much of the loneliness I experienced in my early twenties was due to the fact that I isolated myself out of shame and embarrassment.

    Aside from the impact this had on my social life and love life, I think that, because I spent so much energy worrying over food, weight and body image, this affects the way my brain works. I know that I think much more clearly when I am eating healthily than when I am either binging or restricting. Given that I have a fairly responsible job, this is yet another reason I have to really tackle my eating issues.

    Very best of luck to all of you who come to this board. It’s wonderful to find a place where there is such support, understanding, and realistic positivity

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