I remember the day I wanted to give up.
I was at home. It was a warm, bright morning and sunlight was streaming into the study. I was heading towards the door but, as I passed my desk, something stopped me.
A simple thought.
“This is too hard”.
I’d worked so hard to understand my issues with food and myself but, despite my efforts, I couldn’t make enough sense of them to consistently affect my eating behaviour. Although my bingeing had stopped, I was still eating when I knew I wasn’t hungry. It felt like an impossible struggle with no way out.
I remember feeling overwhelmed with despair and hopelessness. I remember the tears of frustration rolling down my face. I remember the feel of the carpet as my knees hit the floor.
“I can’t do this anymore”, I thought.
I hoped, I wished, I waited but, ultimately, I didn’t believe it could work for me.
I’d come so far but couldn’t see a way through. I’d had enough. I was done.
After a while I heard a voice in my head say, “What’s your alternative – giving up?”
I didn’t want to give up but I just didn’t feel I was getting anywhere in resolving my issues once and for all.
Then I realised – I didn’t believe I could resolve my issues.
I didn’t believe I could eat exactly what I wanted – normalise my relationship with food – and reduce in size. I know there are people who are happy being bigger but I wasn’t one of them. I wasn’t comfortable carrying a lot of excess weight. It got in the way of me living my life and I didn’t feel good.
Theoretically it made absolute sense to me: when you eat what truly satisfies you, you naturally eat less and work with your metabolism so you gradually lose weight.
I believed other people could do it (because I believed other people were better than me so, of course, they could). I hoped, I wished, I waited but, ultimately, I didn’t believe it could work for me.
I was on a journey but didn’t believe I would ever arrive at the destination.
If my recovery process was an American teen movie (go with me on this), I was the shy kid at the prom sitting on the sidelines, waiting anxiously to see if I’d be asked to dance. Instead I needed to become the confident kid who realises they don’t need an invitation to hit the dancefloor and bust their own sweet moves (cue uplifting song, roll credits).
Sitting on the floor in my study that sunny morning I knew I had a choice – give up or commit to the destination.
Commitment doesn’t have to be some full-on, goal-setting, shouty act of machismo but something you hold gently in your mind to inform your intention.
Your intention then influences your behaviour.
Decide where you’re heading, commit to your process, buckle up and enjoy the ride.
If you’re committed to your destination, you’re more likely to stay with yourself when you’re eating, rather than switching to autopilot.
You’re more able to have useful conversations with yourself – “is this really what I feel like eating?”, “how much of that would I like?”, “have I had enough yet?” – so that you’re eating exactly what satisfies you.
You’re more likely to leave the last two biscuits in the packet or that final spoonful of macaroni cheese because you really don’t want to overeat.
You’re more able to avoid mindlessly grazing or turning to food to regulate your feelings.
Assured of your destination, you’re more likely to relax, work with yourself and reduce naturally to the size your body determines.
When you’re committed wholeheartedly to your destination, you’re motivated to identify your personal pitfalls and work to resolve them. Rather than surrendering to negative thoughts that hold you back, it’s easier to fling them away from you like a frisbee because they don’t help you to get where you’re going.
So where are you going? What’s your destination? What does it look like? What will it feel like when you’re there?
Decide where you’re heading, commit to your process, buckle up and enjoy the ride (you might as well). Once you’ve decided, don’t let anything make you waver in your belief or allow you to detour from your path.
You may not know exactly how you’re going to get there or how long it’s going to take, but you know that, in the end, you’ll reach your destination. That’s the one thing you know for sure – because you’ve already decided.
“Are You Committed to Your Destination?” is the focus for the next eatonomy group session on Saturday 30th March. For more information, please see the Community page.