Monday, March 09, 2009
When I was in my early teens, I thought weight management was all in the mind. Willpower, pure and simple. Wanna lose weight? Stop eating. Can't stop? You're weak. Of course, I spoke with the arrogance and metabolism of youth. As I grew older, I learned more about the relation between muscles, metabolism and weight loss. And I thought weight loss was all about staying active. Stay active, eat all you want, lose weight. Then I gave birth to 3 kids, entered my 30's, was diagnosed with Graves Disease, and hormonal balances entered the equation.
Now I'm in my late 30's, still struggling with weight issues, and coming back to the relationship between weight management and the mind. As in, have I entered eating disorder territory? The thought never really entered my mind until I read Lori Hanson's It Started with Pop-Tarts: An Alternative Approach to Winning the Battle of Bulimia. In this book, Lori tells the story of her battle with bulimia (the title comes from the Pop Tarts she used to scarf down when she was young) and the strategies she used to overcome it. Apparently the "purging" part of the binge-purge cycle does not necessarily include throwing up; some people purge via laxatives, fasting, excessive exercise or a combination of all those, including vomiting.
I don't seriously think I'm bulimic, but I'm definitely a yo-yo dieter. I'm familiar with the cycle of stepping on the scale, hating myself so much that I starve myself for a couple of weeks, check the scale again and reward my weight loss by eating all kinds of junk and falling back into my bad habits again. I can definitely binge with the best of them (and I'm not telling anyone where that box of Girl Scout cookie Samoas went, either), so the notion of binge-eating disorders and food addictions certainly caught my attention.
Lori's discovery that she was addicted to sugar really resonated with me because I'm starting to realize that to a certain degree, that's true for me as well. I'm the kind of person who can't stop at one cookie (or Pop-Tart). And for the first time ever, I'm wondering whether I ought to be looking at weight management as not just dropping pounds, but breaking an addiction. It's certainly a thought.
It Started with Pop-Tarts reads more like a personal memoir than a step-by-step "How To" kind of book. People with eating disorders are going to have to do more than read this book to get back on track -- but it's a start. And for me, at least, I'm thankful to Lori and her book for getting me thinking once again about when, how and why I eat.