Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Day I Stopped Being a Compulsive Overeater (part 1)

Here is a comment on my face book page about a subject I've been wanting to write about sharing my own experience.  This comment was made after I write a quick post about having fears about eating certain foods.  The fear that it's the "food" that will make, get, or keep you fat.  For years I avoided certain foods, mostly starchy foods or grains (the dreaded "carbs") in fear of the extra ounces I would see on the body weight scale from the bloat I believed they caused. (more about that belief)

I feel way better than I did when I used to consume sugar. I don't know if I had some sort of celiac, or gluten intolerance, but that stuff is like heroin to me. There was a time when eating 4 donuts was showing restraint. Now, for the first time in my life (I'm 44), I have the will power to turn that stuff away. I eat lots of various meats, and loads of veggies. Losing 100 was actually fairly easy, especially compared to any other eating plan I tried to follow. Now, if I could figure out a way to exercise more, and constant restraint on the *amount* of food I eat, maybe I can lose even more. 

Before I get into the actual subject of whether or not certain foods are worse than others I want to share a story with you all.  I'm not sure I've written about it before, I may have, so forgive me for repeating it.

The Day I Stopped Being a Compulsive Overeater

I'm not sure what year it was, I'd have to guess 2008....  I've been in the spotlight (however small that spotlight was at the time) in the kettlebell community for having lost a bunch of weight.  I was the first person to claim a tremendous weightloss of over 100lbs using kettlebells as my main exercise, I was married to a then Senior RKC, now Master SFG, and I had been writing a blog about weight loss and kettlebell training for a couple of years at that point.  The last thing I wanted to do was gain weight, especially in front of the watching eyes and listening ears of all I had been preaching to those first years.

As a formerly obese person that has lost a significant amount of weight, and fairly quickly, I know how practically everybody lies in wait for you to gain the weight back. In fact I wrote a blog post about that very subject.  Anyway, the more I focused on the fear of gaining weight back "in front of people" the more worried I became and "fixing" it was something I set out to do.  Funny thing was, however, is that truly since I lost the weight and found myself through my kettlebell training I've never once thought I would ever be fat again.  In fact I knew the opposite to be true as much as I know it now.  I will never be that fat again, never, ever.

One reason why I thought I would never be fat again is because I was convinced knowing what my "problem" was gave me the power to "fight" it!  I was a compulsive overeater.  In fact I wrote many many blog posts calling myself a compulsive overeater and I was always going to be...that's who I was.  I wasn't apologizing for it either.  I wasn't proud of it, I was just admitting I knew I was.

So off to Overeaters Anonymous I went.

"OA".  I arrived at a 10:00am meeting at a local church eager to "fix" myself.  I had already made up my mind that I would be a good student, cross my t's and dot my i's.  I was ready for the wisdom of others with my "problem" to help me figure it out and overcome my compulsive overeating.  And they did....but not in the way I expected!

One by one each person stood up and proudly shared their name and what they were.  "Hi, I'm Mary, and I'm a compulsive overeater.".  "Hi, I'm Susie, and I'm a compulsive overeater.". "Hi, I'm Jennifer and I'm a Bulimic."....etc...  Each and every one of them stood up in front of everybody and made their claim as to who they were and what they were.  At the first meeting I declined to participate in the introductions, choosing to just watch at first until I felt comfortable to share.

The morning then continued on with various people sharing what hardships they had to fight or overcome during the past week in regards to their battle with food and body weight gain.  Some stories were of success, most were not, but ended with the hope of a better week to come.

The next week, pretty much a repeat.  I even thought about becoming a sponsor for this organization.  I thought I had found some kind of group of "my people" that I could help, and by helping them I could help myself.  But one big problem with becoming a sponsor....I would have to "work the program", which I knew was impossible because something didn't quite sit right with me.

The following week is when it hit me.

One by one as each person stood up and made claim to being a victim of compulsive overeating it was then that the light bulb went off in my head and it became as clear as day that I did not belong there.  I was NOT "one of them".  I really, really, really was NOT one of them.  And whatever "they" were, I was NOT!

I was not a victim.  I was not "struggling".  I didn't have a "problem".  I was NOT a "compulsive overeater" way was I one of "them".  I'm going to take a big risk to write what I was really feeling here.....I was repulsed.  I was repulsed at the life sentence each one of these people gave themselves.  It was clear to me that when we label ourselves based on a past behavior, a past habit, then it will never be in our past.  It will always be in our present, and most likely in our future.  I didn't want that and I was not going to accept it period.  That day was the day I was no longer a compulsive overeater....or whatever "problem" I thought I had...or more accurately the "problem I thought I was".

I left and never went back.  But I also didn't dwell on my experience at OA either.  What I mean by that was that I just went on with my life, cooking preparing my own homemade foods, training, and doing all the things that made me feel good about myself and my life.  It really wasn't until almost 1 year later.....

About 1 year later Mark and I were sitting down for our usual Saturday dinner, wine and date night when I realized I hadn't had an all out binge in what seemed like forever.  In fact I couldn't even remember the last time I felt that craze of out of control shoveling foods in my face like I was starving to death.  I'm not claiming that I hadn't done any type of over eating the whole year, but I feel as if it's not the "eating" but the "feeling" that was gone.  The desperation and the feeling of being out of control.  I was more relaxed and trusting of myself than ever before.  What a freakin' relief!

It was then that I realized that if just stopped some of my beliefs about myself I could change them.  In fact they would change on their own through the very act of deciding to feel differently about myself, who I was and who I wanted to be.  I had stopped writing about and telling everybody that I was a compulsive overeater.  I stopped believing it, I stopped saying it, and those words would never come out of my mouth again.

You will never hear me say that I am a compulsive overeater, or that I have any kind of problem with food or eating.  What you might hear me say is this, "I used to be in the habit of overeating compulsively, but I don't act that way anymore."  I'm convinced it was just a habit, a reaction I had based on old beliefs.  I feel differently now, and I am way more clear about who I am now and who I want be and the things I want to have in my life.  I have no room for those icky feelings anymore and I'm happy to be free of them!

I have a ton more to write about this subject but for now I've got to move on to the rest of my day, and besides I don't want to turn this blog post into a book!  (well, that would be a lie!  I'd love to write another book!)  But I will leave you with this:

I do enjoy over eating sometimes, but that does not make me an overeater.  And in fact I enjoy it less and less all the time.  I actually look forward to the day that over eating never feels good, and I am totally open to the fact that that day could be today!

Aren't I lucky?  (and so are you!)

I barely know who Dr. Wayne Dyer is and I've never read or listened to anything he has written but I thought I would share this with you.  I woke up this morning knowing this would be my first job (writing this post) and when I turned my computer on this was the first thing I saw on face book.  It's exactly what I believe is key to creating your life as you want it to be.  It's not hard to find more writtne about this subject as many successful people have the same beliefs similar to mine.


Elisabeth said...

I have that very picture/quote of Wayne Dyer hanging on the mirror in my bedroom. I'm totally with you on changing your beliefs. As is written in the Bhagavad-Gita, "You become that which you believe..."

Look forward to reading more from you on this subject.

Birdrillard said...

Carl Jung has a similar quote that I try to keep in my head: "I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become."

This is a great post, Tracy. I completely agree with the idea that how we frame things can be a real game changer.

It's important to know that we don't have to buy into those labels, or believe that certain behaviours are diseases. We should all feel powerful and capable of changing whatever it is we want to change about our lives!

Looking forward to part two!

Tuesday xx

Fatguy said...

Very very interesting. I look forward to part 2!

Diana said...

I look forward to the book!

Tracy Reifkind said...


I posted a quote by Henry Ford a while back.

"If you think you can, or think you can't, you're right!"

change it slightly to,

If you think you are, or think your not, you're right!"

Tracy Reifkind said...


Interesting. My first reaction is that "I am what happened to me...aren't I lucky!"

I'm not sad about anything in my past, and when I think about regrets my common sense tells me it's impossible to be grateful and appreciative of everything I have and everything I am if it were not for everything that's happened.

I'm not "stuck" in any part of the past, but my past has been of great value.

but that's just how I'm interpreting it.

Tracy Reifkind said...


The first thing I would do is change "fatguy". Unless you see it in a positive, then I'd like hear your interpretation of what that means to you.

In the beginning I used to say that there would always be that "fat girl" inside of me. Then that no longer felt right, so I changed it to saying I was a "former fat girl" (in fact I wrote a post titled "former fat girl").

Now? Whatever.

To me it's the same as saying I'm a "survivor", almost as if using the word "fat" or "formerly fat" is a badge of honor. I am not a survivor, I'm a creator.

My badge of honor comes in what I do everyday, what I say and how I treat other people. Not because I made myself fat at one time.

Tracy Reifkind said...


You don't need the book! You know me! Maybe a phone call every once in a while, but not a book! LOL

Mahda16 said...

I am a firm believe in that you create your own reality. I've been happy and nothing but happy things and good things happen, I've been negative and the same has held true. I'd rather be happy anytime, it's hard, but it truly does work. You find joy in everything, and it will find you everywhere!

Tracy Reifkind said...


I ray and never say anything is hard. Hard is a feeling not a fact.

I mean's hard to feel happy? Maybe it's hard to remember it's a choice. but it's not hard to be feel happy. It feels way harder to be un happy, mad, upset, irratated, resentful, etc.

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