“Sugar, we’re going down swinging.
I’ll be your number one with a bullet.
A loaded God complex, cock it and pull it.”
Fall Out Boy, Sugar, We’re Goin Down.
Birthdays… They’re fun when you’re a kid. You get a party, presents galore, and all you can eat cake. Then as an adult the parties become less extravagant to nonexistent, presents become less important, and the all you can eat cake is no longer judgement-free or acceptable. Yet, last Friday at 11:30pm the night of my 27th birthday I found myself sitting on the kitchen floor, fridge door wide open, fork in hand, eating the massive gluten-free birthday cake my boyfriend surprised me with earlier that day while contemplating if I should eat one of the gluten-free whoopie pies or all four of the gluten-free cake pops still in the fridge. So why was I on my kitchen floor eating cake out of the fridge instead of cutting a slice and eating it at a table like a normal adult? Guilt.
I was eating my cake the way a 5 year old sneaks cake without his mom noticing, because I felt guilty. I started my birthday out by eating a whoopie pie with my coffee at 8:30 in the morning. By noon I had half a piece of gluten-free gingerbread loaf and then after dinner I had a generous chunk of birthday cake. I already felt guilty for going off the rails of my diet so badly and here I was unable to stop myself from eating more. I can’t sneak cake from my own self, but I told myself that eating from the fridge didn’t count because I wasn’t eating a whole slice of cake. I lied to myself saying a few bites wouldn’t hurt knowing full well that I wouldn’t stop after eating just a few bites. Ten minutes later I was brought back to reality. My boyfriend came in the kitchen and I was reminded that lies we tell ourselves to make us to feel better typically end up just making us feel worse.
I joined Weight Watchers at the end of February of this year. Not because of a New Year’s resolution or because I felt like I needed to lose weight, but because I realized I didn’t have a healthy relationship with food, especially sugar. I was, and still am, an emotionally eater. I eat when I’m upset. I eat when I’m mad. I eat when I’m stressed. I eat when I’m excited. I eat when I’m all of the above because I’m happy I had a good birthday but at the same time internally freaking out because I’m one year closer to 30 and still don’t feel like an adult. I’m your shining example of why being “skinny” doesn’t equate to being healthy. I have this little voice in the back of my mind telling me I need to eat so I eat, and most of the time it’s an unhealthy amount of something super sugary. I imagine that’s kind of what addiction feels like. Hearing a voice in your head telling you that you need something that you most definitely do not need and causing you to confuse the difference between your needs and wants.
In a way Weight Watchers (WW) has been my AA. There are support groups and personal coaches. I even received in the mail a 5lb weight loss chip. Most importantly for me the WW points system reteaches you the difference between wants and needs by rewarding good eating habits and punishing bad eating habits. Healthy foods that are low in fat and high in protein (like chicken and eggs) are zero points, while unhealthy foods that are high in fat and full of empty carbs (like my birthday cake) are anywhere between 5-20+ points depending on the quantity you eat. You only get a certain number of points to eat each day (based on your age, weight, height and gender) so you have to choose what you eat wisely or else you’re going to be hungry by the time dinner rolls around.
Although it might seem comical, like something from a 90’s sitcom, I’m not proud of how I ended my 27th birthday. I succumbed to that little voice in my head telling me I needed that cake to make me feel better about not feeling like an adult instead of thinking rationally about food the way Weight Watchers has taught me. The truth is I didn’t act like an adult last night stuffing my face with cake. I do, however, feel like an adult today facing the aftermath self-aware of why I did what I did. Do you think it’s possible that the key to adulting has nothing to do with feeling like an adult or always making the adult decision, but rather our abilities to be self-aware, admit our flaws, and face the consequences of our actions?
Still trying to figure it out,