Guest Post by Jessica Mauk of Healthy for 100
I started my first diet when I was 14 years old. I don’t really remember thinking much
about my weight prior to then. That’s not to say that I didn’t; I just don’t remember it. I
had started lifting weights with the volleyball team that fall, and I put on 10 pounds. At
age 14, 5’3” tall, I weighed 125 pounds. My mind somehow determined anything over
120 to be unacceptable, and I’d spend the next 25 years trying to brow beat my body
back to that “acceptable” number. I was never successful.
I remember standing in the kitchen one evening, spoon in hand, staring in the cabinet at
a jar of peanut butter. I’d never been a huge fan of peanut butter growing up. Sure, I’d
eaten the odd sandwich here and there, but it was never my thing. That night started a
long, sordid love affair with food and it all started with a jar of peanut butter.
I plunged the spoon into the jar and ate. I’m not sure how much I ate that night, but I
know I visited that jar every night for quite some time. Soon, the spoon found it’s way
into the ice cream containers, the frozen whipped topping containers buried in the
freezer, the mayonnaise jar. Thus began my first dance with secret binge eating.
Throughout the rest of high school and college I’d try every diet I could think of: diet
pills, cabbage soup, various shakes, Weight Watchers (TM), Atkins, Protein Power…all
of them came with lists of good & bad foods, none of them took the weight off, all of
them were followed by binges.
This pattern followed me into my 20s and 30s. I eventually married the man of my
dreams and my binges went out. of. control. His job required him to travel for
about half the month. Every month. I could be good while he was home and then
binge while he was left. There was grilled chicken and veggies for half the month.
There was frozen pizzas, ice cream, candy bars, and pop tarts when he was gone.
I’d begin to fantasize about my binges even before his bags were packed for his next
trip. I’d put the kids to bed, put on my special binge clothes, turn on the TV and go. to.
town. It was as if I was having an affair. In a way I was – with food.
At some point, I decided I was done dieting. Forever. It clearly wasn’t working and I
was ready to come clean to my husband. I decided to eat whatever I wanted whenever
I wanted and to not fear judgement. I put on 25 pounds pretty quickly, but I was able to
convince myself that I was on the right track, if only I could keep going.
But, I let my guard down one day and before I knew it, I’d developed a second eating
disorder: orthorexia. I’d found green smoothies, WAPF, Paleo & Zone. But these
weren’t diets. These were healthy eating plans. These weren’t about losing weight.
These were about being the best I could be. These were about finding health.
I grabbed those lists of good and bad foods and man did that feel good. My previous
ED was so happy and comfortable. We had lists again!!!! I memorized them and I
learned how to read labels. I learned every synonym for sugar (POISON!). I learned
how to bake without grains, sugar, dairy, or anything else that tastes good. I was on
I started losing weight. I started losing hair. I started losing periods. I WAS
I was exhausted all the time. I started to crash during my workouts and I’d have to
spend the remainder of the day in bed. I fell behind in all of my commitments and my
ability to abstain from the foods on the bad list was getting weaker and weaker.
I’d eventually cave, but I’d justify it by blogging my beautiful pictures of organic,
grassfed (insert numerous other modifiers here) meals and reminding myself that most
of my meals were still on the good list. I’d get high fives from my friends, I’d ignore the
guilt, and we’d all laugh about what pizza/burger/ice cream were our favorites. Cheat
meals RULE and I was (finally) normal.
What I didn’t mention on my blog, however, is that my cheat meals began to consume
my every thought. I started to plan them around my husband’s schedule. I could be all
Paleo all the time when my husband was home. My love affair with food was always
waiting in the sidelines. It was a familiar dance – I’d memorized the steps to it all those
years ago. I was binging again.
I dug deep and asked myself some difficult questions and I remembered that decision. I’d made so many years ago and I decided -again- that I was done. NO MORE LISTS.
Food was food. I knew what made me feel good. I knew what made me feel like crap.I decided I could trust myself.
Trust myself. That’s some scary shit to a binge eater. If I trust myself, won’t I binge
myself to death? If I’m allowed to eat whatever I want, whenever I want, will I ever
stop? I didn’t know the answers to these questions, but I knew what I’d been doing
A funny thing happened. Once I was allowed to eat whatever I wanted, it didn’t take me long to realize I wanted to feel good. I wanted to eat vegetables. I wanted to snack on fruit, and I wanted to enjoy my ice cream without a side helping of guilt. I wanted to be free from the prison I was in.
As I came to this realization, I continued to blog about my foods and my attitudes, but I
began using words like ‘balance’ and ‘moderation’ and that pissed a lot of people off. I
lost followers and I started to receive emails warning me of the dangerous message I
was advocating. The irony is, I now eat almost exactly the way I had been eating. The only thing that changed was my attitude about it.
Jessica Mauk is studying to be a Personal Trainer & Health Coach to help women learn to overcome their disordered relationships with food. You can connect with her via her Facebook page Healthy For 100.