Confessions of a (Former!) Foodaholic
Hi there. My name is Sarah McConkie, aka The Girl with the Green Apple. I’m a mom of three daughters. I’m a wife of an MBA student. I’m a writer, a runner, a lover of all things involving cake batter, and a Pushing Daisies/BBC Sherlock/Gilmore Girls fan (in that order). And I’m out to conquer binge eating forever. Essentially, I’m a former foodaholic that is finally starting to figure things out. My quest is to stay binge-free FOR GOOD and help anyone else out there who’s sick of the food fight to do the same.
I’m writing this blog because after lots of frustration, tears, and figuratively crumpling up the paper and starting from square one all over again, things are starting to really click into place for me.
Scarves & Green Apples
Now, a bit about my blog’s name. Does anyone else out there LOVE the movie Confessions of a Shopaholic? I think it is absolutely hilarious and adorable (plus the hot British guy totally looks like my husband. Hehe).
But I digress. If you are a fan of said movie, you probably know my blog name references it in a big way. The girl in the show, Rebecca, ends up writing for a money magazine about personal finance. But the trouble is that she’s a shopping addict with rampant credit card debt—something she doesn’t mention to her boss or anyone else at the magazine. But throughout the movie she overcomes her problem with shopping by figuring out what’s really important and then biting the bullet to make hard changes and simply STOP her old patterns. And that’s what I want to do. Rebecca’s pen name for her magazine writing is “the girl with the green scarf.” I want to be the girl with the green apple: someone who had a real problem—eating in my case, not compulsive shopping—but who overcame it.
In case you’re curious, here’s a bit about where I’ve been. (This is the Reader’s Digest version, btw. If you want the whole thing, check out my How I Stopped Binge Eating series of posts on my Binge Eating Help page.)
For as long as I can remember I’ve had a hard time eating sugary foods. Sugar has always been hard for me to eat in a moderate and normal way. Even as a kid I remember occasionally being embarrassed at how many cookies or brownies I’d eat if my mom made a pan of something yummy. I knew I was eating more than any of my other family members ate and felt ashamed of it. However, the negative feelings bounced away pretty quickly. I was a fairly happy kid and then a fairly happy teen.
My freshman year of college was when I became really worried about my overeating for the first time in my life. That was also when I began overeating more than ever before. I was freaked out! I’d just moved away from home. I was dealing with my first real heartbreak. The economic downturn that year (yep, it was 2008) meant my dad got laid off and a scholarship I’d planned on using to pay rent didn’t get funding. I wasn’t getting along with my roommates like I’d hoped I would. It was a lot of things all at once, and I didn’t handle it well.
Full-Blown Disordered Eating
I began full-on bingeing about once a week as a freshman. The binges happened when I was feeling particularly stressed or sad or scared. After a few months of that, I began making myself throw up after overeating to try to compensate.
I purged after bingeing a total of five times over a three-week window before realizing that what I was doing was scary and just plain wrong. I felt sick, weak, and shaky after purging. I didn’t want to do it anymore, but I was afraid of the weight I’d gain if I didn’t get a handle on my overeating. I panicked and cried and prayed. And though it was scary, I finally told my roommate and my mom about what I was doing. With their encouragement I went to go see a counselor at my university.
I’m grateful that I sought professional help. I needed it then, because at this point of my story what I was doing was extremely unsafe. However, I feel bad that my counseling there wasn’t a fantastic experience, or at least one that proved helpful long term. My counselor and I met a few times and we’d talk about all the things I was worrying about, and he did give me some good strategies for dealing with my feelings and fears more healthily. But after three visits over three weeks my counselor seemed to think the problem was resolved since the purging was over (the last time I did was even before we began meeting). He told me to just come back if it started up again. So there we go: I was “better.”
So I carried on. And in a lot of ways, life was great. I graduated from college I got married to a wonderful guy. We had two gorgeous daughters. All in all, things were really, really good.
I purged a total of two times over the next six years, and my overeating calmed down from the extreme pitch it had hit back in college. But my overeating never really went away. Sometimes binges were directly correlated to stress, sometimes they were a “last supper” response to my deciding I’d start another diet the next day, and sometimes they seemed to happen for no reason at all. My binges/overeating episodes weren’t multiple pizzas plus entire tubs of ice cream, but they were often 1,000—2,000 calories in one go of rich, sugary stuff, and they made me feel horrible physically and emotionally. I found myself perpetually worried about my weight and shape, sure that many of my problems would go away if I hadn’t been “so fat.” I think the dieting attempts that began in earnest beginning with my freshman year were the #1 factor in leaving me totally unable to stop bingeing, simply because I never let myself eat enough to be full consistently.
The years went on and the overeating/restricting went on about as I’ve described. I felt like I was in this weird limbo: I didn’t have a full-blown eating disorder, but I wasn’t happy with where I was with food. I was stressed about it constantly and scared of it. I seemed stuck on a wheel of restricting (both in terms of what I ate and how much I allowed myself to eat) and then rebounding with binges. I wasn’t doing anything dramatic or scary or unsafe anymore, but I just wasn’t completely happy.
If you’re in that same camp, my friend, I wish I could give you a huge hug. Because I know firsthand that it sucks. I also know that SO MANY PEOPLE, especially women, are like me. I’m amazed at how often I get the response “Me too!” when I share with others that I struggle with eating in a so-called “normal” way. So many of us are not full-blown anorexics or bulimics, but we aren’t happy with our relationships with food, and often that unhappiness seeps into other areas of our lives. It’s confusing and embarrassing to feel that you don’t have a “legitimate” problem, but that you still wish you could find something or someone that could help you get things straightened out. That, at least, has been how I have felt.
Better at Last
So. Years went on, overeating went on. In times of stress things would occasionally worsen, but with the help of my amazing and supportive husband as well as others who love me, I’d pull through before things got out of hand as they did back in my college years. And while none of the approaches I tried “worked” in the sense that my binges totally stopped, I gleaned helpful ideas and practices from almost every one of them that are helping me progress, and things slowly but surely began to change.
The biggest factor in my increasing success? I began letting myself eat enough. That single behavior change has been such a dramatic turning point for me. And over the past few months, I’ve finally allowed myself to say it out loud: things are starting to change for me long-term.
It feels so good! I go for so much longer than I once did between binges—weeks rather than days. And even my “binges” are things like me deciding I don’t care about healthy eating on moody days, having three pieces of toast I’m not hungry for, and then realizing what’s beginning to happen and stopping in my tracks. Really, I haven’t truly binged in years.
My thinking, my eating, my EVERYTHING is starting to finally change. And late last year I hit the point where my husband and I felt like I was in a healthy enough place to try for our third child. I’m thrilled to report that I’m currently about 7 months along with a third baby girl we’re planning to name Scarlett. 🙂
And so I began this blog. In my darkest hours as a frightened bulimic college freshman I decided if I ever figured things out, I wanted to help others find their way out too. So here I am. I’m not a professional, and I’m not yet completely where I want to be, but I think I’m out of the woods. And I want to share everything and anything that has helped me and continues to help me along my way. My hope is that someone else out there can find hope and a bit of practical help from what I write about.
I believe there’s power in being honest and vulnerable and real. There are some things that are embarrassing to share and hard to talk about. But guess what? I talk about them anyway. I’ll reference my struggles with bingeing head-on in lots of my posts. However, I’ll also write about all things healthy and happy that are keeping me better. You’ll see a lot about healthy pregnancy and post-baby recovery here too. Since I’ve been going through both recently, that’s where my head has been lately. But the bottom line is this: I’m out to have a happier and fuller life where regular binges are a thing of the past. Moderation, not perfection, is my battlecry. Everything on this blog is meant to support that idea and help you in your own quest to live you happiest, best life.
So here’s my effort to share about my journey to finding a place of real HEALTH. And by “health” I don’t mean weighing 110 pounds and living exclusively on protein powder. By health I mean genuine, all-around wellness. I want to keep figuring out how to live a moderate, truly healthy lifestyle where I’m taking care of myself not just physically but emotionally too. And I would absolutely love for all and any of you reading this to come along on this journey with me: a real, imperfect, former foodaholic who’s out to become the healthiest and happiest version of myself I can be.
Love to you all,