Food is for Fuel. It occurs to me that I never really took the opportunity to go into detail about how this one phrase changed my life, my attitude towards food, and not only aided in my weight loss but also improved my overall outlook on life. So I think I’ll take this opportunity to explain it.
“You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself.” ~Jim Rohn
I have a food addiction coupled with not only an urge to binge but the physical ability to binge to an absolutely outrageous degree. I very rarely feel full until my stomach is painfully distended. It’s been a lifelong problem and among the primary culprits for my morbid obesity. When you’re lazy, sedentary, and when not only can you eat an entire week’s worth of groceries in one sitting, but you’re absolutely compelled to, you’re going to get fat. And I did.
Now, some folks don’t believe in food addiction. I understand the skepticism and lack evidence other than anecdotal facts but I believe that the results of the solution I applied to my problem are fairly compelling. That being said, I believe that food addiction is a complex compilation of variables. Rather than becoming addicted to certain foods, I believe that I created a reward loop with food that had devastating consequences.
For years, the brain chemical dopamine has been thought of as the brain’s “pleasure chemical,” sending signals between brain cells in a way that rewards a person or animal for one activity or another. More recently, research has shown that certain drugs like cocaine and heroin amplify this effect — an action that may lie at the heart of drug addiction.”
Now, a new study from the University of Michigan adds a new twist to dopamine’s fun-loving reputation: pain.
My weight has always been high and I’ve narrowed that down to my family’s economic situation coupled with the nutritional ignorance of my parents or any figure of authoritative consequence in my early life. I grew up feeling different than everyone else and learned to live in seclusion at a fairly young age. This lead to depression and eventually suicidal thoughts, as well as agoraphobia in my late teens. My fondest and most comforting memories became holidays and family events. All of those events — in one way or another — heavily involved food.
“There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.” ~Dr. Denis Waitley
It had been drilled into my head throughout my childhood that I was fat because I ate too much. Instead, I believed wholeheartedly that I was fat due to genetics, and I believe that everyone telling me that I ate too much only made me believe it was genetics that much more. I think that at a deep level, I knew they were right, but I was so angry and hopeless that self destruction and to some degree, self mutilation became a source of novelty for me.
I got angrier and angrier at the world around me and I inched further and further into myself. I felt weak, powerless, wholly dependent on others to survive, and stripped of any control over my situation. I was completely and utterly dehumanized. And then it happened; a moment of clarity in an otherwise endless fog of depression.
I had manifested a reward loop. My parents were both from impoverished backgrounds and constantly asked me if I wanted seconds and thirds, which trained my body to take in a massive amount of food. Even though I was active, I kept getting bigger, which only solidified my belief that my obesity was genetic when it was actually an enormous daily calorie surplus. That helplessness and self-imposed segregation led to crippling depression. I ate junk food to remind myself of the happiest moments of my life in an attempt to repair the damage done by years of suicidal levels of depression. My brain was attempting to self-correct the problem by making the problem worse. I was activating a dopamine response by recalling my fondest memories, I was activating a dopamine response with food specifically engineered to activate a dopamine response, while at the same time activating a dopamine response by causing myself harm, and round and round the toilet bowl my life did rapidly descend.
The Misconception: When your beliefs are challenged with facts, you alter your opinions and incorporate the new information into your thinking.
The Truth: When your deepest convictions are challenged by contradictory evidence, your beliefs get stronger.
“You will never leave where you are, until you decide where you’d rather be.” ~Dexter Yager
Food is for Fuel. It was dually an epiphany and a paradigm shift; this single phrase would lead me to triumph over my lifelong struggle with obesity. I stopped attaching food to holidays and events, but instead enjoyed the events for the people. I stopped eating junk food and instead ate simply what my body required to run the most efficiently. If I didn’t know what was in it, I didn’t eat it. I ate ingredients instead of complex recipes. If it was salty, sweet, and fatty at the same time, I didn’t touch it with a ten foot pole. If I ate a food that invoked a desire to binge, I threw it out of my diet completely. Eventually, I ended up with a diet of meat, veggies, and protein powder. Instead of food, I now crave social interaction. Instead of self destruction, I now crave self improvement.
One little phrase changed everything and through my blog, I want to help spark a revolution that helps change everything for as many people as possible, so that’s why I named it Food is for Fuel. Now you’re all caught up.