Thursday, July 31, 2008

On Binging and Purging

This topic has been one that I've been thinking about a lot the past few days. I've never really binged and purged, but I've done other things that are not particularly healthy, like plain old binging and plain old purging. When I was in high school, I got to a point where I was eating very little (I remember trying to keep my food intake to 500 calories) and taking laxatives and over-exercising to keep losing weight. How I managed to get through a day at school without collapsing on that lifestyle, I have no idea, but I did. Later on, after college and gaining almost 100 pounds, I lost enough weight to feel fairly good about myself but I never did come to terms with food and my relationship with it. So, I would binge, feel like crap, and to absolve myself of the deed, head to the gym to work it off. In this way I was able to retain an unhealthy way of eating while maintaining my weight.

In subsequent years, I gained weight again. I dealt with it mostly by attending Weight Watchers meetings, which I pretty much hated (ugh, diet mentality galore!). I would lose 20 or 30 pounds, gain 40 or 50, and over the years I ended up with a higher and higher "highest weight ever". I remember in my college years it was 229. In the late 90s, it was 250. In 2001, I was horrified to see that I let my weight go to 310. Of course, now, as you know, my latest (and hopefully last) highest weight was 350, and even that is an educated guess since I didn't have a scale when I first decided to lose the weight for good, once and for all.

Well, now that I have lost 50 pounds and I am back down to 300, I realize that I still have a lot of issues to work through -- I mean, of course. Years and years of flawed eating and psychological crap do not get fixed in a few months. Anyway, I have been thinking about the binging and purging thing because since last week when I amped up my exercise and saw consistent daily losses, I've been doing some things that I'm not sure are good for me. Or maybe I should put it this way: My mindset is shifting in a way that I am not sure is entirely healthy. Let me tell you about it and will you tell me what you think?

As you may know, I weight myself daily according to the tenets of the Physics Diet, which really isn't a diet (see sidebar for link and check it out yourself). This has been great for me, as it keeps me accountable and has also taken the emotion out of the number on the scale; I don't base my self-value on it any longer, and I don't freak out over weight fluctuations (though I certainly get annoyed, as anyone would -- I just don't let it ruin my day, is all). Since I started running, my daily routine is to get up, go to the bathroom, go on my run, come home and get undressed, go to the bathroom again if I need to, and then weigh. But now I seem to have taken it one step further. Initially out of sheer curiosity, I weighed myself pre-run and post-run just to see if there would be a difference. And of course there is, always, because I sweat. I mean, no big deal, right? Not really. Except since then, I do this all the time now and use it as a motivational tool to get myself out the door on the days when I just don't feel like doing it. Like, I will get on the scale first, see a number I am not happy with, and then have to exercise. When I get home, my weight becomes satisfactory.

*sigh* I don't know what this is about. I mean, it's not like I am killing myself exercising. I am still doing the same things, same amount of time spent, same exertion. It just feels funny to use the scale in this way. Like I said, before I started doing this I would always weigh in after my workout, so I am getting consistent readings, and I was blissfully unaware of this effect the workout had on my weight so immediately.

I don't even know why it makes sense to me to connect it with binging and purging; maybe it's because it feels so odd and slightly obsessive. It seems to me that a simple solution to fixing it would just be to weigh myself like I always used to, once in the morning after my workout, and just stick to my training schedule no matter what because I want to, not because my scale reading was frown-worthy.

Just keeping on keeping on seems like the thing to do, but you know... I can't help but freak out about this stuff once in while. Trying to break myself of obsessive behavior and my poor relationship with food is one of my highest priorities, after all. It's not just about losing weight.

I'm sure it also doesn't help that I have slightly overeaten the past two days. Nothing major, just a bowl of popcorn that I didn't need one evening, and a leftover brownie the next (yes, of the brownies I made that I didn't care about!)... but, it's those extra indulgences on a regular basis that really add up and are the reasons I got to where I found myself in the first place. Processing all these icky feelings and missteps, I am realizing, is just as important as exercising or eating enough fruits and vegetables to ensure my success at this.

If I'm purging anything these days, it's that ickiness exactly that's got to go.


Anonymous said...

Well I am no expert and certainly have my on set of concerns and problems..whatever you want to call them. I don't think it is a bad behavior if you are doing it out of curiosity. But if it is making you feel bad and or more obsessive I would say stop it and do it once a day. Maybe change the entire time you weigh yourself. Do it at night (I know I's better in the morning)but don't let yourself go there at all. Once a night right before bed. That's the sort of thing I do, Change the entire schedule so I don't have the chance to fall back into it. Sometimes it works for me sometimes it doesn't.
Good luck to you either way.

BikiniMe said...

Hmmm... bingeing and purging are both "instant gratification" or "instant remedy" behaviors. Maybe the weighing before and after has something to do with that aspect of it? Just a thought. I do think it is very interesting that the two behaviors (bingeing/purging and exercising/weighing) are linked somehow in your mind.

Kitzzy said...

I kinda started doing this back when I was weighing myself once a week and it fell on a running day. It did make me feel funny, especially because since I didn't run before every weigh-in, I felt the results weren't comparable. Since I've been weighing daily, I always do it right after I wake up and go to the bathroom BEFORE working out so that they are the same circumstances everyday because I may workout more or less on certain days I don't want to affect the weigh-in.

Cammy said...

I have no idea if weighing that way is healthy or not. I'm more of a proponent of weighing at your regular time, recording it, and then doing what's next on the schedule. To me the more important number is how many minutes I exercised or the distance I covered or the number of M&M's I didn't eat. :)

Roxie said...

Interesting post. I don't have any real answers for you, but do know that it is really hard to get sane about food. I struggle with it almost daily. I've weighed daily and I've weighed once every three months and the scale always seems to hold way too much power over me.

I've been weighing daily recently, but circumstances have made that impossible so I will have had a week between weigh ins. It has been sort of liberating, but at the same time, I know that I've been exercising and eating appropriately so I'm hoping for a loss and will be disappointed if I don't register one.

Bottom line, I think, is the more we know, recognize and understand, the better we are at making better choices.

You are doing great!

KK said...

I understand the obsessive feelings and the need to weigh yourself daily. I am the same way.
Good luck in your journey! You are doing great becoming the healthiest you can be!