Thursday, September 26, 2013

Confessions of a Diet Pill Addict

My Story
I've had an undiagnosed eating disorder since I was around 13. That's when I started taking diet pills, and worrying increasingly about my weight. I'd always been overweight; always the "fat" girl in class, but until then it had never really bothered me all that much.

Then things changed, as they often do. It started with Ephedrine, which has been illegal in the US, now, since 2004; then I moved on to Stacker 2. Since then I've experimented with many different forms of "weight control" supplements: from any/all of the Stacker brand products, to Hydroxycut, GNC's CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid), and probably many more that I can't even remember.

If I'm being honest, I still have a problem with diet pills. Today it's Stacker 3 with Chitosan, or Stacker XPLC. I have no idea what XPLC is. I wouldn't recommend them, or any weight control supplement, though. They affect my mood, and make me anxious; they increase my appetite, rather than suppress it, making it hard to even gauge it's effect on (not my weight...I don't very much care about weight...ironically) how my clothes fit. Because of the caffeine content, my energy levels are unbalanced on their own; it's difficult to wean myself off because I get terrible headaches, and can barely keep my eyes open without something. I'm mean, short-tempered, and just an overall ugly person when I'm under the influence. I get physically ill from the headaches, sometimes, if I don't take any. And at the end of the day I'm always left feeling even more insecure about myself.  It's not fun; it's not a choice I would make, to start taking them, if I had that choice again.  Hindsight, as they say.

Aside from that, I've tried a ton of things to get to a healthy dress size and/or fitness level.  When I was in high school I would workout for, maybe 3-4 hours a day; weight training, using a ski machine or stationary bike...taking long, probably-not-very-safe walks around my neighborhood at 11:00 at night.   When college began I started to rely more on the diet pills, less on being active.  I overdosed (a term I use mean I took too many, and threw up the rest of the day/night) often.  I definitely wasn't feeding my body what it needed at this point, and I really didn't even know how.

As I grew a little bit older, a little bit wiser, I started to look more at what I was putting into my body food-wise, and at ways to incorporate good activity into my days to, kind of, trick my body into getting exercise without really knowing it.  I began to be more mindful of what I ate at meals, using smaller plates so I wouldn't over-eat; and I forced myself to walk an extra 10-15 minutes to a bus stop farther from work.  I had the time, so why not?  It worked.  I felt better and I got a tiny bit smaller, and gained some confidence in myself as a result.

But the weight always seems to catch up to me.  Either I get bored of the food, or I become lethargic over time - usually because I've pushed myself too hard at the beginning, taking all the fun out of enjoyable activities.  I gained my dress size back.  And then I lost it again...and then some.

The first time I moved out of my parents home I lost a very considerable amount of weight.  So much weight, in fact, that my family thought I was abusing drugs.  Ironically, I wasn't even using diet pills at that time in my life.  Since then I've learned just how much my mood and stress levels; how my overall happiness affects my body and fat content.  That isn't to say I haven't still struggled.  It's been four years since that drastic drop in weight, and I've rollercoastered back and forth a few more times.
br> Right now, I'm on an upswing, and I'm desperate not to let it get out of control.  I'm desperate for some balance, and permanence; not be fretting everyday as to whether or not I'm going to eat something that will leave me bloated the next morning, and my pants tighter.

So, what's the point? Why share this with strangers on the internet?
I don't know, to be honest. Just a whim, maybe. Perhaps I'm looking to be shamed, or for someone to hold me accountable for myself... because I don't do a good enough job of it. Or maybe I'm hoping that my struggle will help others like me.  I'm hoping we can fight together.  I vow, right now, right this minute, to treat myself better.  And if anyone reading this is in a bad place, too, just know that you have someone on your side; I'm here for you.

Where I am, Now
As much as I've researched different diets (lifelong dietary habits, not temporary fixes), and explored different aspects of fitness; as much as I love weight training, one would think I'd have an easier time of it. But, unfortunately, life has a way of making things difficult, I think, when/if we need it the most.

I know I, for one, have a ton going on my life: a long strenuous commute to and from work (1 to 1.5 hours each way) plus the eight hours I put in at the office; a house full of people and pets that need to be cared for - I secretly tell people I have 13 children between my fiance, dogs, cat, and rats - dogs to be walked, pets to be petted; dinner to be made, laundry to be laundered, a bedroom and living area to be cleaned; myself to be bathed...and on top of all that I'm supposed to find time to both exercise and relax? Are you kidding me?

So, I'm really stressed all most of time, is what I'm saying. And, according to my very scientific research (I took this quiz to find out my body type) that means my cortisol levels are probably pretty high. And that means that no matter how well I eat, or how much I exercise, I'm actually going to have pockets of fat on my belly and upper back because my body is in fight or flight mode, and so it's overcompensating to protect all my vital parts.  Does this mean I'm defeated, and that I'm going to give up againHell no!

This means that I'm going to go to my first yoga class to meditate and gain some inner peace.  This means I'm going explore my bi-polar and seasonal affective disorders and I'm going to find a way to manage them.  It means I'm going to learn how to balance myself so life is not a day to day struggle to just get through all of my responsibilities, but also to enjoy myself and the things I love: the people, pets, and activities that bring me joy.
It's not going to happen overnight.  I know that; but it has to start somewhere, right?  So why not here?  Why not today, in front of the entire internet (or a few people who have chance upon my little blog)?
Have you ever struggled with an eating or mood disorder that makes it difficult to get through the day?  To survive to the next day?  Are you still struggling?  Maybe you could use a little help, a little inspiration.  Or maybe you have some encouraging words to share.  Speak up in the comments.

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