Monday, March 17, 2008

Confession of a Fast Food Addict

Yeah, that's me...well, it used to be me. When I stepped on the scale February 20th and it read one pound shy of a weight I said I'd never weigh, I got angry. Thankfully, anger and I are good friends and when I get angry I get motivated. I decided right then that I was gonna go for 30 days without eating fast food. At that point in time I had been eating fast food between 4 to 8 times a week. I've been eating fast food this often for the past 22 years!

Here's how I got to that point:
I was born with a very high metabolism and was always so skinny that people would ask me if I was sick. In college, I barely weighed 100 lbs and could eat 2 full plates of food in the dorm cafeteria while the heavy girls sat there with two peas on their plate, hating me. All eyes would watch me if I ever got up to go to the bathroom after eating. I swear I've never thrown up my food purposefully nor have I ever been anorexic. I was born skinny and I was teased and tormented about it but instead of gaining a low self esteem like the heavy girls, I got an attitude. Damn right I could eat whatever I wanted and not gain a pound. Food was a best friend, a comforter and a source of pleasure. My boyfriend back then was super skinny too. Every weekend we would eat at places like Outback, Pizza Hut, Colorado Steakhouse, Fondue Parlor and the people that worked there knew us by name. During the week, we kept Taco Bell and Burger King in business. We each gained a few pounds over the 9 years we were together but it wasn't a big deal and I shrugged it off as normal age-related weight gain.
In mid-2004, I left my job at the Hard Rock Hotel to be full-time self-employed. That's when it all started catching up with me. I was now in my 30s, never exercised and had the craziest, busiest schedule. Although I shopped at health food stores and cooked good nutritious food for myself when I was at home, I wasn't at home enough for it to make a big difference. My life was changing in other ways as well. Instead of hanging out all night partying with rocker friends every weekend, I'd go home early, swinging through Jack In The Box for a large order of stuffed jalapenos before bed. I was steadily gaining around 3 pounds a year which is a lot on my little frame and at that rate I'd be looking like Jabba the Hut by the time I was 55 years old. No more, I screamed!!

I made a complete diet/lifestyle change overnight. Thankfully my good eating habits at home made this easier for me. It was lunch that was killing me. So now, instead of deciding which fast food joint was going to see my smiling face at lunch time, I now nuke up a frozen dinner by Amy's Organics (or sometimes a Budget Gourmet or Lean Cuisine) and have some fruit. I also have a Nutrigrain or Soy Joy bar an hour before lunch and a snack 2 hours after lunch and that keeps me from starving.
I promised myself that I would go for 30 days with no fast food. I had to prove to myself and only myself that I could kill this habit. The first 2 weeks were SO hard. I was physically sick. I was consumed by non-stop thoughts of Jack In The Box and In N Out Burger. I was lethargic and sleeping 10 hours+ a day. I thought I was going crazy but then I found a study online about fast food addiction that was done overseas. It seems that the extra sugar/fat additives that all fast food restaruants put in their food to make it taste good are recognized in our brain the same way nicotine and heroin are. I was, by all definitions, an addict!

Today is day 29 and I would like to proudly annouce that I have so far lost 8 lbs. I have so much energy I don't know what to do with myself, I'm sleeping less and I'm more alert. It sounds silly but I can't deny that I feel like a different person. I am going to treat myself to In N Out Burger (hoping it doesn't make me sick) this week because I love it, I really do, but I will never, ever go back to eating at places like that every day. My overall plan is to practice moderation from now on but I had to go cold turkey for a month, just to say I did it.
I should probably stop by the Taco Bell drive-thru just to let them know I'm okay--I'm sure they're wondering what happened to me.

This blog is dedicated to my client friends Wendy & Carrie, who shared with me their nutrition & diet knowledge, without which I wouldn't have had the tools to accomplish this, and to my friend Jizzy who let me cry on his shoulder with a broken heart in the Griffin one night and convinced me that the answer to all my problems was to just lose a little weight. Thanks!