Monday, July 4, 2011

3.5 years FAST FOOD FREE!!

YESSSSSSS, I kid you not!  I FINALLY hit my 3.5 year mark - another MILESTONE for this little black duck...  I've been counting up to them for a couple of months, and then it totally skipped my mind the week it happened!!!  (that was last week incidentally...)

183 weeks I've been at this MISSION of mine, and this marks one of the most significant changes to my existence to date. FAST FOOD FREE for three and a half years... WHY is this so significant?  Well, as usual, there's a story that goes with it!  (.... since when has it ever NOT had a story go with it?!  hahaha)

You see, I was an addict.  In all sense of the word. I've been trying to bring myself to talk about this very topic for a while now - have even had people ask me for help on this very issue - and I haven't quite been able to wrap my head around it.

I've never truly admitted to the problem.... but it was as deeply damaging as any other 'vice' out there, but one that's not often acknowledged.

Now, before anyone criticises me for paralleling this to some of those hideous soul-destroying and life-threatening addictions, let me quantify that this wasn't ANY different. I'm not joking nor making light of the issue when I say I was an addict...  I've been over and over it in my mind - the tantrums, tears, withdrawals... EVERYTHING that I've endured coming off this hideous vice bears remarkable similarity to all the side effects of coming off anything we deem 'poisonous' - smoking, alcohol, drugs, coke, chocolate (!!)...   anything that has an 'addictive' baseline, where it controls you to your very core.

I've spoken about it on and off in the forums over the years, but never actually admitted to anyone just how revolting and how out of control it was.  To "demonstrate" this particular topic and prove to MYSELF just how different life is for me these days....  I was "going" to set myself up for a doozey of a self-inflicted challenge, and take myself through drive-thru, and order just as I would have "before"...  but I've since changed my mind about that.  Would you wave a bottle under an alcoholic's nose and deliberately tempt them?!  No.... that's just pathetic. 

SO, instead, I'm going to sit here and 'database' my old habits, and get the stats that I've never ever been game enough to calculate before.  Dare say it's going to break my heart a few times over, and I'll confess it up to you guys, and show you just what kind of impact this so called 'food' has on a person....

You are what you eat....
SO here goes...  confession time.

For me, my addiction probably started when I got my car, and then I discovered drive-thru - the ULTIMATE lazy girl's dream...  No need to brutalise myself walking into the outlet and be 'seen' buying the junk food, I could drive past, "inconspicuous" like and pretend they didn't recognise me... time and time again.

You KNOW you have an issue though, when you get heart palpitations when you're about to drive up to the window, and just fear they'll recognise you.  So you don't make eye contact - you say thank you and drive as fast as you can out the other side...

You KNOW it's even worse when you start doing multi-trips through different outlets, in succession.... "double drive-thrus" if you will, because you can't decide whether you want chicken or burgers....  ohhhh but the burgers are better at one of them, but you want the sundae and nuggets from the other.  Ok, let's get all three.   ... and then there's the chips issue, ohhhh my god the chips! The ones at Joint A are better than Joint B, but then I want the meal from Joint C aswell...  (Yes, I've done that too).

SO then you drive home, plonk your already expanding, grease-infused butt on the couch and proceed to eat the meals, one after the other...  Everything is upsized because "it's better value for money" that way, and you don't want to waste your cash after all.  You can't let the sundaes melt, so as you're hoovering down the fries (which are already getting too cold, so you better eat them faster), you've got fries coming from one hand, a burger sitting in front of you, chicken to the side, and a spoonful of sundae about to follow them down...

Are you feeling ill yet?

Worst part is, despite having just eaten "dinner", apart from feeling sick to your stomach and bloated from all the multiple soft drinks that have come with the multi-meals... you're really not 'feeling it' and half an hour later, you've got your nose stuck in the fridge.

So you toss up whether you go up the road again and just grab that hot apple pie that you'd reluctantly bypassed (which goes SO well with those sundaes after all...  OH and maybe I'll just get a skinny hot chocolate from the McCafe and one of those heavenly macadamia cookies aswell.... I've already eaten too much anyway, might as well just go for that too!).

I WISH I was kidding....

That routine happened nearly every day coming towards the end of the 'fast food addiction' (pre-Mission and lifestyle change).  It was so violent, I was doing drive-thru for lunch, and then dinner, and then STILL not satisfied after, I'd end up eating again....

I was consuming THOUSANDS of calories worth of food (and I knew it, I just didn't want to admit to any of it) and had ZERO nutrition, my body was literally screaming at me that I was killing it with fat and sugar.

All the signals were there - I was moody as hell, had terrible acne, my weight ballooned well over 30kilos in just a year (give or take, I don't really have record of that, I was in so much denial... that was when I was already around 150kgs mind you - that's what I "thought" I was still hovering around, til I bought scales weighing high enough to tell me it was closer to 200.... )....  and I was broke.  ALWAYS broke.

It was literally nothing for me to go and order a full feed of Chinese food (multi-containers worth) for dinner and sit there and eat the lot of that, then go through Maccas for a McFlurry or sundae for 'dessert' just because I was too lazy to actually cook a meal for myself.  That was supposedly my "healthier" option too - after all, Chinese stir-frys are good aren't they?!!  PFFT! 

Dinners usually consisted of multiple trips through any of the four major fast food outlets that did cheap, nasty drive-thru  (KFC, Maccas, Hungry Jacks and Red Rooster) - ALWAYS upsized, always multiple meals... and occasionally there was multiple pizzas thrown into the mix too (if I could wait that long for them to cook....). 

Lunchtimes weren't as ferocious - I mean, I had to go back to the office, and reeking of fatty oils and feeling the lethargy that comes with the 'down' after your hit....  wasn't exactly great for my work performance. I always felt gross after eating this, but was in so much denial, I literally couldn't see it - I really WAS an addict.  I would hide in my car and eat my junk, then go back to work and pretend it didn't happen. End up in the bathroom checking there weren't sesame seeds stuck to my chin or chocolate sauce on the edges of my mouth - like a junkie hiding the track marks up their arms.... THAT was how vile it had become.

SO let's see just what kind of damage I was up against....

LUNCH menu:  KFC twister or Zinger Burger, upsized chips and can of softdrink (usually Mountain Dew or Sprite)...  If I was having a "hungry day" I'd go for their box deals (you know, the ones with the burger, couple pieces of chicken, drink and chips)...  and then there was the addition of potato and gravy, cuz I liked that with their chippies.   OHHH and not to mention something like Popcorn chicken, while I was at it.  OK.  Damage?  Let's add it up...   (according to the 'nutritional info' from the website)...

Twister -  2446kj / 585cals  - 10.2gms sat fat - 4.1gms sugar - 1200mg sodium
Chips (large) - 2403 kj / 574cals - 12.9gms sat fat - 1.0gms sugar - 642mg sodium
Potato & Gravy - 329kg / 80cals - 3.2gms sat fat - 0.1gms sugar - 394mg sodium
Sprite 375ml - 440kj / 158cals - 0gms sat fat - 25.3gms sugar - 28.5mg sodium

TOTALS:  5618kjs / 1341cals 
29.5grams of saturated fat  - 30.5grams sugar - 2264.5mgs sodium

That one 'modest' meal is virtually an entire day's worth of food for me 'nowadays'.... riddled with saturated fat and sugar (which are equally as bad as one another), and the sodium levels are THROUGH THE ROOF.

.... and that's not even adding in all the other things on top when I just didn't care.  Nor does it take into account my dinner meals (which were WAY worse than that, add in sundaes, cookies, burger meal deals, even more soft drink....) ... nor does it acknowledge any of the OTHER snacks or drinks I'd have consumed over the course of the day.

At this point, I'm actually too scared (and revolted) to calculate the rest up.   I KNEW in my heart of hearts that the calories in these meals were horrendous, but THAT doesn't even come close to what I was actually consuming bulk of the time.  That's just the 'small' meal version....

If you're feeling rather queasy and disgusted right now, you should be.  I am too...   THIS is what I was doing to my body on a daily basis - the amount of junk I was pushing into my system, the sodium and chemicals, the hideous amount of fat...  it's no wonder I was a walking time-bomb, no wonder I was nearly 200kilos, no wonder I was as round as I was tall (and I AM tall).... and no wonder I had no will left to live.

It's not just the food consumption at play here.... what this did to my MINDSET is nothing short of brutal. Severe mood swings and the constant battles of lethargy....  hating EVERYTHING, it would literally feel like my skin was crawling sometimes (how does THAT not resemble a drug addict?!!!!) and I'd be twitching waiting for the next 'hit'.... and I was NEVER satisfied.

Again, I WISH I was kidding...   I'm absolutely gutted at the thought of what I did to myself - it was self-inflicted abuse - I was literally killing myself on purpose.  There's noone to blame but myself.

I bought the food.  I ate it.  End of story.  All the lumps, bumps, scars, mental torture, left over body issues I have now... that's all my own doing.  I'd love to point the finger and say it's the companies that riddle their food full of sugars and 'addictive' substances, but honestly, there's supermarkets up the road from these outlets, and I opted for the lazy-man's way of eating.  End of argument.

Literally minutes up the road from my house I have no less than 8 fast food outlets.  KFC is just around the corner - so close that I can smell it cooking when the wind wafts it over a few back fences....   Maccas, Hungry Jacks, Eagle Boys, Red Rooster and Dominos are all within the same two blocks on opposing sides of the street...  There's four Chinese food shops within a few blocks of that, two takeaway 'fish & chips' shops, and a couple of pubs and bakeries.  These are ALL within a 5 minute radius of my house.   Any wonder then that a single girl living on her own would adopt the mentality that "it's too much trouble cooking for myself, I'll just grab takeaway?!".

HMMMMMM......  again, noone to blame but myself.

SO, when did this all change.  Day one, 183 weeks ago.  IT HAD TO GO.  I didn't know it was an addiction at the time - I couldn't recognise it.  All I know is that I could eat myself into a grease-coma and STILL want more.  I KNEW that wasn't right....   I knew that eating that sort of food was contributing to my weight issues AND my mental instability, and I knew I had to 'detox' just for a little bit if I was going to have any chance at all of working on the weight problems.

This also coincides with the start of THE biggest mission of my life mind you - trying to crack your entire weight problem and turn your entire life around (from wanting dead to trying to find reason to live).... and knowing full well you were bound to fail.  (yep, I assumed failure before I even began).

.... and yet here I am.  I made NO promises to drop the fast food permanently - all I wanted to do was try and minimise the damage in the first couple of weeks....  It was a futile effort, or so I thought, because I was fighting tooth and nail EVERY FREAKING DAY with the cravings, the mood swings, the withdrawals, the horrible stomach pains, the headaches, the tears....   Then an ad would come on TV for it, and I'd cry, because I felt deprived, and irritable and I just wanted to eat those things without feeling this horrendous revolting GUILT that I ALWAYS had eating that crap.

.... and then the smells would waft over my back fence.... and my skin would crawl, I'd nearly drool on myself, my mind would start playing nasty tricks on me and I'd be back to wallowing in my own pain again.  I mean, seriously, who cries over chips?!   ... but I did... hours and hours of crying over junk food, spilling my agony and trying to get this hideous disease out of my system.

If that's not ADDICTION then I don't know what is.   For a girl that's been through (undiagnosed) depression, self-harm and self-inflicted mental torture.... this was just as tormenting as anything else I'd been through or done to myself.  I just didn't ever understand just what it was that I was overcoming, at the time... 

... and so a week or two turned into a few more.  I was making headway with my losses and starting to FEEL better. The side-effects were starting to wear off, and my body was responding to FOOD!   Granted, back in the beginning, my eating habits weren't anywhere near as clean or structured as they are these days (that's taken three years of re-training ofcourse) - and I was still eating a lot of processed foods, and pre-packed frozen meals (etc etc) as I was struggling to come to terms with changing this massive problem. I always had it in my mind that if I really wanted something, I could have it - no limitations - but something in me just clicked and I couldn't bring myself to venture down the fast food driveway again. It had been one of the most damaging foods, and I didn't want it to come back while i was desperately trying to dig my way out of the mess I was in.

.... and it's amazing what happens when you really put your foot down.  A few months rolled by, and I realised I'd had a bit of a 'win' with my fast food addiction.... and here I am celebrating 3.5 years "clean", and it's nothing for me to drive past now and not give it a second thought.  I can go into Maccas now and order a water and sit with my friends who order their coffee and cake, and I'm very ok with that!  (I know, I've tried it a couple times to test myself...).

I've never truly deprived myself... not really (I simply wouldn't have lasted this long otherwise).  I started making my homemade alternatives, so I could still have my 'yummies' but without the hideous guilt - moderated ofcourse!  Egg "mcmuffins", home made hamburgers, pita pizzas, stirfrys and boiled rice... I even had my 'chicken fix' sorted there for a while with lots of ground pepper on pan-fried chicken thighs (it was as close to that KFC taste as I could find and I was fine with that!!)...   The ONLY 'fast food' I even consider these days is the occasional Subway, and I just don't rank it in the same realm as the others... and besides, I still make better salad rolls at home myself, so it's rare at the best of times!

When I was contemplating writing about this, as I said before, I was tempted to go and buy all the things I USED to order, then bring them back here and blend them all up together.... because at the end of the day, that junky slosh is what I used to filter through my body (til it was clogging my pores trying to get back out, yuck!) and I wanted to remember that.  BUT I actually don't need to...  I'm so far removed from the addiction that this fast food had over me, I literally see no point... 

I was asked one time by a friend just how I overcame my 'fast food addiction'.... and I wish I had more solid answers than just this confession post.  There's no "miracle cure" for anything, not really.  If you want change, you have to BE THE CHANGE (it's my motto after all!).... and I never EVER anticipated this to go on for as long as it has.  All I wanted was a few weeks OFF the grease!!!

.... but like any addiction, there comes a point when you have to stop questioning whether you're going to stuff it up, and actually stand up and be proud of yourself.  That's me today!  I'm giving myself a GOLD STAR and happily announcing that I've been 183 weeks (3.5 years) FAST FOOD FREE, and will keep going for as long as I "don't feel like it"!!!!

It's one of my biggest achievements to date - has literally changed the course of my eating, and in turn, changed my body, and as such, changed my life...  and it was never intentional!  There's NOTHING small in that, it's a whole wad of healthy UPSIZING right there! 

Here's to many more 'unplanned victories' in the future!  If they feel as good as this one, then BRING THEM ON!!!   It just makes the lifestyle change that I'd set out to achieve worth so much more than I could ever have imagined....  Gotta love that!!