Longtime readers of this blog probably won’t remember that I did my first paleo challenge in early 2012. This is a fact I mentioned in one post, and then never again (partly because I abandoned blogging for a long stretch about a month later). Let me briefly fill in the gaps:
After my initial “30-day challenge,” I just kept rolling with the rules of that challenging, not quite realizing that the guidelines I used were an extremely strict form of the diet. The positive side is that, in addition to change my eating habits, I started working out, lost about 70-80 pounds, pulled out of a spiral of depression and anxiety, and then—for awhile—everything seemed to be going my way. About a year later, when things stopped going my way…
Well, I don’t know that I want to compare my food issues with actual addiction; it’s certainly compulsive, and at times unmanageable, but I think it’s an exaggeration to say I was “addicted” to shitty food, and it does a disservice to actual addicts struggling with actual problems. But basically, my 2012 holiday season was a fairly stressful time for a number of reasons. I’ve always been a stress eater, and although I managed to resist the many treats and snacks brought into work during the holidays, I made the decision at a Christmas party with a friend’s family that a few treats wouldn’t hurt me. And they didn’t—not at first. The fact that I had lost so much weight and continued to work out made me think I could treat myself once in awhile. “Once in awhile” quickly became “once a week,” but it was okay. I was training for a half-marathon at that point, shedding pounds like they were going out of style, eating well 95% of the time. Then, weekly treats led to more frequent cravings, which I would try to resist but often didn’t. Some of the time, I would say to myself, “I’m satisfying this craving so it goes away” (it didn’t); some of the time, I would simply acknowledged that I was stressed and dealt with it by eating, even though I knew it was a hollow activity. Part of it, even, had a warped, secretive quality that I still don’t fully understand… Like, I’m so much of an open book, I somehow felt like I needed this secret of eating garbage to keep to myself. Not my finest hour.
Then, in August of 2013 (one week before the half-marathon), while house-sitting for a friend, I got up early to go for my last “long run.” Two miles into it, I tripped on a protruding chunk of sidewalk, tumbled, and literally saw stars (I didn’t think that really happened!). I knew I’d sprained my ankle, and after sitting for a little while and trying to determine if I could walk, I made the trek back to the condo. This may have exacerbated the injury, but I had no choice; it was 6AM on a Sunday, nobody was out on the streets, nobody I knew lived nearby (and even if they did, I left my phone behind so it wouldn’t flop around the entire run), there were no cabs or buses.
This was a turning point. After an urgent care doctor diagnosed me with a minor sprain and all but guaranteed I would be able to run my half-marathon the following week, I felt no better. After a month of physical therapy, I felt somewhat better, but my foot was definitely not in running shape. I let it slide for a few months, hoping the pain would gradually go away; it didn’t. Finally, I went to an orthopedist for a proper diagnosis, and within two weeks, I was in surgery having a torn tendon and ligament repaired. Grueling recovery followed; overly intensive physical therapy led to a separate issue, the build-up of scar tissue on my Achilles’ tendon, which was both extremely painful and required even more physical therapy.