When I was told, after years of what felt like a distinctly twisted relationship with food, that I had what's called 'Binge Eating Disorder' there was an immediate sense of relief that washed over me. How I would ever pick apart what went wrong all those years ago when I was diagnosed with diabetes, and had to immediately impose strict rules around food and exercise as a young child I couldn't - and still don't - know. But the knowledge that someone was willing to help me address it felt like a huge step in the right direction.
This week as I sat in the initial session and learned about the guided self-help approach that we would adopt and the time-frames we would aim for, the inevitable question of losing weight came up.
"Am I still able to try and lose weight on the programme, if I am doing it healthily?, I enquired. "Only my husband and I are travelling soon and I have a beach holiday in August."
"Well, we will monitor your weight, but to follow any kind of programme or impose the kinds of strict rules that you inevitably break and end up bingeing over, works in the opposite way to the way we would like you to start moving, so it doesn't work alongside this programme. If you wanted to focus on dieting, we could always pick up the programme after you lose any weight you want to."
I was suddenly aware that this huge step in the right direction I'd been offered could be completely pulled from under me if I tried to lose weight during the treatment. And I knew that wouldn't do.
"OK sure, so losing weight isn't a problem per se, but I can't be doing any structured weight loss. That's OK." I said out loud.
"Anyway, I'll probably lose weight if I stop bingeing anyway. Especially if I focus on eating only healthy food." I told myself in secret where the psychologists wouldn't know. "Wait, they just told me I can't try to lose weight, so I need to stop thinking about it!".
As I got home, thinking about the session today and about the thought of letting go of trying to lose weight I found myself forever going back to the thought of being out of control of weight loss.
"Maybe I can just try and follow diet principles and then the sessions will help too?" I told myself.
"No! Stop it!."
I argued with myself throughout the day.
"I don't need to focus on losing weight!" the angel on my right shoulder told me, "It's OK because it will happen because you will be following THEIR programme!", told the devil on my left.
As I found myself changing the settings on the MyFitnessPal ap so that no-one would know that I was still counting calories I realised, I am a control freak. Perhaps only about food because this is the beast we are trying to slay, but I was going to have to let go of this desperate need to control my food if I was ever going to get over the binges that inevitably follow periods of restriction and rules. That's why I'm here, after all.
For 20 years I have used weight, diet and scales as sticks to beat myself with and as a means of making myself feel inadequate. Now, for the first time, someone is taking that control away from me. Of course I am panicking. The dream is that in three or four years I will be a healthy weight because I no longer obsess over food. Granted, as a person with a medical condition that requires constant assessment of food, both before eating and when looking at the after effects, I will never be able to be 'thoughtless' over food. But the only way I will be able to let go of my need to limit - and lose control of - my behaviour around food, is to view it in a different light.
So gone is the BMI calculator on my iPhone. Gone is the MyFitnessPal app that I was so keen to hide from friends who may know that I shouldn't be trying to diet. And gone are the diet apps that would dictate how 'good' or 'bad' my day had gone. Gone is the weight tracker that places me in the 'red' category each time I weigh myself. Gone are the sticks. Gone are the beatings.
And the beads of sweat will subside, I'm sure.