Sheri’s Rants #43: The Cupcake Cycle of Abuse

Posted on September 17, 2010 by


‘Oh man’ says Sarah, ‘this last week was a wreck!  I was bad everyday and I couldn’t stop with the sugar and I drank vodka all week.  I was so scared to call you today, I know you’re going to yell at me for being so bad.  I’m such a screw-up!’

Sarah is two weeks into Genesis Transformation and her instructions for the week were to journal her food and drink 2 liters of water per day.

I asked Sarah if she followed directions.  She said  ‘I did journal but I ate bad.  I drank 2 liters of water a day but I’m sure it wasn’t when I was supposed to.  It’s already been 2 weeks!  I’m so awful, I suck!  I can’t believe I’m blowing it!  I can’t do anything right.  I hate to let you down!  Nothing ever works for me.’

‘Sarah, exactly how did you blow it if you followed directions?’

The goal of an abuser, in any relationship, is control.  The abuser wants you to behave only in the ways in which they want you to behave.  This control is achieved with abuse.

The cycle of abuse looks like this:  there is a build up of tension, followed by an explosion of abuse, then the honeymoon stage as the abuser apologizes (it will never happen again!), and then the tension starts again.  Round and round we go.

Now think about dieting:
You vow to ‘get this weight off’, NOW.  You sign up for THE DIET.  There’s a honeymoon period: you love the diet and it’s gonna work this time.  It does – for about 2 weeks, right?  Then the insanity sets in.
‘Everyone else is eating cupcakes, why can’t I have a cupcake?  If I eat this one cupcake, I’ll be fine, and I’ll go back to the diet tomorrow.’
which leads to:

‘Well, I messed up with that cupcake, I might as well have ice cream too – and now I’ve blown it for the day so might as well have pizza and beer…’

which leads to:
‘It’s Tuesday and I’ve blown the day so I’ve screwed up my whole week…’
and before you know it, you’re completely side-lined.  And thumping on yourself for ‘being bad’ and screwing up.

On Monday, you vow you will get right back on track.  You may make it a week, you may make it a few days.  But you’re in the cycle now.  You’re abusing you in an attempt to control how you eat.

Some of us have this cycle down to a matter of HOURS.  We make vows with every meal and break them.  We walk into a restaurant vowing ‘I’m going to make this meal the healthiest choices’ and then dive into a cheesecake – and walk away from the restaurant beating ourselves up.  Some of us won’t eat for a couple days afterwards and then we’ll binge again.  We make rules that we don’t even understand:  no potatoes or egg yolks, no fat or no carbs.  Diet soda instead of coffee. No eating until after 12 noon…on and on.  Crazy rules out of nowhere in an attempt to control ourselves.  We punish ourselves for not adhering to insanity!

You want control over your behavior.  You reward and punish yourself with food in an attempt to control your self.  This abuse cycle is part of the Diet Head mentality, and the self abuse is actually more damaging to you than the binge.

How do you break this cycle?

  • Do your best.  You’re not ‘good’ or ‘bad’, just doing your best – or not.
  • JOURNAL YOUR EATING.  Journal all of it, even the random binge.  This will raise your awareness of what you are stuffing into your face.
  • Make decisions in real time.  Rather than “I’m never touching sugar again”, catch yourself in the moment of choice – there’s an apple, there’s a cupcake.  Choose the apple this one time.   Recognize you are in the HABIT of self abuse.  It’s what you’ve done in the past.  You’re caught up in it as your ‘normal’.   As you make small decisions that habit will shift and you’ll form new habits.
  • Notice the little victories and WRITE THEM DOWN.  Talk about these victories FIRST rather than beginning a conversation with a litany of what you did ‘wrong’.
  • At the end of the day, assess yourself this way:  ‘NEXT TIME, I’m going to choose differently.’ –  or –   ‘I REALLY LIKED that I made good choices today.‘   Let go of being ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

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