My Caffeine and Food Addiction and How I'm Overcoming It

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By neglecting and ignoring my intuition for years about my marriage (see this IG post) it cost me more than I could have imagined. My peace of mind is a major one, but my health and weight. I’ve added nearly 50 lbs to my 5’8” frame.

I moved through life (and every day) faster than ever before, almost in a frantic state. Caffeine consumption hit an all time high in the last few years. There were many days that I drank an upwards of 8 cups of coffee from early morning to mid afternoon (with espresso brew). I used coffee for energy and to feel good. I've always been aware of my head state. Caffeine is king of quick and legal dopamine hits. It had a firm grip on me. I was an addict.

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I drank coffee because I wanted to feel good. My self talk was that I wasn't doing enough. Working enough, making enough money, working out enough, quieting my mind enough, being social enough, etc.

I thought I needed more of everything to be happy, truly happy. I thought by making more money it would allow me to buy what I wanted: time to relax. Time to slow down. Time to do me (whatever the hell that was.)

In the meantime, I was using all of this 'doing' to mask a nagging feeling in my gut and heart that I was too scared to confront and face. And the only way I knew I could do more of everything that would have me feel like I was enough, was to drink more caffeine. It was a gnarly loop to be in.

What I learned a couple years ago - that I chose to ignore - was that the more coffee I drank, the more dehydrated I was. And when the body (or at least mine) feels dehydrated it thinks it's hungry, not thirsty. So I'd eat. Then drink more coffee because the food would make me tired and I’d feel bad about myself for eating. Coffee = dopamine.

When I ignored my intuition and feelings, I drank coffee to feel better about myself. This started a very destructive cycle of emotional and mental neglect and a downward spiral of my physical health.

When this compounds over 3 to 5 years, there's a lot to recover from. Feelings have been shoved down and ignored, never to be felt. They've also been numbed with food.

When I look at the cellulite on my quads (something I've never had before) all I see is the years I've sat in bed during the day and snacking instead of getting outside to take a walk, have a conversation with a close friend, or get creative in my studio just for the hell of it. The cellulite on my legs represents my feelings of unworthiness.

When I reached my highest weight of 193.3 lbs, which is 40 to 50 more than I had several years ago, I felt compassion for myself. Compassion has never come easy to me despite many people, including professionals, encouraging me to be more compassionate. So when this was my initial response to realizing I was just shy of 200 lbs, I was surprised. Compassion was exactly what I needed to change things around.

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At this point, it's obvious that I lost touch with who I really was at the core: calm, observant, aware, creative, contemplative, present, and grateful for a lot of small things throughout the day. I was once mindful without knowing what mindfulness was and before it became a buzz word.

For nearly 3 years I was doing things that didn't feel like me. I lashed out in odd ways. I said things to friends that felt yucky then and even worse now that I'm looking back. I cut my hair short again in hopes that it would make me feel badass and powerful... like my old self, around the time I was more mindful.

I was attending more conferences and entrepreneur gatherings that I didn't really want to attend, but had prescribed to myself for the interaction because 'maybe I'll be inspired and it'll change everything for me and my brand and business.' I hung out with people that made me feel meh. I didn't spend time with myself doing what I love. I checked out, numbed, and avoided.


A MINDFUL LIFESTYLE

Ignoring my gut about my partnership also meant I stopped listening to it on all matters, but especially tuned it out when it came to creativity and my health.

I've over eaten to self soothe. What my once mindful-lifestyle looked like was doing daily things slow. Like, really slow. I’d spend a day to wander around in the sunshine, be inspired by people, the city, and nature to bring ideas back to my workbench and create new jewelry designs.

I stopped writing poetry - which I've mostly kept to myself - that made me feel in-tune with some unearthly part of me. It made me more self-aware and conscious. Writing had always been a channel for me to feel things deeply. I would unpack and express myself as opposed to keeping it locked inside.

Poetry helped me process the intimate relationship that I have with the world, my life, and spiritual connection. I lost touch with the love affair I had with life. I don't know how to explain it, but I really was in love with life.

The mystery of the cosmos and how we're all eating, breathing beings on a rock that's floating in space that's so vast we can't comprehend the size kept me suspended between reality and a dream world. When zooming out to that level of perspective, my life is insignificant, yet when I zoom back in my life is the most significant thing in the universe.

Fascinated and in a love affair with life is putting it mildly. I just don't have the words, but I hope it's translating because it's so different than the life I've been living for a while now.

When I lived mindfully and from that level of awareness and totally in love with life, I would eat only when I was actually hungry. I'd have a small meal based on what my body wanted and the exact amount it needed for fuel.

I'd sip my black organic coffee slowly in the morning as I walked or sat outside and absorbed nature. I'd move gently around the house doing the chores that needed to get done, and I wasn't frantic or frustrated by them or wishing someone else would do them for me. Which is how I had felt the last few years. My chores hadn’t changed. I was doing nothing different than I am now, it was all the same daily activities but in a completely different state of mind.

For years I've heard people say you can get more done in less time with the right mindset. I was always triggered by that statement, but somehow knew it was true. I just couldn't remember why or how it was true, or what it even looked like.

As a result I've become some version of myself that makes me uncomfortable. It was difficult . And nearly a month ago, I couldn't be with myself. Slowly, I've learned to sit in the quiet again. And with the encouragement of one of my best friends, I began to feel the feelings. I thought all the thoughts. I let things move through me.

Photo: Nicole Capri

Photo: Nicole Capri

LETTING GO, LOSING THE BAGGAGE AND WEIGHT

I recently began eating the foods that I know make me feel my best. They’re nutritious, filling, and fat burning.

I'm someone who does really well eating low carb and staying in ketosis by following a ketogenic style diet. I'm sensitive to foods not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. When staying low carb and eating whole foods, my emotions and thoughts are um, normal...? and definitely more clear. In other words, I don't feel like my head is in a swamp.

This is my preferred style of eating. It makes me feel my absolute best. I'll never preach that there's only one way to eat. Every body is different. I've experimented a lot over the years and have found keto works best for me.

I’m down to one black coffee in the morning. It’s local and organic - no longer the espresso blend. Occasionally, when I want to sit and write content in the afternoon I’ll order an iced Americano and add a dash of cream. Drinking black coffee in the morning satisfies my coffee craving.

The results? Well, as I write this, it's only been a week and I've lost 8 lbs in less than a week. In total I'm down 11 lbs from my highest weight of 193.3 and still losing it (in a good way this time.)

My goal is to get down to 175 or even 170 and begin lifting weights again at least 3 times a week. For now I'm doing light activity ever day. I take daily strolls (not walks) because they're so much more peaceful. I’ve incorporated body-weighted exercise at home with bungees and light dumbbells for strength training to build up some strength and burn even more calories. I only do this for 10 minutes and not every day. Just when I’m feeling it.

I'm taking drastic measures of eating mindfully: slower, appreciating, savoring. I’m eating smaller portions throughout the day and staying in a fairly extreme calorie deficit. I continually decrease my meal size as my stomach shrinks. I’m eating roughly twice a day and with maybe one snack.

At the rate I'm going, this will help me lose most of the 50 lbs I put on, and in a relatively short period of time. I'm estimating a max of 3 months, but knowing me and my body, I'm thinking 1.5 months. That's a short period of time compared to the years of binge eating to self-soothe.

And listen, I get this might sound extreme to most. I’m in-tune with how my body works and what it can tolerate. As I said before, I’ve experimented a lot with foods and diets. I’ve fasted for stretches of time; my longest being 14 days with water only. The body is resilient and I know what mine is capable of handling.

I was asked by someone close if I was afraid of losing muscle mass during this process. My answer was fuck no. Because I can't wait to move more freely instead of feeling like I'm slogging around. Fat loss is my focus not muscle mass. Never being this heavy in my life, it's uncomfortable. Walking outside on hotter days is nearly torture. I'm ready to feel bouncy, light, and like a gazelle (a term I once used to describe a leaned-out period of my life when I felt as light as a butterfly.) By lifting weights again once I get down to a certain weight will help increase muscle again - or at least strength which is what I truly want. Genetically I have leaner muscle. It takes so much for me to add size to my muscles.

Me in  2014  after only 5 months of weight training 4 to 6 times a week and eating mostly ketogenic.

Me in 2014 after only 5 months of weight training 4 to 6 times a week and eating mostly ketogenic.

I’m not shaming anyone for being overweight. I share this because it's how I feel about, well, how I feel in my own body. For the first time in my entire life I'm not dieting, exercising, or changing the appearance of my body for anyone but me.

I simply want to feel better in my own body, be more flexible, and move with ease. As a result, I know my life will be better. Including my career as a jewelry designer and personal brand.

As difficult as it is to admit to putting on this weight due to personal struggles, it's also an honor for me to share it publicly.

Honestly, I was searching for posts like this in the middle of my struggle. I nearly begged some of the fitness influencers I've collaborated with, asking them to share more details about their own personal struggles and comeback stories.

I've known how to workout. I, like most people, know how to eat better, but I wanted to hear where their mindset was. What were they struggling with and what the hell did they do to pull themselves back up and start taking even small actions towards a healthier life... again?

If you're struggling with body image, critical self-talk, or even mental or emotional abuse from people close to you, I'm sorry. I know it seems so small, but I encourage you to be more compassionate towards yourself. Be a stand for what feels right, even if you never speak up to anyone about how you feel, be a stand for you however that might look.

For me being compassionate, feeling the feels, thinking the thoughts and observing it all instead, while I chose to be more mindful and slow myself down, I'm beginning to feel like me again. Slowly and one day at a time. Shit, sometimes it's even a couple minutes at a time.

WHAT’S KEPT ME MOTIVATED

The two designs that have inspired me the most are my ring that reads never fucking settle and my favorite bracelet just be your fucking self.

If you need a reminder for something you're struggling with too, I suggest shopping custom design in the design bar - click here to see what your design could look like.

Sarah FosterComment