Binge eating had been a part of my life since I was 5 years old, but I didn’t deal with it until I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The date was September 6, 2000. I was twenty-two years old. The meal that revealed my diabetes was a rare filet mignon paired with garlic mashed potatoes, buttered croissants, chocolate mousse, and Irish cream liqueur. My dinner companion, also a diabetic who suffered from binge eating, decided this was the perfect opportunity to test what she had long suspected – that my blurry vision, fatigue, and frequent urinating were all classic signs of the disease.
She placed a single drop of my blood extracted from her lancet on a little strip attached to her glucometer. The result only took thirty seconds, but it was the look on her face that told me what it meant. “o.k.,” she said in a dead-pan tone. The two letters dropper from her mouth like cement bricks. She flashed me the screen. It read 211 mg/dl, a definitive sign of the disease. A subsequent visit to the doctor’s office proved her amateur diagnosis correct.
For me, learning I had diabetes at such an early age was hitting rock bottom. I knew the cause was my binge eating. Like any addiction, something really bad sometimes has to happen before you wake up and realize “hey, this behavior is not o.k.”
Up until that point, I had never had anything seriously wrong with me my entire life. Sure, I was overweight from binge eating junk food day and night, but so were a lot of people. What was so different about me? Type 2 doesn’t usually hit until middle age, that’s what. My sedentary junk food binge eating lifestyle had put me ahead of schedule. If you have the genes to get diabetes, it certainly helps to eat junk food, not exercise, and gain weight. I was helping the type 2 diabetes court me in all three ways.
With the doctor’s diagnoses in hand, I was forced to admit that the late-night drive through runs and ice cream binges had taken their toll. I began to connect the dots between the symptoms I’d been having. On several occasions, I had actually passed out after a particularly heavy doughnut or Oreo raid. Waking up, my hands would shake, my vision would blur, and I’d have little control over my bladder.
By the time I was nineteen, I’d gone from overweight to normal weight and back several times. From ages six through eleven, I was consistently thirty pounds over what was considered healthy for my age. That heaviness affected everything in my life. As a child, I was the complete opposite of athletic, favoring TV and Legos over soccer and baseball. I was so unconditioned and uncoordinated that I was continually placed in a “special” physical education class, usually reserved for the mentally and physically handicapped.
Later, puberty took some weight off, but repeated binge eating packed it back on. By eighteen, I was 215 pounds on a 5’5″ frame. Now I know that insulin surges from my as-yet unknown diabetes were helping my weight gain. But I also know that my binge eating was the root cause of the problem. It was common for me to eat four or five candy bars after a filling meal. I routinely downed entire cartons of ice cream when nervous, usually over a test. In high school, my nickname was “Bagel Boy,” since I could easily go through a whole bag of bagels in one day. In short, I was a big emotional eater. I also didn’t know that candy bars and bagels were exacerbating a condition in my body that would eventually lead to the sixth-deadliest and most costly disease in the United States.
My friend’s amateur diagnosis that September night was my wake-up call. I was faced with a hard truth: abusing my body with junk food had a price, and that price could have been my life. I had to change, but I didn’t know how. What I did know was what I wanted. I wanted to lose weight, get abs, and master my binge eating. To me, this meant taking control of my life. And I failed at my first 1,000 attempts. It was years before I finally succeeded. But when I finally did. . .
Mind you, this can take as long as needed. This is the real work I had to put in to develop such consistency in my life.
Yes, if you want to really know how to get abs, no matter what diet you follow, more than half your success will come down to what you no longer do! For me, it was no more binge eating!