My Carbohydrate Addiction: I am addicted to all of them

Dr Joe Leonardi, Fat Then Fit Now
Dr Joe Leonardi, Fat Then Fit Now

I am a carb-addict

I understand that there are studies that support carbohydrate and sugar addiction, and I also am cognizant of studies that don’t support that conclusion–I don’t care either way, what I can tell you is one very simple fact: I am a carb-addict.

In my case, it isn’t solely sugar, or the simpler carbohydrates, I am addicted to all of them. When I go off the deep end, I just don’t have a spattering–I am a full-fledged eating machine.

For three and a half years, I had my carb-addiction under control. Now, I am not a psychiatrist or a psychologist, hell I didn’t even stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but I do not believe people actually are ever cured of addiction. It is my conviction, from personal experience and observation, that most people swap one dependency for another. Hopefully, we redirect from a negative habit to one that is, if not healthier, at least is less damaging. For me, the activities I used for redirection were, and are once again, exercising and writing.

Obesity Undone by Dr. Joe Leonardi

The return to carb-cramming didn’t occur in one big event, and it wasn’t the result of the planned splurges I outline in my book. Funny thing about those planned splurges, when I am mentally geared up and follow precise, meticulous, preparation–those carby meals never bring back the addiction. Why? Because of that planning, I am the one in control of the carbohydrate addiction, and not the other way around.

What happened to me developed slowly, over a period of several months. I am sharing this story not for pity, nor sorrow, but to provide an example that it can happen–no matter how much we are convinced it cannot. And, also to demonstrate that if we fall victim to our addiction, we should not quit, give up, or cave in–never let the addiction win.

It started in the summer of 2012.

It was a dark and stormy night, a shot rang out… Sorry, I love Snoopy. Seriously though, I decided to take on some added responsibilities at an institution where I had been working part time. I was expecting to put in a few hours a week, as the duties were explained to me, and it should have been a breeze. Well, that summer, to fulfill those extra tasks, I ended up having to take a considerable amount of unplanned time away from my practice. That time away hurt my practice, and ended up putting me behind in much of my business work.

The stress was mounting, yet didn’t really get to me, but the demands on my time did, and I fell into the fast food habit–but I stayed low carb. However, my attempts to eat as close to nature as possible were getting less close. I was able to stay focused, because no matter the time constraints, I was getting in my daily workout, and being fit caused my body to crave healthful foods to nourish it. Yet, one day in September, it all began to crumble.

I was just finishing up my morning weight training at the gym, when one of the higher ups at my part-time employment verbally assailed me over a matter which I had no idea was an issue. I don’t mind professionally being taken to task over anything, however this was anything but professional, and in all my adult life I can’t recall being spoken to in such a demeaning manner. To make matters worse, it happened in front of a crowd of people, several of whom were my patients. Now, in the old days, before my illness and when my financial situation was much stronger, I would probably have handled it differently. Yet, the reality was, I needed every dime I was earning, additionally, I was just so shocked, that I simply nodded my head and skulked away.

Since I was fourteen years old, whether fat or fit, the gym had been my safe haven. It was a place I could go to shut out the world and immerse myself in the pleasure of pitting myself against cold, unyielding iron.

When I lost my confidence I became a carb addict

Now perhaps I was just being silly, but the next day, I arrived at the gym and could not bring myself to go in. I was unsure if there would be another unprofessional verbal assault, and more of a concern, I wasn’t sure if I could hold my tongue again. Unable to risk my situation, I returned home and showered–then it happened, the insecurities of a bullied youth came rushing to the forefront. And, in my youth, the one response that had brought me through many of the bad times, was to indulge in certain soothing foods. I went to my favorite breakfast spot and ordered three Belgium waffles and a side of home fires. The nutrient deficient, carb-crammed garbage brought coziness to my mind–at least temporarily. As soon as I finished the last bite, I had immediate buyer’s remorse. This wasn’t planned, but I thought I could handle it–and I did, that day. For the next several days I changed my schedule just enough to avoid contact and get my workouts in–the carb-crisis had seemingly passed. But, then I ran into this person again. I was cheerful, putting the incident behind me, starting to believe that I had made much more of it than it was. My cheerful greeting was not returned, and the icy silence I received was a clear indication I had not made more out of this than it was, which to me was, and remains, simple silliness.

If I had bit my tongue with the force that my mind applied, a severe emergency room visit requiring blood would have been the result. I hate to admit to this, but unable to respond, the tormented young boy that I once was, again resurfaced. Immediately, I desired, no I required, the soothing of comfort foods. I repeated my breakfast, but this time, there was no buyer’s remorse. The anger and shame were so intense, that a carb-laden breakfast became a carb-loaded lunch which then begat a three day carb-binge, which led to a weekend long carb-induced slumber. Finally, that Monday morning, I was able to get ahold of myself–but it took all the willpower I could muster. Sadly, I avoided the gym.

My time in the gym became less and less frequent

My time in the gym became less and less frequent, and as my fitness level started to decline, my body started craving different foods. Foods, that weren’t so good for my overall health and well-being. Every now and then, I would give into those cravings. Unfortunately, the carb-addiction, plus the lack of discipline, along with the negative mental energy that was slowly overtaking my personality, was gaining the upper hand. Therefore, instead of one bad meal, it became two, then a day, and then two and three–when finally, the addiction had nearly wrestled full control.

As 2012 approached an end, I would have stop-and-start moments, but I could not get complete mastery over my addiction. 2013 wasn’t much better, in fact, the stops became more frequent and of longer duration. By the spring, I was no longer wearing the suits I so loved, and when summer came, the starts became nonexistent and my standard dress became workout shorts and collared shirts.

Finally, I knew I could no longer let the addiction continue unchallenged–it was then I penned, “An Important Week.” I gave myself one week to get back on track and if I didn’t, there were to be consequences.

  • I recognized – I had a choice.
  • I understood – I needed to get the upper hand.
  • I acknowledged – I must be stronger than the addiction.

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Dr Joe Leonardi, Fat Then Fit Now

Dr. Joe Leonardi’s Low Carb Success Story: Fat Then, Fit Now Part 1

Dr. Joe Leonardi's Success Story: Fat Then, Fit Now Part 1. Dr. Leonardi utilized his education and experience to put together an eating and exercise program to drop his weight from an obese 340 pounds to a fit 210 pounds. He has appeared on television, radio and internet programing discussing obesity related topics. He is now ready to help others live a life beyond obesity.

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