Weighty Matters

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Eating on Vacation

We’ve been eating wonderful meals while on vacation. It’s a large group of people gathered here in the property we rent on the Cape. Last night, 29 people sat down to dinner. We cook and eat as a community. Someone takes responsibility for the main part of the meal and other people pick up utensils to chop, mix or plate as needed. Our sous chef skills are put to work.

I confess that I’ve had more fresh bread in the recent days than I usually eat in a month, but it’s delicious. A friend who works for a natural food distributor also brought down many pounds of Amish butter. If you ever have Amish butter, you will never want to go back to store bought again. It’s that great.

There’s an organic farm across the road so each meal includes fresh, amazing produce. We’ve had kale salads, tomatoes that were picked a few hours before consumption, and corn of the most delicate sweetness.

I made my famous brownies yesterday for dessert. When I flew up I smuggled a few dozen key limes in my suitcase and a couple of days ago treated the crowd to key lime pies.

I refuse to think of how much weight I’ll gain in the course of the week. The food is too good and the company too grand. There is a wonderful sense of community to preparing, eating and enjoying the time together.

In our defense, we take walks every day. Yesterday, I also went paddle boarding again. So, while we do spend a lot of time sitting, eating and talking, we still get ourselves in motion.

Vacation is not the time to obsess about being perfect on a food plan. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I will recommit when I return and go back to being restrictive on my carb and dessert intake.

Today is for celebrating, breaking bread together and enjoying vacation meals together.

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Vacation

There are numerous reasons why I love the annual trip to the Cape. While I always love vacationing in new-to-me places and taking cruises, I also embrace and appreciate returning to the familiar location and spending time with the same mix of family and friends. There is ease and relaxation in the camaraderie when you’ve known people for years, even decades.

I love the ebb and flow of conversation and group participation in activities. Time to put together a meal for the masses? No problem. Someone smoked a couple of briskets and pork roasts. Someone brought a recipe for grilled watermelon and feta salad. Teams of people are working on a fresh cole slaw and potato salad. I brought up key limes and made pies. While we’re preparing, someone is experimenting with the cocktail of the night. All of a sudden there’s delicious food and we’re gathered at a huge oval table to enjoy it together.

One of our group brought several hula hoops for us to try and late at night the musicians are jamming down at the dance hall.

We are friends and we’re also, for this week, a community. There’s a lovely atmosphere, free of stress but full of good humor and fun. When someone wants to work off a meal, there’s usually multiple people up for a walk around the farm or eager to go for a longer trek around the canal.

As the lone Floridian, I particularly appreciate the cooler Cape Cod weather. It’s warm enough to be comfortable but such a nice break from the heat and humidity we experience in the Keys in August. I love that I can sleep with the windows open in my room and we don’t need air conditioning.

I’m enjoying good food with vegetables picked fresh from the organic farm next door.

It’s a great vacation so far.

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Living Life

For the last few days I’ve just been living my life and not stressing on what I have or haven’t done, what’s still to be accomplished, etc. My goal has been to eat reasonably, not focus on weight gain, not gain anything more. maintain physical activity and just be happy with myself. I’m not moping or engaging in behavior or thoughts that make me feel bad about myself. I’m being centered within myself. I got out for longer walks with the dogs. I’ve done more Tai Chi at home. I feel more balanced and on a more even keel.

I’m also looking forward to a short trip to spend time with family and friends. The vacation will do me good. I need some chill time.

Sometimes I am my own worst enemy when I should be my own strongest ally. The things I say to myself, what I feel, how I react can damage my serenity and mess up my equilibrium. You know that saying, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle”? It strikes me that this kindness approach needs to start with the person each of us sees first when we look in the mirror. Judge not, including not myself. Be as supportive to myself as I am to my friends. Overall this helps my recovery instead of harming it.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Focus. Stay balanced. Cancel negative thoughts. Be kind and supportive to myself.

I feel much better when I take this approach.

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The Outside and the Inside

Like so many of us, I am incredibly sad about the sudden death of Robin Williams. Selfishly, I’m sad that he’s gone and he will no longer make me laugh with new appearances, movies and material. That’s about me. Mostly, I’m sad that someone of such a gift without boundaries, so marvelous a talent, suffered from the diseases of addiction and depression. I feel so, so bad that he who brought so much joy to the lives of others was robbed of feeling it for himself to the extent that he ended his life.

We all have our outsides and our insides. We often have a tug of war with ourselves between our public faces and private struggles. Sometimes we expose our inside battles. I do it often enough here on this blog. Some celebrities share about them on talk shows and other media. My discussing my eating disorder, battles with food and effort to lose weight and gain health is a choice. Making the blog was my choice. Nobody told me I had to. In fact, some questioned whether it was a good idea.

It doesn’t seem like celebrities have a choice. By pursuing careers that put them in the public eye, on our televisions, in the movie theaters or on the stage and sharing themselves with the world, the world then acts like they are obligated to reveal everything about themselves to us all of the time.

Our need to know them, to be in on every detail of their lives, is almost insatiable. Perhaps we are so impressed with their external performances that we feel entitled.

Yesterday, learning about Robin Williams’s death was difficult enough, made even more so by the phrase “an apparent suicide”. It wasn’t enough that the world knew he’d died. It was almost a requirement that we be told how. Today is even worse. Suicide confirmed with a fairly detailed statement of the method. I wanted to scream at the television, “Enough! He died. We know he killed himself. That’s enough. We don’t need to know more.”

Except, apparently, many do feel they need to know more, or the media decides we need to know as much as possible.

I want to respect his pain. I want to honor that, despite his celebrity, he has a right to privacy in death. I am strangely protective of his inside self.

The results/effects of my inside disease are so evident. I wear it on my outside. Often, that is difficult enough to handle and balance. At least with the blog, I choose what and how much I choose to expose of my struggles. I feel like, to some extent, Robin did not reveal the extent of his internal challenges, the depth of his depression to the world – nor was he obligated to. So, I really hate that it is all coming out now because of the way in which he died.

He’s beyond this pain. He’s beyond knowing or caring that the details are spread all over the internet. I hope his family will find peace. I hope that, if the details must be known far and wide, that someone, somewhere is helped by the knowing.

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Today’s the Day

Today’s the day I get back on track. It’s just before 8 a.m. and I’ve already made a good start. Instead of going back to sleep when my clock radio went off at 6, I rolled out of bed, put on my walking shoes and took the dogs out for a 30 minute power walk. I just had my protein smoothie and packed a healthy lunch with the appropriate snacks for lunch.

I feel strong and powerful emotionally, just in taking these few positive steps.

Honestly, I permitted myself to wallow for a few days and, in the wallowing, also ate a bunch of stuff that wasn’t good for me but tasted good. Now, I could continue to do that, but I also see how quickly my body puts on weight when I do and that isn’t acceptable. I’d also stayed off of the scale for a while, not wanting to face the physical reality. I got on this morning. Sure enough. According to the scale, I’ve gained 8 pounds. I know this is mostly water weight or bloat, but it’s a good reminder that I’m only a few missteps away from totally backsliding. Also not acceptable.

I am absolutely happy with the progress I’ve made over the last 2 1/2 years and I cherish that happiness. It will take me a while longer to untangle my messed up mindset but I am very, very clear on this point. I have transformed my life and will protect that transformation. Even if I never get to goal weight, I still want to maintain the good health that I’ve achieved thus far. (Yes, I know I’ll eventually get to goal weight, but I still need to reinforce the joy and happiness of the “now”, so it doesn’t go unappreciated in the effort for the future.

I’m sorry if I’m repeating myself and this all sounds like stuff I’ve said before, but I need to repeat it for myself. Heck, I need to pound it into my brain so it stays up front and doesn’t get clouded or buried by the other stuff that sometimes goes on in my diseased thinking.

Right now, I’m taking back my recovery. Today’s the day.

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Messed Up Mindset

For some reason, this blog is not fully cooperating with me. I’ve been unable to do posts or comments. Hopefully I have it straightened out.

In a comment to my “Funk” post from earlier in the week, Pink Pelican shared her experience which is similar to what I’m going through right now. Pink, thank you. Far from discouraging me, it gives me hope and validates what I’ve been thinking. I need to focus on my head, on my messed-up mindset right now.

To recap, what’s happened is that my stalled physical weight loss progress is drastically effecting my emotions and my mental process about my journey. This is a dangerous state for me. I’m an emotional eater. I have an eating disorder. When my emotions and head go off track, my compulsive eating behavior likely follows.

Right now, even though I am 180ish pounds lighter than I was a few years ago and living a life where I eat healthier foods and am physically active, I’ve lost the positive energy that I rode for so long on this amazing, joyful journey. I’m mired in the diseased mindset. I am nearly as down on myself about my body and lack of progress, the self-sabotage and everything else as I was when I was in the worst state of my eating disorder disease at 386 pounds. This is a dangerous, defeating, unhealthy place to be. I need to stop before I eat myself back into obesity.

Usually, I plan on how I’m going to control my eating. Oddly enough, that’s often easier than fixing the mindset. However, it’s the head that needs my focus right now. This doesn’t mean I’m flagrantly going out and eating whatever I want. Instead, it’s a call to myself for greater balance. In OA, we called recovery a three legged stool — physical, mental and emotional. If too much emphasis is put on one leg to the detriment of others, the seat isn’t balanced. It will tip and drop my ass on the ground.

The first two years of my post-surgery journey were alll physical progress. The speed of weight loss, the physical improvements in my overall body as well as my fitness level produced an incredible joy and euphoria. I worked on issues about my eating disorder here on the blog and have made a lot of progress in the area of understanding why and how I’ve used food as a drug and crutch in the past. That’s all good and I can build on it.

However, there are still aspects to the disease thinking that I haven’t resolved and now my stool is badly tilted. What’s coming up for me the most right now is the old B.I.N.G.E. thinking of Believing I’m Not Good Enough. More to the point, it’s believing that the amazing progress and revolutionary recovery I’ve already achieved isn’t good enough. I still in my heart of hearts find myself lacking. I get down on myself and concentrate too much on how far I still have to go.

No, I’m not satisfied. I don’t want to stop losing weight. However, somehow I also have to be okay with myself wherever I am in my progress. If I never did lose another pound, I would still be incredibly more healthy than I’ve ever been.

So, how do I accomplish this? I’m starting with cancelling stinking thinking. When I get down on myself for no progress or for messing up or even for eating a frigging half slice of bread, I need to be aware of the thought and then banish it or counteract it. It is unacceptable for me to be so self-critical and not accept myself.

At the same time, I need to get back to recognizing and appreciating all of the good that I have done and continue to do for myself. It isn’t enough for me to just go out and ride my bike six miles. I need to celebrate that activity in the moment and really make it rich. I will acknowledge and take joy in all that I am now able to do. Whether it’s riding the bike, walking with greater ease and less pain, the balance, strength and flexibility of Tai Chi, or the easy glide of snorkeling I will take note, immerse in the experience and feel the joy.

Negativity out – joy in. Easy formula. It’s almost like happiness is another muscle. I need to work on my reps and build the strength of my own heart and head to engender the recovery.

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Still Working on that Funk

I have not been overwhelmingly successful in taking back my joy yet. I have good segments of time when I’m able to shake off the “I can’t lose weight no matter what I do” funk, but not enough segments, or long enough chunks of time, to sustain me. I miss the feeling that I enjoyed where every day I jumped out of bed excited about my progress, leaping into my physical activity and relishing the new ease and strength of my body. My spirit and my physical self still feel heavy, weighted down.

That said, perhaps I’m making some progress. I’ve determined that I do better in the daytime than I do at night. When I’m home after dinner I am often beset by the urge to eat even after my meal. Not only do I want to eat more, but I seem to want to eat inappropriate foods. It’s like any of the negative feelings coalesce in the evening until I’m sad and frustrated. Then, when I end up eating more than I should or eating something that I shouldn’t, I get even more blue.

Sounds pitiful, doesn’t it? Actually, realizing the timing gives me some hope. I’m by nature a fixer. Admittedly, I’m often better at fixing someone else’s situation, or a work situation, than I am at fixing myself, but identifying a specific time of day gives me something more concrete on which to focus. I can develop a strategy so that I don’t eat compulsively after dinner but stick to my plan.

This might sound silly, but I even set a reminder in my phone calendar for 8 p.m. tonight that says No More Eating. Since when I compulsively eat, I do it without much thought, or without being able to interrupt the action before I’ve done the damage, I thought a reminder might help me be more mindful. We’ll see.

It’s a process. As long as I keep working on it, I’m not giving up.

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Robbing Myself of Joy

So yesterday I was in a really pissy place with a boatload of discouragement and frustration. Never, ever, underestimate the benefit of asking for help and encouragement. I asked and I received both here and via private email. Thank you, friends. I am, indeed, encouraged by your words and feel supported.

There is still much for me to think about and process as I move forward. Stirring all of your words and stories together, the first thing that I come back to is the realization I’ve had that in focusing so much on what I’ve been unable to accomplish, i.e. getting under 200 pounds and then hitting goal weight, I am diminishing the pleasure and happiness of all that I have already achieved. I’m robbing myself of joy. That, my friends, simply will not do. I’ve lost something like 85% of the weight that I need to lose which, consequently is nearly half of my total body weight. (If I’m doing the math right, which I’m pretty sure I am. Then again, it is math which has never been my strong suit.) However, arithmetic aside, I’ve lost a FREAKING LOT OF WEIGHT. I need to celebrate that every single day. I eat healthier. I have gone from sedentary to active. I don’t suffer with extreme knee pain and overall body aches. I don’t have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or high blood sugar any more.

I am healthy and active. My life used to be filled with obesity-induced obstacles. Now those obstacles are gone. This is a time to be happy, energetic, free of excessive worry and food obsession, free-spirited.

It is not a time to be anxious, stressed out, frustrated, discouraged and sad over the last 30 stubborn pounds.

One of my friends pointed out that the worrying and stress induce cortisol production. According to the opening of an article in Psychology Today, The stress hormone, cortisol, is public health enemy number one. Scientists have known for years that elevated cortisol levels: interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease… The list goes on and on.

Screw dat.

Today, I woke up grateful for so many things and all of the positive changes I have experienced. Today I am going to catch myself any time I start to obsess over lack of weight loss again and divert myself with the positive spin. I’m not denying that there is more I want to do, but I need to recapture the happiness of all that I can and all that I am.

Each new day presents the endless opportunity to enjoy my best, most authentic life. That’s the goal. I will continue to follow my healthy eating plan and exercise efforts. The weight will come off when it comes off. In the meantime, I’m taking back my joy.

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Battling Discouragement

Friends, pardon me while I spew. I am as close to complete discouragement as I have been since this entire weight loss journey started, pretty much three years ago. Yes, it’s almost three years since I made the decision to investigate weight loss surgery.

It doesn’t matter what I do, how careful I am to adhere to my food plan, or how much exercise I do, my weight loss is stuck. Mired like my feet are encased in concrete blocks, sucked into a thick, swampy goo. I don’t know what else I can do, or what I can do differently. I. Just. Don’t. Know.

I’m so close, so very close to getting to One-derland. I can see it right there on the horizon. Shiny, sparkly, tantalizing and all I have to do is run to the border and get there. I feel a little like Dorothy, running toward Oz, and then getting knocked out by the poppy fields.

Maybe there is such a thing as a set point and my body decided that 211 is it. Maybe I’m doing something wrong with my food plan and eating but can’t figure it out. My body doesn’t react the way that it used to.

I’m confused, frustrated, annoyed, wistful and so discouraged. I either want to cry or eat, or maybe just say screw it. Stop trying to lose any more and simply work on maintaining the fabulous weight loss I’ve already achieved.

I’m tired of the strict effort. I’m fed up with thinking that if I have a small slice of bread, a spoonful of potato or a quarter cup of rice that I’ll derail my progress. I just want to eat like a “normal” person with a great variety of foods in appropriate portions for my stomach and maintenance.

This totally messes with my head and my emotions. The one thing that I refuse to do is backslide into weight gain. In all that I’m experiencing internally right now, that’s the solid foundation to which I can hold. It’s a positive. Maybe I’m not losing, but at least I’m not gaining.

I can only hope that I’ll feel differently tomorrow. That I’ll wake up with renewed faith that if I continue to do what I’m supposed to do, the weight will again begin to decrease. Right now, I’m a little short on that kind of faith. I am, however, holding on to that maintenance determination. No matter what else happens, that is essential to my health and recovery.

Thanks for listening. Anybody have any suggestions or words of encouragement?

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Food Shame

Sometimes I wonder if there will ever come a time when I will eat certain foods and not feel like I should be hiding their consumption; when I will not feel shame.

My logical brain says that foods eaten in balance are okay. That I do not need to be ashamed if I occasionally eat chocolate cake or M&Ms. Unfortunately, years of sneak eating and secret binges have left their mark on my psyche. Last night I went to the movies. I ordered a small popcorn and a small pack of peanut M&Ms. The popcorn I ate openly. Later, mid-way through the movie, I felt like I had to go into stealth mode, slipping each M&M into my mouth, so that the friend sitting next to me wouldn’t see me eating them.

Okay, so popcorn and M&Ms aren’t a healthy meal, but the quantities were quite small so it’s not like I was ingesting poison or illegal drugs. After the movie, I tried to connect with what I was feeling. I decided that I didn’t feel judged for eating the popcorn but I projected that people would judge me for eating candy.

Why? Because in some part of my brain, I still see myself as a horrifically obese woman whose food and eating habits were always looked at to some extent. Probably I imagined some of the judging and assessing by other people but I have definite evidence and memories of actual judging experiences.

Honestly, if my friend even noticed, I’m sure she didn’t care or think twice about it. Ultimately, I self-shamed.

Yep, I felt like I was doing something wrong. After two and a half years, my relationship with food is still pretty messed up.

I’ve also noticed that when I retreat into the old behavior of sneaking food I eat it faster, savor it less, enjoy it much less and end up eating more of the food item. Clearly this is something that I need to work on. I want to make it okay for me to eat what I choose and honor those choices. If I really really want a few M&Ms, then it needs to be okay — and I need to be able to enjoy them. Sneak eating is another symptom of my disease. Not only isn’t it good for me, it’s totally unnecessary.

Yes, definitely need to work on this food shame.

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