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Our Dogs, Ourselves

The last few months have been populated with several visits to the veterinarian.  Natty has battled a stubborn ear infection.  Pyxi’s had vulvitis, a bladder infection and some periodic incontinence.  Ear drops and sprays for Nat, antibiotics for both of them have been our norm.  Neither one of them has eaten well, in particular Pyxi.  She’s been consuming less than half of her normal diet.

Both of them put on a couple of pounds while I was dealing with my chronic foot issues.  They were not getting their customary amount of exercise during that time, plus it’s been so blistering hot that even when I can walk, I don’t push it with their little fur-coated bodies.  During the summer, I don’t walk them later in the morning than 8 a.m.  In the evening, we don’t go out until after 7 p.m.  If you’ve ever wondered when the pavement or street are too hot for your dog’s paws, here’s an easy test.  Hold your fingers or palm of your hand to the pavement for 7 – 10 seconds.  If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for them.

Pyxi, dropped the most weight and I’ve been concerned that something else might be happening, but waited until she was done with her antibiotics to see if she would start eating more regularly again.  However, by the time their follow up appointment arrived earlier this week, I was starting to get scared.

Our vet is wonderful.  He ordered a full blood panel.  While we waited for the results, he thoroughly examined her again from nose to tail with diagnostic instruments and hands-on touches.  He called up her recent x-rays and studied them again to make sure nothing had been missed the last time.  Thankfully, he neither felt nor saw any masses, misshapped organs or other things.

The blood results came back and some key levels were elevated, indicating kidney issues.  Her kidneys are functioning at about 60%.  My heart jumped and fluttered and I could feel myself getting scared.  My vet and I have been friends a long time and he swiftly made sure I knew that this could all be a result of the recent infection and the strong antibiotics.  He also went through the blood test line by line and showed me how other levels right away helped him rule out a couple major problems.  I started to breathe again.

The first thing he wanted to do was to put her on a lower protein diet for two weeks and then run another blood test to see if her levels normalized.  To achieve this diet, he wants me to cut out a third of her regular kibble and replace it with rice or pasta. In their evening meal, both dogs get a small scoop of some wet food too.  Instead of that over the next two weeks, Dr. Mike wants me to give Pyxi some chicken.  “I know how busy you are, but this won’t be too much for your to accomplish, will it?” he asked, although he already knew my answer.

I wouldn’t care if my days were three times busier than the President’s.  If my dogs need me to cook rice and chicken for them, I will.  I assured him it wouldn’t be a problem.  (I cooked for my old Irish Setter for two years before he died.)

Thankfully, that night I still had some leftover grilled chicken in the fridge and some rice in the cupboard that I could cook up. I also boiled some pasta for variety.  Friday night I bought a roasting chicken and some brown rice.  All three of us will be eating from that chicken for much of the week.  Let me just tell you that the dogs are loving it.  I’m not sure whether Pyxi started to feel better after her appointment and naturally has more appetite than before, or whether it’s the novelty of rice, pasta and chicken that stimulates her eating, but she’s cleaning her bowl at both meals.  (Natty doesn’t need the rice/pasta/chicken, but I don’t have it in me to deny him some bites when his sister is getting it.  I don’t give him as much, but he too is now eating more reliably than he was.)  I am relieved that she seems to be improving and am hopeful that her re-test in a week and a half will show that her levels are back to normal.

Here’s my point in tell you all this story.  As soon as the veterinarian prescribed a change in diet for the sake of my dog’s health, I immediately complied.  I went right into action mode to help my little girl feel better and recover from her ailment.

Doing this for her was automatic.

Unlike all of the years when I knew I need to change my food choices and eating patterns for the sake of my own health but didn’t make the necessary improvements.

Let this be a good reminder to myself.  I should always resolve to treat myself with at least the same high level of caring and commitment as I devote to my furry family members.

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Appreciating the Good

The last couple of months have reminded me, okay, they’ve actually hammered home to me to never take feeling good for granted.  To borrow from Joni Mitchell, “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone”.

I felt physically terrific for so many months that when the heel pain started and intensified, making it excruciatingly painful just to walk, I was floored.  For years when I was heavier, I was mostly sedentary.  As I aged, I was sedentary and ached all of the time.  Even when I wasn’t active, I experienced aches and pains.

Losing weight became a physical gift to myself for so many reasons.  Developing actual physical fitness and feeling my chronic soreness fade was amazing.  I grew to love my body’s fluidity, grace, strength and ease.  Seeing true muscle definition made me smile and revel in my ability.

Having that begin to fade as I became less and less active affected me in ways other than physical.  Emotionally and mentally I started to suffer too.  Today, after the plasma rich platelet treatments and the acupuncture, my tissues and tendon have healed and it no longer feels like I’m driving a hot spike into my heel with each step.  My knee still has a few minor creaks and twinges, but the pain in that joint is also greatly reduced.  I can walk without pain again, finally.

I am so grateful.  I value and appreciate this state more than you know.  To be able to practice Tai Chi, walk the dogs, and even do my job lifts my spirits.  I’m reconnecting with my desire to move and exercise more.  Tomorrow is my first full rowing class.  I’m even getting up earlier than usual so I can make the 7 a.m. class.

It’s also been a better week for me food-wise.  I think physically feeling better contributes to reducing my food obsessions and compulsions.  I believe the acupuncture also is having a very positive effect, too.  Eating more responsible portions and making healthier choices overall have come easier to me this week.  It’s important for me to acknowledge this too.

Maybe it’s not that I take things for granted, but more that I don’t take time to sit still, think about the good, and acknowledge it in my life.  I’m going to make it a point to embrace and appreciate the good – every day.  Doing so empowers me and strengthens my foundations.

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Security Conscious

No, I didn’t actually fall off the face of the earth.  I was away on vacation.  In the past, I’ve either said that I was going away or I’ve pre-written and scheduled posts so that new things would magically appear and nobody would know that I wasn’t sitting here creating the content that same day.

Honest to goodness, I was busy as all get-out for the week before I left.  There was no time to write posts, unfortunately.  That I didn’t pre-inform that I was going has a lot to do with the this post’s title.  I wanted to be more security conscious and not tip off people that I wasn’t going to be around. I know that 99% of the people who read this blog are wonderful, supportive, and not trolling the internet to look for places to rob.  It’s the 1%, probably less than 1%, who are strangers with possible nefarious intent.

Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean someone isn’t out to get you!  :-)

Lately, I find that as I get older, I am beginning to feel more vulnerable.  It’s not that I’ve been a blindly trusting Pollyanna all of my life.  I employ a really healthy amount of common sense and take secure measures to protect myself, my home, and my belongings.  However, I have come to believe that I will be better served if that healthy amount becomes even healthier.

Facts are facts.  I’m older.  I’m single.  I live alone.  Although I know that I am extremely capable and employ good situational awareness to avoid potentially risky situations/scenarios, that’s my view from the inside looking out.  I have begun to feel some degree of concern that other people might perceive me differently — as older, not as strong or capable.  As, well, vulnerable.

There’s some irony at work here.  I’m in the best physical shape of my life and, at heart, I still think I’m a tough Jersey girl, but still… I worry sometimes.

However, I am not worrying myself into a state of complete paranoia or constant concern.  I’ve identified how I feel and, as is my frequent m.o., am making a plan with concrete steps.  I want to be more secure and there are ways to achieve this for my actual safety as well as my peace of mind.

So, not blasting out on this blog when I’m not going to be around is a security conscious step.  Making sure that when I do go away the house is locked up and that someone I trust is keeping an eye on things.  I’m contacting a security company for an evaluation to upgrade existing protection measures not only for my house but also for my boat.

I’m not at the point where I want a handgun, but I sure wouldn’t mind taking a self-defense class for women.  I have several little things that also help in a myriad of ways.  There’s a flashlight in my handbag at all times.  I also have a little flashlight on my key chain.  I bought a piece of equipment that stays in my car.  It’s a battery charger and an air compressor so that I don’t need someone else or another car if my battery dies or if I have a flatter tire.  It will also charge up my cell phone if I need it too.

No matter where I go or what parking lot I pull into, I always look around before I unlock my car and get out.  I also never ever park next to a van.  As much as I love to drive with my convertible top down, I realize that it just isn’t safe for me to do so after dark.  So, for the sake of safety, the top is up when the sun is down.

These are all fairly easy things to implement, but they’re effective.  Not only do they enhance my safety, they make me feel better, more secure.  I’m not blase and I don’t take any of it for granted.  I’m just trying to stay aware and conscious of doing what I need to do to protect myself.

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Eating Choices Rant

Yesterday in between my bike ride and my snorkel trip, I watched Food Network for a while.  I’ve said before that I’m mildly addicted to watching cooking shows.  Some would wonder if this is a good idea for me to so often watch shows that focus on food.  I wonder that sometimes myself.  However, in my defense, I think that I’ve learned more about preparing good, healthy food of greater variety from watching than I would have otherwise.  I think I’m also discerning enough to know when a recipe is something that would be good for me to try or a meal I should stay far, far away from.

I have noticed that most of the shows aren’t focused on cooking healthy.  The chefs like their butter, oil, heavy cream and frying.  Nothing goes unsalted.  It’s all about building flavors, unctuous mouth feel, velvety sauces (more cream and butter), and so on.  Seriously, I get this.  Gastronomes R Us.

So what’s my takeaway as someone who is on a quest to lose weight and change my eating lifestyle from totally unhealthy to healthier?  Well, amid the butter/cream/frying/salting are the wonderful nuggets of information and technique that teach me how to build flavor into my food in ways that don’t require the extra calories.

And, often enough, I find a show where someone does something really cool and tasty with a new vegetable or demonstrates a completely different dish in a way that makes me realize that it wouldn’t be all that difficult for me to try.  There are a few simple truths.  If healthy food doesn’t taste good, nobody wants to eat it.  Good food can still be healthy.

I love watching Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa.  On her show, she makes the most wonderful dishes look like they’re easy to prepare.  I won’t pretend that everything she produces on her show falls in the healthy category, but every once in a while she scores for me.  Yesterday, she made kale chips.  Kale chips! Easy as anything to do and so tasty.  Since I have lacinato (aka dinosaur) kale in my fridge, this was an easy dish to replicate for lunch.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spread out a few whole kale leaves on a pan.  Brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt and ground black pepper.  Bake for about ten minutes until crisping up.  Sprinkle with a little parmesan and return to oven until cheese melts.

Kale is a healthy, leafy, dark green vegetable.  Olive oil is a healthier fat. There wasn’t enough oil used to be bad either.  Same thing with the salt and cheese. It was a very tasty snack and, since I had a late lunch, more than enough.  Thank you, Barefoot Contessa.

While I was munching on my crispy kale, Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives aired on Food Network.  I heard that one of the restaurants he would visit is in my home area up in South Jersey so, of course, I was interested.  This restaurant must have opened since I moved down to Florida because I’d never heard of it.  While Guy and I watched, the owner prepared a Pork Belly Reuben sandwich.  (Disclaimer:  I love a good, traditional Reuben.  I don’t eat them very often and when I do, I end up having it over at least two meals because they’re huge.  This helps me keep from feeling guilty over eating them at all.)

(Further disclaimer:  I’ve had pork belly sandwiches (aka porchetta) before, too.  They can be very good.)

Today’s show, however, totally grossed me out.  Pork belly is very fatty.  Ok, so is bacon, but at least it’s crisp fat on bacon and you’re eating it in mostly thin slices.  For this sandwich, the chef cut off four thick — 3/4 of an inch thick at the very minimum — slices of cooked pork belly and grilled them on a flat top.  The camera zoomed in on the meat.  I swear there was a border of uncrisp fat on each slice that was the width of one of my fingernails.

He also slathered butter on the bread and slapped that down to grill.  I think he grilled the kraut too.  He then assembled the sandwich with the fatty bread, melted cheese, grilled kraut, and the thick slices of fatty meat and served it up.

As Guy was eating it, he made a reference to the sandwich requiring a health certificate.  I looked at the sandwich and thought, “Heart attack on a plate.”  I wondered how the hell Guy or anybody could eat it; how anybody could want to.  Then I had a flashback.  I used to be the person who would not only want to, but would devour it in a single meal with a big side of fries, too, please.  The same person who would order a Quarterpounder with cheese, large fries, giant soda and a couple of apple pies.

I’m not judging.  I’m just inexplicably angry right now.  I’m angry that I spent a lot of years eating like that.  I remember when the first McDs opened in our area.  We thought it was fascinating to see burgers coming down a conveyor belt.  Same thing with KFC.  Chicken as the delivery system for eleven deep fried herbs and spices.  I’m royally pissed off for all of the times I binged on overloaded foods of any type and washed them don by guzzling corn syrup-sweetened soda.

My brother went off to college and came back for the holidays with a greater awareness of food and healthy eating.  He gave up eating meat when he was 18.  (He eats seafood, eggs and dairy products but all in moderation.)  He chose to prepare meals with more vegetables, lower fat, greater variety.  He loves ice cream but never overindulges.  I don’t think he puts melted butter on his popcorn.

I wish I’d done the same.  I wish that the effort for me to eat healthier choices in healthier ways without overindulging and being compulsive wasn’t such a damned struggle all the freaking time.  If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.  If wishes were pounds lost, I’d be lower than goal weight.

I can’t get there by wishing.  It takes work, effort.  It takes the damned struggle.    It takes not giving up.  Even when you follow a great day by a not-so-stellar day.  It takes being willing to put the non-stellar days behind you and recommit that the next choice will be a healthy one.

It takes ignoring the unhealthy-for-me food that might taste decadent and delicious like a pork belly reuben, and enjoying the flavor, texture and crunch of a kale chip.

It means making this happen for me.  Every day.

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As you were reading this post did it seem like I switched topics along the way and that the post did not wind up where you thought it might be going in the beginning.

Yeah, me, too.

This is a great example of why I do this blog.  The writing process puts me in touch with things that I might not even be aware that I’m feeling because they’re buried.  I had no idea that when I started writing today I would end up tapping into some deep resentment and anger, but that’s what happened, so I went with it.  To go back and rework the post from the beginning feels like it would be less-than-authentic, so I left it as was.

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Happiness Happens Day

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. – Mahatma Gandhi

It seems like there’s a special day every day.  Take today for example.  Apparently it’s Happiness Happens Day.  I don’t know who decreed it.  How did someone decide that there needed to be a Happiness Happens Day?  Maybe it’s meant to counteract Sh*t Happens, which apparently doesn’t wait for a particular day but randomly and spontaneously occurs whenever it darned well wants.

I don’t want to quibble but if I held the office of She Who Decides What Should be Celebrated On What Day, I’d have amended this one a bit.  Instead it would be Make Happiness Happen Day.  I don’t want to wait around and hope that happiness will manifest.  If, as Gandhi said, what we think, what we say and what we do need to be in harmony, then I want to be the choir director or the voice coach that brings these things into harmony in my life.

I’m going to be the catalyst for my own happiness.  Today has been an excellent example that this is possible.

The weather was absolutely perfect from the very beginning of the day.  I woke up and got ready for Tai Chi class and realized that I could ride my bike instead of taking my car.  Between the knee injections, several weeks of a lot of windy conditions, and then my time in the boot, I have not ridden my bike in more than a month.  I couldn’t wait to pump up the tires and pedal away.  It felt great.  So did Tai Chi.  Oh, I missed doing the moves and the set when my foot caused so much pain and then was encumbered by the boot.  The two forms of exercise early in the day reconnected me with how much I enjoy being more physically fit and actually capable of doing these activities.

But I wasn’t stopping there.  Not today.  You all know how much I love going out on my boat, that I adore being on and in the ocean.  Sadly, one of my boat engines has a problem that will take a little doing to fix, so planning a trip out today was definitely not an option.

Yesterday, I thought about it a lot and knew that I had a choice to make.  I could sit around for the rest of the day, stare at the water and be pissy that I wasn’t out enjoying it… or … I could find a way to get out there.   This morning when I woke up I realized that I could play like a tourist.  I booked a trip with a snorkel/dive charter company in the afternoon.

Oh, how happy I am that I took this action!  It was an absolutely glorious trip to a part of the reef that I’ve never visited before, but have been wanting to.  I spent two great hours in the water swimming around gazing at beautiful coral formations and lots of colorful fish.  Just the rides to and from the sanctuary area gladdened my heart as I gazed at the turquoise and sapphire water or up into the bright blue sky.

On the way home we were approached by a small group of dolphins – moms and babies!  It was close to perfect, I tell you.

I’d have photos to show you but my card reader isn’t working at the moment.  A slight annoyance on an otherwise wonderful day.

Through it all, I also maintained my food plan, including when I got home and made a healthy dinner.

Right now, I’m pleasantly tired, deeply relaxed, and so calm and happy in my head that I spontaneously smile just because.

Happiness happened today.  I thought about what I wanted and needed; I said to myself that it was possible to attain; I did it.  I made it happen.

Knowing that I have this ability, that I can choose and act to make myself happy, is something that I need to remember.  It isn’t something that needs to be limited to just today.

***************** Edited to add photos.  I got the card reader working so here are a couple of photos from the snorkel trip yesterday.

P1010198 P1010200 P1010180 P1010156

 

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Personal Myths

I’m feeling good.  Whether it’s the acupuncture treatments in my ear to help with the food compulsion and cravings, my own work to get myself in a better, more sane place with my eating disorder, or a combination of both, overall I feel really good.  I’m eating well and following a food plan.  My mind is on an even keel and I’m not under siege by obsessive food thoughts.  Since I’m not eating compulsively and/or stuffing my face, I’m not beating myself up and thinking mean things about myself.  This is all terrific.

Physically my heel and knee also continue to improve with lessening pain.  I can move around more easily.  The fact that it doesn’t hurt me to walk is a big motivation to be more active.

The DietBet thing is underway.  It’s fun.  I’m trying out the low carb/high carb approach on alternating days.  It’s a manageable food plan.  I lost a couple of pounds this week.  The weight loss is a bonus.  The reduction in the compulsive eating and the crappy thoughts and stress that accompany the behavior are the real boon to my well being.  So, all in all.  I’m giving myself and my current state of being two big thumbs up!

I was reading an article today that talked about personal myths.  These are things we say about ourselves, believe about ourselves that aren’t necessarily rooted in reality.  We believe them and, therefore, they are very real to us and as such can strongly influence our actions and emotions.  Depending on how deeply they are ingrained, and how negative they are, they can do some real damage.

Huh.  I just realized something.  Because all of my personal myths are negative and make me feel bad about myself, it only just occurred to me that some people might have overwhelmingly positive personal myths.  Beliefs that give them a huge bolstering uplifts.  Can over-inflated positive opinions of self also be damaging?  Hmm.  Let me think on that for a bit.  Perhaps they can be.  What if they engender huge feelings of entitlement or beliefs that the world is all about you so you should always get what you want all of the time?  Do they then set you up for huge disappointments or resentment and anger when the world doesn’t play along?  I don’t know.  I’ll have to think on that, but right now I’m more interested in my own personal myths and how they’ve affected me over my life.

The biggest myth for me is believing that nothing I say, do, achieve is ever good enough.  When I buy into the myth, these are the results:  There will always be something more that I could have, should have done.  If I do something, I think I could always have done it better.  If I fail to achieve a goal, it is difficult for me to maintain a healthy perspective.  I decide that I suck at whatever.  If I veer from an objective, it’s because I’m weak, lacking, worthless, etc. etc.My self-esteem is always at risk.

I spent a lot of years believing these things, being miserable about the feelings, and seeking comfort, distraction or oblivion in excess food.   For years, I didn’t understand that I was inflicting this pain on myself by accepting these false feelings as reality.  That’s how low my self-worth had fallen.  Once I was aware and began to work on my understanding, I could begin to see the myths and fight their fiction.

Yes, I am much better.  My self-esteem is far healthier than it was many years ago.  I believe in myself, my talents, my abilities.  My confidence is strong which reduces a great deal of the stress that I used to feel.  Seriously, when you don’t believe in yourself, you stress constantly about whether you’re going to be able to pull off the normal, every day tasks involved in your job, your relationships, your activities, your life.  That stress just feeds into the mess and escalates the issues.  I can’t tell you how many nights I’d wake up out of a sound sleep and enter a state of repetitive, obsessive worrying about things that I had to do.

Now that only happens sometimes in extreme situations.  The difference, and the quality of my sleep, are profound.

Still, it’s always a battle.  Personal myths don’t ever completely vacate their territory in our heads and spirits.  When I feel them ramping up their presence, I need to make a conscious effort to face them and diffuse their power.  It’s like fighting the food compulsion.  The compulsion arises and triggers a want for food/eating.  If I don’t stay aware and recognize the compulsion for  what it is, that want can quickly become a need, translate into the action of eating and, Bam!, I’ve lost. Same thing with the personal myth.  When one tries to encroach on my self-awareness and self-esteem, I need to identify it as fiction and not give it power.  Easier said than done sometimes, but it’s a winnable fight.

Do you have personal myths?  Do you know what they are and recognize them when they rise up?  Have any techniques for dealing with them that you’d like to share?

 

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No Carb, Low Carb, Carb Cycling

After I had weight loss surgery and food was slowly added back in to my diet (Takes time for the stomach to heal.), my doctor was adamant that I should stay away from carbohydrates, including fruit.  No breads, potatoes, rice, pasta, crackers.  None of it.  All those foods would only impede my weight loss.

I was able to maintain that for a while, but eventually I got fed up.  (Pardon the pun.)   Yes, I know that eating too much of those things can, indeed, slow down weight loss, I think it’s really asking a lot of someone to completely evict those foods from their lives.

It’s doable, trust me, I know this.  Back in 1981 or so, I went a year eating nothing but 9 ounces of protein and a cup of leafy or cruciferous vegetables a day.  I lost 100  pounds, which was great.  However, I no doubt messed up my metabolism and body in the effort.  (It was a medically supervised program, but still, I wouldn’t recommend anything that stringent and restrictive again to anyone.)  Of course, as soon as I stopped doing the program — to be honest when I could no longer force myself to do it and was on the verge of insanity form it — I gained all of the weight back and more.  Yo-Yo dieting — not fun.

Anyway, after doing so well and losing a lot of weight quickly after the surgery, I got to the point where my mind, body and spirit started to rebel against the strict rules.    I just wanted to eat like a “normal” person which meant everything in balance.

I could do without rice and pasta, but, darn it all, I really like bread and just wanted to eat some of it sometimes.  And fruit!  If I was drastically cutting back on chocolate and other kinds of desserts, it became sort of cruel to expect me to not eat any fruit.

Over time, this whole carb struggle thing has really messed with my head.  I don’t have good perspective about them.  If I eat what I call “junk” carbs — white bread, pasta, crackers, white rice — I feel like I have totally blown my efforts.  Then I feel enormous guilt.  This usually leads to me eating more of the stuff because, at that point, if I’ve blown it for the day why stop?

This is not healthy for mind, body or spirit either.

That said, I also rationally and logically know that I’m not going to lose weight if I eat too many carbs, any more than if I eat huge amounts of refined sugar and huge wedges of triple chocolate cake for every meal.  Everything in moderation.

The problem right now is that I don’t trust the “everything in moderation” approach.  Actually, I don’t trust myself to maintain the “in moderation” part day by day and still lose weight.

As I’ve launched myself into this DietBet game for the next four weeks, I’ve been reading everything on the site as well as the blog posts by Heidi and Chris Powell, comments by other dietbetters, etc.  The Powells use a method called carb cycling when they work with their clients on Extreme Weight Loss.  I have not yet ordered their book but from what I read on the blog, they suggest alternating days between low carb days and high carb days with a reward day on Sunday.

A high carb day does not mean go crazy and eat nothing but carbs, but if someone has more than they would on a carb restricted plan, it’s okay.  On the low carb days, cut way back on the junk carbs.

I’m explaining this in a very simple way since I haven’t read up on it extensively, just enough to get the gist.  The idea of carb cycling makes a lot of sense to me, particularly the ability to plan and give myself permission to, wow, have some pasta at dinner one night or half a sandwich at lunch and not feel like I just trashed my health for the rest of my life.

The Powells think that the alternating days process also helps a person stay on their plan.  It’s as if it helps someone talk themselves out of having that cheat carb if they know that the following day is a high carb day and it would be okay.

You probably already guessed that I’m taking carb cycling for a test ride.  Yesterday was a “high carb” day.  A friend and I ate Mediterranean food.  I actually allowed myself to eat some of the pita that was wrapped around the meat I’d ordered.  Shocker of all, I ate some potatoes with my meal.

For today’s “low carb” day, I stayed away from junk carbs and the fruit that I had was on point.  I had good quantity of salad and veggies along with my dinner, too.  I have to admit that a yen for something like bread or rice crossed my mind a few dozen times a day.  When the thought came to me, I considered the issue, what I want and my goals for the day and decided not to give in.  I reminded myself that tomorrow is a “high carb” day and if I want to plan in a little starch of some sort, it’s okay.  I’m not dooming myself to fail.

It’s so important to have a good, healthy knowledge and perspective.  Once I think I’ve screwed up, it’s hard for me to reverse the evil thoughts for the day.  I know as I continue on this weight loss journey, that I really need to keep working on my relationship and thought processes with food.

What’s that old Yogi Berra quote?  90% of the game is half mental.  So it is with weight loss and healthy eating lifestyles.

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Conversation Comparison

This is what a conversation in my head sounds like when I’m in disease and obsessed with food:

(While driving home from work.)  “What do I have to eat for dinner? Do I have anything in the house to eat?  What am I hungry for?  I could stop for take out from that new Mediterranean place.  Gyro.  Spanikopita.  Baklava! Oh, wait.  I have leftover spaghetti squash with tomato meat sauce and fresh ricotta.  I should eat that.  Healthy.  But it’s Italian.  I should have bread.  I haven’t had any.  Did I eat other carbs today?  I need bread.  I don’t have any bread in the house.  I’ll top and get some.  Crusty chewy Italian bread.  (Begin imagining myself tearing off a thick hunk from the loaf and slathering it with soft butter.)  Dessert.  Do I have dessert?  Lots of fresh fruit.  But I want chocolate.  I can practically taste chocolate.  I must have some chocolate.  Cookies?  No, maybe ice cream.  Ohh, that gelato!”

This is not a work of fiction.  I had this conversation earlier today in between work and the acupuncturist’s office. Exhausting, not to mention damaging.  From one thought to the next, I can totally veer off of my healthy food plan and fall into compulsion.   Plus, that’s just one conversation.  In the course of a day, when I’m in full compulsive eating disorder mode, I have those internal chats frequently throughout the day.  They build on themselves like a snowball rolling down hill gathers more snow and more snow, getting bigger and bigger and bigger.  The more momentum the compulsion gets, the less resistance I have and the more likely I am to go from trigger point to the actual act of eating or overeating.

As I said in the previous post, I saw some real easing of compulsive thought in the past week, but I won’t pretend for a nanosecond that a single acupuncture session can fix me.  Nothing will ever fix me.  It can hopefully be an effective weapon in my anti-disease arsenal, however.  So, I pulled into the acupuncturist’s office, which distracted me from the obsessive food chatter in my head.  We talked for a few minutes.  I recapped everything that I’d felt/experienced in the last week post-the initial session.  Then I stretched out on the table while she inserted the needles to help continue the heel and tendon healing, reduce knee pain, and work with my cravings and compulsions.  I relaxed into the treatment, breathing and being mindful and present in my body and mind.

She’d told me to be aware if I felt anything in my body during treatment like twinges, aches, pains or anything.  Those could signify blocks releasing and opening up to let the internal energy flow.  About mid-way through, my knees began to warm and my flesh felt a little like it was experiencing a low modulating vibration.  It was comfortable and lovely, actually, so I continued to relax and enjoy.  A short time later, the needles in my right ear which are for the food cravings and weight issues started to hurt a little.  It was not the same pleasant sensation, but I remembered not to constrict and fight it.  I breathed deeply and expanded into the feeling.  Before long, the discomfort faded away.  I also felt a little pricking feeling in my left foot, right in the area where the doctor inserted the needle at last week’s plasma injection in order to treat the tendon.  It felt like it had a needle in it, but I didn’t remember the acupuncturist inserting one at that spot.  More breathing, expanding, noting.

When the practitioner returned, I told her about all that I’d felt.  No, she hadn’t put a needle in my left foot at that spot.  It was a sign that the healing energy was getting to the necessary spot.  All of the signs were promising.

When my session was done, I walked next door to my manicure appointment.  I was decidedly more mellow and relaxed.  My nail tech friend and I had a nice chat while she did my nails.  A co-worker dropped in to say hello after finishing her acupuncture session.  It was fun.

I got in my car and had this conversation with myself on my way down the highway:

“Oh right.  I still need to fix dinner when I get home.  I was going to stop for that Italian bread.”  (Pause.)

(Pause)  “I like this song that’s playing.”

(Pause.)

“I don’t really want that bread.  I’ll just go home and have that spaghetti squash.  Don’t need that chocolate either.  I have all that fruit.”

Definitely less obsessed with food and a whole lot less compulsive.  This is what it’s like for me when I’m in a good place, when I have time between the inciting/trigger thought and the actual action of eating.

I can’t quite bring myself to 100% believe that the acupuncture treatment has this capability, but I am definitely optimistic about it.

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Calmer and Less Compulsive

Behind me, in the kitchen, the pressure cooker is blowing its steamy, rhythmic whistle.  Inside is a stuffed artichoke that will be my dinner.  Do you like artichokes?  I love them.  My favorite preparation is to do a little mix of bread crumbs, garlic powder and grated parmesan and then spoon a little into the base of each leaf.  I think cook it in the pressure cooker for 15 minutes and take out a tender creation.  Leaf by leaf, I pluck it and scrape the veggie to the bottom.  Yum!

I’m a big fan of using the pressure cooker.  It cuts off so much cooking time for a variety of things.  Usually it takes about 45 minutes to an hour to steam or boil a whole artichoke.  15 minutes in the pressure cooker.  I’ve done stuffed pork chops that come out moist and tender also in 15 minutes — a third of the time.  Last week I cooked beets.  I’ve done short ribs that fell off the bone.  This method of cooking also packs in the moisture so foods don’t get dry and tough.

Anyway, if you’ve cooked in a pressure cooker and have a recipe to share, I’d love to read it!

On to the blog post topic.  Tomorrow is a week since I had the acupuncture treatment.  My next one is tomorrow.  I’ve been out of the boot since Sunday and my followup appointment with the foot doc is also tomorrow.  I can happily report that I have experienced tremendous reduction in pain in my left heel and tendon.  So the combination of the plasma rich platelet therapy and the acupuncture is definitely working.  I’m adding in the effects of acupuncture, even if I only had one treatment, because I also was treated for pain in my right knee and, wow, has there been a big, noticeable difference!  So, I’m definitely a believer in the effectiveness of acupuncture!

You probably recall that I also spoke to the practitioner about my eating disorder.  I cannot claim that the treatment has completely removed the compulsion this week, but there has definitely been improvement here, too.  I am not obsessing so much about food.  Food and eating are not constantly on my mind.  I’m able to put some distance between a trigger and action which give me a chance to not act on the trigger and eat.

Perfect?  No.  Much better?  Yes, for sure.  Overall, these improvements lead to me being much calmer about myself and my disease which is also greatly beneficial.  It makes me feel better and healthier overall when I don’t feel like the disease is controlling me or that I’m locked into a downward spiral of eating-eating-eating.   It’s not a miracle and I don’t expect a total fix.  However, if the acupuncture treatments continue to help, it gives me peace and the ability to follow the healthy food plan; the healthy course of action.

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Emotional or Physical Damage – Which is Worse?

The physical and emotional damage of having an eating disorder are both horrible.  They’re also tightly connected and the effects of one have a strong impact on the other.

Earlier today, I was on the phone with someone I’ve known since I was in college.  She too has battled an eating disorder for most of her life.  While I don’t see or talk to her often, when we do we know that each of us “gets” it.  We were catching up with each other today.  Her husband is battling cancer.  As his wife, helper, chief support system, she’s working very hard to keep herself on track too.  “I have too,” she said.  “If I get into the food, I can’t be present for him, for anybody.”

I talked about how I’ve been struggling with the compulsion but am in there fighting.  I shared the insight I had a few weeks ago about how when I first got down to this weight I was delighted and excited.  Now that I’m at this number because I gained some weight, I’m not happy about it.

She said that the self-hatred we experience when we’re in our disease is the worst aspect of having an eating disorder.  I agree.  Most people might eat too much ice cream, cake or potato chips and feel the physical discomfort of being too full or bloated or queasy.  Those of us with an eating disorder feel those things — with a heaping helping of self-directed anger, loathing, dismay, and sadness piled on top.

Then, all of those emotions erode our confidence and make us feel so terrible that we want to medicate and anesthetize the feelings.  Our drug of choice is food and the destructive ways in which we eat.  We rip into ourselves, call ourselves horrible things and treat ourselves with so little love and kindness.  Overeating or compulsive eating, combined with the emotional backlash really results in a harsh form of self-abuse.

It goes without saying that if we are stuck in this behavior for long periods of time, we create physical damage.  Pounds pack on.  We become obese and can trigger numerous co-morbidities.  Over time, carting around excess weight strains our body, damages our joints, stresses our organs, creates conditions that shorten our life-expectancy.

Right now, I’m still overweight, but far less so than before I had surgery.  I don’t have the co-morbidities of Type II diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure any more.  I’m more physically fit.  So, in truth, the physical effects of my eating disorder are less prevalent.  For now.  I am ever conscious that I can lose this state of grace.

Overall, I am much more damaged emotionally by the current struggle.  When I feel bad about myself, I want to eat more to bury the feelings.  That just makes everything even worse.  So, while I continue to work on refraining from eating compulsively, I also consciously focus attention on what I think and feel about myself.  Equal attention to both these aspects of my disease are the only way in which I can recover.

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