Weighty Matters

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Not Letting Disease Win

Yesterday at work I experienced a scene with a person (not a co-worker or friend) who went from 0 to 25 on the anger scale in the space of three heartbeats. I tried to diffuse it, did my best to work with this person, but the bottom line was that I could not give him the one thing that he wanted and nothing else mattered to him. He was completely unable to see reason.

I’m a fairly tough cookie when needed. I’ve had people yell at me and attempt to bully and intimidate me and it doesn’t work. I have my coping strategies firmly in place. (This wasn’t the case 20 some years ago, but I’ve learned since then.) For whatever reason, maybe it was the lightning fast reaction of his, this situation really got to me.

It affected me all day. I could feel it in my clenched gut and the constant ache behind my eyes. Driving home with a friend, we talked about it and I mentioned that I’d love nothing more than to dive into a half of a pound of chocolate walnut fudge. My friend wisely reminded me that doing so would mean letting the guy and the situation win.

I’m trying to hold onto the concept of not letting my disease win. (I didn’t dive into a vat of fudge last night, but did indulge in some cookies, unfortunately.) I think it will do me good for the time being to think of my disease as an opponent battling me for my health and envision myself as a warrior. I like that kind of self-empowerment.

So, for today, I am waging war against my disease, against the compulsion to eat inappropriately. I will not let my disease win.

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Stopping the Slide

A lot of what Chrissy said in her comment to my Funk-ytown post really resonated. Recovery requires attention to all three aspects – physical, emotionally and spiritually. Spirituality does not necessarily mean formal religion. It means different things to different people whether their Higher Power is God, Allah, Buddah, the Universe, or a higher consciousness of their own self. For me, mostly, it’s God. Sometimes it’s an intangible state of being I think of as my healthy-non-diseased mental state.

Whatever the case, I need to reconnect with my Higher Power in order to stop this slide. Allow me just to say that today I physically feel like utter crap and that’s a direct result of too many days in a row of eating off of my plan. Emotionally and mentally I’m still down, although I had a nice time last night — which I’ll share about later in this post.

I’m trying to take care of myself. Thanks to the forethought of arranging for a dogsitter to stay in my house last night while I went to Key West for the function, I was able to sleep in a little this morning. Staying in bed until almost 9 a.m. felt really good. I woke up to a beautiful morning, so beautiful in fact that it would have been a perfect day to take out the boat with friends. However, I didn’t rush to come back home. I realized that while I would have loved to be out on the water, I really didn’t want to be around a lot of people today. I feel like I have been surrounded by others without a break for too many days in a row. Don’t get me wrong, I like being social and enjoy the company of others at work and in my various other pursuits. It’s just that when I’m already feeling the effects of energy drain, I hit a wall.

So, today I decided that I would rather soak up some solitude hanging around the house with Nat and Pyxi. I also would treat myself to new spring flowers for my porch planters and rejuvenate my herb planter. This was another way of taking care of myself. With that decision made before I left the hotel this morning, I was in a calmer, more relaxed state of mind on the drive up home.

Perhaps that’s what opened me up to understanding why my funk and slide are prolonged. Lately, I’m experiencing a resuscitation of some co-dependency issues. Co-dependency kicks off my eating disorder because food and overeating were always my coping mechanisms. Destructive and not always effective, still, it’s how I coped.

I haven’t run up against a situation where I would experience co-dependency in the two-plus years that I’ve lived in recovery on my weight loss and health-reclamation journey. I’m not surprised that I didn’t recognize this right away, but now that I have the signs are very clear to me. Now that I know, it’s time, as Chrissy said, to jump horses on the carousel and look for help from my spiritual self and my Higher Power.

This is not something that I can resolve with an extra bike ride, although the endorphins help. I need to make the conscious decision to turn the problem, the situation, and my reaction to it, over to my Higher Power. Turning it over is another means of letting go of it. It requires admitting that the situation is not something over which I have any control, nor am I required to fix it.

My responsibility in this is to take care of myself. I need to stay aware of how the situation affects me and, when I feel its influence, not take that influence into myself but turn it over and let it go. It’s another kind of mindfulness, to realize how other people/places/things/situations can impact my health — if I permit them to. This aspect of my recovery requires help from my Higher Power, but I have to make the conscious choice to ask. Doing so will help me stop this slide and get back on the road to recovery.

Okay, now back to last night. A few weeks ago, I talked about finding a couple of new dresses for upcoming events and then also ordering some heels. Last night was one of the events. I had fun socializing with a large group of people whose company I enjoy. We talked, laughed, and danced a lot. It’s not easy to take a flattering picture of myself with my phone in a mirror, but hopefully you can get an idea. I think I looked great in one of my new dresses. (Please ignore the slightly strange facial expression. I was focused on trying to get the photo.)

newdress

This was the debut of one of the new pairs of shoes, too. First time that I’ve worn more than a kitten heel in forever. They were pretty and comfortable (for most of the night anyway). I slipped them off a few times, as did some of my friends with their heels, but I was never in pain. As I discussed in that earlier post, I haven’t owned a lot of really pretty shoes in my life. If I keep having this kind of success, I might become a late blooming shoe addict. What do you think?

Shoes

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Taking You to Funk-ytown

That title contains a little bit of a local joke. A little bit across the water from my house is a house on a point of land. The people that own it fixed up the outdoor area with a little dance floor and sound system. Quite often music drifts out over the harbor – classic rock, old country, their tastes are varied. They also like to occasionally pump up the jam with disco and other dance music to which they also often sing. If you can call the caterwauling singing. Seriously, it’s the worst karaoke ever to the point where it’s laughable if you have a sense of humor or reason to call the deputies and invoke the late night noise ordinance if your ears can’t take it. The woman is particularly fond of shrieking along to, “Won’t you take me to Funkytown?” That was never the most melodious tune and it’s nine-fighting-cats-in-heat bad when she takes the microphone.

My Funk-ytown is different as in, I’m in a funk and have been for days. I thought I would be finished with just a one day buzz crash, but emotionally, physically, and food-wise, I’ve had a rough week. Put all three of those aspects on a downturn at the same time and they feed each other, which only makes me feel worse. Then it wipes me out so that I not only feel bad, I’m exhausted. Last night I was so tired that I fell asleep in my chair sometime after 9 p.m., woke up as Scandal was starting and was so muzzy-brained that I just turned off the television and crawled into bed. I woke up a couple of times in the night but fell right back asleep. Even with enough hours of sleep time logged, when my alarm went off at 6 a.m., I absolutely did not want to get up and go for a walk or bike ride. So I didn’t. I watched the DVR recording of Scandal instead. To digress a moment, if you’re a fan of the show like I am, allow me to virtually shriek, “OMG!! Cyrus is soulless!”

Anyway, there’s tiredness where I don’t feel like I can get enough sleep. Sluggishness from not exercising. Add in stress over a situation at work. Mix in some extra achyness — probably from being tired and holding onto stress. It all has the effect of stirring up my hunger. Big time. Around lunch, I was absolutely ravenous.

That alone is very strange. I usually only feel hungry when it’s appropriate for me to feel so, as in enough hours have passed since I ate something that the right amount of hunger signals me that it’s time for me to eat. Ever since my surgery, I don’t really feel severe hunger and certainly never the, “I could eat a small pony” degree.

This tells me that the, “Oh my goodness, I am STARVING” experience wasn’t physical hunger — at least not all of it. I think it was a bit of actual hunger dramatically magnified by my emotions. I then fed the anxiousness with lots of negative emotions and thoughts. Things like, “You’re eating off plan and you deliberately didn’t exercise. OMG, you’re relapsing. Your motivation is gone. You’re going to gain back all of your weight!!!!”

I don’t 100% know for sure what’s going on with me that I’m having all this emotional reaction and eating. What I’m trying to do to combat is to be aware of what I’m feeling and experiencing and sort out the truth from the disease thinking and acting. I remind myself that there are bound to be highs and lows on this journey. I don’t need to be perfect all of the time. I just need to strive for doing as best I can. I need to observe what’s going on around me, understand how it affects me and how often I let it affect my choices and behavior. Above all, I need to tell myself that this is a setback, not a road block. It’s a challenging time but it isn’t going to wreck me and screw up all of the fabulous progress I’ve made and success I’ve achieved.

I might visit Funkytown, but I’m not going to take up residence.

There’s probably more I can write on this topic and, certainly, more to explore. Unfortunately, no lie, I nodded off while typing a few sentences back. The sleepiness is upon me again so it’s time for me to listen to my brain and body and go to bed.

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Food Associations

I treated myself to some new technology at home in the form of an AppleTV gizmo. I also signed up for a subscription to MLB.TV. Together, these things allow me to watch Phillies games on my television. I’m a big fan of baseball and the Phillies are my team. All of the years that I lived up home in SoJersey, we watched baseball games on television all season long. Before the time that they broadcast the games on the tube, we used to listen to them on the radio. I’ve missed that practice in the years that I’ve lived in Florida when the only times I could see the Phillies were when they played the FL Marlins or the occasional game on ESPN or Fox.

Tonight’s game is on while I type this. I was thinking about the years when we also had season tickets to Veterans Stadium for 16 games each season. I always wanted a ball park hot dog at those games. That was a strong association of a particular food with a particular activity. Each of us probably has countless associations that we make like popcorn at the movie theater, cake on a birthday, or turkey at Thanksgiving. Many of us can also add family traditions, like my family’s practice of making Pizza frita (fried dough) on Christmas morning. I have friends who never go out fishing without picking up fried chicken from a particular convenience store.

There used to be a great little family-owned Cuban restaurant in town. For years I ordered the same meal whenever I went to this restaurant — pork chunks with yellow rice, black beans and fried plantains. It got to be funny because I’d go with my mom and say that I really should try something else sometime, but the favorite tradition always won out.

I’ve noticed that I also have food and eating behaviors associated with certain places, activities and other things. Cookies in the kitchen at work are a guaranteed trigger for me. It’s like I have to eat one (or two).

I don’t think that the food associations are necessarily bad, except when they are. :-) By that I mean that if I’m aware of the association and make the food or eating choice mindfully with full awareness — and incorporate it into my overall eating plan, it can be a positive activity. If I don’t use the associations as a trigger to overeat, or eat compulsively, then it’s not automatically unhealthy. The key is being mindful and aware.

Eating by rote just because of the ingrained, often long term, association can be a dangerous, slippery slope. One needs to be aware of the association or habit in order to effect positive change, or counteract the trigger. For example, I used to automatically throw a candy bar onto the belt at the supermarket checkout. There’s a reason they put those rows of candy bars in that location! It didn’t matter if I wanted the chocolate before I got to the store or not. Most of the time, I hadn’t even thought about it on my way to the supermarket. When I hit the checkout line, I had associated the experience with also buying and later consuming, the chocolate bar.

I’m mindful about it now. I still want it most times, but I can resist the trigger of the association and choose a different behavior — ignoring the chocolate, completing checkout, and leaving the store.

This reminds me of something the coaches warned us about when I went through a smoking cessation program more than 27 years ago. We learned that smokers frequently lit up cigarettes because of the place or situation and not because they had an urge to smoke right at that particular moment. I rapidly noticed that I automatically lit a cigarette whenever I got into my car or sat down at my desk. (Back in the early 80s, most offices still permitted smoking.) When I went out to a rock club with friends, invariably I’d have a drink in one hand and a cigarette in another. Once I was made aware of the practice, I became adept at identifying the “association moments”. Eventually I learned to counter them, much like I’ve learned with the checkout candy bar rack.

Not sure if I’ll have the same success in other situations. Movie popcorn is a powerful lure. I can only try and do my best, or at the very least, take a look at my plan for the day and adjust so that I can enjoy the treat. Either action — resisting or working it into the plan – requires awareness and conscious thought. Those things can trump the automatic reaction because of long term association. I can work with that.

Do you have any food associations? Care to share?

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The Buzz Crash

Remember that “riding the buzz” feeling that I had? I appear to have crashed a bit. I can’t seem to roll my butt out of bed at 6 a.m. for my full dose of early morning exercise. Last night I fell asleep in my chair while watching television. I woke up, briefly thought about writing a blog, and almost immediately realized that the best course of action was to go right to bed and fall asleep again. Today felt like more of the same.

Maybe I’m trying to play catch up. Honestly, I’m not sure. All I know is that I’m tired through and through. I’m also moody as all get out. Is it possible to experience hormonal fluctuations even two years post-menopause?

Okay, so I won’t blame hormones for my swinging mood. Instead, I’ll chalk it up to the buzz crash. While I’m experiencing this, I have also noticed that food cravings frequently connect to state of mind/emotional balance. When I’m down and tired, I want to eat stuff that really won’t do me any good — like junk carbs and sugar. I would be extremely happy right now with some homemade cinnamon toast. Toasted white bread, spread with butter, and then sprinkled with a mixture of white sugar and ground cinnamon. No nutritional value whatsoever. Quite the opposite, in fact, but it’s delicious.

Good thing I don’t have any bread in the house. Saved from my own cravings!

My blah is not helped by the fact that it rained when I got home from work and was still raining after Tai Chi class so I didn’t get out for an evening walk. Even though I haven’t overeaten, my body feels like I have because I haven’t exercised to the extent that I would have otherwise.

Oh wah wah wah. You know what I just realized? When I’m tired, moody and crashing off of a buzz, I turn into a whiney beast. Just ignore me, okay? I’m going to relax in a hot tub and resolve to be much improved in body, mind and spirit tomorrow.

Thanks for listening.

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Rule #1 – Don’t Be Lazy

I woke up a few minutes before 6:00 a.m. today, when it was still dark outside. My right knee, which is the trouble one, was extra stiff and sort of sore. I walked close to 14,000 steps yesterday and, as previously discovered, that’s pushing it for that knee. I didn’t want to take my morning walk and was thisclose to going back to bed for half an hour. Then I thought to myself, “Rule #1 on this fitness thing is ‘Don’t be lazy’.” Rule #2, in case you’re wondering is, “Remember Rule #1″.

I dressed in my workout clothes, laced on the sneaks, and took the dogs outside. I realized that the wind wasn’t blowing as much as it predicted on my phone app. So, happily for myself and my knee, I got on my bicycle instead and pedaled off for eight miles. Not being lazy, getting in a good ride, brightened me up and energized me. The activity also loosened up my knee so that I could take the dogs for their walk, without pain, when I got back.

While we walked on this lovely cool morning as streaks of pink and purple began to lighten the sky, I thought of what I’d have missed if I’d gone back to bed. It wasn’t even just about today, but about the overarching journey.

Don’t be lazy. If I make a choice for a good reason, that’s okay. Being lazy isn’t a good enough reason for me. In my twisted brain, it’s okay for me to have an overall lazy day, as long as I don’t totally trash my efforts. By the same token, if I’d been seriously hurt, it absolutely have been okay for me to take the day off and rest it. I guess I’ll say, too, that if riding my bike had not been an option, then it would not have been lazy for me to not take a long walk when my knee was stiff and sore. However, the bike ride was an option which would not hurt my knee, so going back to bed would have been the lazy choice.

Does that sound crazy or does it make sense?

Anyway, I’m going to hold on to “Don’t be lazy” as a “rule”, a mantra if you will. Now that I am so much more physically fit, my body isn’t the barricade to activity. So, my thought process can present the biggest challenge. If I listen. I don’t have to pay attention to it, now do I?

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Food Isn’t the Problem

I have a cold. I felt like crap all day, bad enough to stay home from work. I stayed home from work but didn’t refrain from working. Considering the sneezing, stuffy head, fuzzy brain and general tiredness, I was actually very productive and got a lot done. I was not, however, physically active. For the first time in months I have gone two days without reaching my minimum commitment of 10,000 steps. I feel sluggish. Even though I have more than enough reason to have not fulfilled my physical fitness goals the last two days, mentally I’m struggling with it. I’m sure that I’ll improve as soon as I get back on the step count, but it does me good to share this stuff. Thanks for listening.

While I was working from home today I had on the television. I sort of half listened during the Dr. Oz show, but in that hour I heard something that struck home. I’m sure I’ve heard it before, but it was excellent timing for me to hear it again today. The doctors were talking about the growing number of heroin addicts and the different prescription drugs that are hydrocodone related in different strengths, the addiction problems, etc. One doctor said that in the lives of addicts, the drugs are not the problem. The drugs are the solution. What a strong, important point. From my perspective, food and my way of previous diseased eating are not the problems. They are what I used to cope or bury the real issues. They’re the ways that I tried to solve my issues.

Sometimes it’s difficult to separate out these things. Even though a drug addict might know that he/she turned to drugs for an emotional reason doesn’t mean their bodies don’t physically become hooked. Same thing with me. I can get hooked on the behavior of stuffing my feelings with food or bingeing on certain foods because of their carb, fat or sugar content. So, I can’t ignore that, while food isn’t the root problem, it became a secondary problem at some point. So, until I “got clean”, I couldn’t clear my head and emotions enough to work on the motivating issues.

Some might think that getting clean is the hard part, but the real work begins after. That’s why it was so important for me to understand that the vertical sleeve gastrectomy — the bariatric surgery — would only be a tool to help me control my overeating behavior, which I’d not been able to sustain control over in the past for any significant amount of time. The hardest work is picking through the emotional and psychological issues that make me run to food. All of the time I need to remember that I cannot rely on food to be anything more than food. It needs to not be a problem or a solution.

The work is hard, but it’s important. It’s also possible as long as I keep at it.

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Not Skinny

Every once in a while someone tells me how skinny I’m getting, how skinny I look, or they call me “Skinny Minny”.

For the record, even when I get to goal weight, I will not be skinny. I could go 15 pounds below my goal weight and I still wouldn’t be skinny. It’s not my shape. I’m curvy and big boned. Understanding that I will never be skinny does not upset me in the least. The word, the description, does not call up a lovely image in my mind’s eye. It doesn’t sound flattering to me.

It makes me wonder why people have to assign a label to body descriptions?

The problem is that I can’t go up and ask people I know to stop using the term. Okay, I could but I’ve learned that co-workers and acquaintances don’t get it. My good friends understand. They offer encouragement. They reinforce that I’m looking great or tell me that they’re proud of me for my effort and exercise, but the people closest to me don’t hang a label on me. I appreciate that always, but even more so when I’ve heard the skinny thing.

The people who use it mean well. They are happy for me and want to be supportive. If I say anything to them, some of them get very offended, as if I don’t appreciate their support. I find that I need to not flinch and just smile and say thank you. So, that’s what I do, then I come here and bitch about it process what I’m feeling.

Thanks for listening. :-)

Before I end, I wanted to share something. This morning I woke up and decided that I would decree today would be the great start to a terrific week. I invite everyone to join me in this attitude choice. Who’s in? Let’s put that energy out into the universe and see what we can manifest!

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Nourishing Recovery

Feeding my recovery is as important as feeding my body. It’s sometimes more difficult. Protein, veggies, fruit, fluids, the occasional carbs, good fats — that kind of nourishment I understand and everything is readily accessible. Figuring out the nourishment for my emotional and mental recovery is challenging because what I need changes and it isn’t something I can find at the supermarket.

I’m still focusing on the “success breeds success” idea. By acknowledging each positive step, every good day on my food plan, making my daily exercise goals, I positively reinforce myself for my own effort. It’s like a self-delivered pat on the back and “atta girl” instead of a head slap. This nourishes the mental aspect of my recovery. When I do it successfully, it helps me do it successfully again the next time.

I guess it’s the emotional aspects that are the most challenging to feed and reinforce. Maybe it’s more that they can be the most uncomfortable to examine and then develop new ways of feeling and reacting which leads to improved, healthier choices. Choosing an attitude of gratitude first thing in the morning helps. Feeling grateful sets me up in a good way and opens up my spirit. Owning my awesomeness might have sounded cutesy to some, but it’s serious stuff to me. As confident as I am in many areas of my life, I can backslide into esteem issues.

Recognizing the challenges and setting up a proactive mindset usually impacts my emotions. Thinking of things for which I’m grateful, leads to voicing those things and that creates the positive emotion. If I acknowledge an awesome thing about myself — whether it’s an ability, an attitude, an — and really own it, that makes it real and keeps my esteem and the way I feel about myself at a good, steady level.

Even choosing this as a topic matters. It reinforces the importance of tending my recovery, nourishing it with everything that it needs to grow and thrive. My recovery isn’t just important. It’s important. Without it, my life and health can disintegrate. I want to always remember this and keep putting the emphasis on it that it deserves and needs. That I need.

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Own Your Awesome

Years ago in OA, I learned that binge can be an acronym for B.elieving I.’m N.ot G.ood E.nough. That perfectly applied to me. I had lousy self-esteem and, as I’ve discussed here before, never really felt like anything I did or accomplished was good enough. Nothing was as good as it could have or should have been. I wasn’t smart enough or charming enough; my personality and persona weren’t attractive or nice or funny enough. I was obese so, naturally, I wasn’t pretty enough. The answer I never quite figured out was the comparison point, the yardstick against which I unceasingly measured myself and decided I was lacking.

It took me a long, long, freaking-long time to accept that I’m not just good enough, I am more than good enough. In fact, I am capable of being absolutely awesome.

Okay, I just fought a little battle with myself over that last sentence. I wondered whether I should delete it or leave it. Since you read it, you know which choice won — and that’s the whole point of this blog post.

I need to own my awesome. Everybody does, but this blog is about me. For now anyway. I’ll get to the rest of you in a minute. :-)

Today I was able to finish the project that’s been driving me nuts and causing me stress for the last couple of weeks. This was outside my normal job responsibilities but our president asked me to take it on for our national organization because it needed to be done and done well. She asked me to do the project because she knows I’m awesome and would get it done. For a lot of those decades that I believed I wasn’t good enough, there were many people in my life who thought differently. They believed in me, loved me, thought the absolute best of me but I could never internalize that into self-belief and good self-esteem.

These days, I promise, I’m not turning into some egotistical blowhard but I think that it’s healthy to understand our own awesomeness. In fact, I think it’s absolutely necessary. If we don’t acknowledge, accept, internalize, celebrate and own our awesomeness, we damage ourselves. For whatever reason that I developed the crappy self-esteem in the first place, I spent years not doing anything effective to counter it. At some point I had to take responsibility for allowing the mindset to continue. I’m going to own that too, but it’s old water under an ancient bridge, so I’m not going to beat myself up over it either. I am, however, refusing to let it dam up the flow of my recovery.

I think it will help my continued recovery if I make the time to acknowledge my good qualities. I need to remind myself of all the positive things about me so that I don’t ever fall into that believing I’m not good enough state again. If I own my awesomeness, I don’t need to overeat in order to suppress the bad feelings because, hey, I won’t feel so bad anymore.

Okay, you know that I don’t urge you all to comment, although I am always thrilled when someone does. I know that you’re here reading, even if you lurk. However, I’m going to take part in a little exercise and I would absolutely love it if you all would participate with me. Let’s all own our awesomeness and list some examples.

I’ll go first. I rock my job. I’m a loyal friend. I demonstrate caring even to strangers at the store or on the street. I’m not afraid to try new experiences. I look for ways to positively reinforce and empower other people.

Those are five ways that I’m awesome. What are five ways that you can claim? Come on now, please share them with us so that we can all celebrate together.

Own your awesomeness!

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