Weighty Matters

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Searching for Focus

I’m having the devil of a time staying focused today.  I don’t feel like I stayed on task or could maintain much concentration at work.  Luckily, I did not have multiple projects on deadline today.

That said, this morning I was able to zero in on a killer workout.  So, I’ll give myself some points in that department.

Overall, I’ve done pretty good on my food plan for the last three days.  I’ve given myself permission to switch meal choices during the day a couple of times, but have not given in to compulsively eating stuff at times other than my usual three snacks/three meals.  I’ve also been exercising.  In addition to rowing/strength class Monday and today, I also got Natty out for at least one 30 minute walk each day.  I’d like to try for two on days that I don’t row, but the weather has not cooperated with that plan.  I also rode my bike up to the store yesterday as a little extra exercise.

One foot in front of the other, searching for each day to be a little better or easier than the day before.   Natty and I cuddle a lot at home which is, I believe, good for both of us.

This post could go longer, but that lack of focus thing is coming into play.  Rather than force myself and break into typed-babble, I’ll end.  Before I do, thank you again for all of your kind words and support.  I appreciate all of you very much.

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Turning a Corner

Warning.  I’m blue and down on myself.  Understandable, considering Friday.  This is compounded by not having been pristine on my food plan.  Yes, I’m still cutting myself some slack, but falling off the wagon affects me emotionally as well as physically.

At some point over the weekend, I was mulling over things and suddenly thought, “You know, the last five months have had a lot of suck in them.”  In early May I had the car accident.  Soon after that, the plantar fasciitis got really severe and I started getting treated.  Then I get that handled and my dogs get sick.  (Natty had a battle with a persistent ear infection while Pyxi had the bladder infection.) In the middle of all this, we discover that one of my boat engines is blown and can’t be repaired so I have to start the process of arranging finances to buy a new one.   Pyxi gets worse, can’t recover, and we have to say goodbye.

Through it all I was also in a pretty significant relapse into my eating disorder and food addiction.  Add it all up, and yes, it weighs more heavily on the suckitude side.

I don’t like to wallow.  When I wallow, I get more mired into food and inappropriate eating.  I start to not want to get my ass off of my couch and move.  My whole attitude drags down and that affects my spirit.

So, I’m working on lifting myself up.  It’s okay for me to still be sad about Pyxi.  Grief has its own timetable, but I have to keep moving.  Not only do I need it, but so does Natty.  I think he put on the weight that his sister lost.  He is definitely more pudgy than he should be.  Yes, I’ve embraced the rowing classes and I am not going to let myself make excuses to not go.  I’ve booked my three classes for the week already.  My food wasn’t great this weekend, but I can climb back up onto the wagon and eat right again.  Back to the basics — pre-planning my meals, logging my food, working program, reaching out to the support groups.

I’m also getting in touch with my gratitude.  No matter how bleak or upset or towered I feel, there are always reasons to be grateful.  I think I mentioned a long time ago that when my mother was dying, before I went to bed each night I would think of five things for which to be grateful.  Sometimes I really had to dig and search but I’d find five things.  I can’t explain why doing this helped me, but it did.  It got me through.

So, for today, here are five things for which I am grateful:

  • Nat.  He is a warm, fluffy, hug-me-Mommy, cuddle-pup and this comforts me.  We have each other.
  • The overwhelming love and support shown to me by friends, family, co-workers, blog readers, just everyone.
  • The willingness, opportunity, and physical ability to work out or take walks.
  • The Philadelphia Eagles won today!
  • The knowledge that no matter how badly I think I screwed up with my eating this weekend, returning to recovery is as close and simple as the next choice.  I can get back up on that wagon and I will.



Truly Feeling the Emotions

Pyxi and I are plugging along.  You know, I feel like I should apologize for currently turning this into a blog about my seriously ill dog, but then again, it’s my blog.  This is what’s going on in my life and it’s what I’m dealing with so I guess everything is related.

Anyway, we’re going day by day.  Some days she seems to be a little better; some days a little worse.  Some times holding steady.  It doesn’t escape my notice that, like my program, we’re taking her illness one day at a time.

I will be honest and tell you that I am preparing myself to have to make the ultimate, difficult decision.  I love my dogs very much.  Part of that means that I will never force one to suffer because I cannot suck it up, say goodbye, and let them go with love.

This is not the first time that I’ve dealt with a beloved dog nearing the end of life.  I have been in this place before.  Heck, it’s not just pets.  My mother was very ill before she died.  I was her primary caregiver, which her pretty much 24/7 for several months.  With her wishes known, my brother and I held her medical power of attorney and were trusted by her to act on her behalf when she couldn’t.  There came a time when we knew that there was nothing medically that could be done to prolong Mom’s life.  With the help of hospice and support of family, we could prepare her and help her approach her death without pain, in the comfort and familiarity of home, surrounded by the people who love her.

So, this is not a new situation, but I have to say that I feel like I am an emotional wreck.  I do my best to keep a positive, upbeat and good energy demeanor when caring for Pyxi.  When I’m away from her and think about how she isn’t gaining ground and I could be on the verge of having to say goodbye to her, I dissolve into a crying, grieving mess.  It’s hard for me to discuss her condition with friends and family without falling apart.  Just typing it here started the waterworks again.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not trying to say that I’m usually an unfeeling, repressed person.  Far from it.  I have big emotions.  I’m passionate and expressive in my joy, enthusiasm, anger.  But, I think I’ve learned to be appropriately expressive and balanced.  Right now, I’m completely out of whack.  If I usually navigate on a mostly even keel, right now I feel like my upset is a rogue wave swamping and threatening to capsize me.

Yet, except for a couple small deviations, I’m handling the crisis without relapsing into full scale binge eating or compulsive overeating.  I’m working program, pre-planning and eating to plan, logging my food/water/exercise, and working out.  That’s all good.

I believe it’s also why my emotions are roiling so dramatically.  Stuffing great quantities of food into one’s body is one way to also stuff down emotions.  When I overeat or eat off plan, I am counteracting my feelings – negative and positive.  Food as anesthesia.  Sooo, because I’m not using food to suppress the anxiety, worry and grief, they are going to town.

With everything that’s going on, I didn’t make the connection before now.  You’d think I’d have realized it right off, but, hell, I have a lot weighing on my mind and heart.  Now I know.  I’m conscious of it, so I need to work on maintaining better balance.  I’m not saying it isn’t okay to be sad and worried.  These are normal.  I do, however, have to keep them from throwing me so out of whack that I can’t function physically and emotionally.

I need to experience the emotions and still be able to think, work, breathe, and take care of Pyxi, her brother Nat, and myself.  We are all relying on me to do so.  If the time comes that I need to consider the decision for Pyxi, I need to be able to process the facts and reality and do what is best for her.  In the aftermath, I then need to be able to continue to care for myself and Nat without sinking into relapse.

How do I do this?  I keep reaching for program and the tools with which I am so familiar.  They are always present as long as I pick them up.  I need to continue to take care of myself by following my food plan, going to my workouts, getting acupuncture, arranging for massages or other treatments.  Not shorting myself of sleep.  These things are all important to preserving my recovery and staying healthy.


Recognizing the Changes

Pyxi had an up and down weekend.  Yesterday, although she ate a couple of times during the day, she couldn’t keep it down, seemed very weak and was not at all perky.  Honestly, last night I was afraid she was going to die.  This morning, I texted our friend/vet and he met us at the clinic to administer more sub-cutaneous fluids and some anti-nausea medication.  He prepared me that she’d probably be very sedate today from the meds, which she was.  However, she also ate three small meals throughout the day and has kept it all down!  She is still turning up her cute little nose at the carbs, but as long as she eats anything and retains it, that’s something.  We’re testing her blood again tomorrow and, hopefully, her numbers will have improved.  Fingers and paws crossed!  We can consider an appetite booster which might make her more interested in a greater variety of food items or, that might happen without help if she starts to feel better.

I had a little bit of an up and down weekend with my food and, at times, I thought I was a whole lot worse than I truly was.  Thankfully, I’ve continued to log my food in my digital food diary so I can go back, read, and truly analyze my intake rationally.  This is so important because when I don’t look at things with logic and rationale, but instead view it through the distorted lens of my eating disorder, my perspective goes all screwy.

Even with Pyxi sick, I know she’s okay if I leave for an hour or two.  I don’t go for long stretches of time, so I get back to coax her with food, check if she needs anything, and so on.  I went to rowing class yesterday morning.  I had a facial mid-day.  I went to dinner last night with a friend.   These all fit under the heading of taking care of myself so that I can continue to take good care of her.

I didn’t pre-plan my exact foods for dinner.  Instead, I logged it in the morning as “reasonable dinner”.  We went to a local restaurant that I really like and I ordered food that I really like – including the brussel sprouts “chips” appetizer that I love.  We split it and brought at least half of it away in a box.  Same thing with my entree — at least half of it came home with me and will be dinner tomorrow.  They asked if we wanted dessert and I made the conscious choice to share some of that too.  A few bites were totally yummy and satisfying — and saying yes to myself actually helped emotionally.  If I’d denied myself the treat, I would have experienced resentment, grumpiness, and, most likely self-pity.  All of those could have led to me coming home and binge eating on something.

Of course, even though I completely ate reasonably and did not overeat, I still experienced several moments where I felt like I’d done poorly.  Such is the nature of my disease.  I came home and started to beat myself up and then called a halt to the negative mind-trend.  Instead I reminded myself how I’ve been taking good care of myself; how I’m being rational about my food, how I worked so hard in the morning rowing class.  I’m convinced that doing these reminders kept me from eating compulsively last night after I got home.  Being able to stop myself from disintegrating into disease behavior is a positive change.  I need to recognize these changes when they occur.  Doing so helps them take root and provide a stronger foundation for the future.

I recognized another positive change a little later in the day.  After getting back from the vet and spending a little time decompressing by reading a book while Pyxi rested, I decided to go into the pool and exercise.  I went into the bathroom to change into my swimsuit.  When I took off my shirt and started to remove my bra, I glanced in the mirror.  In that moment, I saw where the rowing classes have begun to cause some changes in my body.  There are hints of better definition in my shoulders that weren’t there before.  My waist looks a little smaller.  I nodded at myself in the mirror and smiled.  Then I put on my bathing suit, went to the pool, turned on some music and exercised for 30 or 40 minutes.

Seeing some physical improvement is such good positive reinforcement.  I don’t know what the number on the scale will read tomorrow morning.  (Forgot to tell you that I stuck to my commitment of only weighing Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings.)  If it’s down from Friday, terrific.  If it isn’t, I know that my body is still slimming down, getting more defined and also gaining in strength.  No matter what, I need to recognized and acknowledge these changes.


Food and Crises

When I look back at events in my life, I can’t think of a single major crisis in which I did not use food and overeating to try to cope.  My father’s sudden death kicked off an eating spree in which put on the 100 pounds that I’d recently lost and then some.  Mom’s relapses and later her illness and death – same thing.  I always turned to food and binge eating.  Stress, grief, anxiety, anger, sadness — pick an emotion that might threaten to overwhelm me and keep me from functioning and I would eat-eat-eat-eat in order to cram them down into tight little boxes so that I could stay on track with handling the crisis.

That I am managing to stay on track right now during Pyxi’s illness is miraculous.  It also takes effort, focus, and a willingness to fight for my abstinence and recovery.  I’m not 100% perfect, but hot damn, I’m doing a really good job taking care of myself while I take care of my little girl dog.

Right now, ironically, among the big challenges in her illness is her weight loss.  We’ve stopped the nausea and vomiting, but she is turning up her cute little nose at most foods.  She needs carbs but all she’ll eat consistently is protein — cooked chicken, specifically.  Forget the special formula of dog food for kidney disease patients.  She took one sniff and turned away as if I’d offered her some foul preparation.  She ate rice for a little while and then tired of it and acted like pasta was a new fave food.  Now she’s over that too.  She never quite went for smashed potatoes either.

Unlike her, if someone coaxed me to eat rice, pasta and potatoes for my own good, I’d chow down like a champ!  Food has a strong, insidious, tempting call. I went to the grocery store, desperate to find a range of possible things I could try to tempt her to eat a little more.  I thought of baby foods, mac and cheese, even whole wheat bread.  As we all know, the check out lines are bordered by racks of two things – magazines and candy.  While the clerk scanned my purchases, I caved and grabbed a small packet of mini-candies.  I got out to the car, grabbed the packet out of the bag and ripped it open to cram a few little pieces into my mouth.  Then my head caught up to my compulsive impulse and said, “Wait.  Think about what you’re doing.”  “Shut up,” I said to that voice.  I worked out hard this morning.  Some chocolate won’t hurt.”  However, while I said that in my head, I also read the label.  One package of little pieces of candy would add up to 310 calories!  Yikes!

On top of that, the very act of eating compulsively, of grabbing and ingesting food that I didn’t plan to eat, acting out of stress or an other emotion, does more damage to me emotionally and mentally than the sugar and carbs do to my nutritional goals for the day.

Eating the rest of this candy is not going to help me and it won’t do a darned thing positive for Pyxi.  She and I both need for me to be calm, as relaxed as possible, clear-headed and functioning.  We don’t need me to trigger a binge-eating relapse.

I grabbed the candy package and crushed it in my hand, squeezing all the remaining individual bite-sized pieces into one messed-up ball.  Then I started the car and drove home.  After I parked and got out of my car, I took the candy package and threw it into the outside trash.  That was a positive act for myself and for my recovery.  Stopping myself from consuming all of the candy and then knowing not to tempt myself by bringing the rest of it into the house, showed me that I am stronger for today than my disease.  This elevated me a great deal.

Inside, I tried out a few different foods, offering them to Pyxi.  She wasn’t interested in the little sweet potato/rice puffs or the mac and cheese.  She did eat half a slice of whole wheat bread. Desperate to get her to eat something more, I decided that if all she would consume was more poultry, at least it was better than her stopping at half a slice of bread.  I spooned out some of my ground turkey leftovers from last night.  That was much more to her liking.  She ate several pieces before going back to her bed for another nap.  I decided that I’ll try her with some more and a little more bread later on.

I then proceeded to eat my own, planned-for lunch, which I enjoyed.  Not only did it taste good, but since I planned it out and ate on track, I didn’t have the negative emotions and thoughts that accompany my meals when I’m not on plan.  One more time, I was dealing with the crisis using my program rather than using food.


Good Nutrition is Confusing

I’m still doing a good job staying on track.  I lost a few pounds, which provides good positive reinforcement.  I’m sticking to my work out/exercise commitment.  My brain is operating rationally which is always a plus with my eating disorder and food issues.    I continue to reach out for support, which just overall helps the effort.

All of this has been particularly helpful while coping with Pyxi’s illness. That I’m able to be stressed and upset but still effectively manage her health care and treatment and NOT over eat or go off my plan is somewhat of a miracle.

Quick Pyxi update:  We’ve seen some improvement.  The anti-nausea medication really helped.  She’s kept down all of her food since having the shot on Tuesday.  Therefore, she’s also getting the anti-acid pills and the ammonia-binder.  In general, I think these all help her feel better so her demeanor is brighter and more engaged with a litle more energy.  The other vet that did acupuncture showed me some points that I can rub on her paws to further help keep nausea down and I do a little energy work on her kidney area.  Plus, we started Pyxi on some Chinese herbs for overall kidney support.  Paws crossed that my girl continues on an upward trend.

Okay, back to the post.  In keeping with my determination to live a healthy lifestyle and do whatever I can to support myself, I went to a presentation at the local hospital today, lead by their dietitian.  (The hospital where I had my weight loss surgery and all of the associated support teams are more than two hours away from where I live.)

The presentation was excellent.  As much as I’ve educated myself about food, eating, calories, weight loss, nutrition, etc., there are, apparently huge gaps in my knowledge.

Good nutrition can be confusing.  I think it can be even more so when one is a bariatric surgery veteran.  I’ve been targeting 1200 calories a day, high protein/low carb.  I obsess over whether that’s too many or too few calories.   I rarely allow myself to eat bread, potatoes, rice or pasta.  I occasionally add some homemade whole rolled oat/low fat/low sugar granola on my 0% fat yogurt.  I worry about whether I’m eating too much fruit.

I think now that maybe I eat nuts and seeds too often as snacks.


In the presentation, the dietitian talked about the food plate.  Remember the old food pyramid and then the food steps – both of which were to illustrate what we should eat in each food group?  The food plate is the newest (circa 2010) version.  The young woman, who was very knowledgeable and interesting, also did a chart showing how much of each food group should be included each day depending on the total calorie goal – 1400, 1600, 1800, 2000, 2400.

Note – there was no column for 1200 calories.

The next thing I noticed was when she said that the accepted dietary guidelines suggest no fewer than 130 grams of carbohydrates a day.  The food plate shows a whole section for grains.  5 ounces of grains in a 1600 calorie per day plan.  Yes, grains — like bread, pasta, and rice — i.e., the stuff that my surgeon considered worse than poison.  You know that worry about eating too much fruit?  According to her, even if I only bumped up to 1400 calories a day, I could still have 1.5 cups of fruit a day.

Her guidelines showed 4 ounces of meat (poultry, fish, beef, lamb, pork) and beans per day.  That seemed drastically low to me with my high protein mindset.  She also listed two cups of milk/dairy.  So, I went online to look up number of protein grams in 4 ounces of chicken and two cups of dairy plus a quarter cup of chickpeas (that could go toward veggies).  I saw that it would come in at about 57 grams of protein.  So, is that high enough?  If it is, then I need to add more dairy to my daily meal plan.

Don’t get me started right now on balancing out my fats.  Oh, except that with all the talk about coconut oil being so much better for us, I was surprised to find out that it’s considered a saturated fat.  However, the dietitian is doing more research on that because she’s heard that the way that it’s processed may affect its designation.

I really need to put a halt to my confusion and get more facts about what is right for me.  To some extent, I feel like I’m shooting in the dark while wearing a blindfold.  I sort of know a lot but not enough to know if I’m really doing what’s best for me.  I spoke with the dietitian for a few minutes after the presentation.  While she has not worked with a lot of bariatric surgery patients, she has worked with some and she has access to solid information.  I’m going to schedule a one-on-one consultation with her.

Knowledge is power and I am determined to keep powering through with my weight loss and healthy living.

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Pretend Coping

It’s Sunday night.  I’ve made it through a stressful, emotional weekend without blowing my abstinence.  Instead of running to food to cope with the upset of Pyxi’s ailment, I ran to program.  I kept using the tools of committing my food in the morning and logging it in the diary.  I went to my newly discovered online support group and read their posting while posting my own note.

This morning was the worst.  Pyxi has not been drinking a lot of water.  She is still interested in food  but is not always able to keep it down.  Even a couple of hours past a meal, she may throw up.  Even though our veterinarian and his wife are friends of mine, I am reluctant to bother him on a weekend when I know he is not on call.  So, I called the emergency number and the on-call vet got back in touch with me pretty quickly.

I conveyed Pyxi’s symptoms and condition to her since she wasn’t in the office with access to the medical records.  I wanted to know if I could start giving Pyxi an over-the-counter acid fighter to help with the vomiting.  I wanted to know if the vet thought that it was time to give her some fluids since she wasn’t drinking much.  Let me preface what I’m about to write by saying this other veterinarian is a good doctor.  While she hasn’t seen my kids often, the couple of times that she has she’s been good and thorough with them.  I trust her knowledge.  Besides, I know that my regular vet would not have invited her to join his established practice if she wasn’t up to his standards.

Okay, that said, I question whether it was necessary for her to give me a quick and sudden lesson in the nature of kidney disease in dogs, including how it is incurable and we focus on managing symptoms until we reach the point where we have to consider our dog’s quality of life and weigh other decisions.

At some point in her talking, I stopped hearing her actual words because my brain started saying, “Pyxi’s dying.”  I ceased being able to process things rationally at that point.  All I could really say was that this was dramatically more somber than M had been on Wednesday and, while I knew her condition is serious, I didn’t think we were at the “assessing quality of life” stage yet.  I felt like my hope that we might be able to at least stabilize Pyxi had just disintegrated.

I guess I was able to participate enough in the conversation to hear the vet say to start her on the anti-acid meds twice a day.  She also suggested that I could try to syringe some water into her and, if she didn’t get in some fluids today to call and I could bring her in for some subcutaneous fluids.  I told her I’d call her, thanked her, and disconnected the call.

Then I lost my mind.  I went into a complete emotional meltdown with my chest heaving, tears pouring out of my eyes and my arms wrapped around my mid-section.  It was awful.

Through it all I kept repeating, “Don’t eat.  Just don’t eat.  Don’t eat.  It won’t help.  Just don’t eat.”  I don’t often fall apart, but when I do, I’m thorough about it, let me tell you.  It was a good 15-20 minutes before I pulled myself together enough to think.  I decided that my friend would absolutely not mind me reaching out to him in this case.  I was such a basket case that I didn’t even remember that I actually have his cell phone number, so I texted his wife, apologized profusely for bothering them on a Sunday and asking if he had a minute to call.  I even said that I was probably overreacting but I was losing my mind over it and needed verification on what I should do.

My vet is the calmest, nicest and most gentle of people.  He called me within five minutes.  The first thing he said was that I should never feel bad about calling him any time and that he actually preferred that I call him directly because he has Pyxi’s history in his head and knows her so well.  The second thing he did was reassure me that, while Pyxi’s condition is serious, he does still have some hope that we can stabilize her so that she doesn’t worsen and that we might even be fortunate and see some improvement.  He feels we need to look at more than her numbers and assess her behavior.  Even though she sometimes throws up, it is still encouraging that she is eager to eat and there are things that we can do to treat the vomiting symptoms.

This immediately calmed me down enough to tell him what I’ve been seeing in the last 48 hours.  He wasn’t surprised that I’ve kept a log of when she eats, drinks, pees, vomits; what her behavior and demeanor are like, etc.  He reiterated to keep her on the anti-acid medication.  He told me at this point not to force her with syringing fluid into her mouth but to keep monitoring her intake and output.  We agreed to touch base later in the day.  If we thought it necessary he would meet me at the clinic at any time and give her Sub-Q fluids.

Before we disconnected, I wanted to let him know that I understood the seriousness of the situation and that I accepted that it might not turn around for her and she could deteriorate to where we’d have to face that quality of life discussion.  He told me he knew that and that I knew he would always tell me straight.  This helped settle me in my mind even more and I truly felt that we aren’t at that point.

As the day went on, Pyxi didn’t get any worse.  She did throw up several hours after her first dose of anti-acid med, but at least she had time to digest some of her breakfast.  She continued to be pretty quiet, sleeping most of the day.  She’ll get up and go outside or follow me into the bedroom, but then settles down again.  I was on the point of calling him and suggesting the sub-q fluids when she went into the kitchen and drank more water.  Dinner was several hours ago and it’s now three hours since she drank and, so far, everything is staying down.  He called me for an update and we decided that if her water intake doesn’t increase by mid-day tomorrow, I’ll bring her in for fluids.

I am so fortunate to work where I do.  They are completely fine with me bringing both dogs to work when I need to do so.  Nat and Pyxi behave very well in my office so I can get work done and they don’t disrupt any body else in the building.  I’m going to take only Pyxi tomorrow.  Normally, the two of them go everywhere together but I just have a feeling that she’ll be less ramped up on the trip and in the office if it’s only her tomorrow.  Natty won’t like it at first but I also know that he’ll go back to sleep within minutes after we leave.

The day is winding down now.  I’m going to bed soon and plan to still go to my 7 a.m. rowing class in the morning.  I am so happy to have gotten through this day without mindlessly abandoning my food plan and attempting to use food to cope with the upsetting situation.  I stayed on track.   I even went out and did 35 minutes of water aerobics.  Then I prepared a delicious dinner (Grilled lamb steak with roasted rainbow carrots and fingerling potatoes) and enjoyed eating it — without overeating more than I’d planned.

Given my decades-long history of using food to cope, this is sort of miraculous.  That brings me to the point I wanted to make when I named this post.  Using food or any substance, heck, using behaviors in ways that could be destructive, are not really coping.  We call them coping mechanisms, but when we use them, we aren’t truly coping.  In my case, when I’m upset and plunge into compulsive overeating, I’m actually running away and not dealing.

As emotionally upsetting as it was to sit here sobbing and think about possibly losing my sweet little furgirl, I needed to go through the process, experience the emotions and get to a place where I was functioning and thinking straight.  I need clarity to properly manage Pyxi’s care and get her whatever she needs.  Drugging myself with food is not going to help.

It will only make me feel worse and then create even more stress and upset when I get mad at myself for overeating.

For today, coping means feeling the emotions, no matter how uncomfortable or painful or scary, and doing what is necessary regardless.  It means not looking for false mechanisms to make it easier but choosing effective, not destructive methods.

It means that, no matter what, don’t eat.  Just don’t eat.



Binge Food Reimagined

Thank you to everyone who contacted me about Pyxi.  She is no worse, thank goodness.  She’s eating and taking her meds.  Her energy level isn’t quite where it usually is, but neither is she markedly lethargic.  So, I’m cautiously optimistic that she’s holding steady at the very least.  Perhaps the medication will gradually lead to some improvement.

Emotionally, I was much better today.  Still concerned, but I didn’t cry multiple times.  I was able to focus with greater effectiveness and not dissolve into a mushy mess.  I also succeeded in sticking to my abstinence and not catapulting off the recovery wagon to plunge into vats of inappropriate food.

It might be a little premature, but I feel like I’ve turned some sort of corner over the last week where my eating disorder and recovery are concerned.  I’m not obsessing about food.   I’m committing to my food plan on a daily note on my phone and then logging meals, snacks, water and exercise in My Fitness Pal.

Staying on my food plan is accomplished with little struggle and angst.  .  I’m not beset by cravings.  This all greatly reduces my levels of eating disorder-related stress and anxiety.

While writing this, I just had a realization.  You know how I’ve been seeing an acupuncturist?  As part of the treatment, she places some needles in key points in my outer ears to assist with the food cravings.  For the last couple of weeks, after removing the needles at the end of the session, she sticks tiny metal “seeds” on the points to continue help with the cravings/food thoughts.  Normally, these begin to irritate me by now, the evening of the day after the treatment.  According to the practitioner, the irritation or twinges happen because a particular point or set of points needs the assist.  So, it was no coincidence, I guess, that I had irritation at the seed points when I was also struggling with the compulsive disease.

Tonight, I’m not struggling and the seeds aren’t bothering me.  Also not a coincidence, I suspect.

This week, I’ve been more open and willing to exercise.  Not just the rowing classes, which I love, but also finding other opportunities to be active.  Yesterday, because I had an early acupuncture appointment, I didn’t have to leave my house as early as usual.  So, I pulled on a bathing suit and did a half hour of exercise in the pool.  The other night, I rode my bike to and from Tai Chi.  All of these things add up.

Speaking of rowing, I am very proud of myself today.  I absolutely nailed the day’s routine.  There were three of us in the 4:30 p.m. class.  We were going for consistency and distance in increasing increments.  First we rowed for a minute, then three minutes, five minutes, seven minutes and nine minutes.  All these had :20 rest periods in between the intervals.  We had a two minute rest and then five one minute rows in which we gradually increased our strokes per minute.  All told, in slightly more than 30 minutes, I rowed the equivalent of 3.5 miles!  I also earned zone master designation for the class which means that I kept my heart rate up in the desired 80-89% range for the longest amount of time overall.  I also was the cool down champion, meaning I brought my heart rate back down the soonest.  Not bad, right?  Particularly when I was older than the other two rowers by about 30 years.

From there I drove home and made dinner, which brings me to the real topic of tonight’s post — reimagining binge foods.  There are certain foods that I absolutely cannot trust myself to eat in sane, healthy, portion-appropriate ways.  I will binge on them.  It’s that simple.  When I’m in a bad place with my eating disorder, I’ll bring them into the house, even though I know that I will definitely overeat.  When I’m in a good, healthy, abstinent place, I don’t get those particular foods.  It just isn’t worth triggering a binge.

Pizza is a binge food for me if I order it when I’m alone.  I’m okay if I go out with friends, or have it here when I have company, but I absolutely cannot be alone with pizza.  At all.  Back in the pre-weight loss surgery days, I could easily plow my way through an entire pie, washed down with a liter of soda.  These days, with the restricted stomach size, even if I can’t physically fit more than, say, a slice and a half, if there is leftover pizza in the house, I’ll keep going back to it and pick at the toppings and cheese.  It’s a different kind of binge, but it still counts as one.

This totally bites, because I love  pizza, but I accept the limitations.  I’ll have it if I’m out with friends sometimes, but that’s it.

Last week sometime, the rowing class trainer and all of us were talking eating healthy.  For me, I’m making a concentrated effort to up my protein grams per day, and cut way back on refined sugar and starchy carbs like bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, etc.  For example, earlier this week I cooked and mashed up celery root.  Mashed celery root makes a fine substitute for mashed potatoes.  I seasoned it up, added a little plain Greek  yogurt and have enjoyed a reasonable serving at eat dinner.  Anyway, back to the trainer.  He mentioned that he and his wife, who is also a trainer, experimented with a cauliflower and cheese “pizza” crust and it was great.

I’ve seen this cauliflower crust from time to time in Facebook recipe memes and other places, but I’ve never tried to make one.  As it happens, I got a head of organic cauliflower in my organics share this week, so I vowed to try it tonight.  I even went so far as to prepare the cauliflower part last night so I could put it together with the other ingredients and bake it tonight.

Cauliflower, some cheese, seasonings, and eggs make up the mixture.  You spread it out like a crust on a baking sheet and bake it at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.  Add your favorite toppings and bake for 10 minutes more.  Tonight I spread some homemade tomato/red bell pepper/meat sauce over the top.

Oh.  My.  Goodness.  It was absolutely delicious!  No, not the same completely chewy texture as a thick flour/yeast crust, but so tasty that the difference didn’t matter one bit.  My meat sauce topping was pretty darned terrific, too.  I thoroughly savored and enjoyed my reasonable portion of the dish and felt no compulsion to binge or otherwise overeat.


I then input the ingredients into My Fitness Pal and determined that, even with the cheese, the Cauliflower pizza crust is definitely a healthy alternative to regular pizza.  181 calories, 14 g of protein, only 4 grams of carbohydrates; 12.5 grams of fat.  I can’t get too worked up about the fat grams since I didn’t slather more ooey gooey cheese on top.

Look, I don’t pretend to say that I will never again eat “real” pizza, but having this delicious, healthier, reimagined version of a dreaded binge food makes me very happy!


Not Eating Over Emotions

Pyxi, one of my precious dogs, is sick.  We battled a nasty bladder infection for several weeks that involved e-coli and required strong antibiotics.  In the course of the infection and the treatment, her kidneys suffered damage.  I noticed her not eating as much – maybe half her daily amount, if that – and she was losing weight.  She had less energy and enthusiasm about taking walks.  Although she’d always take a treat and was excited to see me and cuddle, overall I knew that she was off.  When we went for the followup appointment to verify that the infection was gone, the vet ordered a full blood panel, did another thorough physical exam, rechecked the digital x-rays, etc.  The blood test showed elevated numbers in key things that indicated the kidney damage.  Her kidneys were functioning at about 60%.  The vet prescribed a low protein diet which we followed scrupulously.  She responded by eating more and showing a definite preference for cooked brown rice, pasta, and cooked chicken breast.

I was positive she was getting better so when we checked her weight and blood levels again and found out that her numbers were worse, it really hit me hard.  Overall she continued to eat better and seemed more bright-eyed and energetic, but those damned blood numbers.   The vet put her on a capsule to bind ammonia which reduces the work the kidneys have to do.  I’m monitoring her to see if she gets more lethargic or starts to get sick to her stomach more often or, in general, shows signs of her conditioning rapidly worsening.

I am a wreck.  There is a whole smorgasbord of emotions going on inside me right now. I’m scared, sad, upset, stressed, worried.   Her kidneys might not regain full function, but if that’s the case there are things we can do to sustain her and allow her to continue with a good quality of life.  The most terrifying scenario is if her health continues to worsen.  The mere thought of her declining into full renal failure is more than I can stand to think about right now.

It is difficult for me to focus, but I have to in order to function, so I’m doing it.  When my mind wanders, the emotions well up again and I cry.   I don’t like crying.  I particularly don’t want to do it at home in front of Pyxi.  Our dogs are so keyed into us.  If she senses my upset, she’ll get upset.  She needs my positive energy.

So here comes the dilemma for someone who has an eating disorder for whom emotional eating has always been a coping mechanism.  Not a particularly effective coping mechanism, but it was the one that I had at my disposal.  Stuffing down the emotions with food seemed to enable me to deal.  (Even though that’s not really dealing, I know.)

How do I not eat over my emotions?  It is imperative that I not seek refuge in food and use bingeing of calories or carbs to take the edge off of my upset.

Here’s what I’ve done so far today.  I talked about the situation in my regular acupuncture appointment so that the practitioner could help with my stress channels.  I’m being very careful to continue to write down my food plan and commit to my abstinence from compulsive eating.  If it isn’t on the plan, it doesn’t go into my mouth.  Stress can create stomach acid and for me and many other bariatric patients, stomach acid can sometimes feel like hunger.  For me, keeping hydrated helps.  Maybe flushing water through my stomach not only creates a feeling of fullness but dilutes the ability of stomach acid to form.  I don’t know, but it works, so I’m sticking to it.

Mentally and emotionally, I’m doing my best to rehearse a positive attitude and outlook.  I’m embracing hope that she will improve in the next two weeks or, if not improve, at least hold steady.  She’s a spirited little girl and together with her vet we will fight to help her get well.

Me eating over the emotions is not going to help the situation.  It will only make me feel worse.  The temporary distraction or mock-relief I get from eating crap or eating too much is not a positive action.

Taking good care of myself in this crisis ultimately helps me take better care of Pyxi.


SANE Eating Plan

A couple of days ago, I came across a short article by a registered dietitian in the Miami newspaper.  In it, she talked about being inundated by diet headlines when standing in the check-out line of the supermarket.  I knew just how she felt.  The magazines have sooo many suggestions… Detox, eat this, that or the other thing for a flat belly.  Lose a gazillion pounds in a week by eating this superfood.  Melt off the fat by doing this.  Don’t eat THAT food.  It will make you swell up like the purple kid in Willie Wonka.

I always consider it ironic that across the aisle from these self-help magazines are all of the magazines for cooking, recipes, great cakes, seasonal menus, etc.

Anyway, after seeing all of the headlines, the dietitian shared an approach that she highly recommends.  She calls it getting SANE… as in adopting a food plan that is sustainable, approachable, nutritionally balanced and enjoyable.

It makes eminent good sense.  Sustainable, as in picking a food plan that you can reasonably follow and maintain.  A plan you can stick with.

The next step is to realize that healthy eating is an approach.  We embrace it without becoming dictators to ourselves.  Giving ourselves permission to splurge or have a treat sometimes will help us sustain the effort.

The dietitian is a fan of eating minimally processed food.  Whole, natural products are desirable for the N – nutrition.

Finally, there’s the idea of enjoying the food we consume.  Good food that tastes great, nutritionally sound meals prepared freshly with flavor — all make it easier to eat well.

S.A.N.E.  doesn’t this sound like good common sense?   I’m keeping it in mind as I plan my daily meals.  Like the dietitian says in the article, eating this way won’t help us lose 15 pounds in a week, but following it consistently will help the weight come off.

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