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Wallowing

A good friend called me last night because she hadn’t seen me post anything to this blog since I talked about the car accident.  Every night over the last week I’ve meant to write a post, but I always found a reason not to.

Her sweet, loving concern gave me a wake up call.  I realized that I’ve been wallowing for the last week.  First there was the accident.  Even though I wasn’t seriously injured and I was mostly incredibly grateful and seeing the bright side, I experienced some residual emotions while my body gradually got over the twinges and soreness.  My energy level was much lower than normal for several days, which was probably from the combination of physical stress to my body and the emotional drain.  This rolled into Mothers Day which, frankly, is never a great day for me since I am not a mom and I always miss my mom a lot, particularly on this day.  To cap off that already difficult time, I dropped an empty bottle on my foot and cut my toe.  The wound didn’t need stitches and, thankfully, no bones broke, but it hurt like the devil – particularly if I wore close toed shoes or sneakers.

I believe I’ve mentioned that, in addition to getting the injections in my knee, I’ve been suffering from plantar fasciitis in my left heel.  It has hurt to walk for six weeks.  Frequently in that same time period, the heel has hurt even when I just have the slightest pressure on it when lying in bed.  Between the knee injections and the heel pain, I haven’t been able to do Tai Chi and taking the dogs for our twice daily walks has been torturous.

Monday rolled around and I got the less-than-pleasing news that it will probably take at least a month before my car is repaired.  Yes, I have my older SUV, for which I’m incredibly grateful, but given my already less-than-stellar mood, the thought of this dragging on for four weeks just compounded things.

So, blah blah blah.  Whine whine whine.  Bitch bitch bitch.  Wallow wallow wallow.

You know, I don’t like to be around people who are negative and who complain a lot.  Pity parties are not my idea of fun… particularly when I’m the hostess.  Self-pity brings out the worst in me.  First off, it’s a miserable energy state in which to exist and then, it’s a giant food and eating trigger.  It doesn’t matter how much I tell myself that it is impossible to eat away the sadness or truly use food to smother any feeling, this is, unfortunately, my go-to response.  When my positive personality and attitude take a dive, I mistakenly think that food will buoy me back up.

When I’m wallowing, I also have to cop to a certain amount of “f*#k it” in my attitude, like I don’t care.

That’s bull of course.  I do care.  Even when I snack and then get upset with myself for eating off the plan, I still care.  Unfortunately, I have a hard time effectively using the caring to alter the poor behavior in that moment.

Since I’m not willing to chuck it all, give up on myself and eat my way into oblivion, it’s seriously past time for last-call at this pity party.  There honestly is no payoff for me to allow it to continue.  Tonight I’m putting a time limit on the wallow.  I have dinner plans with a friend for tomorrow night and I’m heading into a weekend.  So, I’m basically telling myself to suck it up and move on.

I have too much good in my life with endless potential for more.  There is no more space on my calendar for being a downer in my own life any longer.

 

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Perspective After an Accident

My day started with a car accident.  I’m okay, or at least not seriously injured.  I have some whiplash and twinges in my lower back, but some soreness in my shoulders and arm.  I went to the ER where they took x-rays so nothing more serious showed up.

I was very lucky.  I was slowing down to a stop because of a red light.  Unfortunately, a truck in back of me was not timely in his own slowing down process.  Once he noticed that the light was red and cars in front of him were stopping, he hit his brakes, but ran out of room and hit my car in the back.  Again, I was lucky because he didn’t hit me at full speed.  I was also far enough behind the truck in front of me that I wasn’t knocked into him.  My car is fixable.  The other driver is also insured.  My insurance company is already all over it and my car was towed to the local body shop.  Fortunately, the local body shop happens to be very good at their job, since we don’t have a large choice of establishments from which to choose.

Right after the impact, I knew that I was sore.  What surprised me was how shaken up I was after the accident.  My hands trembled and I had to force myself to focus on calling the sheriff’s department, locating my insurance info and registration and just thinking about what I should do, who else I should call.  The EMTs came and I couldn’t make up my mind whether to let them strap me on a back board and transport me to the hospital or whether I could take myself there after finished with the police.  Thank goodness for the deputy who kept checking on me.  When I apologized for being shaky and weepy, she looked at me and told me I had every right to be after getting hit from behind.  That little bit of affirmation and validation helped a lot.

Where I live, we only have one main road.  It was no surprise to me to soon get a text from a friend and co-worker who’d passed the scene on her way to work and wanted to make sure I was okay.  She would have stopped but it was a busy intersection at the time.  I texted work.  Before the highway patrol was even finished checking out the situation, getting everyone’s info and writing up the report, my top boss and friend arrived to provide a ride to the ER and moral support.  The tow truck driver is also a friend of mine and he was able to tell me exactly where he should transport my car to get fixed.

At the hospital, the manager to whom I directly report showed up after her own doctor’s appointment to see if she could be of any help.  Others were texting the boss to see what they could do.

All told, I wasn’t at the hospital very long and, after a quick trip to the pharmacy for my meds, I was home, resting on the sofa, and answering texts of other friends at work expressing their gratitude that I wasn’t badly hurt and asking if there was anything that I needed.

I spent the afternoon with ice packs, puppy cuddles, and a nap… followed by some serious reflection.  I know that in times of trouble, friends reach out to assist each other.  I’m the same way to my friends.  But today, tonight, experiencing the outpouring of love and support from my friends and work family is really hitting home and filling me with great gratitude.  (We do consider ourselves family at work, in case I haven’t mentioned that before.)

Maybe it’s because I’m older, single, and live far away from my blood family.  I don’t know, but all of the kindness truly resonates.  So, on a night when I could be grousing and grumpy over the inconvenience of an accident and the residual aches and soreness, what I feel most is happy, humble, and blessed.

My heart is full and that fullness comes out in a smile.

 

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Skewed Food Perspective

My two week Lean-Green-Clean period is complete.  All in all, I did really well.  My body feels so much better inside — in a way that is more about better quality food going in and less to do with the nine pounds that I lost.  Mentally and emotionally, sticking the program provided a much needed boost.  The two weeks demonstrated to me that I can, indeed, manage my food and eating in healthy ways.  Certainly much healthier than I’d been doing.

I’m so pleased with the results that I’m continuing on, but with, perhaps a little less strictness.  Not much, but the occasional carb or small chocolate treat — also occasionally and not in great quantities.

This is a potential slippery slope because I have a very skewed perspective when it comes to food.  Part of it comes from not ever being able to totally free myself from the diet mentality.  I’ve had it drummed into me so often, and self-drummed it, that carbs are bad.  Awful bad.  The baddest of bad.  So, even when I eat something like half of a whole grain, high fiber bagel – it feels like a cheat.  I went to Miami today to see my Phillies play the Marlins.  This was a terrific treat for me to see a ball game in person and spend time with friends.  I had an all beef hot dog at the ballpark for lunch.  Okay, a hot dog isn’t the cleanest food, but can’t I cut myself a break and not feel guilty?

When I get into that diseased thinking, it’s dangerous.  It quite often  leads to self-disgust and a “well I f#*#ed up today anyway.  I might as well keep going” reaction.  So a simple eating of something that really wasn’t bad or damaging can turn into a binge.

As I continue on my program, I need to be very aware of the mental aspect of my relationship with food.  I need to be able to separate behaviors into their proper descriptions.  Eating half of a whole grain, high fiber bagel is not the same thing as plowing my way through a bag of potato chips.  A small serving of chocolate does not equate to a pint of ice cream.

Two successful weeks when I’d been struggling for a while have produced much needed clarity.  I’d like to build on this even more moving forward.

How’s everybody else doing?

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Drawn to Scale

Most days, stepping onto the scale is part of my morning routine.  I know that I’m very focused on the number as a measure of my success or lack thereof, depending on what the number reads.  Someday I’ll figure out a way to break that fixation.  I tried not weighing myself for two weeks, which spread to a month, but in the interest of complete honesty, doing so right at the time more fed into my denial.  It allowed me to ignore that some poor eating choices was leading to weight gain.

So, of course, I was over-the-moon delighted that I lost 7 pounds in the first week of Lean-Clean-Green.  Yes, I was just as, almost as, pretty excited that I felt so great, but the weight loss was the true validation.  On the one hand, frequent weighing grounds me in reality.  On the other, more negative hand, frequent weighing distracts me from what ought to be my main focus – eating in a way that is abstinent of compulsion and bingeing.

Again and again I remind myself that it’s about the behavior.  My weight is more like an indication.  It’s the end result of the eating disorder.  For me, anyway.  There are many, many people with this disorder who are not overweight.  I am not a number on the scale, yet I am drawn to that square piece of glass and metal with its electronic sensors.  That number can set me up with an “atta girl” affirmation or be used as a club with which to beat myself.

This is another aspect of overreaching need to embrace acceptance.  After all, since I am not on a diet, there is no end date or end weight that halts the effort.  Eating in healthy, non-compulsive, ways is a lifelong endeavor.  There is no magic weight that I’ll reach where I can proclaim, “Ta da, I’m done!”

Yes, I can celebrate milestones, like when I eventually make it into “One-derland” or when I also eventually hit what I’ve determined is the target number that I want to use as my baseline measurement.  I have that number in my head.  I’m thinking of it as the measure that I want to stay “at or around” for my own physical well being.

Other than that, it doesn’t really matter if the number on the scale is acceptable if the way that I’m eating is off track.  So, again, something to keep working on in my program of recovery.

How about you?  Are any of you scale and weight obsessed?

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Acceptance

In comments on the previous post, Forest Jane and I talked about how we can’t bring certain foods into the house because they’ll call to us all of the time and we’ll eat them.

I said that I can’t fool myself any longer and think that I won’t binge, in my own post weight loss surgery type of binge, on certain foods if I have them available in my house.  This has stayed with me in my  mind since.  The process of mulling this over caused some things to bubble up for me, even though the concept of keeping my house free of binge-trigger foods is nothing new.  It seriously could be the umpteenth time, or even the umpteenth squared time, that I’ve thought about this in the last 30 or so years.

You’d think I’d have gotten the point by now.  I have a little disgust twinge going on, but I’m also trying to remember that it doesn’t matter how often we think about something, or hear a suggestion, or even know intellectually that we should do something a certain way… if we aren’t ready, we aren’t ready, and we won’t make the connection.  Even if we make the connection, we can dig in our heels and resist.

Acceptance is the key, but I need willingness to reach that point.

I keep thinking that some day, somehow, I’m going to be able to eat “normally”, be a “normal” person when it comes to food.  That’s nothing new.  I know that for me, the only thing normal about my eating is that I will always be a food addict/compulsive overeater.  There is no cure.  I can only learn helpful things, tools, and means for keeping in recovery, even while accepting that I will never fully recover.

Today, this acceptance revealed an additional realization.  I’ve had it in my mind that when I get to goal weight, I’ll be fixed.  I won’t always have to do this, always be mindful, commit every day to working the program, and remain vigilant.  That is the worst kind of denial.  I can’t believe that I’ve continued to pretend otherwise for so long.

I get it. I don’t like it, but I get it.  There’s no time limit on the disease.

Mentally, I’ve known this for decades.  Today it feels like the rest of me is catching on, or at least catching up.

I have a lot of feelings about it.  I’m  a little glum in my acceptance, but at the same time pragmatic — it is what it is.  There’s resentment but I’m also ready to embrace it and keep moving forward.  While I haven’t worked through it to find the joy, I am catching a glimmer of grace in make these forward steps.

I’m grateful because, at the end of the day, I know that I can continue to recover.

 

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Pain Turns to Medicine

Fair warning, friends.  I will probably cite from Anne LaMott’s amazing book Small Victories often in coming days.  Her insights are sparkle like gems, resonate like soul-filling music in the best concert hall, and open my eyes and my mind to new viewpoints.  The book reveals what she calls “small moments of grace”.  For me, it’s uncovering small moments of understanding.  If these understandings lead to grace, so much the better.

Earlier this evening, I read a passage that, forgive the cliche, spoke to me.  I won’t retype the whole thing, but my small moment began when she shared a quote from Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, a 13th century Persian poet.  The quote reads, “Through love all pain will turn to medicine”.  LaMott says that the pain and failures she experienced slowly restored her to the person she was born to be.

She talks about experiencing the eating cycle of binging then dieting, binging then dieting, binging then dieting and never felt full without being stuffed.  Gradually, through school and life experiences, she began to,” … learn the secrets of life: that you could become the woman you’d dared to dream of being but to do so you were going to have to fall in love with your own crazy, ruined self.”

Later she shares that she had to accept that life was not going to be filling if she tried to become somebody else’s idea of who she should be. and when she got to that point she no longer needed to stuff herself “to the gills”.

Nothing was going to fill her except love and what I interpret from her description as self-acceptance, self-nurturing, self-care.

This is all such powerful stuff for me.  Now I’m not going to sit here and say that I hate myself.  That isn’t true.  However, I don’t always treat myself with the love that I deserve, the love that I would show to others.

Going back to Rumi, I feel like his quote means that the negative of pain cannot withstand the positive power of self-love.  When we let in the love, we transform the other emotions into something nurturing and healing.  The pain becomes medicine which treats the negative conditions so that they heal.  The emptiness is filled and we no longer need to plug the hollowness with food.

Day Four is winding to a close.  I’ve had another good day food-wise.  It wasn’t always easy today as I dealt with some circumstances that were unpleasant and upsetting.  However, I prevailed and didn’t seek to reduce the effects by stuffing in food.

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Little Wins

I almost called this post Small Victories, but that’s the title of a book I’m reading by the wonderful Anne LaMott and I didn’t want to steal it for my blog.  I will no doubt write a whole post about this book after I finish it, so stay tuned. :-)

It’s Day Three of Lean-Green-Clean and it’s been another day of good, clean abstinence from compulsive overeating.  Even though I mentioned a few posts ago how my body feels different when I eat clean versus when I eat crap, I am frankly amazed at how much better I feel after only three days.  My systems and cells are practically singing.  They’re much happier when I fuel them with healthy, nutritious food and don’t inflict big quantities of fat, junk carbs, processed foods, and sugar.  I’m also doing a better job of hydrating, which increases the wellness.  I have more energy too.

I’m sure there are people who might look at this and think, “Three days.  Big whoop.”  To a lot of people, eating clean, green, healthy food in appropriate volume isn’t difficult.  It’s, shall we say, normal.  For me, one day of abstinence from compulsive overeating is a win.  I can’t take the days, any of them, for granted.  I sure can’t look at the effort and consider it easy or think there’s nothing to it.  Humility and gratitude are important to my recovery.

On top of the overall day, I had a particularly special “win”.   A group of us got together right after work at neighboring restaurant for the send off of a dear co-worker who is going on to a different job.  I’d already decided that I wouldn’t order anything to eat, but instead just enjoy the time and then eat my planned-on meal when I got home.  It’s not that I can’t eat out at a restaurant, and the food is good at this place.  I just knew, however, that the portions would be huge and there weren’t many menu items that fit the lean-green-clean plan.  I felt strong and confident in this decision.

I hadn’t planned on there being a large cake at the gathering.  Red velvet with a cream cheese frosting, to be exact.  It was sitting right on the table in front of me . . . so close that I could actually smell the cream cheese and the sugar.  Others at the gathering offered me a slice and I didn’t even think about saying yes.  I sat there with everyone and that scrumptious looking/smelling cake for a good 45 minutes, just talking and sipping a glass of water.  It wasn’t even a case of white-knuckling my way through the event.  My mindset was strong, calm, and sure that I truly didn’t want to eat any cake.

That truly is a victory for me.  I faced down a substance that is usually addictive and didn’t give in to my disease.  In addition to checking in and noting how I feel physically, I need to spend some time acknowledging how recovery feels to me emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

There’s a saying in program that nothing tastes as good as abstinence feels.  I’m celebrating that feeling tonight.

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Anatomy of a Good Recovery Day

It’s almost 11 p.m. and I’m going to bed soon.  I wanted to report that I’ve had a good day, one in which I stayed abstinent from compulsive eating and stuck to my food plan.  One day down and one day is all I need.  When I wake up tomorrow I’ll plan on making it another good day of recovery.

I know it’s helpful for me to reflect on what I did to have a good, abstinent day.  Sharing about it on this blog also serves as reinforcement.

Last night I talked about being prepared, so today’s effort actually began last night when I prepped the food I planned to eat while at work.  Can’t remember if I’ve explained my overall food plan in a while, but I eat six times a day.  That works out to three “meals” and three snacks.  Very often, there isn’t an appreciable increase in volume at the “meals”, although my tendency is to have dinner be a somewhat larger meal.  I’m trying to change that too, over time.

So, for today — I fixed a protein shake for breakfast with a small banana.  I had a couple of cups of hot black tea with a small splash of half ‘n half.  My mid-morning snack included a couple reasonable tablespoons of spinach-artichoke hummus with two celery stalks and half a dozen baby carrots.  I had a cup of green tea at work at around the same time.  After that I filled up my water glass too.  For lunch I prepared a chocolate protein shake.  That satisfied me until it was time for a mid-afternoon cup of green tea and a small apple for snack time.

For dinner, I steamed a spaghetti squash and cooked up some crushed tomatoes into a nice sauce.  I then put the two together along with a couple of ounces of fresh mozarella.  Another cup of tea in the evening was followed by about 3/4 of a naval orange.

As I said I planned to when discussing my homemade lean-green-clean plan, I avoided chocolate, all candy, bread, crackers, cookies, cakes and potatoes.

For exercise, I took Nat and Pyxi out for a short walk this morning and a longer walk after dinner.  I also did a set of Tai Chi.

All of this – the food, eating and exercise – covers the physical aspect of the program.  For the emotional/mental part, I read the daily message in one of my books and revisited the written explanation of Step One.  Knowing how supportive my friends at work are about all of my efforts, I “came clean” to them by explaining my decision to go lean-green-clean to a stricter degree than usual.  I don’t want them to police my eating, but it’s helpful to my mindset if I’m honest and open about what I’m experiencing.  It helps me with my accountability to myself.

I also acknowledged to my Higher Power that I am simply grateful for all of the blessings and lessons in my life and asked for help in experiencing a day of recovery instead of relapse.  This balanced out the three-legged stool with the spiritual side.

For most of the day, the effort was fairly easy, relatively speaking.  Granted I psyched myself up for it and brought forth strong motivation.  Also granted, this was only the first day — one day.  Still, it’s something on which to build with a whole series of “one day at a time”.  Tonight has been the most difficult part of the day.  About an hour ago, I started feeling hungry.  At least, I think I was really feeling it, but it’s sometimes hard for me to differentiate between real, actual hunger and mental hunger.  Whether it’s one or the other isn’t as important as what I chose to do about what I experienced.  I chose not to eat something that wasn’t pre-planned.  I chose to remain in recovery.

That was the choice today.  That’s the choice I’ll wake up and make in the morning.  I’d like to have another good food day of recovery.

 

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Lean, Green, Clean – and a Little Bit Mean

I haven’t been away from the blog because I’ve been sulking about my relapse.  The day after I last posted I started on a whirlwind including a work-week away in Washington, D.C. for business.  It’s been crazy, that’s for sure.

I haven’t had a lot of time to myself but what little I’ve had, i used to really think about what I’m doing, what I’m not doing, and what I need to do.   I conducted a personal inventory and considered different approaches to get me out of relapse and back on the road of recovery.

Half measures avail me nothing.  I can’t pretend that if I just do the program mostly right I’ll be okay.  Not now.  Maybe not ever.

So, I retook the first step, which in the 12 Steps means that I admit I’m powerless over food and my eating disorder and that my life has become unmanageable.  To someone who isn’t familiar with the steps, powerless and unmanageable might seem dramatic, but I know what I’m feeling and experiencing and they are very real.

I also know how crappy my body feels inside and out.  You know, I never used to know the difference because for decades I always ate huge quantities of poor quality food and that’s what was familiar.  Then, after weight loss surgery I had a couple of years where I ate really high quality food and my system got to know how great that felt.  So, now that I’ve been eating less quality and more junk, I feel it in my sluggish system and lower energy.  Plus there’s the extra pounds I regained.  Not a lot in the grand scheme of things, but enough that I feel them in my waistbands and see them in the mirror.

I am geared up and prepared to retake all of the steps and go to every length to regain recovery.  Right now, I don’t think this is something I can ease into, so I’ve decided to start off super strict  – lean, green and clean.

Vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, leaner proteins more often than red meat, less fatty cheese that I like to pretend is a protein, no fried foods.  Saying goodbye to a slice of toast here and there, a bagel, a potato and pasta.

I’m cutting out candy – even the one or two little bites that, in themselves, aren’t enough to mess me up, but that can lead me to the craving for more and more.  I’m cutting out processed dessert items – cookies, cake, pie, ice cream.  If it isn’t something that grew and was picked – as in fruit –  I’m not eating it.

Look, I know that all of the above mentioned foods are okay in moderation, but right now holding myself to moderation is the issue.  Believe it or not, it’s an easier choice to just say no.

I have a lot of tasty tools to help me.  There’s the aforementioned fresh fruits and vegetables.  I have good quality protein powders to mix up in smoothies.

I also have the knowledge.  I’ve learned so much in the last three plus years and all of this will help.

For today, I have the willingness.   Hopefully tomorrow I’ll have the willingness again.  A day or two from now when I’m craving something fried or want a sweet chunk of chocolate, I hope that the willingness and desire for recovery will be strong enough to battle the cravings and the possible bitchiness I’ll no doubt experience.

Yes, that’s a side effect.  Even when I rationally know that I’m doing the best, healthy things for myself, I can still get bitchy about the whole thing.  That’s the mean that I referred to in the post’s title.

My program books will be at my bedside, helping me work on the spiritual and emotional aspects of recovery.

Before I sat down to write this post, I prepared and packaged my food for tomorrow.  The fight for my own recovery is on, my friends.  I’m locked and loaded.

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Rant Alert:

Has anyone else seen the television ads for the “Mixify” initiative? Apparently Coca Cola, Dr. Pepper and Pepsi are reaching out to our country’s youth to help them learn how to balance what they eat and drink with their activity level.  The cynical part of me says that they want people to exercise more so that they can keep drinking soda.  The less-cynical part of me says that achieving that balance is important and if the ad helps young people do this, then who cares who’s delivering the message?

The cynical part of me just looked at the other part and said, “Yeah, right.”

What really gets me about the television ad is the actress doing the voiceover.  To my ear, she sounds a great deal like First Lady Michele Obama.  Since her husband took office as president, Mrs. Obama has campaigned to fight childhood obesity, increase children’s activity, and help everyone develop better, healthier eating habits.

I can’t help but believe that the beverage companies’ ad agency deliberately tried to link the Mixify campaign to Mrs. Obama.  They probably went through dozens of auditions before they found someone with a similar voice.

Honestly, I don’t know why, but the commercial annoys me every time I hear it.

 

 

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Eating Away Self-Esteem

Aside from the obvious health and life expectancy risks the negative effect that I hate the most is the damage that compulsive overeating and obesity do to my self-esteem and confidence.  I may seem and act strong and secure, but the mental and emotional struggle to get there are very real.

It’s like the act of overeating, or of eating compulsively, just erodes away my core emotional strength.  I start to doubt myself and my abilities.  I begin to worry about how I’m perceived.  I project that my weight enters the room/meeting/situation before me and sets me up to be judged and evaluated on how I look.  If I’m not on the alert for this internal process, I start to shrink within myself and begin “playing smaller”.

Playing small is a reference from Marianne Williamson’s great reminder piece.  In it she proclaims that “Your playing small does not serve the world.”  I’m here to tell you that playing small doesn’t serve me either.

I seriously don’t like that my eating disorder leads to me undermining myself.  It’s difficult enough to fight the external impulse of food without dealing with the internal challenges.  Every piece of my confidence that erodes needs to be replaced.  I have to devote mental and emotional energy to shoring up my core and my foundation.   It’s damned exhausting.

It’s such an odd thing that food and eating have so much power beyond being or providing fuel for the body.  Food needs to stay in its place in life as that fuel.  No more, no less and no different.

The coming week is filled with industry-related meetings.  These will require the best of my energy on all three levels – physical, mental and emotional.  I’m already prepping, not only the paperwork, notes, and other materials, but also myself.

My confidence has taken a hit in the last few weeks.  I need to build it back up again.  My confidence took a hit but it isn’t out for the count.   I’m picking it up and setting it straight so that I will function without fear in the way that I need to and how I know that I can.

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