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Reaffirming Strength

This is going to be short.  I just want to say that I made it through another day where I was good on the food plan.

What a lesson because today was hellish in its intensity, emotion and sheer busy-ness.  I had a Board meeting mid-afternoon for an organization that I belong to in which the agenda had several hot button, emotion-causing issues that required some really hard decisions be made.  I was home for less than an hour before going to the Board meeting for yet another organization that I serve.  Not so emotional, but still brain draining.  Oh and, of course, also a little something called my day job.

It’s now 10 p.m.  I spent two hours writing up the minutes from the early meeting while events were still fresh in my mind to supplement my notes.  I’m tired, cranky and have a headache . . . and now I need to go pack my suitcase because I head out of town tomorrow afternoon for another trip including a night flight.  Thank goodness this trip will be filled with family and friends and not work.  Still, tomorrow’s going to be another long day.

So what’s the lesson?  If I can go through a day like today and maintain my abstinence, I can stay abstinent through anything.  I need to remember this the next time I encounter a little something stressful and think that I must absolutely dive into something sugary, carb-dense, or fatty — or all three.

No matter what, I really can make healthier choices than giving into compulsion.  Remembering this reaffirms my strength.

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Better Day

Thank you all for your support.  It helps a lot.  It’s important for me to come here and write honestly about what’s going on and what I’m experiencing.  I appreciate that you all listen and provide positive feedback and insight without trying to fix me.  Again, this all helps.

So today was better with my food.  I am abstinent.

Abstinence in food addictions and eating disorders is a bit different from drug addiction and alcoholism.  I can’t avoid eating all together.  My abstinence means getting through without slipping into compulsive eating behavior.  It means I commit to eating to my food plan without taking that spur of the moment, unplanned addition.   Back in 1991, when I first went to a therapist who talked with me about having an eating disorder of compulsive overeating and binge eating, I didn’t have a clue how to establish abstinence.  The thought was horribly overwhelming.

She was also maintaining abstinence from an eating disorder and broke it down for me easily at first.  We didn’t focus on quantity of food but on the timing and control of the behavior.  For example, she said that if I woke up in the morning and committed to four slices of pizza and a quart of soda for dinner, for now that was okay.  If I woke up in the morning and committed to a single slice of pizza and water and stuck to that, then I was being abstinent.  If, however, I continued to eat and consumed four slices, I wasn’t.  For the first couple of months, I concentrated on that technique.  I committed to three meals and three snacks a day — including quantity without judging the actual amounts or volume — with the food choices planned and written down first thing in the morning.   Doing this really helped clear my head.  Might not have been great for my arteries, but it cleared my head.  With a clearer head, I could delve with greater success into the deeper issues.

Anyway, this morning, I planned out my foods for the day, packed two snacks and my lunch and went off to work.  When I got home, I cooked the dinner that I planned and ate it consciously.  A short time ago I had my last snack of the day.  I didn’t deviate.  As soon as I post this, I’m going to quit while I’m ahead and go to bed.

I also got the dogs out for good walks in the morning and evening and did a quick set of Tai Chi with friends at lunchtime.  The abstinence and exercise have my head in a much better place.  It’s only been one day, but one day at a time is all we shoot for.  We can build a strong, long, healthy recovery by stringing together one day after another after another.

I won’t say it was an easy day.  Amid the general load of work projects I addressed, I received an update on the friend who was recently diagnosed with cancer.  The news is far worse than we hoped; so bad, in fact, that they aren’t proceeding with the biopsy or chemo.  They’re arranging for hospice.  Clearly, the disease is so far advanced that it’s inoperable and untreatable.

I’m heartsick.  But, I didn’t eat over it.  That’s important.  Jamming food into my mouth really won’t ease the sadness or upset.  It will only do me harm.  That is true of every issue, problem or challenge we encounter.  Overeating doesn’t help.  It only makes things worse.

Remaining abstinent and staying in recovery instead of relapse are what I need to remain strong and deal with this and everything else.

Here’s to another better day tomorrow.

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Binge

I started to call this ups and downs but switched to ons and offs because it more fits the old “being on the wagon or falling off the wagon” phrasing often associated with alcoholism and addiction.

I fell off the wagon in a big way this weekend.  Can’t explain why but I experienced intense, persistent cravings for chocolate, salty-crunchy, and fat.  Yesterday in the late afternoon, I caved.  This is sort of monumental because I didn’t just take a bite of something.  In order to obtain the chocolate, I actually had to go as far as changing clothes and driving to the supermarket.  The salty-crunchy and fat I had in the house in the form of a remaining bag of microwave popcorn, butter and bacon.  No, I didn’t eat those three things together.  The eating was spread out over several hours and into today.  Obviously, I can’t constantly eat.  My stomach doesn’t hold a lot and if I put in too much, it comes back up.

The extended period of time is particularly bothersome.  This wasn’t one compulsive moment.  Even if the quantities don’t come anywhere near what I used to be able to consume, the behavior is a classic binge.  Wanted became needed became planned became executed and it all culminated in the behavior continuing until about an hour ago.

I wish to hell I knew why I didn’t just fall off the wagon but leapt off in a binging cannon ball.  I’m sifting through the last couple of days, searching for a trigger.  I honestly thought I was in good shape heading into the weekend.  I had supplies in stock for my decided food choices and an exercise plan.  Saturday morning started off great.  I got the dogs out for a walk first thing in the morning, which was a treat because it had been raining a lot since I returned from my business trip.  I went off for a good Tai Chi class and then that Zumba class I’d promised myself.  The day was breezy but sunny and warm, so when I got home after Zumba, I went into the pool to clean out the leaves and sand from the recent stormy weather.

A good shower, planned for lunch, and then I went off to a presentation by an organization that finds and trains shelter dogs to be companions for military veterans who are dealing with PTSD or traumatic brain injury.   When I got home I was enjoying relaxing time with my pups and a good book.   Then the cravings started and I soon became obsessed with eating.

I started working with my anti-compulsion tools but I didn’t use them well enough.  My brain clicked off and that was that.

Woke up this morning filled with remorse and general anger at myself but began to eat off plan almost right away.  It was like I had to eat up all of the binge food.  Really, it would have been so much better had I walked it out of the house and thrown it into the trash outdoors, then run water over it so it would be too gross to eat.

On a brighter note, I walked Nat and Pyxi and then went to the animal shelter and walked a couple of those dogs too.  Came home and swam, jogged and otherwise exercised in the pool.

Overall, I feel like crap mentally and emotionally.  I thought about not blogging about it, so that I could hide the binge from the family and friends who read my posts.  Then I decided that avoiding and hiding the issue smacks of not being authentic.  I’m ashamed and embarrassed and have kicked into the old thinking of feeling like I’m disappointing other people.  However, concealing my weekend relapse from others is a form of denial.  Denial is dangerous.  It aids the disease behavior.  So, here I am, calling it what it is… a relapse into compulsive overeating.  The amount doesn’t matter.  It’s the behavior that’s key.

In the grand scheme of things, figuring out why it happened isn’t the priority.  It would be nice, of course, and could possibly help me avoid a similar trigger in the future.  However, recovery and abstinence from behavior comes from resisting the urge to eat off plan regardless of the trigger.  (There also might not actually have been a specific trigger for this occurrence.)

What matters most is what happens now  Is the binge over?  Can I resist the next compulsive urge?  The answers are I think so and I hope so.

Tomorrow is a new day, a new opportunity to take care of myself.  A day to travel on the wagon.  A day to not give into the cravings and compulsion.

I can do this.  I have to.

Thanks for listening.

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Fast Friday

The technician arrived at 8 a.m. today to hook me up with my new cable and Internet service.  Woot!  I’m once more done with the dial-up and can effectively cruise around online at home.  This afternoon I called the previous service to cancel.  I had to laugh at the conversation.  I used to have Dish Network.  After the woman asked me why I was cancelling and if there was anything she could do, she began to talk me through the process.  She asked where the satellite dish is located — in the yard or on the roof.  When I told her it’s on the corner of the roof she told me that they didn’t expect me to go up and disconnect it.

You think?  It never entered my mind that they’d do anything other than send a tech to do that work.  With that knotty problem out of the way, she then took several minutes to explain that they’d send me a box to ship back the DVR, that I should leave in the data card (Like I’d know how to remove it?), and that they’d need to have it back within 70 days or there would be a charge.  I assured her that I would return the equipment as soon as I received the box.  She explained a few more things and then we were finished.

If they’d been that thorough in their customer service before, I might have considered staying with them awhile longer — or at least until the next few bad rainstorms reminded me why I wanted to switch from a satellite service.

On to other things.

I’ve done pretty well the last couple of days sticking to the plan to treat my stomach with more kindness.  I’ve consumed mostly smoothies, Greek yogurt with fruit and soup yesterday and today.  I limited my caffeinated tea to one cup in the morning and had only green tea a few other times.  I already feel better than I did on Wednesday and believe I’ll stay with this routine for the weekend.  That should straighten out my system the rest of the way.

Tomorrow I’m planning on my regular Tai Chi class first thing in the morning.  As an extra treat, I’m going to leave by 10:15 and zip over to a Zumba class.  Yes, I really do continue this a treat.  I was at that conference earlier this week on the evening when I would normally do my Zumba class.  I miss it when I don’t do it, so picking up a Saturday class feels right.  Added to this determination is the realization that it has rained so much the last two days that I haven’t been able to take walks with the dogs.  With the exception of Wednesday night’s Tai Chi class and the treadmill routines that I did while away, I haven’t gotten in my usual amount of exercise.  I need to move!

Did I share that I caved on an infomercial and bought a home Pilates machine?  I know I’ve shared that I wanted to try Pilates but, to be honest, I just have not been able to figure out when I could fit the classes into my already packed schedule.  I saw a long presentation on this machine and ended up ordering it.  The equipment arrived shortly before I left town, so I only had a chance to use it once with some quick exercises.  This is no cheap, wimpy apparatus, I was happy to discover.  There are some basic exercises that I can’t do yet, but others that I think will provide the extra toning that I wanted.

The deal included multiple DVDs.  I’m going to make a point of checking out the basic starter one this weekend and see how I do.  Yes, I will report back to all of you.

Earlier today, I had a sudden memory of a quick exchange that took place at the conference I attended.  Although I’d seen some of the people in January so my weight loss was already known to them, we spent more time together over the course of a few days.  One morning, I shared a table with a couple of women I know.  There was a buffet breakfast served.  I walked back to the table with two crisp strips of bacon, a bran muffin and a slice of pineapple on my plate.  One of the women looked at my plate and said, “That’s all you’re eating?  No wonder you’re doing so great with your weight loss.”

This was a good lesson in perspective.   To me that was a full meal.  In fact, even though I knew that I wouldn’t finish the entire muffin, I was worried that I’d overloaded my plate.  To the other people, it was a light breakfast.  I’d left behind the eggs, potatoes and sausage links.  I hadn’t taken a bagel or bread.    (For the record, occasionally eating bacon does not mean I’m totally screwing with my food plan.  It means I’m being normal and letting myself have something I really enjoy.  I’d had eggs the morning before, so I wanted to go for some variety.)Oh what a difference a year and a half makes.  It was a mini-aha moment, for sure.

I still have a lot of times when my eyes are bigger than my stomach.  I’ll eat something on impulse that fills my stomach more than I should.  However, I have many more times when I successfully design my portions.  I continue to train myself to not overeat.  The evening before this breakfast, we’d gone out to enjoy some of the local restaurants.  I accompanied others to a trattoria that served up absolutely delicious food.  At that meal, I skipped having an appetizer and went with a smaller, lighter, fresh pasta dish over a complete, larger entrée.  Even then, I shared and really brought my dinner into the right portion size by giving away a couple of the ravioli.

The trick is to recognize these successes and have more of them.  More good planning and appropriate choices over the snatch and grab of compulsive eating.  All one day, one meal at a time.

A good weekend is ahead to enjoy.  What’s on your schedule?

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Live Every Moment

A short time ago I received news that a dear friend has cancer. His stomach, liver and lung are involved. Please keep him in your prayers.

I met and became friends with his wife and then him back in 2000. They are the nicest, kindest people. He’s close to 80 but lives a full, active life with Jeep adventures, lots of RV travel, good times with friends and family celebrations.

This diagnosis just sucks.

They’ve been planning to spend the winter in the Keys. I hope and pray that his treatments are effective and they can still come. Even if they can’t come, I pray the treatments work. These are two of my favorite people. The world would be a less happy place for those of us who care about him if things do not go well.

That sounds like I’m making this more about me and his other friends. I don’t mean it to be. It’s really all about him, his battle, and their journey together. I know this and I’m also sad. Can’t help but be.

When I responded to the email that broke the news, I reminded them that we have a date to go fishing on my boat and I’m holding him to it. Until I have reason not to, I believe it will happen.

In the meantime, this is another reminder to live every moment and make life the best it can be.

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System Reboot

I’m home after my action-packed weekend and conference. I had a great time, learned a lot and am bubbling with ideas.

I’m also exhausted, achy, and out of sorts. It was much easier to make poor food choices due to ready availability of food that isn’t on my plan. I’ll give myself a C- grade. It would have been a C but the party last night featured wait staff walking around with Jell-O shots, spanikopita, and other stuff. I was weak.

I also drank way too much caffeinated tea in three days. That never used to affect me but now it does. Just like I no longer have great tolerance for alcohol because it goes right into my bloodstream and straight to my head.

My body doesn’t react well to me not following protocol. Five days of sometimes good sometimes bad has really thrown me out of whack.

I’m not even that concerned with whether I gained weight. I simply want to feel better. After the long drive home, I stopped at the supermarket for fresh fruit, greens, veggies, Greek yoghurt and coconut water.

It’s time for a system reboot. I’m paying attention to what my body’s saying and will do my best to respond appropriately.

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Pat Croce Motivations

I’m at a business-related conference.  It’s been an action-packed, intensive day that started with a breakfast meeting and a high-energy, motivational speech by Pat Croce.  Pat started his career physical therapy, specializing in sports medicine when that was a concentration in its infancy.  He worked his way up through the ranks of the NBA organization the Philadelphia Seventy-Sixers.  (Go, Sixers!)  He eventually became a part-owner and, I think, served as its General Manager.  He knows what it was like to take the team from one of the league’s worst to champ status.

In a horrible motorcycle accident, he nearly lost a foot but underwent multiple surgeries and made a full recovery.  His has an intense interest in pirates and pirate history.  Over the years he’s amassed an incredible collection of pirate artifacts.  Several years ago, he opened a pirate museum in Key West, Florida which he moved to St. Augustine a few years ago.  That still bums me out.  I loved that museum.

Anyway, this man has enough spirit and energy for half a dozen people.   He is a big believer in pursuing your dreams with the complete conviction that you can make them a reality.  His talk was a super way to begin this day.  My brain is buzzing from ideas and info triggered by the sessions and roundtables that I attended today.  I’m heading for bed because tomorrow is going to be just as busy.

I wanted to share some of the things Pat said that were my takeaways from the talk.

It’s only impossible until it works.

It’s our choice.

Persistence has no time limit.

I.Q. is not as important as I will.

Unleash the will of the soul.  (That’s from a poem but I cannot for the life of me remember the poet or poem name tonight.  I’m going to ask one of Pat’s colleagues tomorrow.)

Finally, from Emerson, a great reminder:

You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know when it will be too late.

I don’t usually go up and ask people if I can take a picture, but since my family and I are fans of Philly sports teams, I wanted this shot to send to my brother and nephews.  I think we look good together.  🙂

Pat Croce  Me

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The Right Bra – Part (Double) Deux

Some months back in a post about shopping for new, smaller sized clothes, I proclaimed my agreement with whomever said that the right bra can change your life.  Today I learned that where I shop for bras can make a big difference too.  Since beginning my weight loss journey, I’ve had two bra measurements done at a woman’s plus size clothing store.  No surprise, the band size number has gone down quite a bit — from a 50 to a 40.  However, the cup size didn’t change.  All this time I thought I was still a D cup so I’ve bought several bras in size 40D.  Each time that I had the measurements done in the clothing store, the saleswomen were helpful, but only to a point where they told me the size, pointed me toward the bra section and told me to let them know if I needed any assistance.

I wound up with a couple of new bras the last time, but the selection in that size wasn’t extensive.  So, to round out my supply, I shopped online.  Some of the bras fit better than the others or supported better.  On some, well, there was definitely some “spillage” over the cup.  I figured that was because of the some of the excess skin that’s developed as I lost weight and made do.

As you know, I’m “off the rock” for a business conference.  I had some time to kill today before the conference launched, so I cruised around an outdoor shopping center with some nice stores.  For the last few weeks, I’ve seen a lot of television ads for Soma, a store that specializes in lingerie, sleepwear, and the like.  As I browsed the center, I saw a Soma store and thought, “Why not?”

I entered and was greeted by a friendly woman who asked if she could help.  I explained about my recent weight loss and said that I wasn’t really sure I was using the right bras.  First off, she offered me a measurement  and told me that the numbers came up as a 40 DD. Huh?  I’ve never even tried on a DD cup, even at my heaviest.  I just always went up in band size number.  I was a little skeptical but figured I’d see what they had to offer.

The nice saleswoman became my personal bra consultant.  We talked about the clothing I usually wear and what I needed.  She then excused herself to select some options.  Less than five minutes later she returned with four different styles.  She left the dressing room to give me time to put on the first bra and then came back to assess the fit and comfort, adjust the straps, and see what I thought.  We repeated this process four times!  I don’t think I’ve ever had this much attention for any kind of clothes shopping, short of that bridesmaid’s dress that I needed to have made for me to wear in a friend’s wedding.  I sure as heck haven’t received this level of quality service for a bra.

I have to tell you that I have never been this pleased with a bra purchase before.  I ended up with multiple new ones, all of which fit and feel great, provide the right support, and make me look really good.  Happily, the ones that I wanted were also on sale, so replenishing my bra wardrobe didn’t break the budget.

For the life of me I can’t figure out why I didn’t realize that I needed to go up a cup size.  Since I haven’t gained weight in my boobs, I can only conclude that when you wear a 48 or 50 D, the actual size of the D cup is naturally bigger than the cup in a 40 D.  Make sense?  Whatever is the reality of bra design and manufacturing, the double D cup is definitely the right size for me now.  I, and the girls, are very happy.

I’m not one to endorse a particular store, but I will give high marks to Soma and to Rae, the saleswoman.  I listened to other saleswomen with other customers, and this is clearly how this store chooses to deliver service.  I’m sure there are other specialty lingerie stores that also take this approach.  So here’s what I will endorse.  If you’ve never gone into a store where lingerie is their priority and not just a section, I urge you to treat yourself to the experience.  Get the bra measurement and then relax and enjoy while the woman finds what you need, brings it to you, and then helps you assess whether you like what you’re wearing.

We’re women.  Dressing our breasts is important.  Wearing the right bra –one that fits the way that a bra should — completely changes your silhouette and helps your body look its best.  That matters.  We deserve to look our best and we deserve this level of service to help us achieve the look.

Good luck!

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Correcting Self-Judgments

I went shopping for a car today.  I’ve been planning this for awhile and decided to take advantage of a business trip to make arrangements at a particular dealership.  Car shopping is not my favorite activity.  I hate the sales tactics, the pressure, the whole “If you’re ready to make a deal today I can discuss this with my manager” ploy, etc.  Even though I’m nobody’s fool and I know how to prepare for negotiations, in the past I’ve always felt like I was at a disadvantage or, at the very least, I was intimidated.  I’m sure that I actually put myself at that disadvantage by deciding that the staff at the dealerships judged me by my appearance and figured they could walk all over me.

On the drive out of the Keys, I thought about this a lot.  Car buying situations are just one more example of how I let my excess weight undermine me.  Believe me, I’m sure there are dozens of other circumstances I could think of if I put my mind to it.  It’s like my intelligence, confidence, professional experience and other strengths didn’t matter.  Because I was super obese, inside I felt “less than”.  My friends, that is a sucky feeling, to always let physical size or condition erode influence our spirits, confidence and self-esteem.

I don’t know if, at the time, I was even conscious that this was my mind set and emotional state.  If I was, I certainly didn’t articulate it then, but it would have been a tough thing to admit. 

It was a lot different for me today.  I had a strategy and approach in my head, which is how I used to deal with car buying in the past.  I plan to upgrade to more of a luxury car.  Pre-owned, but still a level up from what I’ve purchased in the past, so I expected the experience to be somewhat different too. 

From the beginning I was significantly more relaxed.  I didn’t have any sense of wanting to shrink inside my physical self when I entered the very elegant showroom.  Instead, I was at ease, personable, and in control.  I sailed with this all through the examination of the car under consideration, the test drive, and the return to the dealership.  I set the pace for studying the car’s history, its features, and all of the other data that the sales consultant produced without letting him rush me. I let him show me the number, explained my terms and very confidently asked him to let me know how much negotiation room he had.

Through it all, I was treated with respect.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t reach a price that was acceptable to both of us.  No harm, no foul.  Their bottom line was out of my budget.   I thanked him for his time and asked him to keep me in mind if a similar, but little bit less expensive car comes available, and drove off with a smile.  Sure I was a little disappointed — I really like that car! — but not disheartened.   I’m proud of myself for handling the experience with solid confidence and style.   

At the same time, I’m a little sad for the woman I was before.  I won’t tear myself up with the “shoulda coulda woulda” and think too long about how other people could only make me feel inferior with my consent.  However, I wish I could give encouragement to anyone who still experiences those kinds of circumstances.  We already know that, yes, there are other people who judge us because of our weight or other physical things.  We need to learn not to do it to ourselves.

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