Weighty Matters

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Seven Day Effort

My regular schedule at work runs Monday through Friday, so Mondays always feel like I’m starting anew. Or like I’m starting over. Or something. They just never feel like I’m simply continuing on the next day of my progressive journey. Consequently, Fridays usually feel like the end of a week’s worth of work, not only in my job, but also in my health and weight loss journey. I constantly have to remind myself that my efforts don’t stop with my work week.

I’m not always successful with those reminders. My pattern is usually to think that I can give myself a couple of days off and then pick up again and go full speed ahead on Monday.

I’m working on this because, if I don’t I begin to feel like I make progress a few days forward and then take two steps back. This is not to say that I believe one has to diet every single day of one’s life, but it is also a very good idea not to go hog wild every weekend.

So, it’s a mindset that I’m working on. I’m attempting to learn when I can cut myself a little slack — or to what degree — without creating a weight gain that will then take me a few days to knock off, thus delaying the overall forward progress. I did pretty good this weekend. Friends and I went on a day trip on Saturday into the Everglades. We stopped for healthy snacks and lunch items to take with us. We took a trail walk. There were pig frogs, but no pigging out. Yes, I said pig frogs — unseen but definitely heard with their rhythmic grunts. I like saying pig frogs, can you tell? Okay, back on track — I did not pig out, free fall off of the wagon or go crazy. Yesterday, I got out for a bike ride, did some additional errands both outside the home and in it. A friend and I went out to dinner. All in all a good couple of days.

This means that today, Monday, I did not feel like I had to pull myself up, shake myself off and get back down to business. It really felt like another in the line of “one day at a time” progression. I like when I can feel a little matter-of-fact about the journey. It’s good for me to take a look at Monday morning as a “just another day, just get to it” experience.

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Quieting Mind Chatter

I touched on this the other day but thought I’d expand on it a bit, mostly because it does me a lot of good to explore the realizations. I think it helps me integrate them more into my recovery. It also speaks to the clarity of mind that I’m experiencing that I recognize the things I’m realizing.

It’s Thursday night and I’ve been clean with my food for four days straight. I’m not white-knuckling it which means that I’m not constantly struggling against the compulsion. I’m not locked into a battle where I constantly want food and have to just as constantly tell myself, “No!” When those battles erupt, my mind is damned noisy with the conflict between recovery and relapse as I use my head to fight the behavior of compulsive overeating. Those fights are mentally and emotionally exhausting and very wearing on my spirit. The push-pull creates an almost constant tension.

Getting clean of the compulsion quiets the mind chatter, releases the tension and reduces stress. Picture a tug-of-war when everybody lets go. Instead of the rope being stretched between the two teams, it just drops and lies limply on the ground — no tension.

So, in addition to feeling better physically because I’m not messing up my stomach by eating the wrong things or eating more than my stomach can comfortably handle, I’m able to relax mentally. My emotions even out, too, because I’m not beating up on myself or fretting about the relapse behavior.

Relaxation lets me recharge and create more energy. Emotional respite engenders happiness. Happiness motivates me to do positive action. When I’m down in a relapse, I don’t want to exercise. I find it easy to talk myself into hitting the snooze button instead of getting out of bed at 6 a.m. to do some sort of fitness activity. That’s a whole different sort of mind chatter, sort of like: “Time to get up!” “Ugh. Don’t wanna.” “You should get moving, go ride the bike.” “I’m tooo tired.” “You’re being a lazy slug.” “Yep. Zzzzzz.”

In addition to the clean eating, I’ve also exercised every one of the last four mornings. I stopped arguing with myself and got out of bed when the alarm went off. On Monday and Wednesday, I road my bike for 40 minutes before work and then walked the dogs. On Tuesday and and this morning, I walked the dogs for 40 minutes. I also did Tai Chi class last night and have done at least some Tai Chi foundation moves each day.

There is a strong correlation between the physical relapse of overeating, the noise in my mind, and the messiness of my emotions. It stands to reason then that the connection between clean eating, a quiet mind, and uncluttered emotions would be equally strong. Tonight, I relish the peaceful, easy feeling and embrace it as a way to set myself up for more success tomorrow.

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Two Days’ Progress

I wrote yesterday’s Just for Today post yesterday morning. It’s now almost bedtime tonight. I’ve had two good days.

48 hours don’t represent a huge amount of time in a life, but when you’re struggling on the tightrope of recovery, trying not to tumble into relapse, each day matters. Remember, it’s the whole “One Day at a Time” approach.

I’ve kept clean with my food plan — planning and preparing what foods I would eat each day and when. Each day I woke up, repeated the Serenity Prayer and reinforced my plan to say no to compulsive eating. Delivering pep talks to myself helps a lot too. I kept telling myself that I can do this, as you saw with yesterday’s post and all of the “Just for today” reminders.

A couple of times, I had minor bouts of “white knuckling” when I was really tempted to eat off of my plan, but I worked through them and stayed the course. A few moments ago as I watched television I reflected on how I’m blessedly free of compulsion tonight. I’m not obsessing over food. I’m not beset my the desire to eat — either with physical hunger or mental hunger. Not getting constantly hammered by the eating compulsion eases my stress. Less stress further reduces the ill effects of the eating disorder. This all helps me line myself up for another successful day tomorrow.

The mindset has greatly improved. This spread over to me getting out of bed earlier the last two days and exercising more — a long bike ride yesterday and a good dog walk this morning. I’d fallen off of on my fitness too, so adding it back in further bolsters the overall efforts.

Yesterday I stayed in recovery. Today I stayed in recovery. I’m not declaring long term victory, but I am happy to say for the time being at least, I’m out of the relapse.

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Just For Today

Just for today, I will stay vigilant against my compulsive eating.
Just for today, I will eat only the food items that I planned for and prepared.
Just for today, I will say “No” to myself if I start to think or act like I need something more.

Just for today, I will remind myself that nothing tastes as good as abstinence feels.
Just for today, I will remember the tools I’ve developed to successfully fight against my eating disorder.
Just for today, I will cultivate positive action, positive attitude, joyful spirit.

Just for today, I will remember that what I did in the past does not mean I will repeat the behavior in the future — unless it’s positive healthy behavior, of course. 🙂

Just for today, I will remember to foster good thoughts and not succumb to “stinking thinking”.
Just for today, I will treat myself with kindness, honor, respect and care.

Just for today, I will live in a state of recovery and not relapse.

You might be asking why I state these things, “Just for today”. It goes with the 12 Step Program approach of one day at a time. It helps me to focus and be aware of my choices and actions in the moment.

I can do all of these things and be successful today.

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Compulsion Grip

I wish I could come here today and say that I’ve missed blogging for a few days because I’ve been super busy, but that would be a lie. I’ve been avoiding blogging for several reasons, none of which are good. I’m weary in my spirit, in turmoil with my emotions, and locked in the grip of compulsive eating. Unfortunately, when I eat compulsively, I don’t choose celery or lettuce. Instead, I’ve been diving into chocolate, but if chocolate isn’t available, I find other stuff to eat. And eat. And eat some more of. Although the compulsion occurs with small servings, it’s all relative and even small bites can add up to damage when they occur over time.

A couple of days before I left for my recent trip, I went through a bad, emotional time, centered around one of my community involvements. My service with this particular organization had been weighing heavily on me for sometime. I increasingly felt more stress and anxiety and I’d lost my passion and energy for it. No fault of the organization. It’s great and fills an important need. This was all on me. However, I firmly believe that when this happens, it’s time to step away not only for my own good but, ultimately, for that of the organization. Things kind of came to a head the night before my trip and I woke up knowing that I needed to make the break, so I did. While surprised, most of my colleagues wrote understanding, supportive emails. Unfortunately, one friend was/is very upset and angry with me. She expressed hurt over my lack of trust that I didn’t come to her first and discuss it with her. Emotions ran high with both of us and, in short, it got very messy. Unfortunately, I believe our friendship is a casualty in my decision to do something that was meant to be a health choice for me.

That’s the background. I’m working my way through the emotions, but here’s the thing about a compulsive eating disease. Once I engage in the behavior and fall into relapse, it’s really difficult to put on the brakes. I’ve talked about that before and don’t want to engage in whining, but it’s my statement of fact today. I imagine it’s not all that different than an alcoholic who falls off of the wagon. Once in the grip of compulsion, the compulsion rules.

Even if mentally I tell myself to not start or, if started, to stop . . . even if I have the best intention, when my disease takes hold, the physical act of eating overrides everything else. I have to say that it really, truly sucks.

So right now, in addition to feeling all of the residual emotional upset from the situation I was in, I have piled on the dismay, disgust, depression and dis-ease of being in the compulsion. Oh, and there’s also the physical discomfort of eating undesirable food in less-than-healthy amounts. One small chocolate as a treat isn’t bad. Eating a series of them, even stretched out over hours, results in queasiness.

I would like nothing more than to curl up in my bed, under the covers, and cry for an hour or two.

Instead, I’m here in front of the computer screen, sharing my status regardless of how pitiful it makes me appear. I’m fighting the “stinking thinking” that tells me I’ve blown it. I’ve blown everything. I’m never going to be able to stop eating and will gain all of my weight back, cripple myself and die early.

Yes, my “stinking thinking” can be incredibly dramatic. So, I blog and remind myself that relapse does not have to be forever. I’ve gone through some messed-up days, veered far from my appropriate food plan, and not attended to my regular exercise routine, BUT and, yes, that deserves to be a big BUT, a few messed-up days do not mean my entire effort is blown. I am not doomed.

I may not be able to change how my friend feels about my choices. I can, however, break out of the grip of compulsion and stop the relapse behavior. I can build acceptance and find serenity. I can treat myself with compassion, practice good self-care, undo whatever weight gain damage I’ve done, and move on.

I just caught myself thinking, “Oh Jesus, Mary. You’re writing about this again?? These people don’t want to read about this same problem, same old struggle another time.” Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. The point is that this is my journey and the blog is a tool to help me along the way. The eating disorder, the damned compulsive disease, is always part of me. There are always going to be times when I struggle to stay on track, and there will be times when I fall off. Not blogging about it, not forcing myself to confront and think about my issues and actions, doesn’t help. In fact, not blogging helps me creep into the denial stage. It does me no good to ignore what I’m doing. In fact, ignoring is the worst thing that I can do.

So I’m not. I’m not going to cower under the covers and cry either.

Onward and upward.

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Foods That Make You Go Eww

I’m wrapping up the last of the trips I’d planned for the last several weeks. Two were pleasure – New Orleans in May and this trip up to see family and friends in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. One was business with that day of Disney included. I’ve enjoyed everything and spending time with people I love, but I’m ready to be home without travel for an extended period of time.

I had an evening flight last week so by the time I got to the airport, it was dinner time. Sadly, I’d screwed up and left my cheese wedges in my checked bag, so I got in a long line for one of the restaurants on the concourse. Standing in the slow moving line, I studied the posted menu. Famous hot dogs. Famous hot dogs with cheese. Famous hot dogs with cheese and chili. French fries plain or with the other toppings. Various burgers and cheeseburgers.

All stuff that, in the past, would have made me drool like a Pavlov dog. I could definitely be an adult with a teenage boy’s pallet and preferences. For a couple of seconds, my sensory memory stretched back in time and I thought of crunchy, greasy fries, gooey orangeish cheese, and artery-clogging, processed meat. My mind asked, “Just this once? What would it hurt?”

My stomach said, “Ewww. That shit’s gross.” I veered off to the refrigerated shelves and grabbed a container of yogurt instead. (I might have become a yogurt snob, by the way. While it was okay and a better choice than chili-cheese laden fries, it wasn’t the higher quality Greek yogurt and fruit to which I have become accustomed.) Sub-par yogurt or whatever, my stomach felt better, I felt more satisfied and, mentally, I could reinforce myself for making a good, healthy, appropriate eating choice instead of giving into a bad-food-choice impulse.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I never eat a crispy fry, burger, or even a hot dog, but there are times and places when these are of better quality. A crowded airport restaurant probably isn’t that quality option.

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Embracing Triumphism

Just so you know, I went online to see if there’s an actual opposite word for defeatist. Most Google returns cited optimist. That doesn’t do it for me. One site suggested triumphist or triumphism. Those look a little oddball but they’re easier than victorist or victoryism. I like them. I hereby proclaim that I have a triumphist attitude. I embrace triumphism.

Adopting any attitude and putting it to work for me is a choice. I’m as capable of sinking low as anyone. Stuff bothers me. Emotions get complicated and messy. It’s often easy to throw up my hands and declare, “What’s the use?” It’s harder to say, “Nope, no matter what, I am not going to let this (whatever “this” is at the time) bring me down. I will not permit it to defeat me, derail my effort and keep me from my goals.

No lie, the last eight or nine days have been emotionally difficult. I didn’t go on a single roller coaster while at Disney World, but I feel like I’ve ridden one ever since. As a compulsive overeater, when my emotions thwack around like a silver ball in a pinball machine, I get unbalanced. For some reason, I believe, or have always believed in the past, that food settles me down. It anchors me, or so it feels like. What compulsive eating really does is drag me down like one of those old time ball and chain things attached to my ankle. It doesn’t uplift my spirit or brighten my outlook. Instead, that diseased eating unleashes a torrent of self-criticism which sets me on the path to that “What’s the use? I’ll never lose or keep off the weight.” That, in turn, creates such a defeatist attitude that I’m on my way to a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Not any more. I’m learning to guide the roller coaster, not just ride it like a strapped-in passenger who has to finish the ride once it starts. I’m also learning, one day at a time, to fight off the compulsion which helps me stave off the self-criticism so that I can stay strong and determined in my triumphist state of being.

So, emotionally difficult time period and all, I’m not drowning. I’m riding the wave, keeping my balance, and riding the wave. Instead of criticizing, I’m acknowledging the self-care and the fact that I’m choosing healthier ways in which to deal. I’m reminding myself that bumps aren’t blockades. I can continue to make progress, one step at a time.

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Drive-Free Day

When I have a chance on a weekend, I like to not use my car for an entire day. It isn’t always possible, but I’ve managed to do it a couple of times in recent weeks. Instead of driving today, I operated on pedal-power. It was the first day since I returned from my trip that I’ve been able to get out on my bike and, coincidentally, the first day when I had enough energy. I rode first to Tail Chi class and then up to my friend’s salon for an eye treatment. From there, I cruised over to the animal shelter and then home. All told, I put in about 12 miles, plus did the hour of Tai Chi.

I’m glad I got all of that exercise done in the morning, because I was fairly lazy around the house for the rest of the day. I cleaned the pool and sorted through some old snorkeling gear. I read out on the porch and talked to a friend. I took the boat out for a short ride to see how everything was working. It’s in good order for a snorkel trip with friends tomorrow.

I guess this technically means I wasn’t completely drive-free since I “drove” the boat. That’s why I’m not calling this a fuel-free day.

The point is that I could have driven around the town in my car, but I didn’t. I opted to go around powered by my body so that I’d benefit from the exercise. My muscles felt good during and after. My mind and spirit did as well. It lights me up that I’m not fazed about a 12 mile bike ride. I’m not fazed by 20 miles either.

There was a time when even driving around to do errands on a Saturday made me tired. Now I get a little extra jazz from going drive-free.

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Post 600 – Keeping On

I wish I had something incredibly insightful to write about tonight, but to be completely honest, I’m exhausted physically, mentally and, for some reason, in my spirit too. The physical and mental exhaustion, I understand. After Disney I went to a business conference. It was terrific. I learned a lot, brought back new ideas to implement and investigate, networked with great people and also had a great time. We attractions people know how to have a good time, particularly when evening events are hosted by fellow attractions. However, as positive as each day was, I went non-stop from the time I woke up at 6:30 a.m. until I went to bed each night around 11 p.m. Full days of absorbing information and putting out mental energy just wipes me out. This all culminated with a seven hour plus drive home.

Explanation and understanding aside, I have no idea why my spirit is weary and I’m blue. Of course this all motivates my eating disorder to want to kick in and the struggle to not “binge” makes me even more tired.

What the heck am I going to do about it, you might ask? I’ve asked myself the same thing all day. I’ve decided to keep on keeping on. I feel overwhelmed right at this moment and when that happens, it’s constructive for me to go into “light a single candle” mode. I can’t do, fix, take on everything all at once, so I’m need to organize and structure everything into a “one thing at a time” plan.

First priority is making sure that my food stays nice and clean. When I’m weary, making a variety of food choices is challenging and also overwhelming, so keeping it simply and surrendering (KISS) helps a great deal. I have fruit, coconut water, greens and protein powder ready so I can go into smoothie/protein drink mode for a few days. Some might consider this restrictive, but for me simplifying the process and choices helps me. First of all, I feel like I’m treating myself with care and fostering good health for my entire system. This makes me feel better physically and mentally which should help me emotionally too. It also frees up brain energy. I don’t have to spend as much time thinking about food when I reduce the range of choices.

Tomorrow is going to be a very busy day and I just have to power through it. I can do it and then Friday will be significantly less jammed with meetings and so on. Again, the key is taking care of myself first so that I can better take care of my responsibilities. I can prioritize the work tasks and the other things on my plate for the organizations on which I serve. I just did that to some extent. Someone asked me to call them at 7 a.m. to discuss some things for one of those other organizations and I said no. I can give her time and energy in the evening but the morning has to be devoted to the job. Prioritization.

I guess that’s my insight for tonight. Care of self comes first. Everything else gets a figurative number and a place in line. I can’t do everything all at once but I can take care of each thing in its own time.

Hopefully this sensible, healthy approach will not only help me recover from the physical and mental exhaustion but will lift the spiritual malaise as well.

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Mary Does Disney

The last time I visited Disney World theme parks was in 1997. While still weighing more than 300 pounds, I was no where near my heaviest weight ever. I was a lot younger, had more energy, and my knee had not yet begun to really weaken. My friends and I had a great time.

A year later, after my Mom got sick, I’d put on about 35 pounds. I went to a theme park in Texas with a friend, got into the car for an old roller coaster and was too fat for the bar to come down securely, That pretty much ended any plans of going to a theme park ever again.

Since weight loss surgery, a trip to Disney has been on the Promise List. I have a conference starting today in St. Augustine and decided to come up a day early with a slight jog inland to Orlando for a Disney Day. I bought a one day park hopper pass and started with an 8 a.m. arrival to Animal Kingdom. Just going through a turnstyle without an issue is a mental relief. Climbing into a ride with a bar or a seatbelt and not giving the slightest, worried thought as to whether I’ll fit is a miracle.

I had a lot of fun. I didn’t do every ride that I wanted but caught different shows and attractions. I managed to hit all four parks at some point. According to my FitBit, I walked more than 14 miles, or 33,000 plus steps. Needless to say I was exhausted by day’s end. I confess that my body was sore and I treated my knee and ankle to an ice pack before going to sleep.

Unfortunately, my eating wasn’t stellar. I received some sad news about a foster dog that I care about while I was eating lunch. I was shocked to see that I’d eaten the entire sandwich completely mindless to what I was consuming. I so need to keep working on this! My mind blanked about my food as I was swept up in the emotion. I ate some other junk later in the day but I have to think that the day-long physical exertion will balance it all out.

Today I’m giving my body a day off to let it recover and I’ve begun the day with a mindfully-eaten, healthy breakfast. There were many yummy, off-plan choices that I could have made, as well as some overly abundant but healthier options. I actually spoke to the servers about the large quantity of food on the offered breakfast platters and asked if we could customize something smaller in portions. To my pleasure, they agreed and worked with me.

So, check Disney off of the Promise List. I’ve shown that I can do theme parks again and am looking forward to returning in the future. Booyah!

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