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Post-Thanksgiving but Not Post-Thankful

I hope that you all had a lovely Thanksgiving yesterday.  I enjoyed being with friends who are part of my work family.  We shared each other’s company, good will, and delicious food.  While I ate a little too much, I didn’t stuff.  I also enjoyed a few, satisfied internal chuckles when I compared my plate yesterday with what I used to heap on a plate and devour in the years before weight loss surgery.  It’s all perspective and stomach size that determines what’s too much these days.

Today, I’m engaged in what has become a mini-tradition — the post-Thanksgiving three-day detox.  I follow a plan that I discovered a couple of years ago on Dr. Oz which involves drinking four vegetable-fruit-nut-seed based drinks a day for three days along with some green tea.  The first time I did this detox, I felt really great during and after the three days.  I think the plan gives my body some relief, flushes out some icky stuff and, somehow, resets my metabolism.  Whatever the case, a few days of healthy drinks sure can’t hurt.

We’re closing in on the end of November.  Every day I’ve continued to acknowledge something(s) or someone or several someones for which I am grateful.  Even though it’s after that day of Thanksgiving, I am by no means past the time when I feel thankful.

I’ve known for years that embracing gratitude helps me, but I’ve never truly delved into figuring out why this is so.  I see various self-help leaders promote gratitude, read quotes all over the internet and, still, don’t know why gratitude is so often suggested.

So today I started Googling to see what I could learn.  Overall, the consensus is that gratitude is, indeed, a powerful force.

This blog post here has what I thought were great ideas, and also some useful suggestions.  The fact that it is not from a well-known self-help “guru”, but from someone who is a corporate coach for potential entrepreneurs did not detract from the message.  I particularly like what it says about expanding our focus, turning on our  natural well-being, and allowing ourselves to unconditionally accept and celebrate ourselves.

Then there’s this article by Robert Emmons, who is touted as a leading scientific expert on gratitude.  I’m interested in what he says and plan to look into his books.  This link goes to a site for the Greater Good Science Center, affiliated with the University of Berkeley.   I love that there is something called the Greater Good Science Center and need to poke around on the site some more.  Among other things in the article, Dr. Emmons says, “Gratitude also goes against our need to feel in control of our environment. Sometimes with gratitude you just have to accept life as it is and be grateful for what you have.”

That really resonates with me and connects to an important aspect of my 12 Step program.  In the Serenity Prayer, we ask for the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.  Serenity starts with acceptance.  It looks like gratitude fosters acceptance, so it stands to reason that it might be a stepping stone to serenity.

There are several more sites and articles, but it sounds like they all have variations on the things I read at these two sites.  I enjoyed taking the information in, absorbing it and pondering what it means to me, how it feels, and what I can take away from it and use in my own life’s journey.

Along the way, I started thinking of the optimist-pessimist description of whether one sees a glass as half-full or half-empty.  For the most part, I think of myself as an optimist, but sometimes life throws challenges and painful situations at even the most optimistic of us.  Those times are the ones when I know I most need to dig down and connect with my gratitude.  At those moments it doesn’t matter whether the glass is half-full or half-empty.  I need to be thankful that I have a glass at all.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

For the month of November, I’ve made a point of recognizing and claiming something, or someone, or multiple things or persons, for which I am grateful.  Embracing gratitude each day grounds me in the wonderfulness of today and expands my heart.  Even if I’m experiencing other, more negative things – like stress or upset or whatever – I can still look inside and connect with thankfulness.  This practice enhances my life.

I am a fortunate woman.  I have much for which to give thanks, not just today, but every day.  I never want to forget this or take it for granted.  Claiming and publicly acknowledging my gratitude might only happen in November, but every day when I wake up I acknowledge it to myself and to my Higher Power.  Again, it helps.

I’m celebrating Thanksgiving today with my work family at the home of friends.  I’m putting together an antipasto platter and making some mini jalapeno souffles for appetizers.  It’s expected to be quite the gathering.  We’ll enjoy good food and good company.  Hopefully later in the day, I’ll also enjoy a good football game.  (Watching, not playing.  Go, Eagles!)

For now, I want to acknowledge my gratitude for all of you reading this blog.  I am thankful for your presence and energy, for the comments you make, and also for the silent support.  You enhance this journey and I am thankful.

Wishing you all a spectacular day!

 

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Fooling My Brain

Very often I think that I’m hungry, am positive that if I don’t have a particular food right that very second, I will starve.  Yes, that’s overdramatized, but sometimes it’s close to how I feel.  It’s brain or head hunger, of course.  I’m not actually in danger of starvation.  My brain wants what it wants when it wants it and convinces my body to go along.

I’ve fallen into that trap more often in recent weeks.  It either happens with specific foods or with the quantity of food.  I’m not eating huge binge amounts.  Thank goodness, the restricted stomach prevents that intake.  However, I could eat a reasonable portion, wait a while, decide that I must have more and then squeeze in additional foods.

I honestly could demolish a package of cookies that way, one cookie at a time spread out over an afternoon and evening.  Mental hunger is powerful.

Determination not to give into mental hunger must be even more powerful.  Those of you old enough to remember the Reagan Administration will recall Mrs. Reagan’s campaign of “Just Say No” to drug usage.  In this case, I must just say no to my own brain cravings.

Often, I take to joshing around with my brain.  Instead of scolding myself when the food thoughts attempt a coup, I give myself a mental nudge along the lines of, “Oh come on.  Don’t be silly.  You don’t really need that (fill in the inappropriate food).”  It helps.  It makes the whole process less difficult than if I argued with myself or made myself a victim of my eating disorder.  I have to walk away from dramatic internal monologues.

This morning while preparing lunch to bring to work, I realized that I was out of nuts.  I like to bring nuts for a mid-morning snack.  For a few moments I started to get a little, well, nutty about it.  Thankfully, I stopped, did an eye-roll at myself and got a grip.  For months, I satisfied the mid-morning hunger with a single, low fat cheese stick – of which I had several in the fridge.  I plopped one in my lunch bag.  Problem solved.

I fooled my brain.  Serenity returned.  I’ve continued through the day so far without food or eating difficulties.  The cheese stick was fine mid-morning.  My lunch was the perfect, healthy, appropriate meal.  I just enjoyed a small apple for the mid-afternoon snack.  I’m meeting a friend for dinner out and already know what I’m ordering.  Likewise, I know what’s in the house for my reasonable evening snack.  It’s all good.

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No Can’t Do

Sometimes I think I’ll never lose weight again.

Sometimes I worry that I’ll regain all of my weight.

Then I give myself a mental head smack.  I tell myself to knock off the negative thinking.

Oy the things we say to ourselves.  The endless ways in which we strive to kick ourselves when we’re down.  You’d think that we’d do whatever we could to avoid inflicting additional pain when we already feel bad but,  instead, we pick up these things, wield them like clubs, and beat ourselves up with them some more.

Nasty bit of business, that cycle.

Negative thinking leads to negative action or reaction, like eating inappropriately or languishing in bed until it’s too late to take a longer walk before work.  The good news is that positive thinking supports positive action.  Positive action bolsters positive thinking.  That’s the cycle that I need.  It’s the one that keeps me on the healthy road.

Today I slept in a little but, since it was Sunday morning, it didn’t matter how long I stayed in bed.  I still had time to take the dogs for a longer walk.  That’s how we started the day.  I felt much better mentally for having met an exercise need.  It’s a building block and I need more of that, consistently.

The truth is that there is no “Can’t do” in my life.   When my disease says I can’t, I need to counter.  It’s a never ending lesson and I absolutely need constant reminders.

Eat well.  Exercise.  Take care of my spirit.  Eat well.  Exercise.  Take care of my spirit.  Eat well.  Exercise.  Take care of my spirit.

Can do.

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Ten Day Break? Wow.

I’m stunned that it’s been ten days since I wrote a post.  Time flies when one is incredibly busy at work, has numerous after-work commitments, and generally gets home too tired to think straight, yet alone coherently write.

Mea culpa.  My apologies!

In addition to the reasons listed above, I’ll also cop to a subconscious need to avoid admitting some things.  I believe so strongly in keeping it real on this blog that when something came up that I wasn’t ready to talk about, I stayed away.  I also hate feeling like I’m whining about the same old same old.  I haven’t been feeling good about my progress.  A lot of diseased thinking has taken hold of my brain.  So, it all added up to me not feeling good about me.  However, I didn’t want to come on and say that, partly because of that “no whining” preference and partly from denial.

My behavior feels like the internet blog equivalent of avoiding class reunions or other gatherings because I didn’t want old friends to see me looking like a cow.

Pffffffffffffffft.  (The typed equivalent of blowing a raspberry at myself.)  Honestly, that’s junk thinking on all counts.  I work on my issues here.  I process crap through writing.  So, not blogging here means I wasn’t dealing.  Not dealing means not being honest with myself.

Still and all, I might have been away for 10 days, but I certainly have been thinking about my disease and food issues.  A lot.  Some might say I’m thinking too much about them and doing too little.  I don’t disagree.  I’ve felt like I’m not in control of my food choices.  I hate it when I feel like I can’t control my eating.  I hate it even more when I know that stressful situations are triggering the eating.  It’s my coping mechanism.  Harmful as compulsive eating is to me, it’s still a tool that I use to cope when my emotions are rocketing around.

This old behavior makes me think that I haven’t learned a damn thing in almost three years since my weight loss surgery.  Then I start feeling like a failure, which is total, steaming  bull crap.

That’s the problem with stinking thinking.  We start to believe, or act as if we believe, the crappy things we say to and about ourselves.  I know perfectly well that I’m not a failure and I’ve learned a helluva lot about my disease, my issues, etc.  Like Hope and others said, even if I never lose another pound, I’ve still succeeded.  That might be is true, but it takes a while to absorb that into my psyche and truly believe.

The last few days have been better.  Less stress, less compulsive eating.  Not always eating as healthy as usual, but I’m improving.  I got physically lazy too, particularly with the time change.  The last few days I’ve pushed myself to walk even when the weather is less than conducive for the activity.

While my control might be shaky, I don’t feel helpless, or hopeless.  This is a bump in the recovery road.  The highway to health didn’t suffer a washout.  I’m not lost.  Today was better.  God willing, tomorrow will be a good, new beginning too.

 

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In the Middle Seat

I almost titled this post “To Boldly Go Where I’ve Never Gone Before”.  Well, at least where I haven’t gone very often and not in a long, long, lonnnnggggg time.

Last Thursday, I left on a business trip to California for a conference.  On the way home, for some reason the travel agent had not been able to select a seat for me even though I was confirmed on the flight.  I tried several times to select a seat before the day of the flight and each time the system refused.

This caused no small amount of anxiety all because I stressed on the great what if.  What if the only seats available weren’t aisle or window seats?  What if, (insert choked, fretful, gasp) the only seat available was In. The. Middle??  (Cue the doomsday organ chords.)

I was the first person in line at the gate when the attendant arrived to assign seats.  It didn’t help the anxiety when she announced on the microphone that they “might” have an oversold situation and were looking for three volunteers willing to give up their seats for a free flight and other perks.  Actually, the thought of not getting on the flight at all suddenly struck me as ever so much more worrisome since I would then miss the connecting flight, subsequently miss the shuttle van home, and be stuck in Miami for Lord knows how long.

However, even though I was reassured when she confirmed me for a seat, I couldn’t stop the queasy dread when I saw that the situation I so feared had come true.

I was seated in the middle of a row.

All of the dread was a throwback to my days of Super Obesity when I could barely fit in any airline seat but could at least manage to just barely squeeze myself in between the arm rests and use a seat belt extender to buckle up.  Even one one end or the other, I made sure to lean as far as I could away from the person in the middle so that I wouldn’t crowd them more than absolutely necessary.  I always hated it when I’d see the expression on their faces when they realized that they were stuck sitting next to the really heavy woman.  Needless to say, I always avoided middle seats – for my own sake as well as any other travelers.

I’m truly surprised that no flight attendant ever flagged me and said that I’d have to buy a second seat to accommodate my bulk.

Anyway, even though I know I fit in normal seats, I couldn’t shake the sick feeling while I boarded the flight and slowly made my way to my appointed row.  I gingerly slid into the row and oh-so-carefully took my seat.

Without any problem.  I sat down in the seat and realized that not only did I fit, I had a little room to spare on either side.  The arm rests weren’t cutting into me, nor were they trying to automatically flip up, pushed there by any overly thick part of my body.

I fit.  Comfortably.  Comfortably for me and for the people seated on either side.  I was so relieved that I closed my eyes, sent up a quick gratitude prayer, and breathed out the air I’d sort of been holding along with my apprehension.  I relaxed and enjoyed a very pleasant conversation with my row companion to the right.  It felt good.  It felt, Lord help me, normal.

Another hurdle jumped.  Another NSV realized.  Booyah!

****************

As part of my long weekend away, I went on a Whale Watching trip in Southern California.  Here are a some of the photos because, no matter what the topic, there’s always a place for cute animal pictures.

Dolphin-2

 

Leaping Dolphins

Humpback Flukes 1

Northern Fur Seal

SL on Buoy-1

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I’m All About that Bass

I turned on the CMA Awards show tonight.  Miranda Lambert and Meghan Trainor teamed up on Trainor’s hit song All About That Bass.

I’ve sort of heard the song a few times.  I think some pros danced to a few bars of it on Dancing with the Stars one night.  It might have been playing in the background in a store or two when I was shopping.  Honestly, all I knew was the one line, “I’m all about that bass.  ‘Bout that bass.”

I didn’t even know the “no treble” part that comes right after.

Until tonight.  I listened to the song as the women performed and instantly fell in love with it because of the lyrics.  It’s all about self-acceptance and acknowledging your body and your beauty – regardless of the fact that you aren’t a size two.

Just check out these lines:

I know you think you’re fat 

But I’m here to tell ya

 Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top 

Love it, love it, love it!  I think that this is currently my favorite song.  Any time I’m tempted to get down on myself or berate myself for “still” being fat — which is something I can easily do after a rough day — I’m going to sing this song to myself.

If you aren’t familiar with the song, here are all of the lyrics.  It’s a very catchy tune, too.  You can check it out on YouTube or iTunes.  I hope it’s a big hit with women of all ages because we sure can all use the positive reinforcement for our self-images.

“All About That Bass”

Because you know

I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass

Yeah, it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no size two
But I can shake it, shake it
Like I’m supposed to do
‘Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase
And all the right junk in all the right places

I see the magazine workin’ that Photoshop
We know that shit ain’t real
C’mon now, make it stop
If you got beauty, beauty, just raise ’em up
‘Cause every inch of you is perfect
From the bottom to the top

Yeah, my mama she told me don’t worry about your size
She says, “Boys like a little more booty to hold at night.”
You know I won’t be no stick figure silicone Barbie doll
So if that’s what you’re into then go ahead and move along

Because you know I’m
All about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass
Hey!

I’m bringing booty back
Go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that
No I’m just playing. I know you think you’re fat
But I’m here to tell ya
Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top

Yeah my mama she told me don’t worry about your size
She says, “Boys like a little more booty to hold at night.”
You know I won’t be no stick figure silicone Barbie doll
So if that’s what you’re into then go ahead and move along

Because you know I’m
All about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass

Because you know I’m
All about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass

Because you know I’m
All about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass
‘Bout that bass, ’bout that bass
Hey, hey, ooh
You know you like this bass

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How Do Some People Do It?

You know those people who say they can eat one cookie, break off one piece of a chocolate bar and leave the rest for the next day and the next?

How do they do it?

I’m feeling a little whiny tonight.  I’m not and never have been one of those people for whom a simple, small taste was enough.  I always want more.  Even though I can’t physically eat the way that I once did, my brain often wants to.  That’s the strength of compulsion.

I want it to be easier, hence tonight’s mood.  My inner-Mary is complaining like a young teen, screaming, “It’s not fair-er-er-er!”

You know what?  It isn’t fair, but it is what is.  All of the whining in the world doesn’t change the situation, nor does it lead to reality.

This is yet another example of the credo that acceptance is the answer to all problems.  Time for me to stop complaining, work on my acceptance, and move on.  One day at a time.  I don’t have to like the situation, but I do need to accept it and act accordingly.

That is all.

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Triggers

I don’t think only people with eating disorders have triggers that push us to eat or do some other behavior, even when we might not consciously want to do so.  Product manufacturers or sellers have banked on that, and endeavored to capitalize on it since advertising was first created.   However, I think people without addictions or other types of disorders are better able to withstand the triggers when they occur.  They might even spot them happening when with compulsive eaters, the foods already in our mouths, down the gullet and on its way to being digested before we stop to think.

There are lots of different types of triggers that start the chain effect of eating. Some are sensory.  You’re walking along in the mall and the aroma of chocolate chip cookies, warm from the oven, wafts to you from that storefront you’re approaching.  Ohhh, they smell scrumptious and your sensory recall brings back the crunch and flavor of them melting in your mouth with chocolate-y deliciousness.  Don’t you instantly crave one or, if you’re a binge eater, a dozen?

You walk by a co-worker eating lunch, see what they’re eating and it looks soooo much better than the meal you packed hours before when you left the house for work.

Hunger is another sensory trigger.  Naturally, there’s real hunger that occurs when you haven’t eaten for awhile.  Unfortunately, there’s also mental hunger when your head tells you that you’re starving even though your body really doesn’t need food at that moment.

I learned something about situation or association triggers when I went through a smoking cessation program many years ago.  (Actually, 28 years ago last Monday was when I quit smoking.  Booyah!)  The instructor warned us that we  had many situations where we were accustomed to lighting up even if we didn’t crave a cigarette right at that time.  Once he made us aware of such things, I could immediately identify them in my own life.  Whenever I got in my car, I lit a cig.  When I sat down at my desk – yes, back then we could smoke at work – was another trigger.  If I went to a club I was used to holding a drink in one hand and a cigarette in another.  Lighting up after meals – another trigger.   Those situational events were almost harder to break than the very real, physical craving.  You see, they also taught us that there’s a definitive timeline to a nicotine urge.  It builds for up to ten minutes but when it peaks, it goes away, whether or not you have a cigarette.

I’ve never been able to find out if the same holds true for a hunger craving.

Certain food triggers are a given for me.  If I’m somewhere and food is displayed out on tables – like at a party, or if someone brings in a pile of candy to work or leaves snack foods up for grabs in the kitchen — I want it.  If I have certain foods in the house – they’re often on my mind.  Just the fact that they are in close, available, proximity can serve as a trigger.

Plus, if they’re easily accessible and I fall prey to an emotional trigger, then the foods also become the bullets.  Stress, anger, loneliness, external events that upset or sadden me can allll trigger the urge to eat.  Granted, I could binge on celery if that was the only thing in the house to eat.  While the behavior itself isn’t healthy, at least the food would be better for me than candy.

That thing about keeping trigger foods in the house and believing that I am strong enough in program to withstand going on a binge-fest on them?  It’s a myth of my own making.   I’m fooling myself if I think that’s possible.  To be honest, I’m a little sad and a little pissed off to admit this.   I’d really hoped that I’d become one of those people who can make a single candy bar last a week.  Program teaches us that acceptance is the answer to all of our problems.  This is a reality I need to accept.  I need to not have those trigger foods in the house.

I don’t know why this simple truth annoys me so much.  When my mother was alive, we completely understood that she needed to keep a dry house.  Come to think of it, she resisted the notion, too.  She always wanted there to be beer or wine in case we wanted it to drink — despite the fact that we told her time and again that we didn’t want to drink in her house.  We didn’t even care enough about it to order a drink if we were all out to dinner.  It was her thing to insist.  I guess nobody likes to admit that we have so little control over our own diseases and addictions that booze or drugs or food have power over us.

Intellectually, I get it.  Emotionally, I hate it.  Spiritually, I work toward accepting that if I want to avoid wounding myself and setting back my recovery, I need to be more aware of my trigger foods and keep them as far out of range as possible.

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