Weighty Matters

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Achieving Re-Entry

Whenever I leave the Keys for vacation and then return, I feel like I’m splashing back into my regular life from another planet.  No matter where I go or what I’m doing, trips away take me out of the customary routine.  The amount of time required to readjust is determined by how long I was away, where I went, and what I was doing.

It’s been particularly challenging for me this week, no doubt in part because I was so far away and on a cruise ship and then, when I returned, I brought home a cold.  So, I’ve been sick and more tired than usual.  I started doing the liquid detox and then realized that I had to go back off of the rock out of town all day on Wednesday to a regional forum.  That was a long day.  A good one, but it also threw me out of my routine.

One other strong reminder for me is that it’s easier to stay on the wagon than to climb back on it when you’ve fallen off.  So, I’m a little out of sorts this week and am relying on not letting the little I can do keep me from doing the little I can do.  I’m definitely eating better than I did while away, which is good.  I’m not perfect, but I’m better, and that’s an improvement.  I’ve been busy as all get out with work which impacts my available time.  While the dogs and I haven’t gotten out for long treks, we are at least getting in daily shorter walks.  Again — the little I can do is getting done.

I’m giving myself this week to get my act together.  The cold is waning.   I have a few things planned for this weekend but nothing stressful that will wear me out.   I’m getting used to my own routine again and that just feels better all around.

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Home from the Cruise

Thank you all for the good wishes about my trip.  I had an amazing fun time.  I love country music and every day featured multiple concerts, interview sessions and other activities.  Plus, I met numerous nice people from all over the country – many of whom I will remain in touch with going forward.

We visited three ports plus the cruise line’s private island.  I was active in all four places.  I also walked all over the ship, seemingly all of the time, every day.  I also frequently took the steps, climbing four or five decks.  For fun, I took part in three or four hour-long line dance lessons and then a couple of times went up for the nightly dancing again.

Full disclosure time:  I ate well every day, but I did not eat right.  By right, I mean that my good intentions apparently stayed in port when I sailed away.  I definitely ate too many carbs and too much sugar.  I’m not going to lie or pretty it up.  I won’t claim that I didn’t mean to do it.  I got on board surrounded by all of that delicious food and I ate it.  Conscious choice.

So all of the activity was intended to be not only for fun, but also to partially compensate for the increased caloric intake.

I am absolutely terrified to get on the scale.  So, I’m not going to right away.  Now that I’m home, starting tomorrow I’m going to do a three day liquid diet with protein drinks and fresh fruit & veggie smoothies.  Because I know that I get a crunch-texture craving when I do this, I also have some celery sticks and crisp apples.  Those will be the only deviations.

This is a real test of recovery for me.  It is one thing to deviate so drastically from my food plan.  It is another thing all together to pull my act together and get back on track.

Emotionally, deviating from the plan did not affect me.  I wasn’t consumed with guilt.  It didn’t make me feel fat and ugly.  A couple of my daily readings reminded me not to let those negative feelings and emotions overtake me and ruin my fun.  Instead, I enjoyed myself.  I was social all of the time.  I took part in snorkeling excursions, and a bike and kayak ride.

I wore a beautiful gown for costume night and joined the parade across the stage.  I was even mildly flirted with by a charming Texas gentleman who asked me to dance and assured me I’d do fine even though I’d A) never danced the Texas two-step and B) was dressed in a full gown and hoop skirt.  I’m delighted to say that I didn’t stumble, trample his toes, or tangle us up in a satin heap of material.  I was actually on the graceful side and I do not have a lot of experience dancing in a couples’ dance.  So, booyah for me!

Even though all of the musical artists mingle around the ship and are open to people approaching them for photos and autographs, I am so reluctant to go up and ask.  Seriously, I’m such a nerd about it.  However, I will help out a friend on ship if they need someone to be their photographer while they get a photo taken.  Honestly, doing that paved the way for me to also get into a few pictures.  Not once, I’m proud to say, did I think any bad thoughts of myself or my body as in, “I hate asking these people to put an arm around my fat self.”

Seriously, years ago, that thought would absolutely have prevented me from asking.  Oh hell, when it came to pictures, I was always eager to stand in back of a group instead of actually letting my body be seen.  So, I am also proud that I was even willing to pose – and that I’m willing to share the photos here.  Enjoy!

Like I said, I had a great time and am now excited to get back on track and down to business!

I felt beautiful in this gown and loved that so many people complimented me and the dress.

I felt beautiful in this gown and loved that so many people complimented me and the dress.

After we took this photo, he played with my hair and complimented my curls.  I didn't feel too much like a cougar. :-)

Singer/songwriter Darryl Worley and me. After we took this photo, he played with my hair and complimented my curls. I didn’t feel too much like a cougar. 🙂

 

Singer-songwriter Wade Hayes and me on costume night.  He is a super nice guy and complimented me on my outfit.

Singer-songwriter Wade Hayes and me on costume night. He is a super nice guy and complimented me on my outfit.

I've been a big fan of Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers for more than 20 years.  I was thrilled to get a photo with him - particularly since I didn't last year.  He was so nice about it!

I’ve been a big fan of Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers for more than 20 years. I was thrilled to get a photo with him – particularly since I didn’t last year. He was so nice about it!

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Vacation Plan

So, I’m going on my cruise.

Note to potential thieves: My house is protected by a friend who is staying here in my absence.

Cruises offer a lot of food.  Alllll day long and late into the night you can eat and eat and eat.  All I can think is that I’m so glad that I had weight loss surgery, otherwise I could easily eat myself to the dimensions and graphic results of that little girl in the Willie Wonka movie or Mr. Creosote in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life.   Still, temptation is every where and the food choices are pretty much all varied and delicious.

However, as we know, my recovery is not just about abstaining from quantity.  It requires abstaining from compulsively eating unplanned items or at unplanned times.  The key thing here is “plan” — as in I need one for cruise survival.  It’s vacation.  I want to enjoy the delicious prepared foods without then feeling swamped with gilt and other negative, destructive emotions.  I don’t want to feel emotionally deprived and sulky.  I also don’t want to be consumed by constantly obsessing about the whole thing.  I also don’t want to gain weight while I’m away.

Here is my plan.

  • Continue to follow my three-three eating plan – three small meals, three small snacks so that I eat every couple of hours.
  • Stay out of the buffet restaurant except when I’m there for the specific meal – usually breakfast and lunch.  Do not drop in and pick up a random couple of cookies just because I’m on that deck for another activity.
  • I do not need to eat a dinner roll.  I love bread and they always serve a basket of it on the table at dinner.  This is basically a junk carb for me.  Besides, it takes up room in my stomach that is better reserved for whatever yummy protein and vegetables will be on my entree plate.
  • If I really want dessert, I can have it after dinner.  Remind myself that just because it’s in front of me does not mean that I’m obligated to finish it all.
  • Maintain physical activity.  On the days at sea or when I have a later excursion time, I will get up and walk the deck and do the morning wellness program the ship offers.  I will not rely on the elevator but will take the steps – up and down – most of the time.
  • Stay hydrated.  Water is best.  Green tea is tasty.  Fluids in are important.
  • Remember that these are all positive actions that I choose to take; healthy changes that I choose to make.  This is not a diet.  I do not resent the way that I choose to eat in a healthy, appropriate, yet still delicious manner.

So, here goes.  I am not taking my computer with me and will not have phone access much while away.  I don’t think I’ll have any chance to post so I’ll catch up with everybody after I return.  Have a great week, everyone!

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Self-Doubt

I’m a little disappointed in my mindset over the last couple of days.  For some reason, self-doubts are creeping in every once in a while.

Self-doubt and low confidence in my abilities used to be regular visitors.  To be completely honest, they were ever-present — unwelcome squatters who staked out territory in my head and heart and were determined to get in my way.  No matter what my aim, objective or task, I had to find a way to work around these interlopers and their barriers.

After my first foray into therapy and OA, I gradually succeeded in evicting the trespassers.  In recent years, they’ve attempted to take up space again only on rare occasions.  So the fact that they’re coming around a little more frequently these days is not only inconvenient, but also a little worrisome.

I have a lot on my plate – figuratively speaking.  I’m super busy at work as well as with some extra-curricular responsibilities.  When I’m already in a time crunch, the last thing that I need is to have to take more time to boot out an unwelcome guest like self-doubt.

That whole “super busy” state may have something to do with it.  I feel a little overwhelmed.  I’m going on vacation soon, which is great.  I’m not going to be constantly connected to my email, phone and computer either.  That’s also great and unusual for me.  While I’m looking forward to “going off the grid”, it’s possible that it’s causing me a smidgeon of anxiety too.

There’s also a little chicken-or-the-egg conflict happening.  I’ve been a bit sloppy with my food plan and also not exercising at my accustomed level.  Those things could be opening the door to the reduced confidence and increased self-doubt, or they could be the result.

Whatever the case, I am not pleased.  I do not want to let the negative feelings chip away at the strong foundation I’ve worked so hard to build over the last three years.  Here’s one example.  On my upcoming trip, I have another opportunity to go zip lining.  If you were a blog reader here a couple of years ago, you may remember how zip lining in Hawaii was on my Promise List.  I absolutely LOVED the experience and took it on, believing I could handle the challenge.

Right now, I’m reading the adventure description and feeling a little unsure.  I’m questioning whether, physically, I’m up to the experience.  Quite simply, that’s b.s.  Of course I can.  Just because I’ve been a little off in my fitness routine doesn’t mean that my strength has dissolved.

I can do this.  Those pesky interlopers can only make me doubt my ability if I listen to them.

No matter what the challenge or goal, I have every tool.  Right now I’m pulling out a mental hammer and posting the “No Trespassing” sign.

Self-doubt, move along.  There’s no room for you here in my life.

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Sleep is Not Over-Rated

Lately I keep seeing reports about the important role that getting enough sleep plays in weight loss and overall health.  I’ve noticed that I am long past the days when I could function on five hours of sleep.  Oh, how I remember the days of my 20s when I’d work all day and then go out about 9:30 p.m. and party until 2 or 3 a.m. before crashing into bed for a few hours of shut eye.  The alarm clock would go off at 8  a.m. and off I’d go to work again.

Those days are so far gone that I can’t imagine keeping that kind of sleep-deprived routine on a regular basis.  I also remember even in my 30s that I’d regularly stay up until 12:30 or 1 am playing on my computer.

These days, I’m lucky if I make it to 11 p.m. on a work night and when I do, there’s probably been some point in the evening when I dozed off for 20 minutes on the couch.

It has become increasingly apparent to me that I need to pay attention to my body and brain and respond to my own sleep cycles.  If I’m tired at 10 p.m., I go to bed.  On the weekends, if I don’t have to get up at 6:30 a.m., I do my best to sleep or at least rest for a little longer before rolling out to start the day.  Getting enough quality sleep is not a luxury.  It’s necessary for me to function at my best.

When I’m too tired, I am less mentally alert and, therefore, less prepared to stay on track with my recovery.  I am far more likely to make crappy decisions about my food, eating, and exercise choices when I’m tired.  There’s more to the sleep and weight loss connection.  Apparently, when our bodies are tired, our metabolisms don’t function as efficiently.  My metabolism is challenged enough with my age, my post-menopausal state, and my years of yo-yo dieting.  If getting enough sleep can help, I’m all for it.

Speaking of which, it’s 11 o’clock and I can actually feel my brain starting to shut down.  That’s more than enough of a clue to tell me it’s time that I logged off for the night and went to bed.

Sweet dreams and good sleep, everyone!

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Buying Clothes in “Normal” Stores

I’ve talked about shopping for clothes several times, but I’m experiencing some more new stuff.  The whole experience of going into pretty much any store and finding clothes in my size is still not something to which I am accustomed.  It isn’t natural behavior and, sometimes, I need to remind myself to take the plunge.

That happened in September when my friend and I were in Key West and passed a Chico’s store that was having a big end-of-summer sale.  She suggested we go in.  “Oh no,” I said.  “I’ll never find anything.”  My mind kept going to all of the Chico’s ads I’d seen on television with the very tall, slender models.  My friend told me that the store had sizes that would go up to what I’m currently wearing — and she was right.

Several months ago I discovered that I can go into this local ladies sportswear store and find clothes in my size.  I still figured that was an anomaly.

Yesterday I went to Key West to hang out with some friends.  I’m leaving for a cruise soon and needed a few sporty tops and, hopefully, a pair of shorts or cropped length pants to round out my shipboard wardrobe.  I thought I’d check out Chico’s.  When I rounded the corner, another shop’s windows caught my eye — Fresh Produce.  Honestly, my first thought was, “No way.  Don’t even bother.”  I took a deep breath and went as far as the sale racks that were close to the door.

Well, what do you know?  They had clothes in a variety of sizes from XS to XXL.  Some were numbered, but not in the regular number sizes, you know, 6, 8, 14, 18.   I am not good at looking at a garment and assessing whether it will fit my body.  My body shape and image are still distorted in my mind’s eye.

I asked a salesperson for help.  She was cheerful and friendly when she informed me that it all depended on the garment.  Two different saleswomen told me that they wear any of three different sizes from the store.  Hmmm.

So, I learned that there is no standard for XS or M or even XXL.  An XXL in this store could be the equivalent of an L in another.  Heck, it wasn’t even that close a comparison — an XXL in one shirt could be similar in size to an L in the one next to it on the sales rack.

There truly was no way to guess and I found that I had to get over a couple of hangups about the size on the tag.

I thought of that Anne Lamott Anti-Diet post a week or so ago where she says that there are enough things affecting her self-esteem without her jeans and clothes having an opinion.  I vowed to not negatively judge myself over the size on the tag.  XL didn’t mean that I’d swelled up and gained weight.  It meant that the particular garment was designed and cut smaller than other styles.

The only things that mattered were: Did the clothing catch my eye?  Did it fit when I put them on?  Did I like the way that I looked in them when I wore them?  Did I like it – period?

Once I put the sizes out of my mind, my shopping stress level dropped and I had a really nice time picking out a few great things.  When I left, I was not only pleased with my purchases, but I was also very happy that I’d confronted my apprehension about even going into a so-called “normal” clothing store.

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Changing Lifestyle

The process of changing a lifestyle is more important than reaching a goal or measuring a performance. – Theodore Isaac Rubin

This quote was part of my daily reading the other day.  It really summed up what I continue to struggle with  in my recovery.  I know that my recovery is all about changing my lifestyle from unhealthy and sedentary to healthy with physical fitness and activity.  Yet, all too often I still measure my success in whether I strictly adhered to a rigorous protocol of food choices and what the number says on the scale.

These issues battle for control in my head all of the time.  The one that is winning on any given day all too often determines how I feel about myself.  When I focus too much on my weight by number or whether, goodness sake, I actually treated myself to some pasta at dinner or a single cupcake for dessert, I send myself right back into the diseased thinking of “You failed.  You ruined today.”

When I focus on how much I’ve achieved with my overall lifestyle change; when I embrace that I am SO much healthier in the way that I eat, the food choices I make, the physical activities that I enjoy doing, the adventures that I explore; I feel so much better emotionally, mentally and spiritually too.

I need to cultivate positive reinforcement for my lifestyle change.  I need to notice when I have a good, balanced day.  I also need to be mindful about how I talk to myself or quiz myself.   Did I choose the things I ate with care, or did I eat mindlessly, driven by compulsion?  Was I in balance in the actual food choices – healthy, fresh, natural most of the time and not so much fatty, low-quality, over-processed foods?  If I ate anything compulsively, or over-indulged at some point in less healthier food choices, I shouldn’t go on to castigate myself.  Nothing is served by mentally berating myself.  I can look at the day objectively and treat myself with love, understanding, and a re-commitment.

Was I physically active?  I don’t need to march a 5K every day, but some part of my day needs to include some sort of activity — walks with the dogs, Tai Chi, a workout DVD, a bike ride.

Consistent commitment to the healthier choices strengthens the foundation of my improved lifestyle far more than obsessing on the scale numbers or the size on the tags of my clothes.  Do I feel good, strong, and energetic?  Am I peaceful and happy in my heart?  Those are the things that matter.

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The Birthday Cake Whine

It’s my birthday today.  I have felt the love of family and friends – those of blood, those of choice, long time, newish, work family – they have all surrounded me with good wishes in person, on Facebook, via text message or phone calls.  Truly lovely and amazing to have so many wonderful people care to wish me happiness on this day.

I am honestly humbled and grateful and feel so blessed.

Why then did I title this post the Birthday Cake Whine?  Well, because I guess I’m not a perfect human being and am capable of having a few cranky feelings amid the joy.  I thought about not writing this post, but then ignoring my feelings because I’m castigating myself for being bitchy felt inauthentic and not in keeping with the spirit and intent of this blog.   So here goes.

Nobody got me a birthday cake at the office.  We usually do this and then people from other departments come over to sing and share.  For whatever reason, this didn’t happen today.  It didn’t happen the last couple of years.  I think sometimes someone just doesn’t think of it, however, other times I know that it’s been discussed and decided that I probably didn’t want a cake because I was either trying to lose weight or was eating healthier or maybe shouldn’t eat cake or some other reason unbeknownst to me.

So now I feel bad if people didn’t get cake because they thought they were doing what I’d want.

Here’s the thing.  This taps into my little girl feelings of wanting to be normal — just like everybody else — but feeling different because of my weight struggles and eating disorder.  I feel like somebody else is making the decision about what I should or shouldn’t eat.  I don’t actually know if that’s what went on, but I hate even thinking that it might have.

Look, to be as objective and honest as possible, a lot of people weren’t there today.  The ones that were in the office were incredibly busy — myself included.  I’m happy that even some of them were able to join us for lunch and they got me an adorable, fun card, too.  So, I need to step off the self-pity bus and not be so whiny over a dessert.

Besides, it’s not like I didn’t have cake.  I stopped at the cupcake bakery on the way home, got my variety variety — a salted chocolate cupcake — and ate it for dinner.  Remember when I talked about being abstinent in the behavior of not eating compulsively?  This wasn’t a compulsive purchase and consumption.  In anticipation that the office might once again skip the birthday cake ceremony with me, I decided this morning that a cupcake at dinner would be included and planned for in the day’s food choices.  So, I did not eat that cupcake compulsively.  Booyah for me!

I’ll be over this feeling sorry for myself in a little bit.  In fact, I’m going to go back and reread all of the wonderful, loving, enthusiastic birthday wishes and once more be truly appreciative and grateful.

Maybe someone else controlled whether I had a birthday cake at the office, but I control whether to connect my feelings to the dessert.

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Food Attitude

My life, my recovery and my health would all be a whole lot easier to maintain if I always wanted to eat fresh, healthy, good-for-me food.  That might be my biggest obvious understatement of the new year.

I’m not sure what sent my mind on that thought path tonight.  I’m not having bad days.  I’m eating to plan and I’m eating healthy, nicely prepared foods.  This might be a good place to point out that the two don’t always, necessarily, go together.  I can be abstinent in my behavior – eating only what’s planned, when I planned to eat it — and yet incorporate crappier food items in my plan.  However, things are just so much better when I also pick quality foods.

Like today, for example.  At breakfast, I enjoyed 0% Greek yogurt mixed with some sliced strawberries and a little honey.  I made a salad of chopped kale with shredded broccoli, a sprinkle of feta and a mix of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Last night, I made a lentil soup and threw in more kale.  All very tasty for lunch today.  Tonight I grilled some skirt steak and ate it with a small garnet sweet potato and some steamed green beans.  It was a delicious dinner.

Physically, I am completely satisfied, emotionally I’m happy for the healthy choices.  However, there’s a part of me that craves something fried and sweet.  If someone walked in with a hot-from the fryer doughnut that had been rolled in cinnamon sugar, they’d be lucky to retain their hands after I swiftly grabbed away the treat.

This is not to say that I have to go for the rest of my life without every having greasy, sugary or otherwise fatty food.  Everything in moderation is part of a balanced lifestyle, at least in my opinion.  I just wish I wasn’t so often tempted by those things.

Whenever I see someone say that they don’t care for chocolate, they don’t eat sweets, they don’t have a taste for carbs/fried foods/pick something else that is more calorie laden and fill in the blank, I think, “Are they for real?”

Then there are the people who truly can just take a dab, a small spoonful, a single forkful, a slight taste of something.  They get the flavor, savor, swallow, and are satisfied.  I would love that food attitude. Instead, I got the, “One bite is never enough” characteristic.  I’m the, “Try that bite and you could trigger an all night binge” girl.

I’m not whining about the situation.  (Or at least not terribly much.)  It is what it is.  I’m just indulging in a little wishful thinking before going to bed after another good food/eating day.

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Obsessing Less About Food

Compulsive overeaters spend a lot of time thinking about food.  We can obsess over what we eat, what we might eat, what we have eaten, when we’ll eat again and what.  What we should eat, what we shouldn’t have eaten.

Honestly, the food thoughts go on and on and on.

When I am doing well on program and leading my life abstaining from compulsive overeating, I notice that I am spend a whole lot less time obsessing over food and eating.  For me, this is one of the hallmarks of serenity in recovery.

I like planning out my meals, preparing and then not thinking about them until it’s time to eat.  When I’m doing well on program, I can live days at a time like this.  I do it one day at a time, but those days add up.  When I’m not doing well, I wear myself out emotionally and mentally.

Ever since Christmas, I’ve had a strong of really good days which is why I am feeling the serenity of not thinking about food, or a least why I’m aware of being serene.  There’s a marked contrast so it’s truly obvious.

A series of recovery days also free me from other negative feelings like guilt, frustration, sadness, self-directed anger and other messy stuff.

Positiveness, serenity, and hope are better.  Much better.

I feel more connected to my recovery than I have for a while.  I do not believe this is a coincidence since, for the first time in years, I am doing daily readings first thing in the morning and giving more time to quiet contemplation and other tools.  This practice helps me align myself for the day.  I’d forgotten how much it helps and plan to keep building on it as the days go on.

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