Weighty Matters

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Mental Relaxation

Having compulsive eating disorder weighs on more than one’s body.  It weighs on the mind and the spirit. I spend a lot of time thinking about the disease; hoping that I’ll stay on track and worrying that I won’t.  Then there’s the residual mental ass-kicking I deliver to myself when I mess up.  The thoughts and stress are almost as obsessive as the eating challenges.

This is one way that having a defined food plan truly benefits me.  When I pre-plan my choices and prepare, I don’t have to spend all day thinking about what I’m going to eat, stressing about each meal option, etc.

Just like the act of binge eating or any kind of compulsive eating can create other issues for me, when I am deep in diseased thinking, the stress bleeds over into other areas.  I start to worry and fret over other things in my life from work situations to managing routine daily activities at home.  I don’t fall apart and become ineffectual but I don’t sleep as well and I use more energy coping with things that I normally handle with ease.

It is a huge relief when I am not beset by the thoughts and emotions of compulsive overeating.  I am so much more at ease when I’m living in abstinence and recovery.  Right now I’m in that good, evenly balanced mental state.  I’m less stressed and more relaxed.

All in all it is a much better state in which to live.

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Feeling Fit Again

Another thing that has been contributing to me not feeling great about myself in recent months is the fact that I wasn’t feeling as physically strong and fit as I had been.  After discovering the joy of physical activity over the course of the first couple of years and really embracing different types of exercise, last spring I started to hurt more.  My right knee gave me chronic pain.  Then I developed the horrid heel pain with plantar fasciitis plus slight tears in my Achilles tendon and plantar fascia.

I began to gain some weight back which made everything even worse.  Emotionally and mentally, the combined affects of the injuries, the arthritic knee, and the extra weight slowly eroded my enthusiasm for exercise.  I backslid into more sedentary ways.  I lost my excitement about all the great things that I could do with my body that I couldn’t before my weight loss surgery.  I couldn’t even do my Tai Chi, which I absolutely love.  Overall,  I just felt like more of a blob as time went on.

As soon as possible after the foot doctor cleared me to restart more physical exercises, I went back to Tai Chi.  Then I discovered the wonderful, amazing rowing classes.  Somewhere along the line, my spirit rejuvenated and I became determined to reclaim the level of physical fitness that I’d achieved before.  That led to me committing to three rowing classes a week – even getting up extra early to make it to the 7 a.m. classes!  (If you knew me, you’d know that this was alien behavior for me.  🙂 )

For the last couple of months, I have consistently rowed three days a week.  I guess it’s about a month and a half since the trainers started incorporating some additional strength and conditioning exercises in the classes.  I give every class all of the energy and effort that I can muster and push myself when I feel like I can’t.  In the last few weeks, even while I struggle with the number on the scale, I can see and feel physical improvement in my body.  Last week I experienced that wonderful realization of how much stronger I am in my core, as evidence by my much-improved form in sit ups.

Recognizing the improvements is having an incredibly positive effect on my emotions and mental attitude.  This really became obvious to me over this Thanksgiving weekend.  Even before, I prepared by going to rowing classes Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  (We knew the rowing studio was closed Thursday through Sunday.)  I think I shared before that on Thursday I not only took Nat out for a long walk, but I also did some exercising at home with free weights, push ups, sit ups and planks, then even a full set of Tai Chi.

I kept my activity going on Friday with another long walk.  Today, I rode my bike to and from Tai Chi class and around town a little doing some errands.

Before dinner, Nat and I went out for a long walk.  As we were walking, I tuned into how my body was feeling.  I felt the regular slight twinges I get in my knee, but really acknowledged how great I felt overall.  Strength in the muscles; a free and easy stride; from head to toe, muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, lungs and other organs all smoothly work together.  In that moment, I realized that I finally feel fit again.

This, my friends, is glorious.  Not only does it lighten my spirit, it energizes my heart.  I am truly enjoying my own physical ability.  Glorious and wonderful, indeed.  I’m inspired to keep it all going.  I’ve already signed up for my three rowing classes next week.  Tomorrow morning, even though it’s Sunday, I’m meeting a friend at her condo community.  We’re going to workout together in the community’s gym.  They have great machines.

I’m inspired as well to not waste the effort by making poor eating choices.  Maybe this is the piece I needed to reclaim in order to finally break through my long lasting plateau.  We will see!

 

 

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Post-Thanksgiving Post

Yesterday was a curious day for me but, ultimately, a successful one for which I am very grateful.  I did not have any plans to share a holiday meal with any friends.  A funny thing happens down here.  I think my different groups of friends assume that one of the other groups or couples have invited me to spend the holiday with them.  Unfortunately, that didn’t happen this year.  One friend did invite me last minute to come for dessert later in the day.  Another friend/co-worker was in the same situation and we sort of half-heartedly said that if we had the energy or desire mid-day to go out to a movie together, we’d get in touch.  Neither of us did.

For about a week ahead of yesterday, I veered between feeling sorry for myself/lonely/resentful and being completely okay with the circumstances.  While I would have liked to be in a group of friends for the human contact and camaraderie, I really, really, really didn’t want the day to be about feasting and overeating.  Then again, I did experience some yearning for turkey, some of my favorite side dishes and the like.  I just worried over whether the emotions would send me into binge mode.

It was a dilemma for sure, but I approached it with a healthy mindset.  From the time I woke up, I was determined that I was going to make this a healthy day for myself.  I started out by taking Natty for a longer walk than usual.  The weather is gorgeous right now — sunny but cooler — and he and I both enjoyed ourselves.  Throughout the day, in between doing other things and watching football, I also did other exercises.  I worked out a little with light weights and also did some situps, pushups and planks.  At another time, I did a full set of Tai Chi.  (By the way, since the rowing gym is closed through the weekend, I did rowing classes Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.)

Our holiday meals always began with a fresh fruit cup.  (No, none of that canned stuff.  Everything fresh!)  I didn’t go full tilt with the full array of fruits Mom and I used to combine, but I cut up an orange, an apple and half of a banana and had it as a snack at lunch along with a  small salad.

Not knowing whether I’d end up at an afternoon movie, I had shopped to make myself a healthy but delicious Thanksgiving dinner.  I bought turkey thighs, a rutabaga, and yes some boxed stuffing.

Mashed rutabaga aka yellow turnip to some, is my favorite side dish.  It was a staple on our family Thanksgiving table.  Here’s the good news – it is a cruciferous vegetable, nutritious and delicious.  Although I put a little butter in it when mashing, I don’t overdo and I used skim milk.  This was, for me, a better choice than mashed potatoes.  I feel it also helped counter balance a little bit of stuffing.

Once it was determined that I was staying home, I really enjoyed preparing my meal.  I chopped up fresh herbs from my little garden to season the turkey and added chicken stock that I’d made and frozen to keep the meat moist while it roasted.  This also made for a delicious gravy after the fact.  I used more of the chicken stock in the stuffing, too.

When dinner was ready, I very carefully took appropriate portions instead of overloading my plate.  Even with the restricted stomach, if I put too much food on the plate at the outset, I tend to eat too much and then I feel sick and uncomfortable.  This ruins my enjoyment physically and emotionally.  I am really concentrating on continuing to train my eyes and my serving utensils to put the amounts I should eat… not what I would have eaten in years gone by.

I sat down and savored what I’d made for myself.  It was delicious and balanced.  I felt really good about how I’d planned and executed my holiday meal.

Now what about dessert, you might be wondering.  Yes, I’d put some thought into that as well.  I hate feeling deprived of dessert.  Emotionally, it’s unhealthy for me to feel deprived and often leads to me wanting more and then bingeing.  Last week, I researched and found a recipe for Pumpkin Souffle.  Very easy to make with a can of canned pumpkin, evaporated milk, two eggs and half a cup of sugar in the entire thing.  I counted up the calories.  Per serving, my souffle had only 180 calories.  As far as desserts go, this was a winner that I could absolutely fit into my meal plan.

I waited until my main entree settled a bit and then spooned out an appropriate serving and thoroughly enjoyed it.

All told, for me the holiday was a food win.  I feel really terrific about how sanely and carefully I planned, cooked and consumed my meal.  I’m also pretty darned please with the physical activity that I included in my day.  I took care of myself.

The result is that today I am not suffering from a food or binge hangover.  I feel good about myself and my recovery and am looking forward to building on this today.  I took the day off from work and have some fun activities planned.  I started with a healthy protein smoothie for breakfast.  Now Natty and I are going out for a walk.

I hope you all had a great day and are enjoying your Fridays.

 

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Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing all of you a happy day. May you be nourished with the love of family and friends. 

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Operating on Faith

Sometimes it is really hard to not get frustrated or impatient.  (Remember the old joke, “I want patience NOW!”?)  I need to constantly remind myself that as long as I follow my food plan and continue to exercise, I will lose weight.

Have I mentioned that I am not a very patient person when it comes to my own endeavors and performance?  Yes, I know that I put an awful lot of pressure on myself.  Unfortunately, it’s a lifelong habit.

I’m used to turning over the physical stuff to my program and Higher Power.  It is much more challenging to let go of the mental and emotional things.  Every morning when I first wake up, I express my gratitude and I ask for help in remaining on my food plan and staying abstinent.  When I say abstinent, I know that I’m thinking about the act of abstaining from compulsive eating or binging.  Today I realize that I need to broaden that and ask for help in abstaining from certain thoughts.  Thoughts like, “I should have lost X number of pounds this week” or “If I do this, I should lose X amount of weight by X date”.   Those are only two examples.  There’s no end to what I can think up.

For today, I will keep working on having faith in program, Higher Power and myself.  For today, I will ask and be open to help in not getting caught up in my head so much and in not pressuring myself with expectations over which I have no control.  I am responsible for sticking to my food and fitness plans.  That’s the priority for me every day.

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Scaleaphobia

I’ve been afraid to get on the scale and weigh myself for the last few weeks.  This ties in with the whole feeling like a failure episode that I experienced.  It also is part and parcel of my ongoing conflicts and how much power I give to that three digit number.

Because I went through the rough period, I magnified in my mind all of the possible negative results.  They ballooned in my head until I was absolutely positive that I must have gained 10 or 20 pounds.  I didn’t want to face the evidence of my own fall from grace.  This all caused extra stress and upset, of course.

Even when things turned around and I began to eat and behave more sanely and rationally, I still feared stepping up onto the scale for the physical reality check.  At that stage, I was afraid that seeing a big gain would send me off the wagon again into the muck of diseased thinking which would lead to me compulsively eating yet again.  This is such horrendous cycle.

Instead of just sucking it up and stepping up, I avoided.  I focused on my eating and exercise, my readings and emotional work.  I took heart in how I feel, how my clothes weren’t oppressively tight, that the shirt I put on fit better than it did the last time I wanted to wear it.

This was all pretty positive, sane behavior, so why wasn’t it enough?  Well, there’s the whole “denial” thing to address.  Sometimes it is a very strong asset to recovery to not be so locked into measuring my success and recovery based on my actual weight.  It really is a good thing to build recovery based on my behavior, my healthy choices, not compulsing or binging, and so on.  Unfortunately, sometimes not weighing can also be a form of denial, as in denying that there’s a problem unfolding.

It’s so difficult to balance these things sometimes.  I finally decided that I needed to face facts and hope for the best.  So, I finally stepped up on the scale.  That’s when I discovered that I was still the same weight as I was a couple of months ago.  In that moment of discovery, I had a choice to make.  I could dive right into the negative and berate myself for not losing, or I could take a deep breath and be happy that, despite the food issues, I had maintained and not gained.  I could also, as I shared yesterday, recognize that while the number might be the same, my body has changed and a number of those pounds have switched from fat to muscle.  A plus!

Today I am glad that I faced the fear and weighed myself.  Today I am also seeking a good and healthy balance.  I don’t want to be obsessed with the scale number.  I want to keep my focus on choosing to eat healthy food in a healthy, recovery-oriented manner.

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Changing the Failure Mindset

I’ve been thinking of myself as a failure because I have not reached my goal weight, even almost four years after my weight loss surgery.  This mindset does mean things to me emotionally, mentally, spiritually and, ultimately physically.  It wreaks havoc with my eating disorder.  Anything that results in me feeling or thinking badly of myself can trigger disease-related eating and relapse.

For a couple of weeks, I was thoroughly depressed about the situation, much more so than I’ve been in years.  I was constantly caught up in failure feelings, beating myself up, joy-less in spirit, at least where my physical improvements and recovery were concerned.   I wanted to anesthetize the feelings and mood in carbs and sugar.  That all just made me feel worse.

Then, for some reason last week, I pulled out of it.  I recommitted to my program and got back in touch with feeling good about myself.  Positive feelings beget more positive feelings.  I went several days without a single starchy carb and wasn’t grabbing for handfuls of chocolate, other candies or other sugar-laden foods.  Even through the bad weeks, I’d continued with my kick-butt rowing classes but now I could note positive changes in my body shape, appreciate the increased strength, better range of motion and other benefits.

I felt powerful inside and out and took the time to really acknowledge and experience the upswing.

This led to me really investigating my mindset and laying out the reality check to sift and separate the truth from the distorted thinking.

These statements are false:

  • I’m a weight loss failure.
  • I can’t do this.
  • I’m weak-willed.
  • I’m unhealthy.
  • I suck.

These statements are true:

  • I have not reached goal weight.
  • I have lost and am maintaining a weight loss of around 140 pounds.  (I have never maintained a significant weight loss for this long a time!)
  • Sometimes I fall back into relapse eating.
  • More often, I eat sanely and on my recovery plan.
  • When eating sanely and on plan, I overall make far healthier food choices.
  • I am physically active and stronger.
  • I haven’t lost weight in total number of pounds in the last two months, but I know my overall fat-to-lean muscle mass ratio has improved.  There are fewer pounds of fat, more of muscle.
  • I am determined.

Looking at those lists, I am so happy to see that I know the lies from the truths.  I’m also happy to see that the positive list is twice as long.  It is amazing that positive thinking can lead to such positive change.  My mindset over the last week has completely changed for the better.  I’m not wallowing in despair or steeping my spirit in depression and sadness.  I have returned to celebrating the good, real, strong progress that I’ve made.

 

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Kindness Even More Necessary

Half-way through the month of kindness and all around me I see images of terrorist attacks.  Paris, Beirut . . . many horrific acts, many deaths, many different cities.  These beget retaliation and the bombings start.

On the one hand, I am bolstered by the acts of solidarity, the outpouring of support and prayers for the affected cities, the wounded, the dead.  Then I’m saddened, heartsick really, to see anti-Muslim sentiment spread because the vast majority of the terrorists are Muslim.  Several of my friends are Muslim.  Do not blame the people of the faith.  Blame the violent extremists, the jihadis, who claim they commit these horrendous murders in the name of Islam.  I heard today that several states are refusing to take refugees from the Middle-East because they fear that jihadis will sneak into this country posed as refugees.   A woman who is a friend agrees with this stance because, she said, “How do we know?”  Terrorism is getting us to the point where we turn our backs on the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

Right now, today, I am convinced that we need more kindness in our everyday lives.  Thousands of miles from Paris, here on our island chain, we are still affected by the killings.  Is there a single person anywhere who hasn’t looked around their community at least once and wondered if the same actions could happen where they live?  All of us need the simple acts of kindness offered in a smile, extra patience, a warm hug, a pat on the back either literal or figurative, a hand reached out to offer simple assistance.

Each act of kindness is an affirmation.  There is still a great deal of good all around us.  Evil has not won.

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Month of Deliberate Kindness

For the last few years, I’ve declared November as a personal month of gratitude.  Each day, I posted in social media something for which I was thankful.  A few of my friends picked up the effort and did the same.

I believe that cultivating an attitude of gratitude helps not only me, but also those around me.  It’s good for me to notice, acknowledge and state things that I appreciate in my life.  So, every day, not just in November, I send thanks out into the universe.

A couple of days ago, I started thinking about kindness.  Occasionally, a kindness meme would pop up on a Facebook page, or I’d run across a quote somewhere.  More and more, thoughts about being kind arose and I started to believe that there was a message for me in this somewhere.   I imagined what it would be like, how it would feel to look for opportunities to be kind.

Don’t get me wrong.  It’s not like I live life as a bitch, running roughshod over people with no regard for their feelings and circumstances.  I believe that, overall, I am a kind and thoughtful person.  I’m not perfect – far from it.  I can be that bitch sometimes, but my preference is to be good and kind.  I think that’s a good way to live.

However, I also think that it’s good to go beyond what is hopefully the norm.  To be kinder than usual, if you will.  I bet doing so on a daily basis can and will create an amazing energy.  Really, what could be better than doing something nice and kind for someone else and bringing a little extra light to their day?

That’s what I want to do so I am officially declaring November as a Month of Deliberate Kindness.  Every day, I’m going to be aware and look for opportunities to do a kind act for someone else, more than a single act for a single person if I can manifest them.  I’d like to invite you to do the same.  Let’s see what we can accomplish in a month and how it feels.  The acts don’t have to be huge, they only need to be thoughtful.

In September, when my Pyxi was so sick and then when she died, so many people reached out to me in kindness.  I know how those actions helped.  So, I’m kicking off the month with a self-made meme honoring my Pyxi and going out of my way to be a little kinder.

Acts of Kindness

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