Weighty Matters

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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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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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Hack, Hack, Sniffle, Sneeze, Cough

Sorry that I’ve been MIA but I’ve been sick, out of town for a couple of days, and then sicker.  I swear that even though I now eat far healthier, and am overall in better condition, than I ever did or was at my top weight, I’ve gotten sick more often in the last almost-four years than I ever did before I lost the pounds.

It’s like I used to have an incredible immune system.  Other people at work could cave en masse to germs that passed around the place and I would trundle on unaffected.  If I got a single cold a year, it was remarkable.  I’ve had one lousy stomach virus in the last 15 years.  Since weight loss surgery I have still avoided stomach viruses, but I’ve sure been more susceptible to colds.  (Excuse me for a moment while I now knock wood, toss salt, and employ various other methods to stave off jinxing myself on that stomach virus comment.)

Okay, I’m back.  Anyway, last week I started feeling a scratchiness in my throat for a couple of days with a light, dry cough.  Symptoms did not progress like a regular cold, which was puzzling.  By Thursday, I decided that I was suffering the mutha of all allergy attacks.  The wind had been blowing like crazy for several days and we’d had dry weather, so I was sure that my discomfort was the result of excessive coral dust.  I soldiered through, which is my m.o., even continuing to do my rowing classes.  They weren’t easy, let me tell you.  Difficulty breathing and intense cardio work do not mix well.

I drove up to Miami Friday night for a weekend “off the rock”.  A friend was getting married Saturday afternoon and, in a happy time of coincidence, the Tai Chi Society to which I belong scheduled a half day intensive that morning about five minutes from where I was staying.  Sometime over night my coughs started to get a little deeper and more “productive” and random bouts of sneezing began to creep in.  Since I still didn’t actually feel all that bad, I was still positive these were all due to allergies.

Saturday was a fun, great day.  Sunday, I slept in at my hotel and then did a little shopping before spending some time with friends I haven’t seen in several months.  As the day progressed, so did my sneezing and coughing.

****Gross alert****  When one’s sneezing becomes to strong that it stimulates projectile phlegm from one’s lungs, one must finally concede that one is ill.

I got home around 7 ish and spent the rest of the evening on the couch watching the football game with a box of tissues and lemon-echinacea cough drops as my companions.  The game ended around 11 at which point I popped some Nyquil and rolled into bed.

Thoroughly, or some might say crazily, optimistic, I’d set my alarm for 6:05 so I could get up for rowing class.  The alarm went off, I sat up, coughed up half a lung, said, “No freaking way” and reached for my phone to cancel my appearance in rowing class.  (There’s an app for that!)

Two hours later, I woke up again to text my boss and my assistant that I was taking a sick day.  I managed to go out long enough to pick Natty up from boarding.  I then went back to bed and slept for several hours.  Sleep was pretty much the most productive thing I did all day.  I’d manage an hour or two of consciousness and then curl up back in bed again for more zzzzs.

Clearly my body knew what I needed.  When Tuesday morning rolled around, I felt much better than I had 24 hours previously, so I went into work for a few hours.  However, I decided from the outset that I wasn’t pushing matters.  I just wanted to get a few important tasks done.  Once I did, I left and returned to my comfy bed for some more rest.

Last night, although I knew I had improved a good amount, I had a long conversation with myself about the wisdom of not pushing myself more than I should.  I then cancelled my appointment for this morning’s rowing class and, instead, scheduled myself for one on Saturday.   I already had one class set for Friday and I am confident that by then I will be up to the exertion.  So, at least I will get in two classes this week!

Anyway, this is the long-winded explanation for why I haven’t written any posts in more than a week.  I never even turned on the home computer until tonight.  While I would normally push myself, I knew that I needed to pay attention to my body and take care of myself instead.  So I did, and it helped.  I managed a full, busy day, at work and still had enough energy for Tai Chi class.  An acupuncture session this morning certainly boosted my energy supply, which was very helpful.  Now I’m going to keep listening to what I need and go to bed early.

Goodnight!

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Reboots, Restarts and When Not to Upgrade

I haven’t posted in a week for a couple of reasons.  Physically and mentally, I’ve been exhausted when I get home at night.  I also made what turned out to be a mistake for my computer when I upgraded to Windows 10.  Nothing but problems and, again, I was just too tired at night to figure out a resolution.  Tonight I finally Googled for answers and found out that it’s pretty easy to resort to the previous operating system, so I did that.

Oh, if it was only as simple and uncomplicated to uninstall all of the things that we sometimes take on in our lives, only to find out that they don’t work the way that we need or want them to!  I can think of a bunch of choices I’ve made that I’d like to undo with a couple of clicks and then a restart of myself.

Right now, I feel like I’m fruitlessly and fitfully searching for an upgrade to my eating plan and daily food diet that will magically reboot my weight loss, resolve my cravings, help me make better choices and, just because I feel like repeating it, reboot my weight loss.  That’s the insanity of my head.  When I get a little crazy like that, I have to stop and remind myself that easy does it.  I have to avoid overcomplicating matters and stick to basics.  Eat healthy.  Eat in balance.  Keep working out.  Trust that results will come.  There’s no magic to it.  No big secret.  Eat healthy.  Eat in balance.  Keep working out.

I resolve to stop looking for some incredible, easy fix.  It doesn’t exist.  There is no special upgrade.  Each day I just need to restart on the sensible approach that I know works.  Eat healthy.  Eat in balance.  Keep working out.

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Once More With Feeling

Once more, I dig deep and resolve to get myself moving in the right direction.  I was doing so well with balancing things for a while and this past week I crashed emotionally and physically.  I’m eating in full out relapse and physically feel like total crap.  My stomach is off.  I’m bloated like I’m retaining fluid for three people.  I refuse to get on the scale so that I don’t totally demoralize myself.

Emotionally, I’m sad, depressed, angry with myself.  Spiritually, I’m downhearted.  Mentally, I go between WTF (What the f&&k) and DGU (Don’t give up).

Here are the bright spots.  Despite everything, I stuck to working out three times last week and gave it my all in rowing classes, Tai Chi and getting Nat out for walks.  When I finish this I’m either going to go for a bike ride or go in the pool.

Emotionally, the bright spot came when talking to one of my closest friends, I talked about how I’m still going through grieving for Pyxi.  My friend could have said, “Suck it up.  It’s been two weeks.”  Instead, she shared that she still experiences moments of grief when she sees a box of things that belonged to her beloved dog who passed a couple of years ago.  So, instead of a negative judgment, I got a much needed validation.

This helped a great deal because I’ve been judging myself all week.

I understand that this is a function of my disease.  If I ever wanted to make it an actual creature in a horror novel, here’s how I would characterize it.  It would be an evil, needy force that craved human emotional pain to to feel alive; that gained substance in form whenever its victim criticized, judged, and body-shamed herself; that took sustenance from the addictive substances that its victim consumed.  So, needing these things for its own survival, the disease would take control of its victim to incite these things and then gobble them up.

Knowing all this, there are times when I just want to crawl into bed, pull the covers over my head and hide or wallow in my own misery.  Times when I want to say, “What’s the use.  I can’t win.”

Thankfully, somehow, somewhere with help from whatever Higher Power refuses to abandon me, I find the need to dig deep and try once more.

Tomorrow, I’m going the full liquid route.  This is not a crash diet.  I simply want to remove as many food options as possible.  Fewer choices mean fewer chances for my disease to take control and lead me to making the wrong choice.  Plus, my stomach physically feels raw inside from the crap I’ve been eating, like I’ve rubbed it raw with junk.  It needs to be treated gently for a while.

I’ve thought off and on about whether to face the music and weigh myself tomorrow.  Right now, I’ve decided against taking that step.  I’ve meditated over whether this is denial on my part, but I’ve decided that it isn’t.  What I want to achieve is the simple act of getting abstinent again.  I don’t want to make this about how much weight I might have gained over the last week or how much weight I might lose on a food plan of full liquids.  It isn’t about moving up and down in my numbers.  It’s how restoring my emotional, physical, mental and spiritual stability.

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Recognizing the Changes

Pyxi had an up and down weekend.  Yesterday, although she ate a couple of times during the day, she couldn’t keep it down, seemed very weak and was not at all perky.  Honestly, last night I was afraid she was going to die.  This morning, I texted our friend/vet and he met us at the clinic to administer more sub-cutaneous fluids and some anti-nausea medication.  He prepared me that she’d probably be very sedate today from the meds, which she was.  However, she also ate three small meals throughout the day and has kept it all down!  She is still turning up her cute little nose at the carbs, but as long as she eats anything and retains it, that’s something.  We’re testing her blood again tomorrow and, hopefully, her numbers will have improved.  Fingers and paws crossed!  We can consider an appetite booster which might make her more interested in a greater variety of food items or, that might happen without help if she starts to feel better.

I had a little bit of an up and down weekend with my food and, at times, I thought I was a whole lot worse than I truly was.  Thankfully, I’ve continued to log my food in my digital food diary so I can go back, read, and truly analyze my intake rationally.  This is so important because when I don’t look at things with logic and rationale, but instead view it through the distorted lens of my eating disorder, my perspective goes all screwy.

Even with Pyxi sick, I know she’s okay if I leave for an hour or two.  I don’t go for long stretches of time, so I get back to coax her with food, check if she needs anything, and so on.  I went to rowing class yesterday morning.  I had a facial mid-day.  I went to dinner last night with a friend.   These all fit under the heading of taking care of myself so that I can continue to take good care of her.

I didn’t pre-plan my exact foods for dinner.  Instead, I logged it in the morning as “reasonable dinner”.  We went to a local restaurant that I really like and I ordered food that I really like – including the brussel sprouts “chips” appetizer that I love.  We split it and brought at least half of it away in a box.  Same thing with my entree — at least half of it came home with me and will be dinner tomorrow.  They asked if we wanted dessert and I made the conscious choice to share some of that too.  A few bites were totally yummy and satisfying — and saying yes to myself actually helped emotionally.  If I’d denied myself the treat, I would have experienced resentment, grumpiness, and, most likely self-pity.  All of those could have led to me coming home and binge eating on something.

Of course, even though I completely ate reasonably and did not overeat, I still experienced several moments where I felt like I’d done poorly.  Such is the nature of my disease.  I came home and started to beat myself up and then called a halt to the negative mind-trend.  Instead I reminded myself how I’ve been taking good care of myself; how I’m being rational about my food, how I worked so hard in the morning rowing class.  I’m convinced that doing these reminders kept me from eating compulsively last night after I got home.  Being able to stop myself from disintegrating into disease behavior is a positive change.  I need to recognize these changes when they occur.  Doing so helps them take root and provide a stronger foundation for the future.

I recognized another positive change a little later in the day.  After getting back from the vet and spending a little time decompressing by reading a book while Pyxi rested, I decided to go into the pool and exercise.  I went into the bathroom to change into my swimsuit.  When I took off my shirt and started to remove my bra, I glanced in the mirror.  In that moment, I saw where the rowing classes have begun to cause some changes in my body.  There are hints of better definition in my shoulders that weren’t there before.  My waist looks a little smaller.  I nodded at myself in the mirror and smiled.  Then I put on my bathing suit, went to the pool, turned on some music and exercised for 30 or 40 minutes.

Seeing some physical improvement is such good positive reinforcement.  I don’t know what the number on the scale will read tomorrow morning.  (Forgot to tell you that I stuck to my commitment of only weighing Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings.)  If it’s down from Friday, terrific.  If it isn’t, I know that my body is still slimming down, getting more defined and also gaining in strength.  No matter what, I need to recognized and acknowledge these changes.

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Good Nutrition is Confusing

I’m still doing a good job staying on track.  I lost a few pounds, which provides good positive reinforcement.  I’m sticking to my work out/exercise commitment.  My brain is operating rationally which is always a plus with my eating disorder and food issues.    I continue to reach out for support, which just overall helps the effort.

All of this has been particularly helpful while coping with Pyxi’s illness. That I’m able to be stressed and upset but still effectively manage her health care and treatment and NOT over eat or go off my plan is somewhat of a miracle.

Quick Pyxi update:  We’ve seen some improvement.  The anti-nausea medication really helped.  She’s kept down all of her food since having the shot on Tuesday.  Therefore, she’s also getting the anti-acid pills and the ammonia-binder.  In general, I think these all help her feel better so her demeanor is brighter and more engaged with a litle more energy.  The other vet that did acupuncture showed me some points that I can rub on her paws to further help keep nausea down and I do a little energy work on her kidney area.  Plus, we started Pyxi on some Chinese herbs for overall kidney support.  Paws crossed that my girl continues on an upward trend.

Okay, back to the post.  In keeping with my determination to live a healthy lifestyle and do whatever I can to support myself, I went to a presentation at the local hospital today, lead by their dietitian.  (The hospital where I had my weight loss surgery and all of the associated support teams are more than two hours away from where I live.)

The presentation was excellent.  As much as I’ve educated myself about food, eating, calories, weight loss, nutrition, etc., there are, apparently huge gaps in my knowledge.

Good nutrition can be confusing.  I think it can be even more so when one is a bariatric surgery veteran.  I’ve been targeting 1200 calories a day, high protein/low carb.  I obsess over whether that’s too many or too few calories.   I rarely allow myself to eat bread, potatoes, rice or pasta.  I occasionally add some homemade whole rolled oat/low fat/low sugar granola on my 0% fat yogurt.  I worry about whether I’m eating too much fruit.

I think now that maybe I eat nuts and seeds too often as snacks.

Arggghhh.

In the presentation, the dietitian talked about the food plate.  Remember the old food pyramid and then the food steps – both of which were to illustrate what we should eat in each food group?  The food plate is the newest (circa 2010) version.  The young woman, who was very knowledgeable and interesting, also did a chart showing how much of each food group should be included each day depending on the total calorie goal – 1400, 1600, 1800, 2000, 2400.

Note – there was no column for 1200 calories.

The next thing I noticed was when she said that the accepted dietary guidelines suggest no fewer than 130 grams of carbohydrates a day.  The food plate shows a whole section for grains.  5 ounces of grains in a 1600 calorie per day plan.  Yes, grains — like bread, pasta, and rice — i.e., the stuff that my surgeon considered worse than poison.  You know that worry about eating too much fruit?  According to her, even if I only bumped up to 1400 calories a day, I could still have 1.5 cups of fruit a day.

Her guidelines showed 4 ounces of meat (poultry, fish, beef, lamb, pork) and beans per day.  That seemed drastically low to me with my high protein mindset.  She also listed two cups of milk/dairy.  So, I went online to look up number of protein grams in 4 ounces of chicken and two cups of dairy plus a quarter cup of chickpeas (that could go toward veggies).  I saw that it would come in at about 57 grams of protein.  So, is that high enough?  If it is, then I need to add more dairy to my daily meal plan.

Don’t get me started right now on balancing out my fats.  Oh, except that with all the talk about coconut oil being so much better for us, I was surprised to find out that it’s considered a saturated fat.  However, the dietitian is doing more research on that because she’s heard that the way that it’s processed may affect its designation.

I really need to put a halt to my confusion and get more facts about what is right for me.  To some extent, I feel like I’m shooting in the dark while wearing a blindfold.  I sort of know a lot but not enough to know if I’m really doing what’s best for me.  I spoke with the dietitian for a few minutes after the presentation.  While she has not worked with a lot of bariatric surgery patients, she has worked with some and she has access to solid information.  I’m going to schedule a one-on-one consultation with her.

Knowledge is power and I am determined to keep powering through with my weight loss and healthy living.

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Pretend Coping

It’s Sunday night.  I’ve made it through a stressful, emotional weekend without blowing my abstinence.  Instead of running to food to cope with the upset of Pyxi’s ailment, I ran to program.  I kept using the tools of committing my food in the morning and logging it in the diary.  I went to my newly discovered online support group and read their posting while posting my own note.

This morning was the worst.  Pyxi has not been drinking a lot of water.  She is still interested in food  but is not always able to keep it down.  Even a couple of hours past a meal, she may throw up.  Even though our veterinarian and his wife are friends of mine, I am reluctant to bother him on a weekend when I know he is not on call.  So, I called the emergency number and the on-call vet got back in touch with me pretty quickly.

I conveyed Pyxi’s symptoms and condition to her since she wasn’t in the office with access to the medical records.  I wanted to know if I could start giving Pyxi an over-the-counter acid fighter to help with the vomiting.  I wanted to know if the vet thought that it was time to give her some fluids since she wasn’t drinking much.  Let me preface what I’m about to write by saying this other veterinarian is a good doctor.  While she hasn’t seen my kids often, the couple of times that she has she’s been good and thorough with them.  I trust her knowledge.  Besides, I know that my regular vet would not have invited her to join his established practice if she wasn’t up to his standards.

Okay, that said, I question whether it was necessary for her to give me a quick and sudden lesson in the nature of kidney disease in dogs, including how it is incurable and we focus on managing symptoms until we reach the point where we have to consider our dog’s quality of life and weigh other decisions.

At some point in her talking, I stopped hearing her actual words because my brain started saying, “Pyxi’s dying.”  I ceased being able to process things rationally at that point.  All I could really say was that this was dramatically more somber than M had been on Wednesday and, while I knew her condition is serious, I didn’t think we were at the “assessing quality of life” stage yet.  I felt like my hope that we might be able to at least stabilize Pyxi had just disintegrated.

I guess I was able to participate enough in the conversation to hear the vet say to start her on the anti-acid meds twice a day.  She also suggested that I could try to syringe some water into her and, if she didn’t get in some fluids today to call and I could bring her in for some subcutaneous fluids.  I told her I’d call her, thanked her, and disconnected the call.

Then I lost my mind.  I went into a complete emotional meltdown with my chest heaving, tears pouring out of my eyes and my arms wrapped around my mid-section.  It was awful.

Through it all I kept repeating, “Don’t eat.  Just don’t eat.  Don’t eat.  It won’t help.  Just don’t eat.”  I don’t often fall apart, but when I do, I’m thorough about it, let me tell you.  It was a good 15-20 minutes before I pulled myself together enough to think.  I decided that my friend would absolutely not mind me reaching out to him in this case.  I was such a basket case that I didn’t even remember that I actually have his cell phone number, so I texted his wife, apologized profusely for bothering them on a Sunday and asking if he had a minute to call.  I even said that I was probably overreacting but I was losing my mind over it and needed verification on what I should do.

My vet is the calmest, nicest and most gentle of people.  He called me within five minutes.  The first thing he said was that I should never feel bad about calling him any time and that he actually preferred that I call him directly because he has Pyxi’s history in his head and knows her so well.  The second thing he did was reassure me that, while Pyxi’s condition is serious, he does still have some hope that we can stabilize her so that she doesn’t worsen and that we might even be fortunate and see some improvement.  He feels we need to look at more than her numbers and assess her behavior.  Even though she sometimes throws up, it is still encouraging that she is eager to eat and there are things that we can do to treat the vomiting symptoms.

This immediately calmed me down enough to tell him what I’ve been seeing in the last 48 hours.  He wasn’t surprised that I’ve kept a log of when she eats, drinks, pees, vomits; what her behavior and demeanor are like, etc.  He reiterated to keep her on the anti-acid medication.  He told me at this point not to force her with syringing fluid into her mouth but to keep monitoring her intake and output.  We agreed to touch base later in the day.  If we thought it necessary he would meet me at the clinic at any time and give her Sub-Q fluids.

Before we disconnected, I wanted to let him know that I understood the seriousness of the situation and that I accepted that it might not turn around for her and she could deteriorate to where we’d have to face that quality of life discussion.  He told me he knew that and that I knew he would always tell me straight.  This helped settle me in my mind even more and I truly felt that we aren’t at that point.

As the day went on, Pyxi didn’t get any worse.  She did throw up several hours after her first dose of anti-acid med, but at least she had time to digest some of her breakfast.  She continued to be pretty quiet, sleeping most of the day.  She’ll get up and go outside or follow me into the bedroom, but then settles down again.  I was on the point of calling him and suggesting the sub-q fluids when she went into the kitchen and drank more water.  Dinner was several hours ago and it’s now three hours since she drank and, so far, everything is staying down.  He called me for an update and we decided that if her water intake doesn’t increase by mid-day tomorrow, I’ll bring her in for fluids.

I am so fortunate to work where I do.  They are completely fine with me bringing both dogs to work when I need to do so.  Nat and Pyxi behave very well in my office so I can get work done and they don’t disrupt any body else in the building.  I’m going to take only Pyxi tomorrow.  Normally, the two of them go everywhere together but I just have a feeling that she’ll be less ramped up on the trip and in the office if it’s only her tomorrow.  Natty won’t like it at first but I also know that he’ll go back to sleep within minutes after we leave.

The day is winding down now.  I’m going to bed soon and plan to still go to my 7 a.m. rowing class in the morning.  I am so happy to have gotten through this day without mindlessly abandoning my food plan and attempting to use food to cope with the upsetting situation.  I stayed on track.   I even went out and did 35 minutes of water aerobics.  Then I prepared a delicious dinner (Grilled lamb steak with roasted rainbow carrots and fingerling potatoes) and enjoyed eating it — without overeating more than I’d planned.

Given my decades-long history of using food to cope, this is sort of miraculous.  That brings me to the point I wanted to make when I named this post.  Using food or any substance, heck, using behaviors in ways that could be destructive, are not really coping.  We call them coping mechanisms, but when we use them, we aren’t truly coping.  In my case, when I’m upset and plunge into compulsive overeating, I’m actually running away and not dealing.

As emotionally upsetting as it was to sit here sobbing and think about possibly losing my sweet little furgirl, I needed to go through the process, experience the emotions and get to a place where I was functioning and thinking straight.  I need clarity to properly manage Pyxi’s care and get her whatever she needs.  Drugging myself with food is not going to help.

It will only make me feel worse and then create even more stress and upset when I get mad at myself for overeating.

For today, coping means feeling the emotions, no matter how uncomfortable or painful or scary, and doing what is necessary regardless.  It means not looking for false mechanisms to make it easier but choosing effective, not destructive methods.

It means that, no matter what, don’t eat.  Just don’t eat.

 

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