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Self-Kindness

When life is tough and issues appear to pile on, I have found that it is helpful to treat myself with as much kindness as I can muster.  Being nice to ourselves is necessary, particularly when nobody or nothing else is leaning toward that course of action.

Emotional and mental stress can affect us physically – whether in general, chronically, or even acutely.  You know from my previous post that it was a high suckage week for me.  As if all that had already happened wasn’t enough, on Thursday morning when I was getting dressed, I felt a pop in my hip.  Okay, not actually my hip.  I’ll be honest it was high on my right butt cheek.  Immediately, I experienced greater discomfort in walking, including throbbing going down the back of my right leg and also horizontally around to the front like in the crease of my upper leg.

Oh, and all week, I’ve had increased, uncomfortable tightness in the back of my problem knee.   I can’t decide whether it was better for me to now have two painful conditions on the same side, or whether I should have wished for one on each side to balance things out.

Whatever the case, I was miserable all morning at work and extra grouchy.  Luckily, I already had an acupuncture appointment scheduled for the late afternoon.  I called the practitioner and asked if we could switch to a private session because of the new problems.  She was able to bring me in earlier.  I got a thorough treatment and, thankfully, was already feeling better by the next morning.

Good thing because I had determined that this was going to be a weekend of relaxation and fun for me.  I’d taken Friday off from work  to get some things done around the house in the morning.  Then, I had plans to be in Miami that evening to see a good friend of mine perform in a community theater group play.  (I was scheduled to do rowing class in the morning but decided to give my body more time to improve.)

I’ve spent two days doing things that I wanted to do and not worrying about work stresses or other issues.  I joined my friend’s family for dinner last night and then we sat together and thoroughly enjoyed the play.  I stayed up on the mainland overnight and this morning went to a continuing class of my Tai Chi.  Yes, I was feeling that much better physically.  Acupuncture is amazing!

After class, I got together with two dear friends whom I do not see nearly often as we all would like.  In fact, it’s been two years since I saw her and more than four years since I saw him.  (He was living in Texas for a couple of years.)  We had a great time over a leisurely lunch.  Then I did some shopping.  I bought a few clothes, visited Trader Joe’s, browsed Bed, Bath & Beyond and bought a few neat kitchen things that I don’t need but will enjoy, and, of course, hit a pet superstore for things that Natty will like.

Among the things that I bought were three small bunches of bright yellow daffodils.  I love daffodils – from their uplifting color to their sweet aroma.  They just delight me.  We had bulbs planted all around our house up in New Jersey and I always looked forward to seeing their green shoots break through the ground in spring.  I miss them here in Florida so it’s no surprise that I immediately smiled when I saw them available in the flower section of TJ’s.  They’re sitting in a vase on my table right now.  I see them every time I look up and smell them even when looking at the screen while I type.

I had one element of stress intrude on my weekend.  I discovered that it was more difficult than I expected to stick with my protein/fat/carb ratios while away from home.   Oddly enough, the toughest part was getting in enough full/healthy fat.  Last night I did fine with a warm kale salad – even pushing away the small white potatoes that were included.  (Odd choice in a salad, I thought.)  To up the fat ratio, I should have asked for some ranch or bleu cheese dressing.  This morning at the hotel’s free breakfast, I expected there to be eggs available, but there weren’t any for some reason.  I didn’t want to eat a waffle or cereal, so I grabbed two small yogurts.  Lunch featured a salad bar in which I passed by things like croutons, Chinese noodles and pasta salad.  I opted for a small bowl of chili to round out the meal by did not pick up any muffins or corn bread.  Again, I should have picked a fuller fat dressing, but overall I think I was closer in my ratios.

There were also a couple of instances when a cookie looked far too tasty to pass up and later I let myself get far too hungry past dinner time.  I needed something to eat asap, chose an egg and cheese sandwich from Starbuck’s for expediency.  I intended to not eat any of the bread but I caved and had half of the roll.  It’s the first white flour bread that I’ve eaten in five weeks.

I’m not beating myself up over my food choices.  I did the best that I could outside of my home and home-work environment where I can do a more thorough job of planning and preparing.  I had a couple of small indulgences, enjoyed them, and now they’re over.  I already know what I’m going to eat for breakfast and lunch tomorrow and will plan dinner as well as meals for the next few days once I’m up and moving.

Being gentle and kind to myself is so important.  My recovery is not served by me getting angry about a spare cookie or piece of bread here and there.  Instead of focusing and being negative about those indulgences, it is far better for me to look at the good things that I did on the fly.  I also am embracing the lesson. I have a conference coming up in the future, which means that I will face nearly a week of not being home where I can carefully plan and prepare my meals.  I know I’ll have a fridge in the hotel room, but don’t know about a microwave.  I plan to bring in some backup foods for snacks or to supplement meals if my ratios weren’t balanced.  My goal will be to not get so far out of whack that I can’t reel myself back in.  I have reasonable expectations for what I can and cannot do ahead of time.  I also resolve to be kind to myself as I go through the process.

 

 

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No Reasons, No Excuses

The last two days have not been ones that I’d like to make scrapbooks about and remember forever.  They’ve ranked a little higher in suckitude than in the category of sunshine and roses.  Most of it is work related.  Trust me, if Mercury isn’t in retrograde, it should be because ordinary tasks are getting screwed up.  Other, unexpected things are contributing to an overall atmosphere of snafu.  (I don’t think snafu actually belongs as that part of speech but humor me, okay?)

Normally, I’m an upbeat person and take most things in stride.  Semper Gumby (always flexible) is a standard rallying cry.  I can roll with pretty much any punch.  Except those rare times when I feel like things are piling on more than usual and circumstances are stealing my joy.  Stealing my joy along with my bright light, energy, and general tolerance for other peoples’ foibles.

Honestly, everything has contributed to me being cranky as hell and not as willing to stifle it or rise above it.  I pretty much isolated myself in my office today rather, as much for my well being as well as that of others.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t ignore emails and, through that means, a couple of people really pissed me off.  Bad timing that they picked this week to do so.  While last week I would have been more inclined to not call them out for passive-aggressive behavior or control freak tendencies, this week . . . not so much.  In a couple of days, I’m probably going to feel bad that I didn’t call on great techniques to resolve the issues in more gentle, less blunt ways.  Tonight I honestly don’t give a #*$&.  Yes, I am that bitchy right now.

Aren’t you glad you stopped by this blog today?

So, why do I share all this ugly crap with you today.  For one simple reason.  No matter what has rocketed my way, regardless of the various emotions rolling over me, I am still abstinent.  I haven’t caved into compulsive urges or overeaten.  I’m not medicating my emotions in a pint of ice cream or stuffing my aggravation with wedges of cake or handfuls of greasy potato chips.

I’m eating my healthy meals, prepared according to plan.  Rotten days are not a reason to abandon my recovery.  Difficult circumstances do not become an excuse to binge.  No reasons, no excuses.  Even in turmoil, I’m managing to remember that giving into the eating disorder will only make it all worse.  I prefer to hold onto my abstinence and use it as an example of something that is still going right.  It helps me to recenter my gratitude which, ultimately, will reduce the power of the other circumstances.

No reasons, no excuses.  I’m remaining on track.

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Cutting Out Sweeteners

Although I’ve stayed away from white sugar (except for the allowed small amount in dark chocolate and that single brownie), I haven’t given up the artificial sweetener that I use in my tea.  I usually drink four cups of hot tea a day.  I figured that four measily yellow packets didn’t amount to much and wouldn’t derail my efforts.  I don’t drink diet soda or any diet beverage and I’m not substituting in any other foods that have artificial sweetener, so I figured I’m okay.

Yesterday I decided to stop using the yellow packets of sweetener too.  At this point on the plan, I can have up to three teaspoons of honey or pure maple syrup a day.  I can also have stevia in small amounts but, to be honest, I don’t love it that much.  A tablespoon of honey or syrup a day isn’t much when spread out over mugs of tea, particularly if I want to use some over chickpea pancakes too, but I have this “going all in” mindset right now.

I was also home from work yesterday afternoon and ended up watching the Dr. Oz show.  I’m not a big fan but it was on so I watched, particularly because most of the show was dedicated to battling bloat.  (Not to go into TMI but I’m having some digestive sluggishness and bloating, so it caught my interest.)  At one point someone asked a guest expert about artificial sweeteners.  The woman responded, “Always choose calories over chemicals”.

That hit me.  As much as the manufacturer tries to sell us on the “natural” roots of the stuff since it’s derived from sugar, it still feels like a chemical product to me.  Even if it wasn’t, it still wouldn’t be as truly natural as honey or maple syrup.  So, why put it into my body when I have other choices?

Here’s one of those weird contrasts in my history.  No matter how badly I was binge eating or compulsively eating, I never used actual sugar in my tea.

To some extent, I think my habit was/is mental.  I’m used to how my tea tastes with the fake stuff and think it won’t taste as good with anything else.  Well, for sure it won’t taste the same, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be good.

Today I actually forgot with the first mug.  I ripped open the packet and dumped it in without thinking about it.  Then I told myself that as long as it was made, I might as well drink it.  I caught myself each of the three other times that I brewed a mug and used honey instead.  I was right.  It does taste different and my reflex is to not like it as much.  I’m pretty sure that really is a mental block; sure enough that I’m not listening to my head and continuing on with the honey tomorrow.

Unlike my failed experiment and efforts to retrain my palate to like seafood, I’m pretty confident that I can teach my taste buds to like tea with honey in it.  After all, I like honey a lot in other uses.

All around this feels like a healthier, win-able effort.  I’ll keep you posted.

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Squashing Hope and Pride

If you don’t want to read a rant, you might want to move off to another blog.

I joined a Facebook group of people who are also following the Always Hungry? plan.  Today someone posted about a recent visit to her doctor.  She’s worked hard to follow the plan and has lost 11 pounds.  Emotionally, she was feeling good and strong about sticking to the plan and seeing weight loss.  She had to go to her doctor about a knee problem.  While he praised her for the weight loss, before the end of the appointment he also said that she might have to consider weight loss surgery to stop the progression of her body breaking down.

You could read in her post how his words deflated her spirit.  When I read it, all I could think was, “Damn him. There were other ways that he could have handled this situation.”  He could have encouraged her to keep on going with her weight loss efforts and pointed out that every pound lost reduces the stress and pressure on joints.  Nope.  Instead of positively reinforcing her efforts and building her up for continued success, he tore her down.  In his mind he was probably doing due diligence, just being honest and fulfilling his responsibility to his patient.  I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he didn’t realize the negative, hurtful, upsetting message he delivered.

I also don’t know if he gets that telling someone they may need to have weight loss surgery isn’t necessarily an effective message that will achieve the desired results.  Based on my own experience, I emphatically do not believe that anyone should have such a drastic, life-altering surgery unless it is 100% their choice to do so.  This is all my own opinion, of course, but I’m putting it out there.  If they are not completely committed to researching all options, to delving deep into their own heads and hearts, to redefining their relationship with food and eating and change their behaviors, it is the wrong choice.  They may enjoy success at the outset, but ultimately, there is too high a chance that they will ultimately fail.

I had a similar experience to this other woman.  In 2007, I had a significant gall bladder issue, namely a gall stone the size of a large olive was stuck in a duct.  I was in the last week of managing three weeks of filming for a tv series.  All around me, co-workers were suffering stomach virus symptoms and I was positive that’s what I was fighting off.  The symptoms of stomach upset, would come and go in waves.  Finally, when the shoot was over, I conceded that I should get to the doctor.  Maybe I needed a pill or something, right?  The night before my appointment, I was in constant discomfort, felt like if I could only start throwing up I’d be better.  I also felt like I was running a fever.

By the time I got to the doctor, I was absolutely miserable.  I stretched out on his exam table, hurting.  Even before he listened to my symptoms and did an exam he said, “I would not be doing my job if I didn’t tell you that you need to have weight loss surgery.”

I was shocked.  Not that he thought this because, well, he was a surgeon with a morbidly obese patient in front of him, but because, hello!, that patient was lying on his table in pain.  Bad timing.  Because I was in pain I couldn’t even come up with a great answer.  I sort of mumbled, “I know, I know, but could we focus on the problem I’m here for right now?”

It only took him about :30 seconds to diagnose the problem and schedule me for a couple of tests the next morning to confirm his diagnosis.  By the middle of the next day I’d already had my gall bladder removed, come out of the anesthesia, and was in a room for the night.  I was discharged the next day but not before hearing again about my urgent need for weight loss surgery.   I never went back to that doctor again.

Here’s the thing, right or wrong, I wasn’t ready.  I wasn’t in denial.  I knew, pretty much every single moment of every waking day, that I was super obese, but I also knew in my heart that I was not in the state of mind, state of emotions to commit to all of the changes that weight loss surgery would mean.

I struggled for the next four years.  I resisted.  I gave up on myself.  I went up and down emotionally and in my spirit.  When I had that defining, line in the sand moment and the big realization that I did not want to give up on myself, that I didn’t want to be dead or disabled by the time I was 60, I was ready to make the choice.  Because I was ready to make the choice, I was ready to commit 100%.

You know the success I’ve had and the struggle. Overall, I am more successful than not.  Just because I’m not yet all the way where I want to be does not invalidate my progress and the level of success I’ve achieved and, more importantly, maintained.

I wish the woman’s doctor was more aware of his words and their effect.  I wish he’d handled the situation differently.  I hope with all my heart that the woman is able to take support from the me and the other posters who commented back to her and not get so depressed and discouraged that she stops trying.  I also hope that she doesn’t allow herself to be pressured into a surgery that she isn’t ready for.  If she comes to the decision on her own, that will be a big difference.

As long as I’m ranting, I’ll share something else that happened this week on that same group.  It’s a very active group so I can’t possibly go back and find my exact post, but I had shared how good I felt not experiencing cravings and that I was really enjoying freedom from compulsive eating behavior.  The doctor who devised the plan and wrote the book left a comment on my post.  The gist of it, or at least the gist that I read and reacted to, was that people buy into the idea that there is a psychological reason for overeating when it’s really just necessary to eat the right combination of good foods.

I read that and it felt like he was invalidating eating disorders; like he was saying it’s all in my head.   I respectfully disagreed in my response and explained that I’ve lived with this for decades and recovery is not just about eating the right combo of foods.  I’m not denying that following this plan has improved my physical satiety and that helps to reduce physical cravings, but the compulsive behavior is more than hunger or cravings.  Heck, I don’t even need to be hungry, in fact, I could be stuffed to the gills, and still reach for food compulsively if I have something else going on and brewing inside my head and/or emotions.

Right now, the food plan that I am following is an extremely useful and effective tool.  If the percentages of fat, protein and carbs work to reduce the physical cravings, great.  That can go right along with the surgically altered stomach forcing me to cut down on  portions.  If I’m in a bad place and binge eating, there is only so much room in my stomach to overeat before it will hurt and come up again.  Stomach… food plan… both tools.

I honestly don’t think that the doctor intended to invalidate my experience as someone with an eating disorder.  He responded back to me and another poster who also disagreed with him in the comments.  His followup comment clarified his position a little more clearly and I felt better afterwards.  I don’t really need him to validate my experience; I’m just touchy when I perceive that someone thinks that food disorders aren’t every bit as much of a real disease as any other addictive disorder.

Okay, my rants are over for the day.  Thanks for sticking with me.

 

 

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Different Measures of Success

After a wonderful weight loss in the first two weeks of the new plan, I’ve had a frustrating week.  I’m still carefully following the plan.  However, I not only haven’t lost weight, I’ve gained a couple of pounds.  There might be a couple of things factoring into my body’s reaction.   I did three challenging rowing workouts this week.  I wasn’t great early in the week with drinking enough water.  My digestive system has been extremely sluggish.  Even knowing all of these things and absolutely knowing that I have not deviated on the plan, it’s hard to not be disappointed.

I will give myself permission to feel frustrated and disappointed.  However, I am determined to not let it throw me off of the wagon.  We already know that I have an unhealthy obsession with the number on the scale.  I cannot afford to let that be the only, or even the main, measure of my success.  It is definitely a great time for me to reconnect with Non-Scale Victories or NSVs.

Here are some of my other successes from the past week.  I went to a business dinner last Tuesday and, on Wednesday, we ordered from a restaurant for lunch one day.  At the dinner, I bypassed the dinner roll and the white rice and only ate foods that are on my plan.  For lunch, I did not order my favorite sandwich.  Instead, I ordered a great wedge salad and supplemented it with protein I brought from home.

I really, really worked hard at each rowing class.  Not that I don’t work hard every time, but these three classes included some challenges we haven’t tried before.  On Friday, when doing sprints, I hit a personal best on power – hitting 222 watts of power on several strokes.

I’ve faced temptations — then turned my back and walked away.

Even today I went to a big luncheon fundraiser.  I declined a cocktail.  When dessert came, I ate the whipped cream and fresh berries (both on the plan), took one forkful of the cake and then stood up and placed the plate out of my reach.  Later one when took a trip to the supermarket, I cruised by all kinds of food items that I would normally buy and eat.  Instead, I stuck to my list and that was that.

Although I wish the number on the scale would go back down, I can see the overall weight loss.  I can also feel that even just 11 pounds — or 8 with the weird gain – has reduced the pressure on my right knee.  I have less pain in that joint.  That’s huge.  Last month I was so depressed by how much and how frequently my knee hurt.  To be aware of the improvement is not just a physical thing.  It’s a real mood booster.

Three weeks into working a strong food plan, and working it so well, creates such an improved attitude.  OA has a saying that nothing tastes as good as abstinence feels.  Alleviating the compulsive overeating is a relief.  I feel better about my plan, my progress and, yes, about myself.  This, my friends, is a NSV beyond measure!

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The Beef about Bread

Has everyone seen that commercial ad with Oprah as she waxes dramatic about being able to eat bread on the Weight Watchers plan?

Disclaimer: Overall, I’m annoyed at every ad that Oprah does for Weight Watchers and her great belief in the plan and program.  She owns 10% of the stock in the company and has another 3.5 million share stock option.  OF COURSE she’s going to pitch the program.  The more people who sign up, the better for the company’s profits, the better for her. That bread ad alone earned her $19.2 million on the day that it aired and she tweeted about it because her endorsement boosted the stock price by a few bucks a share.

Okay, that’s not my beef.  Oprah is a brilliant business woman and I admire her for her empire building skills.  I just wish her ads included a line sort of like, “I love this plan because I can eat bread and still lose weight, and because it’s a profitable part of my stock portfolio.”

My beef with bread is that it is addictive.  It comes in many different varieties, some of which are absolutely delicious.  Some of which are even more delicious when dipped in olive oil and herbs while others have enormous yum factor slathered with creamy butter.  Crusty outside, pillowy soft inside.  Whether enjoyed solely for its own taste merits or even more appreciated as a delivery vehicle for rich sauces and gravies, bread is the bomb.

Well, except for the fact that it has no nutritional value that I can figure.  Apparently, most of the bread that I love is a motherlode of useless carbohydrate, a harbinger of doom when it comes to glycemic index and, basically, a total waste for my waist.

I’ve now gone breadless for two and a half weeks.  I walk past dinner rolls at a buffet.  We ordered in lunch from a local restaurant and I didn’t choose my favorite sandwich, but opted for a wedge salad.  The only toast in my life is when I raise a metaphorical glass of cheer in my mind to honor my successful effort.

All in all, I really shouldn’t gripe.  Honestly, the motivational switch is solidly “on” right now and I’m following this plan with little to no struggle.  (Please God, don’t let me have just jinxed myself.)  It’s just that right now, in this moment, I so that Oprah bread ad and it made me yearn for one delicious, golden, warm piece of bread.

I’ll get over the craving and will do so without a crazy action like leaving the house to track down a yeast roll.  Instead, I will finish up with a check in the success column for the day.  Happy thought right now.   I haven’t had dessert after dinner tonight and there is a lovely piece of dark chocolate (perfectly on the plan!) waiting for me.

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Never an Expert

I’m not an expert about eating disorders or weight loss surgery, nor do I ever want to portray one on this blog.  One of the things that I always liked about OA is that nobody portrays themselves as experts or gives advice.  (At least, nobody is supposed to.)  We share about our own experiences — good, bad, or down the middle.

I’ve joined a couple of closed groups on Facebook.  One is for Compulsive Overeaters.  It is not an OA group, but many of the regular posters are in program.  The other group is for people who are following the Always Hungry? plan.  Nearly every day, I see people come to the groups who are newcomers and hope to find answers.

I can see myself in those people.  When I first went to OA, even though I was familiar with 12 Step programs through my mom, part of me still held onto the hope that somebody would give me the magic answer that would solve all of my problems; the magic that would “cure” me.

No such magic exists because there is no cure for this eating disorder or any addictive disease.  We’re never recovered.   Instead, we are always seeking to be recovering.  If I answer a question or say anything at all about the struggle and what I do or have done, it’s never with the idea of, “This is how you do it”.  No, it’s definitely, “This is how I do it” or “This is what I’ve done” or “This is what I’ve discovered in myself”.

What happens with me might not happen to the next person.  Definitely, there are commonalities among many people, but we aren’t carbon copies of each other.  How my eating disorder manifests in me could be completely different than the person sitting next to me, so my recovery, what and how I need to do it, will be different.

It’s good for me to remember this as I participate more often in these online groups.  I can see where some people appear to relish a role of more prominence and voice their opinions of what someone else needs to do.  That kind of grates on me, particular when someone is talking to or answering me.

I might be an expert on myself, but never on anyone else.  I want to always respect other people and what they experience and live with.  If something that I share about resonates with somebody else, that’s one thing.  I know that over the years, I have learned a great deal from others who share openly and honestly about themselves.  That’s what works for me and, I hope, what works for others.

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Avoiding Cheat Guilt

It will come as no surprise to regular or long term blog readers that I have a large and varied supply of different issues about food, eating, dieting, weight loss and having an eating disorder.  I’ve come a long way over the years but that doesn’t mean, for me, that the issues every go away.  I simply learn, or hope to learn, effective coping mechanisms so that the issues don’t screw me up and harpoon my positive effort.

Today what’s coming up for me is combating the feelings that I’m being “bad” on a diet, that I’m cheating, every time I eat some sort of whole fat or otherwise fat food item on this Always Hungry? plan.  Whole milk, whole milk yogurt, full fat cheese, eggs, nuts and nut butters (without added sugar) are absolutely allowed and are an important part of this food plan.  Take this morning, for example.  I prepared the book’s recipe again for non-grain pancakes.  (Did I talk about these last week?  I forget.  Bear with me anyway.)  They are made with garbanza bean flour, whole milk Greek yogurt, whole milk, an egg, and safflower oil.  (If any of you need to avoid gluten and you haven’t tried garbanza bean flour, it’s a revelation.  I want to find other recipes that use it, just because I think it’s tasty.)

These pancakes are delicious just as they are.  However, in lieu of syrup on Phase I, I topped mine with homemade whipped cream and a fruit sauce.  All kinds of awesome yumminess happening on that breakfast plate, my friends.  Great flavor, texture, mouth feel and, after, satiety.

However, even with that positive experience, I could not stop the thoughts that the meal was too decadent, that I was cheating.  I was eating full fat dairy.  My mental process kept trying to tell me this was wrong, wrong, wrong.  I stopped mid-way, put down the fork, and had a talk with myself.  It comes down to being willing to trust this AH plan with its process and the science behind it and be confident that I am not being “bad” or doing damage to myself.  Ultimately, I need to believe that the plan is helping me reach the goals of retraining my fat cells and losing weight.

Clearly the plan is working.  I will confess that I still have difficulty staying away from the scale and am weighing myself almost every day.  However, seeing steady results is at least turning out to be a tool to combat the feelings that I’m screwing up and cheating every time I eat some whole fat food.  (By the way, I’m down 11 pounds today.)

So, how can I stop the negative thoughts and worries from creeping in?  Here’s what I’m going to try.  Remember when I talked about the book’s recommendation that participants designate an amulet to help them refocus on their goals and Big Why?  I use the “Strong is the New Skinny” bracelet my friend gave me.   When I’ve been tempted to eat something not on the plan, it honestly has helped me to look at and tap the bracelet.  I figure if the tool has worked in that way, I could use it for this, too.  My thought is that it will create an atmosphere of even greater mindfulness.  When a negative thought about what I’m eating creeps in, I’m going to tap my bracelet and remind myself that I’m on track with the program and food plan.

 

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If Only There Was a Switch

My sister-in-law and I were recently chatting on the phone and I shared that I was trying this new to me food plan approach.  We talked about it for a while and I discussed what I like and don’t like about it.  The conversation then moved into exercise.  She was a dedicated spinner for a long time and combined it with a popular commercial food plan.  This resulted in significant weight loss.  More recently, she hasn’t exercised with that intensity for a while and said that she’s regained weight.

There are evenings when she knows she “should” go to the gym, she said, but she doesn’t.  “If only there was a switch that we could turn on and off,” she wished.  I know exactly how she feels.  I’ve had that same wish all of my life.  I’ll go great guns on a new plan or program and then one day it’s like someone flicked the motivation switch to the “Off” position and cut the power.  It’s not so easy to click the switch back on!

That’s why I live in fear of those moments arriving.  Sometimes I know that they’re triggered by a crisis; other times I don’t have a clue.  I think this experience led to me finally understanding that losing weight is not a matter of willpower.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve willed myself to make the good choices and told myself what I wanted to do – at least in my mind – but the juice wasn’t there to motivate me to put the desires into action.

As a result of a lifetime of previous experience, I no longer get cocky about my chances of maintaining a program, a food plan and a weight loss long term.  As determined as I can be in my heart that this time it will be different, an eating disorder is an insidious, controlling, and powerful opponent.

I honestly believe this is why 12 Step Programs advocate one day at a time.  It keeps me present in my efforts today and hopefully leads to me fostering continued self-awareness.  I work to not project into the future about the number of pounds I’ll lose, but focus on my preparations, plan and execution of same just for today.

If the only day that matters is the one that I’m in, then perhaps I no longer need to even think about the motivation switch and what happens if it shuts off.  I just need to keep doing what I’m doing and abstain from compulsive eating for today.  I only need to commit to the planned-for exercise session for today.  Then I need to honor those commitments.  One. Day. At. A. Time.

Speaking of my food plan, I have one more day to go to hit the two week mark.  I’m amazed and thrilled that I’ve abstained from processed grain and refined sugar products each day of the last two weeks.  While I have not been able to cook every recipe and eat the exact meals outlined in the book, I’ve made some of them.  On the meals where I’m not eating one of the book’s recipes, I’m following the proper percentages of protein, full fat, and carbohydrates.  I feel great about my daily efforts and adherence to the plan.  I’ve lost at least nine pounds, which is a happy bonus.

Week Three transitions me to Phase 2 which allows some whole grains and starchy veggies to make small appearances in the plan, along with honey and maple syrup.  It still recommends not eating white potatoes, white rice, or breads and other products made with white or whole wheat flour.  I’m honestly good with this still.  In keeping with what I said earlier in this post, I’m not projecting for how long I’ll be able to keep this up.  I’d like to think the answer is “for as long as I need to”.  Instead, I’m just focused and prepped for tomorrow.  That’s my “switch”.

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I have to admit that I had a little “wow” moment a couple of days ago.  I received the notification that Dr. Ludwig, the doctor who devised the Always Hungry? plan and wrote the book, left a comment on my March 1st post.  Maybe my blog popped up on his Google Alerts. Anyway, it’s nice that he stopped in and took the time to wish me well.

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Believing in Efforts/Avoiding Diet Mentality

Day three of week two without processed grains and refined sugar and I’m still on track.  I’m not preparing every meal suggested in the book’s daily plan but still sticking to the percentages of protein/fat/carbs in every meal.  Physically I feel good.  Emotionally, the mood variations have settled down.  Mentally and emotionally, I’m happy.  It is a great boost to commit to a plan and honor that commitment every day.  Success breeds success.  I do this a day at a time, but each day that I stick to it becomes a building block in the foundation that supports more long term recovery.

I was never ever willing to abstain for a long time from breads, pastas, white potatoes, white flour products and sugar.   Even though there were many times that I followed extremely restrictive diets that removed all of those foods – or in one case ALL food period – I always hated doing so.  (Yes, I once went six months surviving on a godawful tasting liquid protein with weekly trips to NYC for medical monitoring.)  I felt freakish about my inability to sustain long term weight loss, and resentful that I could not eat like a “normal” person.  When I first discovered that I have an eating disorder and found the OA program, I thoroughly resented my past history of fad, harsh diets.  So, I rebelled from doing anything that reminded me of any old plans.

I don’t know why it feels different to me this time around and why I’m willing.  It could be as simple as the fact that while I gave up the “white” products, I’m still allowed colorful, tasty fruits and veggies of all kinds plus the higher fat content products.  Oh, and that wonderful treat of dark chocolate means a lot.  However, I think there is a more involved evolution at play.  Although I have not yet lost all of the weight that I would like to, the last four years have taught and shown me something about myself.  I am maintaining a significant weight loss and have for four years.  This is something that I have never been able to do for myself in the past.  I always yo-yoed up and down the scale.  I could diet like a fiend on specific plans and lose a great deal of weight, but I always always always put it back on, usually with extra pounds on top.  That’s how I gradually grew to close to 400 pounds.

Knowing, acknowledging how much I have changed, learned, and accomplished with regards to my weight and health creates a belief in myself that I’ve always lacked.  Sure, in the past I always hoped that each time would be the magic effort that worked.  However, at heart I don’t think I really believed that my efforts would result in long term success.  My relationship with myself and with food has changed so much and for the better.  I no longer have any interest in atrocious fast foods and willingly cook with more fresh produce in healthier ways.

I love the positive changes in my body and my physical fitness.  It feels great to move, to see the muscle definition, experience my strength.

Most importantly, I believe that I will continue to be successful.  That I will continue to improve my physical health.  I’m committed to maintaining the new, healthier me.

These changes make it not such a big deal to give up more specific foods.  I’m not saying that I’ll never eat pasta or bread again, but I know for sure that I don’t need them in my every day diet.  Giving them up doesn’t feel like I’m sacrificing.  I’m not experiencing the resentful, “I can’t have it” feelings.  It feels like a positive, okay choice for today.

 

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