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Recovery Rollercoaster

Yesterday was a great day in physical therapy as far as I’m concerned. The therapist really worked me even harder than usual. I pushed and pushed and took myself further past pain than I thought I could. We achieved 125 degree of flex in my knee. I walked out of there exhausted but elated. The feeling stayed with me all night. I didn’t even mind when I woke up at 1 a.m. with pain and needed to go set up the ice therapy machine so I could cool and calm my leg. I did some email and other work for an hour or so and the was able to fall back asleep.

Normally I have PT sessions on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. This week, we had a special work related event on Monday so I needed to schedule Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Today, I got a clearer idea of one of the issues. I’m hitting the knee flexion goal and making progress on the leg straightening goal when I’m in a session. I’m not currently maintaining those markers in between sessions. Even though I do exercises at home, apparently I’m not doing enough, or working as hard as I need to.

I thought I was. I know it’s more challenging to do them as often now that I’m going into the office every day, but I’m not ignoring the exercises. I push myself, too.

Today, this all translated emotionally into my old, diseased B.I.N.G.E. thinking as in Believing I’m Not Good Enough. I thought I was kicking ass on my recovery and doing really well.  Now I feel like I’m behind and I know I’m not where I want to be – and where we strive to get me.

Even worse, my insurance authorized 20 sessions. Friday will be session 18. That means I only have a few more sessions to reach and maintain the goals. I’m a little freaked out by that and it has added to my diseased thinking. I need to step back and evaluate. The clinic suggested I contact the insurance agent who acts as my employer’s liaison with the health insurance company. Maybe, just maybe, we can get the company to authorize some more sessions. I’m going to speak to the head therapy guy on Friday to see how many he thinks I might need. He’s the therapist that usually works with me and knows exactly where I am in my recovery progress.

If the insurance company won’t authorize more sessions and I only need a couple, I can pay out of pocket, providing they aren’t wildly expensive. The clinic also offers a wellness program where I could go in at will and use the equipment. Some people I know use that program and it’s pretty reasonable. While I wouldn’t have the benefit of the therapists manually manipulating my muscles to encourage them, I could use the treadmill, the bike, and the universal gym to work on those knee flexing-squats.

I can also call my surgeon and find out when I can go back to rowing. I might be able to use that exercise to work on the straightening and rebuilding the strength of my right leg.

In short, there are options. I need to get out of my emotional response and look at the situation logically and objectively. Not only will that help me plan, it will also help me stop eating compulsively the way that I did today. (It was one of those days where lots of inappropriate food was around me and I indulged in all of it.) Bingeing and gaining back the weight I’ve lost over the last six weeks will not make me feel any better.

Tomorrow I can also devise a better strategy for getting in more rehab exercises at home and at work. I can do sets of them in the morning and evening. The therapist showed me a leg straightener I can do on the bottom step of any staircase. So , I can get some of those reps in at work and also find a chair to do the knee flexing exercise.  There are ways.

Yes, this recovery and rehabilitation effort is a bit of a rollercoaster right now, but one thing I know for sure. Just like on a real rollercoaster, you can’t jump off in the middle of the ride. I have to see it through and continue to channel my determination into concrete, hard work and effort.

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Slicing, Dicing, Cutting Back and Keeping Fit

Silly title for a post, I know, and I’ll do my best to make it all relevant to the content.

I had an excellent time away last weekend at my Tai Chi Sabre workshop.  After doing the regular set for more than four years and feeling at least somewhat competent and balanced, it was interesting to return to being a complete newbie with the Sabre Set.  As I joked to a friend, when I started Tai Chi before, I felt awkward.  This time I felt awkward but I was armed.

Did you play sports or do any activity where you had to have a special outfit or equipment?  I remember when my Dad took me to a sporting goods department to help me pick out my first, very own glove for playing softball.  I felt so special in that moment.  Same thing when I got my first two wheel bike, or, later, my own purple bowling ball.  These things were rights of passage in a way and signified our full participation in whatever activity we were involved.

A friend pre-ordered our sabres for the workshop.  When I picked her up and she brought them to the car, I almost said, “Ooooh.  It’s so pretty.”  Honestly, it’s a nice wooden sabre made from red oak, so there is a prettiness aspect to it if you like and appreciate different kinds of wood.  The next day when the workshop instructor first told us to pick up our sabres and showed us how to hold them for the beginning of the set, I felt like I did as a kid the first time I took the field with my brand new softball glove.

The cool, special feeling remained through the weekend, even when I felt my clumsiest or despaired of ever finding my balance and coordination, let alone remembering the sequence of the moves.  Let me tell you, we worked hard.  Each morning we began with two full regular sets of Tai Chi, followed by several minutes of foundation exercises.  After a short water break, we worked on the sabre set.  We learned it a few moves at at time in a sequence and practiced over and over and over again.  Then the instructor would demonstrate the next sequence of moves, adding on to what we’d already learned.

We enjoyed a 90 minute to two hour lunch break during which we shared a meal but then broke into groups to do scheduled tasks such as washing dishes, chopping fruit or vegetables for dinner, putting away tables, etc.  Back from lunch, we all did another full set of Tai Chi, followed by a few more hours of more sequences from the Sabre set.  Break for dinner, do the after dinner tasks, reconvene for another full Tai Chi set, then a couple of hours more of Sabre.  By the time 9 p.m. arrived and we stopped for the night, collectively we looked like we’d just run a marathon.  I believe we all felt the same way.  The next day followed the same schedule and we finished learning all of the set moves.  The next morning when we reconvened, we concentrated on refining the moves and doing the set over and over and over and over again.

Thankfully, even with close to 100 people learning with all of the turns, chops, cuts and “throwing” of sabres (that don’t ever leave our hands), nobody actually got sliced or diced.

I will not pretend that I am anything close to having it down.  I am happy that I can remember most of it, but need to consult my notes if I get stuck on a transition from one sequence to the next.  I just keep practicing and practicing, knowing that eventually I’ll have the sequence down and then can really focus on refining my moves.  I will tell you without hesitation that I had a blast!  This is a fun set to learn and do and there’s something very cool about doing Tai Chi with my red oak sabre!

Food wise I was not strictly compliant.  I gave in to enjoy some really tasty carbs and I don’t regret doing so… particularly not with the overload of physical exercise we got.  Now that I’m back, I’m definitely cutting back — cutting the white carbs out again — and am back on track.

Today I saw my new primary care physician for the first time.  I’m happy to report that my blood pressure numbers remain good.  My cholesterol ratio of HDL:LDL is really good.  So is my blood sugar.  The doctor and I talked for a long time about my weight loss and my fitness levels.  She said that she looks not just at the numbers as in pounds on the scale, but at the overall condition of the patient and my condition is pretty darned good.  She encouraged me to stay on the path that I’m following, have faith that the pounds will come off, add some fiber supplement to my diet and she’ll see me in a year.  So, booyah for a great medical check up and keeping fit!

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Checking In Before the Holiday

The stormy seas on which I’ve been sailing lately have significantly calmed.  (Pardon the alliteration.)  More to the point, I’ve worked hard to reach a place of serenity, determining what I can change, what I can’t and recognizing the difference.  A lot of what is going on that was causing me so much stress really is out of my control.  I can only manage my actions and reactions, do my best, remember to breathe and kiss the rest to God.

I’m delighted that I’ve reached this point without binge eating through the tumult.  I’m doing a steady, consistently good job of sticking to my food plan.  Doing so not only makes me feel better physically, but also mentally and emotionally.  When I do not get side swiped by my eating disorder, overall I am in a much better place.  It’s still a matter of facing this one meal at a time, but I’m working the tools of my program.  I make sure that I plan ahead and prepare my foods.  I say no to the compulsive thoughts when they hit.  I find some other way to alleviate the stress-triggered impulses.

It helps that I’m losing weight again. A little here, a little there.  I’ll go several days, even close to a week, without any reduction and then see a couple of pounds have dropped off.  I really need to do my measurements again, too, because when I look in the mirror, I see a difference.  Having the numbers back up the visual will be good.

I’m going out of town this weekend for a Tai Chi workshop.  In addition to the regular set that we do, the Taoist Tai Chi Society also teaches some other sets, including one that includes sabre work.  I’ve never done this set and am excited to learn it.  I just think it will be a cool addition to my Tai Chi practice.  A friend from the society is riding up with me and ordered our sabres for us.  (They’re oak, not steel.)  It will surely be an interesting experience.  Plus workshops usually have more than a 100 participants.  Heck, some of them have 700 or 800!  Doing Tai Chi in harmony with so many people creates an entirely different energy feel.  I love it!

At the same time, I have a little apprehension about the food.  Meals are prepared for the workshop participants.  I know that I will be able to make choices that suit my food plan.  However, in the back of my mind is always the concern that I won’t make those choices.  Instead, if a white starch is available, will I take a spoonful out of impulse just because it’s there?  Sadly, with this disease, that is always a possibility.  So, I’m mentally psyching myself up to remain compliant to the plan and abstinent.  I’ve also thought ahead to my particular need to eat something every couple of hours.  Rather than put myself at the mercy of the workshop’s meal schedule, I have portable snacks ready that do not need refrigeration.  So, I can fuel my needs on time. This will keep me from getting over-hungry which often can lead to poor choices once food is actually available.

So, this is where I am before the three day holiday weekend.  I’m looking forward to a good time and keeping myself on an even keel.

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The Non-Diet Mentality

Life is still super stressful.  I’m feeling a little piled-on at the moment, experiencing more than the usual amount of stress both at work and in my personal life.  I’ve been getting headaches over it and on any given night could wake up around 2:30 or 3:00 a.m. and not be able to fall back asleep for a few hours.  It sucks.  Plain and simple.   You know the people and internet memes that tout how it’s up to us to choose our attitude?  Trust me.  I am all about being positive and upbeat.  So, a good attitude would definitely be my choice – if I could find one.  I’m going to keep looking.  Honest.  I can feel the stress affecting me not only emotionally and mentally, but also physically.

So, really, I am doing my best to counteract the negativity.  When my head starts to pound and I can practically feel my blood pressure rising, I focus on deep, calming, breathing.  I take walks and do Tai Chi.  When stress thoughts begin to repeat in my head like hyped-up hamsters on an endless wheel (what I believe psychiatrists refer to as inefficient worrying), and disturb my sleep, I pick up a book to read for a little while rather than toss, turn and keep thinking the thoughts.

I practice being grateful.  I also keep repeating the Serenity Prayer.  I have a full cache of techniques and tools and am doing my best to employ them effectively.  When all else fails, I simply remember that the stress won’t last forever and this is not the worst time of my life – not anywhere close.  In the grand scheme of things, these fall somewhere in the “small stuff” category — or at least the “medium stuff” — and I can handle them.

One of the positives that I acknowledge and celebrate is that I’m not eating over the stress.  Actually, I’m doing far better following the Always Hungry food plan of low refined and white carbs/low sugar but full fat and protein than I ever thought possible.  I don’t have physical cravings and am not dancing on a micro-thin ledge where a slight push could have me jumping into compulsion or binge eating on crap foods.

It really is a sensible, workable food plan in my life.  I never thought I’d say that about a low-carb plan.

I should point out that my weight loss has not been fast, significant nor steady.  When I first started phase one of Always Hungry?, I lost 11 pounds in two weeks.  Then I put on three of the pounds when I went to phase two.  I went back to phase one with occasional whole grains and didn’t lose anything for weeks.  A couple of weeks ago, I lost the three pounds I’d regained, then stalled again.  This week I dropped another two.  (At least as of today.)

The lack of consistent weight loss has been frustrating.  I crave instant gratification and rapid loss.  There’s a lesson in this for me and I am cautiously optimistic that I am finally learning to give up the diet mindset and embrace a non-diet mentality.  Doing that was an important part of when I first experienced recovery many, many years ago in OA.  It is important that I remember, and positively reinforce, myself for the daily effort of eating according to my plan; that I find joy in making good, healthy food choices.

Most of the time, I really am jazzed that I seek out fresh, good food instead of chowing down on processed stuff.  I take time to acknowledge when I make good choices.  Earlier today I had a Chamber of Commerce luncheon to go to.  The restaurant featured a salad bar and a series of buffet items.  There were plenty of things I could have loaded on my plate.  Instead I fixed a nice salad with fresh ingredients that weren’t carb or sugar-laden.  I bypassed the rice at the buffet and picked some sauteed vegetables and a little bit of the shredded meat.  The ciabatta rolls looked great but I walked right by them to my table.  Skipped the dessert offering too.  Everything I consumed was right in line with my food plan.  That was the NSV, the non-scale victory.  Even faced with the opportunity of non-plan foods, I chose to eat according to plan.  At no time did I feel deprived or like I was eating diet food.  I wasn’t dieting at lunch, per se.  I was just eating lunch period.

This is the mentality that I will continue to foster.   I know that I’m also on the mark with my portion sizes and striking the balance between healthy carbs, protein and fat.  As long as I continue to follow this approach, eventually I’ll lose more weight.  The journey might be slow, but I can hopefully condition myself to accept that too.

There have been a lot of stories in the news about this study done with contestants from a season of The Biggest Loser.  All or most of them have regained most of the weight that they lost while on that program.  There were also very discouraging claims that our body fights to get back to the number we weighed before we dieted.  Dr. Ludwig, who created the Always Hungry? plan offers hope that it doesn’t have to be that way.  That this plan does indeed help us conquer cravings, retrain our fat cells and lose weight permanently.  For today, I’m taking it on faith that he’s right.

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Step by Step, Day by Day

Lots and lots of stress surrounding me right now.  I and my co-workers need to get through the next 10 days and then we should get a little relief.  It is a challenge to deal with this day after day, along with the extra work that comes with it.  I’ve had nights when I wake up around 2:30-3:00 a.m. to use the rest room and stress-motivated thinking intrudes.  This creates insomnia and I’m fortunate if I fall back asleep before 4:30 a.m.

The situation caused some strain between a co-worker and me in which we definitely did not communicate well and got into a pattern of escalating tension.  Thankfully, I thought to reach out to her on Friday with a verbal olive branch.  I said that we had not had the most shining week and that it definitely was not representative of how we usually work together.  I owned my part in it and asked her if we could take a couple of steps back and regroup.  I’m happy to say that she received the outreach in the spirit with which I intended.  She agreed with me and together we agreed that we’d meet again on Monday and resolve the rest of the situation.  I had the best two nights sleep that I’ve had since returning from my trip to Vegas.

Yikes.  I never posted here that I was going to Vegas, did I?  I went out to the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention to hang out with friends, see Vegas for the first time in 47 years, and have some fun.  It was indeed fun, although somewhat exhausting.  I was happy to be there and also happy to get home.

Unfortunately, I was not good with my food plan while away.  This convention does not supply many meals and there wasn’t enough time during the day to sit down and have meals at the restaurants, not to mention the big expense since Vegas is not cheap.  I ended up consuming too many carbs, too much sugar, a few drinks.  Blech.

However, I am committed.  It’s been hard to get back on track, but I’m being kind and loving to myself and making the effort step by step, day by day.  From mid-week to now I’ve done much better with cutting out the junk carbs.  I’m still struggling a little to totally give up white sugar, but I’ve made some improvement there, too.  I’ve stopped bringing it into the house and am building up my resolve to say no to it when it crosses my path elsewhere.

I’m also getting back into my exercise routine.  I’ve recovered almost 100% from that injury.  We walked a lot while in Vegas and I did get up one morning and workout at the gym.  Last week, I returned to rowing classes and Tai Chi.  I paid attention to my body and found the balance between getting benefit from the rowing workout and overdoing it.  I felt the trouble spot start to twinge during one of the workouts so I backed off a little.  I also didn’t do three classes.  This week, I’ll try going back to three classes and see how it feels, but I won’t go crazy like I’m a hepped up wonder woman.  I’m also paying attention to the recommendations of my massage therapist — more hydration and stretching before the workout and making sure I stretch after the exercise sessions.  If I want to continue to improve my physical conditioning, I also have to proceed in an orderly, step by step fashion, instead of trying to jump over several steps and rush my body before it’s ready.

Class by class, workout by workout, walk by walk, Tai Chi routine by routine — it’s all positive progress.

Each time I don’t give in to cravings, whenever I say no to a compulsive urge to eat, when I turn away from a junk carb or sugary treat, I am taking the steps that I need to in order to continue to recover and live a healthy life.

 

 

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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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Day 7 – Abstaining

Today is Day 7 of the first week of this plan that I’m following.  I’ve made it so far without any refined sugar (except that little bit in the occasional bite of dark chocolate that the plan allows) and without any processed grains.  Honestly, I’m pretty amazed.  I’ve resisted even the lightest coating of bread crumbs or a single crouton on a Caesar Salad.  I’ve passed up cookies and even chocolate that was less than 70% cacao.  In short, I’ve been abstinent of the substances that I declared I wouldn’t eat.

I’ve keyed in on my satiety, hunger and any cravings.  If I’ve craved something with a truly physical motivation, as opposed to an emotional craving, I’ve chosen to eat something from the plan, as suggested.  Nuts, veggies, hummus, even a small piece of fruit, are all part of the program.  I can eat them, remain abstinent, and also know that they are healthier choices overall.

I’ve been willing to try foods that I don’t normally eat, like tofu which I used in a black bean-tofu hash.  (Recipe in the book.)  It was delicious.  I bought some more tofu to use in other meals.  I’ve finally realized, after many years, that tofu will provide a great extra protein source for me.  This morning for breakfast, I followed the book’s recipe for gluten-free/grain-free pancakes.  They’re made with garbanza bean flour, egg, Greek yogurt, and milk (soy, almond, cow, whichever I want), along with salt, baking soda, vanilla and oil.  The whole garbanza bean flour thing to me initially seemed odd and I admit I was skeptical.

Happy to report that these pancakes were flat out delicious!  Seriously, yummy.  Oh, and I ate them without maple syrup but with peaches and some fresh whipped cream.  I think this week there are recipes that call for more of the flour for thickening a sauce, for example.  It’s a new staple in my pantry, for sure.

Abstinence for me isn’t just refraining from specific food items.  I also need to not go into the behavior of compulsive eating or binging.  That’s where paying attention to why I crave something matters, and then how much I eat if I’m physically hungry.  I’m getting in touch again with my stomach and feelings of fullness.  Learning how much is enough and when another bite or two is going to push me over into belly pressure and uncomfortableness.

The emotional waves have swelled and ebbed.  I’m doing my best to cleanly surf them and not wipe out.  Looking back, having that meltdown Tuesday night was helpful because it led me to identify what I was experiencing.  I had a few other intensely emotional incidences over the week, but knowledge and awareness helped me remember what was going on.  Sometimes I just let myself feel them until they passed; other times I shook myself out of them as appropriate.

The plan recommends reducing regular physical regimens for the first week.  I’m not 100% clear why, but I followed the instruction.  I did both Tai Chi classes but only rowed once.  The book does advocate a few minutes of “joyful movement” morning and night, so I stretch and do some additional Tai Chi at home as usual.  It also suggests short walks after each meal, so Nat and I have been out and about.

That’s the week’s summary.  All in all, it’s important for me to look back and reflect on the program and my commitment to following it.  I’m reviewing the chapters in the book and making my shopping list so that I have the foods in house to prepare.  That’s so key to me being able to succeed – prepping ahead of time for meals.  I also look at the suggested meals and know when I need to substitute something because of my schedule.  For example, on a day that I row, I don’t have time when I get home to make a frittata.  I have to shower, get dressed and get to work on time.  So on those days, I make a power smoothie or yogurt and fruit that I can bring with me and eat at work.  There are a couple of nights when I won’t be home to cook, so I’m substituting in leftovers from a previous meal.

I have another week of Phase One with no grains and no refined sugar.  I’m ready and committed to doing it one day at a time.

Oh, by the way, I jumped on the scale this morning.  (Yes, I almost made it until tomorrow.)  I’ve lost eight pounds.  Even figuring some of that is water weight, it’s the first significant weight loss that I’ve seen in a while.  I am cautiously optimistic that the program and my efforts are achieving what the book said it would… retraining my fat cells to give up the calories instead of hoarding them.  Fingers crossed!

 

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Hello! It’s Me.

Thank you so much for missing me, folks!  I’m so sorry that I went MIA for the beginning of 2016.  After my last post on New Year’s Eve, I feel like I hit the ground zooming at warp speed for the first two weeks.  Those first 14 days were completely wrapped up in several work projects that required maximum attention, focus, and extra hours.  I usually write my posts at night after dinner but there were so many nights where I was barely capable of babbling to my dog I was so tired.  Composing my thoughts and putting them into a coherent thought? Totally beyond my abilities.

The second two weeks of January I traded the stress of work for a fabulous vacation in Hawaii.  But even before I jetted west, I began the time off with a great Garth Brooks/Trisha Yearwood concert in Sunrise and a night in NYC to see Les Miserables.  (I planned that Broadway trip specifically to see the amazing Welsh tenor Alfie Boe perform as ValJean.  Unfortunately, he got sick and didn’t appear, but we still had a great time.)

The very next day, my friend and I boarded the plane to really start the vacay.   You know, so many times you put strong focus on what you’ll do and what you want that you can really build up super high expectations.  It’s not surprising that very often the reality falls short.

I’m delighted to say that didn’t happen to us.  Hawaii was everything that we’d dreamed up, hoped for, and planned about.  Highlights included doing a night snorkel to see giant manta rays, more snorkeling and whale watching, hiking some parks and just enjoying ourselves and relaxing in one of the most beautiful places in the world.  I love, love, love Hawaii and can easily see myself visiting and exploring the state every few years, if I can arrange the time and finances.  Sometime several years in the future after I retire, I’d like to spend most of a winter there.  Maybe I’ll get a temporary job as a naturalist on a whale watching boat!

Once we returned from Hawaii, I barely had time to do laundry and catch up at work before repacking for a week in Mexico for an industry meeting.  Very brain intensive and busy with long days of meetings, but the facilities who were close to the meeting hotel were wonderful hosts and arranged some fun evenings.  My boss and I also extended our trip by a day just so we could relax a little after the busy week and we had a chance to do something special.

I’ve been home now for two weeks and I think… think… that I’m caught up.  Even though one trip was vacation, being away three out of four weeks took me out of myself.  I’ve needed some time to decompress, readjust, and reconnect with my life.  I believe I’ve accomplished that now.

Amid the jetting around, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and studying on myself, my health, and my recovery.  One thing that I have noticed is a definite increase in pain and stiffness in my problem knee – the right one.  Even with my dedicated rowing exercises and other fitness activities, it is definitely weaker and less steady than my left knee.

Although I have not gained weight since September, I haven’t lost any either.  Maintaining is more positive, but it isn’t enough for me.

I am hungry for good health and determined to optimize my physical condition.  There have been times in recent weeks when I was almost resigning myself to going back to the orthopedic specialist to discuss whether it’s time for a knee replacement.

Fortunately, I big dose of truthiness hit me.  I cannot appropriately assess the condition and future capability of my knee until I take off the 50 pounds I’ve been wanting to shed.  According to a Harvard Medical article, the force on your knees when walking on level ground is roughly 1 1/2 times your body weight.  (More force when going up an incline like stairs.)  So, someone who weights 200 pounds puts 300 pounds of pressure on his or her knees.  Even a 20 pound weight loss would reduce that pressure by 30 pounds and so on.  If I lose 50 pounds, I’m reducing the impact on my knees by 75 pounds!  That’s a big improvement.  I can practically hear my knee joints begging, “Yes please.  Do it.”

As we know, losing weight is not easy, even for those of us who have had weight loss surgery.  I’ve realized for a while that years of an eating disorder have screwed up my metabolism.  However, I’m accustomed to seeing results when I follow a plan.

I am not seeing those results, which absolutely ramps up my frustration and increases the difficulty I have in remaining on a plan.  It is very confusing.

However, I have hope.  In January, I heard about a book called Always Hungry? by a well known endocrinologist, researcher and professor of nutrition at Harvard.  I started reading about it and then bought the book to read in depth what this doctor had to say.  When he talked about how many traditional approaches to weight loss end up confusing our bodies and triggering the exact opposite reaction in our fat cells than what we want, he did it in such a way that it made sense.  At risk of oversimplying, he advocates cutting way back on processed carbohydrates (particularly white flour/non whole grains, white sugar, white potatoes, and those families of foods), saying yes to whole fats and healthy fats, going for lower glycemic load, not just glycemic index, and not drastically restricting calories.  He claims that with his approach, one can conquer cravings, retrain fat cells and efficiently lose weight.

Disclaimer:  That really is a vast oversimplification of the doctor’s ideas, which he has based on research, studies and experience.  I truly don’t want to do him an injustice.  Please, if interested, go read up about it yourself, okay?

So, Dr. Ludwig said a lot that I found interesting.  I freely admit that he also won a great deal of my interest when he made the differentiation between the white bread/white potatoes/white pasta/white rice type of carbohydrates and carbs found in beans, legumes, fruit and some other veggies.  When he said that eating good quality dark chocolate  was not a diet sin, I wanted to applaud.

Anyway, after studying the book and his plan, I’ve decided to give it a try.  I just finished the seven day preparation phase.  I did a massive clean out of my pantry and refrigerator.  Not that they were loaded with inappropriate foods, but there were some in there.  I actually found a lot more items that needed to get tossed because I’d gone way past their expiration dates. Armed with the extensive shopping list, I loaded up lots of ingredients to prepare the recipes that the doctor includes in his book.

I have to admit that it feels a little strange to buy whole milk, real cheese, and Greek yogurt that isn’t fat free.  Don’t get me wrong; the plan does not advocate eschewing bread but eating all of the bacon that I want.  He really is much more balanced.

The first two weeks are the most restrictive.  No grains, starchy vegetables, tropical fruits, high carb sweets and snack foods, and sugar except for the small amount in high quality 70% minimum cacao dark chocolate.  Every meal will have high quality protein, fat and acceptable carbs from non-tropical fruit or beans, legumes, etc.

I’m pretty psyched up for the effort.  For me, having the right attitude is so important.  I need the mental and emotional oomph to power through the physical effort.  I’m pretty confident in my ability to do this, one meal at a time.  Honestly, I’m less concerned about craving bread than I am about having to give up the sole packets of sweetener that I use in my cups of tea.

Lunch and snacks are all prepared and waiting in the fridge for the morning when I’ll put them into my lunch bag.  I have what I need to cook dinner for the next three nights, too.  I’m committed to following the eating plan and also doing the other things that he suggests, such as getting enough sleep, doing some stress relaxers each day, and so on.  I’ve even designated my “Big Why” amulet.  The doctor talks about identifying our Big Why – specific goals that are the motivation for losing the weight and changing our lives.  Right now, my Big Why is to be healthy and, more specifially, relieve knee pain.  My amulet is a bracelet that my good friend gave me that says “Strong is the New Skinny”.

When I want to reach for that Splenda packet, I’ll look at the bracelet again.

So… that pretty much sums up what’s been going on for me for the first two months of 2016.  I promise to keep you all posted on how things are going.  I hope that all of you are doing great.  Thanks for checking in!

(Folks, I tried to include some photos from my recent trips, but Chrome kept freezing on me and I gave up after three tries.  Sorry!)

 

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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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