Weighty Matters

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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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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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Staying in the Day

I have a bad habit of pressuring myself with big expectations when it comes to my weight loss performance.  Surely this is part of a diet mentality, but sometimes it feels like big wishes while other times it could be setting myself up to fail.  I’m not sure but I know that I have to stop.

The root of this is my obsession with weighing myself.  I’ll get on the scale before showering or eating anything in the morning and then again before I go to bed at night.  My mind set is somewhat different, depending on what stage I’m in for the effort.  When I’d first start a diet and was going great guns, or right after weight loss surgery, I just wanted to weigh myself alll of the time, as if I could physically watch the pounds disappear from my body and just needed the digital evidence before my eyes.

When things go great, this is positive reinforcement.  Look, I lost a pound.  Hooray!  That’s great.

Then I start calculating progress in my head and projecting where I want to be, or where I could be a few weeks or months into the future.  I set goals based more on “oh please, that’s where I want to be” rather than giving any thought to what’s practical and possible.

What eventually happens is that I veer a little off course, or my body doesn’t stay on the schedule that my mind determined.  I get upset with myself.  A little depressed.  Air leaks out of my motivational balloon.  My mindset gets less positive.  Things can go downhill fast.

I’ve had a string of really strong days but I can already see that I’m falling into that bad habit again.  Too much weighing.  Too much playing “what if” and calculating how much weight I possibly could lose by such and such date.  This game goes like this… “What if I lose two pounds a week?  That’s eight pounds a month, or thirty pounds in four months.”  Oh, but wait.  I don’t stop there.  The thought process goes, “But if I lost 10-12 pounds in a month, then I could lose almost 50 pounds in four months!”  Gradually, the expectations get larger, more improbable, and the pressure increases.  I lose my focus on what I need to do today with each meal.  Projecting into tomorrow, next week, next month or whenever, does not help me shore up the foundation of right now, which is what I need to get to tomorrow.

I like to think that weighing myself daily keeps me honest, and twice a day gives me an emotional boost.  While these things could sort of work positively for me sometimes, honestly, there is more potential for screwing me up in my head.

My recovery program emphasizes One Day at a Time.  When times are challenging, it could get even more immediate, like One Meal at a Time.

I need to stay in the day with my program.  This is a process and not an event.  It’s a journey.  It isn’t a diet.  It’s my life — lived in health and recovery.

Most of the time the tools of the program are things that we do.  In this case, the next tool I need to add to my kit is to stop doing something… weighing myself so frequently.  It is almost as scary to think of doing this cold turkey as it is to give up a certain food all together.  I am afraid that it will stress me out too much to right now commit to only weighing myself once a week.  I’m going to gradually reduce my dependency on that digital display as a measure of my success.

This requires faith in myself and in my program.  I know, I know, that if I follow my food plan and keep my abstinence one day at a time, I will not only be a lot more serene and happy, but I will also lose weight.  I need to free myself of a time schedule for the weight loss and just keep going day by day by day.

Just like I’m making sure to commit my food by typing it into a digital note on my phone every  morning and then logging each meal on My Fitness Plan after I eat it, I’m going to make this commitment in writing — okay, in typing.

For this week, I commit to weighing myself only three times:  Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings before breakfast.  My focus will not be on what I weigh, but what I need to do every day to stay abstinent, follow my food plan, and nurture my recovery.  No matter what the scale number says on one of those mornings, I will not give into the temptation to weigh myself again at night, or the next morning.  Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings only for the week.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

 

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Sourcing Support

I’m pretty sure that back in the early days of this blog and the beginning of my post-weight loss surgery journey I talked about things I did before the surgery.  Among them was discovering a website community called ObesityHelp.com.  I found the site soon after I decided to seriously consider having surgery, which would have been roughly six months before the actual operation.

The site was an unbelievable resource for me.  It is filled with forums where people of all backgrounds, challenges, journeys and so on share their stories.  There are forums for folks who are having or who have had weight loss surgery – broken out even by the type of surgery.  When I started my research, I’d never heard of the type of surgery I eventually had – a vertical sleeve gastrectomy (VSG).  Once I found out about VSG, I then started looking deeper into that procedure.  I think that’s what led me to ObesityHelp.com.

Oh, thank goodness!  For months, this was a place where I could read about other people and their journeys.  I could ask questions and benefit from the experience of others.  It was amazing.  The people were enthusiastic, generous with their stories, oh so encouraging.  I went there every night and, if I got scared or anxious or confused, I’d even pop on during the day.  Since I live in a place where in-person support groups are not available, online became a lifeline.

When good friends approached me and said they were considering weight loss surgery, I recommended that they also check out the website in addition to the other research they were doing.  I still do.

So, I don’t remember when or why I stopped frequenting the website and participating in the forums.

Yesterday was a particularly bad food day for me.  There is no rhyme nor reason for it, other than my eating disorder taking over my actions.  Even as I snacked and ate crap that wasn’t on my food plan I felt mad, sad, discouraged and depressed about it.  The emotions then fueled me eating more.  But a big bold mark in the Suckitude column.

I don’t know why I thought to do it, but at some point I walked over to the computer and logged in to ObesityHelp.com.  I cruised the forums and posted a note about what I’ve been experiencing and how I’m not sure what at this stage of the game I should be following as a food plan, how many calories, what ratio of protein to carbs, etc.  I asked for suggestions.

Today I went back on and there were several replies, all with good suggestions and, as important, encouraging words.  I visited more forums on the site and found someone who asked if anyone else post-wls still deals with binge eating disorder and compulsive overeating.  So, here was another place to touch base, to share, and to read the sharing of others.  Then I found a group for people fighting back from regaining some of their weight.

All of this information.  All of this support.  It’s still all right there, where it was before.  My needs have changed and the site is still a wonderful resource. Even the strongest, most knowledgeable of us can benefit from the knowledge and experience of others.

I’m feeling very grateful right now that I went back to the site.   I plan to keep going back.  I was feeling pretty isolated and alone in my struggle.  I don’t feel so alone anymore.

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Betting on Yourself

Have any of you heard of DietBet.com?  I vaguely remember seeing a television news story about people forming pools and betting on their weight loss, but I didn’t pay close attention to it.  Then the other day, a friend on Facebook posted that she’d achieved her four week goal in a DietBet game and earned slightly more than $40.00.

I know that for the past year plus, this friend has worked very hard to lose weight and she’s doing great.  I know how long she has struggled over her life.  How? Because she and I met each other when we were 11 years old.  We were roommates in a cabin at a summer fat camp.  Eek, that sounds harsh.  It was a camp dedicated to helping overweight girls lose weight through diet and exercise.

Just to side step for a little bit, because I love the story of how we reconnected after not speaking to each other for more than 40 years.  There are a couple of authors who I personally like, as well as adoring their books.  So, I’ve “Liked” their Facebook pages.  A few years ago, I added a comment to the status update of one of these others.  It turns out my long ago camp buddy is also a fan of this author, saw my comment and wondered if I could possibly be the same Mary Stella she knew when we were kids.  She contacted me and, presto, we reconnected.  Cool!

Back to the DietBet story.  I got so intrigued by the idea of a weight loss game pool that I had to check it out.  Okay, I’m sure my compulsive tendencies played a part.  The more I read the more I veered between laughing out loud, shaking my head in disbelief, and ruefully admitting that I admire the heck out of whomever came up with the idea.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, anybody can join up.  There are numerous “games” available to join at the DietBet site.  Some go for four weeks at a time; others for six months.  The concept is that you join a game for the join fee — which appears to average $30.  All of the entry fees go into a pot.  At the end of the four week period, everyone who has met the weight loss goal splits the money in the pot.  (DietBet of course takes a percentage off the top to pay themselves, their “guest hosts”, etc.  They also say that if, for some reason, there wasn’t enough money to make sure that every winner gets back at least 1 1/2 times what they put in, they’ll reduce their fee and pay out more to the winners.

Anybody can start up a game and, I think, the organizer can opt whether to make the game public so anybody can join or limit it to invitees, etc.  There are some celebrity game hosts, too, like Chris and Heidi Powell of Extreme Weight Loss on television or some of the winners or coaches from the Biggest Loser.

I asked a couple of friends if they’ve heard of DietBet.  I don’t want to say that we’re skeptical, but of course our first thought was, “How do they keep people from cheating?”

After a little more research I discovered that each participant takes their start photos and submits them for review.  One photo is a full length shot of them standing on the scale while wearing an outfit as if they were going through the TSA security line at an airport.  (No outerwear, no hat, no shoes, nothing in your pockets.)  For the second photo, when the period opens for submission of photos and starting weights, the company gives the players the Word of the Day.  The second required photo is taken looking down at the scale with your weight and at least your toes clearly visible and the word of the day written on a piece of paper placed right next to the scale.

So, unless one is psychic, one can’t submit a photo and weight that was taken more than two days before the start of the game.  At the end of the game, each person has 48 hours to submit their end weight photo.  I’m assuming there will be another word of the day to keep everyone honest.

The website has a community, places to post blogs, support from the organizers, ways to chart your progress, etc.  In my case, I decided to go with the Powells.  I figure that if someone is going to provide helpful hints, it might as well be the big guns.

Things I really like about the site include that they aren’t pushing a particular diet plan or weight loss program.  They aren’t trying to sell me nutrition shakes, supplements, exercise equipment or food items.  They do encourage you to invite friends to also join the game but that’s the extent.  I get that part.  The more players, the more money in the pot, the more percentage to DietBet.  This isn’t an altruistic place.  They’re a business that wants to make a profit.  I don’t object to honest industry.

This isn’t about who loses the most number of pounds.  The challenge is for each player to lose 4% of his/her body weight in four weeks.  There are rules about purging, starving yourself and other unhealthy practices.  At the end of the four weeks, everybody who lost at least 4% of their body weight wins an even share of the combined pot.  Players aren’t competing against each other, but challenging themselves.

Being both intrigued and compulsive, you know I had to sign up for a game. First of all, I’ll take my motivation from any source I can find.  Multiple sources of motivation are great! Secondly, I want to see how I do and find out if the spirit of friendly challenge will help, hinder or have no effect.

I won’t bore you with constant updates, but will let you know from time to time how things are going.  I’ll give you the final update and tell you if I reached the 4% goal by September 1st.  If you want to check out the site, it’s http://www.DietBet.com.

If any of you have already given this a go, I’d love to hear your impressions!

 

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Calmer and Less Compulsive

Behind me, in the kitchen, the pressure cooker is blowing its steamy, rhythmic whistle.  Inside is a stuffed artichoke that will be my dinner.  Do you like artichokes?  I love them.  My favorite preparation is to do a little mix of bread crumbs, garlic powder and grated parmesan and then spoon a little into the base of each leaf.  I think cook it in the pressure cooker for 15 minutes and take out a tender creation.  Leaf by leaf, I pluck it and scrape the veggie to the bottom.  Yum!

I’m a big fan of using the pressure cooker.  It cuts off so much cooking time for a variety of things.  Usually it takes about 45 minutes to an hour to steam or boil a whole artichoke.  15 minutes in the pressure cooker.  I’ve done stuffed pork chops that come out moist and tender also in 15 minutes — a third of the time.  Last week I cooked beets.  I’ve done short ribs that fell off the bone.  This method of cooking also packs in the moisture so foods don’t get dry and tough.

Anyway, if you’ve cooked in a pressure cooker and have a recipe to share, I’d love to read it!

On to the blog post topic.  Tomorrow is a week since I had the acupuncture treatment.  My next one is tomorrow.  I’ve been out of the boot since Sunday and my followup appointment with the foot doc is also tomorrow.  I can happily report that I have experienced tremendous reduction in pain in my left heel and tendon.  So the combination of the plasma rich platelet therapy and the acupuncture is definitely working.  I’m adding in the effects of acupuncture, even if I only had one treatment, because I also was treated for pain in my right knee and, wow, has there been a big, noticeable difference!  So, I’m definitely a believer in the effectiveness of acupuncture!

You probably recall that I also spoke to the practitioner about my eating disorder.  I cannot claim that the treatment has completely removed the compulsion this week, but there has definitely been improvement here, too.  I am not obsessing so much about food.  Food and eating are not constantly on my mind.  I’m able to put some distance between a trigger and action which give me a chance to not act on the trigger and eat.

Perfect?  No.  Much better?  Yes, for sure.  Overall, these improvements lead to me being much calmer about myself and my disease which is also greatly beneficial.  It makes me feel better and healthier overall when I don’t feel like the disease is controlling me or that I’m locked into a downward spiral of eating-eating-eating.   It’s not a miracle and I don’t expect a total fix.  However, if the acupuncture treatments continue to help, it gives me peace and the ability to follow the healthy food plan; the healthy course of action.

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Speak Your Truth

Every night for the last several nights I’ve said to myself that I wanted to write a blog post.  Then I’d get involved in something else for a few minutes, sit on the couch and end up nodding off.  Sorry about that.  I guess I’ve needed extra rest.

So tonight right after dinner I turned on the computer and resolved to write before I got involved in anything else!  My thoughts are revolving around the truism that we are only as sick as our secrets.  To that I say, yes, speak your truth.

I believe that we are more likely to talk about surface problems.  The run of the mill things that are more commonplace.  We’re more comfortable when we have an issue that we know is shared by many.  Other things — like in my case an eating disorder — we hold tightly within ourselves.  Perhaps we feel ashamed, or maybe we fear that people will think less of us if we “confess” that we have whatever deeper problem affects us.  Fear, shame, confusion, whatever the reason, we hide the truth within ourselves.  When we bury stuff deep inside, it can’t be brought out into the light.

If we don’t bring it up and talk about it; if we resist sharing these truths; we are left to suffer, and suffer alone.

The first night that I went to an OA meeting and said, “Hi, I’m Mary.  I’m a compulsive overeater, or binge eater, or something” turned out to be one of the most liberating, joyful nights ever.  I spoke my truth, kicked it out of the closet, and opened myself up to getting help.

Now, I don’t advocate sharing our selves with every single person in our respective universes.   It’s important to find the safe circle, to look for people who will understand.  If they don’t understand, at least it’s good if they are willing to listen without judgment.  The point is that staying silent and not going outside of ourselves to seek help, only keeps us locked in the affliction.

I was thinking about this again this week as I prepared for my first acupuncture appointment.  A good friend who has used acupuncture treatment for a variety of things was the one who first suggested I go for a referral about my heel/plantar’s fasciitis and my ongoing knee pain.  Even though I’ve seen doctors for both conditions, she reasoned that acupuncture could be a tremendous asset to the healing process and enhance my conditions, if not resolve them.

For many years, I’ve been open and interested in the body’s chi — our own internal energy.  I’ve seen mine develop and help through the practice of Tai Chi.  I know how effectively my massage therapist works with my energy to help during sessions.  So, I was definitely open minded about trying acupuncture.

My personality is such that I always want to do things right.  That includes any kind of medical examination.  You know when you go for an eye exam and the doctor is figuring out your vision numbers, he/she does a process of flipping between two options and asking which is better, option 1 or option 2?  Ever since I was a kid, that part of the exam has stressed me out.  I am so worried that I’ll pick the wrong answer.  Yes, the rational, adult part of my brain knows that there isn’t a wrong answer, but I never claimed to always think rationally!  (You want to see test-stress?  You should have seen me the days leading up to SAT day in high school.)

Anyway, knowing that I wanted to make the most of my acupuncture appointment (Doesn’t that sound better than do my appointment right?), I asked my friend if there was anything that I should do to prepare.  She advised me to review the physical issues I was experiencing so that I wouldn’t forget.  I asked her if she’d ever talked to the practitioner about the auricular acupuncture that’s reputed to be good for stress relief, quitting smoking, weight loss and other things.  She hasn’t but she said I should bring it up if I felt comfortable.

I thought about it and thought about it and decided that I was going to include it in the consultation conversation and speak my truth.  I’m a compulsive overeater/binge eater.  I’m having difficulty right now in abstaining from compulsive eating which means that, even if I’m not eating huge quantities, I am still eating compulsively and not sticking to my healthy choices.

So, plantar fasciitis, osteoarthritis-related knee pain, compulsive eating.  Check, check and check.

The practitioner and I had a great initial conversation about everything.  We then went into the treatment room for the first session.  I really liked her thoroughness, her manner, and her holistic approach.  She explained why the needles were being placed where they were.  She told me that after they were inserted, at some point during the session I might start to feel strange sensations, twinges, or some pains in various parts of my body as the areas where the energy was blocked began to open up.  When that happened, I should note it in my head, take some deep breaths and try to expand into the feeling rather than tense up and constrict if it was a little uncomfortable.

After encouraging me to relax, even fall asleep if I wanted, she left the room while the needles did their thing.  I know I fell asleep for part of the time period, but for most of it I was awake and relaxed.  I’m not sure how long into the session I’d gone before I started to feel a few things, but at no time was I uncomfortable.  Mostly I began to experience sort of a warming vibration… almost like my internal energy really was waking up and flowing better.  Different sensation but not unpleasant in the least.

When the session was over and she returned to remove the needles, I immediately noticed a reduction of pain in my right knee.  I think that was the most dramatic difference at the outset.  My left heel feels pretty much pain-free too, but it’s been improving over the days and the boot stabilization and cushioning assists with that too.  I think the real test for that part of my body will be this weekend when I can give up the boot for a few days and just walk around in sneakers.

I came home and ate the sensible dinner that I’d planned and I haven’t eaten anything compulsively since.  That could be me, or me enhanced by the treatment.  It’s too soon to tell, but you can bet that I’m paying attention and taking notes.

Taking notes is something that she asked me to do.  She wants to know what I experience and how I feel between now and the next treatment next Thursday.  It’s important to know not only in the first few days immediately following the acupuncture, but also, even more so, in the 4th-6th days after.  That will help her see how my body holds the positive effects over time.

Even though I don’t know at this point what the benefits – short term and long term – may be, I am so glad that I decided to speak my truth about my eating disorder and struggles.  If having acupuncture doesn’t help, it doesn’t help.  However, not bringing it up and not seeking treatment would mean that I never even gave it a chance.

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