Weighty Matters

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Jumped In and Cruised

Everyone, I’ve been away from home for a week without internet access. I wrote the last few posts before I left and scheduled them to appear while I was on vacation. In the past I’ve said flat out when I’ve been away, but several friends and other stories convinced me to, perhaps, not be quite so open about the absences. I’m sure you understand.

I think I mentioned several months ago that I booked myself as a solo traveler on a Country Music Cruise. I’d mentioned the thing to some friends but either they didn’t have the desire, the time, or the budget to go. I thought about what it would be like to go by myself without knowing anyone else on the ship. I also kept going to the entertainment company’s site and reading about the incredible lineup of performers scheduled to appear, including some of my long time favorites. I really thought about how I would feel on January 19th if I was sitting at home while the ship sailed and decided to jump in and book. I figured that I’m outgoing and sociable enough that I would easily be able to talk to people and have a great time even without friends and family.

Friends, I cannot find adequate enough adjectives to describe how fantastic a week I just enjoyed! Every single day was packed with activity, adventure and abundant fun! I also enjoyed some extra special experiences, felt significant spiritual reconnection, and got in touch with some new or additional awareness.

During the week, I was on total digital disconnect. I turned off my smart phone when we left Ft. Lauderdale rather than invest in an international calling/data plan. My computer remained at home and I never went to the ship’s Internet cafĂ© to log online. When we reached Puerto Rico on Wednesday and could access my regular mobile plan, I briefly turned on the phone, did a cursory check of personal email, spent five minutes on Facebook, and sent a couple of text messages to family, but that was it.

Instead, to stay connected to my process and journey, I kept a journal. The notes, comments and insights will help me as I share some of what I experienced in future blog posts. I need to go over everything again, but honest to goodness, I’m exhausted tonight from all of the adventure and fun.

One important thing that I will report is how incredibly well I did managing my food plan, my eating, and my exercise. My goal was to enjoy the delicious food but not overindulge or overeat. I wanted to get through the cruise without gaining weight. Every morning I woke up and walked the promenade deck for between one to two miles. I took the stairs, going up and down, 98% of the time. I went to the hour-long wellness class four of the seven days, took several hour-long line dancing classes, and walked allll over the ship. How did this activity measure up? Well, on Wednesday I racked up close to 21,000 steps. I also did a 90 minute kayaking excursion.

So you know that I couldn’t resist getting on the scale when I got home. Not only did I not gain weight, I lost a few pounds. In a word, Booyah! It was a true reaffirmation that I can actually be in the presence of massive amounts of delicious food items and not dive into diseased eating disorder mode. That is a huge NSV and source of encouragement to realize. I’m determined to bridge this back into my home life. Granted, I won’t walk around all day long like I seemed to do on the ship. After all, I do need to sit at my desk and work. However, I can continue to focus on my mindful eating, my healthy food choices, and impetus to be active whenever the opportunity presents.

I didn’t take that many pictures, but will share what I can. I’m going to work on downloading them tonight before I crash into bed so that they can accompany the week’s posts.

In the meantime, I hope that you all had a great, strong week. I missed you. I also knew that you’d all be happy for me. Trust me, I carried you and your support with me on my fantastic cruise adventure.

By the way, yesterday was the 2nd anniversary of my weight loss surgery. The journey has been amazing thus far. I can’t wait to experience whatever lies ahead. Thank you for being part of the trip.

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Food Diary

A long time and many posts ago I shared that dislike keeping a food diary. I recognize that it is an important tool in my recovery but that doesn’t mean I joyfully embrace the practice of logging my food. This is a long standing dislike from way back in the days before there were smart phones with apps where we could input our daily food electronically. Hell, it goes back to the days before personal computers.

I’m not sure why I dislike it now, but I’ve figured out why I was always resistant before. Denial. Putting anything down on paper makes it all black and white. I understand now that a lot of my eating was unconscious. Okay, I wasn’t actually, physically unconscious when I ate, as in eyes closed, lights out. However, in the throes of a binge, I could eat and eat and eat and not be logically, completely aware of the foods. I was completely overwhelmed by the behavior. It was hard, difficult, uncomfortable, and stressful to face the truth.

When I started going to a real therapist in 1991 and she told me I had an eating disorder, it was a big deal. Oh, I should point out here that I’d had the eating disorder for years but didn’t know it. You see, I thought there were only two eating disorders — anorexia and bulimia. Since I wasn’t starving or purging, I was completely in the, “I’m just a weak-willed slob who can’t control her eating” state of mind and emotion.

Anyway, in the early days of our work and my infancy in OA, the therapist helped me structure my abstinence. She told me that I needed to commit to a food plan and every morning I needed to write down what foods I would eat and how much. At that point in time, we focused on adjusting the behavior and not so much on the quantity. This meant that if I wrote down in the morning that I was going to have six pieces of pizza for dinner and that’s what I ate, that was okay. I’d committed and adhered to the abstinence I’d defined. However, if I wrote down that I was going to have two pieces of pizza for dinner and then I ate three or four or five, I was not being abstinent.

Sounds a little wacky, but it worked. It helped. The first few months of doing it this way, going to meetings and continuing with therapy got me on track and in recovery.

I did it, including keeping the food diary, because I wanted to recover and was willing to go to any lengths. Even so, I never grew to love logging my food.

I still don’t like it, but I do it, now using MyFitnessPal as an app on my phone. I’ve discovered an important correlation. When I don’t log my food for a few days, I come close to falling off of the wagon. That alone is enough reason to keep logging.

A couple good friends use MyFitnessPal and we all also have FitBits. We’ve “friended” each other on FitBit so we can see each other’s daily progress, cheer each other on in our physical activity, etc. I don’t use the food diary on that program. These friends each recently sent me invitations to friend them on MyFitnessPal, too. I thought about it and then wrote to each of them. I asked them to please not be offended but MFP is where I log my food and I don’t want to share that diary. It has nothing to do with them, it’s all me not being comfortable putting that info out for anyone to see but me.

I’ve had to do a little soul-searching to see why sharing my food diary is out of my comfort zone. At first I worried that it could be a case of fostering sickness in the secretiveness. Tonight I really pondered and meditated on it and had some strong realizations. I spent many years with other people judging my food and what I ate and their disapproval or worry exacerbated my stress and my shame. At a young age I became a skilled stealth eater. My food diary needs to be a place where I can be completely honest about what I’m eating — even if I don’t have a good day and eat off of my food plan.

I can’t do that if what I log on there can be read by other people. I will incessantly worry about what other people think and how they’ll react to the point where I won’t be honest. If I am not honest on my food diary it ceases to be a viable tool in my recovery.

To be clear, these are not judgmental friends. This is all about my old tapes, previous experiences, and personal issues. That said, it is not possible for me at this time to give up the reluctance and make my food diary readable to anyone but myself. My choice to not share is about me protecting the role that keeping a food diary has in my recovery. I don’t have to like doing it, but I need to keep doing it and I can’t afford to let anything interfere with me maintaining this practice with integrity.

My friends were cool and told me they understood. We’ll continue to encourage each other via FitBit and in person. We’re good.

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