Weighty Matters

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Managing Stress without Compulsing

You know you’re tired when you’re in the middle of a phone conversation one evening with a friend and your brain clicks off and you fall asleep in mid-chat.  That’s exactly what happened to me last week one night.  It’s been a brutal couple of weeks and when I get home I can barely manage coherent thought, or so it seems.

When I last blogged I told you all about my boat sinking.  The resolution for that came through today.  The insurance company opted to declare it a total loss.  Honestly, that’s the best outcome for me because they will write me a check for the full insured value.  I can start with brand new engines again and not have to worry about problems with engines that had been submerged in salt water.  It also means that I don’t have to deal with the long hassle of someone rewiring my boat and doing whatever else would have needed doing to make it operational and safe.  Instead I can focus on what will be the more exciting task of finding a replacement boat.

Still, getting to this point created ongoing stress.  I went through all of the residual “I can’t believe this happened” and “What did happen?  Why did it sink?” stuff, along with, “Please let the settlement process be easy.”  I’m happy to say that the insurance company was great to work with, that’s for sure.  I don’t know how Progressive is with car policies, but they were efficient and non-confrontational with the boat and this is not an inexpensive claim that they’re paying out on.

Also in the last two weeks, we still had a whole bunch of stressful things going on at work.  We are momentarily through with the most immediately aggravating things and can take a bit of a breather.

Through it all, I’m happy to say that I am dealing without diving back into food and compulsive eating for the most part.  I’m not binge eating.  I’m following my food plan.  I’m working out regularly.  In all ways, I’m taking good care of myself.  I’ve gone for massages and acupuncture treatments.  These not only help me release the physical elements of the tension but they also ease my mind.  At night, when my body and brain tell me it’s time to sleep, I go to bed.  Thankfully, they don’t always tell me as abruptly as they did the night I conked out on my friend’s phone call.

It’s important for me to remember that eating compulsively makes every situation worse.  No amount of excess food can help.  Giving in to the urges and compulsions increases the tension and anxiety.   Working out, seeing to my brain’s comfort and my body’s needs alleviate the negative stuff.   Overall, I’m managing better by staying on track and remaining in recovery.

That alone knocks off several levels of the stress.

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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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Changing My Mind is Okay

There are a lot of different things I could title this post.  Traditions Can Change; Abandoning Tradition; Choosing Wellbeing Before Cookies; Holiday Health.  They all came to mind when I opened up the window to start writing.  Here’s what’s going on.

I always travel to the Northeast to spend the Christmas holiday with my brother, sister-in-law and nephews, and also to see as many friends and other family members as possible.  A couple of weeks before I fly up, I ship my family’s gifts so I don’t need to lug them on the plane.  For the last few years, I also rekindled a family tradition of baking delicious Italian fig and date cookies.  My grandmother made them for us every year for all of my life that I can remember.  When she passed away, Mom and I continued the tradition.

Sometimes, I bake them once I get to my brother and sister-in-law’s house, but there isn’t going to be time this year.  So, I thought I’d make them today, seal them up really tight, and ship them with the presents.  (I know the cookies will not go stale if packaged correctly.  My grandmother once sent a batch from New Jersey to France when we lived there for a year.  They were perfect on arrival and this was in the days before overnight or even two-night shipping.

I added the ingredients to my weekly shopping list and off to the store I drove.  I even bought a new rolling pin and pastry mat to help with the baking.  That’s how fully engrossed in the holiday fa-la-la I was this morning, anticipating the process and reveling in continuing the tradition.

In my head, I had everything planned.  I could envision myself happily wrapping gifts while the aroma of melty-fig cookies perfumed my house.  Then, a funny unexpected thing happened on the drive home from the supermarket.  An alien thought entered my head that said, “You know what?  I don’t really want to bake those cookies today.”

This really surprised me and it triggered not only an internal debate, but also a scramble of different emotions.  Happiness that I acknowledged that I didn’t want to bake.  Guilt that I didn’t.  A healthy dash of, “Oh, but you should!” spiced the mix, sharpened by the trepidation of knowing that I would overeat samples of the cookies.

I went back and forth on the decision a couple of dozen times.  Bake, don’t bake.  Yes, no.  Do it, don’t.  Thankfully, when I pulled into the driveway, the wise voice overrode the clamor.  It said, “It’s okay.  You don’t have to bake the cookies, and you don’t need to feel bad that you don’t want to.  The family enjoys them but they aren’t holding their collective breath waiting for them.  What’s more, they might like the cookies but they love you.  They’ll be happier that you’re making the choice you need to make for yourself.”

That was the decision maker.  I’m in a good place right now with my food plan, eating, and exercise routine.  I know if I start baking today, I’m going to throw myself off.  Changing my mind about making cookies is not only okay, it’s the right, healthy choice.

I’m so glad that I listened to that first thought when it popped up and that I didn’t let the other thoughts and emotions overrule my instinct.

Holiday and family traditions are wonderful things, but they don’t take priority over healthy choices.  In fact, me making healthy choices is a new tradition in itself.

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Turning a Corner

Warning.  I’m blue and down on myself.  Understandable, considering Friday.  This is compounded by not having been pristine on my food plan.  Yes, I’m still cutting myself some slack, but falling off the wagon affects me emotionally as well as physically.

At some point over the weekend, I was mulling over things and suddenly thought, “You know, the last five months have had a lot of suck in them.”  In early May I had the car accident.  Soon after that, the plantar fasciitis got really severe and I started getting treated.  Then I get that handled and my dogs get sick.  (Natty had a battle with a persistent ear infection while Pyxi had the bladder infection.) In the middle of all this, we discover that one of my boat engines is blown and can’t be repaired so I have to start the process of arranging finances to buy a new one.   Pyxi gets worse, can’t recover, and we have to say goodbye.

Through it all I was also in a pretty significant relapse into my eating disorder and food addiction.  Add it all up, and yes, it weighs more heavily on the suckitude side.

I don’t like to wallow.  When I wallow, I get more mired into food and inappropriate eating.  I start to not want to get my ass off of my couch and move.  My whole attitude drags down and that affects my spirit.

So, I’m working on lifting myself up.  It’s okay for me to still be sad about Pyxi.  Grief has its own timetable, but I have to keep moving.  Not only do I need it, but so does Natty.  I think he put on the weight that his sister lost.  He is definitely more pudgy than he should be.  Yes, I’ve embraced the rowing classes and I am not going to let myself make excuses to not go.  I’ve booked my three classes for the week already.  My food wasn’t great this weekend, but I can climb back up onto the wagon and eat right again.  Back to the basics — pre-planning my meals, logging my food, working program, reaching out to the support groups.

I’m also getting in touch with my gratitude.  No matter how bleak or upset or towered I feel, there are always reasons to be grateful.  I think I mentioned a long time ago that when my mother was dying, before I went to bed each night I would think of five things for which to be grateful.  Sometimes I really had to dig and search but I’d find five things.  I can’t explain why doing this helped me, but it did.  It got me through.

So, for today, here are five things for which I am grateful:

  • Nat.  He is a warm, fluffy, hug-me-Mommy, cuddle-pup and this comforts me.  We have each other.
  • The overwhelming love and support shown to me by friends, family, co-workers, blog readers, just everyone.
  • The willingness, opportunity, and physical ability to work out or take walks.
  • The Philadelphia Eagles won today!
  • The knowledge that no matter how badly I think I screwed up with my eating this weekend, returning to recovery is as close and simple as the next choice.  I can get back up on that wagon and I will.

 

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Truly Feeling the Emotions

Pyxi and I are plugging along.  You know, I feel like I should apologize for currently turning this into a blog about my seriously ill dog, but then again, it’s my blog.  This is what’s going on in my life and it’s what I’m dealing with so I guess everything is related.

Anyway, we’re going day by day.  Some days she seems to be a little better; some days a little worse.  Some times holding steady.  It doesn’t escape my notice that, like my program, we’re taking her illness one day at a time.

I will be honest and tell you that I am preparing myself to have to make the ultimate, difficult decision.  I love my dogs very much.  Part of that means that I will never force one to suffer because I cannot suck it up, say goodbye, and let them go with love.

This is not the first time that I’ve dealt with a beloved dog nearing the end of life.  I have been in this place before.  Heck, it’s not just pets.  My mother was very ill before she died.  I was her primary caregiver, which her pretty much 24/7 for several months.  With her wishes known, my brother and I held her medical power of attorney and were trusted by her to act on her behalf when she couldn’t.  There came a time when we knew that there was nothing medically that could be done to prolong Mom’s life.  With the help of hospice and support of family, we could prepare her and help her approach her death without pain, in the comfort and familiarity of home, surrounded by the people who love her.

So, this is not a new situation, but I have to say that I feel like I am an emotional wreck.  I do my best to keep a positive, upbeat and good energy demeanor when caring for Pyxi.  When I’m away from her and think about how she isn’t gaining ground and I could be on the verge of having to say goodbye to her, I dissolve into a crying, grieving mess.  It’s hard for me to discuss her condition with friends and family without falling apart.  Just typing it here started the waterworks again.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not trying to say that I’m usually an unfeeling, repressed person.  Far from it.  I have big emotions.  I’m passionate and expressive in my joy, enthusiasm, anger.  But, I think I’ve learned to be appropriately expressive and balanced.  Right now, I’m completely out of whack.  If I usually navigate on a mostly even keel, right now I feel like my upset is a rogue wave swamping and threatening to capsize me.

Yet, except for a couple small deviations, I’m handling the crisis without relapsing into full scale binge eating or compulsive overeating.  I’m working program, pre-planning and eating to plan, logging my food/water/exercise, and working out.  That’s all good.

I believe it’s also why my emotions are roiling so dramatically.  Stuffing great quantities of food into one’s body is one way to also stuff down emotions.  When I overeat or eat off plan, I am counteracting my feelings – negative and positive.  Food as anesthesia.  Sooo, because I’m not using food to suppress the anxiety, worry and grief, they are going to town.

With everything that’s going on, I didn’t make the connection before now.  You’d think I’d have realized it right off, but, hell, I have a lot weighing on my mind and heart.  Now I know.  I’m conscious of it, so I need to work on maintaining better balance.  I’m not saying it isn’t okay to be sad and worried.  These are normal.  I do, however, have to keep them from throwing me so out of whack that I can’t function physically and emotionally.

I need to experience the emotions and still be able to think, work, breathe, and take care of Pyxi, her brother Nat, and myself.  We are all relying on me to do so.  If the time comes that I need to consider the decision for Pyxi, I need to be able to process the facts and reality and do what is best for her.  In the aftermath, I then need to be able to continue to care for myself and Nat without sinking into relapse.

How do I do this?  I keep reaching for program and the tools with which I am so familiar.  They are always present as long as I pick them up.  I need to continue to take care of myself by following my food plan, going to my workouts, getting acupuncture, arranging for massages or other treatments.  Not shorting myself of sleep.  These things are all important to preserving my recovery and staying healthy.

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Food and Crises

When I look back at events in my life, I can’t think of a single major crisis in which I did not use food and overeating to try to cope.  My father’s sudden death kicked off an eating spree in which put on the 100 pounds that I’d recently lost and then some.  Mom’s relapses and later her illness and death – same thing.  I always turned to food and binge eating.  Stress, grief, anxiety, anger, sadness — pick an emotion that might threaten to overwhelm me and keep me from functioning and I would eat-eat-eat-eat in order to cram them down into tight little boxes so that I could stay on track with handling the crisis.

That I am managing to stay on track right now during Pyxi’s illness is miraculous.  It also takes effort, focus, and a willingness to fight for my abstinence and recovery.  I’m not 100% perfect, but hot damn, I’m doing a really good job taking care of myself while I take care of my little girl dog.

Right now, ironically, among the big challenges in her illness is her weight loss.  We’ve stopped the nausea and vomiting, but she is turning up her cute little nose at most foods.  She needs carbs but all she’ll eat consistently is protein — cooked chicken, specifically.  Forget the special formula of dog food for kidney disease patients.  She took one sniff and turned away as if I’d offered her some foul preparation.  She ate rice for a little while and then tired of it and acted like pasta was a new fave food.  Now she’s over that too.  She never quite went for smashed potatoes either.

Unlike her, if someone coaxed me to eat rice, pasta and potatoes for my own good, I’d chow down like a champ!  Food has a strong, insidious, tempting call. I went to the grocery store, desperate to find a range of possible things I could try to tempt her to eat a little more.  I thought of baby foods, mac and cheese, even whole wheat bread.  As we all know, the check out lines are bordered by racks of two things – magazines and candy.  While the clerk scanned my purchases, I caved and grabbed a small packet of mini-candies.  I got out to the car, grabbed the packet out of the bag and ripped it open to cram a few little pieces into my mouth.  Then my head caught up to my compulsive impulse and said, “Wait.  Think about what you’re doing.”  “Shut up,” I said to that voice.  I worked out hard this morning.  Some chocolate won’t hurt.”  However, while I said that in my head, I also read the label.  One package of little pieces of candy would add up to 310 calories!  Yikes!

On top of that, the very act of eating compulsively, of grabbing and ingesting food that I didn’t plan to eat, acting out of stress or an other emotion, does more damage to me emotionally and mentally than the sugar and carbs do to my nutritional goals for the day.

Eating the rest of this candy is not going to help me and it won’t do a darned thing positive for Pyxi.  She and I both need for me to be calm, as relaxed as possible, clear-headed and functioning.  We don’t need me to trigger a binge-eating relapse.

I grabbed the candy package and crushed it in my hand, squeezing all the remaining individual bite-sized pieces into one messed-up ball.  Then I started the car and drove home.  After I parked and got out of my car, I took the candy package and threw it into the outside trash.  That was a positive act for myself and for my recovery.  Stopping myself from consuming all of the candy and then knowing not to tempt myself by bringing the rest of it into the house, showed me that I am stronger for today than my disease.  This elevated me a great deal.

Inside, I tried out a few different foods, offering them to Pyxi.  She wasn’t interested in the little sweet potato/rice puffs or the mac and cheese.  She did eat half a slice of whole wheat bread. Desperate to get her to eat something more, I decided that if all she would consume was more poultry, at least it was better than her stopping at half a slice of bread.  I spooned out some of my ground turkey leftovers from last night.  That was much more to her liking.  She ate several pieces before going back to her bed for another nap.  I decided that I’ll try her with some more and a little more bread later on.

I then proceeded to eat my own, planned-for lunch, which I enjoyed.  Not only did it taste good, but since I planned it out and ate on track, I didn’t have the negative emotions and thoughts that accompany my meals when I’m not on plan.  One more time, I was dealing with the crisis using my program rather than using food.

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Eating Choices Rant

Yesterday in between my bike ride and my snorkel trip, I watched Food Network for a while.  I’ve said before that I’m mildly addicted to watching cooking shows.  Some would wonder if this is a good idea for me to so often watch shows that focus on food.  I wonder that sometimes myself.  However, in my defense, I think that I’ve learned more about preparing good, healthy food of greater variety from watching than I would have otherwise.  I think I’m also discerning enough to know when a recipe is something that would be good for me to try or a meal I should stay far, far away from.

I have noticed that most of the shows aren’t focused on cooking healthy.  The chefs like their butter, oil, heavy cream and frying.  Nothing goes unsalted.  It’s all about building flavors, unctuous mouth feel, velvety sauces (more cream and butter), and so on.  Seriously, I get this.  Gastronomes R Us.

So what’s my takeaway as someone who is on a quest to lose weight and change my eating lifestyle from totally unhealthy to healthier?  Well, amid the butter/cream/frying/salting are the wonderful nuggets of information and technique that teach me how to build flavor into my food in ways that don’t require the extra calories.

And, often enough, I find a show where someone does something really cool and tasty with a new vegetable or demonstrates a completely different dish in a way that makes me realize that it wouldn’t be all that difficult for me to try.  There are a few simple truths.  If healthy food doesn’t taste good, nobody wants to eat it.  Good food can still be healthy.

I love watching Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa.  On her show, she makes the most wonderful dishes look like they’re easy to prepare.  I won’t pretend that everything she produces on her show falls in the healthy category, but every once in a while she scores for me.  Yesterday, she made kale chips.  Kale chips! Easy as anything to do and so tasty.  Since I have lacinato (aka dinosaur) kale in my fridge, this was an easy dish to replicate for lunch.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spread out a few whole kale leaves on a pan.  Brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt and ground black pepper.  Bake for about ten minutes until crisping up.  Sprinkle with a little parmesan and return to oven until cheese melts.

Kale is a healthy, leafy, dark green vegetable.  Olive oil is a healthier fat. There wasn’t enough oil used to be bad either.  Same thing with the salt and cheese. It was a very tasty snack and, since I had a late lunch, more than enough.  Thank you, Barefoot Contessa.

While I was munching on my crispy kale, Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives aired on Food Network.  I heard that one of the restaurants he would visit is in my home area up in South Jersey so, of course, I was interested.  This restaurant must have opened since I moved down to Florida because I’d never heard of it.  While Guy and I watched, the owner prepared a Pork Belly Reuben sandwich.  (Disclaimer:  I love a good, traditional Reuben.  I don’t eat them very often and when I do, I end up having it over at least two meals because they’re huge.  This helps me keep from feeling guilty over eating them at all.)

(Further disclaimer:  I’ve had pork belly sandwiches (aka porchetta) before, too.  They can be very good.)

Today’s show, however, totally grossed me out.  Pork belly is very fatty.  Ok, so is bacon, but at least it’s crisp fat on bacon and you’re eating it in mostly thin slices.  For this sandwich, the chef cut off four thick — 3/4 of an inch thick at the very minimum — slices of cooked pork belly and grilled them on a flat top.  The camera zoomed in on the meat.  I swear there was a border of uncrisp fat on each slice that was the width of one of my fingernails.

He also slathered butter on the bread and slapped that down to grill.  I think he grilled the kraut too.  He then assembled the sandwich with the fatty bread, melted cheese, grilled kraut, and the thick slices of fatty meat and served it up.

As Guy was eating it, he made a reference to the sandwich requiring a health certificate.  I looked at the sandwich and thought, “Heart attack on a plate.”  I wondered how the hell Guy or anybody could eat it; how anybody could want to.  Then I had a flashback.  I used to be the person who would not only want to, but would devour it in a single meal with a big side of fries, too, please.  The same person who would order a Quarterpounder with cheese, large fries, giant soda and a couple of apple pies.

I’m not judging.  I’m just inexplicably angry right now.  I’m angry that I spent a lot of years eating like that.  I remember when the first McDs opened in our area.  We thought it was fascinating to see burgers coming down a conveyor belt.  Same thing with KFC.  Chicken as the delivery system for eleven deep fried herbs and spices.  I’m royally pissed off for all of the times I binged on overloaded foods of any type and washed them don by guzzling corn syrup-sweetened soda.

My brother went off to college and came back for the holidays with a greater awareness of food and healthy eating.  He gave up eating meat when he was 18.  (He eats seafood, eggs and dairy products but all in moderation.)  He chose to prepare meals with more vegetables, lower fat, greater variety.  He loves ice cream but never overindulges.  I don’t think he puts melted butter on his popcorn.

I wish I’d done the same.  I wish that the effort for me to eat healthier choices in healthier ways without overindulging and being compulsive wasn’t such a damned struggle all the freaking time.  If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.  If wishes were pounds lost, I’d be lower than goal weight.

I can’t get there by wishing.  It takes work, effort.  It takes the damned struggle.    It takes not giving up.  Even when you follow a great day by a not-so-stellar day.  It takes being willing to put the non-stellar days behind you and recommit that the next choice will be a healthy one.

It takes ignoring the unhealthy-for-me food that might taste decadent and delicious like a pork belly reuben, and enjoying the flavor, texture and crunch of a kale chip.

It means making this happen for me.  Every day.

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As you were reading this post did it seem like I switched topics along the way and that the post did not wind up where you thought it might be going in the beginning.

Yeah, me, too.

This is a great example of why I do this blog.  The writing process puts me in touch with things that I might not even be aware that I’m feeling because they’re buried.  I had no idea that when I started writing today I would end up tapping into some deep resentment and anger, but that’s what happened, so I went with it.  To go back and rework the post from the beginning feels like it would be less-than-authentic, so I left it as was.

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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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Taking Care

It is much easier for me to take care of other people than it is to take care of myself, or to let others help me take care.  I’m learning.  Okay, at least I’m trying to teach myself.  The whole boot experience is a good teaching aid.  Since it is physically more awkward for me to get around, it sort of forces me to not overdo.

Since I never asked the doctor why the boot is necessary, I’ve assumed it’s to stabilize and cushion the foot while the healing process progresses.  It could be all that and also the whole awkward-can’t-overdo thing too.

Today for example, I opted out of a lawn party benefit for a local shelter.  I wanted to go and then thought practically about the fact that there wasn’t going to be a lot of seating.  Knowing that, I assessed how I’d feel about standing for an hour at the minimum.  I didn’t feel too enthusiastic because I’ve discovered that standing for more than a few minutes gets uncomfortable.    Weighing everything I realized that if I really wanted to take care of myself during this time, I should stay home and limit my activities to things around the house.

I’d like to always be good about taking care of myself.   How many times have I circled around to this before?  Self-care is so hard to perform and maintain.

I do better externally.  I have manicures and pedicures.  My hair appointments are scheduled like clockwork.  I usually remember to get a facial every couple of months.  Lately, I’ve gotten massage therapy more regularly too.  Hey, it only took me a couple of months before I went to the doctor about the plantar fasciitis. 😉

Unfortunately, the truly good self-care when it comes to my food plan and eating is not nearly as consistent as my manicures. I’ve improved when it comes to the quality of my food, but that whole compulsive behavior continues to be a tough challenge.  I’m not sure what need I’m feeding when I compulse, what owie think I’m taking care of.  Puzzling.  Upsetting. Annoying.

Tomorrow, all I can do is get up with do my best.  Resolve to be abstinent.  Take care of myself in ways that truly do represent actually taking care of myself.

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Drawn to Scale

Most days, stepping onto the scale is part of my morning routine.  I know that I’m very focused on the number as a measure of my success or lack thereof, depending on what the number reads.  Someday I’ll figure out a way to break that fixation.  I tried not weighing myself for two weeks, which spread to a month, but in the interest of complete honesty, doing so right at the time more fed into my denial.  It allowed me to ignore that some poor eating choices was leading to weight gain.

So, of course, I was over-the-moon delighted that I lost 7 pounds in the first week of Lean-Clean-Green.  Yes, I was just as, almost as, pretty excited that I felt so great, but the weight loss was the true validation.  On the one hand, frequent weighing grounds me in reality.  On the other, more negative hand, frequent weighing distracts me from what ought to be my main focus – eating in a way that is abstinent of compulsion and bingeing.

Again and again I remind myself that it’s about the behavior.  My weight is more like an indication.  It’s the end result of the eating disorder.  For me, anyway.  There are many, many people with this disorder who are not overweight.  I am not a number on the scale, yet I am drawn to that square piece of glass and metal with its electronic sensors.  That number can set me up with an “atta girl” affirmation or be used as a club with which to beat myself.

This is another aspect of overreaching need to embrace acceptance.  After all, since I am not on a diet, there is no end date or end weight that halts the effort.  Eating in healthy, non-compulsive, ways is a lifelong endeavor.  There is no magic weight that I’ll reach where I can proclaim, “Ta da, I’m done!”

Yes, I can celebrate milestones, like when I eventually make it into “One-derland” or when I also eventually hit what I’ve determined is the target number that I want to use as my baseline measurement.  I have that number in my head.  I’m thinking of it as the measure that I want to stay “at or around” for my own physical well being.

Other than that, it doesn’t really matter if the number on the scale is acceptable if the way that I’m eating is off track.  So, again, something to keep working on in my program of recovery.

How about you?  Are any of you scale and weight obsessed?

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