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Compulsion Grip

I wish I could come here today and say that I’ve missed blogging for a few days because I’ve been super busy, but that would be a lie. I’ve been avoiding blogging for several reasons, none of which are good. I’m weary in my spirit, in turmoil with my emotions, and locked in the grip of compulsive eating. Unfortunately, when I eat compulsively, I don’t choose celery or lettuce. Instead, I’ve been diving into chocolate, but if chocolate isn’t available, I find other stuff to eat. And eat. And eat some more of. Although the compulsion occurs with small servings, it’s all relative and even small bites can add up to damage when they occur over time.

A couple of days before I left for my recent trip, I went through a bad, emotional time, centered around one of my community involvements. My service with this particular organization had been weighing heavily on me for sometime. I increasingly felt more stress and anxiety and I’d lost my passion and energy for it. No fault of the organization. It’s great and fills an important need. This was all on me. However, I firmly believe that when this happens, it’s time to step away not only for my own good but, ultimately, for that of the organization. Things kind of came to a head the night before my trip and I woke up knowing that I needed to make the break, so I did. While surprised, most of my colleagues wrote understanding, supportive emails. Unfortunately, one friend was/is very upset and angry with me. She expressed hurt over my lack of trust that I didn’t come to her first and discuss it with her. Emotions ran high with both of us and, in short, it got very messy. Unfortunately, I believe our friendship is a casualty in my decision to do something that was meant to be a health choice for me.

That’s the background. I’m working my way through the emotions, but here’s the thing about a compulsive eating disease. Once I engage in the behavior and fall into relapse, it’s really difficult to put on the brakes. I’ve talked about that before and don’t want to engage in whining, but it’s my statement of fact today. I imagine it’s not all that different than an alcoholic who falls off of the wagon. Once in the grip of compulsion, the compulsion rules.

Even if mentally I tell myself to not start or, if started, to stop . . . even if I have the best intention, when my disease takes hold, the physical act of eating overrides everything else. I have to say that it really, truly sucks.

So right now, in addition to feeling all of the residual emotional upset from the situation I was in, I have piled on the dismay, disgust, depression and dis-ease of being in the compulsion. Oh, and there’s also the physical discomfort of eating undesirable food in less-than-healthy amounts. One small chocolate as a treat isn’t bad. Eating a series of them, even stretched out over hours, results in queasiness.

I would like nothing more than to curl up in my bed, under the covers, and cry for an hour or two.

Instead, I’m here in front of the computer screen, sharing my status regardless of how pitiful it makes me appear. I’m fighting the “stinking thinking” that tells me I’ve blown it. I’ve blown everything. I’m never going to be able to stop eating and will gain all of my weight back, cripple myself and die early.

Yes, my “stinking thinking” can be incredibly dramatic. So, I blog and remind myself that relapse does not have to be forever. I’ve gone through some messed-up days, veered far from my appropriate food plan, and not attended to my regular exercise routine, BUT and, yes, that deserves to be a big BUT, a few messed-up days do not mean my entire effort is blown. I am not doomed.

I may not be able to change how my friend feels about my choices. I can, however, break out of the grip of compulsion and stop the relapse behavior. I can build acceptance and find serenity. I can treat myself with compassion, practice good self-care, undo whatever weight gain damage I’ve done, and move on.

I just caught myself thinking, “Oh Jesus, Mary. You’re writing about this again?? These people don’t want to read about this same problem, same old struggle another time.” Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. The point is that this is my journey and the blog is a tool to help me along the way. The eating disorder, the damned compulsive disease, is always part of me. There are always going to be times when I struggle to stay on track, and there will be times when I fall off. Not blogging about it, not forcing myself to confront and think about my issues and actions, doesn’t help. In fact, not blogging helps me creep into the denial stage. It does me no good to ignore what I’m doing. In fact, ignoring is the worst thing that I can do.

So I’m not. I’m not going to cower under the covers and cry either.

Onward and upward.

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Choosing Not to Pig Out

One of the things that I continually reinforce to myself is that while I might have a compulsive eating disorder, ultimately, it is a choice whether to act with compulsion. This doesn’t mean that it’s easy to withstand when the compulsion hits. Often, depending on the circumstances, it’s downright hard and so quick that I feel like I eat before my brain even has a chance to slam on the brakes. However, there are other instances when I have time to think it through and make the healthy choice.

I hit an emotional low on Sunday. I felt lonely, sad, and angry. That’s an emotional soup that, in the past, would trigger a binge. I’m happy to say that I worked my way through it without bingeing. I chose to eat healthy and exercise. Yesterday I went to a morning Aquacize class and then attacked my “room of doom”, firing the first salvo against the impossible-to-navigate around clutter that I’ve created in there over the years. I made really great progress and now feel that I can continue the effort in easy stages.

As a treat last night, I went to see the new X-Men Then and Now movie. I really enjoyed it and the lingering shot of Hugh Jackman’s naked body was just an extra bit of awesome fun.

Through it all, I chose to not pig out. I ate healthy food in moderation. That’s a victory over disease.

I’m over the emotional low, and out of it came the realization that I need to make some positive changes in my social life. I don’t quite have a plan, but the recognition creates the intention and starts the process. However, the key thing is that I’m happy with myself today.

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Mental Satisfaction

I’m back from a few days of fun in New Orleans at the RT Bookreviews Convention. I had a great time hanging out with dear friends whom I don’t get to see often or spend nearly enough time with in a year. I also love New Orleans. It’s a fascinating, beautiful city with a variety of cultures, historical significance, wonderful art, fantastic music, and spectacular food.

I am not going to claim that I strictly adhered to my food plan. The best that I’ll say is that I did better than expected while also indulging in some treats that I love. I think I helped my overall effort by walking around a lot. In fact, on Thursday I logged close to 19,000 steps. I’ll find out how well I did when I get on the scale tomorrow but, more important to me, I will be back on good track tomorrow.

As several of you have reminded me over the months, recovery is not about always being strictly perfect or always depriving myself of foods that I enjoy. It’s about living a healthy, balanced life. I’m still learning how to do that balance thing. I might be learning how for the rest of my life. Sometimes are easier than others and I always need to remind myself that the key is progress not perfection.

Like I said, the food in New Orleans is mostly spectacular. I can’t tell you how many times I was enjoying something and actually caught myself wishing I could keep eating more and more. I don’t mean that I truly wished I could binge on it, but I also resented at times that I filled up sooner than I wanted to and was tempted to push my stomach past its capacity. Doing that is not good nor smart, and it leads to undesirable after effects like nausea, uncomfortable pressure, and, possibly, regurgitation of the meal. Food that was delicious going in does not taste good when it reverses direction.

A couple of times I went further than I should have and was uncomfortable. This at least led to me pondering what the heck was going on in my head. Sometimes I experience a real disconnect between physical satiety and mental/emotional satisfaction. Honestly, my stomach is ready to stop long before my head wants to call it quits. There is ongoing necessity for hard work on my part in this area.

When I do it right, I do it well. For example, even though I was thoroughly enjoying the red beans and rice with andouille sausage, I stopped before I overate. I reminded myself that, as good as it was, I needed to quit eating and remember that it wouldn’t be the last time in my life that I could enjoy this dish. Later on, I remembered that I’d enjoyed the robust meal at mid-day and contented myself with a lighter, small salad in the evening. That’s how “normal” people eat. 🙂 I wish I’d been as successful with the beignets a few days before. I didn’t eat all three of the large, puffy, fried pillows coated with powdered sugar, but I should have stopped at one and not eaten a large percentage of the second. In retrospect, regardless of how delicious I think a treat is, it isn’t worth the yucky physical feelings afterwards.

So, as I continue to retrain myself and reshape/improve my relationship with food and eating, I need to focus on the mental satisfaction aspect.

I stopped at the supermarket on my way home from the airport today to get in the food that I need. I bought Greek yogurt which has become a staple that I use in many different ways. I have fresh fruits and veggies for smoothies, snacks and side dishes. When I got home, I took out the chicken stock I made the other week and will make up some fresh chicken soup tomorrow night.

Part of my process involves revving myself up to eat healthy. While I might occasionally experience old diseased resentments, I am far more frequently joyful and excited about making healthy choices and continuing to shore up my recovery. Doing so, and taking an active role in positive progress, is good reinforcement. I’m not defeated by the challenges and rough spots. They are in their own ways necessary to my recovery. If I don’t experience and notice them, then I have no hope of working through them and teaching myself a better way for long term success.

Here are few photos from the trip. They were all shot with my phone under less-than-ideal photographic settings, so please forgive the fuzziness.

"Step Up" - At Mardi Gras World

“Step Up” – At Mardi Gras World

Me and the King at Mardi Gras World

Me and the King at Mardi Gras World

Friends on a Float at Mardi Gras World

Friends on a Float at Mardi Gras World

At the Vampire Ball - RT Convention

At the Vampire Ball – RT Convention

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Not Letting Disease Win

Yesterday at work I experienced a scene with a person (not a co-worker or friend) who went from 0 to 25 on the anger scale in the space of three heartbeats. I tried to diffuse it, did my best to work with this person, but the bottom line was that I could not give him the one thing that he wanted and nothing else mattered to him. He was completely unable to see reason.

I’m a fairly tough cookie when needed. I’ve had people yell at me and attempt to bully and intimidate me and it doesn’t work. I have my coping strategies firmly in place. (This wasn’t the case 20 some years ago, but I’ve learned since then.) For whatever reason, maybe it was the lightning fast reaction of his, this situation really got to me.

It affected me all day. I could feel it in my clenched gut and the constant ache behind my eyes. Driving home with a friend, we talked about it and I mentioned that I’d love nothing more than to dive into a half of a pound of chocolate walnut fudge. My friend wisely reminded me that doing so would mean letting the guy and the situation win.

I’m trying to hold onto the concept of not letting my disease win. (I didn’t dive into a vat of fudge last night, but did indulge in some cookies, unfortunately.) I think it will do me good for the time being to think of my disease as an opponent battling me for my health and envision myself as a warrior. I like that kind of self-empowerment.

So, for today, I am waging war against my disease, against the compulsion to eat inappropriately. I will not let my disease win.

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Food Isn’t the Problem

I have a cold. I felt like crap all day, bad enough to stay home from work. I stayed home from work but didn’t refrain from working. Considering the sneezing, stuffy head, fuzzy brain and general tiredness, I was actually very productive and got a lot done. I was not, however, physically active. For the first time in months I have gone two days without reaching my minimum commitment of 10,000 steps. I feel sluggish. Even though I have more than enough reason to have not fulfilled my physical fitness goals the last two days, mentally I’m struggling with it. I’m sure that I’ll improve as soon as I get back on the step count, but it does me good to share this stuff. Thanks for listening.

While I was working from home today I had on the television. I sort of half listened during the Dr. Oz show, but in that hour I heard something that struck home. I’m sure I’ve heard it before, but it was excellent timing for me to hear it again today. The doctors were talking about the growing number of heroin addicts and the different prescription drugs that are hydrocodone related in different strengths, the addiction problems, etc. One doctor said that in the lives of addicts, the drugs are not the problem. The drugs are the solution. What a strong, important point. From my perspective, food and my way of previous diseased eating are not the problems. They are what I used to cope or bury the real issues. They’re the ways that I tried to solve my issues.

Sometimes it’s difficult to separate out these things. Even though a drug addict might know that he/she turned to drugs for an emotional reason doesn’t mean their bodies don’t physically become hooked. Same thing with me. I can get hooked on the behavior of stuffing my feelings with food or bingeing on certain foods because of their carb, fat or sugar content. So, I can’t ignore that, while food isn’t the root problem, it became a secondary problem at some point. So, until I “got clean”, I couldn’t clear my head and emotions enough to work on the motivating issues.

Some might think that getting clean is the hard part, but the real work begins after. That’s why it was so important for me to understand that the vertical sleeve gastrectomy — the bariatric surgery — would only be a tool to help me control my overeating behavior, which I’d not been able to sustain control over in the past for any significant amount of time. The hardest work is picking through the emotional and psychological issues that make me run to food. All of the time I need to remember that I cannot rely on food to be anything more than food. It needs to not be a problem or a solution.

The work is hard, but it’s important. It’s also possible as long as I keep at it.

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Keeping Off the “See-Food” Diet

I can’t emphasize this point enough with myself. Stay mindful. It is incredibly easy to fall off the food plan wagon in an instant if I don’t stay vigilant. I’ve done mostly great since returning from my cruise and been really happy that I continue to lose weight, but I also saw that I was giving into impulse when around foods that are not on my plan.

I went to friends’ for a Super Bowl Party. There were a lot of different foods set out and I wanted to taste almost all of them. That’s okay, as long as I do it mindfully without stuffing in the food faster than I can think about what and how much I’m putting in my mouth.

Oddly enough, it is more difficult for me to refrain from compulsive eating or snacking at home than it was when I was on the cruise. That sounds surprising because there is so much food available all of the time on a cruise ship. However, and this is a big however, it is only available in the restaurants. So, out of sight, out of reach and, mostly, out of mind.

Here at home, food is as accessible as my kitchen and fridge. At work, we have a kitchen and people love to leave out treats and snack foods. Sometimes just seeing food out triggers a “want” in my head. That’s where the vigilant mind comes into play. “Want” is not “Need”. “Want” is not “Should Eat”.

I do not want to slip up and halt my terrific momentum. I’ve talked before about hating to write down my food, but I know it’s a very helpful tool. The goal is to be willing to write it down in the morning, before I eat, rather than rely on logging it after my meals. It’s a good way to stay mindful. If the food isn’t on my list, then the choice is simply to not eat.

The smart phone makes it easy. I can do this either in myfitnesspal or on the Notes feature. I chose Notes today. Breakfast – a fruit/protein smoothie. Mid-morning snack: granola/sunflower seed mix. Lunch: Egg salad on baby lettuce with two small toast crips. Mid-afternoon snack: apple slices with natural peanut butter. Dinner: Lentil soup and salad. Evening snack: Greek yogurt.

I packed my day time snacks and lunch so I’m prepared at work. I feel strong and confident that I can stick with this food plan today and not give into the “See food – eat it” compulsion.

My takeaway from this is that it is always important to protect and nurture my recovery. I have to keep using the tools even when I’m rolling along. Sometimes it might feel easier but it never really is easier. Ongoing success requires ongoing work.

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Cruise Days Six and Seven – At Sea

On the Friday and Saturday of the cruise, we were at sea making our way from St. Maarten back to Fort Lauderdale. I was never bored! The entertainment company that put together this cruise loaded it with activities. I walked and exercised every morning, ate mindful breakfasts, and then after showering and dressing went non-stop through the day. Game shows to watch, more interviews and panels with performers, line dancing classes . . . you name it. If it was available to attend and enjoy, I did it. The few times when there were gaps, I usually ran into someone I’d previously met or done an excursion with and could sit down and chat for awhile.

Friday I went to a songwriters’ panel featuring The Warren Brothers. Even if you don’t know any other of the vast number of hit songs they’ve written or co-written, you might be familiar with Red Solo Cup. According to them, it’s the dumbest song they’ve ever created. Maybe so, but it was a big hit for Toby Keith and they’ve made great money on their royalties. As a writer, I loved hearing them talk about their process. It’s fascinating. It was also quite amazing to find out just how many wonderful songs that I love came from these brothers. Mega-talent in the two of them, that’s for sure. I also enjoyed hearing them perform their own music. They played another show late on Saturday, too. That included a big sing along with all of us in the audience on Red Solo Cup. Lots of fun.

Friday night was the Gatlin Brothers time to shine on the main stage. Unfortunately, Larry had come down with a cold and wasn’t able to sing at his peak level. He has a wonderful tenor voice and the three brothers sing in beautiful harmony with each other. I sure hope it isn’t 15 years before I hear them sing again. Speaking of colds, I could feel myself coming down with one too. Larry had joked about getting his cold from Vince Gill. He apologized to anyone he might have hugged and passed on the cold too. I was one of the people he hugged, so I’m claiming that at least my germs are star quality.

After the Gatlin Brothers, I went to the late show by Anita Cochran. She is truly outstanding. I gave my contact info to her friends in case they get down to Key West. Performers Ty Herndon, Andy Griggs and Jamie O’Neal were also at her show, supporting their friend. That’s very cool! After her performance was over, they all ran up to the Lido Deck for the All Star outdoor jam session. I’m sure it did me no good health-wise to sit outside in damp air (sporadic rain drizzle), but the show was awesome! Different musicians flowed on and off stage, joining together to perform classic rock and country. Warren Brothers, Wade Hayes, Bryan White, Ty Herndon, Andy Griggs, Jamie O’Neal, Anita Cochran, guys from Restless Heart – all jamming on songs by the Rolling Stones, Tom Petty, Journey, Loretta Lynn and others. It was an amazing experience!

I’ve sort of jumbled the days together in this post. Sorry for that, but I was so involved in all that the cruise offered that I ran the recollections together in my journal too! One thing that I did keep thinking during the whirlwind two days is that I can remember vacations in the past when I’d get busy and involved and sort of blow off whatever food plan or diet I was trying to follow. It’s like I gave myself permission to go crazy. This time around, I was really pleased that I didn’t go “hog wild”.

I continued to practice mindful eating, even cutting portions in half and pushing the half that would be too much away to the edge of my plate. I noticed that I am still always tempted by bread and rolls. These honestly are useless carbs. They fill my stomach without providing a bit of nutritional benefit. Honestly, if I’m going to eat something that doesn’t rack up great nutritional benefit, I’d rather pick something better tasting and more satisfying like really good chocolate. By the way, every night at dinner, I ordered dessert. (They don’t come in large portions on ships.) Even then I didn’t finish the entire thing, but had enough bites to make me happy.

This must be how “normal” people eat, I say with a joking smile on my face. I don’t mean to make myself sound abnormal. Perhaps I should say that it’s how people who don’t have eating disorders and food issues usually eat. It appears to be a learnable skill, even after decades of compulsive overeating. That, my friends, is even more reason to celebrate.

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Post 500 – Anything Can Be a Binge Food

I can’t believe that this is the 500th Weighty Matters post! Thank you again for coming here and reading. Whether you comment a lot, a little, or simply lurk, I appreciate you adding your energy to the atmosphere and that you witness my journey. It helps me keep it real.

As you know, I have an eating disorder. My disease is compulsive overeating and binge eating. When I am in the grip of the disorder, I eat without thought, powered by compulsion. I will eat, eat, and eat some more. Binge eating meant I would do this and consume massive quantities of food. I wasn’t bulimic and wouldn’t purge. I’d just eat to the point of being incredibly uncomfortable and stuffed. If the binge mode was really strong, I’d wait until my stomach opened up a little space and then I’d binge some more.

Some folks with eating disorders feel that they need to abstain from certain substances — mostly sugar and/or white flour. I have never made the decision to cut those products out of my life. I’ve had some people argue with me that doing so is absolutely necessary in order to achieve long term recovery and abstinence. I say, while I understand that I’m not terminally unique, I believe that the disease manifests differently in different people. Instead of being addicted to particular products, I was more addicted to volume.

I also 100%, unequivocally, believe that anything can be a binge food. It doesn’t have to be sweets or white flour-based products. Pick a food, any food, and a binge eater could overload on it. You see, it isn’t about the actual food item. The root of the disease is the behavior itself. It’s eating when not hungry and eating more than an appropriate portion. It’s eating food compulsively instead of consuming what was intended. If I needed to binge and all that I had in my house were condiments, I’d probably pile up on ketchup and mayonnaise.

This is important for me to remember. Although my bariatric surgery provided me the fabulous tool of a drastically smaller stomach which limits the volume of food I can eat, it does not safeguard against me eating compulsively. So, recovery for me means abstaining from the compulsive behavior and the binging. Yes, even though the quantity of a post-surgery binge is far smaller, I can still eat more than I should, which makes my smaller stomach uncomfortable. It can even make me purge – which I hate.

There are some trigger foods that I am better off avoiding. I still wouldn’t want to trust myself and my recovery around pizza, unless I’m sharing with a group of friends. While I don’t deny myself the occasional baked goody, it’s better for me to not stock up on a supply in the house, but to purchase a smaller, single item when I really, really want the treat. I’m okay with keeping popping corn around for sometimes, but not so potato chips. This is about setting myself up for success. If I don’t keep binge quantities around, I don’t binge. It’s an almost simple equation.

Managing my food takes practice. It’s still a learning experience for me. Sometimes I do great and sometimes I screw up. Sometimes my disease whispers coaxing little lies to me that I can handle the disease no matter what and it tempts me to bring in larger quantities of potential trouble foods. Other times, my recovery is so strong and my mindset crystal clear enough to say “No” to that little voice.

I win more than I lose these days. My recovery isn’t perfect, but it continues. I’ve never maintained a significant weight loss effort for two years before and I’m only a few weeks away from my surgiversary. I want my awareness to stay strong so that I keep focusing on abandoning the diseased behavior and adopting the new, improved, healthier way of living. If I remember that anything can be a binge food so I need to keep my intent on correcting the behavior, I’ll continue to do well.

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Confidence Thievery

Of all the things that I detest most about having an eating disorder, the theft of my self-confidence is the aspect I most loathe. It’s also one of the most puzzling. I bet if you asked most of the people who have known me for the majority of my life, “Is Mary a confident person?”, they would answer yes. They’d probably be surprised to know how much time I spent mired in self-doubt with lousy self-esteem and how often my accomplishments were diminished by the stress and worry that I would fail.

It’s the kind of emotional and mental garbage that eats at your strength. Even when there is lots of evidence around that one is a strong, capable, talented person, when something steals your self-confidence, cracks and instability appear in your foundation. A weakened foundations means you never feel 100% secure.

It was the worst in the years before I first started going to a therapist who specialized in eating disorders back around the beginning of 1992. I learned a lot from that point, both in therapy and the ten plus years that I regularly attended OA meetings. Most of all, I learned that my outside persona — the strong, capable, confident woman — was not fakery. I was not a sham. I really was, and am, that woman.

So, if I am that woman, why does the eating disorder have the power to convince me otherwise? I don’t know that I’ve ever explored the why of it before. Sometimes, I’m black and white in my approach to issues. What is, is. What isn’t, isn’t. Knowing why can be a booby prize in that it doesn’t change what is or what isn’t. Tonight, I think it’s important that I understand the why. I’m feeling my self-confidence get a little shaky and it makes sense that this erosion is connected to feeling like I’m not doing a good job of controlling what and how I eat. Disease behavior leads to diseased thinking. The disease is once more doing it’s best to steal away my confidence.

Anyway, I believe the disease gains its power from my poor choices. Every time I eat something that isn’t on my plan, I’m making a choice to be in disease instead of health. I equate that as not being a wise choice. So, if I’m not wise about my food and my health, if I’m actually choosing to be sick, then how smart and capable a woman can I be? That takes away a little more self-confidence, which then makes me feel worse, which leads to me wanting to eat to suppress the bad feelings and so on and so on.

See how that disease thinking works? It’s like I become my own self-fulfilling prophecy, or more to the point, it becomes a form of self-sabotage. This is only a rough thought-outline at this point. Like I said, I haven’t gone deep into this evaluation before and it needs some more thinking. I want to pin down this “why” because I think this time that it doesn’t have to be just a booby prize. I think if I get a handle on this, then I can stop sabotaging my effort and get more consistently back on track.

I also need to remind myself of what I learned long ago. I’m not a sham. Absolutely, unequivocally, I am a powerful, talented, successful woman. It is not bragging to say that I totally rock my job. I’m not just good at what I do. I’m awesome. The disease is not taking that away from me, but it’s taking shots at me on other matters — such as my volunteer involvement with another organization and, tonight, on something as little as cupcake baking. Yes, I had cupcake anxiety tonight, worrying that the 36 cupcakes I baked for an event are too domed. I’m fully aware that this sounds ridiculous. It is.

It’s just another sign that the confidence thievery needs to end.

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Just Saying “No!”

I have Nancy Reagan chanting in my head right now. Just Say No. Just Say No. For those of you too young to remember the Reagan presidency years, Mrs. Reagan campaigned against illegal drug use and promoted Just Say No to encourage kids not to give in to peer group pressure to try drugs.

So, why am I doing this today? It’s October and one of my co-workers brought out her plastic pumpkin, loaded it with miniature candy bars, and placed it on the kitchen counter in our office building. Another friend keeps a stash of chocolate in her drawer for all of us. These are dangerous times for me, my friends. I love chocolate and such easy, convenient access is not good.

In the grand scheme of things, a single miniature piece of chocolate is not bad. However, since I’m already struggling with a slower weight loss and the resulting frustration, etc., one thing leads to another and to another and to another. I’m a compulsive overeater and can quickly get out of control. True, that with weight loss surgery, it’s not like I can pack away food by the pound, but even smaller deviations can further slow my positive progress. Those small pieces can act like the little rock under the larger stone that throws everything off balance. I saw this happening yesterday and the small portion of chocolate set up a greater craving for a chocolate cookie. It’s a slippery slope.

To protect myself for today, I need to stay away from the chocolate and not even risk starting the process with a single piece. Every time I walk into the kitchen (also the location of our copier and mail boxes), I look at that grinning pumpkin and am tempted. That’s when I channel Nancy Reagan and say to myself, “No!”

I’m really the only one who can derail my effort by taking the wrong action. It stands to reason that I’m the only one who can keep myself moving forward in the right way. To that, today, I say, “Yes!”

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