Weighty Matters

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Checking In Before the Holiday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Non-Diet Mentality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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No Reasons, No Excuses

The last two days have not been ones that I’d like to make scrapbooks about and remember forever.  They’ve ranked a little higher in suckitude than in the category of sunshine and roses.  Most of it is work related.  Trust me, if Mercury isn’t in retrograde, it should be because ordinary tasks are getting screwed up.  Other, unexpected things are contributing to an overall atmosphere of snafu.  (I don’t think snafu actually belongs as that part of speech but humor me, okay?)

Normally, I’m an upbeat person and take most things in stride.  Semper Gumby (always flexible) is a standard rallying cry.  I can roll with pretty much any punch.  Except those rare times when I feel like things are piling on more than usual and circumstances are stealing my joy.  Stealing my joy along with my bright light, energy, and general tolerance for other peoples’ foibles.

Honestly, everything has contributed to me being cranky as hell and not as willing to stifle it or rise above it.  I pretty much isolated myself in my office today rather, as much for my well being as well as that of others.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t ignore emails and, through that means, a couple of people really pissed me off.  Bad timing that they picked this week to do so.  While last week I would have been more inclined to not call them out for passive-aggressive behavior or control freak tendencies, this week . . . not so much.  In a couple of days, I’m probably going to feel bad that I didn’t call on great techniques to resolve the issues in more gentle, less blunt ways.  Tonight I honestly don’t give a #*$&.  Yes, I am that bitchy right now.

Aren’t you glad you stopped by this blog today?

So, why do I share all this ugly crap with you today.  For one simple reason.  No matter what has rocketed my way, regardless of the various emotions rolling over me, I am still abstinent.  I haven’t caved into compulsive urges or overeaten.  I’m not medicating my emotions in a pint of ice cream or stuffing my aggravation with wedges of cake or handfuls of greasy potato chips.

I’m eating my healthy meals, prepared according to plan.  Rotten days are not a reason to abandon my recovery.  Difficult circumstances do not become an excuse to binge.  No reasons, no excuses.  Even in turmoil, I’m managing to remember that giving into the eating disorder will only make it all worse.  I prefer to hold onto my abstinence and use it as an example of something that is still going right.  It helps me to recenter my gratitude which, ultimately, will reduce the power of the other circumstances.

No reasons, no excuses.  I’m remaining on track.

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Squashing Hope and Pride

If you don’t want to read a rant, you might want to move off to another blog.

I joined a Facebook group of people who are also following the Always Hungry? plan.  Today someone posted about a recent visit to her doctor.  She’s worked hard to follow the plan and has lost 11 pounds.  Emotionally, she was feeling good and strong about sticking to the plan and seeing weight loss.  She had to go to her doctor about a knee problem.  While he praised her for the weight loss, before the end of the appointment he also said that she might have to consider weight loss surgery to stop the progression of her body breaking down.

You could read in her post how his words deflated her spirit.  When I read it, all I could think was, “Damn him. There were other ways that he could have handled this situation.”  He could have encouraged her to keep on going with her weight loss efforts and pointed out that every pound lost reduces the stress and pressure on joints.  Nope.  Instead of positively reinforcing her efforts and building her up for continued success, he tore her down.  In his mind he was probably doing due diligence, just being honest and fulfilling his responsibility to his patient.  I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he didn’t realize the negative, hurtful, upsetting message he delivered.

I also don’t know if he gets that telling someone they may need to have weight loss surgery isn’t necessarily an effective message that will achieve the desired results.  Based on my own experience, I emphatically do not believe that anyone should have such a drastic, life-altering surgery unless it is 100% their choice to do so.  This is all my own opinion, of course, but I’m putting it out there.  If they are not completely committed to researching all options, to delving deep into their own heads and hearts, to redefining their relationship with food and eating and change their behaviors, it is the wrong choice.  They may enjoy success at the outset, but ultimately, there is too high a chance that they will ultimately fail.

I had a similar experience to this other woman.  In 2007, I had a significant gall bladder issue, namely a gall stone the size of a large olive was stuck in a duct.  I was in the last week of managing three weeks of filming for a tv series.  All around me, co-workers were suffering stomach virus symptoms and I was positive that’s what I was fighting off.  The symptoms of stomach upset, would come and go in waves.  Finally, when the shoot was over, I conceded that I should get to the doctor.  Maybe I needed a pill or something, right?  The night before my appointment, I was in constant discomfort, felt like if I could only start throwing up I’d be better.  I also felt like I was running a fever.

By the time I got to the doctor, I was absolutely miserable.  I stretched out on his exam table, hurting.  Even before he listened to my symptoms and did an exam he said, “I would not be doing my job if I didn’t tell you that you need to have weight loss surgery.”

I was shocked.  Not that he thought this because, well, he was a surgeon with a morbidly obese patient in front of him, but because, hello!, that patient was lying on his table in pain.  Bad timing.  Because I was in pain I couldn’t even come up with a great answer.  I sort of mumbled, “I know, I know, but could we focus on the problem I’m here for right now?”

It only took him about :30 seconds to diagnose the problem and schedule me for a couple of tests the next morning to confirm his diagnosis.  By the middle of the next day I’d already had my gall bladder removed, come out of the anesthesia, and was in a room for the night.  I was discharged the next day but not before hearing again about my urgent need for weight loss surgery.   I never went back to that doctor again.

Here’s the thing, right or wrong, I wasn’t ready.  I wasn’t in denial.  I knew, pretty much every single moment of every waking day, that I was super obese, but I also knew in my heart that I was not in the state of mind, state of emotions to commit to all of the changes that weight loss surgery would mean.

I struggled for the next four years.  I resisted.  I gave up on myself.  I went up and down emotionally and in my spirit.  When I had that defining, line in the sand moment and the big realization that I did not want to give up on myself, that I didn’t want to be dead or disabled by the time I was 60, I was ready to make the choice.  Because I was ready to make the choice, I was ready to commit 100%.

You know the success I’ve had and the struggle. Overall, I am more successful than not.  Just because I’m not yet all the way where I want to be does not invalidate my progress and the level of success I’ve achieved and, more importantly, maintained.

I wish the woman’s doctor was more aware of his words and their effect.  I wish he’d handled the situation differently.  I hope with all my heart that the woman is able to take support from the me and the other posters who commented back to her and not get so depressed and discouraged that she stops trying.  I also hope that she doesn’t allow herself to be pressured into a surgery that she isn’t ready for.  If she comes to the decision on her own, that will be a big difference.

As long as I’m ranting, I’ll share something else that happened this week on that same group.  It’s a very active group so I can’t possibly go back and find my exact post, but I had shared how good I felt not experiencing cravings and that I was really enjoying freedom from compulsive eating behavior.  The doctor who devised the plan and wrote the book left a comment on my post.  The gist of it, or at least the gist that I read and reacted to, was that people buy into the idea that there is a psychological reason for overeating when it’s really just necessary to eat the right combination of good foods.

I read that and it felt like he was invalidating eating disorders; like he was saying it’s all in my head.   I respectfully disagreed in my response and explained that I’ve lived with this for decades and recovery is not just about eating the right combo of foods.  I’m not denying that following this plan has improved my physical satiety and that helps to reduce physical cravings, but the compulsive behavior is more than hunger or cravings.  Heck, I don’t even need to be hungry, in fact, I could be stuffed to the gills, and still reach for food compulsively if I have something else going on and brewing inside my head and/or emotions.

Right now, the food plan that I am following is an extremely useful and effective tool.  If the percentages of fat, protein and carbs work to reduce the physical cravings, great.  That can go right along with the surgically altered stomach forcing me to cut down on  portions.  If I’m in a bad place and binge eating, there is only so much room in my stomach to overeat before it will hurt and come up again.  Stomach… food plan… both tools.

I honestly don’t think that the doctor intended to invalidate my experience as someone with an eating disorder.  He responded back to me and another poster who also disagreed with him in the comments.  His followup comment clarified his position a little more clearly and I felt better afterwards.  I don’t really need him to validate my experience; I’m just touchy when I perceive that someone thinks that food disorders aren’t every bit as much of a real disease as any other addictive disorder.

Okay, my rants are over for the day.  Thanks for sticking with me.

 

 

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A Welcome Serenity

I don’t know whether it’s difficult for me to describe what it’s like when my eating disorder is raging out of control, or if it’s just nearly impossible for someone else to understand if they’ve never been in the grips of a compulsion.  When things are bad, my mind is almost always focused on food and eating.  If I’m around food, then all I want to do is eat it.  I may make trip after trip after trip to the kitchen or, if there isn’t enough food in the house, get in the car and drive to hunt down something more to eat.  It’s like I have a beast in my head whose hunger can’t be satisfied.

That could very well be because I’m not usually experiencing actual physical hunger.

So all that emotional and mental trauma goes on and creates a variety of negative, uncomfortable conditions.  When I eat compulsively, I eat too much — to the point of true physical discomfort.  This point is reached one hell of a lot sooner than before I had weight loss surgery.  However, I have reached it when losing the struggle against the compulsion.  I was never bulimic with a cycle of binge eating and then purging.  Soon after the surgery, I learned what it physically felt like.  Even though I wasn’t overeating, while my body readjusted to eating different foods and I began to learn what size portions I could handle, I threw up a lot.  Physically, it is no fun at all.

However, even more than the discomfort, the mental and emotional effects of the eating disorder are devastating.  They’re exhausting and depressing.  They compromise my confidence and distort the way that I feel about myself and my life.

Add all this up and one would naturally wonder why anyone would live like that.  Why would someone willingly continue engaging in the behaviors that create such a painful, upsetting reality?  The short answer is that sometimes we just can’t stop.  The disease is cunning, baffling and powerful.  Sometimes it is stronger than I am.

And sometimes, like right now, I’m stronger.  I get to experience days when I’m not harassed by the disorder, when I live my life without having to constantly beat back the compulsive beast.  When I’m not turning to food for comfort or as a coping mechanism.

Right now, all three aspects of recovery are aligned and working as a team.  The Always Hungry? food plan with its percentages of protein, fat and carbs is delivering its promise of greater satiety and alleviated cravings.  I’m using the tools of my 12 Step program, committing to abstinence, planning and preparing my meals, and everything else.  I’m trying to reduce the focus on weight loss and keep it on working the program to strengthen my foundation and stabilize my recovery.

As a result, I feel so much healthier in my mind, my spirit and my body.  For today, I’m living life in the grace of a welcome serenity.

 

 

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Avoiding Cheat Guilt

It will come as no surprise to regular or long term blog readers that I have a large and varied supply of different issues about food, eating, dieting, weight loss and having an eating disorder.  I’ve come a long way over the years but that doesn’t mean, for me, that the issues every go away.  I simply learn, or hope to learn, effective coping mechanisms so that the issues don’t screw me up and harpoon my positive effort.

Today what’s coming up for me is combating the feelings that I’m being “bad” on a diet, that I’m cheating, every time I eat some sort of whole fat or otherwise fat food item on this Always Hungry? plan.  Whole milk, whole milk yogurt, full fat cheese, eggs, nuts and nut butters (without added sugar) are absolutely allowed and are an important part of this food plan.  Take this morning, for example.  I prepared the book’s recipe again for non-grain pancakes.  (Did I talk about these last week?  I forget.  Bear with me anyway.)  They are made with garbanza bean flour, whole milk Greek yogurt, whole milk, an egg, and safflower oil.  (If any of you need to avoid gluten and you haven’t tried garbanza bean flour, it’s a revelation.  I want to find other recipes that use it, just because I think it’s tasty.)

These pancakes are delicious just as they are.  However, in lieu of syrup on Phase I, I topped mine with homemade whipped cream and a fruit sauce.  All kinds of awesome yumminess happening on that breakfast plate, my friends.  Great flavor, texture, mouth feel and, after, satiety.

However, even with that positive experience, I could not stop the thoughts that the meal was too decadent, that I was cheating.  I was eating full fat dairy.  My mental process kept trying to tell me this was wrong, wrong, wrong.  I stopped mid-way, put down the fork, and had a talk with myself.  It comes down to being willing to trust this AH plan with its process and the science behind it and be confident that I am not being “bad” or doing damage to myself.  Ultimately, I need to believe that the plan is helping me reach the goals of retraining my fat cells and losing weight.

Clearly the plan is working.  I will confess that I still have difficulty staying away from the scale and am weighing myself almost every day.  However, seeing steady results is at least turning out to be a tool to combat the feelings that I’m screwing up and cheating every time I eat some whole fat food.  (By the way, I’m down 11 pounds today.)

So, how can I stop the negative thoughts and worries from creeping in?  Here’s what I’m going to try.  Remember when I talked about the book’s recommendation that participants designate an amulet to help them refocus on their goals and Big Why?  I use the “Strong is the New Skinny” bracelet my friend gave me.   When I’ve been tempted to eat something not on the plan, it honestly has helped me to look at and tap the bracelet.  I figure if the tool has worked in that way, I could use it for this, too.  My thought is that it will create an atmosphere of even greater mindfulness.  When a negative thought about what I’m eating creeps in, I’m going to tap my bracelet and remind myself that I’m on track with the program and food plan.

 

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If Only There Was a Switch

My sister-in-law and I were recently chatting on the phone and I shared that I was trying this new to me food plan approach.  We talked about it for a while and I discussed what I like and don’t like about it.  The conversation then moved into exercise.  She was a dedicated spinner for a long time and combined it with a popular commercial food plan.  This resulted in significant weight loss.  More recently, she hasn’t exercised with that intensity for a while and said that she’s regained weight.

There are evenings when she knows she “should” go to the gym, she said, but she doesn’t.  “If only there was a switch that we could turn on and off,” she wished.  I know exactly how she feels.  I’ve had that same wish all of my life.  I’ll go great guns on a new plan or program and then one day it’s like someone flicked the motivation switch to the “Off” position and cut the power.  It’s not so easy to click the switch back on!

That’s why I live in fear of those moments arriving.  Sometimes I know that they’re triggered by a crisis; other times I don’t have a clue.  I think this experience led to me finally understanding that losing weight is not a matter of willpower.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve willed myself to make the good choices and told myself what I wanted to do – at least in my mind – but the juice wasn’t there to motivate me to put the desires into action.

As a result of a lifetime of previous experience, I no longer get cocky about my chances of maintaining a program, a food plan and a weight loss long term.  As determined as I can be in my heart that this time it will be different, an eating disorder is an insidious, controlling, and powerful opponent.

I honestly believe this is why 12 Step Programs advocate one day at a time.  It keeps me present in my efforts today and hopefully leads to me fostering continued self-awareness.  I work to not project into the future about the number of pounds I’ll lose, but focus on my preparations, plan and execution of same just for today.

If the only day that matters is the one that I’m in, then perhaps I no longer need to even think about the motivation switch and what happens if it shuts off.  I just need to keep doing what I’m doing and abstain from compulsive eating for today.  I only need to commit to the planned-for exercise session for today.  Then I need to honor those commitments.  One. Day. At. A. Time.

Speaking of my food plan, I have one more day to go to hit the two week mark.  I’m amazed and thrilled that I’ve abstained from processed grain and refined sugar products each day of the last two weeks.  While I have not been able to cook every recipe and eat the exact meals outlined in the book, I’ve made some of them.  On the meals where I’m not eating one of the book’s recipes, I’m following the proper percentages of protein, full fat, and carbohydrates.  I feel great about my daily efforts and adherence to the plan.  I’ve lost at least nine pounds, which is a happy bonus.

Week Three transitions me to Phase 2 which allows some whole grains and starchy veggies to make small appearances in the plan, along with honey and maple syrup.  It still recommends not eating white potatoes, white rice, or breads and other products made with white or whole wheat flour.  I’m honestly good with this still.  In keeping with what I said earlier in this post, I’m not projecting for how long I’ll be able to keep this up.  I’d like to think the answer is “for as long as I need to”.  Instead, I’m just focused and prepped for tomorrow.  That’s my “switch”.

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I have to admit that I had a little “wow” moment a couple of days ago.  I received the notification that Dr. Ludwig, the doctor who devised the Always Hungry? plan and wrote the book, left a comment on my March 1st post.  Maybe my blog popped up on his Google Alerts. Anyway, it’s nice that he stopped in and took the time to wish me well.

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Believing in Efforts/Avoiding Diet Mentality

Day three of week two without processed grains and refined sugar and I’m still on track.  I’m not preparing every meal suggested in the book’s daily plan but still sticking to the percentages of protein/fat/carbs in every meal.  Physically I feel good.  Emotionally, the mood variations have settled down.  Mentally and emotionally, I’m happy.  It is a great boost to commit to a plan and honor that commitment every day.  Success breeds success.  I do this a day at a time, but each day that I stick to it becomes a building block in the foundation that supports more long term recovery.

I was never ever willing to abstain for a long time from breads, pastas, white potatoes, white flour products and sugar.   Even though there were many times that I followed extremely restrictive diets that removed all of those foods – or in one case ALL food period – I always hated doing so.  (Yes, I once went six months surviving on a godawful tasting liquid protein with weekly trips to NYC for medical monitoring.)  I felt freakish about my inability to sustain long term weight loss, and resentful that I could not eat like a “normal” person.  When I first discovered that I have an eating disorder and found the OA program, I thoroughly resented my past history of fad, harsh diets.  So, I rebelled from doing anything that reminded me of any old plans.

I don’t know why it feels different to me this time around and why I’m willing.  It could be as simple as the fact that while I gave up the “white” products, I’m still allowed colorful, tasty fruits and veggies of all kinds plus the higher fat content products.  Oh, and that wonderful treat of dark chocolate means a lot.  However, I think there is a more involved evolution at play.  Although I have not yet lost all of the weight that I would like to, the last four years have taught and shown me something about myself.  I am maintaining a significant weight loss and have for four years.  This is something that I have never been able to do for myself in the past.  I always yo-yoed up and down the scale.  I could diet like a fiend on specific plans and lose a great deal of weight, but I always always always put it back on, usually with extra pounds on top.  That’s how I gradually grew to close to 400 pounds.

Knowing, acknowledging how much I have changed, learned, and accomplished with regards to my weight and health creates a belief in myself that I’ve always lacked.  Sure, in the past I always hoped that each time would be the magic effort that worked.  However, at heart I don’t think I really believed that my efforts would result in long term success.  My relationship with myself and with food has changed so much and for the better.  I no longer have any interest in atrocious fast foods and willingly cook with more fresh produce in healthier ways.

I love the positive changes in my body and my physical fitness.  It feels great to move, to see the muscle definition, experience my strength.

Most importantly, I believe that I will continue to be successful.  That I will continue to improve my physical health.  I’m committed to maintaining the new, healthier me.

These changes make it not such a big deal to give up more specific foods.  I’m not saying that I’ll never eat pasta or bread again, but I know for sure that I don’t need them in my every day diet.  Giving them up doesn’t feel like I’m sacrificing.  I’m not experiencing the resentful, “I can’t have it” feelings.  It feels like a positive, okay choice for today.

 

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Food Calling

Where did December go?  I sort of saw the days fly by but I was so darned busy I couldn’t latch on for the trip.  In addition to being ultra busy with work, I also managed a week’s vacation up to the Northeast for my annual holiday time with family and friends.  I wish I could say that I also maintained my good eating habits while I was away, but I don’t want to lie, particularly not on my own blog.  Holiday cookies might as well be crack.  That’s how addictive they are for me.

Emotionally, I had a wonderful time away.  I love spending time with so many people whom I deeply love but whom I don’t get to see so often.  Physically, between the cookie binges and not working out for a week, I ended up feeling pretty crappy by the time I was on my way back to Florida this past Sunday.

I think it’s a good thing that stubbornness is part of my DNA and mental makeup.  I refuse to give up on myself.  I immediately began eating more cleanly, sticking to my plan, and even drinking more water.  Yesterday morning, I was on a rower at 7 a.m.   It’s only been two days and I already feel better.  I always try to remember that each day is the opportunity for a new beginning.  I don’t have to repeat bad behavior.  I can always choose differently.

My boss and friend and have shared a couple of discussions about this the last two days.  At some point yesterday I said that it isn’t really about the food for me.  It’s about my behavior with food.  Apparently that stuck with her and she’s been looking at, or raising her awareness of her behavior too.  We talked some more today about what it feels like to have an eating disorder and why, when we know our goals and our desire to follow out plan and eat responsibly, we go off track.  “It’s like there is an alien being in my head sometimes,” I said.  “The alien takes over and I grab at food that I don’t want because the alien being wants it.”

The alien being is my eating disorder, of course.

She then, sort of plaintively, wondered why only the bad foods call to her.  “If I have the food around, it screams my name,” she said.  “Why don’t the good foods ever call me?”

That lead to more discussion about behavior and thinking about how we can set ourselves up for success.  I’m glad we had that talk because it put it all in the front of my mind and helped me later on.  Every year I end up shipping home a box with the gifts I’ve received.  The box arrived today and in it was a package of white chocolate and dark chocolate mixed with peppermint.  I unpacked the box, looked at the candy and thought, “No problem.  I’ll just have a nibble now and then put the rest in the refrigerator.  I’ll be okay.  I can control this.”

I honestly don’t know if that’s my ego talking or my misguided illusions.  I broke off a piece and ate it so fast that it barely registered.  I did go so far as to stick the rest in the fridge, but I also went back to the fridge to eat another piece of chocolate.

That simply would not do!  I knew that my eating disorder wouldn’t stop thinking about that chocolate until I’d returned again and again and, eventually ate it all.  I had a choice to make and, this time, I made the healthy choice.  I grabbed the box from the fridge and marched it to the outside trash cans.  Bingo — One large chocolate bar rendered unable to tempt me any more.

I texted the tale to my boss.  She texted back, “Well played.”

The chocolate called to me, but it got the wrong number.

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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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