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Personal Myths

I’m feeling good.  Whether it’s the acupuncture treatments in my ear to help with the food compulsion and cravings, my own work to get myself in a better, more sane place with my eating disorder, or a combination of both, overall I feel really good.  I’m eating well and following a food plan.  My mind is on an even keel and I’m not under siege by obsessive food thoughts.  Since I’m not eating compulsively and/or stuffing my face, I’m not beating myself up and thinking mean things about myself.  This is all terrific.

Physically my heel and knee also continue to improve with lessening pain.  I can move around more easily.  The fact that it doesn’t hurt me to walk is a big motivation to be more active.

The DietBet thing is underway.  It’s fun.  I’m trying out the low carb/high carb approach on alternating days.  It’s a manageable food plan.  I lost a couple of pounds this week.  The weight loss is a bonus.  The reduction in the compulsive eating and the crappy thoughts and stress that accompany the behavior are the real boon to my well being.  So, all in all.  I’m giving myself and my current state of being two big thumbs up!

I was reading an article today that talked about personal myths.  These are things we say about ourselves, believe about ourselves that aren’t necessarily rooted in reality.  We believe them and, therefore, they are very real to us and as such can strongly influence our actions and emotions.  Depending on how deeply they are ingrained, and how negative they are, they can do some real damage.

Huh.  I just realized something.  Because all of my personal myths are negative and make me feel bad about myself, it only just occurred to me that some people might have overwhelmingly positive personal myths.  Beliefs that give them a huge bolstering uplifts.  Can over-inflated positive opinions of self also be damaging?  Hmm.  Let me think on that for a bit.  Perhaps they can be.  What if they engender huge feelings of entitlement or beliefs that the world is all about you so you should always get what you want all of the time?  Do they then set you up for huge disappointments or resentment and anger when the world doesn’t play along?  I don’t know.  I’ll have to think on that, but right now I’m more interested in my own personal myths and how they’ve affected me over my life.

The biggest myth for me is believing that nothing I say, do, achieve is ever good enough.  When I buy into the myth, these are the results:  There will always be something more that I could have, should have done.  If I do something, I think I could always have done it better.  If I fail to achieve a goal, it is difficult for me to maintain a healthy perspective.  I decide that I suck at whatever.  If I veer from an objective, it’s because I’m weak, lacking, worthless, etc. etc.My self-esteem is always at risk.

I spent a lot of years believing these things, being miserable about the feelings, and seeking comfort, distraction or oblivion in excess food.   For years, I didn’t understand that I was inflicting this pain on myself by accepting these false feelings as reality.  That’s how low my self-worth had fallen.  Once I was aware and began to work on my understanding, I could begin to see the myths and fight their fiction.

Yes, I am much better.  My self-esteem is far healthier than it was many years ago.  I believe in myself, my talents, my abilities.  My confidence is strong which reduces a great deal of the stress that I used to feel.  Seriously, when you don’t believe in yourself, you stress constantly about whether you’re going to be able to pull off the normal, every day tasks involved in your job, your relationships, your activities, your life.  That stress just feeds into the mess and escalates the issues.  I can’t tell you how many nights I’d wake up out of a sound sleep and enter a state of repetitive, obsessive worrying about things that I had to do.

Now that only happens sometimes in extreme situations.  The difference, and the quality of my sleep, are profound.

Still, it’s always a battle.  Personal myths don’t ever completely vacate their territory in our heads and spirits.  When I feel them ramping up their presence, I need to make a conscious effort to face them and diffuse their power.  It’s like fighting the food compulsion.  The compulsion arises and triggers a want for food/eating.  If I don’t stay aware and recognize the compulsion for  what it is, that want can quickly become a need, translate into the action of eating and, Bam!, I’ve lost. Same thing with the personal myth.  When one tries to encroach on my self-awareness and self-esteem, I need to identify it as fiction and not give it power.  Easier said than done sometimes, but it’s a winnable fight.

Do you have personal myths?  Do you know what they are and recognize them when they rise up?  Have any techniques for dealing with them that you’d like to share?


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A Beautiful Day

I didn’t let any grass grow under my feet — or under my knee.  Having made the decision to get my knee medically evaluated, I went into action.  Specifically, I wanted someone who would not make surgery the first or only option — unless it really was the only option.  Friends recommended a couple of orthopedic/sports medicine specialists.  I checked each of them out online.   One in particular jumped out at me as meeting my criteria.  As an extra bonus, he trained with the specialists who treat the Philadelphia Eagles — my favorite football team.

It was meant to be.  I was fortunate enough to get an appointment today.  After some football chat, the physical exam and three x-ray views, I got the low-down.  In summary, there’s significant erosion on the medial side of my knee because of osteoarthritis.  It’s created something called a kissing lesion.  The doctor still wants me to have an MRI to check for any meniscus involvement, but he strongly believes we can take a non-surgical approach to reducing the pain I experience.  Honestly, the condition of my knee doesn’t physically prevent me from being active.  It’s the pain that interferes.  Being active is the best thing that I can do for my joints so reduction of pain and discomfort will further aid that effort.

Today he injected my knee with a novocaine-steroid mixture to reduce the chronic inflammation in the knee joint.  Tomorrow I start a six day course of oral steroid medication in diminishing doses.  In a few weeks, I’ll go for three injections of  a hyaluronic acid (HA) product over three weeks.  HA is found naturally in the body and serves to lubricate, cushion and protect the joints, but it thins out in older patients with osteoarthritis.

I’m familiar with HA products for a lot of uses.  I already use a serum morning and night as a facial hydrater.  It’s great stuff.  Now it will help my knee.  No surgery at this point.  Projected reduction in pain and increase in function.  I’m feeling pretty terrific all around.

This leads me to the topic most on my mind for tonight’s blog post.  Recently, I learned from a friend that her husband’s cancer, which he has bravely fought for a long time, is, indeed terminal.   They have a good amount of time left, but they’ve had to face reality.  Right now, she’s angry, frightened, and incredibly sad — all to be expected.  They need to find out how they’re going to go on from here as a family.  I truly hope that they are able to find a way to not let the news steal their remaining joy.  I hope they’ll live to the fullest and not get overwhelmed by the thought that he’s dying.

We didn’t have that chance with my mom.  Once she got diagnosed, things went downhill and got super complicated really fast.  We were fighting, fighting, fighting the cancer and her other conditions and it never feels like we got a break where we could live and find some joy, or at least enjoy a few days here and there.  It just sucked.

The other day, someone on Facebook shared a meme that was connected to appreciating each day and feeling gratitude.  It so resonated with me for a number of reasons, including my friend’s news.  To paraphrase, the meme suggested that if we can, we should begin each day with the thought that this will be a beautiful day.  Then, at some point we should take time to think and say, “This is a beautiful day.”  Before we go to sleep at night, we remind ourselves that it was, indeed, a beautiful day, one to be grateful for.

If we do this regularly, we will compile many, many beautiful days, and at the end, we’ll be able to look back and know that we enjoyed a beautiful life.

It’s almost the end of my day.  While I type, my leg is propped up with an ice pack on the knee, as per the doctor’s orders post-injection.

It wasn’t a perfect day by any means, but it was, definitely a beautiful one.


Feeling Pretty Good

I managed to keep my inefficient worrying under control the last couple of days. I prepared as much as I could and let go of the rest. The meeting I anticipated might contain some uncomfortable conflict went smoothly. I facilitated well and received feedback that supported my self-assessment. It’s behind me now and so is any of the slight stress that I had retained.

Best of all, I did not lose sleep and I didn’t dive into food to manage the worry. That rates a double booyah as far as I’m concerned. I feel good, strong and positive. I actually said a strong, firm “no” to a sweet, sugary treat a couple of hours ago and reminded myself that I could enjoy a frozen fruit treat at home instead.

Did I tell you all about one of my Christmas gifts? One of my nephews gave me a Yonana machine. It takes frozen fruit and blends it into the consistency of frozen yogurt or frozen custard. No added sugar, other than what occurs naturally in the fruit. No fat, no junk, no nothing. After my evening commitment, I came home and thoroughly enjoyed the fruit snack with a small scattering of chopped walnuts on top. Yum.

Find that I still need to educate myself on portions. Even though it’s been almost two years since my surgery, I’m still retraining my brain. The instinct is often to prepare the same size portion as before. That would be fine if I could always trust myself to eat only a half or less of what I prepare. Even if I can only physically eat the smaller amount, if I have the rest in front of me, I’m sometimes tempted to keep going. Forcing the issue is not a good thing for many reasons. For one, eat too much and I not only feel wicked uncomfortable, but I’ll also need to throw up. Forcing larger portions too often over time could eventually stretch out the stomach pouch. If I increase my stomach capacity, I will lose the terrific tool that the smaller sleeve provides. Don’t want to go there, not one bit! Forcing the issue also doesn’t help me learn anything useful to encourage long term success.

Stopping before I serve myself helps me think it through, rather than just plopping too big a portion on my plate. “Stop before I serve” makes for a good mantra, I think. Like tonight. I had a change of plans today when a dinner date was rescheduled for Thursday. I thought about what starches I’d eaten during the day and realized that I had two plain saltine crackers with my soup at lunch. That was all. I didn’t have a lot of food in the house but thought that I could make a simple grilled cheese sandwich. I’ve learned to keep bread in the freezer so that I am not tempted to eat it frequently just because I think I’m hungry and it’s available. It takes more effort to pull a slice from the freezer, defrost it and then do something with it before eating.

While I was opening the bag to take out two slices, which would be the automatic portion in the past, I stopped and thought, “No. You don’t need that big a sandwich. Half is plenty.” That’s what I did. One slice of bread, split into two smaller pieces with some good quality cheddar, toasted in a non-stick pan coated with cooking spray.

It was delicious and satisfying. I reduced the fat, carbs and overall calories by stopping and thinking. It’s important to transfer this kind of behavior to as many food and eating situations as possible. Even when I go out to dinner, it’s good to separate the portions on my plate so that I don’t keep picking at the food in front of me and end up eating more than I want or need. I haven’t quite gotten to the point of getting a To-Go box right at the meal’s outset, although I’m sure if I try that a few times I won’t feel conspicuous — or at least won’t care if I am. In the interim, it’s easy enough to physically push some, often most, of the food to the side of the plate and focus solely on the appropriate size portion that remains. If I’m at a buffet, I need to remember that I can still sample a wide variety of dishes as long as I limit myself to dabs and not load up the spoon or stab a huge forkful.

In other things, I’ve noticed that if I do indulge in carbs a little, my body reacts. I might have mentioned this before but, honestly, after 500 plus posts I don’t always remember everything I’ve ever discussed. Back over Christmas week, I know that I ate more carbs on more days than I do in probably a month. My body reacted my putting on some water weight and bloated pounds. I almost want to call them fauxpounds. I know the math of calories. In order for me to gain five real pounds, I’d have to eat 18,000 more calories than I burn. Over a week, that would be more than 2500 calories more a day! Folks, I’d have to drink multiple milkshakes to consume that many more calories. Plus, I was also walking every day and keeping up with my 10K plus steps for calorie burn.

Even fauxpounds can be a little stubborn about giving up their grip on my body. It got to the point where getting on the scale in the morning started messing with my head. Even though I knew it was water weight, the number can upset me. I decided not to weight myself for a few days while I carefully stayed on track. This worked. I finally vanquished the fauxpounds. My body’s back to an authentic weight. I’m starting to see some additional definition (underneath the sagging skin that will only disappear with surgery) from the strength training routine with hand weights.

All in all, I feel pretty good!