Weighty Matters

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Two Days’ Progress

I wrote yesterday’s Just for Today post yesterday morning. It’s now almost bedtime tonight. I’ve had two good days.

48 hours don’t represent a huge amount of time in a life, but when you’re struggling on the tightrope of recovery, trying not to tumble into relapse, each day matters. Remember, it’s the whole “One Day at a Time” approach.

I’ve kept clean with my food plan — planning and preparing what foods I would eat each day and when. Each day I woke up, repeated the Serenity Prayer and reinforced my plan to say no to compulsive eating. Delivering pep talks to myself helps a lot too. I kept telling myself that I can do this, as you saw with yesterday’s post and all of the “Just for today” reminders.

A couple of times, I had minor bouts of “white knuckling” when I was really tempted to eat off of my plan, but I worked through them and stayed the course. A few moments ago as I watched television I reflected on how I’m blessedly free of compulsion tonight. I’m not obsessing over food. I’m not beset my the desire to eat — either with physical hunger or mental hunger. Not getting constantly hammered by the eating compulsion eases my stress. Less stress further reduces the ill effects of the eating disorder. This all helps me line myself up for another successful day tomorrow.

The mindset has greatly improved. This spread over to me getting out of bed earlier the last two days and exercising more — a long bike ride yesterday and a good dog walk this morning. I’d fallen off of on my fitness too, so adding it back in further bolsters the overall efforts.

Yesterday I stayed in recovery. Today I stayed in recovery. I’m not declaring long term victory, but I am happy to say for the time being at least, I’m out of the relapse.

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Post 600 – Keeping On

I wish I had something incredibly insightful to write about tonight, but to be completely honest, I’m exhausted physically, mentally and, for some reason, in my spirit too. The physical and mental exhaustion, I understand. After Disney I went to a business conference. It was terrific. I learned a lot, brought back new ideas to implement and investigate, networked with great people and also had a great time. We attractions people know how to have a good time, particularly when evening events are hosted by fellow attractions. However, as positive as each day was, I went non-stop from the time I woke up at 6:30 a.m. until I went to bed each night around 11 p.m. Full days of absorbing information and putting out mental energy just wipes me out. This all culminated with a seven hour plus drive home.

Explanation and understanding aside, I have no idea why my spirit is weary and I’m blue. Of course this all motivates my eating disorder to want to kick in and the struggle to not “binge” makes me even more tired.

What the heck am I going to do about it, you might ask? I’ve asked myself the same thing all day. I’ve decided to keep on keeping on. I feel overwhelmed right at this moment and when that happens, it’s constructive for me to go into “light a single candle” mode. I can’t do, fix, take on everything all at once, so I’m need to organize and structure everything into a “one thing at a time” plan.

First priority is making sure that my food stays nice and clean. When I’m weary, making a variety of food choices is challenging and also overwhelming, so keeping it simply and surrendering (KISS) helps a great deal. I have fruit, coconut water, greens and protein powder ready so I can go into smoothie/protein drink mode for a few days. Some might consider this restrictive, but for me simplifying the process and choices helps me. First of all, I feel like I’m treating myself with care and fostering good health for my entire system. This makes me feel better physically and mentally which should help me emotionally too. It also frees up brain energy. I don’t have to spend as much time thinking about food when I reduce the range of choices.

Tomorrow is going to be a very busy day and I just have to power through it. I can do it and then Friday will be significantly less jammed with meetings and so on. Again, the key is taking care of myself first so that I can better take care of my responsibilities. I can prioritize the work tasks and the other things on my plate for the organizations on which I serve. I just did that to some extent. Someone asked me to call them at 7 a.m. to discuss some things for one of those other organizations and I said no. I can give her time and energy in the evening but the morning has to be devoted to the job. Prioritization.

I guess that’s my insight for tonight. Care of self comes first. Everything else gets a figurative number and a place in line. I can’t do everything all at once but I can take care of each thing in its own time.

Hopefully this sensible, healthy approach will not only help me recover from the physical and mental exhaustion but will lift the spiritual malaise as well.

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Sometimes a Not Great Notion

First off, I managed to eat slowly most of the time today. I’ve been rushing around in work and life trying to get a lot accomplished in the day. When in high gear all day, it’s hard to slow down for any thing. I did the best at breakfast because I remembered to focus on eating slowly right when I picked up the spoon for the first taste of yogurt.

By the time of my mid-morning snack, I’d already had two meetings and was running behind schedule. Unfortunately, I plowed through my pistachio nuts. At lunch, I began by eating quickly but caught myself. I stopped, took a deep breath, reminded myself about slow pacing and mindfulness, and then proceeded to finish the meal much less rapidly.

I was en route to somewhere for the mid-afternoon snack but concentrated on chewing and savoring the crisp texture and juicy sweetness of the apple. Dinner time, same thing as lunch. I started out eating fast but slowed myself down, concentrated, and finished out in a much better place. I pledge to practice this skill again tomorrow!

Today at some point, I had a realization. I know that the way that I eat with the healthier choices, the reduced portions and the pace, coupled with exercise and cultivating an overall dedication to wellness and fitness all add up to a major lifestyle change.

I’ve said it before — This is about changing my life and choosing health. It’s not about dieting. I really do know these things. Just sometimes, I act like I don’t and keep behaving like what I’m doing is a diet that’s going to end some day. That is not a great notion on so many levels. I catch myself waiting, or projecting to the day that I hit goal weight and begin the transition to maintenance. It’s like I think, “Oh, be strict and perfect now and then one day you’ll be able to eat whatever you want.” For me, that is not a positive, healthy mindset.
In fact, it feels like a potential set up to screw this all up royally at some point in the future.

The realization that I sometimes still think this way — even when other parts of me are crying bull pucky at me — shows that no matter how far I go and how great I progress, relapse lurks. Goal weight will eventually be achieved and I will adjust my food plan for maintenance mode. It will not, however, be license to eat eat eat.

Healthy food choices with appropriate eating and adequate exercise and physical fitness are my life. There is no end to this journey, at least while I am alive. I guess even though I know this, I need to remind myself from time to time.

I’m happy the realization hit me and shined a light on some of my own faulty thinking. I can’t adjust, grow and improve if I don’t know that I need to in some area. Awareness and a clear picture are so helpful.

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Riding the Buzz

Sorry to have not been around for a few days. I left Wednesday for a business-related trip. Although I had every intention of blogging, my brain was overwhelmed with everything I absorbed and processed at the meetings. By the time I got back to my room each night, I couldn’t do anything more thoughtful than collapse into bed.

I was determined to ride the buzz from the good doctor’s appointment the week before and keep moving full steam ahead. I won’t say that I got derailed, but I wasn’t as perfect as I could have been while away. I ate a few more carbs each day than I should have. As we know from previous experience, carbohydrates act like sponges in my body and suck in pounds of water weight. So I realize that for the first few days this week, my scale number will be higher but I’ll be able to knock them off and flush them away.

On the positive side, I made use of the conference hotel’s excellent fitness center. I got up early enough to do a brisk two miles on the treadmill each morning. The hotel was also huge which meant that I had ample opportunity to add to my total step count just going back and forth between meeting rooms, my room, etc. I believe I definitely counteracted the hours of sitting in the meeting rooms by being as active as possible when I had the time and opportunity.

Now that I’m back home, and have had a lovely day relaxing with Nat and Pyxi, I’m set with my plan. This is how I’m riding the buzz. In years past, after “falling off the wagon”, I would have sulked, emotionally scuffed my feet, and with much internal gnashing of teeth and wailing, decried, “It’s no use! I’ll never make my goal.” That would just lead to more and more days, weeks, months of diseased eating and massive weight gain.

One thing that I have learned, and that I now believe through and through, is that I will always pick myself up and get back to business again. A couple of days out of my routine with more carbs in my diet are not enough to throw me completely off track. I am much stronger. My recovery mindset is much more integrated than ever before.

Living in recovery doesn’t mean always being perfect. It means accepting that I’m not perfect and, even more, I don’t always have to be. I need to remember the little steps and the big picture. Before, I had periods of recovery in an overall diseased eating lifestyle. Life has flipped. I’m now a healthy, living in recovery person. Those intermittent blips are not blockades. They’re only speed bumps that temporarily slow me down but don’t, and won’t stop me.

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Pre-Stressing the Scale

This Friday is my next appointment with my surgeon. I almost called this blog post Day of Reckoning, then I thought it should be Getting Called on the Carpet. Both of those seemed negative. I don’t know why I get stressed over these appointments. Scratch that, yes I do. In my twisted lil psyche, regardless of the fact that I’m a grown woman of 56, I sometimes feel like I did when I was a little kid and had to speak to an authority figure. I also have a long, long, long history of doctors’ appointments when getting on the scale to get weighed was anything but a joyful experience.

Most of the time they were more like harbingers of shame. Get on the scale; get scolded for my weight. Get told to lose weight. Get scolded some more. It just sucked. The only times I didn’t suffer heavy duty stress and emotional trauma prior to a doctor’s appointment and weight check were those when I was in the middle of a semi-successful weight loss. Then I could celebrate how well I was doing, until such time as I was no longer doing well.

For the year, year and a half after my bariatric surgery, I loved going each month, then every three months, to the surgeon’s for my check up. Who wouldn’t when weight melted off of me like ice cream off a cone on a hot summer day? When my rate slowed to more like one, one and a half pounds a week, it didn’t matter how much I told you that this was to be expected, I still felt like I was wrong. The old shame began to well up again. That’s how locked in my emotional well-being can be to my scale successes.

Last December’s appointment was the worst of this whole journey because I’d lost the least amount of weight in the three month period and I reacted poorly to the doctor’s suggestion that I cut my calorie intake by 25%.

I’m concerned about my emotions this week as I countdown to the check in on Friday. I’ve been doing really well. My head and emotions are in a great place without lots of conflicts or issues about my food plan. I’ve lost weight and stepped up my exercise. I’m in a good place, damn it, and yet I feel myself beginning to fret about what I’ll weigh when I step on my doctor’s scale on Friday afternoon.

Tonight, I’m so glad that I was inspired to write about this topic. Facing the issue, and my unreasonable fears, will help me stay strong and on track. The last thing I want to do is go into a tail spin and start eating over the scale stress. This is not the time to attempt to use carbohydrates to smother the stress. That would jeopardize the good progress I’ve made. I need to stick to the food and fitness plan, taking each day as it comes, one day at a time. As long as I don’t go off the rails, I will feel emotionally and mentally strong and in recovery which will bolster the physical effort.

I’m psyching myself up for another good week. Each morning when I wake up and then throughout my days, I will choose serenity over stress. When I walk into the doctor’s office on Friday it will be with a light step and a happy smile. The number on the scale is not the only indication of how well I’m doing, how far I’ve come, and how committed I am to continuing with my progress and my recovery.

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Success Breeds Success

The better that I do with my recovery, the better that I do. Profound today, aren’t I? 😉 This goes along with a couple of other old saws such as it’s easier to stay on the wagon than to climb back up, better to stay on top of the pain than try to catch up to it, and, what the heck, I’ll throw in that it’s harder to hit a moving target.

Okay, perhaps I have some silliness mixing in with the profundity. Here’s what’s going on. I’ve have several really good days, back to back, with both my eating and my exercise. My body is responding by not sticking to its plateau so I’ve had great weight loss over the last four days. This success helps my mindset when I’m tempted to indulge in carbs or overeat chocolate. Temptation is always all around me. What differs is my response and resistance. When faced with the opportunity to eat inappropriately, if I stop and say to myself, “Self, you’re on a roll. Don’t stop the momentum. Stay on track”, I can usually keep from indulging. That helps me build another successful day which can lead to more positive emotions and additional weight loss. And so it goes.

The better I do today, the more likely I am to see results which motivates me to do well tomorrow which leads to… you get the idea.

Recovery really is achieved one day at a time or, sometimes, one meal at a time. I want to stay on the wagon rolling forward so that I can lose the remaining weight and transition to maintenance. At this point in the progress, pounds come off in fits and starts instead of one long, lovely, constant progression. Better to keep fueling the momentum and let success continue to breed success.

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Positive Food Mind Games

Remember when I talked about buying a few high-end quality, handcrafted chocolates over the weekend and said that I planned to eat them one a night?

Raise your hands. How many of you are expecting me to say that I totally messed up on that plan and stuffed them all into my mouth the first night?

It’s okay if you raised your hand. I pretty much expected me to do just that despite my plan and great intentions. I’m happy to say that I surprised myself and that I also discovered something useful and important in the process. This commitment and practice helped me control other impulses. Let’s face it. I love chocolate. There is no way that I would willingly give it up unless you told me that eating even a single, minuscule piece would kill me faster than a dose of cyanide. Even then, I’d first ask, “How minuscule are we talking?”

I know that it is a mistake and completely sets me up to fail for me to keep a bag of M&Ms, or a bag of mini-candy bars, or anything like that in my house. I do not have the self control to limit myself on those particular versions of chocolate. If I’m at the supermarket and give into the urge to buy a small bag on my way out (You know, the bags they place right at the checkout line so you’ll see them, feel the urge, and buy?) I can tell myself forever that I’ll only eat some of the M&Ms and save the rest, but that’s complete b.s., even if I believe it at the time.

However, when I have good quality chocolate around, I absolutely can limit myself to one treat in the evening. I’ve now successfully done this enough times that I see a definite difference in my behavior pattern when the chocolate is high-end, as opposed to whether it’s the stuff I can grab at the supermarket. What’s more, when I know that I have that quality chocolate available to me for the one scheduled, permissible treat in the evening, it acts as a deterrent. I can talk myself out of other urges to buy and consume other candy or other sugary sweets like cookies, cupcakes, and ice cream. Seriously, I’ve had actual internal conversations with myself that go something like this.

Compulsive Me: What a stressful day. Ohhh, look at those cookies. They look yummy. I want one. (Hand reaches for package, about to put it in shopping cart.)

Healthy Me: They look yummy, but they’re junk. Don’t forget you still have those good chocolates at home and can have one tonight.

Compulsive Me: Oh, right! Those chocolates are so much better. I don’t need these processed things. (Hand withdraws from package.)

Healthy Me: Good choice. You’ll enjoy the chocolate so much more.

Compulsive Me: And I’ll feel better about it after, too.

Healthy Me: Smart woman!

Really, folks, as strange as it sounds, that’s my thought process sometimes. Sure, it’s a mind game to divert from the compulsive act, but it works. There are additional bonuses and benefits, too. When I buy good quality chocolate, I end up with food that has fewer calories and less sugar, but more of the healthy qualities for which chocolate is touted. I also eat less of it. That’s an extra win.

Here’s another food mind game that I discovered this week. I love certain nuts. Walnuts, peanuts, pistachios, and almonds top the list. Nuts can be a healthy, nutritious snack — as long as I don’t totally pig out on them eating multiple handfuls. With the exception of walnuts, which I prefer to use in cooking instead of snacking, I have learned that I can’t eat nuts in healthy ways if I keep a jar of them already shelled in the house. The habit is there to eat them mindlessly.

Thanks to the baseball game last weekend, I realized that I exercise good portion control if I buy the nuts still in their shells. Sounds simple and logical, doesn’t it? I can’t grab handfuls of nuts and eat them when I need to shell them first. Yesterday and today, I measured out an appropriate portion of shelled pistachios, brought them in a container to work for my mid-morning snack, and ate them in a healthy, appropriate way. I didn’t overeat and I was completely satisfied. Booyah!

My takeaway on these lessons is that while we were taught as kids to not play with our food, developing and playing positive food mind games can actually aid my plan and recovery!

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Battling Temptation

Doesn’t it figure? I’m primed, ready, and prepped to flush the effects of the evil carbs from my system, and the kitchen at work is absolutely loaded with sandwiches, pastries and cookies. I mean loaded. There are three bakery trays of sweets on the counter and the fridge is packed to overload with other stuff. I could barely find room for my lunch tote.

I really did prepare too. I have a small smoothie blender at work and a matching one at home, I put all of the ingredients for a delicious, healthy lunch-time smoothie into the blender cup and brought it with me. I also packed two small apples, for good soluble fiber and, just in case I need a little extra protein, a hard boiled egg. I am ready to battle the water-retention bulge that I suffered this weekend.

The leftover food in the kitchen makes that room the equivalent of an unsupervised, open bar for an alcoholic. I jumped on here to declare my determination not to give into the temptation to veer from my plan. I will not sneak in a cop a cookie. I will not decide that the smoothie didn’t satisfy my hunger and grab a bite of sandwich. I will go into the kitchen for three reasons and three reasons only:

To get ice from the freezer for my water glass.
To retrieve my lunch tote when it’s time for my snacks or lunch.
To use the copy machine.

I can be successful today. I will be successful today.

I’ll let you know tonight how I did. In the meantime, some positive energy from my blog buddies will help. Thank you!

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Better to Light a Candle

It’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness. I first heard a variation of that proverb when I was in grade school. A great book came out in 1970 called Light a Single Candle about a teenage girl who goes blind.

I’ve always interpreted the saying as a way to cope when life, or a situation, attempts to overwhelm me. Rather than sit and complain or fret about how huge the problem appears, I try to break it down into smaller areas. It might be too big for me to fix or change all at once, but I can find those smaller areas where I can accomplish single changes and begin my progress on a solution.

Yes, having weight loss surgery was one huge change to one humongous problem. Preparing for it was almost overwhelming with the myriad of different doctors I had to see, the tests that needed to be scheduled and experienced, the follow ups, the evaluations, the planning, etc. It could easily have overwhelmed me but I approached it all one appointment at a time.

When I get super busier-than-usual-busy at work and I wonder how in the hell I’ll get everything done, I make a list. Every project on the list can be successfully accomplished, one at a time. Sometimes each project needs to be broken into a series and schedule of tasks — all single candles in their own right.

I find that the “light a candle” proverb meshes well with the Serenity Prayer. If I’m having a stressful day, I think about what I can change or do and what I can’t. Which candle can I ignite to burn brightly and make the darkness — or the stress, or the workload, or whatever — less oppressive?

Right now, I evaluating my food plan. Things are going pretty well and I want to stay on this roll. Sometimes, my mind gets a little overwhelmed with all of the elements that create my successful recovery. So, I’m breaking them down into smaller pieces to keep going with what works. These little candles become more manageable goals.

This week, there are two actions that I want to make sure I continue with in terms of my food. They contribute positive success to the overall goal of not eating compulsively and staying within my calorie and nutrition plan. One is to continue incorporating more vegetables than I have been eating. (I realized that most of my daily fruit and vegetable servings tended to be fruit and not veggies. More sugar was creeping in than I needed. Now I feel like I have it in better balance.) The other thing is to continue preparing my work meals (mid-morning snack, lunch, mid-afternoon snack) the night before. I started doing so last week and it really helped! I plan better when I’m not rushed as I tend to be in the morning.

These are my two candles for the week. More veggies/less fruit; Advance preparation. These actions are clearly not overwhelming. They are easy to manage and the results are great.

So, anybody else have a lot going on that might be less overwhelming if broken down into single candles? Feel free to share!

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Biggest Loser Winner and CVS

For the last couple of days I’ve seen lots of press and social media posts about two things: How skinny the winner of the Biggest Loser looked on the finale and that CVS announced they will stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Both of these topics have triggered reaction, that’s for sure.

I didn’t see all of the Biggest Loser finale on Tuesday night. I was so tired that I set it to record on DVR and went to bed early. So, I didn’t actually see the woman who won until her picture started appearing on Facebook. Wow. She sure as heck did lose a lot of weight! I’m of two minds about the results. On the one hand, she wanted to change her life from one of morbid obesity and while so doing, she wanted to win the competition. Obviously she succeeded. On the other hand, sweet goodness, she went from morbidly obese to downright skinny in a few months. Is she too skinny? Is she now an unhealthy weight? Maybe. Overall, what you and I think doesn’t matter. Determining what’s enough weight loss and what’s too much is up to her and her medical advisors. Also, even if she isn’t a healthy weight now, she was a fierce competitor and she wanted to make sure that she lost a greater percentage of body weight than the other two guys. Now that she’s won, if she wants to put back on a few pounds, she can.

Whether it’s a participant on a weight loss reality show or someone else who has had bariatric surgery, I have resolved to not judge their journeys. It honestly is not my place to assess what they’re doing and decide whether what they’re doing or have done is right. If I go down that road, then I’m no longer assessing the reality of their situations, I’m making a judgment based on what I think. Their journey or their goals and what paths they travel to get there, are honestly none of my business. I have more than enough on which to focus with my own journey, goals, and paths. They can take care of themselves.

When it comes to CVS, I applaud this gutsy decision to deep six tobacco products. I always found it ironic that you could walk to the back of the local CVS for the medications to help when you’re sick and then at the front pass by the shelves of cigarettes, guaranteed to wreck your health. I hate cigarettes and smoking. I regret that I ever smoked and celebrate the fact that I quit. I don’t get obnoxious about it with friends who still smoke. There’s an ashtray reserved for them on my porch. They understand that there’s no smoking allowed in my house. I also don’t do things like exaggeratedly wave my hands in front of my face when I walk by people smoking. I don’t fix them with my most effective death glare. Smoking cigarettes is a personal choice. I don’t lecture them about the consequences.

If anyone asks me what my mother died from, I’ll likely say lung cancer and strokes caused by her 50 year addiction to cigarettes. That’s the reality of it and it makes me sad every day. When she was alive, and before her cancer diagnosis, we shared the family home up in New Jersey. Mom and I had an understanding. If she needed something from the store, I would happily run out and get it for her — except for cigarettes. I absolutely refused to buy cigarettes for her. That was something she had to get on her own.

I used to shop in CVS a lot more frequently. They had my monthly prescriptions on file so I ran in at least once a month to refill. It was also my store of choice to pick up snack foods when I didn’t want to go to a full supermarket. Once I got off of all my prescriptions a little more than a year ago, and since don’t do a lot of snack foods anymore, I have a lot less need for CVS. There’s also a Walgreens a block away. Believe it or not, the new announcement has inspired me to shop CVS more frequently. I might even look for excuses to go. As long as they maintain the “no smoking” policy, I want them to succeed. I don’t want them to lose their other, residual product sales as a result of the tobacco products ban. Shopping there more often is a way to positive reinforce them for their bold move.

Would love to hear your thoughts and comments on either of these topics!

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