Weighty Matters

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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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Perspective and Attitude

When the scale was moving steadily down and I got to my current weight, I was over-the-moon delighted and excited.  I felt powerful, supercharged, able to take on the world and pursue any activity or adventure.  Oh, it was glorious!

All those wonderful, positive feelings really fueled me in the first couple of years.  Since I’ve had this long period of off and on struggle, I’ve noticed another way in which the situation and my disease messes with my head.

Me at this weight when on a losing trend felt strong in body, fit, healthy and beautiful.

Me coming back to this weight — really only a few pounds in the grand scheme of things – feels weak, out of shape, out of sorts and not attractive.

So which is the truth?  Which is the real Mary?

The one I choose.

This comes down to perspective and attitude.  Thank goodness I realize this, even when beset with diseased thinking.  Once more I make the choice to not be defined by my eating disorder and, furthermore, not permit that disorder to poison my self-esteem and self-view.

I’m not where I want to be, but I am still a whole lot better than I was.  I have challenges, but I keep making the effort.  It’s not great right now, but it’s not as bad as it was last week.  My attitude is definitely improving.

In other news, I had a follow up with the foot doctor today.  I have some improvement but not as much as I’d like.  There are times when I can walk more easily mixed with times when each step is uncomfortably tight in the tendon and sharply painful in the heel.

So, I’m continuing with the running sneaks.  Oh, how happy I was to at least find jazzy ones with purple and pink!  Hey, if I have to wear them all the time, I should have ones that make me smile, right?  I’m staying away from sandals, wearing the splint at night, and so on.  I flex on the steps to loosen my calves.  I might whine to myself about it a lot, but I’m doing what I’m supposed to do.  After meeting with the doctor today, I’m 95% sure that I’m going to proceed with the Plasma Rich Platelet injection therapy he recommends.  My health insurance policy covers it and the doctor is sure that it will speed and intensify the healing.

He would have done the therapy today but I put it off for a week.  The downside is that I have to wear a boot for a week to ten days after the shot.  That will drastically cut down on my mobility.  Next week I have a couple of things going on at work that definitely require me to be more mobile.  I can suck it up and deal with the pain in order to get those things accomplished.  Also, darn it, it’s supposed to be really nice this weekend and I am determined to go out on the boat.  I didn’t get out last weekend due to a slight problem with the engine but that should be fixed now.  I can’t imagine that I will be able to clamber on and off the boat when booted, so I’m taking this opportunity while I can.  I need that boon emotionally and I know that it will do me a world of good!

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Fear Is Not Good Motivation

I’ve come to understand that I cannot scare myself into losing weight or sticking to a food plan.  Being afraid of failing, of getting sick, of gaining back all of my weight, of losing the joyful life I have, heck, of dying, does not serve as great motivation.

I wish it did. If fear alone could keep me on track, I’d never veer.  Not even a millimeter off track would I step.  Unfortunately, my eating disorder doesn’t differentiate between a fear that could motivate me to stay in recovery and any other emotion-based fear.  For an emotional eater, any fear can be a trigger.

When I was a kid, occasionally out of their concern for me, my parents would try to impress on me the risk of being overweight and the potential dangerous health concerns that I faced if I didn’t diet and lose weight.  I know they hoped that being afraid of developing juvenile diabetes would get me to stop overeating, but those talks only made me want to eat more.

Right now, I’m experiencing a lot of fear and, for once, I’m trying to be rational, calm and objective about it so that I don’t overeat.  Instead, I try to spin my emotions into a more positive mindset.  It doesn’t do me any good to castigate myself and say things like, “If you mess up your food plan, you’ll gain back all of your weight; be fat and miserable.  You’ll put yourself right back on a fast track to early death or disability.”  That approach multiplies the fear and creates a mess of other negative emotions.

So, I’m really trying to focus on how I approach everything and look for the positives.  For example,when I think about preparing meals or if I’m faced with the choice whether to dive into some poor choices, it’s much healthier for me to think and say things like, “Follow your food plan and you’ll not only enjoy a delicious dinner, but you’ll be happy knowing you stuck with your program.  You’ll not only feel healthier, but you’ll be healthier.”

That’s a very simple example, but I think you get the gist.  The more I reinforce positive choices, the better.

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Identifying Trouble Times

I’m so sorry to have gone AWOL.  I dislike whining, but the last week has just been insanely busy with plenty of stress.  On the nights that I didn’t bring work home, I came home so tired that I couldn’t form coherent enough thoughts to write.

Hopefully, I can keep my thoughts gathered well enough, and long enough tonight.

I’m doing sort of so-so with my eating right now.  I am definitely a stress eater.  Stress is not an excuse, or at least not a justifiable excuse.  It just always challenges me to find ways other than eating to cope with the emotion.

What’s really interesting is that I do much better when I’m under the gun.  During the day when I am super busy — head down, powering through the projects that need to be done — I don’t obsess about the food.  I don’t have time!  Therefore, I have little issues with sticking to the planned-for food items for my mid-morning snack, lunch and mid-afternoon snack.  I can even mostly do well through dinner.

It’s after dinner that presents the biggest challenge.  I’ve had perfect days until around 7 p.m. and then morph into constantly fighting the compulsion to eat this, that or the other thing that isn’t on the plan… and then maybe eat the other thing, that, or this afterwards.  I end up feeling miserable emotionally and mentally — and sometime even physically, depending on what I ate.

I wonder why this pattern repeats.  Why is evening such a trouble time?  It’s almost as if when I’m busy and stressed, I don’t have time to act out on the stress by eating.  Then night rolls around, some of the busy-ness eases off but I’m left with the residual tension.  So I have all of that emotion, not enough to distract me from it, and I end up eating over it.

Having identified the time and the issue, I now need to devise a strategy.  Even if I’m brain weary and physically tired at night, I can find a positive action to engage me instead of reaching for food.

PACE = Positive Action Changes Everything

It will take some extra effort, particularly if I’m worn out.  Maybe I need to think of it in terms of balance and equality.  After all, if I have enough energy to boost myself off of the couch and walk to the kitchen for food, I should be able to muster enough to do something more healthy and constructive.

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