Weighty Matters

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Reality Perspective

The last week have readjusted my perspective on how I was working my program and my recovery for the last 18 months or two years.  It has provided me with a strong and much needed reality check.

While I knew that I was eating healthier and working out more, I didn’t truly see that I was not following my own recovery program as closely and vigilantly as I did in the first two years after weight loss surgery.  In my delight over all of the positive changes I’d achieved and the new, great things I was enjoying, I didn’t see my own denial.

Ricocheting around on a food plan when on already has a screwed up metabolism does not foster an environment for success.  Somewhere along the line, I started making too many excuses and not owning enough responsibility for my own actions.  “Everything in moderation” can still be a reasonable approach, as long as the “moderation” part remains reasonable.  In my case, it did not when it came to processed carbs, refined sugars and other foods that do not contribute to my recovery and health but absolutely add to my weight.

I’m not going to beat myself over the head with the club of blame.  I’m a flawed human being with an eating disorder, an insidious disease that clouds my reasonable thinking among other things.  It is what it is.  Rather, it was what it was.  What matters is what I know today, now, and how I use it for positive action as I move forward.

Don’t think for a minute that a week of success has me thinking that I’ve got this thing all under control.  That would be a myth and very dangerous thinking.  I believe that if I continue to work my tools and look at the plan and my eating choices with painstakingly precise care, I can remain abstinent one day at a time.  I know that I am not ready to never again eat pasta or a piece of cake, but I am absolutely willing to stick to a structure and a plan where these things and their relatives are not every day choices.

I want recovery of all types – mental, emotional, and physical.  I know that I need to hold on to this recent reality check and use it effectively moving forward.

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Feeling Fit Again

Another thing that has been contributing to me not feeling great about myself in recent months is the fact that I wasn’t feeling as physically strong and fit as I had been.  After discovering the joy of physical activity over the course of the first couple of years and really embracing different types of exercise, last spring I started to hurt more.  My right knee gave me chronic pain.  Then I developed the horrid heel pain with plantar fasciitis plus slight tears in my Achilles tendon and plantar fascia.

I began to gain some weight back which made everything even worse.  Emotionally and mentally, the combined affects of the injuries, the arthritic knee, and the extra weight slowly eroded my enthusiasm for exercise.  I backslid into more sedentary ways.  I lost my excitement about all the great things that I could do with my body that I couldn’t before my weight loss surgery.  I couldn’t even do my Tai Chi, which I absolutely love.  Overall,  I just felt like more of a blob as time went on.

As soon as possible after the foot doctor cleared me to restart more physical exercises, I went back to Tai Chi.  Then I discovered the wonderful, amazing rowing classes.  Somewhere along the line, my spirit rejuvenated and I became determined to reclaim the level of physical fitness that I’d achieved before.  That led to me committing to three rowing classes a week – even getting up extra early to make it to the 7 a.m. classes!  (If you knew me, you’d know that this was alien behavior for me.  🙂 )

For the last couple of months, I have consistently rowed three days a week.  I guess it’s about a month and a half since the trainers started incorporating some additional strength and conditioning exercises in the classes.  I give every class all of the energy and effort that I can muster and push myself when I feel like I can’t.  In the last few weeks, even while I struggle with the number on the scale, I can see and feel physical improvement in my body.  Last week I experienced that wonderful realization of how much stronger I am in my core, as evidence by my much-improved form in sit ups.

Recognizing the improvements is having an incredibly positive effect on my emotions and mental attitude.  This really became obvious to me over this Thanksgiving weekend.  Even before, I prepared by going to rowing classes Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  (We knew the rowing studio was closed Thursday through Sunday.)  I think I shared before that on Thursday I not only took Nat out for a long walk, but I also did some exercising at home with free weights, push ups, sit ups and planks, then even a full set of Tai Chi.

I kept my activity going on Friday with another long walk.  Today, I rode my bike to and from Tai Chi class and around town a little doing some errands.

Before dinner, Nat and I went out for a long walk.  As we were walking, I tuned into how my body was feeling.  I felt the regular slight twinges I get in my knee, but really acknowledged how great I felt overall.  Strength in the muscles; a free and easy stride; from head to toe, muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, lungs and other organs all smoothly work together.  In that moment, I realized that I finally feel fit again.

This, my friends, is glorious.  Not only does it lighten my spirit, it energizes my heart.  I am truly enjoying my own physical ability.  Glorious and wonderful, indeed.  I’m inspired to keep it all going.  I’ve already signed up for my three rowing classes next week.  Tomorrow morning, even though it’s Sunday, I’m meeting a friend at her condo community.  We’re going to workout together in the community’s gym.  They have great machines.

I’m inspired as well to not waste the effort by making poor eating choices.  Maybe this is the piece I needed to reclaim in order to finally break through my long lasting plateau.  We will see!

 

 

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Recognizing the Changes

Pyxi had an up and down weekend.  Yesterday, although she ate a couple of times during the day, she couldn’t keep it down, seemed very weak and was not at all perky.  Honestly, last night I was afraid she was going to die.  This morning, I texted our friend/vet and he met us at the clinic to administer more sub-cutaneous fluids and some anti-nausea medication.  He prepared me that she’d probably be very sedate today from the meds, which she was.  However, she also ate three small meals throughout the day and has kept it all down!  She is still turning up her cute little nose at the carbs, but as long as she eats anything and retains it, that’s something.  We’re testing her blood again tomorrow and, hopefully, her numbers will have improved.  Fingers and paws crossed!  We can consider an appetite booster which might make her more interested in a greater variety of food items or, that might happen without help if she starts to feel better.

I had a little bit of an up and down weekend with my food and, at times, I thought I was a whole lot worse than I truly was.  Thankfully, I’ve continued to log my food in my digital food diary so I can go back, read, and truly analyze my intake rationally.  This is so important because when I don’t look at things with logic and rationale, but instead view it through the distorted lens of my eating disorder, my perspective goes all screwy.

Even with Pyxi sick, I know she’s okay if I leave for an hour or two.  I don’t go for long stretches of time, so I get back to coax her with food, check if she needs anything, and so on.  I went to rowing class yesterday morning.  I had a facial mid-day.  I went to dinner last night with a friend.   These all fit under the heading of taking care of myself so that I can continue to take good care of her.

I didn’t pre-plan my exact foods for dinner.  Instead, I logged it in the morning as “reasonable dinner”.  We went to a local restaurant that I really like and I ordered food that I really like – including the brussel sprouts “chips” appetizer that I love.  We split it and brought at least half of it away in a box.  Same thing with my entree — at least half of it came home with me and will be dinner tomorrow.  They asked if we wanted dessert and I made the conscious choice to share some of that too.  A few bites were totally yummy and satisfying — and saying yes to myself actually helped emotionally.  If I’d denied myself the treat, I would have experienced resentment, grumpiness, and, most likely self-pity.  All of those could have led to me coming home and binge eating on something.

Of course, even though I completely ate reasonably and did not overeat, I still experienced several moments where I felt like I’d done poorly.  Such is the nature of my disease.  I came home and started to beat myself up and then called a halt to the negative mind-trend.  Instead I reminded myself how I’ve been taking good care of myself; how I’m being rational about my food, how I worked so hard in the morning rowing class.  I’m convinced that doing these reminders kept me from eating compulsively last night after I got home.  Being able to stop myself from disintegrating into disease behavior is a positive change.  I need to recognize these changes when they occur.  Doing so helps them take root and provide a stronger foundation for the future.

I recognized another positive change a little later in the day.  After getting back from the vet and spending a little time decompressing by reading a book while Pyxi rested, I decided to go into the pool and exercise.  I went into the bathroom to change into my swimsuit.  When I took off my shirt and started to remove my bra, I glanced in the mirror.  In that moment, I saw where the rowing classes have begun to cause some changes in my body.  There are hints of better definition in my shoulders that weren’t there before.  My waist looks a little smaller.  I nodded at myself in the mirror and smiled.  Then I put on my bathing suit, went to the pool, turned on some music and exercised for 30 or 40 minutes.

Seeing some physical improvement is such good positive reinforcement.  I don’t know what the number on the scale will read tomorrow morning.  (Forgot to tell you that I stuck to my commitment of only weighing Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings.)  If it’s down from Friday, terrific.  If it isn’t, I know that my body is still slimming down, getting more defined and also gaining in strength.  No matter what, I need to recognized and acknowledge these changes.

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SANE Eating Plan

A couple of days ago, I came across a short article by a registered dietitian in the Miami newspaper.  In it, she talked about being inundated by diet headlines when standing in the check-out line of the supermarket.  I knew just how she felt.  The magazines have sooo many suggestions… Detox, eat this, that or the other thing for a flat belly.  Lose a gazillion pounds in a week by eating this superfood.  Melt off the fat by doing this.  Don’t eat THAT food.  It will make you swell up like the purple kid in Willie Wonka.

I always consider it ironic that across the aisle from these self-help magazines are all of the magazines for cooking, recipes, great cakes, seasonal menus, etc.

Anyway, after seeing all of the headlines, the dietitian shared an approach that she highly recommends.  She calls it getting SANE… as in adopting a food plan that is sustainable, approachable, nutritionally balanced and enjoyable.

It makes eminent good sense.  Sustainable, as in picking a food plan that you can reasonably follow and maintain.  A plan you can stick with.

The next step is to realize that healthy eating is an approach.  We embrace it without becoming dictators to ourselves.  Giving ourselves permission to splurge or have a treat sometimes will help us sustain the effort.

The dietitian is a fan of eating minimally processed food.  Whole, natural products are desirable for the N – nutrition.

Finally, there’s the idea of enjoying the food we consume.  Good food that tastes great, nutritionally sound meals prepared freshly with flavor — all make it easier to eat well.

S.A.N.E.  doesn’t this sound like good common sense?   I’m keeping it in mind as I plan my daily meals.  Like the dietitian says in the article, eating this way won’t help us lose 15 pounds in a week, but following it consistently will help the weight come off.

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Little Wins

I almost called this post Small Victories, but that’s the title of a book I’m reading by the wonderful Anne LaMott and I didn’t want to steal it for my blog.  I will no doubt write a whole post about this book after I finish it, so stay tuned. 🙂

It’s Day Three of Lean-Green-Clean and it’s been another day of good, clean abstinence from compulsive overeating.  Even though I mentioned a few posts ago how my body feels different when I eat clean versus when I eat crap, I am frankly amazed at how much better I feel after only three days.  My systems and cells are practically singing.  They’re much happier when I fuel them with healthy, nutritious food and don’t inflict big quantities of fat, junk carbs, processed foods, and sugar.  I’m also doing a better job of hydrating, which increases the wellness.  I have more energy too.

I’m sure there are people who might look at this and think, “Three days.  Big whoop.”  To a lot of people, eating clean, green, healthy food in appropriate volume isn’t difficult.  It’s, shall we say, normal.  For me, one day of abstinence from compulsive overeating is a win.  I can’t take the days, any of them, for granted.  I sure can’t look at the effort and consider it easy or think there’s nothing to it.  Humility and gratitude are important to my recovery.

On top of the overall day, I had a particularly special “win”.   A group of us got together right after work at neighboring restaurant for the send off of a dear co-worker who is going on to a different job.  I’d already decided that I wouldn’t order anything to eat, but instead just enjoy the time and then eat my planned-on meal when I got home.  It’s not that I can’t eat out at a restaurant, and the food is good at this place.  I just knew, however, that the portions would be huge and there weren’t many menu items that fit the lean-green-clean plan.  I felt strong and confident in this decision.

I hadn’t planned on there being a large cake at the gathering.  Red velvet with a cream cheese frosting, to be exact.  It was sitting right on the table in front of me . . . so close that I could actually smell the cream cheese and the sugar.  Others at the gathering offered me a slice and I didn’t even think about saying yes.  I sat there with everyone and that scrumptious looking/smelling cake for a good 45 minutes, just talking and sipping a glass of water.  It wasn’t even a case of white-knuckling my way through the event.  My mindset was strong, calm, and sure that I truly didn’t want to eat any cake.

That truly is a victory for me.  I faced down a substance that is usually addictive and didn’t give in to my disease.  In addition to checking in and noting how I feel physically, I need to spend some time acknowledging how recovery feels to me emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

There’s a saying in program that nothing tastes as good as abstinence feels.  I’m celebrating that feeling tonight.

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Anatomy of a Good Recovery Day

It’s almost 11 p.m. and I’m going to bed soon.  I wanted to report that I’ve had a good day, one in which I stayed abstinent from compulsive eating and stuck to my food plan.  One day down and one day is all I need.  When I wake up tomorrow I’ll plan on making it another good day of recovery.

I know it’s helpful for me to reflect on what I did to have a good, abstinent day.  Sharing about it on this blog also serves as reinforcement.

Last night I talked about being prepared, so today’s effort actually began last night when I prepped the food I planned to eat while at work.  Can’t remember if I’ve explained my overall food plan in a while, but I eat six times a day.  That works out to three “meals” and three snacks.  Very often, there isn’t an appreciable increase in volume at the “meals”, although my tendency is to have dinner be a somewhat larger meal.  I’m trying to change that too, over time.

So, for today — I fixed a protein shake for breakfast with a small banana.  I had a couple of cups of hot black tea with a small splash of half ‘n half.  My mid-morning snack included a couple reasonable tablespoons of spinach-artichoke hummus with two celery stalks and half a dozen baby carrots.  I had a cup of green tea at work at around the same time.  After that I filled up my water glass too.  For lunch I prepared a chocolate protein shake.  That satisfied me until it was time for a mid-afternoon cup of green tea and a small apple for snack time.

For dinner, I steamed a spaghetti squash and cooked up some crushed tomatoes into a nice sauce.  I then put the two together along with a couple of ounces of fresh mozarella.  Another cup of tea in the evening was followed by about 3/4 of a naval orange.

As I said I planned to when discussing my homemade lean-green-clean plan, I avoided chocolate, all candy, bread, crackers, cookies, cakes and potatoes.

For exercise, I took Nat and Pyxi out for a short walk this morning and a longer walk after dinner.  I also did a set of Tai Chi.

All of this – the food, eating and exercise – covers the physical aspect of the program.  For the emotional/mental part, I read the daily message in one of my books and revisited the written explanation of Step One.  Knowing how supportive my friends at work are about all of my efforts, I “came clean” to them by explaining my decision to go lean-green-clean to a stricter degree than usual.  I don’t want them to police my eating, but it’s helpful to my mindset if I’m honest and open about what I’m experiencing.  It helps me with my accountability to myself.

I also acknowledged to my Higher Power that I am simply grateful for all of the blessings and lessons in my life and asked for help in experiencing a day of recovery instead of relapse.  This balanced out the three-legged stool with the spiritual side.

For most of the day, the effort was fairly easy, relatively speaking.  Granted I psyched myself up for it and brought forth strong motivation.  Also granted, this was only the first day — one day.  Still, it’s something on which to build with a whole series of “one day at a time”.  Tonight has been the most difficult part of the day.  About an hour ago, I started feeling hungry.  At least, I think I was really feeling it, but it’s sometimes hard for me to differentiate between real, actual hunger and mental hunger.  Whether it’s one or the other isn’t as important as what I chose to do about what I experienced.  I chose not to eat something that wasn’t pre-planned.  I chose to remain in recovery.

That was the choice today.  That’s the choice I’ll wake up and make in the morning.  I’d like to have another good food day of recovery.

 

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