Weighty Matters

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Self-Kindness

When life is tough and issues appear to pile on, I have found that it is helpful to treat myself with as much kindness as I can muster.  Being nice to ourselves is necessary, particularly when nobody or nothing else is leaning toward that course of action.

Emotional and mental stress can affect us physically – whether in general, chronically, or even acutely.  You know from my previous post that it was a high suckage week for me.  As if all that had already happened wasn’t enough, on Thursday morning when I was getting dressed, I felt a pop in my hip.  Okay, not actually my hip.  I’ll be honest it was high on my right butt cheek.  Immediately, I experienced greater discomfort in walking, including throbbing going down the back of my right leg and also horizontally around to the front like in the crease of my upper leg.

Oh, and all week, I’ve had increased, uncomfortable tightness in the back of my problem knee.   I can’t decide whether it was better for me to now have two painful conditions on the same side, or whether I should have wished for one on each side to balance things out.

Whatever the case, I was miserable all morning at work and extra grouchy.  Luckily, I already had an acupuncture appointment scheduled for the late afternoon.  I called the practitioner and asked if we could switch to a private session because of the new problems.  She was able to bring me in earlier.  I got a thorough treatment and, thankfully, was already feeling better by the next morning.

Good thing because I had determined that this was going to be a weekend of relaxation and fun for me.  I’d taken Friday off from work  to get some things done around the house in the morning.  Then, I had plans to be in Miami that evening to see a good friend of mine perform in a community theater group play.  (I was scheduled to do rowing class in the morning but decided to give my body more time to improve.)

I’ve spent two days doing things that I wanted to do and not worrying about work stresses or other issues.  I joined my friend’s family for dinner last night and then we sat together and thoroughly enjoyed the play.  I stayed up on the mainland overnight and this morning went to a continuing class of my Tai Chi.  Yes, I was feeling that much better physically.  Acupuncture is amazing!

After class, I got together with two dear friends whom I do not see nearly often as we all would like.  In fact, it’s been two years since I saw her and more than four years since I saw him.  (He was living in Texas for a couple of years.)  We had a great time over a leisurely lunch.  Then I did some shopping.  I bought a few clothes, visited Trader Joe’s, browsed Bed, Bath & Beyond and bought a few neat kitchen things that I don’t need but will enjoy, and, of course, hit a pet superstore for things that Natty will like.

Among the things that I bought were three small bunches of bright yellow daffodils.  I love daffodils – from their uplifting color to their sweet aroma.  They just delight me.  We had bulbs planted all around our house up in New Jersey and I always looked forward to seeing their green shoots break through the ground in spring.  I miss them here in Florida so it’s no surprise that I immediately smiled when I saw them available in the flower section of TJ’s.  They’re sitting in a vase on my table right now.  I see them every time I look up and smell them even when looking at the screen while I type.

I had one element of stress intrude on my weekend.  I discovered that it was more difficult than I expected to stick with my protein/fat/carb ratios while away from home.   Oddly enough, the toughest part was getting in enough full/healthy fat.  Last night I did fine with a warm kale salad – even pushing away the small white potatoes that were included.  (Odd choice in a salad, I thought.)  To up the fat ratio, I should have asked for some ranch or bleu cheese dressing.  This morning at the hotel’s free breakfast, I expected there to be eggs available, but there weren’t any for some reason.  I didn’t want to eat a waffle or cereal, so I grabbed two small yogurts.  Lunch featured a salad bar in which I passed by things like croutons, Chinese noodles and pasta salad.  I opted for a small bowl of chili to round out the meal by did not pick up any muffins or corn bread.  Again, I should have picked a fuller fat dressing, but overall I think I was closer in my ratios.

There were also a couple of instances when a cookie looked far too tasty to pass up and later I let myself get far too hungry past dinner time.  I needed something to eat asap, chose an egg and cheese sandwich from Starbuck’s for expediency.  I intended to not eat any of the bread but I caved and had half of the roll.  It’s the first white flour bread that I’ve eaten in five weeks.

I’m not beating myself up over my food choices.  I did the best that I could outside of my home and home-work environment where I can do a more thorough job of planning and preparing.  I had a couple of small indulgences, enjoyed them, and now they’re over.  I already know what I’m going to eat for breakfast and lunch tomorrow and will plan dinner as well as meals for the next few days once I’m up and moving.

Being gentle and kind to myself is so important.  My recovery is not served by me getting angry about a spare cookie or piece of bread here and there.  Instead of focusing and being negative about those indulgences, it is far better for me to look at the good things that I did on the fly.  I also am embracing the lesson. I have a conference coming up in the future, which means that I will face nearly a week of not being home where I can carefully plan and prepare my meals.  I know I’ll have a fridge in the hotel room, but don’t know about a microwave.  I plan to bring in some backup foods for snacks or to supplement meals if my ratios weren’t balanced.  My goal will be to not get so far out of whack that I can’t reel myself back in.  I have reasonable expectations for what I can and cannot do ahead of time.  I also resolve to be kind to myself as I go through the process.

 

 

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Post-Thanksgiving Post

Yesterday was a curious day for me but, ultimately, a successful one for which I am very grateful.  I did not have any plans to share a holiday meal with any friends.  A funny thing happens down here.  I think my different groups of friends assume that one of the other groups or couples have invited me to spend the holiday with them.  Unfortunately, that didn’t happen this year.  One friend did invite me last minute to come for dessert later in the day.  Another friend/co-worker was in the same situation and we sort of half-heartedly said that if we had the energy or desire mid-day to go out to a movie together, we’d get in touch.  Neither of us did.

For about a week ahead of yesterday, I veered between feeling sorry for myself/lonely/resentful and being completely okay with the circumstances.  While I would have liked to be in a group of friends for the human contact and camaraderie, I really, really, really didn’t want the day to be about feasting and overeating.  Then again, I did experience some yearning for turkey, some of my favorite side dishes and the like.  I just worried over whether the emotions would send me into binge mode.

It was a dilemma for sure, but I approached it with a healthy mindset.  From the time I woke up, I was determined that I was going to make this a healthy day for myself.  I started out by taking Natty for a longer walk than usual.  The weather is gorgeous right now — sunny but cooler — and he and I both enjoyed ourselves.  Throughout the day, in between doing other things and watching football, I also did other exercises.  I worked out a little with light weights and also did some situps, pushups and planks.  At another time, I did a full set of Tai Chi.  (By the way, since the rowing gym is closed through the weekend, I did rowing classes Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.)

Our holiday meals always began with a fresh fruit cup.  (No, none of that canned stuff.  Everything fresh!)  I didn’t go full tilt with the full array of fruits Mom and I used to combine, but I cut up an orange, an apple and half of a banana and had it as a snack at lunch along with a  small salad.

Not knowing whether I’d end up at an afternoon movie, I had shopped to make myself a healthy but delicious Thanksgiving dinner.  I bought turkey thighs, a rutabaga, and yes some boxed stuffing.

Mashed rutabaga aka yellow turnip to some, is my favorite side dish.  It was a staple on our family Thanksgiving table.  Here’s the good news – it is a cruciferous vegetable, nutritious and delicious.  Although I put a little butter in it when mashing, I don’t overdo and I used skim milk.  This was, for me, a better choice than mashed potatoes.  I feel it also helped counter balance a little bit of stuffing.

Once it was determined that I was staying home, I really enjoyed preparing my meal.  I chopped up fresh herbs from my little garden to season the turkey and added chicken stock that I’d made and frozen to keep the meat moist while it roasted.  This also made for a delicious gravy after the fact.  I used more of the chicken stock in the stuffing, too.

When dinner was ready, I very carefully took appropriate portions instead of overloading my plate.  Even with the restricted stomach, if I put too much food on the plate at the outset, I tend to eat too much and then I feel sick and uncomfortable.  This ruins my enjoyment physically and emotionally.  I am really concentrating on continuing to train my eyes and my serving utensils to put the amounts I should eat… not what I would have eaten in years gone by.

I sat down and savored what I’d made for myself.  It was delicious and balanced.  I felt really good about how I’d planned and executed my holiday meal.

Now what about dessert, you might be wondering.  Yes, I’d put some thought into that as well.  I hate feeling deprived of dessert.  Emotionally, it’s unhealthy for me to feel deprived and often leads to me wanting more and then bingeing.  Last week, I researched and found a recipe for Pumpkin Souffle.  Very easy to make with a can of canned pumpkin, evaporated milk, two eggs and half a cup of sugar in the entire thing.  I counted up the calories.  Per serving, my souffle had only 180 calories.  As far as desserts go, this was a winner that I could absolutely fit into my meal plan.

I waited until my main entree settled a bit and then spooned out an appropriate serving and thoroughly enjoyed it.

All told, for me the holiday was a food win.  I feel really terrific about how sanely and carefully I planned, cooked and consumed my meal.  I’m also pretty darned please with the physical activity that I included in my day.  I took care of myself.

The result is that today I am not suffering from a food or binge hangover.  I feel good about myself and my recovery and am looking forward to building on this today.  I took the day off from work and have some fun activities planned.  I started with a healthy protein smoothie for breakfast.  Now Natty and I are going out for a walk.

I hope you all had a great day and are enjoying your Fridays.

 

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Feeling a Little Sideways

Over the last week, I’ve been up and down and then, this weekend, mostly sideways.  I continue to feel abundant gratitude for the kindness given to me and Nat.  It inspires me to pay it forward and to be open to opportunities to be kind to others.

Yesterday I hosted a “tea” for a friend who is getting married in a few weeks.  She didn’t want a big shower.  The tea was her preference, which was fine with me because I love a good tea.  It inspired me, of course, to dig in and give my house a deep clean — always a plus, even though I hate actually doing the work.

The down side, unfortunately, is that I felt compelled to bake cookies and scones for the event and to make a prosecco-lemonade punch.  While these contributed to the loveliness of the occasion, they also provided occasion for me to contribute to my eating disorder.  I ate wayyy too much stuff that isn’t on my plan, wasn’t eaten in a healthy sane way, and ended up giving me a stomach ache, acid, and a night of just being sideways.  Sideways, for me, is akin to being numb.  Not up, not down, but not fully engaged and functioning.  I pretty much stretched out on the couch for most of the hours after my guests left and I cleaned up so I was physically sideways, too.

Note to self:  When in that kind of mood, find a comedy to watch.  Dead Man Walking, while it features wonderful performances by Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn, is not a jovial mood-elevator.

Today I did something really nice for myself.  My regular nail tech is on vacation for a couple of weeks and I was due for a manicure and pedicure appointment.  I wasn’t able to get a convenient appointment with any of the people she recommended.  So, I indulged and went to the fancy spa of the big resort a few miles up the road.  Although I paid much more than I usually would for these services, I give the technician credit.  She did a great job and the foot and hand massages were extremely thorough.  This little indulgence felt good.

I don’t want to get on the scale tomorrow because I fear that I undid all of the good that I did for myself last week when I was careful with my food and working out hard.  So maybe I won’t.  Maybe I’ll just stay on a healthy eating track, exercise, and not weigh myself until the end of the week.

Avoidance?  Perhaps.  However, I also don’t want to make myself feel any worse.  I’m teetering on the edge of negative self-judgment and beating myself up.

Here’s the plan.  I’m about to eat a tasty, planned for dinner, that’s also healthy.  I got back a short time ago from a good long walk with Nat.  I have rowing class at 7 a.m. tomorrow.  I will commit my food in the morning and stick to the plan all day.

As long as I don’t let sideways turn around into completely losing progress, I can settle myself into my program and start moving forward again.

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Emotional or Physical Damage – Which is Worse?

The physical and emotional damage of having an eating disorder are both horrible.  They’re also tightly connected and the effects of one have a strong impact on the other.

Earlier today, I was on the phone with someone I’ve known since I was in college.  She too has battled an eating disorder for most of her life.  While I don’t see or talk to her often, when we do we know that each of us “gets” it.  We were catching up with each other today.  Her husband is battling cancer.  As his wife, helper, chief support system, she’s working very hard to keep herself on track too.  “I have too,” she said.  “If I get into the food, I can’t be present for him, for anybody.”

I talked about how I’ve been struggling with the compulsion but am in there fighting.  I shared the insight I had a few weeks ago about how when I first got down to this weight I was delighted and excited.  Now that I’m at this number because I gained some weight, I’m not happy about it.

She said that the self-hatred we experience when we’re in our disease is the worst aspect of having an eating disorder.  I agree.  Most people might eat too much ice cream, cake or potato chips and feel the physical discomfort of being too full or bloated or queasy.  Those of us with an eating disorder feel those things — with a heaping helping of self-directed anger, loathing, dismay, and sadness piled on top.

Then, all of those emotions erode our confidence and make us feel so terrible that we want to medicate and anesthetize the feelings.  Our drug of choice is food and the destructive ways in which we eat.  We rip into ourselves, call ourselves horrible things and treat ourselves with so little love and kindness.  Overeating or compulsive eating, combined with the emotional backlash really results in a harsh form of self-abuse.

It goes without saying that if we are stuck in this behavior for long periods of time, we create physical damage.  Pounds pack on.  We become obese and can trigger numerous co-morbidities.  Over time, carting around excess weight strains our body, damages our joints, stresses our organs, creates conditions that shorten our life-expectancy.

Right now, I’m still overweight, but far less so than before I had surgery.  I don’t have the co-morbidities of Type II diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure any more.  I’m more physically fit.  So, in truth, the physical effects of my eating disorder are less prevalent.  For now.  I am ever conscious that I can lose this state of grace.

Overall, I am much more damaged emotionally by the current struggle.  When I feel bad about myself, I want to eat more to bury the feelings.  That just makes everything even worse.  So, while I continue to work on refraining from eating compulsively, I also consciously focus attention on what I think and feel about myself.  Equal attention to both these aspects of my disease are the only way in which I can recover.

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Speak Your Truth

Every night for the last several nights I’ve said to myself that I wanted to write a blog post.  Then I’d get involved in something else for a few minutes, sit on the couch and end up nodding off.  Sorry about that.  I guess I’ve needed extra rest.

So tonight right after dinner I turned on the computer and resolved to write before I got involved in anything else!  My thoughts are revolving around the truism that we are only as sick as our secrets.  To that I say, yes, speak your truth.

I believe that we are more likely to talk about surface problems.  The run of the mill things that are more commonplace.  We’re more comfortable when we have an issue that we know is shared by many.  Other things — like in my case an eating disorder — we hold tightly within ourselves.  Perhaps we feel ashamed, or maybe we fear that people will think less of us if we “confess” that we have whatever deeper problem affects us.  Fear, shame, confusion, whatever the reason, we hide the truth within ourselves.  When we bury stuff deep inside, it can’t be brought out into the light.

If we don’t bring it up and talk about it; if we resist sharing these truths; we are left to suffer, and suffer alone.

The first night that I went to an OA meeting and said, “Hi, I’m Mary.  I’m a compulsive overeater, or binge eater, or something” turned out to be one of the most liberating, joyful nights ever.  I spoke my truth, kicked it out of the closet, and opened myself up to getting help.

Now, I don’t advocate sharing our selves with every single person in our respective universes.   It’s important to find the safe circle, to look for people who will understand.  If they don’t understand, at least it’s good if they are willing to listen without judgment.  The point is that staying silent and not going outside of ourselves to seek help, only keeps us locked in the affliction.

I was thinking about this again this week as I prepared for my first acupuncture appointment.  A good friend who has used acupuncture treatment for a variety of things was the one who first suggested I go for a referral about my heel/plantar’s fasciitis and my ongoing knee pain.  Even though I’ve seen doctors for both conditions, she reasoned that acupuncture could be a tremendous asset to the healing process and enhance my conditions, if not resolve them.

For many years, I’ve been open and interested in the body’s chi — our own internal energy.  I’ve seen mine develop and help through the practice of Tai Chi.  I know how effectively my massage therapist works with my energy to help during sessions.  So, I was definitely open minded about trying acupuncture.

My personality is such that I always want to do things right.  That includes any kind of medical examination.  You know when you go for an eye exam and the doctor is figuring out your vision numbers, he/she does a process of flipping between two options and asking which is better, option 1 or option 2?  Ever since I was a kid, that part of the exam has stressed me out.  I am so worried that I’ll pick the wrong answer.  Yes, the rational, adult part of my brain knows that there isn’t a wrong answer, but I never claimed to always think rationally!  (You want to see test-stress?  You should have seen me the days leading up to SAT day in high school.)

Anyway, knowing that I wanted to make the most of my acupuncture appointment (Doesn’t that sound better than do my appointment right?), I asked my friend if there was anything that I should do to prepare.  She advised me to review the physical issues I was experiencing so that I wouldn’t forget.  I asked her if she’d ever talked to the practitioner about the auricular acupuncture that’s reputed to be good for stress relief, quitting smoking, weight loss and other things.  She hasn’t but she said I should bring it up if I felt comfortable.

I thought about it and thought about it and decided that I was going to include it in the consultation conversation and speak my truth.  I’m a compulsive overeater/binge eater.  I’m having difficulty right now in abstaining from compulsive eating which means that, even if I’m not eating huge quantities, I am still eating compulsively and not sticking to my healthy choices.

So, plantar fasciitis, osteoarthritis-related knee pain, compulsive eating.  Check, check and check.

The practitioner and I had a great initial conversation about everything.  We then went into the treatment room for the first session.  I really liked her thoroughness, her manner, and her holistic approach.  She explained why the needles were being placed where they were.  She told me that after they were inserted, at some point during the session I might start to feel strange sensations, twinges, or some pains in various parts of my body as the areas where the energy was blocked began to open up.  When that happened, I should note it in my head, take some deep breaths and try to expand into the feeling rather than tense up and constrict if it was a little uncomfortable.

After encouraging me to relax, even fall asleep if I wanted, she left the room while the needles did their thing.  I know I fell asleep for part of the time period, but for most of it I was awake and relaxed.  I’m not sure how long into the session I’d gone before I started to feel a few things, but at no time was I uncomfortable.  Mostly I began to experience sort of a warming vibration… almost like my internal energy really was waking up and flowing better.  Different sensation but not unpleasant in the least.

When the session was over and she returned to remove the needles, I immediately noticed a reduction of pain in my right knee.  I think that was the most dramatic difference at the outset.  My left heel feels pretty much pain-free too, but it’s been improving over the days and the boot stabilization and cushioning assists with that too.  I think the real test for that part of my body will be this weekend when I can give up the boot for a few days and just walk around in sneakers.

I came home and ate the sensible dinner that I’d planned and I haven’t eaten anything compulsively since.  That could be me, or me enhanced by the treatment.  It’s too soon to tell, but you can bet that I’m paying attention and taking notes.

Taking notes is something that she asked me to do.  She wants to know what I experience and how I feel between now and the next treatment next Thursday.  It’s important to know not only in the first few days immediately following the acupuncture, but also, even more so, in the 4th-6th days after.  That will help her see how my body holds the positive effects over time.

Even though I don’t know at this point what the benefits – short term and long term – may be, I am so glad that I decided to speak my truth about my eating disorder and struggles.  If having acupuncture doesn’t help, it doesn’t help.  However, not bringing it up and not seeking treatment would mean that I never even gave it a chance.

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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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Extended Funk Part Deux – and the “D” Word

First I want to say that you all are terrific and I am grateful for your concern.  I appreciate you checking on me. This funk and the food relapse have really taken hold and I’m having more trouble than I anticipated fighting my way through it all.

I haven’t wanted to post because it’s been difficult for me to face facts and talk about them, but my agreement with this blog, myself and everyone that reads it is that I don’t come here and post bullshit.  I’m not going to come and lie that all is great with sunshine, roses, and sparkles when all is not great.  This blog is my gut-check honesty place.    So, rather than lie, I emotionally isolated.

My relapse continues and it’s the worst it’s been since before my weight loss surgery.  I’ve gained weight, although I don’t know how much because I haven’t stepped on the scale.  I can feel it in my clothes and in the way my body feels.  More than the physical results, the emotional and mental effects are the worst.

I know I’ve said this all before and I’m like a broken record right now, but there isn’t anything original about binge eating disorder.  Relapsing sucks.  Feeling out of control messes me up in a myriad of ways.  I’m unhappy and that also has an impact in other areas of my life.    Also shared before is the chronic heel pain from which I’ve been suffering which severely limits my ability to exercise.  Not only do I not reap the physical benefits, but I’m lacking those uplifting endorphins.

At least I took positive action for that condition and saw a doctor last week.  I’d properly self-diagnosed the condition – plantar fasciitis.  I am now following the doctor’s instructions – wearing good sneakers, stretching to loosen the tight calves, taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory meds, using a splint at night.  I am mostly following the no bare feet/no flip flops directive although that’s honestly the most challenging.  I hate wearing anything on my feet when I’m home.  However, he told me I can wear original Crocs so I truly am trying to be better about this too.  I want the condition to get better.  Constant pain is, well, a pain, and limiting the types of exercise I can do interferes with my recovery plans.

Yes, I do have recovery plans.  I can’t let all of my hard work and effort fall apart.  It is never too late to begin again, unless I’m dead, and good Lord willing, I’m not going to die anytime soon.

I need to go back on a diet.  The dreaded “D” word used to describe programs and methods of eating and making food choices to result in weight loss.  That runs counter to a lot of my accepted knowledge about having an eating disorder and being in recovery.  Heck, it runs counter to a lot of popular medically-influenced thought these days.

On the other hand, it can also mean, to me, an actual plan that embraces healthy food choices  with frood eaten in planned-for, structured, non-binging, non-compulsive ways.  That’s the kind of diet I need.

However, I also know that, as much as I hate admitting it, I need that validation of seeing pounds come off of my body, seeing the number go down on the scale.  Sure, keeping to my food plan of healthy eating and abstaining from compulsion should be enough positive reinforcement and engender the feel-good spirit and emotions that keep the abstinence rolling.  But, I’m human.  At least in the beginning, if I see that I’m losing weight again, I will feel better.  I am less likely to then engage in attacking myself with ugly thoughts, angry labels, and shame-inducing negative comments about my weak character.

So, here I go again, my friends.  Once more into the breach.  This really is a never-ending journey, an eternal process and, to be honest, a constant effing struggle.

It isn’t easy and never will be.  However, it is always and absolutely worth it.

Thanks for hanging in with me.  How are all of you doing?

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Day by Day

It’s Day 8 of the Lean-Green-Clean effort.  So far so good, mostly.  I’m still refraining from chocolate, refined sugar, junk carbs like white bread or potatoes, cakes, cookies, etc.  I’m eating more vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins.  My body feels great.  I lost seven pounds in the first week.  My head and heart are serene and happy.  My spirit is encouraged by my ability to stay on the program.

I won’t pretend it’s been easy all of the time.  Some nights I need to guard against the compulsive behavior, even if the extra food I’m tempted to reach for is something healthy from my plan.  The behavior is as much of a risk to me as the actual food items.

Cravings pop up from time to time.  It’s always important for me to analyze whether the craving is real — a physical desire for a type of food (salty, sweet, crunchy, whatever), for a specific food, or if it’s a mental/emotional craving.

I’d put together a lean, healthier version of a meat loaf to bake for dinner tonight.  Lean ground meat augmented with chopped peppers and onions and spinach.  Driving home from a doctor’s appointment, I thought about that protein and started thinking about how I’d always served it with mashed potatoes and gravy.  All of a sudden, the broccoli I’d planned to steam as a side dish had zero appeal and I started craving creamy mashed potatoes, darn it.

It wasn’t a physical “want” but a mental and somewhat emotional or associative desire.  Potatoes stayed in my mind while I ran some errands and then inspiration struck.  I could buy some cauliflower and mash that instead which would keep me on the low-carb/more veggie path but, hopefully, satisfy the craving.  I made the conscious choice to allow myself this substitution from the broccoli and drove to the supermarket to get the cauliflower.

Once I was in the store, I started thinking about chocolate.  Rich, dark, chocolate.  Not a lot, just a single piece.  It won’t hurt, my eating disorder said to me.  You’ve been so good and on point, it cajoled.  Go ahead.  Really.  It’s okay.

In the short line at the checkout, I went so far as picking up a bar and then putting it back.  “I never liked chocolate with cherries in it,” I said to myself.  Right before the employee started scanning my other purchases, I picked up another bar – one which I darn well knew I loved.  You can bring this home and trust yourself to only eat a square of it, my disease assured me.

My disease lies.  Oddly enough, it was that lie that snapped me out of the compulsion.  I put back the chocolate bar and finished my purchase, then immediately left the store.

Sometimes recovery isn’t achieved day by day, it’s minute by minute.  Definitely choice by choice.  Today, I prevailed.  By the way, the healthy meatloaf and mashed cauliflower were delicious.

In other news, I restarted treatment for my bad knee.  The orthopedic doctor injected me with Euflexxa, a hyaluronic acid product, to hopefully restore some cushion in my knee joint.  Getting the shot honestly isn’t that big a deal.  He numbs my knee with an icy spray first so I don’t even feel the “pinch” of the needle going into my leg.  (The two inch long, somewhat thick needle, I might add, with a nod to my toughness. :-).)  It’s a little sore tonight but I’ve complied with the instructions to rest and ice it for 20 minutes at a time for five or six times.  I’m on restricted activity for 48 hours which, unfortunately, means I can’t do Tai Chi for a couple of days, but I’ll be back on it by Friday.

It’s all worth it if the full course of treatment improves my overall knee condition, reduces the pain, and helps me maintain a strong level of activity.

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Acceptance

In comments on the previous post, Forest Jane and I talked about how we can’t bring certain foods into the house because they’ll call to us all of the time and we’ll eat them.

I said that I can’t fool myself any longer and think that I won’t binge, in my own post weight loss surgery type of binge, on certain foods if I have them available in my house.  This has stayed with me in my  mind since.  The process of mulling this over caused some things to bubble up for me, even though the concept of keeping my house free of binge-trigger foods is nothing new.  It seriously could be the umpteenth time, or even the umpteenth squared time, that I’ve thought about this in the last 30 or so years.

You’d think I’d have gotten the point by now.  I have a little disgust twinge going on, but I’m also trying to remember that it doesn’t matter how often we think about something, or hear a suggestion, or even know intellectually that we should do something a certain way… if we aren’t ready, we aren’t ready, and we won’t make the connection.  Even if we make the connection, we can dig in our heels and resist.

Acceptance is the key, but I need willingness to reach that point.

I keep thinking that some day, somehow, I’m going to be able to eat “normally”, be a “normal” person when it comes to food.  That’s nothing new.  I know that for me, the only thing normal about my eating is that I will always be a food addict/compulsive overeater.  There is no cure.  I can only learn helpful things, tools, and means for keeping in recovery, even while accepting that I will never fully recover.

Today, this acceptance revealed an additional realization.  I’ve had it in my mind that when I get to goal weight, I’ll be fixed.  I won’t always have to do this, always be mindful, commit every day to working the program, and remain vigilant.  That is the worst kind of denial.  I can’t believe that I’ve continued to pretend otherwise for so long.

I get it. I don’t like it, but I get it.  There’s no time limit on the disease.

Mentally, I’ve known this for decades.  Today it feels like the rest of me is catching on, or at least catching up.

I have a lot of feelings about it.  I’m  a little glum in my acceptance, but at the same time pragmatic — it is what it is.  There’s resentment but I’m also ready to embrace it and keep moving forward.  While I haven’t worked through it to find the joy, I am catching a glimmer of grace in make these forward steps.

I’m grateful because, at the end of the day, I know that I can continue to recover.

 

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Talking to Myself

Throughout the day, I have a lot of conversations with myself about food, or more specifically, about my food choices.  I’m beginning to realize how often I talk myself into making bad choices.  It is obvious to me that in those mental conversations, I can influence my behavior either way.

Even when I’m doing well, as I have for the last several days, I still have the internal chats arise — usually when I’m stressed, short on time, something’s happened that’s made me cranky, I’m tired, etc.  All of the vulnerable times open up the conversation.  A few days ago, I told you about being face to plate with a large red velvet cake and withstanding the temptation.  Trust me, I went back and forth about it a few times, but the positive program choice prevailed.

Last night, I almost got thrown off course.  I’d decided in the morning that I was ready for some lean chicken as a protein for dinner and planned to get a cooked rotisserie chicken at the supermarket on the way home from work.  Thinking even further ahead, I also wanted to pick up some onions and more carrots so that on Sunday, I could use the chicken carcass and vegetables to make some stock.  I needed a couple of other things to get me through the weekend, too.

The best laid plans went a tad awry when I got to the store around 5:15 and discovered that the only prepared/cooked chickens left were either the barbecue or maple-bourbon varieties.  (Side note: While I love the maple-bourbon combo on, say, ribs, I think I would find it disgusting on poultry.  I’m not fond of barbecue sauce on chicken either.)  I asked the guys behind the counter about more chicken and discovered that it wouldn’t be ready for another 45 minutes.

Ack! I was already hungry for dinner.  I couldn’t wait that long at the store because I needed to get home and let Nat and Pyxi out in the yard.  I could have picked up the fried chicken tenders that were sitting there all ready, or some of the pre-cooked pork roast but, darn it, I’d planned!  I’d committed.  I’d gone so far as writing down my meal in the morning.

The chatter of my own mental process was considerable and annoying.  Finally I took a deep breath and let the calmer, sensible side of me take over.  I decided that staying with my plan was more important than a little inconvenience.  I drove home to let out the dogs, staved off the hunger with a couple of pieces of celery, and went back to the store a little later to get the chicken and other items that I wanted.

This morning, the plan was to go to Tai Chi class, come home for my mid-morning snack, and then go to the massage therapist for some body work.  Well, I was delayed leaving class and didn’t have time to go home for the snack.  I knew that I needed to eat and drink something before the massage or I’d be starving, and possibly light-headed, by the time we finished the session.

There are a lot of places to go and get something to eat between where I was and my destination.  Lots of places with lots of easy, but unhealthy choices.  In my mind chatter I considered numerous possibilities, all of them poor.  Then I remembered that I also had to pass the only Health Food store in town.  Instead of going to a convenience store for a chocolate bar or almost-as-bad-but-masquerading-as-healthy protein bar, I went to the health food store and got a raw, no-sugar added-veggie & fruit juice and a package of organic walnuts.  Even though they were not the foods that I’d previously planned for that morning snack, they were the best possible option given the circumstances.  So, I gave myself a pass and counted it as a win.  Yes, I had to have another talk with myself to get to that point, but it worked.

I hope this doesn’t make me sound all crazy.  I haven’t reached the point where I walk down the street and talk out loud, after all.  I don’t blurt things out verbally in public places.  Communicating with myself is part of my process, and it’s proven to be a useful tool when I use it to successfully stay on track.  Granted, there are times when the chat goes more along the lines of, “#*$& it, I need a cookie”, but the goal is to not give into those urges too often.

As of today, I’m on Day 6 of reclaiming my recovery and if I sometimes need to talk to myself to stay on track, I’ll use it like I will every other available tool.

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Healthy snack suggestion:  A lonnnng time ago, I talked about baking kale chips for a healthy, crunchy snack.  A few days ago, a friend shared on Facebook that she’d made her kale chips in the microwave. I just had to try doing this today.   You see, I love kale chips when they first come out of the oven.  Unfortunately, after they’ve been in an air-tight container a while, they tend to get a little chewy.  I decided that if the microwave technique worked, I would always be able to make snack-sized portions in a snap.

I am thrilled with the results and it was so easy.  Just take clean, dry kale (stems removed) and toss it in a little bit of olive oil and salt or other seasonings.  Spread it on a microwave-safe plate and put it in the microwave oven for 3-5 minutes, depending on the wattage of your appliance.  Mine took 4 1/2 minutes.  I checked them and retossed about half way through.  The finished chips were crisp and tasty!

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