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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Compulsion Grip

I wish I could come here today and say that I’ve missed blogging for a few days because I’ve been super busy, but that would be a lie. I’ve been avoiding blogging for several reasons, none of which are good. I’m weary in my spirit, in turmoil with my emotions, and locked in the grip of compulsive eating. Unfortunately, when I eat compulsively, I don’t choose celery or lettuce. Instead, I’ve been diving into chocolate, but if chocolate isn’t available, I find other stuff to eat. And eat. And eat some more of. Although the compulsion occurs with small servings, it’s all relative and even small bites can add up to damage when they occur over time.

A couple of days before I left for my recent trip, I went through a bad, emotional time, centered around one of my community involvements. My service with this particular organization had been weighing heavily on me for sometime. I increasingly felt more stress and anxiety and I’d lost my passion and energy for it. No fault of the organization. It’s great and fills an important need. This was all on me. However, I firmly believe that when this happens, it’s time to step away not only for my own good but, ultimately, for that of the organization. Things kind of came to a head the night before my trip and I woke up knowing that I needed to make the break, so I did. While surprised, most of my colleagues wrote understanding, supportive emails. Unfortunately, one friend was/is very upset and angry with me. She expressed hurt over my lack of trust that I didn’t come to her first and discuss it with her. Emotions ran high with both of us and, in short, it got very messy. Unfortunately, I believe our friendship is a casualty in my decision to do something that was meant to be a health choice for me.

That’s the background. I’m working my way through the emotions, but here’s the thing about a compulsive eating disease. Once I engage in the behavior and fall into relapse, it’s really difficult to put on the brakes. I’ve talked about that before and don’t want to engage in whining, but it’s my statement of fact today. I imagine it’s not all that different than an alcoholic who falls off of the wagon. Once in the grip of compulsion, the compulsion rules.

Even if mentally I tell myself to not start or, if started, to stop . . . even if I have the best intention, when my disease takes hold, the physical act of eating overrides everything else. I have to say that it really, truly sucks.

So right now, in addition to feeling all of the residual emotional upset from the situation I was in, I have piled on the dismay, disgust, depression and dis-ease of being in the compulsion. Oh, and there’s also the physical discomfort of eating undesirable food in less-than-healthy amounts. One small chocolate as a treat isn’t bad. Eating a series of them, even stretched out over hours, results in queasiness.

I would like nothing more than to curl up in my bed, under the covers, and cry for an hour or two.

Instead, I’m here in front of the computer screen, sharing my status regardless of how pitiful it makes me appear. I’m fighting the “stinking thinking” that tells me I’ve blown it. I’ve blown everything. I’m never going to be able to stop eating and will gain all of my weight back, cripple myself and die early.

Yes, my “stinking thinking” can be incredibly dramatic. So, I blog and remind myself that relapse does not have to be forever. I’ve gone through some messed-up days, veered far from my appropriate food plan, and not attended to my regular exercise routine, BUT and, yes, that deserves to be a big BUT, a few messed-up days do not mean my entire effort is blown. I am not doomed.

I may not be able to change how my friend feels about my choices. I can, however, break out of the grip of compulsion and stop the relapse behavior. I can build acceptance and find serenity. I can treat myself with compassion, practice good self-care, undo whatever weight gain damage I’ve done, and move on.

I just caught myself thinking, “Oh Jesus, Mary. You’re writing about this again?? These people don’t want to read about this same problem, same old struggle another time.” Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. The point is that this is my journey and the blog is a tool to help me along the way. The eating disorder, the damned compulsive disease, is always part of me. There are always going to be times when I struggle to stay on track, and there will be times when I fall off. Not blogging about it, not forcing myself to confront and think about my issues and actions, doesn’t help. In fact, not blogging helps me creep into the denial stage. It does me no good to ignore what I’m doing. In fact, ignoring is the worst thing that I can do.

So I’m not. I’m not going to cower under the covers and cry either.

Onward and upward.

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Good New Days

The good news about tough times is that they don’t have to continue forever. Each day is an opportunity to do better than the day before, to make healthier choices, to reframe our mindset, and rebalance our emotions. It’s another chance to reconnect spiritually with whomever or whatever we decide is our Higher Power.

Today wasn’t perfect for me, but it was so much better than the last week. I’m relieved and, trust me, when i went to bed last night I anticipated a complete suckfest. As tired as I was, I could not shut off the mind chatter. Situations, worries, and drama kept repeating in my head. I believe that’s what psychiatrists call “inefficient worrying”. Whatever the name, I experienced it to the point where it took two hours and a change of scenery for me to go to sleep.

Change of scenery sounds weird, but sometimes when I can’t fall asleep in my bed I get up and go out in the living room to my recliner. For some reason, when I do that I can then drop off. My sleep in the chair usually only lasts for an hour to an hour and a half, but when I sort of wake up and return to my bed, I immediately fall asleep again and go through until morning.

Despite only getting about five hours of sleep, my mind was clear when my alarm went off. I spent some time connecting with my spirit. I said the Serenity Prayer. I mused on the things that I need to disconnect from and let go, then made the conscious choice to turn them over. With a calm mindset and a serene spirit, I actually experienced some good energy — like I’d relieved myself of things dragging at me. So I went out, jumped on my bike, and rode eight miles before breakfast. I rode to the beach and had the pleasure of seeing bright brush strokes of lavender, rose, and gold sweep across the sky. It was glorious.

The positive state of being remained throughout the work day and when I got home. Situations that last week threw me completely off of my game, today rolled off me without causing me difficulty. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that my food and eating through the day were also on point. I feel off some tonight and that’s my bad. I didn’t make my house “clean”, meaning I still had some junk food around

That’s one of the worse aspects of being a compulsive eater. I don’t have to be in a poor state in order to eat off plan. Sometimes I eat compulsively just because the food’s present. Anyway, it’s gone now. With my new found balance and positive, healthy attitude, I can withstand bringing any of it back into the house. that will help pad the likelihood of stacking up some successful days.

My takeaway reminder lesson from all this is to remember that no matter how far off I slip, it is always possible to climb back up, shore up my defenses, and reconnect with what I need to do in order to not only survive but thrive. I will never lose hope.

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The Shortest Distance

We all know the truism that the shortest distance between two points is the length of a straight line between them. I find this to be logical, practical and also a calming approach to more than just traveling distances. In fact, I’m embracing it in my attitude toward a stress-inducing situation at work. I was asked to coordinate a project that involves collecting information and articles from a whole bunch of other people, proofing/editing them, and getting to a designer for layout in a very short amount of time.

The clock is ticking on our deadline. While I have some of the material, I’m still waiting for a number of articles from various other people who are scattered around the country. These people don’t work for me. They don’t work for the organization that’s producing the report. They volunteer for committees for that organization. It’s not like I can crack a whip on them to get the material written, finished and submitted. So, there is a lot about this project over which I have no control and no power.

Enter the Serenity Prayer — Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. Every time I start to get tense, fretful and stressed over what material is still outstanding, I’m trying to step back, breathe and stay calm.

Some of the material comes to me in rough form, or in forms that I can’t use verbatim because the items are too long. Now, I could send it back to the writers and say, “That’s great, but could you cut it down, please?” However, mindful of that deadline, I decided to enact step two from the Serenity Prayer and incorporate the shortest distance-straight line approach. I find the courage (and the will) to change what I can, and take the shortest path to accomplishing what I need. In other words, I extrapolate information, shape it into the length we can use, and send it back to the writer with a nice, “This is great information. We needed it a little shorter. Is this okay?” message. I’m respectful of their original material and, let’s be honest, I’m saving them extra work to boot.

Judging from the response, this approach is working. I feel that I’ve struck a good balance. The extra work for me is offset by the reduced time needed to end up with a useable piece. This means less stress overall. It’s a win.

As I write this, it occurs to me that the Serenity Prayer is pretty linear and matter-of-fact. Accept what you can’t change; change what you can; be wise enough to discern the difference. This all serves to clear out the mind clutter. I don’t have time to worry. I just need to get the project done to the best of my ability. I also don’t have either the time nor the inclination to doubt that ability. Self-confidence is not the issue although that could get undermined by stress if I allow it to happen. I’m not. I’m just staying on the straight, A to B path from project inception to project completion. No detours.

Since I’m doing such a good job of not letting stress block the road, I’m also having good food days. This means that my recovery is also on that straight direct path.

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The Ability to Change

Sorry to have been absent for a few days. I’ve been super busy at work and after. It’s all good, just busy. How are you?

Yesterday, we welcomed the Wounded Warrior Project where more than 50 soldiers who are recovering and/or coping with often life-altering injuries enjoyed a complimentary dolphin swim. My heart is full of joy and awe after seeing these men and women leave their “mind chatter” on land and enter the moment of fun and laughter in the water with the amazing dolphins.

It really makes me think. Sure, I have an eating disorder. I struggle with food issues and weight loss. These are a big deal — to me. I’m not belittling myself or comparing myself and coming up short. I’m just thinking about the impact that I’ve let these things have on my life when they were always within my ability to change.

I think back to the Serenity Prayer. God, please grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Those soldiers who have been injured during their military service can’t change that they’ve lost limbs, or are paralyzed. They can’t ignore their traumatic brain injuries or other impacts of battle and injury. However, having suffered these injuries and conditions, they can choose to move forward, make the adjustments, learn how to live their best quality lives in spite of the challenges.

Learning to walk on prosthetics must be physically daunting. I can’t even begin to imagine. I do know, in my heart, that it has to be a whole lot easier for me to not pick up that food item that isn’t on my plan or to get up and exercise even when I don’t feel like it.

On any given day at any given moment, I have the ability to change. Today I choose to focus on the inspiration I received from the WWP Soldier Ride participants and make the choice to change whenever the choice is present.

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