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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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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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Vacation Plan

So, I’m going on my cruise.

Note to potential thieves: My house is protected by a friend who is staying here in my absence.

Cruises offer a lot of food.  Alllll day long and late into the night you can eat and eat and eat.  All I can think is that I’m so glad that I had weight loss surgery, otherwise I could easily eat myself to the dimensions and graphic results of that little girl in the Willie Wonka movie or Mr. Creosote in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life.   Still, temptation is every where and the food choices are pretty much all varied and delicious.

However, as we know, my recovery is not just about abstaining from quantity.  It requires abstaining from compulsively eating unplanned items or at unplanned times.  The key thing here is “plan” — as in I need one for cruise survival.  It’s vacation.  I want to enjoy the delicious prepared foods without then feeling swamped with gilt and other negative, destructive emotions.  I don’t want to feel emotionally deprived and sulky.  I also don’t want to be consumed by constantly obsessing about the whole thing.  I also don’t want to gain weight while I’m away.

Here is my plan.

  • Continue to follow my three-three eating plan – three small meals, three small snacks so that I eat every couple of hours.
  • Stay out of the buffet restaurant except when I’m there for the specific meal – usually breakfast and lunch.  Do not drop in and pick up a random couple of cookies just because I’m on that deck for another activity.
  • I do not need to eat a dinner roll.  I love bread and they always serve a basket of it on the table at dinner.  This is basically a junk carb for me.  Besides, it takes up room in my stomach that is better reserved for whatever yummy protein and vegetables will be on my entree plate.
  • If I really want dessert, I can have it after dinner.  Remind myself that just because it’s in front of me does not mean that I’m obligated to finish it all.
  • Maintain physical activity.  On the days at sea or when I have a later excursion time, I will get up and walk the deck and do the morning wellness program the ship offers.  I will not rely on the elevator but will take the steps – up and down – most of the time.
  • Stay hydrated.  Water is best.  Green tea is tasty.  Fluids in are important.
  • Remember that these are all positive actions that I choose to take; healthy changes that I choose to make.  This is not a diet.  I do not resent the way that I choose to eat in a healthy, appropriate, yet still delicious manner.

So, here goes.  I am not taking my computer with me and will not have phone access much while away.  I don’t think I’ll have any chance to post so I’ll catch up with everybody after I return.  Have a great week, everyone!

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Self-Doubt

I’m a little disappointed in my mindset over the last couple of days.  For some reason, self-doubts are creeping in every once in a while.

Self-doubt and low confidence in my abilities used to be regular visitors.  To be completely honest, they were ever-present — unwelcome squatters who staked out territory in my head and heart and were determined to get in my way.  No matter what my aim, objective or task, I had to find a way to work around these interlopers and their barriers.

After my first foray into therapy and OA, I gradually succeeded in evicting the trespassers.  In recent years, they’ve attempted to take up space again only on rare occasions.  So the fact that they’re coming around a little more frequently these days is not only inconvenient, but also a little worrisome.

I have a lot on my plate – figuratively speaking.  I’m super busy at work as well as with some extra-curricular responsibilities.  When I’m already in a time crunch, the last thing that I need is to have to take more time to boot out an unwelcome guest like self-doubt.

That whole “super busy” state may have something to do with it.  I feel a little overwhelmed.  I’m going on vacation soon, which is great.  I’m not going to be constantly connected to my email, phone and computer either.  That’s also great and unusual for me.  While I’m looking forward to “going off the grid”, it’s possible that it’s causing me a smidgeon of anxiety too.

There’s also a little chicken-or-the-egg conflict happening.  I’ve been a bit sloppy with my food plan and also not exercising at my accustomed level.  Those things could be opening the door to the reduced confidence and increased self-doubt, or they could be the result.

Whatever the case, I am not pleased.  I do not want to let the negative feelings chip away at the strong foundation I’ve worked so hard to build over the last three years.  Here’s one example.  On my upcoming trip, I have another opportunity to go zip lining.  If you were a blog reader here a couple of years ago, you may remember how zip lining in Hawaii was on my Promise List.  I absolutely LOVED the experience and took it on, believing I could handle the challenge.

Right now, I’m reading the adventure description and feeling a little unsure.  I’m questioning whether, physically, I’m up to the experience.  Quite simply, that’s b.s.  Of course I can.  Just because I’ve been a little off in my fitness routine doesn’t mean that my strength has dissolved.

I can do this.  Those pesky interlopers can only make me doubt my ability if I listen to them.

No matter what the challenge or goal, I have every tool.  Right now I’m pulling out a mental hammer and posting the “No Trespassing” sign.

Self-doubt, move along.  There’s no room for you here in my life.

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The Fear Remains

Will I ever lose my fear that small deviations screw up my food and fitness efforts?  Am I that wired into the mindset that perfection is the necessary goal and anything less equals failure?

I spent yesterday, a Sunday, doing things around the house.   Sunday, the daily exercise routines with the program call for the Yoga Fix.  Instead of Yoga, I did Tai Chi.  I also walked the dogs and cleaned the pool.  Between that and other things, I was still physically active.

I did not eat junk, but I didn’t eat on the same time schedule that I use weekdays when I’m at work.   As part of my dinner, I ate some potato.  It’s on my plan, but because, overall, the day felt a little wonky program-wise, I started emotionally obsessing over whether I’d “blown it”.

Once I start down that path, I really need to work to put on the brakes because my motivation and determination start to crumble under the pressure of negative thoughts.  Negative thoughts as in:

“You blew it again.”

“Yousuck.”

“Whybother? You already blew it.”

“Might as well go pig out on something.”

“Get a cupcake it won’t do any more damage since you already blew it.”

“You’re destined to fail.”

My diseased thinking is absolutely rotten to me.  If I heard someone talking to a friend like this, I’d give them a blistering talking to — a verbal bitch slap into next week.  Thankfully, I did not give in to its suggestions that I go pig out on cupcakes or something else that would have made the situation even worse.

Even so, I woke up all annoyed with myself, walked to the scale like a condemned prisoner doing the green mile, and saw that I’d lost another half a pound.

My disease-oriented brain was, once more, dead wrong.   I wasn’t perfect and rigid on my plan, but I didn’t damage myself.  This is not a case of a narrowly missed close call.  I was still healthy in my eating and didn’t overeat.  THAT’s the lesson I need to learn, the distinction I need to make.  Progress not perfection.   Healthy eating does not have to be rigid.  It just needs to be . . . healthy.

The perfection poison is destructive in the long run.  It effectively manipulates my emotions and my mindset.  Ultimately, it can undermine my effort instead of bolstering it and shoring up my foundations.  Today I’m focused on diffusing its power.

I’m going back to Booyah in my attitude.   Even though I’m still doing things around the house, I’ll stick to my eating schedule.  This will help me to avoid the negative thinking.  I have yummy, fresh food to enjoy and I will savor it.  I have some projects to do around the house and I’m looking forward to completing them.  I already took the dogs out for a walk and will do today’s cardio routine a little later this afternoon before I get ready to go to a friend’s house for a barbeque/birthday celebration.

I may not be perfect, but I won’t give into fear either.  I got this!

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Taking You to Funk-ytown

That title contains a little bit of a local joke. A little bit across the water from my house is a house on a point of land. The people that own it fixed up the outdoor area with a little dance floor and sound system. Quite often music drifts out over the harbor – classic rock, old country, their tastes are varied. They also like to occasionally pump up the jam with disco and other dance music to which they also often sing. If you can call the caterwauling singing. Seriously, it’s the worst karaoke ever to the point where it’s laughable if you have a sense of humor or reason to call the deputies and invoke the late night noise ordinance if your ears can’t take it. The woman is particularly fond of shrieking along to, “Won’t you take me to Funkytown?” That was never the most melodious tune and it’s nine-fighting-cats-in-heat bad when she takes the microphone.

My Funk-ytown is different as in, I’m in a funk and have been for days. I thought I would be finished with just a one day buzz crash, but emotionally, physically, and food-wise, I’ve had a rough week. Put all three of those aspects on a downturn at the same time and they feed each other, which only makes me feel worse. Then it wipes me out so that I not only feel bad, I’m exhausted. Last night I was so tired that I fell asleep in my chair sometime after 9 p.m., woke up as Scandal was starting and was so muzzy-brained that I just turned off the television and crawled into bed. I woke up a couple of times in the night but fell right back asleep. Even with enough hours of sleep time logged, when my alarm went off at 6 a.m., I absolutely did not want to get up and go for a walk or bike ride. So I didn’t. I watched the DVR recording of Scandal instead. To digress a moment, if you’re a fan of the show like I am, allow me to virtually shriek, “OMG!! Cyrus is soulless!”

Anyway, there’s tiredness where I don’t feel like I can get enough sleep. Sluggishness from not exercising. Add in stress over a situation at work. Mix in some extra achyness — probably from being tired and holding onto stress. It all has the effect of stirring up my hunger. Big time. Around lunch, I was absolutely ravenous.

That alone is very strange. I usually only feel hungry when it’s appropriate for me to feel so, as in enough hours have passed since I ate something that the right amount of hunger signals me that it’s time for me to eat. Ever since my surgery, I don’t really feel severe hunger and certainly never the, “I could eat a small pony” degree.

This tells me that the, “Oh my goodness, I am STARVING” experience wasn’t physical hunger — at least not all of it. I think it was a bit of actual hunger dramatically magnified by my emotions. I then fed the anxiousness with lots of negative emotions and thoughts. Things like, “You’re eating off plan and you deliberately didn’t exercise. OMG, you’re relapsing. Your motivation is gone. You’re going to gain back all of your weight!!!!”

I don’t 100% know for sure what’s going on with me that I’m having all this emotional reaction and eating. What I’m trying to do to combat is to be aware of what I’m feeling and experiencing and sort out the truth from the disease thinking and acting. I remind myself that there are bound to be highs and lows on this journey. I don’t need to be perfect all of the time. I just need to strive for doing as best I can. I need to observe what’s going on around me, understand how it affects me and how often I let it affect my choices and behavior. Above all, I need to tell myself that this is a setback, not a road block. It’s a challenging time but it isn’t going to wreck me and screw up all of the fabulous progress I’ve made and success I’ve achieved.

I might visit Funkytown, but I’m not going to take up residence.

There’s probably more I can write on this topic and, certainly, more to explore. Unfortunately, no lie, I nodded off while typing a few sentences back. The sleepiness is upon me again so it’s time for me to listen to my brain and body and go to bed.

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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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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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Road Tripping

I took a road trip this weekend. I love baseball and spring training is underway. A lot of pro teams, including my Phillies, train on the west coast of Florida. Every year I’ve thought about going but never have.

This year I found a date, bought a ticket, and made the plan. The drive takes about 6 hours but with nice weather and good tunes, I didn’t mind.

Even long drives are more physically comfortable with my weight loss. I can sit with greater ease for longer periods of time. At my heaviest I think the sheer weight of so many extra pounds wore on my body internally. I know that my legs would sometimes tingle so somewhere inside the circulation was impacted. The small of my back would begin to ache.

Not so these days. I still make sure to stop once or twice and walk around a little. Overall I’m simply more comfortable than ever before.

I was good with my food in the trip, too, and didn’t indulge in crap. Got a chuckle at dinner. I stopped in a burger and brew restaurant. The burger was excellent and I ignored the roll. The servers had tee shirts on that read, “I’d be a vegetarian if bacon cheeseburgers grew on trees.” Yes, I’m a carnivorous omnivore. I laughed.

When I got to the hotel I decided that my body would thank me if I exercised after the drive. I changed into work out clothes and went to the fitness room for treadmill time.

I know it’s weird but I watched Diners, Drive Ins and Dives while I walked. Nothing like walking to burn calories while watching people eat loaded plates of delicious, if not always healthy food. 🙂

I persevered for an energetic 45 minutes and felt pretty pleased with myself for putting out the effort.

This morning I slept a little late for me and then turned on the tv. The morning news was airing a live shot of friends and former coworkers of mine who are sea lion trainers. Even though I knew this, I didn’t connect that we’d sort of be close to each other.

My baseball game wasn’t until 1 so I asked at the desk how long it would take for me to get to their park. It turned out to be closer than I thought so off I went to surprise them.

Friends, it isn’t everyday you get to log your first 5000 steps in a day walking around a zoo! What fun. It was also great to see my friends doing well with their new venture.

After that I took off for the game. Beautiful afternoon for baseball, made even better by a win by my team.

Whenever I leave the Keys I do a little shopping. There are simply too few stores in the Keys for some of the things I prefer so going off the rock is an opportunity not to be wasted. I found a great mall with every store I’d hoped to find. In between Sephora, Soma, Crocs and Bath and Body Works I also took time for dinner before calling it quits.

When I got back to my hotel I felt like I’d enjoyed a full, fun and active day. However, I didn’t feel like I’d adequately exercised. Sure I’d topped 11,000 steps but my body didn’t feel worked. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to visit the treadmill again. Now, after 30 minutes, I am happier about my day’s fitness effort.

I’m chilling in a chair while I type this on my phone. Tomorrow, I head back home. I’m going to leave early enough to stop at the beautiful, long Skyway bridge. I’ve never gone there except to drive over it but I know there are walking/fishing expanses. Might as well take advantage of it for my morning walk, don’t you agree?

I’m going to try to upload a few pictures. Hopefully it will work from the phone.

Hope you’re all having a great weekend!

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