Thursday, January 30, 2014

Crazy Day

I have been doing good, despite being incredibly busy!  Work has been non-stop madness, my kids are taking HOURS to do their homework, and by the time my kids are ready for bed I am DRAINED.  Yesterday I did some cardio, just 20 minutes, split between the bike, elliptical and treadmill.  I like the bike because I can tell it is hitting some of the muscle groups that I need to strengthen, but my muscles tire after about ten minutes.  I will work my way up to more time.  I've never been able to be comfortable on an elliptical, the stride is too long for my short legs, and before my surgery I tried it a few times and it KILLED my knee.  But I wanted to give it a shot to see if it helped my hip.  It felt OK for about five minutes, then my knee started hurting so I hit the treadmill.  It felt good to be on it again, and it brought back good memories.  I walked backwards and sideways for a while and I was actually having fun- so much that I wished I would've gotten up earlier so I could have stayed longer.  I was doing homework with my kids for 4 hours last night, and by the end of it, my throat was getting sore and swollen and my nose stuffy.  Boo.  So, needless to say, I didn't get up to workout this morning.  I did do a little stretching, and I used my new foam roller I got last night.  It feels like a deep tissue massage, which actually hurts.  But I'm thinking that might be helpful.  
My hip was so out of whack today, really stuff/stuck, snapping and grinding like crazy.  It makes me feel like I have to take really short steps and that it will give out on me at any time.  Then tonight as I was walking to my car after work, a fresh layer of snow was covering the cement, and for some reason my company put some really slippery sealant on the cement so if you just look at it wrong you slip.  I slipped twice, not going down, but needing to stabilize myself on my stretched-too-far hip.  Sharp pains shot up my leg and I felt like my quad muscle was going to tear.  I made it to my car, limping like a cripple, and when I got inside I cried out of frustration and pain and stress.  The roads were so slippery and dangerous, I was sliding all over.  The whole time I was driving home, cursing the roads/snow I was very aware of how my stress level was making me want to self-soothe with food.  That's a big step, just realizing what was happening helped me not react to it.  My mind quickly shifted to healthy, warm meals I could make instead.  In the end, even after one last slip in my driveway, I didn't even eat when I got home, I fought with the kids about homework until they succumbed and slowly got through it.  Then I ate a sensible meal and took a hot bath.  I kept noticing my face was scrunched up in a scowl while I was in the most relaxing place within my world.  I could feel the strain in my glute/back from slipping.  Not sure if it's worth reporting, as I can't see this needing any medical attention.  
Anyway, that was my whacky day.  Kind if stressful, but I had a small victory and resisted drowning my stress in fat and sugar-laden trash.  I'm also doing good cutting back on caffeine, which is positive.  
Hoping tomorrow is a little less crazy!  I am happy tomorrow is Friday!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Fortune Cookies and Nostalgia

I can't believe how many muscle groups are sore from my micro workout yesterday!  It is amazing how little it takes to make me sore these days!  
I did a lot of stretching at work yesterday, about 2 hours worth, and really opened up some things that have been stiff for months, if not years.  By mid-morning I was walking with much more ease, less hip popping and even felt like I could breathe better.  I'm convinced; stretching is an absolute necessity for me.  My Lower back was so tight, when I finally got deep enough into the area, I heard a clunk so loud I though the people in the next office might hear me.  I think my lower back, combined with weakness in my core, is causing a lot of my hip tracking issues.  I was limping pretty crazy on it this morning, despite doing some light stretching.  I will get a bunch more loosening done today.  It feels so good; makes me feel younger.  
My boys are both sick with head colds, and I am desperately hoping it's not flu, which is running rampant around here.  I have been battling a sore throat/inner ear thing for about a week.  I have been pretty lucky in the last few years, despite my decline in some areas, I haven't been sick too often or too long.  At any rate, I slept-in a little instead of doing cardio or a lengthy stretch session this morning.  I still feel a little run down; light cardio has been shown to bolster the immune system, perhaps I'll get in a little treadmill time tonight.
Today I plan to get a little research done on how to strengthen my VMO muscles, the ones that support the knee and help it align properly, so that squats will eventually not feel like someone is sticking a hot knife into my knee.  I am also learning about a muscle called PSOAS that, if weak, can lead to weak/painful hips.  I'm guessing that yoga will strengthen all of these and many many more muscles. I need to learn more about these moves.  Is it just me, or is yoga everywhere right now?  My kids' babysitter goes to hot yoga two nights a week, my husband owns volumes of books on Egyptian yoga and does it every night, and two new yoga studios have recently opened up in my small city. All these people must be onto something!  
I feel really positive about being on a good path.  Last night's emotional breakthrough was necessary.  I've never gone so far beneath the surface as I have since reading Its not About Food.  These are really valuable, healing lessons; I'm learning how to take care of myself instead of seeking numbness.  My lesson last night was about nostalgia.  Sometimes if a person or memory comes back again and again, it is trying to tell you something much deeper than the image on the surface.  I was craving attention, love, acceptance and approval but didn't realize that whether or not this person or that one gave it to me, I'd still be seeking it from the only one that matters; me.  Nostalgia is a funny thing, it feels so real, and sometimes it stings, but there is a valuable lesson wrapped up in it.  It's like life's fortune cookie, just waiting for you to crack it wide enough to read the message inside.  And I've got a lot of cookies to crack!
Happy Tuesday!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Say Something

A few weeks ago someone posted this video on Facebook .  It was the first time I'd heard the song and I agreed with his comment that this was "an emotional" video.  When I watched, I was fully absorbed by the story being told.  After hearing it for a few weeks now, it had been fading into just another song in the background as I tend to more important things in my overstuffed life.  But tonight as I drove home from work I turned the radio on for no reason in particular (I usually prefer quiet after work) and this song came on.  Then I had one of those moments when the sobering reality of my routine slips away and I am strikingly back in that place where I was so crushed over the one who got away.  The one who I would've done anything for.  My connection to him was twistedly close in an unspoken way yet so fragile and frightened that neither one of us was brave enough to take a step into the risk.  We spent time then withdrew until one of us had the self-esteem to dial the other up and ask if we should get together and chat over tea until the wee hours of the morning.  Ours is a story of missed chances that somehow must not have been meant to be.  He is the one who posted this, and in my lost few moments I felt that pain of those lyrics: say something, I'm giving up on you.  I had been there feeling that a million times with him, never imagining that maybe he was feeling the same.  I was the one who left the situation, moved away, met the man I eventually married, moved cross-country and started a family.  And he married too, and we don't really talk, and I don't know if he even wants to.  But for those few moments of escape I imagined him feeling this way, waiting for me to be brave and show him how I felt instead of hiding behind my pen all the time, relying on undivided attention and smile to say what I couldn't.  Maybe there were times he was as tortured by our silence as I was.  
After I got home, this song was lodged in my head and I felt with full force how hard I would've cried to that song if it'd been released all those years ago, but as I imagined myself crying, my face twisted in pain, I looked at myself in the mirror.  Not my body, not my fat, but my SELF in the mirror, and through tears and strained voice I said I love you to my reflection and my tears turned from self-torture to joy of hearing those words I have been wanting to hear from everyone else, and discovering that there was only one person who could say this to me and make all the needless suffering go away.  I love the broken little child inside of me.  I love me even when it feels like no one else does.  I love that fragile person who just wants approval and to please and to belong.  In the end, it wasn't me or him who gave up on each other; none of it is significant.  The lesson I learned from loving him was just how little I thought of myself.  And now, it is another dark place where light is seeping in.  He didn't neglect to love me, I did.  I gave up on me.  And now I'm taking that power back.  Memories and nostalgia can only burn you if you don't see the real lesson life is trying to teach you.  Until you look into yourself, you can't hear the screaming.

Sun Day

This is a bit of a new day for me.  I got up early, did some stretching and them did one set of a circuit training plan I found in Oxygen magazine.  It's only five, multi-joint moves (think side lunge combined with biceps curl, etc) and I only did one set due to my lack of strength.  But everyone has to start somewhere right? I am challenging myself to get up earlier to do either this circuit and stretching, just yoga or cardio and stretching/yoga.  I am also going to challenge myself not to measure or weigh except on the first if the month.  While I can't say this isn't going to improve how I feel about how I look, I am really concerned with how inflexible and weak I am, and how quickly that happened.  And because I'm weak, I am using the wrong muscles/tendons to do things and it's causing swelling, pain and partial dislocation of joints.  I don't want to feel this weak, old and feeble.  
The squats killed my knee, even though I did them pliĆ© (feet wider than shoulder width, toes slightly turned out).  It bothered me about the same amount as my physical therapy, weird shock/funny bone type feeling in it.  I'm not sure my form is right, not sure I'm strong enough for it to be.  It is something I will be focusing on.  I need to strengthen those my lower body, there is very little in life that you don't use it for.  One thing that is tough is, when you have a lot of fat around your middle, some of the stretches/poses that could help loosen certain areas (like hips, which a lot of overweight people have issues with) are tough to do without suffocating on my own fat middle.  I find it a little humorous and will keep fighting through it.  
I feel really good about trying to fix my health issues.  It feels like the sun just came up and I am basking in it with a quiet smile on my face.
Happy Monday!  I hope the sun is shining where you are!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Quick inspiration

Better than Donuts

My college classes start back up tomorrow, and I am glad that I took some time during my break to delve into issues I have been facing my whole life, and that have led to my weight issues.  My school schedule, piled on top of an already-really-busy life, is often the straw that breaks the camel's back for me.  I blame a lot of my stress and comfort eating on school, but the truth is, when I'm not in school I still eat junk, but I have a slightly lower stress level.  Its hard to determine where the habits end, the comfort eating takes over, and real hunger comes in, but I'm glad I am starting to be able to sort some of these things out.  Even though I only read 3 books about compulsive/mindless/emotional eating and weight, I have picked up some really valuable tools.  I found the book Its Not About Food the most useful in my situation, because so often I find myself eating when I am not hungry, and while the other books addressed emotional eating on a surface-level, Its Not About Food traces it back to its beginning, to where we learned our value about ourselves (whether it was real or assumed) and why we react emotionally to these deeply embedded cues, and that eating is a way of coping with something that we don't know how else to cope with.  And it's not just food we use, but drugs, legal and not.  I remember clearly the first time I took a sinus medicine while at work, years ago.  I was working with a man I was crushing HARD on, and had a huge sinus headache.  I took an over the counter sinus relief med.  An hour later I was flying high!  I flew around the place like Super Woman, getting job after job done, my mood was at it's blissful peak.  I abused sinus meds for a long time after that, not realizing that it was a way of coping with things I didn't want to deal with.  I do have sinus issues, and I eventually switched to caffeine to fill the gap, but it was an early coping technique that I didn't realize until reading the book.  Caffeine, alcohol, food; they have all been ways of coping for me, in avoiding what I don't want to deal with.  The alcohol fell off my list when I started having kids, and after, it made my stomach feel bad.  And the caffeine has its limits; with my blood pressure rising again I have to watch my intake, and with my hormones making an unfortunate switch toward menopause, I don't sleep well so now I have to be even more careful.  So that leaves food.  Sweet, cozy food.  It's legal, readily available almost everywhere, and PLEASURABLE.  Who doesn't love food?  Not being restricted of any certain foods feels like love, doesn't it?  Sure, there is guilt after you eat something you don't feel you should have, but for those few minutes, it feels like bliss.  And eating foods that are deemed 'good'?  Bittersweet.  And, depends on my mood.  If I am thinking of my health, eating healthy makes me feel powerful, if I am focused on my emotions, eating healthy feels like deprivation.
One of the lessons of Its Not About Food is to love yourself the way you are.  This is meant literally, that you should learn to appreciate the fat that is hanging off of you, for being there for you/protecting you when you felt you had no other way of coping with a situation.  It asks you to take the emotional charge and self-slamming you do when you don't like what you see in the mirror.  Asking you to not react emotionally to what you look like is a huge request.  I am not there yet.  But I have learned to not react to the number I am seeing on the scale (193 today), and simply accept it as 'where I am right now'.  But I am also learning that loving myself is more than just not freaking out about the scale.  It is about realizing that I, and my needs, are just as important as everyone else's, and I don't have to cater to everyone else.  This was another aha moment I had reading the book.  It isn't just me, it wasn't entirely in my upbringing that I let myself feel that, because I am fat, I am always in the way, and I need to make myself useful to others, even at my own expense.  It comes from feeling unworthy of having what others do.
But I am starting to change that up a little.  Friday was a day when several different stressors came to a head in my world.  My boss's horrible lack of communication had me wondering if my request to come in a few minutes late (so I could go get my books for school) was granted or not, the roads were slippery (which causes me HUGE anxiety), my kids were starting on a new bus and we were not ready in time, and I was supposed to drive to my dad's house after work that night, 90-some miles away with horrible roads, in the dark, with winds blowing so hard it was causing white-out conditions.  By the time I got the kids on the bus, I decided I was going to go ahead and get my books and be late to work.  It was my boss's inadequacies that led me to not know what was going on.  The wind was so harsh (-12 degrees with windchill) that it felt like needles in my face, and as I walked the 1/4 mile to the bookstore, I swore under my breath, fuck them all, I'm doing ME.  I got my books and rushed to work on icy roads, arriving only 5 minutes late. Then I realized that my boss had sent me a message to my work email, hours after we closed for the day, and knowing I couldn't get it until the following day when I'd already asked to come in late.  Anyway, she was off, so if she is mad about me going without approval, she will have to write me up.  It was only an issue because I switched shifts with my coworker and will have to work a 10 1/2 hour shift on Monday.  Later that day, I cancelled going to my dad's.  It was his 60th birthday and while I would have loved to surprise him and be there to help celebrate it, I wasn't feeling well (sore throat-turned itchy, stuffy inner ear) and I couldn't fathom taking to wicked roads with white-out snow conditions and deer running.  I was a little irritated that they didn't understand me not wanting to put my family at risk.  Anyway, I cancelled and a huge weight lifted off me.  My family had a relaxing Friday night that included thin crust, cheese-less veggie pizza, and some frozen custard that I bought impulsively while driving my son to a sleepover.  It made my throat feel better, and also calmed my nerves a little.  I was feeling really guilty for not going to my dad's birthday dinner.  I still have a lot of work to do around guilt.
Saturday was grocery day.  It's not my favorite thing to do, but somewhere along the line it got put on my plate and now it's just habitual.  Part of my habit is really unhealthy.  Back when I used to shop at Walmart, before I was more conscious of GMOs and pesticides, when I was already starting to go off the rails a bit, I would get a little "reward" to eat before bringing the groceries home.  Sometimes it would be a healthy drink or a protein bar I didn't need, but a lot of times it was something even less productive, like an entire box of granola bars or breakfast pastries.  When I switched grocery stores, somehow my habit switched to eating something on the way to the grocery.  Sometimes it was an energy drink, one time it was McDonald's, and many times it was a donut.  I haven't been doing that the past month or so, but for some reason, I did it yesterday, two donuts and an energy drink.  I was completely aware of the absurdity when the cashier was trying to talk me into getting another energy drink because they were on a good 2-for sale.  "I'm trying to cut back" I explained.  Then I picked my two, heavily-frosted donuts off the counter and headed to buy a fortune's worth of fresh, organic, GMO-free groceries.  Since I have been trying to figure out WHY I am eating junk, I put a little thought into it and came up with: habit combined with thoughts of starting fresh and not doing this anymore.
At the store, I found my body CRAVING veggies.  I bought broccoli, kale, carrots, mushrooms and tomatoes with no real menu plan, I was just listening to what  my body was asking for.  My grocery just more than doubled their natural/vegan/organic foods and I had so so many new interesting choices, I felt like a kid in a candy store!  Normally on Saturdays we would have homemade guacamole and chips, but the avocados were not ripe, so I made a huge platter of cut veggies with some vegan ranch dressing I'd found.  My family devoured the healthy snack and I felt like Super Mom.  And the best part was, I didn't spend my entire night in the kitchen trying a new recipe, so I had some free time to enjoy myself and relax.  I don't get/do/demand enough of that.  I was very aware of how much my body was craving the broccoli, to an unnatural point, considering I don't particularly like broccoli.  I ate it like it was candy.
My body is protesting my current situation.  My joints ache from having to haul all this extra weight around.  It makes me feel prematurely old.  I know I will feel better if I get nutrients from my food, and start to move.  I did a long session of stretching and yoga for my lower body yesterday because all the running in the cold air has given me a huge knot in my glute and is making my hip feel bad.  I can fix my health issues.  I am not as old as I feel.  While the yoga didn't take the knot out, it made my lower body buzz, and I felt a warmth that was more comforting than donuts. This is something I know I need to do, strengthen my body and make sure I can maintain some flexibility.  Yoga feels good.  I am going to challenge myself to get up early to do some most days of the week.  Once I strengthen my lower body and have less joint pain, I'll be able to step up the cardio.  I'm in the right place for this right now, I can tell by how positive I feel when I think of taking care of myself.  I AM important.  I DO deserve this.  I don't like feeling old, fragile, giggly and stiff.
This week, I am going to finally give up those damn energy drinks!   I don't need them, they don't do anything for me, and they have horrible things in them.  It is a positive change I can make.
My other commitment to myself is to continue to go inside; to go further than the emotion to see what is really going on; to ask for what I need, what I feel is not fulfilled.
I am confident that I will figure this out.  And at long last, I am in a place of wanting it.  Maybe the true freedom comes in letting go of things that haven't worked and accepting new ways to change you and help you grow.  I am not embarking on a diet, but in a self-exploration of emotions and food and health.  And now, a deep breath as I move forward.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Backing Up the Fun Bus

Last week had me reluctantly seeing my doctor for a strange bump on my finger. I say reluctantly because I was supposed to have my cholesterol tested last month and I didn't.  I procrastinated, hoping I'd get myself back on track enough to fix my bad cholesterol.  And I knew my blood pressure would be higher than I wanted it to be.  But I stupidly tried to self-treat the bump on my finger with wart removal strips and what it did to my skin made the nurse cringe.  You have to do some real good handy work to make a nurse cringe.  Anyway, my blood pressure was high, 130/89 and I was waiting for the lecture, but my doc simply bumped up my vitamin D3 dosage, told me to cut back on caffeine, and get some exercise.  After what could have been a really uncomfortable visit, I should have been relieved I didn't get scolded.  But I was disappointed that I'd have to cut down on caffeine.  Incidentally, I had run out of caffeine pills a few weeks ago and kept forgetting to get some, and last week I finally got some again, and WOW did I feel PHENOMENAL!  My mood and energy were so high, it felt like an internal springtime.  So hearing that I'd have to cut down was a true bummer.  But, I came to terms with the idea, compromising with myself that I could just have my dose in the morning and then stop having energy drinks besides.  I'm ok with that.  I've cut way down from what I used to intake, but I've been wanting to ditch the energy drinks anyway, they have carcinogen additives in them.  Nothing like begging for cancer!  I realized after all my fussing over it, that I would likely be able to keep my current consumption up if I took better care of my heart.  It'll all work out.
Yesterday I took a day off and my kids had off too.  As we were driving around my younger son said that he'd just had a really bad thought about what it would be like if I died and it was just him, his brother and my husband left.  He has these types of thoughts often and because he is really attached to me, he gets upset.  I assured him that I'm always careful and avoid dangerous situations, but I don't know if that comforted him much.  Even though he's autistic, he's nearly nine years, and he knows about healthy food and fat and such.  He has been making comments about his own body, feeling like he's fat, and I assured him that his body needs a little extra of that to be able to turn into a man.  I also told him that he is gorgeous and smart and so very loved no matter what he looks like.  I also used my husband as an example.  Being a bodybuilder and fitness model, his body has been every size from really skinny to muscle overload, and I told my son that my live for his daddy doesn't change simply because he has more or less muscle.  He seemed ok with it after our talk.  After the book I just read, I am much more aware of how my own body image issues can be so easily passed down and it is a to torture I don't want to gift my sons.  They will have enough challenges to their self esteem.
Sunday afternoon my younger son begged to get out of the house.  He wanted to go to the zoo but it was late afternoon and would be closing soon. So he asked to go to the woods and just run around.  It ended up being just him and me, and we walked and talked and ran and ran and RAN!  I LOATHE snow, but I did it for him and he thanked me a million times and we had a fantastic time DESPITE the snow.  It felt good to run.  My knee bothered me a little during and the next day, but my heart appreciated the warm up.
I had good intentions to get up earlier to workout, but when my alarm went off, I got up and realized I didn't have anything prepared.  I could have gone out of my room and got my caffeine, deoderant and headphones, but for some stupid reason I didn't want my husband to know I was working out.  I think I'm so afraid that he'll get his hopes up and I'll disappoint him that I'd rather he not even know.  I am learning some assertive changes that I need to make where he's concerned.  He doesn't comment on what I'm eating very often but I have learned that in order to take the judgment and guilt out of what I'm eating, even if it's not a healthy choice, I need to tell him that my food consumption is not open for conversation.  I am teaching my kids an aweful thing to eat junky food when Dad's not around so we don't have to feel guilty or judged.  That is only causing more head issues around food for me.  I can't allow my food choices to be dictated by how impressed or disappointed my husband would be if he knew.  
It's evident that I have work to do, but I am feeling stronger,psychologically, than I have in years!  I have made good food choices today and even talked myself out of comfort eating this morning when my son had an issue on the bus and refused to sit down so the bus could go.  With years in my eyes, my stomach grumbling, I decided this moment is just that.  And if they get put on a special needs bus, it will be quieter and less crowded, so this might have been a good thing after all.  A couple weeks ago I would have used food to feel better.  So changes are happening, even if it is one baby step at a time.  
Tuesday feels fine.  Hope you had a great day!

Monday, January 20, 2014

In my Brain

I finished the book I was reading, It's Not About Food by Carol Emery Normandi and Laurelee Roark.  There were some striking moments for me in this book.  It was a book I simply grabbed off the shelf at the library and started on a random page, and knew I would get something out of it.  The book is about eating disorders, and while I am not clinically diagnosed with one, the information pertained to me.  I am self-diagnosing with compulsive eating.  I eat when I am not hungry.  I eat my emotions, even when I can't identify what they are.  And, as peculiar as it sounds, many times when I am eating, I can't identify an emotion that is driving it, but I can tell that I am doing it for some emotional purpose.  I was happy to discover that this is not uncommon, and sometimes it is just pure boredom.  It makes sense, when a week or two ago, I was about to eat without being hungry, and I told myself to 'get busy' and working on a project definitely helped me stop thinking about food.  I know I have issues.  I know they don't really have anything to do with food, other than the fact that I use food to cope with things I don't know how to handle otherwise. Boredom, say the authors, is a signal that your body is not getting something it needs.  
The book has a lot of exercises that you need to do in a quiet place, putting yourself in a state of mind where you are deeply focused on your past, seeing a situation in your childhood when you soothed yourself with food, and what caused the situation; what emotion or self-myth was tied to that incident.  While I was trying to do the first one, trying to find some link or root to an early childhood time when I overate, I couldn't pinpoint a memory of overeating, but I did feel a whole slew of unpleasant words/phrases wash over me, fragments of real or imagined labels or thoughts put on me as a child.  Things like, 'you want too much' or 'I'm ashamed of you' or 'what are you, dumb?' came to mind.  I always have a way of excusing my mom for saying rude things to me, my parents had two kids by the time they were 19 and I don't know if they really even loved each other or if they were teenagers who had an accident so in those days, you got married.  Anyway, I realize that, while my mom had so so many issues of her own that sucked her into her own world, she parented in a very detached way and there was always something I felt missing.  I always felt alone.  She would tell me, when I got older, how I was so good, always happy to play alone and entertain myself.  I remember wishing someone would play with me, but feeling like I was asking too much.  The feeling of being ignored has played over and over in my life like a bad dream, and leaves me feeling so unimportant.  In the book, the authors say that eating problems (whether it is over or under-eating) develop from needs that we had as children not being met.  These things will continually haunt us and drive us to use food to cope until we find a way to "reparent" ourselves, finding and feeling the emotion underlying the stress and finding a better way to cope with it.  For me, the feeling unimportant might be solved by talking to my bestie or doing something special with my family.  Or, one of my favorite winter activities, a warm bubble bath.
I know for myself, I will never be successful in losing weight until I fix my issues with eating.  I like that this book delves into some of the ways to discover just what my issues are, I was really clueless before I read it, but now some things are starting to surface.  This is vital, because before I read it, I was starting to feel really bad about losing weight in general, every single weight related blog I follow on here was the same story over and over, people losing a nice amount, then back up the scale they go, self-bashing, frustrated and depressed.  It was the same for me, and the why can't I get back on track thoughts that haunted me over and over weren't just about determination or discipline.  They were a sign that something inside me was broken, and has been for a long time, and that losing weight or being in control of what I eat won't make those things disappear.  Ignoring a problem or coping with it doesn't make it go away.  Losing weight made me feel good, but it didn't fix the issues I have had since childhood, so when those things started cropping up, determination and discipline didn't cut it. After reading this book and doing a lot of soul-searching, Robert Frost's quote, "The best way out is always through" is so precisely on-point.  I know this journey may take longer, but by fixing my inner issues, I am hoping it will be my last barrier to fixing my health.
Long post, lot on my brain.  Happy Monday!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Something New

In my course on Eastern philosophies, or the Philosophy of Happiness, there were parts from each religion we studied that spoke to me, and so very often I reflect on these ideas when my life feels dramatic.  At this point, it is more of an observation than anything else.  And that is where I am at in life; observing my reactions to things, and the natural flow of things and comparing.
Yesterday was a seemingly normal day, I ate well, even at work, and felt pretty good considering the weekend was approaching.  Then, a short conversation with "New Girl" set my world swirling.
A short, boring background about my job.  I work in a large health clinic that has multiple locations across the region (somewhere around 40 clinics within a 50 mile radius I think).  These clinics have offices that do everything from cancer treatment to OB/GYN to heart health and X-rays, and everything in between.  Most of these clinics have an Eye Care department, where one can have an eye exam or be treated for a long string of medical eye problems, or even have surgery.  Only two of the locations have an optical, where patients can buy glasses.  So to say that, as someone who works in the optical department, we opticians are an afterthought is a gross understatement.
So for our two opticals, we have a supervisor, and 1 full time optician (that'd be me) and one part time optician, NG.  We have all met supervisors like mine; completely overwhelmed with her position and pissed off at everyone because of it.  She swears at work, talks poorly about the other optician while not around, and blatently disses her boss when she's not around.  Her boss, who is really a mid-level boss in control of several surgical and retail departments, is one of the types that has got her stuff TOGETHER!  She is firm but pleasant, and is warm.  My immediate supervisor is very cold.  Anyway, while talking with NG on the phone, she was telling me how there is someone at her location that is very rude to her (a coworker for the doctor's staff).  Then I was telling her that you could never be sure who to trust because some people snoop around optical looking for something wrong so they can report it.  Then she told me that our boss said something about me that made her think that my job might be in jeopardy.  At first, I blew it off thinking, I am trying to move to California in a couple months, let her try to fire me, that would just make planning easier.  But then the knot in my stomach grew and grew.  I waited about an hour before I went to talk to my boss's boss.  I started crying and telling her what I'd heard and she drew out more questions about my boss's inadequacies, and assured me that not only has she never heard one negative thing about me, but no one can get fired (from the departments she oversees) without her approval, and there has to be a really good reason.  I felt much better.  Until NG called me to tell me that our boss was summonsed over to her boss's office (which is the building that I work in).  My nerves started back up, as I had this sinking feeling of not wanting to see her face to face after all this.  The back hallways of the Eye Care department are where they met, and typically that is how I leave at night, but as soon as I saw the door was open and my boss was still in there, I went a different way.  Now I have to face her on Monday, with her knowing that I told on her that she was being a bad boss.  I didn't mean to throw NG into the mix, she is really nervous about being fired and whether or not she is liked, but I couldn't bring the stress of that into my weekend.  I guess I will deal with all that on Monday.  As I drove home after work, freezing rain.  Streets were ice rinks and there were so many accidents.  My stress was at an all time high.  I ate a sensible dinner anyway, but I could still feel that nagging urge to keep eating.  That is my conditioned response to stress.  I tried to nibble on some fruit but the strawberries I had were really sour.  In the end I had a tablespoon of real maple syrup and I felt the warmth I was seeking.  It's better than what I was planning, much alcohol.
This morning, I woke naturally, after sleeping so so deep and long.  I was surprised to see it was 9:30 when I awoke.  I hung out with my family, then cleaned out the fridge and headed out to run some errands.  My husband, who'd had a close call on the roads last night, was very worried about me, but for some reason, I was the one who didn't think it'd be a big deal.  That's a twist.  I was right, other than walking in parking lots, the roads were fine.  I went to the library to get one more book before school starts, and as I was getting back to my car I realized how positive, confident and happy I felt.  And best of all, I had energy.  It has been a really long time since all of those things came together at once, and it felt phenomenal!  I grabbed a quick bite to eat at a local deli that I never seem to get to, called the Urban Frog.  They make organic, local, vegetarian food from scratch, and have amazing power shakes and the best wheatgrass shots.  The atmosphere was so inviting and the food was great.  It really made me feel like I was having a special day; a little time for myself to do some things I really enjoy.
Tonight I did something I have been dying to try for years; I made sushi!  It may be ridiculous, but I am so proud of myself!  It is now another ace up my sleeve.  While eating it I was reminded about something I read recently, that a major recent for people not sticking to healthy food is that they choose foods that taste boring.  I could tell how fun it would be to take sushi for lunch, and I am thinking about doing it this week.  I also bought some high quality vegetarian bars and some raw cashews for snacks at work, when I tend to eat the worst.
The lesson I learned from the past two days is that reacting in a big way to something that happens one day is a little silly, since the next day is a new day; there is a natural balance to things.
I am going to finish off my evening with a glass of my dad's handmade raspberry wine, and delving into my latest book.  This one is called It's Not About Food, and it deals with what really underlies our desire to seek comfort in food.  I'm eager to see what I can learn from it.
Hope you are having a relaxing weekend and trying something new!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Not Drinking That Again!

Today was a strange day.  I had horrible heartburn all day, which made it easy to not eat junk, I didn't want any food, but managed to eat what I brought for lunch. I felt like I was releasing a lot of water today, which makes sense.  Even though I'm not on a low carb diet, I am eating a lot less sugar and that helps flush some of that water out of my system.  I had some Mio- type drink mix (an energy one) because I didn't have time to make coffee.  It has been quite a while since I intentionally ingested artificial colors.  Anyway, lesson learned!  I'm throwing that stuff away and sticking to either coffee, caffeine pills or energy drinks.  Weaning myself off Rockstar drinks is something I know I need to do.  I feel better on coffe but it interferes with my iron absorption, so there's a timing and inconvenience thing there.  And there have been enough days lately where I have forgotten to take my iron and vitamin D, which is not good.  I can't consider myself on a path to healthier ways if I don't give my body what it needs. I'm not here to bash myself, just noting it as something I need to focus on so I don't forget as often.  And with the cancer causing substances in energy drinks and sodas, I would be much better off without any of that stuff.  Eventually I'd like to get off caffeine altogether.  Or maybe more accurately, when I see healthy people who don't need caffeine to feel awake, I admit I'd love to feel that good without caffeine.  It's another crutch of mine.  If I moved my body in the morning instead of sleeping, watching the news while checking Facebook, and then getting myself and kids ready and out the door, I bet I could get off the caffeine.  I've already cut back significantly from what I used to intake, that's a positive.
With this regain, I feel so much older so quickly.  I feel like my muscle atrophied so quickly, and now every other week I'm having some sort of joint issue.  Knees, hips, shoulders.  While I've not been properly diagnosed for the shoulder/collar bone thing, I think these issues are subluxation, the tendon being too loose to hold things in proper alignment.  It's painful and annoying and this bitter cold weather isn't helping matters.
So now I've babbled on so long that I've bored myself to yawns.  Going to get some great sleep tonight, my kids and I have the day off tomorrow.  
Until next time, I hope your journey is coming along smoothly.

Monday, January 6, 2014

So Delicious

The fact that this:
Is in my house means I had no plans at starting a "diet" this week.  Have you tasted this stuff?!!!  It might very possibly be the best thing I ever tasted.  And, I've tasted a lot of things.  
I did start being more conscious about my eating, though, and really didn't have too many issues today.  I didn't have donuts for breakfast, that's a good start, instead I had some leftovers from some fragrant Indian food I cooked over the weekend.  It was warm and a little spicy and on a morning when the temperature dropped to nearly -40 F, the warmth was greatly appreciated!
I really only had two sticking points today, one was when I went into my storage area at work (looking for sea salt) and I saw a bag of rice chips I bought last week.  I could feel my mind trying to convince me I wanted them, no!  Needed them.  I recognized them as a trigger and reminded myself that a craving is just that, it isn't a signal that I am starving or need the nutrition, I can have cravings without saying yes to them.  I didn't have the chips.  I played a mental trick on myself, imagining that they weren't closed up tightly, and that they were all stale and disgusting.  And, I told myself get busy!  Once I started on a hands-on task, the chips were off my mind.  The other I want that moment came tonight after eating my dinner.  I had an organic beans an rice wrap (vegan and low sodium, but it was still very good).  Again, I was happy to have the warm food, though I had to add a little taco sauce and sea salt.  I had a side of gigantic grapes that were so sweet they tasted like candy, and some hot tea.  I felt comfortable after eating, but when I was getting the grapes out for the kids, I saw the offender pictured above.  I went back and forth in my mind whether or not I was going to have any, then I remembered how destructive all-out, cold turkey deprivation is to being able to stay on track.  I had some.  It was less than I wanted but more than none.  I swirled it around in my mouth, savoring the intensely creamy, almost buttery cinnamon dream.  It was everything I knew it would be.  That little bit satisfied me.  I have noticed this many times before when cleaning up my act, that I want to eat and eat more than I would if I weren't dieting.  I thought it was a psychological thing, like my mind was acting like a child who's had his favorite toy taken away, but then I had an "aha moment".  In the book Angry Fat Girls, Frances Kuffel breaks it down in terms of the chemical process our bodies go through when we eat, especially when we eat foods high in fat and sugar.  Our body gets a lot more of the "feel good" chemicals with those foods, so conversely when we eat clean foods, it doesn't give us those happy chemicals (namely tryptophan, seratonin and dopamine) in the quantity were are used to, so the desire to keep eating presents itself like a strong craving.  I didn't feel bad about having the drink, realizing why it satisfied me when I really wanted to eat everything in the house is a vital key; a tool I can use to my advantage.  
So, while technically I didn't start a new diet today, it felt really good and right to be more mindfull of what is going on instead of just eating "whatever" and assuming there will plenty of time to fix it in a month or two "when I'm ready."  And that feels pretty good to me.  
I hope you had a good Monday, too and stayed warm and toasty!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Donuts are a Food Group, Right?

     In the end, though, we eat.  Food is companionship and a stand-in for love.  We overeat to fill the not-enoughs.  Thus, in part, fat becomes a rebellion against what is expected of us, and a wall of excuses.  The chemicals of sugar and fat subdue pains and fears.
     The great question, then, is what comes first, settling the score between the rivals of love and hate that rage in our hearts or, somehow, muffling the pulsing, yawning want of the next bite, the next hit that will take us to that fetal overfull place in which we are alive without living.

The preceding are two excerpts from a book I just finished called "Angry Fat Girls: A Personal Journey" by Frances Kuffel.  The combination of reading this book, with its words that reach my core, and being on a vacation from school, have opened my mind like I haven't felt in so very long.  I feel like thoughts can finally materialize, and that I can "be in the moment' and I can dig a little farther under the surface to take a look at what is going on.  I have had time to stay in touch with my bestie, which has been so therapeutic for me.  And today, as I was sending yet another message to her, I realized that one of the major things missing from my daily chaos is writing.  Until I met my husband, and even for sometime after, I used to journal nearly every night.  It was relieving to get it out, even if no one ever read it, and sometimes I couldn't sleep well until I wrote.  But life gets crazy and these days, 10:00 rolls around and I am just too tired to stay up to write.  Maybe if I posted on here more often, my posts would be shorter.
One thing I noticed about the book that really struck me was how open and honest and raw it was, good or bad, the addiction of food.  The five main characters that the book follows, are girls who have lost a significant amount of weight (more than 200 pounds for some of them) and then regained.  The statistics of keeping the weight off are horrific.  It keeps coming down to the same thing, if you don't fix the inside, success will either evade, be temporary, or will take misery to sustain.
My New Year began the same as most other days in the past couple months, grabbing some donuts and a Rockstar energy drink on the way to work, mindlessly eating garbage snacks at work all day, then a sensible vegan dinner.  What the...?  Now that work has slowed dramatically, my sanity is returning and I can finally catch a mental break before my next semester begins the last week in January.  I am not making huge proclamations or resolutions for 2014, but I do have areas I want to focus on more.  Giving up those donuts-and-snack trips to the grocery store every morning is on the list to be certain.
First, I need to get in touch with my inner demons.  I know I have some pain really deep down that I am trying to numb with food.  In the time that I had some success, I don't remember thinking about food as much, though I'm sure I did.  But when I started back to college, all my responsibilities overwhelmed me and I didn't have a back up plan on how to handle that.  Food was my outlet from as far back as I can recall.  I remember one time when I was about 6 or 7, my older sister and I were begging for something from my Mom, probably something to eat, and probably something that we didn't have or need.  My family was pretty poor, so maybe it hurt my mother's feelings if we didn't have (or didn't have enough of) what we wanted.  I don't remember all of the details, but however my mother reacted to our request made us both cry so hard we were sucking oxygen for a long time after.  A while later, she called us both down to the kitchen in a stern voice, and we reluctantly made our way to her.  She stood before us with a poker face, and then suddenly pulled out two bananas from her back, and aimed them at us like shotguns.  We giggled, I think, and ate the bananas.  Its semi-vivid things like this that clue me in, food has been a reward, a comfort, a way to fix things without talking, a distraction and denial that any of us had any thoughts about what we were going through as a family.  Not that we had some catastrophic event to get over, my family was pretty standard-issue dysfunctional, we didn't talk about our problems, even my mothers deep secrets from her own past, or the fact that my father was an alcoholic and my mother was chronically depressed.  And, they were teen parents who were poor.  Anyway, I'm sure there will be many posts about my family as I try to sort things out.  There is a lot of stuff there, I can feel it, and I think tapping into this painful place will give me more power to ultimately overcome some of those things.  But the biggie, which goes way back to my childhood, is that food has always been my way of coping with things, and that needs to change.
Finding my voice is another thing I need to focus on, not just in writing but in person, in real situations.  I have this fear of rejection thing that still gets in my way.  I need to let people know what I like and don't like, what I want and don't want.  And, I need to be about what I say I am about, or not say anything at all.  Labels have not been very successful for me.  I'm vegan, I'm Rastafarian, I'm fat, I'm lazy, I'm trying...Maybe sometimes some of these are partially true.  Wishy-washy doesn't work.  My joints are protesting me, and they hate winter as much as I do, but I can see some of the toll that this disease is taking on my body, like a smoker whose cough starts nagging and clinging.  I have an addiction, a weakness, a problem with food and I want to break free from it.  I don't feel good at this weight and I'm not going to pretend that I am happy.  I'm not miserable, but I'm definitely not happy, and no amount of food can hide that little nugget.
Its not fair of me to only post when I'm doing good, this is real.  I am not in a desirable place.  I still have faith that I'll figure this thing out, but I'm nowhere near doing that, and it's going to take a mental makeover.  That part was missing last time.  I won't leave it out this time.  Not sure how many fails my heart can take, figuratively and literally.