Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Judgements and Choices

Yesterday I had amazing clarity all day.  It felt like a rare treat; a gift I am rarely bestowed.  It was as if, by going within I was eliminating some of the noise around me.  Not meditation, but finally focusing on the issues underlying the wounds, a clarity of cause and purpose bubbling beneath the surface.  I treasured it, and didn't want to go to sleep for fear that it would pass.  But today I feel good, I feel relaxed, content and focused.  I am still fat.  I still have bills.  I still have two kids with special needs and a husband who is focusing inward too.  But I have given myself the time and attention ( and the OK) to put toward healing, and what a difference it makes to my mental state.
I am not saying I am "cured" and now I am going to begin getting skinny.  I know those who have lost a significant amount of weight and kept it off have done so by being focused and honest.  I don't see weight loss as something I can just get to a certain point and then eat whatever I want.  I used to feel that way, which is probably one of the reasons I ended up gaining ALL my weight back; I got down to the 150 range, and noticed that if I ate junk one day or two days a week, my body was still in a healthy and muscular enough place that I could maintain my weight loss, or at very least, lose it quickly from getting back on track.  I was increasingly OK with a new higher weight because I believed it would be "easy" to get it back off.  I didn't mind putting in the work because the results were pretty consistent.
Now I realize, all of that stuff was just something to focus on so I wouldn't deal with the real issues.  I didn't try to fix the reasons why I wanted to eat all that junk, I just self-shamed when I did give in.  Or worse,  I just gave myself the old talk about not wanting to become a rigid person who never enjoyed food or normalcy.  Normal people do not buy a bag of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and eat the entire thing in one sitting.  But I was living on autopilot, believing that I could will myself into changing by sheer willpower and some inspirational quotes.  I love a good quote like the next guy, but quotes can't fix what needs fixing internally.  Outward inspiration can only get you so far, then you have to take steps.  Sometimes we are so in a fog of self-hatred and re-fires that we can't stop to ask ourselves what we need in order to get what we want.
Today I took another step toward getting what I need for my process of healing.  My entire lower body is weak and hurting, I have to fix it before I end up injuring myself just by walking around so obese.  One of the only things that doesn't bother my knee is the stationary bike, so I spent 20 minutes pedaling away in my apartment complex's "cardio room".   It was an especially great feeling because I go into work a little later today, so I didn't feel rushed.  I looked out the window while I pedaled, people-watching.  I saw a girl packing her things to move.  She looked like she was in her early twenties, about 6 ft tall and so slender that at first, I couldn't distinguish if she was a male of female.  I made an immediate judgement, it must be so nice to be so tall.  And thin.  And to move with such fluidity, grace and ease.  Judgements are a normal part of life, but if we take them for fact it can destroy our spirit.   Without really thinking about it, I began to think about what her issues might be.  Maybe she is self-conscious because she can't put on muscle, maybe she is moving out because she made a bad choice in relationships; sometimes when attractive people have a lot of choices in relationships, they seem to make bad choices.  And then a wonderful thing happened, I applied what I have been questioning myself about my fat.  Being fat meant that I wouldn't let just anyone in my world, I made really wise choices in relationships because I didn't have the chaos of having to appease a bunch of people to try and weed out the ones who weren't there for the long haul.  I didn't have a large group of friends or boyfriends so I got a chance to form some really strong relationships.  I married a man who any woman would be proud to have, he is very attractive, fit, funny, respectful, patient and a good dad.  Things might not have gone so well for me if I constantly had people wanting my time and attention.  It might be a little thing, but for me, it was another good step to be able to look at someone who had what I felt I wanted and see things clearly, that everyone has "stuff" to work through, and just because someone is taller, thinner, fitter, or younger than me, doesn't mean they live a worry-free life.  And, no matter how my body looks on the outside, I will always have unpleasant things to confront like bills and cars breaking down, or kids not behaving.  It is up to me to know that I have gotten through this and worse with grace, and I can rise above anything that comes my way if I keep reality in check.
I am feeling strong and good.  My goal right now is to keep doing the internal work, being aware about why I am eating and what my real needs are, and to talk more with my husband.  I did tell him briefly what I am doing, and have eaten "bad" foods in front of him.  It is still a little uncomfortable, but he hasn't said anything. And if he does, I will approach him with patience and grace, and ask that he does the same.  I am going to try to get on the stationary bike most days of the week, until the end of June, to see if that helps me strengthen my lower body enough to start walking without pain.  I am guessing it will, based on how awkward my legs felt today after only 20 minutes, they were all pumped full of blood and stiff as if I had just done squats or something.  My knee only hurt when I was trying to pedal really fast to get my heart rate up, so I will nix that until I am stronger.  I'm OK with moderate, it is maintainable.  I feel good mentally for the first time in a long time.  I am appreciating things so much more right now, and it has nothing to do with my weight because I am really heavy right now, but I don't care about the scale.  I am making the choice to quiet some of the noise I have allowed to distract me for so long.  I feel so liberated.  I am glad I found this author, and glad I gave the exercises a chance.  I think I may finally be finding myself inside of all this protection.
Here's to a new day!  Hope your week goes smoothly!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Gem

While helping my son ease off to sleep tonight, in what may have been the first moments of quiet this entire day, I had a minute to think about what purpose my fat is serving for me.  Doing this sort of work is like retracing your steps when you've misplaced something.  I start out with a perceived fact: my fat keeps people at a distance.  Then I ask another question: why would I want to keep people at a distance?  Because I'm
Afraid they'll reject me.  Why would they reject me if I am not fat? (As a child I was painfully thin until about 8 yrs). They would reject me because I am painfully shy and awkward in social situations.  Knowing what to say or how to make a conversation go somewhere does not come naturally to me, I have to really think about it and force myself to do it, but when I was little, it was considered bad manners to not look at someone when they speak to you; rude to not answer their questions and delight in meaningless chatter as if every stranger my parents introduced me to was suddenly my best friend.
I was shy and awkward as a child, I postured my hands a lot and have always been sensitive to sensory things more than others around me; the laundry aisle at the store tortures me with the obnoxious over-scented fabric softners, the loud music and large crowds always made me want to wait in the car, even if it would be hours, the taste of green peas made me feel like someone just cut the lawn and was feeding me the trimmings. I have tested high on autism scales (Baron-Cohen) and have two sons with autism myself, but never thought about the reality of what that means for how I perceived my childhood.  What if my mom was emotionally available but I am just remembering the times when she wasn't because I wasn't equipped to handle such frustrations?  What if I am over-dramatic (like my sons) because I have issues with regulating emotions?  I often had difficulty in situations where a particular emotional response was expected, like funerals or large family gatherings.  
What it means, whether it could be true or not, is that I use my fat to protect me from my fear of being rejected.  That is a huge unearthing and it is a real raw gem that's been hiding under a blanket of dirt.  
I'm so glad I have this time to go within and find some of these answers. 

The Broken Parts

I have been trying my best to rush through this book I am reading, hoping that I will magically just "get it" and  be able to apply it so the weight can start dropping off.  This is how I read books about weight; with the restless anticipation that somehow, by the time I reach the back cover, I will know that which I didn't know I didn't know, and I will magically have the key to why I haven't been losing and how I can finally start losing weight for good.  Books are not magic.  And inference not being my strong point, I am only a little disappointed that I have to put a lot of effort in, not just to remember and integrate all the do's and don'ts but also to dig into the WHYs, which come only from within myself, not the pages where I was hoping the answers would be waiting, like a precious secret that changes my life.
I have been going through the book in much the same manner as I go through life; read through it quickly, get the main idea, and come back to things that require more thought or work.  But somehow something else always comes up and I never get a chance to go back and dig deeper.  My main reason for seeking out this book "Breaking Free from Emotional Eating" by Geneen Roth, is because the author's other book "When Food is Love" spoke so deeply to me, but didn't tell me HOW to break free.  So now I have exercises that should help me be aware of the patterns that are keeping me trapped and eating senselessly, and I am skipping over some of them, thinking I will go back to them to get all the details straight after I finish the book.  Taking only bits and pieces of the book is confusing me, but I am learning things, retaining enough information from those exercises I skipped over to make a small difference.  I have already discovered that, I have a huge issues with knowing when to stop, and I feel uncomfortable when I don't.  Uncomfortably full, uncomfortably gripped by over-sweetness, uncomfortably out of control and out of touch.  Rarely ever satisfied by food, and that is how I know it isn't about the food, but about what is causing me to seek comfort.
Whenever I read a book about weight that has exercises, I immediately discount the exercises as lame.  One book I read a few months ago asked that I remember the earliest time I could remember food being used to apologize or soothe.  Really?  That's a lot to ask of our memories!  Maybe some people have had a very definitive moment where their relationship with food visibly began, but I couldn't recall mine, so I sort of discounted the book and author altogether, when I might have learned something if I'd kept my mind open.  So this book, because I believe in this author, because I know she went through way more than I did as a child, and because I know I will not get past my food issues until I heal the inside,  I decided I was going to give a real effort.  I am not going to say it is easy, but I do feel like you have to go through the tornado in order to see the world rearranged.  The one that has stuck with me was an exercise in which I was to "meet" the girl who eats her emotions (my inner hurt self) and ask her what she needs.  I was skeptical starting this exercise, it is a bit of a leap of faith to rely on conversations or imaginations of conversations with oneself.  But as soon as I imagined myself sitting in the car eating on a cloudy fall day, and asked what that hurt girl needed, I was barraged with a slew of answers.  The one that finally hit home, was quiet and undramatic, but it made me cry myself to sleep.  I need to know that I matter.  So many times in my life I have felt ignored and unimportant, un-special; unheard.  I have always attributed it as a Mommy Issue, because there were so many times I would ask her a question and she wouldn't acknowledge that she heard me (especially if she was reading or doing a crossword puzzle), she was absolutely tuned out.  As an adult, I can realize that was a coping technique for her, she suffered great abuses from her parents and was suffering through an unhappy marriage, having two children by the age of 19, and dirt poor.  But my dad was always working or sleeping or fixing cars with his friends, and almost always drinking or drunk.  So my mom was who I turned to when I needed something, and if she was emotionally unavailable, I felt invisible and I felt like a burden and a mistake and I felt like she would be happier if she were free from all this, and I felt like I did't matter; I didn't and couldn't make her happy or make her pain less, and in a lot of situations I made her pain more and her stress more.    A lot of images from my childhood have vanished, but I see so much clarity of the image of me standing at the table where she was busy doing something, the cigarette burning in the ashtray leaving sun-caught rays of smoke trailing around her, a little girl dying for her mothers attention and feeling like every word I was saying was somehow getting absorbed by the atmosphere; not reaching her ears.  Why was I invisible?  I see myself sitting on the stairs, trying to hide my tears, wishing she would get up from that chair and acknowledge me, apologize for not answering sooner and engage me in silly conversation or tickles or crafts or anything.  I was so lonely.  I felt ignored and unimportant.  I felt like I didn't matter; like my feelings didn't matter.  I had an older sister that I could talk to, but she was coping in her own way, and to me, it always seemed like she was coping much better than me, which made me feel inferior as well.  Her version of our childhood and mine are two different views still to this day, and we are not very close, which is sad.  I have my wars to go through, I have to face my feelings about these things, even if my view was skewed, it is how I feel and I don't harbor any bad feelings toward my parents, they have both conveyed disappointment in our how they parented, they both went through their own wars as people, we all do, and we do our best to overcome them.  My parents can't go back and fix my childhood, and I would never ask them to.  Healing the past isn't about changing it, but learning to see it from a different window.  This is not the first book I've read that has told me the only one who can reach out to that lonely girl who is crying on the stairs, is me.  Just as I can imagine myself asking her what she needs, I can also soothe her and give her what she needs.  If that girl needs someone to listen to her stories or needs someone to play a game with her, I can do that for her.  I can be her friend, her parent.  I have to make her feel better before I will stop trying to soothe her with food.
Part of my healing will be involving my husband in this.  I often feel lonely in my marriage because I don't let him in on this stuff.  It is painful, and I am afraid he will judge me as being over-dramatic, or worse, not want to be with me because I have so much depressing, negative stuff to heal.  But the more I learn about ways I bury my dark stuff, the more I can tell he has some too, but he is acting like a typical tough guy and just stuffing it, controlling his food as if he were being policed, and living and dying by discipline.  As I said before, we have all been through some wars; being vulnerable to the past and how it affected us opens us up for new growth.  I think sharing these things with my husband will bring us together and will definitely help him understand why I have so many issues with food.  Maybe in time he will be able to help me work through some emotions when I am on the edge of a binge.  I only know that trying to hide this all from him is making more space between us instead of closing the gap.  Yes, certain things I have to do on my own, as far as realizing what is broken and giving a voice to that, but he can be my support.  I don't have to repeat what I didn't like about my childhood; I have a partner and I do matter to him.  I have kids who I matter to a tremendous deal, and I always try to make sure that they know I am available for them and ready to discuss their feelings so I don't unintentionally hurt them.  We all do the best we can.  I think I am beginning to see some light for myself.  I may have to gain a bunch of weight to figure this out, but once I get the inside healing, there is going to be an unextinguishable light that glows from within.  I still have a lot of life left to live.  I am not giving up this fight at inner peace.  I am feeling better and stronger every day I go within.    As Carl Jung said, "Who looks outside dreams; who looks within awakes."  For me, the sun is starting to rise, and I am so ready to feel its warmth.
Here's to healing the broken parts!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Not Enough

Today was my third day eating in a carefree manner, and I am so confused!  As someone who sneaks and eats and indulges in private, it's difficult to give up the safety of my privacy.  But that is a sign that I have shame about eating that way, that I have given certain foods an emotional charge by labeling them as "good" or "evil".  Because, let's face it, if it's not kale, it's bad.  At least that's the hot trend for what is hip and healthy right now.  
I had the day off today for my son's spring concert, so the morning was mine.  As soon as I got the kids on the bus, I went out and got some donuts, chips, and salted Carmel chocolates.  One of the guidelines is to not watch TV or read or distract yourself in any other way while eating, I haven't made any effort to obey this rule yet.  In fact, I am not behaving very good because I'm suck between some strong habits and beliefs, and, at least for now, confirming what the author says is a popular myth/reaction, that if I am given the freedom to eat whatever I want, I may never stop eating ever.  
I can see how the eating distracted can lead to senseless eating.  One of my guilty pleasures is American Idol.  Why is it uncool to like AI these days?  I get it, they are young pups, but so are most of the folks on the radio and I like that stuff too.  But I digress.  I never get to watch Idol live, it is far too noisy with my kids running around and the battle for the one TV that has cable And the X-box is never won by me.  So on my glorious, and all-too-rare day off, I finally got to watch the finale.  I ate when I wasn't hungry.  It heightened the experience; the show was better because I was eating, and the just so-so food seemed better because I was eating watching one of my favorite shows on my peaceful day off.  I didn't need that food, and it didn't feel good crowding my stomach, but I ate anyway. I think so many times I get caught up in trying to make something feel special before it's too late, and food does that for me.  And now I am thinking I try to make things feel special in my life, because I never felt special (or, in some cases, I didn't even feel noticed) to my parents.  And I think I misinterpreted my mother's creativity ( born out of financial necessity) in mixing miscellaneous ingredients together to make something edible.  One dish that was my favorite was when she would cook burgers and add beans and taco seasoning, and crumble up corn chips on top.  To me that made the burgers special, but to her, she was trying to make them more filling so everyone needed less.  There is something to that whole thing of "not enough".  One day when I was doing homework for college, my husband was watching some kind of documentary without me, and I walked into the room and just caught someone saying that in almost all cases of obesity, the idea that there is "not enough" is the one that traps us in patterns we find impossible to move past. 
And I think there is some validity to that for me.  I remember when I was 8, I took a paperclip and jabbed it into the wooden window trim in our bathroom.  I loved how it felt, the small, shiny clip sinking into the wood with ease.  I don't know what came over me, and part of me doesn't remember even doing it, but I carved the words "we need money" into the wood.  I remember seeing it and trying to rub it off but it was in there good and deep.  I got the leather belt for that stunt, and immense amounts of shame, internally, but also from my mother, who had guilt trips elevated to an art form.  I have issues with money, it really controls my happiness/depression.  And now, just today when I was thinking through this "not enough" theory, a little light came on; maybe my "not enough" food issues are really part of my "not enough" money issues.  When I have a good amount of money, I waste a ton of it on food.  When I don't have very much, the frugal and responsible part of me kicks in, I can stick to a diet really easy because I know I don't have the resources to not eat what I brought for lunch, or to stop by the grocery store before work for $30 worth of "treats" for the day.  
So there is more work to do on the not enough theory, at least as it applies to my life.  There are a lot of things I felt there was not enough of growing up, and I'm trying to fill those gaps with food.  And sometimes I am uncomfortably full and I still keep trying to fill.  
I'm glad I am taking time to make these connections.  Eating this way makes me feel heavy physically, but getting into some of the deep stuff of my past is helping to lighten me up emotionally.  It is a beginning, and I am looking forward to a fresh start.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Holy Stomach(s)

Today was different than yesterday, in that I didn't think about food as much as yesterday.  I knew it was there and knew I could eat it whenever I want.  I had a Lara bar when I woke up, which is in my normal repertoire of foods anyway.  By the time I was leaving the house 2 hours later, I wasn't hungry at all, but needed to get some gum at the gas station and they just happened to have a chocolate frosted, custard-filled long john doughnut.  I almost didn't buy it, because I wasn't hungry ( I wasn't full but I wasn't hungry either), but I got it.  I guess the tricky thing about this is that there is a tendency to mistake it for an all-bets-are-off type of eating, which is in it's way liberating I guess, but doesn't help me learn anything or progress.  
When I got to work, there were all my goodies plus the leftovers from our catered lunch yesterday (Qdoba, the BEST tortilla chips on the planet!). I didn't eat anything for a couple hours, but I had an energy drink because today I actually was sluggish.  Work was busy and I was also trying to get caught up on some major projects on my plate right now, so my attention was diverted.  10am used to be a scheduled eating time for me (that whole bodybuilding mentality, every 3 hours so your metabolism stays revved up).  But that rule is for if you are eating clean, not if you are eating doughnuts and Doritos and cookie dough.  Nevertheless, without putting much thought into it, I went and grabbed the cookie dough.  I took a bite, then reminded myself to let it warm up.  I ate the rest of it by 12:30, when a coworker came to relieve me for a lunch break.  Again, not hungry, not full, there was a small pot-luck lunch for one of our doctors so I grabbed a little plate of cheesy potatoes 4 Ritz crackers and 4 slices of cheese, and a strawberry drizzled with some chocolate and a dab of yogurt.  Then I grabbed a handful of those Qdoba chips, which still taste remarkably good the next day, with their little lime and salt flavor bliss.  Honestly, it's a little like having a margarita on a chip!  It was an OK lunch.  I got pretty full by the time I took my belly off the table. I didn't eat for the rest of my work day, I had no desire to.  When my kids begged to stop at a gas station for a F'real shake, I easily passed up any junk food even though I was finally starting to feel genuinely hungry.  I had an organic vegan burrito for dinner, and the warm, easy-to-digest beans and rice made me feel good.  And that is the feeling I've been searching for.  I am learning little by little.  I don't like how heavy I feel when I eat so much junk, but right now is about the spirit not the body.  And it's about my mind, where the real problem is, and the only place it can be fixed.  I feel like, if I keep following, digging, liberating, I'll finally have the tools to get this old body back into a working machine.  Until then, I sure hope I don't completely damage what's left of my health doing this!  I know my mind needs this, but my body doesn't need any extra burden.  
Not going to think about my weight, just gotta keep working on staying mobile, and staying conscious of what and why I'm eating. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Mmmmmm...Cookies!

Below is my bounty for today.  It is not quite 9am and I have eaten nearly half a tube of chocolate chip cookie dough, 3 Doritos and half a can of Rockstar.  I did eat in my car because I had only 15 minutes to get what I needed, get gas in my car and get to work.  If it had been at home I would have eaten it there.  It did feel a little liberating, I didn't flinch buying it, and even eating some in my office, I imagined what my coworkers might think, and I planned my answer, "I'm doing this intuitive eating thing."  No questions asked, it is what it is.
What I learned about this morning's go at it?  Cookie dough tastes better if you let it warm up ever-so-slightly, fills you up like a load of bricks being dropped in your stomach, and half a tube is WAY too much sweet at once, which makes me crave salty regardless of my hunger level.  Before I dove into the Doritos, I had an intuitive feeling that I would only need a few to satisfy and I was right.  3 was the perfect amount to cut the sweet.  I also realized that I am drinking an energy drink despite the fact that I don't feel sluggish.  I have had my doubts about this method but is am already discovering things about myself that I wouldn't have learned living on auto-pilot or trying to force willpower and deprivation to work.  And now that I see the value in doing this, it will be easier to tell my husband about it.  I have to take this back for me; I'm the only one who can soothe the broken stuff inside and figure out how to handle problems without putting chocolate chip cookie dough in my mouth.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Fear of Breaking Free

I wanted to talk about the book I am reading a little more yesterday, but my post was already so long.  Since I am thinking of giving this a genuine try, I will talk a little more about it now.
The book, again, is called "Breaking Free from Emotional Eating" by Geneen Roth.  I really connected with her book "When Food is Love" so I thought I would give her method a try.  The concept behind it is that it is not cravings and hormones making us put things in our bodies that will, given enough time, be our own drawn-out suicide, but it is the emotional tornado going on inside that is driving us to seek comfort.  Part of that pressure is the weight we (and others) add on by judging what, when, and how we eat.  How many of you hide the wrappers of something you ate because you don't want to be judged for eating something "non-diet" or non-healthy?  Both hands up for me.  I eat on the sly all the time.  Why do we do it?  Because it comforts us and makes us feel like, when no one else is watching, we have control over what we eat.  When we attach shame to food it makes us feel like we are bad for seeking comfort, even if the food could never touch that place inside that needs the comfort.  I eat in my car a lot.  It is a place no one can see me and judge me.  And it isn't because I am so busy that I can't find time to eat elsewhere.   I am so certain I will be judged negatively by what I eat, that I choose to avoid that mess altogether and hide it.
Most of the time when I eat food with no nutritional value, I feel the chemical process of the changes as a warming, soothing feeling, but I don't particularly taste the food after the first couple bites, and sometimes the food doesn't even taste all that good to me.  But this is all part of the learning process.
As I said, I am only on chapter 3 of this book, but I get the basic premise from her other book I read.  Breaking free involves removing all of the emotional charge from certain foods, eating exactly what you are wanting, but doing so in an aware manner, and ONLY when you are truly hungry.  If you are not truly hungry but feel like eating, there are questions to ask as to what it is you are really seeking.  And if you eat when you are not hungry, noticing how the tastes and textures are different for that food when eating when it when you truly are hungry.  An important key to this process is to stop hiding what you are eating, it takes the 'wrong' out of it.  The reason this method works is similar to the way drinking alcohol suddenly becomes less exciting to someone after they turn 21.  If all food is legalized, you won't feel the panic to get it, to hide it, to abuse it.  Just knowing that you can eat that candy bar whenever you want to lifts a little pressure off you.  While I understand this, and can see how that would be liberating, I am going to have a tough time easing into this.
I met my husband 13 years ago, when he was in a reggae band, and I was just moving out on my own.  He was about 130 pounds and muscular, I was 225 pounds and fell for him immediately.  He always had girls flirting with him, and I didn't think I had a chance.  But he saw something in me that others did not.  And I have been so proud to proclaim that he has never, in 13 years, made a rude comment about my weight.  He knows it is a subject I am very sensitive about.  After years of watching him go up and down the scales for bodybuilding and fitness modeling, he is disciplined to a fault (especially where eating is concerned) and the one thing that he does do is comment on what I'm eating.  Not in an intentionally hurtful way, but he does.  Yesterday was a prime example.  I was genuinely hungry, so I made myself a wrap filled with a huge fistful of spinach, tomatoes, green onions and some Tofurky slices.  It was a huge wrap, I was trying to use up some of the spinach we have, he bought too much last weekend because he was planning on juice-fasting all weekend but that didn't happen.  His comment was, "Wow, you really went all-out with whatever that is!"  I simply answered, "There's a LOT of spinach in there, I'm trying to use some up before it spoils."  It doesn't matter that what I was eating was healthy or that I was genuinely hungry, it really bothered me that he had to comment at all.  It made me feel wrong for eating such a huge serving.  But then I realized that, he has his own issues with food.  Yes he is uber healthy and fit and has rock hard abs, but his over-disciplined manner says to me that he has something going on inside.  I can't fix him, but I can let him know that his comments about my food intake only make me want to binge on junk all the more, to comfort from the perceived-negative judgments.  I know he does it without even thinking, because it isn't how he would/does eat, and I think he'll have the wherewithal to stop it once I mention it to him.
My kids are my other concern.  If they see me eating all kinds of junk, they will want it, and won't understand why it's OK for Mom to eat it when they can't.  That will be a tough one.  Eventually, when following this program, your mind starts to take a back seat with food, and your body begins telling you what it needs.  The author said she gained 15 pounds in 3 months, then it stabilized for a few months, then she quickly lost 30 pounds, just by eating what and when she wanted.  Eventually your body starts to crave the essentials.  I often crave greens, but get lazy or let it go too long between meals, or feel like salads won't keep me full long enough.
So it seems I have some work to do on "legalizing foods" and coming out of the food closet.  I am 5'0 and I weigh 188 pounds, I am not fooling anyone that I am eating healthy, plant-based vegan foods 100% of the time.  My husband is not an idiot.  But he isn't aware enough to know that his actions drive my compulsion sometimes.
If I follow through with this whole plan, it will be an interesting summer to say the least!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

A Healthy Curiosity

I decided it was a good time to freshen up the look of my blog, even though I don't use it nearly as much as I once did.  This fresher look included taking down my old Start and Progress photos.  It doesn't make sense to keep them up, I am back to the condition in the Start photo, and whatever strength I was pulling from wasn't real, that's why it didn't last.  That, to some, may sound like a sinking, depressing statement, but to me it is liberating.  Maybe this whole thing doesn't have to be so hard.  When it is hard, it doesn't last.  There is only so much deprivation the mind can handle before it rebels, no matter what perceived reward awaits us at the end.
My lab results came back late Monday night, and I have to admit, my heart was pounding as I opened up the app to see the results.  Here are the results I saw, along with my reaction to them:
     Helicobacter Pylori Antibody: (the test to see if I had a stomach bacterium) Result= negative.  No reaction.  My stomach has been feeling better since being on the Prilosec prescription she called in for my heartburn.
     Tissue Translutaminase:  This is the blood test for Celiac disease, to see if I should stop eating gluten.  This was a strong negative.  So gluten is back on the table.  No big deal to me either way, I didn't suspect I had this as I never had discomfort when eating wheat and such.
     Antinuclear Antibody : this is the test for Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus.  This came back negative, but did not give me a value.  It bothers me not knowing where my number was, as I have been concerned about Lupus with my sun allergy.  But, negative is negative for now.
     Thyroid Stimulating Hormone: To see if mine is over (yeah, right!) or under active.  This came back normal, almost smack in the middle of the scale.  My reaction: there are at least 4 tests for thyroid function, and this generalized test can often miss a thyroid issue.  If I continue to have issues, I will see an endocrinologist to be certain.
     Sed Rate, Erythrocyte: This is a test for inflammation.  Normal is 0-20, mine was 26.  My doctor's comment was that while this was elevated, it was nonspecific and we would test when I have bloodwork done again.  My response was to go directly to Google to see why one might have an elevated sed rate.  Of course, I found the horror that I was looking for.  Depending on how elevated, it can signify cancer, Lupus, RA, and a slew of other diseases.  Despite all of the other good news and negative results, I sank.  She wasn't persistent enough, she thinks I'm a hypochondriac; she is missing something and it's going to be too late by the time someone discovers what is wrong with me.
When I woke up the next morning, I worked out, strength training for my lower body, which has been hurting a lot lately.  And after getting ready and heading off to work, I reminded myself that I have a choice whether or not I am going to be stressed out about things I can't change.  I decided to see the blessings for what they are.  The lab results do not indicate that I have a horrible disease living inside me.  Maybe I feel tired all the time because it takes extra effort to have to haul the extra weight around again.  Maybe all this worry is what is truly making me tired.  My mind is constantly scanning for the next problem to worry about and try to solve, and not surprisingly, I always find a problem to worry about.  So I made the decision, that my health is not something I am going to worry about right now.  I am leaving in my doctor's hands, she knows what she is doing, and my biggest health issue right now is that being overweight is making my blood pressure climb back into ranges I don't want it to be.  And that is something only I can fix, unless I want to be on medicine for it again, which I do not.
So, it's up to me.  It always has been, but I have been so caught up in the struggle of CAN'T and comparing things to back-when-it-was-easy; back when all the stars were aligned and I was in my element.  But I've been noticing that almost all the weight loss bloggers I read have the same thing happen.  They do great, their resolve iron-clad, they are inspiring and seem unstoppable.  But 6 months or a year later, the wheels fall off a bit, and the all-too-familiar struggle to "get back on track" begins.  Most of us end up back where we started, agonizing over why we can't just "get over it" and get back to that place where our energy and strength seemed endless.  Why do 90% of people regain?  Why do we get stuck? Why can't it be the other way around, that most people lose it and keep it off?  I have tortured myself over these questions and more, and felt that there either wasn't an answer, or I was not looking in the right places.
Then I found a book.  Now that I am done with school, I can read for enjoyment, so my library card will be getting heavy use.  The book I found? "When Food is Love" by Geneen Roth.  If I had heard of her before reading the book, I didn't remember.  The book sort of broke my heart for her and for me, and for every person who has felt trapped in fat-prison created by things that happened when we were young.  The basis behind the book is that we eat to try to comfort the child inside us who needed comfort and did not get it.  The times we were ignored, lonely, verbally or physically abused, our comfort was stolen from us and we have spent most of our life trying to make up for that.  This book was so relevant to me on every level, from how I respond to my relationships, to the how's, why's, when's and even the what's I use food to try and comfort myself.  It isn't about willpower or the stars being aligned, it is about years of being judged and denied comfort and living partly comatose to what I was doing and why.  I have issues from childhood.  Even if my parents have reasons and had their own issues from their childhood; I can't help that, coming to terms with what I needed and didn't get back then is the only way I can get past all that and stop using food to try and make up for all that.  This book was great in helping me answer the questions about why it seems so impossible to lose weight and keep it off.  If we were well-adjusted people, we probably wouldn't have issues with food to begin with.  So we have to go way way back to the beginning of where we begin to believe we were not right, not good, not lovable in order to move forward and stop using food to try to numb us to the fact that we are still broken inside.  Willpower can only get me so far before the demons catch up with me.  Something someone says triggers a feeling I had growing up, or someone treats me rudely and I believe I am a bad person.  I believe those people who say they felt sad when their fat was gone, they felt vulnerable because they were still broken inside; still the hurt kid crouching in the corner.
The only thing the book didn't give me was the HOW.  How do I uncover and accept the truths about my childhood?  How do I know what my triggers are?  How do I break free from this emotional fat prison?  So I picked up her book Breaking Free from Emotional Eating.  It is much older (1984) but it is still relevant.  I am only getting into chapter 3 but I can tell it will help.
Of interesting note, when I was reading When Food is Love, she mentioned that having drama in our lives is a way we cry to have someone save us from ourselves.  It made me sit straight up, laugh a little because it is so me, and then think hard about it.  It was part of the reason I was able to stop stressing out about my health.  I am creating my own drama because I want someone to rescue me or tell me how beside themselves with grief they would be to lose me from their life.  Ha ha.  It is interesting and funny to see this thing I didn't know I was doing is all part of the whole mental trip I am going through with food.  The thing is this, being aware of the things we are doing, and knowing what that means, is a really good step in the right direction.  I, for one, am looking forward to a summer of self-discovery and healing.  I will apologize in advance for the excessive, and long, blogs that will likely follow!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Today

I have health anxiety.  This started in late 2012, when I got Shingles, and then discovered my knee was torn, the MRI showing abnormalities in my bone marrow which a Complete Blood Count dismissed as not being leukemia, the opposite hip pain from compensating, the severely low vitamin D and low iron levels, the calcification found on my mammogram that they are "watching" despite calling it benign, the sun allergy, extreme hair loss, and why-the-hell-am-I-so-tired-all-the-time?!  Where did my energy go?  Exercise and lose weight and you will feel better, this is the standard advice.  But I feel like I can't do now, what I was doing 2 years ago before most of this crap started.  I have this horrible anxiety hanging over me, that there is something deeply wrong with me; life-changing wrong.  The latest stuff with my fingernails changing is very unsettling.  There are very few "normal" reasons for fingernails to change shape (menopause is the most non-threatening one), and because I still have the exhaustion, hair loss, loss of appetite and rapid weight gain, I just feel like something is amiss.
Last month I got a nasty case of bronchitis, it settled into my chest without warning, I didn't even have a cold at the time, it just fell on me like a load of bricks.  I felt so bad, I was with only a sliver of a voice at work for a full 2 weeks, coughing so deep I almost couldn't catch my breath.  I went to the walk-in where they told me it was just a virus and they don't give antibiotics for it unless it turns into pneumonia.  So I got an inhaler and a cough syrup with codeine.  The inhaler made me feel weird, in fact, there was one point after taking it that I felt like I was going to pass out and I felt like my heart was racing.  I felt so weird that I stopped taking it immediately.  My blood pressure has been getting increasingly higher since I've been putting more weight back on, so I am nervous about that.
Right during that illness, my coworker gave her 2-week notice.  I wasn't surprised, but that meant that it was just down to me and my boss to run our two offices, no room for time off since there was no one comfortable enough in our department to cover us.  Two days before that coworker was finished working for us, my boss got fired.  So I am the only optician for two offices, trying to cross-train some eye care nurses/technicians how to do my job, often over the phone.  UGH!  The night they fired my boss, I comfort-ate, like 6 large M&M cookies, which I knew I would pay for later, because I don't typically eat much dairy.  That evening, I had an extreme wave of nausea wash over me, and I got that feeling like I was going to pass out, that my lungs weren't working right, and I didn't know what was happening to me.  I ate some crystallized ginger to try and calm the nausea, then spent 5 hours sitting Indian-style in my living room, because that was the only position that didn't make me feel like I was dying.  I woke up feeling exactly the same, every time I stood up I felt like I would faint.  I somehow got my kids ready and we headed off to school and work.  I made it 1 hour before I had to go home sick.  I had no voice, I was coughing my chest off and my stomach felt like there was some sort of large boulder set in it.  I had a sensation that I somehow ingested Icy-Hot and it spread to my back and chest.  I spent all day and evening on the couch, afraid to sit up because of how I expected it to make me feel.  by 8:30 PM, when I knew my kids would be getting to bed soon, I sat up.  The heat creeped into my chest and back and my entire body began trembling uncontrollably.  I went to the ER.  It turns out I had gastritis, swelling of the stomach lining.  An anti-nausea pill made me feel good enough to eat again (I had had a total of 4 saltine crackers and 1/4 can of ginger ale in a 24 hour period).  I walked out of the hospital with a prescription for antibiotics (for my lungs, even though it was confirmed that it was 'just bronchitis') and an anti-nausea pill.  My stomach has been super sensitive to heartburn ever since, which sucks, because it's tough to know what is and isn't going to irritate it. I went to my doctor last Wednesday to discuss my concerns and changes.  I was her last appointment of the day, and she spent 1 and 1/2 hours with me, trying to figure out what could be going on with me.  Then I gave 5 tubes of blood to be tested.  She is testing me for a bacterial infection (of the stomach), Celiac's disease, thyroid problems, and connective tissues diseases (Rheumatoid arthritis and Lupus).  I can't remember what the 5th test was for.  I think I stumped her.
Of course, in my mind, when I know there is a possibility for something nasty going on inside me, I start to assume that is what it is.  So in my mind, I have lupus (it is commonly linked to sun allergy) or RA i have been feeling so achy stiff, and walk around like an old lady.  It's tough because I don't have distinct symptoms.  Waiting for test results is torturous.
This morning I went for a walk.  I was thinking about the what ifs.  What if I do have a nasty disease?  Of course my gut says that I would get uber-fit and kick it.  But as I was walking I realized how much effort it takes me right now, just to do this basic thing.  It takes effort to be aware of the bad habits I am falling into, favoring my knee and not using the muscles.  I walked for 35 minutes, at easy/moderate pace, and I felt every minute of it in my muscles.  How did I get so far off track?  It is bittersweet; if there is something wrong with me, there is hope that I can be treated and feel better, normal, and get things back on track.  But that also means I have something wrong with me.  If they don't find anything wrong, that means I am just slowly losing my fitness level and have to rely on my own inner strength to rebuild what was lost.  It isn't easy either way.  But today I took a little bit of me back.  I can't worry about how awesome things were once upon a time or how things might be tomorrow, good or bad.  Today I took a step.  It didn't magically heal me or make me feel energized, but I did it.  At this point, I am willing to try anything.
Now, time for a little retail therapy, I have to find some shirts that fit this large body again!
Happy Mother's Day to those who celebrate!