Monday, May 23, 2016

Getting to Work

The weekends go by so fast, don't they? During the week, I make a mental list of all the things I am going to accomplish over the weekend and it seems like only a small fraction gets done.  Especially this past weekend, I felt so horrible that I finally went to the urgent care.  I was certain I had bronchitis or pneumonia, I was coughing so hard and so much that I could barely catch my breath.  The nurse practitioner said my lungs are clear, to my surprise, and diagnosed it as a sinus infection.  To be honest, I knew they wouldn't give me anything if it was bronchitis so the sinus infection got me some antibiotics and an inhaler.  I still don't feel any effect but hope the medicine kicks in soon.  My whole body aches!
Whenever I am sick, I eat low-nutrition foods.  I know I'm trying to soothe myself in an ineffective way, especially eating dairy which makes you cough more.  But I can look at it and see what did I feel I was lacking that I thought food could fill? Comfort, rest, sympathy.  Food did not fulfill any of those wants.  Now the key is to realize this in the moment so I can avoid the whole comfort eating altogether.  With this infection I allowed myself to stop trying to work on stuff, and whenever I go on autopilot my menu gets scary.  The fact that I want to go on autopilot should be a big red flag in itself, and should make me reflect on why I feel like I want to be numb or lazy.  It might not stop me every time, especially during hormonal shifts, but it can help me not eat emotionally more of the time, and I think that would be a huge deal in the long run.  And little changes can add up to big results over time.  And with a mindful eating strategy,  it won't be a restrictive, non-sustainable thing that will make me yo-yo, there's no wrong way, it's all about learning what the triggers are and how to get what you need without eating for comfort.  
One of the things that scares me about all the yo-yoing is that my blood pressure has been creeping back up.  The diastolic (bottom number) was normal but the top one was high (159).  While I know having an infection can increase that reading, and I had had some caffeine as well, I know there is a huge family history ( both sides) of heart disease and I don't want to help it out.  I don't have my annual physical until November so I have a few goals in mind to work on to help get my numbers back to normal. 1. Cut back on processed sugars, which I tend to eat emotionally or before my monthly.  Keeping mindful of what my real need is will help.  2. Eat more healthy fats.  3. Cut back on cheese, it's a subpar protein source, even for a vegetarian.  4. Get 60 minutes of cardio in every day at least 4 days a week.  60 minutes can reverse plaque buildup in your arteries and while I don't know what mine look like, I consider this a preventative measure.  It will also help me stave off depression and anxiety that comes every fall and winter.  5. Do more activities that calm, soothe, and relax me such as reading, meditating or snuggling with my husband or taking a hot bath.  I have neglected these things in favor of playing games on my phone or endlessly scrolling through Facebook, which numbs me.  Still relaxing, but checking out.  
I know I won't be perfect but it helps to have a plan to stop or reverse my high blood pressure.  The last thing I want is to be put back on blood pressure medicine.  And worrying about my heart all the time is not what I call relaxing or fun.  So with the school year almost done for my sons, I will have an extra hour in the morning to get that cardio in.  And by the time they go back to school I should be in the habit of doing it, so hopefully it wi t be a big deal to get up a little earlier to get it done.  This is not to loose weight, perse, but I know that might be a nice side effect.  I just hate wondering when I'll have a heart attack instead of if I will.  I have the power to change my story, it'd be absurd not to.  Now I have a good amount of tools for the job.  Time to get some work done!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Its all OK

I don't have a proclamation to make, but I noticed some positive changes throughout the week last week.  It feels strange to say that I'm making progress toward a goal to be healthier because I'm not restricting and I don't feel deprived.  That confused my brain a little.  In the past, I would have been beating myself up about eating pasta one night, or about having a bagel with my breakfast because I have really trained my brain to equate my eating of carbs with me being a weak loser.  The diet mentality is a mindf#ck that leads to dieters feeling aweful about themselves.  The psychology of not restricting means a lot less stuff beckons to me just for the sake that it's naughty, indulgent stuff that's off limits. I know I can have it whenever I want, so that takes a certain amount of the power out it.
I had salad for lunch last week because I felt like my body was craving nutrients.  I figured out one of the reasons I don't eat more salad is because I usually figure if I need to add the healthiest greens (kale, spinach, microgreens, etc) and not only are they bitter, but they spoil quickly and I end up wasting so much. So I mix some kale in with my shredded iceberg (which I absolutely love), load it with veggies, banana peppers, feta and sunflower kernels and it's so flavorful I don't even need dressing.  I bought and ate a lot of berries too during the week.  I do believe if we listen to our body it tells us what we need.  Our brains and emotions just get in the way and we let them run amok.
The weekend was one of the most relaxing ones I have had since...I can't even remember.  Other than our standard grocery run, I did not go out at all this weekend.  No running around, no seeking and searching, not even a restaurant.  I am fighting a chest cold and I really didn't have the energy to be out and about, especially since the weather was not great.  I think I have needed that for so long, but I was depriving myself of it by having and making too many plans always.  I watched some Seinfeld and we did order in veggie burgers from a local restaurant and I didn't have any wine, even though it sounded good, I knew it'd make my lungs and head feel even worse.  I did notice that, the not being active made my spirits sag a bit, but a little housework and taking the dog out for walks more often helped.  I am looking forward to nicer weather this week and hopefully I will kick this virus to the curb as well. 
I lost my focus on my inner voice a little during my lazy weekend, and that's OK sometimes, I really just needed some true downtime, to turn off my brain from all the have-to's and just truly veg-out.  I could stand to do that more often!  My food was not the healthiest stuff I've ever eaten, but not the worst, but I truly didn't really put much thought or effort into the why's, I was really just checked-out.  I didn't even read.  And I'm OK with a break like that, which is a huge deal because this would have killed me in the past. 
So things are just going.  Not good or bad, just...going.  And I feel generally content.  And I can't really argue with that. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Finally!

I have finally finished my Bachelors Degree!!!  It has been such grueling work managing full time work (including keeping up 2 certifications), raising a family and going back to school, and finally I get to take a much-needed breath!  I had grand ideas of how much else I was going to get done once I didn't have school on my plate, but in reality, I'm kind of in 'don't wanna' mode.  After feeling burnt out for 4 years, I just want to relax and indulge in free time, since it seems to have been desperately missing for so long.  And I'm learning that I need more free time to be happy than is normal.  That's the introvert and planner in me.  But I'll catch up on all that.
My most major news is this:
We adopted a dog!  He is 9 months, a Norwich/Westie mix and we named him Franklin. I'm not going to say it's been flawless, especially the times when he needs to go out at 3am, but he is so smart and super affectionate and we are so happy he's part of our family.  It's the first place we've lived that allowed dogs so it feels like a great step for us, plus it is teaching my sons responsibility.  
The other new thing in my life is a book I bought a few weeks ago and am just diving into:
I am 80 pages is and my jaw has dropped on several occasions already.  This talks about the connections between the missing coping skills we learned as children and how we react to things today.  So many of the things that happen in those formative years lead us to the coping skills we still try to rely on today.  Something that was missing in my childhood were emotionally supportive parents who were consistent and gave me clear boundaries and nurtured me and whom I knew would always have my back.  I was often ridiculed for showing emotion, told not to be a baby about it and even teased if I was crying about something when my feelings were hurt.  Not every time, but a lot of times, and those are the ones that scar.  And sometimes when I needed my mom's attention she was just plain checked out, reading a book or doing a crossword and not acknowledging that I had even spoken to her.  I felt alone and misunderstood a lot as a child.  My parents were not really in the position to model effective coping and self-soothing skills for me, so I had to make it up as I went along.  And food was one way I found to self-soothe.  And I put a lot of burden on others to try and fill needs that my parents didn't.  And that makes me overreact emotionally to my triggers, but since it's been ingrained in me that showing emotions is BAD, I stuff it all down with food.  So, this book is the beginning of fiding out what's been missing in my coping and self-soothing skills so that I can do for myself, what my parents weren't able to.  No blame, no bad feeligns, they were young and overwhelmed and had their own head issues passed down from their own parents.  But accepting that there are holes in my learning process and learning how to take care of my emotional needs myself, is what I have been looking for for the past 30 years of using food as a drug.  I feel like the itch is finally about to get scratched.  And for once, I am not going to get interrupted by a new semester starting, now is the perfect time for me to fix what's been dysfunctional for so many years.  In a way I feel like a huge weight is lifting off me, like all the crazy "have to's" of dieting, the restricting and the forcing and the pretending is gone.  I will fix myself from the part that makes me turn to food, my brain.  I am just getting into the techniques of learning to soothe myself, and be my own sort of mental cheerleader.  It is going to take some practice and time to get the negative "mom" voice out of my head. You know, the one that tells me how disgraceful and burdensome I am, the one that doubts I can finish what I start or handle my own affairs.  The one that thinks I am wrong when I am right, and makes me feel bad for disputing it.  I always had to walk around eggshells around her, never knew which version of her I was going to get, the happy, singing, craft-loving mom who I loved being around, or the anything (and I mean ANYTHING) can-set-her-off, and when it does no one will be allowed to feel good about any part of themselves mom.  She handed down her dysfunctional coping skills and in those times when I cringe over feeling that I have inherited some of her personality and mannerisms, it is because when I think of her, I mostly remember the angry, emotionally-whacked out mom and as a kid, you take that stuff personally, even though it's not our fault. 
Anyway, before this turns into more of a journal entry than it already is, I feel like I've been digging in the dirt looking for my lost jar of pennies for a long time now, and I've finally found the right spot to dig.  I am so happy this book is helping to explain my childhood to me, I have been doubting myself for so long, thinking I was just looking at my childhood through crap-colored glasses, and while I do truly have some happy memories from childhood, I think the bad stuff had way more affect on me, and now I finally have a way to start healing those scars.  Letting go of that stuff, healing the deep past, will help me be more emotionally-balanced in my current life, and I won't feel the need to turn to food when I'm not hungry.  Before I started reading this book on Saturday, I bought a bunch of "clean" low-carb groceries to "start over" and this morning once I got my son on the bus I practically ran into the local grocery store and loaded up on junk food.  Besides just being hungry from delaying my breakfast, it felt like my brain was rebelling against the idea of restricting myself again.  It's a sign that I need to be ready mentally, and better equipped to take on those feelings like I am missing out on something or not getting enough of something else.  I know those truly don't have anything to do with food, deep down, but trying to throw it all out there on a whim is like trying to change a tire with no tools. And, in the long run, equally successful.  My obese body is true testament to that.  
Now that I have some more free time I want to start journaling on my private blog and reflecting on it here.  It really helps.  Writing has been the best way to sort through and deal with my feelings, I just don't always have the time or opportunity, but I am going to start using it as a tool and see if that alone lessens my desire for comfort food. I feel like I can finally sink my teeth into this.  I am feeling calm and happy and ready to dig deeper.