Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I decided to go with the Chicken Marsala option, and I requested all sauces and dressings on the side. I think this will help me to limit the amount of Marsala sauce that is on my dish. Also, the dessert is tiramisu, and I don't even really like that so I think I will pass on it. Thanks for all the input!

Also - to clarify, I am generally not shy about requesting sauces on the side or making other (what I deem not ridiculous) special requests, like steaming veggies instead of cooking them with butter. I do get shy about it, though, with "mass produced" catering-type meals like you'd get at a wedding or group dinner like this. I got over it though and asked for the meal like I wanted it!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Vote please/help

Holiday dinner for work is upon us...which of these do you think is the healthiest? All look tasty. Also do you think it is too gauche to special order dressings/sauces on the sides?

1) Chicken Marsala - Pan-Seared Chicken Breast Served with a Parmesan Risotto Cake, Steamed Asparagus and Marsala Sauce

2) Roasted Pork Loin - Served with Puree of Potatoes and Wild Mushroom Sauce

3) Lasagna Alla Bolognese - Chef’s Signature Bolognese, Bechamelle, Tomato, Fresh Basil, and Mozzarella

Please let me know your thoughts on

a) entree choice

b) tackiness of asking for sauces on the side...

Thank you! More substantial posts coming when I have time. Maybe midweek...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Halloween Candy

I forgot to post this earlier, but I made it through the Halloween season without buying any Halloween candy. I probably had it four or five times (at work, at various parties, etc) but it was in all cases a fun size or less. Now, that is incredible to me. I cannot think of a single year when I have not inhaled at least one bag of Halloween candy.

For those of you who don't binge or have any disordered eating patterns, first of all congrats! But second of all (to the point of this post), when I buy a bag of Halloween candy I can't think of a single time I've nursed the thing for a month or so until it's gone. It's usually gone in an evening. I just have developed over time terrible eating habits with certain foods and so for now it's best for me not to have certain things around me or in my environment. And, at this time, big bags of Halloween candy are one of the things I try to avoid...and, this year I did!

Sarah 1, Halloween Candy 2010 0. BOOYAH!


Last night I had one of the first binges I've had in probably 2 or 3 months. It was not good. I told some friends about some interesting/surprising/crappy stuff going on in my personal life and it was harder than I expected. While I am glad that I shared with them, it was surprisingly difficult to let them in on some of the stuff I consider embarrassing, shameful and central to my life.

I first of all want to apologize for being intentionally ambiguous, but I know that a couple my students read this and I don't want to really go there so publicly. Anyway, I told my friends about this situation that I deal with (and have been for about 10+ years now) and it is never fun to talk about or deal with. I told them that it was like a scab had formed over the wound, however, and now the recent developments - while potentially positive - were just ripping the scab right off and exposing some very real hurts underneath. This might be necessary for healing, but I can tell you it still sucks.

I am glad my friends now know and can help support me through this unpleasant situation. However, I was surprised at how unsettled the whole thing left me. I went home by way of Walmart and picked up a bunch of food -- cheese, salami, pretzels, and green onion dip. The funny thing is I thought to myself "You KNOW this will not make you feel better. STOP IT!!!" Like a defiant child, however, I soldiered out of that Walmart with crappy food in hand and ate it. I threw a lot of it away, but still, I ate a lot of it. Yuck. Not one of my finer moments.

The thing is, the situation I'm referring to is crappy. However, there is little or nothing I can do about it. This situation has already caused me (and all of our family) anguish and heartache, so why would I let it bother me more and impede my progress to live a healthy life? The reality is, removing myself from the situation is what I believe to be best for my mental health. That is not always possible, but a large part of the time it is. Engaging in the situation just makes me want to eat and feel sorry for myself, and last night I went there. It was not a proud moment. However, it is a moment I can learn from so that is what I need to do. Learn from it and move on. Maybe in time I can even face this and overcome my instinctual reactions to this situation, but one of the hardest parts is knowing that I cannot change it. There is nothing you can do to make someone else want to change. And knowing that sucks, but is not worth overeating about.

Lessons from Disney World

I had a great time at Disney World. It was nice to reconnect with two friends I don't get to see as often as I'd like.

This is a photo of me and Goofy. It was taken at 1:30 AM. Yes I am serious. This vacation was not for the faint of heart!

First a recap of what we did.
Seriously, with the exception of many of the rides at Hollywood Studios and some of the very kiddie rides we cared nothing about, it is safe to say we did everything at the parks. We rode Space Mountain 4 times We rode Expedition Everest twice. We rode most everything else at least once. We. did. everything. And it was fun.

I read online that the average Disney guest walks 8 miles/day. While I have no idea whether or not this is true, I would not be surprised. We went from sunup to sundown -- one day, we left our hotel at 8 AM and got back at 3:30 AM and had been doing Disney stuff all day long. I am not exaggerating either. But, we got to see everything and we had fun which made it all worth it.

Here are some of the things I learned or confirmed with respect to my eating and healthy lifestyle movement.
  • I need to have food with me all the time. If I get too hungry, it is not pretty and I will crash. And when that happens, I will not be nice. This happened to me on Saturday, and I had no food with me so I had to get a candy bar because my body was absolutely rebelling on me and threatening not to function unless I fueled it immediately. I only wish I had had better fuel to give it.
  • I really do know more about my back. On Saturday, my back was killing me (I could not even carry my purse/waterbottle with me or else my back would spasm violently). However, I kept stretching and did some yoga that evening and then the next morning I was fine. This was great, considering I was at one point concerned I would not be able to walk the next day. I am glad I can catch the back problems at an earlier stage and I know now how to "fix" them or, at least, prevent them from escalating further out of control.
  • My motivation wanes as I get further acclimated to an environment. The first day at Disney, I had a cup of clam chowder, a pop, carrots and yogurt for lunch. My eating got worse as the vacation went on (but, fortunately, it never got super abysmal).
  • My body can more or less do what I ask it to. I was able to walk and walk and walk and walk and walk this vacation. Sometimes fast too, and sometimes (though rarely) I even broke into a run. I remember last time I went to Disney I was about 60 lbs heavier than I am now, and my feet gave out and eventually I was too tired to press on. Not this time - not even 18 hours of nonstop Disney magic made me give out! Crazy. My body simply would not have allowed that when I was less healthy.
It was so nice to be able to ride rides and actually be curious what the photos of me on the ride looked like rather than being like "OMG am I REALLY that fat?!" In fact, I thought this one was so funny, I sent it to myself. Check out how my life in the future might be.... All in all, one of the least relaxing but best vacations I've had.

Austin and turning a Corner

I had a great time in Austin at my conference. I met some new people, learned about new stuff going on in my field, and connected with old friends. I really love to do that.

I made several really significant choices that made me realized "Huh, my life has changed and this is totally doable." It was as though I had turned a corner on the trip. Let me give you some examples.
  • I packed healthy bars (e.g., Larabars), a bag of apples, and beef jerky for breakfasts and snacks. I felt I would be in better control than leaving these meals to fate. Don't get me wrong, I still love bagels, sausage, eggs, and all kinds of other breakfast foods, but to be honest I didn't really miss not having them and felt 100% satisfied by my breakfasts (once I got a bottle of milk).
  • I went out to dinner a lot (what other options are there in a new place with no kitchen?), and a couple of times split things with friends. I knew that ordering a whole plate for myself wouldn't have anything to do with hunger (there is almost always way too much food at restaurants), and I was not sad about this decision. Turns out the food at one restaurant (BBQ) was kind of gross and I ended up leaving the part I didn't like behind. That would have NEVER happened in the past. Mashed potatoes -- whether they were gross or not -- would have been inhaled. Not this time.
  • The gym at the hotel was $15 a day to use. I HATE THAT AND VERY LITTLE IRKS ME MORE THAN PAYING $200/DAY FOR A HOTEL AND THEN HAVING TO PAY FOR THE GYM ON TOP OF THAT!!! Instead of using this as an excuse not to work out, I got up at 5 each morning and went for a long walk. It was actually nice to have a chance to explore Austin (and I felt safe doing so), so it ended up to be a good thing since I was otherwise at the conference venue most of the day.
  • I felt like I had reasonable control over balancing treats and eating healthy. I came back very very sodium waterlogged, but did not otherwise have a significant weight change, which was great.
  • I went out to lunch and one day ordered a side of veggies instead of fries -- not because I felt like I should, but because I wanted to and was concerned my body was not getting enough fiber. I thought to myself as I did it "OMG is this really happening or am I having an out of body experience?!"
  • I realized I needed a lot less sleep than I used to. Remember how I wanted to get a bunch of sleep for my upcoming trip? Totally didn't happen. Most nights I slept 5-6 hours. I usually sleep about 7 hours. In spite of the lack of sleep, I did fine. I was surprised but happy to learn that I don't need as much sleep as I thought.
  • (This one is huge) I did not once eat in secret. I did not pig out because I could or because I felt like I had an excuse of being out of town. This is huge for me. I thought "Huh, this must be how normal people eat...not that I'd really know."
I've posted a couple pictures of me at the conference. These are significant not only because I look smaller than I did last year at this conference, but also because I bought this shirt last year for the same conference but it ended up being to small. This year it was not. I was ecstatic to be able to wear it. Hopefully next year it might even be loose!

I think for me the reason that this trip was so significant was because I felt very at peace with food. I didn't think about it all that much. I thought about the real reasons I was at the conference, and none of them were to eat. I rarely thought about food other than when I was hungry. For someone with such a hugely dysfunctional past with food, this is huge. I was delighted to feel like I had turned some kind of a corner on this trip. I actually felt normal, which is a very comforting feeling after having felt so weird around food for so long.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Weigh in

This week's weigh in was 234.2. That is the lowest I have weighed in in quite a while and, believe it or not, I think that is even with me retaining water. I will not have much access to a scale this week - just Thursday morning, the only day I will be home this week. I will be curious to see how I do out of town. My next official weigh in will be (a week from) Tuesday AM.

You can see that progress on the weight front has been slow. Here is a graph of my progress since mid-May. I've lost about 10 lbs since then, but I think that I have trimmed up with biking and working out.

PS - I changed my blog header last week. For those of you who read in a feed reader, check it out. I cannot figure out how to center it though. Does anyone know how? If so can you help me?

Friday, November 5, 2010

This week and next week

It's Friday!  I love Fridays!!!  Yes, I love that it's the end of a workweek, but I also love the yoga at lunchtime and the Zumba after work.  What a fun exercise day.

This week I got pretty freaking sick.  It was so unpleasant.  Turns out that nausea I described was a precursor to a pretty unpleasant Monday night, Tuesday and Wednesday.  Let's just leave it at that, shall we?  The good news is that once I got better, it was like I was better 100%, not a couple days of getting-over-sickness purgatory.  I was grateful to be able to be back to my regular life.  However, those couple days out of work (and, basically, out of everything except sleeping and watching crappy reality TV) really put me behind on a couple of things I want to/need to wrap up at work.

Reason?  I am going to be out of town all next week.  I will be headed to Austin for my biggest annual professional conference.  By the way, I look at the picture in the post I linked and think "Man I looked huge there!"  Even though I have "only" lost 20 lbs in the past calendar year since that picture was taken, I think my body has changed significantly.  I will have to take a picture next week for comparison.  I also look in my alignment in that picture and it kills me - look at how much lower the shoulder on the right is than the shoulder on the left!!  These alignment issues are caused by my SI problems.  Looking back at it, it is crazy - at the time I did not realize what a struggle those back/SI issues would be and how much pain and frustration they would cause.  It is crazy what I am learning about myself as I take my health really seriously and want to be the total package of wellness.  I know how to take so much better care of my back issues now.  Yoga has been key for me on this - tight muscles are just a breeding ground for a sore back; yoga helps me to stay flexible and limber.  That, and cutting out running and deadlifts even though I wish I could do both.

At the conference next week, my objectives are first and foremost to network and learn a lot, but also to catch up with friends, keep the eating under control while allowing myself a couple treats from the local cuisine, to exercise without giving myself a complex about it, and to get plenty of sleep.  We will see how I do.  Travel and being in unfamiliar places is something I still struggle with and have to concentrate hard on.

The reason I want to get plenty of sleep?  Thursday I leave for Disney World!!  I can't wait.  I will arrive back in Arkansas, be in town for about 13 hours to teach my class, and then leave!  I read that the average Disney guest walks about 8 miles/day.  It may be worth getting a pedometer to estimate how much we walk.  I am excited not only for the fun Disney stuff, but also to see two dear friends I haven't seen in about a year.  Should be great fun!!!!!

All this means a marathon weekend to get ready - doing laundry, packing for two sets of stuff and getting ready for a quick changeover, etc.  One of the oddest/funniest things are these vanity activities I now feel I "need" to get done like getting a pedicure since I will be rocking sandals all the time at Disney.  When I was a lot fatter, I did not care really at all how I looked.  Now I do, and so I want to look good and take care of details to do so (though I still rarely wear makeup).  Yay for having pride in my appearance I guess?

Hey if it's part of the package of actually having a healthier self image, I'll totally take it!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Progress in Pictures

My mom came for a visit a few weekends ago. We had a great time, got a good amount of activity in, and didn't really go overboard in the food department. It was a good visit and it was nice to have time to spend together.

One of the things we did was go hiking in Lost Valley. I have been there before, but it was weird that the creek bed was COMPLETELY dry and Eden Falls was nothing but a trickle (see pictures from my last post -- that is NOT normal!)

One of the neat things on the trail is a tree that is basically hollow inside where you can get in and have someone take a picture. The picture on the left was taken a year ago yesterday, when I thought for sure I would be able to fit into the tree but was unable to. The picture on the right was taken October 16 when I thought "Oh right, the tree I don't fit into - I'll give it a shot anyway" and I slipped right in. Sometimes it feels like this journey is taking forever. Sometimes the lack of progress is frustrating. But, sometimes I see a couple pictures or realize I can do an hour of Zumba AND bike there and back and not feel all that tired and I realize "Girlfriend, you may not be there yet but you have come a LOOOOOOOOONG way." On these days I am really proud.

Monday, November 1, 2010


My stomach feels like it is eating itself.  Maybe there is something more serious going on.  This concerns me.  I hope I can sleep tonight.

Out of the Closet

I have mentioned before that I am getting more involved with a community group from my church. I like the people in it and am starting to feel more comfortable and safe revealing parts of myself to them. They still don't know all of the history with my dad (probably going to drop at least parts of that bomb tomorrow), but I made a big step to one person yesterday: I told her that I struggle with food.

That was it. I didn't go into the details (though I later did thank her for her empathy and share with her the link to the blog in case she was curious via e-mail), but it feels good to have at least one person know. Ironically, I told her this after I had been with our group at McDonalds. I had a walnut/apple salad and actually the sight/smell/thought of McDonalds not only no longer has any appeal to me, it totally grosses me out. The circumstances/significance of our being there is another societal rant all by itself that I will forgo for now.

It feels good to have at least one person know my "secret". Now part of me thinks, "Who are you kidding - you wear size 18 and are welllll over 200 lbs; your struggle is no secret!!", but another part of me thinks of the years of shame and secret eating and knows that this is a huge deal to have my "secret" out in the open. I am similarly divided on the significance of this revelation - I mean, the title of my blog states that food will NOT define me forever, so why am I making a big deal of my dysfunctional relationship with food if I don't want it to define me? But the other part of me knows that still I often teeter on very tenuous ground and that I am not yet to the place where I can regularly control my eating; this in fact makes this revelation very noteworthy and underscores the importance of being vigilant about it at all times. Although I don't want food to define me forever, my wrestling with the emotion attached to food is still at the forefront of my day to day life and, as a result, still largely does define me for now.

Revealing my struggle was a big huge step for me. I am not sure what happens next with these people and in how they relate to my journey to have a healthy relationship with food - while I do not want them to change their food-related behavior around me, I will appreciate their understanding when I act weird around food or just forgo a lot of the food choices that are available. Further, trusting people in church-related situations is HUGE for me, and I made what for me is considered a huge step by telling one person from this environment about my problem.

I sometimes think it must seem so weird to someone who has never struggled with disordered eating before to hear that people "struggle" with food, just like I think some addictions are weird (e.g., I cannot for the life of me understand the hoarding thing!). The good news is that, even if the person I told felt like this, she never showed it at all. Could be that she is a counselor. Could be that she has a good poker face. Or, maybe just maybe, it could be that she is kind and trustworthy and genuinely empathetic. Believe it or not, my money is on the last option. I am starting to trust. I hope it is not a mistake.


My body has a new way of letting me know it is hungry.  For someone who lived the vast majority of her adult life as morbidly obese and all of her adult life as obese, please understand that eating because I'm hungry is a relatively new thing.  I used to eat because it was time or there was food around or I was feeling (insert emotion of choice - sad, excited, frustrated, like I earned a treat).  It is probably weird for most of you who eat normally to understand, but it was the reality of my life for a long time.

Over the last couple years, I have learned I exhibit some weird hunger signs.  I am getting better at recognizing them.  Now sometimes feels like I imagine "normal" people feel -- you want food and your stomach growls.  However, other times the signs of hunger are more subtle and/or bizzarre.  Sometimes I get headaches without feeling hunger that I realize they actually are hunger in disguise (sometimes, but rarely, dehydration -- I am pretty diligent about drinking lots of water).  Sometimes I have a craving -- usually for something unhealthy.  When I try to ride the craving out but it doesn't pass, I sometimes eat something healthy and then the craving passes.  I have come to realize that the cravings are often hunger mixed with something my body wants/needs (e.g., ice cream craving = eat something with calcium to feel better, and craving will pass).

My body's latest thing to let me know it is hungry is nausea.  Pleasant and very intuitive, right?  Actually no, but that is what my body is doing lately.  It is weird, much of this weekend I felt nauseated and just gross.  I went to a party Saturday even though I wasn't feeling amazing, and ate a little and still felt bad.  I figured I would just try to deal with not feeling great.  I didn't want the weekend to go to waste.  Sunday I felt gross but I wanted to get one last bike ride in before the week started.  I was out just before sunset on Sunday and as I biked past the burger place and smelled the greasy burger goodness, my stomachache/nausea went away immediately.  It was the weirdest thing.  When I went home and ate, I realized I was hungry.

Today, I was working hard and as lunch approached, I got nauseous.  I was like "Huh, wonder if I am hungry?"  As I ate, sure enough the nausea started to wane.

The good news is that I am kind of figuring out my body.  The bad news is that I feel so nasty when I get nauseous that I am now eating a bit extra to make sure this does not happen.  For example, I ate a couple (big, catering-type) cookies at lunch to make sure I didn't feel bad in the afternoon.  I need to find a way to hedge against this new (hopefully temporary) way for my body to display its hunger without ruining my momentum to live a healthy lifestyle.  I think the answer is to carry healthy snacks with fat (e.g. almonds), as fat tends to help me feel better -- eating something carby like fruit does not make a dent on the nausea.  It is odd.

This confirms my belief that I just need a lot of food, and food of certain types.  I am not sure if my body will eventually adjust or not to less food, but if my body needs food -- even if it is more than an online calculator or program like WW says that I "should" have -- I am going to eat it.  I am trying to honor my body and health.  I would like to be at a weight that is considered healthy for my health and body type, and am not going to shun the aesthetic benefits that would come with weight loss.  However, the longer I am on this quest to get healthy -- inside and out -- the more I am realizing it is NOT just about weight.  It is about honoring my body and providing it the fuel it needs to help me live a healthy and productive life....even if that means I am outside an arbitrarily calculated goal weight window for my height.
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