Wednesday, December 14, 2011


This week I've been back on the straight and (relatively) narrow. Tracking my food, going to the gym -- all of the habits that help me to be successful and that I get mad at myself when I quit, but that I manage to stray from relatively often. This is resulting in some losses on the scale, though I'm not where I want to be, or anywhere close (236.2 this morning vs in the high 220s for most of the fall).

It is funny -- when I am gaining weight, I am always surprised at how slowly it happens on the way up. Yeah, there's always that shocking "Holy crap, I gained 3 lbs" the day that follows a binge or a cocktail party, but most of the weight typically is water weight and most (though not all) of it usually goes away in a day or two. Let's face it, I have been feeding my body total crap for a month and a half now, and I have gained "just" 10 lbs.

It makes me think, "OMG, how MUCH and how CONSISTENTLY did I abuse my body to weigh 300 lbs?!?"

The flip side is even more infuriating. It took me a long time and a noble effort to gain weight up until the point where I was 300 lbs. How do I seriously expect to undo a month's worth of couch surfing and food abusing in like 2 days? The weight will take time and consistent effort to lose, just like it did to gain.

Patience, grasshopper.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

23 1/2 hours

I think that this video is awesome. It was personally convicting, especially as I try to get back into a routine of going to the gym.

Monday, December 12, 2011

It's been a month

SO. Yeah. It's been a month.

Things here have been a lot of hard going. Not really sure why, but what's a blog good for if not a little introspection and conjecture?

The long and the short of it is that I'm up about 10 lbs. It feels like so much more.


In early November, I was traveling for about 2 weeks. Living out of a suitcase and eating from restaurants everyday used to hold some appeal to me when I was in college and I wanted to be a consultant, but I can now say there is no bed like my own and no food like the kind I can make. That's not to say I don't love travel and adventure and restaurants -- I do -- but there's just something to be said for being able to make and eat your own food. Doing without all of that and having less control than I'd like over what I ate was not that great.

Also, I'm not going to lie, I was pretty lazy when traveling. The good news is that staying on college campuses and in cities several blocks from where my conference was being held led me to do a lot of walking. But as to a formal workout? Yeah, that didn't happen. Not even once in two weeks.

Another critical factor is the emotional battle that is a professional conference. I used to REALLY look forward to these conferences, as they were one of a handful of social outlets that I had when I did not yet have friends in Arkansas. Now that I have friends here? The stress of feeling judged all the time and regretting my early years with little productivity outweigh the nice-ness of seeing my friends at these conferences. That's not to say I don't love to see my friends; I do -- but I find the pre-tenure constant judgement pretty grating. And I'm not pleased to admit that I drowned my sorrows in food a few times. Yep, compulsive eating still leaves you feeling belittled and like a failure and gross. Don't do it.

So when I got back to Arkansas, it was SO hard to get back in a routine! After I got back from traveling, it was Thanksgiving. I did not really hold anything back for that. And I cannot even tell you the last time I went to the gym more than once during a week. Sigh.

So, here I am, 10 lbs heavier, and I feel squishier than I have in a long time (muscle loss from not working out??). It's pretty gross. I am not eating enough fruits and veggies, nor am I drinking enough water.

I want to turn this ship around. Today, I packed my lunch. I said no to leftovers from a work party that would have been delicious but pretty unhealthy in favor of what I'd brought. My goal was to drink 96 oz of water today; so far I've had about 70 oz. Tonight, I am meeting a friend at the gym for an hour long (!!) spin class. And I am going public in saying that I will go to the gym tomorrow too.

So? I feel so grateful that I know that I've been here before, having undone progress but then re-doing it and ending up pushing forward. I feel glad that I am changing my all or nothing thinking. (e.g., I'm not giving up completely after this and saying, "Well I guess I'll always be fat"). That's not to say that my feelings about my current weight loss situation isn't mixed with a fair amount of regret or just feeling gross, but I am glad that I see past this and won't quit.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tired of Traveling

I've been home just 30 hours since last Monday. I'm heading home Thursday morning. All of the things I've done have been really great -- making connections, learning things, seeing and catching up with friends. Also, I have to admit it's been pretty great in a hotel room with cable so I can catch up on crappy TV when I'm here -- but overall I am basically over traveling.

The food is getting harder. I know I have gained a decent chunk of weight. I have not been making great choices, and I am just ready to be home and cook.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Seasonal Affective Disorder

It is killing me. I need sun. This is so freaking depressing. Has anyone used a light box before? Thoughts? Recommendations?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Best applesauce ever and cooking

I have made great strides in my cooking in the last couple years. For me, the ability to make myself food that is delicious and that I know I control the ingredients to is key. I love trying and experimenting with new recipes. Love that a lot. But I'm now trying to enter a new phase: cooking without a cookbook.

As I've gotten more confident in the kitchen, I have taken more liberties with recipes and substitutions and additions. I love to add roasted garlic to stuff. I almost always substitute half and half for cream in soups and in ice creams. I'd like to get to the place, though, where I can just look at what I have, dream something up, make it, and then have it taste fabulous.

I made a big stride today, and had a really delicious result.

First of all, I went grocery shopping the other day. It was so nice to have groceries again. As I usually do, I bought a bunch of fruit. Delicious? Totally. Great idea? Maybe not since I'm leaving for two weeks Monday. I decided to make "apple" sauce -- and by applesauce, I mean the hot dogs of the applesauce world, where I tossed in a little of everything to help whittle down my produce stash.

I used pears (4-5), apples (12-15), raspberries (about 2/3 of a big package), cranberries (about 1/2 lb), juice and zest of one orange. I do not peel the apples or pears (even though many recipes say you should) because I like the fiber they add. I also had leftover cider, so I boiled the appleauce in that instead of using water like I usually do. I added 2 pieces of candied ginger, a pinch of salt, put mulling spice in my spice ball and added 3 cinnamon sticks.

Bring all of this stuff to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer awhile (maybe 30-45 mins?), stirring occasionally. When you're done, the apples should smash easily just like when you're boiling potatoes for mashed potatoes. Remove the spice ball with mulling spices and cinnamon when you're done. I sometimes add cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice (usually only when I do pure applesauce), but in this case I did not. I then puree the applesauce with an immersion blender. I was surprised -- even with the tart cranberries, I did not need to add any sugar. My guess is that it's due largely to the sweetness of the pears and cider, but I am not really sure. The candied ginger probably helped a bit too. Whatever I did? Wow, did it work. THIS. SAUCE. IS. SO. FREAKING. GOOD!!!

You can imagine that I have a bunch of apple sauce now (probably about 3-5 quarts?). It freezes well, but once I make applesauce I am generally an applesauce consuming fiend. If the sauce is not gone by the time I leave, I'll freeze it. I have a friend who had surgery this week, so I will probably give some to her too.

My favorite thing to do with applesauce (which, the normal way I make it, is "free" on Weight Watchers since it's just apples and water basically with no sugar) is to mix it with either Greek yogurt or cottage cheese. I use about 2/3 apple sauce and 1/3 yogurt or cottage cheese. It is so important for me to get protein in the morning if I don't want to be hungry by mid morning, so this really does the trick.

I am glad I am starting to feel really confident in the kitchen. People have told me for a long time that I am a good cook. While I am grateful for their compliments, I have never really been able to accept this one. I have been a great recipe researcher and follower, but -- in my estimation -- never really a good cook. Cooks can work with what they have, be creative, and find good flavor pairings on their own. I have never really been good at that. I am starting to be now, though. I am on my way to being a legit cook, and that excites me.

Hard going

The last few weeks have been tough on the food front. I don't know why. Hormones, sick, lots of travel, not having many groceries...they definitely all play into it. But still, I have just not been disciplined about working out or eating, and the scale has reflected that.
I leave again for basically two weeks on Monday (I will be in the office one day, but other than that will be gone). I am very excited about each of the trips for different reasons, but I am not looking forward to not being able to cook for myself or have good control over what I eat or when/whether I exercise.

I am still getting good external feedback about the changes I've made in my life. Today I had someone ask me, "You're totally under 200 lbs now, right?" I said, "Nope. 231 this morning." She couldn't believe it, insisting I'd lost 20-30 lbs since she last asked. I thought to myself, "Ha! If we're talking 20-30 lbs, we're going to have to rewind to November 2009." But still, it is nice to hear and feel like my body is changing.

Not sure what the point of this post is. I will still get sick sometimes (and more if I don't start exercising). I won't always have groceries at home. Sometimes I will be traveling or otherwise not have great control over my food. That is in no way an excuse to eat compulsively, so I need to learn to deal with these challenges. If I am honoring my body, exercising, eating healthy foods in moderation and not eating compulsively, I will be fine if I stay at this weight forever. Given that I am not doing all of these things right now, though, something has to change.

I will pack fruit and string cheese for my trip. I am glad that for one of the trips, my hotel is actually 6 blocks away from where the conference is. I will make a concerted effort to drink a lot of water. I will work out once or twice. And most of all, I will work to be grateful and surrender my food each day. Those two cornerstones of OA really make a huge difference when I am working on them. (Hence the OA mantra "It works if you work it", in reference to working the steps of the program.)

Monday, October 24, 2011

New Normal

This morning I weighed 228.4. It is so funny -- I feel pretty fat because a bit of my stomach has returned (the most noticable place I lost weight last week). It is odd how quickly we can become accustomed to something -- a new weight, a bad habit, etc -- and how hard it can be to change it. Well, I am back from vacation so I'm headed back to the routine of tracking everything and getting rid of this crappy weight I picked up up north. It was worth it though.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

You'd be Swimming in That

Yesterday I went on a bike tour around Chicago, and rented a bike in the morning just to ride around. It was great -- so much fun. I totally recommend Bobby's Bike Hike if you're ever in Chicago (coupon code: YELP2011). The funny thing was, this place is owned by a guy from Arkansas! On the tour, I even got a special job: helping to corral people in the back. Reward: I got to wear the snazzy vest pictured to the right for three hours. Anyway, I digress.

They had cool t-shirts for sale that said "I Chicago" (imagine the I <3 NY shirts, subbing a bike picture for the heart, and Chicago for NY). I wanted one, long sleeved so I asked my tour guide George about it at the end of the tour. He told me and I quote, "Yeah sorry, we only have XL. You would totally be swimming in that."

This guy knew nothing about me, or about my past but I was shocked. For someone who used to not fit into men's/unisex 2XL clothes? It was pretty surreal to be told XL was too big for me. Odd, but great. And maybe he is actually right. Wow.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Eating on Vacation and Progress

The first half of this week, I'm in Chicago. So far it has been great -- yesterday I got to see two friends and also got to go up to the top of Sears Willis Tower for the first time. I would estimate that I probably walked about 8 miles yesterday, maybe even more. My calves felt tight by the end of the night, but I could have easily walked a whole lot more and this morning thanks to a bunch of stretching last night I am not even tight anywhere.

Backing up, last week I lost 3.6 lbs, following a week where I lost 5.8 lbs. I am so excited -- not so much just to be losing weight (although, yes I am pumped about that), but to be making forward progress again after feeling so stalled for so long. I am now 225.8, a good 4 lbs. below where I was at my lowest point during grad school.

All this to say: I feel a renewed vigor when it comes to WW and tracking my food. I feel like I'm ready to make another big push toward losing weight. When I started this trip I had big plans to track everything and keep moving forward progress on losing weight. I quickly realized that wasn't going to happen.

I am in Chicago. It's only the third time I've really been here, and it's known for pretty specific cuisine -- pizza, hot dogs, etc -- and I definitely want to enjoy that stuff while I am here. But I am not going to spend time before I go to these famous places googling nutrition facts, figuring out the lowest fat hot dog, etc. I am just going to enjoy this food, and eat it in moderation. When I am no longer hungry, I will stop eating. I will make sure I get vegetables with my meals.

It is funny, just as I used to obsess with food, I now realize that if I am not careful I will obsess over planning food and making wise choices. Don't get me wrong, those are both great things...but I want to use them and tools that I control, not obsessions that control me if that makes sense. I will walk and walk and be active on this trip. Today I am renting a bike and will ride along the lakefront and go on a bike tour of the neighborhoods. I am going to a couple art museums and will be on my feet most of the day. I am sure I will walk a bunch too. I will listen to my body and the scale will work itself out. Even if I gain a couple pounds, I will work it off when I get back home.

I feel like this is a good season in my journey. I am starting to feel some traction again, and am hopeful/optimistic that this isn't a flash in the pan. You all know my philosophy that this will take however long it takes to reach a [yet unknown] goal weight, and that changing my thought patterns and mindsets are just as valuable -- maybe even mores0 -- than losing weight on the scale. However, that progress is not visible to the human eye, and is thus harder to show progress for, so it is nice to be making some tangible, measurable progress again.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Financial Health

So the deeper I go into the abyss of fixing myself from the inside out, the harder and yet more rewarding it gets. Next on the docket: financial health. I made a budget yesterday for the first time.

Let's back up -- when I started this get healthy thing, it was scary and inhibiting to track my food. I felt restricted and confined -- but now I love tracking my food and actually find it freeing. I can totally have pizza, but it means I just have to lighten up at other points in the day or exercise more or something. I doubt if I would have realized that these tradeoffs were possible had I not been so diligent about tracking my food. I am still seeing results I like and am loving the ability to make progress while not feeling totally like I'm in a food straight jacket -- this comes as a result of tracking my food.

Back to the financial health issue -- I make plenty of money. I have paid off my car, I don't use credit cards, and I paid off my student loans. I really don't have any debt, but I don't have much savings aside from retirement either. I give away a pretty big chunk of money, but I feel like I could do even better if I were savvier about the way I allocated my money. I've also recently taken a big pay cut at work -- my income is down 25% temporarily, which is also helping to force the issue of needing a budget.

All this to say: it's time. Time to put on my big girl pants and make a budget, like all responsible adults should. I am hoping that in time, a budget will actually be liberating instead of feeling overly restrictive. I hope that it will free me from the anxiety I feel about money, and that I will actually enjoy tracking my money and seeing it grow, as I now enjoy tracking my food and looking at graphs about what I eat and how I've lost weight. I don't feel that yet, but I am hoping to.

It is interesting how gaining control of one area of your life almost compel you to get control of your others so you're living a prosperous, rewarding life.

I started off wanting to get healthy.
I realized that that went beyond physical health, so I went to a psychologist.
I sought treatment for depression, and realized health also means mental health.
I went to church, and realized spiritual health underlies both physical and mental health.
Now I am wanting to get financially healthy.
I wonder what's next?

Also - an update to the last post - 225.6 this morning. Would love it if I could get the next 1.2 lbs by Sunday. Seems like a long shot, but it could happen! That would be a huge milestone for me -- I would have lost 25% of my body weight, and 75 lbs.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Dude. 226.4 this morning. Lowest weight ever. Whoa. If I lose 2 more lbs by Sunday, this could mean that I have lost 75 lbs. on weigh in days. Would that not be WILD?!?!


  • This week I had a student tell me that the other day when I said hi to him, he didn't know who I was at first and then he figured it out. He followed it up by asking me if I'd been working out. Even if he is kissing my butt, I'll take it!
  • I love basically everything about my house and living situation -- except the fact that it is not near our town's network of bike trails. That having been said, there are some good cycling options around here, but the big deal is that I rode my bike to church the other day. It's about 7 miles and it took about 40 minutes. I have a couple hills to contend with each direction (the reality of life in the Ozarks, really), I went over the interstate, and I was on roads without bike lanes for about 50% of the ride. I guess this means I'm becoming a real cyclist, not just one who rides on bike paths. Wow. Wouldn't have seen that coming.
  • I think I really do have one chin now. I can still make it look like I have two, but most of the time it really looks like one. Quite the upgrade, going from three to one.
  • I have been packing my lunch. Largely to save money, but it is a great thing and I find it is so much easier to save my points when I control my lunch by packing it.
  • I'm loving soups and have been making about one batch a week and then eating on it all week. This week I made creamy chicken and rice soup -- I sauteed celery, onions, and carrots to add to the soup, I subbed half and half for the cream, and I cut the butter by half -- still delicious, super filling, and 6 PointsPlus per serving. It will get gelatinous and gross looking after refrigerated, but it is still amazing when reheated. Yum.
  • I am making a really serious go at Weight Watchers. I usually track things, but I haven't had a week where I measured everything in a really long time. This is the week, since next week I will be out of town in the land of deep dish pizza and delicious hot dogs and will have significantly less control over my food -- plus you know I like to indulge and have treats, not just live life in a food straight I am going to partake in the local delicacies!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Still here, still kicking

Things here are going. Going really well, sometimes; really poorly others; just plodding along others still. But they keep going.

I don't really know what to say. I was sick a few days this week, and it was pretty disgusting for a day or two but I lost a bunch of weight. Last Sunday, I was 235. This morning, 227. I think 227 is the lowest I've ever been actually. I bet a bunch of it is the fact that I'm dehydrated and haven't eaten in a couple days save a saltine and banana here or there, but wow I'll take it.

I guess I will say this: I feel pretty healthy, overall. I am realizing some pretty big stuff about myself.
  • I am prone to depression, and need to be on medication, at least for now. I was off drugs for a month or two, but am back on again and I feel more like myself again. Better living -- however it comes -- is great; I will take better living through chemistry without a second thought.
  • Weight Watchers and Atkins and exercise and liposuction and gastric bypass will help you lose weight, but they will not fix disfunctional thoughts or obsessions about food. Only God will help with that. Being on any sort of structured plan of eating is not sustailable without dealing with the underlying compulsion first and in my opinion if you're a food abuser using any of these tools will fail if you don't change the underlying dysfunctional thoughts about food.
  • I am not the same person who started this blog, and as a result I don't use it that much. Many of the obsessions have abated. I process things in real life with friends, not on this blog. I would not say that "food" nor "therapy" are the two most defining things in my life, as they were when I started this blog.
  • Bad things pass. It may not feel like it sometimes, but bad things will pass.
  • Steady, consistent progress is amazing. I see pictures of myself from a year or 18 months ago. I've lost about 5 lbs, but I think I look totally different. More importantly, my mindset and life circumstances in that year have changed dramatically -- and pretty much all for the better. I am very hopeful in what lies ahead.
So what does this mean? Both in general and for the future of this blog?

The truth is, I don't know. I feel some level of connection and accountability to my readers, many of whom I don't know but some of whom I do. I've shared a very deep window into parts of my soul through the stories and experiences I've shared on my blog. For those of you who are dysordered eaters, you may have seen glimpses of your own story through mine. I definitely derived strength from your comments when you left them. For those of you who are my real-life friends and acquaintances, I hope that this has given you some level of understanding about what life with an eating disorder is like. I don't say that flippantly or for sympathy, but I do know that in my own life it is fascinating and sort of weird to peel back the layers of an onion that I know just a little bit about. I hope that you never deal with food compulsion, but that you do have an appreciation that it is a very real and very difficult thing to deal with because I've come to appreciate just how pervasive food is in culture.

All this to say -- I think I am just going to formalize the more infrequent nature of my posting. I feel a little sad about it, because so many times when bloggers disappear it is because they're gaining weight and ashamed or dealing with some really hard, dark stuff. I am not feeling like that at all. I don't feel like I am on a mountaintop or anything, but I also don't feel like I'm in a deep dark valley either. I just feel the hum of life -- what I imagine it must feel like to be a "normal" person with a "normal" attitude about food and mental health.

I've decided I will not ever say that weight is "gone forever" or that I am in any sense of the word "fixed" -- I think I will always struggle with food and with mental illness, specifically depression. But this time around things do feel ok. I have dealt with some really hard stuff in what has felt like complete isolation. I have fallen off the proverbial wagon many times. I have gone through periods that I've "let myself go" -- but what is different is me. Each and every time I have gone through these things, I get sad, and then I deal with the underlying emotion, and then I get back on track. I give myself permission to get sloppy sometimes with my eating because, for me, that is how real life is. I know food will not fix problems or bring comfort, and will often in fact make feel worse about myself. Instead of pining on and on about life and my problems with life and with food, I am just going to go out and live it. Experience it, for all its beauty and pain and joy and sadness. And I am going to live it and just write about it occasionally here.

Thank you all for the role you have played in my journey to this point -- we will be in touch, although in a more infrequent way. I am finding the way in life, and am glad that food and my struggle with my mental health are not at the forefront of the issues I am facing these days, but rather just one of many things that will have to be managed in my day to day life. That is so very different than how things were when this blog started.

Till we meet again...

Friday, September 16, 2011


The other day I was walking across campus to get some Papa Johns. Pizza is probably my favorite food, and that's probably because it has cheese on it. Wow, derailed and off topic on the second sentence of the post already! front of the little food court where Papa John's is, there are often tables of students trying to get people to sign petitions, passing out flyers, and so on. The day I went to get pizza, they were passing out free bags of chips to welcome people back to school or something. Free Doritos! Doritos are my favorite!!! (again, the cheese)

"Do you want a bag of chips?" some student asked.

"No thanks," I responded.

OK, that's normal right? Someone living healthy passing on a bag of Doritos? BFD.

Actually for me it's a huge deal and here's why. In the past I likely would have said no so that's not what is new. What's new is that the answer "No" was reflexive -- I didn't have to stop and think "Do I really want this?" What's new is that the answer didn't cause me to white knuckle it past the group of students and take a different route back to my office after lunch so I could avoid having to face that temptation again. What's new is that there was basically no anxiety about forgoing the food. Thats what's new and that's what's awesome.

I have nothing against chips. In fact, I had Doritos the morning of this situation. But I know I can have them when I want them and there's no need to scarf them down like I'll never have the chance to eat them again any opportunity I get, and it's probably better to have almonds sitting in my office for when I get hungry rather than having Doritos around. THAT is what is new, and that is what is so freaking exciting to feel -- that food just really isn't a big deal, even if they're foods that I like a whole lot like Doritos.

I am changing, and it is weird but so gratifying. And so worth it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

New Pictures

I really don't have that many pictures from my biggest days. Like many, I ran and hid or looked for any sort of excuse to not be in pictures at the first hint of a camera ("No, let me take the picture!"). I do have a couple though, and maybe there are some more out there besides the ones I have -- but seriously, I really tried to avoid cameras back in the day. And I think to a large degree, I was successful.

I no longer do this, and now I even have a ridiculous number of pictures I've taken of myself either with the long-arm self photo technique, or of me in the mirror from my phone. Anyway, as I uploaded the latest set of pictures from my camera on to my computer, I was surprised at how skinny my face looks. I wanted to dig up a comparison photo and found this one from a trip to NYC in 2008. I bought those pants in the photo on the left prior to my trip because none of my others fit; they were all too tight. The olive green pants were a size 24, and eventually got too tight. Three years and 70 lbs later, I now wear size 16W or 18.

BTW, the picture on the right is of my roommate Katie and I at the Razorbacks game last weekend. Our seats were high up, but it makes for a very scenic picture. Plus, if I had to choose, I'd rather have close seats for the theatre and far seats for the football games -- so I am doing pretty well in life :)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Food pantries

This post was prompted by the Weight Watchers Lose for Good campaign. I love and am very grateful for Weight Watchers. It has changed my life, and I am really grateful for everything the program has taught me. Through Weight Watchers, I've lost 70 lbs.

The biggest thing I love about Weight Watchers is that I can eat real food, and that I can eat whatever I want. I cannot eat as much as I want of whatever I want, but Weight Watchers has taught me how I can "budget" for the foods I want and enjoy them in moderation. As someone who has never really done much of anything in moderation, this is a great skill for me to learn.

I read on a fellow Weight Watcher's blog about the Lose for Good campaign, where they ask you to donate something (a food item, a pound of food, etc) for every pound you've lost to a food pantry. I love this idea. I lately have felt very prompted to give more of my money away, and heard just last week about how many of our local food pantries are running very low on food. This is not a coincidence; I believe that this is a direct sign that I need to give food to these food pantries. I felt great about all of this.... (except for the food pantries being short; that part made me sad)

...then I thought to myself, "What should I give these food pantries?" I think canned food is gross and I really don't eat that much from bags or boxes or cans as I think they're mostly unhealthy (although convenient). I prefer fresh vegetables, milk, fruit, and obviously my favorite -- cheese! But I don't know how I can donate these, as they are harder to store and distribute than shelf-stable items. Also, I don't know how to effectively strike the balance between being like the fuddy-duddy who gave bags of carrots away for Halloween and the person who gives candy to kids in third world nations where they can't easily brush their teeth. I mean, what is the right answer? Donate some Ramen noodles and PopTarts? Or donate some bagged lentils -- surely those would not really be a huge hit, although they're healthy (and a personal favorite of mine).

I welcome your thoughts. Weight Watchers has changed for my life and I'd love to participate in their noble efforts to pay it forward via food drive donations...but paying it forward with unhealthy, sodium laden processed foods that played a major role in my own weight struggles just seems wrong. I don't know. Thoughts? Suggestions?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Another quick update

My back is hurting the longest it has in awhile -- despite my doing yoga twice last weekend and making it to the pool twice this week, my back is like "you're not serious, right?!". It's making it hard to concentrate and do any sort of work.

The good news is that the food is back to normal. I haven't been to an OA meeting since Sunday (I really need to go soon), but for some reason it's not been a huge struggle this week. I am grateful and I will take it.

I am grateful for the upcoming weekend. I really need the rest; I feel run ragged. This pace of life is not sustainable for me.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Bla bla bla - RBOC edition

RBOC = random bullets of crap, for those not in the know.
  • My eating last week was total crap. Not sure why, which makes it all the more disturbing.
  • Gained 3.4 lbs last week. See bullet #1.
  • Even with a gain, I'm still in the low 230s which is crazy (in a good way).
  • I was starving all week long last week. Not sure what that was about, and when I did eat, the choices I made weren't that wise (e.g., having Doritos instead of an apple).
  • I am really enjoying roommate living. Not only no regrets, but actually no complaints. I love it. Helps with loneliness for sure.
  • My back has been killing me for about a week now. Not sure why, but I really do not like it. At least it's prompted me to start yoga and swimming again.
  • I have been cooking a good amount at home and starting to eat out less, which is great. Needs to continue.
  • I bought a bunch of fruit and veggies on Saturday. It is so much easier to eat healthily when there are fast, easy, healthy go-to options.
  • They offered donuts for free at church to people who parked in the far away parking lot. Surprisingly, it was not a temptation at all and it was very easy to say no.
  • Life is starting to settle into some sense of a rhythm. Not all the way there, but starting which is very helpful.
  • The no cable thing is surprisingly easy, and I still feel super-busy and overwhelmed.
  • I feel somewhat prompted to get an OA sponsor and to start really working the steps. However, given my read on how obsessive many of them are, this is hard and I am very hesitant.
  • I cut my hair short. It was on a total whim. If I'm being honest, part of me wondered what it weighed. The funny thing is, I didn't even weigh the day before the haircut so I have no idea. STUPID! (Though I like the haircut just fine).
Overall, life is good and I am really busy and feeling it. I am focusing on reining in the eating and figuring out why my eating went to crap last week.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hoarders and the QuickFix

Last night my roommate and I got Netflix. I feel like I am the last person in the world to have Netflix, but since we are not getting cable, we decided to get Netflix. I love it so far.

I have talked about how I moved recently. I don't think I talked about it here, but I'd estimate that I got rid of about 60% of my stuff during the move. During the first three years I was in Arkansas, I got extremely depressed as long-time blog readers know. I dealt with the stress in two ways. The first is discussed here -- eating. The second was by spending money and buying stuff. I accumulated a lot of things, and material objects are no better at curing loneliness and depression than food is. There are other layers to why I accumulated stuff, but I won't discuss them here. Over the course of the move, I got rid of stuff and casually said I was a hoarder.

Now, this is a little true, but I guess it's like the people who need to lose 5-10 lbs. talking about how fat they are. I mean, could they tone up a little? Sure -- but overall, I think that many of us who are or have been morbidly obese tend to discount their stories and say that they're not really fat and that they don't understand, etc. I think that my saying I was a hoarder would make a real hoarder roll their eyes and/or piss them off like very marginally overweight do to me. I see that now after watching an episode of hoarders.

What struck me about this show is how many parallels there are between hoarding and compulsive overeating. Both are unhealthy, compulsive behaviors. Both are not problems that develop overnight: you can't fill your house with garbage in a single day, nor can you gain 50+ lbs. in a single day. Both are exacerbated by painful emotions -- compulsive overeaters often binge to stave off sadness or pain, and hoarders' behavior often intensifies after the loss of a loved one. Both cause you a definite sense of shame and a sharp decrease in the quality of life. Neither are well understood by the world at large.

Bottom line: I could see a lot of myself in the hoarders, even though I now realize I'm not a compulsive hoarder. It was hard to watch, honestly.

Most of all, I felt that the show Hoarders was doing them a huge disservice. For those who have not seen the show, they send in a crew to remove trash (obvious product placement for 1-800-GOT-JUNK), a psychologist, and a professional organizer. I have no idea how long the process takes, but definitely on the order of days, not weeks or months. They show before and after pictures and then the show ends. The stories and lives of two hoarders are showcased in 44 minutes in a nice package with a bow.

As someone who identified very strongly with many aspects of these hoarders lives, I was so appalled! To me, cleaning the hoarders' homes and leaving them is like giving someone who is morbidly obese liposuction and skin removal surgery, showing pictures, and then saying "The end". Will that really work in the long term?! How many of us would not regain the weight?

I guess I can only speak for myself, but I thought before I ever had lost a single pound of weight that if I could snap my fingers and lose the weight that my life would be magical. I don't think that anymore. I am so grateful for the year I spent not losing weight, but stalled out. It forced me to wrestle with some very real emotions and to make some not easy choices. I am grateful for the journey of fitness I've taken. I wish I didn't have back problems, but in the end I'm even grateful for the lessons of learned as a result of having them. To me the process of losing this weight and figuring out what causes me to eat in the first place is as valuable and maybe even more valuable than losing the weight itself. Had I had a quick fix, I would not have reaped the benefits that have resulted from fixing my super-dysfunctional relationship with food and finding other ways to deal with difficult emotions. I also would have given myself only a 5% chance to actually keep the weight off, since I had not learned the skills and behaviors that would help me to maintain my weight.

Not only that, but I think I would have damaged my self worth even more than it already was if I had lost weight via a quick fix and then failed to keep it off. I think that A&E is doing the hoarders a disservice by offering them a quick fix and limited aftercare. And I refuse to feed into it by watching that show ever again. It makes me sad for the hoarders, because I see so much of myself in them -- and even though I am by no means perfect at this healthy living thing and do not always feel this way as it is happening, I am grateful for every single setback on this journey because they have all caused me to learn a whole lot about myself and to improve myself in so many ways beyond just losing the weight.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Back down

As I mentioned, when I was moving I didn't track my food or anything and I got out of the habit of attending OA meetings. I need to re-integrate OA into the schedule, but with everything going on it just has not happened -- but I've been solidly on WW for a little over a week. I lost about 3 lbs last week. Anyhow, because I was eating out a lot (when all the dishes were packed and life was just insanely busy etc) and because I was not tracking my food, I got back up to around 235 over the course of the move/birthday/finally this proposal is done stuff. On the one hand this is good because this is were I was stuck for a year, and during that period when I gained weight it was usually up to about 240 so that's a net loss of 5 lbs. However, any regression is regression and who likes moving backwards?! It's tough to celebrate a gain when, well, it's a gain.

Anyway, the point of this point -- as of this morning I'm back down to 228.8. So nice to be solidly back in the 220s again.

One of the unexpended surprises (all good BTW) of moving in with a roommate is that it is easier to eat more normally since she is around. I had gotten into the pretty bad habit of eating an entire watermelon for dinner once or twice a week when I lived alone. Now, yes, it's "free" on WW, but that is abusing their free fruit policy -- it is not at all the way they intended for that rule to be used. I do not do that anymore because 1) it is just wrong, 2) others know it is wrong, so it would appear (for good reason) to be gluttonous to others so I don't want to look weird around others, 3) there is more to do/I feel way less lonely. So, the roommate decision is good all around.

I intended this to be a one sentence post just reporting the good news that I'm back in the 220s. I guess I had a little more to say than I realized :) The good news is, well, it's all good news!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Lots and lots of stuff going on!

I moved into my new house this past weekend with the help of 14 great friends and a 1.25 month old baby. I have to absolutely brag about my friends and how grateful I am for them -- you have to be a great friend to get up at 8 AM to avoid the 105F projected high, and to work in 90F, humid weather to move me out of my second floor apartment. I felt so loved. It sounds cheesy to say that, but seriously I thought in the middle of this "Wow, they are willing to give this huge chunk of their Saturdays for me? And get up so early on Saturday?! And help even though this historically hot weather smothers you the moment you walk outside?!" I was (and am) incredibly grateful for their help, and the spirit behind their help. Beyond the friends who helped with the move itself, there was a friend who stopped by to bring us cold drinks. There was another who watched someone's little daughter because she was pregnant and didn't feel comfortable doing all the lifting, and this freed up two more friends to be able to help. It was a real team effort and I was unspeakably grateful for and humbled by everyone's help. For someone who had a very long and hard season of isolation and crushing loneliness in Arkansas, it was incredible to realize how vast and rich my pool of friends here is now. Again, gratitude is the word that comes to mind -- not only for their help in moving, but for their friendship and for having them in my lives. I am so so blessed and grateful for each of them.

Along these lines, I had a birthday almost two weeks ago now. I think it was the best birthday I've had in probably 10 years. I loved it. My license expired this year so I had to get a new one. It was shocking to compare the new picture with the old. I am so much skinnier looking in this new one; in fact, I could not believe that I had a sleeveless dress on (I didn't think about having to take a license picture when I got dressed that morning -- let's blame my blondness) and that it looks really good in the picture. I then met my friend/new roommate for lunch, ran some more errands, went over to a friend's house (the one with baby Benson, my move in helper), and then met another friend for frozen yogurt where she had a very thoughtful surprise from my mom -- a beautiful bunch of gerbera daisies which are my favorite.

The day was so full (not in an "I'm running around and can't cram a single other thing in the day" kind of way, but in an "I can't believe what a good day this is, and my heart is about to burst" way.). It was only afterward when I reflected on it how different it was from the previous years' birthdays in Arkansas. Previously since I had very few friends in Arkansas, the way I celebrated my birthdays was with food. I'd let myself eat whatever I wanted in whatever amounts I wanted and say that that was just a part of celebrating. In contrast, this year I barely thought about food. Yes, I met friends for lunch/dinner, but food was really in the backdrop and not in the forefront of why we were getting together -- the real reason was to celebrate and have fun together, not to eat for the sake of eating. I thought to myself "THIS is what normal people must feel like around food" -- and it was not lost on me that, at least for the day, I fell into that category of people who were treating food as a part of the background of their lives, not in the starring role. I was amazed and, again, I felt very grateful.

It is incredible to think about how much God has blessed me in the last year, in very unexpected ways. I distinctly remember my birthday last year. I felt probably the worst I have ever felt in my life. I had been diagnosed with depression a few weeks earlier, and somehow putting a label on the emptiness I felt made me even a little sadder. I spent a good chunk of my day crying face down on the floor of my apartment thinking, "This is just not right. Life should not be like this." I was so lonely and sad and I felt utterly defeated. It was on that day that I gave myself permission to leave Arkansas. I cried and thought, "I have no good friends in Arkansas." I felt very strongly the voice of God whispering to me, "I am your friend." It sounds crazy -- well, it is crazy -- but it was unmistakable to me. I cry just writing about it.

I decided I would give myself one year. I would try in earnest to make friends one last time. I had already tried everything I knew to do (and my counselors agreed that the list was long and that I HAD tried a lot) one more time -- and if it didn't work out again this time, I would leave in a year with no guilt and absolutely no remorse.

The move to a place just across town (not out of the state, as I had contemplated a year earlier) and my birthday are a testament to how much God has helped me to make friends here. My friends here have affirmed that I am not weird (at least not enough to justify my having no friends), that I am valued, and that they love me -- and after the drought of local friends, the value of this is immeasurable and I in no way take this for granted.

There are other things I would have never guessed would happen over the last year -- moving in with a roommate after living alone for 10 years, joining a 12-step program, getting a year's extension on my tenure clock -- but I see God's hand in every one and am convinced this is what He has for me in this season of life. I want to learn every lesson and enjoy every day because His plan is best for me.

Just a quick update on life. It is really a great season of life right now, and for this I am unspeakably grateful especially after such a hard three year stretch after I first moved to Arkansas. The fullness and richness of life is certainly not lost on me.

(And by the way, the food part is going pretty well these days too. Again, I'm grateful.)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

When I'm in OA I feel...

Close to God
Not obsessed with food
Grateful, pretty much on every level
Like I understand how I fit into the universe
Joy in submission
Like giving back, and being way less selfish

So the question is, why do I ever stop going? Is busy-ness really a fair exchange for peace and gratitude and living a life that's pretty much better in every way? Doesn't seem so but I do it. It is insane, and just like food addiction and compulsive eating, it makes no sense. NONE.

Do you remember?

Do you remember this skirt? It's ok; I didn't either -- but I found it when packing to move. I'm wearing it today, and it fits great.

Making Better Choices...

Stream of consciousness post ahead...

Things here continue to be busy; looks like I've finally hit my stride at work and so they'll just always be like this from now on, which is actually a pretty good thing since it means I'm finally making progress in my professional life.

Layer on top of this a move, and I'm just pretty stressed out. I don't want to buy too many groceries since I'm moving, but since so much of my diet is fresh fruits and vegetables, not buying groceries seems like a bad choice too. And it's really hard for me to believe that I'm moving in a week and I have so much to do. But I will get through things, just like I always do.

Finally, yesterday I made better food choices. Great? No. Better? Yes, and I'm optimistic I'm on my way to eating healthily again, which is great.

As to working out -- I had clothes packed for the gym yesterday, but I wasn't able to leave work until 5:24, I had to meet someone 15 minutes away at 5:30 (I hate being late and feeling rushed, but it's par for the course, lately), I left that appointment around 6:15, and I was starving (which was a great sign after just eating because I wanted to and not because I was hungry for almost the last week) so I knew I needed to eat before I went to the gym. I stopped at Walmart, got stuff for breakfast (string cheese), and bought some fruit, and then ate a couple pieces of string cheese and had some fruit and watched an episode of Teen Mom (guilty pleasure; don't judge). By then it was 8:15, and I knew I needed to do two things for work so I did them. Now it's 9:00 and I'm exhausted, and I fell asleep right then, and didn't wake up until 6:30 this AM. Yep, goes to show I'm exhausted lately since I've been burning the candle at both ends. For me, it's not sustainable and I need sleep or it just devolves into a bad scene.

I miss working out, but I am not going to beat myself up over it until I'm in some sort of a normal routine again (i.e., not moving and settled in). I hope to go today but won't be mad at myself if it doesn't happen since I routinely try to walk places instead of drive, take the stairs where possible, etc. Also, packing and running all of these errands, while not an official workout, takes a lot of energy and so I'll just hope that will not drive my fitness level into the ground.

And OA? I need to make a meeting soon. I haven't been since Saturday I think. I need to work that program seriously so I remember what's important about this healthy living thing.

Monday, July 25, 2011

By Myself

I have been failing miserably at this healthy eating and healthy living thing. I am pretty disgusted with myself.

I am realizing a lot of things about myself. Things that I don't like.
  • I can now binge on food that is healthy. Eating a whole watermelon in one sitting? Done that, just last week. Twice. I also ate 1/2 bushel of peaches last week. By myself.
  • Once I have a slip, the next one is so much easier both to rationalize and to execute.
  • Once I stop having quiet time, it is hard to reinstitute. When I'm not regularly spending time with God I forget that I'm not the one overcoming this compulsive overeating thing (at least not in my own power).
I haven't worked out in almost a week. I have not eaten well since Thursday and I really went off the rails last weekend. Today was a little better, but still rough. And I look bloated and my face looks so fat. I am not sure if anyone else would notice, but it looks really terrible to me.

But most of all, I feel ashamed and mad at myself, and kind of sad. The topic at tonight's OA meeting was willingness -- and I really needed to hear that. I forget that I need to just be willing to do what God asks me to do with food, and remember to ask for His help to tell me what to do. I realize that may sound simplistic to many, but it is really one of the things that has revolutionized all of this healthy eating thing for me.

Doing this by myself and in my own strength just does not work.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

RIP Amy Winehouse

By the way, I read a little bit ago that Amy Winehouse was found dead at her apartment; she was four years younger than me. As of yet, I don't think the cause of her death has been confirmed but I'm sure we all have our suspicions. I'll just say, addiction is hard.

Talent cannot overcome it.
Peer pressure cannot overcome it.
Trips to rehab cannot by themselves overcome it.
Everyone else wanting you to get better cannot overcome it.
Shame cannot overcome it.
Defiance cannot overcome it.

I'm sad for her, and for her family. I'm sad that she's probably best known for a song where she poked fun at her illness and rehab. Today the world lost a very sick, very very talented woman -- most likely to complications of her addiction. And that is just very sad.

Struggling with food, what now?

The week has been great with respect to my personal productivity. I have worked a LOT this week, and I am very proud of the way everything has shaped up. I actually think I have a really good shot to get this proposal funded, which no joke would change my career and my life (this award is very prestigious). But even if I don't, I am very proud of the work I've done and grateful for the help of colleagues and friends who have offered very helpful suggestions to improve the quality of my work, and spent their valuable time reading the proposal and offering improvements. So so grateful.

While the productivity has been great, the eating especially the last two days have been bad. Yesterday I'd say I had my first act of willful disobedience with respect to food. I was working with my grad student at a coffee shop. We'd worked together for probably 10+ hours over the course of the week at this coffee shop. While I was very grateful for her willingness to work there and work so hard, it has been stressful since the reason we've been meeting is that this one aspect of our research is not coming together.

It was about 6:30 (yes, on a Friday) and we were still at the coffee shop. Things hadn't been working out. I wasn't hungry, but to say I was stressed and tired? Yes, that'd be a fair characterization. I decided I wanted something sweet.

Now I'm really not opposed to sweets or enjoying them to moderation -- assuming you have planned for them and have the points budgeted and you're hungry for them. This was none of the above. This was an impulse, I'm out of points and just want to eat for comfort decision. The thing I ate was expensive, not that good, and overall not worth it. And I ate every bit of it. Reminded me of the old days.

In talking to a friend this week, I've realized I'm getting reasonably good about responding to the moment-of-crisis "I am so sad or angry and all I want to do is eat" things without relying on food. I am not, however, good at this low-level but ever present stress that wears down my resolve and makes me want to eat. I have experienced this all week, and for the last two days have responded really poorly. It's like "dude, the reason I am stressed is because I am working hard and all the time; I really don't have time to get on an OA meeting!", yet that is when I need the meetings/support the most.

I am struggling with feeling like "Meh, I've already blown it I might as well go off the rails now" thing today. Overcoming compulsive eating is hard.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

When I was this age I thought....

Well yesterday was another big day for me. I had my second big "holy crap I just got through a big meltdown without food" day. It was hard. Well, I guess meltdowns by definition are not really a cakewalk.


I explained how last week was just stressful. This week will be too. Actually, until I am moved and settled in my new place (early August), I think life will be stressful. And that's just how life goes sometimes, so I'm trying to put my big girl pants on and just deal with it. I'd describe the stress like an ache -- you know, that low level, always there, bother you but you have to learn to deal with it because it's not going away kind of a thing. Yesterday's pain was very acute, and that in the past has almost always driven me right to the food. Learning to find comfort and deal with those sharp moments of pain or feeling "less than" without food is really hard, especially when you've dealt with pain using food for about 20 years.

The theme of the day yesterday was age. I'm 31. I didn't have a hard time when I turned 30 (well, aside from the whole "I don't really have any friends here to celebrate this with" thing -- but the number itself? Not a big deal). I don't feel old. I am really fine with my age. But most of my friends here are younger. I've only recently realized this, as the topic of age has very little to do with why we're friends and so it really never came up.

Yesterday one of my friends had a birthday. I love this particular friend, and was honored to be able to spend a part of her birthday with her celebrating what a cool person she is. I knew that she and her husband had struggled for many years with infertility before adopting their amazing daughter almost a year ago. I figured the whole "struggling with infertility for years" thing made her at least my age or older.

Nope. Turned just turned 29. When I found this out yesterday, I just had an intense few moments of feeling very much "less than". Almost all of my friends here are married. Almost all of them are pregnant or have just given birth (think I'm joking? A few weeks ago I had 15 pregnant friends, no exaggeration). Almost all of them own their homes.

I rent. I'm single. I'm childless.

All of those things are (seriously) ok with me about 95% of the time. They all make sense. I'm not sure how long I'll live here, so it doesn't make sense to buy until I get tenure. I've seen my parents' miserable marriage and I'm not getting married unless I find the right guy, who has yet to materialize so being single makes sense too. And there's no way I'm having a kid solo. (I've generate enough stress for myself -- I don't need a little to help. And if I do decide I desire that? I'll just get a dog.)

But yesterday? This all was very much not ok -- it's one thing to be "behind" people my own age. But when my 25-29 year old friends are all having babies with their spouses that will live in houses of their own? It can mess with your head and make you feel very much like a loser.

So yesterday I really really wanted to eat over this. I even went into Target to buy food to binge on. As I walked up and down the chocolate aisles, I had a moment of clarity. "What are you doing?! Not only will this not make you feel better, you'll really regret shoving this crap in your mouth. You need to feel this pain."

So, I walked out of Target without even so much as a trashy magazine, and I sat in my car and cried for a good 15 minutes asking for God's help to remove the compulsion to eat and to help me to feel confident about where I am in life. Feeling the pain is so hard, but I really think it's the only way for me to deal with it.

It is funny, yesterday afternoon I went to a different OA meeting than I usually do because I hadn't had time this past week to go to many meetings and this particular meeting fit into my schedule. Several different people said during their shares, "You know, I thought for sure by this age I'd be over this [compulsive eating]!" I really let that marinate, and it was so funny that, later that day, the topic of age really sent me down a dark path where I really wanted to eat compulsively.

I am coming to realize that I'll never be 'over' compulsive eating, even if I'm 100. I am for sure getting better with dealing with it. It comes to the surface less frequently when I do the right things to manage my eating. But I think it will always be there. I am coming to peace with that, even though it's something that is something I'm obviously not excited about. Maybe this is the thing that will keep me relying on God for everything, because since I have given food over to Him we converse much more frequently.

I have no great way to end this post with a quip or a resolution so I'll just say the following:

I'm very grateful for God's help in getting over this urge to eat compulsively yesterday. I'm very much needing his help to make it through another stressful week. I'm not sure where I thought I'd be at 31 (almost 32), but in Arkansas dealing with depression and compulsive eating by myself certainly isn't what I'd envisioned. But, with God's help, I will make it through -- and I sure am grateful for the lessons I'm learning these days, even though this isn't exactly how I'd seen my life playing out...

Tough week

I told you how last week I was teetering on edge with food. I didn't quite explain the whole story. Last weekend, I went with my brother to St. Louis for a quick mini-vacation. I was stressed and my productivity was waning, so I thought two days completely off (NO work, not even a little) would help me out. Incidentally, I have found that taking weekends off guilt free about 80%+ of the time is something that is pretty important for me to have a level head and to ward off depression. I honor this, and take weekends. I may do work around the house, but I don't do school work most weekends.

But anyway, last weekend I met my brother in St. Louis. I prayed for help from God with the food. "Please help me to make wise decisions." I felt good about my decisions, but my Weight Watchers week starts Sunday and on Sunday I was down to 12 weekly points (you start with 49 so basically I had a ton of food Sunday). I made the decision to track it and move on. I would not shirk my responsibility to be accountable for my food.

Anyway, that made it hard for the rest of the week as I had very little leeway on what I could eat (and I rarely stay within my daily points). And when you eat carrot cake? You know, that stuff that costs 18 points/slice? You're kind of hosed for the day unless you've got some extra points to dig into.

All this to day? I was starting on very thin ice if I was going to stick to WW for the week. But I did it, and I ended up only at -10 for the week (I thought for sure I'd end up much deeper in the hole than that).

I am realizing that Weight Watchers is something very deep to me. Not because it's the very best program out there (although I like it a lot, and so do nutritionists), but because it's an act of submission and surrender, and I feel accountable to it. As long as I am honest about what I eat, I am doing ok. Once I start fudging and not recording my food, I feel like it is a slippery slope. I am grateful for the structure the program provides. I am realizing it's important to be honest about what I eat even when especially when you ate half a deep dish pizza and some chocolate all in one day and that leaves you mostly out of any extra points for the week.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Losing it

As I sit here at a table at my favorite coffee shop staring at my laptop and at the empty plate that once held carrot cake, I'm forced to admit I'm losing it. I have a huge deadline in a little over a week and I am struggling. I was feeling good about what I've done toward the goal, but the more advice I receive the more confusing it gets. Person A says "Add item X; your proposal is not clear without item X." Person B says "Item X muddies the point and takes up too much space. And WTF are you talking about with item Y?? You really need to add item Z."

This feedback is great. It is honest, and it is the result of people taking the time to read a long document which is a sacrifice of their valuable time. I am so so grateful for this -- but at the same time it's confusing. And stressful. And I'm working like crazy to make sure I am doing the best I can to do justice to their comments, and to make my document as clear and concise as possible. But damn is it sapping my energy and making me stressed.

If you are the praying sort, please pray for me because I am seriously about to lose it. I am sleeping more and more and I still wake up exhausted. Part of me is concerned because I wonder if this is exhaustion or the onset of depression; either is not good for productivity. I am trying to feed my body healthy things, make sure I still exercise, and mostly ignore how tired I am. I will make sure I get 7 hours of sleep every night, but I simply can't afford 8.5+ hours/night right now (even though I did get that last night because I was so tired). I know it is not effective to work 24-7, but it is hard not to fall victim to doing that right now. I really want this proposal to be funded, and I am determined to do my very very best work before it is submitted. Please pray that I know where to establish boundaries so that I do not exchange my mental health for this proposal, and that I continue to rely on God and not food to get me through this very stressful season because I feel myself teetering on the edge.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Slow Track

I have talked before about feeling frustrated by my slow progress or lack of progress on losing weight over the last few years. Last year, for example, I lost no weight. Although I wasn't torn up about it, I would be lying if I did not acknowledge that I was somewhat frustrated, and wondering if I'd ever be a healthy weight for my height.

Today I realized how grateful I am that this has taken a long time. I have learned so much about myself and about how food affects me over the last few years. I am not sure I would have had to wrestle with these lessons if the weight had dropped off superquickly. This forced reflection has helped me to learn so much about why I am getting healthy, and why this is all worth it. I am optimistic that, with God's help, I can overcome compulsive overeating ("remaining abstinent" is what they call it in OA) one day at a time.

I think one of the things I am proudest of and most grateful for is that I really enjoy my food and am not racing toward an arbitrary goal (e.g., "size 12 clothes" or a certain number) -- I am trying to get healthy, whatever that even means. I'll leave that up to what my doctor says, and how I feel about where I am. For now, I think I can/should continue to lose weight. I haven't always felt this way, but I really do believe this from the bottom of my heart now.

The most obvious thing that will help me to continue to overcome compulsive overeating is God's help. However, outside of that I think one of the things that will help me continue on the path to a healthy life is that I do not really feel deprived at all. I have desserts. I don't eat entire bags of candy at a time anymore, and I don't eat desserts that often. But when I really want ice cream or chocolate, I eat some (and I make sure it's the good stuff). I also eat pizza, but now I make it myself or order the 8" one. I no longer order a large and eat it all at once. There is nothing I feel I lack. To me this is critical as deprivation breeds obsession and obsession leads to compulsive behavior -- namely, bingeing.

Does it mean I've lost 100 lbs in 9 months? Obviously not...but it means I don't resent or feel badly about living a restrictive lifestyle. I am just very grateful that this is the path I've chosen. It's particularly close to my heart today.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Joy in Suffering

I've never been one of these "no pain no gain" kinds of girls for many reasons. First of all, I have had significant problems (e.g., back) that I don't want to re-aggrivate. My general feeling is that pain is my body telling me to back off a little. Second, the sensation of pain is kind of foreign. Having lived a sedentary life for 85+% of my life, I'm not good at differentiating what's good pain and what's bad pain just yet (i.e., am I "feeling the burn" or ripping a muscle?). I am getting better at it, but it is taking practice. Third, I desire and need exercise to be a part of getting healthy forever. And for me? Pain is not really helpful in making that a reality.

For these reasons, I've said "Thanks, but no thanks" to pain. Until about a week ago.

I have gone to spin class intermittently for about 6 months. I've liked it, but not really loved it. To me, it's not nearly as fun as riding a real bike. However since it's 95+ outside most days of late, I've come to embrace spin as a viable alternative to riding a real bike.

Last Monday I had what I think was the best workout of my life during spin class. It really has changed my perspective on pain, as the workout was SO brutal and I could barely walk up the stairs at the gym when it as over. Despite feeling physically exhausted, I had such a feeling of accomplishment. It was incredible and, ever since that day, I have pushed myself past limits I never thought I could. And WOW do I suffer to do this.

I am embracing pain at the gym. I finally get it. There can be joy in pain. Not because of the pain itself, but because you feel like such a badass for pushing through it. The endorphins help too. I am a changed woman. It amazes me that, even though I've been at this healthy living thing for 2.5 years now, I learn something about myself, my emotions, my health, and my motivations almost every single day. Embracing pain is certainly is a new one, and one that I didn't see coming.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Scientific reasons for overeating

Have you seen this? Fascinating.

July 4th 2011

Yesterday I went to a BBQ held by friends. It's the social event of the season, to be sure, and everyone brought super-delicious and a lot of unhealthy foods. I can't describe it but I felt such peace around the food. I ate reasonable to small portions of the unhealthy stuff that looked really good (e.g., hashbrown casserole), I passed on stuff that didn't seem worth it, and I made sure to pick out stuff that had vegetables and looked reasonably healthy.

When I got home, I did not know how to track the stuff for WW as I didn't even remember what all I'd had and I had no idea what some of the stuff even was. In the past I would have just given myself a holiday exemption -- ie, we don't have to track this; it's in honor of our nation's independence! This year that just didn't feel right; I knew that this meal should dip into my weekly points. I decided I'd track the meal as 30 points (to give you an idea, my daily allowance is 37, so this means I overshot my daily target by quite a bit) and move on.

It was so bizarre (but GREAT) for it to feel weird not to track my food. To me this was no superficial decision to follow a commercial weight loss program, even though that is what it may seem like. To me it symbolized something so deep, so foreign, and so important to me -- this was basically me reacting to a deep sense of honesty and accountability I now feel about my food. This was about me saying "You know what? I ate that, and I will not ignore it and pretend it didn't happen because it's a holiday. I will take responsibility for this food choice. Not because I feel like I should; not just because I want to lose weight. I am doing this because I will be honest about myself about what I am eating." And there was liberty in tracking that food. It was so unexpected, and so counterintuitive. But it was so liberating.

Today friends invited me over for a BBQ. When my friend described the menu, there was not a good food option on the list that sounded good to me -- the meal is centered around meat, and I really don't eat much meat anymore. I thought about skipping it, but decided that was not a good option because I did not want to forgo the social interaction. I thought about eating before hand, but decided that would be too awkward. I finally decided I'd go and bring a good option I know I can eat, even though I was told that they had plenty of food and I didn't need to bring anything.

I am starting to be able to navigate tricky food situations without feeling like I'm crumbling on the inside or a crack addict having the shakes. Again, I can't take credit for any of this. Clearly, this is God helping me. The tools I am learning through OA have helped me to realize how utterly reliant I need to be on Him for His help in overcoming my addiction to food.

Turning a Corner

I don't know what to say other than to say it feels like I've turned some sort of a corner, and for that I am very very grateful.

This weekend there was a situation I was dreading. I said yes to helping some friends -- it was the "right thing" to do, but I didn't want to do it. However, I agreed and decided I would honor my commitment to help them. I worked all day on my attitude -- trying to overcome the deep-seated feelings of resentment that had arisen. I had decided I would not eat over the situation, even though in the past I always would have. Even though part of me wanted to stuff my face and eat myself into an oblivion, a bigger part of me didn't and so I went to an OA phone meeting on Saturday and with the help of my higher power did not binge. When I arrived on Saturday to do this cryptic "right thing" I'm referring to -- the one I did not really want to do, the one I rearranged my whole Saturday on a three day weekend around -- the people did not need me to do it, yet could not be bothered to even make a phone call to let me know. So basically? The resentment I felt over committing such valuable weekend time to help them when I felt unappreciated? It was like they were like, "Well not only do we not realize what a sacrifice it is to give up several hours of your day in the middle of your weekend, causing you to reschedule everything, we don't even value your time enough to let you know your help is not needed anymore."

I felt gutted. I felt a deep sense of disrespect for my time which at this point is probably my most valuable asset, as I have way more money than time these days. It wasn't that I was pissed, even though I felt justified in feeling that way, I was just -- utterly hurt. And if I thought the urge to eat was strong before? I just upped the emotional ante by a factor of 10.

However, because I had been on an OA meeting before the "moment", I was very grateful to be in a good place and to not want to binge. It was amazing. I cried a lot, I reached out to a friend, and I just felt these (TERRIBLE) feelings -- but then I went to a movie, and I didn't eat over the feelings. I didn't even really obsess about it; I just made sure not to make sure not to send myself into a dangerous environment (e.g., avoid going somewhere with a lot of trigger foods, as my emotional reserves were down).

All this to say? I'm by NO means perfect, but with God's help I am starting to be able to navigate emotional situations without the help of or even obsession over food. This clearly is not something I could have done in my own strength, so I am so grateful for my higher power's help with this. Even when others disrespect me and my time and hurt me, I can rely on God. He has my back, is always with me, and loves me. Food can do none of those things. The best it can do is to numb the pain temporarily.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Weird, in a good way

First I want to clear this up -- to some it came across as though I was complaining about losing weight a couple posts ago. I want to clarify that I'm actually very excited about it, and am grateful to be headed back in that direction. There are some things that need worked through, yes, but overall it is a great thing.

I think it's like anything overwhelmingly positive. Say you won the lottery. It would be a bummer to deal with the taxes. It would be annoying/infuriating to deal with the leaches coming out of the woodwork to try to mooch off you. But, overall, experiencing something like winning the lottery I would imagine would be positive. It's the same with losing weight -- there's the potential for loose skin. There's the identity issues that arise, like not recognizing yourself when you look in the mirror, or still seeing yourself as 300 lbs when you're actually much smaller. There's the financial implications of buying clothes all the time. But overall? It is great. I am grateful to be losing weight again and if I didn't want to do it, I could very easily stop. So....hope that clarifies things.

I was writing today to let you know how cool and weird it is to be seeing new lows about 40-50% of the days I weigh (which is everyday) lately! This morning? 227.(I forget). I'm not going to post everyday there is a new low, as I'm basically in uncharted territory. And it is SO COOL to see a new low number on many of these days!!

I am just so grateful that I've made it past this imaginary and invisible 229 barrier. Thank you for helping to pray me past it. I am so grateful for this past year, where I have learned so much about myself, so much about WHY I am getting healthy, and so much about what causes me problems and how I can address those roadblocks. I think that, for me, working through those issues was worth so much more than just getting to some arbitrary number that I want to get to but having a myriad of undealt-with issues lurking beneath the surface. I have been faced with many of those issues. I've cried about them, battled them, and ultimately overcome or made peace with many of them. It's not been easy, but it's been WORTH IT and I think will pay very long term dividends.

And of course I'm thrilled that much of this behind-the-scenes background work has paid off and that now I'm moving closer and closer to a weight that is healthy for my body. Thank you all for the support you've given me as I worked through these issues. I am grateful the rewards are now manifesting themselves physically, and for your friendship virtual or otherwise :)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Peanut Butter

When I went to Yosemite last month, I had PBJ for the first time in probably a couple years. It was SO GOOD! I loved it and didn't even realize what I'd been missing for so long. And I wanted to have some to make at my house!

I rarely have bread at my house -- it's not that I don't like it, it's just not something I can usually go through fast enough so it usually molds so I don't have it often. When I DO have it though, I make sure it is the good stuff either from a good bakery or something I've made myself.

About three weeks ago, I had bread that I had gotten to make grilled cheese (another favorite, which I am sure is no surprise). I decided I wanted to have PBJ sandwiches too, but I really did think long and hard before deciding to do that. Why?

PB has been a longstanding binge food for me -- one of those things that, in the past, I'd dig into with a spoon, a glass of milk, and more often than not a heavy heart. In the past it's typically been eaten by the jar, not the tablespoonful. So I wondered -- should I get the PB for PBJ? My typical workarounds for foods like this are either to get single serving containers (e.g., Doritos), eat the food at a restaurant (e.g., ice cream) so I only have a single size, or to avoid the food altogether. I could not figure out a way to easily do any of these things, so I decided a) that I really did want the PBJ; it was worth the risk and that b) if it became a problem, I would wash it down the sink (throwing it away isn't always enough -- I've been known to trash dig in the past).

I am pleased to report that my PB is still around. It's been about three weeks and I've enjoyed lots of PBJ delicacies including the straight up sandwich and the PBJ pizza. I think I will try it with oatmeal next week.

The best part? The peanut butter isn't even a temptation. I've been totally enjoying it but not obsessing over it or thinking about the next chance I'd have to eat it.

I am so glad that OA and God are helping me to overcome my food compulsions. I could not even have imagined having PB in my house a year ago and, if it had been there, I am sure I would have been absolutely on edge white-knuckling it through the temptation until I probably would have given in and eaten it all. Now I feel nothing toward that PB. I am so incredibly grateful (but I'm not ready to try to have Nutella in my house just yet).

Monday, June 27, 2011

"Those People"

You know "those people" who talk in meaningless sounding platitudes and talk as though they know everything about losing weight and living healthy lives? Today I realized that, even if I'm not yet one of those people, I am totally on the verge and I need to step away from the ledge slowly. I am so glad I caught myself, and I hope that if I ever start sounding like one of those people you will all let me know and TELL ME TO STOP!!

Today on Twitter, a blogger was talking about his/her struggle with healthy living and feeling really discouraged about where he/she was. You all know I've been there. Trust me, I. HAVE. BEEN. THERE!!! He/she was sounding desperate, lamenting the number on the scale and basically begging for advice.

Do you know what I twittered her? "It's not about the food."

Do I believe that? Yes. Pretty much whole-heartedly. I stand behind my thought.
Was it helpful to her? No. That's not helpful to hear.
Should I have said it? No. Not if it wasn't helpful, and it made me sound really like a smug ass -- which is not what I wanted to be and certainly wasn't helpful to anyone, least of all someone who is struggling.

In losing this weight, I've come to believe that for many of us -- and certainly myself -- that this is absolutely not about losing weight. Is it a part of the puzzle? Sure. Is it a way to measure our progress? Undoubtedly. It is objective and easy to track. But is it the end all be all? For me, the answer is no.

I think that the mechanics of losing weight -- barring some health problems like a thyroid issue -- is really pretty easy. Move more. Eat fewer calories than you burn, but not so little that your body thinks it's starving. Get the calories from healthy sources (e.g. 100 calories of string cheese or fruit >>>> 100 calories of twinkie).

So if we know all of this stuff, why are we fat? I think that most of us who want to lose weight know HOW -- it's the action and the follow through that is the hard part. For me, I know that years of food abuse and disordered eating caused some really poor choices on my part -- and some I did so long that they even became reflexive. And for me? THAT'S the hard part. Relearning how to deal with stress in ways other than eating. Deciding when to pass on that "I just can't live without it" treat. Realizing that sometimes, food's just not worth it. It's not that I don't KNOW (whatever not-stellar food choice) is bad for me -- it's that I decide that I don't care. I think it's that way for many of us. And THAT'S not about the food -- that's about dysfunctional food thinking.

These are things that I know are true for me. I think these things are true for many of us, and for many people who are still struggling with food.

...but I don't think sharing this stuff is helpful, unless people ask or genuinely care. And broadcasting it from a mountaintop or accosting anyone who will listen with the message? It's not helpful, and it probably won't be well received. But it will make you one of those people.

When I lost 60 lbs five years ago, I talked about saying goodbye to the fat forever. I said I would NEVER go back to the life I led before. One thing I've learned this time around is that I'm certainly not above a relapse, and that all-or-nothing thinking is a surefire shortcut to disaster for me. When I regained the weight, if someone would have told me it was not all about the food? I would have either rolled my eyes at them, argued, or felt even more like a loser than I already did. And really? None of those are good outcomes. So why would I say that to someone else?!?

Even though I talked about how I'd permanently changed my life and freed myself from the shackles of being overweight, compulsive eating led me right back to the old habits -- eating to deal with pain and loneliness. And with the old behaviors, the weight returned -- with a bonus, the way it always seems to.

And although it sucked, I am actually pretty glad it happened. I learned a LOT about humility from that experience. I learned that I am an addict and if I do not use God's help to overcome my addiction, it will suffocate me and eventually take my life. I also learned compassion, and the importance of consistency.

Part of me wants to share the "experience, strength, and hope" (OA buzz words) that I've gotten from this -- but not at the expense of sounding like an ass, or making someone feel bad when they're down. I don't want to be one of those people. I've been on the receiving side of that, and it is not fun so why would I do that to someone else?

Loose Clothes

As I've told you before, I've been mainintaining my weight for about a year or so. Recently, I think I've broken that streak and I've started to see the scale trending downward again. Overall, this is a great development.

However, there is something I'd forgotten about losing weight since I hadn't been doing it so long: I forgot that when you lose weight, your clothes don't fit anymore.

At first that was a good thing. I'd been about 230 one other time in grad school -- and from that time, I had some clothes that I really liked. There were a couple of pairs of jeans in particular that I couldn't wait to get back into. Having worn them for a little over a year now, I don't give them too much thought anymore. That's probably because I've been at this weight before, and I've been at 235 +/- 5 lbs for about a year now, allowing me to accumulate a normal wardrobe. Actually, I don't give the idea of clothes overall much thought.

Until Saturday. Here's a picture from Saturday in one of the pink polos I've worn for a year or so (and I love this shirt -- it reminds me of Legally Blonde). As I put it on I thought "Why is this too loose?!?!" In just a second I went from confusion to elation to "Oh crap, this means I will have to buy new clothes again."

I'm now moving into uncharted territory. I haven't been this size or smaller since high school through sophomore year of college. I didn't save any jeans or other clothes from that era, which is probably ok since I am unlikely to be wearing carpenter jeans or tapered leg jeans anyway -- but what that means is that very soon I will have no clothes to wear! I forgot about that part of weight loss. It's not that I mind buying new clothes -- part of me thinks it's fun actually. But I really don't mind it presuming you'll be able to wear them for several months, not that they'll just be transient as you pass through on your way to something smaller.

Overall, it's a good problem to have. I need to focus on that rather than annoyance. On the bright side, I'm currently in an 18 (normal, not W) or sometimes a 16W. The good news is that that means I'm not restricted to stores like Lane Bryant or plus sized sections of department stores. This means both more selection and BETTER PRICES! In addition, these sizes are more likely to be available at consignment shops and thrift stores -- which is great.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

One Step at a Time

Photo credit: J@m's flicker page

Today I am not sure what was wrong with me, but I just felt all over the place at work. I got stuff done, yes, but I felt like I was not firing on all cylinders. That's a problem because now is a time I definitely need to be harnessing every ounce of productivity I have, and more. I was kind of frustrated, honestly.

Do you know what I did? I went to go swim. Then I went for dinner (pizza, which I had points to eat -- and I ordered an 8" mini pizza). I was not really feeling like I could work just yet again so I went for a "quick" bike ride -- 11 miles. It was so cathartic.

I was thinking to myself, who ever thought this was possible? Who thought I would deal with stress by exercising?! And who ever thought I would order a pizza smaller than a small?! AND BE COMPLETELY SATISFIED?!?!?!

I remember one time when I was sick (probably about 3 years ago) I circled the Walmart parking lot for literally 10 minutes looking for a spot right next to the door because I did not want to walk any further than I had to. Now parking far away is no big deal.

I remember when I used to walk up the hill where I work wheezing and out of breath. Now I do that, then take the stairs to my office, and I'm not even breathing hard.

I remember when not having soda or dessert every day was unthinkable; now it's not really a big deal (although I do admit, I still love soda).

I was trying to figure out, "When did this happen? When did I change so much?!" As I thought about it, I realized it happened little by little -- by taking one step and making one decision at a time. That's both incredibly gratifying and incredibly humbling all at the same time.

On the one hand, it's great because it just means I need to make just one decision at a time or take one little step followed by another followed by another and I can eventually end up where I want to be, even if it's a place I never thought was possible. When I weighed 300 lbs, I never thought it would be possible to be back down to 229 -- but for the last several days I have been. And it's incredibly humbling and amazing.

At the same time, it's humbling because I can make one "little" decision that's bad and if I'm not careful I can take the path to destruction. I know, because I've done it once before, gaining 70 lbs in just over 2 years. Just by making one little decision at a time. However, I've also made plenty of not stellar decisions over the last 3 years, but I've rebounded. It's not a single bad decision that will do you in, but a series of them. And it's hard to see that you're making them sometimes when you're just living in the moment.

Anyway, tonight I'm kind of on a high because of this new life I'm living. Who thought I would do 1.5+ hours of exercise just for fun, not because it's the right thing to do -- but because it was what I wanted to do -- even more than watching TV or reading a book.

At the same time, I'm humbled because I'm not thinking I'm "fixed" or that I've really arrived at a place of complete recovery -- but I am glad to be living a happy and healthy life today. And I'm convinced I can live another healthy day tomorrow. And the day after... And the day after...

I love this life.

Progress, not perfection.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Father's Day 2011

Wow yesterday morning was so so hard. SO hard.

First of all, after that great weigh-in early in the week, my weight kept inching upward. The perplexing part was that I was, as far as I know, doing everything right. I had the best week of workouts I've had in probably 2 months. I tracked every single (non-point) thing that I put in my mouth. As a bonus, I even made a conscious effort to drink less pop (successful but still room for improvement). However, in the end I was up 3.2 lbs for this week.

My main reaction was confusion, not anger or disappointment or wanting to give up. I was (and still am) perplexed, but my focus remains on doing the right thing -- eating nutritious food, tracking my points, and exercising regularly and aggressively. The weight will follow. I will only get concerned about the scale if my gains continue over the course of, say, a month. For now, there could be a myriad of causes -- water weight, hormones, stuff caught in my system, etc. Nonetheless, it got the morning off to a lackluster start.

That morning, our regular pastor was out of town. His pinch hitter is, at best, weak. Sometimes he's so glib he's even offensive. It is tough to sit through, and gets tougher with time. For this reason I wasn't excited to go to church. However, I texted some people and decided I should go. One of my friends texted me:
It's father's day and you know he loves his kids a lot so maybe it won't be so bad.
Then it hit me: "Oh shit, he's right. It's father's day and they will talk about this in church." And that's where the REAL fun for the day began, and I had an immediate and very very strong inclination to binge which I haven't done in a good 2-3 months thanks in no small part to OA.

I was a messy flood of tears, mostly sad and angry about my poor-to-non-existant relationship with my father who is an emotionally vacant and even emotionally abusive shell of a man. His behaviors have had long lasting and very deep implications on our fractured family. In addition to being mad about how much he had let me and the rest of my family down, I was mad at myself for my eating disorder and dysfunctional relationship with food which was making me want to binge with everything inside of me.

My reaction in the past would have been immediately to jump to the "screw it" stage and to soothe myself with food. I was determined to do what I could to avoid this situation from playing out let again.

I asked God for help. "Please let this compulsion pass."

One of the things you hear about in compulsive overeating circles is the need to "sit with the feelings" -- you have to really feel your feelings rather than just muting them or covering them over with copious amounts of food. Well I can tell you, in the moment, sitting with (binge food of choice) is a hell of a lot more comfortable than sitting with feelings when the feelings are so deep and hurtful and so shitty. But yesterday, I sat with my feelings. For a good 45 minutes to an hour I sat with my feelings on my bed and cried and cried and cried. I held tight to the serenity prayer, and I prayed for the compulsion to overeat to pass. And after awhile it did.

I was so grateful for God's help in surviving the compulsion to overeat -- the strongest compulsion I'd had for a long time. It also made me think, wow maybe it is actually possible with God's help to be restored to sanity when it comes to food (step 2). While I believed this step in my head, I think I am starting to actually see evidence of it in my life, and for this I am very grateful.
Clicky Web Analytics