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.
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