Tuesday, December 28, 2010

This tag won't make sense.

Women Food and God (Edited to add: the tag says that I'm 41% through "Women, Food, and God".

But this is pretty awesome. I've been trying to figure out why I'm fighting the intuitive eating process, and I think this might be part of the answer. More later...after I read more!
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I guess that's good...

Another heavy food day. Here was today's thought process:

"I feel like shit. I'm going to eat."

"Something must be wrong, because I'm not hungry."

"I don't care. I'm going to eat until I hurt."

Interesting...that first "I feel like shit" sentence didn't occur to me until I typed it. WHY don't I post when I'm feeling like I want to eat without being hungry?

On one hand, I'm glad that I'm able to walk away from a binge with my head up and my dignity intact. On the other hand, I really do need to begin to employ better self-care strategies. And more importantly, I need to get back into dealing with uncomfortable things in "real" ways, instead of distracting myself with food. Food is not making my problems go away. It's creating additional problems (a stomach ache right now, as a matter of fact) on top of the problems that haven't gone away...and the original problems aren't being addressed. Seems sort of silly to me.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Having enough..and posting from an app

This is new...I'm in the car on the way to my dad's house. And I realized that I often feel like overeating because I'm somehow worried that someone is going to take my food away. Or that the food won't be there tomorrow. I didn't want to forget that thought, and I think I will explore it more when I get home. In the meantime, any thoughts on that?

Oh, and I was able to listen to Geneen Roth's free telecast tonight. Good stuff. Major takeaway thoughts: stay physically centered as much as possible, and it is possible to only eat a bite or two of any given food. I'll be thinking of that last one a lot at the big Italian Christmas Eve dinner tomorrow!
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Friday, December 10, 2010

Update snippets from various message board posts. Will be long.

Dec 8th, 2010 at 6:24pm At 10 pm, I will have been quit for 10 days.

The first week went extremely well. For the past two days, I've been having a lot of problems. My sense of smell is back, and there's a student in my 1st hour who reeks of stale smoke (like a "parents smoke in the house" smell). It makes me feel sick to my stomach to be near her.

Also, my car still smells like smoke. I have NO idea how to get that smell out- I've got the windows open now, even though it's 35 degrees outside.

I feel really weepy and emotional and I thought I was having a panic attack today. I started binging yesterday and have been vacillating between grazing and overeating for two days. I'm super emotional and snappy and generally feeling like the world is falling apart. DH asked me if it could be PMS, and it can't- I'm at day 15 of my cycle. So, unless smoking was somehow masking PMDD symptoms, it's not that.

I've done a lot of work to try to figure out WHAT is wrong right now, and I can't figure it out. All I know is that I haven't felt so sad and disliked myself physically as much as I do today.

So, even though I posted a bit ago about having a bad day food-wise, I am really happy that I instantly realized that the eating is a way for me to try to take care of myself and deal with anxiety, etc. It's me trying to survive in the best way that I can at the moment, and since I'm not a self-actualized superhero, I am okay with my lack of perfection.

On the other hand, I'm starting to have a bit of negative self-image creeping in lately. I don't quite know when it started, although I suspect that I was unconsciously comparing myself (body checking) to other people at a party this weekend. It also could be due to my nervousness about having to pass my fitness test in April. I've already talked to my first sergeant, and he knows that I don't want to see my weight (even though I'm required to weigh in).

So, I generally do have very good self-esteem and self-image. I love my hair and my skin is looking good. I usually have a realistic view of my size, and sometimes I think I even am too kind to myself to the extent of maybe not making ENOUGH of a deal out of what I need to fix.

I guess that what I need to do is figure out how to feel okay about the April weigh-in, even though I can't weigh myself to see how much I need to lose and I won't know anything other than whether I passed or failed. I think this is part of my anxiety right now- I'm afraid of failing the fitness test, but I'm even MORE afraid of losing all the progress that I've made if I start focusing on my weight and diet.

Interesting realization today as i was ordering my very unhealthy lunch...i feel like I'm giving myself permission to eat. Which happens to be one of the fundamental parts of intuitivE eating.

So there is a distinct possibility that this is a great learning experience and exercise in self trust.

I've been wanting to exercise, and that will happen soon. I'm trying very hard to wait until I want to exercise *for me*, and not just because I need to pass a test. I think that will happen soon, though. Like I said, motivation is there- logistics are not.

I do feel a LOT better today. I posted upthread about how I ended up really giving myself unconditional permission to eat whatever I wanted, and I think that's an extremely big deal and a HUGE positive. I suspect that giving myself permission will also lead to me trusting that it really IS okay to quit eating when I'm not hungry, because I won't be worrying that the food will all suddenly go away if I don't inhale it. It's the difference between having a "bad day", then moving on...and having a "bad month" where I eat all the time and cry and beat myself up.

(I don't think most people will understand that feeling, and I'm sorry if you do. But if you do, I'll suggest that you do explore the whole Intuitive Eating thing, or check out Geneen Roth's stuff. It's helped a lot with that.)

I'm very, very lucky in that my 1st shirt understands why I don't want to be weighed. He doesn't want to trigger me, either. He's super awesome.

Here's what I have decided, and I'm really pleased that THIS is where my mind went with this situation:

The overeating is a really clear sign that I HAVE given myself permission to eat whatever I want. And I'm seeing that I don't beat myself up for it, and there is an ending point to the eating. This is huge progress. And, if I'm seeing progress in this regard, it means that I'll eventually become more and more intuitive. I don't have to worry about my weight at all.

That I'm starting to get antsy to start exercise is another good sign. I want to feel healthy and vital, and that will help with a lot of things.

Progress. I haz it.

I had an epiphany on the way to work today. I realized that the reason I want to exercise is because I want to lose weight/get smaller/wear smaller clothing. It's not because of the health benefits. I realized this because I asked myself, "Would I be happy if my cardio fitness was awesome and I could run a 10k and I could max out on pushups and situps and I was the exact same size I am now?" and the answer was no.

Focusing on the health, emotional, and psychological benefits of regular exercise is important to me. I'd like to come up with a way to measure improvement over time that does NOT involve weight or body measurements. Here's what I have so far:

Improved run time (if I can run- it's winter)
Increase in # of pushups/situps I can do
Improved sleep

What are some other things that are quantifiable?

(I think it's been a pretty emotionally draining couple of days!)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Either a terrible or great day.

It all depends on perspective and where I focus my attention.

I've been feeling really strange today- maybe like I'm having a mild panic attack or like I'm getting sick or something. Basically, I feel physically crummy. And I feel really tired. And I've been on the verge of crying all day and part of yesterday.

I don't know what is going on. It might be because I'm getting sick, or it might be because I haven't smoked in almost 10 days, or it may be something completely different.

And, I've been binging today. Not to the point of utter insanity, but it's certainly a binge. That's part of the "terrible" part of the day.

Now for the great part. There was a point sometime late this afternoon where I involuntarily asked myself, incredulously, "What are you DOING???" And I answered myself, again without thinking, "I'm surviving."

I may not be engaging in picture-perfect eating practices today. But I am caring for myself in the best way that I can at the moment, and I'm being kind and forgiving to myself. That's way more important. I do wish I could figure out what is going on, though.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Writing through a food urge

I'm sitting here playing on the internet, and I realized that I was having a serious craving for the leftover spaghetti in the fridge. I'm not super hungry (although I feel like I'm starting to maybe get a little hungry). This is very obviously "head hunger", which means that something is going on. I don't all of a sudden want to eat, especially warm carbs, unless there's something wrong.

So. I'm also noticing that I feel a little emotional, and there's a little lump in my throat. I feel a little like I'm going to cry. What's that all about? I've been having a little bit of "happy sad" today, because my son turns six tomorrow. I don't know why 6 is a big deal, except that he's a year older, and he's looking more like a big boy, and I'm really enjoying his company. It's mom blubbering, I guess.

I've also been really down on my physical shape lately. While I've been almost internally boastful about my face and hair (I've been spending a ridiculously large amount of time preening in the mirror, I'm ashamed to say), I've also noticed a resurgence in negative self-talk regarding my weight and size. It hasn't been very nice. And really, I'm not sure how to be kind to myself regarding the parts of my body that I WANT to change without starting to fixate on them. And that worries me.

Oh, and I quit smoking 8 days ago. That might have something to do with both my weight AND my emotions.

But mostly, I feel like my body can't possibly be what my husband wants to look at. I feel like I can't be appealing to him and I feel really unsexy. I know that he really doesn't care, but I do. I don't feel like a sex symbol, and I've got this idea in my head that I have to be physically perfect in order to be desirable. I feel like he's looking at other women and then coming home to me and thinking, "What the hell am I here for?"

I may still be hungry, but I don't feel as desperate to eat now. I'll see how I feel in a few. But writing really helps.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Quitting update

It's been a few minutes past 4 smoke-free days. And I can honestly say that this has been the easiest quit I've ever done. I did notice a few really uncomfortable days, but nothing that made me feel like I was "dying", which has been a pretty typical internal response to quitting in the past.

So, what's different this time?

I know that I was extremely prepared for the quit. I had relaxation strategies in place months before the quit occurred, and I was already thinking about long-term plans while I was still smoking. I did a LOT of extra preparing work this time.

I believe that the work with Intuitive Eating and Breaking Free have also done so much good for my entire self, and that this work transcends my dietary or physical health. I feel grounded- I feel like I am living much more "in the present", instead of fretting over the past or freaking out about the future. I'm much more likely to read feelings realistically, instead of building them up into something irrational and insane.

I wish I had known all of this was possible years ago.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Here we go...

I expect that I will be posting a LOT more in the next few days. Because I quit smoking. About 2 hours.

Is there anyone out there complaining that I post too much about things that aren't diet or food related? Well, screw you. EVERYTHING is diet or food related, I've found. And oh, yeah, I forgot that no one reads this!


You know the feeling you get when you get on a really big and intimidating in a I-know-everyone-told-me-this-is-the-best-ride-ever-but-holy-shit-I'm-going-to-die way type of roller coaster? That's how I feel right now. I'm having that same butterflies in the stomach, thinking that there's a pretty good chance that I will die as a result of this, wanting to do ANYTHING I can to get off of the ride feeling.

Except that I'm obviously not going to die from quitting smoking. And I'm also extremely prone to melodrama.

I do like the roller coaster metaphor for one reason: no matter what, no matter how freaking scary the ride is, it's over before you know it. And because I've quit smoking a zillion times before, I know that I've got about 3 very bad days ahead of me, followed by 4 more crappy days, and then 7 less-than-perfect days, and then I'll be okay. I can do 2 weeks of anything. It's literally a matter of putting one foot in front of the other, and continuing to plod forward.

Sort of like navigating the diet-free life. See- it is all related.

As a quick aside, I wanted to mention that I've started using the tools at www.stayquit.co.uk as a way to design my post-smoking life. I wish there was a way to change time zone and currency, but other than that, I like the journaling and "homework", and it's great that the focus there is long-term. I believe it will help.

Well, hello!

Back from the Thanksgiving holiday. Here is what I have learned:

1. I am extremely thankful for my teeny-tiny immediate family. I think that the three of us (my husband, my son, and myself) are a wonderfully tight and functional family unit. It's interesting to parallel that to the extended family dynamic, and to the immediate families that exist within the larger family.

2. I am completely capable of avoiding overeating- or at least, avoiding eating past the point of "full". I don't recall stuffing myself at all over the course of the travel days.

3. I'm still not sure why I eat so much, or why I eat large amounts without feeling super full. Maybe I'm misreading satiety cues, or maybe I just need more energy in general. I do know that I still fit into the clothing I was wearing when I stopped weighing myself at the beginning of this blog. But, they're not looser- which means that I'm eating enough to satisfy this current size. That leads me to think that I'm still eating for my mind, at least at times. But I'm okay with that. It's progress.

4. "Overstarching" (too many white carbs with little else) is very, very bad for my digestive system. I spent Friday night and Saturday in extreme, terrible pain. I may need to start traveling with whole-grain snacks in order to keep this from happening. Then again, this probably won't be an issue in 99% of situations, so maybe I need to plan ahead better in the future based on what I know the menu will look like.

5. I quit smoking tomorrow. I have a pretty decent plan in place. The biggest thing I've had to respect is that I will probably eat more while I'm dealing with withdrawal crap, and I need to be okay with that. It will be temporary. And I'll end up being fine afterward.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Struggling again.

I've been binging (or overeating) for the past two days.

I promised my therapist that I would try to find the causes of my binges (or overeating episodes, since these do not technically qualify as binges) at the time that they occur. Here is what I'm realizing:

1. I am extremely stressed and frustrated. Work is awful. Maybe even worse than awful.

2. I am in serious need of self-care and haven't been doing the pampering that I had been doing (baths, pedicures).

3. I am EXTREMELY nervous about quitting smoking. My quit date is coming up in 11 days. I'm afraid of having to fight through withdrawals. Because they suck.

So, there it is.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

This isn't good.

I need to quit smoking. I just caught my son (he's 5) pretending to "smoke". We constantly talk to him about how bad it is, but we've got to stop.

And that scares me. I'm not sure how to cope with work stress without it. I need ideas. I've added a lot of stress-reduction things to my life (pedicures, meditation, baths, deep breathing), but none of those things do what smoking does, especially when I leave work and I'm ready to rip the car door off of the hinges. Seriously- I get SO frustrated at work sometimes, and there's nothing I can do to change the nature of my job. This is even with all of the positive thinking stuff I've incorporated; without those things, I probably would have had a nervous breakdown by now. I'm not joking, and I don't take mental breakdowns seriously.

So, I need suggestions on QUICK and effective things I can do to help chill out when I'm ready to scream and I hate life. Help?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Where have I been?

I have been hating my life. Hating my job, hating watching other people succeed while I beat my head against a wall with disinterested kids and unsupportive administrators. And I've been eating. And smoking. The last part may be a surprise to some people who read this, and hopefully they'll be understanding and forgiving.

I started working with a therapist a little while ago, and the main thing I wanted to work on was quitting smoking. I HAVE cut my smoking in half, which is good (I'm very black-and-white, all-or-nothing, so it's weird to look at this as a "success", but whatever). The therapist, however, wants to focus on my eating. I can report that, while I haven't binged in recent memory, I have been consuming more. Here are some things I noticed during/after the last appointment with the therapist.

1. I am extremely uncomfortable listing the foods I eat. She asks me for examples of what I am eating when I say that I "overeat". And I have trouble recalling specifics. I know that, if I was talking to someone else, it would be easier. I think part of it is because it feels like I'm focusing on dumb details, but I suspect that most of it is because listing my food feels like a diet. I need to bring that up with her next time.

2. I am having trouble balancing between accepting that there are just going to be some days where the only thing that will make me feel better is mashed potatoes or a creamy soup (food acceptance), and being overly permissive and understanding (mindless indulgence), and being overly critical of ANY eating that is not meant for sustenance (restriction). I think it may be helpful to work on "self-parenting", or creating a self-dialogue where I speak to myself as if I was my son. I wouldn't DREAM of harping on my son because he wants ice cream, nor would I allow him to eat six ice cream cones. Neither is healthy for him. I need to learn how to automatically default my self-talk to this sort of caring concern.

3. We're focusing on the wrong damned thing in therapy! Well, not really. We do spend time every session working on coming up with ideas of healthy ways to cope with stress. And I generally give myself homework at the end of every appointment (I'm a star pupil, ha!). But, I think I would like her to give me more suggestions on day-to-day stress management, especially for the times when I'm in the car and I feel like smashing something.

Still haven't weighed myself, by the way. I can tell that the increase in consumption (I also have been noticing that I'm naturally referring to overeating in more detatched and clinical terms, which is probably a very good thing) is creating more weight, but I also recognize that this will eventually work itself out. I generally have a positive self-image. And that is a good thing.

And no matter what, I'm going to survive through this year of school. They ain't makin' it easy, but I'm a stubborn, tough broad. And I'm stuck in a contract. :)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Eating again...and figuring out stuff.

I'll start with the first one. I've been overeating (I won't classify it as a binge, because a doctor wouldn't. I'm not sneaking, I'm not eating fast, but I am eating too much and definitely eating when I'm not hungry). It's definitely emotional eating.

If I had to guess, I'd say that part of it is linked to the utter despair I feel about my job. Part of it is because I've recently been feeling crappy about my appearance. Why did that happen? I can't figure that out.

I also feel a lot of guilt about how my classes are going. I didn't set the year up well. In my defense, I was blindsided by how bad the job actually is; in reality, I was downright lied to about the state of the program. It took a few weeks to figure out what was going on. I still wish I'd been able to get things started sooner.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Rethinking priorities.

So, I'm sitting in the mall, watching my husband get a massage. And it made me think...this is the first time since we've been together that w have spent time or money on 'relaxation'. I've started meditating, and I get my biweekly pedicure and take regular bubble baths. We're planning to take a family vacation. Now this.

And because we're both overworked, I think these things might be important. More later. He's done!

Anyway...so, I'm thinking that the ridiculous amount of stress that comes with the new job is a being in disguise. I'm learning the importance if self-care. I'm being forced to find stress management techniques that don't involve food. I'm realizing how important it is to focus on my family, which means that I have to keep work at work.

So, perhaps there is something to be learned from everything that, on the surface, send like a problem. Without binging, I never would have gained this much awareness about my emotions. Without gaining weight,i wouldn't have learned to appreciate myself and others for what is really important about us. Without this (generally awful) job, I wouldn't be learning how to cope with stress in healthy ways.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Guess what happens when I eat whatever, whenever I want?

I can tell you what DIDN'T happen.

1. I didn't automatically gain a million pounds.
2. The world did not end.
3. I did not continue to eat until I had consumed the entire world.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

I wish I had known...

I had a doctor's appointment, and was weighed. I tried really, REALLY hard to not pay attention, but the nurse told me the number. And really, it wasn't awful.

It was enough to trigger a two-day binge. Even though the scale wasn't that bad. Even though the weight actually made sense. Even though my clothing felt like it fit just fine. I ignored my body, and became obsessed with the scale again.

No more. I'm not doing this anymore. Even the fact that I need to be weighed for my fitness test can be avoided- I can have a monitor manipulate the scale and ask that the results be hidden from me. I can't keep destroying myself because of what a piece of metal tells me.

In frustration, I purchased "Intuitive Eating". So far, it seems to be a more clinical version of Geneen Roth's stuff. I like it. A lot. So, out of all of this, I've gained a new tool and learned an important lesson about the scale. Any weight can be lost again. And at least my binges almost exclusively consisted of things I WANTED to eat!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Maybe Geneen is right, after all

Every one of Geneen Roth's books talks about using fat as a way to avoid intimacy. And I'm always like, "No way, Geneen; I'm happy with my relationship and my sexuality."

And then I started eating today, and definitely didn't stop when I was full (yesterday, either). It's as if I started eating as soon as I got back from tour. So...does this mean that I'm afraid of intimacy with my husband?

No, I don't think so. Here's where I'm at with this...I think this has something to do with my sexuality and other people. So...if I stay overweight, I don't have to worry about other people finding me attractive. I think it's BECAUSE I'm infatuated with my husband that I want to be undesirable to other guys. So, that's good, in a way- it tells me that I really am secure in my relationship and that I want to stay with him.

But, I don't want to keep using fat in this way! I know that I can (and do) use my personality to create distance between myself and other people. Why would I want to create a physical barrier, as well? Why would I need one? Does anyone have any thoughts?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Sorry...it's been a while

I have been on the road for a few weeks, and haven't had much computer access. I'll be home tomorrow, and will be able to post more regularly again.

I noticed that my scale-free challenge is over. Funny, because I rarely thought about weighing. I did notice if my clothing fit better or worse from day to day, which is probably a better indication of what's going on with my body. I'm not sure if I'll weigh myself again or not. If I do, I'd like to try to keep it as a monthly thing- because of my status as a military member, I'm sort of stuck being weighed occasionally. While the number doesn't matter as much to me, it matters a lot to them.

(Or, so I say...if it didn't matter to me, I wouldn't weigh at all!)

During the past few weeks, I realized just how obsessed normal people are with calorie counting. It's very easy to use numbers and calculations as a substitution for listening to what one's body is needing. I can say that, for the most part, I spent the last two weeks eating when I was hungry and stopping when I had enough. This wasn't the case every day...and I didn't like the physical discomfort that came with overeating. I can honestly say that I didn't feel guilty, though!

I wish this meant that I was "cured". I doubt that will ever be the case. But, I think I've got a series of really helpful tools that are making it easier for me to stay positive about myself and my body, and that's a start.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

What a week!

Woah. So, since my last post, I have:

*Interviewed for two jobs in the same day

*Received an informal offer for one of the jobs (I accepted)

*Packed for a family of three to travel out of town for the weekend

*Completed a whirlwind tour of the Chicagoland area with said family

*Responded sanely to my negative, looking-to-pick-a-fight father

*Researched and visited private kindergartens in anticipation for the aforementioned new job

*Stayed off of the scale

*Quit running

*Eaten sanely.

The last thing is the big one for me. In that list, I see at least six different sources of mega-stress (dealing with my dad is probably one of the biggest ones, since my inner critic took lessons from him). And still, I didn't eat over any of that. What helped?

1. The CBT Referee app, self-affirmation, and other methods of combatting the inner critic

2. Remembering that I can always eat again when I get hungry

3. Keeping my most important goals (self-acceptance, good mental health) in mind

I guess I'm in a list-making mood tonight. I can say that I'm feeling extremely disorganized and frazzled, what with the upcoming school year and all. It's amazing, though, how much BETTER I am handling all of this than I was before I quit dieting and weighing. There is definitely less internal chatter. Still, I am very tired, and will come back again when I'm feeling more rested!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

I had something important to say...

...and then I got a job offer, and completely forgot what I was going to say.

I have learned, though, that I don't necessarily eat "because of stress". Because I had a solid couple of hours with no stress whatsoever, and my feelings about food were no better or worse than normal. Rather than thinking of this as "stress eating" or "emotional eating", I am starting to believe that I have a hard time dealing with anything without using food.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Letting go of the "loser" mentality

Initially, I quit dieting because I was tired of restricting and bingeing. I was tired of looking the way I did.

Somewhere within the past month, something changed. More than anything else, I am tired of being obsessed with my weight and size. So, while I maintain this eating plan in order to avoid binges, and I exercise in order to gain strength and cardiovascular health (and to avoid failing future fitness tests!), it might appear to others that I am trying to lose weight.

I will lose weight. There is no way I can consume less calories and exercise and NOT lose some weight.

If it doesn't happen, though, I want to be able to be okay with that- not just accepting, but proud of myself at my size. I want to see myself as much more than what the numbers tell me I am. Getting away from the scale has been very, very helpful.

By the way, I am following Geneen Roth's recommended eating guidelines for a bit of structure in how I eat. Her guidelines are:

1. Eat when you are hungry.

2. Eat sitting down in a calm environment. (This does not include the car.)

3. Eat without distractions.

4. Eat only what your body wants.

5. Eat until you are satisfied.

6. Eat with the intention of being in the full view of others.

7. Eat with gusto, enjoyment, and pleasure.

Really, I do very well with most of these guidelines most of the time. Because my goal is progress, not perfection, it's okay for me to merely be "mostly good, most of the time". I do have a lot of troubles with eating without distraction. I seem to be uncomfortable with silence, and seem to feel wrong if I'm not multitasking when eating. Also, my husband watches TV when he eats, and he's not interested in turning it off. Any suggestions for how to help with those three problems?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Day 1 is done!

If you recall, I started a scale-free challenge yesterday.

It's very odd- right when I woke up, I felt hungry. And my first thought (I never realized that I did this!) was, "Well, let's see what the scale says." I'm not joking. I was going to base my eating plans on whether I had gained or lost weight overnight- not on whether I was hungry or not, but on what the scale had to say about whether I deserved to eat or not.

I feel like I want to be more wordy and insightful, but I'm feeling honestly exhausted. Today was also day 2 of my Couch to 5k program, and day 2 of my pushup/situp training (I have to pass a fitness test in 3 weeks). I also had a color guard rehearsal (I'm getting more action as a color guard director than as a band director, by the way). My body feels very used, but very vital and happy. I smiled through much of my time outside today. But still, it's time for some rest.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The 30-Day Scale-Free Challenge

The owner of http://thistastesterrible.blogspot.com/ (I don't know if you want your name "out there", sorry!) proposed a 30-day challenge- can we stay away from the scale for a month?

That's a great idea. It's a really great idea. I stopped counting calories in February (although my brain is hardwired with the content of foods from a decade of counting...sometimes it happens automatically). I even try to avoid tracking meals in general (with the exception of a very vague journal that I'm keeping in order to learn more about my hunger patterns). The scale is my last holdout; it's the last thing left from my miserable history determining my worth in numbers.

It's funny how I can wake up feeling terrific; maybe even feeling a bit closer to "fit", and after stepping on the scale and seeing a gain, I all of a sudden feel like eating. Or not eating.

It's as if I walk into the bathroom and say, "Okay, scale, tell me how I should feel about myself today." And heaven knows I have enough problems will external things affecting my self-worth.

So, I'm going to put a countdown timer on my blog (if I can figure it out). I won't weight myself for 30 days. I'm anticipating a general improvement in self-worth, body image satisfaction, and overall happiness. Which is strange, because it's just a stupid machine.

Thoughts on last night's quote

I suppose that what I am really looking for is balance more than freedom. "Freedom" suggests that I will be cured of overeating, and I don't necessarily believe that will happen. But, to be able to brush away the compulsions (or even the mindlessness) as easily as moving a hair off of my face- I do think that is attainable.

The key to this entire journey is honesty and transparency with myself. I have to check in with my body when I am hungry. I have to check in while I am eating to make sure I'm not just munching. I have to check in when I feel like eating to see if it's emotional hunger instead of physical hunger.

In short, I have to show up and tell the truth.

A lesson from nighttime meditations

"In our struggle for freedom, truth is the only weapon we possess."

It's a quote attributed to the Dalai Lama, and it is certainly applicable to the journey toward learning and mindful eating.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Finding enough is finding balance.

I'm often accused of thinking too much. You can all go to hell. You're all right, but still, go to hell.

Okay, seriously now. I was thinking about my run, and how really very good I felt afterward. It is pretty telling that I worry about gaining an exercise addiction. I've never developed that before, even at times where it would have been a logical progression. But, I still thought about it a bit.

For some reason, I've been able to maintain balance with running when it's been part of my life and routine. It's something I enjoy for a number of reasons, and weight maintenance really isn't one of them. Which is odd. It's an escape from reality, but it's also a connection TO reality, if that makes sense. It's completely unlike food. I guess it's more like bathing (one of my favorite escapes)- in order to really bathe, you have to be totally attuned to the sensation of being in the water. It's different from food, too. I guess I'd have to call running and bathing connected escapes- or maybe escapes from unreality, because those are the things I can use to get away from the internal voices and criticisms.

Logically, it would follow that if running and bathing are physical activities that provide a connection to reality, food could, theoretically, become a similar activity. It's a sensory-rich activity. Eating mindfully IS connecting to self and to something outside of self. To take this thread further, I could suggest that eating mindfully could, maybe, be used as a coping strategy.

I'm not there yet. The idea is still incubating, and I'd like to come back to it later. But, it's interesting nonetheless.


I want chocolate.

I'm tired of feeling like I'm not worth employing. I'm tired of feeling worthless.

And, for some reason, feeling this sort of despair makes me want chocolate. I wonder if it's the cold, and its ability to numb my brain. I wonder if it's the sugar and fat and the feeling of fullness taking my focus off of real life.

I'm not sure if I'm going to get ice cream or not. If I do, I'll be aware that I am eating it, at least.

Edited to add: It's been a couple of hours, and I had to make a decision. I was tired of feeling sad, and there really wasn't much I could do because, dammit, it was logical for me to be sad! But, I didn't want to spend the whole night feeling like this, and I'd rather not eat if I'm not hungry. Food isn't going to give me a job, you know?

So, I went for a run. Or, a walk interrupted by brief periods of running. And I listened to music. And as if by divine miracle, Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds" came on. I smiled, and cried a bit, and ran. And sweated. I enjoy moving my body, and I had forgotten how much I enjoyed pounding the pavement.

Now all I want is a shower...and maybe to listen to a little more Bob Marley.

Had a thought about that last post

Here I am, all Eeyore-y and mopey. Because I didn't get a call for an interview.

Once again, I am letting a situation outside of my control dictate my emotions. I think that's valid (it's something I wanted, and I'm not getting it. It's normal to feel let-down when that happens). But, I want to learn how to change my reaction to "not getting what I want".

What I'm really doing is allowing this perceived failure define my self- in other words, I am choosing to believe that without a job, I don't have value. Or that I am not getting a call because I am flawed at my core. I know that's not true (although I still don't know why they're not calling me). I don't have to know the circumstances to know that I still have value.

Okay...now I just have to learn how to believe that! Writing it down helps, but I guess it will take a lot of re-organizing my reactions to make the believing part happen naturally.

Edited to add: So, I had a little mope-fest; curling up in bed and leaking a bit. I realized that the lack of an interview is confirming my deeply-held belief that I am not a very good teacher, and that them NOT calling is a sign that they figured it out. There are dozens of logical rebuttals to that belief, but I've held it for a long time.

And that's why the demotion hurt so badly. It was a very real verdict on my abilities. They pt the other guy in charge specifically because he said that he was more qualified. All the logic and facts in the world did not matter- they deemed me unfit, and made their decisions. It would be nice to get rid of that feeling.

Today is the kind of day that makes this blog necessary.

A little bit of backstory:

In May, I quit my job. It was my choice to leave, although I didn't want to leave. I was a band director, and I did a good job. My kids loved me, and I loved teaching them. But, the assistant director decided that he could do a better job than me, and he compelled a school board member to demote me. It sucks, but it is what it is.

And I couldn't bear the thought of being trapped in my job, watching him rip everything apart. So, I quit. It felt liberating. I felt powerful. I felt like I could conquer the world.

For about a week.

And then I had to start job hunting. There aren't a lot of jobs this year, and it seems like a lot of people do not want to hire an experienced teacher with a master's degree (we cost more). Still, I have remained mostly optimistic. And then today happened.

A month ago, I applied for a position in the same district where a very good friend works. I know the community, I know the district, and I know I would be a good fit for their needs. He is one of my references. I knew it would take a while for them to begin interviewing, but I was patient. And today, I called to follow up and was told that they have already selected interviewees.

I didn't even get a call. I should have been ideally suited for this job, and they didn't call. My friend (the one who is a reference) also takes this personally- it seems like his reference means very little. I started talking about quitting teaching altogether and going back to school for...something. I don't know what.

In short, I became really Eeyore-ish. Woe is me. Great big huge pity party. And I started feeling really irritated with myself for that. And then I wanted to eat.

But really, is it wrong for me to be bummed out because of this? I feel sad about leaving my job. I feel sad about not being hired elsewhere. And I feel sad about not getting called for this job. I am choosing to respect my feelings. And I think I will lay in bed and be mopey for a while.

And, it begins.

Whit said I should start a blog.

The idea of blogging is appealing. I like to talk, and I type quickly. This works for me. Also, the nature of what I am trying to do (more on that shortly) requires me to reflect through writing- or, requires me to reflect, and writing is an effective tool for me.

So. Here is the story. I am a compulsive, or emotional overeater. While my weight merely falls in the "overweight" category (I am not obese), I meet all of the DSM-IV criteria for binge eating disorder. And I've met those for at least the past 15 years. Most of my life has been spent as a relatively thin person, thanks to genetics- although I have been overweight before. I have spent portions of my life following very restrictive diets (research "orthorexia" and you will see what I mean) and had a couple of bulimic episodes, but always revert back to bingeing.

6 months ago (of course, because it was January. You get it, right?) I decided to start dieting again. It started out well, and then I started restricting a bit. At that same time, a dear friend of mine told me she was anorexic. It was because of her disorder, and being forced to look at restrictive eating as an unreasonable and potentially dangerous thing (especially for me), that I started looking for other answers.

I found a few ideas in Geneen Roth's writings. More on her later. I have also found other websites and authors who share the "no dieting" philosophy with me.

I'm going to copy something directly from my writings on another site, because it will serve as a good introduction to this project. Also, I am lazy and don't want to re-type things:

On February 27th, I promised myself that I would not go on another diet. No more dieting. Dieting sets me up for unnecessary restrictions (self-imposed, almost all the time), which sets me up for bingeing. Basically, they're no good.

I enjoy food. I LOVE food. I love good food, and I love being able to taste the complexity of ingredients. For instance, I made a pizza for lunch. Homemade crust- there really isn't much better than that. I love hitting the little spots where I tucked away rosemary or garlic, or being able to taste olive oil. Good stuff.

Geneen Roth's whole philosophy can be summed up in one sentence...Eat what you want when you're hungry, and feel what you're feeling when you're not. I'm a master of eating what I want when I'm hungry (although there have been times where I've sucked at it...I've reasoned with myself and found another option because I didn't think I deserved whatever it was that I really wanted). Not so good, am I, at the feeling part.

And I'm downright awful at being able to tell when I've had "enough". I can find "more than enough"- that's pain, and bloating, and indigestion. Enough is like hearing a whisper in a crowd. Enough is elusive and mystifying to me.

So, I'm on the quest to find "enough" again. I ate- and tasted- my pizza at lunch. I can't tell if I had "enough". I do know this...if I didn't, I'll feel hungry again. And I know this is a learning process, and that you can't really screw up a process.

This was followed with:

It's such a weird concept. Sort of like the point where you're supposed to turn off your headlights when you've been driving since midnight and you'll reach your destination at 8 am- the point between "dawn" and "day" is probably very similar to the point between "not enough" and "too much".

I need to begin thinking of that point as more of a grey area than a point on a line graph.

One of my favorite things about not dieting is that I can stand to be much more patient and compassionate with myself when I do binge. And, my binges tend to be less frequent and violent. I believe that my binges are a way for me to try to tell myself something.

If I start seeing these patterns, it will be easier for me to figure out what is going on when I start to eat...and in time, I might be able to stop a binge after it has started (or to address the problem when the craving starts).

I'm learning. And I'm feeling okay about myself.

I'm choosing to look at this as a process. I'm at the point where I am aware of why I am eating, and am still choosing to eat. It doesn't feel out of control.

That is progress. Not in weight or in calorie consumption, but definitely in self-awareness and self-acceptance.

Now, the goal is to keep journaling. I use the UltraMate mobile diary to track my food (there is no calorie counter attached- but I like to be able to see when I'm eating and what I'm eating) and I use the CBT referee application for Android to track what I'm feeling, whether it's related to food or not.