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 (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. 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.