Tuesday, February 17, 2004

So Now What?

So, what am I going to do about it? Unlike alcohol, tobacco or other drugs, you can't completely eliminate food from your life. In fact, it's essential!

So you have to think, it's not necessarily food-- it's how and why I'm eating it. Am I eating because I'm hungry or because I'm lonely? Do I go back for seconds and thirds because my hunger has not been satiated, or because I haven't been comforted or numbed enough by it?

So (I'm using that a lot!) in this instance, going "cold turkey" does not mean never eating another morsel of food - it means I need to abstain from binge eating, from emotional or numbing eating.

It seems a little bit like I'm starting a food obsession -- thinking about what, how much and why I'm eating. The problem has been, however, that I haven't been thinking about it -- I've been mindlessly shoving my face full of unhealthy food, at large quantities, as a recreation and a comforter.

For example, every time I ate today, I made myself ask, "Why am I eating this?" And today, I recognized physical signs of hunger, and in the evening I recognized a craving for something sweet. I went to the store, and when I looked at the food I said to myself, "Why do I want to buy this? Is it healthy? Is it something I know I will binge with if it's in my house?"

I honestly don't know if this self-realization will last. Perhaps I truly need to act like the addict I feel I am and literally take it one day at a time. I went to the Overeaters Anonymous web site today and looked for local meeting but could only find J-town. I thought there was one in my county -- I'll have to check. I don't know how comfortable I'd feel going to meetings, but at the same time, I do think having a sponsor would be a good thing. At least I have my new therapist, Dr. K., and she may even know of local meetings since she deals with eating disorders.

Could this really be a new beginning for me? Or just another doomed attempt at losing weight? It feels different this time -- it's more about regaining control of my life -- as if I have ever been! It's about recognizing self-destructive behavior and wanting to change it. But am I strong enough to do it? Am I willing to make a commitment to abstaining from binging? That doesn't mean I'll never eat another ice cream cone or piece of birthday cake -- it means I won't buy a whole birthday cake for myself out of self-pity and plow through it in two days.

Here are the goals I've set up for myself:
1. Exercise 3 to 5 times a week. That means the gym, swimming, walking, biking -- whatever activities keep me moving, increasing my strength and benefiting my physical and emotional health.
2. No eating in front of the TV. That's going to be a very hard one for me. It's the #1 place for me to mindlessly eat. Prime overeating location.
3. Being conscious of portions. That doesn't mean I won't always eat just one portion, but I want to at least make myself recognize that I can just order the 6 inch sub instead of the 12 inch and still be satisfied.
4. Giving myself time to feel satisfied. This ties in with #3. I often just immediately fill my plate again just because the food's there. If I give myself even just 10 or 15 minutes to register my level of hunger or fullness, I could escape that stuffed feeling from finishing everything off before my stomach catches up with my head.
5. Ask myself why I'm eating. The most important, I think. There are going to be times when I'm eating to celebrate, to comfort and to console. But I want to recognize that instead of absentmindedly scarfing down everything in front of me for no good reason.

Perhaps I should transfer these to a poster so I can review them daily!


Andrea K said...

Me again.

I was definitely analytical here, but pretty much right on track with what was going on and what I needed to do.

The funny thing is, I still eat in front of the TV. I was never able to stop that. But the big change is that when I do, I bring very specific amounts and portions of food with me. I don't bring a whole bag of chips and a tub of dip and go wild. Now it's usually a 100-calorie popcorn bag or a high fiber granola bar. Or maybe an apple.

I never made the poster, either.

Vickie said...

Okay - is it rude to ask where you were on your journey at this point? Were you at your highest weight and deciding what you were going to do? Or were you well on your way?

I don't think you were married yet - ? Did you have your daughter with you by then or still working on getting her? Job that you hated or loved? Living in same area or totally different?

I guess I need to orient myself to where/who you were then.

Are you still seeing this same therapist? I didn't know you HAD seen an eating disorder therapist. Without giving away personal information on getting into the specifics that someone else might decide not to get help and just "remote" through you - can you talk about this? Did you hunt for Ed therapist? or just happen to end up with one? How did you start? - goals?

Andrea K said...

I wasn't at my heighest weight, but close. My highest was 337 in 2002. In 2003, in some part due to exercise, new medication to treat PCOS, and a lot of stress, I got down to 290. But at the time of this journal I'd gone back up to 310.

No, I was not married. I had not been in a relationship since 1998. I adopted my daughter in May 1999, so she was there and actually a major factor in my career change. I was living in West Virginia from 1995-2000, then moved back to my hometown to become the editor of a weekly newspaper. I loved it at first, but the crushing work load and the dysfunctional/toxic workplace I dealt with drove my mental and physical health into a downward spiral. The dysfunction only escalated when I reached out for help, and when I decided it was time to go, it got ugly.

I started seeing Dr. K. when I left the newspaper because I was suffering from severe anxiety as well as some very fleeting suicidal (mainly escapist) thoughts. I had been to therapists off and on since I was 15, so I knew the signs and when to get help. I called this doctor's group because my church helped pay for members' sessions, and when I was told Dr. K. dealt with eating disorders, I went with her.

Of course I started out dealing with the work place trauma and receovery from it, but over time I started working on the food issues. We've never had any clear cut goals, but it's been a place to discuss different methods (OA vs. WW vs. cognitive behavioral therapy, etc.)and work out feelings as they came up. I wound up using CBT to deal with the food (food journaling, set meal times) and worked on the emotional issues with therapy and journaling.

I get into this more in future posts.