Monday, December 31, 2007

The End of the Year

Holy Cow, it's been so long since I blogged that I forgot my password to Blogger! That is a bad, bad sign!

I can't believe it's been almost a MONTH since I wrote here. The month of December went by so fast, with so many holiday preparations at home and at work, that I hardly had time to do anything "fun" -- reading, needlework, etc. And let's face it, I basically "gave up" when it came to food and exercise. Not admirable, but I'm not going to deny it, either.

In a way I'm glad 2007 is almost over. This has been an incredibly tough year for me. While there was no single thing that stands out as a tragedy or a terrible experience, something inside of me seemed to have waved the white flag of surrender and ... not died, but went into a deep hibernation.

The majority of this year I've dealt with low to mid-levels of depression, with a small period of anxiety attacks thrown in for good measure. I'm still trying to sort out how much was physical/chemical/hormonal and how much was psychological/emotional issues. I know both were involved, and it was a lethal combination that has wreaked near-total devastation on my food and weight issues. I've gained back a LOT of weight, way more than I'm willing to admit here in print, although in January I've got a doctor's appointment that will not be a pleasant experience. However, I'm hoping at this appointment to rectify some mistakes I've made with my medications as far as my PCOS is concerned. I'm convinced switching medications at the beginning of last year had a lot to do with my weight gain, lack of energy, mood swings, etc., and I'm going to get on my knees and beg if necessary to go back to what was working before.

I'm not saying it was all biological. I know I got mentally burned out on the dieting, which evolved into a vicious cycle of restricting and binge eating. I thought I was getting a good handle on Intuitive Eating and Conscious Living, but my depression kept getting in the way. I know I still have a lot of issues to work through, the core reasons behind my disordered, emotional eating, and at my last therapy session I asked Dr. K. to begin helping me go through Karen Koenig's "Food and Feelings Workbook." I think having someone to answer to and a deadline to complete the chapters will help me to quit procrastinating and do the work that needs to be done.

I realize now that the last couple months I've been dragged down by huge amounts of negativity and pessimism. I find myself resentful, grumbling and angry way too much. It's been so hard for me to look for the positives in anything, and it's sure hard to feel good about myself when I can't seem to find the good in anything.

I know it's incredibly cliche to jump on the New Year's Resolution bandwagon, but I find myself looking at the new calendar and wanting to make a fresh start. Part of me is scared, because traditionally the January through March period is usually my most depressed part of the year, and I can't bear to think of feeling worse than I do right now. I already feel like I'm scraping bottom, and if I get any lower I'll be underground. It seems like I have no where else to go now but up.

On that note, I have decided to let go of this "Onederful Bound" title and start a new blog. I need to reassess my goals and aspirations, and at this point I can't make it a number on a scale. This is NOT a farewell; I need to write and express my feelings now more than ever. But looking at that title reminds me too much of my self-perceived failure in this one aspect of my life. I think a starting fresh on a new, blank slate may help to let go of the negativity that has taken hold of me.

Don't worry, I will link the new site to this one so anyone who still wants to (those of you who are still checking in on me, my apologies again for my long absence) can find me.

I hope everyone had a good Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc., and will be able to celebrate the new year. We're having a party at my house tonight, and I'm hoping to paste on a happy face and enjoy myself.

I promise, I will be back.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Cleaning House

I know I've been missing in action here in blogland. The holidays are taking a lot out of me: there was all the cleaning before Thanksgiving; at work doing a lot of work ahead of time to prepare for my days off; all the work and preparation on the actual day; cleaning up afterward; visiting with relatives in from Annapolis; my daughter and I catching a cold; then continuing to clean and decorate for Christmas.

I do feel like I've been in a haze, a holiday haze: going through all the boxes in the attic, lugging down the artificial tree (I just can't justify chopping down a living tree every year, plus the expense of them) and all the lights, ornaments and other decorations. On Friday I did a commando shopping trip, bouncing from store to store like a ball in a pinball machine. Over this past weekend I've been working on the Christmas cards; I send about 50, and it involves looking up addresses, signing them all, and yesterday I had a photo shoot with Mabel and the dogs that was incredibly difficult to coordinate.

This past week I've been a woman on a mission: I got sick of my husband and I snipping at each other about our disorganized basement (that I'm still waiting on him to remodel) and decided that something had to be done. Since I'll die an old woman before he would ever organize the stuff down there, I rolled up my sleeves and got to work. On Thursday evening I spent a couple of hours on it, and Saturday morning I attacked it again. Even though Hubby swears someday he's going to build more shelves and give me more storage, for now I did the best with what I had, and it looks so much better.

In addition, knowing that bad weather was on its way Saturday night and Hubby would not have any time to do it because of deer hunting, I decorated the front porch for Christmas, too. He claims he's going to put more lights up on the shrubs, etc., I didn't want the front of our house completely dark until Dec. 24th.

Finally, I got sick of asking my husband several times to clean the dog poop out of the back yard and did it myself. It must have been at least a month since this was last done, and I spent at least an hour trying to pry frozen dog turds out of the grass. Mabel helped me clean the other (non-poop) garbage/dog destruction out of the yard, and in addition to my two big buckets of fecal matter, we also amassed a garbage can and a big box full of destroyed dog toys and chewed up wooden lattice from our deck.

Even after that I still wasn't done. I kicked the dogs out of the kitchen and thoroughly cleaned it, too. By the end of the day I was exhausted. I was achy and sore and all I wanted to do was curl up in my comfy chair and watch the season finale of Torchwood. Of course, Hubby came home all full of energy and wanted to go Christmas shopping in Pittsburgh -- which is over an hour away from our home! There was no way I was leaving the house at 6 p.m. and fighting the Christmas shopping crowds after slaving in that house all day.

Lately I feel more like a maid or servant than anything else. There are so many obligations placed upon me; I find myself forced to do so much endless "grunt" work because no one else will. I seem to be inheriting the fate of my mother and her mother, taking on the brunt of all the household responsibilities because the husbands in our lives don't take on what we feel is their share.

Okay, my husband cooks dinner. That's great, and a lot of wives probably envy that. But I'm not sitting around eating bon bons while he cooks. I'm setting the table, getting out condiments, drinks, etc. I usually help carry serving bowls to the table, too, and have to run back to the kitchen because he rarely remembers to bring serving utensils. And once the meal is over, my family instantly vanishes, leaving me to clear and clean the table, put the food away, then wash the dishes, clean the stove top and counters and put everything (kitchen gadgets, spices, ingredients, etc.) back in their places. You can tell he learned to cook in restaurant kitchens and is used to having dish washers take care of everything: in a regular meal he uses several different knives, multiple pots and pans, bowls and sheet pans, then puts the finished meal in separate serving dishes. When he does actually put his tools in the sink he never rinses anything, so by the time I get there all the sauces, cheese, etc., is dried on them, or else he stacks the sink to overflowing and loads up the top item with water, which then topples over and spills all over the kitchen when I'm trying to empty it. There are times I feel like telling him not to cook dinner any more because it seems to make more work for me than if I cooked myself.

I know I sound resentful, like the stereotypical wife who feels overburdened and under appreciated by her family. I'm not writing this to martyr myself to the world, although sometimes I do feel that way, I admit. I do try to voice my needs and my desire for help, but the usual response is "I'll get to it," yet hours or days later I still wind up doing it myself.

The good thing about this past week and getting so fired up about tackling these projects is that it gets me moving and energized. I have less time to sit around and eat; instead of sitting around brewing on my emotions and thinking about binge eating, I'm working off these feelings with scrubbing, lifting and other chores.

My eating still isn't great; the holiday season has brought lots of high calorie foods into the house and they're hard to resist. But at least I'm not sitting for hours ingesting them all until I'm bloated and sick.

Again, sorry for the absence here on the blog. But rest assured, I haven't been idle. I've been thinking a lot as I vacuum, dust and organize, and I'll try to relate those revelations here as I find time.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Here's what I'm thankful for:

Today is the last day of work until Tuesday. I've been working especially hard to get everything done, and I think I've been able to do it all with a minimum of mistakes. I'm looking forward for a few days off to spend time with my daughter (who is also getting a break from school and gymnastics), decorating the house for Christmas and maybe making some cookies.

Tomorrow is my family's Thanksgiving dinner and everything's falling into place. My cousin and his wife are bringing their five month-old baby girl Molly and I simply cannot wait to hold her.

I'm grateful that my family is healthy. One of our neighbors unexpectedly died yesterday, and I feel so much sympathy for his family as they have to deal with their grief over the holiday season. My parents are in good health, my husband is fine, and my daughter's a cartwheeling ball of vim and vigor. And I'm doing okay, too.

Despite the cons to living in a very small town, I appreciate the good things about it. Yesterday afternoon I stopped to drop off something to my former neighbor who recently lost her husband (I wrote about this at the beginning of the month) and we wound up talking for two hours. There were plenty of things I was going to do yesterday afternoon -- mainly clean my house -- but this time with her seemed so much more important and precious to me.

I'm also thankful for the other good friends I have, who have been there for me in good times as well as the rough ones.

Yes, I have my share of problems. There are things in my life that I'm unhappy with. Some are within my control and some aren't, even though some of the ones that in theory are in my control seem impossible to change. And sometimes I let these things drag me down and feel miserable. But, like the song we sang in church last Sunday, I need to Count My Blessings. I have to remember all the good things I have, all the positives in my life.

The lady I visited yesterday talked to me about this, too. And her comment was, "When I think I have problems, I look around and what some other people have to bear and I realize I don't have any problems at all." And this is a woman who just lost her husband of 60 years, who has diabetes and probably other issues I know nothing about. If she can have this attitude, I need to take her as an example and realize how fortunate I am.

So, to everyone out there, spend a moment or two in the next 24 hours appreciating the good things in your life. Be thankful for all that you have. I plan to do the same.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Church Lady Snaps

This is without doubt the busiest week of the year at my job. Compare it to the week of April 15 for accountants. To survive this week I have to do a lot of pre-planning, time management and multi-tasking. My biggest headaches come from outside sources: mainly procrastinators and people who expect me to drop everything and get their last-minute requests done.

I am not proud of the fact that I made someone cry yesterday. This is a person who makes tons of demands on me and is always expecting me to fulfill her last-minute requests throughout the year. But yesterday she hit me on the absolute wrong day, and I snapped at her. I didn't even explode on her like I really wanted to, but my obvious aggravation and displeasure was enough to send her over the edge (and let's be frank here: this is a woman who is always teetering on that precipice from all the drama in her life).

Of course when she starts crying I feel awful, although I was kind of confused as she starting gushing about some relative who's dying and doesn't want anyone to know. This made me think that the tears really weren't about me, but then she came back a few minutes later and tried to give me a $20 bill for my "trouble." This started the whole discussion of me not wanting her money, that I just need things in a timely manner, not two hours after I've completed the project she wants to contribute to. I reminded her that I put reminders in the bulletin about this for the past month, and I can only wait so long. But then she was martyring herself all over the place and offering to stay and help me. At that point all I wanted was for her to get out of my office so I could do my work without her tearful theatrics disrupting me.

Then there's this other woman who drives me absolutely crazy. She is the queen of procrastination who feels it's perfectly fine to call me at the last minute -- often at home -- with all her requests. Even though she works at a place full of computers and e-mail, most of her requests are handwritten and left for me on the piano bench in the basement of the church, so I have to go hunting for them. Worst of all, she leads me through her directions like a dim-witted five year-old and often forces me to read back her stuff when she dictates it to me over the phone.

I've slowly been trying to correct this situation with this woman. Two weeks ago she called my house at 9:30 p.m. -- the night before I print the Sunday bulletin -- to dictate an announcement she wanted in there.

"Do you have a pencil handy?" she asked me.

"Um, no," I replied curtly, "I'm in bed."

Boy did she stutter around! I told her to call me in the morning (wishing it would be at the office), but instead she called me at 7:30 a.m. while I was trying to get Mabel ready for school. I of course had to write down her announcement and read it back to her. Oh, and by the way, she needed a bunch of copies made for her Sunday School classes, too.

So this morning she calls me at home again at 7:30 in the morning, asking me to go find her papers in the church basement and make all these copies for her for this Sunday. The same week I've got the newsletter and annual meeting and envelope distribution and poinsettia orders and everything else.

I wanted to unleash holy terror down upon her, but the image of the other lady crying in my office kept me from verbally ripping her head off. I told her I would try to honor her request, but it was awfully last-minute and it's an extremely busy day, not to mention week. She him-hawed around and said if I couldn't do it all, if I could at least do make copies of the one sheet. I told her I would do my best, but that I'd appreciate it if in the future she would get things to me earlier.

I so wanted to tell her to take her copies and shove them up her butt. But what kind of a church lady would I be? I'm supposed to be gracious and helpful and take care of people. But where's the line when you become someone who gets taken advantage of and becomes a doormat?
It's no wonder I've been doing some stress-eating the past couple days. Not a binge, but nervous, mindless eating. I'm incorporating other options to reduce my stress -- yesterday was my appointment with my therapist, I'm exercising in the mornings, I'm trying to read a good book and start my Christmas counted cross stitch projects. But let's face it, it's hard to fight those urges to eat some cookies or some chocolate to soothe myself. But I'm trying.
Today's crunch day, and fortunately things are coming together well. But my personal life is equally jam-packed right now, and this afternoon I have to try to cram in as many errands as possible, especially since the weather man is calling for several inches of snow tonight. Often our road crews aren't prepared for our first major snow, and I'd like to be able to avoid as much traveling as possible tomorrow.
I have to admit the thought of being snowbound in my house for a day sounds nice. Of course, I'll have to disconnect the phone so no one can bother me with their demands. I can just sit back, read my book, do some stitching, and rediscover some relaxation.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What Other People Think of Me is None of My Business

Today's better, I guess. I was so busy at work today I didn't get a chance at all until this evening to think about blogging. It's newsletter time, but also time for our church's annual meeting, which means I need to compile agendas, minutes, budgets, reports etc., and assemble them into 200 packets. It's also time to distribute the new offering envelopes, so I had to label all 299 boxes. The Christmas Eve poinsettia orders are due this week, so they're flying in, as well as memorial gifts for a deceased member of the church, and these have to be recorded so I can put them in the newsletter. Oh, and the Sunday School superintendent needed lessons printed up for grades 1-6, and our associate pastor needed 200 copies of his Christmas letter copied. All of this on top of my usual work. Fun fun!

I really kind of worked myself into a bit of a frenzy over this whole ordeal I shared with you yesterday. But at least when I'm upset I'm not compulsively overeating. Hubby and I talked about it more this morning, and I suppose it's as resolved as I'm ever going to get it.

I feel kind of foolish about the whole thing now. I look back at myself and see a whining, spoiled brat who threw a fit because she didn't get her way. The scolding mother in me looks at this little girl and says, "Guess what, kid? Life isn't fair, so get used to it."

I also think I totally set myself up for more disappointment and hurt feelings with my e-mail to him. Looking back, I think I expected him to respond objectively and empathetically -- basically like a therapist would. I wanted him to listen and validate my feelings and not interject his opinions into it or give me any judgments or criticisms. And that just isn't realistic. I know this man pretty well, and he responded pretty much like he always does. He gets defensive, he sees things subjectively and can't help bringing his feelings into it. And let's not forget the family gift of guilt.

I also realize a lot of my upset feelings stems from my age-old quest to win someone's approval. It started with desperately trying to get my dad's approval (i.e. love) and has moved on to peers, teachers, bosses, boyfriends, etc. This also feeds into my difficulty saying no to people and the need to be perfect. I've always had a horrible time coping with criticism, negative reviews and full-out *ss-chewings. I fall apart emotionally because I feel worthless, stupid and unlovable.

Let's face it: Hubby and his family did not approve of my trip, and although they've apparently backed down on their outright disdain (at least to my face) I will never make any of them think it's a great idea. And that's what's felt so unfair this weekend: all of the "boys" were basking in their fully sanctioned, 100 percent approved trips, while I will never get that.

There's a great saying my Mom shared with me: What other people think of me is none of my business. I have to quit relying on outside validation to feel good about myself. I have to tune out those people out there who are out to make me feel bad or that my opinions are shoddy because we don't agree on certain things. I have to stop comparing myself to others and focus on my good qualities and how I can improve the ones that are a little shaky.

So, instead of telling this little girl to suck it up and tell her the world is a cold, hard place, I need to give her a hug, tell her I love her and let her know that things will get better.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Sick As A Dog

It's been ages since I've published pictures of my doggies. In case you're new or you've forgotten, Bruno is the yellow one and Pearl is the black one. They are practically inseparable. And did I mention how freakin' BIG they are? It's like having livestock in the house. But like children, they're always so precious when they're asleep.

I put this picture on my entry last night, which has now become somewhat apropos, since I awoke at 2:30 a.m. sick as a dog. Why? Because, folks, I had my first full-blown binge since starting the Wellbutrin. I can tell it's been about a month since I last did this, because my body is already out of practice, and I was miserable.

As I laid in bed chewing on antacids, I tried to figure out why I did this. It didn't take too long to figure it out. Over the course of the weekend I watched my BIL and FIL plan and go on an overnight fishing trip to New York; then on Sunday my husband and his buddies were on the phone all day like a bunch of giddy teenagers planning next year's Alaska trip. It stirred up a lot of feelings about my upcoming trip to England and the unpleasant time I had when I first decided to go.

I thought about how great these guys had it compared to me: no one jumped all over them with guilt and criticism about going; no one judged them and their traveling companions as being morally "unfit" or "deviant"; no one had major discussions behind their backs, ranting what a horrible spouse and parent they are; and no one accused them of being unfaithful to their spouse.

I have tried very hard to get past and forget about what happened to me over my England trip, but it's been very difficult. Even though I've tried to explain it to my Hubby, I don't think he really understands how terribly hurt and angry I was at how I was treated. I rank it as one of the most painful experiences of my life. In Hubby's defense, he and I discussed what happened between us. He apologized, I understood what his feelings were behind his actions, and I was able to forgive him.

I have done my best to put my hard feelings aside and be polite and courteous to his parents, even though it didn't help me begin forgiving when I was told "not to take it personally." I know this is a major exaggeration, but it's like telling the Jews not to take the Holocaust so personally, because the Nazis wanted to wipe out all the homosexuals and gypsies, too. It's continued to be a challenge as I was first given the silent treatment for several weeks. And now I and my England trip have been relegated to the family's Shameful Secrets Closet, where if we never talk about it and pretend it doesn't exist, maybe it will all go away and we can pretend everything's fine. Yet I have continued to try to rise above this. I had no qualms about Hubby inviting them to my family's Thanksgiving dinner; despite what has passed, even I didn't want to see them with nowhere to go on the holiday. But the feelings don't go away.

I dwelled on this (okay, obsessed) over this for several hours, then finally got back to sleep. I didn't wake up until Hubby was walking out the door, so this morning I e-mailed him a basic rewording of what you see above. I told him I'm not telling him this because I don't want him to go to Alaska. I WANT him to go, I want him to have a great time and enjoy all the anticipation leading up to it and relish all the wonderful memories afterwards. I just wish I had been given the same opportunity.

I told him I AM telling him this because I have to get these feelings off my chest and quit burying them with food. I have packed on enough pounds over the last couple months because of it, and it has to stop. Only by feeling my feelings and not hiding them will I be able to break this problem I have.

I feel like a fool for emotionally eating and making myself ill. But at least I was able to realize why it happened and made an effort to stop it in its tracks and not let it continue to fester and run out of control. And maybe next time I can see it coming and prevent a future binge.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Yea Me!

The above title should be well known to those of you who have children who watch Disney Channel, mainly "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody." The one character, London Tipton (a Disneyfied version of Paris Hilton) often exclaims "Yea me!" when something goes her way (which is often, since she's a rich hotel heiress).

Anyway, I've been exclaiming it today as I show off my counted cross stitch masterpiece, which took several months of work to complete (not to mention I did several little projects in that time, too). I actually bought this pattern WAY back in 1993, stitched the littlest plate and two of the oranges, then gave up when life got too hectic. This is definitely the largest counted cross stitch pattern I've ever done (it fits in an 11x14 inch frame) and by far the most intricate. It gives me such a sense of accomplishment to see this finished, to know that I made every single stitch and that it all came together into such a beautiful picture.

Hubby actually seemed a little disappointed when I told him I wanted to hang it in my office at work; he wanted to hang it in our kitchen. But I have some other pieces (including the artichoke I displayed here back in July) that I'd like to hang in there instead.

Still not a lot to write about. Tonight we're going out for my BIL's birthday to a Mexican restaurant that just opened in a nearby town. It's part of a small chain of restaurants that we already like a lot, so I'm looking forward to ordering my new favorite dish of theirs-- a shrimp chimichanga.

Otherwise, Mabel's feeling better, which is a relief because I don't have to find a babysitter for her while we go out, or worse, stay home with her and not get to go out at all.

Maybe tomorrow I'll have more to ruminate on. Hope everyone's having a good weekend.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Mom At Work

I had a sick kid at home today. Mabel came to me at six a.m. complaining about her belly and feeling like she was going to throw up. She didn't perk up at all the next hour, so I decided to let her stay home. It doesn't seem like she's faking: she's been achy and droopy and laying low all day.

So I did my usual house cleaning, broken up here and there with requests for chicken soup, soda and Popsicles. I haven't gotten around to the Room of Doom today, other than to vacuum the carpet. Maybe now that Dad's home he can supervise the ill child and I can get a little bit more done.

I've noticed one big difference since starting the Wellbutrin: before, Fridays were my day to eat anything and everything I wanted because I was by myself and could "treat" myself. While I did make a little batch of apple cranberry crisp for myself (about two servings), it wasn't much more than an over-glorified apple and cranberry oatmeal, and I wasn't driven to go hog wild with anything else throughout the day. What once seemed to be an uncontrollable drive to eat has suddenly been cut off at the knees. In fact, it feels suspiciously like what I imagine "normal eating" to be. I could handle that.

Sorry I don't have much else to post. Been too busy being Mom/Housewife today to do much deeper thinking. Maybe tomorrow I'll have more.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Happy Jonimas!

Happy Jonimas! My fellow Joni Mitchell devotee and friend SS reminded me that yesterday was her birthday, and we always like to celebrate one of our favorite artists. In honor of this special day I listened to two of her albums on my MP3 player-- For The Roses and her live album, Miles of Aisles -- while cross-stitching during Mabel's gymnastics class.

This was a good thing to do, because yesterday afternoon I got horribly irritable, and I could feel the urge to binge creeping in like cold air seeping into the cracks of a house. Music does have a calming affect on me, as well as doing needlework, and it helped me to avoid eating yet allow me to focus on what was bothering me.

I will say that one song in particular really hit home: Lessons in Survival. But that's a whole therapy session in itself there...

What I did manage to sort out were the feelings that were affecting me that evening. First of all, my back was hurting me off and on all day and was really starting to ache by late afternoon. That by itself is a logical cause of my irritability. But the real problem was feeling overwhelmed: I've dug in deeply to this Room of Doom project and making real progress. My book shelves are looking great and I managed to organize my large collection of greeting cards (I suppose that sounds odd, but my late grandmother was an avid card sender and always had a stockpile for every occasion. And guess who inherited it? Yeah, me.) But now I'm getting to the hard part; sorting through my husband's and my own miscellaneous papers and other office doodads and figuring out what to do with them all: file them, store them or throw them away. I feel a lot of uncertainty about Hubby's stuff (I have a difficult time getting him to file, organize or throw away anything, and if I go ahead and do it for him, I worry I'll do something wrong), and the piles are so big that I don't even know where to begin.
I found myself facing a similar situation last night with the counted cross stitch project I've been working on since August. I am finally getting close to completing this larger-sized, somewhat intricate picture, yet last night I had that same feeling of being overwhelmed and not knowing where to start. I finally made myself minimize my focus and just pick one color of thread and deal with that and not think about the rest. By changing my perspective, concentrating on a small amount of stitches instead of letting myself get overwhelmed by all the ones that need to be done, it was much easier to deal with and lessened my trepidations.
As I was getting into the groove and enjoying myself again, I realized I need to do the same thing with the Room of Doom, as well as the rest of my life. I see that this has to do with my perfectionism: I fret so much about doing something right that I either get irritable and fret about doing it wrong or wind up not doing it at all. I've seen this kind of procrastination a lot in my family and can recognize it in myself. Instead of getting overwhelmed, frustrated and apprehensive about the big things or what's going to happen in the future, I need to redirect myself and focus on the Now -- i.e., conscious living.
While I was still a little irritable when I got home last night, at least I knew why, and I didn't turn to food to make myself feel better. I used my shiatsu massager to loosen up my back, laid down on my heating pad and went to bed early. This morning my back is still a little tender, but better, and I'm prepared to tackle that stack of papers this afternoon a little bit at a time.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

To Be Like Paula

I've noticed, as well as been told by some readers, that the photos on my blog have been pretty gruesome lately (mourning, gallows, Lizzie Borden), so I'm trying to perk things up around here to fit my rejuvenated feeling.

On Monday I made myself a ham and cheese sandwich for lunch and sat down in front of the TV. There's not a lot on at 1 p.m., but if I can't find anything else I always have my stand-by, Paula Deen. Her show was about one-pot meals, and at the end of the show her husband Michael Groover came into the kitchen to sample some of her recipes. It's so obvious they have a fun relationship that involves a lot of laughter.

I've always liked Paula Deen, even though back in my dieting days there were very few of her recipes that I would even think of making. This woman loves her butter and cream, and she doles them out liberally in her food. But even then I found her charming, funny, self-effacing and such a flirt with the men! Now granted, I know this is the image she portrays on television and I have no idea how she is in her day-to-day life, but she sure seems genuine to me. Not to mention I think she has the prettiest hair and eyes.

I sat there on Monday watching her and thought to myself that she definitely has some traits I would like to develop in myself. I'm not saying I want to start talking with a Southern accent and buying my butter in 50-pound vats! She just seems so comfortable in her skin, so confident and at ease with herself. I am a little aware of her past and that at one point in her life she suffered from agoraphobia. But she seems to have recovered from that and has made a true success of her life.

The last two days my eating has been great. I'm not counting calories, but I am staying aware of portion sizes as it pertains to the amount of food it takes to satisfy me. I'm not eliminating any foods, but I am looking at the nutrients in my food and seeking a balance of different food groups. Last night for dessert I got out a Hershey's Special Dark chocolate bar and realized after eating half of it that I didn't want any more, so I put the rest in a sandwich bag for another time.

Yesterday morning I got back to my gym and did 20 minutes each on the treadmill and the stationary bike. Then I went to my yoga class in the afternoon and we had a great time doing some different poses. I got home and went back to work on my Room of Doom, which is coming along well. The more I go through boxes and get things organized the better I feel. My life feels less chaotic and definitely more productive. And that evening it carried over to the rest of my house and I puttered around decluttering and tidying things up.

I may not be forming a restaurant-cooking empire like Paula Deen, but I think in my own small way I'm becoming more fulfilled in my life and making it more the way I want it to be.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Another Door Opens

It's snowing this morning. I knew it was coming -- it is November in Appalachia, after all -- but I still didn't really want it to come. While snowflakes are pretty and I love seeing the landscape covered in white, there are a lot of things about winter I'm not crazy about. Already my hands are drying out on me; ever since I lost weight I get cold so easily and have to bundle up much more than I used to (even with this current regain); plus I have a real fear of ice after my fall a few years ago that shredded my poor left knee. And let's not forget the joys of shoveling snow! Although I've heard predictions that this winter is supposed to be mild, so maybe I won't have to dig myself out of my house every day for the next six months -- and won't have to wear three layers of clothing just to keep from shivering!

Thanks to all who offered words of support yesterday. The funny thing is, while I was writing about mourning, I don't really feel that sad. Maybe it's the Wellbutrin doing it's job, but I'm feeling rather positive and good about myself right now, in spite of the regain. The signs are there: I'm putting on makeup and jewelry on a daily basis; I'm exercising regularly again; I'm tackling jobs I've procrastinated about for ages. I look at myself in some of the new clothes I've bought, check out my hair that I've been growing out for months, and I actually think I look pretty good.

It makes me think of this quote from Helen Keller: "When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us." Instead of concentrating on the closed door -- the one that included entrance into the Onederfuls -- I'm finally seeing this new door and walking through it.

For example, I am finally tackling my Room of Doom (thank my friend SS for that name), the office/den. Since we moved in last December (!!!) I have been putting off organizing this room, and all the den/office boxes have been sitting in the attic, waiting for me. This past Saturday, after saying à bientôt to my "skinny" clothes, I took a look at that pile of boxes and decided that yes, it was finally time. On Saturday the main job was just going through the boxes upstairs to see what was there. My first discovery was that the multitude of boxes was deceiving; my husband, in his usual" flying by the seat of his pants" method of packing his things, just threw random crap in boxes, and a lot of his them weren't even a third full! So I did a lot of consolidating and greatly reduced the number of boxes. Just doing this step made the process seem much less intimidating and overwhelming.

Yesterday afternoon I started tackling the book shelves that are in the Room of Doom. These have been filled in a chaotic way with a lot of nonsensical stuff that just got thrown there when we moved in, and this mess has continued to grow as we just laid things here and there instead of putting them in their proper place. I found a lot of things I've been trying to find for months as well as things I had completely forgotten about. And I found plenty of things that should have just been thrown in the garbage can, which is where they went. I only managed to bring one box of books down from the attic to put on the shelves, but the big accomplishment of the day was to actually clear the shelves and realize how much room I actually have to finally display some of my most treasured books. So hopefully I can get some more time this week to keep working on this!

Here's another discovery: the more I get involved like projects like this, or doing my counted cross stitch, the less I'm compulsively overeating, or more importantly, want to. Because I've realized as I'm taking this Wellbutrin that it is not a cure-all magic pill. Even though it helps reduce compulsive thoughts and decreases my appetite some, I can still binge eat while on it if I don't do the cognitive-behavioral work.

The trouble I was having before was that even when I'd try to occupy myself with housework or needlework, with all the books I was reading and feeling exercises and therapy I was doing, my brain was still thinking about food constantly and my cravings were still haunting me around the clock. Now, if I can get myself busy or just get myself in a peaceful, conscious state, I can completely forget about food and eating, which is something I've never been able to do before. It seems like I've finally got the right combination of tools -- pharmaceutical and psychological -- to really be able to succeed with Intuitive Eating.

I realize I never updated you all on my doctor's appointment last Thursday. My weight was up, although not as high as my scale at home said, but the doctor didn't berate me for it. She was a little concerned about my blood pressure, though; it's not high, but at that borderline zone, which makes me unhappy because at the beginning of the year I had it down to 110/70 or something like that. I know it's due to the weight gain and not exercising regularly, as well as the stress and depression I've dealt with, but both the doctor and I think my improved mood, thanks to the Wellbutrin, and renewed motivation will allow me to turn this around.

Sunday, November 04, 2007


I found myself mourning this weekend.

On Friday was the funeral of the gentleman I talked about in a previous post. I got there early to help usher if necessary, but the men I called to help me said they had everything under control, so I could mingle and just be a visitor. His wife of 60 years and I chatted for a while, and his daughter pulled me aside and had a very nice conversation with me, too. While I don't know everyone in the family, the ones I do know are so genuinely nice, kind people, and I felt for them as they grieved the loss of their family's patriarch.

His son-in-law, a Lutheran pastor, gave the eulogy, and what an amazing job he did. His love and admiration for his father-in-law was evident, and he shed true tears of mourning during his time up at the podium. Of course I started crying, too -- lately it doesn't take much -- but having known this family all of my life, I felt their sadness as they said goodbye to this wonderful man.

This next part will probably sound really superficial and selfish after writing about the loss of a special person, but I also did another kind of personal mourning this weekend. I'm really coming to grips with my weight regain and facing the reality of what my compulsive eating did to me these last few months. Saturday morning I forced myself to go through my closet and try things on, and what didn't fit would go into storage. How sad! There were so many pretty things that I bought last winter, thinking I was only going to get smaller and smaller, that are simply too tight to wear now. I wound up with an embarrassingly big pile of clothes, which were placed in their plastic coffin and taken to the attic, where they will be stored in hopes of being resurrected one day.
It reminded me of when my grandmother died and we had to clean out her closet. The discarding of a person's clothes really makes you face the fact that this person is dead. Our clothing is a tangible part of our personalities -- it reflects not only color preferences but can reveal if we're conservative or liberal, flirty or demure, sometimes what we do for a living or what activities we engage in.
It wasn't very long ago that I was discarding my "fat" clothes, and there were some pieces of clothing I found it very difficult to part with. There was the outfit I wore when I first saw my daughter, the dress I was in when I later adopted her. I had one shirt I adored -- it was comfortable and I loved the pattern of the fabric -- that I really didn't want to get rid of even though it had become more of a tent than a shirt.
At that time I was saying goodbye to the Fat Me (and when I say this I mean the body that wore sizes 26/28 and 30/32), and while it was generally a good feeling, there was a sense of loss of a life I had been familiar with. I had sworn to myself I would never buy bigger sizes again and would never return to this weight.
Well, I have to admit I am fortunate that I haven't gotten back to that size. The clothes I packed up on Saturday were mostly below a size 16, except for a few pieces that must have been vanity-sized to make people think they can wear smaller clothes. I'm mostly in the 18/20s again, which in the grand scheme of my life isn't a terrible tragedy. I've been much, much bigger, so I still don't feel like I utterly failed.
This packing up of the skinny clothes did feel a little bit like defeat, however. I felt like I was saying goodbye to any hopes of ever reaching the Onederfuls, that I was mourning the loss of a size I never even got a chance to reach.
I am part of a Yahoo group called dietsurvivors, run by Linda Moran, and I wrote there about what's going on with me right now. Nadia wrote the following paragraph, and it really meant a lot to me.
"One thing I'd like to point out is that when you grieve the loss of something, and then move on with life with some sort of peace and acceptance, it does not mean that you are glad that the loss occurred. You've still lost something that you cared about; it's just that it no longer rules your life, and happiness is possible in spite of the loss."
What a wonderful paragraph, and how true it is. At one point reaching 199 was my main goal in life; I even named this blog after it! And I was so close: at the beginning of this year I managed to get down to 205, and I was so sure that by now I would be firmly in the Onederfuls. But life didn't work out that way, and now that goal seems nearly impossible, mainly because I can no longer keep up the calorie restricting and the constant diet mentality that twisted my brain and made my eating so wildly disordered.
So maybe this weight gain has its purpose: it's making me see that this goal I had can no longer rule my life, and that I need to find happiness and contentment in spite of it. It's not giving up and saying I'll never reach it, but that reaching it -- or not -- will not define me as a person and determine the overall quality of my life.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Stepping on the Gallows

Why is it that I equate the doctor's scale to the gallows? I suppose it makes sense: from early childhood that act of stepping on the scale was so full of humiliation and shame, there were times it felt worse than execution, because I had to walk off and either face the disgust and ridicule of my other classmates or look forward to a brow-beating or downright abuse from my doctor. In some wild coincidence my daughter had weigh-in day at school this week, but thank God for her, she doesn't face this embarrassing, mind-scarring experience because her weight falls within society's "normal" range. As bad as it was in my day, at least I didn't get a letter sent home berating my parents for having a fat child with an unacceptable BMI, like they do now.

Why this focus on the scale today? This afternoon is my doctor's appointment to see how my Wellbutrin is doing. I'm not concerned about this: I feel great on it. But I know Dr. Amy is going to weigh me when I walk in, and right now I think I'd rather climb on the gallows mentioned above.

So as to be prepared for this moment, this morning I stepped on the scale at home. I was actually kind of expecting to see a little bit of a loss, or at least stay close to the same from the weigh-in at my last doctor's appointment. Since starting the Wellbutrin I haven't had a full-blown binge, I feel like I've been eating less, and I've been slowly building back up on my physical activity. So I thought it would have had a positive affect.

Oh, foolish me! I actually weighed more. A lot more.

I just wanted to sit down on the bathroom floor and cry. It hit me in the gut like a big nasty glob of shame, anger and sadness, dipped in a crunchy coating of failure. I felt like I was watching all the hard work, dedication and sacrifice I've given over the past three years slipping through my fingers like grains of sand.

But then my anger, which was originally towards myself for screwing up so royally, changed direction. I was furious that the day before I was feeling great about myself, yet a number on a machine could ruin all of that. Why, after all the time, after all I've tried to learn in this Intuitive Eating journey, do I still let myself be emotionally devastated by a number on a scale?

Of course my mind race with diet mentality thoughts: "that's it, I've got to start losing all this weight, I've got to count calories again, I need to exercise two hours a day, I've got to do something about this!" But even thinking these thoughts initiated those old fears of deprivation, and I knew this wasn't the answer.

I have to take a big breath and think clearly about all of this. This weigh-in was just a record of one day, one moment in time. It doesn't reflect the process I'm undergoing. And let's face it: it took me months to gain all this weight (and I'm sorry, I'm so embarrassed by how much it is that I can't even begin to post how much), so it's probably going to take even longer to undo the damage I did. Certainly more than two weeks!
I can't let this reading discourage me and make me feel awful. I have to remember all the positive things I'm doing right now -- yoga, incorporating healthier foods, increasing my exercise -- and realize I'm doing this for my mental and physical health, not my weight or dress size.
I have to get going -- I've got a ton of work to do today. I'll let you know how the appointment goes.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Celebrating Halloween

Happy Halloween! I do love this time of year and celebrating this day. I almost said holiday, but of course many Christians would stone me for such blasphemy. Of course, anyone who has studied history would see that most of our Christian holidays borrowed heavily from our ancestor's pagan traditions, and the early church even placed those holy days close to the old pre-Christian celebrations to help smooth the transition: Easter keeps the old symbols of rebirth and fertility (eggs and rabbits); Christmas still incorporates the holy and the ivy and the search for light (Christ's birth) during the darkness (winter solstice); and the early Christian leaders moved All Hallows (Saints') Day to honor our departed to the same time that the pagans celebrated the end of summer while they prepared for the dark, cold winter to come. As the plants froze and the livestock were butchered, it was normal to think about death as it pertained to the normal cycle of the seasons. Anyway, enough of my history lesson!

On my mother's side of the family a disproportionate number of people have died in the month of November. I think this side of the family spends the month looking over their shoulder in fear of seeing the Grim Reaper. It could just be a coincidence, but I wonder if the colder weather and decreasing sunlight have an effect on this. We all know about Seasonal Affective Disorder, so maybe it's connected to that.

An old friend of our family died Sunday at the age of 89. He and my grandparents were very close, and after my grandfather died I went a number of times with Grandma to his house for Thanksgiving. The last house I lived in was right across the street from his house, which I consider to be one of the most beautiful homes in our little town. I often took Mabel to visit him and his wife because I always loved talking to both of them. He was a treasure trove of information about the history of our town, and she always had interesting stories to tell. Once in a while she would offer up some home made cookies, or she would teach Mabel a little poem from her Scottish background. And it was always a treat when they offered a tour of their home; as lovely as it is on the outside, their heirlooms and collections were wonderful. In an odd coincidence, the house I'm now living in was the house where they courted as a young couple!

His wife and I talk a lot, because she's in charge of scheduling the altar flowers for our church. She spent the last year coping with his decline, the trips in and out of the hospital and his stay in the nursing home. At Easter the family was called in because his health was so poor, but he managed to rally and continue on until he finally passed away a few days ago. They were such a close couple and shared a lot of the same interests. They both did needlepoint (my grandmother went to their house every week for a church needlepoint group that made all of our church's paraments and our nativity) and seemed so genuinely happy. I know it will be hard for her to lose her life mate.

Let's face it: no matter how hard we try, we cannot escape death. It waits for all of us at the end of our journey, no matter how much plastic surgery we have, no matter how good our diet and exercise routines are, we grow old (if we're lucky) and we eventually die. It is a part of our time here in this existence, so doesn't it make sense to make peace with it instead of being terrified of it? I believe that's the original basis of celebrating Halloween: enabling us to become more comfortable with the idea of death.

Wow, I wasn't expecting to be this verbose on this subject. But it's definitely what was on my mind this Halloween morning.

Back to everyday things. Yesterday I had a very heart-pumping yoga session. The room was very chilly yesterday afternoon so Yoga Rachel got us ripping through a series of Sun Salutations until we got all warm and toasty.

Yesterday afternoon and evening I seemed to be constantly hungry. I did okay until evening, when I took Mabel to our local arts center for a Halloween craft class and I went to W*l-M*rt. For the first time since starting the Wellbutrin I found myself thinking about buying up binge foods, and I definitely checked things out in the store. I did get one small container of cookies, but I managed to look at my usual binge foods and turn away. The thoughts in my head were "I just don't want that much,"... "If I buy it I'll eat it all and I'll feel sick,"... "I don't want to go there."

I wasn't perfect, though. Last night I wound up eating all of the cookies in the car before I picked up Mabel to take her home. Granted, it was a much smaller amount of food than the other things I could have bought, but I still felt like I should have been able to stop at one or two. But I tried to look at the whole day and see what was going on that might have caused it. I didn't eat a lot throughout the day because I was very busy, including the more-intense-than-usual yoga class. That busy-ness and trying to juggle a million different things was stressing me out. Our schedule was so tight that I had less than 10 minutes to eat supper, which made it very unsatisfying. It was also the first full day of my Time of the Month.

So, um, yeah, there was lots of fuel to spark a bonfire of eating. I consider myself fortunate that I was able to keep it to a minimum and not buy and consume every binge food I could find.

This morning I'm trying to prevent this from happening again. I had a more substantial breakfast (a little more food, but a lot more fiber), packed a lunch with more protein, and I tried to plan a dinner with Hubby that was easier and quicker to prepare so I have more than 10 minutes to eat it! I couldn't do much about the hectic schedule -- my week is what it is -- but my goal is to do some kind of meditation or yoga this evening to help alleviate the night time munchies.

As for exercise, this morning I finally got back to my gym and rode my stationary bike. Then I came home and did the stability ball exercises again. I am so glad to be getting active again.

Here's something I didn't think about: I'm trying to exercise more and eat healthier foods. I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow to see how the medicine is going, and I know I'll be weighed. My husband announced he's hoping to hit the 50-pounds lost milestone this week. All of these things could be triggering the old diet mentality in me, which leads to thoughts of depriving myself and often causes binge eating. Even though I'm not trying to diet, having all these things happening at once could still spark those old responses, right? Definitely something to keep in mind.

All right, I've been writing long enough. I have work to do -- including the funeral bulletin for the gentleman I mentioned above. Have a fun Halloween.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Fitness and Spirituality

I didn't mention yesterday that I finally rolled the stability ball out of my closet yesterday morning and did every exercise on the handy chart that comes with it. The move illustrated in this photo is the one that I'm feeling today in my triceps; otherwise I'm feeling okay, which means the weekly yoga must be helping to keep me in semi-decent shape.

I'm doing my best to revive my exercise routines. I let the strength training slide back in May, and by the end of the summer my regular walking had fallen by the wayside, too. I attribute the lack of walking to the Lexapro and the fatigue and lack of energy it caused.
Now that my energy and motivation are returning, I'm anxious -- in a good way! -- to get myself moving and physically active again. But it does mean recreating the habits that I let fall to the wayside. Part of that problem is getting disciplined to get up early enough in the morning, because from past experience I know it's the only time of day I can guarantee I won't be disrupted by phone calls, appointments, errands or the multitude of responsibilities I have. Unfortunately I still have some challenges: my home gym is still in the room in the garage at my old place (my cousin is renting the house), and even though it's a short distance away, it's still enough to give me an excuse not to go. My gym's future home, the basement in our new place, is still in flux; Hubby got waylaid in finishing that project by our dogs and their destruction of our kitchen floor. He swears to me that this will be done by Christmas, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for the best.
Another front I'm addressing is working on my spirituality. Yes, I do want to get back to church on a more regular basis, but that's only part of it. I've been wanting to delve into meditation for some time because I think it would really help me with stress as well as staying grounded and in touch with my body. The yoga is definitely part of that, but the truth is that other than my class once a week, I haven't been doing anything at home, and I know I really need to incorporate more of it into my daily life.
For some time I've been thinking about getting some jewelry that would be a symbol and reminder for me in regards to living consciously. As I began getting more and more into yoga I've discovered lots of "yoga" jewelry out there, but nothing really struck me and that I could imagine wearing on a regular basis. I wound up visiting Spirals of Light and was drawn to their chakra jewelry.
Now I'm no expert on chakras, but I do like the aspect of the connection of mind and body that it illustrates. The jewelry website encouraged you to think about colors you are drawn to, and the first thing that came to mind is purple. It's always been my favorite color, and I'm not sure it's a coincidence that I have been told by a person who can see auras that mine is a light purple color. When I looked at the bracelets I was of course attracted to the purple amethyst one, and I was quite pleased to see the following description:

Spirituality and Intuition
Amethyst, Clear Quartz
These stones help you to know your relationship with the Divine Spirit.
They are in alignment with the 6th chakra (Third Eye Chakra).
They assist in intuitive awareness, understanding and knowing, as well as insight and peace of mind.
Definitely sounded like what I was looking for, so I ordered it.
I then looked at the necklaces, and again I was drawn to the purple amethyst and quartz. I also liked the description for this piece:

“OM” with Amethyst & Quartz
This bright and shinny sterling silver “OM” pendant is surrounded with purple Amethyst and accented with clear Quartz. At 17” it is a perfect length to wear everyday.“OM” is the symbol of the universal force. It is the universal Cosmic Sound. Amethyst is a stone of spirituality and wisdom Quartz is an energy amplifier.
Again, this seemed to be what I was looking for. So I ordered this too, and yesterday they came in the mail. I'm not saying that I believe these pieces of bead and silver will instantly give me inner peace, wisdom, increased spirituality and energy. But wearing this jewelry makes me feel good. When I look at them they remind me what I'm striving for in my life and what a positive thing this is for my well being.
I've got my yoga class in an hour, so I better wrap up here. Namaste!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Frost and Tears

Ever heard of the saying "the frost is on the pumpkin?" It's from a poem by James Whitcomb Riley and definitely describes the world I woke up to today. Chilly, crisp air, frost covering everything, and it's all exhilarating and beautiful in some strange way.
I suppose I could view the cold morning negatively and fret over the upcoming heating bills, but why depress myself over things I can't control?

Then there are the things that are a little more under my control. On Sunday I had a breakdown moment, complete with tears. Instead of viewing this negatively -- my new medication is making me over-emotional, too prone to tears, and it's embarrassing and I feel out of control -- I realize how good this actually is for me.
I have always been a person who tries not to cry because I've always viewed it as a sign of weakness. I suppose this was ingrained early, as illustrated by the story I'm about to tell you. When I was about 4 years old my uncle hid my Christmas presents and informed me that I was bad and Santa didn't bring me anything. I got angry, telling him I knew he had hid the presents, and I wanted him to put them back under the tree. This went on for some time -- the uncle trying to convince me I didn't get anything, my defiant anger -- until my uncle turned to my mother in frustration and said, "I can't get her to cry!"
Yes, I've got some screwed up family. But since that time I don't like people playing mind games with me. I still have issues about my coping skills when I get hurt by others. Usually I suppress my feelings, withdrawing from the person emotionally if I'm not able to completely eliminate the person from my life. In fact, I'm doing this right now with some people who have hurt me! I'm not saying it's the healthiest thing in the world to do, but I just know confronting these people would not change their behavior or the situation and would only cause World War III. So I have to protect myself the best way I can.

Once in a while I will get angry, but normally it's only when I'm defending someone very close to me -- my mother, my sister, my daughter, my best friend. It's rare that I get that angry in my own defense -- only when it's come to the point that I don't care anymore if the relationship is ended by my blow-up. (Okay, I found this image while searching for crying pictures, and while it does kind of illustrate anger, the darn thing makes me LOL! What a ridiculously staged photo-- I love it!)
It's taken me a long time to realize that my expression of anger is not an absolute death-sentence for a relationship; I'll never forget the time I flipped out on a friend for letting me down on something that really mattered to me. I totally expected this person to never speak to me again, but the next day I received flowers from this friend in apology!
For a long time withdrawing and anger have been the only two accepted methods for me. Crying to me was a sign of defeat -- the other person "won" by breaking me down to tears. I felt it gave the other person the upper hand and power over me. But lately I've been discovering a lot of positives in this crying business. For one thing, it definitely releases the emotions I tend to hold inside, which many times can lead to depression and/or compulsive eating if I don't address them. And if I let myself cry over something that has hurt me, it enables me to let go of those feelings so they don't fester inside and grow into something much bigger and more powerful than they should be.
I've also realized in the last couple weeks, my tears have actually helped in getting my point across. I suppose I have the same problem that many people do: we think the people around us are mind readers and can tell when we're upset and when things really bother or hurt us, even though we don't tell them. We expect them to read our body language or tell by what we don't say or do to figure it out. Unfortunately, most people just aren't that intuitive or have those psychic powers.
And sometimes, even when we do tell someone what's on our minds, if we do it too calmly with little or no emotion behind it, they don't take it seriously. I've mentioned Lori's 2x4 over the head method before, but it's so true: with some people it takes a major effort to get their attention. I can be so emotionally suppressed and withdrawn, especially with my old mind set that emotion= weakness, that my feelings don't get across and subsequently I don't wind up getting what I actually need.
For my husband, I think I've finally found my 2x4: tears. I don't want it to sound like I'm deliberately shedding crocodile tears to manipulate him and get my way, because I would never play those kind of games. Two times in the past week, the second yesterday afternoon, I wound up crying during serious discussions with him, and it was something I deliberately didn't want to do, but I wasn't able to hold them back. What I've realized, however, is that this definitely gets his attention, and not only is he better able to understand what I'm feeling and thinking, but he winds up being more insightful and expresses himself better, too. Perhaps the reason for this is because if I go to him angry, his natural instinct is to get defensive and self-protective. But if I'm crying, it's obvious that I'm not out to attack him, and his natural response is to open up to me and try to make me feel better.
And guess what? For some time I've been addressing the same issues over and over with him with no luck. But now that I'm showing him the emotions behind these issues, when he can actually see how much of an emotional toll it's taking out of me, it's like he's finally really hearing me.
So while this crying thing is a little scary, I'm quickly realizing how much it's benefiting me. It just goes to show that I need to look for the positives in all things, even if they appear like a negative at first glance. Maybe even this weight regain I've had may have some purpose I'm not yet aware of.

Someone sent me this prayer in one of those e-mails that you're supposed to forward on to other people. While I'm not ultra-Christian, the message in this prayer definitely struck me today and helped me know that I should not regret what I've been through and where it's brought me -- I am exactly where I am meant to be:

"May today there be peace within. May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith. May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content knowing you are a child of God. Let His presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us."

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Curse of the Tight Jeans

While I completed this counted cross stitch project some time ago, I'm finally revealing it here because I just gave it to Hubby for his birthday this weekend. He seemed pleased with it, along with the other presents I gave him.

I get great enjoyment out of buying people presents that aren't necessarily expensive (none of his were) but that really connect with the recipient and let them know I made the effort to get something that interests them. For example, Hubby got this picture because he's an avid fisherman; I got him an encyclopedia of D.C. and Marvel comics because he's a collector; I got him a University of Pittsburgh t-shirt because he went there; and a DVD of "Young Frankenstein" because it's one of his all-time favorite movies.

Yet another busy day yesterday. Hubby went turkey hunting (he didn't get anything, much to my relief!), while Mabel and I went shopping. The cold weather is here and her bedroom tends to be cold, so I got her an electric blanket, which she is totally in love with and takes it back and forth from the bedroom to the living room to snuggle in warmth. In the afternoon I finished the house cleaning I didn't get done on Friday, then we went out for Hubby's birthday dinner.

Some sad news here: when I went to try on my jeans to dress for the meal, all of them were tight! Last season's "fat" jeans were the only ones that fight, but were very snug. The rest weren't even a possibility. Pretty depressing.

I swore to myself when I lost this weight that I would never buy bigger-sized clothes again, so when I thought about going out and buying a bigger pair of jeans, it really bothered me and felt like defeat. Granted, I am still WAY smaller than I was back at the beginning of this journey -- close to a hundred pounds! -- yet these extra pounds I've packed back on feel like such a crushing failure.

But don't fear, I didn't fall into a heap and cry, or vow to start a diet on Monday. I told myself that I am, with the help of my new medicine, starting to turn things around, and it will take time to undo the damage this summer of mental turmoil wreaked on me. I may never get to 200 pounds or reach the Onederfuls, but in time I will reach the weight that's most natural and comfortable for me, and I just need to be patient and do the work that needs to be done to be a "normal" (or at least semi-recovered) eater. At that time, if I need a new pair of jeans, I'll get them, but for the time being I'll wear my other pants (which I prefer anyway!) and not condemn myself for a tight pair of denim pants!
I have to get off of here and finish getting ready; my SIL and her friend from Baltimore who's staying with her for the weekend are meeting my mother, Mabel and I for breakfast at a nearby diner. Then hopefully we'll be able to sit back, relax, watch the Steelers game and do nothing for the rest of the weekend!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Live Simply? How?

I don't have much time to write: Mabel and I are headed to her pee wee cheerleading banquet in half an hour.

Very busy day. Took my mother to the hospital this morning for a colonoscopy. This was her first and fortunately, everything went great.

After I took her home I went down to see J&M, two of the people I'll be travelling with to England. J's birthday was on the 12th, and I brought her a belated present that I made, the counted cross stitch picture you see here.

I did call Hubby from J&M's to make sure he'd be home when Mabel got off the bus, because the three of us were talking up a storm. He called back once she got home to tell me he was taking Mabel for her allergy shot -- oops, forgot about that! I rushed back and took over for him at the doctor's office waiting room, because he had to go home and finish the meal he prepared for his powderpuff football team, which is playing this evening. (If you haven't heard of this, powder puff football is when the girls are the players, in this case the 11th graders vs. the 12th graders, and the boys are the cheerleaders)

Mabel and I are not going to the game because of the banquet I mentioned above. I'm kind of glad the banquet gave me an excuse not to go, because the weather is 50 degrees F and rainy here and I don't relish the idea of sitting on a cold, wet metallic bleacher for two hours.

After the banquet I'm hoping to get home and wrap Hubby's presents. If he's home, I guess it'll have to wait until morning when he leaves to go turkey hunting (yuck). Then that evening we're going out to dinner for his birthday. Of course, we also have to go with his parents, his brother and of course Mabel, so forget any kind of romantic evening.

The cross-stitch picture I gave my friend reads "live simply." I sure wish I coud be following that motto, but right now that just isn't in the cards. Right now it's more like "cram as much in as possible and run yourself ragged in the process." At least I have the energy to do it all, and better yet, not have a desire to turn to overeating for stress relief, comfort, etc. So it could be worse.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Hills Are Alive with the Smell of Potatoes

My hometown's claim to fame is its potato chip factory. These chips are distributed through the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States and are quite popular. On rainy, foggy days like today, when you walk outside the entire town is greeted to the aroma of frying potatoes. I suppose it's the fog that holds down the emissions from the plant on the east end of town, but I can tell you I live on the very western end of town and our house is surrounded by this smell. All I have to say is, it smells a lot better than the other frequent smell our town is subjected to: the liquid manure the nearby farmers spread on their fields!

Fortunately for me, potato chips have never been one of my trigger foods or even on the top 10 of my favorite snack foods. Not so for my husband: his father worked for the above-mentioned potato chip company for more than 40 years and brought home an endless, free supply of their chips and other salty snack foods. Currently Hubby's favorite treat is their sourdough pretzels, which again is not one of my favorites -- they're too hard for my liking and scratch the inside of my mouth. I am definitely more of a sweets person, although I do like the occasional salty snack like nuts.

I haven't mentioned my husband's weight loss efforts here in the blog for some time. In case you're new to this blog or have forgotten, he went on the weight loss drug Meridia back in May. He has done phenomenally on this medicine -- so far he has lost somewhere around 40 pounds. It has reduced his appetite and helped him drastically cut his snacking and overeating.

Since he's been on this medicine I've been rather jealous, wanting my own magic pill to make the urgency and compulsion to overeat go away. I suppose I could have gone to my own doctor and asked to be put on it, but then I fell into my summer of anxiety and depression and wound up on Lexapro, which seemed to make the compulsive eating even worse.

But now that's changed. This Wellbutrin is working so much better for me. Granted, I do find myself more prone to tears -- when I'm laughing, when I'm hurt, even when some sentimental song comes on -- and I have discovered this is a common side effect. But this actually seems good after the depressing emptiness I was experiencing. I'm also realizing how important it is for me to feel my emotions and not suppress them, whether I do it myself or with medication: the more I feel, the less I turn to food.

Let's face it, though: the biggest change has been with my appetite and my compulsions to overeat. I still get hungry, but it seems like I'm finally just feeling my physical hunger instead of all the cravings and mental urges to eat. For example, yesterday I worked on our kitchen floor for almost six hours straight: normally I would have to stop at least once to eat something, but yesterday I was fine. My snacking has greatly reduced, and when I do, I find myself truly satisfied with so much less. Instead of being haunted by binge foods calling my name, I actually kind of forget they're there!

I'm not saying all of my cravings are gone, but I think they're becoming more intuitive instead of driven by compulsive reasons. Last night as I was finishing up the floor Hubby called me on the phone and asked me what I wanted for supper. I admitted I was really craving a burger, and he brought me my favorite one (not from a fast food restaurant, but a nice sit-down place with quality food) and I was satisfied eating half of it. Afterwards I saw the snack foods sitting where we keep all of them, and while the old habit would have been to dive in to them whether I was full or not, I wasn't interested at all.

As hard as I was trying to eat intuitively the last six months, doing my best to work on the environmental and psychological aspects of it, I realize now that there were neurobiological issues there that could not be overcome without medication. I wanted so badly to master IE "on my own" (hence my reluctance to ask for Meridia), but I realize now that I was fighting a losing battle.

This doesn't mean I'm going to rely on this "magic pill" to solve all my problems. I still need to work on expressing and managing my emotions; learning to become more self-assertive; work on avoiding the almost OCD-like tendency of falling into diet mentality (let's face it, my compulsive need to weigh myself several times a day is not much different than a person who constantly washes their hands); and getting more in touch and respecting my body.

It feels so great to share good news on this blog again. I actually feel eager to write now, which is a major sign of my recovery. Thank goodness! And thanks to all of you who have hung in there and supported me in these topsy-turvy months.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

My Girl Crush

My blog has been so dreary lately, and I feel like it's time to lighten it up, so I'll tell you about my Girl Crush. The term sounds so silly and relegated to teen girls, but according to the NY Times article I linked to above, it is "a phrase that many women in their 20's and 30's use in conversation, post on blogs and read in magazines."

The article also made me feel a little better when it went on to say, "This is not a new phenomenon. Women, especially young women, have always had such feelings of adoration for each other. Social scientists suspect such emotions are part of women's nature, feelings that evolution may have favored because they helped women bond with one another and work cooperatively. What's new is the current generation's willingness to express their ardor frankly."

I'd call my crush more admiration than ardor, because this is a person who has qualities I would like to foster in myself. So I look to her as in inspiration, someone I can learn from and look to for guidance.

All right, enough stalling, I have a girl crush on my yoga instructor! From the first day I have appreciated the calmness Rachel generates in the room, the relaxing cadence of her voice as she talks us through poses and urges us to get in touch with our bodies. I admire her peaceful demeanor, the way she carries herself, even the clothing she wears.

Yesterday I was the only one who showed up for class, and she asked me if I'd like to do partner yoga with her. If you've never heard of it, click on the photo above for a link to a web site about it, or else check out this book on Amazon. I was kind of nervous about it, definitely self-conscious at first, but as it went on I was able to relax and appreciate the cooperation involved in the poses.

It did illustrate to me how I (and probably most people) have become so removed from people and physical contact. Other than my husband and my daughter I almost never touch another person. My family isn't the huggy-kissy type, nor are most of my friends. And in our 21st century culture we conduct the majority of our relationships through telephones and computers. We as a society have become isolated from each other, and this lack of intimacy with others could easily be a cause of a lot of the problems we face.

All I can say is that I love yoga, and I'm thankful I have a good instructor to lead me to an improved quality of life. If I'm going to have a girl crush on anyone, I can't think of a more positive, affirming person.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Once again I've been staying away from the computer. The good news is I haven't been binge eating -- the Wellbutrin is doing a fantastic job of quelling my urges to compulsively overeat. For example, last night I went to the store during Mabel's gymnastics class, and even though it was an incredibly emotionally stressful day and I broke down and cried twice, I didn't buy one single binge food. Instead I bought strawberries, oranges, bananas, a high-fiber wheatberry bread and seltzer water. Granted, before I walked into the store I had eaten a handful of mini candy bars (oh the joys of Halloween candy), but this was extremely minimal in comparison to my eating in the last few months. And I still can't get over the fact that I had absolutely no desire to refill my binge food cache. There was no feeling of panic of running out of snacks, no feelings of deprivation -- only a desire to get some more healthy foods back into my body again.

I picked the picture above of an active volcano to illustrate how I'm feeling right now. I'm in the middle of some stormy situations to be sure. While I have erupted and the lava is flowing steadily, it's better than staying dormant and withdrawing emotionally, and I haven't completely exploded like Mount St. Helens into a huge cloud of dirt and firey ash with only a crater left behind. In fact, even though this isn't the most pleasant feeling, I think I actually prefer this middle ground: I'm not shutting down emotionally, which leads me to overeating and depression, and I'm also not going completely psycho and chasing my family around with an axe.

Mentioning axes, I watched a new show yesterday on the Lizzie Borden murders that used modern CSI techniques and psychological profiling to shed new light on the case. It seems more and more certain that Lizzie did in fact give her parents 40 whacks, but she was definitely the O.J. Simpson of the 1800s and managed to escape conviction for it. I find these crime/mystery shows mesmerizing. I guess I'm intrigued by the human mind and how it snaps and leads people to horrific acts. Not that I'm seriously planning any massacres, I swear!

I'm know I'm glossing over what led me to this current state. Once again, it's those little straws that build up until the camel's spine snaps from the burden. This current straw really hit me hard, hence the crying I've been doing. After a couple days of this I realized the only way I was going to get over it was to confront the person who caused it. It was difficult, but I did it, and while at first I felt a sense of weakness in exposing my hurt, by the end I felt stronger for standing up for myself and making sure the person knew they had crossed the line.

The reoccurring problem seems to be, however, that I while I am asserting myself more and more, nothing really changes, and these incidents keep happening. I don't know what the solution is. And that scares me.

I guess I just have to keep asserting myself and hope that eventually it sinks in to the people I'm asserting myself to that they're going to keep getting my confrontations until they change their ways. Or perhaps I'll have to get that axe after all...