Monday, April 30, 2007

Tough Love

I don't really want to write on the blog today, which I know is a bad sign, so I'm forcing myself to do it. This may sound weird, but it's my own version of tough love: if I don't write, i.e., work out what's going on in my head right now, if I stuff it down and don't express it somewhere, it will get buried in a mountain of food. I will wake up a month from now 20 pounds heavier and full of remorse.

I really fell hard into the food the last two days. I'm getting really, really tired of this, but at the same time I don't seem to be able to turn it off. This is a cop-out, and I know it. I know all the ways to prevent this from happening: relaxation techniques, exercising, exploring the feelings behind it, working through the cravings, toughing out the temporary discomfort of not following through and letting them pass. But I'm just being lazy and taking the easy way out -- eating.

I also know I'm delving into self-flagellating when I use words like cop-out and lazy. It doesn't help to criticize and call myself names. But it's hard not to be disappointed in myself when I know I can do something yet I make the choice not to. And there was choice there. At any time over the weekend I could have told myself "STOP. Now." Yet I didn't.

What scares me the most is when the drive to eat kicks in and I do lose some sense of control. My body and brain disconnect somehow; no matter how much I consume I don't seem to feel any sense of satisfaction or fullness.

I know on Saturday I was feeling anxiety. And I did try to hold off the Eat Mode a couple times throughout the day. In the morning I remember chanting to myself in my head, "I can eat whatever I want, so I don't need to eat it ALL." This was my attempt to alleviate some of the deprivation anxiety that I knew was brewing. In the afternoon I tried to get myself involved in house cleaning, hoping it would be a distraction, a physical release to release some of that tension. For a while it worked, but as soon as I was done, the eating thoughts came flooding back in.

On Sunday I wanted to turn it around. I got Mabel and myself to church, then she and her dad went off to a Fishing Derby for the rest of the day. Then in the afternoon my Mom and I went to visit a friend of ours who is housebound after surgery on his leg and foot. I knew these were good things, positive things, and I hoped it would make me feel better and lessen the grip the eating had on me. Instead I just ate before and after these events. Then we had dinner out with the in-laws (because I'm pretty sure if we didn't have a meal with them on a Sunday the Earth would crack in two), and by that point my body had finally broken through the wall my brain built up and announced, "Hello, we're stuffed full down here! Enough!" And I wound up bringing half of my supper home with me.

So here I am, full of remorse and down on myself. But as I write all this down, as I go back and look back at my activities, I realize that I wasn't lazy. Both days I tried enacting ways to pull the reins in on my eating. They weren't all that successful, in fact, not very successful at all. But at least I did try. I did try to observe my feelings both before and during the eating. I tried to find ways and activities to try to get me away from the eating.

I have a quote tacked on to my bulletin board at work that says "There is no shame in failure -- only in quitting." So at least I can say I'm not a quitter. Got to keep looking for the good things.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Invasion of the Husband Snatchers

Last night for date night Hubby and I went to the Mexican restaurant we were going to go to on our last date night, but that evening the place was packed with a line out the door and we wound doing Italian instead.

I did so-so eating wise. I had a hard time controlling the chip consumption, but when it came to the meal I cut my quesadilla in half and put it to the side to take home. When we got home I was craving the Oreos sitting far away in the dining room. I managed to only take a couple and leave the rest alone.

The crazy thing was, I think my husband has been abducted by aliens and replaced with a near-to-perfect duplicate, except for one thing... this alien has no interest in food! Hubby started taking his Meridia prescription, and it has kicked in immediately. He has little interest in food, has no specific cravings for anything, actually forgets about meal time unless he looks at the clock or notices that his stomach acid starts acting up because his stomach is empty. And when he does eat he's not eating until the point of discomfort. He joined me in packing up food Friday night at the restaurant.

Um, how can I talk my doctor into giving me a prescription for this stuff????

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Morning After*

Debra posted yesterday about dream eating, and I had to laugh because I had one of those dreams a few nights ago. Mine often revolve around being at some big buffet, or food court, or a farmer's market kind of place with all kinds of booths, usually involving a lot of pastries.

The dream a few nights ago involved some kind of concoction that was part cookie, part scone, part cheesecake covered in sliced strawberries. It sure looked good in my dream! It was huge, the size of a big cheesecake, and I remember getting ready to buy it and savor it later.

I've already awoken from these dreams in a panic, fretting over what I've done, when I realize it isn't real. I wonder if these dreams are caused by hunger, by cravings, by anxiety, or just my compulsive desires invading my subconscious. Perhaps a little of each.

I didn't exercise this morning. I still got up fairly early but wound up doing housework instead. This wasn't the plan -- I was going to sleep in -- but when I let the dogs out and went to get them breakfast I discovered the dog food bag had fallen over during the night and sprayed bits of puppy chow all over the basement steps. So instead of crawling back into bed I was sweeping up kibble, then decided to go ahead and empty the dishwasher and take the garbage out, too.

The reason I didn't work out this morning was because my neck really had me worried yesterday. It was so tight I could hardly turn my head, so I spent the majority of yesterday afternoon with a heating pad wrapped around my neck and shoulders while I caught up on some of the shows I taped and haven't watched since I've been walking outside. Last night before bed I gave my neck, shoulders and back a thorough going-over with my big massage wand and laid down with my heating pad again (don't worry, it has an automatic shut-off, so there were no concerns of burning myself up in my bed).

But this morning it does feel a lot better. I'm thinking my problems are muscular and not my spinal reconstruction breaking down on me, because all the relaxing and stretching techniques I used seemed to have made a difference. It's still not back to normal, but I'm not worrying as much about it, either.

This afternoon I'll be busy with housekeeping/mother duties again. I have to clean up our very messy den and take boxes up to the attic, and while I'm there find Mabel's sleeping bag, because she's got a Brownies sleep-over tonight. I'd call it camping but they're sleeping indoors in a local lodge, but they'll be hiking and making trail mix and other scouty things. The leaders gave us a huge list of things to pack, so I've got to get that all together and ready for this evening.

If Hubby's game is called off for rain (which is very likely), I think we'll be having a date night. We've been trying to make more of an effort to do this, because we really do need time on our own once in a while to remember we're married and not roommates. This leads to the big question: do I work hard to eat healthy on our "date," or do I throw caution to the wind? Despite my dream earlier this week, I'm really not in the mood to stuff myself like our last date night a few weeks ago. We did Italian then and it was a carb-filled night with Italian bread, pasta and deep fried eggplant (which I have to confess was fantastic -- sorry for the food porn).

The problem is, I often have trouble remembering the unpleasant feeling of being too full when I'm perusing a menu and looking at all the endless possibilities. I get that "oh, come on, it's a special occasion" mentality when at a nice restaurant and I start splurging and "treating" myself. But then the next morning I pay the consequences when the scale displays the bloat my eating has caused. It's then that I have to remind myself of the great feeling I get when I choose wisely, eat sensibly and see it pay off on the scale the next morning. There's always that sense of accomplishment and success that makes the whole rest of the day better.

It all comes down to how I want to dole out my pain and pleasure. There's the temporary pleasure of eating comfort foods that is followed by regret, or I can cause a little discomfort at first by holding myself back from overeating, which is followed by a feeling of pride and a boost to my self-esteem the next day. When I think of it that way, the latter choice makes a lot more sense, doesn't it? In both instances my feelings the morning after are the ones that stick with me the longest, so it would be logical to make the positive feelings last longer. But we aren't Vulcans, and unlike Mr. Spock, our emotions often lead us to very illogical choices. I'll just have to do the best I can and keep trying to make the right decisions.

*Darn, now I've got that Duran Duran song stuck in my head! I was such a huge D2 fan in my preteen days -- my biggest debate was who I loved more, Simon LeBon or John Taylor.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Interesting Developments

Interesting developments yesterday. They're all disconnected from each other, so I'll just get started:

Hubby went to the doctor for a sinus infection. When he came home he told me that the doctor also prescribed Mer1d1a. I tried to be positive about this, but I must admit I'm a little leery of prescription weight loss medication. I guess my concern is that a lot of people think these pills are a magic cure that will turn them into Ha11e Berry or Brad P1tt overnight. This doesn't happen and people get disappointed and depressed. Hubby's doctor was realistic with him and told him he could expect to lose 20-30 pounds. This would be enough to improve his health and make him feel better, which is the main point. I know I'm going to be as supportive as possible and help him however I can.

Our puppies had a vet appointment yesterday, and I'm so glad I went. The last time Hubby went alone and he came back telling me the vet told him the puppies should eat all they want, all day long. I just knew this didn't sound right, and I intended to broach the subject during the exam. Well, I didn't have to; the vet (apparently a different one from last time) brought the subject up on his own and informed us the dogs should be fed twice a day, and to follow the instructions on the food bag. I was so glad he did this, as well as spouting off all kinds of scientific studies proving that doing this helps to prevent hip dysplasia and will not stunt their growth. My husband, being a science teacher, ate all this up, and now we're finally on the same page about this. I won't say our doggies are on a diet, because they're not obese, but they are now on a scheduled food plan, which will hopefully prevent this from happening.

I mentioned to Hubby that my friend JH has been reading my blog and sends me occasional emails commenting on it and telling me how proud she is of me. Hubby replied that he better start reading this himself, and I immediately replied, "Uh-oh! Maybe I better start a second one!"
This was the wrong thing to say, because he immediately got paranoid and said "I don't know if I like the thought of you airing things to the world that you don't want me to see."
I then found myself backpedaling, telling him that when I do bring him up I don't use his name, don't go into personal marital matters, and everything I write usually has something to do with weight loss or food. For example, I listed last week's brownie episode as one that featured him prominently. I proceeded to tell him that when I write the blog, in the back of my mind I picture him reading it, so I write accordingly. This seemed to calm him down. So, if he does track this thing down, I love you, honey!
The last couple days my neck and shoulders have been bothering me, like in the "bad old days." I'm not sure what the cause is: maybe I slept funny; maybe all my stress is concentrating there; maybe walking outside on pavement is jolting it too much; maybe I did something during Pilates. But I'm all tense and tight and most disturbing of all, I've got a little tingling in my left hand. I'm trying to do all the stretching exercises from my PT days, as well as dragging back out my heating pad and my massager to try to loosen it all up. But if it doesn't straighten out in the next couple days I may have to call my neurosurgeon. It's been less than a year since my neck surgery, and while I got a "thumbs up" at my six-month check up, that doesn't mean something can't still develop. I'm keeping a close eye on it.

Related to this, last week I got a letter from the family of the donor who gave me the tissue that replaced my vertebra. I had tears in my eyes as I read the letter from the wife who tragically lost her sweet, gentle husband and father of her children. But she said she was so glad that my life has improved because of the gift he was able to give me, because he was the kind of guy who was always thinking of others.

I finished up the PBS show I mentioned in yesterday's post. While it did give some pretty discouraging facts and figures when it comes to obesity and dieting, it did try to end in a positive light with several of the people featured losing significant amounts of weight. Whether they're able to keep it off in five, 10 or 20 years remains to be seen.

That's all I can think of right now. I feel like I just threw a bunch of scattered ramblings together and called it a post, but that's pretty much the state of my mind today.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Don't Tempt Me

I read a lot of blogs, and from those blogs I often explore links that lead me to other articles and video information.

A few days ago Pasta Queen talked about watching the PBS show "Fat: What No One is Telling You"(this link takes you to the web site where you can watch it online). So yesterday afternoon I had a little time to kill (who, me?!?) and I watched a few chapters of it.

Comedian Mary Dimino is featured in this show, and a comment she made in the beginning of the show has been haunting me. She's on the treadmill, sweating up a storm, and says that she has to work this hard, twice as hard even than a lot of people, just to maintain her level of chubbiness (she had been a size 28 and was considerably smaller but not skinny).

Lord could I relate to that! As I was finishing my 3-mile walk outside this morning I thought about the people in the houses I passed, the ones who don't exercise as much as I do or rarely look at a fruit or vegetable, and they can maintain physiques much smaller than mine. They may not be any healthier, but when it comes down to pure poundage, I do have to work hellishly hard just to keep myself at a range that a lot of people would consider a fate worse than death.

I'm not done watching the entire show, but I have to admit the first few chapters have added to the discouragement I felt from the AP article I mentioned in yesterday's post. When I hear these experts saying how incredibly hard, almost impossible, it is to fight our body's instinctual drive to eat and maintain our current weight level, even if it is way above normal, it's hard to feel optimistic that I can ever succeed.

I suppose that's what helped propel a cranky mood last night when Mabel asked for ice cream. We have this little ice cream stand right down the street that's only open six months a year, and they have very good soft serve and a wide variety of options for toppings, etc. I didn't want any ice cream, I didn't even have a desire or craving for it, but for some reason the fact that I had to go wait in line, order it and carry it home for Mabel (she was riding her bike) irritated the crap out of me. I could understand my frustration if I was really fighting back the urge to order one of my favorite sundaes there, but I was strangely uninterested in it.

I guess it was being put in the situation that irked me so. Our society is so incredibly hard on fat people: so much of our day is bombarded with visions of food and opportunities to eat, but if you succumb to this constant temptation you're labeled weak, lazy and stupid.

It didn't help that when we got home from the ice cream stand Hubby had gotten home from his baseball game and was digging into a large pizza. He's the statistician for the high school team, and now that the weather's nice they have games almost every night. Because he's not getting home until 7, 7:30 p.m., he's been picking up supper on his way home: fast food drive-thrus, or in this instance, pizza.

Again, I didn't start salivating at the sight of the pizza, and didn't even crave it when Hubby commented how good it was. But the fact that it was there just set me off. Is it crazy to be mad at food for trying to tempt me, even if it doesn't? That can't be normal.

I suppose I should just be happy that I wasn't going crazy from cravings and urges to eat all that junk food. But the anger over it is odd. I guess I'm in a love-hate stage with food, because let's face it: I love grilled asparagus, big ripe strawberries and the nuttiness of brown rice. And those are good things to love. I just wish I could be a little less consumed with food overall, whether it's negative or positive feelings. I want to be nonchalant, lackadaisical, devil-may-care. Yeah, that would be nice.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Against All Odds

Yesterday afternoon I was reading the newspaper and found this article on diets failing in the long run (this is the same AP article but on Yahoo, which Lori referred to on her blog today).

There's nothing in this article that was news to me. Diets are hard to stick to; they can be boring and depriving and it's hard to break old habits. The odds are that most people will quit and regain the weight they lost, if not more. According to this article, "between one-third and two-thirds gained back the weight they lost. A small number were able to successfully maintain their weight loss."

Right now I'm part of the odds-breakers, that small number who has been able to maintain the majority of my weight loss. (For example, I've regained 4 pounds, but held up against a 120-pound loss, it's minimal.)

I say right now because I know this is a tenuous condition; I have no delusions that at any time I could (and can) lose my focus and fall into the pit of overeating. I know that in order to maintain this loss, I am going to have to be vigilant the rest of my life.

This article could really be discouraging for some people who are just starting out trying to lose weight. I know if I was 338 today and reading this article, I'd say, "Oh, forget it. I'll never beat those odds. Why bother?"

However, the one good thing about the article comes at the very end:
"Dr. Samuel Klein, an obesity expert at Washington University in St. Louis, said a diet's success shouldn't just be measured in pounds. If a person becomes healthier even if the weight loss is temporary, that should be deemed a success. 'There might be benefits in losing weight for a period of time even if you regain it than not having lost the weight at all,' Klein said. "

This made me think more about what I've been pondering lately; if my goal to reach 199 or 180 is an arbitrary thing and I should focus more on being healthy: eating nutritionally-dense foods in sensible portions and keeping up regular exercise.

In a way this article takes me off the hook, so to speak. It's telling me that it isn't realistic to think I'll ever be thin, so just try to be healthy. But do I really want permission to quit trying? It's like the parent telling their child, "Why set yourself up for disappointment? There's no way you're going to [insert goal/dream here], so why not aim a little lower?"

My daughter wants to join a competitive gymnastics team. If I told her the odds where she won't win first prize and would probably fail miserably, how would she feel? Not good, I don't think. I doubt she'd even want to join the team any more. Don't most parents try to encourage their children, tell them that if they do their very best, even if they don't win first prize, their effort and hard work will pay off later in life?

I may never be thin and have a BMI of 23, but I have dropped my BMI by 20 points. I've improved my health and fitness and have learned so much about nutrition, exercise and coping skills to deal with stress, anger and sadness. If I had read this article in 2004, would I have bothered to make the efforts I have and gained the accomplishments I've collected? I'm thinking maybe not.

This morning I walked 5k (3.2 miles), drank my green tea, took my flax seed oil gel cap and multivitamin and ate my whole grain waffles with strawberries. This afternoon I'll eat my salad, do my Pilates and clean my house. I don't know if these things will get me to Onederful Land, but I'm going to keep doing it anyway. What do I have to lose? That's the big question...

Monday, April 23, 2007

Monday Part Two

I did not mention that I've been quoted again on Angry Fat Girlz! Two times in one month; I'm really amazed that someone out there (thanks, by the way), sees my over-analyzed navel gazing as something worth sharing. But it's great that people identify and relate to what I have to say. So often in my life I've felt alone: both when I was super obese and now that I'm a "super loser."

Lori asked a question to Sunday's post that I never got to answer but has been sticking with me. She asked, "If someone else had a similar meal or dessert, would that have made you feel better or less alone?"

And you know, the more I thought about it, the more I agreed that yes, I wouldn't have felt so James Dean about it all (i.e., the lone rebel) if at least one other person had gone the healthier route with me. I talked to my friend L about it this morning. She was in our gang Saturday night and said she could tell I was getting a little frustrated by all the unhealthy eating going on while I was trying to do the right thing. Of course, that didn't stop her from doing it, but let's face it, it's not her job to make me feel good all the time. We're all adults, we all make choices, and in the end we all had a fun evening out.

She and her husband (my brother-in-law) considered Saturday night their splurge night and went back to their healthier diets on Sunday. They have been on a mission to eat healthier for several months now, when BIL's cholesterol was getting so high the doctor was considering medication (and he's only 36). Since they have made adjustments to their eating habits -- more broiled and baked lean meats instead of fatty, fried ones, lots of whole grains and a regimen of garlic supplements for BIL -- he has knocked his cholesterol down 30 points, lost a few pounds, and the doctor has said forget the meds.

This is my Hubby's brother, and I really wish some sibling rivalry would rub off here. Hubby's cholesterol is in the borderline zone, although it did drop a few points once he started cooking healthier suppers for me. But it's still not where it really should be, and with both his parents' history of heart problems (MIL had bypass surgery after a heart attack; FIL is 100% dependent on a pacemaker), and inheriting their apple shapes, the odds are good he'll run the risk of heart disease, too. My biggest fear is getting a phone call from the school where he works, telling me he collapsed and was taken to the hospital. I hope the call never comes, but I still worry.

Mentioning all this medical stuff, let me finally get to my doctor's visit. First thing was the scale, and I have to say I was a little dismayed to hear my height was 5 ft. 5 3/4 in. -- I've always been 5 ft. 6 in., so either I was slouching, or I'm shrinking. More calcium! Now!

The good news was my weight was 210 on their scale, which is at least a pound less than the last time I was there a month to six weeks ago. So I got to breathe a sigh of relief there.

The funniest/best part was when the doctor came in and immediately shook my hand, saying, "Good for you." I must have looked at him quizzically, because he added, "For the weight loss."

"Well, I keep trying," I replied.

"And it's working," he stated. "Most people are losing the battle, but not you."

Encouraging words after the last few weeks. The rest of the exam went fine and other than wanting more blood work in six months (keeping track of my thyroid levels, as well as checking my cholesterol, triglycerides, etc.), I was good to go. Who knows, I may get over my fear and loathing of doctors after all!

Monday Part One

After I posted yesterday I went back to the garage to go through more items: sorting to throw away, to give to the rummage sale or to keep. There were a bunch of my old clothes there, the big clothes from my heaviest days. I found a pair of my size 28 jeans and brought them in for Hubby to see. He was flabbergasted. I'll have to have him or Mabel take a picture of me in them to post here.

But after I worked on this I started to feel ill. I felt weak, nauseated, achy, and a mild headache. My husband had something similar a few days ago and called in sick from work. While I wanted to get more work done in the garage, it just wasn't happening and I decided to take it easy for the rest of the day. One bright side of this attack was that I got a pass on the in-law lunch. My daughter requested Red Lobster, and they agreed to it, so I considered myself lucky that I didn't have to fight the urge to eat five cheesy biscuits and a pile of shrimp Alfredo. Although at the time I didn't feel like eating much of anything; I wound up having a can of chicken soup for lunch and watched a bunch of chick flicks ("The Lake House" and "Vanity Fair")

By evening I was feeling better, and this morning I did sleep in for a few extra minutes, but I then decided to get up and walk outside and did the 2-mile walk from my house to our town's high school and back. I think I had just worn myself out and yesterday I needed a day to rest.

Today is the big doctor's appointment. This morning my scale read 210.5, which I was pretty happy about considering the amount of bloat I'd managed to suck up over my Easter blow-out. Yes, I've regained a little, but I'm very close to where I was the last time I was weighed at the doctor's office, so I'm content with that. I'm also happy that my regain is less than I feared.

I have to go, but I will try to report in later this afternoon after my appointment.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)

No, I didn't turn into a British skinhead and go out drinking and fighting last night. (Sorry, Sir Elton John)

I picked this title because last night, Saturday night, I was thrown into battle of a different kind. I was really hoping not to be tested so soon after climbing my way out of the dregs I was in. But the gang wanted to go out and have wings. I was exhausted from my big project for the day (I finally cleared out all my and my sister's stuff out of the attic of my previous house and spent the afternoon deciding what got thrown in the dumpster, what goes to the church rummage sale, and what is kept) and had no energy to cook or to fight the majority rule.

So we went out to the wing place and I did my utmost not to cave in to the deep fried, sauce-laden wings. I ordered a spinach salad that came with grape tomatoes, hunks of fresh mozzarella (I gave Hubby four of them) and put FF raspberry vinaigrette on it. Their special for the night was steamed shrimp for 30 cents each, so I ordered a dozen (gave Mabel 2) and dipped them in cocktail sauce, not the drawn butter (which I think is just kind of gross anyway). I did wind up sneaking items off of Hubby's and Mabel's wing baskets, but it was just sticks of celery.

Just when I thought the war was won, the gang decided we needed dessert, too. Ugh. We drove to the nearby Dairy Queen, but as fate would have it, they had just closed. But that wasn't going to stop my friends' need to overfeed; we headed back for home and stopped at a Denny's-type family restaurant that specializes in ice cream desserts.

I looked at the dessert menu and felt really down; even their "light" desserts were full-fat ice cream, hot fudge and all the other high calorie fixin's, just in smaller portions. And I was bound and determined not to fold with that doctor's appointment looming on Monday.

Just then I had an idea. When the waitress came to take orders I asked her if they had any kind of fruit plate or salad. They had both, and I went with the plate because the salad came with cottage cheese or sherbet and I didn't want those. Well, when the desserts arrived my fruit plate was the most attractive thing on the table. Two or three people said, "Hey, that looks really good -- I'll trade you!" I gave Hubby some of the honeydew melon because it isn't one of my favorites; Mabel wanted some of the grapes so I threw some her way; and I had some banana slivers left over which I gave to the two teen boys who were with us, and they dove into them like starving wolves.

Actually, even at dinner time a couple people made comments about how good my salad looked, or that the shrimp looked really tasty. These same people ordered the wings, plus cheese fries and fried zucchini. At the end of the evening most of them were complaining about how full and uncomfortable they were, yet I felt fine.

While there is a sense of accomplishment and pride when I can succeed on an evening like that, I also feel the toll it takes, too. It takes a lot of strength to fight those urges to order the deep-fried or ice cream delights while everyone else around you is revelling in it. And the truth is, I can only do it for so long until I cave in from diet fatigue, like I did over Easter. I wish I could achieve some miracle cure or achieve some higher consciousness that would elevate me above the desire for fattening food. But I'm pretty sure we're hard-wired from our caveman days to hone in on the foods that will provide the most energy (calories) for our effort -- namely, fat and sugar. It's to break those instinctual drives.

But I will say, my meal and dessert were quite tasty and satisfying and I was happy with all my choices, even if they weren't covered in hot fudge or come with a side of bleu cheese.

Now, how do I get out of lunch out with the in-laws today? Think, brain, think...

Friday, April 20, 2007

We're All Human

Yesterday I was reading Lori's blog and commented on her post about the moment we knew we were fat. Part of my comment is below: (Editor's note: I've slightly reworded some of it for this blog, but the same point comes across.)

"While I was never a petite girl (I was over 10 pounds when I was born), I can pretty much pinpoint when I started getting fat. My family was thrown into chaos when my father developed bipolar disorder and was subsequently hospitalized. When he was in his manic stage it was the first time he ever showed a real interest in me; I can still remember being thrilled that he would have these long chats with me about all kinds of interesting subjects. But after his hospital stay and subsequent treatment, those talks and that interest vanished.

"When this happened my nine-year-old brain figured out that this interest wasn't love or even like, it was mental illness. So I determined that someone would have to be crazy to like me. That core feeling has haunted me the rest of my life, and I'm sure it's what took me down the road of eating for comfort and consolation."

When I finished writing that I had tears in my eyes. How utterly sad! I had never put it so succinctly before, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. No wonder I turned to food; no wonder I've always felt so badly about myself; no wonder I've been drawn to people who were so caught up in their own mental problems or addictions that they couldn't give me the love and respect I deserved.

But that doesn't mean that has to continue. And slowly, I've been changing that. One by one I've distanced myself from the people who I allowed to drag me down and treat me poorly (or at least all the ones I possibly can without causing World War III). I now have a smaller group of friends who I consider healthy and reciprocal (i.e., they're not dysfunctional and sapping the life out of me, because we carry equal importance in the relationship); I've created peaceful but keep-my-distance truces with certain relatives who I considered negative and toxic; and I managed to find a husband who wasn't afraid to commit, tells me he loves me throughout the day, and is reasonably sane and addiction free (although I wonder about those potato chips...).

But the impact of those old memories still linger. I still have a level of distrust when someone new shows an interest in me. I immediately think "What's wrong with them?" That nine-year-old in me is still so gun shy, so afraid of feeling rejected again. It's a hard to change an automatic response like that.

I suppose I even doubt my own self-love at times. I'm always waiting for the other shoe to drop; a relapse, an injury, depression, something to take the good things I've created and dash them on the rocks. It's hard for me to fully congratulate myself on the things I've accomplished because I'm always thinking of the small things I haven't done right. Hey, I've lost more than 120 pounds, but because I'm still over 200 I consider it incomplete, not a total success.

Yesterday a dear, sweet lady called me and apologized for forgetting to call me to give me the altar flower information for the church bulletin in time. I immediately apologized to her for not calling her in the middle of the week like I usually do if she forgets to give me the information. We both had our reasons: I was in the middle of newsletter week, and her 88 year-old husband was transferred to the nursing home from the hospital for rehab. He's been turning his nose up at the pureed food they're giving him, and she's been there trying to coax him to eat.

This made me apologize even more, because her reasons far outweighed mine, and I suppose I've grown so accustomed to being responsible for everyone (my husband and daughter, my pastor, there's even more but I won't bore you), reminding them to do this that and the other thing or else they all forget. I felt that I dropped the ball yet again.

"Well, we're just human," she replied to me, and that comment touched me like a caress. For once I wasn't being blamed, I wasn't made to feel guilty for not being perfect. I was allowed to be the fallible, imperfect human that our Creator made us. What a relief.

Oops. Running late. So far the weekend's going well; will check in with you later to let you know how it goes!

The Brownie Oath

My daughter has to memorize an Oath for Brownies. I've come up with my own version:
"On my honor, I will try
to avoid brownies and other binge foods,
to help keep my weight under control
and to live a long, healthy life."

My husband called in sick yesterday because he felt nauseous and fevered. This was actually a positive for me because I had to get my newsletter done, and it meant I could stay at work later and not rush home to let the puppies out.

However. When I did get home at 2, I walked into the Torture Chamber -- the house freakin' reeked of fresh baked brownies!

"What did you do???" I looked at him in horror. He replied he was craving them and decided to whip up a batch. ( I later noticed that he also baked a rising-dough pizza and ate 3/4 of that, too. I guess the nausea had passed.)

"Are you trying to torture me, or make sure I'm massively obese forever?" I queried, then stopped and shook my head. "Scratch that. I know you weren't even thinking about me when you made them."

Here's the rub. While I'm glad I said it, I knew it didn't get across like it should have. On the surface I was saying I knew he didn't bake the brownies to intentionally sabotage me. But on the other hand, I wish he would think about something other than his cravings -- namely, some consideration for me. I have been very vocal about getting myself back on track this week, but apparently that didn't come up in his mind as he baked these little binge bombs.

Last night I managed to stay away from them, but it was horribly tough. I wound up getting one of my Vitalicious VitaBrownies out of the freezer and ate that instead. I figured I'd at least get some fiber and nutrients, and it did keep me from attacking the unhealthy ones.

This morning, though, I was still haunted by those damn little things. So as Hubby was heading out the door I handed him the brownie container and said, "You don't have to give these away, but keep them in your truck or something, because I can't have them in the house. If they're here I won't just eat one, I'll eat all of them. It's an illness." I don't know how I could have gotten more succinct about it.

Hubby was fine with this request, and when I brought up the word illness, he replied, "Hey, I'm the one who made them," insinuating he's the one with the illness. He then got very revealing and said, "If I could find a good hypnotist, I'd go to one. Every night I think to myself I have to do something, and every day it doesn't happen."

God bless him, I've certainly been there, and it's hard. I wish I could give him a pill, a book, a plan that would give him the magical "click" that happens when it all falls into place. Like I've said before, if I had that I'd be a billionaire. But the truth is, I've even had the "click" and it can still go away and be very difficult to recapture.

My de-bloating slowed down a lot this morning, which makes me believe what's left is what I actually gained over my blow-out. Pretty depressing, because I basically wiped out a whole winter's hard work in what, 10 days, two weeks?

It's difficult not to think, "Why bother? I bust my hump for four months and I'm right where I started!" But let's face hard facts-- if I hadn't stayed vigilant this past winter I could have easily gained 20, 30, even 40 pounds. That sounds extreme but I know my past history. So I basically wound up maintaining my loss from the end of December. That's an accomplishment in itself, in my eyes.

Of course, I'm still in the middle of my TOTM, so I could still have some water retention hanging on and the actual regain isn't as bad as I think. Even though it's Friday I am fully motivated to stay on track this weekend because of that Monday doctor's appointment. I am bound and determined to not be horrified and ashamed when the nurse weighs me in, so there's simply no other option than to stay mindful. As of right now I don't have any parties or events going on to tempt me, although I doubt I can escape the Sunday dinner with the in-laws. Such is life.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Fear of Clothes Shopping

Busy day. Trying to get my church newsletter done, which involves a lot of copying, folding and labeling. I also have to get a memorial bulletin done on top of my usual Sunday bulletin. Plus, I had to write up a press release and send a photo I took last night to the area newspapers for a rummage sale/fund raiser we're holding. The busy life of a church secretary.

It's a good thing I'm on the upswing moodwise this week. It's one of those hectic weeks with lots of appointments and errands, plus the house really needed some cleaning. I don't know how I would have handled all of this if I had been in last week's PMS/ foul mood.

In fact, I told Hubby last night I feel almost a little manic. My mind and body seem to be in constant motion; I keep thinking of things to do, and instead of procrastinating, I'm just doing it. And since there's always a million things to do, there's no end to it.

There's a family history of bipolar disorder in my background, although up to this point none of my long list of therapists have ever diagnosed me with it. I've always been firmly in the depression side of things. But my father's first major episode didn't happen until he was in his late 30s, so you never know when this can start.

So am I worried? ("Do I look bovvered?" -- sorry, channeling Catherine Tate again) Not really. Hubby's reply to my comment was, "I just thought you were starting to feel better again," and I suppose I have to agree with that. But that Eeyore in me has to spend a sunny day looking over my shoulder to see if any black clouds are sneaking up behind me.

This morning I walked my three miles to a pre-recorded episode of "The Closer." I really like detective/whodunit shows, and Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson (played by Kyra Sedgwick) is an interesting and quirky character. I like the fact that this character has food issues -- she is a stress eater and can be found secretly scarfing down candy bars or snack cakes when she's at her wit's end. While I think Sedgwick does a terrific job, I think it would have been interesting if the producers had selected an actress who was heavier (I'd say fatter but I'm not sure if you could actually find many fat lead actresses in Hollywood). On the other hand, maybe it isn't such a bad thing; it doesn't feed into the stereotype that all fat people have out of control eating disorders. But I wouldn't be surprised if some viewers assume that if she's eating that much, she must be vomiting it up later offscreen. In one episode she was running, so maybe she's into excessive exercise to burn off the binge foods. Just an observation.

A few days ago I realized my favorite spring jacket has a bunch of tears in it and has to be thrown away. It's got a vinyl outer layer, so there's no sewing it without it looking very strange. It was a long black trench-type jacket which was great for dressing up a little and had a really slimming effect. Now I have to start looking for something new, which I really dread.

In fact, clothes shopping in general has been something I haven't enjoyed lately. I am in such clothing limbo -- I'm right in between the plus size and regular sizes. About a month ago I went to Lane Bryant and saw some clothes I really liked, but I couldn't find any 14/16s, because the 18/20s are simply too big. But when I went to a "regular" store a few weeks ago and tried on the size 16 jeans, they were way too tight.

I know, at every store, and sometimes even the brands within those stores, the fit of sizes can vary widely. But I've got this crappy attitude right now that I'm tired of going to the plus size section, yet I've got this pathological fear of rejection if I go to the regular section. So I don't want to shop at all! Hopefully this mood too will pass as Spring finally seems to be pushing its way out of Winter's fierce grip.

I'd love to go on, but I have so much to do! I'll check in with y'all later.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

What Happened???

I'm not sure what's happening, but suddenly, I'm better.

I'm not gripped with the simmering anger, I'm not bursting into tears. And the biggest sign of all? I'm cleaning the house. Last night I went around and swept with the broom, scrubbed down the kitchen sink and counters, and stuck our nasty stove burner covers into the oven and did the self-cleaning thing (it seems to be the only way to get that really burned on gunk off). I packed up the Easter decorations and took them upstairs to put them back in the attic.

And this morning, although I felt tired at first and slept in a little bit, skipping my hour cardio, I then did my 20-minute Pilates tape. Then I found myself starting a load of laundry and vacuuming the downstairs! And as I was leaving I was already planning my afternoon, when I intend to attack the den and clean it thoroughly. Cleaning, dear? Who, dear? Me, dear? Yes, dear! (My tribute to Catherine Tate and her character Derek Faye. Can you believe I have my husband and daughter quoting this character?)

This can't all be attributed to hormones. But as soon as my period started, voila, I'm feeling human again. Today, for the first time in a couple weeks, I really and truly feel back in the groove. Several of us bloggers talk about the balancing game we play between the desire to eat and the desire to lose weight. If our desire for doughnuts outweighs our desire to fit in a size 10 dress, all the diet plans and exercise routines, all the self-help books and friendly advice in the world won't help.

For the past two weeks my need to eat -- overeat, oh, let's face it, binge -- had taken over any wish to reach 199 pounds. I was sick to death of cottage cheese and steamed vegetables, I wanted bread and cheese crackers and pasta and lots and lots of Easter candy. And by God, nothing was going to stand in my way until I got it.

It's really like I've woken up from some insane dream and realizing I'm back in reality, or that I'm coming off the effects of some crazy drugs and wondering what in the hell happened to me.

So, am I really back in the proper balance? I'm still sick of cottage cheese and haven't touched it the last couple days. But honestly, I've eaten so much of the stuff in the past two years it isn't surprising I'm tired of it. And I did have some chocolate and pasta (albeit whole wheat) yesterday, but measured portions of it, and no seconds. At supper time especially I felt no need to eat until I was full; I ate my portions, wasn't interested in any more and walked away from the table.

I'm not going to question or debate it too much. If I feel good, I'm running with it. My biggest concern, however, is that this is hormonal, and that in two weeks I'm going to be utterly out of control again with PMS. I am definitely going to be very observant this next month, and if this cycle repeats, I am calling the OB/GYN pronto and telling him this just won't do. Which is a shame, because up until this point I've been pretty happy with the new birth control pill, and I'd hate to have to switch again.

All right, I've got lots to do and the energy to do it, so I best go do it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Changing Goals

Vickie, in her own blog, referred me and a few other people to this other blog by Fatslayer, which had a great post about changing goals.

It was good to hear that I'm not the only one who gets wrapped up in this spiral of self-loathing that occurs when you don't meet your weight loss goals.

Funnily enough, I'm feeling a wee bit better right at this moment. Yesterday was really tough, and when I first woke up this morning that dark cloud was still lingering. I don't know if my morning activities -- Pilates, snow shoveling (six inches on April 16 -- aargh!), and a healthy breakfast from my regular food plan -- rebooted my brain, but I felt a little glimmer of hope even as I trudged through the slushy sidewalk to my office. (Of course, my TOTM started this morning, too, so maybe it's the PMS ending)

The phrase "Fake it Till You Make It" ran through my head this morning as I was feeding our family fish, Swimmy John (my daughter's invention). If you keep going through the motions, there's a good chance the results you want will follow. As low as I get, as much junk as I can consume, the next morning I keep falling into that New Me routine/rut I've created, and the hope is one of these days the rest of the day-- hopefully today-- will fall into place.

I also have a new external motivator to get my butt into gear -- yesterday I had to call the doctor's office because my prescriptions are running out, which means it's time for my annual exam. It's scheduled for next Monday, the 23rd. So now the thought of getting on that office scale is propelling me away from the urge to buy a frozen coconut cake and eat it all before it fully thaws. The last time I was at the doctor I think I weighed in around 211, 213. So I'm hoping I can de-bloat myself to that range by Monday.

The other good thing about this appointment is that it is on a Monday, which means I have a real and pressing reason not to compulsively overeat over this upcoming weekend.

I know, all the experts say you need to have internal motivators to succeed -- you have to do it for yourself -- and this doctor's visit is an external event/deadline. And I realize I'm basically going against what Fatslayer's blog so marvelously points out. But at this point my immediate goal isn't reaching 199; it's staying far, far away from 299. My intention for this specific deadline is not to lose weight, but to have something to snap me out of this compulsive eating I've fallen into.

I've had a couple people comment that I seem tired -- exhausted. And you know what? I think they're right. I am wiped out, emotionally and physically. The daily pressures, the family mini-dramas, the illnesses, have all worn me down. I think I needed outside people to tell me this, because I need that validation to let me know it's not laziness or a crappy attitude.

My concern now is keeping this exhaustion from evolving into full-blown depression. I've been down that road before and I don't want to go there again. I'm sticking with the exercise, the therapy, the blogging, the light therapy too, hoping all of this will help keep it to a minimum. And hey, if during this week I do fall to pieces (even though that is NOT my intention), the doctor's visit will be the perfect opportunity to explain my concerns and symptoms to my doctor, and if it is depression, I can discuss pharmaceutical options to get me over this rough patch. But if my current mood is any indication, if it lasts, I think that I'll keep myself together.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Pardon My (Lack of) Sanity

PMS, get it? Boy I'm clever. Heh-heh.

If only I was a little more clever about getting through what I'm mired in right now. My weekend plan didn't go as planned -- mindful just wasn't happening. On Sunday I was in an utterly foul mood, and this morning I was worse.

It would be easy to write this off as PMS, but what about last week, and the week before that? The last I heard PMS isn't a three-week phenomenon.

I could blame it on the weather -- it's mid-April and we're dealing with a Nor'easter that's giving us cold and snow and winds up to 50 mph. But what about all the nasty weather in January, February and March, when I managed to stick to my Monday-Friday plan and even lost a few pounds?

Of course, I could point the finger at the puppies. This weekend they found a little tear in our kitchen linoleum and have now chewed the Black Hole of Calcutta into our floor. Yes, they are stressful at times. But what about the massive stress of moving a few months ago, or the distress of my car accident, or fretting over my daughter's surgery? I stuck to my guns then. Why not now?

So what's so bad now that I'm falling to pieces? Why am I either near tears or bellowing a couple times a day? I am finishing up the third month of my new birth control pills -- perhaps I'm not reacting well to it? But the first two months I seemed okay.

Of course, if I had the answer and solution to why people fall in and out of the weight loss groove, I'd be a billionaire.

Perhaps it's just a combination of everything. I am constantly trying to balance everything in my life like one of those circus people holding the stacks of plates, and maybe all it takes is one off-kilter dish to make the whole thing come crashing to the ground.

I was really struck by Beula's post today. She's wondering if 181 could be the weight she should stay at, and she's debating whether that's the sensible thing or settling. She talks a lot about perfectionism and not appreciating the accomplishments she has made. She's lost 65 pounds, but yet that doesn't seem good enough because she hasn't gotten to her goal weight of 145.

And here I am, I've lost more than 120 pounds, yet I'm scowling at myself because I can't seem to break through the 200 threshold. The thought of "settling" somewhere around 210 feels like giving up, of falling short, even though I've gotten farther than I ever dreamed that I could.

Despite this malaise I'm feeling, I'm stubbornly clinging to the notion that this will pass. I will fight my way through this low point and emerge on the other side with a brighter viewpoint and renewed motivation. I just hope it doesn't take too long.

Friday, April 13, 2007

A New Game Plan

After posting yesterday's rant I felt like I may have exaggerated a bit. I do have some other emotions other than anger and exhaustion. I guess it just seems like those two have been in the forefront lately. Last night, for example. I wanted to chill out and relax, but my relax time was spent doing laundry, then I realized that Mabel hadn't done her homework because I didn't remind her. She then went through her Helpless Eight Year Old routine of "I can't find a pencil and now the only one I can find isn't sharpened and I have some irrational fear of going upstairs by myself so I can't go to the den and use the sharpener."

This sent me off the deep end. While I don't think I scarred her for life, I went on this tear through the house, my irritation spilling into the piles of clutter on every flat surface of the house. While I will accept my one-third responsibility for putting it there, I find myself resenting the 100 percent responsibility for cleaning it. This isn't a good feeling to have -- resentment eats at you like a cancer, spreading and killing off the healthy, positive feelings you have about yourself and others.

I tried to explain this to Hubby last night as I collapsed into bed, and tried to do it in a way that wouldn't offend him. Because it would have been easy to say "I'm tired of keeping after you and Mabel like you're both three years old!" I tried to explain the pressure I feel, the feeling that everything I do is half-assed because there never seems to be enough time to do one job thoroughly.

Hubby responded that he thinks I do a wonderful job as a wife and mother, and that he doesn't consider anything I do half-assed. That was nice, but it wasn't what I wanted to hear. But that's partially my fault. I should have said to him, "I need more help around the house, and I'm not just talking about our daughter. I need you to take on a couple chores and I don't want to ask you every time it needs to be done."

The thing is, Hubby is very open about not being a good housekeeper, and the fact is he doesn't view it as a priority and doesn't really pay attention to things like dust and clutter and clothes on the floor. He has told me numerous times that I need to tell him when to do things around the house. But sometimes I don't want to have to be the responsible one all the time; I want someone else to notice the garbage can is overflowing and take the bag out without me having to mention it. I want someone else to look at the skyscraper pile of hunting and fishing magazines teetering precariously on the coffee table and purge them without me having to bring it up. I want someone else to pick up the children's and men's socks off the floor and take their glasses and dishes into the kitchen. Better yet, put those glasses and dishes in the dishwasher instead of piling them in the kitchen sink!

Okay, enough housewife griping. But lately it's just gotten to me and is in the forefront of my mind. FlyLady talks a lot about getting rid of resentment when it comes to cleaning the house and taking care of one's family. I may need to revisit her sight and reacquaint myself to her advice and wise words.

I continue to knock off more bloat from my Easter blow-out. But it will still be a while until I'm back in the groove and zeroing in on 200-199. But that's okay. Really.

For example, last night we went out for dinner and I found myself automatically ordering a healthier meal and the smaller portion the restaurant offered. But I also heartily ate the two little rolls that came with the meal and even put a little butter on them. And I found myself quite content. I wasn't wracking my brain trying to figure out the calorie count of everything, and I wasn't fretting over eating white flour and half a pat of butter. I just ate, knowing that overall I had made decent choices, didn't stuff myself and enjoyed my food. It was a good feeling.

I know the time is approaching for a weekly weigh in, but I'm doing something different this time. On Sunday I'm going to view my week from Monday-Sunday and lay out how I did. So far, other than Monday I've been doing great. No compulsive eating, no binge eating, and an hour of exercise a day. Lots of vegetables, small portions of meat and grains, and snacks that are portioned out and controlled. Yet I've pretty much eaten whatever I wanted when I wanted it.

So here's the new game plan: since I haven't deprived myself all week, I'm going to carry this same method to my weekend. I have no excuse to pig out because I can have whatever I want, as long as I take a specific amount and not make it a free-for-all. This is new territory, trying to eat intuitively, and it may take me a while to get the hang of it.

But I need this right now. I need to take some of the pressure off of myself somewhere in my life, and this seems like a way to do it that won't cause me or my loved ones any harm. The weight may not fly off, but it won't fly up, either. And it's a real taste of what life could be like once I reach maintenance; a feeling of control and contentment that keeps me healthy and sane.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

I'm An Angry Fat Girl

I've officially hit the big time. Onederful Bound is the featured blog on today's Angry Fat Girlz site! I always wondered if I ever got picked, which post and what statement would be picked out for consideration. I thought maybe it would be when I finally hit 199, supposedly the purpose of this blog.

But someone much wiser and introspective picked me when I fell flat on my face, or should I say when I started scraping myself off the floor after my fall. That's the real point of this blog -- to keep myself going even after I screw up.

Another mindful day under my belt, and another drop on the scale as I de-bloat from my excesses. It's going to take a while to get back down to 206, let alone my previous low of 204.5. I may as well take my time and be patient, and I'll get there eventually.

This journey has definitely been a massive test of my patience. It's taught me a lot about having to wait for results, to not give up when I don't receive instant gratification. Having learned this with the weight loss, it's carried over into the actual eating, too. I've come to the realization I can wait an hour, a day, a week, even a month before having a certain kind of food. It's now a regular thing to have lunch or supper delayed a few hours and it isn't the end of the world, and I don't have to stuff my face with filler because of it. I've actually started to let myself get hungry, and even wait a while before eating, which was a situation I avoided at all costs in the old days.

This morning started off oddly when I received a call from a friend who needed to find help for a family member who is dealing with depression and anger. I suppose I am the expert on these kinds of things in my little circle, so I'm the one people call. I don't consider myself an expert, per se, but I know I'm one of the few people I know who is open and honest about dealing with depression and not ashamed to say I go to therapy. So I guess people feel comfortable asking me questions and getting advice.

It also made me look again at what I'm dealing with right now, which is a lot of anger and frustration. This is a change for me; in the past I took all these feelings and suppressed them, and I either ate through it, or it brewed and fermented into a life-draining depression. While I know it's good that I'm feeling these emotions instead of stuffing them down, it's still a little frightening.

Anger has always been scary to me. I remember years ago I tried group therapy for a few months while my regular therapist was on maternity leave. It was a group of young adults my age, including a Vietnamese guy who had been adopted by Americans at the end of the Vietnam War. This guy had serious anger issues, and one night during group he exploded violently. Our therapists (a married couple), took this opportunity to analyze everyone's reaction to his outburst, and when they came to me they wondered why I shut down.

At the time I couldn't understand why this was odd. If someone is angry and violent, isn't it natural to want to protect yourself? My method of self-protection was to become invisible, to avoid falling into the angry person's line of fire and become a target. I thought it was crazy to confront the angry person, and I had no desire to become a victim of their wrath.

This tells a lot about me, my history and my food and weight issues. I learned the invisibility method as a child, hiding from a bipolar, alcoholic parent whose mood swings were unpredictable. I also learned what it felt like to become the target of their anger when I didn't keep my opinions to myself.

And what better way to become invisible than to get fat? This was a byproduct of the eating that had become my comfort and solace during our family's roughest periods, and while part of me bemoaned my fat, there was a definite benefit to it. It kept me safe and padded in my little cocoon, especially from relationships with the opposite sex. For years I had the tug of war of wishing I had a boyfriend, yet relieved that I didn't have to open myself to someone and risk being hurt.

So here I am now: I've lost more than 120 pounds (130 if you subtract the bloat), I haven't had a serious case of depression in four years, and now I'm married. Things have changed so much, but I often feel like my head is still trying to catch up with my life. I relied on the eating, the fat and the invisibility for so long, and I'm still in the learning stages of new ways to cope.

We come back to the anger. Okay, so I'm allowing myself to get angry. But what do I do with it? Sometimes I can direct it into positive avenues, like these marital discussions when I get things off my chest. But last Friday my anger felt out of control and I found myself hollering and literally shaking with it. I was near tears at least twice that day. Instead of feeling empowered by this anger I felt scared and sad. I guess because nothing good came of it. Nothing got resolved, it didn't help me or anyone around me.

I guess that's what scares me the most. I finally feel like I'm getting a grip on the depression, but then I wind up getting so bogged down with anger that it takes over my life. Lately the only emotions I seem to feel are anger or exhaustion (is exhaustion an emotion?). The anger does get subdivided into harried, irritated, frustrated and resentful, but wow, what a negative bouquet I've collected. When I do finally get a moment for myself, I feel empty and tired. There's nothing left for me.

Wow. I guess it's no surprise I collapsed into the food like I did when I read over this. I'm not saying it's good, but it's understandable. It's amazing I'm not still in the thick of it. But all the hard work I've done seems to be paying off. I know there are other ways of dealing with this than eating, and I'm doing my best to put them into practice. I had a productive hour with Dr. K. yesterday, the exercise helps to blow off some of the steam that builds up, and this blogging enables me to really explore what I'm feeling instead of medicating it with pizza and brownies.

For those of you who have come here today for the first time because of the AFG link, know that I'm not always this down in the dumps. I truly think I hit bottom this past weekend and I'm now slowly on the upswing again. Onward and upward, right?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Confrontation Can Be My Friend

I was so glad to have a mindful food day yesterday. Now granted, not all the food choices were healthy and low-calorie, but everything was portioned, and nothing was eaten compulsively. I drank lots of water, exercised and blogged, and I made real conscious choices about what I ate before I ate it. And fortunately, this morning the scale confirmed I'm on the right track as the bloat is coming off.

For the time being I'm going to go with this method. Instead of going extreme and trying to lose the bloat as quickly as possible by severely restricting myself, I'm going to take it easy and not risk the chance of falling into the perfectionist all-or-nothing cycle that leads to trouble.

This isn't a race, I keep telling myself. Even though the title of this blog is Onederful Bound, I'm not going to give myself a deadline to reach 199. My priorities have to be non-scale related, because if I don't focus on the mental aspects, the eating and the exercise, the scale is irrelevant, because even if I managed to get to a low weight, it won't last.

Wow is today hectic. Since 6:30 a.m. I've felt put upon, at that point by husband, puppies and child needing me simultaneously. Work has been even worse: I think every single person who occasionally needs something from me has called or stopped in today for their requests.

All of this leaves me feeling very ... jittery. My mind is racing because I'm trying to figure out what to get done first and making sure I don't forget anything. Plus I have to stop by my eye doctor and give somebody hell because they're messing with me.

(I'm going on a rant here because I need to -- skip ahead if it's annoying)
I switched to this optometrist on my husband's recommendation (first mistake). Our new health insurance covers the exam and your choice of contacts or glasses. I went with the contacts.

The troubles began immediately when what should have been a one-week wait for my contacts took over a month. I finally get them and didn't realize until after the holidays that what I thought was a year's prescription (I wear disposables) was only three month's worth. I called them a few weeks ago about this and their response was that this was a 6-month supply and that all of their clients wear these contacts for a month at a time. Well, I've been wearing these contacts for years, and I've always been instructed to wear them for 2 weeks. I told them this and they said they'd order me more.

Well, I still haven't gotten a call saying these contacts are in for me to pick up, but yesterday I get a BILL in the mail for $40 for contacts! I'm assuming the doctor's office informed my insurance company that this was an "extra" purchase, so they refused to pay it. Getting miffed, I go online to the manufacturer of my contacts to see what their recommended usage is for my type of contact. And there in black and white it says my lenses are designed for two week use, and only ONE week if you don't take them out every night! So why should I be penalized because my optometrist is incorrectly prescribing these lenses!?! And shouldn't I at least get my year's worth (to the optometrist six months) before I have to start paying out for more?

I'm going to call my insurance carrier about it this afternoon, just to make sure I have all the information I need before going in there. Part of me wants to go in there and really raise a stink, but I'm soooo bad at confrontation. I don't feel comfortable getting angry, even if it is to stand up for myself. But I feel like I'm getting screwed here, and I don't want to just cough up the cash without at least presenting my case. Besides the fact that I haven't even gotten the damn things yet! Unless something really impressive happens and things go well, you can believe me that I will never be returning to this optometrist and will tell everyone I know not to go to him.

(Okay, rant is over) I feel stretched so thin by days like this. Actually, it's been ongoing, hasn't it? Last night Hubby and I had yet another "discussion" (I'd call it a fight except we don't yell; I guess argument would be better) that left me mentally exhausted, too. Again, I hate confrontation, but Hubby had said something Monday night that left me fuming all day Tuesday, and I knew I had to address it or it would never go away.

What makes me furious about our arguments is that Hubby always tries to find a way to push the blame off of himself. It's always about me (or Mabel) taking things the wrong way, blowing things out of proportion, or interpreting things that he didn't intend. In the beginning I used to accept this, but more and more I refuse to let him off the hook, which makes him even more defensive, or the one I love, try to pull the guilt trip ("I better just learn to shut up and not talk at all; I guess I'm not allowed to have an opinion," etc.) I tell him he's entitled to opinions and to talk, but he better start thinking before letting things fly out of his mouth, and if he doesn't, then he better accept the responsibility of the reactions his words cause.

The funny thing is, after these "discussions," after he gets so defensive and blustery, he suddenly switches into this "forgive me" mode and tells me how horrible it is when I'm mad at him. I think I'm starting to figure him out. When confronted with something he's done that I don't like, his first instinct is to protect himself. But I think once this first automatic response wears off, his need to be a people pleaser takes over and he becomes more conciliatory and remorseful.

So what's to be learned from all that I've spewed here today? That confrontation isn't that horrible a thing. I always have so much fear and anxiety about standing up for myself, and I guess it comes down to the fear of rejection and failure. It's the misconception that if I tell someone I don't like what they're doing, they won't like/love me any more, and that will make me a terrible person.

The truth is, no one can know something's bothering me unless I tell them. A lot of things are a misunderstanding or miscommunication, and sometimes bringing it to the person's attention improves things immensely. I've learned that I can express my displeasure to my husband and he doesn't hate me or ask for a divorce; he still loves me and wants to make things right. And what's the worst that can happen by investigating and probing into this contact business? I pay $40 for my contacts and remind myself to set up my next annual exam with another optometrist. No one dies, no one goes to jail, no one goes bankrupt. In the grand scheme of things it's a minor annoyance and a lesson learned.

I think this knowledge will help me get through this crazy day without turning to the leftover Easter candy. It's good to know that confrontation can actually be a good thing, and I shouldn't dread it like the Grim Reaper knocking on my door. It takes effort, but usually the end result benefits me. Kind of like this mindful eating thing!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Emerging from the Puddle

I've talked before about my favorite show, The Vicar of Dibley. In my favorite episode, Autumn, the Vicar is walking down a lovely country lane with her new beau. They come up to a series of puddles and at first she playfully splashes around in one. Then she goes to splash in the next one and plunges in over her head. The first time I saw it I laughed until I had tears streaming down my face.

Today I feel like I'm bobbing up from that muddy water, wondering what in the hell happened.
As you may notice, I haven't said I've dragged myself out of it yet. But I'm getting there.

It started this morning with an hour on the bike (10 miles), my green tea, and right now I'm sipping at a ginormous mug of water. My food still isn't perfect, but today is the first real day since Thursday that I am craving the need to portion and control my intake. Going to exercise wasn't like pulling teeth this morning, it was just something I wanted to do. I'm taking these as good signs.

So yeah, although I am fairly disgusted with the tumble I've taken, I'm aware that this is incredibly brief compared to even last year. I mean, now I can't go a whole week without the New Me tapping on the inside of my skull and saying, "Yoo-hoo, it's me. Enough of this silliness. It's time to start getting back on track now."

I guess I understand deep down that this compulsive eating is no longer the Normal Operating Procedure. While it's easy to go back to (too damn easy, unfortunately), it doesn't feel right any more. After a few days of it I feel myself wanting to return to the new way I've learned to live.

I am incredibly bloated right now. I won't even say how much because I don't think anyone would believe me. The only way I can figure that this can happen is that all my depleted fat cells fill with this water retention, because I don't know where else this massive amount of weight gain can be coming from. Yes, I've been weighing myself daily, even though I wasn't going to. But I think I needed to do that to keep me grounded and not in denial about what I was doing.

So I'm going to mark my successes for the immediate future by recording my exercise and celebrating each day that I can prevent compulsive overeating. I'm not going to worry about the calories, I'm more concerned about limiting my portions and listening to my body. I guess this is called intuitive eating, which I should really read more about.

Thanks for the support, commenters. I'm feeling kind of fragile right now and knowing you're out there helps so much. I know this blog is one of the big reasons this stumble has not become a complete crash and that I'm picking up the pieces so quickly. So don't worry, I'll be here.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Technical Difficulties

For Easter vacation, my husband decided to try to "fix" our computer. We had a few bugs get into it over the past six months and he was getting irritated with the little things they were affecting.

Well, he proceeded to wipe the computer out, losing all our files. He had to wipe the whole thing clean and start over again from scratch. Fortunately, I had backed up the majority of my files a few months ago when we first started having some problems. But I lost some new photos of the puppies, as well as all my backups of my blog entries. Granted, the blog entries aren't lost forever, they're here online, but it will still be a pain backing them all up again.

So, while all this was going on, I was computerless and blogless for the weekend.

I have to say I'm not too proud of myself this weekend. Despite my good intentions, I didn't follow through on any of the good plans I had. I have no redeeming stories to tell you, no wonderful stories of progress, mindfulness or anything even remotely weight loss related. Well, other than friends and relatives who hadn't seen me in a while commenting that I looked so much thinner than the last time we met. It was a little hard to hear and enjoy as I was shoving my face full of food.

I also had a mini-meltdown on Friday. I guess it was the combination of sleep deprivation, having everyone home on break, watching my rambunctious niece and two demanding puppies, plus mourning my damaged computer and getting a little miffed at Hubby as he spent hours piddling with the computer instead of helping me with above mentioned children and dogs. My nerves were shot and I ranted and raved like a lunatic.

This meltdown is a chicken or the egg conundrum. Did it cause the eating fest or did the eating fest cause it? Because they began pretty much simultaneously. All I know is, I haven't felt that stressed out and angry for a long, long time. By Saturday it was better, but then that night I wound up having a "discussion" with Hubby over situations that had arisen during the day that had me mad. So again, more mental turbulence that also surrounded more eating.

By Sunday it was just exhaustion and candy overload and the second family dinner in two days.

Hopefully my next post will be more positive and will have something good to report. Wish me well.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Easter Vacation

My friend has sent me another odd vintage holiday card. Here the poor little chick is forced by her mother to watch her unhatched sibling offered up to the giant skillet, held by a disturbing upright rabbit (The Real Easter Bunny?) in a jaunty little outfit. Not sure what's so joyful about this.

I've come to the decision I'm giving myself another "by week," which I haven't done since Thanksgiving. It sort of started last night, when we went out for dinner and I made some not-so-great choices. It was by no means a binge or even an overeating session -- I simply went with full calorie salad dressing, ate 1 piece (not 2, 3 or 6) of garlic bread, a few tiny bites of chili, mac & cheese and broccoli salad (none of which were that great so I didn't finish them), real butter on my sweet potato, and I finished off with some dessert. One small plate, not three trips to the buffet with the big salad plate. And the scale confirmed this morning that I didn't go overboard.

I'm also still exercising. Despite the howling winds, snow and cold temperature this morning, I got up and did my half hour each of bike and treadmill. I measured out my breakfast and packed my healthy morning snack, and I have a steak salad planned for lunch. Having said that, I must also admit I took three pieces of Easter candy from my daughter's stash. Not the whole thing, just three small pieces.

So here's the plan: I'm going to try to eat healthy meals and snacks, but I'm not going to berate myself if I eat something that isn't low fat or calorie. I'm not going to fret over calories or fat grams, and I'm going to officially hide my scale until late next week. I plan on doing some form of exercise every day. I really feel that I need this little break. I'm definitely feeling some diet fatigue, bordering on burn out, and I think a few days of not worrying about it. This is all with the knowledge that on Monday I go back to the routine.

Although from the previous paragraph it doesn't sound like I'm veering that far off my routine. I guess that's because a lot of it has become second nature. The exercise feels good. I truly enjoy the flavor of many healthy foods, especially vegetables! I really don't like the feeling of being so full I'm physically ill. These are great, and proof that some of these changes I've made have been deep and life altering.

Posting will be a little dodgy the next few days. Tomorrow my niece is coming over to play with Mabel while my sister is at class; Saturday is my family's holiday dinner, and on Sunday my sister-in-law is having one for hers and our husbands' family.

So if I don't post again until Monday, have a great Easter holiday.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Mix Up, Not Give Up

I was so tired when I woke up this morning. It took Herculean effort to haul myself over to my satellite gym and decided to forgo the treadmill and did 9 miles on the stationary bike instead. In addition, even though I ate one of my regular and filling breakfasts (strawberries, almond milk and a combo of Kashi puffs and Fiber One cereal), by the time I was driving to work I was already feeling hungry!

So this gets my mind working on what exactly is going on. I got a decent amount of sleep and didn't starve myself yesterday. I did work out a little more than usual -- I walked about 3 miles and did my 20 minute Pilates tape -- but I don't feel sore today.

I really hope I'm not getting sick again. My nose has been kind of stuffy and sneezy, but I've been attributing that to seasonal allergies (spring is usually my worst season).

My real concern, I suppose, is that I'm teetering on the edge of a lapse. It's been a long winter, and just when we thought it was over, we're getting more snow for the next five days. My weight's been pretty stuck for the past month and with Easter coming I don't expect any miraculous drops in the near future. While the puppies continue to be cute, the novelty is starting to wear off a little for me and it comes down to constant Pee and Poop Patrol. So now on top of clearing up my family's dirty dishes and socks, I'm now cleaning the kitchen floor several times a day, when I'm not taking the puppies outside several times a day.

Lord, I sound like a whiner! So what if the weather's crappy and I have loads of housework to do? Why does that mean I have to veer off the healthy course and fall into a vat of chocolate? Am I so weak that a little discomfort automatically sends me heading for the candy aisle?

I guess I'm just having a down week. We all get them from time to time, and I'm no exception.

I keep thinking about Shauna's post yesterday and how much I relate to it. The pressure she felt by posting her weigh-ins was getting to her, and once she quit announcing it, she felt better and has been focusing more on fitness.

The thought of abandoning the weekly weigh-in is tempting. Not having that pressure (self-created, by the way) would be a relief. But the weigh-ins also keep me honest. It's a motivator to not eat a whole box of Girl Scout Cookies on a Tuesday afternoon; it helps to keep me exercising on mornings like today when all I wanted to do was roll over and sleep another hour.

So what should I do? I've got a couple ideas in my head. One thought is giving myself another "bye-week" and get back to the weigh-ins on the 14th. I haven't really given myself one of those since Thanksgiving. Maybe if I have one irresponsible week (of course, the week is already half over!) I'd feel renewed and jump back into it with lots of motivation and verve.

Or, for the next couple weeks or month, still have a weekly "report," but not include my weight. I could report how much I exercised and if I completed five days or more of healthy eating. I could also go back to my food journaling, and while I may not post the actual lists of food, I could report on how many days I successfully wrote down everything I ate.

I guess it comes down to the fact that I'm thinking hard about mixing things up because I want to do whatever it takes to not give up. I don't want to burn out and say "screw it." While I'm thinking about taking a break, I only want it to be brief and temporary. Because the results I've gained are too important to me to throw away.

If any of you have any feedback on this -- getting in a rut, mixing things up, taking a break-- let me know. I appreciate all opinions and viewpoints.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Me Version 2007

Yesterday I was lamenting to my mother about my overeating this past weekend and feeling a little down about it. Her reaction was interesting.

"I know you really want to get below 200, but think about how far you've come and what you've been able to do."

My husband also says similar things to me. I don't think either one of them is encouraging me to throw my healthy habits out the window. Hell, maybe they are, but I'm not viewing it that way. My interpretation? Just because I haven't reached an arbitrary milestone, that doesn't invalidate all the weight I've lost so far. I mean, 130 pounds is nothing to sneeze at! A lot of people -- my old self included -- could never imagine achieving such a thing.

Having done this, why beat myself up because I'm kind of wallowing here in this 206 range? I mean, holy cow, four years ago 206 was a weight I never thought I'd see again. My old self would have scoffed at Me Version 2007. "Boo hoo, maintaining a 130-pound weight loss. You poor thing! Let me cry you a river -- not."

I'm not saying I should go back to Me Version 2003 or older. This past Friday when Hubby, Mabel and I went to the Lenten Fish Fry I felt really stuffed, but as I told Hubby, I ate half of what I used to. In the "good old days," I would fill my plate and put plenty on Mabel's plate. Then I'd not only eat all of my food, but most of hers, too.

Hubby was shocked by this revelation, but like I told him, how else would I be able to maintain a weight well over 300 pounds? Now I don't get as much food and can't even finish what's on my plate, let alone looking at what's left on Mabel's plate.

There were other moments that reminded me that I am a new and improved version of myself. I went to the liquor store Saturday morning to buy two gallons of wine for our church's communion services. The man who checked me out has been a long-time friend of my family, and when he saw me he exclaimed, "You're wasting away to nothing!"

The next day I was walking around the Maple Festival with my friend JH. We walked past a store window and I caught a glimpse of the two of us, and to my pleasant surprise, I didn't look like a blimp walking next to her. My friend is not super petite but not overweight, either; in fact, I've secretly used her as a goal size I'd like to get to (she's now reading this blog, so now my secret's out!). While I'm sure I'm still heavier than her, I look closer to her size now, and I recall feeling some approval and satisfaction with myself as I glanced at my reflection.

I was telling some different people about my modified schedule now that we have the puppies. Instead of getting up at 5 a.m. I now get up at 4:45 to get them outside and fed before I go work out. Everyone was astounded that I do this and all stated they don't have that much motivation. Four or five years ago I would have been one of those people who couldn't imagine making such an effort to (gasp!) exercise. And to give up sleep for it? Forget it! I'm still not sure how it happened, but it's just something that's become important to me, and important enough to make the time for it, even if it means giving up some sleep.

So why, with all these changes I've been able to make in my life, do I feel like a failure because I'm lingering at the same weight for several weeks now? I guess I've put too much importance on the weekly weigh-ins, and I worry too much about what my readers will think of me when I report that I've stayed the same or gained.

You're probably wondering where I'm heading with this. Am I looking for a reason to eliminate the weekly weigh-in? I see the danger of that; I need that accountability, because otherwise I'll start getting lazy about sticking to healthy eating. I'll start allowing more and more slip-ups until I'm back to 230, 240 or heaven forbid, even higher. I completely credit this blog and the weekly weigh-in for my ability to go from 213 to 206 over the winter. Not a lot, but still, a loss over winter is a huge achievement for me.

I have to just stop putting such importance on the number on the scale and not calling myself a failure if the number isn't going down. The non-scale successes are there if I choose to see them. And if I wind up maintaining for another month? Well, maybe that's what my body and mind need to do right now. The big goals are to keep eating healthy during the week and exercising almost every day. If I can continue doing that it will ensure that I don't start regaining. And that's the most important thing.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Balancing Act

I'm so glad the weekend's over. While I enjoy the Maple Festival, it can be an exhausting experience when you're there all day in a volunteer capacity. While I wasn't an official volunteer this year, I helped my husband, who was demonstrating open hearth/Dutch oven cooking. The biggest part of my unofficial duties was walking to the grocery store to pick up the supplies he forgot. And I'd give his speech when he had to leave the area. At least the walking gave me some extra exercise.

And Lord knows I needed all I could get. I pretty much went off the deep end yesterday as far as food is concerned. Excuses? I don't really have any other than I wanted to. If I wanted to analyze and get to the causes, it was a fairly stressful week adjusting to the new puppies. Not really a good excuse, I know, but it's all I could really think of.

Although I think I jinxed myself with all my boastful rants earlier in the week saying how good I'm doing, how my eating is getting so much better, and most of all, making a goal of losing 8 pounds by May 19. The minute I get too cocky about myself, I swear some dysfunctional part of my inner brain does everything it can to sabotage myself.

But like Pavlov's dog, Monday morning comes around and I'm back to routine: this morning I did alter it a little by doing the 2-mile walk I did on Saturday, then I came home and did toning/weight resistance for 20 minutes. So, no matter how bad I am on the weekends, my brain seems to automatically revert to the habits I've ingrained there. Of course, I better not get too cocky about that, either!

This morning I was reading Ann's blog and these paragraphs really spoke to me:

"I actually get some comfort in reading blogs of people who aren’t shedding pounds with abandon because it makes me feel less alone. I see how hard everyone is working on their lives to balance food, family, exercise, work, health and fun, and that inspires me more than just concentrating on the food stuff all the time. I’ve done that before and ended up distorted and unbalanced.
I’m in the right place for me now. Treading water to stay the same is the best I can hope for right now; if I lose, great, but if not, I need to be content and make sure I’m working as hard as I can on the things that matter right now. "

You notice she uses the word "balance" twice here. I don't know how many of us stop and think about finding the right balance in our lives, whether it's work and family, spirituality and the secular world, etc. I often think about how easy it was for me to lose weight in the beginning because I devoted an enormous amount of thought and time to it. I was incredibly self-absorbed with it and didn't have many distractions to lead me astray. Life has changed so much now: getting married, returning to the work force, mothering an active second grader and now two baby dogs.

I don't have the open schedule I used to, and I have a lot more demands on my time and my mind. While I still want to lose more weight, that "want" has to get in line with the other "have tos" that dominate my day. I have to get to work, I have to take care of my daughter and husband, I have to create and keep routines to raise well-behaved pets. Add to that paying the bills, cleaning the house, you name it, and my day is packed.

Having said this, eating healthy and exercising is still in the top five of my priorities. But like the other priorities in my life, I don't always do them perfectly. I don't get home in time and the puppies have an accident; a typo gets into the church bulletin; I forget to give Mabel lunch money; the floor doesn't get vacuumed; I get snarly and say something hurtful to my husband. Likewise, once in a while I don't intentionally exercise, and there are days I throw my mindful eating to the wind.

None of these goofs makes me a bad mother, wife, housekeeper, or church secretary. It makes me human. So I need to be equally forgiving of myself when I slip up with food and exercise.

And like Ann pointed out, the important thing is to make myself a healthier person over all. That means balancing out all my priorities and at the end of the day knowing I did the best I could. I may not win Mother or Wife of the Year or lose 2 pounds every week. But that's okay. Tomorrow brings yet another day to do my best, and in the long term I know I'm slowly getting smarter, stronger and happier.