Saturday, June 30, 2007

One Macaroon

I've been meaning to blog all day today, but I'm just so freakin' tired that I can't really form coherent thoughts. In fact, it took me three times to type in my password right here at Blogger, so that proves how dopey I am.

I'm tired because I didn't get to bed until, oh, 2 a.m.-ish. The drive home from Pittsburgh was a little slow due to traffic not only from our show, but from the Pirates game, which was being held right across the river at PNC Park.

We had such a nice trip. We went to my own secular mecca, Whole Foods. We found my broccoli rabe, which we just can't find in our rural W@l-Mart world. I first tried this stuff last year when I visited friends in Philadelphia on a sandwich with roasted pork loin and provolone. But this stuff is great just sauteed with some garlic, too. I'm told it practically grows like a weed in New Jersey, so I'm hoping we can track down some seeds and try to grow our own next year. We struck out on the Thai Basil, so I'm thinking we may need to try to find seeds for this, too. I also loaded up on some of my favorite salad bar yummies -- whole grain tabbouleh, wheatberry salad, charred eggplant salad, and I found a new one, spicy marinated tempeh. I didn't get to eat any of them today; I'm thinking lunch tomorrow, unless I have to go out with the in-laws. In that case I'm hoping it will all keep until Monday.
I also splurged in the bakery section on two blueberry scones and a bag of my all-time favorites, their macaroon combo (almond, coconut and chocolate-coconut). The IE must be working, because after previous trips to WF I have scarfed down all my finds within the first 24 hours. This time I don't feel that urgency to eat all of it NOW, and I'm leisurely stretching it out.

Dinner was fantastic. Lidia's was a beautiful restaurant, the service was spectacular, and the food was incredible. The bread bowl was a combination of crusty Italian slices, rosemary foccacia, and some spicy cheesy bread sticks that knocked your socks off. They came with two bean spreads -- one was garbanzo with pesto and the other cannelloni with kalamata olives. Amazing.

Both Hubby and I went with the house special, an all-you-can eat pasta tasting of three different dishes which also included a Caesar salad a la Lidia, and Tirimisu for dessert. Again, the IE seemed to work. I did try one piece each of the breads (fortunately they were small pieces), but when I got to the salad I only ate half of it, knowing I had to save room for the pastas. They started you out with samples of the three different kinds (fettuccine with veal Bolognese, fusili Genevese with green beans and potatoes, and the best of the three, goat cheese ravioli in a thyme-infused butter sauce. But after those three samples, when they asked you which one you wanted more of, I couldn't do it. I knew dessert was still coming, so I fought my instincts to get my money's worth and passed on extras.

I was definitely full when we left, but I knew I could have been soooo much fuller. I was pleased that none of it felt forced or kick-started any diet mentality or feelings of deprivation.

The comedy show was hilarious. There were three warm-up acts that all made us laugh, then the headliner came on-- Artie Lange, sidekick on the Howard Stern Show -- and gave us a great show, too. I felt a little bad for Hubby, because all the comedians made references to the Stern Show, and he doesn't listen to it, only knowing a little of what I bring up once in a great while. So he didn't get all the references and jokes, but there were enough generic jokes to keep him amused.

In yet another odd coincidence in my life, the people sitting directly in front of us were originally from our area, and not only had the husband worked with some friends of mine, but I had taken some voice lessons from a relative of his when I was in high school.

The coolest thing was striking up a conversation about the Stern show with these people. No one else in my life listens to it, so I don't really have anyone to do any "water cooler chat" with after listening to it. I tell Hubby a few things, but I can tell he isn't interested enough to start listening himself. I realized it felt familiar to the experience I have online of talking to people here on the blogs about losing weight and now Intuitive Eating. It's so validating to find others who have experienced the same things I have, who understand what I'm going through, who can find the humor in the same things I do.

I did blow the IE thing a little at the end of the night when we stopped for gas before hitting the turnpike. It had been six hours since our meal and I was feeling a little hungry and wanted some caffeine to keep me awake for the ride home, so we stopped at a convenience store, and I wound up getting coffee and two doughnuts, and I ate both. I really should have stopped at one, but I didn't. And I really shouldn't have drank the coffee, because it gave me indigestion like coffee sometimes will. Maybe someday I'll learn.

Today's been a little tempting with all the goodies in the house and being so tired -- I only got about 5.5 hours of sleep, which is way below my norm -- but I haven't felt the compulsion to binge at all, which is good news. The good stuff's here and I'm aware of it, but again, that desire to eat it all as quickly as I can isn't there, mainly because I'm not going back on "the diet" in the near future. Instead of eating all the macaroons today, I've had one. Uno. Un. Ein. Totally bizarre.
So although I know I'm not eating the greatest right now -- as far as calories and fat and carbs go -- I'm happy to see a decrease in the compulsive thoughts and desires to binge. I may be a little heavier than I'd like, but I realize this process takes time, and I need to be patient. This is progress, and I know it.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Special Occasion

Last night went pretty well. It was difficult not to indulge with the special meal we had, but I purposefully ate very small portions of the salad, a tiny piece of bread and a single ladle of Maryland Crab Soup, since I knew my husband's main course was going to be so special.

This was my plate. It was medallions of Filet Mignon, lobster and roasted sweet potatoes (plus the shrimp for garnish). The sauce on the bottom was a basil Bearnaise, while the sauce on top was a basil creme sauce. On yeah, the whole thing is resting on a toasted piece of artisan bread.

Holy crap was this thing good! It was worth skimping on the other stuff to have enough room to eat every single bite of this incredible dish. Everyone was moaning over this meal -- it's hard to say what the neighbors were thinking!

After the meal my friends did the whole singing "Happy Birthday" and gave me some nice little presents -- a subscription to Paula Deen's magazine, and a little sea stone necklace. Then there was the cake. It was a princess cake, which traditionally has layers of banana and strawberry in between the cake. This one had one layer of bananas and one layer of pineapple, which was very, very good. I had one piece, no ice cream.
That's not to say I didn't do a little "extra" eating. I wound up eating Mabel's piece of bread (another tiny piece similar to mine) and her one shrimp. And later on I had one of the "second dessert" (you'd think we were Hobbits!), one of my all-time favorites, burnt sugar gobs (for those of you new to my blog, gobs are also called Whoopie Pies in some parts, a sandwich looking thing with two small pieces of cake with icing in the middle. The "burnt" sugar is caramelized and both in the cake batter and the icing). I also had two mixed drinks: it's called a "Miami Vice" and is a mixture of strawberry daiquiri and pina colada. Yummy!
I know this sounds like a lot of food, and it was. But in my observation mode I pretty much ate the same, if not even a little less, than some of the other people there. That night I went to bed still a little full, but not stuffed and miserable. This morning I'm a little bloated, but that's okay. It's temporary.
Tonight's another special occasion -- going to see Artie Lange at Heinz Hall, plus dinner at Lidia's of Pittsburgh. I'll let you know how that goes tomorrow.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Change in Perspective

I've been inundating this post with a lot of information the last couple days. While I'm still reading "The Power of Now" and writing down more notes to share here, I don't have them with me right now, and I figured we all needed a day off to absorb it all.

My life right now can be compared to an incident I had this morning. I went to the bathroom to finish drying my hair, and I had my shoes on, which I usually don't wear to the bathroom. While nothing in the room had changed, that slight increase in height from my shoes lifted me just enough to make everything look a little different. The sink was a little farther away, my view of the shelves in the medicine cabinet was altered so I could look down on the items there a little more. Just that half-inch created a noticeable change in perspective.

Similarly, while nothing dramatic in my life has changed, my consciousness of it has been elevated, and nothing looks quite the same. For example: yesterday, which was incredibly hot and humid, would have normally made me miserable and terribly cranky. While I did have a couple cranked out moments, I realized they quickly passed through me and instead of festering over them, I felt remarkably calm. I realized that there was nothing I could do about the heat, so I just needed to accept it and get on with my life. In addition, when something did irritate me, I let myself feel my irritation, anger, etc., in that moment; once the moment was over, I felt this sense that there was no need to hang onto it, since it was now in the past and no longer affecting me.

Even more amazing, yesterday also included a disappointing discovery in our house that while not life-threatening, is going to cost us $2,300 that we weren't expecting to dish out. Something like this would normally have me stressing out and cleaning out the box of muffins my husband brought into the house a few days ago. I did have a few moments of anxiety about money and our household finances, but I thought to myself, "We have the means to pay for this now. Things may be a little tight in the future, but worrying about it won't do me or anyone else any good. Our jobs are secure right now, we have money coming in, and I have faith that we will be all right. This may be an unpleasant surprise, but there's nothing we can do but accept it and move on."

It was intriguing how I kept catching myself throughout the day in either past or present thinking, especially about food. I'd be thinking about what I was going to eat for lunch or a snack and stop, telling myself, "That is future thinking. Right now I am not hungry. When I am hungry, then I will think about food." My husband and friends are preparing a big belated birthday dinner for me tonight, and every time I'd start worrying about compulsively eating there, I'd stop myself and remind myself that it's in the future, and not my concern right now.

The real test, of course, will be tonight, when it is the Now. I can't wait to see how I can apply this conscious thinking to one of my worst binge eating triggers. Of course, this is future thinking, too! But I'm working hard to stay in observation mode, not expecting perfection from myself. Eckhart Tolle says it's nearly impossible to eliminate all past and future thinking, but the trick is not to apply negative feelings or expectations to them. He says it's fine to make goals for yourself, but the trick is to focus on what you're doing now to achieve that, not focusing solely on the end product or result. It's all about the journey, not the final destination.

So I'm doing my best to stay in the moment, keep my self aware and awake to what's going on right now, both in me and around me. While this is all a little different, I'm liking the view from up here. I may just have to move here permanently.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Real Me

More on Eckhart Tolle's "The Power of Now"--

He starts off the book talking about how people mistakenly identify themselves not by their true selves, but with their mind or Ego. He says the most common ego identifications include our possessions, our professions, our physical appearance, our personal and family histories, etc. But none of these are You. It's wrong to identify myself as fat -- it may be part of my physical appearance, but it isn't my true essence. Neither are my identifications as a church secretary, a Lutheran, an American -- they are only labels.

Tolle says the Ego is always looking for something to attach itself to and will readily attach to our problems. He says for many people, a large part of their sense of self is intimately connected with their problems, and becoming free of them means loss of self. How many times have I wondered or have I read about others trying to figure out what staying fat does for us? Here it is -- we have identified ourselves as fat, and not being that any more means a loss of identity. If I'm not fat, than what am I?

This could be why I found myself going through such anxiety and almost a grieving process as I started IE. I obviously identified myself as a compulsive overeater, and I felt a loss of identity as I tried to change and end that behavior. If I'm not a binge eater, if I'm not using food to cope with stress and to comfort myself, than who am I, and what am I going to do? No wonder I was so freaked out.

Identifying with my mind, Ego, whatever you want to call it, also has a lot to do with perfectionism and having to be right. Tolle says "Once you have disidentified from your mind, whether you are right or wrong makes no difference to your sense of self at all, so the forcefully compulsive and deeply unconscious need to be right, which is a form of violence, will no longer be there... Your sense of self is then derived from a deeper and truer place within yourself, not from the mind."

This is such a liberating idea. I have weighed myself down for so many years with these identifications, whether it was my physical appearance, my problems with food or my perfectionism. When I realize that none of these really matter, that they do not define the real me, it seems so much easier to let go of them. Of course, this is in theory; to actually break free of this Ego/mind that I've embraced for 36 years will certainly take some effort and not be easy. But the great thing is, it directly ties in to Intuitive Eating, so it's all part of the same process.

I suddenly have the lyrics of The Who song The Real Me running through my head. I've always found Pete Townshend an incredible song writer, and I know he went through his own spiritual journeys over the years. The only thing is, it doesn't really matter if my shrink, my mother or my preacher see the real me, as long as I do.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Living In the Now

I wrote yesterday about an excerpt from "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle, which I read about on Tree Lover's blog.

I was so inspired by this small portion of the book that I went directly to the library after work and borrowed a copy of it. My daughter is taking advanced gymnastics this summer, and during her two-hour practice I cracked the book open and started to read.


During the two hours I had to keep stopping and taking breaks because there was so much to comprehend from this book. Then, once I had absorbed it, I'd read some more.

While this book is not focused on eating disorders or intuitive eating, so much of it applies and speaks so clearly to me about these issues.

This afternoon I sat down again with the book and took notes, because I really wanted to make sure I remembered these things. The main thrust of this book is to get people to start living a conscious life, living in the here and now. Most of us are so caught up in the past or planning for the future that we miss out on the only thing that is truly real -- our present. This constant distraction from the Now, as he puts it, is what gives us this "continuous low level of unease, discontent, boredom or nervousness," because we're constantly living in memory or anticipation (past & future). In our search to get rid of this unease many of us turn to alcohol, drugs, food, shopping, etc.:

"When this happens, an activity that might be very enjoyable if used in moderation becomes imbued with a compulsive or addictive quality, and all that is ever achieved through it is extremely short-lived symptom relief."

This makes so much sense to me. If I live in the past, I'm regretting the doughnut I ate, the exercise I skipped, the fat photo of me from 1997. If I'm living in the future, I'm worried about what the scale will say tomorrow, or I'm thinking I can't be happy until I'm less than 200 pounds. More crucially, if I'm not creating the tension and unease, I'm not looking to food to make it better. At this precise moment in time I have no problems, so there's no need to binge. Brilliant.

I have so many other things to write about, too, but I've got company coming and a daughter to put to bed. Let's just say I have lots of blog fodder for the next several days!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Discovering Compassion

Despite some efforts not to, yesterday morning's self-loathing wound up snowballing into a binge. I've had worse binges calorie-wise, but the emotional and behavioral components were unmistakable.

I suppose I could compare myself and yesterday's binge to people who cut themselves. While I really didn't want to do it, there was such tension there that this unwelcome yet familiar behavior was the only thing that seemed to release it. Behind the tension was some hostility, resentment, sadness, and some surrender, too. I just didn't have the energy to fight it any more. It's strange how these binges can be both a treat and punishment to myself at the very same time.

So here I am this morning, reverting back to my breakfast and snack that I used to eat on "good" days. This sounds like I'm dieting, and maybe in some sense I am, but it feels different. Number one, I did not weigh myself this morning. I have beaten myself up enough over the past few days and I absolutely refuse to keep doing it. Number two, I am not counting calories. I am veering towards foods that I know are healthy -- full of fiber, antioxidants and other nutritionally good stuff -- but they also have to be foods that I enjoy eating. Number three, I will not let myself get too hungry and stir up those dangerous feelings of deprivation.

I don't feel like I'm giving up on Intuitive Eating. I do feel, however, that I may have gone a little overboard on the legalizing of all foods, and it's time to pull in the reins a little. The more I read about IE, it seems like the "experts" recommend a more controlled method to slowly reintroducing previously forbidden foods. So, for the next few weeks I'm going to try to re-evaluate where I am and scale back on the amount of different foods I have in the house.

The most wonderful thing that happened to me this morning was reading today's post on Tree Lover's blog. I needed this information more than anything else in the world today. It explained to me why I did what I did yesterday, and more importantly, why I need to give myself compassion instead of judgment, criticism and self-loathing. My binge eating disorder -- and let's face it, that's what I have -- is not an excuse or a cop-out. But it's something I am going to have to learn to cope with, just like anyone else who has a challenge in their lives.

Tree Lover could have been channeling me when she wrote this (hope she doesn't mind me quoting her):

"I have spent years wondering why I overate and binged even though it made me heavier than I wanted to be. On the one hand, I certainly knew that I was choosing to put the food in my mouth, but I also felt like I didn’t have a choice. I wanted to stop overeating and binging, but it was impossible for me to make that choice. Why? Because, as Eckhart Tolle wrote, I had no choice. I was overeating and binging because of “a mental-emotional pattern from the past.” Like women who repeatedly “choose” abusive relationships, my situation was self-created. But I was making that choice from a place of mind identification. My true self was not choosing to overeat and binge."

Tree Lover's blog is called "Conscious Eating ~ Conscious Living," and this really seems to be the secret to mastering IE and breaking that mental-emotional pattern I've created in my life. Now the question is, how do I achieve that?

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Whipping Girl

My blog pal Lori emailed me this (hope she doesn't mind me reprinting it here!)

"I've been meaning to post this on your blog but I wonder if some of your guilty feelings about the Girl Scout incidence is that you subconsciously want every day to be a good day like the Ice Cream Day and when you fall off that perfection wagon, you are so hard on yourself?"

BINGO! Why did I not see that? Of course it's completely true. I always want to do things right, to be the good girl, and when I fall short of those expectations, the self-flagellation begins.
Unfortunately, I'm still mentally whipping myself this morning for this weight gain. I can feel it; it's like I super glued a big gel pack to the front of my torso. I was trying on clothes yesterday to figure out what to wear to church this morning and all my new clothes are snug. It's one thing to work through the mental and emotional issues, but it's hard to ignore the physical changes.
This morning I caught myself planning a week of "healthy eating" to try to knock some of this off. DANGER. While I know lots of "normal" eaters watch what they eat a week or two after a vacation to work off what they gained while they were away, I also know a lot of "normal" drinkers who have no problem going out on the occasional Friday night and drinking two beers. Recovering alcoholics know they can't do that without triggering binge drinking, just as I know that I run the risk of falling back into diet/binge cycle.
So what to do? Is it safe for me to purposely eat lower calorie foods (ones that I still like, of course!) for a week and try to reduce this vacation paunch? Or am I asking for disaster? Am I failing (aha, perfectionist thinking emerging!) at IE if I do this? These are the times I wish I had my own personal IE coach who could personally instruct me on what to do and how to get through this.
All right, I have to get going and get ready for my day. Going to church, which I haven't done in ages (bad girl!), then off to a family reunion. Yes, you know the drill -- a covered dish picnic where I'll be inundated with lots of starchy, fatty, sugary delicious foods. It's going to be a challenge today, because I'm wildly vacillating between wanting to eat it all and not wanting to eat anything. Hopefully I can cut through all this diet mentality and let my IE principles guide me.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

I Believe In Fairy Tales

Why is it that after what I consider a hugely successful IE day, the next day I fall flat on my face? Could it be that even though on the surface I feel great that I've eaten intuitively, on a deep subconscious level I'm still feeling deprived? This deprivation then inevitably leading me to overeating or binge eating the next day, week or month.

The incident I'm talking about was Friday afternoon. I had one of those great days off where I leisurely cleaned the house, taking breaks here and there in between the dusting, sweeping, dusting, etc. Breakfast was OK, lunch too, then I hit mid afternoon and found myself free-falling with a box of Girl Scout cookies that I unearthed from the freezer. The whole box! It's a miracle I didn't eat the cardboard and the plastic bag, too!

However, I will say that this moment of overeating did not lead me into a full-blown binge. At supper I ate two pieces of pizza and was quite content with that. While I bought a three different snacks for the drive-in movies (a double feature with the new Fantastic Four movie and Ocean's Thirteen), I only opened one and ate a small portion of it. I knew I didn't want any more and I put everything away and was fine the rest of the night.

Still, those cookies haunted me. Today I've felt a sense of guilt all day, and in a stupid, stupid move I hopped on the scale in the middle of the day and was bowled over by the reading. I suppose I did it out of some perverse punishment for the cookies -- "See what a bad girl you've been!" -- and I definitely felt like a naughty child who got caught with her hand in the cookie jar.

To add insult to injury, I let myself get totally bummed out when my in-laws showed up with their daughter and her two girls. SIL and the nieces live far away and only visit a few times a year. Well, this SIL has lost 4o pounds with WW, and MIL was really gushing over this accomplishment and getting her to tell us all about it. Hubby then chimed in with his 20 pound weight loss with the Meridia, and as they sat there comparing notes on their successes I felt like a great big fat failure.

I know, you're probably sitting there frowning at the screen and thinking, "Andrea, how can you let this get you so upset? You know better!" I'm even thinking it, yet I still find myself caught up in the self-bashing and the diet mentality, and unfortunately I'm still not over it.

The thing is, the rational side of me knows that I didn't let Friday fall into ruin, and today I've done very well, too. I found myself satisfied with a very tiny lunch, and I wound up bringing half of my supper home with me. Despite my bad feelings I worked hard at not depriving myself, and I made sure that I felt slightly full every time I ate. While part of me wonders if I didn't eat as much today because deep down I'm trying to diet, I wonder too if I just didn't need as much food today because I had those extra calories yesterday.

I suppose there's good news in the fact that despite the disappointment on the scale, all the dieting talk and feeling bad about overeating, not once did I seriously consider giving up IE and going back to dieting. I will confess I thought about getting more serious about my physical activity -- I've been totally lax about any kind of strength training or toning, and I've been saying "I should" for some time now -- but I still have this faith that IE will work if I give it enough time and effort. Even though lately this goal of becoming a "normal" eater feels more like an impossible goal, like wishing for a fairy tale ending, I suppose I still subscribe to the saying on my daughter's hat. (If you can't read it, it says, "I believe in fairy tales!")

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Ice Cream Incident

Periodically my mom, her sisters and her cousin get together for lunch. Often my sister, cousin and I will join them, sometimes with our kids. These "lunches" often go three or four hours as we talk and catch up with everyone's lives. Yesterday was another meeting, and there were 10 of us, so we went to our local soft serve ice cream diner that has picnic tables outside where we could all sit and make as much noise as we wanted for as long as we wanted.

I ordered the special -- a Buffalo Chicken Wrap with Fries -- and immediately split the fries with my daughter. The wrap was cut in two, so I ate the first half and took a break as we all sat and talked and looked at photographs we had brought along. My mother was eyeing up my remaining wrap and I told her she could help herself, and she took a couple bites of it. All of this behavior is kind of new for me -- in the past I've always been very possessive of my food and only grudgingly sharing it with people. I think the IE principle that "there's always more food" is finally sinking in and I'm no longer acting like a starving dog snarling over my bowl of kibble.

After a while I did finish most of the wrap, although I left a few bites behind that were mostly the wrap with no meat or vegetables. Again, in the past I probably would have finished those bites off as a Clean Plate Club member, but I figured it would be more of a waste to put that extra filler in my stomach.

I noticed that both my sister and my Mom were still hungry after their meals and ordered extra onion rings. I didn't judge it as bad or good -- just observing -- and also noted that I felt right on that border of satisfied/pleasantly full. I also watched some of the others and how they ate. My one aunt, who I consider a normal albeit a finicky eater, caught my attention. She eats so slowly -- she'll take big breaks in between bites, even putting her utensils down to use her hands to illustrate a point -- and you can tell she has a healthy relationship with food. She enjoys it, but it doesn't rule her life.

Not much later the table began ordering dessert: hot fudge or peanut butter sundaes, strawberry shortcake with ice cream, chocolate dipped ice cream cones. I checked in with my body and found myself still completely satisfied, and when it came my turn to order, I simply said, "I'm not hungry right now. Maybe later."

This was such an exhilarating experience for me. In the past at these lunches I've often gone without any dessert or ordered the smallest, lowest fat thing on the menu, and either way I felt martyred and deprived. Or else I would order the biggest, calorie-laden treat they had and go on to binge the rest of the day in What the Hell/Last Supper mode.

Instead, I felt extremely content. I knew I didn't feel hungry, wasn't craving anything, and I didn't feel deprived; in fact, I felt great that I was honoring my body's signals. I knew that if I got hungry later I could certainly have ice cream or anything else I happened to crave, and this made me feel at ease that I wasn't missing out on anything. Best of all, when Mabel got through a third of her ice cream cone and decided she was full, I didn't go into the Mom the Garbage Can mode and finish it off for her -- I wasn't even in the slightest bit tempted. I didn't want her leftovers of a dessert I would never order for myself, and I let it go. Again, in observation mode, I noticed my mom was the one who ate it. Could it be I learned this behavior from her? Very likely.

A few hours later, after we left the luncheon, took Mabel for her allergy shot and made it home, I then felt like having ice cream, and I got out the Edy's carton of low fat ice cream and orange sherbet I bought a few days ago. First of all, I have to mention that I bought this on Tuesday and didn't open it until Thursday, which is an accomplishment in itself. Secondly, I got out one of Mabel's little kid bowls and scooped out a portion that was probably somewhere between 1/2 to 1 cup. In the past I might have eaten a ton of it to "make up" for depriving myself at lunch time. But I ate this amount and felt completely satisfied and didn't want any more. Thirdly, can I say that Edy's Slow Churned ice cream is great? I still can't believe it's low-fat. Miracle workers, I tell you.

So there it is, my Ice Cream Incident. While I can't say I follow the IE principles to a T all day, every day, this is one of those moments that gets a gold star and should be filed under Success Stories in my mental records. It's a relief that my vacation hasn't derailed my ongoing work, I'm pleased that this way of thinking and eating is becoming more natural for me, and it gives me hope that someday this will all be second nature and completely normal.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

No Surprise

During our time in Adventureland (in the Magic Kingdom) Mabel got sprayed by the squirting totem poles, and in the heat of Florida in June she thoroughly enjoyed it. While she was somewhat surprised by that specific shot of water, she knew walking into that area that she would probably get wet.

Similarly, while I was a little disappointed this morning when I put on one of my new smaller shirts this morning, it wasn't a big surprise that it was tight. While I still haven't weighed myself, I can feel the extra pouchiness to my stomach, and there was no doubt about it this morning when I tried on that shirt. I knew last week as I ate (and ate and ate) that I would pay the consequences for it later, and here it is.

At the same time, while I'm not happy about my added padding on my abdomen, I've been down this road before. In fact, this past six months every Monday usually involved that extended belly syndrome from my weekend binge eating. And after a few days of exercising and "good" eating, the water retention decreased and my clothes fit better again.

Of course, now I'm not dieting anymore, so logic tells me that I won't have as rapid a turnaround as I did when I was severely restricting my intake to make up for the binges. This gives me a little apprehension, because I do still worry about permanent and substantial weight gain as I wean myself off dieting.

Rational thinking tells me, however, that if I stick to the principles of intuitive eating, the most important one of all is striving to take good care of myself, in time my weight will regulate itself. For example, yesterday was my first day that I made a conscious effort to get back to intuitive eating. Instead of putting myself on a strict, low-calorie diet, I ate what I wanted, which included some more of my birthday cake. But this also included a big salad for lunch, and at supper I ate small portions of grilled chicken breast, sauteed veggies and couscous and wasn't even interested in eating past full (on my personal scale there's satisfied, lightly full, full, and too full -- I never went over lightly full).

Short, slightly off topic detour here: Beula commented yesterday that "If I eat only what gives me satisfaction, at the moment I would be eating only cheesecake and onion rings! I might be able to stop at small amounts, but still. Do you think my body/mind will ever want healthy food if I can eat cheesecake?" I guess it comes down to personal preferences and experiences. I still crave salads, grilled veggies and fresh strawberries, in between the cravings for cake and ice cream. I think the more I legalize the old "bad" foods the less of a hold they have on me and the more freedom there is to pick from all the foods out there. I still have a major hangup about cottage cheese, though; as much as I liked it when I was dieting, I just can't bring myself to eat it right now. Hopefully that will lessen with time.

I will also say that another reason I wasn't shocked that I still felt pretty bloated this morning was because I didn't exercise yesterday. I was going to take my morning walk with my SIL, but we wound up sitting on her porch talking because she's going through a really hard patch right now with her teenage son and had only sneaked a few hours of sleep out of the tumultuous night. While I wanted to go work up a big sweat walking 2 or 3 miles, at the time it felt more important to be there as a sounding board and friend to SIL.

Today I did get my walk in, and despite the Tight Shirt Incident, I'm telling myself that I'm back on the right path and in time this will pass. I just have to be patient and keep taking care of myself, and eventually that shirt will fit right again.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Giving Myself Amnesty

Mabel took this picture of me in the stockade at the Magic Kingdom -- not far from the Hall of Presidents.

Why did I pick this picture today? Well, towards the end of my trip I felt myself trapped in the stockade, punished by the tyranny of Diet Mentality, for eating for the wrong reasons as well as way too much.

I know, I was too hard on myself: it was vacation, and I was out of my element and surrounded by all kinds of unusual foods. I'm brand new to this IE thing and it's going to take time to make it a natural process, completely second nature.

The fact of the matter is, I caught myself way too many times eating past the point of satisfaction, and for all kinds of reasons: I didn't want to waste the food; dessert came with our WDW meal plan, so of course I got it with every lunch; I'd probably never be in this restaurant/get this dish again; it tastes so good, I better eat some more; I don't want to carry this food back on the plane or throw it away, so I better eat it. You name it, I found the excuse to overeat.

Most of the time I didn't beat myself up about this, but I definitely had some moments of feeling bloated and fat and bemoaning the weight I had to be gaining with all this eating. It didn't help that I was vacationing during my Time of the Month and that the weather was extremely hot and humid: who wouldn't get bloated?

These "bad" feelings increased as the vacation drew to an end and I knew I was returning home, where I would face the consequences of my actions. I haven't weighed myself, however, because I simply refuse to smack myself around with a scale reading that will show a lot of water weight. Granted, I'm not kidding myself that there isn't some real weight gain floating around on my body. But this morning's many trips to the bathroom are making me think a lot of it will wind up being water retention.

I will say in my defense that I really tried to go with what I really craved, and more often than not I gravitated toward meals that were healthy and natural. And WDW had some great choices: falafel pitas, grilled veggie sandwiches on nutty, grainy breads, and lots of fresh fruit. Granted, I still ate plenty of French fries, more than once I tried to conquer the heat with big frozen lemonades, and Hubby and I critiqued each cheesecake that came our way. But there were plenty of things I turned down, too.

The big thing is this: I don't want my memories of this trip to be full of regret about the things I ate. We had so many fun, exciting moments and precious time together that mean so much more in the long run than how many pounds I might have gained. So I am giving myself amnesty on this trip: I'm back home now, slowly falling back into my regular routine, and I'm confident I will get back into the IE groove.

Five Posts That Make Me Think

I've been tagged by Frances (thanks!) as an interesting blog to read. My job now is to turn you guys on to blogs I like. So here's the deal:
1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.


Big Fat Deal


Readheaded Stranger

Tree Lover

There are a lot more blogs that I check in on daily, and many of them feel like friends or family -- just check out the links on the right side of this page.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I Made It Back Alive ... And One Year Older

On the first night of our whirlwind trip to WDW, I got to meet one of my favorite characters, Eeyore. You'll notice I've got the wet look going here ... we got drenched in a torrential downpour on our way to the Crystal Palace, where we ate that evening and met all the Winnie the Pooh Characters.
I will be writing more about my trip in the next few days, but to be honest, I'm still pretty pooped. Plus, today's my birthday! So I'm trying to take it easy and relax before I have to go back to work tomorrow.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Happiest Place on Earth

From June 11-18 we will be on vacation-- Walt Disney World! Plus a side trip to Sea World, because ya gotta' go see Shamu, too!

Let's hope the weather's nice, my husband, daughter and I prevent any cranky incidents or unpleasant accidents, and we have lots of fun.

I'll fill you in on all the details when we get back!

So Long, Farewell...

I've been playing around with my new cell phone, which can take pictures, and those pictures can be stored on a card reader and transferred to my computer lickety-split. Mabel took these pictures of the ever-growing puppies (Pearl's the black one, Bruno the yellow one), and I'm figuring out how to do all the technical stuff.

This is going to be great, because now I won't have to lug my digital camera everywhere in WDW. I can take pictures with the cell phone and I'll know they'll be just as nice. It's so cool being technological!
Today's the last minute stuff -- mopping the floors, final loads of laundry, giving our perishable food away, packing up the last minute essentials. I had to run to my office because I forgot to do something I said I'd do, plus I dropped off another box of books for a local organization's yearly book sale.
I've gotten rid of a heck of a lot of stuff the last few weeks. The scary thing is, there's so much more still left here lingering around! But I'll keep working at it.
I'm really not that happy with my eating this weekend. It hasn't been full-blown binge behavior, but it's been so mindless and grazing. I don't feel vigilant at all about honoring my body's hunger and fullness signals.
In fact, I almost feel like I'm eating like I used to, long before I started to lose the weight. The thing is, back then, even though I was at a much higher weight, it stayed very stable for many years. I know I'm not eating as much as I did back then -- yesterday's food intake was overeating for me now, but would have been a light day for me four or five years ago. And at supper last night I only ate half of my supper and took the rest home -- definitely new behavior.
I'm talking more about the nonchalance of eating, picking at things here and there as my appetite and cravings lead the way. I don't know if this is good news or bad news. It's good in that I'm not obsessing about calories and carbs and panicking about a poor weigh-in tomorrow morning. I just worry that not being tuned in to my satiety signals, etc., means I'm not doing IE right.
I know, I know, that's perfectionism rearing its ugly head again. I'm six weeks into this process, and I'm going through a lot of changes, a lot of withdrawal from behaviors I got used to, and I should expect to be uncomfortable and a little anxious as I work through it. I've got the double whammy right now of the stress of preparing for vacation and PMS, too.
Things will calm down. My eating is a little chaotic right now, but so is my life. Once this vacation is underway, then over, the summer will slow down a lot, and I'll be able to get back into some normal routines.
I'm going to take a little notebook with me and jot down some thoughts throughout the week and post them here when I get back. I have to admit I'm really going to miss posting here every day, as well as checking in on those blogs I've grown addicted to -- many of which are listed on the right side of this page.
Wish us nice weather and lots of photo opportunities with Disney characters! I'll be thinking of you, my friendly commenters!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

The Race Was Run

My daughter called me on Grandma's cell phone this afternoon -- they were on a shopping expedition while I was doing my 5K and post-race flower and herb buying at the local nursery.

"Did you win the race?" Mabel asked me.

"No, I didn't win, but I finished, and that's what I planned to do, so I'm happy," I replied.

Honestly, the 5K was a piece of cake for me, and I probably took it a little too leisurely. Last year I finished somewhere around 47 minutes; this year was 56! My friend JH and I chatted and gossiped the whole time, so clearly I wasn't exerting a ton of effort. She has me convinced to do the 10K walk next year, and I do think I'm up for the challenge.

Didn't do a whole lot the rest of the day. Bought the above mentioned herbs (rosemary and lime thyme) and two hanging baskets for the front porch. Then I got home, picked up BBQ chicken halves from the Block Party, delivered half of them and a power washer to my Dad. Came home, ate half of my chicken, then spent the afternoon trying to figure out my new cell phone and the memory card to take pictures. We're now heading to the mall to get Hubby shorts and to exchange his Father's Day gift -- I got the wrong kind of saw.

My eating's been kind of sloppy -- not staying very vigilant, eating sort of mindlessly. But the good news is that I'm not wracked with guilt about it, not worrying about gaining weight, etc. I know I'm heavily distracted with the trip coming up and the race, etc., it's PMS time and I'm craving all kinds of things right now. Food is part of the mix, but it's not the primary focus, which sounds suspiciously normal to me.

Gotta' run, Hubby's waiting at the door. Will check in with you one more time tomorrow before we leave.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Lunch Break Post

Finishing up my lunch hour from my busy day of housework. The local bank had a customer appreciation day and had free hot dogs, potato salad, chips and cookies. I had a hot dog (with sauerkraut), potato salad and two cookies -- I'm not much of a potato chip fan.

Today's one of those days that I actually haven't been thinking about food that much. Cleaning does that to me. It's almost a meditative kind of thing -- I get caught up in the dusting, vacuuming and putting things away and my brain goes into autopilot.

For about the last 10 years I've noticed that when I get angry about something one of my favorite things to do to blow off steam or distract myself is cleaning. Even back in 1997, even though I was still in the midst of my compulsive overeating, I was beginning to make some progress and found that I usually couldn't eat when I was angry, and cleaning was one of the few things that helped.

I keep bringing up anger, so you're probably wondering if I'm angry. Well, yeah, I am. Something happened yesterday that has left me kind of hurt, a little down, but mostly angry. And it's the worst kind because I've been cornered into a situation that I'm not happy about but can't fix it to make myself happy without hurting someone else's feelings and causing all kinds of other problems for myself. The worst thing is, this wasn't even my own doing -- this situation was created without my knowledge, even though it affects me. That's what has me the angriest -- being left out of decisions I should be a part of, my thoughts not being considered before others go ahead and make plans for me, without me.

I did make sure the person who informed me of this decision was fully aware of the fact that I'm uncomfortable with this, and while I don't want to hurt or insult the other people involved, I am not happy about having to "suck it up and deal with it" (my actual quote). While I'm glad I made my feelings known, I still feel defeated and helpless because there doesn't seem to be a way to change it. Hence the anger.

So I've been cleaning since 6:20 this morning, when I got done with my morning walk with my sister-in-law. This was the second day in a row she's joined me for my walk, and it's nice to be able to talk to her without interruptions from husbands, kids, pets, etc. I don't know if she'll go every single day with me, but we'll walk together off and on until fall.

Tomorrow morning is my 5k race. I'm really not nervous at all about it because I did it last year and survived it, and since then walking 3.2 miles is a regular thing for me. I'm looking forward to it because I can then catch up with another friend who is also walking on my team. We don't get to see each other much, and this will give us some time to chat.

Last year I was hell bent on beating a 15 minute per mile pace, and I did that, and then some. But I also think walking as fast as I did on hard pavement made my neck problems worse, because two days later my left arm and hand were numb, and my shoulder was in agony. This year I'll probably still be close to walking 4 miles per hour, but I'm not not push myself too hard.

I noticed this post has very little to do about food and eating. I consider that real progress, because the goal is to quit being so obsessed and controlled by food, dieting and bingeing. It feels amazingly normal to have a day filled with activities and emotions and not fretting about what I can eat and what I'll weigh because of it.

Time to get back to work. I'll let you know how the race goes!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Normal, Not Perfect

Hectic morning at work. It's the last day before I go on vacation and I'm trying to wrap up lose ends, clean up, leave detailed instructions for my fill-in. Fortunately I'm now on summer hours at work, which means I don't work Fridays, so I can devote tomorrow to cleaning and organizing my house so I have the same thing there. I always get antsy when I go away and I feel so much better when I can come back to a neat, orderly office or home. I just hate coming back to chaos and clutter; then instead of being able to relax and take it easy for a day to recover from traveling, I feel like I have to get to work pronto and clean it.

We wound up back at the Block Party last night, which meant another night of carnival food. I went with the steak and cheese sandwich, split an order of fries with Hubby, then had a piece of pie. I probably shouldn't have bought the pie and eaten it, because I was pretty satisfied with my sandwich and fries, but I knew it was my last night there and probably wouldn't see another piece of sugar pie for the rest of the year. My Grandma Nellie used to make sugar pie for our family picnics, and now that she's gone no one in our family has continued that food tradition. I guess I should track down the recipe and learn how to make it, but right now one slice at a carnival is fine.

It sounds like a lot of excuses -- last chance, family history -- but I decided that this was probably what a "normal" (not perfect) eater would do, too. Even after eating the pie I was comfortably full and not stuffed, and I wasn't interested in eating anything else the rest of the night.

I'm glad to say that this morning I wasn't interested at all in weighing myself and didn't even think about it until I got online and glimpsed at yesterday's post. So while I weighed in sooner than I wanted to, it hasn't triggered any obsessions about weighing in daily or even more than once a day. Again, it feels normal, not perfect.

The closer we get to vacation, the more I start to worry about trying to eat intuitively while I'm in Florida. I think about all the breakfasts and dinners (mostly buffets) Hubby reserved for us, and I wonder if I'll be able to honor my hunger and fullness when surrounded by so much food. I know food won't be the focus of our days -- we've got plans to visit as many of the parks in WDW as possible -- and we'll be doing a lot of walking, waiting in lines and riding the rides.

I keep telling myself that since I'm not on a diet now, I'm not going "off" of anything next week while we're away. So there's no reason to overindulge because when I get back home I have to return to restricting and depriving.

However, thinking once again about "normal" eating, who doesn't enjoy eating new and different foods when they're on vacation? A lot of people indulge a little on a trip, knowing that when they get home they'll return to their regular routine, or perhaps eat a little lighter for a few days to compensate. It doesn't trigger a month-long binge, and it doesn't result in two months of starvation and excessive exercise.

I keep trying to tell myself these things and hoping they'll sink in by the time I get there. All I can do is respect myself and my body, and of course remember to enjoy myself!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

See-saws and Greed

This morning I had another "dilemma" -- I was overcome once again with feelings of being fat, worrying that I was gaining weight, that the food I've been eating has not been healthy. Diet mentality all over the place. And I have to confess here that I broke my rule (I'll get back to that) about weighing once a month and got on the scale.

Instead of being devastated to see I've gained five more pounds, I discovered I lost two.

I laughed at myself. How incredibly silly to get myself so worked up! I need to have more faith in myself and in this IE method! I shook my head and got back to my morning routine.

During my shower I thought about Linda Moran's latest posting and realized how much this incident related to it:

"You're learning normal eating, but you still see-saw between extremes. You don't know which side of the see-saw to land on. Maybe you'll recognize one of these:
...4. Weighing myself every day is what makes me crazy vs. weighing myself is how to stay accountable...
Here's a suggestion. Identify your see-saw. Then surrender to the fact that it may never go away. You might learn normal eating, and still struggle with the see-saw. Then demote your see-saw in its importance."

Obviously I'm struggling with the craziness of weighing myself two or three times a day and the occasional weighing in just to provide a status report. I have a see-saw that has "don't weigh" on one side and "weigh myself" on the other.

I'm pretty sure part of the anxiety I was feeling before was the fact that I made a RULE about weighing myself once a month. While the thought behind it was good -- to get myself away from focusing on a number -- I was fighting against the strictness of making it a set number of days.

Linda wraps up her post with some good advice for me: "Today when you get caught on your see-saw, laugh at yourself, and then ask and answer 'How important is it really for me to resolve this once and for all? Not important enough.' Then decide for the moment where to land. Tomorrow you can decide again. Keep laughing. See-saws are fun. Don't try and get it right once and for all. It's just not important enough."

This is such good advice for me -- definitely pushing away from the all-or-nothing, absolutist thinking. Today I landed on the "weigh myself" side of the see-saw. Tomorrow I will probably land on the "don't weigh" side. This issue is minor for me in the grand scheme of this IE journey, so there's really no point in obsessing and getting so upset about it.

Yesterday's big challenge was the Greed Factor, and I did pretty well with it. At lunch I split a sandwich and onion rings with Hubby, which went well, because I didn't feel deprived because I was only getting half of a meal. I was actually quite satisfied getting the foods I wanted, but getting reasonable portions.

Then in the evening we went to our town's Block Party -- a week-long carnival to benefit our volunteer fire department. For our supper I got a hamburger and split one order of fries with Mabel. In previous years I would have ordered a burger for me, two orders of fries, and I would have ordered a hot dog for Mabel, knowing she would eat very little of it and I could then eat the rest -- GREED. This year I didn't stuff myself and felt quite content. As for Mabel's meal, she had a big, well balanced lunch, so I felt it balanced out over the whole day.

Mabel then went to the rides, and I found myself left to my own devices, since I get such bad motion sickness on most carnival rides. There were lots of temptations -- slices of pie from the Women's Auxiliary, funnel cakes, candy apples -- but I wasn't hungry and knew I'd be back later in the week and could eat one of them then. I wound up walking laps around the carnival, people watching and keeping an eye on Mabel as she cavorted with her friends (all boys, I noticed!).

I ran into some friends and acquaintances and chatted, and later my B&SIL showed up and I sat with them for a while. They ordered a big funnel cake and offered me some. For a second the diet mentality sprang up -- "Don't eat that! BAD FOOD!" -- but I decided to try one bite. I did, and it was good, but not fantastic, and I wasn't interested in having any more. If I had resisted I could have very well set off Deprivation Mode, snuck off before I left, bought my own and scarfed down the whole thing.

Now that I think about it, each day in this IE journey is like a see-saw -- balancing between hunger and fullness, my thoughts about food and dieting and weight, and navigating my emotions and the thoughts and beliefs behind them. Who needs carnival rides when you've got this constant adventure?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

An Unconventional Day

Yesterday was a real experiment in Intuitive Eating. Before lunch my Mom stopped by my office with my daughter (she babysat Mabel while Hubby was at his last day of school), and they stayed and hung out for a while. Mom had just gone to the dollar store and cracked open a can of cashews, and since I was beginning to get hungry, I took a handful and slowly ate them as I finished up my work for the day. Nuts have always been a "danger" food for me in my dieting/restricting days, one of those high calorie no-nos that often became a trigger food. But I was determined to break that old association with nuts and teach myself that I can eat a handful of nuts without starting binge mentality.

The nuts tided me over a little while, but when I got home I was still hungry and I threw together a fish sandwich to eat before Mabel and I went shopping. I normally eat a larger lunch, but the nuts had apparently taken care of some of my usual appetite and I was content with the sandwich.

Several hours later after some shopping at the mall, Mabel was finally hungry for lunch, and she wanted to go to the food court. She decided on the Japanese hibachi place and ordered the chicken teriyaki with rice and vegetables. I grabbed two forks, feeling kind of hungry but not ravenous. She and I split the meal, and when we were done I felt satisfied, not full.

By the time we got home it was 5 o'clock. Hubby called and asked if it was okay if he grabbed a bite to eat with some teacher friends of his, and I told him that was great, because Mabel and I were quite content with our early supper.

An hour later, however, Mabel wanted ice cream, and I decided I could go for some, too, so we went and I got one of my favorite sundaes. I ate it all, felt comfortably full when I was done, and that was it for the rest of the day.

While it may have not have been the healthiest food in the world, I was pleased that I was able to eat "unconventionally" for the day. If I had been in "free" (not dieting or overeating) mode, I would have eaten half the container of cashews, or if I didn't, I would have felt deprived or triggered and eaten a big lunch. I would have ordered my own meal or something equivalent from the food court when Mabel ordered hers , then very likely would have had supper on top of that. And ice cream? Hey, at that point, what the heck? And I might have topped that off later that evening with whatever "bad" food was lying around the house.

There's something nice about what I consider eating like a kid. I didn't eat according to a schedule, I ate what I wanted and didn't think about fat grams or sodium, and I didn't sit around afterwards feeling stuffed and bloated.

And I wasn't worrying about how I'd fit in my bathing suit next week. In fact, I was actually pleased that during my clothes shopping that the L size (14-16 in this certain store) in the misses' section fit the best. It's so odd for me to walk past the women's section now, and even more bizarre that I'm bypassing the XLs in the regular section. Crazy!

I even had another one of those light bulb moments last night about emotional triggers. My Hubby made a comment that instantly made me defensive, angry, and sad, and sent me into the "I can't do anything right" martyr mode. But it only took just a few short minutes for me to dissect this and realize what was going on. My rational side told me that Hubby didn't make the comment to criticize and degrade me. In fact, he was talking about an inanimate object, but I was connecting myself to it and associating myself with the criticism because I was the one who bought it. While he does have this habit of speaking in a tone that comes off harsh and critical, I've been around him enough to know that this often isn't his intention.

I looked at the incident and statement objectively and tried to find a reason why it triggered this emotional response. I immediately realized that his tone was very reminiscent of my father, and my reaction to him in those moments was to always feel hurt, rejected and that I couldn't do anything right.

Once I put these things together, I was intrigued to find that while I had solved why I felt this way, all of those feelings didn't magically disappear. Although the feelings of anger and hurt had dissipated, I was still a little defensive and irritated. I thought about this and realized I would just have to ride them out -- as I've learned, there are no emotions that I can't handle. The funniest thing was, while I was irritated, I actually found myself laughing to myself about it, because I knew it was based on ancient history and that my feelings would quickly pass.

The best part was when Hubby and I finally went to bed. He asked me if I was all right, and instead of taking the passive route of saying "Yeah, I'm fine," I began to tell him about what he did and my response to it. He immediately tried to defend himself and I interrupted him, telling him it wasn't necessary, because I already knew he didn't say it to attack me. I explained to him how I recognized the trigger and figured out why it brought out these emotions in me.

Not only was I able to share my feelings, which is huge progress for me, I was able to do it in a way that didn't cause an argument or make Hubby feel defensive. Hopefully he realized that sometimes the way he talks has this old association for me, and perhaps in the future he just might remember that and try to tone it down a little.

I guess it was an unconventional day all around. While this feels so new and exciting right now, I'm hoping this becomes the norm and those old days of dieting and binge eating become a thing of the distant past.

Monday, June 04, 2007

The Diet Mentality Alarm System

Another busy day yesterday. I skipped church, which I probably shouldn't have, and for once we didn't go out for one of our prolonged lunch trips, so I had the whole day to work around the house. I love days like that; I work at one project for a little while, take a little break then putter around on another chore for a while. I get so much done that way but it doesn't feel so laborious because I take all these little moments in between to relax.

And because I had so many little things to do and the time to do them, I didn't feel driven to binge, either. I definitely ate, but it never turned into overeating or compulsive drives. I had a big lunch and felt a little too full, which can sometimes lead me into What The Hell eating behavior, but instead I went back to work and I wound up not eating again for almost 6 hours. Whereas if I had a small lunch, I would have gotten hungry three hours later and eaten a snack. So I figured it balanced out in the end.

I did have a little uncomfortable moment that evening. I got out our suitcases and started packing for our trip to Disney World, which starts a week from today! I started putting outfits together, some extras to change into for supper (because you know we'll be sweating in that Florida heat all day), and various toiletries. Then I got out the bathing suits. I decided to try them on, like I did with several other articles of clothing, just to make sure they fit right before I pack them. As for the fit, some were snugger and some looser than others, so I picked the two that felt the most comfortable.

The problem was looking in the mirror as I tried them on. While I really haven't gained that much weight in the last couple months, I think every ounce of it went right to my abdomen. I looked at my belly in those swimsuits and started to feel bad about not reaching my goal of getting to the Onederfuls by this trip. I had been so sure I was going to make it, but it just wasn't meant to be.

Then I started to think, "Well, if you really cut back this week and did the Pilates tape every day, maybe you could work a big chunk of it off."

Fortunately, the Diet Mentality Alarm System started going off in my head. "Alert! Alert! Destructive dieting thoughts coming into play! Achtung!"

I knew these thoughts weren't beneficial to my work with IE. I need to be accepting of my body, even if it isn't meeting some cultural standard. I know what would happen if I decided to severely restrict my food and overexercise this week; I would wind up compensating next week in Disney with rebound overeating and make myself miserable.

While I know I won't have the best body by the pool, I know I won't have the worst, either. If anything, I'll just be one of many moms trying not to feel self-conscious about my jiggly upper arms, round bellies and jelly-filled thighs. Most importantly, I don't want to be one of those moms who won't even get in a suit and spend time with my family in the pool just because I don't have a perfect body. I'd rather be imperfect and a part of the fun.

And if I stick with IE and eat reasonably this week, the chances are I'll have an easier time of eating reasonably next week, too, because I won't be "treating" myself after a week of deprivation and restriction.

The best part was, not only did I push away the diet mentality, but I was also able to keep myself from eating a bunch of junk last night in response to feeling down about my body -- again, WTH eating. And then I sat down to watch "The Sopranos" and forgot all about eating and bathing suits. What a wild episode! I'll be so sad in two weeks when this show's over for good, but I don't know if I can take much more turmoil!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Letting Go

Never got a chance to post yesterday. I worked my butt off yesterday transferring the stuff from my old house's attic to my new house, and it was a six-hour ordeal that left me physically exhausted. Fortunately I had some help, but it was still a ton of stair climbing and carrying boxes and lots of time in a very hot, sauna-like attic. There was lots of sweating, lots of water drinking, and lots of hoping it would soon be over.

Today I have to go through the boxes I didn't take to the attic and go through them for the old give away/throw away/keep process. I am regularly horrified at the amount of stuff I've collected in my relatively short life, and for the past seven years I have been doing my best to slowly minimize the clutter in my life.

I know in the last month I have rid myself of a ton of clothes from my fatter days, as well as piles of my daughter's clothes that are now too small. It's frightening how many pieces of clothing we've amassed, especially my daughter. But for the first five years she had one Grandma who bought all kinds of clothes for her, and now she has two, and the newer one seems to have taken the lead in this contest.

And books! I have so many books, and as I begin to go through the boxes intending to rid myself of most of them, when I look at them it pains me to think of giving them away. But let's face it: there are very, very few I'll ever read again, and instead of them collecting dust on a shelf or moldering in some cardboard box, doesn't it make more sense to pass them on for someone else to enjoy?

You could say it's a lot like weight: it's so easy to collect it, but oh so hard to get rid of it. The same thing goes for old beliefs and behaviors. Once a certain thought or habit gets ingrained in our heads, it's pretty difficult to change them and make new ones stick.

Another good thing about yesterday's hard work (other than finally completing a project I've been procrastinating over) was that it didn't give me time to even think about binge eating. I definitely ate, but I was too preoccupied and later too tired to even consider doing it compulsively or emotionally. Not that I always want to work that hard every weekend, but it does illustrate that when I'm idle my thoughts turn to food to entertain myself.

So let's hope today's project keeps me busy enough to bypass any binge thoughts, too. Because for every weekend I can go binge-free, it's another step toward making new, healthier habits and another step further in recovery. And maybe I'll have less stuff in my house, too!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Balance The Scales

Last night as I was preparing for bed I realized tomorrow (now today) was the first of the month, and I thought maybe I should weigh myself, then do it once a month on the first. I thought monthly weigh-ins would be a reasonable, just to check in and see how things are going.

What anxiety this produced! I was beside myself worrying that I was going to be so disappointed by the scale reading. I was sure it was going to be up 5, 10, even 15 pounds, and I just didn't think I could handle it if it was.

Then I thought of something Karen Koenig repeats over and over again in her Food and Feelings Workbook: I can bear feeling (insert emotion here) and any other feelings. If I weigh myself and I've gained a bunch of weight, I might be sad, disappointed, maybe even a little angry or afraid. It might not be pleasant, but feeling these emotions won't kill me. I can bear these feelings. Really!

Even though IE teaches you to not focus on the scale and numbers, it also teaches to face your feelings. And the only way I could see to face this fear head-on and truly feel it was to go ahead and get on the scale.

I mean, I know I'm supposed to make the scale less important and not weigh myself three times a day like I was. But, on the other hand, isn't it also making the scale too important when I make it such a frightening, all powerful machine that controls my thoughts and emotions? The way I see it, IE is all about balance, so it seems right for me to find some kind of middle ground when it comes to the bathroom scale. Hence the once a month weigh-in.

So, with lots of apprehension, I stepped on the scale this morning. And yes, as predicted, I did gain. But only one pound.

I left out a huge sigh of relief and stepped off the scale, glad I had taken the plunge and pushed past my fears. One pound was such a small amount, such a normal fluctuation, that I could see it only as a measure of the success and power of Intuitive Eating. I have been at this a month now, and to have stayed within a 5-pound range is amazing to me. In the past, me taking a month off from dieting would have meant the 10, 15-pound gain I mentioned above, because I would have gone off the deep end with rebound overeating.

I don't think I could have a better Month One Report than the one I'm giving. My binges have decreased, I'm legalizing all foods, and I'm eating until I'm satisfied or pleasantly full the majority of the time. I'm still exercising but doing it for the enjoyment (physical and mental benefits) and not focusing on the weight-loss aspect of it. I've made a lot of important discoveries about myself in regards to eating and emotions, and I've learned lots of new techniques to work through the uncomfortable emotions and find ways to relax.

It's not always easy, it sometimes feels like a hell of a lot of work, and there are days I'd like to forget about it all and just sit on the couch and eat ice cream until I burst. But I know this work is important, I know it's making a difference, and in the end it will give me a fuller, more meaningful life.