Friday, March 16, 2018

Thank God It's Friday!

First of all, happy Friday to you all! I hope you are as happy to see the week’s end as I am. It’s been a doozy of a week for me. Glad to be able to get away from everything and just chill out for a couple days.

I faced two major triggers this week, one of which I did not see coming. So let’s start with Monday. I was scheduled to do a presentation that evening. Already a bit overwhelmed with everything I have to contend with this month, anxiety is triggered. I’m no stranger to anxiety, but it’s been a while since I’ve experienced it to this level. Usually, it comes and then it goes, so I’m not quite sure why I’m still struggling.

The wave of anxiety started around Thursday of last week. There were times when everything seemed like it was going to be okay and other times when I felt like I was on the verge of panic. I kept my schedule stress free for the weekend and managed to get myself to what I thought was a more comfortable place. Monday comes, all is well except for the low-level anxiety that is still present. I didn’t have time to give thought to my condition. It was all I could do to get ready and then I hear the weather forecast. There’s a strong chance of snow. I know…I know, what’s snow got to do with it? Well, it wouldn’t have much to do with anything if it weren’t for my anxiety deciding to invite PTSD to the party. Now I have to contend with even more negative thoughts compounded by front row tickets to worse case scenario theater and I’m the star. I begin to tremble.

I get in the car, put on a good CD. Snow is just starting to fall as I back out of the driveway. The weather’s not bad and I don’t have far to go. My anxiety seems to be leveling out. I call a friend, put her on speaker phone and partake in jovial conversation until I reach my destination. Okay, so far so good. The sidewalks are a bit slushy. I managed to get inside without slipping. That’s another thing. When I was much heavier, my worst nightmare was falling in public. I promised myself If I ever fell in public I’d just lie there pretending to pass out, hoping witnesses would feel a bit of compassion if they thought something was wrong. End of confession. On the elevator, I feel a rise in my anxiety and take a few deep breaths, thankful I arrived early so I could give myself time to calm down. Turns out that wasn’t a good idea after all. The person presenting before was beyond awesome. Her presentation was dynamic. Overall it was engaging, funny, impactful, insightful, and at times jaw-dropping. It was everything and a bag of chips with a drink on the side. Damn!

I’m thinking, why didn’t I stay home. As the presenter winds down my anxiety wound up and is set to go off. Panic in progress! It was too late to turn back. There’s nowhere to go but forward. So I did. A few minutes into my presentation I call it quits. This is the perfect calling card for a binge fest. Guess what – I didn’t binge.

I’m having a mental celebration of my triumph when the second trigger happens on Wednesday. This is the one I didn’t see coming. I was joking around with a few friends when one whispered something inappropriate in my ear. I was shocked, no, more like shook. I wasn’t able to respond as I should have. This is the very substance of the thing that causes me to gain and maintain an unhealthy weight. My weight was my badge of shame as well as a band-aid for pain. As long as I was heavier my dad didn’t rape me or sell me. As long as I was heavier I could go unnoticed, unwanted. I know this sounds like a bad thing to say and I apologize for that. Being heavy does not equate to being unattractive. What made me unattractive was letting go of everything and being my most possible worse. I told myself if anyone liked me in that state they were a true friend.

Have you ever been asked the question, “If you had a superpower which superpower would it be?” My answer was always to be invisible because I could not bear the thought of being seen. I’ve been fortunate enough to be aware of the severity of this feeling and have been working on getting better for some time. I have gotten better. I’ve finally worked my way to being a little comfortable with public speaking. I publicly share stories about my childhood and the things I’ve been blessed to learn and do toward having good mental health. Even with all the work I’ve put into this issue, I still sometimes fall into sabotage mode. Remember, I just got past my last bout with this problem a couple weeks ago.  

The fear of someone coming on to me whether serious or in jest all feel s the same. What made this situation worse is that he knew my history. He knew about the abuse.  I wasn’t able to respond the way I should have, which is not unusual for me in most situations. When he walked away, I just sat there wondering how something like this could have happened without me having the smallest inkling of the possibility. My head began to pound, my chest tightened. I wanted to run. I wanted to hide. I wanted to cry.

It is now Friday. I thank God for it being Friday. I survived two of my biggest triggers and am no worse for wear at the moment. Wow! Prayer is a mighty thing. I’ve been praying for God’s help with my fears, triggers, and weaknesses. He’s answering my prayers. This week I have not binged. My hope…to continue not binging.  Taking it one step at a time, one day at a time.

Onward and Upward!   

Monday, March 12, 2018

Thankful for the Slow Progress

I used to wonder why some of the people from the TV show The Biggest Loser struggled to maintain their weight loss. The first season winner claimed he celebrated his weight loss by eating a burger and fries. What could it hurt to have something he’d been craving for a few months? It seemed harmless enough until he found himself back at his original pre-show weight.  I read that a spin-off show, The Big Fat Truth was created inviting several winners from previous seasons of the original show to participate. I’m not sure how they thought a second show utilizing pretty much the same methods would help outside of losing the weight again. Did the creators of the show consider addressing what caused the participants to put on the weight other than “biological factors” and “bad behaviors?” This is a testament to the danger of shedding a lot of weight without addressing the root cause.  That being said, it’s obvious the creators of the show didn’t get it. Critics of The Big Fat Truth made this statement, Roth's new show is another version of what they see as a dangerous approach to weight loss that favors quick results over science. I’m sure there are a great many people that can attest to the dangers of quick weight loss. I’ve certainly had my share of ups, downs, and merry-go-rounds. That’s why this time I’m taking it nice and slow.
I’ve been on my weight loss journey for several years, but that doesn’t mean I was always actively dieting and exercising. I knew from much trial and error that I needed to start my journey at the beginning, not the end. In other words, I didn’t need to focus on the current behaviors without revisiting my past taking a long, hard, honest look at the significance it had on my previous and current weight gain.

The first couple years I spent much time figuring out who I am outside of who I was created to be by my parents. There had to be more to me than being a product of abuse or victim of circumstance. I found that to be a great place to start with therapy. It wouldn’t be until after I started to figure out who I am and how to love myself that the weight would begin to shed. Slow and steady. The 3rd and 4th years my self-worth came up and I was able to enjoy doing good things for myself like being more consistent with exercising and eating better. There were many struggles and periods of uncertainty where I found it difficult to maintain good habits, but I didn’t give up and that’s what made the difference. That’s why I’m still in the game. In the distant past, I would have given up before completing year 1 and I would not have looked back until several years and a few health concerns later.
Now I’m looking at years 5 and 6. Year 7 will start this Fall. I’ve lost a significant amount of weight. There is still a ways to go, but I’m in no hurry. I am thankful for slow progress. I’ve finally crossed a threshold I haven’t seen since pregnancy. Are there still struggles? Yes. Slow progress allows me the time I need to face and confront my struggles head-on. There have been slips here and there. I’m struggling with fear and triggers as I move towards weights I haven’t seen since my 20s, but that’s okay. I’m praying for strength and wisdom.

My newest method for dealing with triggers is working. This past winter season I fell head-first into a binge frenzy that I could not work my way out of. While praying it came to me to stop focusing on losing weight. Make my focus on maintaining the progress I’ve made. This train of thought tricked my mind and kept me from getting majorly depressed while dealing with the binging. If I were still hyper-focused on losing weight, knowing that my behaviors were making me gain weight, I could have potentially spiraled out of control just on the guilt alone. But somehow thinking of maintaining my progress made the struggle a little less damning and I was able to think about my behaviors one day at a time, not focusing on any particular measure of loss or gain. I just focused on decreasing the binging as best I can for that one day. I did gain a few pounds, but have since turned the binging around and am losing those pounds again. No major setbacks, moving forward.  
Onward and Upward!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Struggle Is REAL

I’m so glad to finally have time to get back to my blogs. It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here. I want you to know that you are still in my thoughts and prayers even when I don’t get the chance to check in.

My son and I are doing well. A few posts ago I mentioned my son having some difficulties with maintaining his weight. We’re still not sure why he had the sudden drop. Initially, we thought he was not getting enough calories with diet changes. He’s still on a Paleo/Gluten Free diet plan and it’s working out well so far. I won’t get into his actual weight. One of my promises when starting this blog was that I would try my best not to post numbers. Numbers are a definite trigger for me and almost never lead up to healthful choices. If you don’t know what I mean I will be happy to explain. The road to recovery from an eating disorder is hard enough without bearing the weight of numbers such as portion size, how many calories, carbs, pounds, reps, etc. I tend to become hyper-focused on numbers when having to deal with them frequently so I try to stay away as much as possible. I only weigh when going to the doctor because weighing at home creates a higher potential for obsessive behaviors such as obsessing over weight gain or loss every day. Starving and binging would soon follow and that is the last thing I need.

Getting back to my son. He did lose several pounds but gained them back over the holidays. Tweaking his diet, adding supplemental drinks occasionally and encouraging him to eat small meals frequently helped tremendously. My son is learning what foods make him feel good and what foods disrupt his digestion. He’s also gaging himself on how much he eats and he’s taking more time to chew his food. I tell you what, I could not be prouder. I know the doctors didn’t have much hope getting my son to make healthier choices. No matter if a person is autistic or not, having the patience and taking the time to work on things that need to be worked on will bring forth improvement. Believe me, a little improvement is better than no improvement. In my son’s case, his improvement has been tremendous. I also think his maturity level has increased nicely over the past year.

As for me, I’ve managed to get past a major threshold. I've gotten down to the weight I was when I first found out I was pregnant with my son 19 years ago. It’s been quite an adjustment. When I say the struggle is REAL, it really is. I’ve been struggling with urges to binge since just before the holidays after meeting one of my goals. I was plagued with fear (stemming from childhood trauma) and I needed to get it in check. So while working on my latest issues with body appearance and attracting attention to myself I’m battling sever urges. I do well sometimes and other times I don’t. That being said, I am in no way going back to where I came from. I don’t ever want to see those pounds again. Instead of trying to force the issue and fight this thing until I give out, I am applying appropriate attention to my eating and exercising while working on maintaining where I am until I manage to get past this hurdle. It's working for me, but still a struggle…one that I have no intention of losing.

For now, I am still maintaining my progress within a couple pounds of my last major weight check. Binging and cravings are starting to subside. I’m still eating meals well and taking on the challenges one day and one craving at a time. Today has been a good day. Onward and Upward!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Gaining The Ability To See Progress And Still Be Okay

Hi there. How are you doing? Are you  having a good Summer so far? I can't complain. As a matter of fact I have quite a bit to be thankful for. I don't have any particular plans other than continuing to embrace the advocacy work that I've been doing for almost a year now. It's going very well. I'm meeting some really incredible people who are as passionate about advocacy as I am, if not more. New opportunities are opening up for me and my skill set in increasing by leaps and bounds. My son's health is better also. Food is not making him suffer. He enjoys the foods that I'm cooking and he's responding well to the medicines he's taking. We did go through a period where his seizures increased dramatically, landing us in the ER a few times. With many prayers and a few adjustments to medications he seems to be doing well.

It's been a long time since I've seen my son so happy, even though I've witnessed him smile through much of his pain for the past three years. It's different now. I can tell he feels much better. I sit here listening to his inaudible chatter and contagious laughter and smile to myself, taking mental note of my gratitude.

In my last post I wrote about becoming aware of my self-sabotaging mindset whenever I've managed to achieve a weight loss goal or an exercise goal or even an eating goal for that fact. I've been spending a lot of time praying about this thing, because I honestly didn't have a clue what to do about it. I needed answers to questions I could barely voice. I'm still seeking answers and while I'm seeking those answers I'm systematically compiling more questions. While all of this this is going on, I turn my attention towards the self I see in the mirror and I begin to see what looks like change. As I stare at my reflection I wonder if what I see is real.

Have you ever come to a point in a situation where you simply don't know which way to go? It doesn't matter how much you think about it, you still have no clue and as soon as frustration sets in, you shift gears and begin willing your thoughts to disappear. Before long you might find yourself in a vicious cycle of trying to overcome something that you don't know how to overcome and getting angrier by the moment because you can't to do this on you own.

Part of my Christian belief is that we as believers should not try to navigate life's trials and tribulations on our own. We are taught to rely on God, to seek Him in all that we do. Why is it so hard to put this into practice? The way I see it, it's because we are fixated on seeing self...not our whole self, just the parts we don't like. We read books on how to help self. We seek out inspirational speakers that say to us, rely on self...believe in self. As a matter of fact, since the beginning of our being we are conditioned to focus solely on self. Even much of our faith practice is focused on self, what we want from God...not what God wants from us. And if that isn't enough of a track towards narcissism we go one step further and expand our focus on how the world sees us and that image becomes the image we pay most attention to. We use the world as our mirror and almost always hate what we see. And so every thing we do, say, experience, and want is centered around the image of self that we want to portray to the world. We want to be better than what the world sais we are. Okay, so let me ask this... How can we Christians see God if all we see is the world's view of self? And how can we see God in ourselves if we don't like what self looks like? I'll even go one step further and ask, how do we learn to trust God and love Him with our whole heart if we don't think He made us right...if we think that God made a mistake when He made us? Have you ever thought about that and how that kind of thinking affects us on every level?

I'm starting to understand why there's such a profound level of negative self and body image. I don't know one other person that is happy with the way God made them...not one. And though I've never had an issue with the way God made me, I've spent the majority of my life loathing what life's circumstances created me to be...fat and afraid.

A couple weeks ago I was about to write a post on not being able to see change. I sat down, opened my blog and attempted to type out the first sentence. Something inside of me would not let me complete that sentence. I closed my blog and began working on something else. A few days past, random thoughts dashing across my mind. "Wonder why I can't see any change?" "Is it because I've been so heavy for so long that I'm not able to see myself any other way?" "Maybe I need to try wearing a smaller size." Of course, at that time I was afraid to try a smaller size. I didn't want to endure anticipation followed by the disappointment of a smaller size still being the too tight. Another thought crossed my mind, "Could it be that I'm not able to see progress for fear of sabotaging myself again?" That was it. It became clear to me that my inability to handle progress will always be a stronghold if I don't seek help from God, because I can't get past this on my own.

Sometimes when I ask God for answers He answers me right away. Other times, He takes me through a process...a journey. I've learned, when asking God to help me change something about myself, in order to achieving change it often requires a process. This time the process is to shift my focus from seeing the world view of self to seeing God's creation.

With the help of God I was able to spend the first year of my journey working towards better physical health by increasing awareness of my emotions and their link to my eating disorder. He also helped me find the courage to look in a mirror and see the image I'd been running from, because my image was everything the world considered wrong. I had to learn how to see my body, not as what the world sees, but as it was created by God and what He intended my body to be.

This is what the bible has to say about that. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.

Now that I am learning to see myself in the light in which I am meant to be seen, I can better handle the progress I'm making and know that I'm going to be alright because the darkness of negative thoughts cannot penetrate the light of seeing myself through God's eyes.

Onward and Upward!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Being More Aware Makes All The Difference Continued...

As I was typing my last post, I realized that I've become much more aware of how differently I respond to food. Even though I still go through periods of wanting, I don't go through them nearly as often. I am thankful to be more aware of when the cycle is starting as well as being more aware of the triggers.

The most recent change I've noticed since going paleo is that I'm more satisfied after meals, even smaller meals. I also don't crave carbs nearly as much. There are those stumbling blocks like my most recent issue with obtaining a goal and then almost falling into a complete set back. I'm also transitioning into menopause which means I still have those times when I crave sweet and crunchy treats. I don't know if this will continue after the transition is over. I guess I'll need to ask someone if they still have craving like they did before menopause.

If I give in to eating sweets for more than 3 nights in a row my desire for carbs increases. Note, this is not a large amount of sweets. I could have a hand full of peanut m&ms a few nights in a row and that will trigger intense cravings just as if I were binging. Not just any sweet will trigger me. Refined sugars are my biggest culprit for triggering cravings. I recognized that when I started eating a hand full or raisins a few nights in a row and I didn't experience any triggers. So now when I crave a sweet crunchy treat during that special time of month, my most successful go to treat is raisins and nuts which is working for me so far.

Now only if I can figure out how to deal with success better. How do I stop myself from freaking out and sabotaging my efforts after obtaining my next weight loss goal? I'm clueless. The one good thing is that I recognize the pattern. As far as knowing which way to go from here...I don't. But you know me, I'll figure it out.

Onward and Upward! 

Finding Balance Between Two Dietary Needs

Have you ever heard the old adage, "The way you start is the way you will finish" or "Don't start what you can't finish?" Both adages are usually used in reference to relationships. I guess the same could apply to my relationship with food. So that is what I'm doing. I am building a relationship with food that I can live with. That's right... I am going to eat in a way that I can maintain throughout my life. I know most of the newer programs are already establishing this, but I had to come to this conclusion under my own terms. Besides, I have to find balance between my son's dietary needs and my own. And it needs to be something we both can enjoy for the long hall.

I think I've mentioned before that my son has several gut issues. Well, due to those gut issues I've had to try a few things. One of those things was gluten free living. Being gluten free did help some, but my son's gut issues were not getting much better. Next I tried Paleo which was very good for my son's gut, but he started losing weight. It was a bit of a challenge for me to find ways to increase his fat intake while decreasing mine. Also, I have to be careful with my son's carb intake because too many carbs could trigger his seizures. That being said, I've decided to do a blend of gluten free and paleo. On the one had my son can get a few more carbs with the gluten free and the paleo portion will balance his diet. Not to mention I can eat a low carb diet without feeling like my son and I have to eat completely different meals. We usually eat the same protein while having different sides. My son likes risotto, fried veggies, creamed veggies and so on. I love finding innovative ways to create tasty dishes using cauliflower, squash and leafy greens. We eat a host of other sides as well as a variety of healthy homemade flatbreads.

It was stressful at first. To be perfectly honest, I didn't think I could do it, but I've finally managed to make meals that promote healthy weight gain for my son and healthy weight loss for myself. Balancing our dietary needs has become second nature to me now. I've also modified my cooking times. Instead of cooking a meal and then later cooking a snack and so on, I now cook several meals and snacks at the same time and just serve when the time comes. Some days I may stew chicken while a meatloaf is in the oven and prepare enough sides to cover several meals. My sides are particularly easy because they do not require much cooking, if any. I have more time to work with my son and take care of other responsibilities in my day. It's situation.

I can see eating this was for the rest of my life and never being board with the menu. 

Here's a recipe for one of our favorite treats.

Chocolate Paleo Pudding

2 ripe Avocado
1.5 - 3 tbls. Unsweeteed Coco Powder (1.5 for milk chocolate and 2 or more for darker chocolate taste)
1/3 c. Raw Honey
1/3 Coconut \Milk (unsweetened full fat)
1 - 1.5 tsp Vanilla (to taste)
1 pinch Cinnamon

For lighter creamer consistency add an addition 1/3 thinner non-dairy milk. I sometimes use hazelnut or cashew milk. Both vanilla and chocolate flavors work well.

Place avocado, coco powder and milk in the blender and blend until smooth. Add raw honey, vanilla, cinnamon and additional milk (if desired), blend until all ingredients are well incorporated and pudding is fluffy, creamy and smooth (be sure to stop blender periodically to scrape the sides with a spatula and continue blending). You can eat the pudding immediately or chill before serving. It is absolutely delicious and low carb. 

You would never know the pudding was made with avocado if you didn't make it yourself. Let me know if you like this recipe.

Onward and Upward!!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Being More Aware Makes All The Difference

I've learned a lot on this journey. One of my biggest lessons is to pay close attention to my emotions and reactions to different things that may affect progress. Triggers for example. Though I have gained the ability to deal more healthfully with emotional peaks and valleys, but I still have triggers that are not as noticeable, at least not to me. For example, in my last post I wrote about finding success in failure. The success was that I crossed over a weight threshold that eluded me for 16+ years. What I did not expect and what I obviously did not pay attention to in the past was the overwhelming feeling of fear when I realize I've achieved another goal. It's subtle at first, so I didn't really think of it much. By the following week I was in full binge mode. I found myself in a battle of wills. The will to continue moving forward with my progress and the lack of will to fight off cravings. The vicious cycle reared it's ugly head.

It was all consuming. Everyday I dealt with urges so strong they'd actually stop me in my tracks. One day I was going to do a couple loads of laundry. As I collected items to wash an overwhelming urge to get pizza came over me. I literally stopped in my tracks, looked towards the front door and almost gave in to the need to feed. I managed to fight it off for a bit, but the cravings continued in waves. Sometimes the urges were so strong that all I could do was stand right where I stood and not move...not speak...and try not to think until the wave was over.

Wednesday was the hardest day. Thought of pizza whirled around my mind. All kinds...every kind... The waves of urges to feed were unstoppable. I refused to give up. I put all my energy into not walking out the front door. Not even to take the trash out. When it seemed as though I was going to lose the battle, I picked up the phone and called my cousin. She too struggles with binging. As soon as she answered I warned her and asked for forgiveness for possibly triggering her with what I was about to say. She gave me the go-ahead...I began to share my plight. She understood and fortunately was not triggered. She listened as I rambled on frequently switching between the subject of the foods I wanted to devour and my desperate plea for help to get past the whole thing.

Exhausted, I felt as though I were being bludgeoned and all I wanted to do was crawl into a hole to lick my battered emotions and bruised ego. Then my cousin asked a very interesting question. She wanted to know if I had anything in the house to make a pizza with or something pizza like. I did. I had turkey pepperoni in the fridge and a couple gluten free tortillas in the pantry. In almost an instant I became calm. My cousin noticed and spoke to it. Even as I sit here reliving my experience I can still feel the calm that came over me with a simple question. I made my makeshift pizza. It was delicious and it took away all the cravings. I was satisfied and did not binge. Thank you, Cuz! You threw me a lifeline that day. I'll always be grateful for it. Love you much!!

Being aware of my emotional cycle during that period made all the difference.

I'm glad to report that progress still continues. I have not weighed since my last drs. visit and presume that I will not weigh until my next drs. visit in a few months. In the meantime, I continue to exercise 30-45 minutes every night. If I feel tired or sick I remind myself of my commitment to do at least 10 minutes. Often I feel much better once I get started and can go for the full time. I also really appreciate that I've started following through on opportunities to walk more.

I'm feeling better. I'm starting to look better. I'm eating healthier than I ever eaten before.

Onward and Upward!