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!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Success in Failure

Wow! It's been a long time since I've sat down to blog. How have you been? I've been okay, much better here lately. At the beginning of the year I felt pretty crummy. Battling lethargy, and dealing with feelings of guilt and failure.

My last blog post was November 1, 2016. I was in a fairly good place at that time. Even looking forward to the holiday season and continuing my new non-traditional celebrations. I was struggling to keep up with exercise and eating right. I binged a few times. Fortunately not complete out of control binging as is so common for me during that time of year. There were several big downers around that time, one was going to the doctor and getting on the scale. For some reason, I imagined being in a better place with my weight, but when I got on the scale I found that I was only and I say this from the place of brokenness; I was only a couple pounds lighter than when I started the process a little over a year ago. Disappointment rained over me, so I retreated for a bit and licked my wounds...again.

A few weeks went by and I found myself in the throws of preparing for my non-traditional holiday meals which consisted of seafood and salads, no deserts and no roasted bird except for the bird promised to me by my friend who was gravely ill at the time. She makes the best roasted bird...any kind of bird. And for that I wanted to make my favorite holiday dressing traditional...yes...but necessary. I was only missing one thing. The gluten free cornbread mix that I loved so much. I searched 7 grocery stores weekly and still could not find what I was looking for.

I didn't want my friend to make the turkey. I didn't think she had the strength, but I also wondered if she didn't make the turkey this year would she ever be able to again. I struggled with the notion of allowing her to keep her promise while watching her fade into a being I could no longer recognize.

While searching earnestly for balance, I still had the charge of dealing with failure. Back when I first started on my journey to living a healthier life, I watched countless videos of women and men who like me struggled with weight and sometimes eating disorders. They'd show video accounts of the first 8 months to a year and the change was dramatic. I was filled with so much hope. I didn't want to focus on the week to week I just held on to hope that at the end of the year I would be a much healthier version of myself. It appeared I didn't achieve that goal or did I.

Over a year ago I was just coming to terms with my eating disorder. Though I had lost some weight over a period of several years, I was still very uncomfortable, very unhealthy and struggling to literally "fit" in. I didn't lose a large amount of weight in this past year. I barely lost a little, but does that equate to failure? I said yes I say something other. Success did not come by way of decrease in weight, it came by way of increase of determination. Even thought my weight loss was only a little it was still a loss and not a gain. And though I struggled and loss the battle many times, I was still fighting the war and gained more resilience, determination and desire to achieve my goal. It took considerable time for me to come to this conclusion, but in doing so I was able to let go.

It's now April 2017. Just last month I found myself back on the saddle and as I picked up the reigns I made the decision to enjoy my life. I'm no longer focused on the journey, but more so embracing life and living. I'm living and doing and exploring things that I never thought I would. I've stepped out on faith and began working more diligently on my autism and disability advocacy. I now serve on several boards and committees. And just recently was invited to speak at the 2017 WAAD observation held at the United Nations in NYC. Who would have thunk it? How did I get here? I don't really know. I just know that I'm enjoying life and passions and I'm taking my beautiful son with me every step of the way. And guess my last doctors appointment I stepped on the scale and to my astonishment I crossed over the threshold I'd been trying to cross for the previous 14 months. It happened just like that. I was amazed and celebrated quietly. I'm still celebrating.

Today, I sit at my desk with many thoughts to share and a smile on my face. I've eaten healthy meals and am about to have a snack. I don't have to worry about walking by my son's snack bowl like I did before. I can actually pluck a chip or two and think nothing of it, nor do I worry about that the taste of a chip on my lips triggering me to binge. I'm alive! I'm living! And I'm loving life!

Onward and Upward!