Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Opposite of Binge Eating

I have to admit that I never considered that there might be other eating disorders for fat folks than binge eating. This article about fat anorexics opened my eyes and I would like to share it with you. Please note that I haven't looked through this site much, other than the article I ran across today, so I can't recommend the entire site yet. (It does look a bit spammy to me.) Enjoy!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Joy Division

The thing about all of this introspection is that you can find odd new things about yourself all of the time that you might not even believe if someone else told you. I have spent all of this time reminding myself that I’m worthy of love and happiness and every darn thing that every other person is worthy of. And most of the time, I seem to believe it, but still…

Driving home from work a few days ago I was feeling strangely fine, listening to my iPod and singing, really quite happy. Traffic was light (for a change). I was bopping around in my seat and smiling. Then, up ahead, I noticed three teenage boys on the sidewalk, and that I would be passing them in seconds. Somehow my entire demeanor suddenly changed, before I could even think about it. My smile disappeared, replaced with a serious, worried expression. Something in my chest contracted a little. I whizzed past them without incident, of course – after all, what could they do or say to me in my car for Pete’s sake?

I was disturbed by my reaction. Yes, teenage boys have been the bane of my existence since I was a child, but I’m a middle-aged lady these days and besides, I’m SAFE now. What the hell?

Of course, me being me, I had to analyze it for a while. It seemed to me that *I* still believe that I am allowed to be happy. It wasn’t guilt. It felt more like fear…. I wanted to hide my joy. I didn’t want to be – what? Sneered at, belittled, attacked? For smiling? For joy?

I don’t like that feeling.

I saw an image this morning that reminded me of this idea again. As soon as I saw it, I felt almost offended, and definitely fearful. Here’s the image.

I couldn’t help but think that this beautiful woman was doing a terrible thing. Not the eating, not the enjoyment, but that she was doing it so *publicly*. How could she put herself out there for other people to see, to be so vulnerable, so open to ridicule and attack?

And it was more than just having her picture taken and posted publicly, it was her expression of joy, of the joy of cake and her body and her life all at the same time. I visit a couple of body acceptance sites that post pictures of beautiful, brave fat people all of the time, so it wasn’t her body. It was the joy and the eating. How could she bear to do that?

How can I bear to do that?

Closing notes: The image above was found via Ragen Chastain from the Facebook site, 1 Million Vaginas. Other fat-positive sites I like - most images are Not Safe for Work!! - are Adipositivity and Uppity Fatty. Enjoy!

Monday, November 26, 2012

In the Middle

Okay, in lieu of posting anything useful, here's a video of a song I heard on my way home today... This is a good one for when I'm feeling down or just down on myself. Enjoy!

Monday, October 29, 2012

AFTER Effects

Today let’s go back to food journaling for a bit. After a few months of doing the meal evaluations and check-ins, my nutritionist gave me a worksheet to fill out about my eating preferences. I’ll add an image of it at the end. It’s called the AFTER worksheet: Aroma, Flavor, Texture, Experience, and Response.

Basically you fill in everything that you can think of about things that you love and things that you hate. It’s in five different categories about food and about the things you sense when you are eating. So it isn’t just “I love chocolate and I hate broccoli.” It’s also about aromas that make you hungry or turn you off and textures that you enjoy or that make you want to spit something out. It’s about whether you like to go to busy restaurants with crowded tables and loud conversations or intimate places with low lighting or bright places and only a few other quiet, considerate patrons. It’s about WHAT you love about chocolate and hate about broccoli. It’s about creamy, crunchy, bitter, sour, savory, salty, soupy or sweet. It’s about “warm soup belly” or feeling bloated or dehydrated. It’s about the burn of capsaicin and the cool of sour cream.

What this exercise does is get you to focus on the things about a meal that will make you feel more satisfied or satiated. If you can incorporate several of the “loves” into a meal, you can make choices based on satisfaction rather than fat and calorie counts. For example, I like to eat crispy/crunchy things and savory/salty things, so potato chips are pretty high on my list of trigger foods. But I have found that very crisp cucumbers or carrots with savory Italian vinaigrette also hit that crispy-savory spot that I need. Okay, sometimes I just want some freaking Doritos, but I know that afterward I feel dehydrated and a little sick to my stomach, so sometimes I can happily choose the cucumbers and be okay.

But even more, it gives you a way to make every meal happier for yourself, even if it isn’t a choice between the healthy thing and the less healthy thing. If I’m going to have a salad, I’m happier if there are crunchy things in it than if it’s just lettuce and tomato. I want my soups to be thick and hearty, maybe more like stew than soup, and I like lots of “stuff” in it, rather than just limp noodles and tiny cubes of chicken. If I’m going to make a steak, I prefer to marinate it in something salty/savory for a bit. These are things that I can do to end a meal feeling not only full but actually satisfied, and therefore I’ll be less likely to want to keep going or try something else or soothe myself with sweets after the meal.

Here's the sample worksheet with my preferences entered, so you can see what it's like.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Article Sharing Time!

I have a blog post in the works, but for today I found another article on Jezebel to share. The title gave me pause, but by the end of the article I was much less worried about it. Here's the link: "Losing Weight Won't Fill the Emptiness Inside. Only Cake Can Do That."

Please read the whole article in order to get past that awful title. Here's a section from the end:

"I don't blame Attenberg for this, or at least I really actively try not to, but it does make me sad.
I went through a lot of my life dealing with the aftermath of chronic dieting and childhood teasing, and it's those things that attempted to make me feel less than whole, less than human. It wasn't some mysterious "hole" inside of me that I was trying to stuff with Cheetos, it was put there by a society that's unrelenting when it comes to women's bodies. And it wasn't something that I ever tried to cram with snack packs; if anything, it was something that I tried to dig out and make thinner, make smaller, make gone.

We can't reframe the way society thinks and feels about weight overnight; there will always be cheering when a fat woman (or probably any woman who doesn't suffer from visible anorexia) loses weight. But we can fight damn hard for the right to be comfortable in and with our own bodies, even if it's really, really fucking hard."

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Beauty of Different

I found a nifty video on Upworthy today that I want to share. It's three minutes long and put together by artist Karen Walrond. Check that out here: The Beauty of Different. Apparently there is also a book...

Her website is here, though I haven't quite been able to check out her 1,000 Faces gallery quite yet because my computer can't seem to handle so many open tabs at one time!

Saturday, October 13, 2012


Okay, here’s the new lesson for the week... I am not alone! Quite often, when I’m down or angry or hopeless, I sit with it for too long, think about it too much, close myself off and eventually make it so much worse. I don’t reach out to anyone for help or guidance, someone who could lift my spirits or change my mind or help me figure out what’s going on. Take note of that word “don’t” because that’s the important part. It’s not that I can’t, it’s not that no one is there for me, but I just won’t reach out.

I’ve been thinking about this - yes, I think too much, even about thinking too much! - and I see that the problem is multi-layered. I want to handle it alone, because I think that I can. But also because I think that I ought to. I think that I ought to handle my depressive cycles alone because I don’t want to be a bother to anyone. I, and my issues, are not important, not worthy enough to take up anyone’s time.

But wait, there’s more!

I ought to handle my issues alone because I’m the caretaker. I’m not supposed to dump my crap on other people, I am here to help other people carry their crap. I am supposed to carry my crap and everyone else’s crap too. Right? And besides, admitting to even having issues means that I’m weak. That I feel stuff. That I’m not perfect. That I can’t handle everything, and do it all alone.

All of that is, of course, total bullshit.

That’s what is so nice about journaling. You get to put it out there in black and white, these things you kinda sorta think to yourself, maybe even subconsciously, and take a good hard look at it. And then you realize that you are full of shit.

Do I really think that I’m so much better than everyone else that I won’t ever get angry or depressed or upset or hurt? Do I really think that I’m so important to everyone that I alone carry all of their burdens for them? Do I really think that my loved ones would lose their minds if they find out that I am not perfect?

Well, of course not.

Oh, but that inner voice, the mean, frightened little voice, it is such a good liar. I don’t hear it as much as I used to, I think I even believed that it was gone there for a while, but apparently it just went deeper inside, and now it can only emerge when the darkness spreads and it feels confident enough to whisper to me again. When I’m stuck, when I’m depressed, when I feel alone in the deep dark hole, that’s when it comes to me - and it lies. ‘No one cares,’ it says. ‘No one wants to hear from you,’ it says. ‘No one needs to know that you’re hurting - they can use it against you,’ it says. ‘Suck it up, sister.’

So here is the lesson I need to remember now. I am surrounded. Not by darkness, not by despair. I am surrounded by love, and friendship, and support, and laughter (the good kind!), and kindness. All I have to do is look up.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Walking on Broken Glass

Not all days are good days.

Years of dieting and abusing my body have given me diabetes, or at least pre-diabetes. As of this past week, I'm wondering if I have graduated on up to full-blown diabetes. It's been a tough week, with crazy blood sugar swings and crazy mood swings to match.

I have been extremely angry and feeling out of control. Thankfully, I haven't binged, but partially that's because I'm afraid to eat anything for fear of what it will do to my blood sugar. There's a reminder to those considering trying Intuitive Eating - and the books discuss this, I just didn't pay enough attention to it - you do still have to pay attention to your medical conditions while you are experimenting with the food relationship!

So... dealing with anger. That's a big one. It was a bad idea to express anger when I was a child. It could only make a bad situation worse. I used to think that I held in all my anger for months and months and months at a time, and then at some point I would just explode on someone or something out of the blue one day. Maybe that's true. But with the emotional tailspin I've been in over the blood sugar swings, I wonder if I haven't been acting out on high blood sugar days all along.

Either way, I found an interesting meditation to deal with anger last night. Maybe I shouldn't admit to this, I don't know how healthy this actually is, but it sure made me feel better! I daydreamed about being in a building filled with glass objects, TV sets, computers, mirrors, snow globes, whatever. All of the screens and reflective surfaces held images of things that have irritated me, pissed me off, hurt me, or angered me. I had a few good friends with me and we were all in protective gear and armed with bats, golf clubs, and other blunt objects.

Then we went all barbarian invasion on the place.

We moved from room to room, smashing and throwing and screaming out war cries. We trashed every room like an 80's hair band. There are some scenes from a couple of movies that I had in mind: the souvenir shop scene from Zombieland and the scene in the Prophecy Room of the Ministry of Magic from one of the Harry Potter movies, where all of the glass balls containing various prophecies were knocked over and shattered, entire shelves falling one into the other like dominoes. At one point I had a cricket bat and would bat snow globes into giant television screens, and then I beat a printer to dust like that scene from Office Space.

Finally we got to the last room, but there was no glass there. Just desserts. (Haha, it's a pun!) We dusted off the shards of glass and dropped our weapons and raced to the various tables, heavily laden with every delicacy imaginable. We picked up hand-fulls of it and commenced an absolutely epic food fight. We got covered head to toe in chocolate sauce, pudding, and maraschino cherries. We shot each other with cans of whipped cream and chocolate syrup. We were laughing and crying and licking caramel off of each other.

After that we cleaned up and met again, exhausted, in a cozy lodge room with a roaring fire. We wore comfy hotel robes and lazed around on comfy pillows and blankets, and had champagne and strawberries and hot chocolate with marshmallows. We laughed and talked and told funny stories, and we all felt great.

Not all days are good days. Some days are EPIC.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Mirror Mirror

I found an article on the site Adios Barbie that I'd like to share today: In the Mirror

What you see is not what you are.
This also reminds me that I really need to set up links and other recommendations in the sidebar...

Monday, September 10, 2012

Give Peace a Chance

This week I want to talk about giving this recovery stuff a chance. I know it seems so hard to believe that letting go is the way to find the path through. I know I didn't believe it myself, at first, and I suspect that doing it yourself is the only way to make yourself believe it. So, while these things I talk about may not have the kind of influence I meant when I began here, I can hope that it will help someone like me make a choice to try, at least.

When I started recovery, I read the books that you're supposed to read, I had tearful conversations with both my therapist and my nutritionist, and all of these sources assured me that someday I would be able to handle a meal without being tormented. Frankly, I thought that they were all full of crap, but I was out of energy, out of options, and just plain too tired to argue with anyone. I wrote in the journals for my feelings and my food, I talked - and talked, and talked, and talked. I read some more. I ate. I ate a lot, and I felt guilty and ashamed, and I wrote about it and I talked about it some more.

Time passed, I got heavier - yes, I'm going to admit that, I don't mind now, and those sources of mine, well, they did tell me that would happen. When that started to happen I wanted to quit. I didn't want to be fatter and despite all of the positive self-affirmations and loving myself work that I was doing... well, I might have learned to accept the body I have but I didn't especially LIKE it. In fact, I still kind of hated the idea that I wouldn't ever be that thin version of myself that I had always wanted.

Letting go of that idea was hard. I grieved for it for a while.

And I wrote about that too, of course. But it was getting to be a habit, all this thinking about feelings and writing about feelings and talking, talking, talking about feelings. And one day, at some point, I found myself thinking about those feelings BEFORE I ate the food. You know, instead of after. Not "Why did I just eat a half a bag of chips?" but "Why do I want to eat this bag of chips?"

That surprised me, and so I wrote about it in my food journal. I decided that I didn't actually want to eat a bag of chips. I just wanted to feel something different, even if it was just sick fullness - I don't know what, exactly, I wanted to feel or not feel any longer, because when you don't let yourself feel emotions it becomes hard to recognize them. (I'm getting better at that, I think.)

And I decided that if any feeling was better, that I could make a positive choice about what I wanted to feel next instead of letting the chips decide for me. So that first time I headed for the TV and queued up an episode of The Muppet Show. That's about the time I started working in all those other hobbies, like puzzles, and music, and reading. Did I need to feel something? Pick a mood and find an activity. I've already confessed to drawing in coloring books, so now I guess I'll 'fess up to dancing like a dork to disco and searching for naughty fan fiction on the internet.

It takes time, I'm not going to kid you about that. That Muppet Show episode was a long time ago, and here I still am, thinking and writing about things. But lately.... oh lately things have gotten interesting. Yes, I can deflect a binge (most of the time). Yes, I can stop when I'm full (most of the time). Yes, I can pass on dessert when I don't feel like it, and yes, sometimes I actually don't feel like it. But now it's almost like I'm discovering myself all over again, almost every day. What I need, what I like and even don't like. Lately I find myself having ordered this wonderful thing that I always used to love and crave, because now I'm allowed to have it any old time... and I don't really like it so much. I'm beginning to notice when things are too greasy, too heavy, too sweet. Just a couple of days ago I was about to call the local pizza place for a calzone, I love those so much! But then I thought better of it - they're so heavy and make me feel icky and sleepy. And I also found out that I love artichokes! Once upon a time I wouldn't have tried an artichoke if you paid me. It's like a whole new world.

So basically, no matter how many blog posts I do, no matter what I say, I doubt I can convince anyone that intuitive eating works. You pretty much have to experience it for yourself. All I can do is keep sharing what's happening to me and hope that it helps. I was in that place 15 or so months ago, where I'd tried everything, every diet, every gimmick, when I had nothing left... I gave it a chance, tried a little love instead of hate. I could have blown another year trying the same old thing, the thing that had not worked in 30 years, but - even though it was out of sheer exhaustion - I decided to give something new a chance. I think it's working; I like who I am again, I like my world again, and I'm still alive. I think that's better than another failed diet, for me...

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Recovering the Storyteller

I am back from a long Labor Day weekend at my favorite geek convention, DragonCon in Atlanta, Georgia. We had a great time and this year my eating situation was the best ever! I attended a wonderful writing workshop presented by Michael Stackpole and Aaron Allston for most of the weekend. I feel like my creativity and passion has been reignited and I’m looking forward to writing fiction again for the first time in years.

As a writer and a storyteller, I often find it easier to express myself in these long, kind of weird analogies. And sometimes I run across creative tales, poems, or analogies that sink right into my heart; they stay with me and speak to me as I journey. I keep copies of them on my desktop so that I can get to them easily when I need them again.

One of them was the poem about a hole in the sidewalk, oddly enough entitled: “There’s a Hole in my Sidewalk” by Portia Nelson.

Chapter 1 
I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I am lost… I am helpless. It isn’t my fault. It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter 2 
I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend that I don’t see it. I fall in again. I can’t believe I am in this same place. But, it isn’t my fault. It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter 3 
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there. I still fall in … it’s a habit … but, my eyes are open. I know where I am. It is my fault. I get out immediately.

Chapter 4 
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.

Chapter 5 
I walk down another street.

Another big favorite is The Desiderata, by Max Ehrmann, which I won’t repost entirely here because it is quite long. My favorite line of all is this:

Beyond a wholesome discipline, 
be gentle with yourself. 
You are a child of the universe 
no less than the trees and the stars; 
you have a right to be here.

And finally, a very nice analogy was blogged by the comedian Margaret Cho earlier this year. Here’s the part I loved the best, I loved it so much that I pasted it into a background and it pops up on my computer desktop from time to time as an image:

“I fly my flag of self-esteem for all those who have been told they were ugly and fat and hurt and shamed and violated and abused for the way they look and told time and time again that they were ‘different’ and therefore unlovable. Come to me and I will tell you and show you how beautiful and loved you are and you will see it and feel it and know it and then look in the mirror and truly believe it. If you are offended by my anger and my might at defending my borders and my people you do not deserve entry into my beloved and magnificent country.”

Here’s a link to an article about it on the magazine site, Jezebel, and to Margaret Cho's original blog, but be warned that the language is coarse and raw and honest. 

And as for me? Well, here’s a metaphor I came up with in July of last year, still pretty new to the recovery thing but facing the long coming year of caring for my dying father. It was tough, it set me back, but like so much of the ebb and flow of recovery, it taught me to take care of myself, to be stronger, and to hold on. Here’s what I wrote:

“I didn’t like who I had become, and I am in the process of pushing her out and emptying the house of all her shit. What’s left is an empty space for me to fix up, redecorate, and move into. But the cool thing is that I can put whatever I want back in here. I can keep the stuff that was good, get rid of anything I don’t need, and bring in new things if I want to. 
I get to start over.”

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Recovering Grace, One Meal at a Time

For tonight, back to the present for a bit. I had a Very Good Thing happen tonight and I'm proud of me!

First, I have been obsessing less and less over food as time has gone by. I don't exactly forget to eat, but I don't actively think about it constantly so I am occasionally surprised by hunger, sometimes intense hunger. (Um, and while that sounds good, it isn't necessarily good - intense hunger can lead to some intense eating, if one isn't prepared to slow down and think before consumption.) Today was one of those days, but I managed to take a moment and figure out what I wanted vs. what I had on hand to make, and didn't binge or overeat from it.

But second, and even more surprising, was what happened after dinner tonight. I had my meal and I was fairly full, not uncomfortably so, but full. Beloved husband wanted to go out for ice cream and I agreed. I got two scoops of something yummy and it was truly blissful, but... I scraped my way through the first couple of layers and then - well, I was just done. It was delicious and I might have kept going but it occurred to me that I didn't want to be overstuffed and miserable. That I was content with what I had already had and that I didn't have to finish it. It wasn't guilt or the shoulda/wouldas or getting to the state that I call "stuffed stupid." I made a choice to not be unhappy.

It has taken me so long to have this moment, to have this moment and realize that I was having it. That I have come this far and that I can keep going, and that I'm really going to be okay.

These moments rock.

And would you believe that it actually gets better? Because, yeah, it really does...

I have just come off of a really rough week. Three dentist visits, three days in a row, two separate root canals, hours of pain and then pain meds which made me sick and anxious and which have apparently hampered the effects of my antidepressant. (That's why you try to avoid taking NSAIDs on these kinds of meds.) I have been deeply depressed since last week. Like, not being able to sleep depressed, not wanting to get off of the couch depressed. And on top of that I was experimenting with reducing my dose by half a pill for the past couple of weeks anyway. Oh, so depressed...

I have been craving comfort food. I have prepared it, too, and gone out for it sometimes, and kept it to sane portions. I have not binged. It hasn't really even occurred to me to do so. Today I spent the first half of the day staring off into space and wondering why I can't cry and when faced with two giant scoops of chocolate peanut butter buckeye, I chose to not be (physically) miserable.

Can you be both depressed and proud at the same time? Apparently, yes you can.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

If You're Happy and You Know It, Share Your Meds

I haven’t done this in a while, there’s been so much to talk about, but today I’m going to take another retro look back at my first year in recovery and a journal entry from back then. I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about depression or anxiety medications and how ambivalent I have always been about taking them. Once upon a time my firm opinion was that depression meds were over-prescribed and that most people didn’t need them. My thought was that “people aren’t meant to be happy ALL of the time.” I still think that both of those things are true, but now I also realize that people aren’t meant to be sad and frightened all of the time either.

I started on an anti-depressant/anti-anxiety med about a year and a half ago, and it has made a huge difference in my life. I do still have down days and angry days and even anxious days, but now I have more happy and calm days than I do bad ones. And when I have bad days, I can handle them, and I understand that it’s temporary and that I won’t feel like this forever. That’s a huge reversal of what my life used to be like.

Starting anti-depressants is different for everyone, because everyone has unique body chemistry (even if they’re related). The first brand I tried was wrong for me; it actually increased my anxiety and I had a very scary panic attack after just a few days on it. The second brand I tried worked much better, but left me feeling a little off kilter; I was happier, but I was careening back and forth from happy to sad to mad and back and forth again all day. So it was back to my doctor again, and she upped my dose by just a little, and suddenly I was good. I’ve been on that brand ever since. Lately we’re beginning to consider whether or not I can begin to cut back on the dose, but that’s a story for another day...

Also, that all sounds like it happened pretty fast, but in reality it was over a period of several weeks. For most people, it takes a number of weeks or even a few months for the effects of the pills to take hold. If you (and your doctor) should determine that an anti-depressant is the way to go, you probably won’t start feeling better on the next day, or even the next week. You have to give it time! And remember that it’s different for everyone. For me, it took a few weeks to feel better. For someone I know, the effects were almost immediate. Someone else I know takes that first med that made me worse, and it works just fine for her.

So, here’s the takeaway... IF you need meds, don’t be afraid or ashamed. You don’t deserve to feel bad all the time. IF you need meds, do talk to your doctor and please please please WORK with that doctor to get on the one that’s right for you. Don’t just take the first thing you are given and then quit because you don’t feel different, or because you feel worse. Talk to your doctor about how it makes you feel. If you don’t feel better, give it time; if you feel worse, you can try something else; if you don’t feel better enough, you can try something else.

Journal Entry #14

Well, today I guess I was paying a bit more attention, but I let the moment of “finished” just roll right by and kept on eating anyway. And I don’t really even know why. Once again, I’m not really feeling anything. Just empty - and tired.

I can’t tell if the anti-depressant is changing much. I do think I’m less anxious, but emotionally.... well, I’m not sure that this is better. Before the meds I would get depressed and it would go on for two or three weeks, then I would have a phase of feeling good for a week or two before I would return to anger and depression. Now I feel completely erratic. I’m up, I’m down, I’m empty, I’m angry, all in one day. I’m all over the place.

The only consistent thing is that I’m tired. I can’t seem to sleep enough. I don’t always let myself nap during the day, but I always want to.

Fourteen days. It’s only been fourteen days on the meds. Give it time. It has to get better, it couldn’t get much worse, right?


I think I deserve this HATE, but I don’t.
I give myself permission to be patient.
I deserve good things as much as anyone else.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Nothing Ever Seemed So Hard

So, I guess I never did make it back to regular posting last week (or so) as I had planned. Unfortunately, I still haven’t quite worked out my need for perfection, so when I’m not doing it all right I tend to not want to talk (or write) about it. Well, there’s always something to work on, I suppose.

The good news is that I haven’t binged in weeks, so that’s not it. I haven’t really even overeaten, at least not for emotional reasons - I’m pretty sure I overdid it once or twice on foods that I just can’t lay off of (certain Chinese options, Indian Makhani, or Thai Red Curry). I don’t quite want to call them trigger foods, they aren’t quite like Doritos for me in that regard, but I just can’t resist eating until the plate is practically licked clean.

What I’ve really been feeling out of sorts about is my complete and total lack of interest in movement. I want to WANT to move, maybe that’s a start, but I can’t just sit around waiting to want to do it. The completely sedentary lifestyle is not healthy at any size. On the other hand, I don’t want to force myself to do something I hate because I “have to do it.” I have enjoyed some forms of exercise before and I know that if I can begin I will find pleasure in them again. But getting to the beginning.... “All I need’s a starting place, and nothing ever seemed so hard!” (Remember that video I posted, from Toad the Wet Sprocket?)

And so here’s my bit on starting from nothing...

I had been trying to make myself use our home treadmill, get on it at least two or three days a week for half an hour and walk at a comfortable pace. I succeeded about once per week, if that. Then I remembered something some friends of mine do when they are starting new goals: they begin with ridiculously easy goals for the first week. And then, if you find you can’t even manage that, cut the goal in half and try again. And maybe even once again, if it’s necessary. Make it SO ridiculous that it would be ridiculous to skip it. Then do that for a week. Next week, up your challenge just a little.

I started with the simplest thing I could think of - just get dressed out and stretch my calves. Today was Day One, and so far, so good. I got dressed out and did a bit of stretching, and then a bit more, and then hit the floor to get some good leg and back stretches (there’s one that feels so good for the sciatica). When I got up, I was feeling pretty fine so I did some funky little air-punches to the left and right. Yeah, I looked like an idiot, but only the cat noticed. Then for some reason I finished up by running in place for a count of 100. When that was done I stretched out those calves again and whaddya know, it had been half an hour.

Stretching is a great place to start, especially if you have spent your entire life ignoring or hating your body. Once upon a time I would wake up in the morning and do stretches and light calisthenics for nearly an hour every day - like everything else, I let it go in the depression. Like a precursor to yoga, simple stretching allows you to get to know your body, bit by bit, and learn what it is capable of. You learn what muscles feel like and how they move and connect. You figure out how far you can bend and what parts get in your way.

By the way, it’s okay to grab hold of that pooch and move it up or down or otherwise out of the way as you bend and flex. It’s a part of you. Quit pretending it doesn’t exist. Get to know it. Touch yourself and accept the fact that it is there. The embarrassment will fade with time.

Stretch everything. Head to toe. And I mean literally, fingers and toes, the arch of your foot, inner thighs, your neck and shoulder muscles, and the good old gluteus maximus. Eventually you learn your own body and you will discover that it is capable of more than you think. It moves, it supports; it’s graceful and it’s beautiful.

You will get better. In time you’ll find that you can reach to tie your own shoes again or that you don’t get that pinchy feeling in your hip or back when you’re walking or standing for a long time. Some hygienic necessities become easier to perform. Even better, eventually you might even want to walk more, because it doesn’t hurt so damn much. And besides, you’re already up and dressed out, right?

As I am not an exercise professional, I can’t tell you what to do or how to do it. Like everything else I talk about, do your research. Don’t just jump into it because you think stretching is so easy. Done improperly, you CAN hurt yourself. Some sources recommend against stretching first thing in the morning, like I used to do. You need to warm up your muscles, you need to breathe, and you need to know how to not stretch too far. Check the internet or the library, check with your doctor, or find a trainer if you can. When I started stretching seriously for the first time, many years ago, I picked up a book that I would still recommend: Stretching by Bob Anderson. It has been out for decades, so it should be easy to get at the library, too.

A last word about stretching... it can be very meditative too. You are focusing on your breath, counting slowly, moving gently. I haven’t tried this myself, but after taking a couple of yoga classes a while back, I can see the appeal of putting on some soothing music and adding some kind of aromatherapy to the session. That way you could meditate and move at the same time. Just a thought.

So that’s it. That’s what I’m doing to begin being healthy at my size - stand up, get dressed, stretch a little. It’s a ridiculously easy goal, and I can do that. So let’s move!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Whatever I Fear

I'm also sharing a video of a song that has been on my mind lately. To quote Toad the West Sprocket: "We expect these things to change by waking up and suddenly there they are. And all I need is a starting place, but nothing ever seemed so hard."

My friend Cassie shared an article recently that I'd like to post here. Thanks, Cassie!
We'll Look Back and Laugh
As with most web articles, keep in mind that the comments are probably best not to be read. Some are positive, but some are filled with the usual "fat blaming" stuff that is harmful to us all. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Back from Vacation!

We just got back late last night from a 10 day or so vacation in New York State. I'll post some info and pictures, as it was the most fabulous time I've ever had. I never felt self-conscious or "less-than" for the whole trip, and I applaud the people of New York for not being the stereotypes that we all seem to think that they are - the folks in Western NY and the Finger Lakes area were good, happy, wonderful folks and I hated to leave. Thank you for a great stay!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Don't Mind Me

Just doing a bit of blogkeeping today. I'm hoping to get the font style and size the same throughout the posts and fix my Amazon links for books. Hopefully this won't spam anyone who is getting updates when I post, but if so, I apologize in advance.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sex, Sex, Sex, That's All You Ever Think About!

It's link sharing time again! I think I will need to look for this book at the library... The first link is a review, the link below the book is to Amazon. Ooh, and I just noticed, the foreward is by Margaret Cho, who I have recently become very fond of.

Pull quote from Ragen Chastain's (sort-of) review: "How much more awesome will the sex be when we can get over our single standard of culturally stereotypical beauty and celebrate the simple fact that bodies of all shapes and sizes are amazing, beautiful and sexy."

Joyful Eating

So now I'm not dieting anymore, but that doesn't really mean I'm off the hook. In fact, I probably pay way more attention to eating now than I ever did, but in an entirely different way – a way that sustains me instead of degrading me. Here's how that works...

I started off with a food journal. I know, lots of “diets” recommend a food journal, but what the diet really wants is evidence for the food police: every bite, every calorie, every fat gram, and so on. But now I've been set free. I'm no longer a “diet criminal” and I can eat anything and everything that I want. I don't have to keep track of all those numbers, calories in, calories out. What I do have to keep track of is feelings. And the only number that matters now is the Hunger Scale

Yes, I still write down every bite that I eat. However, this is just for reference. Not once has my nutritionist ever called me out about any item, or told me that I was doing something bad. That's not what this journal is about. It isn't about judging me, it's about discovering me.

So, I write down the time and I think about where I am on the Hunger Scale. Am I a lot hungry, or just a little? How do I feel, physically? Grumbly in the tummy? Light-headed? Am I desperate to eat or just ready? I pick a number on the Scale based on those feelings and write it down.

And then, I think about how I feel emotionally. Am I angry, sad, lonely, bored, happy? Do I feel good about eating now or would I rather wait a little while? Have I waited too long to eat? (Mind you, this is NOT “I should have eaten sooner” - don't judge it, stuff happens.)

Then, as I eat, I try to do it slowly and mindfully. There are all kinds of suggestions around this. Sit down at a table. Set the mood with pleasant music, lighting, pretty tableware, and so on. Put your fork down in between bites. Don't distract yourself with TV or work or the computer or reading. If someone is with you, have a pleasant conversation (avoid arguments or tense subjects at meals). All of these things are hit and miss, depending on where I am and what's available at mealtimes. But what I can control is what happens when I take a bite. The idea is to savor each bite. Look at it, smell it, taste it on all the parts of my tongue and think about it – what is the flavor, what do I like about it, do I enjoy it? Is it hot, spicy, creamy, crunchy, chewy? Sometimes, especially the first bite, I like to close my eyes and just focus on the taste.

That is, I TRY to eat mindfully. I don't always remember, but when I do, I have found that the meal is more satisfying. It doesn't always keep me from eating too much, but sometimes it does. I try to take little breaks, at least once during the meal, to re-evaluate where I am now on the Hunger Scale. As I get near completion, I try to stop and think about whether or not I could be done, right here and now. Sometimes it's yes, but just as often it's no. That's okay – it's not about how much I eat, just that I think about what I'm doing and make a decision.

Now that I've been at this for a while, there are some additional things I get to consider, like balancing what I want vs. what's available and trying to create meals that hit at least several of my needs for satiety (more about that later). Because I'm also diabetic, I also have to consider when I eat and sugar content. (However, that is about health and well-being, not about judgment or “sugar is BAD, m'kay?”) Just now I'm getting to the point where I'm ready to consider the composition of my meals – am I getting enough protein, grains, and freggies? (Again, it's not about NOT having the cheeseburger, it's about whether I'll feel better later having it with a side of fries or a fruit cup instead. Sometimes I choose the fries, sometimes I choose the fruit cup. And sometimes I choose the turkey sandwich instead of the burger, but that's based on what I WANT, not on what I OUGHT to want.)

And finally, at the end of the meal I go back to my food journal and I think about where I am on the Hunger Scale. Could I still eat a little more? Am I satisfied, just full enough? Am I uncomfortably full, and if so, is it a little or a lot? Or am I stuffed, like a binge? Again, how do I feel physically? Am I nauseous? Indigestion? Fine? Still empty? Did eating this meal make me feel better, happier, sadder? Do I feel okay about what I ate or am I upset at any part of it? If I'm beating myself up about something, it's important to write it down and think about it. Am I angry or disappointed that I ate the ice cream? Am I feeling “good” because I had extra veggies? (Note, that's STILL judgment – food is not “good” or “bad” and I am not “good” or “bad” because I choose to eat it!) And again,I pick a number on the Scale based on those feelings and write it down.

I have now filled an entire looseleaf notebook and two full spiral journals of food for the past year-ish. I will still be doing food journals for some time to come, too. It's still hard sometimes to evaluate what I'm feeling. Sometimes I don't feel anything about my meal, and I don't know how to talk about that. But the journal is still surprisingly helpful. And here I'm going to go again – it's helpful to have someone else to go through that journal with me (in my case, my nutritionist). At our last appointment, she was able to notice something about my notes that I had not seen. I was beginning to be more and more critical of myself as well as what and how much I ate. It was subtle, and I couldn't see it, but someone else could. We talked it out, and now I'm guiding myself back on track. (So, as always, get a support team!)

Does this sound like a lot of work? Well, maybe at first, but it becomes natural soon enough, and the benefit is too great to give up. This is, after all, a process. I didn't develop my ED in one day or one month. And, it's harder to UNDO than it was to begin. I know I'm in this for the long haul, and I know that it's tough work, but I also know that I am totally worth it.

Aren't you?

Monday, July 16, 2012

So Much More than Good Enough

I found an article this morning from SciAm Mind I'd like to share. I guess this is why those positive affirmations actually work!

Self Compassion Fosters Mental Health

(It's cats all the way down!)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Remember that post about Fat Ladies in Spaaaaace? I finally got around to coloring one!

The caption reads: "With her sidekick Gusty the unicorn dog, the Zaftig Zephyr spends her nights protecting the rain-spattered streets of Metrololopolis." (Coloring book and art by Nicole Lorenz.)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

You Binge, You Learn

When I binge, I feel like crap. Not just physically, of course – there’s an emotional aftermath as well. Shame, guilt, revulsion, regret, anger, fear. In some cases that can even lead to additional bingeing; that is, you have an emotion like shame or anger that you don’t want to deal with, so you binge in the first place, then you are left with additional shame and anger afterward that you don’t want to deal with… and so on.

These emotions were always difficult to deal with, but never more so than when I was actually dieting. Here I am trying to do my best, to learn the rules of “good” foods and “bad” foods, but… food makes me feel guilty. And ashamed. And angry. After all of these years, even “good” food makes me a nervous wreck. What if I eat a salad and then it isn’t enough for me? Guilt. What if I order the plain chicken with veggies at the restaurant and those people at the next table smirk at me because they look at how fat I am and they know that dieting is just a waste of time for me? Shame. What if I eat the carrots and the celery and the apples for a snack and then a giant glass of water because that’s what I’m supposed to snack on and it’s supposed to make me feel full only it doesn’t and now I’m miserable and hungry and confused and that effing diet guru is a moron? Anger.

So, dieting makes me bingey, NOT dieting makes me bingey, and hey, bingeing makes me bingey. WTF?

What it boils down to is that there is no escape. Bingeing is here, it’s what I do. I can’t work around it, I can’t diet around it, I can’t talk myself out of it. All I can do is face it, maybe even face it down.

Bingeing is a conditioned response. I taught myself how to do it, as a way to make myself feel better, even if only for a little while, when emotions were too hard to handle. Maybe the first time it happened by accident, but soon I could do it on purpose, and after a while it became automatic, almost like taking some kind of drug. It was a helpful tool for a long time. When I was a child, with no way out and no way to release my fear, anger, or depression, it was an easy escape, a way to bear what could not be borne. It wasn’t a good coping mechanism, but it was the best one I had.

Bingeing was there for me. It’s what I did.

And that’s it, really. It isn’t evil, it isn’t bad, it isn’t good. It just is. It’s a tool. A crutch. Only… eventually you’re supposed to put aside the crutches and walk on your own. But I never did.

Until now.

I have learned that a binge is a sign of an unresolved issue. It’s a big flag waving in my face to say, “Hey, pay attention to this!” It’s some need that isn’t being met, some emotion that’s being stuffed away, some problem that I haven’t faced. My nutritionist tells me that binges are a gift. I found that hard to believe at first, but she’s right. Every time I have binged lately, it has taught me something new. I have learned to handle some emotions by dealing with them, for instance, by addressing a person who makes me angry and resolving the problem rather than stewing over it until I binge. But a month or so ago, I had a binge night and I found a different anger trigger that I had never worked on: unfocused anger, that is, anger with no specific target. I wasn’t mad AT anyone or ABOUT a particular thing. I had just had a crummy day, I was hot and grumpy, and I was just plain mad. I do not have a planned outlet for that; I wasn’t thinking about it, so I let it bubble inside until it took me over, and then I binged.

So, if you binge, you have a couple of ways of looking at it. You could beat yourself up, indulge in the shame and guilt and self-hate. That’s the easy path. The harder path, but eventually more rewarding one, is to evaluate the binge for what it is: a crutch, a signal….a gift. Learn from it, pick it to pieces and find out what happened. This is where having a support team is so very valuable, because often you cannot evaluate your own needs clearly. You get in your own way, maybe because you are resistant to change, maybe you are afraid, or maybe part of you doesn’t feel that you deserve to be helped or get better.

We all deserve to be healthy. You think you deserve this pain, but you don’t.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Get Out of My Head

There are two things in my head at the moment, and I’m not sure which one I want to talk about first. Well, they are at least marginally related, so maybe I’ll segue somehow… Here goes.

Here’s what “normal” people don’t get about having an ED – keeping in mind that not every fat person has an eating disorder and not everyone with an eating disorder is fat – it isn’t just the eating that’s disordered, because my thoughts about eating are also disordered. For all of these years I have been CONSUMED with thoughts about eating (pun kind of intended). And I’m not talking about cravings, or at least not just about cravings. I have had a constant dialog going on in my head about eating – Am I hungry? When did I eat last? Do I deserve to be hungry yet? What time is it? What have I eaten today? Did it have too many carbs, is that why I’m hungry already? When can I eat again? I should eat more protein. Haven’t we already been to the Chinese place this week – will they be suspicious if we go again today? Is that weird? I shouldn’t have that, it has sugar in it. What should we have for dinner tonight? What should I order? Is anything thawed out at home? What’s wrong with my tummy – am I hungry or sick? I ate fruit for a snack, so that was good. I shouldn’t order the cheeseburger, what will the waitress think?

That was my normal, every day, all the time. These weren’t just occasional thoughts, like someone might have while say, actually contemplating what to do AT dinnertime. It was constant, day and night, if I wasn’t actively thinking about something else, like work or school or taking a cat to the vet. I would even wake up in the middle of the night, itemizing every bite of yesterday and wondering what I’d do about tomorrow.

I sort of realized that it wasn’t normal a couple of years ago – that probably most people didn’t walk around constantly analyzing and criticizing their hunger. See, out of all the times I’ve ever taken cold medicine, twice (and only twice, ever) it has managed to suppress my appetite. Driving home one day (with cold medicine brain) I happened to notice the time and I was hit with the realization that I ALWAYS know what time it is, because I ALWAYS know how long it has been since I ate and how long it will be until I can eat again. So I realized that I hadn’t been thinking about eating. The voice track was gone, or at least sluggish and quiet. For the first time I realized that I HAD a voice track. And that NOT having a voice track was better. I felt free. I felt… normal.

So that’s what “normal” people don’t get. You just can’t explain obsession to someone who doesn’t have that voice track. I don’t think about eating all the time because I’m fat, I think about eating all the time because my brain is effing broken. It’s stuck in a loop. I don’t think about food because I have insatiable cravings, and I don’t always crave junk food, and I don’t binge every single time I eat. But I do always, always, always have to think about eating. Because my brain won’t shut up.

And that sucks.

Of course, you might have noticed that I said, “That was my normal…” I’ve been in recovery for a year and just recently, that voice track has gone. Mostly. I’m thinking about it now, because it came for a visit today. I’ve been depressed for a few days here lately, and that’s a time when old habits try to creep back in and take over. It’s easier to do what you are used to doing, harder to hold on to new things when the grip is less certain.

But… I HATE that voice track and I don’t want it back.

This recovery thing, it’s hard. I know that some people try to do it on their own, and I sincerely wish them luck. I tried that path, and it didn’t work for me. So once again, I want to encourage others, if this stuff sounds familiar to you, to get help. Get a support team. I know that not everyone can afford therapy and insurance doesn’t usually cover much or any of it. But at a minimum… please see what might be out there. Join a support group, read the books, join a website, and LISTEN to the people who have been here before you.

You can’t wake up every morning and just decide that you aren’t going to binge anymore. That’s just like starting a diet. You can’t depend on willpower alone. It isn’t about your will, or mind over food matter. It’s you fighting every neuron, every hormone, every instinct, every thought, every emotion, every voice track, every jackass, every “helpful well meaning” stranger, every bite, every scent, every craving, every setback, every panic attack, every disaster, every slight, every phone that never rang, every phone that did ring…. Well, you get it.

You can’t fight every minute of every day without something, someone to back you up, to help you find and USE new coping mechanisms. It’s exhausting, and eventually you get fucked. Because you are fine and good, and you don’t deserve this pain, and you are capable and strong, but you are not SUPERHUMAN. You need to talk to someone else, someone who can physically talk back to you and help you figure out what’s real and what’s not, what matters and what doesn’t, what can change and what you have to accept.

Because believe me, when all you can hear in your own head is some broken voice track, it will never tell you anything new.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

This Is Not a Picture of a Cat


I don't actually know where this originated from, but I stole it from my niece's Facebook page because I thought it was timely and important for me.

I've had a difficult couple of weeks, hence the light posting lately. Beyond even handling my father's death, I have encountered some exceptionally rude people who have made me feel uncomfortable and ashamed. One comment and some staring and I'm back to feeling like a freak.

So now, I could (and I did, for a while) focus on being angry, and hurt. I could focus on the fact that it's unfair, and that those guys are mean jerks. And they are, that much is true.


They are also sad and pathetic. And I could, if I reach for it, just about feel sorry for them. Pity them. They aren't happy either. They are so unhappy that they feel the need to reach out and make someone else just as miserable. And, unlike me, they could never be anything but sad, pathetic, unhappy jerks. These men, and so many other people like them, making asses of themselves in public places or trolling the internet looking for someone to belittle and insult...are nothing.

They have a very limited view of beauty, very narrow, short-lived, brief, transitory, impermanent. Their love and happiness share the same short span. Because no matter how hard anyone tries to contain it, beauty expands and grows. It grows up, it grows old, it grows out, sometimes. So when only THIS type of beauty makes someone happy, makes them love it, then in an instant it grows beyond their narrow view and is no longer viable. And so they have to move on, to the next beautiful thing and the next, because they are wearing blinders. Because nothing ever satisfies. There is no way for them to ever find love and happiness because they cannot see it.

They believe they are superior. I believe they are pathetic.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Caturday: Independence Day Edition

It's almost July, so Independence Day is just a few days away. Here are some thoughts for the folks who fought for our independence and those who are still serving for it today...

This pic was taken from a cat fan page: Love Meow

It says: "This photo was taken in Tarawa in November, 1943. The little kitten “crept out from beneath a wrecked” tank. The U.S. Marine soldier, name unknown, offered water to the little one."

And also, 'cos this one is too adorable...

I'm sorry, I don't remember what site this is from, I should have credited it. But, Happy Fourth of July, sir, and I hope that wherever you and your little friend are, that you are safe.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thought for the Day

I haven't been able to do my regular posts again this week. My father passed away on Saturday and we've been gone for the funeral and such. We just got home tonight, so regular posting should begin again starting tomorrow.

For now, please enjoy this placeholder!

Friday, June 22, 2012

One in Four Girls, One in Six Boys

I found a Slate article I wanted to share, from Emily Yoffe, who writes the Dear Prudence column. It's called My Molesters. I should say, WARNING: Trigger Alert. I think that this article will hit home for those of us who are what I call the In-Betweeners - we think our stories aren't "bad enough" to be painful, but they are.

We aren't alone. One in FOUR girls have been molested in some way. Look around your workplace. How many women is that standing around you right now? How many men?

Not the Doctor

Before adding to the not dieting any more conversation, I ought to say a couple of things... One, I am not a doctor, a nutritionist, or a therapist. I am not trying to give anyone medical or therapeutic advice. Honestly, I’m just here to share what I’m going through and hoping that it will touch other people in a way that is helpful. If my journey is at all familiar to you, I wholeheartedly encourage you to get professional assistance - your primary doctor, a therapist, or a nutrition counselor. I have all three, along with a select few other incredibly supportive people who form the core of my support team. Though I am the one who has to take the lead, this is not a journey I could take alone. I cannot beg you enough, whoever is out there, to get the support you need.

Two, this “no more diets” approach that I have taken did not come out of a vacuum. I did a lot of reading on my own before I got the courage to talk to my doctor and find a therapist, and a lot of reading since then. Do the research! No more diets is more than just a license to go binge myself into a coma. It isn’t a giving up of responsibility, it’s just a different kind of responsibility. There are still rules, but the rules are about paying attention to my body, to my needs, about being kind and respectful of my body, about treating it with love and health. It’s about abandoning fear and deprivation and torture.

There are many wonderful resources out there. Here are some of mine...

I read at least a few of Geneen Roth’s work just this past year: Breaking Free From Emotional Eating, Why Weight?, and When You Eat At the Refrigerator, Pull Up a Chair

Also, many, many years ago I read Intuitive Eating by Tribole and Resch, then read it again several months ago on the recommendation of my therapist. (I am about to read it again, now that I am moving on to the next level of my relationship with food.) Last week I read another Roth: Women Food and God (excellent). These are good ones to start with to introduce yourself to the idea of intuitive eating/no more diets. And there are many MORE Geneen Roth books out there, though several are pretty similar in content so check them out to see which ones move you.

Beginning intuitive eating is scary. Even though I had been working for a number of years on the general principle that anything was okay in moderation, I still had an internal list of “bad foods.” Foods that I would have to pay for with deprivation. Foods that would make me feel guilty for even thinking about. And beyond that, I had no concept of the idea that I really could eat as much as I wanted, whenever I wanted, and whatever I wanted. And initially - yeah, I gained weight. I was terrified and revolted and I thought my therapist and nutritionist and Geneen Roth and all of them were just... nuts.

And it takes so long! I’ve been doing this for about a year (minus a four month vacation from sanity for a family emergency this past winter), and I’m the fattest I have ever been in my life. I became the Queen of the Cheeseburger, and consort of the Ice Cream King. I haven’t been able to imagine that this process is helpful for my health...until recently.

See, there’s a bit of a progression with the intuitive eating thing. The books mentioned above helped me get used to the concept. My nutritionist gave me some assignments to do and the hunger scale (some of which can be found in Geneen Roth’s books and Intuitive Eating). I figured out what I really love about food and eating (I like crunchy texture, savory flavors, the smells of the aromatics, the tang of sauces) and found ways to make sure I ate stuff that I really loved instead of just stuffing myself with anything. For instance, I always choose a good cheeseburger place over fast food burgers. They are more satisfying and I don’t feel sick afterward. Same thing with taco joints.

I have to think about why I’m eating, about what hunger feels like, where hunger lives in my body (sometimes it’s just behind my eyeballs, kind of an itchy feeling in the sockets), what I’m doing while I’m eating. How did I feel before the meal? How did I feel while I was eating? How did I feel when I was done? And not just physically, but emotionally. What emotion makes me want to gorge on potato chips and what emotion calls for Ben & Jerry? And then I get to write it all down because this is a learning process. If I had a binge or just overate, I wrote it all up and I pulled it all out in front of my support team so they could help figure out not only why but maybe how I could deal with it in a different way next time. And, over time, it has begun to work.

In the past few weeks, things have changed. I know when I’m full. Sometimes I still eat past that point, but not very often. Less and less all the time. For the first time, just a couple of weeks ago... I can’t believe I can say this, but I FORGOT TO EAT. (I used to want to smack people who said that.) I don’t obsess about forbidden foods all the time anymore. My upswing in weight has stopped, stabilized. I am willingly adding salads or fruits or veggies to my meals, when I can. I try to avoid restaurants that only serve french fries as a side, because I don’t like the way they make me feel. Hello - I would rather eat a salad or fruit bowl than a plate of fries! (I still eat cheeseburgers, but less frequently, and only really, really good ones if it can be helped.) I did have a binge recently, but it was the first time in weeks, and it helped me discover a trigger that I haven’t dealt with yet.

Once I was on my way a bit with intuitive eating, my therapist recommended Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon. I’ve mentioned this briefly before. I still don’t know how I feel about it. I appreciate the idea that I don’t have to hate myself for being fat. I appreciate the idea that I don’t have to be thin to be worthy of life, love, and the pursuit of happiness. As for being able to be healthy at my current size... well, we’ll see what happens. I know that I am not healthy right now. I’m not entirely convinced that I will be if I don’t eventually lose some weight. I don’t feel well, often. I can’t breathe well. I don’t move well. Things are starting to ache - back, knees, feet. I don’t need to be thin, heck, at my age I don’t even want to be thin; I can accept that I will always be some kind of fat. I just want to feel better.

In truth, I know that I will always have food issues, to some degree. Maybe I’ll forget to eat mindfully for a few days, maybe something big and upsetting will send me screaming for the ice cream aisle, maybe I’ll gain weight on a vacation and try to do “just a little dieting” to get it back off. Who knows? All I can do is keep moving forward and learning as much as I can.

P.S.: If you are interested, Health at Every Size is only $1.99 at the Amazon Kindle store right now...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Thought for the Day

Found on Facebook. Thanks, D!

The Wagon Only Goes in Circles

The problem with dieting is that it doesn't actually get you anywhere, at least not for long. On the wagon, off the wagon, whatever, it doesn't matter because the wagon isn't really going anywhere – it just goes round and round and round in the same circle. A few pounds up, a few pounds down; up, down, up, down, round and round and round she goes...

So the next hardest thing I had to do in recovery – after the “love yourself” thing, which I'm still working on – was to walk away from the wagon. Not just get off of The Diet Wagon (no problem, I've done that a thousand times) but turn my back on it and leave it behind.

Wait... No more diets? Ever? That's crazy talk! How am I supposed to lose weight?

Well, come to think of it, have you ever actually “lost weight” on all these diets you've been doing? I mean, really lost it, gone forever, never to be found again?

Ummm.... no. Haven't you noticed, I do weigh almost 300 pounds. Diets aren't helping me. They are, in fact, having exactly the opposite effect of what I intended. I'm fatter. Every year I just get fatter. Perhaps it's my fault. I'm a failure, weak. I can't stick to a diet.

Really? What about all that “love yourself” stuff you've been going on about? You're strong, capable, you have a successful marriage, you finished your degree, your employers love you because you work hard and exceed expectations. Your friends and loved ones know that they can count on you because you do what you say you will. Straight A student forever (except for that pesky Astrophysics thing). You get shit done, girl.

Yeah, but....

Nope. I ain't buying it. You could handle work, school, home, homework, and still went to the gym three times a week for two hours a day. What really happened?

What happened? Pain. Pain happened.
Sadness. Unbearable sadness. Hate. Anger. Fear. Emptiness.

Ah... emptiness. How do you fill the void? Dull the pain? Drown the anger the hate and the fear? What do you do, what have you always done?

I stuff it. I fill it up and cover it over with food. Until I can't feel it, until I can't move. Until I don't care.

Until you don't care about what?

About how I look. How people treat me. The things strangers say, like they have the right. About how far I still have to go, how fat I still am, how fat I'm gonna get. About how miserable I always feel, and hungry and frustrated and angry and scared. About how no matter how much weight I lose I'm never going to feel good again, I'm always going to be ugly and weird and frightened inside.

So dieting doesn't make you thin, and it doesn't make you happy. In fact, it makes things worse. It makes you FEEL worse. You keep getting on this wagon and going off full speed, trying to hang on, but then you fall off and you're still in the same damn place. It's like it always drops you off at the all-you-can-eat binge cafe, no matter how long you managed to hold on this time. No matter how far away you try to get on that wagon, you always come back.

Maybe it is time to turn your back on the wagon and face the real problem. Stay on your own two feet, keep your balance, and begin to deal with these things you are afraid of. Food doesn't do it. Diets don't do it. Only you can do it. So fuck the wagon... stand up and fight!