Sunday, April 22, 2018

Last Time, This Time: Relosing 100 Pounds While Honoring My Feelings

The first time I went through this section of weight loss,,, from 205 to 195.. was in June of 2010. I was on Medifast, eating about 900 calories a day and the only exercise I was doing was walking a mile or so several days a week. I went through several stages of physical and emotional change, and I've been feeling a bit of deja vu this time around as some of the same things are surfacing. Not everything is the same, but so far, a lot of it is, even though I am eating a lot more food this time (but still lower carb). I know that if I don't want to get the same result as last time (regaining most of the 103 pounds I lost) I will *need* to learn from the past and change the things that led to my regain. Easier said than done, but with this in mind I set out to re-read my blog from those days and make notes of what was happening and where I went wrong. This might be a little long, but I need to work this through.

June 2010, 205 pounds. I was feeling a peace with food and a lack of obsession with what I ate and the fluctuations on the scale. However, I was eating mostly food packets all day and rarely had to actually think about food. I think I've learned a lot more this time, having to make my own food choices and not eating on a predetermined schedule. It should be easier to maintain this time without having to switch to some other way of eating.

At this weight I also started to notice negative body changes. Before that, it was all positive: getting smaller and less fat with fewer rolls and smaller sizes. But suddenly, I saw the crepe paper skin developing on my inner thighs and noticed how much fat I still had around my knees while the rest of my body was shrinking. I had this weird experience of putting on smaller, tighter shirts and thinking I looked "too good" or that I had "massive boobs" (in an attention drawing way) so for a long time I just wore shirts that were too big and didn't accentuate my slimming waist.

In the few pounds before I hit 199, I had anxiety about getting below the 200 line. I had been well over 250 for so long, and it even felt like part of my identity. I started to have strange dreams, vivid memories and raw emotions about my past and present. It ranged from serious anger that I can't run, to shock at noticing I had a thigh gap while I was bent over washing my hair, to elation at my newly "skinny" ankles, to anxiety about losing the clothing I liked best and having to switch down to size 14W pants and L shirts.

Once I hit 199, I wrote about how much easier it was to move and walk. I was startled when I first felt my hip bones and really freaked out over being able to feel my internal organs through my skin. I often would look in the mirror and could not believe that was me. I'd hold up my clothes and be shocked how small they were and that I could fit into them. All of these are the same things I have been going through in recent weeks. Trying on clothes and thinking they would draw too much attention to my shape, so putting them away and wearing something more baggy. Seeing my ankles looking thinner, boobs looking more prominent as my waist shrinks, noticing (with not as much shock) my hip bones and yep, being icked out at feeling what's under my stomach skin.

What's very interesting to me is that today, at 195 pounds, I put on a tee shirt and looked in the mirror and felt absolutely horrified at my arms. Yeah, I have mentioned the fat upper arms before... it's always there. But suddenly today what I saw made me actually emotionally upset. Anxious. So much so out that I took pictures to show you just how upsetting my arms are!


And then, as I looked back on my 2010 journey, I saw that at *exactly* this same weight... 195 in mid-July 2010... I wrote a post about how suddenly I have "mutant arms." It was super upsetting to me then, even thought I was trying to just be accepting and cool with it. And if I am being honest, it is upsetting now, too. The rest of me looks pretty normal, even good! But the arms ruin it. I know I shouldn't care, but I have a real, emotional reaction to it. And then I put on a long sleeved shirt because there is NO way I am letting anyone, even my family, see my arms looking like that.

What I did eight years ago was this: write about the feelings, try and talk myself into being "over it," and continued right on losing weight. Four pounds later (191) I posted that I felt like I was not ready to keep losing, was having an emotional crisis (not just about the arms), was stressed and eating off plan. I was upset because my clothes were once again getting too loose and not fitting properly, and my lower belly was deflating into a saggy mess that I could grab in handfuls. I just felt like I could not handle it. But I powered through and kept losing weight anyway. Just one month after my "mutant arms" post, I was 8 pounds lighter, still struggling to accept the even droopier skin on my arms, thighs, and belly and having a fit when I saw myself in a mirror in a doctor's office and saw how my thigh fat and skin was spreading out on the sides like giant pancakes. I was having anxiety about all the changes and started to feel triggered by seeing or hearing about foods I "couldn't have." I regained 7 pounds really fast. Maybe that alleviated some of the droop and hang and made me feel better somehow.

But what did I do then? Did I listen to my feelings, honor my emotions? No, I kept right on losing, fought to get those seven pounds back off and got down to 185 pounds just weeks later. That's when I wrote my post, I Don't Like My Melting Body. The mushy body parts, hanging skin, and dripping/melting effect was *really* bothering me! I even wrote that at 193 pounds it wasn't that bad, but at 185 it was just horrible. I got down to 184 but apparently I wasn't coping well and started to stress eat, because within a week I gained NINE pounds... right back to 193. Interesting? It was not intentional. But my body was trying really hard to keep me in that more comfortable place. I just was not ready to keep losing.

Did I learn from that? No... I kept right on fighting my way down the scale as quickly as I could, hitting a new low of 183 just two weeks later. Oh, there was good. There was joy. There was the fun of fitting into 14's and then 12's, posting progress pictures, getting lots of praise from everyone who was watching me succeed at weight loss. There were collarbones and a jaw line and being able to swing on the swings with my daughter at the park. But there was also this strange association between thinness, bones, and death.

By the end of October I was there: 175, the lowest weight I reached. I was elated. But I was also becoming depressed. I had lost over 100 pounds and was "still fat." My body looked awful to me unless it was covered in clothing and I did not have a way to cope. I felt like a normal sized human stuck in a giant skin bag that I could never take off. I began stress eating, checking out, and craving my old comfort foods. I was truly struggling while everyone around me was applauding and saying how great I looked.

You see what happened after. I regained all but 20 of those 103 pounds.

Why did I write all of this out? Because I am working very hard not to make the same mistakes again. I weigh 195 pounds today, and I see that the last time I was at this weight, I had the same feelings I have today. But I did not honor those feelings. I forced myself to keep losing weight at a pace that was outrunning my mental and emotional ability to keep up. My body even tried a couple of times to "tell me" by rapid regains that I was *NOT ready*... but I did not listen. This time, I am listening. This time, I am taking time to maintain, and then when I do lose it will be slowly. Very slowly, so that my mind and emotions have time to deal with what I already know is coming: the same melting body, the same droopy skin and thigh spread, the same thoughts of bones = death and not wanting too much attention on my shape. The good thing is that I have learned from the past and will honor my feelings this time. I did see 194 on the scale on Friday and Saturday, but I made sure I was eating enough nutritious food to maintain and *not* keep losing; thus the 195 today. It's not a race to the finish (whatever the finish is). It's life, and hopefully this time a permanent change for better health.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Not Ideal

Well the week's halfway over and I get on the scale every morning: 195, 195, 195, 195... just how I like it. It feels GOOD to be aiming to maintain and not feeling any kind of worry over the numbers. I've kind of gotten away from taking photos of my meals for Instagram, but I'll pick that back up soon. I think it's important for *me* to have a record of what I was eating when and how my loss/maintain/loss came about. I want to look back on the pictures and see how my diet changed gradually over time in a stress-free way... not in some drastic, sudden change that was unsustainable.

I get emails and comments sometimes telling me I am doing it wrong. I am eating too much. I am not eating enough. I should not be eating bread. I should eat more vegetables. I should not eat any sweets. I should be going to the gym.... and so on. And I understand that everyone has their own view of what's best, what's healthy. I have mine, too. But what some may not realize is that I *know* my diet is not ideal. Neither is my activity level. I agree! For many years, I've had in mind my "ideal" eating and moving plan. I can see it in my mind, because I have lived parts and glimpses of it during short and long stretches of time over the past decade... but I've never put it all together in a sustainable, long term way of living. That's the goal this time around, so it's worth it to me to take my time getting it right.

I'm eating foods I enjoy, with changes to keep my carbs down. Today I ate:
Brunch: 2 bacon, 1 egg, 1 slice of keto toast with butter, decaf coffee with half and half
Snack: decaf coffee with sugar free syrup and half and half, over ice, x2
Dinner: nice chunk of pot roast, steamed peas, small scoop of mashed potatoes with butter and gravy.

My ideal diet would be similar but with something like roasted sweet potatoes as the vegetable carb, a piece of fruit with breakfast instead of toast, and several more vegetables at both meals. I'm working on it and taking the next couple of months to build more nutrition into my meals each day.

In the end, it's all about getting to a place where I feel peaceful and healthy... but more importantly, to stay calm and not only accept but embrace the changes I am making along the way. I hope that will make this the last time I have to lose this weight.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Sunday Weigh In and Other Stuff

You know how I said I was going to weigh every day, because then I would catch any rapid changes of multiple pounds before they got out of hand? I figured that unless I went on a binge rampage or ate a block of salt, there is no way I'd see a change of more than a pound or two on the scale overnight or even over a couple of days. And hey, if I see a 2 pound gain, I would get right on that and work it back off before the scale could go up any more. So that's what I've been doing, except I got a real surprise on the scale one morning this week when I stepped on. I'd been staying right at 198, eating pretty healthy and lower carb (my Instagram with my food posted is here: lynescapes) and even dropped down to 197. Then suddenly overnight I had a 2 pound change... in the *right* direction! I totally did not expect to see it but there it was: 195 pounds! And there I have stayed since. That's 3 pounds gone this week, just trying to maintain. Very unexpected, and although I am not actively trying to lose right now and have increased my food (and still slack on the exercise), I am glad there are a few more pounds between me and my maintenance line in the sand, which was 199. I am dropping that to 198 now.

The last time I weighed 195 pounds or less was in early October 2011. I know from looking at my past posts that I was wearing size 14W jeans back then, but I've been wearing 16's this time around.
One of the reasons I decided to just maintain here is because I want to get used to being at this weight and allow my emotions to settle about the weight loss and bodily changes. Last time I lost the weight, I think that anxiety about skin, clothes, and body dysmorphia drove me right back up the scale to a more familiar, comfortable size. I want to avoid that this time around and keep my calm, not only about the food but also about my body and my clothing. Stay this size, get used to the still-very-tolerable bit of loose skin and the clothing that I fit into now without any drama or stress. But there was a bit of a hurdle to that peace this week.

The size 16W jeans I've been wearing have gotten looser and looser over the past month, so I knew I was going to need to grab some smaller ones out of a drawer soon. A few months ago I had neatly folded several pairs of size 16 and 18 capri jean shorts and summer pants (none of which fit me then) and put them in the dresser for spring. What I didn't count on was that ALL of them would be way, way too big for me to wear now. I tried them on yesterday and they're baggy, falling off me. All of them. Even the fairly new ones! Trying on seven or eight pairs of pants and tossing them one by one into the get-rid-of pile brought up all the old feelings I had last time around: sadness, wastefulness, worry about what I will wear. I know lots of people will think "boy I WISH I had that problem! Be thankful you're too small!" and I am. But there is an uneasiness and even a sense of distress every time this happens to me. I had hoped to prevent it by maintaining, but I didn't think about needing to find summer clothes vs. winter clothes. Then this morning I grabbed my favorite grey sweater which I hadn't worn in about a month because it had to be hand washed and I procrastinated... and I was really shocked when it did not look AT ALL like it looked on me last time I wore it! This sweater used to fit me perfectly and was flattering over the winter, but this morning it just hung on me like a bag. Far too big! I could not believe it. I had to change into something else! There is something disconcerting about going to put on your usual favorite, comfortable clothes and having them just be gone. That's how this feels... like someone stole all the clothes I like to wear and now I am starting from scratch learning to wear different things again.

I went to the "smaller clothing" tub but only found size 10's and 12's there. I knew I had 14's somewhere, but where? I hadn't seen them in six and a half years. Eventually, after looking in closets, drawers, under-bed storage and in the guest room, I found an unlabeled storage bin in the garage, half full of blankets and the other half full of jeans. No shorts or capris, just jeans, but all size 14's. And all but one of them fit. So at least I have those to wear until it starts to get hot. In the meantime I will find someone who I can give the too-big clothes to and hope they will be blessed by having them. I'm sure I can find some clothes that I like to wear through the summer.

I have one other thing to share that made me smile. Background: one of my sons bought a house a couple months ago and has been doing some renovations to it. Last month he finally moved into his new house for good. He came over for dinner last night and said to me, "Mom, did you stop eating?" and I said, "What?" He smiled and joked, "Are you not eating? Are you wasting away because you stopped eating because you miss me so much since I moved out?" We had a good laugh, and I'm happy my weight loss is pretty obvious even over the course of the last few weeks.

That's all for now. I did start seeing a counselor this week and will write more on that another time.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Emotional Eating and the Never-Donut Mentality

Been a little stressed, and my eating at times reflects that. A piece of dark chocolate as a snack, mixed vegetable and plantain chips with cheese and nuts as a lunch, a plate of green bean casserole as a meal. The sweet, the creamy, the salty and crunchy are all things that I have used for as long as I can remember as a way to soothe feelings. Well, there used to also be a lot of pizza rolls, donuts, and loaves of bread with butter in there too. So am I just living in the same cycle? Kidding myself that I don't have a problem with emotional eating anymore? I ask myself that every time I eat something specific in response to a feeling or a situation. What is this that I am doing? Is this harmful? Is this going to take me down? How big of a problem is this behavior?

I don't have all the answers, but I have learned a lot on this decade-plus-long journey of not only weight loss, but working at recovery from disordered eating. I do sit back and analyze my food- and exercise-related behaviors and habits, because that's how things change. That's how we learn.

There was an interesting discussion in the comments of the last post with a very helpful and thought-provoking Anon. One of the things I shared there, I wanted to also share here. I said:

"It has been such a slow and sometimes painful recovery for me and I think sometimes those who have never had an ED don't understand why I am here blogging 10 years later and still not 'at goal.' It's because 'goal' was never REALLY about a number or a BMI. It was about getting free from the emotional and mental chains of binge eating disorder, and then compulsive overeating, and then obsessive food thoughts. That takes a lot of time, and weight doesn't always correlate with progress."

In the same vein, it has never *really* been about never eating a brownie again, although there have been times over the years that I thought that's what it was about. To STOP eating candy. To NEVER eat a French fry. To QUIT eating food xyz forever. But in the past year or two I have come to realize that THAT is not the goal either. What good is it to have the "win" of never eating a donut for the rest of my life if I am miserable, struggling, anxious, and obsessed with my food, weight, and eating? The donut may be a small part of the battle, or not... but the real battle, at least for me, is inside. The goal is to find peace with food, and also with weight. If I want to become healthy, I have to focus on those things. I will never be healthy if I am hyperfocused on avoiding the donut. I have to find that peace with food, and the contentment with my weight, and I have to lose the anxiety and compulsion that drives the overeating that led to my morbid obesity. Because when I have that true peace with food, the donut loses its power. Eating lower carb and generally avoiding large servings of sugary foods is also a big physical part of that peace. It keeps my blood sugar stable and helps me avoid the physical cravings that can make it hard to moderate my eating.

I see the progress I've made over the years and how I had to take steps to heal from those issues. I know that I have so much more peace about all of this and very little anxiety, compulsion, or obsession about food now... but that doesn't mean it will never come back. I have to protect the mindset I'm developing about food, to stay at peace. That means if I actually want a donut, I can have one. But you know, I can't remember the last time I had a donut. It's just not a choice I care to make. I do have sweets sometimes, but 90% of the time I choose sugar free and keto. I also have fried foods, chips, and the salty, crunchy things sometimes. I usually pick a healthier alternative (beet chips instead of potato chips, for example) and a much, much smaller portion that I used to want. Or should I say, require. Yes, I do sometimes feel stressed or tired or worn out and decide to eat a food that used to remedy that feeling. The difference is, when I was stressed I used to eat an entire bag of Lay's chips with dip, half a block of cheese, and a whole lot of pizza with Coke. Over time, that has changed... and the other day when I was stressed I had a small handful of veggie chips, one slice of cheese, and less than a quarter cup of nuts, with water. And that little plate (which I had for lunch, *not* as an additional snack) was enough. I felt calm, satisfied, filled. Often I have a different response, like calling a friend, working in the yard, or taking a walk. But occasionally, I do choose food.

Would it be better to *never* choose food in response to emotion? I dunno. I have written a lot about that on this blog, with differing answers depending on where I was in my journey and my understanding of myself. Maybe over time, I will phase out this type of eating. But one thing I do know: taking it out *now* and going with "I will NEVER eat in response to emotion" would upset the apple cart. It would take away my hard-cultivated peace with food and probably result in some frantic eating. I know this because just thinking about taking it away gives me some feelings I don't like. I have worked so hard to STOP frantic eating (and even when I eat in response to emotion, it is a calm, slow eating while enjoying the food) and I don't want to ever dredge it up again. So maybe in time, or maybe not, but for now, this is working for me. I am giving myself grace.

I'd love to hear thoughts from others who have dealt with the emotional eating issue or recovering from an eating disorder. I always learn from the great comments left here! Let me know what you think.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Eating Way, Way More

This week I have sense that my eating has increased a *lot* both in the frequency and amounts. It seems that as I wean off phentermine, my appetite has returned (although cravings have not) and I have indulged that appetite. I've stayed in my lower carb range and still make the same food choices, but I'm eating so much more that it's almost alarming to me. For example, back in the fall I would often have just coffee for breakfast and not eat anything until noon or later. Then I might have a very small meal, but more often I'd just have a Greek yogurt and call it good. I might have a few nuts or a piece of cheese as a snack and then a reasonable dinner. I tracked my calories for several days back then and averaged about 700 a day. Gradually as the months have gone by, I've gotten a bit hungrier and started eating "brunch" more often (an actual meal) along with a snack or two and sometimes a keto dessert. But starting about a week and a half ago, I am eating at least two and usually 3 solid meals every day PLUS a couple of snacks. And the amounts have increased, too. I've also branched out a bit and added some variety, such as very low net carb bagels and breads here and there. They contain a lot of fiber and I think they are actually helping me stay full longer. So for example, here's what I ate yesterday:

3 cups of decaf coffee with half and half or sugar free creamer
an egg fried in butter, a sausage patty, and a piece of low carb toast with butter
an afternoon meal of cheese, a toasted low carb everything bagel with cream cheese, and a large iced coffee with half and half
a keto brownie with whipped cream
a dinner plate of cauliflower rice, Indian chicken curry, palak paneer (cheese and spinach curry), creamy vegetable curry, and raita... and then seconds on the veggies.

I tracked my food for the day and it came out to almost exactly 1600 calories and 58 g carbs. This is probably a bit higher in calories and volume than I usually eat, because of the Indian takeout food. The nice thing is, I'm still losing slowly (down one pound from last Sunday's 199). I am trying to maintain, am eating enough that I am very satisfied, was pretty slack in the exercise department this week (will remedy that shortly) and feel good. I am very happy about that, and surprised. My healthy habits are paying off.