Monday, December 15, 2014

Word from the ED Counselor: on Guilt and Depression

I went to see Cloe this morning and got some words. I spilled many of my own, too... mainly talking about my feeling that even though life is "good" right now, I don't *feel* "good." I had a rough last two years or so, some of which I blogged about and some of which I didn't. A lot of the hard stuff is now *past* (the death of my best friend, my being in chronic pain and unable to walk normally or at all, medical crises of family members, etc) and I feel I should be "over it"... but I'm not. I thought that when I was able to walk again and wasn't in pain every hour of every day, I would be so much happier. I thought that after a year of grieving, the depression would lift and I would miss him less and start to feel better. I thought that when they got through the hard medical stuff with fairly good results, I would be relieved. I thought the stress and sadness would dissipate and in its place, rays of sunshine would bean down on me from above, warming me... my arms raised, my face turned upward basking in the brightness with a great, big smile and a new joy and energy glowing from every pore.

But it just didn't happen that way.

When all of that stuff was going on, I think I had a right to be depressed. I mean, anyone would be depressed going through those kinds of things. But now that the bad stuff is over I look around for my rainbows and springtime and it's just not there. And now, I feel guilty for being depressed.

"There is nothing to be depressed about!" I tell myself. "You should be thankful that your son is alive. You should be grateful your child is well. You should be doing somersaults of joy that your plantar fasciitis is FINALLY gone. You should be glad you can walk again." But I'm not doing somersaults and although I am super thankful for good results and outcomes, for some reason the depression didn't go away. And that is the guilt: I SHOULD BE happy now.

Cloe talked to me about how depression works and doesn't work, that it's not always brought on by something bad happening and doesn't always go away when things are fine. And long periods of high stress or pain actually changes brain chemistry. It can take awhile... and a lot of work... to get it back to a normal, non-depressed state.

We talked about how sugar has become my drug again recently, as I self-medicate to relieve the depression and guilt. She validated my feelings that eating a cupcake DOES WORK... in the short term. I can feel so low, so confined by my own feelings, so unable to function some days but if I think to myself "I can go get a cupcake at the bakery" I suddenly perk up, and as I take that first bite the sugar rush truly makes me feel *so much better." I feel normal... happy! All the sadness and feeling of "blah" literally disappears. I eat that thing and I am great for an hour! I have energy, I feel more positive and cheery and everything I'd been wanting to feel. But then every time without fail, by the time the two hour mark rolls around I feel worse. Depressed, tired, and craving more sugar.

I know this, but it is hard to say no to that sugar fix that will make the depression instantly vanish, even for a little while. A couple of times a week, I just get so tired of being tired and sad and hopeless that I go to the store or the bakery and get a brownie or something. Just one. I know better than to make a batch at home. And I eat it and feel great. And this past week when I have done that I have been buying a little extra, one more cookie or a bar of chocolate to bring home so I can "fix" my depression later when I can't take it anymore. It is a very effective "medication" for me, but the side effects are just awful, and it only works in the very short term.

Cloe talked to me about making some changes in what I have been doing. She told me that I need to form a Delay Habit: when I decide I am going to go buy a cookie or eat a square of chocolate or whatever, I have to FORCE MYSELF to do 3 other things first. They can be things off my to-do list, things I need to do around the house, cleaning or laundry or taking a walk. And once I have completed those 3 things, *if I still need to* I can go and buy that cookie. So I am going to do that since obviously the cold turkey thing has not been working for me. Cloe thinks I will feel better about myself for having done the three things, and this may snowball into doing even more things instead of eating. And that if I break the habit this way and start to change things, eventually I will not feel such a strong drive to self-medicate with sugar.

She also told me I can work on self-love and not feeling guilty about being depressed. We talked about how I know others who are depressed and I would never dream of judging them or saying "she has nothing to be depressed about!" because I do understand the nature of depression. I just don't think to apply that same compassion to myself. I also need to remember that it is possible to be grateful and depressed at the same time. Being depressed does not mean you are self-centered, don't appreciate what you have, or are ungrateful. Depressed is not synonymous with having a pity party. It is a medical, physical condition and not a sign of moral weakness or lack of good character. I need to address the condition, not feel guilty for having it.

There is more, but I'll write later. Thank you for hearing me.

Monday, December 8, 2014

What's My Plan?

When I posted last week with my regain pictures, I got some very thoughtful comments: some with support, some with suggestions, some asking what my plan is now. And that is the question that is sticking in my head: what's your plan? And my immediate answer is, I don't know. I am all planned out. I am highly resistant to starting any more plans, diets, regimens, etc. I hesitate to make anymore proclamations about what I am going to do and how determined I am to do it, because I am sick of doing that and then failing. I have spent YEARS now picking a plan, doing the plan... sometimes for a few weeks, sometimes for a few months or even a couple of years... but always, always in the past it has eventually fallen apart and ended in some kind of long, long plateau or regain. And now I am looking at it, wanting to make changes and "fix" this, but I have such a hard time believing anymore: believing it can be done and not end in another regain.

I do not like being this heavy, this big. I do not like lacking the energy to do the things I enjoy, and I know I am not healthy right now. I wake up every morning and pick-a-plan (my go-to's being calorie counting, low carb, AIP, or Medifast) and go at it until about 3pm and then fall apart. It happens every time I try to "start" something. When I say "fall apart" I mean I eat something that puts me into the "off plan" category. Like so:

On a day when I have decided to do AIP, I might have my bacon/avocado/veggies breakfast, some soup and fruit for lunch, and then eat a piece of lasagna in the afternoon.

On a day when I am trying to do Medifast-ish (I have about a month's worth of meal supplements left over from the Packet Days, including Medifast and Wonderslim), I will have my packets at 8, 10, and 12 and then go have a bowl of chili with corn chips, cheese, and sour cream.

On a day when I am calorie counting, I will open Sparkpeople and track my Greek yogurt for breakfast, my banana for a snack, my chicken salad with crackers for lunch, and then eat a dinner of large helpings, unmeasured, with calorie amounts decidedly over my "limit" for the day.

Why? Why the self sabotage? Why do I keep doing these things? I take breaks in between these "diet days" and try to just eat rational amounts of healthy foods but I end up saying yes to the chocolate truffle sample in the mall, and yes to a few slices of cheese in the afternoon, and yes to a nice comforting bowl of pudding before bed. And all of that is enough to make me NOT lose weight... maybe even keep gaining if I am not careful. It's not that ONE chocolate truffle ruins my chances. It's not that a few slices of cheese can't fit into a calorie counting plan. It's that I quit working it after lunch and give up. It's easier to eat what's easy, what's comforting, what I want.

So when you ask what my plan is, I don't know. I guess my plan is to calorie count and try harder to not give up after lunch. It's the least restrictive of my options. My plan is to increase my activity (which has been the plan for a long time... and I get going for a few days or a week and then quit. I haven't been swimming or lifting or biking more than a couple times in... weeks I guess. Just walking, and not often enough) and to eat better. I know what to do. I don't know why I am not doing it.

I had an appointment with my ED counselor, Cloe, last week, but my daughter was sent home from school sick that day just an hour before the appointment and I had to cancel. I tried to call and ask if we could do the appointment over the phone, but never got a call back. I have another appointment next week. I don't know if that is going to be the answer, or if getting more support (which I am looking into) will be the answer, or if the answer is somewhere inside me. None of this makes sense to me. Everything in my brain knows I need to lose weight. I want to. I want to be healthy, and exercise, and eat well, and feel as good as I used to feel. So why am I having a hard time with it? I don't get it. Is it subconscious? Biological? Emotional? Laziness? I wish I knew.

I will keep trying every day. I don't binge, although I overeat and I eat the "wrong" foods for whatever I am trying to do on any given day. There is no way a 500 calorie piece of cheesecake is going to fit into my calorie counting plan when my Metabolic Rate testing said that I have to eat less than 1440 calories/day AND exercise 30 minutes a day AND have an active lifestyle to lose any weight. So what I choose to eat really matters and has to be higher volume, higher nutrition, lower calories.

I have to do it but where is the DOING IT going to come from? It has to come from within, somehow, and this time around, I haven't quite figured out how to make that happen.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Picture of a Regain: 68 Pounds Gained

Well this was about the most miserable post ever...

I used to so enjoy taking progress pictures for my blog. From my very first "30 Pounds Gone" photo post to the exciting "100 Pounds Gone" post, it was great to compare these pictures and see my progress from the "before" pictures on the front page of my blog. Every ten pounds I took pictures. I was so excited, proud of how my hard work was paying off, and amazed at the transformation of my body.

Seeing the pounds pile back on as I've regained weight has not been so fun. Seeing the fat layering back onto my body in different, strange ways has been alarming. I tried. I fought. After the initial, rapid regain, I've been going up and down the same 20 or 30 pounds for a couple of years trying to recapture that weight loss success I once enjoyed. But every time I'd lose, it would eventually come back even faster. Unstoppable, it seemed.

It feels like I am in a car going 90 miles an hour, strapped in the passenger seat and about to crash. It's like slow motion: I see the wall or truck or tree ahead that we are hurtling toward. I know it's happening; I slam my foot against the floorboard in a gut reaction, even though I'm not the one driving. Or maybe I am, but when I slam down my foot, the brake pedal is gone. It feels like that. Out of control. Terrifying. You might think that's an exaggeration. But if you have ever gained ten pounds in a week, or twenty in a month, and no matter what you do you can't seem to stick to any plan of action for long enough to get 30 pounds back off, you know this frightening feeling. Yet when I step back and take *all* the emotion out of it, my mind tells me, "look, there's the brake. Apply it. There's a path around the collision course. Take it. You do not have to do this." Easy to think. So very hard to do.

I am trying to do it... to stop letting my emotions drive my actions. I am working at being more logical in the moment... putting the food down and saying no to the things I want to eat instead of letting my panic, sadness, or anxiety grab the wheel and steer me into trouble. But for now, here's where I am.

I took these pictures after Thanksgiving, weighing 243 pounds. That is a gain of 68 pounds from my low weight of 175 back in October 2010... over four years ago. I did not really want to take these pictures, much less post them. When I looked at them I thought, "oh, I don't look that bad." But then I went looking at my old progress pictures on my blog: 80 pounds, 90 pounds, 100 pounds gone. And I started to feel sick, just sick at how far I had come and how good I looked and how I threw that away. I never would have DREAMED I would "let" myself regain this much weight... never! Yet here I am. comparing the pictures is devastating to me and I want to cry because I want that back. I want a time machine to go back and hang on, hold on tight and not let that accomplishment go. But all I can do is look to the future and pray I will be strong enough, committed enough to make it happen again.

So here are my "68 Pounds Regained" pictures.

weight regain picturesweight regain pictures

Compared to my 100 Pounds Gone pictures:

Really upsetting to me... very much so. 

I have to console myself with the thoughts that a) I still look a lot better than I did in the "before" pictures at 278 pounds, b) I can fix this. I have to believe that.

Going forward from here I will take pics every time I hit the old "ten pound" marks so I can compare them to the ones I took originally. This one is close to the old 238 pictures so I will wait 15 pounds for the next ones. See you at 228.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Reflections on Thanksgiving

Well that was great! I woke up feeling so content this morning. I got to sleep in for the first time in ages and am still in my fuzzy robe with a cup of hot, black decaf coffee. It's going to be a wonderful day!

Yesterday was so nice. As always, I did all the cooking and made the traditional dishes: roasted (fresh, free range) turkey, gravy, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole, rolls, gravy, corn, cranberry sauce, Snicker salad, and two kinds of pies. We ate and had sparkling cider and then had fun together visiting. My son brought over his new video game system and we all played together (I am so bad at video games!). We also walked the dogs and then watched a movie together. There's nothing I like better than family time! It is even more precious to me as the kids get older and have their own separate lives. I love being together as a family. As my daughter said to me at bedtime last night, "this was the BEST Thanksgiving ever!"

Frankly I am just so glad I wasn't trying to eat from packets or change all the spices or measure everything I was eating and worrying about calories. I don't know why it is, but I tend to get *more worried* about healthy eating during the holidays, even if I haven't been very consistent in the weeks leading up to it. This time I followed my decision I blogged about the other day, and ate normal portions of the things I liked best and small tastes of other things. It was so perfect! So nice not to be stressed about the food, or worried about whether or not I was within some carb range, or feeling guilty later about what I ate. I think Cloe is right about "normalizing" food... at least in cases like this. I still don't agree that I should go have a serving of potato chips whenever I want them (I would be gaining weight AND getting unhealthier so fast!), but it makes sense not to be freaking out about stuff like Thanksgiving, potluck dinners, or meals at friends' houses. I think accepting imperfection helps me feel like I don't need to go overboard if I am not perfect. Not sure if that makes sense to you, but after doing some of the homework Cloe has given me, I am starting to understand that "normalizing", for me, may not look like bowls of ice cream or candy bars. It looks more like an emotional thing... normalizing my feelings surrounding what I eat and how much. It's about not being afraid of eating, and not being insanely controlling of every particle I come in contact with like I had to be on Medifast, South Beach, and AIP. Yes, I still believe AIP is the healthiest and best way for me to eat (with reintroductions). But for me to do it in a mentally healthy way, I have to not see it as a "diet" or a controlling thing. It has to not raise my stress level. I know I am not explaining it very well... I will have to think about it some more and try again later. But I hope you get the gist.

Today I am NOT going out shopping, but I will be going for a walk, cleaning the house, relaxing, reading, and doing some shopping online. I'll be making my delicious turkey soup from the leftover turkey bones and meat, with lots of vegetables added. Oh, and I will be eating the leftover green bean casserole for breakfast! I hope your holidays were as happy as mine!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving on a Diet

Every year, the same holidays come and go. We have our traditional foods for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. Some years I have struggled because I was on some kind of a special diet and couldn't ("shouldn't") eat some of those traditional things. I still *wanted* them, but some years I made do with substitutes.

When I was counting calories, I used low fat cream of mushroom soup in the green beans, made gravy without any fat drippings, ate only white meat, and didn't put butter in the stuffing. When I was low carbing, stuffing was completely off limits as were the sweet potatoes, pies, and dinner rolls. On Medifast, there were none of the traditional sides... but I could have turkey and plain green beans and mashed cauliflower. Going gluten-free means the stuffing, pies, and rolls would need substitutions, and on AIP there would be nothing in my traditional menu that I could eat except turkey, plain steamed green beans, and baked plain sweet potatoes. 

As I was planning for Thanksgiving dinner this week, with the kids coming home and expecting their favorite dishes, I contemplated just what to do with my menu. Some of it is easy: roasted turkey is always great for everyone, and I can make the gravy gluten-free and low fat easily. I can mash potatoes and bake dinner rolls and pies for the kids and not eat any. But what about the rest? Green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, Snicker salad... all can be made healthier as I discovered my first year blogging. My big decision was whether to try and make those things gluten-free and/or AIP compliant. I still have not returned to the AIP elimination phase and I have not been all that careful about gluten this week either. 

I decided to just make them healthier and enjoy smaller portions. It's not so much because I want those foods *so badly*. My favorite Thanksgiving food is stuffing. Everything else I can take or leave. I just don't care enough about those foods to do all the extra work to make them AIP/gluten free, when I am 1) the only here who cares and 2) the only one doing all the cooking and associated work. I am going to make this as easy and non-labor-intensive for myself as possible and enjoy the time with my family, along with some turkey, gravy, green beans, and stuffing. If I feel like having other things I'll have them in moderation. It's one day. I am not going to stress over it trying to be perfect when I am not perfect any other day anyway. I want the focus to be not on the food, but on family and gratitude. That is what will bring me joy... not the food.

I hope all of you will take time on Thanksgiving Day to reflect on what you are thankful for, enjoy the positive things and beloved people in your life. I am thankful for my family and my home, for my friends and for all of the wonderful people I have met blogging. You make the world a better place by your kindness! I thank you and truly believe you will be blessed for the way you have lifted me up in my times of difficulty, with your words, your thoughts, your prayers. I am so happy to be associated with so many people with good kind hearts and I hope I can somehow return the kindness to you, and I pray blessings on your families! Happy Thanksgiving!

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