Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Fixing Emotional Eating

I'm on day 5 of my cleanse and so far I am feeling pretty much the same as before. No "symptoms", no headache or digestive issues, nothing weird going on. Absolutely no effect at all. The only thing even remotely different is that this morning I had no appetite and still don't. I am not nauseous or anything, I just don't feel like eating, so I had a protein shake instead. That works fine! It is a ten day cleanse so I will finish it up and see if anything is different. I did have a couple of comments and emails worrying that this was a "diet" but I want to assure you it is not. It is just herbs (Parasite Pro) that are noted for their anti-parasitic, cleansing properties. They're supposed to kill off anything bad you have living in your gut. Like I said before, I'm skeptical, but my friend had such great results I figured I'd give it a try. There is no change in eating involved. I just eat my pizza and ice cream and take a couple pills and everything is normal.

On Sunday I was back down 2 pounds to 250 again... just normal fluctuation from hormones, salt, foods eaten, etc. I have become non-reactive to the scale and it is such a good feeling! I did not have any difference in emotions when I was up 2 pounds to 252 or when I was down 2 pounds. It's all the same, I have no excitement or disappointment about the numbers. If I weighed tomorrow and saw 247 it would be no different than seeing 253. I don't "hope" I lose weight and I am not worried about gaining. Isn't that a wonderful freedom?

My eating is feeling natural and not disordered. There is no anxiety about it. If I want to make vegetable soup, I do that. If I feel like having a frozen eggroll, that's okay too! I have, over the past few weeks, STOPPED myself from even thinking about calories, protein, fat, carbs etc because my anxiety would rise when I got into that mindset. But now that things are calm, I am making calm decisions to make choices that are what I consider good for my health. For example I have started to lower my carb load in a way that does not feel restrictive to me (choosing root vegetables instead of grains, or choosing lower GI fruits, or picking healthier natural meats over things like processed sausage or deli meats). I am making these choices slowly and carefully and if I were to start feeling stressed I would just stop. I am training myself to have NO stress about food, diet, and weight. That is the most important thing to me!

This is something I have actually been working on for a year or so. Last winter I had decided to work on lowering my emotions around eating, and on NOT dieting. But it was hard, and I couldn't seem to REALLY believe I could be free from the diet mentality. I also was still stuck in that deep inner fear of being fat (forever) or fatter (than I have ever been) and deep down I believed that the ONLY way I would ever get to the weight I wanted to be was by some kind of diet or restriction. It was a step in the right direction (trying to calm down the ED about food) but I didn't go deep enough. It led me here, though, and this feels different than anything else I have ever done. I appreciate everyone who has been so supportive of me doing this, even though you might not understand it fully. I welcome questions. I don't have any written instructions for this; it's not like the Whole 30 or AIP where everything is written out for you and you follow X rules to get Y result. There is no mapped out course to recover from disordered eating alone. I am kind of winging it, but I have a lot of experience and knowledge about what has NOT worked and what MAY work and I am going with my gut, too, in a way. The bottom line is I refuse to be owned and driven by a number on the scale and by what everyone else thinks I "should" eat/do. It's my life and I am shaping it into what I want it to be. It may not be as fast with results on a scale as with other methods, but it is getting me results that others cannot see...permanent, meaningful, and healthy results.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Parasites, Weight Gain, and Tiredness

Good morning and happy weekend! It's me again, dropping in to share that I weighed myself again this morning and after another week of NOT dieting and feeling quite content about that, I am up another two pounds to 252. How do I feel about that? Fine! Believe it or not, I have zero stress or anxiety about my weight, food, or diet and that is a welcome relief from the years of food and weight obsession that drove me from diet plan to diet plan. As I said in prior posts, I don't believe I will just get "fatter and fatter" as some suggested by doing this; to the contrary, as my eating disorder goes into remission I will be much better able to lose weight and be healthy without making that the focus of my thoughts and life. Guess we'll see!

Now about the parasites I mentioned in the title. I have a friend who goes to a naturopath (not local, so not a naturopath I am able to see). She has been talking to me about how tired she was but doctors could not find anything in her blood work or exam that should cause her long term fatigue. She also has had a heck of a time losing about 50 pounds she had gained in her late 30's and 40's. Finally, she went to a naturopath who told her it was likely that she had internal parasites causing her fatigue and inability to lose weight. So she put my friend on a 10-day herbal parasite cleanse, which she took and then rested for 2 weeks and repeated. Apparently most Americans have parasites of some type, at some point in their lives and they can range from microscopic to liver flukes to intestinal worms (ewwww!!!). Maybe this is TMI for some of you, but when I asked my friend if she actually SAW anything in the toilet during her parasite cleanse, she said there were only tiny white specks and some things that looked like brown pieces of tomato skins (which turned out to be liver flukes). There can be far more things that pass unseen, from what she told me.

Well, I am a skeptic, and for good reason. Fifteen years ago when my mother was very ill and bloated for weeks and the regular doctors could not give her any reason, she went to a naturopath too. She was told she had parasites and put on a cleanse. I don't know if the cleanse worked at all but what everyone missed was that my mother had ovarian cancer. She was dead before she ever got to go back to that naturopath. So I have some resentment and skepticism towards "natural" practitioners... because they missed cancer and sent her on a wild goose chase after tapeworms. Anyway, if I hadn't seen the change in my friend with my own eyes I would just have rolled them at the thought of a parasite cleanse. Hello, we wash our hands after we use the bathroom or change a diaper. We wash our produce and eat clean foods. We don't eat dirt and we don't eat raw, parasite-ridden meats. There is no way I have any bugs, critters, or microscopic grossness lounging around in my body. NOPE.

She is a clean person too. She had the same doubts. But she SAW results not just in what was eliminated but in her health. Her energy level increased. Her "brain fog" went away. And her weight gain gradually went away as she lost over 30 pounds in the months after the cleanse, without severe dieting. She had tried lots of diets but had a huge appetite and desire for sweets and carbs, and that went away after her cleanse, too. I know I always thought parasites = weight LOSS = skinny sickly person as the parasites take your nutrients for themselves... but what she tells me is that only *some* parasites cause those issues (famously, tapeworms, which people used to eat to lose weight). Other smaller and microscopic parasites cause their host to crave and overeat and GAIN weight to sustain the parasites, while still sucking up all the nutrients to make the host tired and grumpy and deficient in certain nutrients. I am not posting a bunch of parasite info links here; you can easily do your own research on various parasites and cleanses. My goal here is to explain why I am doing one myself!

After seeing her results I decided why not? It can't hurt to give it a try. Like I said, I eat clean food and am hygienic but hey, we were all kids once and what little kid has not eaten dirt by accident or walked barefoot outside at some point? I have never done a cleanse so perhaps sometime in my 47 years I picked up something that is contributing to my long-term struggle with fatigue and weight gain. I chose this one because of the ingredients, all of which I looked up and they make sense to me: Parasite Pro. I started taking it yesterday (2 pills, 3 times a day for ten days) and I feel fine. I don't expect to visibly SEE any results (meaning I don't think I have anything that would be visible and am not going to prod around the toilet to find out) but hope to feel more energetic when this is done. And no, I have not had any digestive symptoms (upset stomach, urgency to use the bathroom, etc) taking this and neither did my friend (whose cleanse was a different brand but many of the same ingredients). I have read and been told that a day or two into the cleanse, you lose your taste for sweets. I haven't had cravings lately but I do like sweets a little too much! Maybe this will help. I'll keep you informed.

I might do some other herbal cleanses if this one works well. My friend's naturopath is having her do a liver cleanse so I may look into that next.

That's it for now. I had some delicious eggs, sausage, and a bit of red potatoes with coffee for breakfast and it's a gorgeous day for a nice, long walk! Enjoy your weekend!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Not Dieting

Hey I hit 250 this week! Not miles on my bike... no, that would be zero... but 250 pounds. Yes, I got on the scale yesterday and that's what I saw. That is up 5 pounds from the last time I weighed (I think. I have not been writing it down). I also had to go out and buy a pair of size 20W jeans because the 18's got too tight. I figured I would share here because I do want to have some sort of record of my weight while I am healing from disordered eating. Speaking of which...

Here's some of the choices I have made recently. I did not make my eating choices based on weight *at all.* Sometimes I made them based on health. Sometimes I made them based on what I felt like eating. Other times I ate what was easiest, what was available, or what was offered. Occasionally I regretted eating something, but not because of weight/diet. Instead, I regretted it because it was not as good as I'd imagined and the health impact of that food was not worth the taste of it. But the best thing is I remained calm about my food, eating, and weight. I have had zero anxiety, stress, or obsessive thoughts about food and zero occasions of compulsive eating. That is my victory.

Breakfasts: some mornings I ate hearty meals. Other days I just had black coffee all morning. If I wasn't hungry, I just skipped it. Today I had leftover thin crust spinach Alfredo pizza for breakfast. Another day I had a bowl of vegetable soup. On a trip, we stayed in a hotel and I ate scrambled eggs with sausage gravy on top, and a fresh apple. Several days, I had a poached egg or two... with or without bacon, and with or without a piece of toast. One day I just had a protein shake for the morning.

Lunch and Dinner: I've cooked soups several times and included lots of vegetables and protein in those, but not pasta or rice. I've had some canned soups, too... mainly tomato or cream of mushroom. On our trip I had a dinner of chicken fried steak with gravy, a baked potato, green beans, and a salad with Ranch. I was only able to eat half of each part of that meal, but it was very good. I have let myself enjoy foods that I had crossed off the list years ago due to being fried or breaded or higher carb. But as you can see, all those years of cutting those things out didn't result in weight loss anyway. So I am enjoying what I want and making healthy choices for *most* meals... although I did have some sweet potato fries and a caramel fudge sundae this week too.

Snacks: I eat fruit for many of my snacks: apples, Clementines, pears, berries, melon. I had cucumbers dipped in Ranch a time or two. I also have raw almonds sometimes, or a string cheese. If I want crackers I have them, but I find I don't really want them very often.

Yeah, my old Diet Self would say I am indulging and making bad choices. But I am done being ruled by guilt and making food a moral issue. I firmly believe that after all these years of dieting, the only way I am going to get to a comfortable weight and be healthy for good is to let go of all of that and let my body naturally lead the way to where it wants to be.

Feeling good today, and looking forward to fall and the holidays! Hope you are too.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Fatter and Fatter

A long time ago, before I started this blog, I saw a number on the scale that really freaked me out. That number was 283 pounds... the highest number I remember ever seeing on a scale. I don't remember what I went home and comforted myself with after that doctor's appointment, but I could guess it had something to do with Pizza Rolls, Ranch dressing, Coke, and my good pal Little Debbie. I wasn't ready back then to do the work of losing weight, because I could not imagine giving up those foods and the numbing relief I experienced when I shoved things in my mouth one after the other until it was all gone. I felt powerlessly compelled to binge eat huge amounts of junk, in volumes that seemed to defy physics. I still look back at my early blogging days in which I listed what I ate during those types of binges, and I am amazed. I remember eating all of that, but I have no understanding of how it all fit in my stomach and how my body did not reject it and puke it all back up. I can't eat large volumes anymore. It's been so long since I have eaten like that that I assume my stomach has shrunk back to a normal size. I'm full on a couple slices of pizza or one burger if I choose to eat those kinds of foods. I always have a to-go box with half my meal in it if we eat out. Physically things are very different after years of *not* binge eating.

Lots of people have expressed concern for me that I have "given up" dieting; one commenter even asked if I am just going to "get fatter and fatter." Well, no. I don't plan to take up binge eating again, or dive headfirst into junk food, or lay around eating all day gaining weight. That's not at all what this is about. Let me try to explain.

I have lost large amounts of weight a couple of times with a few different methods. I lost as much as 103 pounds before but regained most of that weight. All along the way, people here have told me things like, "you will never keep the weight off unless you fix the mental stuff first" or "weight loss surgery won't work if you don't address the root cause." And "you have to get your head straight before you can succeed at keeping the weight off." I knew all of that, of course, that there are emotional reasons, mental triggers that were the bottom line cause of my obesity. It's not a lack of knowledge or laziness driving this weight... it's something deeper. I spent a lot of time addressing those things as I lost weight before. I learned to feel my feelings instead of avoiding them with food. I dealt with old emotional scars that were eating me up inside and made peace with many people and circumstances that had been the source of inner pain. I healed much of what was driving the disordered eating, to the point I was able to completely stop binge eating. Later while on AIP after a regain, I found more things that were driving obsessive food thoughts and leading to compulsive eating (which is not the same as binge eating. For example, a binge might be 3, 4 or more candy bars eaten in rapid succession with a sense of panic and feeling out of control, but obsessive food thoughts might lead me to drive to the store and buy ONE candy bar and eat it, or even just a few bites of it, out of feeling compelled to do so.) But now, I think I've finally gotten to a new level of discovery about this whole eating thing.

When I recently started to count calories again, which involved a lot of attention to food (weighing, counting, measuring, logging, adding, planning, etc) I began to see a resurrection of obsessive food thoughts, desire to "diet," and desires to compulsively eat. I did not like that at ALL. It was destroying my peace and I felt like I was feeding the eating disorder monster... waking it back up from its hibernation. But when I stopped, I *really* stopped. Since that day I have not weighed, measured, counted, tracked ANY of my food. I have not restricted any food groups. I stopped weighing and stopped feeling guilty about what and when I eat and when or how long I do or don't exercise. And I felt a peace. I got off the Diet train and let go of all the shoulds, as I wrote in my last post.

This does not mean I am just giving up. Far from it! This means... get this... that I have finally done what everyone told me needed to be done: fix your head before you can fix the weight. It has taken a long time to keep healing this eating disorder. It's complicated. Even people who get professional help with this kind of thing often take years to fully recover. And it has taken me years (meanwhile going up and down the scale several times) but I feel like this is the place I needed to get to all this time. If I can be calm and have no angst about food, weight, diet, etc... THAT is a healing from disordered eating and a return to mental and emotional *peace* that I believe WILL lead to better health and even a natural return to a healthy weight over time.

In other words, no. I don't believe anymore that weight loss requires "a lot of work" or "focus" or any of the things I did before to lose weight. In fact, I think letting go of all the drama and just having peace about all of it is THE key to healing the whole shebang: compulsive eating, obsessive food thoughts, and yes, obesity.

I am done shoving a round peg into a square hole. I am choosing to eat well because I want to, most of the time, and when I don't, I eat the bowl of Cheetos. Fine. I no longer feel like I HAVE to drive to the store RIGHT NOW to buy some random food, and eat it right now, because I know it'll be there later or tomorrow and really I don't care about it that much, and if I want it I can have it and so what? I am still a good person.

So I am fixing the last of the mental and emotional stuff. The triggers are going away. I am happy and content with how things are right now. And in no way do I believe that getting my head straight in this regard will lead to me getting "fatter and fatter."

Thursday, October 6, 2016

No More Drama

I am happy. I feel content. For the first time in a lot of years, I actually think the whole "issue" of eating, weight, diet, and being upset at how I look is gone. I mean it is *really* gone. I can't remember ever feeling this way before, going back to when I first developed disordered eating... which was probably about 20 years ago. All this time, all of it, I have had that nagging feeling that I am not good enough, that my body needs something about it changed, that there is something wrong with my eating or my activity level or just something wrong with *me.* I always wanted to be something I wasn't. I was always trying to be something else: thinner, more active, less obsessed, smaller. Even when I got 103 pounds off I was not content. Yes I was happy about the weight loss... thrilled about it... but I was still wanting to lose MORE weight and was horrified about the loose skin situation. I was never really just content with the place I was *right then.*

I have had the voice of food obsession nagging me from the back of my mind over most of the past 15 years. I was a binge eater for a long time. Compulsive eating destroyed my inner peace. And when all of that was quieted, usually by a change in diet over months (like when I was on Medifast or AIP), I *still* had the edgy feeling that I was not enough, I needed to be doing more, be more perfect. I should move more, take more steps per day. I should strength train. I should bike, I should walk, I should eat less carbs, more protein, less calories... I should, I should, I should... all the way into a feeling of never quite being content.

I have come to the realization that *those* inner voices... the ones telling me I should be doing xyz or I should fit into a size 8 or I should be smaller... those are just as disordered and just as unhealthy as the obsessive eating voices. I did not know how to make it stop, or even that it was possible for it to stop, or healthy for it to stop. I thought that this drive to change was *good* because it would make me do whatever I needed to do to get healthy, lose weight. Obviously that is not true. Somehow over the past couple of weeks, after my trial with calorie counting and then letting that go, I also let everything else go. I don't mean I went back to chowing down on junk or binge eating or just not caring about myself. I mean I let go of all those expectations and demands and *shoulds* I have been putting on myself for so long. I didn't let it go consciously; it just happened. Gradually over the past couple weeks as I stopped fighting myself, let the obsessiveness fade, ALL of that inner dialogue stopped. And just today, I noticed the silence. I suddenly *heard* the silence... the lack of inner drama about my weight and what I "should" be doing and about food and exercise and all of it. And in its place, there is this beautiful peace. I can't even describe it. I haven't "heard" it in almost two decades. But I hear it now.

I am very much soaking in the peacefulness of this state of mind. There is a self acceptance and calm I have longed for. I wish I could tell you how this happened, but it just did. I guess I stopped trying to force myself into things, without stopping trying to just do nice things for myself. I made some soup last night from many healthful things... vegetables, grass fed beef... and I did it because I love myself and I wanted to make something good. It had nothing to do with any weight program or diet or shoulds. If I had wanted to make a cheesecake I would have made that instead. I had a really great vegetable panini today for lunch and it had nothing to do with cravings or inner drama or weight or any of that. I walked today for the joy of walking and to see the leaves changing and smell the fall air, and it had nothing to do with fitness or weight loss or shoulds. Does that make sense? I am living to live. I am doing to do. There are no goals or shoulds and as a result, no more guilt. This is the best I have felt in a very long time. I know true contentment and happiness.

Where this takes me, I don't know. It will take me somewhere. I hope I always feel like this and never get caught up in the drama of food and diet obsession again.