Friday, June 17, 2016

Thoughts on Past and Future


Back when I used to binge eat, I had hundreds of "favorite" foods. I dreamed and fantasized about practically everything in the supermarket (except the healthy foods) and always, every day, *wanted* them. In 2007 I hit a place where I was miserable with my eating AND my body; not only did I feel gross, hate how I looked, hate how I ate, and have major health concerns starting to pop up, but I also hated the way I thought about food. I felt guilty every minute of the day when I was not eating, for what I had eaten and what I would be eating. I'd say summer 2007 was the pinnacle of my eating disorder. It wasn't just the foods (which were awful choices and huge amounts) and the actions (of eating more every time my stomach had digested enough to fit more into it)... it was the mental state I was in. I think the stress of having critically ill and disabled children in the years prior to 2007 put me in a state of mental shock and the way I coped with it all was by binge eating and food obsession. That state of mind was hard. SO hard. You really have no idea what it is like to be consumed by your thoughts to the point of destructive action unless you have lived it. It is heartbreakingly miserable.

It took a lot of work and healing to get out of that place. There were trials of medications and stints with counselors, but the thing that truly brought me out of that hell hole was blogging. Thank God I found blogging, because if I hadn't, I think I would still be there, if I'd survived this long. Writing all the feelings, the experiences, sharing and hearing back from others who have been there was SO healing to me. It brought my mind out of the obsession and enabled me to think clearly again. And I have to thank you for being here, reading, commenting, all these years, because I don't think I would have kept blogging and trying if there was no feedback at all. The feedback helped me so much.

The place I am now is not ideal. If I had my way, I would daily eat my "favorite" foods, which are much more limited now that I am out of the binge mindset. My favorite foods seem silly and childish: hot dogs. Chocolate. American cheese. Bacon. Ice cream and pizza. That's pretty much it (oh and iced coffee!) Party foods, right? Total junk, most of it. They're the foods I still want and even sometimes crave, but I never binge on them anymore. I think I don't binge because I allow myself to have them without feeling that old familiar guilt. I also acknowledge that some of them don't work well for weight loss and some (hot dogs) make me feel horrible if I eat them. I work around it and have a slice of pizza now and then but usually opt for the cauliflower crust version. I have my square of dark chocolate every day if I want one, and I have pastured local bacon for breakfast a lot. I just let those foods in a little bit and I'm okay with it.

It's when I start eating a lot of my not-favorite foods that are unhealthy that I start feeling icky and letting them crowd out the healthier produce and protein. I realize that because I had that chocolate almond bar the other day, I did not eat the blueberries in the fridge. I know that when I have junkier, carbier foods for dinner I am less likely to prepare vegetables to go with it. Who wants to ruin a nice comforting bowl of homemade mac and cheese by adding a side of steamed broccoli? (That's a mindset... comforting OR healthy... that I am breaking out of by always making vegetables as sides.)

Anyway, when I compare life now to life back in the binge days, I am so grateful. I am no longer miserable and hating how I eat, act, and think. I feel clear headed and joyful. Food no longer occupies my every waking moment and I have zero desire to binge.

So what is left for me is the improvement of my health and that includes weight loss. Sometimes I think I am just not miserable enough or unhappy enough with my body to be motivated to change, again. But then I know that I don't want to wait for a health crisis to motivate me to make changes. I want to do them now, not motivated by fear or pressure but by love for myself and the desire to be the most joyful I can be. To do that, I have to re-examine WHY I am eating the way I am... just as I had to examine my reasons when I started this blog, in order to stop binge eating.

Today's food:
black decaf coffee, because I have this every morning when I wake up
protein shake, because I was somewhat hungry but didn't want to cook
samples of fruit at the farmer's market, because it is healthy and I wanted my daughter to try them too
freshly juiced kale, cucumber, Granny Smith apple, and lime because I wanted some refreshment and nutrition
egg salad sandwich with a few chips, because I was shopping with someone who wanted to stop in a sandwich shop and eat, and I did not want to just sit there sipping my green drink, so I ordered food.
iced coffee with cream, because I like it

So, when I look at my day today I think everything was great, except I ordered and ate something I didn't even want, in order to be social.

If I had had time to think about this ahead of time, I'd have just said I wasn't hungry and it would have been fine to sit and sip my drink while she ate. I do not have to eat when I am not hungry, for any reason.

I realize that I often do this. I am with people and they are all ordering xyz or we are at a friend's home and a child is passing out x dessert that they made for all of us, and I eat because I feel like it's the social thing to do. I need to practice smiling and saying, "no thank you, but that looks wonderful!"

I felt great before I ate the sandwich and lousy after. That tells me how I should proceed next time this happens!

Lesson by lesson I will make the changes I need to in mind AND body.

I have not given up, but yeah, I do need to get on the scale.

15 comments:

Lori said...

I love the feedback too. There is something comforting in knowing I am not alone.

I am afraid to weigh too. I've been doing OK with my eating. Much like you, I'm not following a strict plan, just trying to make good choices most of the time. I am working hard on getting some good movement in every day, mostly in the form of walking. My clothes don't feel quite so snug and I feel healthier. I don't want the scales to take that away from me.
Lori

Anonymous said...

Why can't you have 3/4 of a serving of Mac and cheese, or 1/2 would be even better, AND a side of broccoli?

Anonymous said...

Lyn,

A thought on the commenter on your last post re: therapy. I think it could be helpful, but definitely not therapy for the comfort eating. Therapy for the anxiety and pursuant stress that's causing the comfort eating.

The food is not the problem. It's just a scab, figuratively speaking. You mentioned that you sometimes eat to be social, right? Logically there's no obligation to eat in social settings, just being present is being social. That concern, though, that feeling that it's something you "should" do. That smacks of (social? generalized?) anxiety to me. The force-yourself-to-do-it-even-if-you-don't-feel-like-it-to-avoid-offense feeling. There are times that a typical person might shrug and decide to eat a sandwich, if there's no particular reason not to. But not being hungry for it does fall under reasons not to, in my mind. So does it not being appealing. I've had lots of times where I'll get a beverage to just sip because the offered food doesn't sound good but I want to hang out.

-Zoe




Lyn said...

Lori~

boy do I relate to the scales taking it away from you! Funny how when I was weighing daily the scales lost all power and emotional attachment. It's when I go long periods without weighing that the number starts to have that power.

Anon~

yes, that is what I have been doing for the last year or so (although it would be gluten free mac and cheese until recently). Somehow the mindset is less vegetables, more comfort food lately.

Anon/Zoe~

maybe. I didn't feel anxious at all about eating. I just thought it might be nice to eat together, rather than just sipping my drink. I don't feel stressed when the little girl offers me a cookie she baked at my friend's house, I just want to be nice to her and, maybe, feel like everyone else. It's more about fitting in and just being like the people around me than anxiousness. I'll have to think about that, but I believe just being aware/writing about it might be enough to help me change the behavior. We'll see because I am going to a friend's house Sunday and her daughter likes to bake for us.

Lori said...

Lyn,
I hadn't realized it, but I did the same thing when I was weighing every day. It was just as routine as brushing my teeth. There was no emotion involved, just noting of a number. I need to rethink why I stopped. Maybe it is time to return to that routine.
Lori

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I didn't mean that you feel anxiety about the food itself or eating. I meant anxiety from other sources (like say the desire to fit in) leading you to make a decision you wouldn't otherwise make regarding food.

And I do think that writing about it works perfectly fine as a way to meditate on it. Heck, I think the sounding board you've got here in your readers and yourself is superior to official therapy in some ways. I've had several runs with therapists and while they've all been very nice people, I never felt that I really got much out of the sessions. I just wanted to mention the idea of focusing on the underlying stressors and viewing the food as a side-effect, rather than The Problem. Decreasing the former may decrease the latter without undue suffering.

-Zoe

Lyn said...

Lori~

me too. I am going to get on the scale before the month is over and get on it every day after that, so it doesn't turn into a head-in-the-sand situation again.

Anon/Zoe~

Got it, that makes sense.

Yeah, the therapists I have gone to have for the most part felt like a huge waste of time. I am fine with scheduling and making time for 1-2 hours a week for an appointment if it is really helping me, but I started to resent it when I was coming out of there thinking "that did not help AT ALL." There were a couple of appointments that did give me some insights, and I blogged about those, but mainly I always felt like my time would have been better served taking a long walk, writing about my feelings publicly or privately, or talking to a friend who knows me (so I don't have to keep explaining the basics of my situation). I think I can focus on reducing any anxiety in those ways. I also recently joined a caregivers support group (in real life, not online) and so far that has really helped me feel like I am not coping alone.

Anonymous said...

Lyn, I suggest counting calories & try to target 1600 - 2400 every day. 1600 is enough to sustain life and 2400 is a good upper limit for most women of any height and activity. I have been tracking my calories to lose 5 pounds this summer and it is working. If I wanted to lose 50 pounds I would just rinse and repeat. Counting calories helps me avoid "food traps" (it's better to accept one 45 calorie Oreo from a pal at work than eat a 'healthy' vegan cookie with 360 calories) and naturally gravitate towards more veggies without overthinking it and demonizing different foods. I do not use any logging software because I've tried that in the past and found it to be a pain. I just keep track on a random scrap of paper or in an extra window of my computer (google will do the calculation for you if you put in 100+400+ etc..) And discard the results each day because I'm not trying to come up with monthly trends analysis or anything. Here is what I had yesterday. For restaurant food where I didn't know the calories I just deliberately picked a healthier thing that tends to be lower in calories. I read a good article recently about ordering food in restaurant that echoes my thoughts, basically avoid things described as "crispy" or "creamy" and you'll be good to go!

Breakfast - bottled minute maid juice, pineapple orange (220 calories)
Lunch - Chick Fil A original sandwich (440 calories)
Dinner - 2 glasses white wine, blackened fish with capers & sides of grilled veggies (zucchini and carrots)
after dinner coffee - Cafe au lait with espresso shot
After dinner snack - carrots and radishes. One Siggi's yogurt (120 calories)

Anonymous said...

my opinion (and I know you didn't ask) is that you should get on the scale as soon as possible. waiting for a certain date/time to weigh feels to me like you might be setting yourself up for failure (the mindset of "oh, I screwed up today, but if I just eat clean the week/day/days before I officially start to weigh, then I'll surely see a number I like").

once you weigh yourself, you don't *have* to share that number with us-- heck, you don't even need to report that you weighed: you can do that "before the month is over" and report it here then.

being brutally honest with myself (re: scale) is one of the ways I take responsibility for my food intake, and for maintaining a large weight loss for almost seven years. lastly: around year three of maintenance, I fell back into some old habits, and stopped weighing for about two months. it was hard to get back on the scale, but I managed to re-frame it. I also found out the "damage" was not as bad as I'd feared. and weighing regularly became the first step back to being accountable to myself.

Lyn said...

Anon~

I want your dinner! That sounds great... I love fish. We had salmon with asparagus and mixed fresh berries last night, so good. As for calorie counting I have done years of that and am burned out on it. I find that weighing, counting, etc wakens my food obsession. Food restriction is a trigger for some eating disorders (even if it is not really "restricting" as you can eat whatever things you want when counting, if it fits your calorie goal). Right now I am aiming to get back to what was working the past year: deliberately choosing the lower calorie/carb foods (like you mention doing in restaurants), avoiding a lot of sweets, not eating when not hungry. It sure is hard to get away from a lot of sugar once you've gotten used to eating it, though.

other Anon~

True... and if I wait until my pants get loose again I might be waiting a long time. Better to know. I'll get on the scale tomorrow and see where I'm at, and go from there.

Anonymous said...

hello,

good luck and thank you for sharing.

edgar

Anonymous said...

You have lost a lot of weight. Think of it like this. I am going off your blog for numbers.

278 - 103 = 175 (first loss)
227 now = 52 pounds regain (50.5% of your loss, you gained back)
DO IT AGAIN
227 - 103 = 124
you can allow for a 50% regain to maintain at 175, that you said you were happy at that weight!

Find a way even if Medi-Fast to get to 124 and then even when you stop dieting you will easily maintain at 175.

David

Anonymous said...

David~

I don't think getting to a super low weight will prevent overshooting after dieting ends. I've seen that mindset among sufferers of restrictive eating disorders. "If I get as low as possible before I get put into treatment, I won't get too big!"

Actually it seems that the less stress your body was put through (restriction/purging/exercise), the less weight you gain before you hit set point and stop gaining weight. The over-exercisers and purgers in particular suffer from bad edema and overshooting in my experience.

-Zoe

Lyn said...

Anon/edgar~

thanks, and welcome :)

Anon/David~

I think the last time I weighed 124 pounds was when I was about 12 or 13 years old! The lowest I believe I could ever healthily get is about 140-145, which is what I weighed before and after I had my first child. I have my doubts I could even get to that weight, but if I did, I hope never to regain half my loss again. Interesting theory though, thanks for sharing!

Anon/Zoe~

I agree with you; that makes sense.

Sam J. said...

There are therapists out there that are really good. It took me 4 tries before I found someone I clicked with.
Maybe look into seeing someone else?

Don't give up!