Sunday, November 6, 2016

A Change of Plans

For the last month and a half or so, I have been basically eating whatever I want and focusing on cultivating a new peace and calm around food, weight, movement, etc. I felt I HAD to let go of the "diet" mindset and all the anxiety, obsessiveness, and food compulsions that came with it. I stopped calorie counting, tracking, getting freaked out about the scale, worrying, forcing myself to eat or not eat a certain way... all in an effort to calm the inner voices of long-standing eating disorder. I also gained weight doing this, from 242 pounds in September to 252 pounds two months later. I had to be truly, emotionally "okay" with this... meaning I had to be accepting *to the core* of a higher weight if it meant a healing of disordered eating and a more peaceful existence with myself. I am still in that state of mind where the number on the scale is just data and nothing to get excited over (positively or negatively). If the scale next week says 255 or 245 I an fine with it either way, as long as peace and calm reigns in my eating. I think if you have never experienced the angst that comes with an eating disorder, this might not make sense to you. But if you have felt those nearly physical bonds... the chains of disordered eating that invade every waking moment... you will understand how sweet the freedom from that prison is.

Today the scale says 249, probably because my sugar cravings have calmed way down and I often go whole days without any sugar. I am not actively avoiding it for any weight-related reason; it just is losing its appeal at this time. I realize sugar is like a drug in some ways so those cravings might come back in times of stress or sadness, but I have a plan in place that will help me try other means of comfort before turning to sugar. While I am fine with having a cookie when I want one, I am not fine with the unhealthy practice of eating LOTS of cookies to drown out sadness or stuff down stress. So when I am distressed I *will* make an effort not to use food as a drug... because that seems just as unhealthy as having obsessive food thoughts or binge eating.

Now for the change of plans! Awhile back I shared the idea that when my foster animals all found their forever homes, I would take a break from fostering and cut back on other rescue volunteering and use those hours to focus on losing weight and getting healthy. Someone had commented that they see weight loss as their "job" and dedicate a certain number of hours every day *just* to weight loss... prepping foods, weighing, measuring, tracking calories and carbs, exercising, researching... and anything else that would contribute to them losing the excess weight. I thought this was a *great* idea and planned to do this with the time I was spending on rescue work (an average of 3 hours a day). Well, my last foster found her forever home this week! For the first time in months, I only have my own two dogs to care for. I am still doing therapy work with one of them and sports with the other, and they need their walks and grooming and training. But now I have those 3 "rescue" hours free! What will I do with them?

Sure, they would easily get filled by kid stuff and random things I "need" to get done. Somehow, all the time in a day always gets taken and used when you're a Mom. But since I functioned just fine when those 3 hours/day were used in volunteering and rescue, I am sure I will also function fine if I dedicate those hours to something else.

But NOT weight loss.

No. I am not going to do my original plan of using 3 hours a day to "get this weight off" by calorie counting, figuring out recipe macros, dedicating my focus to hitting the right amount of carbs, fats, protein, etc, exercising with every free minute, charting my weight and measurements and sizes, and ultimately honing a laser focus on my weight. No, I have learned that doing that is NOT healthy for me and throws me right back into disordered eating and food obsession, resulting in weight loss at first and then regain when it gets to be too much and the ED takes over. I will not white knuckle it anymore. I am going to stay in a normalized, sane state about food and NOT focus all my attention on it.

Instead, I will use those three hours to better my life. That's right. Instead of using those hours to incite the tunnel vision of "I must, I WILL lose weight!", which may or may not end up making my life better (because being thin does not equal being happier, better, or even healthier), I will use those hours to truly improve my quality of life (which does include my health).

I sat down and thought about this and decided that there are things that I wish I "had time" to do... things I believe would make me happier and make me feel like a better person. Some are things that have been on the to-do list for months or years. Some are little nagging thoughts that I have had that I should be doing or could improve on xyz. I made a list of things that I truly believe would improve my life, make me happier, and make the people (and pets) I love happier. There are 12 things. Some of them include:

Being sure to connect on a deeper level with each of my five children on a daily basis (for those living at home) or a few times a week (for those living on their own).
Working on my personal relationships with friends, relatives, neighbors... making more of an effort to connect and strengthen those relationships on a regular basis.
Getting some much needed repairs or refreshers done to my home... sort of like spring cleaning, year round, with some redecorating and decluttering thrown in. Making my home a more welcoming place for anyone who enters. This includes the yard, planting more flowers, doing some outside decorating, maybe prepping for a small garden next year. Going deep on these things instead of just doing the basics.
Giving more attention to my dogs, including longer walks, more training, and just being sure they feel loved and treasured every day.
Spending more time in church activities, giving of myself in service, fostering those friendships and becoming a more spiritual person. This includes things I have neglected for a long time, such as reading the Bible daily and spending time in prayer.
Bettering my health (without a focus on weight). This includes doing things that help me function better like stretching and doing some physical therapy exercises to keep my legs/knees strong, taking more long walks, and moving more in ways that I enjoy. It includes spending more time planning healthy meals, prepping fruits and vegetables and protein so it is always on hand for easy consumption, and choosing foods that will make my body stronger.

I will not waste one minute adding up calories or measuring what I eat. My time is too precious and I have already spent countless hours doing those things and they have not benefited me at all. So I will use my precious, newly freed-up 3 hours a day on the things I listed... NOT on re-creating a food obsession that awakens disordered eating.

I am really excited to have this time devoted to a happier, more content life for myself and all of my family! I know I am truly blessed to be able to do this. It starts today!


LHA said...

I discovered many years ago that a happy, productive day doing things I really enjoyed led to less overeating. I remember being surprised at the time that this dawned on me. For the past 10-12 years I have used that knowledge to make a rule for myself that if obsessive food/diet thoughts come into my head I have a ready answer: "I am already doing everything I can about that, so I don't need to think about it." Then I usually am really able to put it out of my mind. I'm sure I have mentioned that for me counting calories, points, carbs, weighing and measuring food, weighing daily and being consumed by thoughts of weight control is a sure recipe for overeating and weight gain, and it took me years to learn that. Keeping food in its place, and not in control of my thoughts constantly, sure has helped me over the past few years. I wish you good luck in all the new things you plan to emphasize in your life.

Verena Schwald said...

Good for you!

Cyndi and Stumpy said...

Great plan!

Anonymous said...

okay, so, you eat what you want. what does that mean? confused because it sounds like a binge yet you say you have stopped your ED. could you clarify? no offense meant.

Lyn said...

LHA, Verena, and Cyndi~

thanks! I feel fantastic :)


no offense taken! What I should have said is I eat what I want... in small or normal portions. No binges. For example, for lunch today I wanted some leftover, homemade macaroni and cheese. So I put a serving (maybe a cup?) on a plate, cut up an apple as a side, and sat down to eat. When I was finished, if I wanted seconds I would have them. But what I had was totally satisfying so I didn't need anymore. Knowing I can have that food anytime also makes it easier to be moderate, since no food is forbidden and there is no drive to "hurry and eat all the yummy things before I go on a diet."

Breakfast was 2 scrambled eggs and a piece of buttered toast. I've had a couple cups of coffee with half and half, too. We are having tacos for dinner. I like my tacos in the form of a salad most of the time (loads of lettuce, maybe some salsa, might saute some onions and mushrooms to put on top with the meat and a bit of cheese, sour cream, and avocado). At bedtime lately I have been having a mug of warm milk with cinnamon, vanilla, and a touch of honey. That really hits the spot!

Part of my new "using time to make life even better" will be vegetable prep. I know if I had had some veggies already washed and cut up in the fridge this morning, I'd have liked to make an omelet with them instead of just eggs. And more veggies is always a healthy thing!

Anonymous said...

I understand where you're going with your approach. I remember when I was in the process of losing weight, I hated counting calories and weighing everything at first. Grabbing fast food was so much easier. In the end, I made the choice to take that extra time to weigh my food and count calories. I decided to pick my health over convenience. You can do something simple like chicken breasts and steak flavored with *only* spices. Add in green vegetables and brown rice (no sauces). Eggs and fruit for breakfast. Almonds for snacks. After a while, you won't need to count and weigh everything.

Margaret Wolfinbarger said...

This is a wonderful report! I am taking courage from your plan to avoid disordered eating, to which I am horrendously prone. I will pray that you can find the stamina to stick to this plan. After all, our bodies are not the most important thing and this blog entry highlights many of those, staying in the Word, taking care of people, loving our critters. Be blessed today.

Lyn said...


yes, I have done that before. It's really very good advice for someone who does not have an eating disorder, I agree! But think of it this way: if you tell an anorexic to just stop starving themselves, eat some eggs for breakfast, soup and sandwich for lunch, chicken and veggies for dinner and after awhile they would just stop going without eating, that would not work because the disease is also a mental one. Same for a bulimic: having a simple menu would not help them to stop vomiting after they eat; there is a deeper problem than just food choices. For me, dieting techniques, even healthy ones, do not stop compulsive eating or obsessive food thoughts that lead to eventual regain. So that is what I am trying to heal. It's really nothing to do with convenience. I am choosing my health over staying stuck in an eating disorder.


Thanks! I am finding so far, I feel more energized by doing this than by all the things I have done before. I pray for you as well to overcome the things that are bringing you down. Take care.

Meryl said...

Lyn, I so get this. I feel the same. Whenever I tell myself "you don't have to 'diet' right now", I find my eating to be less "frantic" because I don't feel like I have to shove in all the forbidden, "bad" things before I "start" again. It's so freeing and I really do find myself eating fairly normally as long as my head is in this space. You are very much inspiring me right now to reflect on this and figure out what my next steps really are. Right now I am just mad that I know I have to restrict to get weight off. Yet again. It's crazy making. And I am getting really tired of it....

Thank you for sharing this.

Amy said...

That sounds like a wonderful use of time! I think we all have similar goals that get pushed to the back of our mind because of how much focus we put on dieting. You sound grounded and happy, just how each and every one of us should be!