Monday, August 31, 2009

Getting my groove back

Last week was rough...I was off my beam in every way. I was emotionally hungover from ending up in the ER that Friday night 10 days ago. Though the outcome was good (a UTI that has now been treated), it was scary lying there on a stretcher with my heart racing at over 130 and wondering what the hell was wrong with me. Even though I was pretty sure I'd be okay, I had thoughts of much scarier outcomes that included: being admitted for a big work up, having developed some condition that would alter the course of my life, never seeing my kids again, and even dying. UGH! That all sounds dramatic, but lying in an ER with people sticking needles in veins and EKG leads on my various parts was unnerving. I already have a health anxiety thing that kicks up from time to time that originated in childhood when my father had numerous big health events complete with middle of the night ambulance calls and other assorted traumatic things for a kid to see. So health related issues stir up fears from which it takes me awhile to recover.

On Wednesday last week I posted about realizing that at some inner level I was aware of feeling ambivalent about continuing the weight loss effort. It sounds crazy that I'd feel this way given my fat history and current weightloss success; but writing about it helped me to get a handle on some of my feelings over the last few days. I realize that I really can't envision myself other than the way I've been for the last 20 years...always weighing between 210 and 237, usually in the low 220s. Countless times in my life I've been the biggest person in the room, the biggest in my immediate group of friends. Granted, in the broad scheme of overweight women and with being 5'9", I've been under the lower end of the bell-shaped curve; but fat is fat, and where I've been at. I've lamented, dieted, exercised, lamented some more, tried and failed again and again to get a grip on my compulsive food-addicted aoereating, and ultimately never been able to find true acceptance of myself as a fat lady. So how on earth can I be stuck every time I get to this range of weight I mentioned Wednesday, which is 196-200 lbs?

I didn't weigh this morning because I got kind of bingey last night, eating a Mr. Goodbar, a Hershey Bar (big ones of these), 2 bowls of ice cream, 2 pieces of bread with copious amounts of butter, potato chips and some other crap that doesn't come to mind. All this after a big dinner. Yesterday morning I was 199.1, and when I saw that, while feeling okay, I knew...KNEW..that eventually yesterday I'd overeat. The only question was when. I held off until about 5 pm, then was on a food-seeking mission the rest of the evening. So I don't need to weigh to know that the first number of my weight today is not a 1! I've been playing around like this for a couple of weeks. A good couple of days get me back to the high 190s which then "entitles" me (or scares me?) to binge back up for an evening or two. Back and forth...a diminutive version of the yoyo plan of weight management I've been on for 2 decades.

SO. Here's the deal. I'm stopping it. No matter what, I commit to stay on my food plan for this week regardless of what the scale says, or my anxious head tells me, or any other psycho-bullshit I experience. I have experience that prepares me for the fact that curtailing all my bingeing will probably unearth some feelings of anxiety or fear or something. They are feelings only. They will not hurt me. Feelings aren't facts. I will thank my head and my heart for sharing thoughts and feelings, and I will stay on my plan of sane eating and daily exercising. There are many resources at my disposal if I find myself feeling compulsive, anxious, or wanting to binge and I will use them as needed. I'm ready to break through the 196 lb barrier. I haven't been lower than that in at least 10 years, so how do I know it will feel weird or scary? One thing I'm sure'll feel great to see myself through my inner resistence and come out the other side stronger and healthier.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Oh, the weight thing

Today my weight was 200.0 the first step on, and 199.3 on the second. Sorry to say I've been alternating one clean eating day with a clean day + bingey evening. So I'm not gaining significantly, though up from my low of 198 some days back. On my way to work today I was pondering this self-crafted plateau upon which I'm treading, and realizing that part of me isn't sure I want to continue to lose.

That sounds so crazy, and I know I DO want to keep going. But there is some inner resistance that I can't identify yet. I've gotten to this point before in the last 10 years...literally this 196-200 pound place, where the vapors of success are visible, tangible...and ended up backing away. This time I'm really aware of my trepidation about losing more, which is good. But I really can't get a handle on what is the source of the trepidation. It's like I've been a heavy, kind of moosey woman for so long that I can't imagine not being this way anymore. And even as I write this, I can feel my eyes fill up a little, and my shoulders tighten. There is something here that I desire to investigate and understand, but also that I'm afraid of. This is more awareness than I've had before at this point.

My hope, my prayer, is that I hang in with myself and give myself some quiet time each day for meditation and reflection, to see what comes up about all this. In the meantime, I intend to maintain where I am, hopefully, because if I start the crazy eating behavior again, my access to my soul and my truest self will vanish. Active food addiction is an excellent method to abandon oneself, and I've done enough of that to last several lifetimes. It's time to journey within, rather than to the kitchen and the take out joints.

Confessions of a computer illiterate

I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I don't know how to transfer digital pictures into a computer (is the term "upload"?), much less put them places of interest, like say...this blog? That's why my facebook profile photo is a picture of my dog wearing a Viking helmet. Also I hate pictures of myself, but if all the courageous weight loss bloogers out there can put up "before" photos, I can break through my photos-of-self-phobia in the interest of careening into the computer age. The dog picture was one that my son posted for the dog's FB page (it's hilarious, btw) and somehow I was able to exact it into the facebook picture place for my page. See - I don't know terms, methods, even the most basic aspects of using a digital camera for anything other than snapping pictures and then leaving them in the cameral for all eternity. THIS MUST CHANGE!

Now that my blogging experience is expanding to constantly finding and getting addicted to new blogs, commenting on them and posting on my own (though I think only 2 people have ever read mine and even that is thrilling and I want MORE!), I'm ready to amp it up a bit and join the 21st century...albeit close to a decade late. (Hey, I invest a lot of good time in the blogging endeavor now, including work time. Please don't inform my employer.) Cut me some slack, I'm an ancient 56 year old with no offspring (translate: computer wizards) on site. I'm a fast learner, so I think I can acquire some new skills here.

As I find new blogs, I'm blown away by how beautiful so many of them are...great photos, layouts, graphic design...this is all stuff I'm uber-interested in and want to learn. I used to write a couple of newsletters back in the late 80's when the first version of Quark Express was in vogue. Loved desk top publishing and got good at it. If I could do that then, I can do this now. So I'm vowing to punch up this blog, for myself and for the very dear 2 people who have commented on it to date! Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

New Look Coming, I Hope!

I'm going to start playing around with other formats for my blog as I'm tired of this one ( been using it since early '08). I'm a technoboob, but think I can figure something out that's different and feels fresh. Like my exercise and eating program, I need to keep injecting new life into life!

Unwrung - the Sunday story

Picture a large lush towel. Imagine immersing it in water, then twisting it up tightly, maybe with someone at the other end, into a tightly coiled snake of a thing in order to squeeze every drop of water out of it. Then visualize setting it down without taking time to untwist it, and see that in the absence of the substance and tone of the extra water it held and the tortion applied by the handlers, it relaxes out partially but not even close to all the way. Let it lie untouched where it was placed and began letting go of its tension for a couple of days; then come back. Dollars to donuts (love food analogies!) it'll be stiff and dry and sort of cast into it's partially unwrung shape.

That's kind of how I felt Sunday, after the Friday night ER visit and the mellow Saturday that followed. Not quite all the way wrung out. Recall from the last post that I was going to "face the music" regarding my food indiscretions of Friday night coupled with my relaxed but not bingey eating behavior of Saturday on Sunday morning. And big shock...I'd gained 4.3 pounds (I love how digital scales give you specific numbers down to the tenths). I felt great physically, glad to have gotten on the scale to survey the damage, and ready to resume my "plan" of eating and exercise. But I also felt somewhat hungover from the Friday night-Sunday morning experience...realizing that I hadn't exercised now for essentially 3 days, my eating had been off (or on, depending on how you view it) and I still had vapors of concern from the elevated heart rate/UTI experience. What to do, what to do?

I decided to get right back on the pony and ride, rather, exercise and eat right and do what I've been doing that has been working. You know, the old "act your way into right thinking". My mind wanted to tell me I should take more time for healing (the doctor told me I had no restrictions and that I was fine as long as I took the antibiotic...); and my mind was also yapping at me that here was the beginning of the inevitable slippery slope back to 220 lbs and beyond, where my chief source of exercise was horizontally holding down the couch. What is it with an eating disordered mind??? In AA there's a saying that if you're in your head too much, you're behind enemy lines. It's so true with an addictive head. I'm so grateful to have learned that I don't have to believe every thought that pops up. But sometimes I forget, and then the adage "fake it 'til you make it" comes into play. Just do the next right thing, even if my head is tossing up road blocks and misinformation, which it is hard-wired to do pretty often.

So I ended up having a great day Sunday. I ate healthy and enough, had an amazing 5 mile walk/jog in the local park, got together with friends, hung out with hubby, and reclaimed my journey to health, fitness and a happier weight. Sundays don't ever have to be the same as they used to be.

Monday, August 24, 2009

A Little Saga

My last post (Friday) found me in the throes of food obsession. I was feeling anxious, not quite right physically (but not really wrong, either), and contemplating the ingestion of mass quantities of crap for the purpose of numbing the vague disquiet that was permeating my being. I felt off enough that I actually called and made an appointment for a brief visit with my primary doc for Monday morning. I think I noted in the post that I'd been thinking all day that if I got into a dedicated eating forage, I'd feel less anxious.

I held out for quite awhile. I went to the gym after work, and when I got on the treadmill, my heartrate was at the top of my fat-burning zone before I took a step. Hmmm, more anxiety, this time of the health variety..."what's wrong? something's wrong, I'm terminal..." Health anxiety is a biggie of mine, and I know had been at the core of my angest all day, and actually the day prior as well. But I started walking, and my pulse just crept up more and more even as I notched down the speed, to the point where walking at 2.5 mph had my heart rate at 120. It felt like I was standing still! So I gave up and decided to see if I could get my B/P checked by a trainer. It was 140/80 - the 80 was fine, but the 140 up some, which I attributed to my ever increasing nerves about my well-being. S-i-i-i-gh.

I went home and had my protein bar snack...still thinking I was going to stay the course with not overeating. Until...I had another bar 5 minutes later, and then a half bag of BBQ potato chips, and off to the races. I did feel better, or at least noticed the cessation of anxiety, so for the next few hours I did my usual stuff. Went to an AA meeting with friends, out to dinner after (BIG DINNER WITH BINGE WRITTEN ALL OVER IT) and finally home. Hubby was upstairs watching the Phillies, so I stayed downstairs and watched mindless fluff until I fell asleep. And then, maybe 20 minutes after dozing, I woke up feeling like I was pulsating all over. Very anxious, extremely rapid heart beat, and ready to jump out of my skin. I thought it must be a panic attack (I've had maybe 2 in my life, one upon waking up like had just happened), so I kept trying to calm myself, but it wasn't happening. I was so nervous and freaked out I felt like my legs were jumping.

After 10 minutes of not being able to calm and get my heart rate to slow, I went upstairs and told my husband I thought something was going on and I needed to go to the ER. UGH! So off we vibrating and talking 90 miles/minute, him just dutifully listening and being his dear sweet self.

Now this could be a very long story, but I'm going to try to cut to the chase and drop the 2 zillion details my tangible friends (vs. my virtual ones;)) have had to endure, with all the minutiae. My heart rate was in fact very fast, 133 when the leads were first placed, slowing fairly quickly to between 112 and 120 once I got settled onto the ER stretcher and hooked up. They quickly drew a ton a blood, asked a ton of questions, did an EKG, chest x-ray, urine culture and dripped in a bag of IV fluid. I felt calmer almost immediately and stopped vibrating visibly, but I stayed on edge, wondering WTF was going on. Finally, the doc came back in and told me I have a pretty substantial UTI! A urinary track infection! I was pretty stunned and pretty relieved. Last I heard, you don't kick the bucket from a garden variety UTI. And no kidding - my heart rate dropped 10 beats per minute just finding that out. He said everything else (EKG, x ray, blood work) were fine, except a slightly elevated white cell count indicating the infection. A couple more tests were run to make sure I didn't have systemic infection, a first dose of Cipro given and I was released on my own recognizance (and hubby's) around 3 a.m. The doc thought the infection had been with me for awhile (thinking back I recall a couple weeks' worth of subtle symptoms I blew off), and felt that my heart rate was related, but increased by my anxiety level, given the ceiling clinging nature of it. He gave me no restrictions and advised I see my primary early in the week. See how smart I was to make that Monday morning appointment last Friday?

I felt fine Saturday. No anxiety, a nice slow heart rate, decent energy, and wouldn't you know - a hearty appetite! I decided on no exercise, lots of rest, and eating what I wanted. No desire to binge. Ate things like an amazing cranberry walnut bagel I'd never otherwise have had. Lots of other yummy stuff too. No bingeing at all. Enjoyed it and figured I'd face the music Sunday morning. I spent the afternoon at the local knitting shop, knitting with friends and enjoying an on-the-fly therapy session among the women prompted by my recounting of the ER visit. It was a very therapeutic, warm and fuzzy wrap up to the experience. I think I'm gonna make it!

More on Sunday later...

Friday, August 21, 2009

In the foxhole

When I get anxious I want to eat. Regardless of the angst source, food, no, eating food, comes to my mind in the face of certain anxieties. It is a visceral feeling; I can taste the salt, feel the chips shatter under the clench of my teeth, cold butter atop crusty bread contrasting each others' textures on my tongue. The wash of relief in the eating chased so subtly by the certainty of self recrimination and shame that another swallow will rinse cleanly away. Until after it's done and the shame and self berating can't be silenced.

I'm in it right now...just an hour after writing about my half-marathon shirt fitting. The thought comes, "If I enter into the binge, I will stop feeling this way." I can clearly make this connection in the moment, which nails me with a choice. The choice is freedom or continued self-constructed prison. For now I'm choosing to hang on to freedom though I don't feel the expansiveness that the connotes. But I can put off the binge for now. Maybe later. Just not now.

If the shirt fits...wear it!

At the end of March, 2008, my then 24 y/o daughter and I walked a half marathon in Atlanta. The year prior she had run the whole thing and had a mountain top experience. The request of my participation with her for walking the half, along with the hefty registration fee, was my 2007 Christmas gift from her, which I gladly accepted (silently dreaded for fear I wouldn't be able to do it). I have always been fairly fit and a walker, even when my weight ballooned into the stratosphere, but I suspected 13.1 miles was going to be one long damn walk.

I determined to train (and lose weight of course, which I didn't and ended up walking it at about 218 pounds), and while I gave a cursory internet search for training schedules, I ended up just trying to walk more than I had been, increasing distance over the almost 4 months prior to the event. Not surprisingly my training fell short, and the longest training distance I walked by myself was about 7 miles (it felt SOOO much longer). But I could do that distance easily, and so gave it over to the universe when I got on the plane to fly to Atlanta 2 days before. My biggest fear was that I would embarrass her somehow, and I kept saying that to her over and over (in the months prior) until she finally told me to knock it off. She said she actually offended that I kept anticipating and expecting her disapproval! She was right, and I got the message loud and clear. Isn't it interesting what old hurts and unhealed pain can generate within us?

Anyway, I'm using too many words to get to the whole reason I'm writing about this experience. The bottom line is that we walked the whole half marathon distance, it was hard for the last 3 miles and excrutiating for the last one, but we did it (translate: I did it! I knew she could, not so sure about moi). It was great. After feeling totally nauseous for about an hour afterward, we had the biggest guilt free IHOP breakfast ever. I wasn't sore the next day or anything. I felt like a winner.

So here's the thing to which I've been inching...we got top notch, high quality shirts for this cotton tees from ING DIRECT, who sponsored this event. The largest size available was XL, which looked to be truly a smallish medium, but I digress. It's a great looking shirt, and I'd never been able to get it on because there were many more X's to my size than the shirt could accomodate. That is, until 3 weeks ago when on a whim prior to working out, I pulled it on, and it fit! Granted, it pulled fairly snugly around by belly, but not so much that I didn't decide to go for it and kept it on. Got a number of compliments on it and questions about the advertised event, and all I could do was say that it was tight around my hips. Shut Up Leslie, which is what most of the people who commented on the shirt said after my typical self denigration. So that was a good moment and quite gratifying. But I wasn't prompted to write about it until...

Yesterday, as I dressed to work out, there was the clean shirt tucked back in a drawer, and so I pulled it on an GUESS WHAT???!!! It slid right over my hips - no pulling at all. It fit. After 17 months, the half marathon shirt fits. Quite thrilling. A little reward that feels BIG!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Measuring up

Yesterday was my 2nd monthly body composition, weight, and measurement jubilee at my Healthy Inspirations program. This is done every 30 days, presumably to inspire us tireless (tired) warriors with tangible evidence that our many and varied efforts of personal restructuring are working. The trainer, a fireball names Jess, does the measuring and a Tanita scale/computer that can read bare feet does the rest of the calculations. I was psyched for the assessment, given my weight that actually started with a "1" yesterday (and happily today, too). Essentially it was all good news I received from the little cash register-tape printout; the trainer was beaming and proclaiming my progress "EXCELLENT!" But I have managed to parse carefully all the data as explained by Jess and find negative stuff on which to focus. WHY DO I DO THIS???!!?

It's like receiving a performance evaluation at work...9 out of 10 categories I'm deemed superior, while 1 area I'm merely satisfactory, and all I focus on is the one thing that isn't superior. Intellectually I get the futility of this faulty thinking, but it gushes up from somewhere within that hasn't yet been reached by the years of therapy, sobriety and new age self heart the Leslie in the mirror! Maybe this tendency is a universal human trait as I also know I'm not alone in this, but I wish I'd knock it the hell off.

So I have officially lost 19 and a half pounds on their scale (mine says 22lbs which is why I heart it, too) and my body % of fat has gone down a total of 15% since starting in June. One thing that is irritating is that my lean body mass, which is bones, tendons, muscles and water has also gone down a teeny bit, as it did the first month. This is supposed to go up body, get it? This is driving me crazy, but Jess says not to worry..."it happens." Well why to me, since I'm doing weight training for the first time ever. But actually I've had to cut back on upper body weights because an old tennis elbow has been reacitivated, resulting in some right arm pain and muscle strain. All the other body comp. items met with my approval, but then the measuring tape was pulled out and it revealed some interesting data.

First, if anyone has been professionally measured, you already know what I didn't...that the true waist is considered to be at the bottom of the ribs, not across the belly button circumference. That gets measured too, but it's considered something other than the waist. My bust actually got 1/4 inch bigger, when last month it had gotten 1/2 inch smaller. I can live with that...maybe my bra that day was thicker, the tape pulled tighter, whatever. But my true waist increased 1/2 inch also! WTF? And the kicker is that my bra band has felt as tight as ever, and just the day before I was thinking that was strange given all my weight loss. Jess explained that "it happens sometimes because the body can truly redistribute weight as it is burning fat", which my body has clearly been doing. Then my untrue waist, the one around my belly button stayed the same. I was steaming at this point, until she measured my hips, which are down 2 and a half inches. Thighs also 1/2 inch down, upper arm the same. So there was definitely loss of inches overall, but the lower body is shrinking while the upper is holding on to its girth for dear life. "This is a body type", Jess chirped encouragingly. Yeah, it's a body type I didn't used to have...big boxy top half, smaller bottom half...the body of a post-menopausal woman!!!!!!!! DAMN, it's happening to moi!

How many times over my life did I lament my pear shaped body, cursing my hips and especially my thighs! And I remember someone saying to me once that it could all change someday and I'd better stop complaining about it. I should have seen it coming. I used to be pretty small chested, but 3 pregnancies, nursing, and weight gain of about 80 pounds since I got married (that didn't fall off when the babies fell out) has gradually inflated not only my bra band circumference but also the girls themselves. This storing of fat in the upper body and around the middle didn't just start happening's actually a trend that's began maybe 20 years ago, and now that my ovaries have long since breathed their last gasp, my diminishing estrogen is putting the last nail in the coffin of a girlish pear shaped physique!

I have to say that as I'm writing this, I'm starting to feel much better about it all. Isn't that interesting? The processing and digesting of new information with the recalling of my past tendencies is making this state of my body understandable, even inevitable, and not in a bad way. What is, is. And knowing what is and accepting it means I have something concrete to work on. There's that Serenity Prayer accept the things I cannot change, change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference between the two. I can't change my genetic make up, but I can whittle and winnow away at the soft adipose deposits surrounding said genetic composite in order to be the healthiest version of myself possible.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


The scale gifted me today with a lovely surprise - 198 lbs. That is, 198 with no change. I've been doing the ounces up and down since 199.8 last week (mostly up, as in 200.4, 202.2...but no more new century sightings until today. I've been quite clean and sane with the eating, though last night I had 4 chocolate chip cookies and then some Ghiradelli's chocolate squares with caramel oozing out the centers that I'd never have eaten had I not had the cookies, but I figured, WTF? One of those moments I wrote about yesterday...done well for a bit, have a treat that expands into more. But as my overindulgences go, this was small potatoes, and I don't mean chips.

I had the cookies at a meeting - they looked awesome, and were actually worth whatever their calorie counts totalled. It was going to be one cookie. One was good, so another and so on... The rest of the meeting after eating the 4, I was thinking, "well, since I had THEM, I might as well stop at CVS on the way home and GET SOMETHING ELSE. And so the Ghiradelli's, which by the way are STUPENDOUS. As I was carrying them to the register, I thought about getting some chips, and nuts, or something else. Then a miracle happened. I decided that I only wanted the chocolate, and that yes, it was more than I needed, but I could minimize the damage by just having what I wanted. It wasn't my typical habitual binge mentality.

And this morning, finally broke through to a new low. I'm grateful, and know that doing the sweets eating once in awhile in a limited way isn't a bad thing. I just can't do it all the time, or even 50% of the time. This is new behavior, and better than that, my thought in the moment last night of knowing I only wanted the chocolate was new thinking. Maybe my wiring is being rerouted a little! New ruts being laid down in my gray matter that will slowly lessen the old habitual circuits of thought. Whatever is happening, it's working. I've been asking for help and it's coming in the form of good supportive caring people, new patterns of exercising and eating, and what feels like divine intervention. Ask and ye shall receive. And I can say that this is the best incentive to stay the course.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Weight for just a minute!!!

I haven't talked about food, eating, dieting and weight much recently, but you can bet your sweet tooth I've been thinking about it all. I read a wonderful post yesterday from Lyn at Escape From Obesity, talking about how her mind can be so "mushy" about committment to stay the course of weight loss and healthy choices versus out of the blue thoughts of "I should/could/want/need to eat cookies/candy/pie/pounds of cheese..." etc. I could totally relate to her thoughts. In fact, on my last blog (that I deleted but printed out the posts in case Knopf or another publisher comes a'knockin) I wrote about that very topic, but in a different way. It was about being a morning in the mornings, I typically feel strong and committed to my plan of healthy binge free eating, but as the day wears on, my resolve diminishes subtly but steadily to where I decide my real task should be to accept myself as I am and just go ahead and have the donuts I want right now, knowing full well they will merely serve as an appetizer to the menu of full blown bingeing that inevitably follows. I think I'm going to put that post in here if I can find it.

As I've been on this recent (and last) incarnation of weight loss and exercise with the help of a supportive program, I see that I'm still falling prey to the kind of disordered eating that has led me off course in the past. While many of my habits have improved greatly, I have been doing this thing where when I hit a new low (like my 199.8 last week), I continue the exercising and healthy eating until the evenings, when I begin to do a bit of bingeing. OH BULL SHIT Leslie, just be straight. I do a lot of bingeing in the classic sense of starting sweet, then going salty, then buttery, then whatever isn't nailed down. I've done this about 3 times in the last 4 weeks, just for a day or 2 each time, but the result is that I gain a few pounds and then tow the line back down to a new low, and do it again. One pound down, 3 pounds up, 4 pounds down, etc...

This makes me wonder about several things: fear of success, low self esteem, am I eating too little on my daily plan so that I'm feeling deprived and finally explode into overindulgence for a couple of evenings (not even during the days). I guess it doesn't matter why, but that I'm doing it that counts, and I know I want to stop it. And I'm aware, which means there is possibility for change. How can I change something if I don't cop to it? Reflection is fine, but action is what counts. And I know from when I stopped drinking that the behavior has to go first...then the insight comes. I used to think that if I got my life straightened out I could stop drinking. I had it backwards. Now it's clear that nothing can get really fixed until the destructive behavior stops. This is tough, because once you stop an addictive behavior, there is this thing called withdrawal.

Withdrawal isn't just physical...though the physical part is extremely real and presents before other withdrawal symptoms do. Get past the physical, and suddenly there is grief, depression, fear, constant cravings, feelings upon feelings upon feelings...that is where the rubber meets the road when it comes to giving up a destructive substance/behavior. It's why so many addicts of all kinds, gamblers, drinkers, eaters, smokers, sex addicts...fall back to their fixes. The physical withdrawal is tough, but learning to live "clean" of the behavior takes a long time, and much patience, tenacity, support, sometimes outside help, and definitely at certain points along the way, just gutting it out. So for me to do well and not overeat for a lot of days is great, but that lays me open to the feelings and thoughts that my food and eating kept at bay. And then "I want..." again.

That's part of why I think I'm feeling my empty nest so acutely right now. I have been doing pretty well with my eating, especially in the last week. And for the last couple of days I find myself ready to cry on a dime, feeling depressed and overwhelmed, and wouldn't you know...I want a certain plate sized gooey decadent cinnamon roll from Wawa constantly. Lots of other foods too. It feels endless, this wanting. But it gives me a view into my soul and my heart that I can't have when I'm numbing myself by gorging on junk.

I'm lucky to have the experience of having gotten sober in AA 18 years ago, because I understand a lot of this. But understanding is a thinking function. Change is an action word. In aa they say "you can't think your way into right action; you can only act your way into right thinking". So giving up doing the next wrong thing (tranlate: NOT eating the next coffee roll) has to come before insight into "why am I doing this?" It doesn't matter why I'm doing has to stop in order for me to get better. And when I'm better it doesn't matter why I did it because I don't do it anymore. The rewards are remarkable.

And I am getting better, though at a glacial pace. It's a slow process, but I have my experience getting sober to inform me and remind me that I am capable of change and have already navigated many of my inner roadblocks. So as I'm missing my children, worrying abut things over which I haved no control, and feeling some stuff I'd rather not feel, I know that staying numb keeps me from feeling the good stuff fully as well. So I'll take where I am today, stay the course, follow my food plan and know that whatever it is I'm feeling in a moment will pass. The good, the bad, the sad, the glad. And the yearning for donuts.

Monday, August 17, 2009

In the family way - part 2

I wanted to complete this 2 parter last Friday or over the weekend, but I couldn't. My frame of mind just wasn't in the place to revisit the thoughts and somber region of my emotional landscape that generated the fodder for this post. However, it's now Monday morning and I find myself back here in spades. Timing is everything, isn't it?

I left off where I was at last feeling calm and secure about our daughter's settling into her life in Janico, Dominican Republic as a Peace Corps volunteer. This was always an exciting and positive venture for her in my mind, but the earliest days of having an offspring set out into totally uncharted territory is something that will always require time and reassuring information for my mind to fully embrace (sometimes I think I should rename my blog "It's all a headtrip")!

Simultaneous to my new found calm about Jean's long planned adventure at last becoming manifest, our youngest son who was half way through his sophomore year in college decided that he wanted to do a semester abroad during his junior year (the typical time a college student sets out for parts unknown) and settled on spending the fall semester of his junior year in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Again, this is wonderful stuff, and I was (am) thrilled and happy for him his decision and efforts to make it all happen. He chose fall semester because he plays lacrosse for his college, and their official competitive season is in the spring. What this and his destination meant was that he would only be home for half the summer because the school semesters below the equator fall differently than in North America. So rather than having his delightful presence at home all summer...through August, we would only have him until early July, when he would depart for parts far away to begin the southern hemispere's version of fall semester.

Our nest wasn't empty when he arrived since his older brother (having not returned to college) was at home, so we had 2/3 of our original youth population back in our midst, and as usual it was fun and action packed. Knowing Mark was leaving in early July, I made a point of spending one on one time with him (as much as his 20 y/o self would permit), allegedly to get him stuff for his trip, but really to savor his presence while it was present. When he left, I was thrilled and happy for him, but a little nervous in a parenty kind of way. Again, within a few days of his arrival and having received a few communiques from him where he proved to be alive, well and engaged in his surrounds, my nerves were replaced by acceptance and happiness for his experience. Hmmmmm, there is a theme emerging here. Youngest son left, and while our house was quieter and calmer, we still had first born son home, which continued my sense of "having the kids around" (translate: still within my illusion of control). But I knew that this was short lived...

This oldest son, since deciding to not return to college for now, had been desiring and planning to move out and be independent since he arrived back home in January. And just about 10 days ago, after working out countless details big and small over the last month, left with a U Haul attached to the back of his subaru to move to Chicago with a good friend who already has a job out there. The friend was to start his job in mid August, so off they motored on August 6th to settle into an apartment they found and secured on line and begin life in a new place, with all their stuff jammed into a 5'x8' trailer. Our son left not yet having a job in Chicago but with full intentions of obtaining one asap. He left with optimism, hope, excitement and a clear head. And I was left with a deluge of feelings: happiness, worry, excitement, melancholy, worry, love, worry, optimism, lonliness (as hubby left for a week in Paris 2 days later)...more feelings than I could identify. In the days before Stephen left, while the house was full of his packed up life, I realized that if I withdrew from my busy overthinking mind for even a moment to survey my emotional landscape, the tears came fast, as though spilling over a bulging a dam. I sensed that this transition was going to be the one that brought me to my knees.

And so it has. Being alone last week with only the dog (a status I usually savor) gave me plenty of time to think, feel, respond to countless friends asking how it was going with Stephen in Chicago, and hear myself sound overly optimistic and unworried in a higher pitched version of my voice thus belying my confident words. I spoke to brave son several times and heard myself in fervent micromanagement of his job hunt. I felt mom radar listening for sounds of fear, lonliness, worry, or frustration in his voice and heard myself uttering to him countless nuggets of wisdom about new ventures and existential lonliness.

It's been illuminating, to say the least. Something jolted me last Friday after hanging up from a phone call with Steve where I found myself judging Steve's job hunting strategies but was careful to keep my thoughts to myself (like he isn't perfectly capable of reading my mind). The jolt was this: he's on a courageous journey at an appropriate time in his life to do this. And it's his life to negotiate. I want this to work out for him, but certainly less so than he does! He may have to struggle, and it may be awhile before he finds employment. Or it may go easy and well right away. But it has to be all him now along with whatever resources he finds within himself. He possesses the great love his family, a good mind, kind heart, curiousity and humor to name just a few. And he will acquire more as he moves along. I have to remind myself that I never really learned any of life's big lessons when everything was going perfectly! I must let go...but asking a mom to let go of her child is like asking her to remove and sizeable chunk of her beating heart. Struggle is inevitable and broadening, and while it's hard to REALLY LET GO, I'm going to do the best I can. A friend last week said something quite remarkable when telling her AA story...I may not be able to let something go, but I can let it be.

So there it is...the complete sequence of Leslie's series of transitions. The good news is that with each segment, the adjustment phase has been followed by peace and contentment with however things are. And that the story will continue to unfold is the best news of all. Yearning for the family way as I've come to think of it means that I've been blessed to be part of my own nuclear group with a good husband and great kids. And that is truly more than I probably deserve and ever dreamed of.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Just a quickie

This isn't part 2 of the compelling post I began yesterday (shut up, it was too compelling) but rather a brief update of my weightloss efforts to date. Recall that Sunday, (the 9th) I began a 3 day Quick Start "cleanse" suggested by Healthy Inspirations to help blast through what wasn't really a plateau but rather the result of some bingey behavior. Anyway, I started out eating probably too little, but Monday and Tuesday I decided to eat as much of the allowed food as I felt hungry for. And today when I stepped on the scale, I had entered a new CENTURY!! That's right...this morning I tipped the scale at a svelte 199.8 lbs. Granted, after I swallowed my allergy pill I probably slid back into the previous century, but nonetheless, I feel GREAT about it.

Two summers ago I got as low as 196 on the Food Addicts Anonymous Eat Next to Nothing plan, but I got fed up (great inadvertant metaphor, self) and decided to go it on my own. I think I stayed at 196 for about 20 minutes, and then began the slow climb back up. I never regained it all over these 2 years, but I was starting to come totally unglued regarding eating this past spring and it was a matter of time before I hit new highs. I'm so thankful that the universe, my meditation teacher, and my tight bras aligned in such a manner that I hit a place where it became clear that I needed more help and support than I was getting, and that I had to do something different. Help came, and comes, from all realms as it usually does when we become open and honest with ourselves.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The family way - part one

Being a woman of age, I remember things that my younger human counterparts never heard the term "in the family way". It sounds like a term that describes one way to go on a vacation, or a style of socializing. How do you take a vacation? You go the family way, which entails loading up the Dodge Caravan like the Beverly Hillbillies' jalopy, pack tons of finger food snacks and juice boxes, car games, toys, Raffi tapes to sing along to, and stay at a family friendly establishment that features a cement pond, playground, activities for the kids, etc. Or, how do you socialize with others? The family way is to invite families with kids over, feed the kids early and let them go run around like maniacs on the the slip'n'slide while the grown ups stay inside and have grown up food and er... beverages. (as opposed to the single ways of doing the above, like signing up for Club Med, packing: tube tops, short shorts, bikinis and tight slinky dresses for evenings of bar hopping, plenty of aspirin for the inevitable killer hangovers...) I'm seriously digressing.

When I was younger, the term "in the family way" referred to a pregnant woman - as in "She's not fat, she's in the family way!" (or, she's not in the family way...she's just fat, which is why you never ask a woman if she's pregnant unless you already know, 100%, that she is. I've been on the giving and receiving ends of that little faux pas.) All this blather has come up because I'm feeling wistful for being "in the family way", and I sure as hell don't mean I wish I was pregnant or am missing the days of being kicked internally from here to China on an hourly basis (although that truly is a magnificent sensation I was blessed to experience 3 times). What I am missing is being with my family on a frequent basis...dare I say day to day? My current state of misty wistfulness is the product of a series of circumstances that have combined in this time and place of my human incarnation. So what are these circumstances, and why these, and why now?

First and most obviously, my husband and I are 60 and 56 respectively, so at the age where the kids are mostly grown and beginning to live their own lives. All have graduated high school and left for college. We've been empty nesters twice, and happily so I might add (though for only 4 month stints and not including this time which is what I'm getting to with all this verbal cabbage ). I'm used to them having flown the coop, and though I miss them when they're not around, I'm busy and happy in my life without them. I'm long over (actually never went through) any acute yearning for the days when the kids were little and needed me for every single thing. So why the long face, Mrs. Erickson? And so the sequence unfolds...

At the end of 2008 (before Christmas), #1 son returned from what would have been the first semester of his senior year but was actually the second semester of his Junior year because he'd taken the second semester of his Junior year (last spring) off to recalibrate, establish a new major, figure out what he wanted to do...wait, I'm getting dizzy here. Long story short (I know, too late) he came home for Christmas break and announced he wasn't going back because he just wasn't sure what he wanted to do but he did know that he needed a break from school FOR AT LEAST A YEAR. This didn't come as a huge shock, given his aforementioned semester off the previous year, but it did bring some disquiet to my inner landscape and to hubby's. He's a wonderful kid, a stellar human being with a good heart and an excellent work ethic, and he just wanted to work for awhile and try some new things (jobs, not bungee jumping or building a crystal meth lab). He was willing and desiring to work, but so was half the country and they weren't finding jobs...hence, the disquiet. So he stayed home after Christmas until last week, working at a couple of jobs (phew!) and being very easy to have around 98% of the time. More on him shortly.

2009 has been full of transition and adjustment. First born and only girl Jean, who is 25, left in March for the Dominican Republic to serve in the Peace Corps, the realization of a dream she's had since she was in about the 6th grade. The standard commitment is 2 years and 3 months in Peace Corps service, and in her case 2 years and 3 months in the malaria zone, as well as in the path through which many hurricanes travel, and countless other unforseen possibilities over which I HAVE NO CONTROL. Despite the joy and pride I felt (feel) for her in this endeavor, this threw my navigational momming system for a loop briefly, but after a couple of weeks that included the discovery that she's in the same time zone, breathing, safe and more importantly loving her experience, I came back to kilter a bit. The onset of weekly phone calls and more frequent gmail chats have restored mom equilibrium pretty much completely. (Not to mention this has been a quiet hurricane season to date!)

Around the time my nervous uncertainty peppered with nervous joy and a sprinkling of nervous angst about Jean in a foreign land was replaced by peace and delight for her experience, #2 son surfaced with his own plan to make mommy nervous...

It's now 4 p.m. I started this at 10 this morning, scribbling out a few sentences during lulls at work. Now I'm home and the dog has the audacity to expect a freakin' walk! His momma was such a bitch! So I think I will put this to bed for the time being and return later today or in the morning. The sequence is only half first cliffhanger.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A few remains of the weekend

Monday morning finds me feeling TIRED and ever so slightly achy. This is interesting since I had an exercise free weekend for the first time in many months. No gym visits, no lawn mowing, no aerobic gardening...not even my usual walks, other than the obligatory dog walks, and even they were short. I had a 5 mile walk planned with a friend yesterday morning, but torrential downpours nixed that plan. Admittedly the sun did come out later but I guess it wasn't in the cards for me to work it in.

My tiredness today is of the dishrag variety - that is, I feel as limp and energetic as a used one. I think part of the reason is that yesterday I did Day 1 of a Quick Start 3 day eating routine my Healthy Inspiration program suggests to occasionally help break through a plateau or recover from some binge episodes. Guess which was my motivator? The plan includes mainly lean animal proteins and salads with a limited number of allowable carrots or tomatoes, and definitely no walnuts and feta (insert frowny face), but of course all the celery, alfalfa sprouts, scallions, cabbage and radishes your wittle heart desires and I truly desired very wittle but overdosed nonetheless as I was ravenous. Also allowed are steamed summer squash and broccoli...big whoop. The plan says to limit oneself to 1/4 tsp. of salt per day, but as the wanton renegade I am, I USED MORE. Lot's more, because it was the only thing that reminded me that I love food. Breakfast consists of 2 eggs, and a microscopic slice of cantaloupe which I didn't have on hand. Or you can have 2 oranges, but oranges in summer are disgusting - pithy and dry, so I didn't bother with them either. We're talking spartan fare here. You can have as much of all this, including the meat and seafood, as your stomach desires. I ate plenty, but even with the olive oil and balsamic dressing on the salads, it doesn't have much staying power. Around 8 last night I was feeling so listless and in such extreme grief over not having even yogurt that I capitulated and ate about 20 fresh cherries. They were good and I seriously doubt the 70 calories or so they contributed to the total will affect my life negatively. Given how truly without energy I feel today, I think I'm going to abandon the next 2 days of QuickStart and delve into Phase 1 South Beach. And I am going to the gym after work, and that will feel good.

So yesterday morning when the monsoon offed our five mile walk, my friend and I decided to look into seeing a movie (specifically Julie and Julia) and find a time early enough to get her home by 3. I went online and found that the movie is 2 hours and 2 minutes long, so even a one'o'clock show was too late. It was about 9:45when I was looking, and I suddenly noticed something remarkable. There was a showing of the movie at a local theater at 10:15 a:m! At first I thought it meant they started selling tickets for the day at 10:15, but turns out that most movie theaters have mid-morning showings of movies on weekends and holidays! And they're the cheapest tickets available. Who knew? This was a wonderful discovery for me, because afternoons and evenings on weekends tend to fill up with various activities, and it's hard to coordinate with friends who also have lives. Anyway, we saw the morning show for $6.00! Truly a serendipitous find on my part. Thank you universe.
And by the way...Julie & Julia was wonderful. Just delightful on many levels. Were I a movie critic, I'd give it 5 stars.

I have other stuff to write about that has nothing to do with food, dieting or movies, but will close for now and perhaps do another entry later. Bon appetit!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Getting to know me

This morning I actually cringed and squeezed my eyes shut when I stepped on the scale. I had a clean day of eating yesterday, but for some reason I was certain that I was going to be up a pound or so. I could tell by how my just awake body felt that it was going to be Bad News Bears at the weigh in. Actually I was down 1 1/2 pounds from yesterday, verifying my suspicion that the almost 3 pound gain over 3 days of bingeing was mostly water weight. Obviously I was glad, but the fat feeling is lingering. I'm so tired of my endless journey with food, weight, body's been part of my day to day existence for about 22 years...and at times prior to the onset of this 22 year span. It's such old news.

Over the weekend I realized that a part of me was wishing I could accept my squishy big boxy body...make peace with it. That I could don a swimsuit and dive into a pool and just enjoy how the water feels against my skin. That the enjoyment of the sensation of being in water wouldn't be diminished by the terror over emerging from said pool, wet and with the bathing suit clinging to every dimpled centimeter of the flesh it covered, not to mention the appearance of uncovered body parts like thighs and upper arms. I think at some level I was trying to convince myself that I could learn to live a perfectly normal happy life by accepting the appearance of my body and my status as a fat woman. I believe many people can and do live that way, and I envy that quality of accepting oneself fully in the present. Because what is, is. I CAN choose to change it, but hating any aspect of myself in the moment, or at any moment does not serve me in any way other than contribute to self sabotaging behaviors.

Yet I really can't acquire that level of acceptance of myself in my current incarnation. I am healthy, relatively fit and grateful for all that my body is capable of doing, particularly in face of the abuse I've slung its way for so long. There's that old adage that inside every fat person is a thin person screaming to get out...I'm not sure if that's true of every person who's overweight, but I'm beginning to know that it IS my truth. Somehow, keeping this "cloak" of extra poundage around me is getting in the way of me being who I truly am. I'm pretty evolved along my life journey and have come to know and mostly like myself, but my increasing sense is that this weight has been serving me in some way that I've yet to identify and is no longer working.

Several years ago I was talking to one of my dear sisters-in-law (I have 3 and love them all) who struggled for many years with a substantial weight problem but has gradually overcome it and has been in amazing shape for many years now. I told her then that I'd finally become tired of hating myself for being heavy, and that it was clear to me that my weight was not getting in the way of who I am and how I was living my life. That I accepted myself "as is". Well. I believed that at the time, but it wasn't the truth. About a year ago I amended that statement to her by admitting that in fact my weight does get in the way of who I am. It enables me to not fully accept myself, to not always represent myself honestly or to speak up about opinions or ideas. It keeps me out of touch with myself and what my heart is feeling at any given time. I'm much better than I used to be in these areas, but my soul is speaking to me again and again now, gently nudging me to not abandon myself, mouthfuls at a time, by shoving down food and adding pounds rather than letting the me inside emerge and shine. Food is an effective numbing agent, but not a selective one. Sure, it can blunt pain, but it also blunts joy and peace. And it blocks me from moving towards the light.

So, for today I'm going to try to stay the course of losing my excess weight, exercising in moderation, and abstaining from eating food that I'm not hungry for. I will try to feel the desire to swallow something (anything!) that has nothing to do with needing more food, stay with it and strive to find what the real desire, yearning, beneath the "hunger" is. And if I can't identify the yearning, I won't abandon the process and myself by having a Tastycake orgy. Because then, there's no chance of discovering what my truth is in any given moment. Then it becomes about food and fat, and there's so much more to me than that.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Gutting it out

I'm having a hungry day. Emotional, way overly sensitive about stuff, feeling fat, struggling to not go to the kitchen and empty the fridge of its contents...directly into my gullet. All I want to do is eat. I have been eating a little crazy for the last 3 days and predictably have gained 3 pounds. I know that weight is mainly water, but it still irks me and sends me into self pummeling. So today I've been on track, with my eating, but off with my thinking. This isn't anything I haven't encountered before, but it's hard to just have to sit with the hunger (that I know isn't physical) and not act on it. I just finished dinner, and so am going upstairs to brush, floss, and hopefully fall asleep early. If I do, I'll have had a solid day of healthy junk at all. And I have a feeling tomorrow will be a better day.