Friday, June 25, 2010

Vanity vs. Sanity

It feels like I haven't done a real post in over a week.  Maybe it hasn't been that long, but it feels that way.  It's been a crazy busy week both at work and at home, and I just haven't felt like sitting down and tapping into the vast wasteland that is my brain.  Too distracted, too stressed, and very unfocused.

Then, beginning yesterday afternoon, Mother Nature intervened...a storm of just under Biblical proportions blew through our region.  Torrential rain, thunder, lightening, hail in places (not in my backyard - nimby!), all of which resulted in a lot of damage.  Trees down and on houses, cars and power lines.  Cars pelted and dimpled from hail.  Many occurrences of neighborhoods where one street sustained tons of damage and just a block over not much at all.  As so often happens, the National Weather Service "investigates" and swears on a stack of meteorology textbooks that there were no tornadoes.  Try telling that to my friend who watched 5 different windows in her house literally blow out.   She felt pretty traumatized being inside and watching as this played out over the longest 5 minutes she's experienced in a long time.

Across town in my neighborhood, we mainly got lots of rain, and many branches and trees blown down.  We lost power for 2 hours only, and then life returned to hot and slightly less humid normalcy.  But where Mom Nature intervened in my crazy overdone week was that this morning at 6:15, a surprise phone call informed that my work place was closed for the day due to a power outage.  NO WORK TODAY.  The summer equivalent of a snow day, only even sweeter because it wasn't anticipated or hoped for.  It was dropped in our laps.  And I've done everything possible to be a good steward of my unexpected gift!

I went to my morning meeting, came home after to pack up some bags for bloggers (sounds like the newest global charity effort), mailed them, and went to walk the 5 miles at Ridley Creek State Park.  It was glorious.  I used my ipod, which I haven't done for awhile, and the music added a festive feel to my walk, in keeping with this gift of a free day.  I was having such a good time walking and taking a few pics that I snapped a self sweat-portrait at mile 4.0.  (How crazy is that??) I even decided to give a wave to my bloggy friends.   Normally I'd look at this picture and hate the way I look with no make up, my hair all smooshed back by the visor, and several chins and fat arms evident.  But I decided to put it up anyway.  Vanity avails me nothing, and often keeps me from being fully honest and open about my occasionally imperfect self, which brings me
to my main topic today.

My food and eating have been pretty bad most of this week.  It's been a week of extremes - all good or all bad, and the bad has far outweighed the good.  Which has caused me to far outweigh my goal from last Friday to be at 200.0 this day.  (And I have to surreal and perhaps horrific is it to have a goal of weighing 200?? Good lord..)  Where the vanity kicks in is that I honestly cannot bring myself to reveal my weight today.  Last week I was 204.1.  The week before 204.  This week was more.  A lot more, and it's entirely due to overeating and underexercising.  And not checking in with the scale.  Sure, it's a lot of water weight, but the baseline keeps rising.  A very bad sign.

I'm pretty disgusted with myself, but more than that, a little scared.  I understand completely that I have the capacity to weigh 500 pounds...that is how out of control my eating can get.  Vanity is the main thing that keeps me in check these days...I have a bad couple of days, the scale goes up like a saturn rocket.  I see the number, and pull it together for a couple of days until I'm back to a reasonable place.  But rather than using the reasonable place as a springboard from which to continue down the scale, it works to give me carte blanche to "relax" a little, which leads to relaxing a lot.  I've been in this cycle for weeks now, even though until this week my exercise has been increasing with the improvement of my knees.  Scale roulette.  I've talked about it before.  Many times.  Sorry to repeat myself, but my behavior is repeating itself, and I'm trying to honestly state my truth here. 

I see why many programs advise to weigh only the scale does not become a factor in one's eating plan.  But when I know I'm doing bad with eating, it becomes necessary as a stopgap measure.  How crazy is this?  To weigh or not to weigh.  If I'm doing great and stringing together a lot of good days, I tell myself that the the scale's all important verdict will "motivate" me.  It has in the past, many times.  But at times it gives me the wiggle room that ensures I'm just going to yoyo up and down in a ten pound range, never making any real progress.   AAARRRGGGHH.  When I look at this, I see the wisdom of some of the rigid programs' rhetoric and philosophies.

In my daily AA reading this morning, the thought for today is:  

"One of the most encouraging facts of life is that your weakness can become your greatest asset.  Kites and airplanes rise against the wind.  In climbing up a high mountain, we need the stony crags and rough places to aid us in our climb.  So your weakness can become an asset if you will face it, examine it, and trace it to its origin.  Set it in the very center of your mind.  No weakness, such as drinking, ever turned into an asset until it was first fairly faced."  (from Twenty Four Hours A Day, published by Hazelden)
I really have food addiction.  Addiction is a progressive disease ands left untreated or acknowledged, it never gets better.  Only worse.  Guaranteed.  I need to face that I'm not just dealing with a simple lack of willpower.  And I do.  But hell, I've faced this for years.  Faced but maybe not accepted.  Oh, I've accepted my alcoholism, but my food addiction is a harder pill to swallow.  I don't like it and I don't want it.  But it's becoming increasingly clear that I really have it and that it's worse than it used to be. 

If I could carry on and stay at 204, as crazy as it sounds I think I'd do it right now.  But it doesn't work that way...each day the eating gets a little crazier, and that is not conducive to maintaining even a high weight.  Because addiction always wants more.  Whatever hole in my soul is being "filled" with addictive behavior continues to require more, and the backsliding, or in this case scale climbing ensues.  I was upset in early 2010 when I was hovering around 195 after having been as low as 192.  The bottom line has risen.  This has happened before.  It's how I hit my high of 234 a few summers ago.  I don't want it.  Vanity versus sanity.  Vanity keeps me from going to far over the top, but prevents me from fully accepting the seriousness of this in my life.

There's another concept in AA about having to hit bottom in order to finally come to terms with the truth about ourselves.  But the bottom has many levels - the elevator goes all the way down to death, with a lot of hell beforehand.  You can get off at any level.  When I was still playing around with drinking when I first started AA, I remember saying to a nice woman who was trying to help me, "Maybe I haven't hit bottom yet."  She gave me the spiel I wrote at the beginning of this paragraph, and then said, "You hit bottom when you stop digging."  I pray I'm there.


  1. Having some experience with addiction in my family members, I can tell you FOR SURE, that my own beloved brother became a food addict when he got sober. When he went on a diet a couple of years ago - lost 75 lbs. and probably had 75 more to go - he started gambling. His wife says when he stops gambling it becomes something else.

    It's addiction plain and simple. It's where you gravitate. So, really, it's not about dealing with alcohol, or food, or shopping, or whatever. It's about dealing with addiction.

    I know you know that deep down.

    You look glorious in your sweaty photo and I pray for you many more opporunities to get sweaty this weekend my friend!

  2. Anonymous25 June, 2010

    You walked FIVE miles! :D ! You WALKED FIVE MILES!!!!!

    Okay. I know that doesn't mean that you don't have a food addiction. And I know that you can walk five miles and still eat you weight in chocolate (or whatever your thing is), but let us not lose sight of the fact that instead of using your day off to sit on the couch and eat chocolate--YOU WALKED FIVE MILES!

    I'm telling you, Leslie, there is a key that you're missing. I don't know what it is for you, but I know there is one. I had the same struggles you're having right now.

    It was not that I lacked desire. It was not that I was in denial about my food addiction. It was not that I wasn't trying or agonizing or trying some more. I just couldn't break free-untitl I found my key.

    For some people it's avoiding sugar, others it's getting enough sleep, some it's a more emotional/psychological thing. As you know, my breakthrough came when I cut out gluten.

    When I quit eating gluten, my world as far as eating goes, changed. I truly thought a bonafide miracle had occurred. In fact, I still do--but now I'm able to pin the change to a specifid action. Being led to take that action was, I am convinced, divine intervention.

    There is something, Leslie. Ask God to show you what it is that you're leaving out of the weight-loss equation. He showed me; He will show you.

    And freedom will be the result.


  3. Very interesting post Leslie. I am an addict in numerous ways and like Helen's brother I generally will shift from one obsessive behavior to another. I am working on it but I think I will spend the rest of my years on this planet battling one or another...

  4. Great post. I admire your honesty. I wish you all the best. And I am very impressed that you walked 5 miles!

    Food addiction: one of the bloggers I read writes about food addiction from a scientist's viewpoint. You might want to check him out.

  5. Leslie, I always admire your honesty and the truths that you post.

    I, too, love the photo! It's you and it's 5 damned MILES. Fabulous. As for the addiction, what would you do if this were alcohol? Are you keeping trigger foods in the house? Would you call a friend before taking the drink/unneeded bite? Are you treating this as serious as other addictions?

    As has been said many times, food is one of the tough ones because we have to learn to moderate - something I find very difficult.

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  6. Oh gosh, I know the feeling, and I am sorry you're feeling it. I, too, know that I could reach many hundreds of pounds if I let myself. I am totally capable. Scary.

    But we won't go there, Leslie. We have too much to live for.


  7. Love your picture. And, as a former teacher, rejoice with you on your serendipitous summer "snow" day! Yipee!. You get a gold star for starting your day so well. A 5 mile walk with ipod sounds fabulous to me. (I listen to 60s music on mine while I exercise.) I think you'll work your way through this and find the key. I recently broke through months of just over 200 to the joyful place of "onederland." You can do it, too.

  8. Not everyone knows what to say to this type of post. I am not sure I do either. I am hoping you have NO enabling/codependency replies to this post. I do not think you have so far.

    posting the photo and the truth is a real step.

    Pictures are hard for all of us - and your picture is absolutely adorable - because it is you and it is where you are - and you were out doing something about all of IT.

    I (personally) think you need to go back in to the post and add the actual weight number in big bold print - because it is exactly like standing up at an AA meeting. it is the truth. No hiding.

    and WHAT happened with the therapist? have you been in yet? and is this an addiction specialist?

  9. and some people's FINAL goal weight is right about 200 lbs. not saying that is where yours should be - but it is all relative to each person's reality.

  10. I always use the concepts I learned in AA for my food and dieting, "I just won't eat that today, I will do good and tomorrow I can have that _____" and I use the "fake it until you make it" idea

    the things from AA have really helped me

  11. First off, congratulations on the positive use of the day off ! Time like that is indeed a gift , and any gift becomes elevated when treated as something beautiful.
    As to the other issue- I can't help but think that the root cause of all addictions are an energy pattern in the body that has become short circuited for whatever reason. All of the conventional steps are indeed of merit and beneficial, but I wonder if the addition of some other things would be of benefit. Perhaps acupressure/massage type therapy could help restore the balance and allow your body to behave in a natural way. I think something with the spleen and kidney meridian gets out of alignment ( or short circuts) , and this begins a whole round of chaos. Here is a page with a really basic run-down of some of the key points on the body , and how to do the routine yourself . It's not the only solution, but perhaps may offer a valuable addition to all of your other actions.

  12. Hi Leslie, sorry I missed this post, we're on vacation and I'm behind on everything.

    I think I've mentioned that I'm a 12-stepper as well, for my compulsive overeating. Because I'm not anonymous on the Internet I don't mention the name of my program, in accordance with Tradition 11. The day I walked into program and realized that there was a solution and I didn't have to do it anymore, was really one of the best days of my life. Just as the twelve steps work for one addiction, they can work for another. Now I just have to work them on my shopping! :)