Thursday, April 28, 2011

By the way...I'm okay!

Just another fly by post to say I'm doing well, and to thank folks who've shot me an email to make sure I'm okay.  I had last week off for spring break, and it was glorious.  I really used the time to get myself solidly back in my exercise routine - doing lots of walking and starting to do a Pilates DVD I've had for about 3 years and never had peeled the original cellophane from!  I've continued the exercise this week now that I'm back to work and I know it's helping me feel more energetic and positive.

The week off was also therapeutic for my mind and spirit.  I had ample time to read, meditate, allow myself to continue to process and grieve the loss of our dear pup, enjoy friends...just BE.  I'm sure it's been said in other places, but it was in AA I first heard that we have to remember that we're human BEINGS, not human DOINGS.  I tend to be an activity junkie - scheduling myself to the max with activities of all kinds.  I see this as yet another way I scramble to avoid being alone with myself.  AND YET...solitude and quiet are 2 qualities I crave most to add to my life.  The meditation I've been practicing is beginning to really help me find comfort and calm that extend to my day to day life.  A very positive benefit, indeed.

Speaking of solitude, I am home alone until Saturday evening, and without even the dog, more alone than at any time in the last 11 years.  Our 24 y/o son who was here for about 7 months working, saving money and being quite delightful, left Monday morning to begin a drive out to California, where he's going to work on an organic farm through October. While it was hard to say goodbye to him, it's great to see him pursuing something he's been researching and wanting to do for over a year.  In exchange for his work, he's provided room, board and a small weekly stipend.  Also, the drive will afford hi views of much of the country he hasn't yet seen.  Of course, Mom will be happy once I know he's arrived at his destination in the Sacramento Valley!

Anyway, then Tuesday morning I deposited hubby at the airport for a business trip to Texas, so it's bachelorette time for me.  As I've said before, being home alone always helps me do better with my eating for some reason.  It's a heady feeling of independence and not having to do anything (like cooking!) unless I want to.  But it is strange not having a big dog to serve as my best guardian and protector.  Lou was a big barker, so if even a squirrel, or God forbid a cat, set paw into our yard, Lou steadfastly guarded his territory (and his mommy - me) with gales of hysterical barking, sending would be intruders high-tailing it away. 

At the end of next week, hubby and I will be traveling to Atlanta for our youngest son's college graduation.  We'll be there for a whole week, getting our son packed up to return to Philly with us (where he will hopefully find a REAL job as opposed to working in the deli at the local Acme store!).  Also, my husband's whole family lives in Atlanta so we'll be seeing them a lot.  I genuinely love my in-laws and have great relationships with them, but I always have angst of weighing more than I should/would/could - an issue which is in my mind only.  Anyone who has read my blog for very long knows I always stress about this when we go to Atlanta, because I swear this family has more thin and highly attractive members than a supermodel's.  It will all be fine, and I think I'm less worried about that piece than I have been before.  Ahh,ever-elusive self acceptance.  It's definitely aided by knowing I'm doing what I can to get as fit and healthy as possible.

While in Atlanta, I'm planning to have dinner with fellow bloggers Tammy and Tina.  I met Tammy during my last visit, and can't wait to meet Tina as well. It's awesome to meet up with bloggers  "in the flesh"! 

So those are the highpoints from my little corner of blogdom.  We're expecting terrible storms and winds this morning, so getting our wheel chair bound clients off vans and inside at work should be an experience!  Happy Pre-Friday, all. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I get by with a little help from my friends

I feel so good today - for the first time since last fall, I got up and walked to my morning AA mtg and then back afterward.  I didn't plan it, but when the inspiration hit at 5 a.m. it was like a divinely planted suggestion to which I said YES!  It's about 5 miles total, and usually I can only do this on weekends because I have to be at work at 8:30 and the meeting ends at 8.  However, I'm on spring vacation this week so I have the luxury of UNSTRUCTURED TIME, which is surely the most underrated commodity on the face of the planet.  Glorious to not have to be anywhere at a certain time unless I want to be!

I haven't been exercising near enough - just around 2 mile walks, if anything at all.  My planned trip to the gym yesterday didn't happen because..........because I continued to debate in my mind whether or not when I was going to go.  The minute I enter into debate with the lazy wench within, all bets are off, and dollars to donuts I'll not act on my own behalf.  But a couple of things from yesterday impacted me so positively that I took a different tack today, and it paid off.

First thing was at my AA meeting yesterday morning.  A fairly new guy shared at the end of the meeting.  This guy is really bright, pretty young (mid to late 30's maybe), and extremely overweight.  Obviously it's an AA mtg so food issues aren't discussed, but he usually manages to talk about his early recovery in a way that evidences to me he's also working on his food issues.  Like I do.

What he said was that he felt so good because he'd gotten up early and walked the way he "intends" to every day, but often doesn't.  He reported that when he first awoke, the thought of the walk was immediately followed by the "decision" that he'd do it "later".  He went on to say that all of a sudden, he sat up and said, "NO.  I'm just going to do it and not debate it.  If I start the debate in my mind about whether or not to do this simple thing, every decision I make for the rest of the day will be similar, and I won't make the best decisions for myself.

Maybe that doesn't sound like such a big deal, but it hit me square between the eyes.  YES.  No exercise yields debate about food choice, which yields debate about snacking, which yields debate about selecting crackers or junkier items rather than fresh healthy fruit and veggies, which yields more sketchy and  anti-self-care behavior over that which promotes my health and well being.  It was pretty deep for this blogger to ponder.

Second was a comment from the wonderful Biz, who reminded me of a post by Helen from Monday April 11th titled INO, which stands for "It's not an option".  It's a great post (check it out if you haven't read it), and I thank Biz for reminding me of it and telling me how much it's helped her.  And of course I thank Helen for the notion of countering my lazy overeating inner voice with the INO phrase when a self defeating thought/compulsion presents itself to my consciousness.  

Both the aforementioned mind shifts helped me this morning when the inspiration to walk to the meeting hit, and rather than turning over and pulling down the shade on such a potentially beneficial divine suggestion, I heeded it.

Can I tell you how much better I feel physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually for having gotten out and hoofed it to and from the meeting?  By the time I got there, I could already feel a shift in the sort of funk that has been looming in my periphery, and by the time I returned, I felt like a new woman.  They say exercise is the best remedy for depression, and while I wouldn't claim to have been depressed, the funk has contributed to my overall inertia regarding self care.  Also, my knees feel really good, and I know that the more they move, the better for my osteoarthritis.  They feel positively normal!  Gotta love it, and I do :).

The plan - more of the same tomorrow.  My food was great yesterday.  The walking substantially increased the odds that the rest of my choices for today will be good, including going to my meditation group tonight after dinner.  This could be a very good day.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Grant me this day

Hi blog friends - this most recent blog vacay wasn't planned - it just sort of happened.  Not only have I not posted but I haven't been reading all; so if there are any stunning revelations or huge happenings that have transpired in the blog kingdom - I missed 'em!  Feel free to fill me in on the dirt.

When last we chatted, I was reeling over the unexpected and sudden passing of our family's youngest and most canine member.  The loss shook me in a way I couldn't have imagined.  I still went to work and did the things I do, but definitely felt a pall hanging heavily and experienced waves of tears and sadness more often than I would have guessed.  It's been almost 2 weeks, and while I miss him like crazy, I'm getting used to the house without him.  I'm starting to feel less lopsided walking without him - he was great at pulling me up hills and suddenly dragging me off the path in order to traumatize a squirrel or crouching kitty.  It isn't as acute and constant as it was for the first couple of days.

I haven't gone back and read what I wrote last post, but I know I mentioned that this was the first experience of unfettered grieving I've experienced.  Painful, sad, inconvenient, messy, wet (very wet for the first few days with those feeling storms that blew threw), but I totally recognize the experience as a gift, and a revelation of how evolved I've become through recovery and just living long enough to continue to grow up and get better.  I'm so grateful to be able to experience my feelings without having to numb them, or myself, in order to move through.

Which brings up emotional eating.  Food has never accomplished the mind altering effects that alcohol did for me.  But I've used food my whole life in order to survive and cope with whatever I didn't think I could. So  I still have no idea just how raw and splayed open my psyche, my heart, my soul would feel if I didn't succumb to the food thoughts that just "pop up" on a daily basis.  I've gone a day, or 2, or even weeks without responding to food's seductive call, but always and eventually I cave in when I just can't hold out any longer.  And that is the point at which my greatest discoveries about myself and my feelings are blighted - again.

There's a guy in my morning AA meeting I love - he's a lawyer, very funny and very irreverent.  He's been coming around to AA for about 7 or 8 years, and so far he has about a year of sobriety as his longest time.  The reason...every time he and his wife go out of the country (they've been to Germany, Australia, Italy, England) he "decides" to drink.  So far he's been able to come back and not drink on US soil.  Next week he's going to Paris, and he's sounding very much like he plans to do it again.  He's cheating himself - because at some level he still doesn't believe he can really live fully and have an absolutely amazing wonderful time - or life? - without an occasional encounter with booze.  How could his life - his inner landscape - change and expand DEEPLY and for the better, by not drinking a day at a time for the rest of his days? ( I know mine has, in ways I couldn't have imagined.  Had I written my own script for sobriety I'd have cheated myself because I couldn't have imagined a life as rich and full as I have today.)

This guy  reminds me of myself with eating;  I claim I don't want to live a life where I can't have an occasional food orgy - not unlike my lawyer friend.  Problem is, I CAN'T, because once I invite the binge behavior back in, I never know when I can slam the door in its f-ing face again.  Sometimes after a day - sometimes it's weeks before I can rein in my cravings, which aren't cravings for any specific food - rather for EVERY food I think I have to have to ...what, survive?  That's how it feels at times.  And really - I need occasional food orgies to make my life BETTER?  Really?  What does that say about my life?  When I deconstruct my thinking, it's clear that my eating not only doesn't make my life more worth living, it diminishes it in a thousand ways.

This experience of losing Lou and the emotional journey I've already traveled has informed me that maybe my life would still be great, fun, rich, fantastic, sad, full of family, friends and love - without an occasional food orgy.  The thing is, I don't have to swear them off forever.  I only have to swear it off for today.  The only time a food thought overcomes me and sends me to my own food and fat ruin is in a single day, at a single moment.  I have the resources to get through a single day IF I choose to access and use them.

So that's where I am.  I'm not striving for peace with food today - I have it if I choose it.  I don't want a war in my mind of having to fight back food cravings - I surrender, hopefully to win.

And now I'm off to my cadillac gym from which my membership officially ends on April 30th.  Might as well use it while I can.  And I'm looking forward to catching up on all my blog buddies' lives.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Unexpected discoveries

I've heard the saying, "be careful what you pray may get it", many times.  Also have heard people talk about receiving long awaited or prayed for outcomes and "gifts" only to discover they also had to accept whatever came along with the coveted state.

My past week began with my post about beginning again...again; how never quitting this endeavor toward health, leanness and wellness was at the top of my planner.  I did have several good on plan eating days, but by Wednesday was beginning to feel the vague stirrings for some Brach's Jelly Beans and other verboten edibles.  I'd re-entered battle with my compulsive food thoughts...countering them with the voice of reason in the usually futile attempt to NOT ACT ON THE FOOD THOUGHTS.  I actually ate something late Wed. afternoon that would absolutely have led to more food, if not a binge.

And then the dog began evidencing serious symptoms around 6 p.m.  Roughly 7 hours later my son and I tearfully held and caressed Lou as he passed from this realm into the next.

And my appetite has yet to return.  The long desired indifference to food as anything more than mildly pleasurable but essential nourishment for which I've prayed and yearned finally arrived.

I didn't eat anything after 6:15p.m. until a small dinner Thursday - my stomach was gnawing - almost painfully, but the thought of swallowing anything was repulsive.  That was as unheard of as the previous day - Lou refusing a fried wonton strip from the carry out that #1 son had just brought in, which became the first alarm that something was wrong.  In the 11 years we had Lou, he NEVER didn't want food.  He was his mama's baby :) (mama being me).

Friday was similar - I couldn't eat breakfast (other than coffee); I ate a smallish salad for lunch at work, and when food shopping after work I began to feel shaky and lightheaded so grabbed a small bottle of pure orange juice to get something in my system.   Had 2 slices of pizza for dinner Friday with sonny boy and went to bed.  Yesterday I began to want to eat a little more - a breakfast with AA buds after an early meeting, a black cherry Chobani around 3, and then a foot long hot dog and diet coke after a Costco run with my neighbor and close friend. Also had some roasted peanuts from the shell before going to bed.

This morning after my meeting a couple of errands, I did suddenly feel hungry, so fixed 2 strips of bacon, an egg plus 1/3 c eggbeaters, and a Fiber One English muffin and I feel stuffed.  This is all really weird for me, and I know full well it won't last.  Like Lou, I never met a food offering or a meal time I didn't want, unless I was laid up with stomach flu or something.

So not surprisingly, my weigh in this morning showed a loss.  I was 213.8 last Sunday, this morning 210.  I was actually surprised it wasn't a bigger loss, but not disappointed.  What I do feel is the desire to keep this current foreign mentality of eating because I need to, not because I want to regardless of hunger.  Partially because I want to keep moving down the scale - duh.  But also because I don't want to eat down my feelings of grief and sadness over losing our youngest family member (though in dog years, he was the oldest).

I answered a condolence email this morning from one of my sister in laws.  I told her I was quite overwhelmed by the depth of grief I'm feeling, but that it was honest, true, real and therefore as much of a gift as was Lou's presence in our family for 11 years.  Prior to responding to her email, I'd been on the phone with my dear friend (with lung cancer) Lisa, confessing that I've never experienced grief like this, despite having lost both parents.

I didn't experience it because I was so emotionally shut down - even at age 11 when my dad died (for all sorts of emotionally laden reasons), and then with my mom's death when I was 23.  By that time, I'd discovered the remarkable effects of booze as balm to whatever was ailing me in any given moment.  I was caring for her at home, and the night she died, I was drinking.  I wasn't drunk, but definitely anesthetized, and I stayed that way at some level for many years.  Food as self medication probably tamped down some of my feelings about mom as well, and definitely played a role in my dealing with my father's death.

I've discovered that this blogger has never dealt purely, genuinely and from my heart with loss before.  Never felt the starkness of life without a loved one.  So while the pain of losing Lou is acute, I see I'm fully awake to my heart, my soul and my humanity in a way I didn't even realize.  And that is a huge gift to me.

I couldn't squelch my tears when they come now if I tried - and believe me that I've already tried.  The've come when I walked into the local WAWA (convenience store) 3 days in a row now, and in many other "inconvenien"t places and moments.  No amount of deep breathing or redirecting my thoughts is sufficient to block their flow.  And I'm not interested in food, so it isn't serving as grief deterrent.

It's occurring to me as I write that maybe the food disinterest, my long yearned for state of being, is not an answer to my old familiar request; rather another component of being able to feel fully and deeply this sad loss of our Lou.  A gift, but not in the way or for the reasons I've wanted it. 

And it makes me feel very rich.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

'Til we meet again

We had to have our dear and very beloved dog Lou put down last night.  It was totally unexpected as he'd been mostly his usual self, albeit the 12 year old slightly arthritic and diminished version, until around 6 p.m. last evening when he began evidencing some serious symptoms.  My son Stephen and I got him to the vet and after several hours it was determined that Lou would not recover.  We were with him at his blessedly peaceful departure from this world around 1:10 a.m.

Our house feels emptier than when hubby and I saw it, unoccupied, for the first time.  Lou completed our family when we got him in May of 2000.  It is with immense sadness mixed with love and gratitude that we bid him fond farewell until we meet again.  Hubby wrote this last night in his motel room somewhere in Kentucky after Lou's passing:

Doggerel, 7 April 2011

For faithful friends,
Whose hearts outpour,
For those we love,
We thank Thee, Lord.

But most of all
In this day's log
We list our thanks
For Lou our dog.

For us, his wags,
For flies, his snaps,
His trusting soul,
And peaceful naps.

And now he starts
His final sleeping,
At least until
Our final greeting.

Finally, a few pictures:

Rest in peace, good a faithful friend.  We will love you forever.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Odds and ends and a brilliant quote

I had another good day yesterday, though I did have some roasted peanuts (in the shell) with # 1 son while watching the Phillies and the Flyers tank last night in their respective games.  If I was the sport fan my sons are and living in Philly, my blood pressure would be through the roof.  Anyway, I figure I had 12 points worth which I subtracted from my weekly allotment of 49.  My intention was to have 5 points worth, which would have been 40 peanuts (with approx. 2 peanuts/shell besides the aberrant ones that have 3 or 1!), but after I had the 40, I knew I was pressing on deeper into the peanut gallery.  Still - according to WW, it was a "legal" and on plan day.

I have a question for you bloggers who are more nutritionally savvy than I - I could google about this, but would rather survey my posse of experts.  I have about 16oz of coffee each morning.  I've had it with 2%, 1%, and skim milks as well as half and half, which of course is my FAVORITE.  Being a milk hater, the dairy substance that goes into my coffee is all the milk I get, and a nice 16 or 20 ounce coffee tastes so much more pleasing, satisfying and yumalicious with Half &Half, but 2Tbsp has one point.  No big whoop when it comes to point totals, but this gal would rather rack up points with FOOD, and the amount of H&H I like to to add would be 2 points or maybe close to 3.  So I finally tried fat free H&H, and I like it fine.  On WW's P+ calculator, 2 Tbs of FF H&H has 0 points.  In my book, that means that 4 Tbs or more would also have 0 points, because 0 + 0 = 0.  This may be Lesliegebra - but it makes sense to me.

So my question is:  Is fat free half and half more chemical crap and therefore not the best choice, or is it okay to use in moderation?  Do you use it?

So all that verbiage likely has you understanding why my hubby says I can complicate the contents of an empty paper bag.  But inquiring minds want to know, and I'll stick to the real mcCoy if it's lite cousin turns out to be a carcinogenic nightmare.

Finally - I have a quote for the day - I was just talking to my dearest buddy Lisa (who I mentioned yesterday - my AA sponsor with lung cancer that is currently stable so she's doing well).  She was saying that she had a couple of symptoms in the last few days that were making her fearful, and how she's working hard to stay in the moment and not project and fast forward into the unknown/future.  (She is actually the person who has started the meditation and recovery group I've been attending on Wednesday nights and has established her own meditation practice daily that has helped her dramatically in navigating her cancer.) 

She told me that she's noticed that everytime she gets a symptom that's scary, she wants to get a haircut! She went on that it seems to be her default setting since the traumatic news of a cancer diagnosis 2 and a half years ago. Meanwhile, I was thinking that she actually needs a haircut as she's got a sort of Medusa thing going on right now (sans the snakes). So I said, "You know, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Maybe you really just want a haircut!" To which she asked, "Be honest, do I need a haircut?" And being the mistress of unstatement I said, "well, you could probably use a trim," and asked her where she gets her hair cut, because I also need one. She said where she went and that it's expensive, and then she said, (here is THE QUOTE:) "Hell, with this cancer, life's too fucking short! Every haircut counts!" God, I love that. Amen! How many things could we plug into that sentence in place of haircut?

Happy hump day =)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Fall down 6 times, get up 7

Good morning all - I had a post percolating all day yesterday but never got the chance to crank it out.  Now half of the content has gotten lost in the murk that is my brain - but I'll try to exact out bits of it.

First - I had 1/2 good weekend (Sunday) and 1/2 crapola weekend.  I'm speaking about the realm of food/eating/self care.  Last Friday and Saturday I definitely did some serious overeating and I can't really say why.  Why isn't important.  If knowing why could help me STOP IT from ever happening again, it would be important, but 57 years of inhabiting the body of a food addict has showed me again and again that self awareness avails me nothing;  action, or lack of overeating action is what produces results. 

I was antsy about something I was doing Friday night and though I had an on-plan day until I got home from work, I started some grazing after walking the dog, continued up to when I went to the event (which turned out fine), but since "in the mode"  and "having already blown it", kept at it until I went to bed.  I haven't done that for awhile and determined to be done and back on track Saturday.  NOT.  Didn't happen and suffice to say that by Saturday evening I actually recognized I was feeling out-of-control with it.  Haven't felt that way in a long time.

Sunday morning I surveryed the damage on the scale (up 4 pounds since last weigh in 3 days prior) and committed (for the 465,729,121,348th time) to staying on plan.  I was 213.8, which seemed pretty awful.  I called my AA sponsor Lisa (the one with lung cancer who is doing well for now) who also has had food issues and did OA years ago and asked if I could commit my daily eating to her in the mornings for awhile.  She was all over helping me, and so we have an arrangement where I call her each morning for a brief chat and recommit each day.  Got 2 days down, or 2 pearls on the necklace that I haven't managed to extend even to bracelet length yet, but I'm working on it. 

I absolutely hate coming here again and again confessing my flubs (or flabs - there are a lot of regions of it).  But not doing so doesn't help the one person who this blog is supposed to be helping - me.  I've read several blogs lately where people are struggling and recommitting and rededicating themselves to THEMSELVES and their health - and I join the legions.  I'm not quitting, I'm not beating myself up.  And I am going to start posting my weights again - it's easy to be coy with "1 up, 2 down..." but coughing up the actual and honest number feels much more honest and accountable.  My weigh ins are Sunday mornings and I will post it each week.  Keeping it on the down-low is rediculous and evasive and my usual MO of trying to hide my truth under fluff and facade.  ***************************************************

Also I want to report that my big toe numbness seems to be going away so it was prob'ly due to tying new shoes too tight, which caused some nerve inflammation.  I doubt it was related to diabetic neuropathy which is a big relief.  I stopped doing my blood sugars because they were in the normal range for 4 days in a row.  (Last Friday and Saturday I suspect they wouldn't have been.)  I have my physical with my doc on Thursday, and while I'm not exactly looking forward to it, I am happy to be taking care of myself and facing whatever IS my current status with the Type 2 and everything else.  This doc that I'm restarting with Thursday has known me at a normal weight, and also at my all time high of 234.  There's no bullshitting him, but that's good because I can sling it with the best of them, and I am not going to do that.  I plan to own my struggles, get my bloodwork done Friday morning after he gives me lab slips, and owning what is.

Hubby left this morning to head to Georgia for the Masters Golf Tournament.  His father has had tickets since the 1940s which is hubby's great luck, because hubby has his dad's exact name (except hub is the Jr. version) so he's hoping that the tickets will be able to be kept in the family long past his father's life.  They're among the hardest tickets to get in all sporting events - they say people have to die for new folks to get them!  We're certainly not wanting Papa to pass anytime soon - he just turned 93 and is going surprisingly strong - but even Papa talks about how my hubby can hold to them after he moves into the next realm!  The waiting list for new tickets to the actual tournament is closed and has been since 2000.  Practice round tickets are available by lottery, I think. 

Anyhoo - it'll just be me and # 1 son for the week which means meal prep is simpler - Steve and I generally do "separate but equal meals" where we fix our own stuff but eat together.  I'll make a big pot of awesome vegetarian lentil brown rice soup that'll last us awhile.  I WILL have an on plan week, one day at a time.

So that's all the news from Leslieland that's fit to print.  Have a good Tuesday.