Ground Zero

I’m starting over from ground zero.

I’m reading Breaking Free From Emotional Eating by Geneen Roth and it is rocking my world. Totally rocking my world.

And the first thing I’m going to do is start eating when I’m hungry. And ONLY when I’m hungry.

I started this morning.  I had a big dinner last night (let’s not talk about it), and so, when I was still sitting around, drinking coffee, and asking myself if I was hungry at 8:30 in the morning (I usually eat around 7am), I had to make the decision to go do something else until I was hungry.

And it made me feel a little panicky.

I don’t know why exactly, but I was worried. That I would mess up my schedule or my metabolism or something. Isn’t breakfast the most important meal of the day? Shouldn’t I just have some fruit or something light, or…?

But I didn’t. I took my coffee upstairs and went to work.  And I didn’t end up feeling hungry until 10:30.

At 10:30, I thought, “I should really just wait until 11 and eat lunch.” But I was hungry, so I honored that. I asked myself what I wanted and I heated up 1/2 a leftover pork chop (chopped up), stirred in two eggs, scrambled them, and ate them in two small tortillas with cheese and salsa, and 1/4 cup or so of raspberries on the side.

And it was delightful.

Now, it’s almost 2pm and I’m not hungry yet. I may get hungry soon. I may not.

But I’m going to try to honor it, no matter how scary it feels.

I want to look this good while jogging.

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I blatantly stole this image off Facebook, because I want to be this woman.

I look at her legs and her flat stomach and I want to be her. I want to look like that.

A stranger in a Facebook group for entrepreneurs told me I was beautiful after looking at the photos on my website, and my first inclination was not to be flattered or say thank you, but to explain it away… Great makeup guy, good lighting, and photoshop.

I’ve been doing OK lately, really. I’ve been exercising consistently, and not as any kind of punitive measure or even as any kind of “I’m going to trade exercise for food” game.  I’ve been not dieting and not really bingeing. Much.

OK, I did make those things where you put peanut butter cookie dough in a mini muffin tin and then press a Hershey’s kiss in the middle while they’re warm, and I ate like six of them.

But other than that…

(That’s actually a scary thing I haven’t faced yet: being responsible/normal/in-control around foods I normally binge on. One step at a time…)

I realized I’m not ready to count calories. I may never be. I’m trying to be OK with that.

I am writing down what I eat and weighing myself as the book says to do. I need to focus on that for another week at least — maybe until the holidays are over — before I move into swapping out other activities for bingeing. But I feel like I’m making progress.

I’ve been pruning and curating the media I consume. I’m getting rid of traditional women’s magazines and even food magazines. I’m replacing weight loss feeds with recovery feeds on my Facebook.

But one I haven’t got rid of yet is the Whole30 people on Facebook. That’s where that pretty girl up top came from. In her testimonial, she talks about how great she felt doing Whole30, and how it shaved minutes off her 5k time.

And she admits that she doesn’t normally look like that while she’s running.

But still, I want to be her.  I want to look like her. I want to feel happy and excited about running instead of just being proud that I dragged my ass out of bed and made it to the gym without falling asleep or forgetting my pants.

And so I’m going to unfollow Whole30 today.  No offense, Whole30.  It’s not you.

It’s me.

I ate mac and cheese and a cookie today, but it wasn’t a binge.

I’m reading “Overcoming Binge Eating,” and it’s kind of terrifying and awesome in the Old Testament sense.

It is extremely sobering to see yourself in the examples given in a scholarly text about eating disorders.

Like, I knew I had been diagnosed with an eating disorder.  Two actually.  The first therapist said “disordered eating” which is like general or not-otherwise-specified fucked up, and the second therapist said “binge eating disorder.”

But I thought I was kind of on the cusp. Like maybe I was just dipping my toe in the eating disorder waters.  I’m not that kind of eating disorder person, no, no.

Except I totally am.

I have not had a binge where I ate an entire bag of Oreos or chips or whatever since I was a teenager.  (Go me!) But my therapist and this book have pointed out, it’s not about the amount I eat, or the foods I eat, but the feeling of loss of control.

And I feel that  a lot.

So anyway, I’m reading this book and it’s pissing me off pretty royally.  And scaring me.  A lot.  (Who knew that showering in the dark was a symptom of a body image problem?? I thought it was just relaxing, but I’m now thinking it’s a symptom of something bigger.)

I discovered that Weight Watchers almost made me bulimic trying to get to my goal weight and then trying — desperately, flailingly — to stay within 3 pounds of that weight to continue to work there.  (You cannot even imagine the shame I felt when I got a letter from the regional supervisor that I was on probation for being 4.2 pounds over my goal weight.)

And I re-discovered the fact that diets are a big part of the problem for me.

*queue ENORMOUS sigh*

I am heavy right now. There’s just no two ways about it. I am 20 pounds over a weight I am OK with and 40 pounds over where Weight Watchers says I ought to be.

And I am really frustrated with the fact that the book tells me that I probably won’t lose any weight even if I successfully complete the self-help program and start to overcome my disorder.

Because — and this is like rubbing salt in the wound — people with binge eating disorder tend to binge on top of general overeating.

And I’m not supposed to diet or restrict because that can lead to a binge.

WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK, BRAIN?  How did we get ourselves into this situation? I’m seriously angry about this and am considering filing a complaint with someone. Maybe God’s West Coast Rep.

I just… What am I supposed to do, then?  How am I supposed to FIX this? (Because God herself knows how much I need to fix things.)

OK, ok. I know what I’m “supposed” to do.  I’m supposed to follow the book. Concentrate on beating the binge demon. Create space for that first. Trust that the rest will follow.

I’m supposed to believe that once I am really and truly in recovery from my disorder, that the weight will come off by itself.

I’m supposed to believe that I can love myself thin.

I’m supposed to believe that magical fairies will come and suck the fat out of my stomach and thighs as I achieve enlightenment and no longer crave chocolate chip cookies or bread, but instead feel overwhelming urges to eat raw kale and lentils.

Wait. No lentils. They’re legumes and the devil’s food.

Or, no, wait. Legumes are a good source of lean protein.

But our paleolithic ancestors didn’t eat them. Probably because they were too busy being chased by saber toothed tigers to remember to soak their legumes overnight.

Because God knows, the only way to get nutrition out of legumes or grains or seeds or nuts is to soak them.

Wait, are we eating grains again?  Yes?  No?

Ok, but definitely not sugar, right?  Oh, honey is OK? And molasses?  It doesn’t matter that both of those are pure sugar?  OH I see. It’s only bad if it’s white.

And our flour is rancid. But wait, we’re not supposed to eat flour. So it doesn’t matter.

And don’t even get me started on butter. But lard is OK. Except, wait, doesn’t it contain saturated fats? What about trans fats?

I seem to have gone off on a tangent here…

The point is, I don’t see myself ever overcoming those thoughts. I don’t see myself ever loving myself thin. I don’t believe that will happen.  I DO NOT BELIEVE IT.

And I don’t know how to fix that part of me.

I am healthy and that bums me out.

All my test results came back normal, and I am a little bummed out about that.

See, last year my mom was diagnosed with several serious autoimmune conditions, including Celiac disease. All the literature says that means I am 30 percent more likely to have Celiac, and her doctor suggested that due to my health history, I should be tested.

So I finally got the appointment, got the blood tests.

And they all came back negative.

I do not have antibodies for Celiac disease. My thyroid levels are normal. My liver function is normal. My a1c and cholesterol are normal.

All in all, I’m pretty healthy.

And I find that depressing.

I think I was looking for something to blame.  I think I was looking for a diagnosis to say, “It’s not your fault that you’re overweight. You have these extenuating circumstances.”

I think, once again, I was looking for the magic bullet, the one thing I could change and be “fixed.”

I’m not sick.  Not that way, anyway.

Just fat.

And I’ve got nothing to blame that on except myself.

Stupid Ass Scale

Right now, I’m fighting the urge to binge, so I’m writing about it instead.

I got triggered by a consignment store, of all things.  (Although, I think this has been bubbling under the surface for a while. More on that in a mo.)

About six months ago, I cleaned out my closet and put everything that didn’t really fit into a trunk.  A couple of weeks ago, I felt strong enough to go through the trunk, so I got out all of the clothes and sorted them into keep, donate, consign piles.

I’ll admit it: I kept a few nice dresses that don’t actually fit me right now. I just couldn’t part with them. But I got rid of everything else.

Or, at least, I planned to. I took a big pile of nice clothes to a new consignment store near our house — probably 20+ items.  The lady took six.

Some things were too summery, which is fine, but I was surprised she didn’t take the lined wool pants or the black cashmere turtleneck, given she was looking for fall/winter clothes.  I tried not to feel judged.

Anyway, I paid my $12 fee to set up my consignment account and went on my merry way. Until the next day, when I got a call from the store owner, saying that she didn’t agree with the gal’s assessment, and I needed to come pick up four of the six things because they were “too summery.”

Well, that kinda pissed me off, but I hauled my butt back over there this afternoon to pick up the items: two long-sleeve blouses, a cotton sweater, and a boutique skirt. (Seriously? Too summery??)

And I put them back in my trunk with the rest of the pile of clothes that don’t fit, and started to cry.

I don’t know, there was just something about the combination of the clothes (read: ME) being rejected, combined with the fact that they are all clothes I used to wear, and like and feel good in that no longer fit, and it just all came crashing down.

~*~

Two weeks ago, I was feeling pretty good about myself.

I knew I was overweight, and over where I want to be to feel healthy and happy, but I wasn’t beating myself up about it. Overall, I was feeling pretty positive, like I could make the good changes and achieve the goals I set for myself.

And then I got on the fucking scale.

My therapist told me to throw it away months ago, and I couldn’t do it.  There’s a big part of me that wants to email her and say, “You were right. YOU WERE RIGHT!”

Stupid, fucking piece of shit scale.

It said a number I didn’t want to see.

And at the time, I thought I handled it pretty gracefully.  I said, “OK, well, that’s not what I want, but it’s just a number. It’s a starting place.”

And then I proceeded to have a downward spiral ever since.

I stopped exercising.

I started eating all kinds of junk food.

And I let the owner of a consignment store influence my self-worth and send me on a crying and almost-binging jag.  (So far, so good; it’s hard to eat and type at the same time…)

I am going on a fantastic, once-in-a-lifetime vacation in four days. I am going to eat pasta in Italy, fish in Greece, tapas in Barcelona.

And I’m probably going to feel fat the whole time.

All because I was stupid enough to step on the stupid ass scale.

And I didn’t even REALIZE it. I didn’t realize I’d been triggered until I was sitting in my car, trying not to let my 4-year-old see me cry over the fact that my clothes don’t fit, because I’m trying to raise her WITHOUT all my food and body image baggage, and we are worth more than our clothing size or the number on the FUCKING SCALE.

I’m just so tired of feeling like a failure.  I’m so, so tired of this roller coaster of weight loss and weight gain. I’m so sick of it. I’m so done with it.

And I feel so lost because I do NOT know what the alternative is.  I do not know how to say fuck it and give up caring how much I weigh — GOD, I wish I did.

I’m so tired of letting myself down.

And so I’m not going to binge. I’m going to cry, and rant, and publish bad words on the Internet and hope that makes me feel better.

Because I honestly don’t know what else to do at this point. But at least I’m better enough to know that ice cream isn’t going to fix it.

A Beautiful Guide to Habits: Resources and Science

This is just a round-up of my favorite resources about creating and maintaining good habits.

A habit has 3 parts:

  1. The cue
  2. The routine
  3. The reward

It’s really hard to break a bad habit, but you can replace the routine with something else that gets you the same reward.

For example, if you get stressed out (cue) and go eat a snack (routine) to feel better (reward), you could replace the snack with something else that makes you feel better, like a cup of tea, a walk around the block, or calling a friend.

If you want to start a new good habit (routine), you need to give it a solid cue. For example, if you want to start doing sit-ups, your cue might be going to the bathroom. Every time you go to the bathroom (cue) you do three sit-ups (routine).  The cue doesn’t have to make sense, it just has to be something you’re already doing.

Measure what matters.

Studies show that we pay more attention to what we measure (kind of obvious). So if you want to be more mindful of something, like a habit, you need to track and measure it.

It also helps to schedule things; actually putting an appointment on the calendar to go to the gym might help you achieve it.

Finally, having support and accountability are key. Finding a friend, accountability partner, or group of like-minded people will help you achieve your goals.

Habits 101

  • Focus on physiological fundamentals because a) you have limited willpower and b) they will have the biggest long-term impact.
  • Identify one keystone habit that will MOST improve your life, and start there.
  • Make a 100% commitment for a set period of time.
  • Make it a daily habit.
  • Make it easy to win (tiny habits). Allow yourself to suck. Doing one push-up every day is better than 50 a day that you never do.

“One who has a clear and strong why can endure almost any how.” —Nietzsche

Vaulting Over Old Stories

I just did my first MovNat workout.

And by workout, I mean I tried not to fall over for about 10 minutes.

OK, let me back up a little bit.

Two moths ago (I really should update this blog more often) I hired a… I don’t even know what she is exactly.  I guess she’s a combination of a life coach and a personal trainer.  She’s a certified personal trainer, but for almost two months she didn’t tell me to do one squat or other exercise.

Because she believes you can layer exercise on top of all the emotional crap, but that crap is still going to be there in the long run. So we’ve been working for two and a half months on digging up and through the crap so that we could get me to a place where exercise isn’t anathema to me any more.

And it’s working.  Slowly.

Yesterday, I walked to the park with my daughter, and while she played on the playground, I did incline push-ups, crunches, leg lifts with her sitting on my knees, tricep dips, hanging from the bar (which was intended to be a tiny pull-up, but let’s be real, it was mostly hanging), and walking lunges around the entire perimeter of the playground.  And then we walked home.

And I’ve been getting that much exercise or more every day for the last two weeks or so.

THAT is a pretty big shift.

So, today we were on the phone for our second-to-last consult in this three month stint I hired her for, and she asked me, “How can we take this to the next level? What feels like the next level for you?”

And I hesitated.

I knew exactly what I wanted to say, but it was embarrassing.

But I realized as I felt embarrassed about it, that the embarrassment was more old crap, old stories bubbling up to the surface.  So, I blurted out:

“There’s this woman that I met at a conference, and we became friends on Facebook, and she’s into paleo and, like, parkour-style workouts, and I realize that I am literally not physically strong enough to do any of the stuff she does in her videos and stuff, but it kind of looks like fun.”

Except, it probably came out more like:

“There’sthiswomanthatImetataconference, andwebecamefriendson Facebook, and she’sintopaleoandparkourandIamnotstrongenough but it kind of looks like fun.”

I was embarrassed to even admit that something like parkour looked like fun, because it felt so far out of my wheelhouse, so far out of my story about myself and what I’m capable of.

And my coach took a deep breath and said, “Go for it.”

She reminded me that there are plenty of people out there who have overcome much bigger odds than I am looking at to go on American Ninja Warrior or whatever. She told me about a video of an overweight woman doing box burpees. (I searched for the video but couldn’t find it.) And I mentioned seeing an article recently about big girls doing yoga.

The point being: my story isn’t the whole story.  It’s true that I can’t vault over a wall right now.  I would probably fall on my head and kill myself.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t do it some day.

And then she said that it sounded to her like something in my story needed to do this.

My mind immediately flashed over to a post I put up on Facebook recently, about these super cool barrettes that are actually multi-tools, and one of my friends posted and said, “I always knew you were a baddass Bond girl!”

And I thought, “YES!” That’s what I want to be.  A badass Bond girl. I want to be Agent Carter. I want to be Black Widow (except, without all the killing and Russian mind control stuff.) I want to be super competent and capable and able to pick locks and vault over walls.

I don’t know why I want that, but I do.

And my coach said go for it.  Carefully.😉  No broken bones, she said.

So she suggested this site, MovNat, and I looked it up and found a beginner workout.

And it’s very beginner.  And surprisingly hard. One part of it is jumping up onto a 12-inch tall box.  Well, I had an 8-inch tall stool, so I pulled that out, and for whatever reason, I couldn’t make myself jump onto it with both feet. I was leading with one foot.  (Maybe the landing surface is too small, I don’t know.)

So, instead of being daunted, I got out three bed pillows and jumped up onto those. And I could do that!  And it was still hard!  HA!

But I did it.

And THAT is the biggest shift of all.

Here’s the Deal

I haven’t posted here in a while because I thought I was doing OK.

I certainly wasn’t losing weight, but I wasn’t bingeing either.

I decided that maybe it was enough just to try to be normal for a while.

I think normal isn’t cutting it.

Because, here’s the thing I’ve realized: normal isn’t normal.

Here is some bullshit I believe about “normal”:

  • “Normal” people eat pizza and ice cream and burgers and fries and junk food.
  • “Normal” people do all that and stay skinny.
  • “Normal” people don’t have to give up food groups to be healthy or thin.
  • “Normal” people just move during their normal day, and maybe go hiking on the weekend or go to the gym a few times a week to stay fit.

Here’s the truth:

  • Normal people — as in average Americans — do eat all that crap. And the average American is fat.
  • The only person I know who can eat crap like that and stay skinny is my sister; and to be perfectly honest she eats tiny portions, is an incredibly picky eater, and has a thyroid problem.
  • People who are thin mostly don’t eat like that. They probably do avoid certain food groups.
  • And many people who are model/actor thin work out like crazy people all the time.

What brought all this on?  I ate half a bag of marshmallows today for no reason.  That in and of itself isn’t terrible, but yesterday I ate seven gluten-free chocolate chip cookies in one sitting — before going to a wine and cheese bar for dinner with my husband. And the day before that… Well, I don’t remember, but it hasn’t been a good week, OK?

And I was so pissed off at myself about those damned marshmallows.  I got up and took the dog on a three mile walk, and I asked myself what I thought my therapist would have asked me: “What does it say about you that you can’t give up junk food and sugar?”

It says I’m not in control. I’m a weak person. I’m a stupid person who makes poor choices even when she knows better.

And I asked myself: “What does it say about you if you give up some foods or go Paleo or whatever?”

It says I’m not in control — I have to choose a restrictive diet because I can’t control myself around food. It says I’m not a foodie.  It says I’m vain because I’m always dieting.

(And even saying those things out loud says to me that my brain is a pretty scary place to live.)

Anyway, I thought about it a lot, and I thought about doing another Whole30, and then I thought that was probably an overreaction to feeling crappy about my decisions. And then I thought about it some more.

I’ve been reveling in the idea that I can eat whatever I want.  But I’m not happy with the results that gets me for my health.

So now I’m going to eat Paleo. Most of the time. I’m going to make a few exceptions when it feels important, and I’m not going to beat myself up about it. I’m going to figure out how to make healthy my new normal.

Because “normal” just wasn’t cutting it.

Two Weeks

I am on week two without my therapist.

My beloved therapist has decided to quit her practice and move on to other things. On an interpersonal level, I am happy for her and proud of her. On a patient level I am a little pissed off and frightened.

I was fine last week, and the week before that. And even the week before that. About two months ago, she told me she thought I was ready to be done with therapy, that I didn’t even need a referral to someone else in her practice.

And I agreed with her. Mostly.

This is the third time in my life a therapist has told me that I was done. That I was “better.” That it was time to move on.

I am still fat.

I am still struggling knowing what to eat. I am still struggling to be happy with myself. I am still struggling forcing myself to exercise. I am still dissecting every day, every meal for what was good and bad about it.

Is this what better looks like?

To be fair, my current therapist made no bones about the fact that we are never “better” never “fixed” never done with our struggle. Just like an alcoholic is always an alcoholic, I will always be recovering from an eating disorder. There is no magic mile marker.

And that’s terrifying in and of itself.

Whatever else is going on, I’m definitely having a hard time today. I’m sitting here crying as I type this, but I’m uncertain exactly why.

I feel lost.  I feel unmoored. I feel like I don’t have a plan. I don’t know what my next steps should be.

Almost every day, I think I should go on some sort of diet, some regimen, some eating plan. I think I should make a commitment to do something long term. For the entire summer, or for an entire year. Something. Anything.

I’m grasping. Gasping.

And the thing is, I think I know what my therapist would say. She would tell me that all those plans and protocols were an emotional crutch. That I want to do them to try to lose weight, to try to be different rather than coming to terms with the person I am.

I’m a big believer that you need to address the root causes of things. You can’t put a band-aid over a wound and call it OK — when something is still stabbing you. You can’t try to treat the symptoms while the disease still rages.

I feel alone, though.  I feel confused, and tempted, and like the whole world is conspiring against me sometimes.

Several people have suggested I join OA, but the absolute horror of that has kept me from it. I can’t even express the waves of shame that come over me when I think of joining an OA meeting. I’m just not ready for that. I don’t know if I ever will be.

And the other half is that I know what they will say. Make different choices. One minute, one meal, one day at a time. It’s the same for an alcoholic or a drug addict. (Except that they don’t have to face their drug of choice every single day; they can remove it completely from their lives.)

I see frightening thoughts go through my head sometimes. I wonder if I could just stop eating altogether for a while. I wonder if I could focus on eating as little as humanly possible. Luckily, I recognize those little demons for what they are. Plus, if history has taught us anything, I would last about an hour on any kind of deprivation diet before diving head first into a bowl of ice cream.

I’ve got no answers today. I’m intensely considering calling my therapist. (This is her last week — maybe even her last day.) But I don’t want to. I don’t want to admit we were wrong.

I’m not better. I never will be.

And today, that’s not OK.

365 Days 

I’ve been toying with the idea of going Paleo for a year.

Three weeks ago, my therapist asked me to go Paleo for two weeks — not necessarily because of the health benefits or nutritional benefits, but basically because it would cut off access for me from my preferred binge foods. So, I dutifully complied, including the cheat day she suggested. 

Thirteen days in, I decided to weigh myself.  Bad idea. After a month of regular gym-going and two weeks of Paleo, I was actually up a fraction of a pound.  

I was incredibly angry. I was angry at my body, because it felt like even when I was doing everything “right,” I was still being punished. My therapist asked me to throw away my scale and give it more time.  I went off the wagon for four days.

But yesterday I climbed back on a little half-heartedly. Today, I worked really hard at the gym. I’m having fruit and Paleo granola for breakfast. 

And I’m contemplating committing to this for a year. 

I’ve done a month.  I’ve done two weeks. Neither was enough to see big changes or lasting results. It wasn’t enough to truly break my bad habits or make cleaner eating a habit. It wasn’t enough to break me of my after-dinner sweets habit or my afternoon snack habit. 

A year might be. 

I’m saying a year instead of forever, because forever still hurts. I can’t think about forever without my moms chocolate chip cookies or bread. 

But a year is not forever.  It’s only 365 days. Anyone can do that.

I’m going to keep mulling it over and talk to my therapist about it on Thursday before I make any sweeping decisions, but it’s feeling right even as it feels insurmountable at the same time.

That’s probably a sign.