Monday, 30 November 2009

Day 16: Thoughts on rigidity, chaos and "normal" eating

Another award! This was so kindly given to me by Amazon Runner, Diane at Fit to the Finish, and Katie J. I really feel I don't deserve it as I don't manage to post that often!

There are rules attached to this one:
Each person who receives it must link to the person who gave them the award
They must chose 5 deserving bloggers to pass it on to
They must display the award and link to this post which explains the award
They must add their name to the Mr Linky list on the above link so the originator can keep track of everyone who has received it
They must display the above rules
So many of the people who deserve this award have already been given it, so I have chosen people who to my knowledge have not received it yet. I would like to pass this award on to:
Green Stone Woman who posts at least once a day and is always a good read,
Amy at The not so secret life of a not so super together mom - who has raised many interesting food issues on her blog and written beautifully about her mental state,
Sean at The Daily Diary of a Winning Loser - I admire his determination to post every day whatever, and how does he find so much to say?!
Wendy at New Me: A Fresh Start - I might not always agree with what she says, but it's always interesting and challenging (for me) and highly relevant for anyone dealing with their relationship with food.
Jogging Auburn at Quest for a Mile - her posts are just so beautiful! She hasn't posted for a little while now so I hope she'll start again soon.
All the above are in my bloglist. And I have still not passed on my Best Blog Award! Next time ...
So, about the diet. I have completed day 16 and all is going well so far. I hit my target of walking 4 times last week and have 1 walk under my belt this week, done on Sunday (my diet week running from Sun to Sat). I had a very active day today walking and actually running part of the way to my healer (because I was late!) for 35 mins and then I walked for an hour afterwards. But I don't count it as an official walk unless it's at least 1 1/2 hours continuous walking. My eating has been spot on and despite many times over the past week when I felt very down I haven't even really wanted to "depression eat". I have had occasional bingeing thoughts but have dismissed them quickly from my mind because I know so well how "fantasy bingeing" has a tendency to turn into the real thing. The only thing I am still struggling with is getting to bed on time. It's certainly much better than it was but I have still had a couple of 2.30 bedtimes and one 3am which is obviously way off what it should be. But I'm going to continue trying on that one. I also haven't yet built up my toning exercises. I'll get there!
But overall I'm very happy that my good eating and exercise routine is nailed in place. It feels so much better waking up after a day of clean eating compared to the horror I have felt every morning for the past few months of waking up after another day bingeing. Literally horror. I have of course still felt very depressed and low during the last 2 weeks - because I'm suffering from depression aside from my eating. But I don't feel I'm in chaos anymore because my eating is not chaotic. I don't have that circling, behind the scenes terror about what I'm doing to myself with eating ridiculous amounts of food. I'm not filled with anxiety about being out of control and not knowing how I'm going to stop it. So the difference in my mental state is dramatic. I feel so much calmer.
And I am just so grateful that I'm not really struggling to stick to my healthy eating regime. It is not a battle. If it were a battle then I wouldn't be succeeding. I don't have very much willpower at my disposal as concerns my eating. I do and can force myself into doing the walking. That does require quite a bit of determination - just to get out there due to my agoraphobia, and in the cold windy wet weather. I have willpower there. But I don't believe I have that much with eating.
For me there are two states of being with eating (since I had a breakdown) which are eating in a very repetitive rigid pattern or eating totally chaotically. I seem to have moved from the latter to the former. But I don't know how.
Today I read on Leslie's blog about her desperation to pack in the bingeing that's been plaguing her weight loss efforts for some while now. She asked for suggestions on this and several people have written interesting comments in response. Vickie's suggestion was that Leslie should only eat at home or if out, only eat food she had prepared herself. So to keep complete control over her eating. I had made a similar suggestion to Leslie the day before about nailing a healthy eating pattern in place and not deviating from it except for the coming actual holiday days. What I was meaning was something very similar to what Vickie suggested ie to 100% plan her eating - what to eat and at what times, and stick with it no matter what. But I didn't push the idea because I was worried that what I was suggesting was as much disordered eating as her existing bingeing pattern.
Keeping to a very rigid repetitive structure is the only way that I myself can cope with food, and I'm very aware that this is not "normal". It is the flip side of chaotic eating - total rigidity and routine. It also has many problems associated with it - such as never being able to have any spontaneity, never being able to eat out, the tendency that if I do step out of my pattern I'm in real trouble - I can't handle it at all and may end up bingeing/ compulsive eating for months before I regain control. I wouldn't want anyone else to suffer this of course.
So how can I make such a suggestion? Shouldn't we all be aiming for sane eating? Is it wrong to aim for anything other than that? On the other hand, sanity for me can only be found in sticking to my trusted routine. That is where my safety and sanity exist. And what is normal eating anyway? I saw an obesity surgeon on TV not so long ago and when his team stopped for lunch everyone got out their tupperware boxes and tucked into their sandwiches. He pulled a can of tuna out of his pocket and that was his lunch. His mantra was "Never eat anything beige!" ie no cakes, biscuits, pastry etc. He was very thin of course, but judging by the faces of his colleagues, they all thought he was nuts. I have to say that seeing this man eating a can of tuna for lunch everyday to the derision of colleagues made me feel that my eating wasn't so weird after all. This guy was essentially saying that what we consider to be "normal eating" is the reason why 2/3 of adults in this country are overweight or obese. He was unashamedly abnormal in his eating.
So to come back to Leslie, is rigidity the key? A zero tolerance approach to eating outside of set meals she has prepared herself? I honestly can't say. It would be great to get the weight loss going again, for sure. But what about all the socialising involving food? With buffets one can just abstain, but sit down meals with friends and family? Work socials? Also, how long would it last? This is something that needs a solution for life, not for a few months.
But this is the stuff that everyone who wants to lose weight faces. Saying no when other people are gorging away right in front of you. Saying no to yourself when you want to eat chocolate cake (I'm even frightened to type that food!) Saying no to yourself when you are hungry. In other words, taking control. Generally you only get to have a serious weight problem by being out of control so the only way to rectify it is to be very much in control.
So it's all about finding a type of control over your eating that you can live with. For Sean for example it's about eating all his favourite foods whether healthy or not so healthy. He eats it as long as it's within his calorie budget. For me it is about eating the same food at the same time every day.
Of course control over your eating is only tackling one end of the problem and Lori-Ann made a great comment to Leslie's post about thinking how she would deal with life after she had lost her weight - what would her mission be then? And the anxiety that accompanied these thoughts.
Eating to plan in no way addresses issues such as how you will live your life as a thin person, fear of change in body size or any emotional issues that keep you clinging to your extra poundage. But if it means you can live less chaotically then you might just have the time and space in your mind to address the other issues rather than have your life dominated by bingeing hell.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Passing on the Love!

These two awards were so kindly given to me by Green Stone Woman.

I would like to pass the "Atta Girl" award on to Lori-Ann at Amazon Runner because she really is making a difference with the Lakota Crafts project. This project is about providing the Lakota people with income from their own traditional crafts and thus working towards alleviating their poverty. You can read all about this project here and link from her site to the shop if you are tempted for a beautiful selection of unique handmade gifts for Christmas.

I would also like to pass the "Atta Girl" award onto Tammy at From Fat to Fab. She is a true inspiration dealing with large amounts of personal and family stress whilst battling food addiction. Her fortitude never ceases to amaze me. And even though she has so much already to cope with in life she is always generous with her time in helping other bloggers. Her presence in the blogosphere really does make a difference!

I also give this award to Diane at Fit to the Finish. I don't think there has ever been a greater inspiration than someone who has really suffered with her weight and then successfully dealt with it and maintained a healthy lifestyle for 12 years - despite a further 4 pregnancies. She is making a difference to so many people who are struggling to find a way out of their weight problems. Diane proves that it CAN be done and I am so happy that she chooses to share her experience of this whole journey with us.

The Deborah Award was created by Ces for her friend midlifepoet. The explanation of this award is here (I'm unable to copy it into blogger of course) and it really is quite beautiful. This award is for special (female) blogging friends who have stuck with you through your journey.

In Gratitude I would like to pass this award on to the following people who have all offered me friendship and support through the last few months, both on my blog and through email:

Chrissie at A healthy Mind and Healthy Body
Paula at paulawannacracker
Leslie at Something Brilliant is Brewing
Tammy at From Fat to Fab
Judith at The Art of Not Working
Cheryl at Wishing and Discovering
Lori-Ann at Amazon Runner
Natalie at My Kashi Diet
Amy at No to the Deuce
Losing Waist (Don't know if I'm allowed to give her name!)
Amy at The not so secret life of a not so super together mom
Jogging Auburn at Quest for a Mile
Lisa at In Weigh Over My Head
Letta at Jumping off the Binge Wagon
Diane at Fit to the Finish
Patsy at Musings on a 100lb+ Weight Loss Journey

All can be found on my blog list. And I'm sorry that these awards are only for the ladies because I can think of a couple of men I would have passed these onto as well. Sorry guys!

I have other awards to pass on but those will have to wait for the next post. In a way, this seems like an appropriate day to be thankful for all the friendship I've been shown in the blogging community, given that it is Thanksgiving in America today.

A bit ironic that on a holiday when Americans are being thankful for the abundant lives they have, so many people are so anxious about having too much food! I hope all those who are celebrating today have a wonderful day with lots of love and healthful eating.

Anyway, what about the diet? I am on day 12 of my diet and things are going surprisingly well. I was very anxious about it all the first week. So worried I would mess things up yet again. I was super careful. Making sure I only shopped when I wasn't at all hungry, making sure I didn't go into any convenience stores after my walks - the time when I felt most vulnerable. Making sure I only bought good things at the supermarket. I was so relieved to make it through that week! My eating was perfect and I got 4 good walks - I was actually rather annoyed at myself as I felt I could have done 5 if I had put my mind to it.

However, I was still not making it to bed at a reasonable time. This has been a problem for me all year and I am so tired of it - literally! So this week I have been working on it. I reframed *getting to bed on time* as an essential part of my weight loss efforts rather than just an add on. And thus have managed to make it into bed at or before 2am the last 3 nights. I feel SO MUCH BETTER for getting into bed 2 hours earlier. It is as Sean says, you have to make it your highest priority otherwise it won't get done.

I also feel ready to add another goal to the 3 already listed, which is to build up a routine of toning exercises. So far I am doing push ups and plank exercises, and I want to add stomach crunches and leg exercises.

I am still not feeling very confident about things. For me it is not about "stringing together good days" like Jack Sh*t. To do this thing I have to focus on the bigger picture, to think in terms of weeks and months. To be constantly thinking of where I want to be in 4 weeks, in 8 weeks, about the clothes I want to be wearing in the future - all the ones I have right now which I can't currently get into. Also I am not the type of person who loses weight day by day. My body tends to save it up - sometimes for weeks - and then I have a sudden big overnight loss. I always suffer this significant delay - which is agony! So what I'm doing today, or this week, is only going to show up in about 3 weeks time. If I didn't focus really hard on the future I'd be lost. I don't even get a big water loss in the first week - in fact my body's response to healthy eating is usually to retain even more water. Urrrgh! Luckily the water retention situation is starting to resolve now.

So far this week I have done 3 walks and I feel my speed is now picking up. The last couple of days I have barely even noticed that I was walking, apart from near the end. So my fitness has improved dramatically in a very short time.

I started my walking program 3 weeks before adjusting my food intake. I actually put on a bit more weight during that time as I was still eating too much. But I was able to build up my muscles and stamina - and I think maybe this is easier without the double whammy of calorie restriction at the same time. Why is it that we always put so much strain on our bodies all in one go?

Hope you are all having a great day, whether or not you are being thankful!

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Doing it!

Hi Folks. Thanks once again for so much support. You're showing me a lot of love here and I really appreciate it. Writing the last post helped me calm down a bit about things over the weekend. The problem is still there and still needs to be sorted, but I really had to put it on the backburner for now just to save my sanity - or the last shreds of it anyway.

I mentioned how sometimes in the past when everything is feeling so bad and there are seemingly unsolvable problems, I turn to the one thing that I can fix - my weight. Previously this has sometimes happened deliberately and sometimes it just happened.

I have felt out of control around food for most of the last 4 months. I have not been able to turn this thing around at all. I did manage one good week but it was a struggle and I wasn't able to sustain it. I was in the binge mode not the healthy eating mode. I failed to switch modes.
But over the weekend it happened.

Admittedly you could say I have been working up to this given that I had spent the previous 3 weeks doing a lot of walking. This gradually calmed my blood sugar down and I was able to reduce my food intake. I was still eating too much though.

It wasn't until Sunday that I was FINALLY able to start my diet and return to healthy eating. It wasn't until then that I felt able to commit to a diet and exercise plan.

I have returned to eating the Hay Way - a way of eating which is otherwise known as Food Combining. It is principally about not mixing protein and carbs at the same meal. It's a way of eating which makes sense to me and which I have sustained for long periods in the past. It's not specifically a reduction diet but can be adapted to that. And it doesn't involve counting calories. It naturally lowers your (starchy) carb intake by limiting them to one meal a day.
I have thought about going low carb and my one good week out of the last 4 months was achieved by adopting that approach. It was great for my blood sugar and I was very happy with it - apart from my skin. Over the course of just one week my skin really suffered. I had seen this in a friend over 10 years ago who was low carbing. Her skin looked dreadful. And when I tried the Atkins diet a decade ago the same thing happened.

I don't know how to solve this problem. If any low carbers have any experience of skin problems related to their eating I'd love to hear about it.

So, my goals are

1) to eat healthily for weight loss in the food combining pattern I have now re-established

2) to do a walk of at least 1 1/2 hours 4 days a week

3) to get to bed between 12 and 2am (rather than 3 and 5am)

In the last 4 days I have eaten brilliantly and done 3 long walks. I even made it through a VERY stressful Tuesday without slipping up.

It went like this - Walking into the centre of town to pay a bill at the bank (a very long queue), going to a couple of shops - one on the High St and then a trip round the supermarket and walking home with heavy shopping. Putting the washing on. Then downstair's cleaner asked if she could borrow my hoover as their's was broken. So I felt unable to relax while the washing was on because at any moment there might be a knock at the door with a question on how to empty it or just thank you for lending etc. Then when the washing had finished I had to take it to the launderette to dry it because the dryer is broken. There I had to deal with strangers and the old lady who helps run it - let's just say she's *a bit of a character*.

And, after ALL THAT I still really really wanted to do a walk! I had to stop myself for fear of overdoing it and ending up calling in a convenience store on the way home and buying the old bag of rubbish.


Friday, 13 November 2009

Stormy weather

Hi Friends. Sorry for the lack of posts over the last week. The title of this post is correct in two ways - the weather in the UK is indeed stormy today with heavy rain, galeforce winds and flooding in many places. It hardly seemed to get light today and was totally dark by 4.30pm. So a bit of a non-day really. I'm just very lucky that I'm not in danger of flooding at all being on slightly higher ground. I would be living in terror otherwise. The river this week has looked quite swollen already without all this rain today. I do worry about the roof leaking though. It makes me feel quite vulnerable.

The first few years I lived here the whole roof would sway in a high wind. Then some work was done to strengthen it and it's been fine since then. The property is Georgian so about 250 years old and I often feel it's as solid as cardboard! The method of building in this part of the country at that time was just to use a load of rubble and skim some stucco over the top to make it look smooth and posh. I have seen the truth of this myself when surrounding houses have needed to have the stucco replaced and so have it all chipped off to reveal the rubble underneath. It's slightly worrying ...

The other stormy weather is in my head. As issue has come up over the last week and really slapped me round the chops. And for once it's not something to do with my weight. Which is a relief in a way. The issue is not something I can discuss on my blog which is really tough because I'd love your opinion on it. I know you would have some great ideas. As it is I have not been able to speak to anyone about it so far. I have just been driving myself almost mad in my own head. It has been hell.

I have feared that I was having another breakdown. That is how much it has shaken me up. It may even have happened. I don't know right now.

I have been very shaky in a way which is totally different to depression. I have had some very distressing thoughts and a bucketload of anxiety. All the worry and upsetting thoughts have actually made me feel physically ill. I have struggled to find a level place in my head.

Sometimes the only way to escape all of this is to move to a completely different place in my own head. Ie almost become a different person. Not that I do that deliberately. It just happens sometimes.

Today I felt lonely. I wanted to be with other people because I need that support. I still haven't been able to go healing at the library. My goal is to get there some time before Christmas.

I was due to see my healer the coming Monday but she texted to say she is unable because she's visiting her mother in Cambridge. I think I really needed to see her. It will have to be the Monday after that instead.

The aforementioned issue is tied up with The Future and how I will survive then and what I will be able to do. I know your immediate reaction to this will be to concentrate on the here and now and leave the future until I get there. But this issue means I DO need to think about it now and plan out what I'm going to do.

But what can I do? Will I be able to work ever again? In the last 3 years I have been unable even to do 1 hour a week voluntary work let alone anything else. Of course I want desperately to be able to work. I cannot have a normal life unless I can work. But the reality is that I will certainly never work full time again and even part time work will be incredibly difficult. I just get stressed so easily.

But without being able to work I have no future at all that I can see.

I am so worried about my future prospects. In a way it is a good sign that I can even think about this stuff because over the last few years I haven't been able to do that. But now I am in a crunch position over it so I have no choice. And I'm not handling it well.

Chances are I will just end up more ill.

With my weight I have almost accepted that I'm just going to be a seriously mentally ill person shuffling around town (when I'm able to get there lol) with undyed, unkempt hair, wearing glasses and looking fat, greasy and spotty. So attractive! But I don't have the mental or physical strength to do any better at the moment. And that is if I can even get into town ...

My eating is less than it was due to my blood sugar being better from all the walking I have done. I've only managed 2 walks so far this week but I did 5 long walks a week the previous two weeks. But I am still eating too much.

Often in my life when everything has seemed over whelming and out of my control I have decided "OK I can't fix all that but at least I can be thin", and then proceeded to do what was necessary in adjustment of food intake and getting some exercise to achieve that. It isn't going that way at this time. I wish it would because at least I would be achieving on some level.

I don't know how I am actually holding it together at the moment. "Only just". I have been in a battle for psychological survival the last week. I don't know what the outcome will be. I need to find a solution to the problem.

Sorry about the shabbiness of this post ...

Monday, 2 November 2009

Saw my healer!

Hi Everyone. Thank you as ever for some amazing comments in response to the last post. I felt very bad about putting that post up. I knew it would touch on difficult stuff for a lot of people, and I want to thank those who shared their pain and experience through comments and emails.

I also felt bad because I was writing from a position of anger essentially about other people's pain (manifesting as anger), which is an inappropriate response - which is what I was complaining about. So how dumb is that?

But I felt I had to say it because I'm tired of reading this stuff on some people's blogs - that they have a right to look down on someone who is depressed/ suicidal. I will not be told by those people that I am not as good as them because I'm feeling worthless .... Errrr ..... Hmmmm. Maybe I do have some self esteem hidden somewhere after all.

Anyway, today I saw my healer! I was so worried about it over the weekend. But today went much better than I expected.

I had built up my walking time last week - 45 minute walk on my own on Monday evening, walking with the Bear Tue, Wed and Thur - up to 1 1/2 hour walking. On Friday I had an appointment with my CPN and the lady who will be meeting with me once a week to help with the agoraphobia so I didn't do a walk but I walked to the appointment, to the supermarket and back.

On Saturday I really struggled to push myself out, but I did it and ended up walking for about 2 hours 20 mins. I walked through some streets, up a very big hill and then down the other side of it. Normally I would walk back on the flat from that point skirting round the edge of town - 1 1/2 hours in total. But when I got to the bottom of the hill I realised I really couldn't face going anywhere near the centre of town. There were just too many people around - many students wearing fancy dress as well as the usual Saturday night crowds. So I had no choice but to turn around and walk back up the bl**dy hill again! And these are big hills let me tell you.

All the time on Saturday I was huffing and puffing and thinking how much harder it was without the Bear to distract me and reassure me just with his presence and his chuntering. I felt very uncomfortable physically doing that walk. Like I was heaving my stomach around the place - it is huge. I really felt my heaviness. And it was a warm evening so I was sweating like anything.

By the time I got back to the bottom of said hill I was in tears and feeling dreadful.

I have lived in denial through my bad bingeing the last few months of how much weight I've actually put on. It's only when you start trying to climb out of the pit that you realise just how bad things have got. Sitting around at home not seeing anyone for the most part, allowed me not to fully face what I had done to myself.

Boy did I face it on Saturday night!

I thought of how shocked my healer would be to see me looking like this, having put on so much weight since I last saw her. I didn't know if I would be able to see her on Monday. I was looking for ways to possibly cancel it.

This morning I was very stressed, and the stress caused me to feel drowsy. I took 200mg of Modafinil and still struggled to move. Everything I did felt like I was on a go slow. But this did mean that I had no energy to specifically worry about seeing her. I was too taken up with just concentrating on getting there.

At the last moment as I was about to leave I found my flies where undone - so I searched for the zip end - and found nothing. The zip had broken. And these trousers are the only ones I have that fit right now. I had dug them, a couple of weeks ago, out of a suitcase where they had lived for several years. They are my Biggest Ever Trousers (BET). I can't tell you how depressed it made me to have to wear BET. I have occasionally, when looking for other items, run across BET in that suitcase and held them up in amazement that I ever had to wear such large trousers. So you can imagine how bad it felt that I am back in them again.

Anyway, I was in a panic. I could just have pinned them closed but of course I tried to force the zipper down and only succeeded in making the whole zip bulge out. I decided that I hated BET anyway and I would try on Next Biggest Trousers (NBT). Amazingly I could actually get into NBT but I would be on a wing and a prayer with them as they are scarily tight and the belt digs in so much that a very large chunk of me hangs over the top all the way round. But I decided I'd go for it. They looked a lot better on than BET. I thought, if they split at least my coat comes down to my knees. That should cover it.

Happily NBT are still intact!

Anyway, I made it up the hill to her house without too much trouble. And she was so happy to see me! And I was so happy to see her! (I'm in tears now).

It was so lovely. And I felt fine.

We had a hug and she took my coat and we sat down and started chatting. And I felt rather silly that I'd been so worried about seeing her and even thought about cancelling. There was nothing to worry about!

I chatted to her for about an hour about how things had been the last few months.

And then she gave me some healing.

When I was about to leave she gave me a bag with a birthday card and two presents in it. It's my birthday this week. I had told her it was my birthday and that was the main reason I hadn't cancelled, because I knew she would have got me something. And she did! (Tears again!)

I feel so lucky.

Today was a great "normalizing" experience. A wonderful reconnection. And, as a bonus, I walked for 1 1/4 hours afterwards and did OK on the food as well.

Thank you once again for your support and prayers.

PS I've been given two more awards! More on that next time.