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Archive for March, 2007

When I was doing only the Overcoming Overeating process, I got very good at stocking up my FFFs, those Formerly Forbidden Foods. It’s a REALLY good principle, because it gives you the opportunity to stop hiding your true emotions with food cravings. If your favorite foods are always there, you can’t suppress your emotions about your job/love life/etc. by binging on Fritos. I practiced stocking up for a long time. A really long time.

OK, 8 years worth of stocking up. I got REALLY stuck.

Now that I’ve learned how to deal with my emotions, I’m ready to get the stuff out of the house that I no longer want to have there on a regular basis. It’s not that anything becomes forbidden, I just no longer need to have them at my side all the time. Here’s a partial inventory:

  • Over 128 rolls of toilet paper (maybe a year’s worth)
  • 7 different kinds of hard candy, and I don’t even like hard candy
  • More than 6 months worth of feminine protection
  • 8 servings of homemade frozen lasagna
  • 3 frozen pizzas
  • 8 different types of prepared cake, now frozen
  • 2 kinds of ice cream
  • 14 different cake/muffin/baking mixes
  • 10 miscellaneous items like syrups, special sugars, etc.
  • 9 different packages of cookies
  • 9 packages of chips and pretzels
  • 7 packages of crackers
  • 22 different packages of chocolate

These items are weighing me down. Earlier they served me and made me feel very cared for. Now they are simply moving past their expiration dates (ok, TP doesn’t expire) and are very much in my way.

But I fear that binging might not end if it starts again, so I’m going to let these supplies go out rather slowly. I managed to pull 2 packages of frozen cake out this weekend, and started working through them. I’ve eaten the best of those two, and will toss the rest.

Keep the best, toss the rest. I think I’ll keep the toilet paper.

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The last few weeks have been tumultuous. I stopped doing Sparkpeople, except to check in daily, stopped weighing every day, had a miserable crisis at work, and stopped exercising.

It ended with me deciding to really cut back on my data tracking, and I settled into a couple of weeks of intuitive eating without maniacally checking on every little habit.

The end result? I weigh the same as I did when I was busy trying to control all of those areas of my life. So I don’t need to control every aspect of my life in order to maintain my weight, to have a normal eating life, and get through major stressful events without binging. What a relief!

This doesn’t change my plans to lose more weight, but I know now that I don’t have to remain a control freak to do it. It does require still more permanent changes to my life to do it, but I don’t have to obsess over the new habits, I just ahve to practice them until they are ingrained in my life. And my family’s life, because I know that we will slowly change what we eat, how we cook, and how much we eat as we make progress.

I asked DH last night what he would accept in the way of changes to our family life so that we would both lose weight. He would prefer to be a bit lighter, maybe 25 pounds.

“What do you mean, ‘changes’?”

“Well, I’m not sure, but it probably means fewer high calorie foods, more veggies, things like that. You did say you want to lose some weight, right?”

“Yes…” (This sounded rather doubtful, as if he thought I was going to take away his steak tartare or leberwurst.)

“Well, it means that we’ll continue making permanent changes. As we come to lower weights, we’ll naturally eat less.”

“But I already changed.”

“And have you lost weight?”

Silence. (usually an alarm signal)

“I don’t need to ‘accept’ any changes. Just change what you want. If I’m not satisfied, I’ll let you know. If I need more meat, I’ll buy more meat.”

Whew. False alarm.

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On Friday, I decided to track my emotions, just to see what I’d learn. During lunch with DH, I learned that he is a cold fish, while I am a seething volcano of emotions. As lunch ended, I listed the emotions I had just experienced, and asked him about his. “None,” he replied.

“None!?! How can you not have emotions every second of the day? Even when I looked at the menu, I noticed an emotion of pleasure when I saw that they were serving my favorite soup!”

“So? I don’t have any emotions over lunch. It’s just lunch.”

“Don’t you have emotions all day long? Every few seconds a new one, or several mixed together?”

“Nope. I was too busy working,” my darling cold fish replied.

Arrgh. Sometimes I think it’s an absolute miracle how men and women ever form lasting relationships.

I managed to track my emotions for about half my day, even though I probably forgot about a third of them before I had a chance to write them down. Here they are:

My emotional day

Between Breakfast and 10 a.m.
Worry that I eat too much
Happy at funny internet shows
Warm fuzzy at American Idol
Excited at finding French idol
Awe at the beauty and stillness snow brings
Guilty that the kitchen isn’t clean from last night
Happy anticipation of my delicious breakfast
Love at watching my husband shovel snow
Pleasure at finding the camera
Satisfaction at bringing up more toilet paper
Tense from not being able to make DH understand my work problem
Worry that I won’t be able to make others understand it either
Amazement at the amount of email
Fear of failing at a new request from my boss
Anxiety at having to make small talk at the coffee machine
Anger at the work chaos caused by top mgt
Wish to help colleague with work problem, can’t because too busy
Anger at fat cat mgrs
Warm fuzzy at For Better or Worse cartoon
Amusement at Doonesbury
Empathy at Dilbert
Relief when listening to harpist Susan Drake
Power at analyzing a problem and assigning it to someone else
Relief when someone I’ve been looking for finds me first

Around 10 a.m.
Nervous when I find several people in my office
Fun at the chat with the group
Annoyed at the person for the language
Disappointed that I don’t like their advice
Relieved when they leave
Displeasure at having to solve a computer problem
Focused while working on it
Dissatisfied that I didn’t completely solve it or even try
Glad that I at least got the data
Amazed at the number of emotions I have
Guilt for not working at the moment

Around Lunch
Worry about eating too much
Worry that I’m late for my lunch appointment
Frustrated at not making more progress
Overwhelmed a little at the amount of learning on the new projects
Worry that I’m too emotional when hubby and I compare notes on detecting emotions
Fear of slipping and falling when we have to cross a fallen tree and icy snow patch
Anger at husband when he wants to go back and do the tree again, just to “get me used to it”
Powerful when I decide to not let the kid go away for a few days
Scared that it’s the wrong decision

After lunch I got too involved in work to track any more. I clearly forgot more than half my emotions during lunch time.

Look at all those emotions! When I extrapolate across my whole day, that’s probably 100 remember-able emotions, plus who knows how many I can’t remember. I know I suppressed most of the guilt feelings, and actually had to go back and remember when I felt guilt.

That’s maybe 1000 emotions a week, 50,000 a year. Man o man, if I tried to suppress my emotions by eating 1 calorie per emotion, I would gain about 14 pounds a year! Clearly eating to suppress emotions is a real problem.

Now to practice letting emotions go by without eating over the stressful ones.

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The blogger at Three Beautiful Things has a wonderful idea, and since I’m a little mellow tonight, I thought I’d honor her with my 3BT of today.

  1. My husband went to kiss me tonight and missed. Ever persistent, he didn’t give up until he landed one smack dab on my lips
  2. DH and Dear Daughter sitting at the dining table, quietly chatting about their day. A rare treat, since they spend way more time arguing than I like
  3. Susan Drake, harpist from Wales, playing Echoes of a Waterfall
  4. Stephen Colbert’s Threatdown on the baby polar bear in the Berlin Zoo

OK, 4.

Today, I’m just experiencing my emotions: recognizing them, naming them, letting them move on by. It seems that when I try too hard to behave “normally,” I get overstressed and eat. Instead of eating, I ask myself, “What emotion am I feeling?” and see if honoring the emotion will kill the need to eat. Works pretty well, because unacknowledged emotions cover up the body’s intuition. Emotions that I have noticed today include

  • anxious about work events
  • satisfaction about my productivity
  • pleasure at a funny movie
  • peacefulness at my daughter’s good behavior tonight
  • competence at changing a harp string
  • frustration at not finding the right login information
  • grumpiness at doing something I didn’t have to do
  • tense when I had a friendly argument
  • … and many more

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Last week I spent most of my time not measuring, not weighing, not tracking goals, not thinking about what I’m going to eat. Yesterday I weighed in and didn’t have any gain, which was satisfying, because it showed me that I can handle life without being obsessed by either the eating disorder or the recovery from it or the building of new habits.

This wasn’t something I chose with deliberation, it just sort of happened. Work has been such shit for the past couple of weeks that I had no energy for anything else. Ultimately I chose to take last week off from self-improvement and do nothing but nurture myself.

I guess I gave up trying so hard. Don’t know what to think about that yet. Ideas?

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In spite of the common bulls#!t recently spouted by the authors of The Secret, I do understand and believe in the power of positive thinking. A person can make huge changes in their thinking just by choosing to focus on something they want rather than something they don’t want.

What’s wrong with the book? The idea that the law of attraction exists:

To put it in the most basic terms, if someone is overweight, it came from thinking “fat thoughts,” whether that person was aware of it or not. A person cannot think “thin thoughts” and be fat. It completely defies the law of attraction. (Stupid quote from the book)

The refutation of the irrational law of attraction is simple: look at the cases in which it is simply not true. Some examples:

  • People do not “attract” car accidents
  • People do not “attract” being born in an impoverished country
  • A baby does not “attract” sexual abuse
  • People do not “attract” congenital diseases

And people do not lose weight by ostracizing fat people:

If you see people who are overweight, do not observe them, but immediately switch your mind to the picture of you in your perfect body and feel it. (Insultingly idiotic quote from the book)

Here they take a made-up factoid, and apply their irrational principle to create an even more insane principle:

The most common thought that people hold, and I held it too, is that food was responsible for my weight gain. That is a belief that does not serve you, and in my mind now it is complete balderdash! Food is not responsible for putting on weight. It is your thought that food is responsible for putting on weight that actually has food put on weight. Remember, thoughts are primary cause of everything, and the rest is effects from those thoughts. Think perfect thoughts and the result must be perfect weight.

Let go of all those limiting thoughts. Food cannot cause you to put on weight, unless you think it can. (Utterly irrational quote from the book)

Food being “responsible” for weight gain is not the “most common” thought people hold. How did they find out what “the most common thought” is? People sometimes synthesize desired statistics using surveys skewed to provide the answers they want. I don’t know if that’s what happened here. They could have taken the even easier path of just assuming it’s true, or who knows what else.

People know that EATING food in excess of what the body can metabolize puts on weight. It is the decision to eat more than you need that causes weight gain. And boy, is it hard to make different decisions on a permanent basis.

The principle that IS true is that you can change your thinking and change your life, within certain limits. Some of the limits include

  • Your past – you cannot change what has already happened, but you can change how you react to it
  • The randomness of life – you can avoid risk and pursue what you want, but sometimes shit just happens
  • Other people – if you encourage someone to change, they may or may not do it, but they make the change, not you
  • Physical limits – you cannot survive in outer space without a pretty damn good spacesuit, although I’m quite willing to suggest the authors of “The Secret” give it a try

Moving past the stupidity of The Secret, visualizations can really improve your ability to make good choices. I certainly used visualizations in a negative way for decades to beat myself up for not being perfect. Now, I’m learning to use them in a positive way.

A year ago, my thoughts were filled with questions and fears surrounding hunger and fullness. I didn’t have much experience with physical hunger. After a lot of practice and convincing myself that hunger is nothing to fear, and after working on the reasons for the fear, I don’t fear hunger. Instead, I’m now choosing to look forward to, and visualize, the time in which I regularly eat the amount of food that is in correct proportion to my metabolism and my (lower) natural weight. This is a successful process, and it doesn’t require that I ostracize fat people. Hell, I AM fat people! And I would never pass up a chance for a hug or interaction from any of my loved ones who happen to be fat.

Links:

About the stupidity of The Secret:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17314883/site/newsweek/

The overweight quote from the book:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17317691/site/newsweek/

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Nigel’s speech

Here’s the scene that helped me get through my work anger and frustration:

Andrea: She hates me, Nigel.

Nigel: And that’s my problem because—Oh, wait. No, it’s not my problem.

Andrea: I don’t know what else I can do because if I do something right, it’s unacknowledged. She doesn’t even say thank you. But if I do something wrong, she is vicious.

Nigel: So quit.

Andrea: What?

Nigel: Quit.

Andrea: Quit?

Nigel: I can get another girl to take your job in five minutes—one who really wants it.

Andrea: No, I don’t want to quit. That’s not fair. But, you know, I’m just saying that I would just like a little credit for the fact that I’m killing myself trying.

Nigel: Andy, be serious. You are not trying. You are whining.

Andrea: I…

Nigel: What is it that you want me to say to you, huh? Do you want me to say, “Poor you. Miranda’s picking on you. Poor you. Poor Andy?” Hmm? Wake up, six. She’s just doing her job. Don’t you know that you are working at the place that published some of the greatest artists of the century? Halston. Lagerfeld. de la Renta. And what they did, what they created was greater than art because you live your life in it. Well…not you, obviously, but some people. You think this is just a magazine, hmm? This is not just a magazine. This is a shining beacon of hope for—oh, I don’t know—let’s say a young boy growing up in Rhode Island with six brothers pretending to go to soccer practice when he was really going to sewing class and reading Runway under the covers at night with a flashlight. You have no idea how many legends have walked these halls. And what’s worse, you don’t care. Because this place, where so many people would die to work, you only deign to work. And you want to know why she doesn’t kiss you on the forehead and give you a gold star on your homework at the end of the day. Wake up, sweetheart.

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