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Archive for the ‘self-care’ Category

Almost one and a half year’s pause, I’m letting you know where my head is at.

I have discovered  that I can reduce my overeating by addressing the voice yelling at me inside my head. For example, after a social event, I have a practice of yelling at myself all the way home. All of the reasons are specious, like “I shouldn’t have used that word” or “I should have talked more.” But that yelling makes me feel bad, and I would crave food to feel good again.

Now I’m actively practicing the habit of saying, “I want to treat myself great all the time, so I’m not going to yell at myself right now. And I’m not going to eat in such a way that I feel bad, either.”

When I am successful with this, I find that I don’t have to eat when I get home.

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It’s not affirmations. It’s not guided journeys. It’s not cognitive behavioral therapy. It’s not binging, or nude meditation, or sewing, or EFT, or NLP, or scream therapy.

It may be all of those things and none of those things, but the bottom line is I’m changing the way I think, and it’s changing my life.

Beating myself up for EVERY.SINGLE.DECISION. was killing me. I was using food just to ease the pain of self-criticism. This is important to know, because when I am not self-critical, I’m not binging.

Then I faced a conflict. Part of me wants to be thin, and part of me wants to stay with binge eating and being fat, which are the devils I know. When I’m fat, I understand my world. There are no questions about “will they reject me,” of course they will, because I’m fat. Painful, yes, but in a convoluted way, that’s comforting.

Part of me wants to be thin and free of compulsive eating, but there’s a lot of unknown space out there. What do I do with my life? How will I accept that some people won’t like me even if I am thin?  How do I handle things when the answer is not always, “It’s my own fault.”

My choice is: comfort plus the known pain of being fat, or more physical comfort of being thin, but with many unknowns and risks, which might be even more painful than being fat.

Once I realized I had that conflict, I reduced it to this choice:

Do I want to continue with the self-criticism that drives me to food, or do I prefer the uncertainty that billions of people successfully cope with every day?

I prefer the second one, and am giving up the pain of self-criticism.

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I’m currently working with two of the IOWL  guided journeys, Sabotage Self-Sabotage and Appetite Adjuster.

They aren’t magic, they are NLP-kind of activities that get you into the right mindset to do what you need to do. That’s the key, by the way. Having the right mindset so you move actively towards the skill you want to have (in my case, a naturally slender intuitive eater).

What does the Sabotage journey give me? A mechanism that helps me analyze my internal conflicts and choose a better option than food.

What does the Appetite journey give me? I’ve run it about a half-dozen times so far. I’m starting to be able to look at food and choose to not eat it because I’m not quite hungry enough and because eating it at that time does not meet my goals.

So I’m sorta combining the two techniques into one path for me. If you’re thinking about buying these, think about this before you decide. If that’s where your head is at, they might be helpful. If you’re still really into deep emotional turmoil over eating and “shoulding” on yourself a lot, don’t bother. Just give yourself plenty of loving self-care. One day something like these might be helpful, but not right now.

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Just as Maggie in Runaway Bride made a new life for herself, so must people who recover from eating disorders. The funny thing is, eating disordered people have spent so much time obsessing about food that it can be hard to figure out what a normal life is.

Today I learned more about myself. I slept late, and skipped breakfast, because I had snacked heavily late last night. Those snacks I labeled “early early early breakfast.” It totally worked with my (lack of) hunger this morning.

As I lay in bed, I figured I’d better sleep late so I wouldn’t be tempted to eat, since I’d already eaten breakfast, and was definitely not hungry. But I couldn’t sleep any more, and I wanted to do stuff, so I took the chance and got up at 8 a.m.

It paid off, because the next thing I knew, it was lunchtime, I hadn’t eaten, and I’d spent the whole morning doing fun things like recycling and sewing. I’m very proud that I practiced normal eating and self-correcting, just like a naturally slender person, and I didn’t even have to avoid food by hiding in my bed.

As the afternoon progressed, life got more complex. As the evening came, I recognized that I hadn’t gotten as much done as I’d hoped during the day. That triggered not a binge, but rather a steady eating pattern throughout the German version of Idol. More than I preferred to eat, but not so much that I can’t self-correct tomorrow.

So, all in all, a pretty good day. 50% normal eating, 50% not going overboard.

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Once people with eating disorders start to get their heads on straight, they find out there’s lots of things they don’t know how to do. Rather than make decisions, they (read I) used to eat until the decision was no longer necessary.

Maggie Barnes (Julia Roberts) in Runaway Bride had the same problem.  She’d fall in “love” with anyone who fell in love with her, and life was great until the wedding day. Then she’d run.

People with eating disorders are often pretending that everything’s fine, until a crisis comes up. Then they run to food.

When Maggie realizes she must find a new way to face her crises, she works through it bit by bit. Not only does she discover her career path in hardware (lamp) design, she also looks at other areas in her life. The story shows the example of Maggie finding out how she likes her eggs.

What have I been discovering lately? Sewing. Pride in cleaning up my own space. How to decorate. How to let go of the past. How to stop mindless internet surfing. That I like my fingernails 1-2 millimeters long. And how I like my eggs cooked.

I like my eggs cooked to fit the recipe. Not to fit my man, not to fit a chef’s definition. That means I like hard-boiled eggs in tuna salad, sliced omelet in fried rice, poached in Eggs Benedict, fried over medium to go with creamed spinach and boiled potatoes, and omelet in a breakfast McMuffin-style sandwich.

When I eat eggs with toast, I prefer scrambled, soft but not runny, and made with about a teaspoon of water per egg.

Maggie would be proud.

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The guided journey certainly seems to be helping me cope with everyday stresses. Formerly I would eat in response to stress, but often I now can recognize that stress comes from competing wishes, and I need to make my decision about those wishes, not eat to suppress and postpone the inevitable.

For my birthday, everything went right.

First, I gave myself a morning alone at the museum and library (took the day off work, too!). DH took the afternoon off, and we had a lovely gourmet lunch, followed by a movie. When my daughter got back into town that evening, we all met for dinner. A nice, polite, conversational dinner – rare for our teenager.

As to eating, I basically spread one giant birthday meal across the whole day.

For breakfast, I had cake. At lunch, I ate a steak and lobster bisque.  For dinner, it was a great salad. No panicking about food, not even thinking about it very much. Didn’t even want a snack during the long film.

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Today’s guided journey brought me strong feelings, even though I didn’t go very deeply into the relaxation state. First, as I relaxed, I experienced a strong emotion. This isn’t explicitly part of the guided journey, but I just experience it as I go down into a deep state of relaxation.

Today’s emotion was feelings of sadness about my upcoming birthday. Next Tuesday is my birthday, Feb. 3, and I’ll be 50 years old. No one has said anything to me about it, or asked me what I want to do. That’s really disappointed me, and I’m busy making plans to do something nice for myself. Last night though, my mother-in-law called, but didn’t want to talk to me, just DH, so I figure at least she has thought of it. No, that doesn’t mean there’s a surprise party brewing – that’s not at all like us.

It’s also not logical that DH hasn’t thought of it, but I’m annoyed that he hasn’t said anything, since HIS 50th was last year, and I went to a lot of trouble to think of a nice present (a ride in a glider) and take him out for a nice dinner. His parents even traveled 3 hours to be there. And yes, I explicitly asked him before his birthday what he wanted to do. His parents did the same.

Anyway, I often experience irrational thoughts right before my birthday. Must be something to do with feelings of not being loved because I was an unwanted baby.

My mother left my father while pregnant with me. He had been violent, so she certainly must have struggled emotionally throughout the pregnancy. Then, going home to a closet-sized room at her parents, with a 2 y.o. and me on the way, must have been just as hard.

Back to the guided journey. I experienced the emotions described above as I drifted down into the state of relaxation. Even cried a couple of tears, but that’s not unusual for the journey.

Once in the relaxed state, my right hand experienced a feeling of confidence around other people. Being thin and looking like everyone else, increases general acceptance. Therefore it’s natural I would feel more confident when I am thin. The symbol in my hand is a heart. Not a pretty Valentine’s heart, but an anatomically correct, soft, pulsating heart. Eww!

My left hand, the side that benefits from staying fat, found that the benefit is reassurance of being loved. Food is love, and a full stomach is proof of love.  The symbol in my hand was a stomach. A living friggin’ stomach! Double Ewww!

The integration part of the journey brought the heart and the stomach together, which suddenly migrated into a complete nervous system plus stomach. Ick. Ick. Ick.

The feeling I get from the integration is wholeness.  Kind of a cool thought. Feeling whole is better than artificial feelings of reassurance from a full stomach, or from shallow confidence around other people.

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