Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Habits Old and New

I think I've kicked my diet Coke habit. It almost snuck up on me, but I've gone about two weeks without a single diet soda of any kind. I haven't really even been tempted lately. It's interesting how habits are broken or instilled, isn't it? I had to really talk myself out of a diet Coke several times over the past month or two, but suddenly I don't think about it much.

I have a coworker who has a habit of picking at her lip. I feel for her because I had that same habit for several years -- after breaking the habit of biting my nails to the quick. I picked at my lip for at least two years, but eventually decided to start wearing lipstick. It's a bit difficult to pick at your lip while wearing lipstick, since you get terribly messy fingers! Now I feel naked without lipstick or colored lip gloss of some type. Anyway, I found a substitute for my habits. Now, how to find a substitute for eating? It would have to be something doable anywhere at any time. Oh wait! I have an idea! Just deal with life -- sit and experience it in all of its painful, wonderful glory.

Okay, I'm being facetious, but I really think I can do this. At several meals lately, I've been okay with just sitting and feeling the feeling of wanting more, but not eating more because I'm no longer hungry. At some meals, the food was so yummy I wanted more, more, more, but wasn't still hungry. I just sat and thought about how I ate all I could at every meal growing up, but no longer have that need. I can eat again whenever I'm hungry, even it it's only two hours after dinner. I'm the grown up now and no one can "catch" me eating when I'm not supposed to. I won't get in trouble for eating something when it's not mealtime.

I have been eating slowly at every meals as I promised I'd do last week. I even ate my several pieces of cake and cookies slowly on Sunday. It's kind of amazing that sometimes I realize I've had enough of something before the dish is empty -- or just realize I don't want something and can just not eat it. We had KFC last week because I had to make cookies for work and cupcakes for C to take to school as a birthday treat, and didn't want to have to cook a meal in addition to all of that baking. I started to eat a chicken breast (sans skin, which has an incredible ick factor IMO) and halfway through I realized, "I don't really want this anymore". My dinner was a chicken breast, some veggies, and an apple. That's all I really wanted. I think I ate dessert later, but I was physically hungry, which made it much more satisfying.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Feelings...Nothing More Than Feelings... (I always disliked that song)

I've spent the past two weeks scrutinizing my feelings whenever I feel like bingeing or eating when I'm not hungry, with help from the book French Toast for Breakfast. Holy cow -- just about every feeling makes me want to eat. How did I get this way? So far I have:

loneliness: when I feel lonely for dh, lonely because I feel misunderstood, lonely because I feel as though I'm the only person I know with eating issues

boredom: well, that feelings speaks for itself!

fatigue: it's very, very difficult for me to admit to the "weakness" of needing to rest or -- even worse -- needing a nap.

procrastination: so much easier to eat something than to move onto the 8 million projects needing my attention

avoidance of intimacy -- especially sexual intimacy: I still find it difficult to just say no to my husband, even 2 1/2 years after our separation. I also still find it difficult to share my true feelings. I did finally 'fess up to my bowling hatred, but told him I wanted to keep doing it because he got so much enjoyment out of it. Anyway, I digress, as usual

as a retreat from people: it's so much easier to obsess about my relationship with food rather than risking rejection from people I'd like to be friends with

happiness: I'm not sure if I believe that happiness is limited and needs to be gobbled up before it ends or if I believe I don't deserve happiness and I should binge it away and return to misery -- perhaps a bit of both

disappointment: disappointment in food (things that didn't taste as great as I thought they would or should or having to eat a dinner I didn't particularly care for) or disappointment when things don't work out the way I'd like

not really a feeling, but lack of structure: evenings and weekends when I don't have anything scheduled

also not a feeling, but I use it as a transition to help switch gears between activities (see procrastination)

I occasionally do "preventative" bingeing because I'm afraid that I'll get hungry and won't be able to eat anything. When I look at that in black and white it looks downright silly. No one ever starved to death in the space of a few hours, or even a few days. At the time I'm feeling the fear, however, it's very real and a very strong drive to resist.

Then, there's the "what the hell" feeling...is that a feeling?

So, I thought I was doing well and hadn't binged or even overeaten for about 10 days. Then Friday we went out to dinner to Red Robin. I was really nervous about it because they have gigantic portions AND bring you unlimited french fries, starting the minute you sit down. We got there and I asked my MIL to tell the waitress we didn't want any fries except with our meal. Then R wanted to order from the adult menu. I knew she wouldn't eat it all, but figured I'd just order a kid's meal and eat that. Our food came and my burger was cold. I sent it back and ate a few onion rings and fries while waiting. Burger #2 came and it was slathered in mayo -- ick. I sent that one back and ate some more fries. Burger #3 came and it had no onion, but I took it anyway. I wasn't really hungry anymore, but ate almost all of it. Then I was quite full. Not like Thanksgiving, but definitely more full than usual. DANGER ZONE! I KNOW this is a dangerous time for me, and when we got home, I spent the whole time I was walking the dog reciting to myself all of the reasons I shouldn't eat anything else (T was on his annual football weekend with the guys).

It almost worked. It worked until I got home and R was still awake. I KNEW I should have just gone upstairs to bed and made her go to, but I asked her if she wanted dessert. She said yes and that was allll she wrote. I ate about a pint of ice cream and polished off 3 Pop Tarts (only a bit of ice cream in front of her -- the rest after she went to bed). I was pretty upset with myself, but determined not to let this lapse be a relapse. So on Saturday, I ate when hungry, stopped when satisfied, kept busy, napped when I was tired, and felt much better.

Yesterday I was fine until after dinner. Again I had gotten a bit too full. I'm not sure why since I really didn't eat much, but it just happened, almost before I knew it. I sat there at the table convincing myself that I didn't want a second roll. Hello?!? I was already full! We were celebrating two family birthdays and I mananged to eat three pieces of cake, several chocolate chip cookies, and a dish of ice cream before I stopped and told myself to CUT IT OUT. I was totally exhibiting "what the hell" behavior Friday and yesterday. I think it was because I weighed myself on Thursday. I was happy with the number, which brought up all kinds of "diety" thoughts again. Okay, this is the deal: I WILL NOT weigh myself again. Ever. Ever. Ever.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

My Life List

I made a life list on this wiki. So far, here is what's on mine:

  • take a cruise
  • interview my kids for a scrapbook page
  • plant a flower bed in the front yard
  • make peace with my size/weight
  • take photos of family heirlooms and ask dad about where they came from
  • make gifts in a jar for bus drivers/teachers, etc for Christmas
  • institute a yearly "girly day" with each daughter -- get manicures, pedicures, eat out, shop, etc
  • institute family movie night
  • have central vac system installed
  • make A&P a wedding scrapbook
  • visit Pompeii, Rome, Venice, and Tuscany
  • become a "normal" eater
  • take a photo every single day in 2008
  • plant lily of the valley in the backyard
  • make a shadow box of dh's work awards
  • sort recipes and discard at least half of them
  • get rid of Aunt L's china
  • reorganize my linen closet
  • sort my clothing and take everything out of my closet that doesn't fit or look good on me
  • buy some gorgeous clothing that DOES look good -- make that great -- on me
  • find some type of volunteer work to do with the whole family
  • hang pictures
  • decide on paint colors for the walls
  • get a professional photo taken of me and the girls for dh
  • have gas fire installed in fireplace
  • go to Walt Disney World with the family
  • drive from coast to coast on a leisurely trip
  • make a shadow box with dh's running stuff
  • take yoga
  • take golfing lessons
  • find someone to give me bowling tips
  • start a blog or myspace page for the extended family
  • have a gingerbread house decorating party with neighbors and their children
  • host a neighborhood easter egg hunt
  • get rid of uncomfortable shoes and never buy any again!
  • attend an occasion for which I have an excuse to buy a floor-length cocktail dress/ball gown
  • institute an every other month craft day with the girls
  • celebrate half birthdays
  • have a yearly "family day"

Monday, October 22, 2007

Of Birthdays and Bowling

We had C's "friend" birthday party yesterday (she'll be 5 on Friday). We discovered that the four invitations I sent to school with her never made it home with the kids, so our party attendance was rather sparse. Two girls showed up and, after we called the neighbor and found that the invite had never appeared at their house, two more came over. C didn't seem to care much, but I was rather annoyed. I sent them with a note to the teacher explaining that I would have mailed them but didn't even know the girls' last names, let alone their addresses. I don't know if she set them aside and forgot about them or threw them away, but I plan to ask about them when I go help with the halloween party next week. I would hope that she would have called me, emailed me, or sent me a note if she didn't want to send them home with the girls!

Last night I bowled a 56, 58, and an 87. I only had one frame out of all three games with two gutter balls, so I was actually content with those pitiful scores. I refused to allow my nervousness about bowling get to me, and I ate normally all weekend. I had many "not a normal eater" thoughts, but talked sensibly to myself and moved on. I even managed to stick with one small piece of cake and smallish helping of ice cream yesterday. Yes, I wanted more -- but I really wasn't hungry and knew there'd be more ice cream and cake coming up next weekend at C's "family" birthday party. It helped that it was store-bought cake since she wanted a "My Little Pony" cake. Homemade cakes are much more fabulously delicious and hard to resist.

I've been listening to Martha Beck's book The Joy Diet on CD, and parts of it are really resonating with me. She talks about achieving your goals and how to go about it. One of the things she says is to do things differently periodically to kind of "shake things up" -- to help you see things from a different perspective. I was reminded of my therpist telling me "do something different" when wanting to binge. I thought of that several times this past weekend and took the paper into the living room rather than reading it at the kitchen counter, took the dog for a new route while walking, instituted a new rule at our house for dessert-eating (we don't eat dessert right after dinner but wait until we're in our PJs and ready for bed), and tried to change up my routine at work a bit. I felt really good about my weekend, and I'm going to try (as Martha also says) to "do one thing differently". This week my different thing is to eat slowly. Really.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

External Cues

I have probably posted about this in the past because I swear I have to repeat things about 10,000 times before I learn my lesson. But anyway...now that I've been trying to stop and check out my motivation every time I'm tempted to eat but I'm not hungry, I've realized more and more how often I'm triggered by external cues -- especially seeing other people eat. I can walk by the cookies in the break room 25 times, but if I see someone stop and take one, I want to take one too. It gives me "permission" to eat. At home, I've found the same triggers. If I come home and see T eating something, I immediately want to eat. If I give the girls breakfast, I find it difficult not to eat something, even if I've already eaten breakfast.

I'm fairly certain it all dates back to the good old "family of origin", as Retrouvaille calls it. At home we couldn't eat between meals, so I never had "permission" to eat unless it was mealtime. I remember sneaking food with my siblings after arriving home from school feeling ravenous. Of course, we never had junk food, so often we'd eat half a loaf of bread -- just bread with nothing on it. Partly because we didn't have anything exciting to put on it, but partly because we were trying to eat it as quickly as possible so we didn't get caught.

Yesterday I had the day off and went out to breakfast with friends. I started the day feeling jittery because I woke up really hungry and ate breakfast between walking the dog and hopping on the exercise bike. I was afraid I wouldn't be hungry for breakfast out and was berating myself for eating too much at 5:30am. When the time came, however, I was quite hungry and ordered french toast. It was a yummy casserole sort of thing made with challah bread baked in a springform pan. So I got a wedge of it with butter, syrup, and fresh strawberries. I ate almost the whole thing and left feeing pleasantly full. Lunchtime came and went and I wasn't hungry yet. I started feeling nervous that I wouldn't get hungry for lunch. I was home alone which can be dangerous for me, but I didn't allow myself to get bored and didn't force myself to do things I didn't really want to do. I did some floor-scrubbing (is there anything more satisfying than seeing how clean a floor is when you've scrubbed it on hands and knees?) and cleaned out a closet, but as soon as I found myself looking in the cupboard, I stopped what I was doing and went downstairs to work on my scrapbooking stuff. I was able to stay busy and convince myself when I got hungry, I'd eat. I finally ate lunch at 3pm and kept it small enough that I was hungry for dinner at 6pm. Amazingly, we had family movie night and I didn't want any of the popcorn dh made or the hot chocolate I made for the girls. It wasn't even a struggle to say no -- I just didn't want any. Perhaps it has a connection to allowing myself the french toast I wanted earlier.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Just Workin' On My Issues

It's been pretty peaceful in my life lately (well, if you don't count soccer, cheerleading, piano, religious ed, work, etc). I've been just trying to eat when hungry, stop when satisfied, without worrying about "shoulds" and "shouldn'ts". Dropping the rope, so to speak, is so much less stressful in most ways, though there is a little voice somewhere in my head that keeps telling me I'm going to gain even more weight and suggesting that perhaps I should weigh myself just to check the number. I tell it to get stuffed. My clothes are fitting fine.

There have been some times when I've realized that I've just had enough of something and -- gasp -- thrown food away(!). There have also been some times that I kept eating even though I realized I'd had enough. I figure if I can get the stopping times to outweight the not stopping times, I'm on the right track.

I've been attempting to stop and analyze my feelings whenever I realize that I'm having an urge to eat but I'm not hungry or I'm already full. Somehow since my accident I've become a person who wants to eat when bored or restless. I never used to -- it was almost always anxiety, sadness, stress...not boredom. This past Saturday I went to a scrapbooking crop from 10am to 8pm and I ate about 5 pounds of sugary carbs. I couldn't figure out what on earth was wrong until it finally dawned on me, rather too late, that I am so not used to sitting for such a long period, and what I really needed was to go outside and take a walk. I needed a break, not more sugar. Too bad this didn't occur to me until about 7pm.

I think perhaps boredom is why my binge eating started up again after so many years of not being an issue. It began just before I was given the okay to get out of bed and walk again, and worsened horribly over the months that I had to use crutches and a cane. I think part of it was anxiety, but looking back, boredom and restlessness were a large part of the drive to eat and overeat. After 10 weeks in bed I was sooooo bored, but even after I was given the okay to start putting weight on my leg, there was so much I couldn't do. We had moved into our house only two weeks before my accident, so there was A LOT that wasn't unpacked or put where I wanted it. Yet I couldn't carry anything up and down the two sets of stairs to work on it. All of my scrapbooking stuff was still packed and I couldn't carry any of it to put it away. I couldn't exercise the way I wanted to. Shopping or going anywhere was a pain, literally and figurtively. I was really tired of reading, doing cross-stitch, and watching DVDs. I felt trapped, frustrated, and BORED. By the time I could walk again more easily without a lot of pain, eating when not hungry was a habit.

So over the past few days I've noticed when I have an urge to eat out of boredom and make an attempt to walk around a bit or do a different activity. I was really busy with the girls on Sunday (we spent the day cooking and scrapbooking) and I kind of forgot to eat. It's been a long time since that happened.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Of Chili and Charity

Wow -- I won first prize at our neighborhood block party's chili cook-off! I was quite pleased to win gift certificates to Chili's, hot pads, and a little pumpkin. I made a recipe I'd never tried before -- just searched for a fairly simple one on recipezaar and found Firehouse Chili. I didn't think it was fabulous, but it drew raves. The block party itself was pretty fun and the kids had a ball. I'm lucky to have some really great neighbors.

Last Sunday I went with my dad to Founder's Day at the Starr Commonwealth to hear Henry Winkler speak. I was mainly interested in him because he co-writes a series of children's books, rather than because he is a TV/movie star and producer. He was quite inspirational and entertaining. It was truly amazing to walk around the Starr campus and see how much it had changed since I'd been there last. My dad's great uncle Floyd Starr started the Commonwealth as a home for troubled boys in 1912, beginning with two boys. They lived in a barn until the first cottage was built. Starr now has a huge campus in that original location, along with four other campuses. I only met Uncle Floyd a few times while growing up, but he must have been quite a guy. They have something like an 88% success rate with troubled kids, focusing on building up self esteem rather than on punishment. Awesome.

Last week after R innocently said, "There aren't any poor people in Grand Rapids, are there mom?" I contacted the United Way about doing volunteer work as a family. I think we're going to start helping serve meals once a month or so at a local mission. I hope it will help my kids (and me!) appreciate how truly privileged we are.

Well, I've come back to the realization, once again, that I can't diet. I just can't do it. I end up face first in the ice cream carton every time I try. I know, I know -- you've heard it all before. Sigh. I'm finally reading the Food and Feelings workbook I bought a while ago, and finding it difficult to complete the exercises. I was perusing the chapter on anxiety and had a bit of a "duh!" moment though. She talks of using overeating as a way to distract yourself from your anxiety because instead of being anxious about whatever is bugging you, you transfer your anxiety to your body and how fat you feel and how disgusted you are that you just ate a dozen cookies (or whatever). I knew that I often felt like I wanted to eat when anxious, but I never really thought about the distraction part of it in that way. I've been practicing telling myself, "You can't change the situation -- you can only change your reaction to the situation".

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Found this today...

Interesting interview with the co-author of Intuitive Eating: