Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Escaping the Stress

After dinner the other night, I told T that I was going for a short bike ride. The girls immediately announced, "I want to go with you!" but T told them that I was going alone. I pedaled off and it was wonderful. I felt as though I was escaping! I love my family more than anything in the world, but my therapist is right. I need more time to myself -- more time spent on doing things that are just for me. I felt exhilarated as I rode along, all by myself. I only rode 7 miles, but I came back feeling really calm, happy, and ready to face the bedtime routine. This is something I need more of...right after t-ball, golf, and Girls on the Run all ends....

Last night I knew I didn't have time for any bike riding. After dinner I had 20 minutes before I had to leave for support group. I asked T if he would sit and relax on the couch with me. He eyed me suspiciously and said, "Are you serious?" I assured him that I was, and he said, "Really? You're not going to jump up and clean something or remember ten things you have to do before you leave or make a list or anything?" I reiterated that I was just going to sit. So, we sat. And snuggled. And were promptly joined by our daughters who babbled at us nonstop for 20 minutes. But it was nice.

Then I went to my therapist's eating disorders support group. I realized that I feel somewhat ashamed that my ED is not the more glamorous anorexia. It is the embarrassing BED. Somehow being waifish and hungry seems more sympathy-inducing than being someone who stuffs her face. Maybe that's my own insecurity talking. Anyway, I felt really self conscious at first, but after a while I was offering my opinions on everything. The teens were probably wishing I'd shut up. There was an older woman there whose legs, I swear, were smaller around than my five-year-old's. Yet she was going on and on about needing to lose weight, and how she couldn't stop eating. I felt really sorry for her because she is obviously firmly entrenched in anorexia, and has no idea what her body really looks like. Most of the girls in the group are either in recovery or are working on it. None of them are obviously too thin.

We talked about changing self-talk and how to stop the cycle of emotional eating, shame, more eating, more shame, more eating, etc. I had to go to the grocery store afterward and I had that familiar feeling of wanting to eat to decompress after a stressful situation. I cruised by the in-store bakery, breathing in the delicious scent of the bread and doughnuts and cake. I didn't linger, however, and simply got my groceries and left. At home, I tried to decide if I was really hungry (dinner had been small and early), or just wanted to eat. I finally decided that if I had to question it, I wasn't really hungry. I was still quite tempted to eat, and actually opened the fridge and the cupboard. R saved me by appearing at that moment. I asked her if T was still awake and she said he was. So I marched upstairs and, instead of eating, made love to my husband. That is far more satisfying than graham crackers any day.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Learning to Live with the Cookies

First -- a brag on myself....The BIG boss came to my storytime this morning before she went out to lunch with my bosses. She told them that I was really good at doing storytime! Patting myself on the back now...

I saw my therapist yesterday and she totally put her finger on one of my biggest problems. I suppose I already knew it, but didn't want to admit it. She said that I am not taking enough downtime for myself; I'm not doing enough that's just for me. She advised me to take just 20 minutes a day after dinner and go out on my bike, go out for a walk, or hibernate in my bedroom with a book. Then, at least once a week on my day off, carve out a good 2-hour plus block of time to do something for myself -- and refuse to feel guilty about it. When I shared this with T, he said, "Did you tell her your husband has been telling you that for years?"

We discussed my wasted weekends, and she thinks that because I'm not taking any time for myself, it's my way of trying to do it subconsciously. Because T views his days off as days to relax and do nothing, but I view them as days on which chores should be done, I feel resentment that he is able to lie around on the couch all day, doing nothing. My restlessness is caused by being torn between thinking of the things I "should" do versus the things that I "want" to do. She told me not to let T's issues become my issues. His laziness, crabbiness or illness has nothing to do with me and I shouldn't assume it does or try to fix it. When he was lying around feeling ill, I could have just herded the kids into the car and gone to do something fun without him.

I said that I thought I needed more structure on my days off -- a to-do list, at the very least. She agreed, but advised that I put no more than 3-5 things on the list. I can do that. We also discussed the irrational thoughts I often have regarding food and relationships. Rather than simply recognizing them as irrational, I also need to ask myself what evidence I have for them, and reframe them as positive thoughts. When I feel really "bingey", but don't know why, I can take a look at the feelings list she gave me and try to pinpoint a feeling or two.

Last night I was driving home from work, hungry, and kept thinking I wanted an ice cream cone from McDonald's. I'm not sure why that popped into my head because I rarely go to McD's, but I love that soft, sweet kind of ice cream and find it very soothing and comforting. I was seeking decompression after doing a program at work that I'd been really nervous about. I told myself that I was hungry for food, not ice cream. I got home, ate a veggie dog on a piece of Ezekiel bread, and I really wasn't hungry anymore. I wasn't satisfied yet though, and I ate a handful of Cheetos, 1 1/2 cookies, and a cup or so of ice cream. Then I felt guilty and my hand hovered briefly over the cookie jar, knowing that I could binge and feel so nice and full of chocolate chip cookies.

My hand hovered, hovered, hovered. I thought about the talk I'd had with the therapist about my "brownie day" last Sunday. I told her that I knew that, at several points during the day, I could have thrown the brownies away to change the pattern, but I didn't want to. I know it's not about the food, and I don't want the solution to always be to throw everything away. That CAN'T always be the solution because I can't possibly throw away all of the brownies in the world. I want to learn to live with the brownies. She agreed, but said that, for now, sometimes the answer might be to throw them away. As the food and feelings become less connected, the brownies will sit there and it won't occur to me to eat one because I'm agitated. I didn't throw the cookies away, but I took my hand away from the cookie jar and went off to bed, telling myself, "You are learning to live with the cookies."

Monday, April 21, 2008

Back in the Saddle Again

I rode my bike last night for the first time in about 18 months. I only went five miles, but dang are my sit bones sore! It felt really good though. I only had a couple of flashbacks to my accident, and my leg is strong enough now that I can almost stand up and pedal. Maybe by the end of the summer, it will be.

I'm sorry to say that I frittered away my weekend, not doing much that was constructive. We cleaned on Saturday morning (always sure to be crankiness inducing), and went to my coworker's wedding in the afternoon and evening. T wasn't feeling good, and only got sicker as the weekend went on, ensuring that going to the wedding wasn't exactly a romantic or nostalgic date. We danced only one dance together, but did share some good laughs with my coworkers. I hardly ate anything at the wedding dinner, but ate my entire piece of cake. That would have been fine except that it was dry and the frosting tasted weird. I think I only ate the whole thing because I'd "saved room" for it by eating a really small dinner. If only I could remember that there will always be cake -- and better tasting cake -- in my life.

Yesterday we went to a concert with our kids -- The Composer is Dead by Lemony Snicket. The idea was cute, but the execution of it didn't really work. The best thing that can be said for it is that it was only an hour long. T dragged himself to it with us, but promptly went back to bed when we got home. I find his frequent illnesses annoying. I can't believe I'm typing that. It's not his fault and I feel like a bad person for being annoyed, but there it is. He has a horrible immune system and gets sick every other month. Perhaps I'd have more sympathy if I got sick more often than once every 3-4 years, but I probably annoy him with my persistent good health. I was crabby all weekend because nothing turned out like I had planned and looked forward to. I didn't let it affect my eating -- much. I did indulge in at least three servings of Cheetos at lunch on Saturday, and three chocolate chip cookies while baking yesterday, but I skipped dessert at last night's dinner and went out on my bike instead.

This week is another hellish week of busyness -- Retrouvaille board meeting tonight at our house (the reason for the Saturday cleaning), golf tomorrow night, work Wednesday night, t-ball practice for C on Thursday night (and T works late), birthday party for my FIL on Friday night, work all day on Saturday for me (and C's half birthday) .... maybe Sunday will be restful. :-)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Stopping Before I've Started

Wow, I'm so, so, so glad it's Friday. It has been an incredibly stressful week and I'm exhausted. Trying to wake up this morning felt like swimming through mud. Last night I left work and took C to t-ball practice. I had brought a snack for each of us, and we bolted it down in the 10 minutes we had before practice. T showed up with the dog, looking cranky and not kissing me hello. He seemed pretty distant and told me he'd stay with C if I wanted to take R home.

On the way home, my mind was racing with doubts I haven't had for a while. Was T upset or angry with me? Was he starting to feel emotionally detached from me again? Were we headed for divorce? (no one ever accused me of underplaying things). At home, I ate a smallish dinner, did the dishes, and fretted. T and C arrived home, still no kiss, and my worries escalated as he barely said three words to me. I sat there eating a small piece of chocolate, watching C eat ice cream, while plotting and scheming my binge to come. As soon as T left to walk the dog, I would start with Cheetos. I'd continue with Pop Tarts. Somehow I'd get some ice cream in there....
I stopped. I asked myself exactly what I had to gain by bingeing -- or eating anything, since I wasn't hungry? What would I gain besides misery and self-hatred with a side of guilt? Even if T came back from walking the dog to announce, "I'm in love with someone else, she's pregnant with my baby, and I'm leaving right now!", would having a full stomach help my emotional agony? No. Not so much. Or at all. Probably quite the opposite.

I left C to finish on her own, went upstairs, went through my nighttime routine, and got into bed. T came home, we talked for a bit (no dramatic announcements), and I fell asleep after some further fretting. This morning T called to warn me that he'd knocked over the beer bottles on his way to work, told me he loved me, and sounded totally normal. Go figure. All the same, I'm glad we have a date tomorrow. I feel as though I haven't really talked to him for weeks.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Michelle Wie Still Has Nothing to Fear From Me

I had my first golf lesson last night. The ONE time the instructor had us swing at an actual ball, I missed. Supposedly an hour-long lesson, it lasted 2 hours and 15 minutes and the instructor must have been a Marine Sergeant in a former life. When I finally got into the van to head home, I discovered my cell phone was dead. I arrived home 90 minutes late to a fuming dh, who was thoroughly convinced I was wrapped around a telephone pole. He also informed me that the dog had escaped and was running around in the woods. ARGH! I spent an hour looking for her with no luck. Just as I was finally heading to bed, utterly exhausted, she appeared at the door completely covered with black mud. So R and I were bathing the dog in the tub at 10:30pm, as she sat meekly and looked at us with soulful brown eyes. At least she didn't bug me for a walk until 6:30 this morning -- though that meant I missed my morning cardio.

I saw my regular doctor today. She was quite pleased with my blood pressure (100/70), my weight loss over the past couple of months, and my health in general. She was rather displeased with my cholesterol level. My good cholesterol is good and my triglycerides are normal for once (probably due to the major reduction of crappy sugary carb intake since I've been seeing the therapist), but my "bad" cholesterol is pretty bad -- I think it was 199. She has given me three months to see if it goes down, but is pretty convinced that it is hereditary and won't budge. It looks like medication for me. Boo. Hoo.

I've had three terrific days. Even with all of my evening madness last night, I felt no urge to reach for food to comfort or distract me. Monday evening I went grocery shopping and was briefly tempted by the ice cream I brought home -- especially when I saw the girls eating it. After considering my state of hunger (or lack of) and emotional state (tired), I realized that I didn't really want it that much. It can wait. Ice cream will always be around, and I'd rather have it when I can sit and enjoy it. This morning we had doughnuts at our meeting (from my favorite doughnut place, Susie's Donuts!) but they just looked greasy. I'd just eaten breakfast and wasn't the slightest bit hungry anyway.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Can I Have a Do-Over?

I had a crummy weekend. Friday night, we had three couples over for pizza before going to a hockey game, and for drinks after the game. Two of the women engaged it that stupid "I'm not really that hungry" game -- you know, the one where they take one piece of pizza, leave the crust behind, and turn down the chips & cheese, fruit & dip, and brownies. I felt like a miserable pig for eating two pieces of pizza. I suppose that's my issue and I really, really shouldn't allow what anyone else eats or doesn't eat affect me, right? I really didn't even want most of my second piece of pizza, but ate it anyway because I was nervous. At least I turned down the popcorn most of them were eating at the game. After we got back, someone produced a birthday cake for one of the guys, and I ate a piece. It wasn't even very good. I only ate a bit at first, but proceeded to pick at it until it was gone -- and had a dozen or so chips and cheese to top it off.

On Saturday, I went scrapbooking all day. I had gone back and forth about whether or not I should bring my own food -- or at least a salad. On the one hand, she usually serves food that isn't exactly healthy. On the other hand, I don't want to engage in behavior that is too "diety" and disordered. I ended up taking nothing and regretted it. She served greasy meatballs, potato salad, chips, overly sweet hot fruit compote, and brownies. I didn't like any of it, and ate only enough to stave off hunger. Then all afternoon I felt very dissatisfied and restless. I really wanted to get outside and take a nice, relaxing walk but it poured rain nonstop all day. I ended up salving my restlessness with two brownies. After the crop I went home, and feeling very unhappy, proceeded to eat a couple of handfuls of chocolate Chex mix (which is really yucky tasting, let me tell you!) with the girls. I ALMOST started a binge. I ate a Girl Scout cookie after my Chex mix, and felt myself teetering on the edge. I talked myself down and went upstairs to bed instead.

Yesterday, T got called in to work 10 hours of overtime, which is great for the budget but bad for me. R was gone at a friend's house and C had a friend visiting. I felt trapped and had that horrible jittery feeling that preceeds a binge. It was almost as though too many possibilities of how to spend the day were spread out before me, while at the same time I felt trapped by all of the chores waiting for me. I have already decided that the next time I have a day like this I will immediately make a to-do list that includes work AND relaxation. I ended up pacing the house like a caged lion for most of the day (in between loads of laundry and bill paying), and about five brownies made their way into my stomach by early afternoon. I didn't end up doing anything satisfying for me OR any of the cleaning and organizing I had wanted to do. I got on the elliptical for 30 minutes, I walked the dog a couple of times (short walks since I had two five-year-olds there), but I just couldn't calm myself. After dinner I had to pick R up (T was held over at work and missed dinner, which didn't help) and we went out for ice cream. I only had a kiddie scoop, but I wasn't at all hungry AND it doesn't really help my girls' future eating habits to take them for food only because I want it.

Today is a new day and the start of a new week. I have regrets about the weekend, but I sat down yesterday and wrote out a "chain of events" for my therapist, along with ways I could have done things differently. I have to look at the good: I didn't have an all-out binge. There was no time when I felt sick because I'd eaten too much. I didn't proceed to eat every sugary carb in the house. Heck, there were still a dozen brownies left by evening. I may have taken a step back, but I'm ready to move forward again.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I'm Game

Not only did my dh get out with the leaf blower, but he and the girls picked up all of the sticks in the backyard AND my dearest T, who despises yard work, suggested that on each nice weekend we should choose an area and work on it for an hour or two (!) That really makes me feel much less put-upon.

I met with my therapist yesterday, and she's very pleased with my progress. She said it seemed that my ability to be reflective is improving, and she was quite happy to hear that I haven't binged in a few weeks. I told her that I'd had some mild urges that I didn't quite understand. Once last week when T took the dog for a walk, I really wanted to start eating. Yet I wasn't upset, I wasn't unhappy, I wasn't angry with T, and I wasn't having any sort of strong feeling I could identify. She suggested that perhaps many small irritations build up over the course of the week, and just then is when I felt the urge because I had the opportunity. Wow -- light bulb moment. There had been several times over the week when I'd been annoyed because the dishes weren't done or something small happened -- too small to whinge about, but irritating to me. She advised me to journal each night about the things bothering me, both small and large. If I write them down, it's easier to let them go. That makes a lot of sense.

She gave me quite a bit of "homework" to do -- making a list of my triggers and how I can thwart them, making a behavior chain (for example -- I get up late, don't pack a good lunch, feel starving all afternoon, stop at a fast food place, eat too much, feel guilt, binge...whatever might happen), and a sheet on problem solving -- i.e. my problem is that I want to eat dessert every night after dinner. I have to write down what's in it for me, the down side, my options, other options, the option I'll try this week, how many days I was successful, and whether or not I want to try another option. She also gave me handouts on working with feelings and negative self-talk.

We discussed my "not good enough" poem, and though it was obvious that many events in my life served to reinforce the idea that weight and looks were really important, I told her that I realized that my feelings weren't all related to my weight. All my life I'd thought, "If I just lost ___ pounds, I'd be happy." Yet, many of the things I wrote about were unrelated to weight and looks. I would have felt bad whether I'd weighed 300 pounds or 110 pounds. She asked what that said to me. I told her, "Well, it's obvious that I have really bad self esteem and somehow need to raise it." She replied, "Are you ready to do that work?" AHHHH! I answered, "I guess so." I can't imagine how it will ever happen, but I'm game.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Oh, What a Beautiful Morning, Oh What a Beautiful Day!....

If only I could sing. Today is our third gorgeous day in a row -- the sunshine and warmth make me so HAPPY! I worked in our yard for a couple of hours yesterday and it looks 100 times better already. I have T the big hint that he should get out there with the leaf blower today, so we'll see if he takes it. My back and shoulders are rather sore today.

Saturday at our CORE meeting, we had (natch) a potluck. I was really hungry, and though I didn't really eat a LOT of food, I ate past "enough". I tried not to beat myelf up about it and didn't give in to the urge to eat more after we got home. Yesterday we cooked out on our grill for the first time this year. T and the girls had steak, but I made lean hamburgers for dad and me (dad has dentures and can't really chew steak -- I just don't like it all that much). I ate the burger and some broccoli and was full. I was annoyed because I'd made banana bread and peanut butter and jelly bars and really wanted some, so I ate a piece of each of those too. Then I felt really overful and was mad at myself. I didn't use it as an excuse to eat more though. Instead, I had a nice long, relaxing walk with my SIL after dinner, which was the first time in ages we'd been able to have a good talk. Wow -- I had almost 16000 steps on my pedometer yesterday.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


Our Retrouvaille community just finished a weekend and a participant (who had begged to get in at the last minute) sent T this note:

I just wanted to sincerely thank you for your efforts in making room for K and I this weekend. You will never know the difference you have allowed us to make in our marriage. The drive to the retreat was 3 hours that felt like 6. I don't think we said more than 10 words. The ride home felt like it only took about 20 minutes (just as you said, T). I just can't thank you enough for giving us the chance to revive our marriage. To us, this weekend meant everything. We are truly thankful for all we have and we hope to never take for granted what God has blessed us with. We floated all the way home. I assure you that you and all the people involved in our Retrouvaille weekend will be remembered in our daily prayers. We look forward to our post sessions. May God continue to bless you and your family every day, T & K

Isn't that awesome? I get goosebumps every time I read it. That's what Retrouvaille is all about and results like this make all the work totally worth it.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

A Test -- and I Passed

We had a shower at work today for a coworker who is getting married this month. Sometimes I swear my life revolves around food events. Anyway, I knew that the menu was chicken salad and croissants -- neither of which I am wild about and both of which are really high in calories and fat. I was sort of fretting about it, wondering if I should bring my own lunch. I waffled -- was that too weird? Too "diety"? I finally packed my salad and Lean Cuisine Panini and took it to work, still undecided. At lunchtime I compromised and ate my salad, but had about 1/3 of a croissant and a small bit of chicken salad too. I had a small piece of cake and a couple of bites of the fruit salad and bread and that was it. I wanted more, but only because I wanted more -- not because I was still hungry. So I didn't have more. I just sat with the wanting and felt it, and didn't do anything about it. I felt so peaceful all afternoon.

After dinner, I had some of the dessert my daughter made yesterday and then felt guilty because I'd already eaten cake today. I had lots of "mmmm...Easter candy in the cupboard..." thoughts, but sternly told myself that I was making the choice to be a normal eater. Normal eaters can have candy anytime they want -- it isn't anything special. I took the dog for a walk instead of opening the cupboard. By the time I ambled back, I was calm and felt okay.

I wrote my assignment for the therapist today -- a poem on the theme "not good enough". It just kind of flowed out of my pen, though tis true that I've been pondering it for a week. It brought up some things I'd almost forgotten about or hadn't thought about in years. I don't think I'll post it here. Maybe after I show it to her.