Help, when there is no help

family picnic

I recently received an email from a friend who is preparing to spend an extended weekend with extended family.  She’s terrified.  Kary has been doing her level best to change the way she eats, recover from some food related illness, and get on board with a saner way of life.  I applaud her for all she’s done to redirect her eating efforts. I know how she feels about change.  It’s hard, for all of us, but it’s necessary and all the more so when bad health sneaks in and threatens to upend one’s life.

Kary’s most recent email discussed her feelings about preparing to spend time with people who not only don’t support her food choices, but can be emotionally draining.  As I said at the beginning of this post, change is hard, and it’s made harder still when you feel like you’re stuck in a situation where no one agrees with you, no one supports you, no one understands why you’ve rather eat better than take more medication (not to mention that everyone has an opinion that they are all too ready to express).  I know Kary can make it through this vacation with extended family, but I also know it won’t be easy.  I shared with her the two tricks I use to get through family parties, reunions, vacations, and other similar functions.  I really only have two tricks that I use, and most of the time they work.  If they don’t, I run in the other direction as soon as no one is looking. Oh, sure, call me a coward, but you don’t know my family.

Just kidding.  Most of my relatives are sane, and the rest are in wheel chairs, so hot pursuit is usually not a real threat.

I thought I might share my two, count them, two, tips for surviving the trauma of summer vacations with family here today. Are you ready?  Get a pencil and write these down.  They are, if I must say so myself, show stoppers.

My No. 1 tip for surviving a family vacation and not blowing your diet is this:  Drink, drink, drink lots of water.  I make sure that as I am milling around the picnic table or someone else’s parlor, I have a tall glass of ice water in my hands at all times.  When someone says something that I feel is disruptive to my spirit, I simply put glass to lips and sip, while shaking my head and furrowing my brow in a way that says to the other party, “Hmm, interesting idea.”  It’s not really a lie that I find what they are saying interesting.  I do find it interesting that someone I have not seen for five years would spend 30 minutes telling me first of all, “You look great, what are you doing, ” then quickly follow that up with any number of helpful suggestions for how I might lose fifty pounds.  I guess they don’t think about the fact that the weight they lost found its way back home to them.  Interesting, indeed.

My No. 2 tip for surviving a family vacation and not blowing my diet is to ask a lot of questions.  Between sips of ice water, and shaking my heads as I’m offered bits of info about how I ought to do this or that and I’d have better success, I ask leading questions:  How are the kids.  Did Kyle graduate, already?  Will he continue on with school?  What aspect of serving in Afghanistan did Sue like most?  You have five grandchildren now? Where are they living?  Do you see them often?  Tell me about them…

You get the picture–keep ’em talking about “their” stuff and you won’t have to explain your stuff.  It’s not a great game plan to pass along to anyone else, but it is what I do when I’m trapped by invited to join in on extended family vacations in the summer time.

Changing directions for a minute, I want to talk about changes with my food that have come about this summer.  Lately, I have been feeling good about the lack of white sugar and processed food I’ve eaten.  I can see that I am making progress, albeit slow, in altering my eating patterns away from foods that metabolize rapidly, like processed sugar and flours do.  I feel like the less processed foods and sugar I eat, the less I crave food in general, and sugars in particular.  Is that true of everyone who quits this stuff?

I feel like my diet is becoming boring, too, but in a good way.  Today, especially, I am feeling less chaotic and more like the fog of food obsession is lifting. I hate to say it is better for the long haul, because I’ve gotten here before and then been pulled back into the love/hate relationship I have with sugar.  I am hopeful, though, and that feels good to me.

I am drinking more coffee than I should, and I do use artificial sweeteners, so not great progress there, but progress.

I need to drink more water.  Doesn’t everyone?

I am also more aware of habits I’ve formed regarding food and eating establishments.  I now realize the draw there is for me to hang certain places, places where in the past I shoved food I loved into my pie hole as quickly as I could.  The aromas in these old haunts are, well, haunting.  Still, I am feeling more aware of the reasons why I found these places comforting in the past. That’s good news, because if I know how I got caught in the habit loop in the first place, I can formulate a plan for getting out.  Or at least that’s the theory I’m working with today.

I’m making a conscious effort to turn to savory foods more often now, instead of sweets.  I am also showing interest in researching recipes for savory dishes that I think I might like.

More and more I’m moving away from what got me sick in the first place, and replacing those substances with healthier fare.  I have more energy, less of a sense of chaos in my head, and a lighter feel all around because of these changes.

What are you doing this summer to protect your food plan and pursue healthy living?  I would love to hear about the changes you’ve made. Share away, my friend, share away…

Food and Fawns

Reading too many food blogs in one week can make you batty.  At least it can for this gal. This is especially true when they are all talking about the same thing. That happens sometimes, but I still have to say KUDOS to all the food bloggers out there blogging about the ways and means by which they are getting healthier, letting go of bad habits, and getting on with their life without excess food.

You guys ROCK!

It’s encouraging for this girl to know that there are people out there flying planes, trekking through NYC, attending street fairs along the pacific coast, and biking up and down the Atlantic coast, while at the same time working their plan and watching their weight.  Reading about their exploits fires up my imagination and it makes me hungry to get out there too, and try some of my own meandering through streets and hillsides as of yet unknown. I can’t wait to get off “the boot” and once again enjoy a stroll through my own hillside trails.

It’s beautiful in Pennsylvania this time of year.  Everything is green and lush and the lawn needs mowing every week, sometimes more often.  The birds are humming and there are baby animals everywhere.  We sat and enjoyed a session of play between twin fawns the other night, from our porch swing. They chased each other and frolicked for a good half hour.  Precious to watch.

fawns

I can’t wait to get out there in the green PA hills to do my own frolicking.  The foot does feel better, markedly better, so I am hopeful that healing is on the way.  In the meantime, I continue to make myself aware of what I’m eating, how much I’m eating, and when I’m eating.  I still need some help with portion control, and I could use a personal chef, but that’s probably not in the cards.  Instead, I will keep reading, keep wearing “the boot”, keeping praying for recovery, and keep getting on the scales every day.

My battle cry this afternoon:  Never Surrender… Never Say Die!

Tossing My Cookies, I Mean Cabbage

 

cookie with shadesDo you ever worry about food at your house going to waste, or not being eaten by the time it begins to go bad, or lying around in the pantry long past the expiration date on the container? I do and I did for years. There is a decided difference in how I handle this problem today that is not at all how I handled it ten years ago, or even five years back.

I throw it away.

You heard me right. When food is expired or expiring in my house now, I throw it away. I don’t eat twice what I need, I don’t slightly fresh foods, and I don’t try to push food on others who don’t want it, don’t need it, or don’t like it.

Instead, I throw it away.

I give myself permission to throw it away, because I know that tossing it is healthier for me and my wallet than eating more.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about those old habits I had with expiring foods, before I got clean. It’s a wonder to me that I don’t still think the way I once did about them. Used to be I would say, “Oh, what a shame.  If I don’t eat that, it’s going to go to waste.”

Now I say, “Get thee behind me, Satan,” always making sure my back is to the trash can.

I’m not crazy, after all, just getting tough with food.

I like the decided change I’ve made with my eating, and I like the fact that I’m losing weight again.  I may have hit on the right combination for me to make my body respond as I need it too. I’m hopeful, anyway, and keeping my fingers crossed.  The last thing I want to do at this point (or ever again), is attempt to shove more food down my pie hole at a time when I am finally seeing some progress.

It has been five long months FIVE LONG MONTHS that I have been on this stupid plateau.  Time to change.  Time to toss!

I’m learning that while some foods will always spoil faster than I can eat them and therefore will go to waste, that’s no reason for my waist to expand [and my hips, and my flabby arms, and my thighs…].

This girl is tossing like a Olympiad, and finally seeing some results.  Viva La Garbonage–or however you say that in Spanish.  (I think you say it: basura, but I like Garbonage better.)

What’s that, you say, Mr. Pepper?  No, I won’t be eating you tonight. Say hello to Mr. Garbage Can.  He can’t wait to make your acquaintance!

Together We Get Better

holding_hands

A few days ago I blogged about the days when I thought I was unique.  Since that time I have been thinking about that and other fantasies that kept me from realizing my dreams.  I included in that recent post the truth about me, that when I thought I was unique in the problems I faced with food, I was only fooling myself.  It was time the games ended.  Time I realized what I was up against.

Listen, I’ve lost weight before. Hasn’t every woman?  I’ve been on tons of diets. Again, hasn’t every woman?  I’ve felt good about my efforts to get healthy, and I’ve felt bad about my efforts, but always, at the point when I realized I was out of control again, I felt like a loser.  Isn’t that weird?

You’d think I would have felt like a gainer, wouldn’t you?

Nope.

Regaining weight that has taken months to lose is no laughing matter.  It’s sad, and it leads to more binge eating. At least in my experience it did.  I gained weight, so I ate. I ate, so I gained weight. I tried to diet, so that I could keep on eating. Isn’t that insane?

Go ahead, admit it is.  I already know it.

Yo yo in yo yo dieting is precisely that maddening cycle of losing, gaining, losing, gaining, and losing again, only to gain again.

Oh, for heaven’s sake, get me off this merry-go-round.

It wasn’t until I found a support group that deals with weight issues that I began to see any long-term success with my weight loss.  I can’t say enough good things about these sorts of groups.  When I felt like the rest of the world thought I had two heads, they understood.  Thank God for them.  The persistent love and acceptance of the group coming my way made me less offended when things got shared that I needed to hear.  I heard and I became convinced that I needed to try harder.

For the first time I was losing and not regaining.  For the first time, my scales steadily went down, down, down.

Until it didn’t any more.  I had plateaued.

It was time to understand that past success did not insulate me from future disease.  If I had kept losing, I wholeheartedly believe I would not have gotten diabetes, but I got fat and sassy, and sat on my considerable laurels, and strike it did.  The ball was thrown, Big D caught a break, and hit me hard, before laying me low.  That was two years ago.  What was an eye-opener.  It was time to step up my game.

I had lost about 75 lbs by the time 2011 rolled around, and more importantly, kept it off.  Then, my weight went up a lil bit.  Than another lil bit.  Soon, I had gained 30 lbs and was having a tough time getting it off.  No doubt, the increased blood sugar helped it hang on so long.

It was at this point that the Big D found me.  In all likelihood, it was 30 pounds before it really hit (but as is true with many American, I went undiagnosed for a while).  I should have been proactive at that time, but you know how it goes.  You get lackadaisical with food.  You find comfort in food. You don’t want your food your comfort to go away, so you keep eating.  Only God knows how long you keep eating.  By the time I found that I had diabetes, my poor liver and pancreas had been through some rough days.

What does that have to do with uniqueness and the isolation that comes from food addiction and thinking I’m special?  A lot.  I am not special.  I am not unique.  There are millions of people across the globe who are suffering from a myriad of illnesses related to obesity right now-today-this minute.  Some of them don’t know yet, but they will.  I am no different from them.  They are no different from me.  Feeling unique about our struggles only delays our recovery.  I feel strongly about that, so I’m writing about it again today.

If my story sounds eerily similar to mine, than please…

Don’t keep yourself from making a change.

Don’t isolate your life away.

Don’t tell yourself there is nothing you can do.  Nothing beyond food.

Invite others into your experience and tell them what you need, plainly.

Allow them to love you at whatever weight you are when you start your journey.

Help them help you to get better–the best way to get better is together.

Stop relying on food for companionship, love, comfort, reassurance.  God meant for people to meet those needs.

Believe in yourself.  If you don’t know how, watch others who seem to have developed the knack and follow their lead. Where the mind and intentions go, the heart and body will follow.

Please don’t give up.

Give your organs, your back, your mind, your joints, your bones, your flesh, your soul and your hopes what they need to survive.

If I can do this, you can.  Let’s do it together.  You encourage me, and I’ll encourage you.

Stop the madness.

Together, we can do what we could never do alone–RECOVER!

Keep Searching for your Mentor

searching

Honesty is the best policy, I know that, but brutal honesty can be, well brutal.  I don’t mind telling myself the truth, but there are times when I feel like I’m not the best judge of the truth. At least not as it pertains to me.  In lieu of my version of the truth then, I will tell you my story.

When I got a diabetes diagnosis two years ago, I went from one dietician to another. Each one looked at me and said, “What do you want me to do for you?”

“What?” thought I.

How did I know, I’d never had diabetes before.

They gave me sheets to complete, pamphlets to read, blood meters to use and sent me on my way.  I guess I was expected to get back in touch with them, if and when I wanted more input.

“More input,” thought I, “where was the initial input?”

My first experience with a medical dietician was in a group setting with strangers.  Most of them had lived with diabetes for some time. They knew the ropes. I’m not sure why they were even there, in an educational setting for the disease.  I guess maybe they had experienced a hospitalization and this was follow-up?  Maybe?  I’m still not sure, but what I do know is that it didn’t set well with me. This group sharing of personal medical information, I mean.

Why should I have to sit in a room with strangers and talk about some of the most personal needs of my life?

I didn’t like it.  Not one little bit.  I left there angry, vowing to seek help somewhere else.  My, how I’ve grown.  Look at me sharing freely with you today.  Amazing.

Dietician no. 2 was no better than no. 1.  She also let me lead the discussion.

Again, I know nothing about diabetes, people. This is not helpful.

Dietician no. 3 was from outside the medical community, a holistic healer who actually helped some.  She met with me a few times, talked to me about getting away from processed foods, talked about changing habits–many of the things I am still utilizing to get healthy.  Thank you, dietician no. 3.  My problem with this one was that she wanted to perform experiments on me.

Or at least it felt that way to me.

“Put your hand on this thingy, sit still now.  Unbelievable as it seems, this device is actually reading your body make-up and will be able to tell us the essential vitamins and supplements you need to add to your diet to obtain optimal health.”

Yeah, I am not a believer.

I went to a few sessions with this dietician no. 3, but when it became apparent that I was not going to buy all the potions she sold, she lost interest, and I too.  That’s when I turned to health and fitness bloggers.

I learned, and I began to eat differently.

In a week or so, I will go back for another blood work-up.  I’m hoping the results this time around are as good as last time.

I have been a bit disappointed this summer.  I was recently diagnosed with Plantar Fasciitis, so my mobility is limited at a time when I want to run, jump, burn calories.  I’m wearing a boot and not liking it much.  It’s hot. I whine about it a lot.   I’m hoping this thing heals before summer is completely over.  This foot is another example of the many things that can get in the way and threaten to stymie me in my attempts to lose weight.  I will not let this deter me from learning and growing into a healthier me, though.  I cannot.

No going back.

Forward movement is all that is allowed.  Only forward.

Truth, Lies, and Unique Reasoning

Did you ever play Truth or Consequences when you were foolish?  I say foolish instead of younger, because a little time and some maturing changes your desire to play the game.  This is especially true if you have ever had what you said or did during TORC video-taped and then released on any number of social media sites.

I have not had any silly admissions by me video-taped and released into cyber space, yet.

Thank you, God!

In the spirit of TORC, I’m going to tell you a few things about me today that I think will probably also apply to others.  Early on, you won’t know if they are true or false.  Further down the line, I will reveal the truth or falsity in my statements.  Here we go, let’s see what I can tell you about me.

I’m confident I can quit overeating any time I want, no problem.  Truth or Lie?

I don’t have food dreams.  Truth or Lie?

I hate counting calories.  Truth or Lie?

I love counting calories.  Truth or Lie?

I’m convinced I might never get to my goal weight. Truth or Lie?

I’m afraid I might loss all this weight, only to gain it back again.  Truth or Lie?

I’m never 100% sure if the choices I’ve made with food and food planning are right or wrong. Truth or Lie?

I think I am unique when it comes to the struggles I have with food.  Truth or Lie?

The true answer to these statements are:  Lie, Truth, Truth, Lie, Truth, depending on the day, Truth, Truth, Lie.

Most important of all of these statements is that last one, and it’s the one that I most want to talk about today.  For years and years, and yes, years I thought that no one struggled to be thin the way I struggled to be thin.  I believed no one gained weight as quickly as I gained weight.  I thought that no one was as affected by the taste, sight, smell, and luscious experience of eating meat-drenched pizza pie as I was, but I was wrong.

I was also wrong when being foolishly young I thought I could eat, and eat, and yes, eat again and it would not affect my health.  For some reason, I thought I was uniquely gifted for eating huge amounts of sugar, salt, fat, and flour and that I would never develop diabetes or other systemic illness I now understand are linked to obesity.

Wait, that statement is a lie.

I knew the possibility that I would develop diabetes was high:  My maternal grandmother, my aunt, my mom and my sister already suffered with the disease. I knew I was high-risk, but I just kept eating and eating and yes, eating, oblivious of the consequences.

I have people I love who are deceiving themselves the same way I did for years.  Maybe they, too, think they are unique.  I fear for them.  I want to help them, but I still have some self-help that needs doing before I can be a mentor for them.

Truth is, I am not unique when it comes to deception or overeating.  There are many of us out there playing food games.  Something is going on in America, something has slipped into our food, our lives, our psyche, and that something is killing us.  We are eating ourselves to death.  No kidding. We need to stop.  We need to realize that this desire to lick our plate clean is not healthy.  It causes more harm than good, and we need to stop it.

I’m trying to develop a strategy for stopping the abuse I put my body through for years.  Part of being successful in this way is wrapped up in understanding that I am not unique in my eating habits.  Uniqueness separates me from the help I need.  Uniqueness urges me to turn away from good food mentors that are out there ready to help.  A feeling that I am uniquely fashioned so that I can do this one on my own, by myself, without the assistance of others is a faulty notion.  I’m not unique when it comes to food and eating.  What has worked for you, will most likely work for me.  It’s simple math, and math doesn’t lie.  If I eat less and move more, I will lose weight.  That is true of all of us, and if we don’t take it seriously, there will be real and painful consequences.  I know, I live it every day.

How about you, what fallacies did you maintain about yourself before you started addressing the lies and telling the truth?  What truths do you have yet to proclaim?

Back to What Works

heart food

As of yesterday, I’m back counting calories and reporting my food to a friend, who in turn shares what she eats with me.  I took a “vacation” from this reporting for about two weeks, but felt I needed to go back.  I hate counting calories, but I love feeling like I am in charge of my food, instead of food being in charge of me. This revelation of being in charge through reporting and recording my food has come to me as I have taken a break from reporting what I’m eating.  While gone from the world of food journaling, I have to say that I have felt less and less empowered in my eating.  I have not gained any weight while I have been eating without reporting my food, but I have carried along with me a general sense of malaise about my diet.  I don’t want to lose interest in getting healthy, and I never want to lose the desire to hit my goal weight in this lifetime, so looking at where I was, and where I had been, I decided to circle back around and test the theory that food reporting has been giving me this sense of empowerment in eating that I “think” it has provided.  I will let you know how that goes. 

While looking at my food journal, and going back to some of the foods I had been eating and how I had been eating them, I found a list I had made that I think needs reiteration in my life.  Maybe readying this list will help you develop your own list of important aspects to remember when adopting any new or particularly difficult habit in your life.  I believe that habits make behavior easy, simple, do-able, but developing long-lasting habits is hard.  It takes determination to do the same thing again, and again, and yet again, and all the while feeling like “this is really awkward.”  Doing something differently than how you have done it in the past does feel uncomfortable, but only at the beginning.  After that habit has been established, the routine at work, at home, or with your eating becomes firmly engrained, so that you hardly think at all about what you’re doing.  You just do it!  That’s where I want to be with my eating.  I want to do the things that bring me recovery, easily, without much thought, and almost automatically, if that makes any sense.  To this end, I am striving to develop some habits I think will make me well.  Along the way, I need encouragement, reminders, and Atta boys.  That’s what my list is for, so I want to share it with you today.

As I work to develop better eating habits and gain empowerment over food, I will remember to…

Stand Tall:  Being proud of my efforts and my ambition to be the best person I can be.

Look Confident: Even when I am not, for surely through the practice of confidence, confidence will grow.

Trust My Heart: To lead me where I need to go.  I pray for God to send encouragers to me, people of wisdom who have walked this path before me, Saints who also believe in prayer, and friends as of yet unknown who will accompany me on this journey and help me along the way.

Forget My Critics:  They can’t have a say in what I do to get better. Sadly, they are the people who helped me get sick.  They have nothing profitable to offer me on this path.  I will respectfully love them from a distance.

Press On: Knowing that repetition breeds success, both in the developing of good eating habits and in many other areas of life.  Doing the same right thing again, and again, and yet again draws me ever closer to the finish line and the level of fitness and health I earnestly desire for the remainder of my life.

Do better next time:  There is no point in regretting the mistakes I’ve made, except or unless they lead me to build better relationships with people in the future, and ensure that I remember next time what I did this time to make meal times work for me, not against me.