Easy Peasy–I Can Change!

What do you say to someone who thinks they understand you, but they don’t?

As I shared in a previous post, I have a friend who is about to get gastric bypass surgery.  A new gastric bypass center has opened in our area. From what I hear business is good!  I have close connections with several people in the medical community, and a couple of customers of the center who tell me that you need be no more than 60 pounds overweight to qualify for the surgery.

60 lbs!

As you can imagine, schedules in the OR for this type of procedure are full.  Everyone wants to be thinner and more in control of their lives, it seems.

Me, too. I want that, too, I’ve just chosen a different route to get to my goal weight.

A member of my family of origin (FOO) had gastric bypass surgery in 2005, so I have first hand knowledge of the procedure and what happens after the incision heals.  This post is not about avoiding surgery, however,  Each person has to decide for him or herself what is appropriate care, and I know from experience that weighing 150-200-300lbs more than one should is extremely difficult.  I know.

This post is not about the pros or cons of bypass surgery.  It is about being realistic when it comes to change–difficult change.

Being morbidly obese is hard.

Morbid obesity limits.

Morbid obesity kills with every bite.

Morbid obesity destroys relationships.

Morbid obesity crushes joints (literally).

Morbid obesity is spelled: I.S.O.L.A.T.I.O.N.

For these reasons, and more, no one would choose to be morbidly obese.  But in my experience, food obsession doesn’t play by the rules.  And when I say the rules, I mean the concepts and practices food addicts “think” they can safely rely upon when squaring off with food.

Somehow, along the way to getting morbidly obese, healthy guidelines for eating normal-sized portions flew out the window for me.  I think it was a combination of poor education, poor understanding, and poor support that got me in trouble so long ago, but I don’t want to discount the possibility that my perceptions about health and weight control, through some means I don’t fully comprehend even now, was broken.

Or twisted beyond recognition.

Or buried.

Or cast away.

Or neglected.

So when I recently had a conversation with my friend about the challenges of changing such a fundamental thing  as how one eats, I was quite naturally frustrated with his lack of understanding.

His final statement to me on that day was this:

You know, I was thinking. I will have a lot of changes ahead of me…… but there are a LOT of things in my life now I don’t do or I have to do because of my size or weight. So, the theory will be the same….. just the actions different.

He doesn’t understand.

He doesn’t “get” it.

He hasn’t come to the realization that the majority of people who lose weight gain it all back, and more (especially compulsive over eaters suffer from this problem).

Change is not easy.

Change is not simple.

Change is hard work.

He doesn’t understand. Not yet.

Theory doesn’t arrest compulsive eating, and will power (should there be such a thing in the life of a compulsive eater), has never been much help to me in fighting off food cravings.  It’s hard to understand why these strategies don’t work for morbidly obese individuals like me.  Again, maybe my problem stems from a  broken ability to use will power properly, but if that is the case, I am certainly not alone in experiencing that phenomenon.

I have found that HOPE is a help to the compulsive eater.

SUPPORT definitely helps.

EDUCATION, and TRAINING, and practice, practice, PRACTICE, along with cozying up to SELF-DENIAL on a daily basis and making it one’s friend can help.

Thinking it will be easy to change the way one eats, as easy as deciding not to sit in a particular chair because it might not hold your girth, that’s uninformed thinking.  The decision to not sit in the chair is a conscious thought.  The decision to not eat the whole bag of chips never was for me.  I had to train myself to think in a different way, to act in a different way, to use cues to solidify habits; to train myself to use using a bowl to portion out chips or popcorn, instead of walking away from the cupboard with the bag in my hand.  It was not easy and it did not happen quickly. It took time and repetition.

Can change occur for the compulsive eaters among us? YES. I’m proof that it can.

Is it easy or simple, or something as natural as thinking your way through a logical discussion with yourself? No, I never have found it to work that way.

In my experience, there is no easy fix for compulsive eating.  What brings results is trying, and then trying again…doing, and then doing again…planning, and then planning again…practicing, and practicing some more, until you finally know what brings lasting results for YOU!  It’s never been easy and I don’t expect it ever will be for me.  I accept that and I do the hard work to make change happen, because I want to be better, not because it’s easy.

What do you think about change, is it easy?  What changes did you make that stuck?

Portion Control

Peppers

Do you struggle with portion control?

I ask, because I struggle with portion control, but today I had the coolest realization.

Portion control gets a whole lot easier when you eat a diet of fresh fruits and veggies, because those kinds of foods don’t come in multiple serving containers.

You’re never going to get a meal for ten out of one bell pepper.  Neither will you be able to feed five toddlers with one banana.  I guess you could overeat on a cucumber, especially some of those seedless ones that are wayyy bigger than is necessary, and grapes or berries, yeah, I could overeat on them. But really, overeating on fresh fruits and veggies is not my problem.

I bet it isn’t yours either.

I get in trouble when I partake of creamy, sugary, salty, fatty, bags, boxes, or batches of processed foods.  That’s why I’m eliminating them from my life, from my cupboards, and from my “good eats” list.

Its only when I fill my belly with Nabisco’s “bell peppers” that this gal gets in trouble, so I’m going green and going natural.

Hmmm, I’m thinking stuffed peppers for supper tonight!

What’s your favorite vegetable?  How do you like it prepared?

Change Rising

Today, I woke up wanting to do something different.

Woohoo!

This afternoon, I am working on figuring out what that will be.

I’m optimistic.

Tomorrow, well tomorrow has enough trouble of its own, so I won’t be borrowing any of that today.

Today, I will live in the moment and move as much as I can.

Just for today, I will believe that as I work to change, so will change happen.

I know no one can do this for me.

I believe, change is possible!  I believe.

Driving Aimlessly

One thing that I still struggle with is indecision.

Should I, or shouldn’t I?

Indecision has the power to make me chase after my own tail, wondering what is the right thing to do?  It can fuel fears in me; feelings of insecurity, or imagined threat.  I’ve seen indecision manifest itself in me through anxiety, pleas for assurance from others, and excess eating.  Sometimes, however, indecision sends me in another direction completely.  Here’s an example of what I mean by that.

Recently, when I read about another bloggers struggle with drive through eating I was reminded of all those times when I was learning to confront my sugar addiction and food obsession (and girth).  Crazy as this will sound, I spent my entire lunch hour driving around town, many days, scoping out the best fast food joints and buying nothing.  

Seriously, I did this many times, and always went back to work after an hour of driving around feeling hungry, unsatisfied, and frustrated with my inability to make a decision.

What is the world was that about?

Now, after many years of practicing restraint with food, I think I know that it was fear of eating too many calories that drove this behavior.  And perfectionist tendencies (operating in me even though all sense would suggest I am not, nor have I ever been, perfect).

Fear and Perfectionism–is this ringing bells for anyone but me?

I think this is why I did these things.

I think.

The truth is that I believe that a lot of my food insanity–which I suffered through for years–has dissipated.  I still do the same thing over and over again, expecting a different outcome, but usually not with food.

With other things.

Sometimes.

Thankfully I don’t feel the need to repeat the endless, aimless driving behavior any more.  I’ve learned to accept that I’m not perfect and making bad choices is better than making no choice.  At least I’m moving forward and choosing something.

As I am writing this post, I’m wondering: Is it possible that I am the only one who has ever acted this way?

Maybe I am.

I could be.

If I am, then so be it.  Doing something this abnormal taught me a lesson about how crazy I could be when handling food, or not handling it.

When I woke up.

After I had quit the insanity or constant eating.

The behavior got bad enough that it taught me how to be more decisive.

I’m glad I don’t drive aimlessly looking for the perfect food on my lunch hour anymore.  Indecision still has the power to take me places I don’t want to go, but not with food.

I’m learning.

Slowly, but surely.

Some days I eat what I have gotten while out for lunch and I am unsatisfied.  At those times I tell myself, “Self, there will always be another lunch.  Don’t sweat it, this one wasn’t great, but the next one will be.”  That’s called progress, people, and I’m glad for it!

What are your thoughts on aimless driving, fast foods, and perfectionism? Did you ever have a problem with indecision that ended up in you eating way more than you would have, had you just had the burger and fries?

3 Fears I have for my Friend

Like a lot of people who have worked their way out of the obesity pit, I have friends who still remain overweight and out of control with regards to food. I have one particular friend who struggles on a daily basis. Here is what I can tell you about him.

He has been obese since childhood.

He is morbidly obese now.

He has a little girl.

He is a single parent.

He runs a family owned business.

He has been divorced, twice.

He desperately wants a family and a life that is not dictated to by food.

Dave could be anybody (this is not his real name), for America is full of men and women just like him.

I am like Dave.  I have struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember.  The only time I didn’t struggle were those 2 or 3 decades when I had given up completely.

this is NOT Dave

this is NOT Dave

Dave knows how it feels to not be able to keep up with a three-year-olds energy level.

Dave knows the face of sleep apnea.

Dave knows what it is to wonder, “Will that chair hold me?”

Dave fears a diabetes diagnosis is in his future.

Dave knows who is judging him, and why they judge him.

Dave hides behind a great sense of humor, a lot of the time.

I have 3 fears for my friend, Dave.

1. That he will never find himself under the weight of decades of self-esteem issues and a persona that he projects that is not Dave at all, but Dave with a mask on.

2. That he will have surgery to solve the problem with his weight, like so many people do, and that it won’t solve the problem, but will create a whole new set of problems to solve, some stretching out to the grave.

3. That Dave, a wonderful and giving person, bright, compassionate, and driven to succeed will not have a chance at a long life, because excess weight will destroy his body long before his time.

How do I handle these fears for a friend I dearly love?

I talk to him about finding the solution, even risking our friendship sometimes, so that he might have someone with skin on with whom he can discuss these things.

I tell him my story, and how I found a solution for me.

I pray for him, to find some inner switch and the willingness to turn it on, so that the solution will come and he will be ready when it does.

How do you pray for or otherwise help your friends? What more can I do to help Dave?

3 Food Triggers that used to stall my progress

Last night I was thinking about food triggers. Food triggers are those things in life that make me susceptible to compulsive overeating. They are those events or stimuli that create a sensation of hunger for me–and not the good kind of hunger, or real hunger, or the if-I-don’t-eat-right-now-I-will-swoon, I-swear-it hunger. In my experience, food triggers send me running toward the food for comfort of another color and not simply the cessation of a grumbling tummy.  They are evil and they kept me in bondage for many years, but with the help of others I took action against them. What follows is a list of my top three food triggers and how I learned to move them off my plate and into the garbage can of life.

1. Emotions. Emotional upset is the biggest trigger I have for compulsive eating. When I am angry, threatened, moody, disappointed, anxious, and uncertain of my situation or self, I want to eat. I don’t know why.  I don’t know when this habit got started, and I can’t link the behavior to any single event or person in my life, but I know that emotional upset is a real indicator that I need to watch what I’m eating, push away from the table, stay out of the kitchen, stay off the scales, and drive a route that doesn’t go past the fast food joints for at least 12 hours.  Yeah, a good 12 hours!

Today, when I feel angry, lonely, tired, distraught, disappointed, threatened, or defeated I make sure I am far from tempting foods.  As soon as I recognize what is happening, I begin an inner dialogue.  I talk to my self and I talk with God. I remind myself that I’m stronger than I think I am, and that more food/food when it is not appropriate to eat, will not solve this problem. Facing the problem, will solve the problem, or at least begin to see a solution found. In these tense moments when I am feeling overwhelmed by old behaviors, I fall back to my training.  I text someone. I ask for support.  If the situation is particularly vexing for me, I talk through it with a friend, someone who knows what this stuff does to me.  I have also learned how to be content with things such as they are. If I owe an apology to someone and shame or embarrassment are what I’m feeling as a result, I work to make amends quickly and sincerely, but since most of my emotional angst is driven by choices others make, I have had to learn how to be content with my life as it is, and let them figure out theirs, as they will, in their time.  It’s hard, but I get a lot of practice, so I’m feeling more confident in my abilities to avoid the food trigger that is emotions these days than ever before in my life.

2. Additives. Salt, sugar, and fat are the biggest contributors to overeating in our world today, and for me and many others, go hand in hand with an inability to determine proper portion size without outside assistance.  We Americans eat portions that are truly meant to feed three people, instead of one, and we do it all the time, day in, and day out.  Is it any wonder we are struggling with our health? Salt, sugar, and fat are used to perfection by food chemists to keep me coming back again and again, and again. The concept of using salt, sugar, and fat to keep me eating isn’t new. Remember the commercial for Lay’s potato chips that was on TV in the 70’s  telling us, “I bet you can’t eat just one!” We couldn’t eat just one.  And the reason why we never could, was that food chemists at Frito Lay were covering their chips with all three of these additives: salt (and lots of it), sugar (yes, it’s in there), and fat (lots and lots of fat, both inside and outside each chip).  I struggle, and it was their fault, right?  Well, maybe not all their fault…

I handle the trigger that is food additives these days by first realizing that the food industry is working against my health with these powerful and addictive substances. I don’t think they mean to kill me, but they do mean to sell me more chips, and that is killing me.  Knowing this, I choose to not eat as many of the kinds of foods that contain these additives as I used to eat. I am not entirely free of their influence in my life and some days I eat more of them than I would like, but I also make sure that I eat lots of fresh, raw fruits, and veggies–more than I ever did before. Less salt, sugar, and fat means fewer calories, and less cravings. My body craves what my body eats.  It’s true.  If you had told me ten years ago that I would crave salad greens, I would have said you were batty, and yet, here I am craving them. Amazing!

3. Victories and Failures. This final food trigger is going to sound nutty to some, but its true of me. When I experience the highs and lows that happen in life, common things that every one goes through, the toll on my food sanity is affected. When I strive to do something out of the ordinary and it works–it is a successful venture–I want to celebrate with food. I want to throw myself a party. I want to offer myself a food reward. I want to eat, eat, eat.

Conversely, when I strive to do something out of the ordinary and I fail, I want to drown my sorrows in food. Especially, I want to eat salt, sugar, and fat! I want to pig out on ice cream, and potato chips, and creamy dips, sauces, and candy. I want to sooth myself with food, tell myself that I deserve this because that didn’t work out. Assure myself that though victory has eluded me, my favorite fatty foods can be found anywhere, and any number of people will be willing to provide them to me for a price. At that moment, money is no object. The object is to eat with abandon, and think nothing of what I am doing to punish myself, my body, my future, and my family.

These days, I recognize that highs and lows of life are a trigger for me, and I mitigate the damage I can do with food during those times by reporting my food to another person, keeping a journal of what I eat, making sure that I’m not including food in the event (if possible, harder to do at the holidays), and reminding myself, again, that food will not make this victory or defeat anything other than a hit or a miss. The event has passed. Food will not have an effect on it–at all! In trying to separate my eating behaviors from my event planning/performances, I have been able to win and lose more graciously, and without chip dip on my chin.

I know that lots of people have food triggers that make getting fit any healthy a challenge.  I would appreciate it if you would share yours with me, so that I can grow through your experiences too.

Do you have food triggers you have mastered? What are they, and how did you do it?

Drawing Circles

One of the books I received as a Christmas gift from myself, to myself (I do that sometimes), is The Circle Maker, by Mark Batterson. It’s a book on prayer.

I believe in prayer. Not as a magic tool to gain all the favors in the world for lil ole me. No, I believe in prayer as a method of reaching out to God and receiving back from his Spirit guidance, confirmation, direction and instructions for life. I believe prayer helps me to achieve spiritual stability in my life, and I also believe it helps me to be a better person.

000circle maker

The Circle Maker, so far as I can tell at this point is all about encouraging its readers to develop a stronger prayer life, and get plugged into the benefits of dreaming big dreams and accomplishing big things. I’m all in.

I would like to develop a stronger prayer life.
I would like to learn how to benefit from deeper meditation.
I would like to know God better.
I would like to pattern myself after biblical heroes who achieved great things.
I would like to feel connected to my original unfragmented self.
I would like to do the seemingly impossible (for me).

Will these things happen for me if I read The Circle Maker and apply the information I find there. I’m not convinced that they will, but I know this to be true, if nothing changes, nothing changes.

Change is possible and changed is essential if I want to get to places I have never gotten to before. If I want to achieve something I have not done before. If I want to realize the goal of losing all the weight I want to lose need to lose.  If I want to eat better, exercise more, love with a great intensity and be more useful to others, I have to change what I’m doing right now. That doesn’t mean I’m not helpful to others right now, I try to be. What it means is if I want to be more helpful, I have to put more energy into being more helpful, and part of that process for me is getting to my goal weight. My goal weight is where more energy lives.

I want to be a role model for my family, an example of a strong, capable woman.

I want them to look at me and say, hey, if she did that, I can reach my goal. I know they can!

I want to eat and exercise with integrity, and not just for the short run, but in the long run.

I want to be more healthy inside next year than I was when I turned thirty.

I want all this and more, which means I must change.

I must believe that I can do what I have not to this point done–be consistent with exercise routines.

I’m hoping I can.

I’m willing to draw a circle if that will make it easier to get there. I’m very willing to pray to help me get there. I’m also willing to take advice and apply it to my situation to the best of my ability.

I think my body is finally ready to cooperate with my spirit in this contest. Maybe by this time next year I will be a circle maker too. Maybe before that!