Falling Down

My 30 day challenge is not going well. The year started off strong but now, somehow I’ve spiraled. I’m eating things I shouldn’t, not listening to my body, have no desire to exercise, am struggling to journal and am just generally feeling out of sorts. Perhaps I tried to take on too much but honestly, it wasn’t going well when I was just trying to do one thing at a time either. And it has been a very long time (well over a year, close to two) since I’ve binged but two nights ago I came very close.

I’m not sure what the problem is. Life is good; there is nothing making me feel out of control or which I feel the need to escape/hide from.

And because I don’t know why I also don’t know how to fix it right now. I’m really trying to be gentle with myself and focus on solutions instead of beating myself up.

But man am I pissed to find myself back here again.

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A Reminder of How Far I’ve Come

Postsecret made me cry today. Apparently it is National Eating Disorders Awareness month and there are three secrets in a row about eating disorders. Two of them really hit a nerve. I’m in a place of recovery and have been for a long time. I am actually moving on to new levels of healing but these postcards reminded me of where I once was. I think I needed this reminder today as I embark on continuing my recovering (in ways I’m not ready to discuss openly but perhaps will soon).

I don’t think I ever purged because of a specific person but it was certainly an attempt to rid myself of things I didn’t want to keep inside any longer.

Although I've never found a note like this I've surrounded myself with people who help me remember this about myself. I am SO thankful for them.

How many times must I “learn” these things…

The food journal is proving to be quite eye opening. Not necessarily to new information but to my apparent inability to retain and/or act upon information I already know!

I’ve already discovered that boredom is a key factor in poor food choices and yesterday I was reminded of yet another trigger- extreme hunger.

I had a change in routine yesterday that resulted in being in town longer than I normally am. This was coupled with being a bit broke from that short term cut back at work I’ve mentioned before. I didn’t plan well for the amount of time I’d be in town and I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on food either. And I paid dearly for it later.

It may be difficult for someone who doesn’t have disordered eating patterns to understand (or maybe it isn’t, I have no idea what is “normal” when it comes to food so maybe this is) but when I get overly hungry I go into survival mode. My body and brain think I’m going to start starving them so to make up for it my instincts tell me to eat anything and everything I can. It’s difficult to explain how urgent the need seems to be at times like this but my rational brain simply shuts down.

In hindsight I should have brought more healthy snacks or just bought myself a snack while I was at the skating rink with my kids instead of trying to hold off and not spend the $3. Funny how it’s all so clear in hindsight.

A Year of 30 Day Challenges Part 1: Choosing A New Year’s Resolution While Remaining Kind to Myself

I haven’t done New Year’s Resolutions in years. When I tried in the past I’d always start with great intentions and visions of a new and improved self; then something would happen. I’d feel like I’d blown it and then, because of my all-or-nothing personality (more on that in a follow-up post), the entire idea would get thrown out the window. After years of this I decided that I’d had enough of trying to be a new and improved version of me and that instead I should accept myself as I am. As I type this I realize that this self-acceptance was actually a perfect and necessary resolution of it’s own.

However, there is a dangerous pitfall waiting on the road to self acceptance. It can easily become an excuse for holding onto bad habits and resisting new, better habits. I think this may be a necessary obstacle on an important journey but I also think that at some point you have to realize that you can  find a healthy balance (yep, there’s that word again) between accepting yourself and trying to better yourself. For me, this is that point. So, this year I’ve come up with a way to jump start some of the goals I’ve had on the back burner for too long without setting myself up for failure and the tailspin into berating myself that sometimes follows such self-perceived failures.

In the past year I’ve discovered that 30 day challenges are a really great tool for me. This blog is the result of my first 30 day challenge. After that initial challenge I also did a challenge to exercise every day for 30 days (which I did!) and another blogging challenge when I felt I needed another push. Each time I felt like I’d learned something about what works for me and what doesn’t, how to fit the things that work into my life on a regular basis and, perhaps most importantly, how these things make me feel, both physically and mentally.  Since this method has proven to be so successful for me I’ve decided that for the new year I’ll do a new 30 day challenge each month.

Having a central theme to tie these goals together seemed like a good (perhaps necessary) idea and choosing that theme was pretty easy. Earlier this year I did a random blood glucose test at home and discovered that I (most likely) have diabetes. I say most likely because I do not have health insurance and I didn’t want to be labeled with a preexisting condition. However, I also didn’t want to ignore a very serious chronic disease so I gave myself 6 months to get my blood sugar under control. I completely changed my eating habits, started exercising more and continued testing my blood sugar at home. When I finally went to the doctor 6 months after that initial at-home test my A1C panel came back within the normal range (high normal, but normal). So, I have no official diagnosis but I’ve had enough high readings at home to know the truth. I am diabetic and I need to keep my eye on the ball in order to avoid serious complications. And since my eye has most definitely NOT been on the ball lately I’ve decided that these challenges are going to focus around a healthy lifestyle and managing my diabetes.

Up Next: Setting myself up for success…

Diabetes, Weight Loss, and Balance: It always comes back to balance

Since I discovered that I’m diabetic (though not officially because I got my glucose levels under control before going to the Dr. for an A1C panel) I have changed a lot of things. I try not to eat simple carbs (most of the time I’m successful but I’m also human), I exercise a lot more consistently than I used to, and I’ve become a lot more conscious of how my body responds to food. Specifically, I notice if I feel energetic or lethargic after eating or working out as well patterns in headaches and joint pains relating to my diet and exercise routine. In short, I’m much more in tune with my body.

One other thing that has changed is my weight. I’ve lost and kept off about 25 lbs. For a while I was averaging about a pound a week but that has stalled a bit, mostly due to those instances of humanity I alluded to earlier. Let me be clear, weight loss was NOT my goal. If it had been it never would have happened. I’ve struggled with food and disordered eating for most of my adult life and I know for a fact that the more I try to control my weight the more out of control my eating gets. I don’t diet. Period. But when faced with a life threatening illness things have to change. I still don’t diet but I do eat consciously. As I said, I’m more in tune with my body and I know what makes me feel good, what keeps my blood sugar normal, and I also know what does not. Not so surprisingly, the foods that make me feel good also help me lose weight.

For a while I was struggling with this, not because losing weight is bad but how I FELT about losing weight seemed bad. I had moved on, I’d seen therapists, been to support groups, read blogs and books, and joined online communities all in the effort to feel good about myself regardless of my weight and to throw off the patriarchal notions of what beauty is. My self-worth isn’t tied to the scale, dammit! So, why then was I relishing this weight loss so much? And was I setting myself up to fall back into disordered eating habits? How could I take care of my body’s dietary needs and my emotional/psychological food issues at the same time? All of these questions are another reason my weight loss stalled- I was scared and my fear did drive some disordered eating habits to emerge. Nothing completely out of control, but enough to stall my weight loss and, more significantly, to cause my blood sugars to creep up.

The funny thing is, the fear wasn’t just mine. I had friends who’d noticed the weight loss and were unsure if it was okay to comment. They were afraid that complimenting weight loss (especially when they know of my struggles with food) might be taboo or inappropriate. Yet for those who see me everyday it was becoming a more obvious change and it also felt awkward for some not to mention it. I had mixed feelings about accepting their comments at first. It felt like a betrayal to my former self to feel good about losing weight. It felt as if I might be saying that my former self wasn’t good enough and if I gained the weight back then my future self wouldn’t be either. But, honestly, those ideas are a bit ridiculous. Imagine if we applied the same rules to our hair. When a friend gets a great new cut we don’t hesitate to let her know that we love it. We don’t worry that she’ll assume she looked horrible before the cut or that she’ll worry if she grows her hair long again she won’t be beautiful anymore. We put so much emphasis on weight that even when we try to avoid this emphasis it is somehow more significant than everything else.

Ultimately I’ve decided that, for me at least, it’s okay to be happy about the weight loss as long as I don’t let it become my driving force. I eat when I’m hungry and as much as I need to feel satiety. I choose foods that are both healthy and delicious. I find ways to indulge my cravings while still managing my glucose. I weigh myself but it’s because I’m curious, not because I’ll make food related decisions based on what the scale reads. It’s a tricky balance but really, what part of life isn’t?