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Reality Check AGAIN

I went away for the weekend and did a lot of activity – 2 days of running, one day on the hotel elliptical. I was feeling quite virtuous! But I was not quite as careful/aware as usual of my food intake. Today when I was back on my home scale I discovered I had gained a few pounds.  But I had done such a good job of my exercise!

My food, not so much. I decided to go to the Weight Watchers Online site and track my points from yesterday, retrospectively.  HOLY TOLEDO. I was… er….. about 24 points OVER my daily limit! AEEEEEEEEEYAHHHHH!! And I was thinking I had not done “all that bad.” WRONG.

This is one of the helpful things about points. It’s a reality check. If I had been aware of how many points I was eating, I would not have made those choices. I assumed that they were much lower than they really were. YIKES. I mean YIKES.

I’m lucky the damage was only “a few” pounds.

I’ve been reading that weight loss is a LOT more linked to food than activity level, and that sure was true for me. So even if you run miles and miles, if you’re not conscious of your food intake, you can still do a lot of damage, weight wise.

(Sigh) Tomorrow is my WW leader interview. I’m not feeling very stellar or confident right now, but I guess I will demonstrate how one can get back on a horse after falling off.

And tonight was supposed to be my IOU Mother’s Day dinner (also for my mother) since we were traveling all weekend. I wish I could avoid going to a nice restaurant, but it is her favorite choice. I’m just going to have to make some good choices even though we are at a good place.

WOW. I’m still shaking my head in disbelief over the # of points I ate this weekend. Kind of amazing.

The End of Ambivalence

It’s kind of amazing to go to events where I run into people I haven’t seen since… Before. They’re kind of shocked, and always ask, How did you DO this? I laugh and say, “The short answer is, I got diabetes.” Of course everyone knows that diabetes itself does not cause weight loss, unless you’re really ill. But it’s a long answer. The longer answer is, “read my blog.” It’s so complicated and yet it is so simple. It’s so many things.

I went to Weight Watchers this morning and had a 3.2 lb loss at weigh-in. They had a bunch of flyers about WW leader recruitment. I took one. Still mulling this idea over. I still really really miss teaching, and it could be an interesting opportunity. I might go to one of their info meetings next week and find out more.

Anyway. I’ve been thinking a lot about: why now? Why, after 30 years of struggle, is this finally working? I have lost weight in the past – but never this much- and never without terrible effort.

This time, it feels almost effortless – and at the same time, I am putting every ounce of focus and attention on it. It’s one of those weird paradoxes. It doesn’t feel at all like a “diet” – and yet it has taken enormous reservoirs of time and mindfulness. But it’s not “hard.” If that makes sense. Does it make sense?

I realized today that one thing that’s very different this time around (and I think may be the KEY difference) is that I am not ambivalent. For a long time, I was ambivalent about losing weight because I was always wanting to lose weight for my LOOKS, and I felt angry about that. I felt like women should be loved and accepted and appreciated and deemed beautiful no matter what their size. (I still do) So it felt on some level like a betrayal of myself and other women to want to lose weight for looks reasons.

And yet..I have to admit that I think I look better now than I did in January. I FEEL better – both “looks” wise and health wise. I have tons more energy, and I just feel strong and happy.

It was not until I got this pre-diabetes wakeup call that I really cared about losing weight for other reasons, ie health. Before, I didn’t believe that I was unhealthy, because I wasn’t overweight enough. Or so I thought. I used to bristle at the notion that being “only” 25 or 30 lbs overweight was enough to endanger my health. I was wrong about that.

So I sort of defiantly stayed overweight and did not attend to my health because I didn’t want it to be about my looks.

Another thing that is different this year has to do with my past, and my life as an adopted person. It has definitely affected me throughout my life, to think of myself as a person whose very existence was a burden to others. I was most definitely a “mistake,” and the cause of much shame for my birth mother. (I’ve known her since I was 20) She likes me as a person, but also has VERY deep ambivalence about my very existence.  I am her worst, biggest and most distressing secret.

This year is the year that I made the pretty big decision to stop wishing that my birth mother would acknowledge me in the ways that I would like. I pretty much gave up. After about 30 years (hmm, is there a connection here?) of desperately hoping to openly be recognized as her relative. I wonder if this “giving up” makes it suddenly possible for me to lose weight, as well.

I was chasing after love where it couldn’t be found. I was pretty much a bottomless pit of need and sadness. Once, many years ago, in therapy, I made a little clay head with a huge open mouth. I called it “little head” and it represented my unending hunger. And why even the most giant pan of macaroni and cheese would never be enough. I understood it, but I couldn’t change it. Until I finally gave up on wanting what couldn’t be had.

Love isn’t inside food. It isn’t inside some people who just aren’t able to give. But I was certainly chasing after it, for years and years and years.

I’m finally getting where the love is. It’s in me, and it’s in people who are open to it. Food is just… something else. It’s wonderful to enjoy, it’s delicious and fun, but it isn’t love.

(lightbulb moment)

When I was diagnosed with diabetes, it was like I was being asked, “Well? Do you want to live? Are YOU ambivalent about your very existence?” and the answer came back a ferocious YES, and NO.

I’m not ambivalent anymore. I want to be here. I deserve to be here.

And that’s the pretty long answer about how I lost the weight.

Watch Out What You Wish For…

All my adult life, I’ve wished – I mean desperately wished….

  • that I could enjoy exercise.
  • that I could be satisfied with small portions of food
  • that I could deal with hard emotional times without diving into high-carb comfort/smother foods
  • that I could truly CHOOSE healthier options, and feel good about it
  • that I could run again
  • that I could lose weight without feeling deprived
  • that I could feel the benefits of meditation
  • that I could develop a meaningful spiritual life

Well, guess what. It looks like I’ve gotten all those things – for now, anyway. I have to say I’m sort of stunned. Because just a few months ago I would not have believed that even ONE of these things were even remotely possible.

All of these statements are now true.
AND… I’ve got diabetes.

Is that the tradeoff? Or was it diabetes that allowed me to finally wake up and have these things I always wanted?

It’s like a zen koan. It’s actually too incomprehensible for words.  I wonder what I would have said, if I’d climbed to the guru on the top of the mountain, please let me have these things, and he said, “OK, but you also have to have diabetes.” What would I have said? What would I have chosen?

Several people have remarked to me that I am doing an amazing job dealing with my diabetes. But I really feel like, what choice do I have? That’s how I feel now. I feel like there is no option but to be as healthy as I can be.

But I didn’t feel like this before, when I was way overweight, when I had high blood pressure, when I was inactive. Those things didn’t scare me and didn’t cause me to change anything. If anything they made things worse. It was the diabetes that woke me up.

Funny how life is.

Upcoming Blog Topics

Ooh, there is too much I want to blog about, a LOT on my mind lately, and not enough time. But I want to write about the following in the next few days:

  • people who have successfully lost weight/kept it off without counting calories or points
  • blaming one’s weight gain on others (entities, people, situations, etc)
  • my first run/walk around the local lake AND my first Couch-to-5k session (done!)
  • what people are talking about when they say “dealing with your issues” re food/emotions and why this year might be the first year in my life it might actually happen
  • this week’s episode of the Biggest Loser
  • changing up trainers/exercises/workouts

SO — that’s what’s been on my mind this week! I want to write about it all eventually. What would YOU vote for, for me to write about first?

Because My Mouth Wants It

I may have been a little overconfident with that St. Patrick’s Day post. Last night I realized that it’s easy to stop eating foods I don’t particularly like. But what if it’s food that I really, really like? That’s a different story.

Last night I had to go find dinner out because my daughter was at a school play and it was just wasting gas to drive allllllll the way home and back. Plus, the theater was about two blocks from the famed Gourmet Ghetto. It took me a while to decide where to eat but settled on Saul’s Deli, which I love but haven’t gone to in years.

I ordered the falafel platter, which was a yummy combo of baba ganouj, hummus, tabouleh, three crispy falafels and fresh, hot pita bread. Mmmmm!! My PLAN was to eat slowly, mindfully, in very small amounts. But I was hungry. Probably way too hungry. That didn’t help.

Then: everything was SO GOOD. There was nothing on that plate that wasn’t absolutely wonderful.

I tried to eat slowly. But I did pretty much have a death-grip on that fork. I tried to close my eyes and breathe and think of olive groves and sunshine. But you know, it all came down to, that food was so good. And I did not want the experience of having that yummy goodness to stop.

I tried mentally dividing up my plate. I tried many tricks. But it was really like trying to hold back the tide. I think I finally stopped when the plate had about 1/3 left.

That’s when I sorta noticed that I was full. REALLY full. I remembered one of the comments from an earlier post, and grabbed the sugar dispenser. I poured sugar over the last remaining falafel, the lovely puddle of hummus and tabouleh (the baba ganouj was GONE) and the nice warm pita. I pushed the plate away. The waitress came by, gave me a quizzical look and asked if I wanted a box to take it home. I shook my head. I was weirdly sad.

I was sad because I’d not been able to stop myself, slow down earlier, and I was sad because that lovely food was going away.

And I’m just beginning to see that this is no simple thing (ha).

My Experimental St. Patrick’s Day Feast

I’m a real sucker for holidays. And after reading about Michelle Obama’s St. Patrick’s day celebrations, I thought, we are going to  have a St. Patrick’s day FEAST! Whole Foods was having this big SPD extravaganza, so I went down there and basically went wild. (no, I did not cook all of this myself, in fact not one bit of it!) I got:

  • corned beef and cabbage
  • mashed potatoes
  • roasted root vegetables
  • turkey shepherd’s pie
  • beef stew
  • Irish soda bread
  • Guinness Stout (for hubby, I don’t drink beer of any kind)
  • cute little mini cupcakes with green sprinkles

I also made a lovely mache salad when I got home. (my only contribution to the meal!) I think my family was a bit stunned by the spread. It looked awesome!

I had a plan. I was going to taste everything, not eat anything I didn’t love, and savor in small amounts what I did love. Oh, and attempt to put down fork in between bites. That is a TOUGH HABIT to break, people. I don’t think I’ve unclenched my fork-holding fingers since I was about… two.

So. First off, the corned beef wasn’t very good. It was brownish rather than pinkish, which is what I recall it’s supposed to be. I didn’t like it. STOPPED after one bite. Then, the root veggies, which were so colorful and pretty. But they were undercooked and hard. One bite, done.  Didn’t even go to the cabbage; I don’t eat it unless it’s cole slaw.  Ate a bunch of mache salad because it was super fresh and yum! With french feta crumbled in. OK, on to the beef stew. YUMMMMM. Heaven. MMMMMMM. Ate it very very slowly. Ate a bite of turkey shepherds pie. GOOD. Focused on really enjoying those two things. Took a little mashed taters to mix with the yummy savory gravy from the beef stew. MMMM. Decided to pass on the bread because I knew I’d want butter, and then I’d go all “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie” on it.

The other family members tasted the cupcakes before I got to mine. The review was “dry, and the icing is funny.” NO THANKS. I didn’t even taste it.

So ultimately, I really had a bunch of salad, about a cup of beef stew and 1/2 cup of turkey shepherds pie (and 2 TB of mashed potatoes). Also had a big glass of sparkling water. So I finished just FULL. And happy that I had had a yummy dinner. And not gross feeling!

My goal was to “thoroughly enjoy a special St. Patrick’s Day Feast and STILL LOSE WEIGHT this week.” Weigh in is on Saturday, but I am feeling pretty darn good.

I have to run now, but just want to give major props to Dinneen at Eat Without Guilt for even introducing the concept of eating like this.  It was an amazing and new experience!!

This “Fullness” Thing

So I know that the mantra of mindful eating (and also Weight Watchers, BTW) is that one is supposed to “eat when hungry, stop when full.” Sounds simple, right? But for me it is one of the most difficult things to grasp.  I guess for so many years I did no such thing – I ate for ten million other reasons than hunger, and went way beyoooooond fullness, that it’s like trying to learn how to knit on a unicycle.

Last night we went out to this fantastic Italian restaurant. (daughter was out with friends so I skipped the pot pie thing for another time) I was all prepared. I’d had a fairly light lunch. It was after my weigh in. I’d accumulated many “activity points” from my nice long walk/run.  I told myself I’d have plenty of points to spare, so while I was not going to pig out, I would relax. And yet try to remain mindful.

When we got there, I was thirsty. I drank a big glass of sparkling water with lemon.  I had a teeny little piece of bread about the size of a biteful. This restaurant brings things Sicilian-style, which means family style and everyone shares. I didn’t have a problem with that, in fact I thought it sounded like a good option. Appetizer one arrived: eggplant rollatini, which I adore. I divided it into four little sections, each one about two bites.  I took one little section and thoroughly savored it.  Lovely. Then we had an antipasti plate. I had a wee little strip of prosciutto, and about a tablespoon’s worth of marinated bell pepper and eggplant. Nummy.

But then, guess what? I was full. Or at least satisfied. I think my stomach was so full of bubbly water, that those five BITES of food were literally enough. But our entrees hadn’t arrived. I started feeling bummed out, like knowing I was supposed to stop there, but not wanting to miss the main courses. I was confused. I didn’t know what to do.

The main stuff arrived: homemade linguini with clams, and a big tureen of mussels. I’m sure I had enough points to enjoy both of these things. I really wanted to taste them. I took about 1/2 cup of linguini, about four clams and four mussels. You know how big clam and mussel meat is? It’s TINY. Probably totalling about three tablespoons. Max. The linguini was absolutely divine, but as I ate I was conflicted.

Mind you, I was much LESS full than I ever would have been normally – I was just MORE full than “satisifed,” which would’ve stopped after the appetizers.

So while I loved the dinner (I really, really did) I also felt distracted and confused by what I was “supposed” to be doing.

I guess I’ll figure it out someday, and be able to eat in relative peace.

Meanwhile, my copy of the Zen of Eating arrived in the mail. So far, I am loving it.  I think it might give me some help with this area.

What Works/What Doesn’t?

(for me)

Hilary over at Turtle Progress took my blog post topic right out from under me this morning (and did a great job of it, too). She wrote about structure vs. nonstructure, moderation vs abstinence. Go read it – it’s a great post.

I feel like I’ve been pondering these things very deeply ever since I began this journey on January 17th. I have tried to lose weight and have a “different relationship to food” for a long time now, and ultimately always failed. So I was very wary about trying anything new, or trying anything old for that matter, for fear of “failing.” Also, I was waiting to get guidance from my new doctor, my endocrinologist, in hope that she would give me a food plan for my prediabetes.

So what did she tell me to do? “Whatever works for you.” And we talked about how figuring out that “whatever works” is no simple task, but it is SO IMPORTANT. Because if you try to do something that doesn’t work, well then, it’s an exercise in futility. So I hesitated about accepting a friend’s invitation to join O.A.  I hesitated about going back to Weight Watchers. I read a bunch of books. I read blogs and articles and Twitter links constantly, searching for things that will resonate, that will go “ping!” I feel like every moment there’s a new choice to be made.

Here’s some stuff I’ve learned about my self and WWWD (what works, what doesn’t) in the past several weeks:

Sweet stuff:

  • Trader Joe’s Sugar Free Chocolate Covered Almonds: these used to work for me last year when I was doing South Beach. They don’t seem to anymore; ie I realllllllllly can’t eat just a few. Eat one, and I want to scoop up a whole palmful.
  • Hard candies: these work. These really, really work. The great thing is that they last a really long time – which seems to be key. They last as long as my craving for something sweet does.  Sugar free Werther’s hard caramels, and SF Life Savers are my friends.

Magazines: Let me say right off that I am a magazine junkie. I just find magazines soothing, relaxing, I like looking at the pictures and it’s just one of my favorite guilty pleasures. SO I’ve been checking out some new ones lately.

  • Diabetic Living magazine. Doesn’t work for me. I thought it would be good to check out what’s being said to this community, since I am on the periphery of it. It’s all about (seems to me) trying to calm people down about not being able to have their Ho-Ho’s and Ring Dings anymore, and giving them alternative Ho-Hos and Ring Dings. The tone is slightly patronizing and assumes that diabetics are REALLY into junk food.
  • Eating Well magazine. WOW this one works. Their subtitle is “Where Good Taste Meets Good Health” and it’s not expressly about losing weight, so it’s not a diet magazine per se, but it’s all about being healthy which means stuff that’s overall lower in calorie. They had a really interesting and intriguing article on bison meat vs beef and another one about the many ways to love asparagus. So they’re not jamming stuff down your throat, but just, this makes sense.

Weight Loss/Eating Approaches:

  • Overeaters Anonymous: to be completely fair, I have not been to a meeting in ten years+, and I have never been to one of the more hard-core “gray sheet” meetings. But I really feel it is not for me. Because I am the kind of person who needs to be constantly experimenting, testing, trying out to see if something works, and if it doesn’t I can’t do it. So a program that has a prescribed list of foods for EVERYone is not something that feels workable for me. I don’t believe that there can be a one-size-fits-all approach to weight loss, unless a person says, “Just give me a list so I don’t have to think about it.” Also, I object strongly to the secrecy around it and the fact that they won’t publish the damn list unless you go to a meeting and hold hands with people. My life has been damaged by people keeping secrets and I am very balky about these things. I recognize that OA might be THE perfect, life-saving, joyous path for many people, and I am very happy for them, but I really feel on a visceral level that it is not right for me. I don’t believe nor want to ever believe that I have an illness, other than prediabetes. I also don’t believe that there is no hope for me to ever be “normal.” I am holding that hope out for myself.
  • Weight Watchers: the jury’s still out on this one, since I have been through this program many time and ultimately abandoned it – often very quickly. I’m going to hang in there this time. I’m approaching it with a curiousity, what is it like to weigh food on a scale? If I do stay within the points they give me, can I be happy and satisfied and make it work? Sometimes the little classes are too dumb for words, but sometimes they are good and funny and inspiring. So what the heck. I do find it motivating to know that that scale will be there every week.
  • I noticed someone on Twitter called EatWithoutGuilt, which piqued my interest. I’d love to get rid of some guilt. After some perusing of her blog, I understand that her approach is something along the lines of the “Why French Women Are Skinny” thing; ie they eat all sorts of decadent and rich foods but they don’t gain weight. Why? Because they eat small amounts and don’t overeat and only eat what they truly enjoy.  I dialogued back and forth with Dineen and she was amazingly generous with her time and attention. I told her it truly does seem to good to be true, and that I could not imagine myself eating brie and chocolate and croissants without dire consequence.  I think it would take a major amount of re-training to be able to eat these things in the limited amounts necessary to lose weight. Psychologically, I am not sure I am capable of this right now, but it’s something that I would like to aspire to. One day. To be able to trust myself enough to enjoy ANY kind of food out there, to a healthy degree. Again, this might be too good to be true, but I’m not dismissing it as “never.”  Maybe one day.
  • Mindful Eating: This, I have to say, is the most appealing thing I’ve read.  It’s somewhat related to the EatWithoutGuilt approach in that it doesn’t advocate prohibiting particular foods. However it does advocate taking the time and mindset to make good choices, which often are the healthiest choices. It appeals to the wannabe Buddhist in me, the contemplative approach, the conscious and mindful approach. I read a very inspiring article in a local magazine about a woman who took a workshop with this approach and had a real turnaround. It sounded very much like a “good fit” for me and I am looking forward to exploring more.
  • The Beck Diet Solution: I’ve already gone on and on about how helpful I think this approach is, so I won’t be redundant here. It’s a more psychological approach, a cognitive-therapy way of going about things, and personally I am finding it enormously helpful. It doesn’t include a diet plan but a way of following the food plan that you choose. It’s a system of offering “helpful thoughts” to counter the myriad of “sabotaging thoughts” that assault us on a daily basis. I truly think that if I could remember the helpful thoughts throughout the day, I’d be in much better shape. I’ve been using these regularly since January and I truly think they have helped.
  • The South Beach Diet: I almost forgot this one. I would never recommend a particular food plan for anyone else, but being a glucose “impaired” person (my official status), all of my doctors have recommended that I follow a low-GI (glycemic index) sort of plan. I think especially doing Phase 2-3 of SBD is quite liveable, and basically what I am doing right now. I’ve found some excellent and delicious recipes at Kalyn’s Kitchen. It’s chock-full of great recipes for every phase of SBD. Thanks Kalyn!

I’m very curious and eager to hear what particular “approaches” or foods or magazines or books or whatever have worked for y’all. I do believe that these things are so individual, and that what works for some of us won’t for others, and vice versa. But I’m very interested in learning about the many tools out there for those of us who want change.

Next blog post brewing: what’s underneath it all.

Could Have Eaten Three Cheesecakes Today

…. but I didn’t.

It was one of those uber-emotional over the top days when the stress level is SO HIGH and in the “bad old days” – um, just 10 weeks ago? I would have just been inhaling everything in sight.  There was major drama going on at work, my blood pressure was (probably) hitting the roof, I was extremely concerned about a loved one, and I was this close to having my head explode.

I work right next to a 7-11. Which is the perfect source for out of control emotional eating.  Haagen Dasz bars! Skor bars! 7-11 hot dogs!! (ha) More junk than you can stuff in your mouth.

I really love my job. I love the people I work with. I love the work I do. And so for me to have a “bad day at work” is like one in a million. But today I was just triggered and set off and I was a basket case. Then I was worried about somebody that I love, and that was hard too. (understatement)

I didn’t have breakfast because I was rushing too much. Then I got to work and dealt with drama for several hours. My mom, who had come to the office with me (she’s a volunteer there) wanted to stop and get a drive-through burger. I almost got nothing for myself and then thought better of it and got a drive-through chicken salad. Which turned out to be a great thing.  She sat at my desk and ate the burger and fries while I inhaled the fumes.

After all the drama, I ate my salad which was actually very very good. I had a plan to visit a friend this afternoon so I left my office. I walked past the 7-11 to go to my car.  The junk food was calling my name. LOUDLY. I did not have time to sit down and Write Out My Feelings. I made myself steadily KEEP WALKING and felt in my pocket. Voila, there was a sugar free caramel hard candy!! It saved me. I sucked on that thing til it disappeared. I drove to my friends house. She gave me a cup of tea, a cut up apple and some tangerine (she is a good good friend!). I told her all my woes, and while I was talking to her I got a relieving text message from my loved one.  Things took a turn for the better.  She helped me get more grounded regarding the work situation, and when I left her house I felt a million times better.

I came home and had a nice healthy dinner with my family.

The only “down” thing is I did not exercise today. Trainer said I could have one rest day, not two. But now I am post-dinner, and I do not think I can do anything comfortably. I will just have an extra vigorous workout in the morning.

I am very relieved and actually SHOCKED that I did not overeat today. I really think I might be learning some new ways of coping.

Amazing.

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