Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Oprah

Oprah.
Most people either love her or hate her.
Everyone knows her name.

Whether you love her or hate her, one has to agree that Oprah Winfrey is a remarkable woman. She seems to have everything anyone could want - wealth, prestige, influence. And yet, she beats herself up because she doesn't fit some romanticized ideal of a woman's shape and size.

I read "We Share Your Loss, And Your Gain" in the Washington Post today. The before picture which the author chose was one from twenty years ago, when Oprah was a smaller size (and twenty years younger.) When I saw this picture, I thought "Gosh, that looks so unnatural. It doesn't even look like Oprah." I clicked to the After picture, a more recent snapshot of Oprah at a gala. To my eye, she looked healthy, resplendent in a bronzy gown.

So why did the author insist on implying that Oprah's steady weight gain in recent years was unhealthy? Why did the author insist on implying that Oprah *should* be a size 8?

Why are we all so fixated on numbers?

I'll have to pick up the January issue of Oprah at the library and read what Oprah has to say on the matter. My hope is that she embraces herself and sends the message that none of us have to be thin to be successful. That success is measured who we are and what we do rather than what we look like.

I respect Oprah. I respect her because of all the people she has helped with the wealth she has earned by being a savvy businesswoman; not because she wears a particular size or weighs a certain amount.

This world needs role models. Women in particular need other women to light the way, to shout that health and beauty come in all shapes, sizes and colors.

Who'll shout with me?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fat Talk Free Week

Join me in celebrating "Fat Talk Free Week" this week.

And let's not stop with Saturday. Let's commit to ending Fat Talk every day of every year from now on. We are all beautiful no matter our size or shape. We deserve to celebrate our humanness!

Friends don't let friends FAT TALK!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

In the moment

Today, I got to the bottom of my inbox. I haven't seen it's bottom in almost a year.

It was an amazing sight. A momentous occasion. So much so, I composed a haiku:

An empty inbox
A piteous sight for some
Unimagined joy.

I tried to hold onto the joy of my empty inbox along with the sense of accomplishment which accompanied it. It took tremendous effort on my part. Because lurking beneath the joy was the fear of impending doom. The knowledge that the mail person would harsh my mellow all too soon.

But today, I fought back. I refused to let my mellow by crushed. I exhilarated in my accomplishment - showing all my empty inbox, enjoying the moment.

Make hay while the sun shines, my friends. If you do, you'll care not whether it rains on the morrow.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Don't Give Up, You Are Loved



When you feel down
When you feel like you can't go on
When you think you are all alone
When you think your voice will never be heard

When the road gets too rough
When the sun never seems to rise
When you fall and are too weak to reach out your hand

Listen to this song.
Look into Josh Groban's eyes.

And believe.

You are never alone.
Don't give up.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Must Read - This Is Who I Am

"I think if people are graceful and have some peace within them, then they are beautiful." Ellen, 52 (page 108)


Rosanne Olsen's book, This Is Who I Am is an absolute must read.* The pages are filled with women, each beautiful and courageous, and their thoughts about bodies and beauty. Every woman's story resonates in me. "I could have written that." "That was me." "That is me." "Will that be me?"

This book is a reflection of me. Of every woman.

I have yet to meet a woman who is completely in love with herself, her body, her being. The women in Ms. Olsen's book are no different.

And yet, their words are inspiring. Full of hope as they each strive for peace.

While each woman's words echoed in me, the most profound statement which sums up the theme of this book came from Jami, a wise woman at 19, "Perfection is a myth." (page 69)

Perfection most definitely is a myth. Beauty is found in the imperfections. In the wrinkles and cracks, scars and sags. It's in these "blemishes" that our uniqueness lies. Our uniqueness is what makes us beautiful. Each and every one of us.

Rosanne Olsen celebrates this uniqueness in the pages of this book. Her skill with the camera captured each woman's soul with gentleness and respect. The women glowed from the pages, making their words come alive. I could hear each woman speak to me, through their eyes, their expressions, their body positions.

I found myself talking to these women.
To Rae Ellen, 59 (page 56), who described her attempts to lose weight over the years, I cried, "You're beautiful just as you are! Stop the dieting cycle. Stop the yoyo!"
To LaRae, 25 (page 58), when I read, "Maybe I can inspire women everywhere to love themselves, no matter their size, naked or clothed," I shouted, "ROCK ON!"
To Susan, 48 (page 86), who wrote "It frustrates me that this is a lifetime challenge: the tongue versus the chin, the taste buds versus the circumference of my thighs." I moaned, "No! I refuse to believe that it has to be that way. I refuse to believe that one has to choose deprivation to be healthy."

The women in This Is Who I Am are powerful. Each is amazing. It is only fitting that Ms. Olsen chose to end this book with Maya Angelou's poem, "Phenomenal Woman." Each of these women are indeed phenomenal. I applaud their courage in showing themselves to the world - emotionally and physically.

I applaud Rosanne Olsen for her bravery. For showing to the world that beauty is inside each and every one of us.




* Excerpts from this book are available on the website. You are also able to order the book from there as well.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Backwards Bulimia?

Why is it always referred to as Binge/Purge? In that order?

Is it still bulimia if the order is reversed? What if someone compensates first then binges? What does that make this person?

Right now, that person would be diagnosed with ED-NOS. Eating disorder - not otherwise specified.

Or for those of us with that diagnosis, the netherworld of eating disorders.

While we are just as sick, just as needy, our needs are often overlooked. Because many of us aren't underweight. Because many of us haven't wrecked havoc on our physical selves yet.

But we deserve care.

We have needs that must be met.

And, at least in my case, not having my needs met was (and is) part of my problem. For me, my needs as a child were never met. I was (more or less) told that I wasn't to have needs. That I needed to be happy and smiling and almost perfect. So I coped by turning to and away from food. And developed an eating disorder in the process.

So now, as an adult in recovery, I am faced with a lifetime of needs that were never met coupled with a lifetime long habit of turning to or away from food in times of stress.

I consider myself lucky. My health insurance is one of the amazing ones - where I'm able to see a therapist and a dietician once a week for a co-pay. (Granted the therapist co-pay is twice the copay I give to my dietician or other "medical" doctors, but it is not outrageous.)

But I think about all the other people with less or no insurance coverage. How are they learning to have their needs met when the medical community won't even help them?

I imagine that they are still swirled into the dark fog of hell, believing that they are being greedy for wanting to be free from this disease when there is so much turmoil in the rest of the world.

If this describes you, please believe me when I tell you that you DESERVE help just as much as any other human being. Your needs are NEEDS - you cannot live without having them met. It's up to you to fight for them.

I believe in you.

Monday, May 19, 2008

New (more mature) faces of eating disorders

The voices of those of us well past our teen years are beginning to be heard.

"The new faces of eating disorders: Starve, binge, purge cycle on rise among mid-life women"

Now more awareness needs to be paid to those of us of normal weight who still struggle every damn bite...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Scary Stereotypes

Another blogger mentioned that Dr. Phil had done a show on "Scary Skinny." The show features women who suffer from eating disorders. Fine. Great. The more awareness and focus on eating disorders the better.

Except...

Most women with eating disorders are NOT scarily skinny. Many are not even close to being underweight. Some are overweight and even obese.

Many women with eating disorders are NOT teenagers. We are in our late twenties, thirties, forties, and older.

Where are the TV shows on us? The normal-weight adult women who are suffering just as much as those whose bodies are skeletal, just as much as those who are in their teens.

Where are the outreaches of help for us? We, the women who are fighting every single day, but for whatever reason, are somehow managing to appear "normal." Who continue to function as best as we can in our internal personal hells. Who fight every single day with no one the wiser. (Unless we use our voices to tell them.)

I'm one of the lucky ones. My health insurance includes mental health and nutritional health benefits. Are they perfect? No. But they are so much better than they had been at a previous job. I'm grateful.

I'm also at a place in my recovery where I am able to use my voice more and more. To tell people that while I may not look it, I am suffering. I am fighting. Some days are tough - especially when I'm dealing with the emotional roots of my disease. I am at a point where I recognize that my eating disorder served (and for the time being, still serves) a purpose in my life and that recognition takes the power away from the disease.

But there have been times when my eating disorder was in control. When I couldn't eat more, even though I knew I needed to. When food scared me.

And I was in my thirties for most of those times.

And I was a normal weight.

Eating disorders are not about the numbers on the scales. They are not about the sizes on the clothes. They are about what goes on inside the minds and bodies of those who suffer.

I challenge the media to start focusing on the majority of people* who suffer from eating disorders. The ones who are in the netherworld of ED-NOS (Eating disorders-not otherwise specified.)

For while our bodies are not horrifyingly sensational, our stories are equally poignant. Our struggles are equally arduous.



*because I haven't even discussed the men who suffer.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Reflective Pets

In the book of essays, "For Keeps: Women Tell the Truth About Their Bodies, Growing Older, and Acceptance" edited by Victoriz Zackheim, Clea Simon writes, "They say that children identify with their pets. That we see ourselves in these small, dependent animals, so much more vulnerable, like children, than any around us. So much softer." (page 241)

Growing up, my family had hamsters. Most of us were allergic to other kinds of pets. I never identified with any of the string of "disposable" pets that came to live in the plastic cages my mom and dad bought.

That is until I was in grad school. I was living at my parents' house at the time. My niece was just two years old, but she decided that my mom, "Nana," needed a hamster - just like that obnoxious purple dinosaur. Off to the pet shop my brother, future sister-in-law, and niece went. They picked out a little boy sandy-furred hamster for my mom (who named him Zippidy.) My niece, of course, needed one for herself. She picked out Zippidy's sister and named her Sandy.

Well, Zippidy and Sandy had a sister whom no one wanted. This little girl hamster was albino. She was also born without eyes. (Her eyelids were forever closed.)

My sister-in-law told me about this little girl. She also mentioned that the pet shop owner was willing to sell this little girl to a good home for half price.

I was a grad student and while my parents took care of tuition, I still worked part time to pay for my car and gas. (And try to save as much as possible for my future with Todd.) I really couldn't afford a pet. I really didn't have time to care for a pet - after all, I was a full time grad student who worked part time and still wanted to have some time with my fiance on the weekends.

But I was drawn to the pet shop.

I bought that little girl and named her Fluffy.

Why?

Because I recognized myself in that little furry creature. A critter who was different; someone no one wanted.

Unconsciously, I didn't want her to know the loneliness, the disappointment, the despair and sadness that I felt. This poor little eyeless hamster deserved to know love.

So Fluffy came home with me.

Fluffy not only had no eyes. I found out soon that she couldn't hear. She also would run in her wheel/ball until she passed out. (I called it narcalepsy.)

But Fluffy was far from disabled. She was determined to escape. She ran so fast in the wheel in her first cage that it vibrated off my dresser and crashed on the floor. Luckily, my mom and I found her in the maze that was my overly stuffed bedroom. We put her back in her cage and within minutes she was biting the clip that held the top in place, pushing up on the top, and climbing through.

I bought her another cage the next morning; this one with an interactive feeding tube. Within a week, she had learned to twist the cap on the tube and escape. (Zippidy inherited that from his sister.)

When all possible caps and lids were out of reach, she proceeded to try to gnaw her way through the plastic cage. And within a month, had created a hole big enough for her nose.

Cage number three was a glass aquarium with a metal screen top and "no climb" water bottle. Yeah, right.

You guessed it. She scaled the wall by climbing the water bottle. She would chew on the metal screen to try to get out.

So I could sleep, I placed a piece of cardboard between the screen and Fluffy. Fluffy chewed the cardboard instead. To conserve cardboard, I'd turn the square around. One of her creations looked like a graduate with a morterboard. Another looked like a chalice. Another looked like the head of that horrible purple dinosaur.

A little hamster, born without eyes, deaf and narcoleptic, was an artist. She created beautiful works.

Had I not loved that little girl, she would never have realized her potential.

Fluffy died almost a decade ago now. She lived with me for a year and a half (a normal life span for a hamster, in my experience.) But her "can do" spirit lives on. I think of her often when I don't think I can go on. When I think that I'll never be completely healthy.

I remember how my love saved a little furry artist.

My love (and patience) can save me, too.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Beauty break

Geneen Roth writes in her book, "When you eat at the refrigerator, pull up a chair,"

Sometimes, all it takes to remind us that life is infinitely spacious, luscious, and forgiving is resting your eyes on something beautiful.


We all need beauty in our lives.

True beauty comes in all sizes and shapes, colors and materials.

At home, it's easy for me to find beauty all around me. My son provides an endless canvas for beauty. All children do.

At work, it's more difficult. This morning I was in a place to want to see beauty. I took a few minutes to gaze at the beauty of newly hatched ducklings swimming in the shallow end of a pond. Their mommy, with vivid indigo markings, swam beside them, teaching them how to find food in the pond's bed.

Usually, I forget about beauty while I'm working. Stress clouds the world so that everything is out of focus. I have two posters hanging on my office wall; Dawn and Dusk by Alfonse Mucha (an artist in the art nouveau period.) I love Mucha's work; have attempted to copy a few with my less than proficient pen/ink and watercolor technique. But I forget to look up in the course of my all too often swamped days.

Occasionally, I will glance at the photos of my son and husband which I have strategically placed on my desk. But I find that instead of inspiring me, those photos only make me wish I was home with them.

So, I'm going to challenge myself to take a beauty break each day. Even if I have to put a reminder on my calendar.

How about you?

Do you take beauty breaks?

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Six Word Memoir

Angela over at Here and Now tagged me with the six word memoir challenge.


The instructions:

1) Write your own six word memoir
2) Post it on your blog; include a visual illustration if you’d like
3) Link to the person that tagged you in your post, and to the original post if possible
4) Tag at least five more blogs with links
5) Leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play!


My six word memoir is this:
"Patience. I'm a work in progress."


I thought limiting myself to only six words would be extremely difficult, but then I thought of one of my favorite quotes. "Please be patient. God isn't finished with me yet." This quote was on one of my first eyeglass cases (pink flexible plastic with Holly Hobbie on it.)



I don't believe in singling any one (or five) blogs out, so if you are reading this, consider yourself tagged. 8-)

Enjoy!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Evolution of Trust

Good With Cheese wrote an amazing post entitled “A Day in the Life” which describes one day in her life practicing health at every size (HAES.)

I saw my nutritionist (Pat) yesterday and I showed her my food journal – packed with all sorts of food. I remarked to her how scary this is. How freaked out I am about it. “I haven’t let myself get ravenous and I haven’t eaten past full. How can I be eating SO much???”

Pat responded, “You are a classic example of how much wisely-chosen food one can eat and still maintain.”

Over the past week or so, I haven’t deny myself anything that I’ve wanted. I’ve focused on enjoying each bite. I’m working on not picking up the next bite before I’ve finished the last. (I’m still a work in progress.) I’ve listened for what my body asks and, to the best of my ability, I feed it. Whether it be oatmeal breakfast bars or a smooth piece of caramel or a dish of all natural pecan praline ice cream or a crunchy ripe apple with peanut butter or resting a sore foot/ankle.

Yesterday, I didn’t feel like eating any of the veggies in my house. So I didn’t pack any. Instead, I treated myself to some steamed veggies at work – because I needed the comfort that warm veggies gives me.

I admit that I dropped the ball last night when I went to dinner at a friends house. I was out of my comfort zone. Surrounded by “scary” food and feeling completely like a fish out of water. I disconnected from my body for a time. It’s a defense mechanism. One that I anticipated. So this morning, I made sure to take a little extra time to reconnect, honoring my needs to be gentle with myself, both mentally and nutritionally. I am treating myself with compassion – as I would anyone else.*

Despite all the stress I’ve been under lately (both at work and internal,) I’m holding fast to this truth:

That I deserve to be nourished fully. I deserve to do whatever it takes to take care of me.

I’ve been saying this for a long time. Years, actually.

But the most amazing thing has happened over the past week or so – I’m not paying lip service anymore. This truth is seeping out from the inside. My instinct to care for myself is awakening.

The panicked calorie totalling that enveloped me in the beginning part of the past week, moved slowly to idle curiousity. And after Pat’s assurance that I’m maintaining my weight, I find that, at least for the moment, when I’m in comfortable, predictable surroundings, I trust myself.

I still am working on that trust when I’m out of my usual element.

And that’s okay.

Right now, I’m not in any rush.





* I wonder if this is the type of love and compassion that Aimee Liu speaks about in her recent blog posts over at Life After Recovery (Love, To Live and Love, To Live II)? If it is, it’s wonderful.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Ain't nothing like the real thing

The latest kick around my workplace is PB2. PB2 is a powdered peanut butter produced by Bell Plantation. It's essentially the by-product when peanuts are squished to make peanut oil. Reconstituted with water, PB2 is ideal for those times when carrying a jar of regular peanut butter is inconvenient - hiking, camping, long-term storage. And I'm happy to report that the website emphasizes these uses for their product. Kudos to Bell Plantation for that!!

But somehow, someone thought of using this product every day as a substitute for peanut butter. And apparently, it is all the rage around weight watchers circles.

So, it begs the question, can it really be used as an everyday substitute for peanut butter?

On the insistence of a friend (who gifted me with a jar from her order,) I replaced my morning tablespoon of peanut butter with a serving of PB2. I followed the directions and reconsituted it with water. It smelled and spread just like the regular variety. Tasted a little different, but still was very yummy.

But you know what?

Most days, I foudn myself eating more throughout the day.

How, do you ask, can that be?

Because my body needs the fat in real peanut butter. My brain must have fat to function.

One of the women who extolled the virtues of this product in a spin class a few weeks back said, "And if you are still hungry, you can have another serving and still eat less fat and calories!"

Oh isn't that wonderful???

No. It isn't wonderful.

My body needs fat. If I deny it the essential fatty acids it needs, it will insist that I find it by sending cravings that will not go away until satisfied.

I'm slowly learning that if I give my body the real deal (full fat, full caloried versions of the foods that I love,) I enjoy it more. I feel fuller longer.

I'm slowly learning that I really can trust myself around food. That my greatest fear of losing control and eating until I'm the size of the moon (into which my eating disorder played to keep me starving myself) won't ever happen.

I'm learning that it is okay to eat. It's okay to enjoy real food - natural peanut butter, ice cream with caramel and nuts, cakes with fresh fruit and cream.

The real thing won't hurt me.

And you know what?

There really isn't anything like the real thing.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Your own half acre

I'm in the middle of reading another Geneen Roth book. (Okay, I'm addicted. But in my defense, she truly is an amazing writer!)

Once again there are so many passages that move me from all the books that I've read by her (so far) and someday, I'll share them all with you. But for now, I'll leave you with this one from "The Craggy Hole in My Heart and the Cat Who Fixed It: Over the edge and back with my dad, my cat, and me." (New York: Harmony Books, 2004.)

"My friend Annie once told me that not everyone wants life to be a mountaintop experience. She said that we all get our emotional half acres to tend while we are alive. Some people grow potatoes, and some grow roses, but it's not our business what someone else does with their half acre." page 114

When my husband and I owned a house and an almost acre of land, I eventually started a garden. I carved out a section from the semi-wilderness that was once the former owner's garden (specifically, the length and width of one roll of black plastic.) I turned the soil by hand. (Talk about therapeutic... this was in the early days of my recovery.) I planted the already started plants and watched them grow.

My philosophy was this - I won't plant/grow anything that I couldn't eat. Flowers (except for the bulbs that the former owner had planted) had to be edible. So I didn't have many flowers for beauty sake.

Looking back, it makes a lot more sense.

I was beginning my (very long) road through recovery. ED still had me in his grip and some of the first issues I dealt with (needed to deal with) were my beliefs about me. At the time, I didn't think I deserved anything. I needed to earn everything - burn each calorie I wanted to eat, work for every dollar I spent. Feed others first, provide for their needs, and reluctantly take the scraps for myself.

It makes sense that the plants in my garden needed to be useful to be wanted. Because that was what I believed was true for me. I needed to be useful to be wanted, to be given what I needed in life.

The next year, my garden changed a little. I planted a few sundrops (yellow flowers that I was told would grow like made in the shady spot I wanted to fill.)
You can't eat sundrops. I planted them anyway. And on Father's Day, I plucked a bunch as a centerpiece for the dinner I made my husband. (First course, salad from the swiss chard and basil I grew in my garden.)

And guess what? My mindset about myself had changed a little, too. I was beginning to see that everyone deserves to have her needs filled. Needs are just that - necessities without which we can not live. I was beginning to understand that food, water, air were not the only necessities in life. I started to see that love was a big necessity - one that a person should not need to earn to receive.

Three years have passed since I last prepared a garden for spring. My hubby and I (blissfully) no longer have land to maintain. (Hurray for apartment life!) But if I did have a garden this year, I think I would plant my favorite veggies (a variety of tomatoes, cucumbers and squash, sweet cherry and banana peppers, swiss chard and spinach, and pumpkins,) a healthy crop of herbs (basil and parsley, dill and spearmint,) and a bounty of flowers - some for cutting and bringing indoors, some for the beauty they provide outside.

Beauty is the embodiment of love. In nature, it can be the vibrant color of a violet, the brightness of a cherry blossom, the gentle ripple on a lake. Even the violent crash of lightning which illuminates the sky for a split second or two. Like air, we need to breathe it in, let it saturate every cell in our body. We need to allow ourselves to enjoy it wherever and whenever we are.

After five years of journeying through the land of recovery, I still need reminders to stop and smell the roses. But at least my garden has them now.

So what is in your half acre?

Monday, April 7, 2008

Breaking free...

I've been reading Geneen Roth books for a few weeks now.

I had been digging my heels in for too long over it. Many people along my journey have recommended her books to me, but I demured. "I'm not a binge-eater, so how would her books help me??"

But I had a coupon to an online used bookstore. Four of her books were $4 each, so I took the plunge and splurged.

The first one I read was "When Food Is Love." Next, I picked up "Appetites." So many passages of both books spoke to me. Someday, I'll share them with you (along with the whys.) But the reason I bring this up today is due to a discussion I had this morning with a friend/co-worker (will call him Touchdown.)

Touchdown has been on and off Weight Watchers for years. Losing weight, then gaining back more. You know the cycle. For the past year or so, Touchdown has worked out with the same trainer I have; he's also taken many of the fitness classes offered at my work.

To my eyes, he looks healthy and fit.

He still wants to lose I forget how many pounds. (He was/is one of the ringleaders in the Biggest Loser contests at work.)

So this morning, we had a meeting over a project that I pawned off on his boss who then assigned it to him. So after we discussed our next actions with the project, he asks me if I've ever seen the weight-loss guy on TLC. "I Can Make You Thin."

I reply that I've never watched it. I try not to watch those things (although that's like trying not to watch a plane crash in front of you.) I ask him to tell me more about it.

He explains that the premise of Paul McKenna is that you can eat whatever you want when you're hungry, but you need to take a bite, put down the fork, and enjoy it. Then, before taking another bite, you need to assess your satiety/fullness.

I said to Touchdown that it sounded just like Geneen Roth and that I've been trying to do that for a long time now. But for me, it's taking me a lot longer to get the hang of it because of the connection that food and emotions have in my life. (aka - eating disorder.)

So he's been on the "program" for a few days and he is amazed at how little food it takes to satisfy him. He mentioned how he used to eat 2 turkey subs with mustard and veggies (not because he particularly likes turkey subs with mustard, but because it was "healthy" and "good.") One day (after implementing his new philosophy,) he goes to the same sub shop. He listened to his body which told him that he really wanted an Italian sub with hot pepper oil. So he ordered one. And (low and behold), he was satisfied with only half the sub. When he was hungry again later, he finished it.

I said that it was wonderful! But the philosophy, the "program" has been around for ages. I showed him the Geneen Roth book that I'm currently reading ("Why Weight?") and said that Geneen has been around since the late 80s - saying almost the exact same things (only she called it "Breaking Free.")

I also mentioned that the premise is similiar to "French Women Don't Get Fat" by Mireille Guilano who talks about setting your table, sitting down to eat, and enjoying each bite as if you were trying to describe the taste, texture, feel to someone else.

He was amazed that these programs/philosophies haven't gotten more press.*

So I told him that these programs/philosophies/approaches/premises are truly wonderful and they do work. For most people.

For me though, I need to be careful.

Because when I am in the throes of my eating disorder, ED using these tactics against me. [See an earlier post] I told Touchdown about how I used these same tactics to "savor" one container of yogurt or "enjoy" one cucumber slice. It can be quite dangerous for me, if I don't remember that the other premise of these authors is that you eat until you are full.

For a few weeks, I was playing the numbers game with myself (counting calories, weighing myself almost every day, obsessing over it.) Always eating the minimum amounts (set by my nutritionist) at least, but berating myself for eating more. As with every time I slip, emotions played a huge part. Specifically not wanting to feel them.

Last week, I met with a new therapist for the second time. All sorts of feelings were unleashed. My first reaction was to leash them back up (by controlling/obsessing over what I eat.) But I was tired of doing that. I was tired of the constant beatings because I wanted an extra serving of this or one of those.

I had finished all of "When Food Is Love" and most of "Appetites." Through these books, I remembered that controlling food is only delaying the inevitable. Being "good" and only eating enough to stay alive will not win me love. Being thinner will not help me heal.

So, I broke free. Starting eating everything I wanted, whenever I wanted. I was frightened that I'd never stop. For the first few days, I'd have one serving of an item I craved, feel satisfied with it, then then move on to the next craving. Craving after craving after craving. I was petrified!!

But not once throughout this whole week, have I felt stuffed to the gills sick.
Because once I was full/satisfied, I stopped.

Feeling full is frightening for me. Incredibly so.

Because feeling full is admitting to myself that I deserve nourishment. That I deserve to take care of myself. That I deserve to be loved.

Being full reminds me that there is a part of me not quite full yet. The part of me that is wounded, still. That needs to heal. That still feels pain and suffering. That part that is not at peace.

I don't like being reminded of that part. This is the part that I've spent decades trying to deny existed. Because it wasn't supposed to exist. Not in my life. Not in my family.

But it did.

And still does.

But I can change that.

Just like I am teaching myself to be okay with feeling full after eating my stomach's desires, I can teach myself to feel and be okay with feeling full of feelings.

Just like I am breaking free of controlling food, I will break free of controlling emotions.

Someday, I will eat, feel, live freely.







*The more I think about it, the more I'm not amazed. The diet/weight loss industry is too huge and controls a LOT of advertising dollars, from which TV shows, magazines and newspapers covet.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

No Mistakes

'Today is a new day with no mistakes in it yet.'
-paraphrased from Miss Stacy in the CBC/PBS/Sullivan version of Anne of Green Gables

I don't necessarily believe in mistakes. When we do something that doesn’t work, we’ve learned a valuable lesson. We have learned that if this something didn’t work, perhaps that something will.

Life is all about trials and errors. Look at all the proverbs:

“That which does not kill us makes us strong.”
“Everything happens for a reason.”
“To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.”
“Fall down seven times, get up eight.”
“Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try all over again.”


These sayings and the theme behind them wouldn’t have survived if we didn’t need reminding.

I know that I need lots of reminders, but I am learning. Five years ago (gosh, has it been five years since I relapsed?,) I would binge after weeks of starving. I’d kick myself aftewards, starve and exercise more to punish myself for losing control. Which of course would always lead to another binge. Cycling along the bumpy road.

But over the past five years, I’ve been learning with each cycle. The most recent lesson I’ve learned is this:
It’s all in how you spin it.

After reading about a few “binges” in my food journal, my nutritionist suggested that I stop calling what I do binging. Because I don’t really binge. Either I am having a normal reaction to deprivation or I am simply overindulging. Neither are binges. She told me to think of it as “relaxing.” Just as I’ve been trying to incorporate a day or two of rest into my exercise routine, it’s okay to relax my control over food once in a while.

Yesterday (and last night especially,) I relaxed into a normal response to deprivation. For a few weeks, I’ve been trying to be “good,” to not eat as much as I had been (while still eating “enough.”) Over the weekend, I “binged.” So I tried to be “good” again on Monday and Tuesday. But yesterday, I decided that I had had enough. So I relaxed. Instead of berating myself for eating everything my heart desired, I told myself that I need to show myself that it can have everything it wants, whenever it wants. My intention is to not deprive it again. So I ate and enjoyed every morsel. Today, I’m not feeling so desperate. I still made out a plan for the day, but I incorporated many of the things that I truly enjoy (and hadn’t been allowing myself lately.) And I have spun the “plan” into a “guideline.” If I decide to substitute or not eat everything or eat more, that’s okay by me. I’m breathing and concentrating on what I’m truly feeling.

I’m eating mindfully. One bite at a time.

Have my actions changed?
No.

Have I planned for more or less food?
Not really.

It’s my mindset that has changed. And instead of feeling depressed and deprived, I feel brighter and satisfied.

I may be a slow learner, but I never stop learning.

So, be gentle with yourself today. Remind yourself that there are no mistakes in life, just lots of lessons to learn.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Off her Rocker

I'm exceptionally susceptible to weight loss articles these days and was intrigued when one of the Yahoo headlines was "Keep It Simple, Keep It Off." So I clicked the link and read the blog post by Debbie Rocker, a fitness expert (supposedly.) In this post, Debbie instructs the reader to "take emotion, psychology, and personal history out of the equation, and let’s look at the simple rules of weight loss."

The next four bullet points are 1) weight loss is like a bank account - spend more = weigh less, 2) exercise more to achieve point 1, 3) eat less to achieve point 1, and 4) eat less and exercise more to achieve point 1 faster.

Looking at "just the facts" looks a whole lot like my eating disorder behaviors. ED loves this formula! Absolutely loves it. Eat less and exercise more and you will be thin. "Every day you need to eat less than the previous day. Every day you need to exercise more," ED tells me.

The problem is that while one may be able to take emotion and psychology out of the equation, one CANNOT take out our genetic make-up - which is in fact a part of our personal history. Our genes carry the blueprint for our metabolism, our skeletal structure, our muscular potential. No matter what we do, we can't escape our genes.

This formula of "facts" is dangerous. Not taking metabolism into account will mislead people into thinking that if I eat nothing and exercise, I will always lose weight. And that is just not the case. Eating too little will eventually cause a metabolic slowdown and will store every calorie that is ingested to survive through the famine.

Our bodies are intricate machines which we are only beginning to understand. However, I wish Debbie would have brushed up her knowledge of human physiology to include all the facts.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Testosterone exposure in the womb?

I don't have a lot of time to flesh this post out, but I had to post something. I just saw this article at Science Daily "Testosterone could Guard Against Eating Disorders."

Needless to say, I'm intrigued. I read the article and the findings are based on the study of twins in utero (fraternal twins with one of each sex compared to twins of same sex.) Not really what the headline promised.*

But questions resonate in my mind.

How can this be used to prevent EDs?
How would a mother know if her fetus is exposed to enough testosterone?
What is enough testosterone?
Is there a fix after birth?

I suppose we just need to wait a few decades to find out...


*I applaud any and all research that leads people to wake up to the fact that eating disorders are biologically based. I just wish the headlines wouldn't be quite so misleading... this one made it sound like the researchers were close to prescribing testosterone for patients with EDs. (But then, maybe it's just my exhausted brain that misread it.)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A reason for the season - NEDAW 2008

It's NEDAW - National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. On a whim last week, I signed up to be a NEDAW coordinator. I thought I'd start small - organize a jeans giveaway at my dance center around mid-March to support a local women's shelter in the area. Nothing big, but something. Every little bit helps, right?

Well, in between my busy-at-work days and too-exhausted-to-think-straight nights, I started composing an email to the dance center owner to ask for her buy-in/support/etc.

In the meantime, I received an email from a mom whose daughter suffers from bulimia. She was looking for support groups in our area for parents with children who are suffering.

What's interesting is that she assumed that I was like her - with a child who suffers from an ED.

So I replied that while I am a mom, I am the one who suffers (and have since college,) but that I'd be willing to start a support group. Organize it, facilitate the first couple meetings to help those interested figure out the best way to proceed, and then back out (if they want me to.)

I thought about my reply... Do I really want to get this involved? Can I really be so full of myself that I might think that I could start and potentially lead a support group? I mean, I still haven't completely pulled myself out of this most recent slip after all.

But then I thought, who better to start and potentially lead a support group for parents? As a sufferer, I may be able to offer perspective of what their children might be experiencing. As a mom who is trying very hard not to pass on my ED to my son, perhaps I can jump in with ideas if none of the other parents have ideas.

Everything happens for a reason, right? Maybe this was the reason I signed up to be a NEDAW coordinator this year?


So, I'd love to hear advice as I start on this new venture... Has anyone out there started a support group (of any kind) before?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Rest in peace, Polly...

I heard about Polly Williams death from one of Rachel's posts (either at the Disordered Times or F-Word), but it hit me tonight when I read the L.A. Times article on her. Polly was 33 years old. Born in 1974.

Just like me.

Wow.

I thought she was older than me when I saw her in the documentary "Thin."

Wow.

It's scary. Death. How it happens at any age. But for some reason, when someone who is my age dies, the fear overwhelms me. The fear of death, of nothingness, of end.

Deep breath, Jeanne. Now isn't the time to think about the terrifying things like what happens when your body stops functioning. Not now when life is stressful enough and you are grasping onto the slippery recovery wagon. Not when you have been working so hard to hang on. Be gone nightmare.


Polly, wherever you may be, I wish you peace.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Biggest Loser in the workplace

So, a group of coworkers are having a challenge. Who can lose the biggest percentage of body weight in six weeks. Winner (or "loser") gets the pot o' money.

Needless to say, I have major issues with this whole thing.

Aside from the fact that hearing about people losing weight (or trying to lose weight) is as difficult for me as a recovering heroin addict sitting around watching friends shoot up, I have major issues with people competing to change their outsides.

Of all the problems in our world, it annoys me to see people focus on a physical attribute. Think about it this way - has anyone heard of a tanning contest? Who ever gets the darkest tan wins? Or has anyone heard of a whitest smile contest? Or the longest hair challenge? (Who will cave first and chop their hair???)

No. Of course not.

So why the focus on weight???

We know why. Our society's obsessions.

I'd like to see a different kind of challenge. How about "the biggest giver" where volunteering is rewarded?

But a contest like that wouldn't even get off the ground. Not in the United States of America. Not in 2008.

Does that mean that change can't happen?

Absolutely not. Every change starts with one person. Just one person with an idea who talks to one person at a time.

So how will I change the world today?

First, I'm taking care of myself by working hard to make sure that I get the nutrients that my body needs to function (and not letting the constant chatter of losing weight throw me off balance.)

And I'll continue to focus on using my voice (not my body) to express my thoughts and feelings. So while my eating disorder screams at me to show these numb-nuts the dangers of focusing on body size and weight, I will ask them not to talk about discuss the challenge in my presence and I will tell them why. I will keep opening up, keep talking about my struggles to anyone who'll listen.

I will lead by example to the best of my ability.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Put your oxygen mask on first...

As some of you know, I've slipped off the recovery wagon and am fighting tooth and nail to get back on.

I haven't been reading many blogs lately. Those that I do find time to read, I often do not comment on.

I often feel guilty about that.

On my private blog (send an email to diggingmeup at gmail dot com if you'd like an invite!) I've been asking for support and encouragement. A lot.

And I often apologize to my readers/friends for not being able to reciprocate.

Yesterday, as I was about to type yet another apology, I stopped. "Put your own oxygen mask on first before helping your child/loved one/neighbor."

Last year, I took my son on his very first plane ride. I buckled him in and we listened as the flight attendants went through the safety instructions. They were talking about the oxygen masks when one flight attendant made a point of coming to me and reiterating, "Make sure you put yours on first before helping your son with his."

I smiled politely as I thanked her, but inside I scoffed, "What the hell, lady? Do you honestly think I'll take care of myself before my precious child??? Dream f-ing on!!"

But as I go through (yet another) slip in my recovery, I realize the truth in that statement. If I don't take care of me first, I won't be around to take care of anyone else.

So, if I'm quiet in our neck of the blogosphere for a while longer, please know that I think about each and every one of you often with lots of love and tons of support. And when I get back on that recovery wagon, know that I'll be taking the reins and driving by your house to help you.