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Perfectly Imperfect

This past year has not been without it’s challenges.  I went through a heart-wrenching breakup and my dietary self-discipline was touch and go.  The thing that kept me moving towards a positive goal was finally focusing on myself.  What did I need?  What did I want?  Health, yes.  Happiness, of course.  But overall, I wanted to accept myself as I was: perfectly imperfect.

I admire those who lead a strict disciplined life of impeccable health and physique, but I know that is not in my DNA, and that’s ok.  Recently learning from my physician that my metabolic blood tests were within a healthy range despite my being “obese” makes me want to share that it’s possible to reach that healthy balance without being perceived as perfect.  You can lead a healthy lifestyle without making the right choices all the time.

The Smart Ones© message of wiping the slate clean has been a running theme on my blog and it’s one that resonates strongly with me.     Giving in to unhealthy food choices at events, family gatherings, and any sort of environment you find yourself within reach of food temptations doesn’t make you weak.  It makes you human.  If you are able to say no to the extra slice of cake, that’s great!  But in my experience, deprivation of certain foods can lead me down a slippery slope of gluttony.  I’ve learned to take desserts home if I am full, wrap up half of my plate of excessively portioned restaurant food before I start eating, and most importantly I listen to my stomach.

Occasional food slip ups are part of your journey to wellness, and it may be difficult but not impossible to keep from starting at square one.  Schedules get busy and unhealthy food makes it past our lips.  As much as I wish I had the money for a personal trainer and private chef, that’s just not the case.  Try not to let momentary set backs become permanent by realizing that it’s not the end of the world if you aren’t making the best food choices for a day or even weeks.  It may seem impossible if you are in a viscous unhealthy food cycle, but with a little help and inspiration you can get back on track.

Time is not always on my side.

Time is not always on my side.

 

Thoughts on Addiction.

I have a pretty serious addiction.  It may be arguable but it’s actually in the Top 10 Most Common Addictions in America.

I find myself constantly thinking about one of the things that gives me a high, which is food.  Whether I’m happy, sad, complacent, or bored, I’m always thinking about my next “fix”.   Moreover, it’s usually unhealthy sugar or carbo loaded food that I know is poison to my body and will make me feel physically and mentally horrible afterwards.  It may also be an urge to eat any food (healthy or not) and feel that extremely full where it’s almost painful food coma, also known as overeating.  Both of these acts to be followed by shame and disgust.  I also find in trying to control my addiction to food, I tend to fill my “need hole” with a behavioral addiction in the form of exercise or shopping.. The only downfall is that exercise is work, shopping can cost too much money, and eating food is cheap & easy.  I am the type of person that likes cheap & easy!

So why do I still feel this urge to eat such horrible foods when it’s been proven from experience and SCIENCE that eating healthier not only makes you feel better but live longer?  Is it the taboo?  Is it depression?  Or is it addiction?

It’s a constant cycle no matter what your drug of choice.

I recently read a short article about how impulsive personalities are linked to food addiction, stating that while their “study shows that impulsive behavior was not necessarily associated with obesity, impulsive behaviors can lead to food addiction.”  It made me wonder if I have this type of personality or if I have an addictive personality, or if all of them are rolled up into one!  In doing some self analyzing I concluded that I just might have an impulsive personality but I struggle to contain it in accordance with social norms.  I do things that make me feel good, even if it may be defined as “unhealthy”, as long as it does seem to be hurting another person.  I’m not stealing from or attacking people because of my addiction.  This is how I justify my actions.  But in doing this I fail to take into account myself, and how my demise may effect those who love and care about me.  This is something I’ve been trying to figure out in therapy for the past year.  Addicts don’t realize how their decisions effect other people emotionally, because the need of getting that next high is too powerful.  So we see addiction as selfish and stupid.  This is why the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman struck a cord with me as people ridiculed him for overdosing on heroin while he had 3 children and a lucrative career.  I may not have an illegal drug addiction or an alcohol addiction, but food is my drug of choice.  And food is available almost anywhere and at any age so I don’t have to walk into a dark alleyway to buy a loaf of delicious crispy Italian bread for $50.

I strangely identified with this tragedy, which I thought was crazy since I’ve never been around any sort of illegal drug activity in my life.  Then I read that a study suggests “in some people’s brains high calorie foods can elicit cravings and trigger responses similar to those caused by addictive drugs,” and I felt compassion and sadness that his addiction got the best of him.  It must be great that some of those who spoke out angrily against Mr. Hoffman don’t have an addiction, good for you!  But for those of us who constantly have that feeling of needing something we know may kill us or make us unhealthy, whether now or over time, it’s not as simple as “he just didn’t care about anyone but himself.” It is more than that.  Addiction is a complex disease that changes brain chemistry in the user.

Addiction also comes in many forms aside from illegal substances & food, including the internet/technology, caffeine, pornography, sex, prescription drugs, gambling,  smoking, alcohol, video games, hoarding and yes even shopping!  The list does not stop there either.  There is that fine line between having a healthy relationship with these things and having a problem, and personally I feel no one should be judged for how their addiction controls them. Addiction may be difficult for those who don’t understand, I get that, I just hope people can find compassion in themselves for those who may not be as strong or as disciplined as they are.  I’m constantly wrestling with my addictions and though I feel I’m in a much better place than previous years, I will always struggle with unhealthy impulses.

All I can do is try to live better each day, work on being emotionally stronger, and ask for help.

Never be afraid to ask for help.  Please take time to read this compelling article by actor Russel Brand about his own struggle with addiction.  No words can describe the thoughtfulness and rawness of his words.

My Weak Monday.

My Weaknesses:  Time Management, Ice Cream and Peanut Butter, Shopping, Laziness/Cuddling with Cats, and Useless Guilt.

I have many strengths I just wouldn’t know where to start (insert sarcastic tone), so today I’ll focus on my weaknesses.

I took off from work yesterday, Monday, from work to catch up on house duties and some early gym time after a whirlwind of a Mother’s Day weekend.  I was lazy though, and reverted back to very poor habits.

It started off with a healthy egg white omelet for breakfast with my darling man, who didn’t finish his French Toast, so I helped him.  Damn my helpful nature!  My main squeeze is not a big eater, which does not compute in my mind.  So, after partaking in a few extra calories, I figured I’d work it all off in the gym later.  Well, I had intended to get to the gym.  But alas, my strong and capable legs did not walk the 4 blocks.  Oh, how the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

It’s amazing how sometimes (not always) I feel such guilt if I don’t go to the gym or do any sort of movement (yoga, pilates) on my day off, and then I start my way down a slippery slope of caloric self sabotage.  I have control over what I eat and how I move, and by choosing to be lazy and unhealthy the guilt kicks in to the extreme.   To add insult to injury, yesterday was after a feast of a day celebrating with both my Significant Other’s family and mine for the Mother’s Day holiday over the weekend.  I was able to squeeze in an hour at the gym beforehand on Sunday, but I was looking forward to Monday off and 3 hours at the gym.  3+ hours I spent doing the complete opposite!

food

Upon returning home from breakfast at the diner, my house is a mess.  I get into house cleaning/laundry/dusting mode.  This leads me to sorting a lot of the stuff I’ve accumulated from my love of shopping and collecting stuff over the years.  I am motivated to downsize not only because my boyfriend is moving in next month (exciting!) but because we often watch Hoarders and he jokingly tells me I have the beginning signs of Hoarding. (lol-damn him for being right).  By this time it’s time for a late lunch and the idea of getting to the gym before the after work 5pm crowd is less and less likely to happen.  I then proceeded to make poor high calorie lunch choices (pizza?  yes please!) and gave in to a pint of Edy’s Maxx Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream (omg yum) and sat my ass on the couch, IN MY GYM CLOTHES.  Food as comfort is an ongoing theme in my life.

20 minutes later, I felt gross.  A feeling I know all too well from my overeating habits.  A feeling I know will be the result of my actions.

chaircat

After my lunch feast, I decided it’s time to play around with my new DVR (and of course cuddle with my adorable cats).  That was a big mistake if I ever wanted to get my butt off the couch and moving.  10 hours and many feature films later, it was time to pass out and go to bed.  Monday was over and I was well over calories and feeling guilty for not taking the time to get to the gym.  Distracting myself with positive house tasks helped me a little with the guilt of feeling unproductive wellness wise.  Fortunately, last night I did not have much of a dinner nor continue to stuff my gullet for the rest of the night (which is actually a very bad past habit of mine.)

As far as a day of fitness and wellness, yesterday was a wash.  As far as organization and donating crap and getting it out of my house, yesterday was a success.

Today I packed my gym clothes and plan to hit it HARD after work.  I know if I made better choices it wouldn’t be such a roller coaster, but I think it’s a small victory knowing I have started fresh today and will not continue down the path to nutritional destruction.  Putting the breaks on a down spiral is just as difficult, if not more, as making the best nutritional decision from the get go.  This is something I’m continuing to struggle with, and I’m thankful to have such a loving support system to help cheer me on.  Managing my time and health priorities is something I’m getting better at, but I still fall victim to these tiny set backs!

Thank you, dear readers, friends, and family, for not only being non-judgemental but understanding it’s a learning process.

I’m getting there!

canandwill

Trigger Ain’t Just the Name of A Horse.

trigger

Roy Rogers & Trigger
“the greatest horse ever to appear in motion pictures.”

This past week has been an emotional roller coaster full of change, not necessarily bad, but different with lot’s of “unknowns”. That can be a self-destructive ED  (Eating Disorder) trigger of mine. Fear of the unknown. I’ve only recently been trying to live in the present.  I have my good days and my bad. I tend to eat my feelings instead of dealing with them, and right now I’m not even sure what my feelings are so I’ve regressed to bad food and ED habits to numb my anxiety.  To offset these horrible food decisions, I’ve been trying to balance out the high calorie intake with high calorie burns at the gym.  Although I’m enjoying being back at the gym, the reason why I go now is not my norm, so I’ve been feeling very stressed and unhappy and not very healthy at all.   This is a vicious cycle that I do not want to live for the rest of my life.  All I need to do to feel happy again is gain control of my decisions. I sometimes think I’m not in as much control as I really am over my decisions. I need to reset my mind and expectations of myself. Easier said than done, but not impossible.  I am also trying to focus on meditation to calm my mind and I’ve had some struggles, but I have hope the benefits will outweigh the struggle.

I’ve made little food decisions that I am going to deem small victories. Late at night when I feel the urge to binge or munch, I’ve been filling myself with fruits and veggies and smoothies!  Small changes can lead to big changes, so I hope, and I am going against every grain of my “all or nothing” persona to try and not lose hope and give up completely.  I am trying to learn from past mistakes and not dwell on them. I’ve been carb and fat overloading throughout these past few days, and since I’m not planning to run a Marathon anytime soon, that has to change. I know going to the gym can increase your appetite, but this is more than that. I’m not hungry and I’m eating. That is just habit.

Eating to excess is more than just loving food, in fact I tend to vilify food which is not a healthy mindset. It’s much more complex and something I’ve been working on understanding. I am well aware that I am full, painfully so, yet I still want that apple with peanut butter. Saying “stop” seems harder than just giving in to the craving. Tips like “waiting 20 minutes” is lost on me when I’m in this mindset of NOW NOW NOW. When I’m alone, it’s the worst. Distractions and hobbies and companionship are key for me to continue on a healthy path.  Boredom and loneliness are more triggers of mine that need to, and will, be dealt with very soon.

I am starting to realize I do better, make better decisions, as part of a team.  For example, my friend and co-worker wants to go to the buffet style cafeteria on campus for lunch today. At first my reaction was NOOOOOOO, oh the humanity!!! But then after telling her my recent struggles, owning them, I realized I will be OK with her there. She knows me. She knows my struggles with food, and though she graciously offered to go somewhere else, I told her that having her there will keep me accountable. It is a true test of my will power, which I know is a flaw of mine in every sense of the word. I am not a hermit living in a dietary controlled house, so I will be given these tests for the rest of my life. If you know your flaws, then you can work with them. If you befriend your monsters, then you become a lot braver than you think. Would I love to be magically “fixed” and never struggle with food again, of course! Reality says different. I need to recognize my triggers, change my reactions, and just do better.

This past week was full of poor food decisions. This next week won’t be.

be happy

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