Mindfulness vs. Obsession

Somewhere along the way, my mindfulness about food, weight, health, diabetes, and “doing it right” became an obsession.  This has only occurred to me within the last month or so. It probably occurred to everyone else around me much sooner than that. I have been doing a lot of internal work, introspection, questioning of myself where my weight loss and food relationships are concerned, and I do not like what things have become. It has all crystallized into a very distinct understanding that I am currently dealing with disordered thoughts and behaviors regarding food, health, and weight loss.

It all started innocently enough — scared shitless of dying an early death due to being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes at age 37, my health “rock bottom”, if you will. I immediately began purging my world of all the “bad” things and behaviors that brought me to that state — an over-abundance of carbs, an utter lack of exercise, over-eating in general, and complete and total apathy — all in a panicked attempt to undo what I had done to myself. And I did. I fixed myself. But, in the process, I have developed some legitimately worrisome fears and control issues regarding food.

I am constantly worried about bringing back my diabetes symptoms. I constantly monitor my carb intake (which is currently, by all accounts, a very reasonable one, coming in around 175 grams per day), yet the time I spend devoted to my carb intake, my food choices, and my caloric intake on a daily basis has become problematic. Correction: it has been problematic for a very, very long time, and I’m only now just realizing how much it is affecting my daily life and the quality thereof. I am also extremely focused on my blood glucose levels. I test myself multiple times a day, even though my blood sugar has been stable for a long time now. This isn’t right.

I thought I was being mindful. I thought this was how people managed to maintain their healthy lifestyle, their weight, and all of the other happyfunshinythings that go along with that. I thought mindfulness was how you Did It Right. And, it is.. the thing is, my mindfulness became obsession, and I couldn’t discern one from the other, because I’d never been mindful before, and I’d certainly never been obsessed with my health before, nor did I think it was possible. I didn’t know where to draw the line. I was in new territory with this whole caring about my health thing. I thought devoting most of my waking moments to thinking about it was how it was done, and even when I thought it might not be right to do so, I figured that this is why so many people fail at maintaining their new-found health and weight loss. I thought it was right because it was so hard.

I was wrong.

I have been debating on writing a blog entry about this for a few weeks, because I had hoped I would find a way to snap myself out of this, and then be able to write about it in a very relieved “Whew! That was a close one!” hindsight sort of way, but, it does not appear that this is going to be so easy. The other night, when I referred to a loaf of white bread in my kitchen as “unacceptable to me” whilst discussing how I had nothing “appropriate” to eat in the house, I knew this was going to be a long process. After I caught myself saying that, I made myself go make a sandwich out of said unacceptable white bread. It was an act that sort of forced myself to understand that I will no longer tolerate being a crazy food weirdo. 

What I am doing about it: I am participating in a Facebook support group called Eating The Food, founded by one of my favorite bloggers, Go Kaleo. It has been immensely enlightening. It has helped me to identify what my issues are — in the sense that some things are, in fact, issues, and some things are normal and healthy. Being able to tell the difference has been difficult for me for a long time now. That, in itself, is an issue. I am dealing with it. I will work through this, and I will be better for having had the experience.

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What I Can Do..

I’ve learned a lot over the last 14 months.  Where I began seems a lifetime away from where I am right now. I hope in another 14 months I will have learned just as much more.

In a way, I am still doing exactly what I set out to do, which is improve my health and defeat my insulin resistance issues. The difference now, is, that I am more focused on building a body that is capable. I want to be able-bodied in the most straight-forward sense. I want to do things.

Initially, rather naively, I thought losing weight alone would achieve that for me, and in some ways, it has. I no longer carry around the burden of 115 extra pounds. This is good. But, somewhere along the way, I have discovered that losing weight does not equal being healthy or able-bodied. I realized that not only did I want to be less fat, but I wanted to be stronger.

I’ve mentioned many times before that I don’t really have much in the way of equipment for strength training. I use body weight exercises and have a set of adjustable dumbbells with a total of 40lbs at my disposal. I have to say, it is pretty amazing what one can achieve with such a limited arsenal.

I am very close to being able to do a proper, full-on, no-fucking-around push-up. This is a goal I have set for myself and it will be a great moment when I achieve it. Right now, I still use the arm of the sofa to do push-ups. Not quite horizontal, but getting there. I started out doing them standing up, hands against a wall, so I’ve definitely made some progress.

Earlier this month, we had to have one of our beloved dogs, Heidi, put to sleep. She was 12 years old, and had a health emergency that escalated very quickly. Nothing could be done. The very tough decision was made to bring an end to her suffering. By the time we reached the emergency clinic, she was unable to walk, so I had to lift her up from the ground and carry her inside. She’s a 70lb Australian Cattle Dog.  I wasn’t sure I could do it until I did it, and when I did, it seemed effortless. I was able to keep my dog comfortable and deliver her to assistance with the least amount of pain, trauma and anxiety possible. It meant a lot to me that I was able to do that for her. For the first time, I was able to apply my strength to a real life situation, and it made all of the days pushing around a couple of dumbbells and doing squats worth it.

This is why I want to continue in this vein with my health and fitness goals.

Being strong is more than just flexing a muscle in the mirror.  It’s not a “look”, it’s a state of being. I want to apply it to my life. I want to be able-bodied and useful. I want to know that I can handle life’s unexpected situations where physicality is required. That I can help others that aren’t able to help themselves. That I can help you move your sofa into your new 4th floor apartment without an elevator.

My last weight loss update was in March. I’ve lost 7lbs since then, bringing me to 215lbs. I am 1lb shy of being out of the “obese” range of the BMI chart, and into merely “overweight”. I never thought I’d feel so relieved and flattered to be called overweight. I am 22lbs away from my initial goal weight of 193, but that has really lost a lot of importance for me at this point. I’ll still mention it, just for the sake of perspective, though.

Lots going on for me in July, and hopefully a few photos to share, too.

Thanks for reading me and for the support!

A realization…

I went to an air show at the Redlands airport this past weekend with my best friend, and I had a great time. I felt an unfamiliar sense of being carefree and confident — and that was before I drank all the beer.  (It was sponsored by the Hangar 24 Brewing Company.)  I was striking up conversations with strangers, and they were striking up conversations with me. I didn’t shrink away from people, or avoid eye contact. I was present. It felt… amazing.

I asked my friend Dawn if she had noticed that people tend to treat me differently (see: better) now that I’ve lost a lot of weight. She wrinkled her nose at me and said, “No, Erin. YOU are different, not them. You no longer stand around with your arms folded across your chest and a scowl on your face. People want to approach you because you are now approachable. You are happy and people can see it, and they respond to it.”

Dawn was right. I’ve been grappling with this change since I’ve lost the bulk of my weight and really started to feel more comfortable and capable in my body. Initially, part of me was a little annoyed at the realization that people were so much more closed-off to me when I was a lot heavier. But, I now realize that I was the one putting distance between myself and the rest of the world. Who can blame me, though? I’ve spent the majority of my life living in a body that restricted me in every conceivable way. Being called fat, being mocked for it. Being told I wasn’t good enough, and believing it. Being unable to participate in sports, fitting into nice clothes, riding on rollercoasters, or being hugged with arms that reach all the way around me. It seemed natural to remove myself from most activities, as I expected I would be physically incapable of joining in, anyway. I’ve only been living half of a life. Maybe less.

Enough of the pity party, though. The world has shaped me, and I’ve shaped my world. Now, I’m a different shape, and I get another chance to shape the world I live in to fit me. I know, I know ..the size of our bodies should not dictate who we are or how good or bad life is. But, until you’ve lived an entire “life” as a morbidly obese person, you’ll never understand the limitations set upon you, or the limitations you set upon yourself.

I am really excited to live life in a way that permits me to participate fully.
No excuses allowed.  No excuses needed.

In limbo..

I had a bit of a breakdown moment at the beginning of April. I wanted to eat everything. All the time. I didn’t, but I really wanted to. It scared me, because I felt like I’d been eating well/enough and not really struggling with hunger much this entire time, and then suddenly, the Hunger Within took over.  I didn’t want to undo my progress. I didn’t want to bring back the diabetes symptoms. I was pretty worried, and then I became worried about being so worried.

I went looking for answers to my new dilemma, and a few trusted weight loss veterans told me I should simmer down and try eating at maintenance level for a little while. That, essentially, I should take a break from dieting. So, I did. Because of this, I’m only 2lbs less than I was over a month ago, but that’s okay. I feel better now, and I feel like I can pick up where I left off without any major issues.

I’m still a little off-balance where my anxiety about losing weight is concerned, so I’ve really been trying to focus my attention on building strength instead of the number on the scale. The problem is, I have a very limited set of equipment with which to accomplish that — a set of adjustable dumbbells with a total weight of 40lbs, and my own body weight. I’ve been looking into joining the YMCA and applying for the po’ folk discount they offer, as well as considering a few other options.  We’ll see what I can come up with.

The main realization I’ve had is that I now know that I want to start lifting heavy weights. Often. I want to be strong, and I want to find out what my now much lighter body can really do.  I’m borderline obsessing about it, which is actually a good thing, because that means I won’t likely give up on trying to make it happen any time soon.

I’ve been following a couple great fitness blogs written by science-loving skeptical reasonable people who are very into keeping shit real. One of which is gokaleo.com. She’s a badass, and when I grow up, I want to be just like her. She is also one of the people that has inspired me to want to lift heavy.

So, this is where I’m at… in this odd sort of holding pattern situation, with very little to report, but a whole lot to say, anyway. Thanks for listening.

Photo Update Number 2…

I won’t bore you guys with a bunch of blathering this time around, as I think I babbled enough for 2 month’s worth in my last post.

Just wanted to share my most recent photo with you all, holding myself to my promise to post again when I hit 225lbs.  Here it is, alongside the previous two photos for comparison’s sake:

SidebySidebySide
(click photo to enlarge)

I apologize for the wonky photo editing action going on up there. I’m not getting taller, I just suck at recreating my previous photo.

At any rate, I’ve noticed I’m looking older now that my face is getting thinner. That’s okay, though. Taking the sweet with the sour is nothing new to this kid. Also, the shirt I’m wearing in that photo is so big on me now, that I had to bunch it up in a big ball in the back and stuff it down the back of my jeans for the picture. Good times.

I am currently 222lbs, which gives me a total loss of 111lbs! I’ve got a ways to go yet, but it doesn’t appear that my progress is going to slow down any time soon, despite my efforts to curtail my rate of loss. I’ll keep adjusting my calorie intake and try to figure that out.

Friends — thanks for reading me and for all of the support you’ve given me during this process. I appreciate it more than words can say.

I ate ice cream and lived to tell the tale..

Well, I’ve had far too much coffee, and I know I should wait a few more days to eke out another pound for the monthly tally, but screw it. I want to get my babble on, and babble I shall.

As the title suggests, I ate ice cream for the first time in.. well.. nearly a year. Clearly, I survived it. In fact, I relished the experience and plan on doing it again in the near future. I realize how silly this must sound to most folks, or even worrisome, making a big to-do out of eating some ice cream, but for me, it was a way to let myself understand that I can and will be able to handle it, and that I don’t have to live a life of deprivation.

I have been living a rather irrational carb-fearing existence since The Reckoning. Yes, I could have just doubled-up on some broccoli at dinner, but where’s the fun in that? I wanted to push my boundaries a bit, because I do intend on living a “normal” life once my weight is in a healthy range, and I do intend to eat good things, in moderation, for the rest of my existence.

I’m also learning that it isn’t the carbs I need to be worrying about anymore. Yes, lowering them helped me get my blood glucose under control, and yes, as a diabetic, I will have to always be mindful of my glucose levels. But I’m maintaining a very healthy BG level at all times, and most of that has to do with…

Exercise. I was stuck at 238 for a while, longer than I would have liked. I was getting frustrated, and knew something, somewhere, needed to change. I had gotten into the habit of 30 minutes of stationary cycling 4 or 5 days a week. I was breathing hard, my heart was pumping, I was sweaty and pink-faced at the end. However, what I didn’t realize is that I could do more, and that I should be doing more. So, I did. I increased my time to 45 minutes, and within 3 days of doing so, I dropped 2 pounds. Unstuck.

On a crappier note, my knees suck. I was doing weighted squats the other day, and kept hearing and feeling a rather disconcerting crunching noise/sensation coming from my left knee. It didn’t hurt, but it certainly didn’t seem too reassuring. I have a history of patellar subluxation, which is a fancy way of saying my knees like to dislocate. It hasn’t happened since I was in my early 20s, and I really don’t ever want it to happen again. In fact, thinking about it happening makes me go all fetal and feel faint. So, I have now opted to cut squats out of my routine. This is a bummer, because I love squats, and they have helped me form something reminiscent of an actual ass. Nothing too spectacular, but I’ve got more going on back there now than I used to. Anyway, I’m looking into some ass-enhancing alternatives to remedy that issue. No, I won’t be purchasing the padded booty underwear. That’s cheating.

Now for the numbers.
I am currently 231lbs, which gives me a 7lb loss since my last post. This also brings me to 102lbs lost. Wait, wait. That’s not right. What I meant to say was

I’VE LOST A HUNDRED AND TWO POUNDS YOU GUYYYSSS!!!

There, that’s better.

Pretty cool, right? In 6 more pounds, I’ll be posting a new photo. I can really tell the difference in a lot of ways, and I’m excited to see how I compare with my previous photo. You’re probably wondering why I didn’t choose to take a photo at 100lbs lost, and I’m wondering that, as well. I just thought 225lbs sounded like a nice number to memorialize, so I went with it. I’m just gonna stick with that, since I’m trying to be about sticking with things these days. ;)

Thanks for taking the time to read me. Sorry I was a little long-winded and poorly formatted. My paragraphs are atrocious. It’s the coffee. For reallies.

See you in 6 pounds. :)

It won’t be long now…

Something cool occurred to me the other day. I now weigh 12lbs less than the formerly flattering lie I have on my most current driver’s license. I was around 300lbs or so when I listed my weight as 250 back in 2005. How sad is it that “250” was meant to save me some embarrassment? Yeesh. Now, I just have to get down to 190, so I can finally be the weight I had dishonestly listed myself as back in 1992, when I weighed closer to 270! Sorry DMV, I’m a weight fibber like that.

I just got off Skype with my friend Louie. He lives in Palau now, and he keeps pleading with me to come visit him there. I am so not a tropical island weather kind of gal. I’m also not a flying in an airplane anywhere for any reason kind of gal. It did dawn on me that I could now fit rather comfortably in a coach class airplane seat, and no longer require a seat-belt extension thingy, though. I don’t think that would do much to alleviate the heart-exploding anxiety attack I would still endure on a flight to Hawaii and then on to Guam, but hey, it’s a nice thought anyway. Maybe some other time, Lou-Lou. ;)

Kale. I love it.  Sauteed with minced garlic in some olive oil. Fucking phenomenal. Oh! I found bread. BREAD! Diabeetus-friendly bread! Mahler’s California Lifestyle Flax and Soy bread. 6g of carbs per slice, 10g of protein! And it’s not made with a bunch of bizarre crap that gives mice cancer or anything like that, either. All of the ingredients are hippie-approved. Unless you’re scared of wheat gluten because you think gluten is bad because someone else you know thinks gluten is bad for no apparent reason. That happens more often than you’d think. Anyway, having two pieces of bread for an actual sandwich is this rather awesome novelty and I have been enjoying the experience immensely.

Now, for the current numbers:

I am currently 238lbs, which gives me a total loss of  95lbs!! I am so close to 100lbs lost, I can scarcely believe it. I think my last weight update had me at 82lbs lost, and that was close to 2 months ago. My losses are slowing down a bit now, and some of that is intentional, and some of it isn’t. I’ve lessened my daily caloric deficit to around -750 (1.5lbs per week) instead of -1000 (2lbs per week). I felt I was losing too quickly, and while that was sort of the idea initially, in order to get my diabetes under control as soon as possible, I feel like I can now reign things in a bit and try to focus more on overall fitness.

It’s pretty weird to think that I only have around 45lbs to lose now. That seems like a drop in the bucket. I don’t know that I can even remember only being 45lbs overweight before. Maybe when I was like.. 12 years old? What a trip!

13 more pounds until my next progress photo!