My Biggest Triggers – The Truth About Bullies

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Random picture of my cat for no particular reason.

I am going to begin today’s post with ad admission. Over the last two years, I regained 58 pounds. This is not something I’m very proud of or happy about. My binge eating returned and I went through a very busy and stressful two years. Bottom line, I was not paying attention to my health and weight the way I should.

The good news is, I have taken corrective action. I am seeing a doctor to help me get my weight loss back on track, and I am seeing a therapist to help me develop the necessary skills to deal with the crazy, eating disordered part of my brain. As a result, as of two weeks ago, I am down 10 pounds.  I see the doctor again this week where I will be weighed. I think I lost some more. I noticed my leggings felt looser this week. Not just one pair, but all of them. I am not weighing myself at home, though. I have a tendency to weigh myself every day, and every teeny movement of the scale makes me crazy. I am either delighted that I’m down a pound or two, or depressed because there was no discernible movement or a slight one pound regain. It helps me more to look at the bigger picture and get weighed less often.

This brings me to today’s topic. Triggers.

For me, my triggers are the events, emotions, etc. that cause me to lose control and find solace in food. In my case, that food is usually salty, crunch, and starchy. Sometimes, but not often, sugary foods will do. Cheetos are my standby. If I’m eating Cheetos, chances are there is something in my life that is causing me undo stress and causing me to feel out of control.

My two biggest triggers are yelling, and when people are saying negative, untrue things about me behind my back to the people I love and respect.

How Gossip Affects Me:

When people talk about me behind my back, that really cuts me to the quick. It hurts because someone thinks badly enough about me to gossip. And it hurts because I fear their words will affect how others see me.

In my head, I know that any true friend, and anyone who really knows me wouldn’t allow someone else’s thoughtless or mean words change their opinion of me. And anyone who does allow gossip to color how they see me, is not really a friend.

Maybe that is what truly hurts because in the past, I have had people I thought were my friends turn on me solely due to the untrue, or misrepresented words of another person. I start to think that someone I trusted and thought of as a friend really thought badly of me all along. I question my judgment. I question my own internal sense of self. And I begin to question if there really is something wrong with me. In short, it breaks my heart.

How Yelling Affects Me:

I cannot stand yelling. I never could. It is one thing to have a disagreement with someone, even if that sometimes gets loud. That’s different from what I mean.

Yelling, or screaming is irrational. Usually the screamer is using that tactic as a way to silence the person they are yelling at and to establish dominance. There is no talking to a screamer. There is no way to rationally discuss anything with a screamer. And there is no way to resolve a problem with a screamer. They are right, you are wrong, and they will use their physical and psychic power to shut you down.

I push back hard on screamers.

I recently had a guy I know vaguely scream at me about something. He screamed at me at the top of his lungs in a crowded room.

I did not even what he was screaming about. I just looked at him and calmly said, “I do not have a husband, and my father is dead. No man screams at me. You are no one to me. What gives you the right to think you can talk to me that way?”

I stood up for myself. I did not let him bully me. I walked away. Sounds strong right?

The truth is, I fretted about this incident for a very long time. I was shaking and very angry. I was emotionally distraught. How dare he? Who does he think he is? Why would he think it is OK to do that to me? This event happened nearly a year ago and I still bring it up. That is how much of an impact it made.

Recently, I became aware of a situation where someone has been bullying a person I love using these two tactics. Screaming irrationally, and gossiping about me. Why I was brought into the situation, I’ll never know, but there you have it. This situation has really made me kind of crazy. I did not even hear the yelling, but just knowing that it was going on started the wheels in the crazy, food addicted part of my brain cycling out of control.

It has taken every ounce of self-control inside me to stay focused. I have waffled between anger, sadness, frustration, rage, and feelings of worthlessness, and powerlessness.

It is true that I have no power over what this person says or does. I also have no control over the impact their words have not he people I love. But that does not make their words true, their behavior right, or me powerless.

Realizing that truth has taken me a long time. Too long.

The truth is, screaming and gossiping are forms of control and intimidation used by bullies. And that’s all people who use these tactic are…bullies.

Maybe the reason screamers and gossipers affect me so badly is because I was bullied as a child. That bullying had a lasting impact on how I see myself. It was only well into my adulthood that I accepted the truth…that when someone bullies you, there is something wrong with them. Not you.

Knowing that intellectually is one thing. Really accepting it in your heart and soul is another.

A Strange New World

I sat on my couch in the morning on Friday, January 20, 2017 to watch the peaceful transfer of power that our country is known for. It is one of the things that makes our country great. We can disagree and fight during election season and even after, but on Inauguration day, one man, one party hands over the reigns to another, relinquishing his power and the keys to the kingdom, so to speak.

This is something we usually celebrate. This year was different. I did not see anything to celebrate as Obama transferred his role to a mean-spirited man who campaigned on division, hatred, and fear. I sat there as his supporters booed his opponent, former First Lady and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. And I listened as they cheered him and his American Carnage speech. There were protesters and violence. It was very disheartening.

I so wanted to attend the Women’s March the next day. I needed to feel something positive and a connection to other people who were also as angry, sad, and frustrated as I was. I was unable to attend Obama’s inauguration in 2009. I weighed 300 pounds and could barely walk. In 2013, I had just had surgery. I had lost a lot of weight and was sure I could do the walking, but I was trying not to push myself too hard as I was still recovering. I was looking forward to attending for Hillary, but alas, that was not to be.

Family and friends were concerned for my safety this year after watching the violence that took place on Trump’s Inauguration Day. I was also scheduled to work the mid-day into evening shift. I asked for the day off, but my boss was unable to grant the request. That only made my mood worse.

Then suddenly, something changed. Towards the end of the day, my supervisor came up to me and told me to call in the am and if it was slow, I could “come in late.” She left it sort of open-ended.

I went home and made my plans. My mom called and told me to “be safe.” My sisters cheered, as they were in California and could to make it. I had no idea what to expect. I read a lot of the “How to be safe at a protest rally” articles that had been floating around internet. Take one bag. Take food. Take an extra phone charger. Take something to wrap around your face in case of tear gas.

I was anxious, but excited.

I woke up early Saturday morning. I think I had four hours of sleep. I had everything all laid out. I got ready and made my way to the parking garage in my building. My plan was to drive to the metro and take the train into the city. In the parking garage, was another woman getting into her car with her friends.

“Are you going?” she asked.

“Of course!” And we both raised our fists in the air in celebration.

Already, this day felt different.

I arrived at the metro station at 730am and already the lot was full. That should have been a clue to what I was about to face, but the station has a small lot, so I didn’t think anything of it. I parked at the hotel across the street and ran across the street.

To say the station was packed is an understatement. There was probably a 30 minute line to fill or buy a fare card. Fortunately, I have one that I keep full from my days of commuting into the city. So, I got in the line for the turn-style to get into the  station.

I knew where I wanted to go. A friend had been messaging me telling her to meet her and her friends. And that was certainly my plan. I waited for the second train, as the first was stuffed to the gills. I entered the train holding my Starbucks coffee and my fare card in my hand. I had my purse slung across my body so that I would not have to worry about that swinging around.

My face was maybe two inches from the woman standing in front of me.

“I know you!” She said to me. She did look familiar, but I wasn’t sure if it was because I had actually met her somewhere or of she just had that look of someone I know but cannot place.

“You do? My name’s Colleen. What’s yours?”

“Danni. Are you a Geek?” Now that is an odd question to ask someone. Or it would be if I hadn’t almost immediately known what she meant. “I mean are you in the NOVA Geek Group on Meetup?”

“No, but I went to Sarah’s Jewish Christmas! You were there!”

(A quick note here…I worked all the way up to midnight on Christmas Eve and was unable to make plans to go out-of-town to see family and the family that lives here went to Disney for Christmas, so one of my friends from my writer’s group invited me to Chinese food and a movie with her friends for Christmas.)

“Yes!”

Danni, and her friends allowed me to tag along with them since once we arrived in the city it was clear there was probably no way I was going to be able to find my friends. I called work as soon as we got there. Which is a good thing, since I very quickly lost all cell service.

I could not to get over the number of people. We could barely move once we got close, to where the rally was, which was not very close at all. I spent the whole day near the Air & Space Museum, actually about a block and a half across the street. We could not even get close to Independence Avenue. Occasionally, we could see the jumbotrons or hear the speeches. But mostly, we just walked around and talked to people. It was great to feel a sense of solidarity with women. At the time, we had only an inkling of what we were a part of.

The DC police were so nice. It was almost as if they were in solidarity with us. They were directing people, answer questions, keeping an eye on families with children. So many women brought their daughters, sons, husbands, babies.

At one point, I lost Sarah’s friends. The one girl was pregnant and was racing around looking for a bathroom, of which there were very, very few. We were crossing a street that was packed with people when a sea of people going in the other direction cut me off from them. I knew where they were going and walked in that direction to no avail. So, I used my solitary status to push my way as close to Independence as I could get. I saw a corner of the screens sometimes, but at least here I could hear the speeches.

People were getting anxious and wanted to march. The chant, “MARCH! MARCH! MARCH!” came and went several times. At that point, it was announced that the streets were too chock-full of people to march and the route they received the permit for was blocked. We knew it was crazy-crowded, but still, we had no idea what the rest of the world was seeing on TV. Or what was going on in other cities. At one point, someone did say that women were protesting in Antarctica. I didn’t know there were people in Antartica, let alone protesters!

I did get to do some marching and chanting, but at that point, I made the decision to leave. I still had to get to work and I knew the metro was going to be crazy. If there was to be no marching, people would start to leave and I would never get out.

At one point during the protest, I started receiving random texts that had been delayed getting to me. I received one from my sister-in-law who told me my niece wanted to come to the city, but her parents told her, “no we cannot go today because of the protests.” We regularly take her to DC to the museums and monuments. When she was told about the protests, she expressed her displeasure with Trump and made her own sign!

 

I had heard Mr. Trump many times during his campaign say that he was leading a movement. That people didn’t understand what was going on. I agree that he did tap into an anger and frustration that working people in this country have had for the last 30 years as real wages have stagnated and labor has lost a lot of its political clout. I’m not sure I would call it a movement. All he has to do is not deliver on bringing jobs and higher wages to his supporters, and they will turn on him.

When I got home and was actually able to watch the news, I was astonished. I knew it was a lot of people, but I had no idea. There have been estimates that 2.6 million-2.9 million people protested nationwide and maybe as many as 11 million worldwide.

I suddenly stopped feeling bad I was unable to march through the city with the rest of the crowd. Just showing up, I decided, was enough. Adding myself to the numbers that made it impossible to march was just as important. I stood with my fellow Americans in solidarity supporting our values. And that, after all, was part of the point. It was also to send the message that although we may not be in power, we are not powerless. We are here, we are many, and we are not going away.

Trump’s election denied us celebrating the first woman president. We have denied him our silent acquiesces to his negative agenda.

That, Mr. Trump, is a movement.

10 Things I Hate About Biking

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Post biking face

I have decided that since I am biking a lot, 3-5 times per week, that I want to do a few more posts about biking. I have another two in mind after this one. But it has become such a big part of my life recently that I have been thinking about it a lot, and since I have a blog, I have decided to share those thoughts with my readers.

Biking as a kid, I did not really think about it much. I just got on the bike and peddled away. Biking was transportation. It was freedom. It was a way to hang out with the other kids in my neighborhood. I never really thought of it as exercise, although clearly it is. It was just fun.

As an adult who recently started biking again after a 20+ year hiatus, I think about it probably way too much.

Today, I’m going to write about 10 things I hate about biking.

  1. It is hard work – OMG it is hard work. People who bike regularly make it look so easy. Don’t fool yourself. It is not.
  2. Hills – Hills suck, and by hills, I mean up-hills. Down-hills are kind of awesome. Up-hills feed back into #1. They are hard. I have to peddle harder. I sweat more. I breathe heavier. I struggle. I fight. Sometimes, I get off the bike and walk up the hill.
  3. Peddling – Peddling is hard, especially if I am peddling up-hill. Nonetheless, I cannot bike if I do not peddle.
  4. It is scary – Biking is scary. Especially if I’m going fast, and by fast I mean, well slow really. Because I’m way slower than most other people on the trails. But still, the potential for crashing, falling over, running into people is very real.
  5. Crashing my bike – I haven’t yet. I’ve been pretty lucky. I have stumbled here or there. I even ran into a wall, sort of. But I haven’t really had a wreck or even tipped all the way over.
  6. Cars – Let’s face it, cars are very scary to people who bike. They are very dangerous. If you’re in a car and you have a small accident with a car, chances are good you will be fine. If you’re on a bike, and are in a small accident with a car, maybe not so much. You would think cars would be more careful around bikers, but they are not. At least I assume they are not. That’s the safest way to be around cars. Assume they are dangerous and have every intention of hitting you. Get out of their way.
  7. Pedestrians – Pedestrian and other bike traffic are dangerous as well. Pedestrians, small children, they all just walk right out in front of you. They don’t look. And they never will. I saw an accident in DC one time when I was walking to work from the metro. A pedestrian crossed against the light and while she looked for cars, she did not look for bike traffic. She walked right into the bike lane without looking and the biker ran right into her. She then got up and berated him. The laws tend to favor the pedestrian as the biker or should be on the lookout for them at all times, but seriously, they are stupid sometimes.
  8. Hot weather – Weather can make all the difference in a good ride or a bad ride sometimes. I have biked in extreme heat. The one time, it was about 100 degrees and because of the humidity, we were under a heat warning. I required a lot more water. I actually ran out before I made it back home and was afraid I was going to pass out. I ended up walking my bike the last quarter mile. I’ve been sunburned and even have a strange tan pattern on my hands because of my biking gloves.
  9. Cold, wet, windy weather – The weather here is starting to cool off. I actually like biking on cooler days, but colder weather comes with it’s own risks. If I do not dress properly, I could catch a chill and get sick. The wind also makes it harder. Biking on really windy days is tough. It is kind of like biking through marshmallows. The peddling is harder. Going up-hill is harder. It sucks. Oh and across bridges on a windy day? Scary! I’m also concerned about the falling leaves. If they get wet and I bike through them, my tires could slip and I could have an accident. Plus as the temperature drops and precipitation turns to ice or snow, the weather will eventually prevent me from being able to bike.
  10. Fear that I will quit – All of the above things I hate are basically about me facing my fears. The nine reasons I hate biking are all reasons I could use to quit. I fight every day that I bike to get out there are peddle my 8 mile roundtrip route. Every time I get out there, I consider it a success no matter how far I ride, how difficult the ride, or how I feel. Some days, it is all I can do just to get my biking gear on let alone get the bike out the door. I have to fight the myriad of things going through my head that tell me it is OK not to bike today. I have a headache. I’m tired. I have to work later. I worked last night. I have to do laundry. The cat needs me to stay home. The sun is shining. It is cloudy. I could get caught up on XYZ tv show before work. I slept too late. I never game anymore. I could get an hour of gaming in. The day ends in a Y. Yet, so far, none of that has deterred me. I just hope as the weather turns wintery, I can continue to be as determined to bike, even if it is on an indoor stationary bike at the gym.

What I Think About While I’m Biking (Hint: Not you!)

I have been biking quite a lot recently. I try to get out at least 3-5 times a week. I have even biked to work, although I do not do that often. I’m often hot and sweaty after I get there and the ride home, while primarily downhill, is mostly on city streets and is kind of brutal and scary.

A few months ago, a friend of mine, or maybe someone I know only slightly posted this meme oh Facebook:

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I think the person was trying to be encouraging by showing how judgy they are not by posting a meme on Facebook. I was slightly offended by it and became more so the more I thought about it. I’m not upset with the person, just the idea. The idea that there are good fat people, those who exercise or do something other people deem to be healthy. And bad fat people. To me, this is just another form of fat shaming.

The idea that my health, my appearance somehow belongs to other people is offensive to me. If I do what you think is the right thing, I’m worthy of praise, and if I do not, I deserve derision.

Now that I am biking myself, I’m here to tell you that while I’m biking, none of that matters. Here’s the secret. Fat people bike for the same reasons skinny people bike…because they love it. Yes, it is exercise and helps to build muscle mass and burn calories, but that is not my primary motivation.

So I thought I’d share some of the things I actually think about while I’m biking. (hint: those thoughts have nothing to do with you or what I think you think I look like!)

  1. Balance! Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Whoa Whoa! Don’t fall! Don’t fall!
  2. I put my feet not the pedals! Whoo hoo!
  3. OK, pedal, pedal! Don’t fall!
  4. I’m biking! I’m biking!
  5. OK get to bike trail…
  6. Big hill! It’s downhill, you can do this!
  7. Holy crap here comes a car! It’s OK! It’s OK! They’ll go around me.
  8. Whew, they went around me. Catastrophe averted.
  9. I made it to the bike trail! OMG, it’s uphill! At least it will be downhill on the way back.
  10. On the way back: How can the bike trail possibly be uphill in both directions?? Seriously? Who designed these trails?
  11. OMG, my legs.
  12. OMG, my butt hurts.
  13. OMG, I cannot breathe.
  14. Just breathe!
  15. OMG, I think a bug flew up my nose!
  16. Now my nose is itchy!
  17. Can’t take hands off handlebars to scratch nose.
  18. I have to scratch my nose.
  19. Scratches nose. Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Don’t fall!
  20. Making bike trail part of the sidewalk…not a good idea!
  21. Case in point…who decided to put a lamppost in the middle of the bike trail/sidewalk? WTF? img_1858
  22. Bike around lamppost by railing and risk running into the railing and possibly tumbling down the embankment and into the creek? Or bike around lamppost street-side and risk tumbling into traffic? Nice.
  23. Preparing to bike up a short, but sharp hill. I can do this. I can do this. Uh oh, someone is coming downhill fast in my lane! He’s not looking up. Look up, look up look up! “Hey, look up! Coming towards you!”
  24. He moved, thank God.
  25. Lost momentum. Great, now I have to walk up the hill.
  26. OMG, I didn’t know I could sweat this much.
  27. Family with kids, “I’m on your left!” Please, God, don’t let the kids run out in front of me!
  28. Did the runner I just passed going downhill just pass me as we are going uphill? Holy crap, I’m slow!
  29. When does this get easier?
  30. Does it have to be so hot out?
  31. When does this hill end?
  32. Breathe! Just breathe!
  33. You can do this!
  34. Home at last!
  35. I so totally rock!

I do not think about what other people think I look like. Not at all. I think about safety and the other people I see on the trails. I do not want to put myself or anyone else at risk.

A friend of mine recently asked me that since I live in an urban area and I bike on the streets a lot if cars scare me. The answer is, they terrify me. I have a healthy fear of cars. Every time I have to cross a street or bike on the street, I’m terrified. I know most drivers are cautious and do not want to hit me, but in that moment, all I can think about is trying to avoid being hit. I yield to everyone.

But here’s another secret, I spend most of my time on my bike being terrified. Terrified I’ll fall. Terrified I’ll run into a pedestrian. Terrified of going uphill. Terrified of going down hill. Terrified of going too slow. And terrified of going too fast. Still, I get out there.

So, why do I do it? I do it because I have to. Not because I’m required to, or that the doctor told me I must. I do it because I love it. When I’m on my bike I’m not concerned about what I look like or what anyone else thinks of me. It is the only time I feel free from the judgment of other people; free to just live in the moment. I think that more than anything gets me out there on the trails as often as possible.

I see people of all sizes on the bike trails. Some a much smaller than me, some much bigger. One girl in particular stands out. I saw her this weekend and I think she was biking with her boyfriend. She looked like she was struggling. Still, she was faster than me. The two of them whizzed by me without a problem. I later caught up with them as they had stopped for water. She saw me coming and smiled. She looked just as hot and sweaty as I felt. I smiled back and gave her the biker nod – the nod many bikers have given me. A nod of recognition; of camaraderie; a welcome to the club. I hope she sticks with it and loves it as much as I do.

Biker Girl!

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So, yesterday I tried something new, something I have wanted to do for a long time. Something I used to do when I was younger.

I went biking!

OK, I didn’t go very far, but that’s OK. I have not been on a bike in over 20 years. When I was very young, a kid all the way through high school, I used to bike all of the time. It was my main source of transportation and gave me a sense of freedom.

Once I became morbidly obese weight in the high 200s to low 300s, biking was not an option for me. So to be able to get back on a bike again held a lot of meaning.

My sister moved to Texas a few weeks ago and she gave me her bike. She knew I was looking to buy one, but I did not really have a lot of time to be trolling Craigslist to find an inexpensive used bike. She was purging before the move and decided to just give me her bike.

When I first got on the bike, the tires had no air. I fit on the bike perfectly. We put it in the back of my car, and it stayed there for a few weeks until I could deal with the no air problem.

I went to a bike shop near my apartment to get air in my tires and get a couple of supplies. I wanted to get a helmet and some lights for the bike. I also wanted to get a bike rack because getting the bike in and out of the hatchback is a pain in the ass.

Immediately after getting air in the tires and getting the bike rack installed, I drove out to my brother’s house and hung out with him and my niece for a bit. Well, really him, because my niece is now 8 and friends are much more important and fun than aunties. So basically, I drive 40 minutes to get a hug and then she runs off to play.

Such is life.

Anyway, it was late by the time I got back home. I took the bike off the rack and was walking it out of the garage and up to my apartment. I stopped in the lot for a few minutes a figured I would give it a quick spin.

To my surprise, I could barely touch the ground. I immediately felt very unsteady o the bike and almost toppled over. I tried a couple of times to find my balance, but I just couldn’t.

Feeling a bit embarrassed and nervous, I took he bike up to my apartment and just stared at it a bit. I was absolutely convinced I would never be able to do this. But I really wanted to. I put the bike in front of a bookcase and practiced sitting on and putting my feet on the pedals just to get the feel. In retrospect, holding onto the bookcase was probably not the brightest idea. Had I toppled over, I risked pulling the whole thing down on top of me. Fortunately, that did not happen.

Yesterday I was determined to at least get on the bike and maybe try to do a couple of laps in the parking lot. The parking lot of my building is kind of big, so a couple of laps would be a good starter.

I was very nervous and feeling very self-conscious about what people would think because I couldn’t even find my balance. Nonetheless, I did it. At first, I tried to position myself near a pole so I could balance myself. Then I practiced just scooting along to get the bike moving. I tried a couple of times get both feet on the pedals, but could not find my balance.

After a few minutes of scooting, I just told myself to do it. I took a deep breath and just forced myself to put both feet on the pedals and push. And I was off! A little wobbly, but I did it!

I rode around the lot for about 10 minutes. I did several loops in the front of the building and around the back. When I was done, I was exhausted and a little sore, but I did it!

I took the bike back inside and figured I was done for the day. Then my friend Sush texted me and asked if I wanted to come watch the DNC with her and watch the democrats elect Hillary, the first woman to run on a major party ticket. I excitedly texted back sure! I’ll ride my bike over!

I don’t know what made me say that. Maybe it was the endorphine rush from my short ride around the lot that made me feel invincible, but a huge part of me was screaming, “WTF! Why???”

Now Sush lives about a mile down the W&OD trail from where I live, so it’s not far. That wasn’t the problem though. I live on this HUGE hill that leads down into Shirlington and then down to the bike trail. While I could ride comfortably in my parking lot, and I was pretty sure I could make the mile on the bike trail, I was very worried about going up and down that hill.

So, I walked the bike down the hill. Once in Shirlington, I started riding towards the bike trail. I stayed mostly on the sidewalk except when I had to cross the street. It was a pretty easy ride on the trail. I was slow and other bikers did pass me. Fortunately, I had spent enough time walking on the trail, that I was familiar with biking etiquette. If another biker wants to pass you, they ring a bell or say, “On your left,” and that is your queue to stick to the right so they can safely pass. And it truth, I wasn’t on the trail long enough for this to really be an issue.

I did get off the trail a little too soon and wandered around a neighborhood that was not Sush’s for about a minute, then got back on the trail to get to her actual neighborhood. Sush was so excited to see me riding a bike. She knows what an accomplishment this was for me. She has been one of my biggest cheerleaders since I started my weight loss. She knows how much I struggled before, and she is so happy to see me doing things I never would have attempted.

The ride back was a little more difficult. Coming back to my neighborhood was kind of uphill, so the ride was a little more of a struggle. And it was so hot yesterday. And when it came time to walk the bike back up to my apartment, I was thoroughly exhausted. But I did it!

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Me post bike ride.

I’m going to go for a little ride tomorrow in the other direction on the trail just to see how far I get. I don’t work until the evening, so if I start early enough, I should be OK. I’m so glad to be biking again. I think my next investment though is going to be a pair of padded biker pants.

 

Eating Disorders in Literature – Another Look at Borderline Insanity (an FBI thriller by Jeff Miller)

So, a few weeks ago a friend and fellow writer released the second installment of his FBI thrillers about his heroine, Dagny Gray. I wrote a review of the novel on my writer’s blog.

If you don’t want to go there and read my review, that’s OK, I’ll let you know what I think here. I loved the book. I a big fan of Jeff and his writing and I love the Dagny Gray character. Part of the reason I love her is that she feels like a complete person. She’s flawed and driven, and in some ways, broken. And yet, she does what we all do…she gets up every day fights. She fights against the bad guys in her job, and she fights against her own inner demons. Jeff has written a character I can fully identify with on many levels.

But this post is not about Jeff. This post is about my reaction to reading about a major character struggling with an eating disorder.

I was lucky enough to be included as a beta reader for Borderline Insanity and receive an advanced copy. I did not share my feedback with Jeff, in part because I was so deeply affected by Dagny’s struggle. After reading about her deeply emotional difficulty with eating, the guilt, the shame, the stress,  I cried off and on for a couple of days.

I was struck by Jeff’s ability to so clearly articulate those feelings. I really felt like he had intimate knowledge of what that struggle is like. It felt as if he reached inside my head and pulled out my innermost thoughts and fears and put them into words. It affected me deeply to read my own thoughts and feelings on the page.

Dagny suffers from anorexia nervosa. Of course, I have often argued that anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, and morbid obesity are all parts of the same illness. I still feel that way. And after reading this book, I am even more convinced. I’ve often argued that anorexia and bulimia are the acceptable illnesses per our society because most of the patients affected by these diseases are very thin.These illnesses have long been treated medically while the morbidly obese have just been told by doctors to “lose weight” and you’ll be fine. Anorexia, bulimia, they are illnesses. Obesity, a character flaw. It’s only in recent years, say the past 15 or so, that surgery and other medical solutions have been offered to people trying to lose weight. But I digress…

In Borderline Insanity, Dagny is forced into therapy by her boss as a condition of keeping her job. She is not open to being helped at all. Also, a coworker, in an attempt to be helpful, asks her from time to time if she’s logged her calories on her Weight Watcher’s app.

Dagny uses every excuse to avoid facing her problem. She throws herself into her work.There are many instances in the book where she looks at her app only to be reminded that calorie count is zero. More than once, to meet her calories for a day or two, she sits in her car at a drive through, eating a high caloric meal and cries.

Oh I know this feeling. The first time I read this scene, it was like a punch in the gut. The number of times, mostly pre surgery, that I did something very similar is a lot. I could eat an entire frozen pizza and a big bag of chips. The first couple of bites, I was usually OK, but as I continued, bite after bite, the guilty and shame became overwhelming. I would literally eat until I became sick and cry and cry.

Post surgery is a little different. I cannot eat the same volume of food in the same amount of time. I can eat more than I could immediately after the surgery, but that is normal. I can eat most of a small meal. And I’ll repeat it again, because I think it needs to be said. That is normal.

What’s not normal is some of the bad behavior I have fallen back on. While I cannot eat a whole pizza, I still find it hard to stop once I start. Granted, the pizza is much smaller than the pizza I would have eaten pre surgery. And I might make that pizza the only thing I eat all day. But I will finish the entire thing over the course of a day. I might through 70% of the crust in the trash, but I will still eat the whole thing until it’s gone. And by the time I’m done, I feel just as guilty if I had eaten in all within 30 minutes.

I cannot eat a whole big bowl of popcorn, but if I buy a jar of kernels, I will have popcorn for as many meals as I can for as many days in a row as I can until the popcorn is gone.

Of course, the answer to the above problems is simple. I do not buy popcorn or pizza. Not normally. But when I’m in the throes of the crazy thoughts that go through my head, which are usually triggered by some kind of stress or something else that I cannot control, I tell myself the lie.

The lie being, I can buy this and have just one pretzel. Just one slice of pizza. The lie is the first step to giving into the binge. And at first I do have just one. But the truth is, that is not where it ends.

Dagny had to force herself to eat and I struggle to not overeat, but the emotions, the sense of worthlessness, guilt, and shame, are the same. Seeing her struggle on the page, my own thoughts open for the whole world to see, really opened my eyes to the fact that I cannot do this alone. That is why I sought the help of a therapist and nutritionist. It hasn’t been easy, but I just take it one day at a time.

I am going to wrap this post up with a quote from Jeff’s book, which he borrowed from the bible. I’m not normally an overly religious person, but I think this quote aptly summed up the way I feel a lot of the time.

“When Rebekah was pregnant with Isaac’s twins, the babies jostled within her. She asked the Lord why this was happening and he said, ‘Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples within you will be separated. One people will be stronger than the other, the older will serve the younger.'”

I often feel as if I am at war with two parts of myself. The self that I try to portray every day, the strong, confident woman who knows her place in the world versus the insecure, self conscious, out of control crazy person who hides from her problems by binge eating.

I took steps a couple of years ago to try to reign in the latter, but sometimes I feel as if the former is losing ground. Seeking help through therapy is my way of trying to bring those two parts of myself back together.

I love that Jeff wrote a book where the main character has an eating disorder. I have never read a book outside of self-help or teen books that addressed eating disorders and the psychological effects. I think Jeff did a great job.

I hope he makes it big, really big. Like JK Rowling big. The world would be a better place for it.

Life 4 Years Post-op & Living with Binge Eating Disorder

So, this is the blog post I’ve been kind of regretting. I haven’t kept up on this blog, in large part due to some of the stuff I’ve been going through since my last post, and it has been difficult for me to write about.

Some of it was difficult because of my self-imposed restriction of talking about work on social media. I still do not wish to discuss my job, but I am going to discuss a few of the general situations that added a tremendous amount of stress to my life. And there are two different issues I will write about here in reference to my previous job.

I enjoy a certain amount of intensity in my job. I like a challenge, and I have a ridiculous competitive streak in me. I work at a fairly high level, (not in position, but ability).  I have a good ability in my profession to see the big picture, and I understand how to breakdown the different parts of an operation. I willingly take on a lot of work, often more than I should.

In my last job, I was one of two people who did my job. I worked for a good company, but one that did not understand the nature of how to run my kind of office. It’s not their fault. They absorbed my office when they bought the company I worked for. Their business was something else completely.

What caused me stress was they wanted my office to be more profitable, but they did not know how to make that happen. And they did not understand that bringing in more work did not make the office more profitable, it only increased the work and stress level. As a result, I was working 10-14 hours a day and seemed to make no progress at all and no one understood why I couldn’t get more done. And no one listened to my suggestions on how to improve the office.

Finally, I realized that the situation was completely untenable and I left that job. I did have a very frank discussion with them before I left, but I do not know if it ever made any difference, and I never looked back to find out what happened.

The other situation in that job that affected me negatively was one of my staff. She was a friend of mine and I have actually written about her in this blog before. She was one of the people who was an inspiration for me having the gastric by-pass surgery.

I lost contact with her over the years, but then I sought her out to work with me at this job. I did not realize that even though she had the surgery and had lost weight, she never really dealt with some of the emotional stressors that lead her to be obese in the  first place. She says she did, but it became clear to me that she did not.

She actually went the other direction with her eating problems. Because she never regained her hunger after the surgery, she would go days without eating. And when she did eat, she ate all the wrong things. For example, she would try to get all of her calories for the day in one meal by eating cheeseburgers and fries from Burger King. And those calories would have to last her a few days until she ate again. She still saw herself as fat. She still even wore some of her fat clothes that just hung off of her because she was so thin. And she did a lot of stress eating.

Being in a closed office with her, I fell back on some of my own bad behaviors, stress eating, binge eating, etc.

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not blaming her. It is my fault I fell off the wagon. I knew better than to engage in those behaviors, but I did it anyway. Mostly because I’ve never dealt with why I gained the weight to begin with. I had many cheesy poof breakdowns.

As a result, I gained about 40 pounds.

I have been away from that job and situation for a year now. Somehow, I thought leaving that behind me, I would miraculously go back to what I was doing before I fell back on my bad behaviors, but I did not. And I’m very angry at myself for having regained any weight at all. And for a while, I was feeling very frustrated and lost.

I would not say that I’m 100% over that feeling. I still feel kind of lost. I’m still angry at myself for failing to control my my binge eating. And I still beat myself up for falling off the wagon.

What has changed apart from my job?

Well, I’m working with a nutritionist and an eating disorder psychologist. I realized that I had a problem that I could not deal with on my own and I reached out to find someone who could help me navigate through the crazy part of my brain that deals with stress, loss of control, difficulty by overeating.

For instance, I had to write, and re-write the above paragraph probably 5 times. Part of my therapy is getting me to think differently. To stop putting everything in such negative terms.

So, I got the negativity out. I am not going to write over and over again using negative terms. That’s not going to change anything. That does not meant that I’ll never write about another bad feeling or frustration, but I’m going to try to find another way to express them.

For example, instead of saying, “I didn’t lose any weight this week! I suck! This is never going to work!”  I may something like, “I did not lose any weight this week. Not really the result I wanted, but these are the steps I’m going to take to keep the big picture in mind and keep moving forward.”

I’m also focusing on all that I have accomplished and creating new goals. I’ve achieved much of what I set out to do, and that has not changed. I can walk anywhere I want. My breathing is greatly improved. And my health is greatly improved. So now what?

I have written down some  new goals that I want as part of my new, healthier lifestyle.

So, what is the future of this blog going to look like? I have put a lot of thought into this.

  • I am still going to write about my weight loss journey.
  • I will write about my new goals.
  • I might write about some of the things I’m talking over with my psychologist.
  • I will write about some of the things in the real world that effect me emotionally or activate my eating disorder and how I deal with that.

My next post, that should come out in the next couple of days, is going to be about a book a friend of mine wrote. His main character is a FBI agent struggling with anorexia. Reading about her dealing with, or not dealing with, her eating disorder struck a chord with me, and I want to write about that.

One of the first things my psychologist asked me was what did I want to get from my therapy.

I immediately answered, “I want to feel good about my body.”

It occurred to me in that moment that I never have. That no matter what I weighed, I always felt ashamed of how I looked.

So, I guess to answer my own question, I want this blog to be about how I go from feeling ashamed of my body, weight gain, the number on the scale, who I am, how I look, to someone who is comfortable with her body and who she is no matter her weight.

A small task, to be sure…