Category Archives: new year’s eve

The Compulsive Eater Sleeping In My Bed

“There’s a compulsive eater sleeping in my bed.”

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I said this to my mother a couple of months ago.  I had been sick.  I caught some kind of flu that also affect my stomach.  I did not eat for two days.  When I could eat again, I tried saltines and chicken broth.  The saltines turned out to be too heavy for my tummy, so I switched to Pringle’s.  The Pringle’s did the trick.  I could 5 or 6 of them to absorb whatever nastiness was going on in my stomach, and they were not too heavy.

I know Pringle’s are chips, therefore junk food, and therefore not good for you, but they worked and got me though the illness.  I had no problem eating them in moderation, 5 or 6 chips at a time, and it was just enough.  I have not gone back to Pringle’s since.

Through my illness, I left the saltines sitting on my bed table, where they remained untouched until I was feeling better.  Big mistake.

Once I was feeling better, I actually started feeling hungry.  I discovered that in the middle of the night I was waking up and stuffing saltines into my mouth without even thinking about it.  It was second nature to roll over and reach for the crackers.  Most of the time, I barely opened my eyes.  I just reached over, grabbed a handful of crackers, and started stuffing them into my mouth one after the other until they were gone.  I don’t even remember if I tasted them as they slid down my throat and into my tummy.

I awoke covered in crumbs, an empty cracker sleeve on the bed table, feeling guilty and ashamed.

I don’t keep food near my bed anymore.  You would think that after the surgery, with such a small pouch, I wouldn’t be able to eat an entire sleeve of saltines, but apparently I can.  It would seem that the conditioning that comes from decades of bad eating behavior trumps new eating restrictions nearly every time.

Now that I can eat more, nearly 1400 calories a day, including protein drinks and snacks, some of my old bad behaviors are trying to make a comeback.

I had a hard time through the holidays.  All of the cookies and snacks were really hard for me to deal with.  I did OK when I was in Pittsburgh visiting my mom.  When I told her that the Christmas cookies were a huge temptation for me, she threw all of the ones she had away so that I would not be tempted.

New Year’s, however, I caved to temptation.  I went to visit friends in Delaware, which was a lot of fun.  I made my pumpkin brownies, which everyone loved.  And I made Chicken Saag, which everyone also loved.  My friends made Channa Masala.  I had plenty to eat that was good for me and fit my eating plan.  What did I do?  I ate the good food and then went back and had the occasional cookie or chip.  I did not have a lot of food, but I had enough of the junky type food that I did eventually get sick.

One of my friends kept telling me to be careful, but I just knew I would be OK.  I did not get sick New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day.  I got sick on January 2.  On my way to work.  On the Metro.  It was ugly.

I’ve talked in previous posts about dumping syndrome.  Sometimes the symptoms hit me right away, sometimes it takes a few hours, sometimes a day. I’ve also described some of the symptoms I’ve suffered, including nausea, headaches, sweating, and instant diarrhea.  I don’t get all symptoms each time I get dumping syndrome, but usually, a combo of some of them.

I will not describe all of the details of what happened that day, let’s just say, it was not pretty.  The DC metro apparently does not have public restrooms either.  All of the stations do have a bathroom, but you have to ask a metro employee if you can use it.  Not all of them will allow you, apparently.

I started feeling sick at the Pentagon Metro station.  I waited 10 minutes for the train.  I only had to go three stops before I would be able to get off the train and find a bathroom.  I only made it two.  I was in the Rosslyn station begging for a bathroom when I got really sick.  I ended up having to leave the station and go across the street to the mall, but by then, it was too late.

The metro employees were not very helpful outside of offering to call an ambulance, which would not have helped at all.  A very nice woman noticed that I was not feeling well and offered me some water.  I wish I would have had the sense to thank her properly for her kindness at the time, but it was all I could do to get to a bathroom.

After I got myself cleaned up and was feeling better, I walked around the corner  to Starbucks and bought a bottle of water.  I logged onto my work computer and sent out an email letting everyone know I would be working from home.  I waited another 15 minutes to make sure I was well enough to head back out into the world.  I then hailed a cab and went home.  I did end up having to go into the office later that day, but I drove.  I did not want to risk another metro episode.

What this taught me is that while the surgery solved a lot of my overeating problems, it did not solve all of them.  The compulsion to eat junk food, for instance.  That compulsion is strong.  The surgery also did not solve some of my triggers, what causes the compulsion to eat to emerge.  I am beginning to notice that I have a tendency to eat when I’m stressed-out, or when I’m upset about something. And the urge to eat at night is beginning to return.

The first year post-surgery, when I lost 127 pounds was the easy part of my weight loss journey.  Now that I can eat a little more, and I’m struggling to manage my triggers and compulsive eating.  The hard work seems to be just beginning.  If I want to lose the additional 46 pounds I have to lose, I really need to assert some control over my eating problems before they ruin all of my hard work and undo all of my weight loss.

I have not had a really great start to the New Year.  I guess it can only get better from here, but it’s going to take a lot of hard work on my part.  The fight against compulsive eating is apparently going to be a lifetime battle for me, but I know it is one that I really want to win.

It took almost three days for my system to fully recover from the metro incident.  My pride, however, suffered a bigger blow than my body did, and my take longer to heal.  If allow my compulsive eating patterns to overtake my life again, my pride may never recover again.

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Holiday Foods: Planning vs. Reality

So, a few weeks back, I wrote a post about being prepared for the holidays food-wise.  I thought I was ready to deal with the holiday eating season.  Honestly, for the most part, I have been very disciplined.  I have allowed myself some cheats, but all in all, this has been much harder than I originally thought it would be.

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There are three things that have really put me in jeopardy this Christmas season.  Well, five now that I think about it.  They are as follows:

  • The return of hunger pains – Not with a vengeance, but at meal time and snack time, I do get hungry.  And if I skip any part of my diet plan, I definitely feel it.  So, I have had to learn to manage hunger pains, which I really did not need to worry about for at least 8 months post-op.  Plus, I can eat more now that I could last year.  Those two things combined has made dealing with food this holiday season difficult to say the least.
  • Office party #1 – My work has had two Christmas parties.  The first one was at Madam Tussaud’s Wax Museum in DC.  This was so much fun.  Trays and trays and trays of food everywhere.  And if that wasn’t enough, waiters walked around with more trays passing out more food.  I was very good all day.  Light meals and snacks, sticking to the bariatric food diet plan.  Then the party hit.  I still tried to stay on schedule, protein and veggies only.  I just ate too much, which let’s face it, is probably just a normal sized meal for non-bariatric surgery peeps.  But for me, it is way too much.  I did have a tummy ache and get a little nauseated, but I survived mostly intact, I think.
  • Office party #2 – My department had its own office party.  That was a 2 1/2 hour eating feat I have not really done at all since the surgery.  I had appetizers, fried zucchini shoe strings, cheese, a slice of some kind of meat, and assorted veggies.  Then we sat down to dinner.  Salad.  Not bad. I had a small spoonful.  Then the pasta course started. Two different kinds of pasta.  I had four tiny pieces of pasta.  I really cannot have starchy food, but I wanted a taste.  Now, keep in mind, I was pretty much full after the appetizers.  They served the food slowly, so there was a lot of time between courses, but I am already in forbidden territory and the food just kept coming.  Then they brought out eggplant parm, which I hate, so I did not eat.  Then rosemary chicken and roasted broccoli.  I had about three bites of chicken and 2-4 bites of broccoli and I really just had to stop.  I thought I was going to explode.  Then they brought out dessert.  Tiramisu and chocolate mousse.  I did not even look at the Tiramisu.  I knew if I did it would be all over.  I took my spoon and sliced off the teeniest bite of mousse I could manage and just a spot of whipped cream.  It was just heaven.  I thought I was going to pop.  I had to get up and walk away from the table before I was tempted to try another bite.  My stomach hurt so much, and I was very nauseated.  It stayed in the bathroom for about 10 minutes.  Then when everyone else was done eating dessert, I ordered a cup of coffee hoping the warm liquid would start moving some of the feast through my system.  When I got home, I dutifully logged every bite into My Fitness Pal, chocolate mousse bite and all.  I ate over 500 calories in one meal that took me over 2 hours to eat.  For me, that’s twice what I normally have.
  • Writer’s Group Party – OK, this one was not so bad, but still, a little bad.  This was held at a bar.  I did not actually order any food. I just ate what other people were sharing.  I had three wings, carrots, celery, humus, and some nachos over the course of about an hour and a half.  Not the greatest meal, but not too bad.  Once I was done nibbling, I just drank water for the rest of the night.
  • Office treats and other junk – This has been the hardest for me to deal with.  So many yummy things.  Tons of cookies, truffles, peppermint bark, candy, etc.  I got tired of seeing cookies, so after having one cookie, I was done.  I managed to stay away from the cranberry-orange bread, which was tempting.  But the chocolate truffles just killed me.  Someone sent French truffles filled with caramel.  I love, love, love, love, love caramel filled chocolate.  I decided that I would give in and allow myself one French caramel filled truffle.  I took it back to my desk and took one small bite.  It was heaven.  The caramel just melted in my mouth.  Before I could stop myself or change my mind, I quickly threw the rest of the truffle into the trash.  I knew if I finished it, it would be all over.  I would have to go back and just scarf up the rest of them. My co-worker could not believe I did that.  She was like, “Wow, you have incredible will-power.”  I replied, “No, I do not.  If I didn’t get rid of this now, you might as well check me into French caramel truffle rehab!”  It was tempting to reach into the trash and retrieve the truffle, but my pride just would not let me.

Now I am in Pittsburgh visiting with my mother for the holidays.  She’s kind of a food nazi. All my life, I have hated her fixation on limiting what I eat.  Now all I have to say is, “Thank goodness.”  She does not keep junk in her house.  OK, she keeps popcorn in her house, but I dare not touch her stash.  It has been a relief not to have all those temptations so close at hand.  I need to refocus.  I need to become more disciplined in the New Year if I want to lose the remaining 46 pounds.

I will be glad when the holidays are over, and the pressure is off.  It will be a relief to return to normal eating patterns.  This holiday season has been very tough for me to deal with.  Last year was not as difficult because I could barely eat.  But now that I actually feel hungry and can eat almost 1400 calories per day, (including protein drinks), the temptation to over-indulge has been very stressful.

My next biggest hurdle is New Year’s Eve.  I am spending that time with friends.  I am making chicken saag and my pumpkin brownies for everyone.  And I know that there will be a lot of other foods.  I think I’ll be OK because I will have many good options to choose from.  And my one friend is kind of worried about food herself so I know she will not have a lot of junk on hand.

Wish me luck!

A Revolutionary Idea For Resolutions: Not Just For New Year’s Only

In my opinion, resolutions do not work.  Don’t you just hate New Year’s Resolutions?  I do.  They are so ephemeral.  Fleeting.  Useless.  Everybody makes them.  Nobody keeps them.

I do like the idea of a New Year, however.  I love the idea of starting over and getting a fresh start to life.  I really feel that I have been given that fresh start this year in so many ways.  I have made the decision to avoid making resolutions, however.

Resolutions do not work in my opinion. I think everyone has good intentions at the start, but life and complacency often get in the way of the best intentions and resolutions usually go by the wayside by February.

I have found that what does work is setting realistic goals.  I’m not just talking about a name change from “resolution” to “goal” either.  I’m talking about real goal setting.  Every successful person does this.  Here is what real goal setting looks like.

1. Decide what you want to achieve.

2. Set a realistic goal.

3. Develop a plan to achieve that goal.

4. Follow plan.

5. Periodically check the plan to make sure you’re on track.

6. Make adjustments to plan as necessary to keep you on track.

6. Stay focused and persistent.  Achieving a goal is a marathon, not a sprint.  Don’t stop. Keep moving forward.

If you follow these steps, you should be successful. You may not achieve your goal completely, but you will be a lot closer than if you did nothing.  Or announced a resolution on New Year’s Eve and then quit in February.

We set goals in my writer’s group every year.  We try to set specific, realistic, achievable goals.  They can be big goals or small goals, but we try to do something.  Setting a goal of “writing more” is vague and not really measurable.  We push people to be more specific than that.  One short story? Two?  Will you try to get it published?  You get the idea.

I set goals for my health last year…do something about my weight and overall health by exploring WLS.  I did it.  I had the surgery and I’ve lost 57 pounds.  In addition, the steps I took to improve my heath before the surgery were crucial changes as well.  It was a big goal that brought on big changes in my life.

So, what are my health goals for 2013?

1.  Continue with the diet plan set by my doctor to achieve my weight loss goal.  I also need to tweak that diet a little to kick up my calorie intake so that I reach 1200 by the six month mark.

2. Kick up my exercising.  Exercising is a requirement for the health plan set forth in the guidelines of the bariatric surgery.  I exercise already by walking or riding the bike in my exercise room.  I have been doing pretty good, but I feel like I’m not doing enough.  I am going to join a gym and work with a personal trainer.  This was always my plan, but I needed to wait until the surgeon gave me the clearance to begin some mild strength training.  I have that clearance, so I am going to join Gold’s Gym and work with a personal trainer.

3. Get caught up on all of my medical tests and get started on some dental work.  My teeth need some work and I need to get things like a mammogram done.

4. I also have more plans or this blog.  I want to add a page with food ideas and recipes.  Many of the recipes are tailored for food allergies and are gluten-free.

So there you have it.  Health goals.  Blog goals.  Simple.  Achievable.  Already part of a plan I’m working on now, but expanded a little bit to achieve my overall goal of better health.

What are your goals or 2013?

Happy New Year!!  May 2013 be your best year yet!

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