Category Archives: purging

Way Too Easy…Effortless Even

I started the weekend off great.  I hit the gym early on Saturday.  Well, early as in noonish.  I walked the 1.7 miles to the gym and worked out for an hour and a half.  I then I walked to my friend’s art studio, which is ten minutes from the gym.  Another friend of ours showed up there, and the three of us walked the 1.4 miles back to my neighborhood.  We sat outside of Caribou Coffee for hours drinking fruffy coffee drinks and talked.  It was great.  Then I walked back up the monster hill to my place.

Yesterday started off great too.  I woke up and had a light breakfast and met my brother and niece in DC to do the Saturday am museum tour.  We walked around for about 2.5 hours.  I had my water and a protein snack, 1/3 cup of pistachios, while they ate at McDonald’s.

I went home and packed up some food to take to my sister’s house for a picnic.  She called me in a panic at one point asking me to give her instructions for making a particular chicken dish that I’ve made for her in the past.  She loves it and wanted to make it for the picnic.  I told her to hold off and I would make it when I arrived.

Cooking is easy for me, effortless in fact.  It almost seems to come naturally to me.  I walked into my sister’s kitchen and just took over.  I cleaned and dried the chicken breasts and began chopping them up while I gave my sister orders.  Before I knew it, the chicken was in the oven and I was reaching into my bag to begin prepping my next project.  I sliced and marinated zucchini while chatting it up with one of my sister’s friends without even thinking about it.  I handed the plate to my sister and ordered her to take it down to whichever male family member was manning the grill with specific cooking instructions.

I continued talking to a couple of people and reached into my bag and pulled out a couple of avocados and some spicy salsa.  As I cut the avocados in half, her friend said, “Now what are you making??”

“Guacamole,” I replied as I continued to cook without stopping.  I mixed the salsa and avocado together with a touch of olive oil and ordered someone take it down to the chip table.  Then I reached in my bag again and pulled out a can of Trader Joe’s Chili, grabbed a pot and began heating it up.  “For chili dogs,” I announced before another question could be asked.

That’s where my good behavior ended.

You know what else I can do effortlessly without even thinking about it?  Eat.

I chowed down as if I hadn’t eaten in months.  I ate a handful of corn chips with my yummy guacamole.  I ate random vegetables, potato salad, coleslaw, a little bit of the chicken dish, random other foods I cannot even remember.  Then I topped it off with a bunless hotdog with chili, relish, ketchup, and mustard.  Oh and let’s not for get the handfuls of M&Ms I tried hiding in my pockets thinking no one could see me eat them if I put them there.

WTF?

Obviously, I cannot be trusted at a food party.  I seriously thought I was going to throw up.  Granted, I didn’t eat it all at once, but I did go back to the food table over and over throughout the day.

After I got home last night, I took a walk through my neighborhood trying to walk some of the binge off.  I stopped at Caribou and drank some decaf tea hoping to push some of that food through my system with a warm drink.

Obviously, going to the gym is on the agenda today, as well as feeling horribly guilty about what I did to myself yesterday.  Yeah, I know there is no reason to really feel guilty.  Everyone falls off of the wagon sometimes.  What I should concentrate on is how I recover from this episode and move on.  I don’t know why I’m continually surprised every time I fall, but I am.  I am also very disappointed in myself.

I clearly need to watch my behavior more closely.  I had a somewhat prophetic conversation with my friend Sush on Saturday.  We were talking about yoga.  I kind of don’t like the yoga classes at the gym because of all of the movement.  The last time I took yoga classes, we concentrated on sitting in the positions and gently stretching, connecting mind and body.  The classes at the gym are more like yoga-exercise than a meditative stretching practice.

Sush agrees with my dislike for those kinds of yoga classes.  She grew up in India and they took yoga classes in school first thing in the morning.  What a fantastic way to start the day.

We talked a bit about “triangle pose” and she was talking about the importance of looking at your hands.  She said that yoga poses concentrate on looking at your hands because you mind should always know what your hands are doing.

I never thought of that before.  That made me think back to the endless number of times in my life where I just ate and ate without thinking.  The number of times I bought a giant bag of chips and ate through the whole thing and barely had any memory of how I ate that much.  If my mind had really been aware of what my hands, (and mouth quite frankly), were doing, would I have mindlessly eaten the whole bag?  Would I have slowed down?

I don’t know.  Maybe not.  All I know is that my mind was not paying attention to my hands yesterday.  Not while I was cooking, and especially not while I was eating.

I did manage to track all of the food.  I went home and made myself remember everything that I ate and logged it in “My Fitness Pal.”  Even with all of the eating I did, I still managed to stay below my allotted calories for the day. Not that I feel any better about what I did, but I guess that’s something.

Moving forward I am going to have to make sure that I stop and think before I eat.  Pay attention to what my hands are doing and be more mindful of what not just what I eat, but how I eat.  Maybe, eventually, I will be able to understand why.

Fantastic Updates

Well, I don’t know if the updates are really fantastic, but I certainly have two milestones to report.

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In one of my very early posts on this blog, I opined the possibility of constantly replenishing my underwear supply.  I have only had to restock my supply twice so far, in part thanks to the Spanx I wear every day.  I wear a pull-over tank that comes down over my hips, so they hold my panties in place.  Otherwise, I’m sad to report, I would have difficulty keeping them on.

I have purged all of my older pre-surgery panties.  I only have the ones that I bought in January and those are really big for me now too.  I haven’t reached my goal weight, but I have lost 120 pounds so far, so another new set of panties are definitely in order.

I went to the store with my sister last night specifically to get some more undies.  I was pretty stressed out about this because I have no idea what size I am currently wearing and therefore had no idea what size I needed to purchase.  I didn’t want to get any that were way too small, although a little too small would be OK.  But I definitely did not want to get any that were too big.  I already have enough of those.

My sister told me her weight and what size she’s wearing.  I keep my weight very public, but just in case there’s any question, I’m currently still 178.  Then we spent a lot of time inspecting the underwear sizes on the packages. I usually get a package or two of Haines Her Way briefs.  (Is that an overshare?)  I compared the size of the panties to the size pants I wear.  After a lot of discussion, we went with a size 7, which is a large.  I figured that was probably right because I still wear a size 14 in pants.  Extra large is around a size 18, which while I still fit into a 16/18 tops, my bottom is a bit smaller.  To be on the safe side, I got two packages of size 7 and one of size 6.  I figured if the 6 was too small, I could just wait a few months and they will fit.

It turns out, the 7s fit just fine.  It is nice to have underwear that fits properly.  Now it’s time to do another panty-purge and get rid of all of the ones that are way too big.  And this next line is for my baby sister…yes, I am throwing them away, as in into the trash.  Happy now?

The other piece of news I have is that I have a full-length mirror now.  When I was out with my sister yesterday, she walked up to a full-length mirror the store was selling, motioned at it like Vanna White, and said, “Colleen, look at this!”  I walked up to the mirror, posed, and said, “I do look fantastic, don’t I?”

My sister cracked up.  Then I had to tell her that a friend of mine actually gave me a full-length mirror about a month ago.  I look at myself all of the time.  It’s nice to know what I look like in my clothes.  The worst part is, I had to hang it on my closet door, so I can see myself while I’m in bed.  I’m not sure I need to see what I look like first thing in the am, but I do love having the mirror.

It occurs to me that I have not updated the blog with a current picture of myself in a while.  Well, I promise to get a new pic up within the next couple of days.  I’m not actually at home right now, so I cannot get a pic of myself in front of said mirror.  Maybe tomorrow I will take one just before I leave for work.

Well, that’s all of the news that I have for now.  Enjoy this beautiful Sunday!

All Or Nothing

I have been thinking today about my problem foods.  There are some foods that I used to eat for which I have little or no control.  I consider them my “all-or-nothing” foods, meaning my only choices were to eat all of it or none of it, there was never any in between.

Now that I have had the gastric by-pass, eating all of something is hardly possible.  I mean, yeah, I could retrain and re-stretch my new smaller stomach to gradually accept larger and larger amounts of food, including sugary starchy foods that make me sick, but that is a ridiculous option.  That will make the money, time, and work that I put into my 112 pound weight loss a wasted venture.  Yes, people have done it and regained much of the weight that they lost.  I have to admit that I live in constant fear that will happen to me.

So, what is different for me now?  What makes me think I will be able to complete my journey successfully and never look back?

To be honest, I do not know that I will be able to.  One thing I do know though is that I never want to go back to being as sick as I was.  I love my life now.  I had lost ability to walk any kind of a distance, do the things I wanted to do, and live my life the way I wanted to live.

Now, I can walk just about anywhere I want.  My back and asthma are not even an issue.  I do not tire as easily.  I am not as worried about my heart and overall health as I was.   Yes, I still love delicious food and I still struggle with cravings and the urge to over eat from time to time.  But I feel as if I mostly have things under control.

The gastric by-pass has given me a tool to help control my desire to overeat.  Also, my new lifestyle has really given me hope for the future, a hope I did not have before.

That said, here are some of the foods which have given me problems in the past.  For me, eating these foods was an all or nothing proposition.  I may not have eaten all of it in one sitting, but I would have kept going back to it all day until there was nothing left.  It didn’t matter that I might not even be hungry, all that mattered was it was there.

  • Pizza
  • Potato chips and dip
  • Corn chips and salsa
  • Nutter Butters and as a subset of the peanut butter cookie categorie
  • peanut butter cookies with chocolate kiss on top
  • ok pretty much any cookie just about
  • rotisserie chicken
  • chicken wings
  • baked chicken drumsticks

These are what I call trigger foods.  Usually something happens that triggers an eating binge and these are usually the first foods that I eat to satisfy that urge to binge.

Do you have any all-or-nothing foods?  What are they?

If I Didn’t Know Any Better…

I’d think I had PMS.  I haven’t had PMS since the last time I bitched on this blog back in March about my periods, or mostly lack thereof.

I had a pretty crummy day today.  I thought that it started out pretty good.  I had an odd dream this am that left me feeling somewhat hopeful about a particular situation.  But as the day wore on and the more I thought about it, the more I accepted that it was just a dream and was more a reflection of my own wishes and not really a predictor of my desired outcome.  That brought me down a bit, but I can live with that.

Then I was very busy at work and at one point became a little overwhelmed.

I was rained on during both the commute into work and home.

I had to take my work laptop back to the office today.  My back was killing me from carrying it around.

I left my debit card at home and could not pay for my coffee this am.  That was embarrassing.  Fortunately, I took my lunch to work and my fare card for the metro was fully charged, so I was good.

I came home and I was totally deflated and just wanted to cry.

Normally, this kind of day would have been enough to trigger a binge attack for me, and it did.  Fortunately, I did not succumb.  I almost did.  I gathered up change out of my change jar and I went down to the market in my building.  Now, the market in my building is a dangerous place for a food addict, and my apartment is immediately above the store.  They have chips, eggs and bacon, more chips, sodas, beer, wine, frozen foods, frozen pizzas, cookies, crackers, candy bars…all the junk food you could want.  And I used to shop there a lot.

I stood there with my fistful of quarters looking around the store, and I couldn’t do it.  I could not buy the horrible junk food I was craving.  I really wanted chips or pretzels, but I couldn’t make myself buy them.

Instead, I bought a box of saltines and some spaghetti sauce.  I then made 5 saltines mini pizzas for dinner, and yes, that is a bariatric-approved meal.  It was actually recommended to me in the diet plan provided by the surgeon’s office.  The tomato sauce counts as a vegetable and the cheese as protein.  The saltines are really just filler food.  I also had a side of string cheese to make sure I had enough protein.

I’m still feeling kind of blah today, but at least I know I’m not totally helpless against the binge monster.  I fought it off today.  That makes me feel hopeful that I will be able to fight it off again in the future.

The Return Of Spring!

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Finally!  Spring has really arrived in DC.  I returned from Dallas to a nice balmy 79 degrees at 1:30 a.m.  Today’s high will be 81.  It might get a little bit chillier over the weekend, but all next week is 80s as far as the eye can see!  At last!  Granted, it may rain every day, but at least I will not be freezing.  I’m so tired of being cold.

I will be glad to put away the sweaters and scarves for the winter.  In fact, I may get rid of most of them altogether as I will need all new ones by the fall.  I love getting rid of old clothes.  Spring is a good time to do some closet purging, right?

I used to be a bit of a pack rat.  I have kept a lot of the clothes I have acquired over the last 15 or so years.  I was kind of glad that I did because it meant that I could have some clothes to wear as I lost weight.  But now that I have shrunk out of almost all of them, it’s time to let them all go.  I am hoping to get some of them to a used clothing store called Unique this weekend.  If not this weekend, definitely next.  I have a friend coming into town for Memorial Day and he can help me unload some of the stuff jamming up my closet.

Apart from that, I need to get my place ready for my out-of-town guest.  I am not sure what we are going to do other than reorganize my closet, but I know we will be out and about.  There will have to be at least one visit with my niece.  Probably at least one visit to the DC Mall or something.  And dinner with a friend of ours from college.  Maybe we will actually make it to see Rolling Thunder. 

I’m just glad the weather is finally getting better.  Bring on the shorts!

Food Addicts R US

Normally, I am not a fan of the show Morning Joe.  I think he’s kind of a jerk and I’m not a fan.  I do watch it some mornings as I get ready for work because there is rarely anything else on that is any good.  I like some of the people he has on his show and I am starting to really like Mika Brzezinski.

This week, however, I am totally glued to MJ as Mika has just come out with a new book:  Obsessed: America’s Food Addiction – And My Own.

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Mika co-wrote this book with a friend of hers.  I have not read the book yet, but I am putting it on my wish-list!  She and her friend have been discussing very honestly about their different addictions with food and the effect body image, food addiction, and eating disorders have had on their lives.  Mika has talked about her bulimia and her friend was obese.  Her friend has lost 75 pounds and Mika has gained about 14.

For the record, they are both beautiful women who need to change nothing.

Part of what motiviated yesterdays post about my own food addiction, apart from my mini meltdown on Sunday, was listening to Mika talk about her own addiction.  She tells, and retells a story about how one night, she woke up and began eating an entire jar of Nutella. Her husband found her in the kitchen when he woke up with an empty jar and her hands covered in Nutella.  Although I’ve never eaten and entire jar of the stuff myself, I completely understand and can identify with the feelings that compelled her to do this.  I have certainly found myself in the kitchen gorging myself on whatever it whatever it took for me to satisfy that urge.  Watching her on TV was like looking in a mirror, but a mirror where I am 5’10”, blonde, and totally hot.

I love the conversation she’s had about the shame of having an eating disorder.  I can totally relate.  And she talked about how she felt as if she had no right to come out about her own eating problems and her opinions about food and weight because she is thin and not fat.  Which, I can kind of understand what she means.  I have often listened to skinny girls who complained about their weight and thought, “yeah right, what do you know about being fat.”  But what I have come to realize is that it’s not the fat that’s the problem.  Whether one is fat or thin is immaterial, it is our own self-image that is messed up…that’s the real issue.

She has also talked a lot about how foods are designed to be addictive.  She had the author of another book that I am adding to my wish-list, Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us.

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Michael Moss specifically talks about how the food companies spend a ton of money to make sure that we crave their foods.  It is easy to see how we have a huge obesity problem here in the US if the food we eat is made to be addictive.

It’s this combination of a destructive obsession with body image, fat, and self loathing and addictive foods that really seems to be at the heart of the problem.  When 2 out of three Americans are obese or have some kind of eating disorder, we have a problem.  People like Mika and her friend talking about their issues, is how we start to address it.

I cannot wait to read these books and I’m really looking forward to see what Mika has in store for tomorrow’s show!

Wagon? What Wagon?

So, reading my blog might leave one feeling that for the most part, I am having a pretty easy time dealing with life after weight loss surgery.  For the most part, I’d say that is pretty true.  You wouldn’t know it from this weekend, however.

Somehow, I have managed to get myself upset over a situation that I created.  It is all in my head.  I know this, but still, I have allowed it to control my moods.  With a couple of exceptions, I pretty much moped around all weekend.  In the past when I would get like this, I would over eat.  I have not really been able to over eat since the surgery since my stomach is so small.  I have manged to get my diet up to about 1200 calories per day.  This means that my stomach pouch is a little bit bigger than it was shortly after the surgery.  This is as it should be and I am right where the doctor wants me to be.  That also means I can eat a little bit more.

Since the surgery, I have for the most part, been able to manage my stress level and keep my emotions in check.  I have been much better about dealing with life.  Friends have commented on the changes they see in me.  They say I am more confident, I speak with more authority, and I carry myself differently.  But for some reason, this weekend, I allowed something that has been bugging me to really get me down.  That and some poor meal planning really left me struggling last night.

I have a hard time when my meal schedule gets thrown off track.  Most of the time when it is time for me to eat, I do not actually feel hungry, or more to the point, my stomach doesn’t feel hungry.  I just start feeling the effects of not having eaten enough.  I get light-headed and cranky and eventually, my stomach starts to hurt.  This usually means it has been probably six hours since I have eaten something and I have missed my protein snack.  Bad Colleen.

I had been out yesterday and had not eaten for quite a while.  I stopped at the grocery store because I knew I did not have anything that I could just eat right away.  I was going to have to cook, which would mean another 30 minutes or more.  I could not wait that long.  I bought some food for the week and I bought a rotisserie chicken.  This was the beginning of my downfall.

Pre-surgery, rotisserie chicken was one of my trigger foods.  You can also include chips, pretzels, pizza, pretty much anything that was salty, crunchy, or savory would do the trick.  And I didn’t just eat a little bit of it.  I could eat almost an entire rotisserie chicken in one go.  Same thing with chips.  All or nothing.  The bigger the bag, the better.  Pizza, pretty much the whole pie. 

For anyone not familiar with the terminology, this is called bingeing.  Want to know what a binger looks like?  Look it up in the dictionary and you will see a picture of me.  Anyone who has suffered from bulimia is also familiar with bingeing, the difference is they follow it with some kind of “purge”.  Purging can take many forms, vomiting, exercise, or laxatives are a few.  I didn’t purge afterwards, unless you include tears of guilt.

The drive to binge is overwhelming and uncontrollable.  Sometimes the binge starts out as hunger, just a meal.  I tell myself I will buy the chicken and just have a little bit, combine it with a potato or rice and some veggies, bam – dinner.  What really happens after I have the chicken home is something else entirely. 

This is what happened to me last night.  I was hungry.  I was stressing out over my own self-created mellow-drama.  I bought a rotisserie chicken. 

Now, in my defense, I have bought rotisserie chickens since the surgery and had just a drumstick and some vegetables, put the rest in the refrigerator and was fine.  That is not what happened last night, however.  And it is really no excuse.

I put together my dinner, which was a piece of chicken and some fruit, and I sat down to eat in front of my computer.  I knew I was having a hard time dealing with my emotions, so I decided to write about them.  I started a word document and just started writing down everything that I was feeling.  What I was not paying attention to was my eating.  I just kept right on eating.  I ate until my stomach started to really hurt.  It hurt so much that I thought I was going to vomit.  Fortunately, I did not.

I had two drumsticks and was working on a wing.  I had also started to pick at the larger pieces of chicken.  I was sitting on the edge of my bed in pain and ready to cry.  I felt like I had really slipped up and felt guilty.  I could not believe I had done that.  I knew it was a mistake when I bought the chicken.  I could feel it.  But I thought that I had all of that under control.  Clearly, I do not.

I did not save the rest of the chicken.  I threw it into the trash can and then bagged up the trash, took it down the hall, and threw it into the garbage chute in my building.  I then went back into my apartment and put my shoes on, grabbed my sweater, and took a good long walk.  I had to leave the scene of the crime. 

I took a book with me.  I walked around my neighborhood for a very long time.  I thought about everything that had just happened.  I thought through my problem.  I analyzed why I had allow myself to fall down that pit again.  Then I stopped at the coffee shop and had a good hot cup of tea while I drowned my sorrows in the fantasy of a novel for a while.

When I finally returned home, I deleted the word document and cleaned up my mess.  I did not really come up with any good solution to my problem.  And there may not really be one other than to just let things be for a while. 

There are some things in life I just cannot control and I need to accept that.  What I can do is take charge of the things that I can control.  I can control what I eat, the food I buy, and whether or not I allow this one incident to completely throw me off track.

I have had small mishaps since the surgery, accidentally having too much sugar, eating a little bit too fast, eating protein bars that made me a little sick, etc.  I have paid the price for those mistakes, and I have learned how to handle them. 

This was the first time I have really fallen completely off the wagon since October.  I thought that I was beyond all of this, but I guess not.  I learned something about myself last night and it was not pretty.