Tag Archives: stress

The Choices We Make

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I have a co-worker, a young millennial who has a loud vibrant personality. She is brash, unapologetic, and funny. I wouldn’t have her any other way. She recently moved offices and I miss the energy she brought to an otherwise mundane job.

Every day as she breezed out of the office, she would mockingly say over her shoulder, “Make good choices!” And we would all laugh.

Recently, I was part of a pilot group with my therapist. If I had  not written this before, I am seeing someone to help me with my binge eating. She is writing a book about how to lose weight and keep it off forever.

The group I was a part of has been reviewing her book and launching a kind of support group where we read chapters of her book and discuss the ideas in that chapter. We were her beta readers/guinea pigs. This past weekend, we all met in person to discuss what we thought of the book and make suggestions for the support system she wants to create. I am so glad to have been a part of that group.

The book is very interesting. The book is less about what we eat and more about why we eat what we eat. She really encouraged us to explore the reasons behind our eating habits.

Of course she thinks the best diet for weight loss is low carb, high protein focusing on eating fresh meats and fish, high protein vegetarian options, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Very similar to any good bariatric diet, right?

So, why can’t we stick to it? Why do we constantly sabotage our diet plans? Why do we make choices we know will not help us on our path to a healthy weight and relationship to food?

Those are the questions through both my sessions with her and the book she’s working to address.

For me, a lot of my bad choices have to do with my inability to deal with stress and toxic people. I get very stressed out when I think about the toxic people in my life, and there have been several who have entered and left my world. Some stay longer than others. It has taken me a long time to realize their behavior is about them and not me and to create a distance between me and them, even if that barrier is just a mental one.

I also suffer from a low self-image and self-confidence. Many people who know me would certainly be surprised to know this. I hide it well most of the time. It is hard for me to find good things about myself.

After I had lost about 130 pounds, a guy I am friends with complimented me on a shirt I was wearing. He said something like, “That green color looks very good on you.”

I immediately replied with how much more weight I needed to lose, my hair looked awful, pick any one of the myriad of negative thoughts inside my head.

A female friend standing nearby turned to me and said, “No! Stop, Colleen. He complimented you. Your answer is, ‘Thank you!'”

She knew what I was doing. I was not used to being complimented about my appearance. She knew this. And she put the brakes on my negative thought train. At least the verbalization of my negative thoughts.

So, I have been exploring my insecurities. My inability to deal with stress and toxic people. My negative thoughts. And why I look for solace in food.

It is hard to constantly stop myself before I make a bad food decision and analyze the why. In the past, I’ve made a decision about what I wanted to eat and then just ate it. Even if I did not eat it to excess, I still often made very bad food choices.

So, this is what I do when I want to eat the cheesy poofs or whatever food I am craving at the moment. I stop and ask myself some questions.

  • Do I need this to feel full and meet my nutritional goals? (Is this choice a need or a want?)
  • Why do I want to eat the cheesy poofs?
  • What is going on? Am I stressed out? I am feeling bad?
  • What happened today, last night, yesterday to make me feel this way?
  • Will eating this particular food help me achieve my weight loss/health goals?
  • What impact will this choice have on my calories, protein, carb intake for the day?
  • What can I eat that I like that will keep me on track?
  • What other choice can I make?

 

Sometimes I even stop and pull out my phone and enter the cheesy poofs into myfitnesspal.com just to see what that choice will do to my daily goals.

I am successful in making better choices probably 95% of the time. Do I slip? Sure. One example, I had an extra slice of toast one day. Normally, that is enough to send me into a tailspin and think the whole day is lost. But the next day, I entered everything into myfitnesspal.com, and I was only a couple of points high on my carbs. I met my protein goals and calorie goals.

So, great choice? No. Diet-killer? Not even close. I was still on track.

Another thing I do is I try not to think of my entire weight loss goal every time I eat. I do keep that goal in mind every day, yes. But for each meal or snack, I think only of that meal or snack. I might think of how it fits into my daily goals, but in the moment, I do not think too much beyond that.

I chose that approach because sometimes thinking of the entire goal is too overwhelming and seems unattainable. Today, this moment, this meal, that is a doable goal.

I get weighed every two weeks, and in that moment, I only think of my bi-monthly goals. I do sit down with the doctor afterwards and talk about long-term goals, but only a month out. Most importantly, I’m not weighing myself every day and stressing out about the numbers on the scale.

Biking and exercising also helps. I have been biking quite a bit, although the impending snow storm in our area has really put a damper on that recently. But biking takes my mind off the stress of the day, releases endorphins, and generally makes me feel better. Not to mention, it is great exercise for a weight loss plan.

The result is, of the 58 pounds of regain, I’m down 18 pounds. And my overall goal is now lower as well. So, now instead of needing to lose 94 pounds, I only need to lose 76 pounds.

So, good news all around. I am working on improving my mental health and making better choices. I’m also losing weight, exercising, and feeling better!

Will I always make good choices? No, definitely not. No one is perfect, and I know I am not. But I know that if I stay focused, I can make much better choices moving forward.

I’ll just keep my co-workers voice in my head every time I reach for those cheesy poofs reminding me to stop and “Make Good Choices!”

 

 

Stress, Traveling, And Diet Plans

During times of stress, staying on any diet plan can be very difficult, especially someone who has to stay on a tight schedule such as a bariatric patient.  This week has been difficult for me.

First, I have to say that the people here do not eat.  Well, they do, but not frequently enough.  My mom will eat breakfast, maybe.  I made her eggs on Sunday around 830am.  Then at noon, she didn’t understand why I needed a snack.  My schedule is pretty tight.  I am supposed to have breakfast, protein snack, lunch protein snack, dinner.  I feel like I eat all of the time, and I guess I kind of do.  My body is now trained on this schedule.

At noon when I hadn’t eaten yet, I made my way into the kitchen and started rummaging for appropriate protein snacks, of which my mother has none.  Yes, I know.  I should have been better prepared.  I did try to think ahead and bring my own protein snacks, but I left it on the kitchen counter back in Arlington.  Good thinking, right.

My mom can have breakfast and then not eat again until dinner.  I’m not supposed to do that.  I do not eat a lot for each meal, so I have to eat frequently, plus take vitamins.  I know if I skip meals, forget my vitamins, or wait too long between meals, I feel it.  Not hunger pains so much as the other signs of not eating, irritability, dizziness, etc.  I had to explain this to my family and let them know that while they do not have to eat frequently, I do.

I feel a lot of pressure about this, I have to admit.  Most of it is stress that I am creating myself.  I am worried that every time I eat, they will think I am going back to my old ways and I so want them to see me as doing well.  I’m not saying that I do not occasionally struggle with food, addiction, beating myself up for falling off the wagon sometimes.  I just am doing a lot better and I would like for my family to know that.

Of course traveling, dealing with a death in the family, nursing my mom through surgery, looking through old paperwork to make sure she has what she needs to arrange the funeral, get her survivor benefits from social security, make sure she has everything she needs as far as her insurance paperwork, etc adds to the stress levels.

This has definitely been a very trying week, but it is almost over and I will be back home and back on schedule soon.  Granted, I know I will have to come up here several more times to help my mom out, but things will be much easier, I hope.

Just One Of Those Days

I am just not feeling it today.  It has been cold and snowy or rainy here all week.  Today the sun is shining and it looks beautiful outside, but as the day progresses, I’m feeling more and more blah.  I would love to put my head down on my desk or crawl back under the blankets in bed and sleep for the rest of the day.  I’m not usually like this.  I normally have a very cheery disposition and try to stay positive, but today I am having a bad day.

Part of the problem is I am suffering from some digestive problems today.  I’ve written about this particular problem before and I just do not feel like discussing it again.  I am going to have to go to the drugstore at lunch and instead of eating, get something to help my system out.  This just ticks me off.  I had been doing so well for a little over a week, and now here I am again.  I’m in pain and I feel like crap.

I have also hit another weight loss plateau.  My weight loss has slowed down considerably from the first few months.  Of course, the first few months, I barely ate anything.  Nonetheless, I’m 83 pounds away from my goal and I feel like I will never get there.  Normally, I do not sweat the plateaus, etc, but today I am impatient.  It is probably compounded by the fact that I am not really feeling very well.

I am also fretting about my hair.  I pulled another fistful out this am while I was washing my hair and I almost started crying.  I do not know if my hair actually shows signs of thinning yet, but I am always checking the mirror for evidence that I am going bald.  I have become ridiculously obsessed with this.  I am taking two different forms of biotin every day, I just bought some more biotin shampoo, and I am going to try some iron supplements as well to see if that helps.

Tonight my AWG friends are meeting at a local restaurant for a social event.  Maybe I’ll go home after work, change, do my hair etc and see if that helps.  And, tomorrow the girls from my essay group are supposed to come over and we may have a writing session.  I usually feel better after I get some writing done.

On the writing side of things, I edited one essay that my essay group reviewed for me.  I have also submitted the revised version to AWG for another round of reviews.  Maybe one day, it will be worth something.  Also, I started two slightly humorous essays.  One has to do with my work, which is mind-numbing drudgery.  The other has to do with language and the regional dialect in the small part of America where I grew up.  I do not know if that one is working out the way I wanted.  I also have another essay about when “frenemies” break up that I have to edit.  That essay needs a lot of work and I have been avoiding working on it.  It is a very personal account of what happened when a former friend and I parted ways and what that did to our inner circle.  So, it is a difficult subject for me to revisit.

I do not know why I have decided to focus more on essays than fiction recently.  I think maybe because I have been writing so much of my life on this blog and what it is like to be a fat woman in America, it has forced me to review certain events in my life and how they affected my psyche.  Maybe the essays are a way for me to put things into perspective so that I can finally put them behind me and move forward to accept whatever the future may bring.    Or maybe I’m just full of crap.

Clearing Away Old Ghosts

Part of what I have been doing over the past year, in addition to preparing for my weight loss surgery and dealing with the aftermath of said surgery, has been trying to deal with things that I have ignored for a long time.  I have taken care of a lot of financial problems that I had.  I gave up video gaming.  I started taking care of my overall health, which I have had trouble dealing with for years.  So many things.

Before my surgery, I cleaned out my big walk in closet.  Cleaned out all of the remaining boxes I had not unpacked except for one that I cleaned out after the surgery.  I reorganized the closet, bought more hangers, hung up all of my clothes that I didn’t have room for, threw away or gave away a lot of clothes.

In the same spirit of purging and reorganizing, I cleaned out my hall closet yesterday.  Anytime I would order anything online, or if my mom sent me a box of supplies, or if I bought something that came in a box like my new coffee maker, I threw the box into the hall closet.  I’ve wanted to clean this closet out for a long time and clear out these boxes.  So, I did this yesterday.

Most of the boxes, I flattened and took out to the trash room in my building.  Some of the boxes, I discovered were filled with old bills, books, and other things I just did not know what to do with.  I created a bag of stuff to shred.  I then ordered a new shredder online.  My old one broke, you see.  I put the books on my bookshelves.  The other stuff, I sorted through.  I chucked a bunch of stuff and threw it into the trash.  I did keep a couple of useful items, which I then put away.

I feel so organized.

I have two more cleaning projects on my list.  One, I need to clean out the cabinet in my kitchen that holds all of my plastic containers.  Currently, my cupboard looks like the “before” picture in one of those commercials for better products which has the ancillary benefit of keeping you more organized.  When I put another plastic container in there now, I open it and quickly toss the container in and shut it immediately to keep anything else from pouring out of it and onto the floor.  God forbid I actually have to take one out.  I’m so ashamed.

The second project is cleaning out from under my bathroom sink.  I cannot find anything under there.  I know I have soap, lotions, shampoos, vitamins, etc, but your guess is as good as mine as to how I find these items.

I’ll probably throw a lot of stuff away in both cases.  Although, I am kind of a fanatic when it comes to recycling, so I will probably put most of the plastic stuff into the recycle bin, whether it’s recyclable or not.  In either case, the organization and purging must occur.

Organizing my life is not nearly as much fun as binge eating an entire bag of Cheetos or Doritos or fantasizing about pizza, but I feel so much better afterwards.

 

Feeling Good After A Rough Week

I had a very rough week.  I had a lot of problems, from stomach problems, feeling bloated, stress at work, headaches, feeling tired, and blood pressure spikes.  I had to take my blood pressure medicine a couple of times.  The stomach problems were mostly early in the week, but persisted in a small way through Friday.

I decided that it was all due to stress from work.  This week, work was quite stressful.  Fortunately, I do work from home.  If I worked in the office, I do not know if I could have handled the stress.  Part of the problem is that I am kind of a supervisor.  I have no actual power, mind you, but my co-workers do look to me for answers and support.  I also manage the phones, the time off schedules, and the vacation calendar in addition to my regular duties.  Therefore, my phone is always ringing and my instant messenger is forever blooping at me.

I also talk to our customers on top of all of this, so it can get quite crazy at work.  I went back to work a month after the surgery because we are moving into our slow season.  And since I work from home, it is easier for me to manage the stress and deal with my meals.

This week wasn’t so much busy as it was stressful.  Everything seemed to happen at once.  For example, I was on the phone with a client who was calling from overseas on Skype and he was upset about something.  My other line kept ringing the entire time I was on the phone.  My co-workers were calling me, either to ask me questions or to transfer calls to me.  Plus I had a bunch of instant messages.  I ignored all of these interruptions tried to deal with the customer on the phone.  Then I had one person who, because they could not get through to me any other way, starting calling my cell phone over and over again.

Seriously?

Granted, the person calling my cell phone had a relatively serious personal emergency earlier in the day and was calling to give me an update.  OK, that was kind of important.  And many of the other interruptions were things that I did have to take care of.  My co-workers were simply doing their jobs.  They are all good, hardworking people.  But the stress can sometimes be overwhelming.  It’s mostly my fault that people call me over and over.  I’m usually very responsive and answer people right away.  So, if they do not get a hold of me, they are not used to it.

I am supposed to be keeping my stress level low to help my stomach heal after such a huge surgery.  As I have discussed in previous posts, I do have a problem dealing with stress sometimes.  I have not done enough to retrain my coworkers to deal with my new reality.  I will have to fix that.

I did tell my boss, who is very understanding about everything I have been going through, that I need to slow down and reduce my stress.  I told him about my stomach problems and blood pressure spikes.  He was great.  He told me that I need to take care of myself and to only do what I can.

I’m currently out of vacation time until the first of the year.  I cannot afford to take anymore time off this year.  Any time I take off from here will be without pay.  I can go back on medical leave and get short-term disability, but I really do not want to do that.  I know that the week before Christmas through the second week of January will be painfully slow.  I cannot take Christmas off, but I’m thinking of taking the first two weeks of January off.  After the second week of January, our busy season begins.  I will need to be at work.  I feel if I rest up and do what I can to decompress, I will be ready.

I will still need to make sure I do what I can to manage my stress level, but I feel I will be better prepared if I take some more time off.

Now, that was the worst of it…onto the good news.

I lost two more pounds!  I’m down to 256.  That’s a total of 42 pounds.  I am feeling better.  My blood pressure is back down in normal ranges.  Yes, I’m still taking my medicine, but I do not want my pressure to spike again.

So, in the spirit of reducing stress…here is a kitten!

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This is Annabelle.  She is my step-niece’s kitten.  My step-niece found Annabelle on the side of the road and nursed her back to health.  Took her to a vet.  Made sure she had all of her shots.  Paid for a surgery, which is why Annabelle has a cone on her head.  The cone is gone now, but this is the most current picture I have of Annabelle.  She’s a pretty laid back kitten and will sit on you endlessly for petting and she loves treats!