Red Herrings and a Mayonnaise Jar

Yesterday,  I woke up in a brighter mood than I had been in a few days. I had my usual cafe au lait on the way to work but because I was in a hurry, I ordered breakfast from the kitchen. The Chef made me a egg and cheese sandwich on wheat toast. I prefer to bring my breakfast and lunch to work but it is great to know that I have a food source only steps away 🙂

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For lunch, I had a bowl of black bean soup topped with cheese and sour cream. I pulled the soup out of the freezer and I think it gets better over time.

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In the late afternoon, I sipped on a soy latte that The Pro brought me. Lately, my need for coffee has increased and this latte could not have been more on time. Once work was done, I had an appt to get my hair cut and plans to meet the dear husband for dinner. We met at a Mexican place right by my hair salon so that I could get to group therapy in time. The food came out really slow and I was in an insane hurry so I didn’t take any photos but for the record, I had some chips and salsa (probably too many), a spinach burrito that was simply sauteed spinach in a tortilla and a cheese quesadilla.

The group is led by a therapist and a RD that specializes in eating disorders and this week, we met at the RD’s office instead of the therapist’s office. It is WAY on the other side of town and there was mucho traffic. I ended up being a little late but thankfully, I was not the last to arrive. We got started after everyone arrived and the discussion was about chapter 4 of Eating in the Light of the Moon by Dr. Annita Johnston.  The entire session seemed to be exactly what I needed.

First, we talked about eating disorders being the Red Herring , or a smoke screen, for the real issues. This wasn’t really news to me because I am very aware that my ED comes from my lack of coping skills for my past and present hurts. But as the conversation continued, we were given a list, an actual list, of about 200 emotions. The list is to help us identify what we are feeling which is the first step. How can we address our feelings if we don’t even know what they are? This is a situation that I find myself in often. Sure, I can identify happy, mad, sad, frustrated but isolated, not so much. Of course, I have felt isolated but never have I been able to put a word to the feeling. The feeling of not knowing “what’s wrong” often times leads to emotional eating and sometimes binging.

Once the emotion is identified, we have to take action that doesn’t lead to our “behavior”. When we are mad, we can go for a run or when we are happy we could dance or sing. So the question arises, what about those times that the ED takes over and logic is no longer available in our minds? That is where self care, or the mayonnaise jar , comes in. In order to prevent those moments when the cloak of ED covers us, we have to put our self care FIRST. That’s right, self care has to come first. 

For me, self care means spending QUALITY time with my dear husband, practicing yoga, meditating, regular (not excessive) exercise and social time. These things have to take priority over things like overtime at work, gourmet meals everyday and a sparkling clean home. Sure, those things are important to me but I have to take care of myself. I have often viewed self care as selfish but in reality, I can only take care of them less important things if I am well. Being at the bottom of a nutella jar is not well.

Another key aspect to self care is to not let our emotions pile up inside, we need to feel them and then let them go. I have trouble with expressing what I feel because I am a people pleaser. I fear hurting someone’s feelings or looking like an idiot for being too sensitive. What I learned last night is that being a sensitive person is part of being intutive, it means I listen to my emotions. I don’t have all of the skills I need to deal with them sometimes, but at least I am listening and that is a step in the right direction.

Do you put self care first? Are you a people pleaser that fears saying no or telling your REAL emotions?

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Chocolate on Bread

I had a long hard emotional day yesterday. Ever since I started the group therapy, my obsession with the scale and my appetite have increased. I experienced the same thing a couple years back when I started seeing my regular therapist. I think what happens is that all of the issues of the past become so “in my face” that I just wanted to push them back down.  Though I am learning new coping skills that don’t involve eating, food is still one of my very best friends. The kind of friend that is there through thick and thin, the kind of friend that has caused heartache as well as the greatest joys.

I started the day on the scale. It showed me a number that I really didn’t like even though it was only slightly higher than the day before. Of course, in all honesty, it was to be expected with my love for chocolate and dessert lately.  After my “weigh in”  I grabbed my cafe au lait and tried to pretend that my battle with scale didn’t exist. I went to work as normal and ate a normal “healthy” breakfast. I had greek yogurt with berries and granola.

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Things became tricky around lunch time. I was feeling really wiped out when The Pro offered to pick up lunch from Panera. Feeling depressed and tired, I wanted something comforting. I ordered the tomato and mozzarella panini

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with creamy tomato soup. Once it arrived, though it was slightly cool, I devoured it with no regard to how hungry I was.

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Feeling stuffed, I wanted some chocolate. I bought this dark chocolate orange bar

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at the grocery store over the weekend and it was calling my name. I took one bite and it tasted heavenly. It was then that I saw the leftover baguette.

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I had only taken a bite and dipped it into my soup while I was eating lunch but it was calling my name. I wrapped a couple of squares of the chocolate in the bread and proceeded to finish off stuffing what I could down. By then end, I was miserably stuffed. I wanted to cry, even looking back on it now brings tears to my eyes. I got through it by chatting with my friend Sarah on Gmail and for a little while, my negative feelings subsided.

After work, I had a date with the dear husband at the gym; the plan was to run for 40 minutes on the treadmills. I got on the treadmill and started a 5 minute warm-up followed by about 7 minutes of running. I couldn’t do it anymore. My mind wouldn’t let me. I slowed down to a brisk walk and finally made my way back up to running for about 2 minutes. After that, I just didn’t have it in me anymore. I slowed down to a stroll and finished out the 40 minutes. Had the dear husband not been right beside me, I would have bailed after that 7 minutes of running. It felt so frustrating because, lately, running has been a freeing, mind clearing release for me and in those moments, it was mental torture.

We left the gym and came home to make dinner. I made orange peel tempeh from a recipe I found on Sally’s Blog. I made the sauce over the weekend and assembled it all last night over brown rice. It was way too spicy, I ended up not measuring the rooster sauce and over did it big time. I could only eat a couple of bites before calling it quits. The dear husband was a trooper and finished off his serving.

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I was still hungry. I decided that the safest thing for me to have was popcorn. I air popped a batch and we headed upstairs to watch Brothers and Sisters on the computer. We normally DVR it but for some reason, it didn’t record this week. Once the show was over, I found some leftover chocolate covered sunflower seeds from our wedding and proceeded to dive in.

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At the same time, I grabbed my copy of Eating in the Light of the Moon and sat down. Thankfully, reading the stories calmed me down. Enough so that I only ate a couple of tablespoons of the seeds. It felt good to finally stop eating but I am still ravaged with the shame of it. I know that doing this therapy is the right thing, if I don’t face all of “my stuff” I will continue to reach for “my log” for the rest of my life. In the end, it isn’t about the food and my only way to recovery is through it.

The Log and The Shore

Yesterday was a really long day. I started out with a cafe au lait on my way to work and then had a bowl of cereal once I got settled in. In my bowl was shredded wheat, cinnamon, ground flax seed and milk.

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The day was really hectic and I felt as if I would never get it all done. I took a break for lunch around 11; I had the chef make me a small spinach salad to get in some good green veg

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and then I had my 4 second flat lunch. I packed leftover brown rice topped with a black bean and corn mixture from the freezer. I added in a little Cajun spice and olive oil and lunch was born. When I heated it up, it smelled like a Mexican restaurant. Sadly, it didn’t taste as good as it smelled but it got the job done.

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Around 2:30, I was hungry again so I had greek yogurt topped with thawed mixed berries and a few mixed nuts.

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I finally finished the huge pile of work that had been daunting me all day and then headed home. Once home, I did a half hour walk run interval program on the treadmill while watching Sex and the City. It was the episode where Mr. Big is leaving NY to live Napa. That episode always makes me sad, like Charlotte, I always rooted for Mr. Big. But I digress.

After the treadmill, I popped a frozen pizza in the oven and took a quick shower. Once I was fresh and clean, the dear husband and I had a very fast dinner. The pizza was the Buffalo Mozzarella and Roasted Tomato made my Archer’s Farms, our favorite brand of frozen pizza.

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On the side, we had steamed broccoli drizzled with olive oil and a sea salt sprinkle.

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I had to rush, rush, rush to eat dinner because I had to be at group therapy by 6. I arrived at group just in time for the opening music. I joined this group last week at the recommendation of my regular therapist. The group focuses on eating disorders using the book Eating in the Light of the Moon by Dr. Anita Johnston. The books uses fairy tales, myths and metaphors to aid in recovery from ED.

The group runs 15 weeks and last night was session 2 which focused on chapter 3. This chapter really spoke to me and I am still working through all of the ways that it hits home. The part that touches me so much is the story of  The Log . The summarize, the log represents ED, the shore represents a healthy, happy life and the rough waters represents all of the reason why we cling to our ED. We learned that we have to appreciate our ED for getting us through times that we may not have been able to cope with otherwise. Each time we return to our log, we have to realize that there is still something we need to learn.

Now, I don’t know about you but I have never appreciated my ED. For me, it has been a curse, a force to be reckoned with. But now, what I can see is that my ED helped me cope with times that were too overwhelming for me to handle. I never developed the coping skills I needed in order to survive without ED. I remember being a young teenager, hiding in my room with cake frosting. In my solitude of cake frosting, I was safe from the things that happened outside of those doors. I was child that only felt safe when I could stuff “it all” down and I am not a bad person for wanting to feel safe.

Now, in order to recover from compulsive/binge eating, I have to learn new coping skills. I learned in group that each time I reach for my ED during hard times, it means that I still have yet to learn everything I need to know to get to the shore. Ironically enough, once I got home, I wanted to binge. I wanted something chocolate and something crunchy.  I ate a few varieties of chocolates before realizing I was about to be out of control. So, I grabbed onto my log and made popcorn. The popcorn felt safe.

Thought Provoker: What do you think or feel about the log, the rough waters and the shore?