Seeing the spread

Hi and happy hump day!

I’ve been a serious sap lately, trying to appreciate all the good in my life as much as I can. I have an inner critic that tends to get cautious when things are going too well, so I’m trying to shut that voice up and keep on living the good life.

This got me thinking last night about how my efforts to get healthy have translated into my life in so many different ways that I could have never imagined but it all started with a simple: “I’m worth it.” It’s been nothing short of amazing to see how discipline in terms of achieving better health for myself have made so many other parts of my life immeasurably brighter. I don’t take my health for granted, I’m truly appreciate of my body on a consistent basis. I spend time savoring my food because I know all of the effort that went into cooking it. There’s meaning to things I do that wasn’t there a few years ago.

My discipline goes beyond food choices too. Since I started caring about what I put in my body I’ve also been better about things like flossing or wearing sun screen.

My college roommates probably don’t believe me, but I’m also no longer a slob. I  was really, really messy prior to a few years ago and now I love cleaning.

Realizing how small changes have made big differences to my health showed me that taking five minutes at the beginning and end of my day to put things back in their place, make my bed, wash the dishes or vacuum makes cleaning more manageable and not a dreaded task.

Not a day goes by that I’m not aware in someway of how my life has changed.

This is not about some kind of willpower or great motivation that I’ve been able to tap into, but it’s about seeing how small positive habits have the power to transform your life.

When you’re losing weight there’s a big desire to to have it be fast! and easy! but there’s no reward in fast or easy. I’ve found immense beauty in the power of dedication and discipline and in appreciating and honoring all of the things I do every day that push me forward.

My “spark” so to speak, was that at some point I made the switch in my head to abandon fast and easy to take on everything in my life one small moment at a time.

The last few months have been hard. I’ve been stuck in a lot of ways, my weight being one of them. I feel lately though that by doubling down on discipline with what I’m eating, the rest of my life feels more in control. To be honest, although I was frustrated, I was not surprised that my weight hadn’t moved for months. The last half year of my life was a bit of a backslide into binge eating and I’m just now clawing my way back out.

I’m back on my game now. I’m being strict in every aspect of my life. With my food and with my inner voice, where my energy goes and what I let influence me. I’m aware and I’m in control.

Thoughts become things, choose good ones.

“Through discipline comes freedom” – Aristotle

Now…the numbers

Starting weight: 243

Last week:157.5

This week: 155.5

Total lost: 87.5

Click here for every weigh in, ever.

How big change happens

One pound at a time.

One battle with binge eating at a time.

One workout at a time.

One healthy decision at a time.

One meal at a time.

One bite at a time.

One act of self-care at a time.

One breathe at a time.

One step at a time.

One grateful thought a time.

Women, food, the Universe, and me

Here is what I believe.

That there is an intersection between spirituality and how you feed yourself.

Geneen Roth can back me up.

When I first began whatever journey I’m in right now, my influences were fat acceptance blogs. Like Lesley Kinzel, like Kate Harding, women who preach “just say no!” to dieting. I fell in love hard. With the concept. With the freedom. With my body.

The love inspired me to want to change. I cared, for maybe the first time, about the direction my life was headed. My influences then became healthy living blogs. I was soon part of a cult that worshiped KERF and Healthy Tipping Point, Meals and Miles and all the other ladies who have made a living by posting every meal they eat.

But now,

Now.

Now, I read spiritual blogs. Zen Habits. Roots of She. Tiny Buddha. Medicinal Marzipan. Christie Inge.

Blogs by life coaches. Blogs by (mostly) women who are living in the intersection between spirituality and food.

Who also believe that eating whole foods does influence whether you have an inner feeling of wholeness. Where showing your local farmers’ market some love also means showing your body some love. Influences who see and feel strongly about a gut/brain connection.

I’ve never had any kind of connection to a religious spirituality. But I do feel strongly that my faith, my love of all things of the Universe and the law of attraction, has gotten me to where I am and to wherever I’m headed in terms of loving my body, being able to change, and subsequently losing weight.

There’s so much talk when you discuss losing weight about how to “outsmart” hunger, how to eat less, how the “wrong” foods are sabotaging your efforts.

Focusing on these things will only draw more of those feelings to you. You will continue to feel hungry and continue fueling with the wrong foods.

Instead, savor your food.

Create peace with food.

It is not the enemy

Food is healing. How and what you choose to put in your body should be celebrated and enjoyed and not feared.

I’m saying this because I think if you’re someone who is like I used to be – consistently using food as a cure-all for anxiety, loneliness  fear, sadness – then this is the only way of escaping that pattern.

There is no cutting food out of your life. As much as you would like the hand off the responsibility of your health to Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig, that’s not how life works.

As someone who has lost 85 pounds, I get asked a lot about what is or is not healthy, what I eat, what I’m doing to burn calories.

But what I want to say,

How I want to answer,

Is that none of that would matter if I didn’t believe, every single day, that my weight loss has everything to do with finally believing that I deserve the effort of taking on my health, waking up early to eat breakfast, packing a lunch and snacks for work, and coming home and cooking dinner.

Sure, it would be easier some days to grab lunch out or heat up a frozen meal in the microwave for dinner, but I deserve better.

It’s these small acts of showing myself love that keep me engaged, keep me going in my own path of healthiness. Keep me invested in my body.

A while ago, someone commented on my blog asking if I believed there was space for someone losing weight in the fat acceptance movement. I want to believe there is, because a large part of me still truly and lovingly identifies with fat acceptance even though I do think losing weight has benefited me. The gap, I think, can be bridged through spirituality.

At least for me, I don’t feel like I am being untrue to myself in wanting to lose weight when I know that faith should be filling me up instead of food. I know that my issues with binge eating, emotional eating and the like will be taken care of when my head is in the right place through positive thinking and conscious thought.

As always, in order of importance:

Love,

change,

and losing weight.

All over the place

I’m having trouble getting my thoughts together right now.

A few things are on my mind.

This weekend, I reacted to uncomfortable situations by eating. A lot. Although honestly, the amount or type of food doesn’t matter, but it’s how I felt eating it. I was pretty conscious of the fact that I was eating to avoid having to feel what I was feeling. As long as I kept eating, I didn’t have to think about what was happening or how I felt.

Also, I put away the scale this week. Although I’ve been counting calories, I haven’t weighed myself in a number of days and the freedom I first felt from not stepping on the scale has turned to fear of what the number will be when I eventually do weigh myself again. I feel like I’m living in a catch-22 of weighing/not weighing. When I do weigh myself every morning, I know where I’m at, but the number seeps into all of my thoughts and actions. When I don’t weigh myself every day, I fear that a day of overeating has caused me to gain 10 pounds and it’s easier for me to keep overeating when I know I won’t see the number. Gah.

I had more vacation time than I had anticipated at work to use before the end of the year so I decided to take a solo vacation. I leave Thursday! I’ve done some travel alone, but I’m still nervous. I’m excited to get out of the country and my comfort zone for a week but now that It’s only a few days away some fears are setting in – mostly about being lonely. The best of traveling is feeling empowerment and the worst is feeling overwhelmed and lonely, but I’m keeping in mind that all emotions fleeting. I tend to have a worse reaction to anticipation of an event than the event itself, so I’m just trying my best to honor what I’m feeling without letting the feelings paralyze me.

The holidays are an overwhelming time for everyone, so I’ve been letting myself be completely non-restricted when it comes to food. This doesn’t do me any good, however, when binge eating and too much sugar make situations worse than they are.

This post is all sorts of all over the place, but that’s where I am right now.

I’ll leave on a good note. The only thing that I found that helps when I’m feeling out of sorts is to be grateful. Practicing gratitude reminds me about all the good things in my life and lessens the stress and anxiety about everything else.

A few mindful quotes:

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear” – Ambrose Redmoon

“Action is the antidote to despair” – Joan Baez

“Set peace of mind as your highest goal, and organize your life around it” – Brian Tracy

 

On not binging

This weekend I felt so incredibly sad.

And for that, I am incredibly grateful.

This weekend, I had one of those moments that proves to me that I have truly changed my life, not just lost a bunch of weight. This weekend showed me that if I hadn’t dealt with the emotional, raw side of why I ate so much in the first place, I would never have been successful at losing any weight at all.

Two years ago, each time I resisted binging felt like climbing a mountain. I did anything and everything in an effort to fight the urge to binge. I would waste full gas tanks driving around New Jersey. I would list out all the food I wanted to eat if calories didn’t matter. I would even let myself get as close to my binge routine as to drive to a supermarket and just walk up and down the isles.

But this weekend, feeling as sad as I was, I was ready to let myself binge. All I wanted to do was feel better. But something strange happened. My brain and body didn’t crave the food or the fullness.

For the first time, I truly realized I had broken free.

If you’ve never experienced binging, never planned your night around the chance to be alone and inhale food, never felt what it was like to fall asleep clutching your stomach in pain but yet still want to eat more, then maybe this doesn’t sound all that groundbreaking to you.

But trust me, it was.

I describe myself as someone who is in recovery from disordered eating, because certain situations and foods still trigger my brain into binge mode.

However, each time I turn toward love instead of food, I move farther from my past and seeking fulfillment through eating.

This is the transformation I am most proud of.

I’ll take the smaller clothing sizes, the extra energy, the prominent collar bones – but for me overcoming my battle with binging has been the most significant part of this journey.

Instead of eating, I did things I know now make me happy.

I surrounded myself with friends. I talked about how I was feeling instead of pretending I wasn’t feeling anything at all. I read inspirational writing about self love and being body positive.

I cleaned up my apartment, I cooked healthy food for the upcoming week and I took walks and went hiking

Even though as I write this I still have twinges of sadness, I am choosing instead to feel lucky that I no longer use food to numb my emotions.

It’s incredibly painful to be living with the shame and embarrassment that comes with any eating disorder and I feel so blessed to not have that be a major part of my life anymore.

In addition to physically losing weight, I feel as though a weight has been lifted from my soul in being able to be as open as I now am with my struggle with binge and emotional eating.

Losing weight from dieting is impossible. It doesn’t work. You will fail. You will be frustrated.

I can confidently tell you, however, that losing weight through a process of opening yourself up to life, pinning your success not on the scale, but on how much enjoyment you can get from each day is the only way to change your body. If you want something different for yourself, you have to be ok with abandoning old habits and comforts to embrace and allow room for the new.

It’s scary, but it’s worth it.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to love yourself or being body positive, or maybe you are suffering through some of your own feelings of sadness, I highly recommend reading through Roots of She and the blog of Rachel W. Cole.

Also, if you are suffering from binge eating, please know that you are not alone. I am always open to talking more about my personal experience with disordered and emotional eating and hearing stories from others so feel free to send me an email at fatornotblog@gmail.com.

Whole30 recap

My Whole30 challenge came to an end pretty much the same way it started – too much wine 🙂

It certainly wasn’t an entire 30 days. There was the pizza run, a few times where I was desperate for coffee at work and added in splashes of milk, and one time where I accidentally ate edamame because I had forgotten it was on the “no” list and had already paid for it in an overpriced salad.

I also cut it short on Sept. 27 for drinks with my former coworkers. The next day I visited the Chobani Soho yogurt bar, followed by froyo for dinner at Love & Yogurt in Hoboken while waiting for my train to Fair Lawn.

The very next morning, it was back to oatmeal for breakfast.

With all that being said, in 26-ish days, I still feel like I learned a lot from my experience.

For one, I didn’t count calories for the majority of September. Seeing as I’ve been counting calories daily for almost two years, this was a huge change!

It was…interesting. At first it was great, but there were some days I wish I had tracked.

If you don’t already know it, here’s the quick explanation on my feelings about calorie counting: I love it, I don’t get obsessive about it, if I’m hungry I eat even if it’s over my calorie allowance for the day. For me, recovering from a past where I had a terrible relationship with food and binged and emotionally ate all the time, calorie counting is an excellent tool that I can use to feel in control. 

After three weeks, I began calorie counting again. I still have weight loss goals to reach (100 pounds!) and I’ve been in the same 5-pound range for MONTHS. Seriously, it’s plateau hell up in here.

Ok, back to Whole30.

The biggest change was in my taste buds!

I can’t believe how much I enjoy unsweetened chocolate. Also, I used to need a whole banana plus chocolate protein powder and usually some other fruit to drink a green monster, but I’ve really grown to like the taste of a less sweet green monster with lots of spinach.

Also, I always had to add sweetener to pumpkin, but when I started eating again a few days ago I thought it tasted delicious!

I find that I can pick up in the subtle sweetness of vegetables much easier. It’s pretty cool.

I did get sick of eating eggs for breakfast every day – although scrambling them in coconut oil is now my new favorite way to enjoy them.

I also felt weighed down by the amount of meat I was eating. If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you probably notice that I’m not typically a big meat eater. It’s more expensive than other types of protein and I just don’t really enjoy it as much as someone who is going paleo should.

Give me beans, yogurt, cottage cheese, tofu, nuts, and eggs and I’m a happy girl. I don’t see pork or red meat ever being staples in my life.

But, each time I’ve done a paleo challenge, it reminds me how important it is to eat enough fat.

It keeps me full. It tastes really good, and too many times I go without it because of my former failed experiences (ahem, Weight Watchers) with losing weight.

The benefits of cutting sugar, grains, legumes and dairy out of your diet are eye opening. I was never tired during the challenge. My energy stayed consistent throughout the day. I was never (seriously EVER) so hungry that I felt light headed, even when I went really long stretches between meals.

Overall, I ate more whole, nourishing foods than I normally would have during September – and that’s a success!

The strictness of the challenge helped me stay away from free cookies and bagels at the office, desert and wine during a family dinner, and it saved me money because it got me out of the habit of buying coffee everyday and I think I ate out twice the whole month.

In the end, I came to the same conclusion I came to before: Paleo is not for me.

I got really cranky toward the end of the month and all I could think about was eating sugar. I started to feel deprived, angry, blah blah blah. Also, there is just something about starting my day by cooking oats on the stove that makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. I don’t know if it’s the routine of making it or the actual food, but there’s no denying it, oatmeal just makes me happy.

I’m lucky. I have no allergies to wheat, gluten, dairy, etc., so there is no reason why those foods can’t be a part of my balanced diet.

I probably wouldn’t do it again – but I would recommend that others give it a try! A lot of people really benefit from the paleo way of eating. Also, there is something to be said for sticking to a challenge.

The whole experience reinvigorated my resolve when it came to the way I want to live my life. It got me to question why I was reaching for certain types of foods. I don’t have to eat the free cookie, or indulge in desert, even if everyone else is. I don’t have to feel pressured to drink if it’s not something I want to do.

At the end of the day, I deal with the consequences of my choices. It’s really easy to just go with the flow when it comes to eating out or drinking, but I don’t have to. I can enjoy life just as much whether there is glass of wine is in my hand or not.

Putting myself first, taking the time to prep meals for the week, turning down other plans to work out or eat home instead of at a restaurant, I like living like that. For too long I had this sort of apathy about myself, but my health is not something I’m willing to be passive about anymore.

Some days it is just about another day of getting up, eating right, making time for exercise, but when I stop to think about it, about how I used to live, I realize it’s always about so much more.

Happy Friday, friends.

Honesty

I wanted to have a bunch of fun pictures of food to share with you today.

But instead, I need to write a different kind of post.

An honest post.

I don’t usually write any commentary about my weigh-ins each week because they are just numbers. They reflect something, but not everything. They tell a portion of a bigger story.

If my numbers were to speak this week they would say “I’m stressed out.”

I have a lot of big changes coming up in my life and a couple of other curve balls have been thrown my way recently and I’m handling it by snacking more than usual.

And you know what? That’s ok.

When I feel like this, bummed about a few pounds gained, I remind myself that I’m in this for the long haul. All in. For good.

A few pounds gained one week doesn’t mean my week was bad. It doesn’t mean my life is bad. It doesn’t mean I’ve failed somehow.

I still struggle with binge eating, and those urges came on strong this week.

While my binges aren’t nearly as destructive as they used to be (i.e. entire bags of mini Reese’s peanut butter cups) the feeling of being out of control around food, whether it’s trail mix or pizza, still makes me feel just as unsettled.

At some point, I want to stop counting calories but I think within me lies a fear that I’ll lose control completely.

I still struggle with trusting myself around food and finding a balance.

I know how it is to be fat. I know how it is to be working toward being less fat. But I’m not sure I know how it is to just be.

I don’t have a nice way to wrap this post up. It’s a glimpse, the tip of the iceberg, to the mountain of issues that come out when you tackle disordered eating.

My head’s a little cloudy, but I’m doing my best to fight through the fog with positive thinking.

I am enough

I am enough

I am enough

Now…The Numbers

Starting weight: 243

Last week: 162.5

This week: 164.5

Change: 2

Total loss: 78.5

 

 

Great(er) Expectations

I’ve tackled a lot of things in my 1+ year of losing weight.

But there’s one big thing I still feel like I really struggle with: social eating.

Honestly, when I decided I was going to lose weight, I stopped eating out with friends. I literally asked my friends not to ask me to dinner. Pre-weight loss I used to meet friends for meals all the time, never turn down an invite to a party and was always up for splitting a bottle of wine.

For a while I threw around excuses.

“I don’t have the money to eat out” – usually true

“I already ate out a couple times this week” – rarely true

“I’m really trying to lose X amount by X date, so after that I can go to X restaurant” – this meant it was never going to happen

I skipped SuperBowl parties (“I hate watching football!”), I skipped invitations to friends houses for dinners, I skipped impromptu nights at the bar.

Bloggeer Lisa Eirene (lost 110 pounds!) recently wrote about a party she went to and her strategy for eating without going overboard and it got me thinking about my own strategy (i.e. being MIA) when it came to eating out.

And with a wedding Saturday (hello, buffet!) and Memorial Day barbeques coming up, I think it’s about time for me to learn how to eat reasonably without a food scale and measuring cups.

My strategy for holidays and other gatherings before had just been to give myself permission to eat whatever I wanted for that night. I know it’s not the best way to approach things, but I also know that nights like that are RARE and not reflective of how I eat 95 percent of the time.

But, I think I can do better than that.

I want to strike a balance between not obsessing about the calories and giving myself room to eat things I might not normally eat without the feeling of coming to an oasis in a desert and stuffing myself.

You see, my eating habits don’t make me feel deprived now, but that’s because I’m not around foods that I would rather not eat.

When I’m around foods I don’t normally eat in a social setting, I sometimes feel pressure to eat them or eat more than I normally would so I don’t feel….diet-y.

Some of this comes from not wanting to deal with people commenting on what I am, or am not eating, and some of this comes from the mentality I had growing up…where if I didn’t eat all the “bad” foods at a party, I would never have another opportunity to at home. My parents usually just threw the food out or hid the food, so it was always a “now or never” thing…which of course led me down the road of binge eating.

Anyway, this is starting to go off in too many directions.

Moral of the story: I can learn to leave my food issues behind and eat “normally” in social settings, but it’s going to take work and effort, just like everything in life.

Let’s move on to…The Numbers:

Starting weight: 243

Last week: 169

This week: 168

Change: -1

Total loss: 75

Really, I’m not on a diet

I want to talk about dieting.

I hate the word. I hate the idea.

I’m not on one. But for some reason, that’s hard for people to understand.

When I think of diets, I think of (1) something you pay money to follow and (2) something that you will cheat on or fail at.

I’m not on a diet.

I’m a recovering binge eater who thinks consciously, really consciously, about my eating habits to avoid relapse and to maintain control.

I think I run into this confusion mostly when I express hesitation about eating at a restaurant. People assume I don’t want to mess up my diet.

Not true.

I don’t want to enter a situation that could make me feel like I don’t have control over what and how much I eat.

For most of my life, I ate the bulk of my calories in secret and in shame. I hid and hoarded food, ate until I was sick and then punished myself mentally for the act.

I didn’t love myself, and I didn’t care about how binge eating affected my body.

But all that has changed.

Here’s the thing: I view meal planning, cooking and counting calories as an act of self care. I feel better and stress less when I’m doing all of these things to take care of myself. These things take time, but it means that I’m making my health a priority.

Do I lose weight from doing these things? Yes. But the bigger picture is that I’m taking care of myself. I’m thinking about what I eat. I’m researching health trends. I’m taking time to make sure I want and enjoy the food I’m eating. I’m not just grabbing food from a shelf and eating it as quickly as possible in the glow of a TV.

When you recover from an eating disorder, like binge eating, you have to relearn how to feed yourself.

The idea of going out to eat at somewhere like a buffet for a meal no longer appeals to me on a number of levels because in my mind it could act as a trigger for binge eating. Gaining weight does factor in, but it’s not at the top.

This is something that I really wanted to put out there, because I think there’s a common misconception that anyone who plays an active role in their food choices is on a diet.

I have no idea if I’ll always eat the way I do now, or if I will always track my calories. But those choices won’t depend on how much I weigh, they will depend on how I feel.

Right now, I like what I’m doing. I like that I have created a way of life that is designed to overcome binge eating triggers. I like that I don’t go to bed at night regretting my food choices that day and I like the way I feel when I wake up in the morning.

It’s hard to explain all of that, however, when friends want to know why you don’t want to have dinner with them. Having balance and maintaining a social life while working out my eating issues is something that I struggle with. But I’m undoing a lifetime of learned behavior and realize it’s not going to change overnight, or even over one year.

Anyway, this is something I just wanted to get off my chest and share. Maybe you can relate :).

———

Now….The numbers:

Starting weight: 243

Last week: 173

This week: 173

Change: 0

Total loss: 70

Big Rock Candy Mountain

Why yes, the title of this post is both a metaphor for my weekend and an allusion to one of my favorite childhood movies.

It’s been a sugary weekend, which has, unfortunately, not left me feeling very sweet.

To give you an idea of my indulgence, froyo replaced two of my meals, and was eaten once as a dessert. In two days. There was also cake at some point.

I feel a little queasy thinking about it now.

And as much as I hate saying this, I’m not looking forward to publishing the numbers from The Scale on Wednesday.

It was a tough weekend. The urge to binge eat stayed with me up until last night.

But today, there is hope. In the form of a fridge stocked full with healthy food.

Last night I was up until 11:30 p.m. cooking a week’s worth of healthy breakfasts and lunches. After, I felt better. I felt in control again.

If anything, this weekend served as a reminder that having sugar just increases, instead of satisfies, the craving for sugar.

This weekend also reinforced that the food choices I make affect much more than my weight. I eat the way I do because it makes me feel good. Inside and out.

This thing that I’m doing, the way that I’m living my life, it’s full of trial and error. There will be hiccups and slip ups and bad weekends. I don’t think I’ll ever claim to have beaten binge eating. I’ve come a long way and made a lot of progress, but I’m by no means free of it.

The difference now is that I’m willing to put in the work. I can sit with my emotions and be uncomfortable instead of numbing what I’m feeling with food.

The reward is that I get to live my life consciously and purposely. Worth the fight every time.