Posts Tagged ‘mental health’


It’s Winter! Which means that the weather turns chilly and a new year is just beginning. This year the period from January through March is going to be a Winter Wonderland for me – a time to focus on my weight loss and to finally, once-and-for-all achieve my pre-surgery weight loss requirement. Sunday weigh-ins will keep me accountable through the weekend, and will give me a positive goal to begin each new week.  This is the time of year resolutions are made and then quickly forgotten, but not with me.  I’m going to use this season to refresh my outlook, because I’m embarking on more than just a diet plan, I’m going to establish a lifestyle. My Sunday progress updates will be called Winter Wonderland Weigh-Ins.

Week 5 brought with it the onslaught of PMS, and all the I’m-so-ravenous-I’ve-got-to-eat-it-all-NOW mentality that comes with it. Not to mention the hormonal breakouts near my chin (lovely).  Ugh.

Sounds challenging.  So, what did the scale show?!

This morning I weighed in at 298.0, which is up 1.6 lbs from last week. Which means I have 17 pounds to go to reach the pre-surgery requirement.  I know it’s a gain, and I’m never happy with any sort of movement that’s not in the right direction, but I’m not upset with this number at all.  It’s still below 300, it’s mostly water weight, and I know it will all shed off as soon as I get my period.

This week I really fought hard against the snack attack that hits me late in the afternoons.  Some days I lost, but some days, like Friday, I won.  I was in the middle of a “I’ve got to eat everything NOW” moment, when I just stopped myself from going into the cabinet.  I said to myself, “look, yes, you have PMS, but so what?  It doesn’t need to get the better of you.  Get out of the house and get moving right this minute.  No excuses!”  And that’s exactly what I did.  I threw on my sneakers, strapped on Sofi’s harness and leash, and we headed out the door for a really long walk.  When we got back, my mindset had completely shifted, I wasn’t craving anything other than water, and I knew I could hold out for another 45 minutes until I would start dinner.  Yesterday, I decided to find a healthier solution to my snacking craving and added two red bell peppers, which I dipped in a couple of tablespoons of Bolthouse Farms yogurt dressing, to my lunch.  It was an ideal snack because it offered all the crunch I wanted, and it totally filled me up for the rest of the day.

I’m also proud to say that I got in 5 days of workouts, equaling 295 minutes and 3620 calories burned.  This week, I’m shooting for just one rest day, on Friday, when I’m having a much-needed salon appointment (my grey hair is out of control!).  Here’s my workout plan:

Sunday: OnDemand Kickboxing + Biggest Loser 30-Day Jumpstart DVD
Monday:  elliptical/bike
Tuesday: OnDemand Kickboxing + Biggest Loser 30-Day Jumpstart DVD
Wednesday: aqua aerobics
Thursday: Zumba DVD
Friday: rest day
Saturday: bike ride w/ my sister in Half Moon Bay

I think going to those WLS support groups two weeks in a row was a really good thing for me to do.  Even though I saw a slight gain this week, I’m taking it in stride and feeling very confident that this is just one of the ebbs and flows that I’ve come to know about my body.  Just like any other support group, the Kaiser WLS groups offer me so much motivation, inspiration, and of course, support.  I leave feeling stronger and knowing that I’m not the only one facing certain challenges. I’m definitely going to make it a regular practice.  It works out perfectly – the 3rd and 4th  Wednesdays of the month can be my rest days where I “workout my head” rather than my body.

Until next Sunday, my friends. I hope the scale treats you well, and that you have a wonderful week!


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This morning I took a huge step toward making sure that this statement is true for me.  I made a therapy appointment.

This is big news for me for a few reasons.  First because for the longest time I viewed therapy as something that helped other people but just “wasn’t for me.”  And then I took the groundbreaking step of meeting  with a therapist late last summer and got a few insights into my disordered eating.  But I didn’t keep up the appointments because I really didn’t like the therapist that much after I met with him a couple of times.  He seemed to focus more on the way he thought I should eat (he didn’t like the 1200 calorie Kaiser diet), rather than the reasons why I overate.  Plus, he related everything to himself, which seemed more than slightly narcissistic, but what do I know.

And since that time, I’ve been struggling quite a bit with disordered eating.  I’d hold it together during the day and then come home in the afternoon and eat way too much.  Or I’d leave work on a Friday afternoon and hit the grocery store like an addict hits the corner looking for her drug of choice.  It’s been anything but healthy, even if the food I am eating during these binges is.  For every pound or two I’d lose, I’d gain another 4 in one weekend, then work those off, only to gain them back again.  It’s been an ugly cycle for a while now, and if I hope to make my Birthday Goals, I need it to stop.

Even this week I’ve been off, when I’ve had all the time in the world to workout, has left me feeling really blah and lazy.  I’ve worked out a bit, but nothing compared to what I could or should be.  And while I haven’t had any really bad episodes, I have found myself eating out of boredom several times.

When I went to that Healthy Eating class the other week at Kaiser, they had us fill out a self-evaluation to determine which of their many weight-related resources would be best suited for us.  And my results said that I should take the Food for Thought class (all about binge eating) before attempting to lose weight.  Which really hit home for me.

After all, I’ve been trying to meet the surgeon’s weight requirement for the WLS since August 2010 a goal (45 lbs) that I should have easily reached by now.  I know how to eat right, I know how to keep exercise fun so that I do it on a regular basis.  But the fact that I am an emotional eater pushes that goal further out of reach each time.  Which is frustrating, and the endless cycle drags me down and makes me feel lousy.

So, it’s time to delve into those scary recesses of my mind to figure out other ways of coping with stress, boredom and whatever else causes me to eat my troubles away.  Taking such an inward journey is never easy, but if I can learn how to stop disordered eating, it will be well worth it.  Because the WLS is a tool to help me with portions of food that I eat, but it’s not a surgery that will work on my mind.  Only I can do that.

It’s a relief to begin this work, and I’m so grateful that they had an opening for me tomorrow afternoon.  Because turning to food when I feel out of control and stressed is just a symptom of a greater problem that I am going to need help figuring out.  I’m tired of feeling like I’m living two lives.  Like I’m keeping up some sort of facade.  I feel ashamed of myself too often, and I’m worth more than the way that I’ve been treating myself.  I’m really ready and open to work with a new therapist.  I know I want to meet with her one-on-one, but maybe taking the Food For Thought group session/class would be worthwhile, as well.  I’ll definitely make sure to update you with what we decide.

Writing this post was really difficult for me, because it’s admitting a major weakness.  But I finally realized that in order to get stronger, to become whole, I have to admit to these behaviors and seek help to correct them. It’s the next step.  For now, I’d appreciate your positive thoughts that I’m able to get a grip on this so that I can reach my full potential in all areas of my life.

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I knew I was going to like my therapist when I saw that he had several volumes of Calvin and Hobbes on his bookshelf.

My therapist is friendly, down-to-earth, and very reasonable.  His background is impressive, and his specialty is healthy lifestyle and food-related issues.  He told me that he holds weekly support groups for impulse control and mindful eating, to name a few.  The mindful eating support group sounds very interesting to me, and I may look into that in the future.

He did a lot more talking than I expected, but I liked the way that he explained things and then picked up on the fact that I already knew most of the information he was giving me about nutrition and healthy eating.  He used examples from his own life so that I felt more at ease discussing my own proclivities.  He asked questions, and when I answered them, he was spot-on with giving me meaningful, insightful feedback. I’m going to italicize the things that were very insightful to me.

The first question he asked me was what my relationship to food was like, and for some strange reason, tears sprang to my eyes as I answered.  I told him:

I’ve always been overweight, but it wasn’t until about 15 years ago or so that I became obese and then “morbidly obese.”  I’ve struggled to lose weight my entire life and I’m seeing patterns and cycles in my behavior around food and I want to learn how to stop those behaviors, or at least control them.  I’ve signed up for WLS and I know that I WILL lose the weight with the surgery, but I want to deal with any underlying issues I may have so that I don’t regain the weight.

Growing up, we eat healthy, well-balanced meals, but I am Italian, so food is often about celebrating.  And often in that celebration there is overindulgence.  But I know how to eat healthfully and I love eating that way.  I enjoy fruits and veggies, and eating a balanced diet.  I like cooking for myself and others.

But there’s also a side of me that overeats junk.  Sometimes because I’ve had a bad day, but more often because I’m bored or because I just got paid, or because I feel like I deserve it.”

He highlighted the fact that I seem to be someone who eats around my feelings of passion – when I’m really happy or things are going well or when I’m feeling low/bored.  I hadn’t thought about it that way before.  He also said that he doesn’t think it’s a problem to have food and celebrations going hand in hand because he feels that food is one of the joys of life, a belief that I echo.

We talked a bit about secret eating, which started for me in 5th grade until about 8th grade and then again when I was 25 until today.  I told him how I felt so out of control and disappointed after the binge or overeating session, and I explained that I am a control freak and a perfectionist, so I hate feeling like I let anyone down, even myself.  He asked if I ever found myself unaware of what I was doing or zoning out when I was binging, and I told him no, that it was definitely a conscious decision.  And he just seemed to take note of that. It was interesting that when we were talking about secret eating, I got very teary eyed again.  I told him that I always feel so ashamed when I eat secretly, and even though most of my meals are eaten alone, since I live by myself, there is a significant difference when I’m engaging in secret eating. 

He talked about scheduling treats for myself so that I can have the foods that I enjoy or like to indulge in.  He said that by scheduling them, some of the “bad food factor” or the power of the food would disappear because I was allowing myself to have it.  And I wasn’t going off program, because it was a planned treat.  I really liked the idea of taking the power of the food away.  And to be honest with you, I really don’t know what food I would automatically plan for myself to have.  There’s not one go-to binging food.  And I’m not sure that I’d want to have that, anyway.  But his point is a good one.  By planning it out, it gives you something to look forward to, but it keeps it all in balance in an otherwise healthy food lifestyle.

He gave his own example of his weakness for Blizzards from Dairy Queen.  He allows himself one small Blizzard a week.  It stops him from keeping ice cream in the house, which he said he’d eat within days if he had it.  And it also allowed him to get some distance from the thing that he wanted.  This is where that impulse control comes in, I think.  In other words, if he wants ice cream and has it in the house, it will be seconds until he’s eating it and maybe eating ALL of it.  Where as if he has to get dressed, get in the car, drive to Dairy Queen, order it, deal with money and waiting in line, he may think twice.  He said it gives him lots of opportunities to make another choice.  Plus, at Dairy Queen, he’s going to get a set amount and that’s it.  He won’t overindulge, because he’s already decided that the small is enough for him.  And he will enjoy it more because he’s in the moment when he’s eating it, rather than mindlessly shoveling food into his mouth in front of the t.v..  This brings up the mindful eating he mentioned before, and after reading Heidi’s account of a recent mindful eating experience, I think I may sign up for that group session because it would be good for me.

I told him that I’m usually an all or nothing type of person.  That I either perfectly on program or else I am off of it.  And so he said that I might want to be careful with the planned treats, in that case, to see whether they lead me down a path of going off the wagon.  I could see it happening, depending on the food, but I think if it’s something I enjoy but don’t normally binge on, like wine and cheese, for example, it would be a really nice treat once a week.  I will heed his warning and see if the scheduled treats end up making me bingey.

My homework over the next few weeks is to deny myself when I have a mindless, unplanned craving.  I know that sounds counter-intuitive to the scheduled treats, but for those of you who binge or overeat, you know that those impulses come up several times a day.  And you can’t give in to all of them.  He said that when we deny ourselves the thing we’re jonezing for, we become desperate.  And in that desperation the underlying issues are often revealed.  He wants to me to journal my feelings when I’ve denied a desire and see what other emotions come up.  I’m very interested to see what happens.

Our next appointment isn’t for 3 weeks, which is perfect.  It gives me time to practice some of the things that he mentioned, for school to start, and for some cravings to come up, too. I like the fact that he’s not asking me to meet every week, because as I mentioned before, that would be a bit too expensive for me.  Or, I would rather use the money in other ways. Meeting every 3-4 weeks is perfect for me.

Overall, I really liked meeting with him, and if I got so much out of the very first session, I’m sure I’ll really learn some things about myself after we delve deeper into these issues.  Part of me is wondering why in the heck I didn’t seek out a mental health professional years ago, but the other part of me knows that I wasn’t ready.  I’m very open to this process right now, and I wasn’t before.  I’ve said this many times before because it’s one of life’s truths for me – everything happens for a reason.  I think I was meant to wait to get this help until right before I qualified for WLS so that it would “stick.”  I’m so glad I’m doing this for myself now, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

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