Guess what? I survived!
Sorry, I guess that’s getting old but I’ve woken up today with a sense of lightness, relief, and happiness I haven’t necessarily been feeling over the last week.
I would say my average mood was angry. I kept trying to figure out why I was angry or with whom but the only thing I could figure was I was angry at not being able to eat and drink. Why me? No fair.
It feels like a “little kid” angry. Just random blame emanating out. Mad with the world.
Then of course I would self-talk saying “first world problems e – get over it” or “remember what you have to be grateful for” (that latter one never ceases to rid me of a bilious mood). But then I had to question why I was trying to get myself out of my bad mood without trying to understand it (the cyclical thought patterns of someone in therapy for years 😉 )(do I use parens too much? #rhetoricalquestion)
I’m angry at not being able to have what I want. Sounds so simple but I’m guessing it’s not.
Eating and drinking were/are both addictions and tools to “numb out” so am I angry at not being able to numb out or is this just anger that I’ve been numbing out? Is the anger the toxins I’ve been taking in or the anger I’ve been suppressing? Maybe both.
So here I am on the other side of this week of pissyness. I had a lovely time with family yesterday drinking copious amounts of San Pellegrino embellished with thin slices of lemon and lime while they dined on crab and salad and I realized it was probably more uncomfortable for them to eat while I sat plateless. Sorry familia! It wasn’t hard for me at all. The joy of being with you far outweighed the missing nibbles.
I hope everyone had a joyous Christmas if you celebrate that or just a lovely day wherever you are.
Listless. Angry. Happy. In that order.
Equality, Pope Francis, Space, Boston marathon, Women’s rights, Goodbye to Thatchter, Nelson Mandela, and so many others, Inspiring humans, The human spirit, Memes, and Batkid. People, places, and events that make up the story of who we are.
Watch the video, then go here for more.
Well, as expected, I survived! In class, we were asked to find one word to describe our first week. My word was “miraculous” because of how many times I thought I was going to die but didn’t 😉
I even survived my first holiday party—granted I was clutching my soup bowl and obsessively refilling my glass of bubbly water—but I did it (no thanks to someone shouting “Who wants more bourbon?!” Ahem, you know who you are.)
I think my primary observation this week would be that I am… an addict. Eeyup. As in “Hi, my name is Eliza and I am addicted to food.”
I’m not even sure what it means to be a food addict except that it has become abundantly clear that it takes up way too much space in my life. I don’t think about it rationally—it is more to me than just fuel. It is a nighttime companion. It’s there for me when I’m lonely, bored, angry, happy, or sad. It’s a friend on call whenever I want it.
Funny. Sounds a lot like what I thought cigarettes were when I quit them.
To be continued…
blood pressure = 112/60
first week = 145/73
heart rate = 78
first week = 77
Coping. Slightly angry. Hopeful.
Yesterday I was full of insights and zen. Totally.
I realized that having made the choice to not eat or drink anything (other than the shakes, water, and the occasional diet soda) makes it really easy for me to see cravings as they come, not react to them (because that’s not an option), and see that they actually pass and I live through it.
I said something similar in a previous post but what I understood yesterday was this ability to move into a craving without satisfying it and letting it pass is one of my biggest behavior changes I need to develop for long-term success.
The million dollar question is how to do that.
There are many books out there on habit design and neuroscience that I’ve read and loved. Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit and Norman Doidge’s The Brain That Changes Itself being two. And then there’s Michael Merzenich’s work in brain plasticity, which shows just how responsive our brains can be even later in life (disclaimer: I had the honor of working for Dr. Merzenich at PositScience. He has just published his latest book, Soft Wired, which I can’t wait to read!).
Forming my own subjective, unscientific mishmash of neurobehavioral ideas and concepts, here’s what I’m thinking: I need to be continually present at these moments. Present to:
• acknowledge the feeling as a craving
• acknowledge that it’s ok
• and acknowledge its passing
Rinse and repeat. The more times I do, the stronger this novel pathway of thinking will grow.
My hope being that when I do start eating again, my new response to a craving will have replaced and become as automatic as my former response.
So. That was yesterday.
I wake up feeling shaky and lightheaded. My hunger pangs are stronger than the previous two days and they no longer feel like just cravings but “OMG, if I don’t eat I’m going to die!” hunger spasms (Oh wait, isn’t that what I said cravings felt like? Well these really felt like I was going to die. Really! I tell you, this diet experience is going to be one miraculous survival after another.)
I made it through by drinking tons of water, one too many diet sodas, getting some gum, having my shakes religiously on time, and just muddling through the day feeling pretty pissy (sorry co-workers!).
I don’t feel zen or wise at all today. I just want to fast-forward 4 months or to the next life where I’m at peace with food, have a healthy body and mind, and all is right with the world. (“First-world problem” much?)
<< Picture of me feeling skeletonous and hungry. I must have lost 80lbs already! Aren’t we done yet?
The awesome Kid President.
1stly: Thank you my friends for the amazing show of support on my facebook page, here, and via email. What a truly unexpected response. I look forward to taking you along for the ride 🙂
My first day of fasting: I feel a heavy quiet descending. The quiet that comes from removing the chatter of food and drink from my thoughts.
I get hungry and think “hm, that’s me not eating” and then maybe make a cup of tea or drink some water. Amazingly, I survived.
The fact is, when food isn’t an option, it all becomes quite simple1.
In ordinary times of eating, cravings can feel like a matter of life or death. There’s an urge that feels like I must have, I must placate, I must soothe , I must have this thing or I will die. And because I usually can fill the craving, I don’t stop to sit with the feeling of what it would be like not to have it. Why stop to question when I can satiate? Ahh, the marshmallow test. Delayed gratification has never been my strong suit.
Another part of me wonders who I am in a social setting without having food and drink as part of the interaction. This too, I am sure, will be shockingly survivable. Perhaps not as enjoyable and I may act differently (more mellow? less jolly?) but the opportunity to connect is still there and I’m pretty sure it is not dependent on the presence of cheese (debatable).
Today has mostly been about acknowledging cravings and hunger as they enter my consciousness, not avoiding them, and then watching them pass. It’s been about challenging habits and breathing through them. About wanting and choosing not to have. Which begs the question “What do I really want?”.
Till the next time friends. The sky hasn’t fallen yet.
1Correction: I work from home and can control my environment so yes, it’s simple… until I leave my cocoon and am confronted with food! food! food! everywhere and all the attachments, emotions, and desires connected with food and eating. I feel something similar to mourning. Mourning the loss of this relationship with food. This is the relationship I need to transform.
Above: August 2008 (left) December 2013 (right)
Several years ago I went on a medically-supervised diet and lost 120lbs. I got down to 172lbs and loved it! I’ve always been overweight and to feel my body light and strong, to be able to walk into normal clothing stores and buy (almost) whatever I wanted, to sit on public transit without being self-conscious that I was taking up too much space, to have more energy than I had had in ages—well, it felt great.
Over the last few years, the weight began to trickle back on and then in the last year, I’d say I could have won an olympic prize for putting on weight. I’m now larger than I was those many years ago when I originally lost the weight. You do the math.
So tomorrow I start again. It’s a diet very similar to the one I did many years ago and this time I want to document it. I hope you’ll join me on this journey. I hope it will be different this time. I hope I lose weight out of compassion rather than control. I hope I learn what it feels like to want to take care of myself—not from societal pressures but because I care enough about myself to want to be healthy, and in turn, happy.
We all have our struggles. Mine just manifests in a more obvious way.
So in addition to carrying my struggle on my body for everyone to see, why am I writing this?
I’m learning what it is to be vulnerable and I’m finding a funny thing happens. When I share my experience—even the scary, fragile bits, I seem to connect more with people and at a deeper level. I think this is in part due to the great people I surround myself with (you know who you are). But I also find it’s a common human thing.
So here’s to being vulnerable.
I hope this becomes a conversation. I welcome your voice, input, and perspectives, and hope that you will join in the journey whatever that means to you.
blood pressure = 145/73
heart rate = 77
Ha! I may be baring it all but I don’t have to make it easy to read!
A little scared for the start tomorrow morning but looking forward to it!
Sorry, I’ve been remiss in posting all the cool things I’ve been reading, discovering, andorpersand learning about!
Here’s just a quicky. A rich and meaningful quicky.
Ack! Alright then! < my initial reaction to this video
Backstory: I used to exercise religiously. I would wake up every morning before dawn and walk the 10 minutes to the gym and exercise for an hour and half–50 minutes cardio, the rest strength training and stretching. I lost a lot of weight and loved working out. I remembering saying it was the best part of my day.
Then I hurt my back and couldn’t exercise for a few weeks…
That was over a year ago and I have struggled with getting back to the routine. I have put on a considerable amount of weight–turns out one habit supports the other. No exercise = no calorie counting. So the thing that eludes me is why something so enjoyable is so hard to restart? Has my love of leisurely mornings outstripped my love of the endorphin rush and feeling fit? My love of food grown larger than feeling healthy and disciplined? As I write that, it just seems ridiculous!
So… baby steps. Half an hour a day. Walking or moving. Nothing more. I’m gonna try it.
(For what it’s worth, I’m an avid follower of habit design. I’m intrigued by what it takes to form and break habits. I am convinced there are some universal truths but it ultimately comes down to YOU. What makes you tick. What gets you going and bottom line, what makes you happy. So start listening to yourself. And now, I shall attempt to practice what I preach!)
Major Tom Sunita Williams
Take a tour through the International Space Station with Astronaut Sunita Williams. Check out the sleeping birth, the “kitchen”, the labs (oh yeah, and the toilet. You know you want to see it!).
The bed was of particular interest to me. Because they are weightless, there’s no perception of up or down, standing or lying. I would have thought they would devise a weighted blanket to give you that snuggly bed feeling. But no.
I also found it strange how they made no attempt to add warmth to the interior design. Just adding color to some of the interior panels would have made a difference. It makes me wonder about the mental health of an astronaut and the thinking of the design team. Enough thinking. Watch!