Thursday, September 27, 2012

12 symptoms of spiritual awakening (167.4)

I am still doing very well with the OA program. No binges, 3 meals a day, doesn't seem that hard.  My sponsor says I'm in the honeymoon phase.  And she said to make that honeymoon phase last as long as possible.  It doesn't have to end.

I met with her for lunch Monday.  She is THE person I am meant to be with as a sponsor.  We connect on many levels, and I respect her and how she lives her life.  I obviously don't know her that well yet, but there is a connection and she is easy to talk to.  Sometimes you talk to someone and there's just no connection, ya know?  Not so with her.

My clothes continue to fit better, which is awesome.

I ran on Saturday for 55 minutes.  I have stopped wearing my running (Garmin) watch and stopped caring about my pace or how many miles I've gone.  I wear a regular watch and just pay attention to the time.  I've done this the last few times I've gone for a run.  It is making a huge difference for me mentally.  I have always competed against myself, trying to run faster or farther each time, and not being satisfied if I fall short.  No more of that.  When I train for a race again, I'll wear it for my long training runs.  But I could see myself ditching it for all the short ones, and just running for time.

I took a hot yoga class on Sunday.  It was hard and not very peaceful--the instructor used her aerobics studio voice (loud) for a good deal of the class. Yoga studio is small, there were 6 people, and she didn't need to talk so loud; I think it's just her training from years of teaching in the big studio (she's a great instructor in all other classes I've taken from her).  And for the last 5 minutes that are supposed to be peaceful, she talked about every 20 seconds.  She'd shut up, and I'd think "ahhhh... now I can finally meditate" and she'd start up again with her "yoga speak."  I left a little frustrated but was glad I got the workout in.  I was sore for 2 days afterwards.

I was at the dentist for 2 hours today.  Had crown work done on both sides.  The lower half of my face & my entire tongue were numb for about 3 hours.  So no lunch, but I didn't starve to death.  I went home afterwards & did laundry, rather than going back to work, because I could not TALK! Thank goodness for texting.  At least I could talk with my thumbs.

Tonight is Mark's night with the kids.  I'm eating late lunch/early dinner at my desk at work. Hoping to take a pilates class at 5:30, then off to choir at 7.  Feeling very blessed and at peace right now.  Working on living each day and not worrying about tomorrow.

I wanted to share something with you that I saw on Facebook today. It's from a blog at  It speaks to so much of who I want to become.  I think most of you will appreciate it, too.

12 symptoms of spiritual awakening
1) An increased tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen.

2) Frequent attacks of smiling.

3) Feelings of being connected with others and nature.

4) Frequent overwhelming episodes of appreciation.

5) A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than from fears based on past experience.

6) An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment.

7) A loss of ability to worry.

8) A loss of interest in conflict.

9) A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.

10) A loss of interest in judging others.

11) A loss of interest in judging self.

12) Gaining the ability to love without expecting anything.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Day 24 (166.6)

I'm still doing well.  Today I finished 60 days of Wellbutrin.  It has made a big difference.  Also still on 75 mg of lamictal, which keeps my moods stable & even.

No sugar keeps my head clear.  It's remarkable how much better I feel when I'm not in the sugar.  Not just physically, but mentally.

I had a blip last night.  It had been one of those days where I was go go go all day.  Got to work before 8, busy all day. Then had a church meeting and choir that night, and had to do a quick grocery shop after, so I didn't get home until 8:45.  I didn't stop until almost 9:30 pm.

I sat down to decompress on the couch and watched Parks & Rec and The Office.  At 10:30 I was hungry--I had a very light dinner, since I had no time between getting the kids dinner and leaving for my church meeting, and that light dinner plus the "after" of the day caused me to reach for a luna bar and some baked snap peas.  Not a binge, but not on my eating plan.

Weight didn't suffer, wasn't bloated, and was hungry for breakfast by 7:30.  So nothing to worry about.  But something to observe, again, that long days that finish on the couch are a trigger situation for me, even if I haven't had trigger foods during the day.  I didn't have cookies or ice cream, which would have pushed me over the edge to a binge. So I'm thankful for that gift of grace.

I'm not starting my day count over when I have one blip.  This is about progress, not perfection.  I can't be perfect, and I'd feel defeated if I started over every time I'm not perfect. 

I wanted to get a Starbucks pumpkin spice latte this morning, very badly.  I love those things.  But when I had one a week ago, it made me feel sick.  There's obviously too much sugar in them.  When I left home I had to make the decision--turn left and go to Starbucks or turn right and go to work.  I turned right.  It felt like the right decision as soon as I did it.  And I'm not feeling deprived.  Feeling relieved I am not suffering from sugar overdose right now.  So, to my mind I'm back on track and no worries about today.

I'm having lunch with my sponsor on Monday, for our first face to face talk.

Random info: I got my hair cut and colored on Tuesday.  Had 2 1/2 inches cut off my hair.  I love it long, but I'd been wearing it in a pony tail or twist 5 or 6 days a week because it was so much work to dry & style it.  Now it's just below my shoulders, doesn't look any different really, and I can style it easily.  It will still go in a pony tail if I need it to.

My clothes are fitting better already.  I can wear some tops again that I couldn't because they were too tight across my back and waist.  I am weighing every day, as a tool to make sure what I'm eating isn't too many calories.

I am not exercising, which bothers me.  I haven't been able to fit it in after work, and I haven't got it in me to get up at 5 or 5:30 am to workout.  I HAVE to figure this out.  I don't want to atrophy.  I want to be a runner.  I want to do yoga.  I have to make this a priority and get this figured out.  I have a treadmill at home, so I can do something if I just make the time.  Working on psyching myself up to get this part of my life in balance again.  I really, really need it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Day 21 of OA (167.6) and Alzheimer's/Disease prevention video link

I went to my 6th meeting last night.  It was a small group.  The weather was yucky & grey yesterday.  I was in a funk all day long.  Just felt off.  I wonder if the people who didn't show were too?

I am staying with the program.  Eating 3 meals a day.  Sometimes the meals aren't great and are eaten in a hurry.  But I'm only eating 3 times a day.  I never thought I'd be able to do that... to skip my afternoon snack.  To not eat when I'm feeling bored or down, like I felt yesterday. 

And I am not taking the credit for it.  I know that I am powerless over food.  I am working on keeping my ego and pride out of this process. I am taking it one day at a time.  I know I will face challenges and will mess up.

Progress, not perfection.

I'm still working on my food history.  I haven't talked with my sponsor one on one yet, but texted her this morning and hopefully we can meet soon.

I posted a long comment about Alzheimer's disease on Facebook, after I read the book Still Alice (which is beautiful and I recommend it, just be prepared to cry). 

I forget things all the time, and I've often half-jokingly said I have early Alzheimer's. Well, it's not funny at all.  And the thought that I could be diagnosed with early Alzheimer's in my late 40s or 50s or even 60s is terrifying.  50% of Alzheimer's cases can be PREVENTED.  If you have the gene mutation, you're screwed & you're going to get it no matter what.  But everyone else can prevent this disease, just like preventing heart disease or diabetes.

What hit home with me after reading this book & researching Alzheimer's prevention, is that nobody talks about BRAIN health.  Diet & excercise are the focus for body health & beauty.  But for me at my age, I'm much more motivated to take care of my brain--I know I'm going to lose my youthful body (although I can sure as heck take care of it) but I can't imagine losing my mind.

Everything you do to take care of your body also takes care of your brain, so it's not like you need to do extra stuff.  Except keep your mind busy with puzzles--so Words With Friends is not a waste of time!

My Colorado nephew responded to my Facebook post with a video and the comments below. The video is about 50 minutes long but worth the time. It's also pretty entertaining--he's a good presenter. (Vickie, I think you'd really like this.)

I should warn you--he's presenting to vegans/vegetarians.  Research is finding that meat and animal products wreak a lot of havoc on our brains & bodies. So you'll hear a lot about why a plant based diet is so important.

The video is of Dr Michael Gregor, presenting about diet and major causes of disease (he covers Alzheimer's disease in this one).

The truth is that the connection between the standard American diet and disease is a lot better understood by science than most Americans realize. It's kind of scary how this research can be so prevalent in scientific circles yet so little of it makes it to average Americans and doctors. Dr Gregor talks a bit about this poor dissemination of information in the video I've linked. His ultimate conclusion, based on tons of research performed across the dietary science community, is that "death in America is largely a foodborne illness."

Dr Gregor is a medical doctor turned health activist who scours scientific literature and presents it in simple terms to the public. He doesn't skimp on the science (and all of his information is rigorously cited), so his videos can be a bit sciencey, but I think he does a good job presenting his information.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Two "off" nights and what I'm doing for OA step 1 (169.0)

Wednesday night we had a dinner for clients at a local Italian restaurant.  I had a good food day during the day, and expected I would eat dinner there and would just skip dessert.  I had half a glass of white wine when I got there.  Dinner was green beans & red peppers, chicken breast, and augratin potatoes.  I had one small piece of bread at 7:00 because I was starving, ate dinner around 7:30, had a lot of green beans, about half a chicken breast, and a small spoon of the potatoes.  I didn't have dessert.

Around 10 that night, I was sitting in the family room watching TV, and the binge thoughts started. 
I know what you're thinking... WHY would you be in the family room where you know you binge?  Well, I didn't want to be around Mark. It wasn't HIM, it was the fact that he's a human being.  I'm about 1/2 extrovert, 1/2 introvert.  When I am as extroverted as I was at dinner, I have to recharge by having an equal amount of solitude.  So I stayed away from him for some quiet time. Looking back, it would have been better to just go to bed and tell him I needed quiet.  But at the time, I literally could not even stand the presence of another body in the room with me.
So anyway, I was determined to head off the binge, even though I was thinking of the cookies in the cupboard.  I didn't binge on cookies, but I still ate.  I had 2 laughing cow cheese wedges on about 10 soy crisps.  Then I had a bowl of Kashi cereal with milk.  It wasn't earth shattering.  But it wasn't healthy or abstinent, either.

That night set me up for a messed up Thursday.  I was still "fried" the next morning (needed more alone time), but also bloated and not hungry for breakfast.  I got to stay home until 11 am (since I'd worked 12 hours on Wednesday b/c of the dinner, Mark said it was OK to be tired & stay home for a bit Thursday morning), so I did get my introvert recharge completed.  But I skipped breakfast.

Around 11:30 am I had yogurt & raspberries and a Luna bar before I left for work, which is a pathetic lunch, I know. I think I was playing a penitence game with myself.  "I ate last night.... I don't need to eat now. I deserve to be hungry for a while since I didn't feel hungry this morning."  I then had an early dinner at work (frozen meal and an apple) at 3:30 pm.  I worked until 5ish, had a church meeting at 6, then choir at 7, then home by 8:30. 

I was feeling fine, relaxed, not stressed. But I was stomach-hungry.  Instead of eating something healthy around 9 pm after the kids went to bed, I said "NO! you don't eat after 8:30.  That will cause you to binge."  Of course, at 10 pm I was starving (I WAS in bed, not in the family room--I was hungry, not binge-thinking).  And I went back to the soy crisps and the laughing cow. Only one wedge, only 8 crisps.  But still. As soon as I hit the kitchen, I started thinking of cookies. Thank goodness I didn't eat them.

Second night in a row of that kind of stuff could be the beginning of a pattern.  Time to stop that now.  So I'm writing about it.

Monday night my sponsor told me to write down all my trigger foods. I thought that would be easy and a short list.  Ha.  I have a full page in a school composition notebook filled from top to bottom.  She also asked me to write about my food history (as I wrote it, I thought of more & more trigger foods).  I went all the way back to Kindergarten or 1st grade, when a babysitter taught me that butter on top of poptarts makes them even tastier.  I wrote for over an hour, I think, and only got through middle school.  I have about 25 more years to cover.  I am trying to remember significant food obsessions and activity, and also negative body image and eating-for-comfort/stress relief/boredom experiences. 

One example is when I was at my grandma's house when I was in early grade school.  I was a very picky eater.  I often only ate white bread PB sandwiches, and I would also make white bread toast with margarine covered in cinnamon/sugar.  Grandma kept a shaker of cinnamon/sugar mixed up so we could all do this.  I also would eat (and sneak) spoonfuls of Nestle Quick straight out of the container.  I would eat cake mix the same way--dry, with a spoon and a glass of milk on the side. All when I was under the age of 10.  Food compulsion, anyone?

I'm better today.  Ate a good breakfast and lunch, had an acupuncture treatment (ahhh, bliss), and will be home tonight to have a healthy dinner.  I will work on my food history this weekend to keep me focused on WHY I'm doing the OA program. And hopefully that will help me stick to it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

OA - Sponsor (168.8) - Meeting #5 (and pic of Sophie)

I asked a woman at my OA meeting to be my sponsor last night.  Ami (my sponsor) is a friend of my new friend Kelly. 

Kelly and I have talked at length a few times now.  We have a lot in common from a food history and control & perfectionism issues; she has suffered depression as I have.  We are different in other ways--she's an extrovert and knows tons of people, she's comfortable (or at least appears to be on the outside) having a lot going on (has 3 kids, all of them in more than one thing, is very active in her church.  She's always got someplace to be), and tells me she is a neat freak at home.

So when Kelly suggested that Ami would be a good sponsor, I watched and listened to Ami carefully.  The idea of finding a sponsor is to find someone who has what you want.  Ami has kids, is 41, is self-employed (sells cosmetics at the top level of the company, enough so that she has a very nice car) and has been abstinent for 18 years.  She's beautiful but not a super model, and very approachable.  She has insecurities she has to work through (had a great conversation with her last week).  She has a busy life but makes this work.  She has what I want.

Yesterday I thought a lot about whether I was ready for a sponsor.  I have been abstinent* for 13 days, which to me means I'm WILLING to do this.  When I went to my first 3 meetings, I didn't even know if I was willing.  I knew I was powerless over food and my life was unmanageable, but it wasn't until I got out of the food that I could think straight. 

I decided to get a sponsor NOW instead of waiting, because I feel like I'm on that tender edge of success--I've lost 6 pounds (my high this time was 174.8), I am not having cravings, I'm dealing with daily emotional crises without turning to food.  BUT.  I feel like it could all slip away in a blink.

A sponsor will help guide me on how to hold on.  Actually, it's probably more like how to LET GO and LET GOD, instead of "holding on."  Because the whole deal is IT'S NOT ME who creates success.  It's my higher power working through me.

That's part of steps 2 and 3, which I am not working on yet and which are still hard for me to wrap my head around. I am self sufficient and prideful.  I have a lot of work to do to surrender those things.

Vickie commented on my last post about why people get upset with OA.
When people get themselves upset with OA, it is never over the meetings. It is always over sponsors and food. And usually they get themselves upset to the point that they stop going to meetings. Are people too hasty in thinking they have to have a sponsor? Or too hasty in choosing a sponsor? Do you think it is possible to clean up ones own food and go to the meetings regularly for support?
Very good questions, which I don't have enough experience yet to answer.  What I do know is OA is a program with specific steps and tools.  The people who work the steps and use the tools--tools include a plan of eating, sponsorship, meetings, telephone, writing, literature, action plan, anonymity, and service--are generally successful. 

My instinct tells me that people who struggle as you describe may have pride issues. They want to do it their way.  They think they know better than someone on the outside.  I have been reading a book by OA that is composed of recovering food addicts' stories.  Many, many of them started OA, failed, and came back and worked the program differently the 2nd time.  And many stories are the "I did it my way, and I failed" type.

The disease of food addiction is one of ISOLATION. The disease wants you to be alone, wants to hold onto the sugar and excess fat.  All of you know what I'm talking about. 
People in AA talk about how the disease wants to kill you. It's odd to think of a disease in the 3rd person, almost as a living thing.  But it feels right to talk about it that way, once I started identifying myself as an addict.
One of the hardest parts of this is breaking out of the isolation of my disease.  Every meeting I go to, a hard little piece falls away and softens the isolation.  I will have to TALK to people to get better.  Not an easy thing for me.  Not having a sponsor, in my mind, is a way to keep a big piece of isolation in place.  And that allows a toehold to remain for the disease to creep back in and take over.

*OA's Definition: "Abstinence is the action of refraining from compulsive eating and compulsive food behaviors while working towards or maintaining a healthy body weight. Spiritual, emotional and physical recovery is the result of living the Overeaters Anonymous Twelve-Step program.” Many of us have found we cannot abstain from compulsive eating unless we use some or all of OA’s nine tools of recovery to help us practice the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions." 

My definition is 3 meals a day with no compulsive overeating.  My definition also includes "perfection is not possible." Perfection sets me up for failure.  I have not been perfect.  I had a Luna bar one night at 10 pm because I had a very light dinner, was still awake, and my stomach was growling.  I felt awful 30 minutes later--and it was just ONE LUNA BAR!  Weird how my body is adapting already to the different way of eating. 

I have had an afternoon snack a few times--usually an apple and a Luna bar, when I've had an early lunch and expect a late dinner.  I have had very scant dinners when it's been a busy night; I am simply NOT EATING after 8-8:30 pm, no matter if I've had dinner or not.  If I put any food in my mouth that late, I am setting myself up for a binge.  Even healthy food.  It's not about trigger foods for me then--it's a trigger situation.

I had to share this picture of Sophie. It's a cast picture for the production of Winnie the Pooh she's in at the end of this month.   That Mona Lisa smile melts my heart.  She is growing up so fast (11 years old now).

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

One week

Still no binging. Seeking peace through my higher power (can't help but use that phrase, I'm reading it so much in the literature).

Still one day at a time. Still recognizing this is a disease. Not a default of character. Not a "make up my mind and I can stop binging" thing. Not something any diet will fix.

Definitely something that gets progressively worse when not treated.

Which explains SO much of the last few years.

If I'm not managing/treating the disease, it just makes me sicker.

I've been sick for almost my whole life with this disease. I've played around and thought I had control. Only to find it got worse.

Of course, I didn't understand until the past couple of weeks what was truly going on with me. Reading AA and OA books is eye opening.

And I'm not alone anymore. There are people just like me who KNOW and who care and who are in recovery.

No one beats this disease. No one is cured. The minute you think you are cured, you are doomed to relapse.

I feel like step one has sunk in: I am powerless over food and my life has become unmanageable. I'm almost ready for step two--came to believe a power greater than myself could restore me to sanity.

Has to be greater than me. I have proven over and over I can't do it.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

4th OA meeting

Last night was my 4th OA meeting.  I have been abstinent (no binging, eating 3 meals a day, sometimes with an afternoon snack if lunch is early and dinner will be late) going on 7 days.

The meetings are wonderful.  The woman I know picked me up yesterday & we drove together so we could talk before and after.  Everyone there is amazingly supportive and welcoming, like they have this big gift they want to give every newcomer. 

"Keep coming back" everyone says.  It's really cool.

I'm reading OA and AA material.  The key to long term success, it seems to me from reading, is to work EVERY SINGLE STEP.  You don't get to lose weight, get to step 4 or 5, and then quit, thinking you've beaten the disease.

The people who succeed with long term weight loss and disease management work every step at least once, and continue to work certain steps for the rest of their lives.

The people who succeed also know that they are still addicted to food, are powerless over food, surrender themselves daily to their higher power (their food and their lives), and come to meetings at least once a week.  Many go to 2 or 3 meetings a week.

I am on step one.  Admitting I am powerless over food and my life has become unmanageable.

At my next meeting, I'm going to accept the "desire" chip.  You've heard about AA chips, right?  A chip for 30 days abstinent, 60 days, 1 year, etc. 

The first chip is the desire chip.  It took me this long to make up my mind that YES I have a disease, I am not like other people, and I have the desire to surrender to the Steps & the OA process.

I will also be asking an OA veteran (18 years of abstinence) to be my sponsor soon.  That is a very, very big step.  I'm scared, but I know it is the only way to move forward.