Whole30 Day14 and My Body

“Why the hell am I doing this?”  Has been my prevailing thought regarding the Whole30 the last few days.  Yesterday I almost threw in the towel.  I was super busy, a wrench got thrown in the day and I ended up without any food for an extended period of time.  I was starving, and all I had were the kids’s beef jerky and Pirate’s Booty.  I hemmed and hawed about whether it would be better to just eat the jerky (which had sugar and soy) or stay hungry.  Ultimately I decided to just deal with the hunger, but I was doing a lot of mental cussing about how stupid this was.  Hungry = eat and I’m not interested in altering that equation.

Total honesty, I have snacked the past two nights after dinner.  Apple with almond butter.  Compliant, but snacking.  The first night I was not hungry, but I was home alone.  My husband is out of town, but my mom was here.  She came into town for a friend’s 60th birthday party that night.  A party I was invited to but declined because I didn’t want to deal with the seeing a bunch of people I hadn’t seen in a billion years without drinking.  I also didn’t want to deal with other people’s drinking.  But as she got dressed up and ready to go, I felt a little pang of missing out.  I kind of wanted to go, even if I wouldn’t be drinking.  Also got in a loop of thinking people will judge me for not coming.  Whatever.  So I was home alone and there was nothing on TV and I was too tired to read.  So I ate a little.

Last night I was actually kind of hungry.  Probably because of the food fuck up from earlier in the day and also dance.  I guess I could have just had an extra meal, but went for the sweet thing.  I don’t feel so bad.

Had my first class yesterday afternoon.  I think it can be difficult to notice changes in your own body because they happen over time.  I bend down to pick up something every day, every day it gets a little easier until one day it’s effortless without you even noticing.  Last night I was doing movements I hadn’t done in a year, so to come back to them in a different body was… strange.  I’ve lost some weight.  Enough to make some things feel foreign.  And the thing that was most shocking to me about that was that my reaction wasn’t, “Hooray, fabulous!”  I had a little dissociation.  Who’s body is this!?  Very weird.

Advertisements

I Work Out

On Halloween of 2011 I went to my first ever Crossfit class.  I was 3 months post-partum and a week into a 30 day break from drinking due to the fact that I had shredded my stomach lining with wine and Motrin.  A picture of health!  I arrived at the “Beginner Level” class and was dismayed to find about 30 extremely fit “beginners” milling about waiting for class to start. By the time I overheard some bro with his shirt off tell his friend that this was his 8th day working out in a row, my stomach was in my feet. I didn’t belong here.  The coaches sent us on a run, there was a combat crawl and some other impossible movements.  I thought I might be dying.  Then they said it was time to start the workout.  Fuck.

I tried to pep-talk myself through (“Start where you are!”) and swallowed down the rising lump as I realized I was going to be the only person who didn’t finish the WOD (workout of the day).  The coaches started calling out for everyone to announce their finish times.  I realized my failure, my fatness was going to be called out in front of everyone.  I ran before they could see.

My goal for my life was not to be an overweight, suburban mother with a drinking problem who leaves an exercise class crying, but there I was.  I don’t want to be dramatic because it is just Crossfit, but this was a defining moment for me.  I disappointed myself by allowing my fear and shame to send me running, but at the same time a fire was lit.  I was a little bit angry… at myself, at the world in general.  Anger isn’t an emotion I’m comfortable with.  And maybe this is the cosmos aligning for me because if I hadn’t been on a medically necessary dry spell, you can bet your ass I would have drank over this.  I’d stuff it down, shut it away and say a big, “Fuck you!” to Crossfit.  But I couldn’t drink over it, so I stewed about it for a month and somewhere inside me I decided that someday I would come back and kick Crossfit’s ass.

If I hadn’t gotten sober, this would have just been tacked onto the end of my “Shit I’ll Never Do” list.   I conceded my alcoholism about three months later and around 90 days sober the opportunity to have another go with Crossfit manifested in a God-shot sort of way.  I’ll spare you the story cause it’s not that interesting and this post is getting long, but I decided to try again in a different environment.  It was still physically very uncomfortable.  I felt all of my insecurities were on display, but I applied the tools I learned in AA to Crossfit.  I could feel that fire that had been lit 6 months prior, so I surrendered to it.  I made the commitment to just show up, no matter what I was thinking or feeling.  Exactly like I did when I started attending meetings.  Just show up and do the work.  I pushed past the voice that said I’m too fat, too slow, too weak, too tired, too sore and put one foot in front of the other.

I got into action, and I didn’t stop.  I didn’t stop until I didn’t want to stop anymore.  Just like dieting, I was never able to stick with exercise.  Exercising was always the thing I should do because I’m fat and unhealthy, and that is the absolute least inspiring reason to do something.  From that perspective, exercise is a punishment.  I’ve done bootcamps, stroller workouts, spinning, yoga, Zumba.  I’ve tried it all.  I have an idea about why Crossfit works for me, but I think that deserves a post of it’s own.  What is important is that my WOD’s are a reward not a punishment.  Even when it feels like I’m pushing myself to the physical brink, it’s one of the only times in my day where I’m not thinking about my kids, what’s for dinner, what I should do with my life, etc.  All I’m thinking about is how the fuck I’m going to lift this 110 lb barbell over my head.  Then I do it and am in awe of myself.  And all I had to do was keep coming back.

I Don’t Just Say No

I’ve spent the majority of my adult life failing at diets.  I can’t say for sure, but I don’t think I ever lasted more than 2 weeks on a diet.  The counting and measuring was too laborious and the restriction was suffocating.  Plus, I couldn’t stop drinking.  When I entered therapy for my eating last year I already knew that diets didn’t work, so I was relieved to swear them off forever.

Today I confuse myself because I follow a paleo diet probably 95% of the time.  When I first decided to go paleo, I was really conflicted because of my pledge.  Later I did a Whole30 and further baffled and questioned myself.  Was I dieting?  Was I restricting?  Was it going to lead to a backlash binge?  So far (it’s been about 6 months) I haven’t had any retaliation eating.  Sometimes an urge might come up, but I’m usually able to identify an emotional cause and work through it.  I want to roll my own eyes at myself when I justify my nutrition plan with, “It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle,” but I think that is the truth.

Although I choose to not eat grains, legumes, soy, refined sugars and I limit dairy, the reality is that I give myself permission to have whatever I want at any given time.  The caveat is that I have to be aware of the consequences of what I put in my body.   “This will make you fat,” is not a consequence.   It’s shaming, mean and puts me into an immediate state of longing.  Today I was driving home from the gym, knew I needed some protein but didn’t want to cook.  I passed by Zankou Chicken, thought about stopping in and thought, “That will give you garlic breath.”  Now there is a concrete consequence.  I have shit to do tomorrow, I can’t be blowing dragon breath on people.  Because of Whole30 I know that gluten gives me tiny, itchy bumps on my cheeks, peanuts give me heartburn, soy cause huge zits, vegetable oil upsets my stomach, etc.  Suddenly these foods have very real consequences.  So when I crave something, I have to weigh whether the taste pleasure is worth the suffering that will come later.  When I pause, I’m usually able to make the kind choice for myself.

Then there is sugar.  I think that beast deserves its own post.

If you’re not from LA and, therefore, haven’t ever gotten down with some Zankou Chicken, it even gets a mention in one of my favorite songs of all time.

I’m Eating Chocolate Right Now

Pretty sure my keyboard is getting chocolate smudges.  I’m having a sweet attack and am just going to go with it.  I’m worried about my husband’s family in NY.  Sandy is approaching and each time we get on the phone they sound more and more scared.  My father-in-law said it is the worst storm he has ever seen and it hasn’t even touched down yet.

My dog has something wrong with her nose.  I’ve been trying to treat it for weeks and it’s getting worse.  I’m taking her to the vet in an hour and am already pissed off by the bill.  Whatever it is, and it’s always a lot, there isn’t room in the budget.

I got socked with a major drinking craving on Saturday that left me in tears.  We had an extremely rare date night planned, and I got upset that I couldn’t drink.  I played out the fantasy to then end, and even though it ended in me trying to drunkenly add up the babysitter’s money and then overpaying due to literal fuzzy math, I couldn’t shake it.  My 1st step is annoyingly solid sometimes.  Surprisingly what made me feel better was my sponsor telling me that at 16 years sober she gets craving every now and then.  She said that our natural state is to want a drink, and that made me feel like less of a freak.

So what do these three different things have in common?  Weather, illness, alcoholism?  Three things that I’m totally powerless over.  I’ve started reading Start Where You Are by Pema Chodron.  She was talking about control being an illusion.  The big things like natural disasters, sicknesses and oh yes, addictions smash that illusion to pieces.  It throws our powerlessness in our face, and that is quite uncomfortable.  I’ve managed to stop at 4 pieces and feel pretty satisfied.  A little chocolate and reflection goes a long way.

Getting Right-Sized

Getting emotionally right-sized is something that comes up in almost every conversation I have with my sponsor. I suspect that leveling the playing field of life will be central to my recovery from alcoholism, but it recently it occurred to me that getting right-sized is the literal goal of my food recovery.

One of the reasons I cited for my drinking is that I felt overwhelmed by the task of living. The day-to-day stuff you have to do to keep life moving forward for myself, my kids, my husband felt so monumental. Sometimes it seemed to me like I was responsible for making the earth revolve. I saw myself failing at a responsibility I didn’t even want. So I drank and ate because it numbed the feelings of failure. Plus, didn’t I deserve something for all my hard work?

This perspective I had of being the one in control, the one keeping everything and everyone moving forward, was a result of an inflated ego and it lead to the inflation of my body. And you know something, I’m not alone in this. In talking to others who struggle with overeating and being overweight, I think we all share this notion of having more power and control over life than we actually do. The most common thread I see is that we view ourselves as being able to manage the happiness of others. I can’t tell you how many overweight women I’ve heard identify as people pleasers. And there are those of us who don’t even realize we are doing it.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I think people pleasing, controlling and manipulating life, doing doing doing, etc. are symptoms of an enlarged ego. Not ego in the sense of self-esteem, but ego in the sense of believing I have that much power over others. Ego in the sense of believing I can make life turn out the way I think it should be. My sponsor calls it playing God. I don’t know if ego gets much bigger than that.

Then there is the flip side. I had a bout of anorexia in my teens. It was brought on by a distinct feeling of powerlessness. It felt like I had misread the rule book of life. It felt like nothing I did or said mattered to anyone. It felt like life was slipping through my hands. The women I have known who struggle with anorexia have said similar things to me. I don’t know about them, but preceding this feeling of uselessness was the idea that same belief that if I did x, y, z that I was somehow guaranteed something. When things didn’t go according to plan, I started to believe that maybe there was nothing I could do to get the life I wanted.

Two opposite sides of the coin, but both founded on the same mistaken belief. I can’t say it more perfectly than the Big Book does, “Is he not a victim of the delusion that he can wrest satisfaction and happiness out of this world if he only manages well?” I think putting some cracks in that delusion was the beginning of me getting right-sized. Not everything is up to me, but I’m not a victim of life either.

It’s a half-baked theory, but wondering what everyone’s experience has been with this.

I Confess!

I want to make a public confession that I have weighed a few times over the last two months.  The first entry I posted here is all about scales being evil.  I actually wrote that several months ago.  I still believe it, but I want to be honest about where I am in this process.

It started when I decided to do a Whole30 back in August.  The plan suggests that you weigh in at the beginning and at the end as well as take pictures and measurements.  I didn’t do the measurements or pics, but I capitulated on the weighing.  I’m not really sure why.  I think a lot of it had to do with some group mentality.  I was doing it with my husband, a couple friends of mine and also a community of people on the web who were starting on August 1st.  I pictured getting to the end and there being lots celebrating and virtual high-fives going around.   I didn’t want to miss out on anything.  Alcoholic, much?

I weighed in on August 1st and immediately regretted it.  I had lost weight since the last time I remembered weighing, and I think it triggered a reward feedback loop.  I wanted to weigh the next day and the next.  I resisted.  I think I said that I wasn’t going to weigh in at the end, but I did.  Again I lost weight, and again that made me want to weigh more.  It bums me out because despite everything I have learned and put into practice recently, the neural pathway of weight loss = good girl still exists.  I weighed once last week and once this week, and just need to stop.  The scale isn’t moving, and I actually don’t think I really care.  What am I hoping to get by stepping on?  I PR’d all over the place at Crossfit last week, so I know I’m getting fitter.

My husband refuses to get rid of the scale.  I know if I tucked it away, he’d go hunting for it immediately.  And really, his relationship with the scale is none of my business.  I must remember that no weight on that scale will ever make me feel as good as not needing the scale to assign a number value to my worth.

My Inner Kanye

I think something that happens with food cravings for me is this feeling that I have only a short window to get the food I want.  I often crave sweets at night.  There have been nights where I could barely drag myself into bed, but managed to stuff in some chocolate on the way.  That part of myself that desperately wants a treat sees the opportunity to strike when my normal defenses are down.   “I’m not going to have the chance to indulge tomorrow when she’s back in charge, so make a mad grab and take everything you can!”

But what if I had permission to have that “treat” food whenever I wanted as long as I  answer one simple question first?  My therapist made the suggestion that when a craving comes up, I pause and say to myself, “Okay, I will get you what you want, but first tell me how you’re feeling.”  Usually if I’m having an intense craving, I’m in full flight from my feelings.  No jewel thief wants to encounter the guard as they’re sneaking out the back door.  But in this situation the guard is giving me permission to walk out the front door with all the jewels I can carry, provided I just take a moment and think about what I’m doing.

Having now practiced this process, I can tell you that it works.  For one, it deflates the urgency of the situation.  There’s always some kind of panicked feeling that accompanies that kind of eating for me. Now I’m allowed to have whatever I want, whenever I want, so what is the rush?  The other thing that this does is make the whole thing a lot less fun.  It takes away the deviant/defiant aspect of the behavior.  I’m no longer getting something I shouldn’t have, so there is no opportunity to revel in my victory.

But most of all this interrupts the habit of eating over my feelings.  To me the most awesome interruption ever was when Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech on the VMA’s.  Hence, the Inner Kanye.  “Yo, I know you want those cookies and Imma let you finish the whole bag…