Monday, July 20, 2015

The Witching Hour - a book, not a symptom

The Witching Hour (symptom) is that phenomenon when my body/brain seem to be taken over by unseen powers that demand I feed them chocolate, ice cream, pizza, cheese, even though I know these to be poison to me personally. Often this would start around a set time in the afternoon but The Witching Hour did not rely on just that set time. It could be conjured through a confluence of events such as suddenly knowing that I would be alone in the house for more than 24 hours - and could hide the evidence. (who was I hiding it from - myself?)

This is all old thinking. I no longer give my food impulses power with titles like Witching Hour, intended make me feel too weak to overcome a sudden craving and therefore, helpless to prevent them from happening.

But this post is not about that Witching Hour. It is about a book.

Although I enjoyed the movie Interview with a Vampire many years ago. I have never felt drawn to reading any of Anne Rice's books. No particular reason.  I just finished reading The Witching Hour by Anne Rice​. 960+ pages. I picked it up at the Starbucks lending library in Winter Park, Florida two months ago. I had some time to sit with a coffee and I picked up a book from the lending basket and starting reading, not expecting to get more than two pages in before I would return the book to the basket and leave with my coffee. I ended up reading the first 25 pages and taking the book home.

I lost interest around page 100 and decided to give it another 100 pages and then decide if I wanted to invest anymore time in the book. I read maybe two pages a day until last week when around page 250 when the story sucked me back in. I have read it voraciously for the past week, finishing it today.

The ending left me sad and lacking closure. I went on the Internet and found Anne Rice has a site (doesn't everyone have a site now?) and was quickly able to see that yes, there are two more books in this series. I will be getting them soon. While I was there I looked around a little bit and found that some characters in this series (the Mayfair Witches) appear in some of her Vampire Series of books.

I will probably have to get those, too. Damn.

Be careful of the books you pick up in lending libraries. They can make you hungry for others.

Anyway, I am food sober and doing what I can to stay food sober another day. I've had my ebbs and flows these past few months. I am on strong footing again. Getting imaginary gold stars from my therapist, mentors and spouse.

And reading about witches.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Symphony in a Carrot?

Does hearing the word "pen" make you taste chocolate. If you eat a croissant, do you hear a piano playing?

This article on synesthesia describes a condition where people have a tangling of sensory recognition.
'Tasting colors' and 'hearing taste' are very extreme, rare examples.

I do NOT have synesthesia.

However, I do identify with strange sensory responses. If I hear the word chocolate, I 'see' it and imagine the smell, texture, taste. It has, at times, been a strong response.

Hearing 'sugar' does not trigger any response at all. However, if I EAT sugar I swing from euphoria on the first bite to desolation on the last.

It is better that I do not eat sugar.

I wonder if I have any other unusual sensory responses.

I am doing well this month. Doing the work, getting results. Taking it one day at a time.

Hope you are well.


Sunday, May 31, 2015

Foods that Rhyme with Itch

Recovery from my food addiction depends on several things and one of the most necessary is staying away from my binge foods. Speaking to another person recently, I accidentally said " my bitch foods," instead of binge foods. Thinking about this I see no reason to correct myself. When I pick up binge foods they are an absolute bitch to put down again.

Bitch foods. If I hold the bitch foods in high esteem and put them on an emotional and sensory pedestal. I become their bitch. 'Treats' of the past are the bitch foods of today.

To be free of the 'indentured servitude' of bitch foods, I require a different way of thinking and acting.

When I meet the bitch foods in the aisles of the food market or on a table at a party, I need to be like "Hey bitches, talk to the hand," and keep walking. I will diss the bitch foods.

I will not be their bitch.

Seven clean days and counting


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Crash and Burn Part III - Or why my daughter will never forget her 30th birthday

After five months of recovery, the last of which included multiple physical therapy sessions, pool therapy and much walking - my oldest was declared ready. On the last day of April we started the process of traveling to New York City so she could resume her life as a New York Apartment Dweller and Borough Commuter. She returned to her apartment building and confidently climbed the stairs (oh those stairs). I stayed with her for four days and observed her her walking from her apartment, down three flights of stairs, up three flights for the elevated train, down two flights for the subway, up three flights and walk to her office. I watched her do it again in reverse. I watched her walk around Manhattan during the evening rush. I watched her stand on the subway ride, giving a seat to older, more balance challenged riders (like me). I had to admit it: she was ready and I would have been holding her back if I had forced her to delay another few weeks.

And that is the last I have to say about her recovery and return to work. Several people who know her professionally also read this blog (Hi fellow friends of Thom Walsh) so to protect her privacy it is not my place to comment further on her personal life. Just know what she is recovered and doing well.

About the Crash:
Lauren's 30th birthday was the day we moved her belongings back into her apartment. Afterwards we wanted to have lunch and then return the rental car. We decided on a seafood restaurant on City Island in the Bronx. Sadly, I have been gone from City Island so long I forgot how backed up the traffic  can get on weekends.  The left lane was moving. I decided to move into the left lane so that I could exit the area when we reached the traffic circle. I did not see anyone approaching from behind in the left lane. I turned the wheel and stepped on the gas . . . and hit a car passing me in the left lane. My front bumper and driver's fender collided with her front passenger bumper and wheel well.

No one was hurt. THAT is the only important thing said me, the police, the other driver, insurance company and the rental car company. Neither car was moving very fast. It was a case of the noise of the crash far exceeding the damage. Because there were no injuries we had to wait for the police to be free to come. There must have been a great deal going on that day because it took over 2 hours for them to arrive and then 40 minutes to fill out the paperwork. Neither driver was cited. Both cars are being repaired. Thank God for insurance.

We never did get lunch. We returned the rental car to the airport in White Plains one minute before the late fee could take effect, then took a taxi to Metro North into Grand Central and then the subway to the apartment. We got to her home at 9:00 pm and ordered dinner from the local diner.

Lauren plans to spend her next birthday NOT getting into a car.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Crash and a Slow Burn Part II - Injury and a New Hobby

Back in late February/early March, I was exiting a theater by walking up a staircase in the aisle: the kind of steps where the horizontal plane is 6x times as wide as the vertical incline is tall.

I was trying to hurry and I extended my step to walk faster up the staircase (one step forward for every step up - like a normal set of stairs), instead of allowing for an extra footstep on each step. Everything was fine . . . until I got home and tried to get out of my car thirty minutes later. I could barely stand. That elongated stepping  pulled something in my thigh and my knee and my hip. For the next two weeks I could do nothing physical. I even took to using a cane for a few days.

I decided as long as I was sitting in a chair near my daughter, who can crochet, I would watch her intently until I could figure out what all that hook movement is all about. I am not someone who can never learn from the book and as much as my Nana and Mom tried to teach me by their example, I never ever learned squat when it comes to the needle arts. And, in case you have not figured it out by reading me through the years - I do not take or follow directions easily.

After a few hours of observation, I started playing with some yarn and a hook. This was followed by a day of making up my own stitches, several of which I have come to learn are real crochet stitches and others are simply stitches discombobulated. After three days of playing with yarn, I decided to make an afghan for a dear, dear friend who is moving away from Florida for the cold and f-f-frosty northern reaches of New Jersey.   I only had five weeks before he was leaving and I have never crocheted anything before in my life.

Very L--O---N---G story short: my body finally healed by late April.  I was sadly out of shape by then and eating food that added to the inflammation. Making it harder to judge my level of healing.  I had used the injury to procrastinate myself into stopping all exercise. I could have been doing upper body work but instead, I sat in a chair and when I wasn't working, or eating, or buying food, I crocheted . . . crocheted and crocheted.  My thought was "I can't eat if I am crocheting." Guess what? I also cannot exercise while crocheting. either. I am not that coordinated. I on the obsession switch and crocheted.

Five weeks of crocheting produced this queen size work of art. My own design. 12 rows of 12 colors of the rainbow. The grey binds all the colors together. Every other color is a different stitch or pattern of stitches. There is a scalloped border. My daughter Lauren taught me that border stitch).

Speaking of Lauren, the next entry will be about her return to New York, or Civilization (as she would call it). Yes, she is recovered, repatriated back to New York City and reestablished as a New York subway rider. (Lauren is awesome!). 

The trip to NYC is where I got the idea for naming this series of posts Crash and a Slow Burn. You see, once we got to New York, I had a slight car accident . . . . 

More next time. 


Monday, May 25, 2015

Crash and a Slow Burn Part I

I have a lot to write but the subjects are varied and I do not want to vomit them all out in one long rambling post. I am going to do this bit by bit or byte by byte, as this is electronic reading.

This is Part I

When I last blogged it was April 20th and I had been experiencing an emotional day in an emotional month on the heel of an emotional year. My body was crying out for relief from the stress that was building up. My mind was. too. My soul was desperate. I was ignoring all the signs.

I celebrated 365 days sugar free in late February and then started a decent into hell (slow burn) by picking up more and more wheat and milk fat. I 'used' these to stay away from sugar. "Use" is still using . . . even if it wasn't sugar.

Finally, on April 21st (the day after my last blog post), I picked up sugar. Don't ask what I was thinking when I did that. There was no conscious thought or decision. There was no resignation, no 'I give up,' - nothing. One minute I was 418 days sugar sober and the next minute I was putting a spoon in my mouth with two kinds of sugar on it. An hour later I was buying and HIDING chocolate so no one in the house knew I was crashing. Then I threw out the chocolate. Picking up again on the 22nd. I was off the wagon and in the food gutter. I got clean for a week and then picked up again on May 2nd, May 3rd, 4th . . . another four days clean and then picked up again. Six days clean - picked up again.

I didn't get on the scale May 1st. I know from the fit of my clothes and the larger size I had to go out and buy: I am up over 20 pounds. Probably closer to thirty . . .or forty? Anything is possible. I was overeating (without sugar) in March and pretending I was okay. I was in denial about the weight and the food I was consuming. I fell into the 'as long as it's not sugar trap."  I just bought larger clothes and stayed clear of the scale. I am wanting to be keeping the pounds off but today I cannot claim all 200 of them.

Today is May 25th. I am clean today and very aware that this tiny bit of time back in sober eating is not going to sustain me if I do not put in the work. I have a lot of work to do to stay that way. Today I am willing to do it. You deserve an update and now you have it. I believe I have been truthful in everything written here and will continue to do so as I write each day.

The fight to stop the disease of food addiction from taking away the life I love begins again.

If Sugar is the poison, Denial is the murderer.  I can't afford to be in denial any longer.

I'll post more updates from the last three months all this week.


Monday, April 20, 2015

A Short Break . . .down

Today the dam burst and I let it out. The emotional pain has been building up for a long time. Several times over the past two weeks I have thought to myself 'I need to get alone time so I can have a good cry.' - I kept putting it off, putting it off.

Finally today I broke down and cried. My adult daughters had to sit and watch mommy crumple up and sob uncontrollably as I repeated over and over again "I can't, I can't I just can't take IT anymore." They let me get it out.

What is it?

It is nothing and everything. Nothing in particular on one side; dirty floors, car repairs, travel plans, shopping, unknown entities and well known situations on the other. The tears flowed and with them came out the truth: I have been trying to juggle, balance and control too many things. The tears helped me accept the truth. Not only can't I keep all the balls in the air at one time, the balls are not all mine to control. Somewhere I took a little too much upon myself and kept adding to it until I ran around frantically trying to do more, give more, sacrifice more and all the time I was depleting what I need to keep myself whole.

Thank God for a good cry, a good therapist and a few good people to share things with. The balls are all on the ground tonight. Tomorrow I will pick some up, but not too many. some I will brush aside and leave for someone else to claim. Others may have to stay on the ground because no one else wants to take care of them. That does not mean I have to make them part of my balancing act. Not anymore.

On the glorious plus side I am still food sober today. The act of overeating or sampling any of my binge foods did not play any part in today's drama. That is my miracle of the day. It is the ball I hold on to no matter what.

Tomorrow will be a better day.


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Marion's Post on Being a Food Addict and a Thought on Support

Marion wrote a blow-me-away post on being a food addict  that is a must read for the simple honest truth of what this disease is for those of us who have suffered the disease of compulsively overeating and obesity. 

Something else I was thinking with this subject: people who see our results sometimes think we don't need the support that people need when first starting out. Sometimes I forget that without support I am going to go full circle and gain 200 pounds, eating  my way back to 385 pounds or more. 

If anything I think I have to accept that I need even MORE support now. The further I get from the pain of compulsively overeating and obesity, the less likely I am to respect how agonizing the pain was so I can stay away from the foods and behaviors that will take me there again.

It is more than just offering help to others. Just working with others and seeing the pain they are currently experiencing is not enough to keep me from taking back the food myself. If it were, there would be no relapse along those who work with others. 

I have to remember that I-me-Jane am only one bite away from living that pain again. Everyday I have a choice. I can make the choice that keeps me well, happy and free of addiction or I can make the OTHER choice: the choice that will ALWAYS lead me where I don't want to go. 

So, if you are reading Marion's blog, or my blog, or the blog of anyone else who you think has this thing nailed - PLEASE remember that we are just like anyone else. We fall, we hurt, we bleed. We need support each and every day in keeping the pounds off. 

If I forget this, it can kill me. 

Are you reaching out for the support you need today? 


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Holy Crap! I have a Personal Trainer!

Once upon a time, eons ago, in the 1990's, a would go to the gym at the YMCA and work out on a treadmill and use their weight machines. There was a snooty-nebish looking guy there who was a 'personal trainer.' People paid him to tell them exactly how to work out on the machines. I write that he was snooty because he was very impatient when someone (like me) was using a machine he wanted to get his client on at that very moment or else. I write he was nebish because he resembled a cross between a young Woody Allen, younger Fred Armisen and younger Joshua Malina. Slight build, walked around carrying his briefcase (to physically train people?). He wore his pants too high and he did not have the look of someone who know what they were doing in a gym. But I digress - 

Three years ago someone I know won three sessions with a personal trainer and did not want to use the service. She offered me the prize. I said thank you and she promptly lost the certificate somewhere in her overstuffed home office. Fast forward to this January: she found the certificate and saw that it expired in 2013. So she called the trainer and he offered to honor it now. Then she gave it to me. (Thank you Nancy). 

The trainer has been in business over 35 years. He is about 65 but looks younger and he is in really good shape. His manner is very friendly, as is the atmosphere of his training facility. He is extremely knowledgeable. He has already secured his reputation as a trainer and is not trying to finance his retirement by selling me a long term commitment or anything else. He is very willing to work with my physical limitations. He is not trying to sell me on a membership to the gym itself. He is not pushing supplements or vitamins. He suggested I buy some elastic bands on Amazon ($12-$15) as a way to further my workout at home.  He offered to break up the three sessions over two months so he and I can evaluate my progress and tweak where necessary. 

I have one more session and then I will be paying him $65 an hour whenever I want to tweak/evaluate, be it four, six or eight weeks apart. He even offered to have me work with one of his other trainers at $30 an hour if I wanted to pay less. I want to work with him. He is closer to my age and understands (via first hand experience) the issues concerning aging knees and weak spine. 

I have enjoyed the first two sessions very much. Okay, the first one was a bit intimidating because I did not know what to expect. He even gave me a second 'first session' so he could evaluate my physical condition before a workout session. 

So now, in addition to the Biggest Loser DVD from seasons one and two, the Curves circuit in my garage, the hand weights, Bosu and kettleball in the house, I have elastic bands and a series of exercises printed out to do each day. 

My aim was to work out with the weights every other day - three times a week. My trainer (John) suggested I aim to work out with the weights every day and then when things come up (as they often will), I can miss a day and probably still get in four workouts a week.

I'll report back on this in a few months as I see progress to report. If I crap out and stop going for any reason, I will report on that, too. 


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Daughter's Leg Update

Vickie asked for an update.

My darling girl is wearing a huge space boot right now. Huge as in it makes her foot look like she is wearing a size 18 shoe (Shaq-attack). She is allowed to put 50% of her weight on her leg so she can use it to stand and maneuver single, short steps with a no-wheel walker but she is not walking on it - yet. She uses her knee walker to get around from place the place in the house and outside.

In two weeks she is having surgery to remove the bottom two screws. The other seven will remain a part of her. A few days after surgery she will be starting physical therapy. Once she can climb multiple staircases and walk without additional support she will return to New York City. She hopes to be back to her apartment and commuting to work by her birthday in early May.

The bone position is good. and the bones appear to be healing well. Time and effort will tell more.

You can feel the heads of the bottom two screws through her skin. It is kind of weird to feel hardware inside her leg. 


Friday, February 20, 2015

12,000+ I am surprised

I had the Fitbit at 10,000 steps a day and my mileage goal at five miles a day. When I reach 10,000 steps the wristband flashes and vibrates to 'say' "congratulations for reaching your goal".

 I have to use the Fitbit App on my phone to determine when I have reached the five mile mark. All this week I have hit the 5 mile mark so I have raised the step goal to 12,000.

If I start to feel I am struggling to make the goal and adding undue pressure to my day I can adjust it down later on.

I am sure once the Florida heat returns I will adjust my steps down accordingly but for now, with this delightful Florida winter weather, I am happy to walk without drenching sweat oozing from every pore.

Where I came from in New York today's temperature is seven degrees Fahrenheit with a wind chill of -14. No thank you. If I still lived up north I would never leave the house in the winter.

How are you keeping warm today?


Monday, February 16, 2015

I'm Doing 10,000+ a Day

Not Calories - steps. I got a Fitbit for Christmas and started using it on January 1. With a Fitbit my wristband vibrates and little lights flash and twinkle when I reach my step goal for the day. I set a goal of 10,000 steps a day, thinking that easily doable. My goal was a little out-of-sync with reality during the first 31 days of the year.

It turned out that 10,000 steps was 'easy' if I had time for a very long walk. It was easy on a day when I had work that had me walking around the parks several times in the course of a day. Not so easy if I was working in the office/house/car. I had to be aware of that and take a bit more care to reach it those days. That was a learning and practice curve.

Along with the step goal, I also set my mind up with a goal of 100 miles in January and visions of 1,200 miles for the year. I pushed very hard to reach the goal during the last few days of January. I reached the 100 mile goal on the 30th and decided I would not push myself to do 100 miles in February - the hell with thinking about 1,200 for the year. Instead, I would concentrate on the steps - stretching myself to achieve 10,000 steps a day.

Notice I wrote 'stretching myself.' The mindset is positive. I am moving into it. I am not pushing myself, forcing myself, berating myself into doing more, more, more and liking it less, less, less. Instead, I am enjoying the process and seeing progress.

Here we are at the half way point in February, I have  hit 10,000 on 11 of the first 14 days but I had 10,000+ steps on 11 of the 14 days. Surprising to me:  I am already over the fifty mile mark and on track for doing 100+ miles this month. I have four or five friends also using Fitbit. I am not as active as some of them. I average 11,000 steps a day and a few of them average 16,000-18,000. We cheer and encourage each other. There is a 'taunt' button. None of us use it. Positive encouragement only!

So for today: I am doing 10,000+ steps a day. Finding ways to get the steps in on the more sedentary days is easier than I originally thought. I give the dog an extra walk, take a few extra trips picking up things around the house, park further away from the store and get up from my desk more frequently during the day all add up and encourage me to hope on the treadmill instead of sit in front of the television in the evening.  I'll let you know how this goes over the next few months.

In keeping the pounds off, how are you keeping your steps up?