Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January 2012 FEW log recap

I'm switching to a weekly recap after this, as I've set some weekly exercise goals. Also, a month's worth of records is irritating to scroll through...

Jan 31st:
peanut butter & strawberry KIND bar
strawberry-blueberry-protein smoothie; part of a small piece of roast chicken
strawberry-banana-protein smoothie
sandwich made with 1 slice bread, roast turkey, muenster cheese, lamb's lettuce; baby carrots; 60+ ounces of water
15 minutes cardio on Cybex; 20 minutes cardio on stationary bike; short strength training circuit
gym scale says: 259

Jan 30th:
peanut butter & strawberry KIND bar; tiny piece of cheese
9 bean and vegetable soup (contains carrots, sweet potatoes, okra, kale, onions, tomatoes); clementine; chicken
2 pieces of not-worth-it pizza; zucchini

Jan 29th:
apple cinnamon KIND bar; scrambled eggs
3/4 of a bison burger, half serving of fries, 1/4 chicken quesadilla (meal contained what I think of as "incidental veggies", like some tomatoes, lettuce, etc.) Later had another 1/4 of the quesadilla as a snack.
Chobani passionfruit yogurt with a few walnuts and almonds on top

Jan 28th:
clementine and a few almonds
Mexican meal (1.5 baja fish tacos; some chicken, PEPPERS, MUSHROOMS; SALAD GREENS; a bit of chips and salsa; half of a very small, very delicious piece of flan)
chocolate mousse, part of a Hershey bar, and a bit of whipped cream
cheddar cheese slice and some turkey lunchmeat
20 minutes on treadmill

Jan 27th:
Chobani blood orange yogurt (a new flavor, and seriously delicious!)
turkey & 9 bean soup with sour cream; clementine
curried chicken salad on bed of LAMB'S LETTUCE
oatmeal with dates and walnuts
hour long gentle yoga class at gym
gym scale says: 260

Jan 26th:
curried chicken salad on bed of BABY SPINACH
turkey & 9 bean soup with a bit of sour cream; GREEN BEANS
strawberry-pomegranate-protein smoothie
some cherries, a clementine, and 2.5 slices of cheddar cheese
some roast chicken
25 minutes on the elliptical; longer strength training circuit
gym scale says: 262

Jan 25th:
apple cinnamon & pecan KIND bar
blueberry KIND bar
KALE and BABY BROCCOLI; turkey chili with BUTTERNUT SQUASH, sour cream, cheddar
9 bean & turkey soup; totally unnecessary grilled cheese sandwich (anxiety eating)
apple cinnamon Chobani yogurt and some cherries

Jan 24th:
Trader Joe's pizza for 2 meals (only veggies today were those on pizza)
strawberry protein smoothie

Jan 23rd:
Felt like a bottomless pit today! Need to drink more water; that should help.
KALE and BABY BROCCOLI sauteed together; turkey chili with BUTTERNUT SQUASH
spaghetti bolognese
2 KIND bars and a glass of whole milk
cherries and a clementine
most of a small piece of lemon cake--but was so attentive to texture and flavor that I left the last couple of bites behind, because the point of diminishing returns (pleasure-wise) was reached. SO PLEASED! Thrilled that it didn't feel like a struggle or sacrifice the throw the last bit away.
30 minutes on the treadmill

Jan 22nd:
small pieces of cheese and some cherries
2 eggs and roasted BUTTERNUT SQUASH
smoothie made with almond milk, whey protein powder, blueberries, SPINACH, and a small amount of pomegranate juice
It feels like I strained my back with yesterday's snow shoveling, so I'm skipping the yoga and strength sessions I had planned for today and hoping I can do some light cardio tomorrow plus resume strength training by mid-week.
home scale indicates I have hit below 260, but it's not official until the gym scale says the same. Excited nonetheless!

Jan 21st:
bowl of corn chex with milk
muddy buddies (too much, though)
fried chicken
spaghetti bolognese--so today's only veggie was tomatoes and onions in the sauce
bonus activity: snow shoveling

Jan 20th:
chicken salad on a bed of LAMB'S LETTUCE
spaghetti bolognese; cheese
blueberry pecan & fiber KIND bar
piece of German chocolate cake with a small glass of milk--I think next time, I can stop at five bites instead of eating the whole piece
30 minutes on treadmill

Jan 19th:
scrambled eggs; clementine
spaghetti bolognese
small wedge of cheese, swig of oj, and 8 cherries
chicken breast tenderloins with roasted BUTTERNUT SQUASH
20 minutes of cardio (10 elliptical, 10 bike) plus an hour long yoga class

Jan 18th:
chicken salad on a bed of LAMB'S LETTUCE (I was thrilled to find this in Trader Joe's!)
spaghetti bolognese for lunch and dinner
a clementine, a few cherries, and a Chobani peach yogurt with blueberries, as snacks

Jan 17th:
peanut butter & strawberry KIND bar
mac and cheese
burger, small fries, mixed berry smoothie
kale chips and cherries
longer strength training circuit at gym
gym scale says: 263

Jan 16th:
Chobani lemon yogurt with fresh blueberries
KFC meal (3 pieces of chicken; small amount of potatoes with gravy, coleslaw, and a biscuit); regular size m&m's
plain nacho chips

Jan 15th:
apple cinnamon & pecan KIND bar
nachos, cheese; pizza; cereal with milk

Jan 14th:
cheerios and milk
popcorn, nachos with melted cheese (nachos/cheese becoming a problem...watch this)
broccoli soup and roast beef sandwich
strawberry Chobani yogurt with fresh blueberries

Jan 13th:
the last 3 white fudge covered Oreos; milk (how appropriate that this was breakfast on Friday the 13th, as it's horrific)
tortilla chips with cheese and refried beans
chicken and brussels sprouts
rice krispie treat; donuts; sugary kids cereal with milk
(this illustrates "I've blown the day, so I'll start again tomorrow" thinking. Guess what? All you get tomorrow by doing this is a food hangover.)

Jan 12th:
blueberry KIND bar
my standard McDonald's meal (McDouble, small fries, small sprite)
spaghetti with bison bolognese
white fudge-covered Oreos; milk
pint of Ben & Jerry's red velvet ice cream

Jan 11th:
sesame & peanuts with chocolate KIND bar
spaghetti with bison bolognese for my other meals

Jan 10th:
sesame & peanuts with chocolate KIND bar; milk
salmon; piece of toast
some bites of lemon curd and a few mini candy canes; apple cider (DUMB. THROW AWAY YOUR CHRISTMAS LEFTOVERS, RACHEL. SO NOT WORTH IT.)
spaghetti with bison bolognese
My home scale indicated that I am inching closer to 260. Was today self-sabotage? Cabin fever? Loneliness? A case of not eating enough during the day? I'm not sure.

Jan 9th:
2 fried eggs
almond & coconut KIND bar
roast chicken and brussels sprouts
raspberry Chobani yogurt with fresh blueberries and pecans (delicious!)

Jan 8th:
scrambled eggs
dark chocolate cherry cashew KIND bar; Neuro Drink (meh)
chicken, pumpkin, rice curry dish; a few m&m's; some Lindt truffles
Sprite and tortilla chips
I know that if I pull it together for a week or two, I can see 260 on the scale. I want that to happen this month!

Jan 7th:
peanut butter and strawberry KIND bar
turkey chili
slice of chicken breast
chocolate chip cookies and milk

Jan 6th:
tomato bisque soup
bacon cheeseburger and fries (more restraint than usual on the fries; I was proud)
aaand my first dose of antibiotics; I finally went to the doctor today and found out my ear infection is bad enough to have ruptured my right eardrum already. Fun!
Weight at doctor's office: 265

Jan 5th:
2 eggs; dark chocolate cherry cashew KIND bar
fish & chips; vegetable blend (fantastic meal!)

Jan 4th:
almond & coconut KIND bar; dark chocolate cherry cashew KIND bar
spinach pie; potato chips
leftover turkey tacos
kale, onions, 2 chicken tenderloins and a smidgen of cheese
20 minutes on the treadmill, despite having a bad cold! yay!

Jan 3rd:
spinach pie
turkey tacos with kale and orange bell peppers
2 Larabars
sausage, cheese, and crackers

Jan 2nd:
almond & coconut Kind bar
chicken noodle soup
too many corn chips; apple cider
too much chicken salad with crackers; goat cheese w/crackers
I have a cold and am not exercising...

Jan 1st:
bowl of oatmeal
Cliff bar
chicken breast on a bed of kale with a bit of cheese
soup and potatoes

Monday, January 30, 2012

Not recovered, but recovering: January 2009 versus January 2012

*Trigger warning. Don't read if junk food descriptions set you off.*

By January of 2009, I had understood for some years already that I had binge eating disorder. I was on my second therapist, and I was trying to come up with a way to curtail the amount of sweets I ate. I decided to try to limit myself to one treat day during the week and one treat day on the weekend. I thought that was moderate and realistic.

Later that year, I would discover the no-S diet and see that it had several similarities to the sort of thing I had been trying to do on my own. I went on to attempt no-S for part of 2009. And after no-S, I went on to try lots more things, including Overeaters Anonymous.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

In January 2009, I was simply trying to come up with a personalized, realistic way to get a grip. I started keeping records in a little book of the sweets I consumed. And this is my sad, alarming record for that month. It shows the ugly face of Binge Eating Disorder, for sure.

Jan 5: peanut butter cookies, chocolate chip cookies, 2 mint pudding cups with whipped cream, 2 Andes mints

Jan 10&11: several pieces of German chocolate cake, assorted candy (orange slices, Hershey kisses, mini Reese's cups, crispy chocolate coins), several pieces of marshmallow-chocolate-peanut butter bars, chocolate chip cookie

Jan 13: McDonald's mocha, Dairy Queen blizzard, cookies, 2 mint pudding cups with whipped cream, banana bread with butter

Jan 14: cranberry-banana bread, 2 donuts and a chocolate milk, pudding cup, mini Heath blizzard

Jan 16: sherbet, ice cream with whipped cream, mint pudding cup, various cookies

Jan 17: whipped cream, bit of caramel corn

Jan 18: caramel corn, Hershey's syrup straight out of the bottle, chocolate milk, some apple pie, crumpets with butter and jam

Jan 20: 3 Kit-Kats, 2 bowls of granola

Jan 23: bowl of granola, chocolate cupcake, vanilla cupcake, 2 regular Reese's cups

Jan 26: glazed donut, slice of Reese's cake

Jan 28: coconut flan, tres leches cake piece, English muffin with butter and preserves, granola with milk

Jan 31: 6 Oreos, vanilla cupcake, chocolate milk, hot fudge sundae

And that was me trying HARD to do better! I'm too lazy to transcribe all I wrote down in January 2009, but there are so many notes on the days I binged that say "this tasted like crap" or "wasn't worth it" or "I felt sick and disgusting after this" or "I had cramps and diarrhea the rest of the night." Not to mention, I was upset over my inability to keep the sweets to just two days a week.

Fast forward to 2012. These are the sweets I ate:

Jan 7: chocolate chip cookies and milk

Jan 8: a few peanut m&m's and Lindt truffles

Jan 10: a couple tastes of lemon curd and a few mini candy canes

Jan 12: 9 white fudge-covered Oreos, pint of red velvet ice cream

Jan 13: 3 white fudge-covered Oreos, rice krispie treat, 5-6 donuts, 3-4 bowls of sugary cereal

*read Brain over Binge on Jan 14 and 15*

Jan 16: regular size m&m's

Jan 20: 1 slice German chocolate cake

Jan 21: puppy chow (aka muddy buddies)

Jan 23: most of a small piece of lemon cake

Jan 28: half a small piece of flan, chocolate mousse, and 3/4 regular Hershey bar

I read that and think "it's still way too much." But it's undeniably better. I ate fewer things and smaller amounts. I didn't make myself sick repeatedly and my eating didn't devastate me emotionally. It wasn't a monumental struggle to go a few days between treats. I also know I eat better meals now than I did then; I have more protein and vegetables these days.

I wonder what January 2013 will look like?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Okay, so it's too early to bake

Yesterday was a special day for my husband and I. We went out for lunch, and I ate moderately. I enjoyed half of a perfect, tiny piece of flan. I thought that later in the day, I might use the immersion blender I received for Christmas to make chocolate mousse for the first time, just as a little evening treat for the two of us.

The day went on, and something career-related started bugging me. And against my better judgment, I decided to make mousse.

Now, I didn't binge on the mousse. But I overate, and I slipped into that same gray area that I spoke about recently (with the puppy chow). I started eating too fast; there was a desperation there. I set out intending to eat only the final product, but then started eating some of the ingredients as soon as the chocolate chips and Hershey bar were opened. I was standing at the counter, licking spatulas as I worked, and feeling unhappy and a bit crazy.

I made the mousse and some whipped cream to garnish it with, but neither turned out quite right. It still tasted good, and my husband loved it. Even though it was a moderate amount--nothing like a real binge--I ate too much, and in a short period of time. I mean, the mousse was rich--whipping cream, milk chocolate chips (melted), some powdered sugar, and vanilla. I didn't truly enjoy this dish because of the state of mind I was in.

Once I was finished eating, a small wave of nausea ran through me. It surprised me, but I guess my body isn't as used to pure sugar and cream, eaten rather quickly, anymore! I took a chromium supplement, ate some cheddar and sliced turkey, and walked on the treadmill for 20 minutes to mitigate the blood sugar spike I likely caused myself. I washed the whipped cream down the sink with water; it was a waste because we had eaten only a couple of tablespoons of it. I threw away the last bit of Hershey bar I had used to make decorative chocolate curls (that didn't turn out right, either) and put the remaining chocolate chips away with the rest of my baking supplies.

This is what I think.

1. It's too early for me to make desserts at home. Even though homemade means better quality and purer ingredients, I seem to have less of a problem when I go out and buy an individual serving of something.

2. I will have to work on "baking mindfully" at some point, because I do like to bake. Cooking feels like drudgery, but baking is fun.

3. It's best if I stay away from sweets when I'm upset to ANY degree. Even mildly upset. Though I understand I have control over my actions, I don't want to strengthen the association between emotional upset and sugary food in my brain any further.

4. It remains to be seen whether I can coexist with milk chocolate chips in the house. I did think about them once today, but the thought didn't linger long. If they become a problem, I will toss them.

I firmly believe that if I keep working on mindfulness and habit change, I will be able to do all the things a normal eater does, such as bake and have treats in the house. But I've got to address one area at a time, and right now, I'm still working on the fundamentals.

My mindfulness meditation classes start tomorrow, and I'm eager to learn. Have a great week, everyone!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Celebrating another 5 lbs gone with plus-size lingerie (yikes!)

The gym scale said 260 tonight, so that's a total of 15 pounds gone since I started this blog weighing 275.

The scale is silly, as we all know. There are a million factors that can make the number swing by 2 or 3 or even 4 pounds from one day to the next. I don't weigh at the same time of day, naked, etc. I weigh when I go to the gym, regardless of what I'm wearing, what I've eaten or drank that day, and where I'm at in my menstrual cycle. I know not to take it too seriously; the scale is just an imperfect indicator that tells me whether I'm heading in the right direction or not.

It could say 261 or 262 tomorrow. But I've decided every time I see a new low ending in "0" or "5", I'm celebrating. With Valentine's Day coming up, this is how I decided to to celebrate:

Fairly tame, right? But I like it for Valentine's Day; it's got little red hearts on the cups. It's from hipsandcurves.com, and they have lots of cute things and a wide range of sizes and price points. I've never (NEVER!) bought lingerie before, but if I like this item I will probably order from them again in the future. (By the way, I have no connection to the Hips and Curves people--I'm not getting paid in any way to mention them.)

Because here's the deal: I may not honestly *feel* sexy enough to strut around in lingerie, but I am certain that a big girl in lingerie *is* sexier than a big girl in a sloppy t-shirt and lounging pants, especially if Big Lingerie Girl is wearing some lipstick and a smile. So I thought I'd give my husband (and myself) something different from my usual college t-shirt and pajama bottoms this Valentine's Day.

Also, I'm tired of saying "someday" or "after I lose weight." Someday is here. The time to push against the boundaries of my comfort zone is now!

Ladies of all sizes, I ask you: what are you doing this Valentine's Day to celebrate whatcha got right now?

Doing better

Today I was less anxious than yesterday, and I even signed up for an online course in Vipassana meditation that starts January 30th. I'm hoping it will help me with eating-related urges, with anxiety, with being ruled by my emotions and my lower brain in general. I also found a well-known center of instruction about an hour away from my house that offers classes and workshops, so I expect to make use of that in the future.

I overate in the evening again, after returning from the gym, but it wasn't a binge. I am happy that getting through the day without a binge isn't some huge struggle or accomplishment anymore. It's starting to feel normal. And if I keep working at it, one day it will feel normal to get through the evening without overeating.

One thing at a time.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

High Anxiety

I realized tonight that I'm feeling really anxious. I consciously ate out of anxiety just a few minutes back. Not a binge, but I was knowingly and willingly eating to satisfy the urge to eat unnecessarily.

The anxiety is coming from two things. First, my husband came back today after more than two weeks away on a trip. While he was gone, I read "Brain Over Binge" and made some really positive changes to the way I was eating. Mealtimes were quiet, slow, peaceful--almost meditative. I only had myself to think about and cook for, and that made things much easier for me. Truth be told, I don't like being responsible for someone else's food--probably due to the numerous food/eating issues I have, and also because at 9 or 10 years old, it was already my assigned chore to cook dinner for our immediate family of seven on a regular basis. Over time, I have really grown to resent the task of cooking and cleaning up after others. I'd love to change this about myself, and occasionally do feel a bit of pride from serving others a nice meal and hearing my husband's compliments. But if he told me tomorrow that I was relieved of all cooking duties forever, I would cry tears of joy. (In case you are wondering, it is our agreement that until I'm making decent money from working--whether outside the home or as a self-employed person at home--one of my main contributions to the household is to cook wholesome food on a daily basis. I don't like it, but think it's only fair that I "earn my keep", like anyone else.)

Anyway, he's back. And now I'm scrambling to cook for him again. I just can't ever seem to find a steady, sane rhythm for meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking--unless it's for a party of one. Meaning, just me. (This does make me scared of parenthood, by the way.) I don't have any confidence in my ability to make his breakfast, pack his lunch, and make his dinner consistently and on time while tending to my health needs and all the other things I need and want to do. If this makes him sound like an evil tyrant, he's not. He does demand lots of food (and is effortlessly slim, bah!) so I can get pretty exasperated with what seems like a never-ending task. But he's not a tyrant. If my inability to cook for one other human being and still function makes me sound ridiculous...well, believe me, I feel ridiculous. But there's some basic areas of functioning I struggle with, and this is one of them.

I ate mindlessly tonight, and zoned out in front of the TV for over an hour. When I came up for air, I realized I was just really, really anxious that everything is going to go to shit again. That I'm going to fall into binging again, for starters. That I won't have the presence of mind to remember or apply the things I learned in "Brain Over Binge" and will go crashing off the tracks. I started saying to myself "you're anxious right now. It's ok that you are. You are anxious..." My eyes welled up, saying that. It helped a bit to recognize it, and made me sit down to blog. That's a start.

I think I need mindfulness meditation classes. Seriously. I don't want to come unraveled over these seemingly small issues anymore!

At the beginning of this ramble, I said I was anxious about two things. The second thing is that I am starting to hop on the scale waaaaay too often. I'm starting to nitpick my food choices and scold myself for eating too much. Too many sweet things. Not enough water. Too much eating at night. I'm getting nutsy and impatient for substantial weight loss and thinking about alllllll the habits I need to change in order to really transform my body.

This is not a productive state of mind at all. Less than two weeks ago, I was binging. I need to be happy that I'm not binging right now, and build slowly and steadily from here. I know I'm in this for the long haul, yet I still fall into the trap of wanting and expecting too much, too soon.

Not binging, and eating my daily vegetable, and getting my exercise in...that's ambitious enough. My last binge was on January 13, so tonight I figured that I can focus simply on not binging for a month. Say, through Valentine's Day. On February 15th, perhaps I can add another facet to my plan.

Right now, I need to chill. Deep breath.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The problem with my rewards system

There are several problems, actually.

First off, the rewards system I am referring to is the thing I was tracking in a "Rewards" tab at the top of this page (now removed, but you can see December 2011's record *here*). I was trying to indulge myself with something other than sugary foods in the hope that doing so would build a new perspective, a new habit, and ongoing motivation for rejecting junk food. On days that I skipped desserts, I bought myself a small reward, like some makeup or an inexpensive book. On days that I ate sweets, I wouldn't purchase anything.

I thought this was a good idea because I've heard this suggestion many times in the context of getting over binge eating: you have to learn to treat and reward yourself with something other than food. Food can't be your main source of fun, entertainment, or pleasure anymore, so look for new options. And I also thought my system was smart because I was rewarding myself for meeting a process/action goal (getting through the day without sweets) that would lead to the achievement of 2 important outcome goals (weight loss and the termination of binge eating disorder).

Even though some thought had gone into this system and there was good intent behind it, I no longer think it's a great idea. In fact, I think it might work against me. Here are the problems I see with it now:

It reflects the (mis)understanding that buying something nice for myself will get me to stop craving massive amounts of sugary food. But when the urge to binge hits, books and sweaters and eyeliner aren't going to do anything to take that urge away. There is much useful discussion in "Brain Over Binge" about this--why well-intentioned advice to take a bubble bath or call a friend or buy yourself a bouquet of flowers when you feel like binging doesn't help lots of people. Those things aren't what the animal brain wants, so they don't satisfy the urge. The urge to binge will remain so long as you fight it, run from it, identify with it, and/or obey it.

It causes me to internally label each day and myself as either "good" or "bad" based on what I ate. It also makes me see sweets in an oversimplified way. Whether I ate a couple of homemade cookies or an entire box of trans-fatty snack cakes, I failed to act properly because I used sugar.

It encourages binge eating because of "I blew the day" and "I want to make use of this day" thinking. This is related to the point above. Since I viewed each day as PASS/FAIL, I wanted my FAIL days to "count" in the sense that I wanted to pack in the pleasure before the clean slate of tomorrow arrived. Why stop with the handful of m&m's when my "grade" is going to be the same whether I eat a little or totally binge?

The worst binge I had this month (and incidentally, the last binge I had before reading "Brain Over Binge") was on a day in which I had 3 Oreos first thing in the morning and was so exasperated with myself for "blowing the day" right away that I thought screw it. Today's a write off. I'm having whatever the hell I want now, and I'll try again tomorrow. That was my decision...30 minutes after getting out of bed. To make a not-so-smart morning into a totally reckless day. I wrote about it and received this great comment from someone called rk23:

I'm working on that "I've already screwed up, may as well continue" mindset as well. I keep trying to tell myself that no food is off-limits entirely, so I don't *need* to 'make the most of' today and begin anything anew tomorrow. Whatever food is tempting me will still be available some other time. I don't need to eat it all now. But that's tough. I know that for me saying "I'll start (again) tomorrow" is always a bad thing. Tomorrow comes and I don't want to start then either. I have to conceptualize today and tomorrow and every day as just my life, with no sense of stopping or starting or resolving to change. And even though I've learned to manage some feelings with self-talk, I'm finding that the way out of a binge cycle for me is just to *stop* talking to myself and do the best I can here and now without regard for what I might've done yesterday or what I don't want to do tomorrow.

After I read "Brain Over Binge", rk23's comment made even more sense to me. (Thank you rk23, whoever you are!)

So I'm suspending this little rewards system until further notice. My intention now is to CELEBRATE each loss of five pounds with a purchase of some sort, and I'll probably share those purchases on the blog. When it comes to day-to-day motivation for meeting process/action goals, I'll just have to be satisfied with the immediate reward for exercising, not binging, etc., which is feeling more energetic, clear-headed, and hopeful about the future.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Binging versus Overeating

I experienced the difference yesterday.

A (skinny, hyper, athletic) friend came over and it was his wish to have a movie & junk food night with me. Since 2005, making muddy buddies (also known as "puppy chow") about once a year has been a tradition of ours. He got a bucket of KFC for dinner and brought the Chex cereal, peanut butter, chocolate chips, etc. for the puppy chow. We had a nice long visit in the living room first, then the rest of the night was all about the food and entertainment.

By the end of the night, I had overeaten both fried chicken and puppy chow, and had eaten while watching TV/movies, which is something I want to stop doing. I am absolutely not blaming my friend for my own voluntary actions, but I will say that I found it hard to remain mindful in the midst of visiting with him and handling his chaotic energy. (I am much more subdued and mellow--an introvert--and can find it jolting to be around boisterous people. I sort of "lose myself" and then require time to recuperate. I'd been doing well with mindful eating recently because my husband has been away for 2 weeks on business and I've had a quiet home, time to myself, and space to explore a new pattern of eating.) Anyway, not only did I find it hard to focus on how fast and how much I was eating, but I was uncomfortable telling my friend I didn't want to eat during the movie, because that's EXACTLY what he wanted to do...and it's what I've willingly done with him for seven years now.

The bottom line is that I am going to have to figure out how to navigate these scenarios better in the future so that I don't overeat in them. Isolating myself and turning down social invitations is not the answer; learning to regulate myself somehow in less-than-perfect/peaceful situations has to be the way forward.

At one point towards the end of the visit, I found myself standing at my kitchen counter and eating the puppy chow rather fast out of a little bowl. I felt sort of out of control, like it would be almost impossible for me to stop eating right then and there, walk away, and leave the rest of the contents of the bowl untouched. I finished the bowl as these thoughts and anxieties ran their course. I didn't pour any more out for myself, and I sent all leftover chicken, puppy chow, and ingredients (again: chocolate chips and peanut butter) home with my friend shortly afterward.

Once the house was quiet, I started wondering if I had binged. I had eaten too much, too quickly, in a short period of time. And at one point, I had felt out of control--helpless to stop. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I had simply overeaten. I had not binged. Re-reading my recent post, How will I know whether I'm binging?, clarified the matter further for me. I had not carried out one my three "classic" binge patterns. And that moment of feeling out of control that worried me? I ate two more small mouthfuls to finish off that bowl and I DID walk away from the remaining cups and cups of puppy chow sitting in a bag next to my bowl on the counter. And it was no big deal. If I had truly been out of control or lost in a binge, I would have reached into that bag for another handful, or poured myself another small bowl and kept eating.

What's more, I did not take part of the leftovers to binge on after my friend's departure, despite his repeated offers for me to keep some of the food. I did not have feelings of anxiety or longing or desperation or anger as I put all the leftovers in a shopping bag for my friend to take home. I had no desire to run to the grocery store and get more treats to eat in private once I had the house to myself again. I felt no need to binge the next day (meaning today, a Sunday) and then "start over" on Monday. This is so, so different from my usual patterns of desire and behavior.

What's even wilder is that I am finding it effortless to eat lighter today as a natural compensation for all the indulgent food I had yesterday. My husband used to plead with me: honey, if you indulge, just go easy the next day. That's what I do, and then everything balances out. Please do this! I was never able to explain to him why I COULDN'T do that. I understood the principle, and I didn't disagree with him about the usefulness of it, but I just. could. not. do. it. because my urges to binge the next day were too much for me.

I hope it's not too early to say that something wonderful is happening to me.
I'm saying it with trepidation, like it might all go to crap again in the blink of an eye...but all this sure feels wonderful.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Separating my goals

Stop binge eating. Eat healthier. Exercise more. Lose weight.

Over time, I've made these individual goals into one big, formidable, jumbled, mountainous goal. I might as well state the goal as: do EVERYTHING differently, NOW!

It's almost to the point that I dislike the word "goal" and want to replace it with intent or plan or project or something else that's less loaded for me.

Anyway, I'm starting to separate all these worthy objectives in my mind. The cessation of binge eating is a different objective than "eat more nutritious foods, more often." Exercise doesn't depend on diet (which isn't to say that diet doesn't affect exercise performance). And losing weight is a goal that one can only pursue indirectly, via action goals like "eat better" and "eat less" and "exercise more".

(Um, asking myself what the point of this rambling is...I'm just trying to gather my thoughts, I guess.)

1. Stopping the binges is my most important objective.

2. "Eat healthier" is vague, so let me state my intention to eat at least one vegetable every day and to stop multi-tasking during meals so I can be more aware of portion sizes and satiety. (2 veggies and a fruit every day would be great; I would be proud of that.)

3. I'd like to do 2 cardio sessions, 2 strength training sessions, and 2 stretching (yoga and similar) sessions each week, and to work out at least 3 days per week. (I'd have to two 2 different things each day, like yoga+cardio or strength+yoga to get this all done in 3 days, which is why I think most weeks I'd need 4 or 5 days to get it all done.) I don't care whether it's at the gym, at home, or some combination thereof. I don't care which days of the week or what time of day. I'm done trying to figure out a perfect, foolproof, consistent workout routine in terms of days and activities. My life is too unstructured for that, so I'm going to try the approach of fitting in activity wherever I can manage while having an overall objective for the week.

4. I'd like to weigh 200 pounds again. Ultimately less, but for right now, that's what I want to accomplish. No longer binge eating would take me most of the way there, and a better diet and more exercise will take me the rest of the way. But I think it's important to separate these components in my mind so that a screw up in one area isn't used as a justification to slack off in the other areas. Skipping vegetables doesn't justify skipping exercise. Missing a couple workouts doesn't mean it's okay to binge. Overeating at brunch doesn't justify a lack of vegetables at dinner.

In other words, it's not an all-or-nothing proposition anymore.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

How will I know whether I'm binging?

That sounds like a funny question. But if I'm committing myself to no more binges, I need to get clearer on what constitutes a binge, for me.

My behavior falls right in line with clinical descriptions of binge eating disorder. I eat abnormal amounts of (indulgent) food, often when not hungry, in a short period of time. I usually have a few episodes a week. I have eaten to the point of physical pain--from being so overstuffed--and have feelings of shame and regret afterwards. I often sneak food or wait until I'm alone to eat excessively.

Beyond those common themes, I have three kinds of binges. One is where I eat a large amount (usually a package with multiple servings inside) of one thing. I eat an entire package of Oreos in one sitting, or an entire box of snack cakes. I eat most of a quart of ice cream. I eat an entire family size bag of Reese's Pieces. Stuff like that. I do this alone, or at the very least, I eat some in front of others and finish off the rest behind closed doors soon afterward (often lying to my husband that "I threw the rest out", which makes me feel more horrible than the binge itself, and very guilty). I often watch TV or movies when binging this way.

In the second kind of binge, I buy several different things and eat most or all of it in one go. I might buy a pint or two of ice cream, a candy bar, and an individual serving sized bag of chocolate covered pretzels. I always, always do these alone. Again, TV is often involved.

The third kind of binge involves day-long overeating and non-stop grazing on sugary, junky foods. I grab different treats as I go about my day. It's very mindless and scattered, but there's deceit involved, too. I eat at home and then go out to dinner with my husband an hour later. I eat 2 cupcakes privately and then later eat 3 cookies in front of another person. I think these kinds of binges happen when I'm busier than usual or around more people (like when I have company at home) and don't have the opportunity for a "focused" binge.

So, I suppose my answer is: I know that I'm binging if I'm behaving like any of the three scenarios outlined above.

I don't want to make hard and fast rules, such as "if I eat two desserts in a single day, that's considered a binge." Because I think days like that are going to happen, and it's more helpful to note the way I went about eating multiple things. Did I lie to or mislead anyone? Do I feel guilty, paranoid, or ashamed--or did I thoroughly enjoy it? If it was too much, do I think I simply made a poor choice from a health perspective, or did I totally surrender to my animal brain? Did I scarf the stuff down in a desperate manner or try to distract myself with TV to drown out the protests of my rational voice? (Because I think that's what's behind the TV watching while binging. Thus, I think it's a good idea to focus entirely on the treat in front of me from here on out. I WANT to hear my higher brain from now on.)

My default way of eating regular food, by the way, is pretty unstructured and graze-y. It takes effort for me to sit down to distinct meals. I just want to nosh and snack and eat all day even when I'm not binging. I'm trying to make meals more concrete by sitting down at the table and not multitasking, and that should clear up some gray areas as well.

Putting "Brain Over Binge" to Work

I'm excited and nervous and happy and scared and all sorts of contradictory things right now.

Kathryn Hansen's excellent book--Brain over Binge: Why I Was Bulimic, Why Conventional Therapy Didn't Work, and How I Recovered for Good--has made me feel more hope (regarding getting over binge eating disorder) than I've felt in a long time. The concepts in the book aren't new to me; I've read about psychology, psychiatry, addiction, nutrition, lower versus higher brain, identification of the "addictive voice", neuroplasticity, etc. before. But there's something to the way Hansen has synthesized and presented this wealth of information that makes it click better. And there's something to the way she carefully distinguishes between terms like "trigger" (as in environmental, social, emotional triggers) and "urge" (urges to binge) that I find helpful. On top of it all, she tells her own story of recovery from bulimia very effectively. I recommend this book to anyone that binge eats.

So now it's time for me to make use of the things I learned from this book. I've already started; there was no "one last binge" or anything of the sort after I finished the book and decided to get going. That in itself is different from my usual pattern of behavior!

(The rest of this entry might not make total sense unless you've read the book...)

The thing I'm somewhat nervous about is my ability to disassociate from my urges. And I'm unsure where to draw the line in terms of food restrictions. Yes, it's my lower brain telling me to binge. It's also my lower brain telling me to eat mac and cheese for dinner when my higher brain/self has a weight loss goal and knows that other dinner choices would help me get there faster. The question quickly becomes: do I need to tackle everything at once? And how do I know, by cutting myself some slack (not by binge eating, but by eating less-than-stellar foods), that I'm not falling for the tricks of the lower brain and thereby strengthening it?

Hansen says she found it helpful to not be overly worried or restrictive about her food choices when she was kicking the binge habit. The main thing is to know what constitutes a binge for you, to eliminate binge eating, and then build from there as desired. (Read more on this, from her blog, *here*.)

So I'm taking that advice. Right now, I'm committed to NOT BINGE EATING. I don't view this as a license to eat junk for every meal and snack, but I am determined to not let the perfect be the enemy of the very, very good. And no longer binging would be very, very good indeed.

More to come on binges, separate nutrition goals, and the like!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Mind blowing

I just finished reading Brain Over Binge by Kathryn Hansen. My mind has officially been blown! I'm now looking back over my blog and seeing how much of what I've written reflects a deep misunderstanding of my problem and how to fix it.

Changes ahead, both for me and the blog.

Friday, January 13, 2012

It happened...because I told myself it was gonna happen

A particular thought often occurs before I descend into madness: that's it. I'm binging later.

It's a private thought I have when I'm in the company of others and I'm stressed or angry or irritated at the people/situation around me. And telling myself I'm "so going to do it" helps me get through whatever I need to get through. It's my default way of promising myself that comfort and oblivion are on the way, and that I need to simply need to muddle through until I can be alone and stuff my face.

I wish it stopped with that silly thought--that when I finally get a quiet moment to calm down, I wish I recognized it for ingrained coping mechanism it is, then rationally decided on another course of de-stressing. But that's not what happens. The thought seems like an ironclad decision. Once I think it, it's like the binge is a foregone conclusion. I MUST do it. In a way, it feels like I already did do it, just by thinking about doing it, and that the actual binge episode is merely the continuation of binging that started earlier in the day (even though it's not). Does that sound crazy to you?

I was helping a friend with some stressful stuff yesterday when the thought occurred to me. When I got home that night, I carried out my "promise." I went to the store (at night, which we all know almost guarantees a binge for me) and got ice cream. I was standing in line to check out when I saw limited edition Oreos on the aisle end display. They were a kind I normally get each Christmas, but skipped this Christmas. I was primed in every way to grab them, and I did. And as I scurried back to the register line, I had a flash of awareness in which I saw myself as a lab rat who was exhibiting the exact behaviors wanted and expected of me by the good folks (ha!) at Nabisco. I waved that nanosecond of discomfort and awareness away, made my purchase, went home, and ate a pint of ice cream and nine cookies along with a too-large plate of spaghetti.

That "I'm going to do it" thought is going to occur to me again and again in stressful situations. It does no good for me to "wish" my brain did something else. I need to practice doing something else, not make wishes. This is what I plan to do: the next time I think "I am SO going to binge later", I am going to tack on a few more sentences to my inner dialogue. "Well, binging is just one option. I might do that. But there's some other options too. Maybe I will do this instead..." and then I'm going to think of a few alternatives to eating and try to build anticipation for those alternatives.

That way, when I finally get alone later, I will be primed to try one of the non-binging alternatives. Maybe it won't feel like I've already binged and may as well "continue." Up until now, I've expected myself to make a better decision on the spot--at the crucial moment in the grocery store, or at home when the food is in front of me. But at that point, it's already too late. I need to work on the thoughts that precede my actions--thoughts that happen hours before when I'm still in the company of other people.

A similar kind of screwy thought process happens when I eat some small amount of junk--a few cookies or a few m&m's--and think "the day's already blown, so I'm going to make the most of it and start over tomorrow." That's the kind of thinking I'm engaging in right now, since I ate 3 leftover Oreos this morning for breakfast. I don't have an answer to this one, though. I know it's similarly irrational, and I know my flawed thinking is opening the floodgates on a later binge...but I haven't figured out how to talk to myself on this one.

Any suggestions?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Night time is NOT the right time

My last two posts have been about smarter evening snacking and how it's best if I stay home at night, especially when I'm feeling vulnerable and having binge thoughts. Yesterday, I ate a fantastic yogurt parfait at night and was pleased with myself for smart substituting. Tonight, I stayed home because I was experiencing alot of mental chatter and realized I can't trust a thought process that goes something like this: "your husband is out of town and no one can see what you are doing...hmm, ice cream sounds good...hey! you need some heavy duty tape for boxing up your Christmas decorations...why don't you go to the grocery store? You know, for tape. And maybe ice cream. But definitely--mostly--tape."

So I stayed home. Thing is, there were some mini candy canes still in the house and a jar of lemon curd in the fridge from the holidays and even though I wouldn't consider these temptations or problems normally, they were tonight. Eating a few mini candy canes and some lemon curd wasn't a catastrophic binge, but it was just sorta stupid and not worth the "muddiness", if you know what I mean. It murked up an otherwise sensible day. Those items are going into the trash as soon as I log off here because another evening like this evening will come soon enough, and I don't want broken candy canes laying around when it arrives.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Don't go to the store at night

That's me, giving myself obvious advice. My husband and I do not buy junk food when we go grocery shopping. So in order for me to eat junk food, I have to make a separate trip to a store/pharmacy/gas station/restaurant, or bake something at home.

As the day goes on, I become more and more vulnerable to the siren song of high fructose corn syrup. Thus, it is not safe for me to go to shopping at night. At least not for now. My reserve of willpower is depleted by the day's activities and my thinking becomes fuzzier the later it gets.

On a related note, I wonder how much rising early for the day and going to bed fairly early as well would help with my weight loss. I'm not hypothesizing about metabolism or anything like that, but the mere avoidance of troublesome times of day.

The vast majority of my binges happen at night. When the binging continues for weeks at a time, it starts to bleed into other parts of the day. I find myself picking up donuts and chocolate milk for breakfast or eating nothing until 2 p.m., then heading to a bakery for cupcakes. It's sad that I lived that way for so long. Things are better now. But nighttime remains a horror zone for me.

I came up with a list of acceptable evening snacks. The next piece of the puzzle, then, is to stay home--where it's safe--and sweat out the cravings. What good is my virtuous little snack, all prepped and ready in the fridge, if run to the store and buy ice cream anyway?

Like I said, obvious advice.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Evening snack plans

I always want something sweet at night. ALWAYS. I ate sweet(ish) breakfast cereals every morning for over 20 years, but now find I prefer eggs for breakfast. I don't need something sweet at lunch. In the middle of the afternoon, my sugary desires start to whisper. Sometimes it's more of a murmur, sometimes fairly loud chatter. But after dinner, it always ALWAYS morphs into a howl.

I had the best dinner tonight with a friend at a lovely restaurant. As soon as I got into my car to drive home, I wanted ice cream. I find this so frustrating.

I've tried many things--forbidding myself to eat after dinner. Allowing myself to only eat hard boiled eggs and celery sticks. Trying to listen to hunger cues, sort out my emotions, and snack "intuitively." Chugging water and drinking hot tea. Applying portion control to my favorite sugary foods. (Is "half a cup of ice cream" a real suggestion or a horrible joke?) Suffice it to say, none of these approaches have worked long-term, and in my frustration I have said "screw it" and let myself go off the rails nightly for months at a time...before trying yet another solution for my late-night eating urges.

I have to keep looking for a workable answer. So right now, I'm crafting a list of snacks I can enjoy without doing too much damage. Namely, snacks that have some nutritional merit, give me a hit of sweetness, and do not leave me wanting second or third or fourth servings. So far I have come up with:

oatmeal (with any of the following: spices, milk, honey/maple syrup, nuts, raisins or other fresh/dried fruits)

KIND bar, maybe Larabars now and then

glass of milk--sometimes that is enough, especially 2% or whole milk

protein smoothies, but I have to watch the size

a Chobani yogurt cup--I like to top various flavors with fresh blueberries and walnuts

celery with nut butter(s) and raisins/dates/cranberries/whatever

herbal tea--Yogi Egyptian licorice is sweet

I have all these things on hand, usually. I like that the list has hot, room temperature, and cold items. KIND bars sort of replace candy; milk, smoothies, and yogurt are good for when I'm craving ice cream (which is OFTEN); and oatmeal is grainy and carby and sort of a replacement for baked goods. I wonder if, besides oatmeal, I could be happy with a single whole grain waffle and a bit of maple syrup on those nights I want cake or cookies.

I know it's not IDEAL to eat if you aren't clearly physically hungry. I know many people eliminate nighttime eating altogether. But ideals are getting me nowhere; I need something realistic and doable NOW to move me in the right direction. My hope would be to build on this, eventually eating only half a serving of oatmeal, half a yogurt cup, or half a bar...maybe switching to less sugary stuff some nights out of the week...who knows from there...

I think I'll post this list on my fridge.

Anyone out there have other suggestions or tips for evening snacking?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

December 2011 FEW log recap

FEW means "Food, Exercise, and Weight"

When I started blogging in earnest, I listed my food in regular daily posts. But it quickly got confusing when I would skip posting a day here or there. I figured a separate tab/page was the way to go, so I switched to that format on December 13th.

Looking at December, I see that:

*I didn't exercise and hardly weighed myself
*I need to eat more vegetables and fruits; I don't even get one serving in daily on a consistent basis
*I've let my "lowish" carb intentions go out the window
*I stopped logging when I got busier than usual
*PMS is a bigger problem than I realized

My eating is just all over the place. This month, I plan to develop and stick to some basic go-to meals for breakfast and lunch and also have a set of acceptable options for post-dinner snacking. Dinner can involve more variety and spontaneity. It would be good to keep some emergency dinners in the freezer, though. There are nights I go out to eat because I don't want to cook, and I'm sure I would end up eating better if I had something reasonable in the freezer for such nights.

I'm going to slowly ramp up the exercise too. I'm taking part in Lyn's Fitness challenge by committing to 3 workouts a week--some combination of walking, yoga, and strength training.


December 2011

December 31st:
Mongolian restaurant food (noodles, meats, veggies)
pink champagne; pistachio ice cream
almond coconut Kind bar
whey protein smoothie with banana and milk
cup of herbal tea

December 30th:
a couple of shortbread cookies slathered in cocoa-almond spread
tortilla chips with cheese, refried beans, and guacamole
a coffee with creamer and milk; hard candy
scrambled eggs with prosciutto
Weight is above 265 and below 270; on my home scale it's hard to tell exact numbers.
Just before Christmas I was almost down to 260, which would have been a new low.

December 25th-29th:
I can't even begin to recall. It's been a free-for-all with my family visiting. No exercise except for lots of walking one day (and afterwards I was painfully sore and stiff). I feel gross and unhealthy, and the past several days have given me lots to think about in terms of where I've come from (family legacies) and where I want to go--I'm talking about food, eating, addiction, and self-care here.

December 24th:
I forgot to record this day, but I know I didn't eat sweets.

December 23rd:
hectic day with some surprises in my schedule...
turkey chili
burger, fries, ice cream, soda (someone bought dinner for me)
crackers and cheese. It's just gonna be a mess until Christmas is over.

December 22nd:
my sister came over and we went grocery shopping for Christmas Day, and...well...I'm not convinced blowing the day was worth it. And the food made me headache-y too.
kind bar
salmon with collard greens
chicken salad with crackers; some plantain chips
2 slices of pizza with a glass of soda
eggnog and a bite of eggnog ice cream
2 pieces of English toffee, 2 hard candies

December 21st:
kind bar, Larabar
slice of cheese pizza
banana-whey protein smoothie
chicken breast on a bed of collard greens/mushrooms/onions

December 20th:
scrambled eggs
chicken burrito and collard greens
2 kind bars (a.m. and p.m.--the second Kind bar averted a binge! Hooray!
fried diner food--wish I would have turned my husband down on this one. I need to start saying no and suggesting other ways to spend time together besides dining out.

December 19th:
The PMS beast seems to have quieted. It didn't demand as many sacrifices today.
2 Kind bars
bison and okra curry with a piece of naan
part of an orange
piece of bread with butter

December 18:
didn't even fight it today. Had a "I'll restart Monday" mentality--not smart.
entire box of snack cakes full of trans fats, with a side of self-loathing and panic
some salmon, chicken, potatoes
2 Larabars with milk
(What are these vegetables you speak of? What is exercise? Never heard of it, apparently.)

December 17:
realized today I'm in the throes of PMS.
egg; dark greens sauteed with mushrooms, onions, and Canadian bacon
half of a tiny piece of cake my husband bought to surprise me

December 16:
burger, fries (not fast food)
half a tiny piece of carrot cake and some eggnog
hard candy
feeling pissy and unwilling to cook.

December 15:
leftover turkey tacos
grilled cheese sandwich
hard candy, ice cream, and 3 snack cakes
I had a choice between attending yoga class and having a binge...I chose to keep myself trapped in old patterns. :(

December 14:
blueberry Kind bar
eggs scrambled with Canadian bacon, mandarin orange
turkey tacos
glass of milk

December 13:
Grannysmith apple
skinny vanilla latte
apple cinnamon Kind bar
turkey sandwich, asparagus soup
pizza and a couple garlic knots

Monday, January 2, 2012

December 2011 Decluttering Recap

Edit, edit, edit, in all things.

I enjoy the practice of letting go of one thing each day. It makes room for the new: whether that means a new and more useful object, perspective, or accomplishment. It forces me to think about what I want the most, to understand my own tastes and values better, and to acquire things more carefully. When it's really working its magic, it leads to feelings of abundance; I realize I have so much that I can let stuff go and not even miss it. I like what it does for my house, too; some of my family members have packrat tendencies, so I tend to watch myself a bit in this area.

I'm going to create a running list of stuff I've thrown or given away here. What can you bear to part with? What is cluttering up your home and mind?

December 2011

December 1st: shredded old financial aid papers from college.

December 2nd: gave a body spray to my sister. Had used it a handful of times since I bought it in 2008 and the bottle was still 99% full. She's into perfumes and sprays; I'm not.

December 3rd: ped egg. Had used it once in 2008 and it tore up my feet!

December 4th: old glitter-encrusted gingerbread ornament from years ago. Tonight, while decorating the tree, I realized I haven't hung it in years because I don't really like it.

December 5th: an old bottled marinade that was going to sit in the fridge for eternity and never be used up. (Fridge doors are like museums, I swear. "Hey, look at this whim from 2009! And you bought this for a recipe in 2010 and never used it again!")

December 6th: empty wine bottle that I was apparently holding on to for future decorating purposes, but now can't foresee myself decorating with it. Into the recycling it goes.

December 7th: old orange-flavored olive oil that I was never, ever going to use up.

December 8th: ratty $3 flip flops that dig into my feet and hurt.

December 9th: guitar-shaped Hard Rock cafe pin that I never wore; put it into my box of stuff to donate.

December 10th: extra microwave going to Goodwill. It's from our old apartment and has been sitting in the attic since we moved into our house, which has a built-in microwave in the kitchen.

December 11th: added bra to Goodwill box.

December 12th: added bra to Goodwill box.

December 13th: added bra to Goodwill box (all bras barely used; don't support me).

December 14th: old, sticky, mislabeled plastic jars of bulk herbs and spices (transferred contents to clean empty glass jars, labeled the jars with a labelmaker, and threw plastic away. Pantry looks so much nicer now).

December 15th: old spice rack.

December 16th: worn, creased, cheap folders.

December 17th: random papers cluttering up the office.

December 18th: a job search guide that I don't need in paper format; more up-to-date information is available online.

December 19th: wrapped up an old set of Russian nesting dolls as a Christmas gift for someone that decorates with those sorts of things.

December 20th: another old-school decoration wrapped for the same person. Looking forward to watching her open her little box of treasures--a mix of old and new stuff!

December 21st: brought the microwave and box of women's clothes, pillowcases, sheets, and curtains to Goodwill. I had been designating stuff for that box long before I started this blog. I actually felt lighter driving away from the Goodwill store.

December 22nd: old stinky pair of shoes.

December 23rd: another crappy pair of shoes that was falling apart and provided no support.

December 24th: gave a bottle of chromium supplements to my sister because I switched brands and dosage.

December 25th: canister of vanilla whey protein powder given away because I don't like the flavor.

December 26th: dried floral supplies given away.

December 27th: wall hanging given away.

December 28th: 2 decorative vases given away.

December 29th: throw pillow given away.

December 30th: returned 2 dvds to my dad that had been in my house for a year.

December 31st: pair of too-small exercise pants given to my sister, who used them and liked them while she was visiting.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

December 2011 Rewards Recap

You can reward, comfort, and indulge yourself with food...or you can choose other ways of being kind to yourself. Buying nice things for yourself certainly isn't the only alternative to junk food, but right now I like the practice of tying small purchases to good behavior (the behavior I'm tracking is abstinence from dessert). The way I see it, I would buy myself mascara, shampoo, and conditioner anyway--but why not wait until I have a reason to reward myself before making the purchase? And why not spend a buck or two more on a nicer product, instead of spending as little as possible and then turning around and buying overpriced junk from some coffee shop the next moment?
I can't tell you how many times I spent about $8 on shampoo and conditioner at Wal-mart, then drove straight to Starbucks and dropped $10-$12 on a latte and pastries. Wouldn't it be better to spend $20 on fantastic hair products?

Looking at my records for December 2011, I see that:

I ate desserts 18 days out of the month, and skipped them 13 days. So I reached for food when I wanted pleasure and stress relief more often than not.

The longest streak I had of skipping dessert was 4 consecutive days.

The longest streak of eating dessert was 7 consecutive days--the last week of the year.

I know I can do better this month!


Dec 1: glittery snowflake ornaments (1-0)

Dec 2: had sweets (1-1)

Dec 3: glittery star ornaments (2-1)

Dec 4: a book about the plants associated with Christmas (3-1)

Dec 5: nice soapdish for bathroom (4-1)

Dec 6: small fiber optic Christmas tree for guest space (5-1)

Dec 7: had sweets (5-2)

Dec 8: had sweets (5-3)

Dec 9: good shampoo and conditioner (6-3)

Dec 10: had sweets (6-4)

Dec 11: new mascara (7-4)

Dec 12: had sweets (7-5)

Dec 13: space heater for my freezing cold bathroom! (8-5)

Dec 14: tree topper for fiber optic Christmas tree (9-5)

Dec 15: had sweets (9-6)

Dec 16: had sweets (9-7)

Dec 17: had sweets (9-8)

Dec 18: had sweets (9-9)

Dec 19: got manicure(10-9)

Dec 20: downloaded a movie on my laptop (11-9)

Dec 21: downloaded another movie on my laptop (12-9)

Dec 22: had sweets (12-10)

Dec 23: had sweets (12-11)

Dec 24: went to the movies (13-11)

Dec 25: had sweets (13-12)

Dec 26: had sweets (13-13)

Dec 27: had sweets (13-14)

Dec 28: had sweets (13-15)

Dec 29: had sweets (13-16)

Dec 30: had sweets (13-17)

Dec 31: had sweets (13-18)

I believe

I believe I can change my body and my life in 2012.

But I'm looking no further than January at the moment. What small changes can I realistically make this month to start moving forward?

Well, I'm taking part in a fitness challenge organized by Lyn during the first 14 weeks of the year. I'm going to start working my body again, slowly and respectfully and patiently.

I won't say I've got an eating plan written in stone, but I've got various experiments in mind that I want to conduct to find out what is going to work best for me over the long haul.

I'm going to take better care of my skin and my appearance in general, and try to get my sleep schedule back on track. I want to start meditating. I accept that this will not all fall into place simultaneously.

I want my year, my life, my schedule to be simpler than years past, so I can focus on getting really valuable things done.

Time is so, so precious. It's all we have. Here's to a wonderful 2012!