What to do when you don’t know how to feed yourself

Last night I was talking to a friend of mine, basically doing a check in about our lives. As per usual these days my check in was largely compromised of my issues around food. I often come to her with my food woes because she has her own personal experience with disordered eating and can relate to my struggles. I was telling her about how I’ve been really struggling with my fear of sugar and carbohydrates, which has led me into a cycle of extreme avoidance and overindulgence is very frustrating. I expressed how I worry that sugar and carbs impede my weight loss and that I just want them to be completely out of my life (an unrealistic and illogical notion, I know). As a result I’ve made it a goal to stay under 25 carbs a day and I had originally intended to make this month No Sugar October, avoiding not just sugary  treats but also anything that has sugar, honey, agave or artificial sweeteners added (although the goal has changed slightly since we had this conversation). From this we got on the subject of moderation which is something that I think a lot of people with eating disorders find really difficult. I can’t speak for everyone who has an eating disorder but I have a sneaking suspicion that many of us (but not all) tend to think in binary terms– good food and bad food, fat and thin, hungry or full, fasting/restricting or bingeing. Of course there are many people who don’t fall into this type of thinking, but I definitely find myself thinking this way a lot, particularly regarding hungry vs full and fasting/restricting vs bingeing. Continue reading

The Only Constant is Change

Things that have changed since I’ve lost weight:

  • I eat less. My stomach can hold about 2, 3 ounces of food at a time. It makes eating out kind of awkward because I order a side or an appetizer and still end up leaving with a doggy bag.
  • The clothes I wore before I lost weight no longer fit– at least not very well. I have a pair of khaki capri pants I bought for my trip to Nola last year and they are now 3 or 4 sizes too big but the fabric is stiff enough that the pants still don’t fall down so I wear them as house pants. A light breeze would leave everyone with a view of my (way too big) underwear.
  • Speaking of clothes– I’m suddenly way into shopping now. I don’t know exactly why, because I shop at the same plus size stores just like before. But I think that the weight loss inspired me to buy new clothes (also, I made a commitment to a no pants lifestyle which meant I needed a new wardrobe).
  • I no longer chew gum. I no longer eat corn (popped, roasted, creamed, on the cob, whatever) or celery. I don’t drink caffeinated beverages or bubbly drinks. All I drink is water and it is depressing. I miss corn so damn much I can’t even really talk about it without getting really bummed out.
  • My digestive system seems so much louder. I can hear/feel my food moving around in my body, leaving my stomach and moving through my intestines. It’s really loud about it. Also gas. And I’m not very regular anymore. Another disappointment.
  • My hair is falling out. This is a side effect of the surgery and I KNEW it was going to happen so I’m not surprised but it’s a bit annoying. I think I’m going to start taking biotin to see if that will help with regrowth– hopefully this won’t be a side effect that lasts forever.
  • I pack all my foods in toddler sized tupperware to keep track of my portions. I get some weird looks at work about it, but no one asks about it which I appreciate.

 

Things that have NOT changed since I’ve lost weight:

  • I’m still depressed
  • I still deal with really bad self esteem and body image, and I have many days where I hate my body. I don’t see much change in how my body looks beyond more sagginess, more excess skin. I don’t find that to be terribly attractive, and I know it’s only going to get worse as I lose more weight.
  • I still have issues with food. I’m not going to diagnose myself with an eating disorder although I have been diagnosed in the past. However, I’m feeling the same feelings and using the same behaviors that I used when I was diagnosed, and I feel pretty out of control. I really wish this issue was simply part of my past but I’m beginning to realize that it’s part of my present and (most likely) my future.
  • I can still eat all the “bad” foods. I’ll feel physically ill, but not enough to learn my lesson. Just enough to make me feel like shit both physically and mentally. When I eat something with a regular amount of sugar I get a headache and feel like I’m going to throw up at any moment. I start to feel shaky and I have to lay down. It’s enough to make me feel regret, but not enough for me to never do it again.
  • I still don’t like people commenting on my body. I didn’t like it 80+ pounds ago, and I don’t like it now. I probably still won’t like it 80+ pounds from now. It’s not cool, stop doing it. There are probably a million cooler things about me than my weight or appearance. My body is not for your consumption. I’m not sure how many different ways I have to say it. JUST STOP.

 

Thoughts On Being Fat

I’m a member of a couple of wls groups on Facebook, I have an Instagram account that’s dedicated to my wls journey (I only follow wls accounts there, so it’s all weight loss pretty much all the time). I spend most of my screen time reading about weight loss stories, looking at before and “after” photos, bombarding my mind with images and narratives around losing weight. Most of the time (I would say probably 99% of the time) people talk about how happy they are being thinner than they were when they were fat. I understand that, I see why people want to put that message out there because there’s this idea that all fat people are (besides lazy and gross) totally miserable because they’re fat. If you’re depressed and fat, it’s not because you have a shitty job, or because you have a chemical imbalance in your brain, or because you’re going  through a rough patch in a relationship. It’s not because you just lost a loved one, or because people treat you like shit (because of aforementioned fatness) or because you’ve suffered trauma of some kind.

It’s because you’re fat, and you know it, and you hate it and hate yourself. So, the solution to that is to be thin. When you get thin, the depression will go away. And sure, some people (probably a small percentage) are depressed specifically about being fat and losing weight helps them feel better. But it’s not a cure all for all your woes. Also, not all fat people are depressed in general or depressed about being fat specifically, and that idea totally oversimplifies depression. I don’t know if you can tell, but the whole thing really grinds my gears. Continue reading

The Spiritual CAN Influence the Mental

Getting back into Shabbat was the best choice for me last week. I know I have yet to fully experience it as a true converted Jew, but even observing it in the small ways I did was not 4274418_origonly meaningful but also something my mind really needed– a time for rest. I made a commitment to go through the blessings, light the candles and bless the food, but also to stay away from my phone for just the night. It was totally worth it.

Right after work I went to the grocery store to buy my dinner (rotisserie chicken– perhaps this week I’ll make my own chicken in the slow cooker?) and get some grape juice since I can’t drink alcohol. Let me just say, it’s so nice being able to get off work at my regular time, be able to stop by the store and still get home before it’s time to light the candles. In fact, I had enough time to get home, prepare the meat for my weekend meals, do some dishes, and get the table set for myself. Of course I loved the ritual of it all, it felt really good to be a part of something bigger and older than myself. I could just imagine all the other people in the world doing the same thing I was doing, saying the same blessings around the same time and it made me feel like I was a part of something really cool. Continue reading

Post Op Update

I’m 3 weeks postop with my sleeve. I’ve lost 23lbs since surgery, 52lbs total since I started the preoperative plan that Kaiser put me on (real food everyday, just smaller portions). I’ve gone down three sizes in pants, a trend which will hopefully continue for awhile.

Those are the facts that most people want to hear about weight loss. But there’s more to this processes than just weight, and for me it is even more complicated because let’s be honest– I have an eating disorder. I say that because although I’m not as symptomatic as  I was when I went into treatment 7 years ago I still am affected by eating disordered thinking and I struggle with that everyday, much like how people in AA call themselves alcoholics when they introduce themselves in meetings, knowing that everyday they have to deal with their addiction and are affected by it even if they don’t drink. I’ve had to stop weighing myself everyday because I’ve been obsessing about how much I lose and it really affects how I show up in the world everyday. Not losing enough each day makes me agitated, and a stall– well, let’s just say I do my best not to lose my shit, but it makes me want to stay home from work and cry a little. So I’m really trying to nip that in the bud. Continue reading

Bad Body Day

Some days I look in the mirror and I think WOW. I’m one beautiful boss lady.

 

Seriously, there are days where I’m honestly a little surprised about how good I look. Those are my good “body days” where I’m just totally feeling myself, where I’m not nitpicking about each little flaw. Where I think I’m beautiful WITH my flaws. Where I can eat without all the accompanying emotions (frustration, boredom, sadness, embarrassment, shame, whatever), and just be totally in love with myself. That’s what I imagine self actualized people feel like on the regular.

Today is not one of those days. I’m really starting to struggle with weight loss on this preop diet (I keep fluctuating instead of consistently losing, I feel like I’m losing the same damn five pounds AAAARRGHHHH), and every time I put something in my mouth to eat I am constantly second-guessing: will this facilitate weight loss? Does this have too many carbs? BLAH BLAH BLAH ALL THE TIME. Or I will eat a piece of candy and feel totally mad for hours. My body FEELS large, like I’m super conscious of the amount of space my body takes up today. I feel like I’m too big for everything. Days like today suck. I’m so over it.

I have my preop consultation with one of the surgeons at Kaiser on December 8th. I’m freaking out a little because it feels like a deadline. When I first met with Dr. Z, the psychologist (who made me cry) he told me that I could “easily” lose 50 pounds by our next appointment in January– 20 pounds in the first month, and 15 pounds for the second and 3rd month. Well, I lost 20lbs the first month, and Dr. Z called me saying he was really impressed with my progress so he made me the appointment with the surgeon. Now I’ve got to lose another 15lbs by the next appointment and I don’t know if I can. Keep in mind, he didn’t actually say, “Lose 50 pounds by January or you don’t get the surgery”, he just said I could easily lose that much weight. So…. I don’t know if that’s an actual requirement, or if he was just trying to be encouraging. Either way, it’s causing MAJOR amounts of anxiety. And as I get closer and closer to the 8th, the more freaked out I am because I’m NOT losing weight. I’m gaining and losing, back and forth like ALL THE TIME.

I’m just saying, in this moment right now, I’m totally discouraged. I’m so worried that I’m going to fuck this all up and then I won’t be able to get the surgery. And I have no one to talk to about this.

No More Eating in Bed and Other Life Changes

For the past few months Kourtney and I have been talking about getting healthy, a topic that is really hard for me to engage in because of my eating disorder history and body image issues that have yet to be resolved. Health is such a loaded topic– it’s burdened with politics and stereotypes and misinformation, with body shaming and societal pressure and for me, grief and pain. So I often try to avoid the conversation because it makes me feel very small and huge at the same time. Small because I feel worthless, like I’m so worthless I don’t even exist. And huge because I am a physically big in a world made for smaller people so my size is very conspicuous. Health, weight, worth and self esteem are tangled together in my life, so it feels impossible to separate them. How do I get healthy without worrying about weight? How to I love myself as I am if I actively work to change my body? How can I separate weight from self worth if I keep seeing before and after shots of sad fat people in happy new skinny bodies?  Continue reading