I Might be Afraid of Therapy

Do I need therapy? I don’t know.

In many ways I’m feeling really great and my life is going really well– my marriage feels solid, we’ve made a lot of financial goals that we’re either meeting or on track to meet, I’m feeling relatively stable at work so I’m not feeling like i’m moments away from getting fired (and therefore moments away from poverty). I’ve been feeling many moments of pride over being able to save my money and I’m beginning to relax about money because I feel like we’re being more fiscally responsible and we’re able to plan for our future! It’s a little overwhelming to think that in the last year we’ve gone from living paycheck to paycheck to planning on having a kid (!!!) next year because holy cow we can actually afford one! We’ve been talking about getting a car because WE CAN AFFORD ONE. We’ve been talking about renting a new apartment because WE CAN AFFORD IT. And we want it!

So to recap– my marriage, my finances, my work life (and most of my relationships in general) are great. I’m feeling super stable.

AND YET….. Continue reading

The Scale Monster

I’m really trying to stay away from the scale for awhile. I feel like when I wake up and decide not to weigh myself, my whole day is just so much better, I feel like I’m a good person and that I am worthy of love, I just feel like I’m enough for the world and so I walk through my day more confident and less concerned about how I look and how people perceive me.

When I do weigh myself (and it’s always in the morning) my day usually ends up being a shit show. If I’ve lost weight I’m happy for like 30 seconds, and then the rest of my day is spent obsessing on how much I think I should be able to lose by the next weigh in. I start to think, should I weigh myself tomorrow? How much weight can I lose in a day? Should I eat *insert snack here* or is it too many calories? Will it make me gain weight? Is it too many carbs? Suddenly everything I do I think about in relation to weight loss. Instead of walking around the building to stretch my legs, it’s to get more steps in because that might make me lose more weight. Instead of drinking water because I’m feeling dehydrated, it’s avoiding drinking water because of my fear of water weight, or drinking a bunch instead of eating food so I don’t have to worry about calories. I freak out about gaining the weight back, so I restrict my food which either leads to me feeling faint or drives me right into binge territory and it takes me weeks to get out of the restrict/binge cycle. If I’ve gained weight, I’m instantly depressed and hyper-critical of myself for the rest of the day. Of course I’ve gained weight, because I’m lazy and stupid and ugly and I will never be thin because I’m worthless. I obsess over the things I ate the day before, trying to pinpoint the meal or snack that put me over the edge (knowing full well that’s not how it works). I go to the bathroom and look at myself in the mirror, criticizing all the parts of me I hate, lamenting because I’m not where I think I’m supposed to be weight-wise and wondering if everyone else sees my failure like I do. I basically have a day long internal meltdown, I’m sent into this shame spiral and the only thing I can really think about is how much I suck.

I think the biggest difference between weighing vs. not weighing is that when I stop focusing on the scale, I approach my own health so differently. I’m more relaxed, I’m kinder to myself and I brush off mistakes way better than I do when I’ve weighed myself. I won’t hate myself if I eat my favorite larabar and I won’t drink mug after mug of lax tea or “weight loss tea” (which just makes you pee more) to compensate for eating too much of something. And if I eat too much, I don’t get as upset. I don’t hate myself for being hungry (physically or emotionally/mentally), I just resolve to make a different decision next time. When I get sucked into the number on the scale, I expect myself to be some warped idea of the perfect woman– someone who doesn’t need to eat, someone who has the power to resist temptation and who loses weight effortlessly, whose weight never fluctuates for reasons outside of her control, who is constantly successful. When I stay away from the scale, I get to be a fucking human being in recovery. I get to make mistakes, I get to try and fail, I get to be gentle with myself, and I get to revel in my successes because I can see how far I’ve come. When I’m on the scale I’m just a number. When I’m off the scale, I get to be Ndeya.

9 Months Post-0p

It’s been nine months since I had bariatric surgery. Time is just flying by!

Things that have changed since surgery:

  • I’m several dress sizes smaller. I have no idea what my pants size is because I no longer wear pants, but I imagine I’ve gone down a few pants sizes as well.
  • my hair is thinner–  this is a side effect of surgery and will hopefully go away, and I’ve been taking biotin to support hair growth. I think it’s working, I’m slowly starting to see some baby hairs growing. Hopefully this continues and I get all my hair back!
  • My shoes are too big. I didn’t really notice until about two weeks ago, but my feet have gotten smaller since surgery. I’m guessing that I’m down at least a half size, but more likely a full size. However, my feet are still wide so they will forever look weird in flats. *cries until the end of time*
  • I’ve eliminated gluten and dairy from my diet (which we’ve already talked about in previous posts).
  • I’m more tired AND I have more energy. I know that doesn’t really make sense but let me explain! Firstly, I get tired very easily doing simple things, like standing too long while taking a shower, or standing on Bart to or from work. I think it’s the combination of dehydration plus heat that makes me very faint (I’m still struggling to get enough water in postop). However, I have more energy to do things like climb flights of stairs to my office or go on hour-long walks with Kourtney or work out at home. So I’m both more tired and I have more energy.

Times for Prayer

I have a ritual for when I travel by plane. I’m usually pretty relaxed as I’m waiting in the airport (I’m always 2 hours early even though I know an hour would probably suffice), and I’ll eat a snack or watch a movie on Netflix, chat with my wife or play the ABC game (My name is Alice, my wife’s name is Arlene, we live in Albany and we like to eat Almonds!). I wait patiently to board, hand the attendant my ticket, find a good seat and get comfortable. And then before we take off, before we’re asked to put our phones in airplane mode, before the attendants go over the safety procedures, I clothes my eyes and I pray. I pray to whoever is listening, whoever is out there keeping watch. I pray for a safe flight and a peaceful vacation. I pray for my family, that they stay safe while we’re apart, and I pray that we all are blessed with long and meaningful lives. I know that it might not change anything and that even with my prayer we could still crash or someone in my family could get hurt while I’m away, but I don’t feel safe on a plane if I don’t do this ritual before we take off.

Prayer helps to reduce my anxiety. It’s like, if I push my fears and my hopes out into the universe that maybe the Divine will hear it and maybe decide I’m worth saving or protecting. Or maybe if I pray for courage or wisdom or patience that by simply putting that out in the universe I will be more mindful and remember patience when I’m stressed or courage when I’m scared. Sometimes I pray for answers, like when I first started to realize my senior year that I had a crush on Kourtney and I didn’t know what to do about it. I prayed for months and was looking for a certain answer that I never got. I was certain that the answer to my prayers would be stay where you are, what you’re feeling isn’t real. But every time, the answer I got was Go! This is your chance! Do not squander my gift to you. It took me awhile to really receive that message and take it to heart. Nine years later and we’re married and getting ready to start a family. But I’m not always looking for the Divine to give me an answer to a question– most of the time I ask for peace or protection. There have been many times when I’ve been suddenly very anxious about dying, usually right before I fall asleep, and I feel the panic begin to rise within me. When I was little I used to get out of bed and knock on my parent’s bedroom door, crying about death and what ifs and my parents would tell me that when we die we go to heaven. I would be skeptical but would accept this answer because all I really needed was assurance that death wasn’t scary so I could fall asleep peacefully. I still get panicked about death as an adult but instead of calling up my parents I pray. My prayer is simple: Please god, don’t let me die scared, and don’t let me die alone.

And believe it or not, it makes me feel better.

2017 Resolutions

Every year around this time I make a long list of resolutions for the following year. Sometimes I make a long list (like I did on my previous blog for 2012), and sometimes it’s just one thing (this year it was saving 10k by January 1 2017). I don’t really have a middle ground, it’s one thing or all the things! Anyway, I figured this year I’d do another resolutions list, shorter than the one in 2012 but with what I consider pretty big goals. Here’s the list:

  1. Eliminate credit card debt by December 31
  2. Eliminate refined sugars from my diet
  3. IF I can maintain my protein goals, become a vegetarian
  4. Get pregnant
  5. Only weigh myself ONCE a week
  6. Convert to Judaism (just do it already!)

 

I’ve already begun working on the first two– watching my credit score improve as my debt decreases has been quite exciting for me, and I’m slowly craving sugar less and less so I think the transition will be easier than I thought– but the rest all begin on January 1. I’ll keep this blog up to date on my progress. I might also add some additional resolutions before January rolls around. We’ll see!

More Letting Go (Diet Edition)

In addition to eliminating gluten and dairy, I’ve begun taking other steps to hopefully lessen/eliminate my PCOS symptoms. I’m going to be eliminating refined sugars from my diet in December, for instance. I’ve been reading a lot about sugar, and although I’m not convinced it’s a complete monster for the world I DO know that it’s a monster for my body, and that I really just need to stop eating it. However, sugar is in EVERYTHING, even fruits and veggies. It’s natural. So what I’m doing is eliminating refined sugars– you know, the little white crystals people pour in their coffee (or cereal, or whatever). I did a sugar detox in October and it did not go so well. It was a shit show. But I think now that I’ve eliminated gluten and dairy I’ve taken out most things with added sugar that I was really hooked on and I’ve been sticking to eating food made from home.  That in and of itself has reduced the amount of sugar I’m taking in! My biggest issue now is dealing with condiments (my beautiful, beloved condiments) and those totally delicious but slightly too high in sugar KIND bars I’ve been devouring over the last few weeks. Condiments are sneaky because you think you’re not using enough to really feel the sugary effects. However, I’ve noticed that as I’ve slowly eliminated foods with added sugar, I’ve come to rely on condiments to give me the sweetness I crave– I’ve been adding hoisin and sweet chili sauce to a lot of my meals recently. I need to cut that habit and start eating foods without sugary coating, ya know?

I’ve also fallen in love with KIND bars and Larabars. Most KIND bars are dairy and gluten free which means they’ve been fair game over the last few weeks. However, they are not exactly low sugar, and if you check their ingredients list you can see that it’s not coming from the natural sugars in fruit, it’s added sugar. Sad day for me. Most of the Larabars I like don’t have added sugar, and the sweetness you taste come from dates. However my favorite bar (peanut butter chocolate chip) has added sugar from the (dairy free) chocolate chips added. That might be the hardest snack to let go of, for me. It’s so delicious! And I love peanuts and chocolate together, it’s one of my favorite chocolate combinations! I’m going to take a harm reduction approach and reduce instead of an elimination approach. I know my limits!

New Day, New Diet

Today is day seven of attempting to cut out dairy and gluten.

I’m a huge dairy fan, I particularly love cheese– the typical love story of a girl and the melty goodness that is cheddar, and havarti and pepper jack and Brie and Camembert and…. well, you know how it is. Before last week, and basically since I started eating solid foods post surgery, I’ve been eating cheese with ever single meal. It has been glorious.

However, it has come to my attention that my dairy obsession might not be good for me, as a woman with PCOS. I’ve read a lot of stuff about how dairy and gluten can fuck with my body, particularly my hormones, and can exacerbate my PCOS symptoms, including anovulation. That’s a problem just in general, but it’s an even bigger problem when you’re trying to get pregnant. I want to set my body up for success! I want to give my body the best chance for conceiving when the time comes next year, and the choices I make now will affect that process 3 months, 6 months, a year from now. Also, eliminating dairy in particular gets me that much closer to eating kosher– I don’t have to worry about mixing dairy with meat when I’m no longer eating dairy!  Continue reading

Writing for an Audience of One

Two years ago I discovered NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, and I was super stoked about it. I made an account on their website, filled out my profile, and prepared to write a whole novel in a month (NaNoWriMo is a challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days). Before I began blogging, I used to spend a lot of my free time writing for myself– poetry, short stories, novels that I never really finished. I remember my parents had received this totally ancient PC from a friend and let me use it– it wasn’t connected to the internet, but it didn’t matter– and I would sit down in front of the computer, turn on some music (usually the Beatles or the Shins) and write for hours, creating alternate realities where kids had power and parents didn’t really exist and magic was everywhere (you know, kid stuff). As I got older I found livejournal and greatjournal (remember livejournal?!) and that really exposed me to the catharsis that can come with online journaling and blogging, but even then I still made time for something beyond my own experience, something creative and outside my own life. It was nice to be creative and fantastical, to write about anything I wanted, to have my characters do whatever I wanted them to, to play out what-ifs or if-onlys in Microsoft Word. I continued to write through high school and into college, but eventually I stopped devoting time to fiction and spent more time writing midterm papers and blogging.  Continue reading

Happy Halloween!

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Halloween and Samhain today (or tomorrow, depending on your traditions), Dia de los Muertos and All Saints Day tomorrow. Then All Souls Day the following day. Safe to say that it is pretty hallowed few days in store for us! Happy autumn holy days for all who are celebrating. Here’s to many more!

I can’t see the future but I think it will be bright

I’m a planner. My present is total chaos (you should see my room right now, it’s as if hurricane Matthew made it all the way to my bedroom), but when it comes to my future, I like to plan for as much as possible. I create my own budget through excel which includes budget projections based on differences in pay, a savings tab to keep track of our 10k savings goal, and a debt tab that shows not only how much we owe but also how long it will take to get under a 30% debt ratio. Every time we go to Disneyland I make an excel spreadsheet that details all of our reservations, park hours, schedules for entertainment we might want to see, and a budget for the week we go. So yeah, I’m a bit of planner. Continue reading

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

Bariatric Life vs. Recovery

The bariatric team at Kaiser made it clear from the beginning that there are good foods and bad foods, foods that are okay to eat and foods that you should avoid. this is very different from when I was in therapy and we were told that food is neither good nor bad, it’s neutral and all fine in moderation. So you can see how I might struggle with trying to balance these to opposite and mutually exclusive ideas. I find that when I go about trying to stick with the bariatric meal guidelines my day ends up looking really strict, regimented and restrictive. That’s the nature of the plan, and also the nature of the process (I mean, they took out most of my stomach, so it’s obviously a restrictive surgery). However, the plan basically encourages eating disorder behavior. I can only eat 3 meals a day, and those meals are all 3oz (so I’m eating 9oz of food a day, just think about that), I can’t drink anything that is over 20 calories a serving, I eat my meals out of toddler bowls so I can’t over-indulge. If I were a skinny person, this behavior would be bizarre and cause for concern, right? But as a fat person this behavior is not only encouraged by the team, but also celebrated by almost everyone I interact with, whether it’s on instagram, facebook, or in real life.

If I were following this plan while in therapy I would’ve been strongly discouraged, my team would’ve saw it as cause for alarm. So I’m having a really hard time keeping to the baristric diet/lifestyle because I have their voices in the back of my mind, it just feels like giving into behaviors. But on the other hand I really want to stick to the heavy restriction because I think it’s the only way I can lose all the weight. I really don’t know how to just eat like a normal person. The problem (and this is the truly tragic part) is that there is so much pride associated with sustaining life with the least amount of food possible. It’s mind-boggling, being proud of eating only 2 ounces of food instead of three, like that’s some kind of grand accomplishment, like it makes me a better person in some weird twisted way. I have pride in myself when I restrict, and I truly think that people are also proud of me when I restrict, which is why the surgery was so compelling, such an irresistible option for me. It forces me to eat less, encourages me to think small and contained and little just about my food intake but about my body– because eating small means being small, and that is apparently more important to me than I thought. I always knew it was important to some extent to my family– they don’t really care about being thin but they definitely find being fat problematic– and important for society, but I thought that after all these years of therapy and self help books and body positive blogs that I would be somehow above the screwed up idea of fat inferiority. But now I’ve gone and cut out most of my stomach and I give myself a mental gold star when I’m under my calorie goal.

I think this is a problem that the bariatric team at Kaiser certainly didn’t prepare for, a problem that leaves me in a constant cycle of avoidance and overindulgence* of food. The healthy relationship with food I had hoped the surgery would foster has not been realized and I’m honestly not even sure it actually exists. Maybe this life is the one where I am at war with myself (hopefully this war will stay in this life and not cross over into the next).

 

* I can no longer overindulge/binge like I could before surgery but I think it’s important to note that even if it doesn’t have the calories of a binge it has the emotions of a binge and I think that counts for something.

Beyond Coping

It’s been awhile. After my last few posts I got some comments from people, mostly people concerned about my welfare because I was really honest about how I was feeling at the time. If you haven’t read those posts, here’s the short version: everything is shit, this process is shit, I’m shit, we’re all shit. Basically everyone was like whoa, are you okay? TOO HONEST, REWIND. I really didn’t mean to sound like such a debbie downer, but I was also just feeling really low and didn’t want to lie about it. This is my blog, of of course– if  I can’t be honest here, then where? I was quite taken aback by the responses. Many people suggested I see a therapist, some people tried to convince me that what I was feeling was only temporary, a few people tried to compliment me and tell me I’m a good person. Most of it felt really intrusive which I know is stupid because this is a PUBLIC blog and I share intimate details so of course people are going to be intimate in their response. But I felt a bit intruded upon and embarrassed because I got to vulnerable, too open.  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.