August 14, 2015

Roses and thorns

When I lost the weight the first time, it was more than just physical. My entire life changed, including so much of my mind. It was an awakening, really. Suddenly, I was conscious of everything - for better or for worse. Before, when I was hungry, food was just food. I ate what I craved, and didn't care about the effect. But when I lost the weight, I was suddenly aware of what foods were better choices, what foods seemed to trigger me, and exactly how many calories were in every food.

Walking through a grocery aisle, before: Yum. Yum. Yum. OH MAN YUM.
Walking through a grocery aisle, after: 250. 120. 390, but it's two servings. 310.

It's disordered, to an extent. I think it's good to know calorie counts, but it's unhealthy to be enslaved by any number - on the package, on the scale, anything.

And the scale - that's another area where I suddenly became extremely conscious.

Looking at pictures of myself before 2010, I always sorted them into few categories: I look good here, I look bad here, I am a little kid here. But after 2010, I look at pictures, and I see numbers. 311, 295, 265, 230, 203. Those are a few of my racing weights: first 5K walk, stair race, first 5K run, first 8K run, first half marathon. I look at pictures of me before/during/after races, and my immediate first thought is what I weighed that day - not my finishing time, not memories of the racing experience, but the scale.

My relationship with the scale, like everything in my life right now, is a work in progress. I weigh myself daily, but I'm making great strides in not letting it rule my life or determine if the day will be good or bad - which it absolutely has done in the past.

And now that I've calmed down a bit about it, something really significant happened this week.

Classes for Fall semester start Monday, but we had department, college, and university faculty meetings this week. (I may change my mind soon enough, but right now, I am ready to be back. Ready to interact with adults again, ready to be busy.) And every semester since I've started at this school, I've started heavier than the previous semester. Just like looking at pictures and seeing numbers, I look at semesters that way. 265. 275. 280. 313. A mostly slow but steady incline as we got here, life got somewhat settled, then life got messier and messier.

But today, I weighed in at 307 - down 6 pounds from when I started seeing my therapist, but also - lower than the beginning of last semester. It's only six pounds, but it's progress - it's reversing a trend that I've been frustrated by but felt unable to do much about for the last few years.

I'm slowly but surely making progress. This week's biggest NSV was not binge eating after a HUGE fight with my ex-husband. I put my foot down and told him that he couldn't stay with us - despite what the therapist suggested, I know what is best for me/my mental health/my son. And letting Matthew into what I have reclaimed as a safe space would be devastating for the progress I've made - not to mention confusing for Noah.

He took it as well as I expected - add in an argument about jobs and it lead to a solid hour of back-and-forth arguing, just real nasty. The worst of both of us. And I wanted so badly to eat myself sick ... until I sat down and really thought about it. He's hurting me ... so why is my response to hurt myself more? So I finished my water, went to bed, and woke up feeling like a champion.

Today is Day 12 of my water streak, and that feels great too. I finished Week 3 of Couch to 5K, and I'm optimistic about finishing it - now I just need to find a race to end it with! I may do an on-campus night race with the club I advise ... we will see.

I struggled a lot last weekend with keeping my eating in check - I made the water goals, but definitely snacked way too much, and made food choices inconsistent with my goals. I looked at my offline log for those days and assessed where I need to improve, and I am hoping this weekend will be more successful.

August 10, 2015

Tasks

Usually, in the blog world, silence is not a good thing. For me, silence almost always means that things have started to take a turn for the worst, I have fallen off track, and I don't want to face all of you with news of another failure.

This is not one of those occasions.

A couple of weeks ago, and after a week of binge eating and feeling completely out of control, I finally met with a therapist. Just as I had anticipated, I started crying within the first 5 to 10 seconds. And I pretty much didn't stop until the hour or so was up.

Sometimes, I don't realize how much I'm carrying until I let go. I told her about my childhood, about developing my issues with binge eating, about losing the weight, about some things in California that I've kept a secret from nearly everyone, about my pregnancy, about my marriage and its collapse. And even though mountains were not moved in the hour, it felt like significant progress just to get these things off of my heart.

We came up with a game plan for me to help get out of my binge eating cycle. My first task is to make sure I drink a gallon of water a day. The first couple of days I struggled with it, but then got into a routine - like everything, work in one area feeds into another. Making sure that I go to the gym helps with getting the water down, and getting the water down helps with keeping my eating under control.

My second task was to step back from the Internet a little bit. Between blogs, MyFitnessPal, Instagram, groups on Facebook … I am constantly surrounded by information about weight loss, exercise, etc. And while most of the time it helps and encourages me, sometimes even seemingly positive things can be triggering. So I have been recording my food and water in a notebook on my counter-top, and making sure to keep track of the numbers that matter the most: streaks of success with no binge eating, meeting my gallon of water goal, and days in the gym.

I had a significant loss last week, and am feeling positive, but at the same time, cautious. This happens to me a lot. I do really well for a couple of weeks, then fall back into bad habits. I am hopeful that the addition of weekly therapy will help with this, mostly with being accountable to someone in real life. It's easy enough to get quiet and hide on here when my eating is off-plan, but I have a standing meeting with the therapist every Friday afternoon, and that motivates me to make the best choices possible whenever I can.

I'm still not perfect, nor do I ever expect to be. I saw the therapist for the first time a few weeks ago and that night, I binged. But I recognized what was happening and wrote down goals for the next day, and didn't punish myself for it. The next day, when the urge to overeat struck again, I reflected on my goals: the day before, I had not met my water goal, so I told myself that if I wanted to overeat, I could, but I had to meet my water goal first. And of course, after I finish the water, the feeling had disappeared and I went to bed that night smiling, proud of the success of one good day.

I got back in the gym the Monday after our first meeting, and restarted the second week of Couch to 5K. Today I started the third week, which entails a five-minute warm-up, and then two sets of 90 seconds running, 90 seconds walking, 3 minutes running, 3 minutes walking, and finally a five minute cool-down. And after finishing the second 3 minute run, I nearly started crying.

I once ran a half marathon in 2 hours and 20 minutes. I once started training for a full marathon. But then I regained a significant amount of weight, and between the weight gain and a lot of the issues driving it, I never thought I would run again. I loved it, but I had accepted that it wasn't part of my life anymore.

And now it's back, and it feels remarkable. I have a long way to go before I get to where I end up, but it feels good to be on the path that will lead me to those goals.

Something I am looking forward to working on with the therapist is my relationships. We talked a little bit the first day about my relationships with my parents, with my husband, and with the friends in my life - just an introduction, really, but enough to let her know that this is something that needs to be addressed. The biggest relationship in my life right now is the one I have with my husband, and after I told her a few things about our history, she asked me, point blank, if I really thought the relationship was over.

And I don't know.

I know that I loved him once, and that I was very hurt by him. I know that the past few years have not been easy for either of us, but I wanted to be with him and wanted to work through it, and I am not quite sure he felt the same way. And I know that we both promised each other often that we would be better about communicating, that we would see therapists separately and/or together, but neither of us ever made good on our promises.

As much as I was ready for him to leave, I still get angry that he left for somewhere so far. First, because of our son - the sweetest little boy who grabs his shoes and walks to the door and asks if we can go visit Daddy every single day. But also, because it is hard to try and talk through your issues when you can't sit down and have an actual conversation.

He's coming to visit in about two and a half weeks, and at the recommendation of my therapist, he will be staying at my apartment, in my guest bedroom. Initially my response was to ask him to stay elsewhere, to preserve the atmosphere I've created in what is now just my and my son's home, but my therapist said that having him in the same apartment will be much more conducive to conversation. I hope she is right. We lived in this apartment together and barely talked to each other, though, so I am hoping that the time apart will have helped to open the door to more communication.

I don't know what he wants, or what I want, beyond starting to talk about some of our issues. He could show up and be exactly the same, interacting together with Noah and going our own ways once he falls asleep. Or, things could be different. I guess this is something that I will just have to experience and take as it comes.