Tag Archives: Overeating

Finally Starting My Weight Loss Journey

On the Sunday before yesterday, I finally stepped onto the scale for the first time since leaving the institution. I had resolved for months that I’d be losing weight once home. Though I had done an okay job of not overeating, I made up for this by regular evening snacking.

I was rather scared as I went onto the scale. In the institution, I had felt nervous, but I didn’t feel like I had to compare myself to the nurses who were weighing me. My husband is at a healthy weight yet still wants to lose a little, while I am obese. I was very scared that my husband would judge me. I hoped I had lost weight, but I had not been on this particular scale in months. As it turned out, I had unfortunately gained quite a bit of weight. I was at my highest weight ever. Being shocked that I weighed nearly 80kg (176lbs), while I am only 1.53m (5ft) tall, I decided to finally lose weight. I use a journaling workbook by Mari L. McCarthy to guide me through the first month. Today’s post is an adaptation of the first jornaling exercise. It asks me to freewrite for ten minutes. I need more time to write out my thoughts on the start of my weight loss journey.

I started a food journal last Thursday. It was hard, because I really had no clue how to know whether I was consuming too many calories. Not that I meant to be too judgmental of myself. I had kept a food journal once before when I was around fourteen and all it did was depress me. Now at that time I just went on overeating like I’d done before and judged myself without actually using my findings as a starting point for change.

On Saturday, my husband showed me a site where you can see how many calories are in each product. I still don’t plan on keeping full track of my calorie intake, but it does help me become aware of which foods are healthy and which are not. For example, people believe that dried fruit is healthy, but for weight loss it definitely is not. I happened to know this one, but a few other calorie facts are surprising to me. For example, I sincierely believed gingerbread is healthy until I found out that a large slice of gingerbread contains about 150 calories. Now I know why at day activities, we can only have it once a week.

When I went onto the scale again on Saturday, I had lost 2kg. It’s probably more because I had been a bit bloated the week before, but it still gives me hope. I originally resolved to lose 10kg in a year, which would put me in the overweight rather than obese range. I hope that over the next month, I can keep these 2kg off at least and maybe even lose some more. I need to lose about a kilogram a month to reach my goal.

Besides making sure I eat less and healthier, I decided to go get my butt off the chair. On the day I started my journey, I resolved to walk for 36 minutes, which would burn the amount of calories I’d have to consume less each day to reach my goal. After 20 minutes, my right foot hurt so badly that I had to slowly walk back home. I do better on the elliptical. Last Saturday, I managed 25 minutes on it. We also went swimming a few times last week, which I love.

I really hope that this journey is going to be a mostly positive experience. There will be hard times, as I’ll no doubt be tempted to overeat again. I hope I will overcome these without giving in or giving up.

Mummy Times Two

Willpower

I am a member of a few general recovery groups on Facebook. Most of the members are addicts or alcoholics. I am not. I consider myself addicted to food in some ways, but it isn’t like I can just stop eating, like an addict can quit their substance of abuse. I’m not saying that’s easy either. That’s my point of this post.

Most recovery groups are based on some twelve-step model. As such, we see a lot of references to a higher power or God in the posts. One that I came across recently was that we have to redefine willpower. Willpower is the will to turn over the reigns of our life to God.

I like this statement. It doesn’t mean we don’t have to attempt abstinence (or in the case of an eating disorder, balance). We do still need to refrain from engaging in addictive behaviors. The difference is, God is guiding us on our journeys. If we turn over the reigns of our life to God, we are realizing that we need to follow His lead, not the road of addiction.

I am a person who often turns over the reigns of her life to other people. I allow others to make decisions for me and in some ways, I’d like them to make the decision that I can’t have binge food, too. Staff won’t do this, as I’m an adult and responsible for my own recovery. My husband sometimes gets me a small bag of candy when I’d intended on eating a far larger quantity. This may lessen the physical effects of a binge, but it still means I engage in compulsive eating.

The first step of Overeaters Anonymous is to say we’re powerless over food. (The same statement is used in Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, with “alcohol” or “drugs” instead of “food”.) Therefore, we need to find a power greater than ourselves to help us recover from our addiction. Note that this higher power doesn’t necessarily have to be God: for atheists and agnostics, it can be the OA group they participate in. This signifies that, while no-one is taking responsibility for another’s choices, it is the guidance of our higher power, be it God or the group, that leads us into recovery. Even as believers, we believe that we have free will, but we can still turn the reigns of our life over to God. If we do this, we learn to rely on Him for paving the way for us into recovery. It isn’t that we are no longer ourselves in recovery or not, but we rely on God for facilitating our process of recovery.

I am nowhere near recovering, as regular readers of this blog know. My last binge was last Friday, and I was tempted to give in again today. I didn’t, which is a small win, and my thoughts on willpower contributed to that. I realized that God doesn’t want me to binge, and He gives me the means to resist the urge. Today, I was led to write this post instead of binge. It may sound like I don’t practise what I preach, as someone who’s still pretty deep in her eating disorder, but it personally helps me to preach recovery.

Disordered Eating: A Cry for Help

One day when I was probably in seventh grade, I read an audio magazine for blind teens. It was really a mixture of its own content with content from other teen magazines read aloud. One of the articles from another magazine was about an eating disorders unit. I just remembered this as I read a passage in J.J. Johnson’s Believarexic, in which Jennifer remembers learning about anorexia for the first time in fifth grade and wondering how the celebrity who died of it, got as skinny as she did. Later on, Jennifer learns about people being hospitalized for eating disorders. She envies them because of their size but also because of the attention they get.

This hit home with me. Back in seventh grade, I had already firmly embarked on the binge eating boat, but since I was at a healthy weight for my age and height, I didn’t notice my eating had spiraled out of control already. I remember once, probably in the same year, being confronted by my classmates about getting five candy bars out of the vending machine and eating them all in one sitting. However, I just got annoyed and didn’t realize that my classmates may have wanted to protect me from unhealthful choices.

We didn’t learn about binge eating disorder or compulsive overeating in health class. All we learned about eating disorders was about anorexia and bulimia. I even did one of my gifted program projects on these eating disorders. I didn’t tell anyone that, as I was writing the paper, I was trying to figure out how I could become anorexic.

No, I didn’t “want” anorexia, like some teens say they do. No-one consciously decides to develop an eating disorder. But I did want the perseverance that I perceived anorexics had. So I began keeping food diaries. This was before I had access to the Internet and I couldn’t read packaging, so I couldn’t check calories. In truth, as I look back at my food diaries of the time, they show a pretty typical overeater’s pattern. But I wanted to have some control over my food intake by keeping these diaries. Not that it worked, of course. Over the years, my binge eating got worse.

Back to the article about the eating disorders unit. For some reason, I felt compelled to be like these patients. I don’t know whether it was pure attention-seeking. I mean, I got plenty of attention from my parents and teachers. What I might’ve been missing was someone who saw how much I was struggling. Maybe, if I became anorexic, they’d see how miserable I was.

The other day, I had a meeting with my psychologist. She wa spushing me to take steps towards independence in preparation for my move in with my husband. I can’t remember whether she said so, but she gave me the impression that she felt I was doing better because I had much fewer meltdowns and emotional outbursts. In truth, I may be a little better, but I still have a pretty miserable life and feel pretty crap. Instead of becoming self-destructive or aggressive, I lie in bed or resort to overeating. A fair quality of life is not just not being a pain in the neck, but also being able to experience pleasure every once in a while. It isn’t that I never do, but it’s quite rare that I do things that bring me any sort of satisfaction. For example, I don’t craft nearly as much as I used to, because I can’t handle the noise and crowdedness at day activities.

I was also telling my psychologist that I’m completely dependent on my treatment team. What I meant was close to the exact opposite: I have no control over what goals are set for me, but it is my sole responsibility to reach them.

In a sense, maybe this whole disordered eating thing is a way of showing peope I need help. It sounds so pathetic though: someone who’s nearly thirty-years-old needing to be taken care of like a little child. IN truth though, often I feel that vulnerable.

Those First Five Pounds

As regular readers of this blog will know, I am quite overweight. In fact, I need to lose about 30lbs to be at a healthy BMI. Thankfully, I haven’t gained any weight in the past eighteen months, but I haven’t lost any either.

One of this week’s prompts over at Mama’s Losin’ It asks me what is sabotaging my plans of losing five pounds. Though five pounds isn’t even enough to get my BMI under 30, every journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. So what’s keeping me from losing those first few pounds?

Let me for once not go into the details of my disordered eating habits. I have written many times abut my tendency towards emotional eating and bingeing, but this does not seem to be the only factor keeping me from dropping those first five pounds. Of course, weihgt loss requires self-control, and this is exactly what I lack during a bingeing episode. However, doesn’t everyone have times when they lose control over themselves? Also, I’ve not binged in a few weeks and yet haven’t lost any weight. Could it not be the simple habit of eating too much over an extended period of time and not getting my butt off the chair that is truly keeping me from losing any weight?

I don’t check food labels when I get something to eat. I don’t count calories. Now I’m not advocating obsessing over calories, but some awareness is essential for weight loss. I habitually think that foods are less calorie-rich than they actually are. This doesn’t just go for binge foods like candy, where I can easily exceed 2000 calories in one binge. I was shocked one day when my husband and I went to McDonald’s for lunch and I had downed 1000 calories with what I considered a small meal. Like, a burger, small serving of fries and a small milkshake. Yes, I do know milkshakes are not healthy, but I seriously didn’t know they were that high on calories. My husband warned me that I shouldn’t eat 1000 extra calories everyday or I’d gain over 100lbs in a year. The truth is, I probably exceed the number of calories I burn by at least 500 almost everyday.

I also don’t exercise nearly enough. I get fitness-focused physical therapy once a week and go to the gym once a week for 45 minutes. That’s not enough. In addition, I should be going on the elliptical or stationary bike at least twice during the week. I did this faithfully for a while, but have been too lazy to do this lately. I do go for walks, but not as often as most people do.

Now that I review this post, it’s a miracle I am not over 200lbs already. I went to the gym this morning, so I’m not sure it’s healthy to go on the elliptical now. Then again, I didn’t disclose how much I ate today and am not going to go into detail on it either (hint: 720 calories for lunch). It’s too bad writing about weight loss won’t get me to drop those extra pounds.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Food

Food. I am addicted to it. Unfortunately, unlike other addictive substances, such as alcohol, cigarettes or drugs, food is something every living being needs. It isn’t like, when you become a part of Overeaters Anonymous or the like, you can abandon food like those in Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous abandon their substance of abuse. I still fail to understand the twelve steps when applied to food.

Of course, I could abandon candy, chips, and other snacks. I bought a bag of candies twice this week and, each time, ate all of it within half an hour. In this sense, I’m not doing as well as I said on my blog that I was doing on Tuesday.

I tend to fall into the trap of believing that, since we need food, it doesn’t matter if I eat a bag of candies in half an hour. We don’t need those. Candies are addictive. Refined sugar wouldn’t have been approved by the FDA or similar organizations had it been first introduced today.

A few weeks ago, as I was panicking about some kind of poinsonous thing my husband was talking about, he said I ironically do not fear one of the worst poisons that we consume daily: refined sugar. I have to agree.

This afternoon, I knew that really I shouldn’t go to the store when I asked a nurse for a walk. And when I went to the store anyway, my first intention was to buy tomato soup only. Not terribly healthy, but there really isn’t anything healthy in this store. Fruit and veggies aren’t sold in my institution town’s only store, so well. I ended up buying a bag of my favorite candies too and genuinely promised myself I’d eat them mindfully and actually enjoy them. Not so.

Food. I really need to say the first step of the twelve steps of OA, which is that I’m powerless over it. I realize I truly am, but sometimes, I’m stuck in the trap of believing that you can’t be powerless over somethign that, well, everybody needs.

This post was inspired by one of Mari L. McCarthy’s journaling prompts in her free eBook Mari’s 143 Juicy Journaling Prompts. The prompt was to choose a four-letter word starting with “F”, and to journal about it.

Post Comment Love

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

What Recovery Means to Me

Recovery from an eating disorder, self-injury, another addiction or mental health condition can mean quite different things depending on whom you ask. When I joined a recovery group in my old institution in 2010, it was made clear that recovery is different from cure. You could be recovered while still having symptoms of your mental illness and, I assume, someone could be symptom-free but not recovered too. Recovery, in this situation, means living the life you want given the circumstances you’re in and taking responsibility for yourself.

In the eating disorder, self-harm and addiction communities, recovery is much more tied to cure. You cannot, it is assuemd, be recovered while still engaging in disordered eating behaviors or self-harm or, in the case of Alcoholics Anonymous, even drinking a sip of alcohol. I understand this. After all, how can you be fully taking responsibility for your life, living a full life when your life is ruled by food or alcohol or drugs or self-harm? I do see the point. When you’re powerless over an addiction – admitting this is the first step in twelve-step programs -, it takes abandoning the addiction in order to regain power over your life. I am not fully sure this applies to eating though.

The first definition of recovery – the one of taking control of your life, whether you’re still symptomatic or not -, was also devised by people with severe mental illness. You know, treatment-resistant, thought-to-be-lifelong conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. People in the eating disorder and self-harm communities tend to assume that their conditons are curable, so their definition of recovery requires being symptom-free. Even so, people like Arnhild Lauveng prove that becoming completely symptom-free is possible with thought-to-be-lifelong conditions like in her case schizophrenia too.

I tend to side with the first definition of recovery with regards to most of my symptoms. I don’t even consider some of my symptoms to be entirely negative. Even when I do, it isn’t a priority for me to get rid of them. Rather, it’s my priority to live a fulfilling life in spite of my symptoms.

Having a fulfilling life, for clarity’s sake, does not mean not getting support or help. In the recovery group I was part of, my planning to go to a workhome – one of the more intensive forms of support within the autism community -, was seen as recovery, because I took steps towards taking control of my life. (I originally typed “restrictive” instead of “intensive”, but realized that there is a huge difference and this place was not that restricive at all.) Indeed, living your life with lots of support, but you being the one directing your support, is very much what recovery is about.

However, with regards to my eating disorder and self-injury, I would very much like to become symptom-free. That doesn’t mean that to have stopped bingeing or purging or self-harming for a set amount of time means I’m recovered. Recovery also means having overcome the emotional struggles that underly my food issues and self-harm. In this sense, since my eating disorder is probably and my self-harm is certainly part of my borderline personality disorder, I do hope to become symptom-free from BPD too.

Even so, for me living my life is a much higher priority than becoming symptom-free. I want to go find a place to live, whether it’s with my husband or in supported housing, and I want to take up some course again. Probably not a college-level course, but maybe a writing course or something. I also want to exercise a few times a week, which is good for keeping me healthy even should I not entirely overcome the overeating.

You can’t stop eating entirely, so I can’t decide that recovery means no more indulging into the addictive substance or behavior. In this sense, I realize I’m not fit for twelve-stp programs, even of the compulsive overeater type, because they do require you to be completely clean from overeating in order to consider yourself having entered the first phase of recovery. Becoming binge-free would be great, and I do strive for it, but it’s less of a priority than having a fulfilling life.

Running in Lavender

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Where I Am on My Eating Disorder Journey Right Now

I had a particularly bad week in the eating disorder department. I joined a (not too bad) American pro-ana site and considered joining the bad pro-ana sites that the Netherlands is rife with but was held back by their requirement that I post my weight. I had two binge episodes (Wednesday and today) and am currently fighting off the urge to purge.

In order to motivate myself for recovery or, if that doesn’t work, at least to distract myself from the disordered thoughts, I searched for recovery challenges agian. I remember starting one last year but never completing it. I have no intention of really completing this one either, but I thought I’d answer the first question, which asks you to assess where you are in recovery.

First, here are my stats:


  • Height: 1.53m or 5.0ft.

  • Weight: 74kg or 163lb or 11st 9lb.

  • BMI: 31.6.


Since becoming a psychiatric inpatient in 2007, I’ve gained 20kg, most of which I gained over the past three years.

It would be tempting to say I’m at my lowerst point ever in terms of recovery. After all, I’m one kilogram from my highest weight ever and to be honest I didn’t weigh myself just now but am taking my weight from a few weeks back here. For this reason, chances are I’m currently a bit over that 75kg mark.

If I’m truly honest, I must say I’ve never been truly recovering from my eating disorder. My eating disorder has changed, but some behavioral manifestations were always there. I’ve been overeating for fifteen years, probably binge eating to some extent even for all those years, although I didn’t recognize that what I was doing was more than just overeating until a few years ago. I purged for a while too.

On said American pro-ana site, I defined my eating disorder as in the middle between bulimia and binge eating disorder. In fact, however, I’ve not purged in months so am actually suffering with pure BED (I’ve never engaged in other compensatory behaviors). My staff see it as simple overeating so I’ve not been formally diagnosed with an eating disorder. I guess they’d rather see me as one of their so many obese patients who refuses to lose weight than deal with the underlying problem. I don’t know honestly whether I’m motivated either. Not having had any therapy that worked for any of my issues except a bit of guidance for my autism in 2007, I’m uncertain that I’m fit to ever recover.

Post Comment Love

Week Starting September 22, 2014 #Thelist

I’m feeling a little tense and wanting to write, but at the same time lacking inspiration. I thought therefore that I’d participate in #Thelist (formerly #Mumslist) again and wrap up my week.

Therapy


  • Had my last meeting with my now former psychologist. Haven’t yet gotten an appointment with the new one. At this last meeting, we discussed the paperwork to be sent to Leo Kanner House, a national autism agency, for a consultation. My psychologist read me the referral letter and sent me my current treatment plan for review.

  • The treatment plan was okay, though I felt a little awkward about all the things I “can’t” or need help with. The one thing I disagreed with was the seclusion policy. It said that I could be asked to go into seclusion if I am a significant nuisance to others (eg. screaming, slamming doors, etc.). In reality, I usually ask for seclusion for my own safety when I’m having suicidal thoughts or self-harm issues. I asked my psychologist to bring policy in line with reality. Was at first stressed out because my named nurse said she’d asked my psychologist the same and then she’d refused. Thankfully, the psychologist sent me a nice E-mail saying more or less “sure, will do”.

  • Had art therapy yesterday and finished making an art doll for a mixed media swap. It’s made out of mostly “useless” materials. I have to send it out one of these days as the deadline for getting it in my partner’s hands is October 1. No picture yet as my art therapist can’t access her E-mail.


Healthy Living

I saw the dietician for the last time today. I’ve been trying to lose weight for months, but unsuccessfully so. Our agreement was that I’d stop going if I’d gained weight since the last appointment. Though I’d lost 1.2kg (not much for a three-week period), we decided to call it quits anyway. Our agreements are:


  • Focus more on exercise rather than mostly on eating, since I can’t seem to control my overeating.

  • Ask the nurses for help more when I’m stressed instead of going on a food haul. Someone need to accompany me to the store anyway so I may be able to switch my request to go to the store and buy candy over to a request for help regulating my stress.

  • Get weighed by the nurses once a month to make sure I’m keeping my weight stable. I’ll be weighed every first of the month so we have a base weight on Wednesday.

Reading, Writing, Blogging


  • Haven’t been blogging much and haven’t been content with my posts.

  • Did read and write a review of Working the Double Shift by Christine Motokane. Am somewhat content with my review and as I said then, loved the book.

  • Found out about the Typed Words, Loud Voices book project today and submitted a contribution. I’ve been asked either directly or indirectly to write for anthologies two other times, but this is the first time I actually submitted something. Fingers crossed that it’ll be accepted

The List

Food #WotW

It’s been a week full of appointments. I saw my psychologist on Wednesday. She is leaving in a month, so she introduced me to my new psychologist, whom I’d already met informally a few times. I also saw the pastor on Friday. We had a good talk.

I also saw the dietician on Friday, which inspires me to choose a word of the week: food. The week has been rather difficult with regards to my eating habits. While I had only one or two real binges, I did overeat a lot. As I said, I saw the dietician on Friday and discovered that I’d gained over 1 1/2 kg in six weeks. I’m now at my heaviest weight that I’ve ever been at.

I spoke to the dietician about my eating habits, and we mutually concluded that I may not be truly motivated for change. I do talk recovery a lot here on the blog, but at the same time, I still overeat and continue gaining weight. We decided that if I’ve gained more weight by the next time I see the dietician in three wjeeks, we will call it quits because seeing her is a waste of both our time.

I was determined not to buy candy and to eat healthfully from then on, but when my husband called to ask if I wanted to go eat out with his parents, I couldn’t say “No” either. All of us except for my mother-in-law ended up ordering a three-course meal. I didn’t really feel hungry after the main course, but couldn’t resist the urge to order a dessert anyway.

Today was an okay day in the eating department. I did eat a rather large brunch at around 11:30, but other than that only ate a microwaved meal in the evening and a few slices of raisin bread. I just checked the calories, and this is at the low end of what I need on a daily basis, and I’m not hungry now. Then again, overeating isn’t about hunger. I’m really hoping I can continue enjoying food without bingeing on it or overeating in general. Enjoying food and overeating are really contradictory, but I have a hard time realizing this.

The Reading Residence

Ways to Help Me Recover From Binge Eating

Thanks for all the supportive comments on my previous post. I had to cancel my dietician’s appointment yesterday because my husband would be visitng me straight out of work. Today, I celebrate one week free from binge eating. I did buy candy once this week, but managed to spread eating it out. Saw on Thursday at the dentist’s office that bingeing is better for your teeth than eating the same amount of candy spread out over a whole day, but with the speed at which I usually binge eat, I can’t imagine this being healthy for the rest of your body.

Day two of the recovery challenge asks you to list what you have done to help yourself in your recovery. Since I’m not really in recovery at this point, I’m listing the strategies recommended to me. The hard part with overeating is that you can’t just avoid the substance of abuse (in this case food) entirely, as with alcohol or drugs. You therefore need to also know what is normal eating, and that has been a challenge for me.

Now candy isn’t necessary for your body. The first recommendation I got from my dietician is therefore really teh drug abuse recovery approach applied to candy: avoiding it altogether. As I said above, this has not been successful with me – even in a week that was free from bingeing, I did eat candy. I do think I may want to try this again, however, because, you know, I just don’t really know how to moderate my eating when I have candy within reach. I get three healthy meals a day and usually snacks too provided by the institution, so yeah.

Then I tried buying candy only at one set time during the week. This was my most recent agreement with my dietician, and I’ve so far not been too successful. Yes, I’ve had weeks where I bought candy only once, but I’ve also had weeks where I bought it more often.

Related to the previous one is the idea of having set snack times during the day. I would have to be really strict with myself as to extinguish the need for instant gratification. For example, I might set 3:00 PM to 3:15 PM as snack time. Suppose I get the urge to binge at 2:00 PM. Then I would have to delay the need for gratification for an hour. My dietician said it didn’t matter what I ate as long as I didn’t go over the fifteen-minute limit. The thing is, I can eat a large bag of candies in such a timeframe.

Another possible approach is buying alternative comfort foods that are healthier. For example, bingeing on carrots won’t hurt. My dietician at one point advised against this because it’d mean food would still be on my mind all the time, but this has seemed to be the most successful approach.

of course, there are other ways to deal with the stress that causes an urge to binge. Exercise, talking it out, mindfulness, etc. I have not yet found one that truly helps, but I’m still searching. If you have any ideas, feel free to share.

The last approach, something I most recently learned of, is approaching the urge to binge as an animalistic impulse rather than as a part of yourself or as fulfilling any true need. I have not really investigated this approach, but it seems to involve learning to recognize your “animal brain” and learning to extinguish its instinct-driven responses. Seems interesting, as my mind does seem to think I’m going to starve if I don’t eat right now. That’s not literally what I think, but it does come down to it.