Thursday, January 12, 2012
I wanted to acknowledge something brought up by BLOSSOM2344 and TABBYJO88 in my earlier blog "Last Lifestyle Strategy of Stage 3 - Simple Answer ... No".
Yes, there were / are definitely emotions at the core of why I gained weight. I agree wholeheartedly with that. I am most definitely afraid to extend myself out emotionally beyond a comfort zone.
I do a heck of a lot of over-analyzing, and one area in which I do that is risks versus rewards. I'm not the risk taker who would bungee jump. A brand new untested cord that CANNOT be tested and has only calculations to decide how far it will stretch is too great a risk. I am the risk taker who would parachute (in fact, that is a life goal for someday). Two chutes, carefully examined and packed, all equipment meeting very particular standards, considerable training all add up to a very calculated risk that is worth the reward.
I take that kind of analyzing into relationships, into activities, into just about all areas of my life. Scary sometimes.
(I did have to teach myself many years ago to set a deadline for any decision. If I waited until I was SURE of something, there's a lot I'd never get accomplished.)
Back on track, YES, fear definitely drives some of my decisions. Anger undoubtedly drives some. Emotions are most assuredly there and actively behind any reactive decisions I make. (Reactive = responding to a situation; as opposed to Active = creating a situation).
The difference, and I briefly said something at the end on that blog, is that it is the decision that subsequently drove the weight gain. I knew I'd made that decision, I acted based on that decision. The emotions themselves don't send me to the kitchen, refrigerator or pantry.
Emotional eating, as I understand it, is where the natural instinctive reactions to the emotion have been replace with constructed reactions. For example, the natural "fight or flight" instinct to fear has been replaced by "eat". (O_o Okay, that just made me imagine a deer smelling a mountain lion, and instead of running away, dropping its head and taking bite after bite of grass for as long as the fear controls it.)
Outright fear? Let's say some guy got suddenly very committed to me, triggering my fears of what relationships have to be like. I'm most likely to be found curled up in bed with my teddy, reading webcomics or playing WOW or another game to avoid thinking. I might disappear into my head, daydreaming, fantasizing, even going to sleep in the middle of the day - anything to hide from what has me that anxious.
Anger? I tend to vocalize it in a horrific growl/shriek noise or, at worst, with a fist pound on my desk (the latter rarely, because it HURTS! I don't like things that hurt and avoid repeating them.) If that doesn't help, I go walking. I'll walk, mentally rampaging until I run out of steam, planning revenge, ranting and raving to myself, sometimes vocal under my breath ... and burn it out.
Grief? I tend to just push on until something else unrelated occurs that I'm allowed to be upset about - and then I can let some tears fall. (It took Princess Di's accident before I'd cry about my divorce.)
Not one of the negative emotions I can think of triggers a response of "get food to feel better".
They do (or did) trigger other things that aren't healthy, such as the spending fits I mentioned or not getting needed things done because I'm playing a video game. I used to sleep from 2-8, work 8:30-5, come home and sit down to play from 5:30-2. I'd get up to make some food, get up for the restroom, get up to do swap laundry loads, get up just to walk around the room, but I was logged in for so many hours straight because it was how I dealt with the stress levels. I ~HATED~ having to go grocery shopping because it forced me out of the house and forced me to look at how little money I had for food this time. I ~REALLY HATED~ having to deal with any messes my kids created because it meant dealing with real life.
So this is why I say, no, I've never been an emotional eater.
I didn't "accidentally" eat an entire bag of chips. I went out and bought one of those party size bags of chips and ate until I couldn't stand the taste. I didn't "accidentally" eat a bag of Chips Ahoy. I took half the cookies out of the bag, filled a big mug of milk and set to. I didn't even do portion distortion all the time. Often enough, I simply refilled my plate that often - or ate out of the pan directly knowing it was 3-5 servings.
Most people buy one pastry with their coffee; I bought hot chocolate w/ whipped and two pastries. Most people buy one candy bar; I bought two king-size candy bars. I bought foot-long subs as a matter of routine, not to save half for later, but to eat it all, and chips, and three cookies.
Heck, it's amazing that I never started drinking soda again, but I'd broken that habit well before I set off to make myself unapproachable and found I disliked the flavor too much to ever get back into it.
Emotions vs Emotional Eating.
I have plenty of issues still to address in terms of my reactions to emotions. Learning to stop the Reaction and choose the Action is important to me.
My Reactions simply don't have to do with food.
Thursday, January 12, 2012
So, I think in one of my earlier blogs I touched on the fact that I love to write. The sheer volume of words I pour into my blogs, comments on others blogs, message boards and so on here ... is but a drop in the bucket.
Anyway, I have a Google+ account and through it and a ezine called MediaTapper I became aware of something called the Flash Fiction Project. Basically, the person running it provides inspirational prompts and those who want to participate write a piece of short fiction - maybe a short story, maybe a scene as though from a novel, whatever the person chooses.
I started with the first prompt of January. The prompts right now are about twice a week and are random pictures. I've written for three so far and the fourth just got posted.
Anyway, if anyone wants a peek at what my fiction looks like:
(A link to the image it is based on is at the bottom of each story. Might help to see that first, might be fun to wait until it's read.)
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
So, I'm on to the last Lifestyle Strategy of Stage 3 ... Is Emotional Eating a Problem? Er ... Nope. Never has been.
I know. I'm unlike maybe 99% of the SparkPeople I've read threads or blogs by. Maybe 99.9%?
I DO love food, don't get me wrong. And there was a very bad set of habits that set me up for the weight gain I have. I'll get into that.
But I don't eat because I'm bored, I don't eat because I'm under stress, I don't eat because my EX cheated on me, I don't eat because DDa dropped out of high school and aced the H.S. Equiv Exam instead, I don't eat because my employer is three+ weeks behind on paychecks and I'll be evicted in a day if I don't get one. Been there, done that, and so much more in my life.
There is no connection of food with comfort. Comforting things to me are things like a hot shower that lasts as long as possible. Just standing and letting the water run over me for 30 minutes is so amazingly soothing. (My bestest friend even knows that as a sign that I'm pretty darn frazzled.) Or curling up under all my blankets hugging my teddy bear. Yes, I'm 42 and I have a teddy bear I curl up with at night. Better than a body pillow, in my opinion. Or going for a walk until my brain runs out of ways to beat a dead horse and I'm looking around me instead of stuck in my head.
So that had me all ready to just give the simple answer ... No. Then I could blithely skip the whole section and forget about it. Right?
But I didn't want to shortchange myself. What IS my trigger; what underlies my weight gain? Is there anything lying there which could trip me up if I don't examine it now and prepare.
I could probably write a book and bore everyone to tears with the "Story of my Life". Lessee if I can condense this from the condensed version … (I'm on about attempt three here of chopping details.)
11-13 = boom, I've got bust. Flat to C in 30 seconds. No interest in the attention, just annoyance at having to get bras and then being accused of stuffing. Typical girl nonsense.
18 = still never dated a guy, so a coworker sets me up with her male friend on a date. To her shock and dismay, we spend an entire day together and come back friends.
19 years old = what happened? I dress skimpy and pick up rides from guys cruising their lowered truck or car along the city streets with the bass pumping. They get to show off a hot girl, I get a ride, and I pay for the ride later in the back seat.
20 years old = I have DDb (father uncertain) and give her up for adoption since I'm not "ready" to raise a kid. Right back to cruising after.
21 years old = Came up on birthday waking up thinking “What the heck was I doing and why”. I want stability. Meet EX at a night club. Before 22, we're married, DS is a month old, and EX and I fight a lot. First “other woman” shows up.
22 – 26 = fights, separations, reconciliations, at least three more “other women”
27-29 = permanently separated, still clinging to hopes. Brain finally says “No more.” Divorced, I try some dating sites just to see if I can get into the swing of things again. One wants sex, one wants an audience for his hobby, one wants partner for dance class. Bah.
Right around 30 years, I make the irrational decision that sets me off on the wrong path.
** Guys don't hit on fat girls.**
Now, I know that is neither entirely true nor rational. But it made loads of sense at the time. At most, I weighed 185 at this point, possibly closer to 175. It wasn't important to me. Somehow logic dictated “I need to get fat so guys stop hitting on me.”
So I went from eating normal enough to overindulging. All the delicious foods I normally ate only on rare occasions became fine to eat as often and as much as I wanted.
I remember going to the bakery near work and buying an apple pie, bringing it back to work, and eating the entire thing myself in an afternoon. Delicious, very delicious, but the only reason for eating that much was to make sure I'd get fat. I'd bring donuts to work for everyone, take at least one or two, but also have a separate bag or box just for me. I'd cook Hamburger Helper and eat it all (it's 4-5 servings as I recall) with 32 oz of milk to gulp down as well.
I don't even remember now at what point I passed 200 pounds. I remember my mother commenting about it because I had always before that said I'd never get over 200. I just shrugged and said it didn't matter any more.
Now, it wasn't constant. I would eat like that some days, then other days would just be so hectic I'd have one meal and several cups of milk. I sat at different weights for stretches of time. 205, 220, 235. I'd bounce up and down. One point of weight loss I had wasn't intentional ... my paychecks were so painfully late and irregular that I fed the kids and not me or had a slice of bread for dinner as my only food for the day. Once I had money, I went back to eating too much.
Other ideas joined in over time. Amongst those was the idea that no one really cared enough to know the real me. I wrote a little poem in a journal at one point:
When you look at me,
What do you see?
Do you see me
or do you see what I want you to see?
Even those who tried or thought they were close to me, deep down I felt like I couldn't lower enough masks to let them see the real me. I've even called it The 500 Masks of Blue. (Yes, a play on the book The "500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins".) I take off a mask here or there to let people closer, but there's always more underneath to keep that comfortable distance.
Then there's the whole side of sexual attraction. The few "lookers" I could crush over, I could never rationalize them being attracted to an obese body. Or, if they were? Worse. Gah! The horror of a guy who wanted me to keep my body like that. So somehow I wanted someone who could love me fat, but not love my fat. I made no sense, not even to myself at that point.
In the year or two before I started this whole journey, I was coming to recognize the irrational decision that started the whole mess. I've been slowly unraveling the pieces since, trying to untangle my messed up psyche, as it were. I was trying in a very sporadic way to lose weight, even mentioned it once, but it wasn't a focus - just an "I should ..."
When I finally made the decision that my physical weight had nothing to do with being able to avoid relationships, I was ready to start the journey.
It wasn't that hard to disconnect the two. I'd withdrawn from the world in so many other ways … and still had issues with online male friends. One got obsessive and jealous of another, having some fantasy of me being his soulmate because we're the same age and single. Others wanted cybering. Sometimes it felt like being friendly with most males in-game was a come-on, even after being honest about my weight.
I definitely still need to address the avoiding relationships angle (and the trust issues as well), but having mentally unlinked them from being fat, I simply stopped eating the way I was. In four months, I've had men make comments and pushed them away without thinking about food. I even ran into someone I knew from an earlier stage in my life who wanted to reconnect - and turned down several attempts to invite me to dinner, to a movie, to spend time together. There is no corresponding “ack, must fatten up to avoid attention” - just “ack, don't want to be that kind of woman again”.
Maybe I'm wrong, but right now I feel like I already broke the "trigger" as it were. Strategy-wise, I think I've got it under control.
And maybe some people would call it emotional eating even in the form I gained weight doing. (The key difference I think of, though, is that I never did so mindlessly. I ate with intention - because it tasted good or I craved a flavor and because eating as much as I could helped me add more to my body shield.)
Only time will tell.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
I realized I did leave out one part of what I did with the personal trainer. We probably spent 20-30 minutes going over a variety of questions. Things like what I hoped to accomplish at the gym, what days and times I planned to work out, areas I wanted to work on, motivation for being there, why now, basic idea of nutrition (what I'm eating), all sorts of little things.
The exercises he took me through did then focus on a couple of those areas as well as things that helped the core while doing other things. He did an excellent job of being encouraging, pushing just enough, keeping it going.
One part of what I was trying to express is that I didn't really think about how things have changed in 15-25 years. Personal training in the late-'80s and mid-'90s was something you only paid for if you were already in pretty darn good condition and wanted very detailed attention to get specific results. In fact, I may be wrong, but I seem to remember many of them not being on the gym payroll - instead being paid directly for their time - and the gym allowing them to advertise.
What I learned last night is something a couple of people mentioned - that gyms make a lot of money on the Personal Training side. And commensurately, in thinking back I realize the price of a gym membership is actually about the same as it was 15-25 years ago. I remember paying $25 a month or thereabouts for 24-hour Nautilus, single location, any time, with a membership fee as well as being locked into a 2-year contract. I paid in advance for 2 years this time and paid notably less than that divided out by month.
My intention for next Monday is to still take advantage of the personal attention, work on a couple of other areas, still say "No", then over time work with the machines they have upstairs and the various equipment available to create my own routines from such things as exercises on SparkPeople.
And just a silly addendum ... I realized that part of this ties very well into the previous blog. I am independent, yes even obstinate. The amount of push to try to make me want a Personal Trainer has, in my case, backfired into making me more determined to do it on my own.
I am self-motivated. I've been doing these exercises for four months now with no one to tell me I have to, reviewing the demos every few weeks to see if I can correct my form, adding the light weights as it got easy.
I'm not motivated by "he can help you lose the weight and tone up in 6-8 months instead of 12-18". I'm motivated by "I can do this for years to come with enough variation to keep it fun and effective."
I ~WANT~ (and have) the gym membership -- unless they want to break the contract and refund that. Nope? Didn't think so. =P
And maybe a year or so down the road when I'm at a point where I feel I actually need a nudge in a new direction, I'll pay for a couple more sessions to add some life and momentum. Or not. I might just look up some advanced exercises on SparkPeople. ^_~
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Okay, so gyms and personal trainers have changed a lot in 20-23 years. What can I say?
I've belonged to two gyms in the past - 24-hour Nautilus in probably around '88-'89 and Family Fitness Center (which became 24-hour Family Fitness or somesuch) around '95-'97.
I barely remember 24-hour Nautilus with respect to Personal Trainers. I think I was given a tour by a regular person, shown the basics of using the machines, and did what I chose. Since I was one of their literal 24-hour customers - aka I showed up between midnight and 3am often enough when I wanted to work out - I wasn't even on a Personal Trainer's schedule if I had wanted one.
Family Fitness Center gave me one or two free sessions. It was similar in the sense of showing me how to use the machines, but actually spent time with me on each one for the muscles I wanted to tone, pointed out other ones that would be good to balance with it, and wrote up weights and reps on a card. Then each time I visited to do strength training, I pulled the card to see what and how much - and gradually increased at longer intervals (months?).
This ... was something else entirely. And I'm not sure if that makes it good or bad. I got there half an hour early, so I spent 25 minutes on the treadmill - getting my heartrate in the right range by moving between my normal brisk pace and my nearly 15 minute mile pace.
The first thing the Personal Trainer has me do? About 10 or 15 minutes on a bicycle, quick warmup then pushing for more bars (without any explanation of what the bars meant other than pedal faster), then added in torso twists and then some medicine ball work, all while pushing the cardio side. (UGH at bicycle seats.)
Next thing, after he aimed for an area with balls, steps, hand weights, and such, and I asked him about using the weight machines, was going up there to a chest press machine ... and having me do squats with it. As in, step up on the seat with one foot, extend other to back, squat down. Those finished, he had me do sitting squats (to sit on the seat then stand). Only then did we actually use the machine for the muscles it was intended for. And that's the only machine he had me use.
Okay, fine ...
Next was resistance band work for the triceps as well as a kneeling one with a dumbbell, also for triceps.
Finally crunches. I did find the crunches with my legs wrapped on a ball and rolling side to side a really nice addition. Worked the inner thighs just keeping my legs on the ball and the obliques through the rolling.
Finally something called a Russian Twist, I think. Sitting and torso twisting to each side.
(And of course stretching out at the end. I will confess having someone else help stretch the calf muscle? Mmmmmmm.)
End off there.
Only to find myself in an office with someone else for 30 minutes starting off with a review of my goals, current habits, etc ... and segueing into trying to sell personal trainer sessions.
I get one more free session. I honestly don't know what to think or feel about how it went. I feel, on the one hand, like I did get a good workout. I could feel each of the muscles/muscle groups and the fatigue at a certain point. All good.
But I know it really shortchanged some areas. As in, we did a little of each -- core, upper body, lower body -- but certainly not rounding out with multiple options to get different muscle groups. (Well, ab work definitely did.) And it felt a bit rushed. To be fair, he replaced the other personal trainer who was nowhere to be found and did have a client waiting as we ended off. And as a first session, there was a lot of form and explanation to do.
Where my past experience has been a basic overview so I know what to do and how to do it and have a list of how much weight to involve ... this was more personalized to areas I need to work on.
I guess what felt most wrong at the end is that I could scarcely remember what we went through. (Thankfully I bought a notebook and pen at the same time as a lock for the locker ... or I'd be hopeless.) And then I get this high pressure hard sell to have personal trainer sessions at least once a week ... at what I'd consider an insane price.
Maybe the gym membership is lower because they make more money on personal training, but I felt like that made the appointment designed to try to find the reasons I wanted to work out so they could be fed back to me as why I should want to buy in.
It also took multiple times of saying it to have the person trying to sell me on it quit trying to convince me I should want the sessions because he could help me drop the weight in 6-8 months instead of 12. Puh-lease. I am NOT being sold on quick-fix weight loss here. STOP IT! She tried to mention the inevitable plateau.
Again, *EYE ROLL* I don't care if my WEIGHT plateaus for long stretches - if I'm stronger and fitter. I judge my fitness very grossly by how heavy I breathe and how fast my heart beats when I'm walking briskly. I judge it by the fact I now go up stairs in a much springier manner and am not panting and yawning for air at the top. I can lift XX pounds now. Can I lift more, with better form, smoothly, and hold? THAT is what I care about.
She did finally clue in to what I was saying, and thankfully also to the fact I wasn't going to be a sale tonight. I'm scheduled for the second session in a week, so I have Wednesday and Friday to see what I can make of repeating the stuff he had me do. I'm not looking forward to another hard sell session after that, but at least once the "No" is said enough, I can settle into the business of working out (and using the exercises posted here to keep in variety).
And I do understand their reasons for preferring a trainer work with everyone semi-regularly. It's easier to prevent or spot injuries and strain when the trainer can see bad form or babying of a muscle in a move. I do get that. But I'm not paying more than I pay for the gym in a year to be protected from that for a month or two.
Oh. One last thing.
Man is it torturous to try to add strength training when the exercises don't match and who knows what to call the things he had me do. I made my best guesses, but reps were all over the place learning how much was the right resistance.
How do you regular gym-goers figure them out?
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