Saturday, September 10, 2011
I'm not going to lie, I'm pretty embarrassed about what I'm about to tell you about my binging. It isn't so much that I DID binge, but rather what foods I chose that are embarrassing. I looked back at my emotional eating pattern from late last week/early this week and groaned. The upside is, I caught it before it really got out of hand (as in, jumping of the wagon for a month). I also didn't let the rest of my life get put on hold because of the binging. Usually, if I really get into a binging phase, I cut back or stop exercising because I feel like crap. Then I feel even more like crap because I'm stuffing my face and not moving. Then I get depressed. I think the reason I haven't had a depressive episode in a while is that I no longer fall into this pattern.
Last week my 19-year-old cat Kaia started to seem worse, and I was getting stressed out about having to make an end-of-life decision for her. I was deciding when would be best to euthanize her, which stressed me out. I had already given into a stress binge at Taco Bell last week, which planted the seed to want even MORE.
Then one night, the image of pizza and lasagna entered my brain. Without hesitation, I ordered pizza, lasagna, and for good measure, chocolate cake from my favorite pizza place. I ate all of it in one sitting and felt absolutely ill. I swore up and down, of course, that I wouldn't do THAT again.
Then, 2 days later, I got home from work with the conversation with my veterinarian friend about euthanizing Kaia. She kindly told me I could come in whenever I was ready and that she fully supported my decision. I felt panicky and wasn't sure what to do with myself, so of course that requires eating a ton of food. Because I was too embarrassed to order from the same pizza place again 2 days later, I ordered from Domino's. Yuck. Nevertheless, I ordered a bunch of crap and stuffed my face. Yes. Because that is how I think through a problem.
Image from http://thm-a02.yimg.com/nimage/1164f9d8479
The next day (Tuesday), I wrote my blog about my cat Kaia. I ate another 3 pieces of pizza in the process. It finally sunk in how ridiculous this all was, and I threw out the remaining half pizza. Yes, it was a waste of food (and money). But as my favorite WeightWatchers leader would say, "The food can go to waste, or it can go to waist." If I finished the pizza, I would have just kept going.
I hit the reset button and went to Muay Thai class with my brother that night (Tuesday). It is the first time I had been back to Muay Thai is a couple of years. Muay Thai is Thai kickboxing and uses elbows and knees in addition to kicks and punches. It was a great class and my brother and I had a lot of fun. We both opted not to stay for the hour-long kickboxing class afterwards--me because of my knee and John because of his long run the previous day. I came home and did my STS chest, shoulder, and triceps workout. I lifted ridiculously heavy weights that had me grunting at the end of each set. I then had a protein shake. Then I made some pasta and topped it with some tomatoes, zucchini, and herbs from the garden with avocado oil, garlic, and fresh spinach. I felt truly relaxed and satisfied from the exercise and good food, unlike the binges that I try to justify by saying they make me feel better.
The binges are just my insecurities crying out, trying to tuck me snugly away under a thick layer of fat. I have to remember that it is the anticipation of a binge that I crave. The relief comes from when I say, "Okay, fine, I'll do it, I'm going to eat whatever I want until I'm sick." It's the idea of giving in and telling myself it's okay to eat (X) food that feels freeing--with key emphasis on the FEELS. The relief from binge activity comes before any food passes my lips. I first learned about this concept in Judith Beck's book "The Beck Diet Solution." She suggests learning to recognize that feeling that comes when we've decided to give into a binge (which comes before the actual eating), acknowledge the feeling of relief, and find something else to do immediately. This has made me a lot more conscientious of an impending binge, and that I have the choice to tell myself "No," and to find something else positive to associate with that feeling. If I give in, I try to do it guilt free and immediately return to my normal eating. This week, I had several binges, and I felt terrible about it. That makes a lot of sense, I was eating to try to fix a terrible feeling. But stress eating doesn't reverse kidney and liver failure or seizures in a 19-year-old cat. At least I've learned that much.
Image from http://www.bubbleoptic.com/2011/01/yo-quie
Tomorrow is my 33rd birthday, and I hope to make my 33rd year my best yet. Having celebrated my 1 Year SparkVersary in August, I feel like I'm on a roll with working towards my truly healthy self. I feel like I am finally becoming the person I was meant to become, and a few bad days aside, healthy choices come naturally on a typical day. I also think part of being healthy is recognizing the emotional eating and putting it to a stop, even if it isn't stopped completely in the first place. I am just going to say that I don't plan on "conquering" emotional eating or binges. It is not realistic and I would just be setting myself up for failure. Giving in guilt-free on occasion has been the best choice I've made to control the binges, ironically enough.
It's funny, I am trying to decide what to have for dinner at the restaurant with my family tonight, and I am thinking I'll get a big salad...not because I feel compelled to stick to my "diet," but because I am craving a big bowl of veggies that badly. Don't get me wrong, though...I will be having some sweet potato fries...and probably dessert...
I also have some veggies from the garden, including a volunteer spaghetti squash that I found growing beside my garage. Tomorrow, I think I am going to cook the squash and top it with a sauteed eggplant, pepper, and tomato sauce (including herbs from the garden, of course). My harvest is dwindling down (what little of it there was), but I have thoroughly enjoyed growing some food this year. it has made me really appreciate what it takes to get food on the table, and I can't take that for granted.
My garden's "bounty."
As I embark on my 33rd year on this planet, I am grateful for my family and friends who celebrate with me, and that I am surrounded by such kind and supportive people (that means you, SparkPeeps!). I know how lucky I am.
"Life itself is the proper binge."
Tuesday, September 06, 2011
Kaia striking a sexy cat pose.
I was working at an emergency clinic 7 years ago, and one night a couple brought in their ornery 12-year-old cat that had large abscess on the neck. Rather than pay for the treatment of this non life-threatening condition, the owners opted to euthanize her. They signed the papers and were waiting in the room for the doctor to come in and put her to sleep. I asked the vet if she would be okay with me asking them to surrender the cat to me, and that I would pay for the abscess repair and treatment; she was fine with that. I went in and was talking to the argumentative owners about surrendering her, and they argued that they "simply couldn't justify spending that kind of money on a cat, when they could be donating money to children through UNICEF." They told of how the cat belonged to their son, who was now away at college, and that she "had lived a good long life." They told me the cat wasn't nice, anyways, and seemed to dislike them. They were the kind of owners that make me question humanity. I finally pointed out that it would still cost them a couple hundred dollars to euthanize the cat, but if they surrendered her to me instead, it would cost them nothing. They immediately signed the surrender papers and went on their merry way.
I wanted to contact them later and ask if they ever made that large donation to UNICEF. My guess would be no.
The euthanasia solution was put away and we instead performed some basic blood work and clipped and repaired the large abscess that had opened on her neck. Her blood work looked good and she was healthy. I was planning on keeping the cat as a foster and possibly surrendering her to a rescue.
And so began my journey with Kaia, a crotchety, no-nonsense 12-year-old black and white cat. I was going to take her home and provide her post-surgical care until she was completely recovered. It quickly became apparent that this cat would not be "adoptable." She was almost unmanageable, she was so disagreeable. I knew I could not surrender her to a rescue, so I decided that I had a new cat. She didn't let me touch her and she hated my other animals; she had never lived with any other animal before.
After several weeks, Kaia would sit in a high place and survey the room. One day, she casually walked up to my dog and smacked him, and then did the same thing to each of the cats. It was clear who ruled the roost. She became much nicer after that and started to seek attention from me, and would even sleep in the bed with me. She became an outgoing cat. She also got along better with the other animals. It's amazing that a 12-year-old cat learned to like dogs and other cats.
Kaia tolerating the presence of a foster kitten.
About 3 years ago, when Kaia was 16, her routine blood work showed mild kidney enzyme elevations. This is certainly not unusual for a senior cat, and it was not to the point where any treatment was really necessary. We rechecked her values regularly and they seemed to hold steady until last year. Her kidneys were getting bad enough that she was put on a prescription diet. Her kidney values slowly started to creep up, and she started vomiting regularly. I started giving her an antacid to help with the vomiting.
About 9 months ago, I woke up to hear thumping in my hallway and saw the cats freaking out. Kaia was having a grand mal seizure. The seizure only lasted a minute or so. I took her in immediately. She appeared completely normal by the time I got to the clinic. We drew blood and found that she was in the early stages of liver failure on top of the kidney failure. Nothing on the blood work explained the seizure, though. We decided to just keep an eye on it for the time being.
Over the months, her seizures have become more frequent. My vet and I opted not to put her on a seizure preventative, though, because that would probably just accelerate the liver failure. She has also started having difficulty walking and stumbled sometimes. She started having facial twitching sometimes. And now, over the past couple of weeks, she has become incontinent a lot of the time and seems to lose control of her rear legs completely. The best guess is that she has a brain tumor or cancer somewhere in her body causing the seizures, and she may have thrown a blood clot, thus causing the rear limb paralysis. Both my vet and I take the "no heroics" approach when it comes to 19-year-old cats, and therefore I am not going to put her through any diagnostics at this point. Ultimately, treatment would not cure her, and she would be miserable being hospitalized. It has gotten to the point where I need to ask myself if she is happy living this way, and how much worse I should allow her health to get.
She is sitting quietly by my side right now. She seems comfortable right now and seems content a lot of the time. Her habits have changed, though, and she no longer sleeps or cuddles with me and hides a lot of the time. I am afraid of coming home one day to find her having non-stop seizures or in horrible pain, and I don't want that for her (or for me). I am going to euthanize her over the next couple of weeks, because it has truly become a question of quality versus quantity of life. Although I know how I would advise someone in my situation, and I would assure them that euthanasia is the best choice, professional judgement goes out the window when the animal is our own. I want her to be comfortable and I want to remember her feeling relatively well, not suffering. These decisions are never easy, but I know it is the right one for Kaia.
Kaia on a happy day.
Sunday, September 04, 2011
1. It's idiomatic English, means roughly "without care or regard for consequences".
2. Title of a Blink 182 song.
I went to my saxophone lesson on Tuesday feeling mildly confident. I had practiced quite a bit and felt I had improved some, especially on some of the technical exercises. I don't put much "feeling" into the technical exercises, and I try to play them with precision and perfection. When I started to play, and I saw my teacher shaking his head. I stopped playing. "What?" I asked sheepishly.
"Let's see. I want you play with more--how should I put it--reckless abandon." He then proceeded to play the exercises playfully and song-like. He then had me play along with him, and then he stopped playing while I continued on. I admitted to him that "reckless abandon" is not something that comes naturally to me. "Well, we'll work on it," he assured me.
The thought of doing anything with "reckless abandon" makes me feel a little queasy. I always have a plan, I follow the plan, and I don't attempt something unless I know I can do it right. If I know I will probably do well, I go balls to the wall. If I know I may not do it very well, then I approach with extreme caution. This approach, of course, causes me to hold back from pushing the boundaries and going further with some things. ALISHAB3 left a comment on my "Emptying the Hollowness" blog this week about internal all-or-nothing thinking. She's right, I do struggle with black-and-white thinking a lot. Therefore, everything I do must be done to a T--losing weight, exercising, eating right, playing the saxophone, kickboxing--or it is not worth my while. But I have come to realize that I need to approach some things with reckless abandon in order to move forward.
Image from http://www.dailyfreefonts.com/fonts/info/2
After thinking about it, I realize that I have already thrown caution to the wind and just gone for it at times. Returning to kickboxing was very risky with my knee problem--it could have become acutely injured after starting up again and gotten a lot worse. I was at the point where I figured, "What do I have to lose?" Well, other than my ability to walk, I suppose. I never would have known if I was able to kick again if I hadn't picked up my leg and taken a swing at the heavy bag. I'll never know how playfully I can play my saxophone if I never play without worrying how I sound, rather than how I feel. Sometimes I need to let whatever happens happen.
Image from http://www.printfection.com/funketees
As ALISHAB3 pointed out, we often fall into the rigid all-or-nothing thinking when it comes to weight loss, too. I have gotten significantly better about this, although the thinking still frequently sneaks in. I used to either do a binge right--eating until I was physically incapable of eating anymore--or I was following my food plan correctly. There was no in between. I've lightened up a bit on this thinking, and although I may overeat sometimes, I am not nearly as reckless as I used to be about binging. I talked myself out of a binge this week not by steely willpower, but by genuinely picturing feeling bloated and gross after eating the food, and the day-long food hangover that would have ensued. I didn't do anything to distract myself, I just imagined how gross it would feel to binge and how I would feel ill the next day. I then proceeded to follow my food plan for the rest of the night and forgot about wanting to binge. However, my little brain cells were lying in wait waiting for an excuse to binge. A few days later, after a stressful day at work, I went to Taco Bell and overate. Granted, the binge wasn't as damaging as I thought it would be after tracking it (yes, I did track it) and I didn't go as overboard as I may have in the past, it was still a reckless act. I fall into the thinking mistake that this type of overeating is okay because it is my way of "living freely," but reckless abandonment need not lead to wrecking my goals.
The type of reckless abandon my saxophone teacher was talking about is the type that lets us discover our potential. It is letting go enough and not worrying about the result as much as just going with the process. The process can be fun, challenging, frustrating, hilarious, and freeing all at once. Unfortunately, this type of reckless abandon is not ingrained in my brain. I don't have fun until I am doing something really well. The process of getting good is taxing. Over time, I believe I can uncover how to lead a life of reckless abandon.
Maybe I need to get tricked more into reckless abandonment. As I did my first weight workout of the week, I loaded the barbell to 30 pounds for my shoulder work. I reached failure with that amount on the barbell--I could not have done another rep if I had wanted to. Then, during my second workout doing the same exercises, I noticed that the weight felt more challenging. I figured my arms were worn out from lifting weights and kickboxing. I was still able to complete all of the reps, though. I looked at my barbell and realized that it was loaded with almost 45 pounds, not 30. I was able to work with that weight because I didn't realize how heavy it was, therefore, I wasn't able to talk myself out of it. Even I was surprised at the fact that a significantly lighter weight had actually brought my muscles (and nerves) to failure. I guess my limits will be discovered if I just say, "Screw it," and go with it.
Image from http://www.smbtraining.com/blog/the-elusiv
Perhaps I would benefit from a little more reckless abandonment in my life. I just need to keep in mind the difference between reckless abandon and just plain reckless. I now know that they are not the same thing.
Thursday, September 01, 2011
So the other day I had blogged about a woman who I was deciding whether or not I really want to be friends with anymore ("Emptying the Hollowness" blog post). The woman who had called me a "baby squirrel killer" is pregnant. She is not a super-close friend, but I was excited for her. I had told her a few months ago that I wanted to throw her a baby shower in October, and host it at my house. She was excited about the idea.
A couple of weeks ago she came to me and told me she didn't really want a "traditional" shower, and that she would rather have a "regular" party at her house on the same night instead. She asked if I would still help plan the party, but it felt more obligatory on her part so I wouldn't feel completely shot down. My feelings were a little hurt, but I said okay. Since she has poked fun at my small house before, I get the impression that she doesn't think my house is good enough. The party was actually going to be held outside in my huge garden, including a bonfire in my fire pit. She has not mentioned the party again since. I kind of took her change of plans as a "Thanks, but no thanks," and that she was declining to have me throw her a shower. I was talking to a co-worker friend tonight, and she pointed out that most people would be honored to have someone offer to throw a baby shower. So, I am wondering where to go from here.
I've never thrown a shower for anyone before, so I'm not quite sure what the etiquette here would be. Even if I did still consider her to be a friend, I feel like she turned down my offering to host a baby shower, and therefore I'm not responsible for this party. If she does end up asking me to help plan this party at her house, I am inclined to say, "Since you declined me offering to throw you a shower, you can go ahead and do whatever you want for your party," and not be involved. Is that rude? Am I obligated to help with this party that she is throwing because I offered to host a shower? I feel that she was being a bit ungrateful, and I don't feel inclined to be involved in planning this party.
Opinions? What would my SparkPeeps do?
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
My 1 Year SparkVersary was on August 21st, and I meant to post some resolutions at that time. My SparkVersary was kind of like New Year--a time to reflect and decide what I can do to make the next year even better.
I've talked before about how I had lost 95 pounds on WeightWatchers a few years ago, in 2006. I had lost the weight in less than a year. Yes, I was happy about the weight loss, and I started doing triathlons, which was a major accomplishment, but I had no other concrete proof of my progress. I had my little weight tracker book from WeightWatchers, which would have a smiley face drawn in by the weigher when I had a loss, and nothing when I didn't lose. I had no progress pictures, no blogs, no journals, no reflection of my life beyond the scale. I was probably starting to make some other changes without realizing it, but I didn't have the resources to truly evaluate my life and make changes at that time. I truly thought that losing weight would just solve a lot of my problems by itself...and we all know how well that thought process goes...
I wasn't surprised that I stuck with SparkPeople for a year, but rather, I was shocked by the major life changes that I had made because of SparkPeople. The changes I have made in my mind have paved the way to make changes in my body. I have learned a lot about myself, especially with the wisdom and input from my awesome SparkFriends. Blogging has been especially helpful with processing my thoughts, so prepare to be continuously inundated with posts.
My primary goal by my 2 Year SparkVersary is to reach ONEderland. That means losing about 60 pounds in 1 year. I believe this is a very reasonable goal. I've been thinking over the past week or what else I would like to accomplish by my 2 Year SparkVersary, so I've set some SparkVersary Resolutions:
Lose at least 60 pounds (by August 21st, 2012).
Get my personal trainer certification.
Participate in at least 2 race events (triathlon, duathlon, 5K, 10K...)--I'm already committed to doing the swim leg of a triathlon next summer.
Make any remaining toxic people in my life disappear so I can nurture the real friendships that I have.
Join a saxophone ensemble and start performing.
I have a feeling this is going to be an awesome SparkYear!
Here is my 1 Year SparkVersary blog post--and thank you to all my SparkPeeps who celebrated with me!
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