Monday, February 10, 2014
What is shadow hunger? Some call it head hunger, but I prefer to call it shadow hunger because it’s just like a shadow. It’s dark, it looms around and follows you everywhere, and can be very difficult to evade or eliminate. Shadow hunger can be caused by a myriad of things…depression, loneliness, heartache, anger, sadness…and the list goes on. It takes some doing to overcome it.
Let’s start by determining how you get rid of a shadow. You either fall into it, by succumbing to it and laying flat on the ground in an act of defeat…OR you step into a bright light from straight above you…and it’s gone…you've conquered it! Carry the light with you, and you can avoid the shadow for as long as you carry the light.
How does that figure into making choices that overcome shadow hunger? First of all, it all always comes down to choice. Never forget that…it’s a choice. Making the choice to succumb to shadow hunger is to eat whatever and however much we want to eat (comfort food) at that time in an effort to get rid of that dark, unsettling feeling. It works to get rid of the shadow hunger for a little while. It’s a temporary fix because you must get up and eventually that shadow is going to return. Carrying a “light” with you allows you to overcome that defeat.
What is a light in terms of shadow hunger? A light is sometimes difficult to find, but it’s possible! A “light”, as it pertains to shadow hunger, is an arsenal of actions that help you to overcome that feeling of depression, loneliness, discouragement, etc. Let’s determine how you can “step into the light” of healthy choices and get rid of that shadow hunger. First, develop that arsenal of weapons to fight the shadow! You must determine what it is that makes you feel the way that leads to or is causing the shadow hunger. Is it loneliness? Perhaps picking up the phone and calling a friend or family member (or a Spark buddy!) is a great way to start by eliminating that loneliness. Even writing a letter is a great way to battle loneliness because it helps you to think about another person…it changes your focus (which is always the way to overcome the feeling of needing to eat when you’re not really hungry). Is it anger? What’s made you angry? Are you holding in the anger? If so, find the source of the anger and determine a way to resolve the issue that’s caused the anger (no harm to others is advised… ;-)). If your spouse, significant other, family member, or friend has done something that has hurt you or made you angry, perhaps they don’t even know it. Take a few deep breaths to calm yourself, and talk to them calmly about how they may have hurt you and caused the anger you feel. When you do this, first make the decision that you will talk to them in a “courteous” manner and not an angry tone and accusatory manner. That way, when you speak with them, it will help both of you. It helps to keep you composed and it helps the other person to avoid becoming defensive, and they can then view the situation from your point of view. Many times, this is all it takes to bring a “light” into the situation that will help you to feel better without giving into shadow hunger.
What do you do when you’re simply not able to find that light through facing the issue that’s bothering you (or you simply can’t figure out what it is that’s causing you to feel like you do) and face it head-on? In that case, often times meditation, positive self-talk and treating yourself to a non-food delight will help. Here are some ideas:
The first thing I tend to do in this case is to meditate and pray for the wisdom to see what’s bothering me, what to do, guidance in how to take action, and the strength to do it. I’m a Christian (95% of the world’s people believe in a higher power of some sort, but if you’re in the other 5%, please don’t be offended by my belief- take what you want and discard the rest). My higher power is the God of the Holy Bible, His Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. This is not a plug for religion, but it is my own personal belief and is a source of power and wisdom for me. Prayer and meditation often help me to determine an enlightening path for me to take, which helps me to avoid the shadow hunger and quell my internal issue, or sometimes at the very least to make a healthy food choice, like a banana...a personal favorite.
Another action for me if, I can’t figure out what’s bothering me…I’ll look in the mirror and say nice things to myself. Sounds crazy, right? Well, the great thing about our minds is that the more often we do that – tell ourselves how awesome we are, or acknowledge our favorite things about ourselves - the more we believe them. For instance – and I’m not attempting to be boastful here… this is simply an example – I like my eyes and lips. They are my favorite physical features about myself. I look in the mirror and tell myself that I have pretty eyes and nice lips. While I struggle terribly with my own self image - like many - most of the time, I do like those particular things about myself. So, concentrate on those things that you really like about yourself… there ARE things about your body that are AWESOME!
If you're having a "bad hair day" and can’t find something about your body that you like, which can be difficult for some of us (but there ARE things about your body that are beautiful, I guarantee it!), then perhaps turn inward to find the beauty you have within. I'm a strong believer in the inner beauty of people...everyone has some. For example, your generosity to others, your love of animals and all living things, your dependability, your work ethic, or some other intangible, but important characteristics are some things that you may like about yourself – these are things that you can concentrate on. Remind yourself of these great characteristics through positive self-talk. If you’re in the car, take time to think of these things that you like and respect about yourself. Perhaps you pride yourself on being a great friend to those in your life. You’re the kind of person who would drop everything and go to a friend in need and do whatever it takes to help them. That’s the kind of thing that you can take pride in and appreciate about yourself. These are things that you may find admirable in others…and if that’s the case, you should give yourself the same credit that you would give your friends and family members! You deserve that! Don’t sell yourself short. You are an INCREDIBLE person! Allow yourself to believe that. It’s not arrogance to believe that you’re a good person and are beautiful…it’s developing self-confidence and self-esteem which is the BEST weapon in your arsenal against that shadow hunger we deal with. These things – self-esteem, self-love, and confidence – are the lights that you can carry with you to overcome that shadow hunger that can be detrimental to you by making healthier choices more difficult to implement.
Finally, treat yourself to some non-food delights. If you’re a person who finds comfort in aromatherapy, perhaps lighting a candle and treating yourself to a nice, warm, delightfully scented bubble bath would help you. Or some kind of body spray that gives you a sense of well-being. I have some perfume given to me by a great friend for my birthday…it’s a mixture of rose and honeysuckle scents (my personal favorites). I absolutely LOVE it! Scents can often help you to overcome that desire to eat due to the senses of smell and taste being so closely related. Maybe you’d like to take out some aggression and go on a paint-ball expedition, target shooting, archery practice, jogging, hiking, biking, or some other activity - which would also be fabulous choices to increase your activity for the day (another great choice for lifestyle change!). These are just some ideas that may help you with overcoming your shadow hunger.
All things considered, it’s normal that there will inevitably be instances in which you make a choice that ends in self-disappointment – we are human, after all – and this is absolutely normal. It’s what choices you make AFTER that one less healthy choice that makes or breaks the consistency of your lifestyle change choices. The key is to forgive yourself and move forward and remember that the power is within you to start making that next choice a healthy one. When you are working towards implementing permanent lifestyle changes, there will without doubt be those times that you do make those less healthy choices.
The key to overcoming punishing yourself for that occasional less healthy choice is to remember that YOU have the POWER to do it – to forgive yourself, pick up, and move on to make the next choice - a healthy one! It’s the power within you, which is going to be the best source of the bright, saving light to overcome those shadow hunger issues when they arise. Empower yourself and fight the good fight! We will overcome our eating issues and become the people we wish to be! Let’s get this party started!
Love and hugs to all! YOU CAN DO IT!!!
Thursday, January 23, 2014
For the last few days, I've gone without sleep. None. It's now January 23rd around 1:30am. The last time I slept was Monday, January 20th. I got about four hours of sleep that night. This has to do with hyperparathyroidism, which is a disease that causes high blood calcium levels. Until I was diagnosed with this condition, I didn't have any idea exactly how much calcium affects the body.
For the last several years, I've complained to my doctor about pain in my hips. It's not a "little" pain. It's severe pain that keeps getting worse. As a result of my complaints, she has x-rayed them a couple of times. It has come back as "mild to moderate" arthritis...nothing that wouldn't be expected for a woman my age.
This left me with questions...the main question being: "Why is it that my hips hurt, but my knees really don't bother me much?" It made sense to me that knee pain would come before hip pain due to the pounds per square inch on the knees being so much more than the pressure per square inch on the hips.
I wasn't sure what else to do. I'd informed the doctor. She responded in a reasonable manner. Life went on and I continued to have more and more hip pain. I went in and had a complete metabolic panel done. It came back indicating a high blood calcium level. As it turns out, 99.8% of individuals who have high calcium levels have this condition.
Hyperparathyroidism is a condition where one (or more) of the parathyroid glands starts secreting too much parathyroid hormone (PTH). It grows and turns into a tumor (usually benign, thank goodness!). The thyroid is a gland, in and of itself. It is shaped kind of like a butterfly. There are four parathyroid glands, one underneath of each of the four lobes of the thyroid gland. The parathyroid glands' sole purpose are to tightly regulate the body's blood calcium level. When too much PTH is secreted by the parathyroid, the body pulls calcium out of the bones. This causes osteopenia and eventually osteoporosis. As it turns out, the pain I'm feeling is the process of my body pulling calcium out of my bones.
There are many symptoms of hyperparathyroidism, which include (the symptoms I've had have a hyphen in front of them:
-Loss of appetite
-High blood pressure
Thinning bones (?)
Risk of fractures (?)
-Hypercalcemia (elevated blood calcium levels)
I've had many of these symptoms on and off for the last several years. I thought the pain and memory problems were my age "catching up" with me. I thought my moodiness, confusion, and headaches were due to early menopause. And I thought the kidney stones were just an inherited thing since my father has had them many times. All the other symptoms, I just passed off as age-related. While I wasn't exactly sure why I have been having headaches and insomnia, I surely wouldn't have thought it was caused by high calcium levels!
The insomnia has me awake again tonight... so I thought I'd write a blog about this and my concerns about it. Who knows...maybe someone else out there might read this and get something out of it.
Even though I haven't been sleeping, I'm in good spirits. I'm so grateful for that! Thank you, Lord! I'm hoping to get the tumor removed and get back to work very soon. I need to have at least a part-time job to help my family make ends meet. Right now, I'm doing mystery shopping and some other at-home endeavors that I think have great potential to help my family long term. I'm really excited about it!
I'm working on accentuating the positive... working on my businesses pretty much full time to help with finances (or at least to feel like I'm contributing to the greater good). :-) It's funny...I have the loss of appetite sometimes, usually at the same time as the headaches come. Then, for a few days, I will graze all day because I'm so hungry...so the weight loss/gain kind of evens out in the end, I suppose.
I just try to keep some healthy food choices around for when the graze cravings hit me. Bananas...they're my absolute favorite, referred to many as 'nature's candy bar'. That's the perfect description, isn't it?! Also, I tend to like to mix a little salt in with my sweets, so I keep potatoes or baked potato chips on hand. I'm trying to take steps to make sure that my weight loss is a healthy one, even though I have days when I don't want to eat and others that I want to eat everything. On "starving" days, I make myself eat protein bars and drink lots of water. Then, on grazing days, I keep healthier snacks around (trying to stay away from fried and sugary foods). Wish me luck! I hope that after this tumor is gone that I don't become ravenous and want to eat the entire east side of Indy. LOL! That's a concern. I guess when that storm comes, I'll batten down the hatches, and ready myself for the storm with a lot of positive self-talk, healthy food choices, and LOTS of non-food rewards for when I beat back the big winds that will come!
I'm going to win this one... I need to. I feel too good about the 204 pounds that I've lost so far
to gain it back. My favorite treat for myself is going shopping and purchasing a piece of clothing in a size smaller than I've purchased previously. For instance...recently, I was able to purchase a size 14 jacket dress. It's still a little tight on me, so I'm not confident enough yet to wear it out in public, but by golly, I can get it on...and I can even sit down in it. LOL...that's an important part. ;-)
What's motivating to me when I need to turn away from food due to shadow hunger? There's nothing in the world that feels better to me than fitting into a smaller size...being able to look into the mirror and see the slimmer tummy or the comparitavely slender ankles. I'm not a size five. I won't ever be. I'm really good with that. I'd like to get down to a size 12. I think I'd be really happy with that and I think I'd feel GREAT! I'm not sure what weight that will take me down to, but I know what I envision it looking like in the mirror.
Well, all...thank you for "staying up with me" through this bout of insomnia. I'm starting to yawn! YAY! Maybe I'll be able to lie down and get some sleep tonight. In any case, thank you for accompanying me through my little trek in my mind about this illness, how it affects my hunger, the long-term affect it will have on me, and how I'm going to battle back the munchies when the big storm hits. Even though you may not know me...you've helped me just by being here to read my thoughts - scary as they may be! :-).
Love and good health to all,
Sunday, June 09, 2013
I posted this on a new team I've started - Fighting Post-Bariatric Weight Regain. I thought it was worthy of a blog entry, too. Maybe some of you can relate. Maybe some can't. Whether you're pro or con weight loss surgery, just know that we all struggle to lose the weight, and that weight regain is a very real thing and makes for a very difficult and humiliating experience. BUT THERE IS HOPE! YOU DON'T HAVE TO LET THE REGAIN WIN!
One of the most important decisions I've made in my life was to have bariatric surgery. There are so many types out there now. Each one, tailored to the individual by their medical team. Personally, I had the open Roux-n-Y procedure done. It is one among many approved procedures now. Something that everyone is warned about is the weight regain. Somehow, we put it in the back of our minds, determined that no matter what, it's not going to happen to ME. I believed that, too...until it did indeed happen to me. I'd lost a total of around 190 pounds by the beginning of 2008. That's when I started gaining the weight back. These were the basic rules I was (AM) to live by regarding my surgery:
1. Get between 80-90 grams of protein per day
2. Drink at least eight 8 oz. glasses of water every day (64 oz. total).
3. Don't drink 30 minutes before or 30 minutes after I eat (no drinking during eating either).
4. Take very small bites and chew incredibly well so that everything will pass through the opening at the bottom of the pouch.
5. Start with 1-2 oz. portions, each month adding to the portions until I finally come to an 8 oz. portion of food.
6. Very few carbs, except for natural, whole food carbs like fruits and very limited whole grains.
7. Vegetables when I can get them into my diet along with protein.
8. One multi-vitamin per day.
9. Two calcium supplements per day.
10. One SUPER vitamin B complex per day.
11. One biotin vitamin per day (1000-5000 mcg).
12. Eliminate carbonated beverages completely.
13. Oh yeah... and NO SWEETS and no fried foods (which cause dumping syndrome).
These were the most basic of rules. In 2008, I decided that I'd been a "good girl" and that it was time to try some new things to see if I could do them. So, first, I had a root beer. It was the best root beer I'd ever had. It was incredible! I could feel the gas building up, causing a lot of burps. I figured that with so many burps, there was no way that the gas would cause my pouch to stretch. How wrong I was!!! If I'd had just that one root beer, maybe it wouldn't have been a problem. But I didn't stop with one. I continued to have one every few days, then it was every day. Then it was several times per day. In addition, I started drinking with my food...the carbonated beverages, to be specific. Then, I started introducing sweets into my diet to determine how many sweets I could have before I had the dumping syndrome. These were ALL BAD IDEAS!
Basically, I stopped doing almost everything that I'd learned to do by experimenting with my pouch. In this experimentation, it expanded, allowing me to eat more and more. I'm not sure how big my pouch reached, but I could eat a lot more than a mere 8 oz! By the end of 2009, I'd gained about 100 pounds back!!!! Ouch! Talk about a blow to my health, my ego, my total self-image. It was horrible.
If you've had or are thinking of having bariatric surgery and you're asking yourself, "When will I be able to ___________ normally again?", then you're simply not ready. Although I thought I was ready, and may have been at the time...I undid my preparedness by experimenting with the "what if's". The surgery is a FOREVER decision, not to be taken lightly. It's a huge commitment.
It's really simple... the whole key to weight loss, whether you do it with weight loss surgery, or without, it takes the same thing...lifestyle change. Some of the changes needed to successfully use the tool of weight loss surgery are much more strict than weight loss without surgery (depending on the type of surgery), but if you make the decision for the surgery, you must make the decision to stick to those rules or risk weight regain. Either way you go, there are obstacles to be overcome.
Lifestyle change. That's the key. No matter what form your journey takes, it's small steps to great outcomes.
Thursday, June 06, 2013
What's so great about smoothies? My favorite thing about smoothies is that they're sweet, they contain great vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants! I knew before that I love blueberries! I bought a personal blender, some frozen fruit, some yogurt, and some protein shakes. I've found that I absolutely LOVE smoothies. I realize that most of you have already discovered the amazing world of swirled fruit and yogurts. But I'm a little behind...I have challenged myself to try something new every few days. So this smoothie thing is really a great thing for me (and, by default, my family!).
I was going to purchase some spinach tomorrow to put into my smoothies this coming week. That was, until I read a spark article (a "sparticle"?) at
that compared all the leafy greens to each other. It turns out that the most outstanding, vitamin-packed leafy green is kale! So, I'm going to give it a try. If the article is off and I can taste the "green", I'll give the spinach a try. I'll report back to let you know how it goes!
Spark on, Everyone!
Wednesday, June 05, 2013
Since September of last year, I've been a stay-at-home-mom. I love staying at home! However, finances dictate that I must return to work. Jarrod, my hubby, and I have prayed about a part-time job that I interviewed for last week. It's with his employer (in a different department).
We have prayed that God's will be done in this situation to work to the good of all involved...I'm simply hoping that His will is the same as mine. LOL.
If you have a moment to stop and say a quick prayer for my family in this regard, it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
Love to all!
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