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Stress vs Depression

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

One fact about me: I'm extremely susceptible to stress. Actually, chronic stress is pretty much a way of life for me. And chronic stress? It doesn't make me gain weight. Because it is my state of being for 90% of the time, it's the place when I'm most stable, the place when I maintain my weight without trying, and when I can lose weight very slowly and with a lot of effort (more than losing normally takes - losing at about half the rate of my calorie deficit). It's my "neutral."

That other 10% of the time? Roughly split at 2% happiness, 8% severe depression. Let me clarify this.

(Don Knotts flashbacks, anyone?)

I have plenty of little happy moments and little sad moments during my neutral periods. This is not to say I'm only happy 2% of my life, and only sad 8% of my life. The 2% happy periods, however, have a distinct biological as well as psychological change. They show up rarely, and often last for about 4-8 months, though they are strongest for about 3 months, then start mixing with stress thereafter until the stress/neutral takes over completely. During that time, I am happy almost constantly, and nothing can damper that. In addition to being happy, it's like my body comes to life. I see more clearly, I sleep better, I have more energy, I laugh a lot, and I get stuff done without effort. (I'm always getting stuff done. It just takes effort during the neutral portions of my life.) And my body starts dropping weight pretty quickly, no matter how inactive I am, or how badly I'm eating. If I eat well and exercise well, I drop weight even faster, at a rate that is above my calorie deficit. My theory is that hormonally and chemically, my body is simply running very efficiently, and thus burning a lot more calories just in every day living, plus it's dropping all the calories it stores up during chronic stress periods. Note: I do not become happy because my weight drops, but the opposite - I become happy, and then the weight starts dropping effortlessly until the happy period is over.

In my adult life, this has happened to me three times: the summer/fall of 1999, the summer of 2006, and the spring/summer of 2011. Each instance is proceeded by some sort of "waking up," a moment when it's like my brain chemically transitions from its normal state to one that is happy and active. Two of those three periods, the waking up moment was so dramatic that it was literally like waking up from one mental state to another, while my body was already awake. Also, I can trace these happy periods and waking up moments all the way back to puberty, though they were more frequent and shorter during my adolescent years.

The transition to severe depression is not as dramatic, and it often creeps up on me unaware. The periods are a lot muddier, and can last a very, very long time. The best description I've ever heard for this sort of depression comes from a book called The Believers by Zoe Heller: "a toad that squatted wetly on your head until it finally gathered the energy to slither off." Yeah. And just like my happy periods, there are distinct biological changes when depression claims me. It's like my body shuts down. I become absolutely still. When I'm happy, my body seems to vibrate even when I'm lying down reading a book, like I just finished a workout and the blood is running through me. When I'm depressed, I can barely get my heartrate up when I work out, and it drops down to below normal immediately afterwards. It's like my body has pulled into itself, sluggish, and is conserving every ounce of energy possible. Of course, there is the corresponding physical result: no matter how well I eat or how often I force myself to exercise, I just keep gaining weight. It's not the stress - I can deal with stress - it's the absolutely shutting down of all unnecessary activity within my body. My personal theory is that my metabolism goes into overdrive when I'm happy, and virtually shuts down when I'm depressed, so that my base calories burned every day differs enormously.

These depression periods happen far more often than the happy ones, sadly, and often much longer. I've not yet found anything that can lift them. Medication hasn't helped in the past - it just sends me into a sort of manic energy that is miserable and painful while I'm still sad and exhausted - but it's possible that something might work someday. I won't stop trying to find a solution, of course. And, I do have to say, since my teeth were fixed in Sept 2009 and I got off the emotional roller coaster those symptoms gave me, I haven't once suffered from severe depression - until now.

(My new tattoo, upper left shoulder blade)

In late April and early May, depression claimed me, and continues to get worse every day. Unfortunately, this is a depression caused by outside factors, rather than anything internal. I still can't talk about it here, no matter how much I wish I could, because it involves other people and is very private for them. I will say, though, that it has nothing to do with moving across the country, and I would be thrilled and excited about the upcoming move if there wasn't this painful thing happening at the same time. I can only take so many blows, however, and April/May delivered enough of them that I bowed down, and that toad climbed back onto my head. Or my neck, is really what it feels like, because the weight is so heavy that I can't unbend my back.

Periodically, I get a little burst of energy. I am nothing if not determined, persistent, and aggressive about trying to control my body and mind. I can't sustain the energy, though, and go back to being very, very still. And I'm scared. I've now gained 15-20 lbs since the depression took over. Anything I lose, I gain back when I no longer have the energy to keep pushing. And right now, there's nothing I can do about it. I can't change the circumstances around me that have led me here. I can't just will myself out of a chemical problem in my brain that is exacerbated by problems outside my control. I have no doctor to go to, and I don't have time to find one in town, so I will have to find one after we move up north, and then hope that I can at least get on a medication that *might* bring my BODY back to neutral, if not my MIND. The mental part won't improve until the external situation is resolved. :(

I have worked so hard. I've discovered things about my body, about how the right foods and the right amount of exercise really helps keep depression at bay - when there aren't outside factors that are pretty much forcing me into it. It's been five years since I last fell into this kind of dark chasm, and eleven years since I fell this badly. I have no idea what to do or when this will get any better, and I can't tell if that frustrates me into a sort of anger-induced burst of short-term energy, or makes me want to give up completely.

Thanks for listening, those of you who are. I'll see y'all again when I've made it to Boston in a couple weeks.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HOLLYS_NEW_LIFE 8/5/2014 8:50PM

    I'm sorry I've been such an absent friend. I've been dealing with my own battles as well, including gaining about 30 lbs. I don't know what kind of help i can be, just know I'm back and I'm here for you.

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I wish I had some great advice, but I can say that I'm here to listen.
There's a dawn after even the darkest nights.


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SHIRE33 7/28/2014 6:36PM

    Hi, Pook. Just checking in and saw this post. So sorry that you are in this struggle. I wish the best for you. emoticon

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CRABADA 7/26/2014 4:37PM

    xoxoxoxo to infinity.

I'm here if you need anything.

And -- I freaking love your tattoo.


Comment edited on: 7/26/2014 4:38:04 PM

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MEH50BEWELL 7/24/2014 8:06PM

    Good luck with the move and I hope the new surroundings spark a new energy to help you overcome your depression. Peace.

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GINILEE4 7/23/2014 6:49PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

Been way down there, Done that. xoxoxoxo


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    *hugs* you're not alone. I wish you the best on your move.

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C8TSON 7/23/2014 11:29AM

    Amanda, I'm so saddened as I read this. I keep hoping that things will get better for you soon. I'm just going to keep my hope alive that things will turn around for you and you can find some answers. I'm always here for you. emoticon

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TENNISJIM 7/23/2014 6:22AM

    Good luck. Wishing you the best.

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JERSEYFLOWER 7/22/2014 10:17PM

    I'm sorry you are feeling this way. As someone who has struggled with anxiety and depression, I feel for you - I really do. Sending lots of warm wishes your way.

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    I'm so sorry you are going through this. It sucks - there's nothing that can be done about it sometimes except ride it out. Please know that even though you are hundreds of miles away, you still have the love and support of your San Antonio Spark family. I'll be sending positive thoughts and energy your way.
emoticon emoticon

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ARUNNINGKAT 7/22/2014 1:57PM

    I wish that I was filled with fool-proof advice and help for you, but unfortunately all I can offer is a supportive friend. I am here for you along with your other commited Spark friends. Good luck on the move! I know that you are indeed a very determined woman and I know that you will pull out of this, if for no other reason than you won't stop trying until you do even if there are some days that you want to give up. emoticon emoticon

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MJ-SHE-BEAST 7/22/2014 12:02PM

    I have no useful advice. All I can say is I'm sorry for the blows you suffered a few months ago and I am here if you need me...and even if you don't. My thoughts are with you.

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PEGGY11 7/22/2014 10:58AM

    Sending prayers of healing to you. You will get better soon. We love you and wish you well. emoticon emoticon

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WORDLILY 7/22/2014 10:23AM

    I'm here.

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    Although I've never analyzed it and figured it out as well as you have, I have "been there, done that." My heart goes out to you! Depression is just the worst, and like you said, it doesn't go away very easily. You are in my heart, and my prayers. And also whatever the situation is that is inducing the depression!

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MOMMACASSEY 7/22/2014 9:53AM

    Your friends will never stop being here for you. I know I appreciate the update--it amazes me how well you're able to verbalize what you're going through; when I'm at a low point my brain stops making words possible to describe myself.

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RYDERB 7/22/2014 9:43AM

    emoticon emoticon

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RADOOGA 7/22/2014 8:54AM

    Good luck in Boston. I know that there are no words that will comfort you, just know that you are supported here. It may not mean anything to you now, but know that there is support and understanding, compassion and empathy here. The only crumb of comfort I might be able to offer, as someone who has suffered badly in the past from this, and you will know yourself; it will pass. Probably a lot slower than you would like, but the sunshine will return my friend, it always does. x

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ANDSHEEWAS 7/22/2014 8:48AM

    Sending you good thoughts that when things get settled you'll be able to get the help you need. My husband just began his journey to better mental health yesterday, literally the day after hitting bottom emotionally. If kismet hadn't had his first therapist appointment already set up, I don't know where we would be this morning. I hope you'll find the light at the end of the tunnel that you need.

If you don't listen to it, I cannot recommend The Mental Illness Happy Hour podcast enough. It has helped me better understand what my husband is going through, and it gives a voice to mental health. The website is mentalpod.com. I hope that can help until you can find a doctor.

Best wishes to you and your family during this time.

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I need a new me...or, Day 1.

Friday, June 13, 2014

"I need a new head. I need new teeth. I need new eyes. I need a new me. New head, new teeth, new eyes, new me, new face, no trace. Where did I go?"
--from "I, New" by my favorite band, Stiffs Incorporated

I am tired of the old me. The old me has spent far too long wallowing in depression, angst, and paralyzed fear. She has stopped moving forward - or even holding still - and has started falling backward backward backward. She hates her body and has no motivation, drive, or willpower. The only thing she has in plenty is excuses.

I do not want to be that girl anymore. I am not okay with the fact that I've gained back 10 lbs and am overweight again. I am not okay with my clothes feeling too tight and my body feeling uncomfortably sluggish. I am not okay with self-loathing and body-shame.

It's difficult. The personal Bad Stuff I've been going through for the last year (and worse in the last few months) has left me drained. Spent. My energy is completely sapped. Just getting through each day is tough. But the only way to get out of this hole is to claw my way out. I need to eat better, exercise more, interact with my friends more often. Force myself up inch by inch each day.

So I am taking steps. I've changed up my Sparkpage. I've created new goals, focuses, and motivators. I've joined new teams. I've made new plans. I know that there's a strong possibility that I will stumble and fall repeatedly along this new path, especially in these early days, but I will do my best to keep getting up. I also know that the first 10 of the 25 lbs I need to lose will hold no victory for me, because they are pounds I've already lost once, but I will keep working toward 100% brand new numbers on the scale.

The plan:
- Exercise 5x/wk, 30-60 mins, including heavy ST 3x/wk.
- Active recovery - I need to not be sedentary outside of exercise!
- Take lots of slow, easy walks in addition to exercise.
- Stretch and foam-roll 3x/wk.
- Cut out all flour/sugar 85% of the time (6 days/wk).
- Eat 5-10 freggies per day.
- Check in daily on Spark and with my accountability buddy, Stephanie (INEEDACAT9).

To start:
As of this morning, I weigh 159.2 lbs. Ugh. My arm is 11.5 inches, bust is 37.5, waist (not sucked in) is 32, hips are 40, and upper thigh is 23. ALL of these measurements are up 0.5-2.5 inches from where they were two months ago. Sadface. And, the final nail in the coffin, new "before" photos for the new journey, which really show the regain:

(Note: First side pic is sucked in, the second is not sucked in.)

I've changed my ticker to reflect my new starting weight and my goal of 135 lbs. Also, I took an extensive fitness test this morning - the same one I took on January 1st and also last May - to see where my current, post-surgery fitness levels are. My abdominal surgery was exactly five months ago today, and my core strength disappeared completely on that day (as you'd expect, given they moved my ab muscles in five inches!). Not much has returned, especially as I wasn't cleared to do any core work beyond basic balance stuff until very recently. Between the extremely weak core and my total lack of fitness over the last two months, the results of today's test aren't good:

1. Resting heart rate: 64 bpm
- Jan 2014: not tested
- May 2013: 64 bpm

2. Pull-ups: 0.75
- Jan 2014: 4
- May 2013: 1.25

3. Vertical leap: 11 inches
- Jan 2014: 13.5
- May 2013: 13.25

4. Push-ups: 17
- Jan 2014: 31
- May 2013: 15

5. Toe touch: 3 inches past my toes
- Jan 2014: 3.5 inches past my toes
- May 2013: 4 inches past my toes

6. In & outs (V-crunches, hands on floor): 21
- Jan 2014: 21
- May 2013: 21

7. Seated wall squat: 1:23
- Jan 2014: 1:05
- May 2013: 0:42

8. Arm curls to failure: 46 w/10 lb weights in each hand
- Jan 2014: 20 w/10 lb weights in each hand
- May 2013: 14 w/10 lb weights in each hand

9. Heart rate maximizer:
--179 bpm after 2 mins jumping jacks (Jan: 178, May: 177)
--155 bpm after 1-min rest (Jan: 146, May: 150)
--138 bpm after 2-min rest (Jan: 125, May: 139)
--128 bpm after 3-min rest (Jan: 119, May: 129)
--127 bpm after 4-min rest (Jan: 121, May: 120)

The pull-up one makes me particularly mad. Grr. Ah well. It's a place to start, at least. That's where I am. Starting over, at the beginning of a new journey. Not as BIG a journey as the last time I began losing weight - only 25 lbs instead of 120 lbs to lose - but still a journey. I need a new me. Time to go find one.

June 13, 2014 - emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BARB4RICK 7/23/2014 2:03AM

    You still look great, but you can do it. Try to enjoy being!!

Missing you. Are the boys all good? Answer in a message......


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    I love the tracking you do! And the pictures. I should take more pictures!

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TRUE-NESS 6/27/2014 8:55PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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CRABADA 6/18/2014 10:01PM

    "I am tired of the old me. The old me has spent far too long wallowing in depression, angst, and paralyzed fear. She has stopped moving forward - or even holding still - and has started falling backward backward backward. She hates her body and has no motivation, drive, or willpower. The only thing she has in plenty is excuses."

You read my mind. I was thinking almost this exact same thing earlier today -- and hoping that the fear that I will either waste another decade of my life being fat and isolated, or that I will have to resort to some kind of surgical solution (which I desperately don't want to do!) in order to avoid that fate -- will finally motivate me to make the changes I need to finally shed this weight that paralyzes me in so many ways.

Thanks, as always, for sharing so honestly. I hope you know how much it means to me (and many others).


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WHITNEYLD 6/17/2014 10:18AM

    Good luck meeting your goals! I was down to 142 after having my first baby and now I am up to 168 or so seven months later, so I just revamped my page yesterday and ready for a change!

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TINAJANE76 6/17/2014 9:41AM

    Just playing a bit of catch up and saw this and your other blog. Believe me, I understand where you're coming from, Amanda. I've spent a good part of the past year struggling to combat a normal vacation weight gain that I ordinarily would have kicked right off on top of a heap of other personal issues. It wasn't pretty at times, but I slogged through it and the great news is that I finally feel like I'm out of that slump now and am feeling so much better. You're determined and tough and I know you'll do the same. Please lean on the support you can find here however it helps you the most and don't hesitate even for a second to give me a holler if there's anything I can do to help you out.
P.S.--I checked out your personal blog and just love it! Your rental house in Newton is super-cute and I think you'll really like it there. I went to college nearby and it's a great place with lots to do and many opportunities to help you along with your healthy living goals.

Comment edited on: 6/17/2014 9:42:37 AM

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BRADMILL2922 6/17/2014 4:14AM

    Welcome to a fresh start! At least you know you can do it and you know what works. Best of luck to you! You can do it!

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BBORDEN86 6/16/2014 2:26PM

    Welcome to the NEW start. You'll reach your goals I have no doubts in you. Don't be so hard on yourself though... it's all part of the journey we slip sometimes. Just get back up again, that's what really matters. :)

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CHANGINGSAM 6/15/2014 8:54PM

    I completely understand. I have been going through periods of being super motivated and then not so motivated. It is frustrating. I hope you find some motivation soon; if not, rely on determination. ;)

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BARBARAJ73 6/14/2014 8:41AM

    Fresh starts all the way around - best wishes and stay strong! emoticon

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TENNISJIM 6/14/2014 8:06AM

    Good plan and you will succeed.

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    You can do it, Amanda! Having a plan in place is a great start. You are a beautiful person no matter what, but I know how hard it is to believe that when one is not at their idea of the perfect weight. I'm pulling for you!

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JDUFORD 6/13/2014 10:17PM

    Wonderful plan! You will reach your goal. You are such an inspiration for the rest of us....With everything you have going on, only gaining 10lbs and not waiting for life to settle down before jumping back on to the horse. Good luck with life!

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GINILEE4 6/13/2014 4:12PM


Hello and welcome to your new life!!!! This will be completely different for you. Everything has changed. Not only your body, but your mind as well. Stay in the present and deal with each day as it comes. Place NO past expectations on yourself and be the best Amanda you can be. That's. more than enough for anyone! Have fun and welcome to the game field.

Gini emoticon

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MEH50BEWELL 6/13/2014 2:39PM

    You are fierce and emoticon refocusing on an even more improved you. You will be kicking your bad self to the curb leaving room for the new you. emoticon Now you've given me more motivation to kick things into gear as well. I love reading blogs!!!!! Thanks for continuing to share your story.

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EVER-HOPEFUL 6/13/2014 1:46PM

    looks like you and i have been in the same place lately only that you are coming out of it.i think for me to come out of it will be when i finally get my ops done.they have rescheduled it for next friday as this is the actual 6th time the op has been resceduled i canīt say that it will 100% happen on friday but i am hoping.know you can do this love. emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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WORDLILY 6/13/2014 12:42PM

    You can do it!!! Way to go!!!!! Proud of you.

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C8TSON 6/13/2014 12:12PM

    I think coming up with fresh goals is a good thing. I know that this has been so hard on you, but I also know you are a fighter. No matter what, keep pushing each day!

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LORILEEPAGE 6/13/2014 10:15AM

    You definitely are in good company on your weight gain. I too have had lots of struggles and worked really hard this last month. When I look back over the past month (after gaining 30 pounds in a couple of years) I see my new attitude toward food evolving. I'm learning to live in the moment and not go backwards every time I have regrets about the past day's eating disasters. Calculations reveal that I actually was able to do an 80/20 on how many days I stayed on track. This encouraged me though I had inflated it in my mind to this idea that I'm "always" doing terrible! I'm doing better at not obsessing over the scale, as the weight issue should resolve itself since I'm becoming less obsessed by sugar. I'm finally making connections that rotten food makes me feel rotten. I hope some of this helps. I'm right there on the journey with you! It isn't easy but it is possible! We can do this!

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MELYROD18 6/13/2014 10:13AM

    Great Plan, you can do it! emoticon

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Long Overdue Update

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

You guys already know that things have been difficult for me over the last 1-2 months. I'm struggling with a lot of stress and some personal things, and that has resulted in gaining back about 10 lbs. I'm now about 5 lbs over that magic healthy-BMI line, and nearly tipping back into the 160s again - AND that's on my home scale, which is always about 6 lbs lower than a doctor's scale. This is not okay, but every time I try to rein in the damage, something happens: a night where I only sleep 3 hrs, a family crisis, another party someone throws before we move away from all our family and friends, a sudden house-showing which means we have to eat out again. Life is very chaotic right now, and there's very little I can do besides minimize the damage during the parts when I DO have control.

I am doing my best to cut out flour and sugar whenever possible and eat 7+ freggies a day, but honestly, this isn't enough. Most people say that losing weight is 80% diet 20% fitness. This has never been the truth for my body. For me, losing weight is 80% fitness 20% diet. And the fitness portion...isn't happening. We are into triple-digit heat here. The boys are home from school and I need to watch them. I have to keep my house in show-ready condition 100% of the time, which not only takes a lot of work/time, but also means I can't have super-sweaty exercise clothes (and believe me, they would be in this heat) stinking up my house. Sure, I can spend some time walking around my 80-degree living room to get in SOME movement. It's not enough, though. It's not real exercise for me, and frankly, if I can't sweat-up my clothes except the twice-a-week laundry days, I'm just not going to get in enough fitness. That's the sacrifice I make trying to sell a south Texas home in June.

Two years ago, when I wasn't allowed to exercise at all for 10 weeks due to a stress fracture, I managed to maintain my weight. I wasn't under the stress I'm under now, though, not to mention there weren't parties, outings, or restaurant dinners (because of house showings) every couple nights. It's easier to maintain when you have control of your diet 95% of the time, rather than only about 50% of the time, especially when the 50% of the time you DO have control is somewhat difficult due to stress, family crisis, and extremely little sleep. I'm doing the best I can, and it's NOT enough.

There is some good news in all this, though. We've had quite a few showings on the house, including some second-showings, so I'm hopeful that soon we will have an offer and can get it sold. That'll be one less thing to worry about. We've also secured housing in Boston as of August 1st, so we know exactly when we'll be moving, and where to, and how to budget for it. Last night, there were a few semi-positive steps made in the personal area (see previous post), and while I don't expect things to be better for many months now, I'm hopeful that they CAN be better one day, which is something I haven't had any hope for since April. This last bit is the most important, because the personal area is the one that is feeding my self-destructive behavior (as in forcing myself to eat as much junk as I can for multiple reasons - again, see previous post). If I can get that stressor out of my life, or at least alleviate it, I can start working back to a better mental and physical level again.

I really want to start working my way back to Spark again. Today is Wednesday, and I have the idea that I should start doing regular Wednesday Weigh-in kinds of posts, with a bit of chat about the past week and how things are going. Maybe a weekly post like that would help me. It seems a positive step forward, and I need as many little positive steps as possible right now. I can't guarantee that I'll follow through with this plan, but I'm going to try. That's about all I can do right now: keep trying. In the meantime, I'll try to start following along in my friend feed again, which I've barely glanced at over the last six weeks, and I'll keep writing on a more regular basis on my personal blog. If you're interested, the link is here:


I wish I had better news, overall. Things are very difficult right now, and will likely remain so for the next two months at very least. All I can do is keep stepping forward, and hope at some point I can heal from the injuries I've acquired over the last year.

"No one knows the battles we survive." --Umbrella Brigade

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    1 month and 10 lbs gained? That's me. I'm just trying to get caught up on my spark friends and back to tracking. The gain will come off me soon, as it always does when I track and eat within my calorie range.
I would like to say (*like* to) that we control 100% of what we eat no matter the circumstances, but I know as well as anyone that willpower only goes so far, and it doesn't go very far at all when a person is hungry. It is hard to resist the dinners out or parties or stressful moments. When a person wants to be social and the choices are limited, then it's a battle. Especially if it's between high-calorie foods that dance across the tastebuds or raw veggies.

Good luck on the house and stay strong!

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TRUE-NESS 6/27/2014 8:50PM

    emoticon There's not much I can say, except that I'm here for you.... supporting you and sending you hugs ((( )))...

But, one thing I just thought about for exercise is mall walking. Maybe you could hit the air-conditioned mall and do some walking in there.

In regard to sweaty workout clothes: (1) Sweaty clothes can be stored outside in a laundry bag until ready to wash or (2) you could rinse immediately in plain water or (3) dunk in a bucket of laundry detergent a few times just to get the sweat smell off of them. Then just wring out and let hang to dry before putting in the actual dirty clothes basket.

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BBORDEN86 6/16/2014 2:20PM

    Sorry things are still stressful for you! I totally understand prepping for moving, although we don't have to worry about house showings. Thankfully. Things will get sorted out, and I have no doubt once you have the control over eating, etc. when you move. Weight will slowly come off as well. Don't worry too much about it right now, you have enough to worry about. Let life happen... you won't see a lot of your Texas friends for who knows how long!

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CHANGINGSAM 6/15/2014 9:03PM

    I am so sorry things are stressful right now, but you will get through it. Just keep doing your best. As for getting in exercise, can you do exercise videos (ex P90X or Insanity)? That would allow you to get a better session in without being in the heat. Here in South Carolina, it is getting hotter (and more humid) by the day, so I completely understand. In fact, I have had to change my runs from late afternoon to morning. Anyways, hope your house sells quickly so you can be less stressed!

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ALLEY2300 6/11/2014 10:13PM

    It sounds like you are striving to make the most out of the situation!! It is never easy to do that! Keep on keeping on and things will eventually work out! (If I don't keep telling myself that I will go off the deep end myself). I have started back into the Spark community slowly again. Pacing myself is a good thing.

One day, things will fall into place again. Remember--as long as we keep on trying, we are making progress!

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DEB62BIE62 6/11/2014 8:13PM

    I was not aware that the heat had gotten into the hundred's. I know the heat index is. Anyway, sorry that you are having issues. The heat is always a problem here. Where I've been working this week I've been freezing- they have the A/C turned up so high, but I'm not going to complain. I'd rather it be too cold than hot.

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C8TSON 6/11/2014 4:56PM

    emoticon Amanda, I'm sorry things are so rough right now. I think even managing 50% healthy is better than most in even just one of your situations--much less everything you have going on. Moving cross country is highly stressful. I have done it four times, and those were some of the most stressful times of my life. Just keep taking it day by day and try not to beat yourself up too much. Every day will have its challenges, but you have overcome so much--I know you can do this.

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CHAOTICMOM4 6/11/2014 1:32PM

    Yikes, you're not kidding there's stress. You bought a house but still have one to sell. I remember going through that. My car would be loaded with dirty laundry and clutter everytime there was a showing scheduled.

Where did you end up buying? I think you said you were looking in the Framingham area?

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MOMMACASSEY 6/11/2014 11:33AM


My husband and his family moved from just north of Boston (Lynn, Mass--my grandmother-in-law names all towns up there with -Mass as a suffix, so it'd be easy to think that every town and city actually ends with "-mass"!) to south Texas when he was a kid--looking for work, which wasn't readily available there in the 80s, apparently. It has been quite the transition for them, and some of the family members are still very clearly not-Texan.

For instance, my sister-in-law called me in October, 10 years ago, sobbing and barely able to talk, to make sure that her brother and I knew that the Red Sox had beaten the Yankees, at last. He was at work, and now we don't have cable or satellite TV, but his family makes sure they have a subscription to Boston's sports channels, and they keep him apprised of all things Boston sports-related.

I definitely hope to see more of you on SP. I'm sure everything will go well!


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WORDLILY 6/11/2014 11:24AM

    I'm glad for every little positive you find these days! It's good to hear from you here, no matter the news. You'll get through this, too. You're strong.

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EVER-HOPEFUL 6/11/2014 11:02AM


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KRAZYF 6/11/2014 10:41AM

  I know how you feel. We are also trying to sell a house and have been for several months. We are also trying to repair after a storm to get the house back to a good presentable state. With the kids in sports this summer time at home is limited. It is definitely a struggle to eat healthy in this fast paced world. I have gained about 30 pounds back over the last year and have been struggling with getting back on track with eating better. For me the exercise isn't much of a problem as I take an hour over lunch to go to the local gym which is across the street from my office. Just 15 minutes of high intense exercise helps me to deal with the stress. I can usually find that much time but even that can be difficult sometimes. All I can say is to just keep working hard and it will work out in the end. I have to tell myself this daily!!!

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SAPHRAEL 6/11/2014 10:26AM

    Hi Amanda. Selling a house and moving your family across the country is incredibly stressful. Stay positive! Stay focused on all the positive choices you do have control over. I hope the transition goes quickly and smoothly so you can get settled and establish new routines in your new home.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

May has been a very bad month here. I think it was pretty obvious in my last blog that I was in a really bad place, mentally. I won't say much about it, but I'll say that Bad Stuff has been happening in my life for almost a year now (since July 2nd), and that Bad Stuff has stressed me out and worn me down for so long that I have almost no energy left. Recent extra stresses have made the situation worse. We're moving cross country in the next two months, prepping to sell our house, saying goodbye to friends and family, and suffering from major heat waves in San Antonio. I finished working on a major writing project at the end of April, and have yet to find direction on a new one, so I don't even have a focus to keep my head together while I juggle all the mental stresses. On top of that, I had a major internal realization about my personal struggle with these last 15-20 lbs, and that realization makes me very, very helplessly angry. All this adds up. Then, add it to the very frustrating time I've had in terms of weight loss (whether or not my own mental block is causing it), and it doesn't look good.

I counted every calorie I ate from January 1st to April 30th this year. I had enough of a deficit in that time to lose about 10 lbs, and yet I didn't lose an ounce (or an inch, except those surgically removed). I actually gained two pounds in March/April, so that I began May up at 151 lbs again. Sigh. So I changed things up. I tried Whole30 and lasted 9.5 days until I was so sick that I had to quit. I also gained 3 lbs in those 9.5 days on Whole30 (taking me to 154 lbs). In the 9.5 days since then, I said f--- everything, and exploded. It helped (or not) that I discovered that my gluten-intolerance was actually a medication issue. I've spent the last 9.5 days binging on everything I couldn't eat for the last 9 months.

Chocolate chip cookies. Onion bagels. My favorite frozen burritos. Pop-tarts. Sundried tomato wheat thins. Oatmeal Squares cereal. Crackin' Oat Bran. Fish and chips with malt vinegar. Lucky Charms. Sausage kolaches. Doughnuts. Whole wheat pasta. Bulgar. Hamburgers on normal hamburger buns. Dominos pizza. Twix bars. Graham crackers. Milano cookies. Cheese danishes. And so on.

I do not have a binge disorder, and I do not binge the way those with a disorder do so. When I "binge," it involves simple (rather than catastrophic) overeating, so that I eat more often and bigger portions at each meal and become uncomfortably full, but I sincerely doubt I ever eat more than about 3000 calories in a day. When I'm eating junk like I named above, other stuff (like real food - protein and fruits and veggies) simply disappears, plus I start skipping meals as well, so it moderates out the calories a bit. I still consider it a binge, though, because of the mentality behind the act. I binge when I am helplessly angry. In that rare moment when I am very, very angry, but have no direction to place that anger, I turn inwards, and I punish myself by forcing myself to eat. In other words, the last 9.5 days boiled down to three things:

1. I can eat gluten again, so I'm going to eat ALL THE THINGS.
2. Because of a personal, private reason that I won't talk about on Spark, I feel absolutely repulsive, so I'm going to eat and eat and eat and make myself LOOK as repulsive as I FEEL.
3. I am helplessly angry, and that anger has to go somewhere, so food becomes a weapon against myself, because it's easier to bear the pain of gluttony than the pain of anger.

I won't apologize for any of these feelings.** I very rarely come to a place where I fall so low and feel some combination of negativity that leads to a full-on food-attack. In the nearly five years I've been on this weight loss journey, it's literally happened three times. Each time, I scrape myself off from rock bottom after 7-14 days, and start again with grim renewed determination. I am nothing if not stubbornly persistent. As my friend TRUE-NESS has told me more than once, I am no rock star on this weight loss journey - I am a WARRIOR. And so, like a true warrior, I nursed an injury that might have been fatal to someone else, and now it's time to dust myself off and walk again, even while I still hurt pretty badly.

Yesterday, I woke up and decided it would be my last binge day. I decided to eat ALL THE REST OF THE THINGS, and then to start over fresh this morning. In my 9.5 days of binging, I gained an additional 5.4 lbs, bringing me to 159.4 lbs. I am currently higher than I have been since December 2012. I know probably 4-5 lbs of this will drop off quickly, because I'm carrying a lot of water weight and girl weight at present, but even after they drop off, I will be way too high for my own comfort.

I'm tired. This processed junk makes me feel terrible. This level of anger and self-loathing exhausts me. My clothes are tight and I've gained anywhere from half an inch to two inches in every place I measure. My body, which has straddled the line between healthy and overweight for over a year now, definitely looks overweight again. Actually, it looks like I've gained 20-25 lbs, not just 10. Beyond that, I'm craving freggies and real food. My sugar addiction has returned full force and I am ready to escape it again. I haven't exercised in weeks and my body is aching to MOVE.

So I start over. Start fresh. Start moving forward again, step by grim, determined step.

**This is going to come off sounding really defensive, but I've experienced this too many times now here on Spark to not address it. Please, if you don't know me well or are seeing me for the first time on this blog, don't tell me about therapy and prayer (I'm not Christian) and things I should/shouldn't do or think or feel. Trust me, I know myself VERY well and I already know all those things. Those sorts of comments are the opposite of helpful/supportive when I'm trying to push myself toward a more positive mentality, and will therefore be deleted outright.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

RADOOGA 6/8/2014 4:35AM

    Hi, I don't know you at all, and wouldn't dream of offering you advice, but I just want to say that your blogs are moving, honest and connect us all with the struggles we go through. From reading your blogs, you sound like a gutsy lady, and I have no doubt that you will overcome and conquer, one day at a time.

Best wishes for the rest of your journey x

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JDUFORD 5/31/2014 1:08PM

    emoticon Like you said, today is a new day and you will get through it one step at a time!

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    I'm sorry you're going through such a tough time. I don't have any words to make you feel better of course. I just wanted to stop in here and offer you some emoticon . I do hope things get better for you.

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SAPHRAEL 5/24/2014 4:38PM

    I'm a little angry too...that some thing's happened to bring you down so hard. I hope you can move past the ugliness of whatever it is and know that it's not a true reflection on you.

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CRABADA 5/23/2014 3:27PM

    As always, I appreciate how much you share with us. Please let me know if there's anything I can do to help.


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MOMTO6CUTIES 5/21/2014 5:21PM

    You got this. You've done it before and I know you can do it again!

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LILSPARKIE85 5/21/2014 11:44AM

    I can't say I know how you feel, but some of this definitely resonated with me. Let's start fresh together. :)

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SUNPANTHER 5/21/2014 9:24AM

    I don't know you at all; I am here because of your honesty with yourself and us. Thanks for being real to me. I know you are writing this for your own journey, and not for us, but I appreciate your words in my own life also. They engage me. They articulate not my own struggle, but an essence of it, and helps.

It is what it is. I like the Warrior imagery. For me it conjures up blood and pain and threat, and persistence and determination and fierceness.

Fight on.

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4A-HEALTHY-BMI 5/21/2014 7:42AM

    I've been having a rough time too. And I too am faced with a big relocation, including trying to sell a house. My move is happening in a week. I'm just holding on and waiting until my life can settle down into a new "normal" and I can set up my healthy infrastructure again (routines for food, exercise, etc.)

Hang in there as well as you can. You have only lost the war if you give up. Keep trying. Just keep on trying.


Comment edited on: 5/21/2014 7:44:48 AM

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CHOCOHOLIC2276 5/20/2014 10:04PM

    Sometimes we hit survival mode and just get through it. No judgment. Tomorrow is a clean slate. You are strong, you will get past this.

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AHORSEY1 5/20/2014 8:03PM

    Tomorrow is a new day! I'm sure you'll do great.

PS. The East coast isn't too bad either. I transplanted to there from the Houston area about 10 months ago.

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INEEDACAT9 5/20/2014 4:31PM

    Hopefully the Saturday 5K will get us both back on the exercise bus! And I hope that you feel better mentally soon. Given the amount of stress you're under and the sleep issues, it's no wonder that you're feeling overwhelmed/exhausted/angry/upset/e
tc... I know we haven't known each other super long, but I'm here if you need a venting ear or a sounding board or just a hangout buddy to give your brain a break! :)

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PRETTYPITHY 5/20/2014 4:03PM

    There were two things I really identified with:

" When I "binge," it involves simple (rather than catastrophic) overeating, so that I eat more often and bigger portions at each meal and become uncomfortably full, but I sincerely doubt I ever eat more than about 3000 calories in a day. "

This! When I say binge, I think people think I'm eating two pizzas and two boxes of donuts or something. I do not have a binge eating disorder, I never binge that way. I'm more likely to go out for Mexican food, eat the chips and my entree and two margaritas or something. I call that a binge because it is a binge -- but few would recognize it as out of control binge disorder eating. I think it is almost harder to address our kind of binging because, in this society it is just considered normal eating!!

" I am helplessly angry, and that anger has to go somewhere, so food becomes a weapon against myself, because it's easier to bear the pain of gluttony than the pain of anger. "

This, too! I have been depressed all year because of a difficult situation in my life and I'm really just eating an extra few hundred calories a day but the weight is packing on. I've continued to exercise regularly and vigorously which makes the gain especially disheartening.

Comment edited on: 5/20/2014 4:04:44 PM

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    Sorry to hear about your rough patch. I was hoping you'd emerge soon! (If you wouldn't I would have started sending messages ;)

"Yesterday, I woke up and decided it would be my last binge day. I decided to eat ALL THE REST OF THE THINGS, and then to start over fresh this morning. " -Good GOD how often this has happened to me.

As a warrior you know the fight continues and you will get through this. You are beautiful and you (and I and all of us) need to treat ourselves like we are. Healthy foods, exercise, sleep.


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GINILEE4 5/20/2014 2:06PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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MISTY_MOUNTAINS 5/20/2014 1:09PM

    You take care of yourself. We all fall down... we all fall hard for different reasons. It's hard not to fall into the shame spiral, but it sounds like you've got a pretty good handle on it. I have no doubt that you've got this.

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ARUNNINGKAT 5/20/2014 12:46PM


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TANYA602 5/20/2014 12:09PM

    You've been one of my strongest motivators and leaders all along and I can feel your struggle here. I imagine that the stress has to be so unbearable if it's pushed you to this point. Yes, YOU know best what works for you. Just know that we are here to support you any way we can. Seriously. You have that warrior mentality and I know that you will begin gaining your strength and confidence back and kicking those demons to the sidewalk.

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DEB62BIE62 5/20/2014 11:41AM

    Thanks so much for sharing. I'm going through several things myself, and I have gained 6lbs. I exercised myself last week for at least 160 minutes and still gained a pound. How is that even possible? I kept within the calorie range. People tell me it's muscle. Yea in my stomach. Anyway, I know right where you are. Hope you come out of it strong. I'm hoping I can get through it too.

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COFFEE_123456 5/20/2014 11:21AM

    Hi - I am really sorry to hear about your stress. Let me know if I can help with the move planning/info - I sent you a sparkmail about it too. I would love to reciprocate your kindness - when I was trying to figure out how to get veggies in my kids (and how to swim...) and you took the time to write me a thoughtful and helpful response really meant a lot to me!

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MTN_KITTEN 5/20/2014 11:16AM

  Take care of yourself ... you deserve it.

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MJ-SHE-BEAST 5/20/2014 10:43AM

    Warrior - that's one of my favorite words to describe myself and it fits you PERFECTLY. Others may give in and give up. Others may let the wounds fester into permanent inability to fight. Others are NOT WARRIORS.

Whatever is going on, personally, physically, and mentally, I know you are going to approach it in that methodical, deliberate, Sherlock Holmes Body Detective way you do and you will get it all sorted out. It's what you do and one of the things I admire most about you. emoticon

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SGTSUNNY 5/20/2014 10:34AM


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MISSB8604 5/20/2014 10:24AM

    You can do this, you have the strength deep inside you and you will reach your goals. It may not be as quickly as you'd want, but it WILL happen. Your journey has been absolutely inspiring and regardless of how you feel right now, there are people on here that are sincerely rooting for you. You're not alone. You CAN do this. emoticon

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JSPIN74 5/20/2014 10:09AM

    emoticon emoticon

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FAIRHAVENQUEEN 5/20/2014 10:01AM

    I SO understand that strange, self-punishing binge thing, as I've done the same many times. And I also just had some days of eating ALL THE THINGS. Made me feel so tired and crabby! Anyway, I've been worried about you, and am so glad to see you are back to blogging, and moving forward. Hopefully the grim baby steps will soon become happy leaps of joy!

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RINLYN 5/20/2014 9:55AM

    I'm radiating love and support in your direction. You don't need platitudes right now, and I know you'll be able to push through this because you are that warrior.
I'm here for you, in spirit or in person if you need it.

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TINAJANE76 5/20/2014 9:51AM

    I'm sorry to read that you've been going through such a rough patch, Amanda. I don't have any profound words of wisdom to offer, but I hope that things turn around for you very soon.

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NOTGVGUP83 5/20/2014 9:46AM

    The TX heat doesn't make anything better! Sorry you're in a rut but it seems like you have a great plan in place and know you're going to over come these obstacles in no time. You will conquer this monster! emoticon had to add my hug! lol

Comment edited on: 5/20/2014 9:46:56 AM

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WORDLILY 5/20/2014 9:42AM

    I'm glad this post goes the way it does. I was afraid when I saw the title that it was going to say some version of the opposite. You CAN do it. I've witnessed your hard work and determination and success.

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C8TSON 5/20/2014 9:41AM

    So sorry that this time has been so rough for you. I know you can do this though. You are a warrior, you are strong, and you have come so far. emoticon

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PEZMOM1 5/20/2014 9:10AM


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Good Enough

Monday, May 12, 2014

For the last 15 months or so, I've been in a strange position. I hit my original goal weight of 155 lbs on February 21, 2013. My goal had changed, by then, to 135 lbs, but no matter what I did over the last 15 months, I couldn't get any lower than about 149 lbs, and I usually stayed right around 152-153 lbs. There were times when I worked my butt off to try to lose more, and times when I gave up and just ate at maintenance level. Either way - eating more or less, exercising more or less - my body stayed exactly where it was. That's fantastic, in terms of maintenance. But in terms of wanting to lose the last 20 lbs? Frustrating beyond belief. The 15 months before I hit my original goal were frustratingly slow in terms of weight loss, but at least the scale slowly MOVED.

I tracked my calories every day for the first four months of 2014. I had enough of a deficit to lose 9-10 lbs, but I lost nothing. Other factors are definitely playing in here, I know. Surgery is hard on your body and it takes a long time to recover - I'm still not entirely recovered! I'm not sleeping well, and that really affects weight loss. Medication issues might have been playing into everything as well. Then there's all the stress and depression that this year has brought so far. Difficult to lose when you're so stressed out. There are also all the emotional conflicts about weight loss - the part of me that wants to just love my body for what it is now versus the part of me that wants to get back to where I am most comfortable, etc. Conflicting goals make it difficult to move forward.

Our bodies are incredible, complex things. Nothing is as simple as calories in vs calories out, no matter how many people try to claim it. And last night, I realized something important about mine: It's not going to do what I want it to do until my brain and heart are 100% behind that want. I have been self-sabotaging for the last year or so. Not with food, oh no - I am still doing everything "right." I have been self-sabotaging with my brain. There is a small part of me that refuses to let me go any further along this path, and it was only last night that I began to realize WHY.

I will not go into specifics. They are very personal and very private. In general, however, this has to do with fear.

It isn't a fear that I'll fail. Years ago, when my tooth infections were controlling every aspect of my health, and my weight bounced up and down without relation to my food/activity, I used to be afraid to fail. That no longer scares me, though. I know that I can accomplish this if I set out to do it. I can get to my goal. No, this fear has more to do with what will happen when I reach that goal. I am afraid of what will happen then (not of maintenance, which is easy for me, but of something private. I won't talk about it, but it is no different, for example, of someone afraid of the condition their body/skin will be in after losing so much weight). Right now, 15-20 lbs above my final goal, I can rest comfortably, with all number of excuses - even valid reasons - for why my body won't lose the rest, and I don't have to fear the end of this journey. Right now, I have no major compulsion to try hard that overrides that fear. Right now, my body is GOOD ENOUGH.

Good enough, however, is not GOOD. There is no doubt - I am not happy with myself, no matter how hard I try to be. Happier, yes, but not happy. I am on the very edge of being overweight, and still overweight on a doctor's scale. When I look at myself, all I see are flaws. Several of you commented that my "before" pictures when I tried the Whole30 already looked good, and all I could think was that you were all crazy (and I mean that in the most loving sense possible!). It doesn't matter how much I try to bolster my self-esteem. I am not going to be 100% happy with my body until it is back to a specific place. There is part of me - the part that is self-sabotaging and holding myself back - that worries that I won't be happy even then, because of a few factors beyond my control (again, private). It is easier to be unhappy because I'm "failing" than if I succeeded and my fears came true. At least I have an excuse for my unhappiness right now, and something to (halfheartedly) try for.

This is incredibly difficult. I am good at analysis and self-exploration. I know myself very well. But that doesn't mean I can break through the barriers I see in my brain. I don't know that I can stop holding myself back, and that makes me feel very hopeless and helpless.

It's a good thing, at least, to know and face the truth. First step to healing, right?

Thanks for listening, and I'll leave y'all with a lovely picture of my youngest son and me at the MOM Salon his class held for Mother's Day on Friday. And yes, I did paint his nails. He picked out the color. :D

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

RUNNERRACHEL 5/13/2014 7:39PM

    You are definitely good enough!

I understand about wanting to be at a certain weight. Also understand fear of success...not being able to maintain if I reached my goals. I had to deal with that--overcome it--telling myself that this time would be different. I'd have to face my fears of success and failure and every possibility. I don't know what you have to overcome exactly but so many of us go through the same kinds of issues.

You have our support! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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TINAJANE76 5/13/2014 4:43PM

    Oh, Amanda, I'm so sorry to hear that you're going through such a rough patch and feel as though you're holding yourself back from reaching your ultimate girls. I know you think we're all crazy, but you really DO look great and I hope that you'll be able to come to terms with everything that's holding you back and find your true happiness. Sending you all of my best wishes as you work things out.

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BROOKLYN_BORN 5/13/2014 11:19AM

    You are certainly very self aware. I'm sure you'll figure it out and eventually your body will cooperate. Good luck!

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AMANDAUNBIDDEN 5/13/2014 10:36AM

    First of all, you do look amazing! You healthy and have a kick ass body! I think the BMI is a bunch of crap. You are definitely not overweight. I understand having a smaller goal though and wanting to work towards that. This weight loss game is really mostly mental. It's so hard to get out of our own ways. I tend to self sabotage once I start getting on a roll and really moving towards my goal. Not sure why but I have noticed the pattern.

Anyway, good luck with your goals! I know you can achieve them and that you are on the right track. Just keep moving forward! emoticon

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    I can relate to this blog, I can. I hope one day I will feel like I'm where I want to be, but I will never be back to where I was, so will that compare or be better? Keep up the good fight. You are struggling now with emotions (the most dangerous and most volatile part of this journey, I think) but you will figure it out in your head. The only thing is- it may take years to come to terms and work through the emotions, at least that's what I tell myself.

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TANYA602 5/12/2014 5:32PM

    My gosh how I can relate to all of this. There are no easy answers since we all have different voices in our heads. I had to admit to my husband the other day that there are still times I think I am well over my starting weight and I have to get over that image of who I was and who I am now. My biggest concern is the happy and healthy part of it all. Are you healthier than you were when you started here? are you happier? Those are key. And dang, you have a smile and photos that tell me you are.
We continue to evolve - thus is life. Enjoy the ride.

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EVER-HOPEFUL 5/12/2014 5:23PM

    emoticon know that this blog really spoke to me and i understand to an extent emoticon

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    You have identified what you block is and I am positive that you can overcome it.

emoticon emoticon

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HOLLYS_NEW_LIFE 5/12/2014 1:59PM

    I know it's not easy for you to believe, but you ARE a success, and you look GREAT! I know what you mean about not being totally happy with things right now, and I hope you find some peace with that. All of our bodies have a "natural" stopping place when it comes to weight, and I hope you don't feel the need to stress yourself out and fight past that point. Love ya girl!
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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ARUNNINGKAT 5/12/2014 12:20PM

    Sweetest photo! Love it!

It is amazing how much of this journey is mental. The counting and exercising is easy. The successful mindset is much harder.


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PROGRESSINWORK 5/12/2014 11:31AM

    I used to think I wanted my body back to the way it was before I met my husband and had kids. Someone told me I had to stop living in the past. She asked me if I wanted to be that same person again, younger, less mature, less wise? I said no, but that's all in m mind, I just want the body back. She told me to get over it, move past it. That I wanted to be better than that younger version of me. To move forwards, not backwards. To evolve, not regress. Evolve into a better you; Better than the image of the past you're holding on to.

I'm not saying be complacent. It's just difficult to move forward if we are holding onto the past. I hope you can work through your mental hurdles and come out of your funk soon!

Good luck, and I love the picture!

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C8TSON 5/12/2014 11:02AM

    It sounds like you are in a pretty good place right now. I wish so much for you that those last pesky pounds would just come right off. But, maybe your resolve is the key to final success. If you accept yourself now, perhaps the rest will fall into place. emoticon emoticon

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WORDLILY 5/12/2014 10:33AM

    Understanding why is an important breakthrough!

Getting through that barrier is probably going to take a lot of work. Not fun. I'm sure you can do it, though!

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FAIRHAVENQUEEN 5/12/2014 10:14AM

    What a sweet photo of you and your son!
And here's hoping you can work through this difficult bump in the road quickly, and move forward with joy.

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LOSE4LIFE47 5/12/2014 8:36AM

    emoticon emoticon

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