Thursday, December 22, 2011


I'm in a challenge this month with some friends on the WW boards.  There's no specific goal.  Everyone creates their own personal goal(s) for the month.  We check in with each other for accountability.  My goal was to be binge free for all of December.  I wholly believe this is one of the reasons I have not binged in nearly a month. 

I started counting my binge free days after Thanksgiving, so I had a head start on December.  For the time being, I'm defining binge free as not giving in to the urge to eat excessively due to non-hunger feelings or emotions.  So there have been times I've eaten too much, but any time that I've felt the nagging desire to stuff my face to ease stress or the magnetic pull of my kitchen when I need comforting, I've not given in.  If I was actually hungry, I made a food plan, got just that, and stuck to it.  If I was not hungry, I stayed away from the food altogether.

It would go something like this:  I'd have a pretty normal day, but somewhere after 5, fatigue and apathy would set in.  (Alternatively, I'd have a rough day, and feel a lot of stress.)  I would get home and be compelled to either go to the grocery store and stock up on frozen pizza, or go to my kitchen and bake up a batch of cookies, or just clean out the leftovers (by disposing of them in my belly).  The voice in my head that was nudging me toward binging was loud.  Really, really loud.  It was difficult to hear any other thoughts, but somehow another voice broke through.  It was the collective voice of my boardie challengers who have been cheering me on and telling me how awesome I'm doing at remaining binge free.  And it would make me think about having to reset my count to 0, and how I am completely unwilling to do that.  And the only way to do that is to ignore the loud, obnoxious devil on my shoulder that's driving me to binge point.  Somehow, it's worked.  I think about having to report back that I cracked, and I don't want to do it.  So I stay on the couch, or I go to sleep, or a find something interesting on TV to watch or start playing games online.  (Ironically, my recent game of choice has been Let's Get I avoid binging by fake cooking.)

The other day, I reported to my lovely boardies that I was 20-some-odd days binge free.  After some quick math calculations, I realized that Day 30 will be Christmas Eve.  When I wake up Christmas morning, I will have a full 30 days, ONE WHOLE MONTH, of being binge free under my belt.  No offense to anyone who's ever given me a Christmas gift, but this by far takes the cake (what an awful expression for this occassion!) for the Best.Christmas.Gift.EVERRRR!!!

Thanks, Boardies, for keeping me in line. ♥

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Shall we catch up?

 Hello friends, it has been a while since we chatted.

I do sincerely apologize for neglecting this blog for the past couple weeks.  I can make a bunch of excuses, but I'm sure you've heard them all in a bunch of different places.  So let me just say, I've been meaning to write, and I'm finally making time to catch up!

I have not been keeping up with my reading.  I've been finding myself with little time for anything other than work, the boyfriend, more work, and sleep.  I fall asleep about a half a sentence into any reading whenever I'm overtired, so I haven't even attempted to pick up Overcoming Overeating... lately.

However, something spectacular has happened!  As of today, December 20, 2011, I am TWENTY FIVE days binge free!  I was super excited last Friday when I hit the 21 days mark.  Because it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. And though it hasn't been an easy (almost)  month, I have no binged.  I have not been perfect, and I may have eaten a little too much at a party here or there, and I have definitely not been eating the best for me foods, but I have not binged.  Any time I've gotten into that mentality of "Ohmygod-I-just-want-to-stuff-my-face-full-of-delicious-foods-so-I-don't-have-to-feel-these-feelings," I have done something other than eat.

I almost binged last Tuesday.  The day started off okay, but toward the end of the day I was tired and feeling very stressed out.  (Though I don't remember any specific events leading up to or causing the stress.)  As I've mentioned before, Tuesdays are one of my most likely days to binge, so it was no surprise that I was getting this urge.  Oh, yes, now I remember.  I was having a hardcore pity party for 1 because I had worked for 9 days straight with no days off.  I was tired.  The kind of tired you feel all over your body.  The kind of tired that paralyzes you from even making it to your bed.  The kind of tired for which food is the clear solution.  (Please read that with all the sarcasm with which it was intended.)  I was talking with WW boardie friends and told them I was 18 days binge-free, but I was struggling.  And I didn't want to break my streak, but I was just oh-so-woe-is-me-tired.  So I made a plan for dinner.  I stuck to my plan, but even then wanted to continue to stuff my face.  Pizza, ice cream, cookies... let's be real, I was too tired to make cookies or pizza. The most likely option was a gallon of ice cream washed down with leftover soup and leftover Chinese takeout steamed white rice.  Not even fun foods!  But, I'd stuck to my plan, so I just didn't let myself get off my couch and back into the kitchen.  The last thing I remember was having something on the TV, noticing the time as 9:11, and then waking up an hour later.  I should have gotten up, changed my clothes, and gone to bed.  But I was too tired to move.  So I slept on my couch until midnight or so before finally making it to bed.  Sleep is much better solution for physical exhaustion than food!  And that's how I made it to day 19.

So, here I am, a week later.  I'm 25 days binge free.  Tomorrow will be 26.  I've got plans for my week and they include eating reasonable dinners, and then doing things that don't involve food.  I'm really excited that I'm almost 1 full month without binging.  This hasn't happened since the summer, if not earlier.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Friday, December 2, 2011

Return of the Bingey Monster

Remember how I posted a few hours ago that I was a full week without binging?

Well, now I'm sitting at work.  The clock has been moving backwards for the past 2 hours.  I'm bored and angsty.  I just want to run out of here and get home.  But I'm also hungry, so I want to eat, but I don't want to binge.  This requires a very strategic move.  I need to make sure I enter Port Authority at 42nd St or 40th St (not 41st St) so that I avoid the flavorful aromas wafting my way from the Auntie Anne's stand.  I then need to walk to the left and avoid the delicious scents floating out of Cinnabon and Mrs. Fields.  Once I get on the bus, I'll be okay.  Then I can have a handful of almonds before the boyfriend comes over for dinner.  Or I can stop for a latte to take the edge off so I'm less prone to find myself in any of those stores.

What's the point of this post?  Only to make it public that I am not going to stop for a sugary pretzel, sweet, sweet cookie, or a gigantic bun of sugar and cinnamon glaze.  I will be 8 days binge free tomorrow.

A Full Week

It's been a full week, a whole seven days, since my last binge.

I lost 2.6 lbs this week. 

I'm feeling confident that I can continue to eat to satisfaction and not stuff myself silly.

December is full of challenges, but I'll tackle them as they come.  I mean, really, life in general is full of challenges, so one must always be mentally prepared to handle them.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Why Do You Binge?

Chapter 3 is about exploring the reasons why you binge.

But first, do you remember how I rarely binge on Mondays?  Well, as of yesterday (Monday) morning, I was 7 days (one full week!) binge-free!  As of this morning, I'm restarting my count.  whomp whomp

So, why did I binge last night?   I can't really figure out the deep down root cause.  I can tell you I felt tired and empty.  Mostly empty.  The real problem is, I don't know why I feel empty.  I honestly, truly love my life.  There are a few things I would change, but I'm working on those.  And, for the life of me, I cannot figure out why I get this instinctive urge of "must stuff big black emotional hole with fatty fried foods and sweets."

Which brings me back to the idea of going to therapy.  In finding a new therapist, I had to make a couple of decisions.  First and foremost, should I find someone near work or near home?  I decided on near work, because it's easier for me to take a long lunch or go immediately after work, than have to worry about making sure I get out of work at a certain time and if traffic is going to allow me to make evening hours for someone near home.  I popped over to my insurance carrier's website, got lists of people who are super close to work, and started calling.  One wasn't accepting new clients, one didn't call me back, and one just plain sounded scary.  Do I keep looking for a new one?  Go back to my old one?  (I liked her, just wasn't sure I wanted to delve into this with her.  I was looking for someone who specialized more in food addiction and eating disorders.)  I'm back at Square One, and not really sure how to proceed just yet.

Back to the book.  In Chapter 3, Ms. Morrone suggests some reason why one might binge:
  1. Boredom
  2. Instant gratification
  3. To feel in control
  4. As a tranquilzier
  5. Procrastination
  6. Stress relief
  7. Anger or depression
  8. Protection from sexual intimacy
I have to admit, when I first read the chapter, I didn't think most of these applied to me.  But looking back on them now, I can identify with most of them.  In fact, I think the only ones that don't apply are protection from sexual intimacy and procrastination.  (Don't get me wrong.  Procrastination is a huge problem for me.  But my procrastination tool of choice is TV.)

I certainly eat out of boredom.  Does that make sense?  No!  If I'm bored, maybe I should exercise.  Or read.  Or watch tv.  Or play a game, call a friend, do some work.  Basically, there are many things that cure boredom.  Eating shouldn't be in that list.  Same for stress relief.  When I gained weight in college, and then again in 2007, I pretty much decided I was a stress eater.  Again, there are so many things I can do to relieve stress that do not involve eating.  Hmm... The first thing that pops into mind...exercise.  I sense a recurring theme.  Other stress relievers: sleep, bubble bath, journaling.    I never realized that instant gratification could be a cause of binging, but now I realize that it definitely can be.  Not as often as some of the other reasons, but it definitely happens.  Mostly it goes like this: Oh, potato chips, that sounds good.  Mmm...potato chips arrrre good.  I'll just have a few.  *crunch crunch* Wait...did I eat that whole bag? 

The other three, to feel in control, as a tranquilizer, and because of anger or depression, all go hand-in-hand as far as I'm concerned.  Though never officially diagnosed, I do believe I've suffered from depression, and can name a few periods of time where it was pretty bad.  And I ate and put on lots of weight during those times.  And even if we go back to the beginning of this post, it's clear that this latest binge was caused by a need to sedate myself and feel in control of something, anything.

Where do I go from here?  I think it's time to make a list of the reasons I binge and the things I could do instead of eat.  That might be a good starting point, ya know, if I remember to refer to it.

Update 11/29/11: I ended up in full-on out-of-control binge mode thru Thanksgiving.  It wasn't pretty.  But Friday I pressed the rest button and am now 5 days binge free!  Oh, and the list of non-eating things to do is complete.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Retail Therapy

The best kind.

I saved more than I spent.

And when you add it to the loot of clothes I brought home last week, I feel confident I have a good amount of flattering, appropriately sized clothes to last me the winter.

And I'm excited for spring, when I can renew that wardrobe with smaller clothes!

And I'm 5, almost 6, days binge free!

But, just one request to NY & Co. I used to love your jeans! I don't know when you decided women only want low-rise, but that's just not true. Frankly, they make my muffin top look like a dozen donuts. Get with the program and give me back my mid-rise jeans. Thanks.

Friday, November 18, 2011

4 Days Binge Free

4 days may not seem like a lot, but it feels like an eternity to me.  Seriously.

Especially since Tuesdays and/or Thursdays are my usual days to run to the grocery store, pick up my favorite binge foods, and have a secret feast when I get home.  Sometimes it's just because I'm like "Hm, I haven't had a good junk food fest in a while." (Where "a while" = a week, maaaaybe two.)  But if I'm tired (which is most of the time), worked late and/or had a long bus ride (which is often), stressed out, or emotional, the urge to binge is multiplied.

Surely enough, I felt it most strongly this week on Tuesday and again on Thursday.  Why those days?  Well, Mondays I'm usually busy.  After I leave my day job, I rush home (as much as one can rush when they have no control over traffic or the bus), freshen up, and run to my Mary Kay meeting.  Sometimes I have time for dinner, sometimes I have time for a quick snack, sometimes I don't eat until after the meeting.  If I wait until after the meeting to eat, it's touch and go.  I can either stop at one of the multitude of fast food places on my way home, stop at the grocery store, or figure something out when I get home.  I've done all three, but usually it's one of the latter two.  Usually, I'm just too exhausted to think much about food when I get home on a Monday night at 10pm.  Though, sometimes this can lead to mindless eating and a mini-binge.

Wednesdays don't get really bingey for me because that's night my boyfriend, Hamad, comes over for dinner.  He usually snacks on either chips or cheese and crackers while I cook. I usually have a little, but not much as I'm busy in the kitchen.  Dinner is pretty easy for me to portion control.  I usually only get into trouble if we have bread on the side and/or cookies for dessert.   But for the most part, I retain composure.

Fridays and Saturday are similar to Wednesdays.  And if I'm not eating with Hamad, I'm usually eating with someone else.  If I am alone, I don't usually get a huge bingey feeling, because I've usually fulfilled that on Thursday night.  Sundays are a toss-up.

I just don't know what it is about Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Perhaps that I have the time?  That I can actually allow myself to be exhausted because I don't have to go anywhere?  I really haven't figure out why these days.  But anyway, I made it through both Tuesday and Thursday without binging this week.

However, I was riding home yesterday (Thursday) and felt completely filled with angst, almost shaking from the amount of anxiety running through my body.  I wanted to eat.  Not, "I'm hungry, I'm ready for dinner."  Not, "Oh, I've got this fabulous meal planned for tonight."  It felt strange, but it was very clearly that I had this instinct to pretty much stuff myself with food.

I told myself I wasn't going to do it.  I even thought about running to the grocery store for something I needed, and decided against it because I didn't trust myself to not stock up on binge foods.  I ended up going straight home, and having a snacky dinner of cheese and crackers.  It was supposed to be a snack, but it filled me up and I never got around to making dinner.  Admittedly, it's not the best dinner option.   

But, I didn't binge!

As far as my course of action, I've been wishy washy.  I have put off Overeaters' Anonymous.  I'm not really sure why, but for now I'm not going to put myself into that setting.  I have attempted to contact several new therapists, but it's proving difficult to find someone who is either accepting new patients and/or will call you back.  I'm still working on it, and debating if I should call up my old therapist.  I have decided to adhere to Weight Watchers.  I think I need the structure of counting Points Plus, since I can't trust myself at the moment.  I'm still working my way through Overcoming Overeating: It's Not What You Eat, It's What's Eating You by Lisa Morrone, PT.  I've gotten through Chapters 3 and 4, so expect some entries on Why I Binge, and The Not-So-Merry-Go-Round of Food Addiction this weekend.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Costs of Overeating

Sorry for the delay on this. Things were a little weird yesterday, but here it is!

In Chapter 2 of Overcoming Overeating: It's Not What You're Eating, It's What's Eating You, Lisa Morrone discusses the costs associated with overeating.  She goes into several of the costs, and goes in depth, but I'm outling here the ones that I found applied to me.

Loss of attractiveness/self-confidence
This is the first cost Ms. Morrone discusses, and it applied to me in so many ways.  I feel like I'm a fairly self-confident person.  I can make numerous lists about all the positive qualities about myself.  However, when it comes to my weight, I have just felt like a huge failure.  I no longer feel attractive.  I hate that my "fat" clothes no longer fit, because I'm at my all-time heaviest weight.  I have a diminished sex-drive, and it has not gone unnoticed.  I don't generally like the way that I look.  I finally gave in and bought new clothes, in a size I've never worn before.  I finally feel like "Well, okay, at least these are more flattering to my body."  Yet, at the same time, I'm disgusted that I had to buy a bigger size.

Health Costs
"Whether or not you want to look at it this way, the reality is that you are slowly committing suicide by remaining overweight.  The excessive food you put into your mouth is having a poisoning effect on the organs and systems in your body. Being obese decreases your life expectancy by 7 years." (pg. 34)
I'm not going to get into all the sciencey stuff regarding how being overweight/obese affects one's health in general.  I will, however, say that I have seen direct results with the last 10 or so pounds I've gained.  For one, I have trouble breathing when I walk up more than one flight of stairs.  I've noticed my ankles becoming swollen more often than usual.  Neither of these are acceptable to me.

The chapter also touches on things like heart disease, stroke, type 2 Diabetes, dementia, and degenerative diseases such as arthritis.  All of these run in my family, and I desperately want to diminish my risk of developing any of these.  It's suggested to go to the doctor for a full check-up and fasting bloodwork just to find out where you stand.  However, I routinely go for a physical, and just went this past July.  The only issue with my bloodwork was my iron, but I had just donated blood recently, so it wasn't even a major concern.  There were no other pressing issues that the doctor brought up, but I'm also not sure if it was before or after my 20 lb gain.  I do know my blood pressure is fine, as that was taken about a month ago.  It always takes months to schedule a physical with my doctor, so I'm not going to redo this again.  (Plus, I'm not sure my insurance would cover it since I had one 4 months ago.)  But I'm going to make sure to go through all of it in detail with my doctor when I go for a physical next summer.  And in another 8 months, I'll hopefully have lost quite a bit of this excess weight.

Loss of Self-Trust
This was not in the book, but it's something I've noticed in my self lately.  There have been a few times where I've come close to having an anxiety attack simply deciding on what to have for a meal.  I feel like I've distorted my thinking and I no longer really understand what is "okay" to have.  I really do believe in the concept of moderation and being able to enjoy treats every once in a while, or even have dessert daily, but I've lost the concept of moderation.  That muscle has completely atrophied from lack of use.  

I've heard plenty of times that trust has to be earned, especially when it has been broken before.  I never realized this could apply to your relationship with yourself, but this is definitely what has happened to me.  I spent the past two weeks working on making better decisions and completely shaky as to whether or not I was making good decisions.  However, after a few days of knowing I've made good decisions, I'm starting to earn back that trust in myself.  I'm hoping that if I focus on the things I'm doing right, rather than the fact I let myself down in the past, I can start trusting myself to continue to make good decisions.  I've started keeping an NSV Log to focus in on the things that are going right.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Sensory overload, that is.

I think I'm giving up on OA for now.  I'm not sure why, but it just doesn't feel quite right.  I may end up there again.  I may end up finding alternative methods to deal with my emotions and issues.  We'll see.

I called several therapists last week, but I'm not having luck finding one that is a) accepting new patients or b) calling me back.  Excellent.  So I'll continue to work my way through Overcoming Overeating and writing about it here.

I've decided to continue to use the Weight Watchers e-tools for now, but I'm not following Weight Watchers.  I'm using the tracker to track my food using the Simply Filling Technique, but I'm only counting items that are trigger foods for me or if I feel I'm eating uncontrollably.  Basically, if I'm having a normal meal or snack, I'm tracking it but not counting points for non-filling foods.  If I'm eating something like candy, potato chips, cookies, fast food, things I would normally spin out of control over, I'm counting those points.

If you're unfamiliar with SFT, the general point is that you eat filling foods (WW provides a list of filling foods).  You eat to satisfaction.  You are given a set amount of points to use every week, plus activity points.  You only count points for items that are not on the filling foods list.  I've adapted this for my current needs.

So, I've refocused.  My current plan of attack:
  • Work through Overcoming Overeating
  • Focus on eating primarily real, whole foods
  • Keep a daily food journal
  • Count points for processed foods, junk foods, and trigger foods - stay within weekly allowance and activity points
  • Figure out why I want to eat before I eat.  If the reason isn't because I'm hungry or to prevent hunger (like, I'm not hungry just yet, but leaving the house for the next few hours, so I'd better eat something), then I need to find another way to spend my time.
So that's where I am at.  I will finish Chapter 2 of Overcoming Overeating and post my reactions by tomorrow evening.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Road to Recovery Begins with a Single Step

Welcome to my new blog!

My other blog, Passion & Zest, was started a few months ago to explore new and old passions and find some creative outlets for myself.  At several points, the blog took a turn toward my relationship with food and my commitment to healthy eating.  Or rather, how difficult I've found it to commit to healthy eating and how my relationship with food has become disordered.

About a week ago, I wrote a very emotional post in which I came to realize that I may have an eating disorder.  Binge Eating Disorder (BED) or Compulsive Overeating (COE), to be exact.  So far, this is a self-diagnosis.  But it has scared me to realize that this could be a real problem I'm facing and I have decided to take action.

I decided that blogging would be a good tool in helping me to work through these issues, but didn't want to turn Passion & Zest into a weight loss or recovery memoir, so I've started fresh. 

I'd like to say that in the past week I've abstained from compulsive or binge eating, but it isn't true.  What is true is that I've been very cognizant of the choices I've made.  There have been times when I've overeaten, even mini-binged, and times when I've willed myself not to give into binge temptations.  And by "willed" I usually mean I generally distracted myself for long enough that I was no longer willing to prepare the foods I thought I wanted.

I have also taken a few steps toward recover.  I joined Overeaters Anonymous.  Though I have yet to make it to a face to face meeting, I have joined an online group geared at newcomers to the program and have attended some online meetings that are held via chat room. I have also picked up a few books to work through, and am in the process of finding a therapist who specializes in eating disorders.  I have decided that, for the moment, I'm focusing on the head stuff.  For the first time in years, I am not going to fuss over the weight loss stuff right now.  I believe if I fix the head stuff, the body stuff will follow. 

The first book that I am working my way through is Overcoming Overeating: It's Not What You Eat, It's What's Eating You! by Lisa Morrone, PT.  I have just finished the first chapter, at the end of which she asks to note our starting point.  She uses three assessment tools: Body Mass Index (BMI), BMI with waist measurement, and Waist to Hip Ratio (WHR).  Ms. Morrone asserts that "A reality check is never easy, but there will never be recovery without it." So here goes:

Reality Check: November 9, 2011
As of this morning, I weighed an even *gulp* 191 lbs.  I'm 5'3", or 63 inches.  In case you've ever wondered how to calculate BMI, it equals (weight in lbs * 703) / (height in inches squared).
Because I'm a dorky math lover, I'll jot it out for you:
BMI as of 11/9/11 = (191 * 703) / (63 * 63) = 33.8 = OBESE


Next up, BMI combined with waist measurement.  My waist currently measures 38 inches in circumference at my belly button.

When a waist circumference over over 35 (for women - over 40 for men) is combined with a BMI over 30 the risk of obesity related diseases is "very high."

double yikes

The last measure is Waist to Hip Ratio.
Waist: 38 inches
Hips: 46 inches
WHR:   .83
A healthy WHR for women is .7 (.9 for men).

triple yikes

Anyway, there it is.  My reality check.  My starting picture is below.  Sorry for how bad it is, but I have an awful full length mirror.  I could ask my cats to take the picture of me, but I'm pretty sure they'd just give me a dirty look.