Round And Round She Goes

Anniversaries are important markers in our lives that can elicit a wide range of emotions. October 1st is one of those days for me. If my marriage didn’t end in divorce, I would have been celebrating my 34th wedding anniversary today.  It was also 3 years ago today I decided to start this blog.

I’ve experience countless ups and downs since walking down the aisle and starting my online venture… heck, I had a half dozen ups and downs since breakfast! Just as the image below demonstrates, a life well lived isn’t linear – if it were it we’d be dead.

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Unfortunately, this image also resembles my weight fluctuations over the years (this is the only area in my life I wish would flatline!). It would be nice to know what it feels like to wear the same outfit year after year rather than rifling through my select-a-size wardrobe.

Although I managed to lose a few pounds last month (yay!), I am cautiously optimistic. This up-down-up-down on the scale is as natural to me as my in-out-in-out breathing. Blogging about my struggle with my weight has given me an opportunity to analyze my unhealthy relationship with food (Ha! I’m my own shrink!). What I’ve learned is my overeating never had anything to do with hunger, but rather a means to suppress feelings of discomfort that arise. When an issue comes up, I start mentally binging on it like a jacked-up gerbil on a hamster wheel – round and round and round and round! I’m not saying I’m cuckoo like Cocoa Puffs, but I am rather tenacious when my mind starts to spiral and I get caught in a loop of negative thinking. Then I turn to flour and sugar products to flood my mind with all the (temporary) feel good chemicals they release in my brain to drown the negative ones… boy, it’s crowded in my noggin!

I often think of the Israelites whose exodus from Egypt to the Promise Land should have taken just 11 days, but instead, their stinking thinking and headstrong ways had them going in circles in the wilderness for 40 years! Can you imagine the well-worn path they must have made?! Eventually, well-worn paths become ruts, and the deeper the rut, the harder it is to get out of.

Well guess what, I’M AN ISRAELITE! My life, like everyone with a pulse, will go up and down, but mine also goes round and round at the same time!  Round and round she goes, where she’ll stop nobody knows. How do I get off this crazy ride?!

The only way is to PAUSE… to STOP dead in my tracks and not take another step on the road that leads me right back where I started. I want to get out of my rut and into a groove. To me, being in a “rut” is a mechanical, tedious exercise in futility that gets you nowhere, whereas being in “groove” is a rhythmical movement with a lot of shimming, swaying and sass – just ask Stella!

Therefore, with the desire get out of my rut, I am going to hit the PAUSE button on a few activities, including writing the blog for a while. This is not goodbye, but rather a brief hiatus until I am out of my wilderness and walking towards my promised land.

Until then, I wish you all good health and happiness.

To find out what I lost last month, click here.

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White Rabbit

In 2010, I went on a Caribbean cruise with my buddy Dave and his family. I was the solo Canadian among six Brits, and despite being picked on for not enunciating my “t’s”, I had a wonderful time with my friends. It was a time of restoration, exploration, and celebration. Dave and his wife Jo were celebrating their 25th anniversary, and Dave’s mum, Margaret, was celebrating her 80th birthday.

Margaret is your typical English gran – proper and delicate, except when the band started to play! Boy, that woman can cut a rug! She was the first on the dance floor, and the last one off, and if there’s any such thing as a dance-hangover, Margaret had one every morning.

She was the last to join us for breakfast one day, looking a bit rough.  She clearly over did it the night before – it was Disco night on the Lido Deck and she out hustled, bumped, and YMCAed us all, including Juan, the cruise dance instructor, who was in his 20s! I think she broke him.

“Good morning Margaret. How are you feeling?” I asked.  The petite woman didn’t utter a word until she took a sip of her tea, and then said, “White rabbit.”

I cocked my head wondering if I heard her correctly, but no one batted an eye. Then she said it again.  Holy sh*t, was this poor woman having a stroke? Then, one by one, the others at the table followed suit.

“White rabbit.”

“White rabbit.”

“White rabbit.”

What the?!

Margaret went on to explain that uttering “white rabbit” first thing in the morning, on the first of the month, is meant to bring good luck for the rest of the month.  Oooookaaaay… whatever floats your boat. My culture is not without its superstitions, so who am I to judge.

I completely forgot about Margaret’s tradition until I started the blog two years ago, when I decided that the first of the month would be my weigh-in day. Before stepping on the scale, I’d whisper, “white rabbit” under my breath, praying that the weight loss gods would be kind.  For the most part they were, but over the last four months, I dreaded the first of the month, the scale, and that freaking white rabbit, which I’ve been wanting to fricassee ever since!

My post is late because I’ve been procrastinating disclosing this month’s numbers. Last month I got away without reporting my stats because I was on vacation. I secretly hoped that having an extra month would buy me time to get back on track, but my addiction has a grip on me stronger than ever before. Every time I step on the scale I’m shocked at how the needle defies gravity and continues to skyrocket toward the stratosphere of my worst nightmares! How is it humanly possible to gain at this rate? I know, evil elves must be secretly sewing lead into the hem of my jeans while I sleep! But I weigh-in naked, so there goes that theory.

You are either in recovery or relapse if you are an addict. I am not in recovery. I know it, and so does EVERYBODY else.  A fellow in program who hasn’t seen me in a while asked how I was doing. When I said I was struggling, she scanned me from head to toe, focusing on my saddlebags of truth and said, “I can see that”. Ouch! But what am I pissed off at? Her having eyeballs, or me shoveling food down my throat the same way they do to fatten a duck to make foie gras?

Unlike most addictions, I can’t hide mine, so there’s no use putting this off any longer – it’s not like anybody who interacts with me face-to-face can’t see I’m in serious relapse – but I’m embarrassed to reveal just how off the beam I’ve been to those of you who follow me via the blog. It’s equally as embarrassing asking to “borrow” the size 10, 12, and 14 clothes I passed on to my friend since I can’t get into the size 8 clothes in my closet (lucky for me, she’s pregnant and won’t have use for them until after the baby is born!).

They say in program the only way to be successful is to be honest. I have not been honest with my sponsor, my fellows, or myself. I know lying about eating isn’t one of the top ten no-no’s on Moses’ tablets, but when it comes to my mental, emotional, and physical health, I have to be honest, otherwise I can’t get the help I need.

I’m dejected, but not defeated. I hear testimonies of hope from fellows in program who’ve been in longer periods of relapse, and have not only reclaimed their recovery, but are maintaining it, and it all started with being honest. So, here’s the truth of where I am in my illness:

  • I’m currently in its clutches.
  • I’ve been eating in secret until I my hips, butt, and thighs outed me.
  • I’ve eaten to the point of blackout – something I’ve never experience before, proving that addiction is progressive.
  • I have not been living a weighed and measured life. I’m still an all or nothing gal and either jump all in, or don’t even try. When my life is out of balance, so is my eating.
  • I’ve been pissed off at my Higher Power… but I’m coming to see that I’m treating Him like a genie expecting my prayers and wishes to be granted. When they don’t I spite Him, and the rest of the world by eating. It’s an “I’ll show you, I’ll kill me!” sort of dance I’ve been doing with the Almighty.
  • My addiction isn’t just physical, it’s driven my mental and emotional state, especially when I’m not living in the present… my heart has either been wallowing in yesterday’s regret and remorse; or my head is spiraling in tomorrow’s dread and worry. I know I can’t control the past or the future, but I sure have been trying to suppress the feelings they bring up with food.

They say the truth will set you free (and so will letting go of the Doritos). So here I go again, admitting my powerlessness over my drug and the reality of my current state.  *Sigh*

Until the next white rabbit hops along, I wish you all peace and serenity.

To find out how much I gained over the last two months, click here… brace yourself, it’ll be a shocker!

Thank you once again to the talented Nathan C. Younger for his awesome illustrations!

Mountain, Lakes, and Waterfalls

We interrupt this regularly scheduled blog post for collecting bucket list checkmarks! Oh joy!!!

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Lake Louise – check! Check! And check!
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Bow Lake (Banff National Park) – check!
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Moraine Lake (Banff National Park) – check!
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On top of Whistlers Mountain (Jasper National Park) – check!
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Riding BEAR-back – check!
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On top of Mount Rundle (Banff National Park)- check!
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Walking on Athabasca Glacier (Columbia Icefield) – check!
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Takakkaw Falls (Yoho National Park – BC) – check!
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Banff Springs Hotel – check!
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Jumping for joy at the Glacier Skywalk (check out the glass-floored observation platform) – check!
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Banff Bucket List mug – all checked off!
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Met my grand-puppy Fynnegan for the first time. Furball of pure joy!

Falling Up

Have you ever lost your footing and tumbled down stairs? I’ve had a few doozies in my lifetime (my brother-in-law won’t let me forget one in particular, since it happened when I met him for the first time!)… but falling down is easy, what takes skill is falling up. My daughter was masterful at defying gravity and fell up regularly. I came to recognize the unique sound that accompanied her wipe-ups, and now I hear the same sound in my head whenever I break my abstinence and fall up the scale.

In program, they say you’re either in recovery or relapse, and for the last two months I haven’t been able to get, or stay abstinent. I can’t seem to get my head back in the game. I manage a few days’ flour and sugar free, but then I’m jonesing for a hit. With this many tumbles you’re bound to get bruises, and mine are showing up on my spirit, and resolve.  My greatest fear is falling right back up to 259 lbs., and if I keep trending with 5 lbs. monthly gains, like I have for the last 2 months, I’ll be back in my cellulite prison in less than 2 years.

Two weeks ago, I felt so defeated I told my sponsor I was leaving the program. Despite my decision, I decided to go to one last meeting so I could say goodbye to my fellows, who have become like family. Thank God I went! They surrounded with love and support, and urged me not to leave “the rooms”, even if I’m not abstinent. I needed to hear their message of hope, especially from those who lost their abstinence for a prolonged period and eventually got it back.

I know it’s not going to be easy… one fellow likened our experience to falling out of a fast-moving train, and then trying to get back on while it continues to barrel down the tracks! Hard as it may seem, they’ve proven it can be done, so I must tell myself that relapse doesn’t have to mean collapse.

I must also remind myself that information may lead to revelation, but if I don’t act, there won’t be transformation. That’s why I must treat myself as though I’m in intensive care for the next 90 days, so I can focus on my recovery and fully detox.  Once the flour and sugar is out of my system, I’ll feel better physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I know when I’m grounded in these areas, I’ll stop falling up, down, and sidewise!

My prescription for healing will be administered through the tools of the program:

Start my day with 30 minutes of quiet time

Morning and evening readings and prayer

Journaling

Practice gratitude

Make a minimum of 3 outreach calls daily

Attend 3 meetings weekly

Work the 12-Steps

Since there is no time like the present to start getting well, I would like to practice a little gratitude for the remainder of this post.

🙂 I’m grateful that a program of recovery for food addiction exists.

🙂 I’m grateful for the family and friends who continue to support me on my journey, regardless of which direction I’m falling.

🙂 And today, I’m particularly grateful to be celebrating my country’s 150th birthday.  Happy Birthday Canada!

To find out which direction I fell last month, click here.

(Note: I will upload my progress photos in a few days. Believe it or not, my friend Cindy, who normally takes my photos, took a tumble today and injured her foot. Wishing you a speedy recovery my friend!)

 

The Saddlebags of Truth

My favourite movie montage of all time is the training sequence in the 1976 blockbuster, Rocky. Set to Gonna Fly Now, this three-minute clip encapsulates the determination of pop culture’s most famous underdog.

This song revs me up every time – that’s why it’s been on my workout playlist for years! I instantly channel my inner Italian Stallion when it comes on and somehow I manage to run faster than my thunder thighs can take me. I pump out 3, sometimes 4, push-ups! Whoot! Whoot! I even feel the strong desire to bolt up a flight of stairs two at a time just so that I can do a victory dance when I get to the top. Heck, I’d even wail on side of beef if I had access to a meat locker! Can I get a ‘Yo! Adrian!’ from the congregation?!

But that was Rocky’s epic montage, not mine. If I was to create one based on the last month of my life it would pretty much be a sequence of me playing tug-of-war with myself… one side pulling me into a vat of flour and sugar, the other pulling me out of it… and guess what, ME always wins. Depending on the day, the track playing would either be Britney Spears’, Oops!… I Did It Again, whenever I succumbed to my drug, or MC Hammer’s, You Can’t Touch This, when I resisted.

I’ve had four breaks in the last 15-months, and after the first three, I got right back on track. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case when I broke the last time. I’m not only embarrassed to admit I haven’t had more than 5 straight days of continuous abstinence since returning from vacation last month, but I’m freaking out because my food obsession is stronger than ever. If you’re an addict you’re either in recovery or relapse. If I was an alcoholic, you would say I’ve fallen off the wagon. In programs for food addiction, we refer to it as being off the beam.

I’ve reached out to experienced, long-term members who’ve been in where I am today and they tell me my disease is manifesting itself, and I’m choosing the disease. Rocky wouldn’t have chosen the disease; he would have fought back! As much as I want to be a champ like Rocky, I find myself relating to another legendary icon… Pinocchio.

You all know what happened to poor Pinocchio when he was mischievous…. Well, the same thing happens to this food addict when she’s naughty, but instead of sprouting a super schnoz, I sprout the saddlebags of truth!

Since falling off the beam a month ago they’ve grown 1.5 inches!!! If you ever want to know how I’m doing mentally, emotionally, or spiritually, read my hips! I’ve gained 5 lbs. since last month’s weigh-in, and although that doesn’t seem like a lot, it’s a big deal for a food addict.

Ironically, I was just 5 lbs. away from my goal when I began this downward spiral. If I didn’t know any better, I would say this is a classic case of self-sabotage. I guess the appropriate song for where I find myself today would be Simon and Garfunkel’s, Slip Slidin’ Away, because the nearer I get to my destination, the more I’m slip slidin’ away.

For my monthly measure up results, click here.

Outside In

I’ve got me a bad case of the feels right now. There’s some good feels, some in-between feels, and a bunch of not so good feels swirling around within me and all I want to do is suppress them. I find myself relating to the little girl in Pixar’s Inside Out whose emotions – Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness – work together in the “Headquarters” of her mind, guiding her through life. However, there are two major differences between us, (1) I’m not animated (although I’ve been told my personality is), and (2) as an addict, I allow my emotions to be controlled from the outside in, and as a result, I often seek external solutions to internal problems.

Whenever I find it difficult to sit with unpleasant emotions I reach for one of my top three discomfort suppressants:

Shopping – the hit from acquiring something new and shiny takes the edge off;

Distraction – keeps me busy so I don’t have the time or energy to examine, let alone process what I’m feeling; and

Food – I hoover everything in sight until my tummy hurts more than my feelings.

Unfortunately, these so-called solutions are nothing more than a numbing agent… when the hit wears off, the feeling gurgles back up, and there’s a dollop of guilt frosting to top it all off.

I was in a situation recently that had my command centre going berserk. Whoever was at the helm at Mare’s Emotions Headquarters (MEH) was frantically mashing every one of my buttons.  It seemed like every emotion was put through a garburator and came out chewed up and mangled. You’d think being in a 12-step program for a little more than a year I’d learn a thing or two about managing my emotions and not giving in to compulsion, but I got temporary amnesia and turned to ALL THREE of my numbing agents instead of reaching for one of the tools the program.

What I did was take my will back, and my will had me face-planting in rice pudding. Rice pudding! I don’t even care for rice pudding! When I fessed up about my break, my daughter looked at me baffled and said, “It’s like you wanted to break but you didn’t want to enjoy it. It’s like saying, “You can’t ground me for missing curfew because I was at church.”” If anyone reading this is a psychoanalyst, I wouldn’t mind knowing the answer to her question either!

I realize that working a 12-step program for food addiction doesn’t guarantee I’ll never eat a flour or sugar product again – all addicts are just one bite, one drink, one snort away from falling off the wagon, regardless of how many years of abstinence or sobriety they have. And I’m not belittling my progress – losing 122+ lbs. is nothing to balk at.  It’s just disappointing to be strutting your stuff one minute, and then picking yourself up off the ground the next.

I may not have found a happy Pixar movie ending to my food addiction yet, but I was given the gift of awareness this last break.  They say in program that the food is the last to go, and when I examined each break that was indeed the case. I didn’t pause, or call before taking the bite.  I didn’t get to all my meetings, and I didn’t get enough sleep. But most importantly, I lost my routine of quiet time with my Higher Power, and as result I became easily overwhelmed by emotional events and circumstances.

I realize now if I don’t spend my 30 minutes at day fortifying my mind, body, and spirit in quiet prayer and meditation with God, I leave the door to MEH wide open making me vulnerable to outside influences which ends in relapse.

The Results Are In

To find out how much I lost last month, click here.

 

Chaos Stew

Today is April 1st and that means many things in my world:

  1. First and foremost, it’s my daughter’s birthday… happy birthday angel face!
  2. It’s the 31st anniversary of my 14 hour labour of bringing said angel face into the world,
  3. It’s April Fool’s Day and I get to get my prank on,
  4. It’s weigh-in day, and
  5. I update the blog with my monthly post.

Typically, my posts are ready a day or two before uploading, but today I’m winging it. (Geesh, how did I do it when I posted twice a week?!). I could say that I don’t know how time slipped through my fingers, but that would be a lie. I, in typical Mare fashion, bit off more than I could chew and am now bathing in a bubbling vat of chaos stew. I may have mastered weighing and measuring my food (yay!), but I still have a way to go in the other areas of my life (boo!).

When I’m not mindful, I binge on life as if it’s an all-you-can-experience buffet, gulping and cramming my schedule with fists full of events, tasks, and commitments. Why stop at one helping of socializing, when you can have seven?! Why volunteer for one cause when there are so many worthy causes? Why clean out one closet when you have a two-story townhouse with many closets, a basement, a storage room, AND a garage you can pull EVERYTHING out of because you got in the mood to do spring cleaning the moment you heard the first Robin chirp, and as a result, you feel like you’re in an episode of Hoarder’s, buried up to your eyeballs with every possession you own, and then have to sacrifice two valuable vacation days in order to Jenga everything back into place???!!!!  Whew!

Why do we do this to ourselves? Okay, why do I do this to myself? As an addict, I operate under the ‘I want EVERYTHING, ALL the time’ model. I forget that life is about choices. ALL is a choice… so is yes, no, pause, stop, go… and every choice has a consequence.

When I was in the food and binged on anything and everything before me, the consequence was poor health and low self-esteem, resulting in carrying 259+ lbs. on a 5’3.5” frame. The same applies when I fill my schedule with more activities than hours in the day, the important things (like writing this blog) get watered down, and I never truly savour an experience.

Some choices have lasting repercussions, like getting a bad tattoo, Brexit, or voting for Trump. However, we addicts are blessed – whatever we chose yesterday does not have to be what we choose today!

To find out how much weight I lost last month, click here.

 

 

Flabulous!

I never thought I’d be liberated from the cellulite prison I was bound to for more than three decades, but here I am down 120+ lbs. living the life I dreamed of every time I started a diet.

Shedding the weight has freed me from belt extenders on airplanes, hideous plus-sized fashion, and judgmental glances at all-you-can eat buffets. I don’t need to use my inhaler after going up a flight of stairs any more, and the thought of going through a turnstile no longer brings on an anxiety attack – can I get an Hallelujah from the choir?!

I walk, and sit, and sleep, and twist, and run, and jump, and Cha Cha with ease. I look forward to exercising – I never thought I would say that! Boxing? Bring it! Weights? Spot me! Jogging? Love it! Heck, I run now even if someone doesn’t shout, “SHOE SALE!” I even get my Namaste on and downward dog with all the bendy girls!

You would think that I’m finally happy in my own skin, right? I would be if it wasn’t loose and saggy. I didn’t realize how much damage I’d done to myself until I deflated. The fat may have melted, but the loose skin, remnants of my former self, will never let me forget my self-abuse.  With clothes on, I can get away with looking “normal”- garments act like sausage casing keeping me together. However, in my birthday suit, I look like Dali’s melting clocks all wobbly and oozy, or like the dough that spilled over the sides of the bowl when I added too much yeast.  Embarrassing!

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Perky has left the building and droopy now takes centre stage. There’s so much flipping and flopping, wiggling and giggling, I get motion sick taking a shower. I wear goggles when I take my bra off at night – the girls hit the floor and ricochet from floor to ceiling. Still can’t envision what I’m talking about? Picture Slimer from Ghostbusters, or Jabba Da Hutt from Star Wars – THAT’S what under my Size 8 Calvin Klein’s.

Sorry to be blubbering about my blubber, but it is sucking the joy out of my transformation.  Now that I’m nearing the end of my search for my after photo, I’ll be setting off on a new quest in search of a plastic surgeon!

To find out how much weight I lost last month, click here.

What The World Needs Now

It’s ridiculous writing about weight loss when the world is going crazy. As I write this, that Oompa Loompa in the White House imposed a travel ban preventing refugees from entering the very country whose rallying cry is “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” and my country mourns as six Muslims were shot and killed in a Quebec mosque.

Disturbing news like this would have led me to the fridge, now it gets me to my knees. Food, or any other addictive substance, may numb us for a short time, but once the effects wear off, the problem is still there, and we are worse for wear.

It was a year ago this very weekend that I numbed myself stupid for the last time. I got some news I didn’t know how to process, so I did what I always did when I felt discomfort rise up within me – I rammed it back down with fists full of food. When I came to, my problem was still there, and I was sporting seven extra pounds as a souvenir – pretty impressive for two-and-a-half day bender!

So, what got me to change a lifelong pattern of self-destructive coping? Prayer and action. I couldn’t change my situation, but I could change me, so I joined a fellowship of food addicts in recovery, and TOGETHER we support each other through life’s ups and downs.

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Instead of looking for a solution at the bottom of a Nutella jar when a problem arises, I say The Serenity Prayer and decipher which course of action to take. For example, I can’t change that buffoon south of the border, but I can do my part in preventing the spread of his moral and ethical herpes by vaccinating my mind, body, and spirit, with the antidote: LOVE.

The day after Trump announced the bans, I signed up to volunteer my time assembling medical kits for doctors who go on missions around the world – the thought that this medicine will get to the very souls that Trump is trying to keep out lights me up more than any of my binge foods ever could!

Yes, what the world needs now is love, sweet love! I suggest we counter every act of destruction, hate, and discrimination with constructive, healing acts of service and love. We addicts can only do that if we put down our forks, bottles, syringes, joints, etc., and take action in making the world a better place.

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To find out how much I lost last month, click here.

The Joy of Less

Happy New Year everyone! I pray that 2017 will bring you health, happiness, and an abundance of joy. I’m finding the older I get, these are the things I want to fill my life with – the ones that don’t have a price tag.

I didn’t always get that. I, like many, used to bow to the god of all things shiny and crammed my house with so much stuff I got carpal tunnel dusting it all… wall-to-wall shelving units teeming with books, DVDs, and tchotchkes; Rubbermaid totes packed with craft supplies; and a plethora of pashminas, if tied end-to-end, could stylishly wrap Tutankhamun and his entourage.

At the same time, my hoarding spilled over from the shelves, onto my plate and down my gullet. Bingeing became my way of stockpiling excessive amounts of food in a frame that simply couldn’t contain it. As a result, I lived in an unruly body that was bursting at the seams with cellulite and misery. Mercifully, my compulsion to overindulge is being arrested a day at a time by working a twelve-step program for food addiction.

These valuable lessons are positively influencing all areas of my life. For example, as my waist shrinks, so has my consumer waste! I’m starting to be just as deliberate with my purchases as I am with my food plan. When I go shopping, I ask myself two question: (1) do I need it, and (2) do I love it? If I answer “yes” to at least one question, I’ll make the purchase. If the answer is “no” to both, I walk away. It’s not always easy, but like exercise, the more I do it, the more I strengthen that muscle.

I’ve also been going through my home, purging the excess. I ask myself the same two questions when deciding what to keep, sell, or toss. I’m discovering my townhouse isn’t as tiny as I thought!

You might think I’m being too restrictive, but actually I feel liberated! Excess has got me into a lot of trouble in the past.  Instead, I’m choosing to live intentionally, and the only things I’m interested in acquiring going forward are more friends, experiences, and stamps on my passport!

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The Results Are In

To find out how much I lost last month, click here.