Monday, June 27, 2011

Funny to See Evidence of an Early Start...

My earliest memories of being aware of overeating don't begin until my college years, although I was a chubby gal in 6-8th grades and felt (but didn't really look) huge in HS because of my height.

After my mom died in March, I brought home their collection of old pictures. Looking through some of them last evening turned up two tell-tale signs of an early start to compulsive overeating.

This first one was Thanksgiving dinner in 1943, making me age 1 year and 2 months. It appears to me that dinner may already have been served, but there's yours truly, still at the table, eyes fixed on the bird, intently gnawing on a turkey bone, oblivious to everything else including whoever took the picture.

Here's a closer look at my rapt little face.

And then there's this one, probably taken when I was just under two years old. Again, will you look at the frosting on this face. YUM! I'm guessing I had gotten all I could get from that beater and was telling Mom "I want the other one now."

Yep, if you want to produce a compulsive overeater, start them along the path at an early age!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

I Am a Compulsive Overeater

Being sick and coughing my head off for 2.5 months has tried my patience (Lord, please let me never suffer a long-term illness... I just don't do it very well). I've had no trouble remaining abstinent on my binge foods, no trouble at all with that.

However, I see that I'm still a compulsive overeater. For example, we bought TWO giant bags of brown rice/black bean chips at Costco about a weeks ago. Yummy, crisp, not entirely unhealthy... at least they have some fiber and lower fat/sodium than most chips. The first opened bag sits on the counter by our stove, the top rolled down and clipped with a close pin.

Not at mealtime, but between lunch and dinner, the "fever" hits me. I go to the kitchen and scan the shelves and the refrigerator. Eyes light on chips. Ah-ha, just what I need. Unroll the top, grab a handful, put them on the stove, close up the bag, and munch those yummy little morsels one at a time.

Ummmmm, those were good... think I need some more. Repeat steps x - y above, another handful on the stove. Close bag and munch.

Ummmmmm, those were really yummy... yep, more would be good and I do deserve them after all I've been through. Yet another handful on the stove. Close bag and munch.

Ooooops. Alarm bell goes off. This is compulsive overeating! I don't DO compulsive overeating anymore. I really don't. STOP! Hold it! No more. I quit.

Next day, same scenario... same bag of chips. Same repeating pattern. Once again the third handful awakened the realization of what I was doing.

Today? No chips. Right after scanning the shelves, the realization came. I fixed myself a cup of hot tea and departed the kitchen.... YAY!!!!

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Gratitude for today: Ron Mann's documentary staring Woody Harrelson called Go Further, which is entertaining, informative, fun and possibly life-changing in some ways for me and my husband. Also, modern drugs (I feel 5% better today), my husband (who suggested I stay home this evening rather than go to a vintage tall ship sailing event with him), cyber friends, and earth.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Still Raining & Coughing

Ever hear the expression, Hope springs eternal in the female breast? So it is with mine. This morning the Med Clinic called after a radiologist looked at my X-rays. Said he detected a strip of pneumonia in my left lung and wants me to begin a 10-day antibiotic prescription.

$175 visit to the pharmacy some hours later, and I'm on the treatment plan! Taking the prednisone as well. OK, chemicals, do your thing and let me move on.... back to no prescription meds... please!

No energy, maybe a tad less coughing today, not doing much, hanging in there. No energy to read much or to do any of my art projects. Maybe tomorrow, eh?

Had a little burst of energy this morning during which I cleaned the kitchen sink, counters and stove top. Badly needed and very cheering to have it done.

Have to eat full meal for breakfast so I can take the prednisone on a full tummy. Not easy for me. I generally just have coffee with milk and 9 fiber-rich crackers. Toast and eggs seemed awfully heavy this morning. Plus I ate a bit more during the day than I generally do. Regular dinner, no problems there. Tomorrow I'll try just one egg and one piece of toast. Don't want to feel like a sausage in my new jeans!

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Gratitude for the day: Doctors who care, rain flowing into our cisterns, Dirt, A Movie, and people who preserve and add to the earth's dirt, sleep, dreams (even the druggy ones), privacy, sight, clean sinks, OA meeting tomorrow morning

It's Raining & I'm Still Coughing

No gripes about the rain! I love the rain and our plants, especially the trees, need it. I say "Yay, rain!"

Coughing is another matter. Went back to Clinic today (3rd time). Saw a new Doc. Very, very thorough exam this time, with chest X-rays. She took a thorough history and checked back through my records. Our last try before sending me to a specialist is to put me on a burst (5-day treatment) of prednisone. Her reasoning is that bronchial inflammation is the root of the problem.

I know there are possible side effects, even from taking a short course. We'll see what happens. If no significant improvement in 5 days, I go back. But we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

One of my OA friends said that increased appetite is a side-effect of prednisone, even in a short treatment time. I'll be aware of that, ready with water or tea. I'm crossing my fingers for this new remedy, because I'm worn out, aching, crabby and sick of it!

* * * * * *
Gratitude for today: thorough medical attention, unexpected opportunities, new challenges, rain, dance (especially So You Think You Can Dance), my husband's generosity

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Still Coughing

I'm wondering if mindfulness can help my still persistent cough. I'm so tired of hacking and hacking. It makes my whole body hurt and it worries me as I roll into month three of this business. I vacillate between thinking I should go back to my Dr. for the third time and thinking I might be getting better and should just wait it out.

There doesn't seem to be a pattern... I have coughing fits in any place at any time.

My Dr. seemed so casual the last time I saw her, unconcerned almost.

OK, so back to mindfulness. Could I just be aware of the coughing, notice it, not judge it, notice my body reacting, my muscles working to make it happen? Could I stay calm and mindful about each cough?

In my years of Tai-Chi practice, one really valuable thing I learned was how to draw the healing energy from the universe, particularly from trees, into my body through my feet and legs, and then channel it to a specific place. Could I try to revive that practice, channeling the energy toward my bronchial passageways and lungs?

The answer to all of these questions is, yes. Yes, I will draw healing energy and be mindful.

* * * * * * * *
Today's gratitude: warmth of the sun, delicious lettuces from our garden, fresh fruits, picking and eating thimble berries, Sharon getting my haircut right this time, sitting on the deck enjoying our land.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

..."Relieve Me of the Bondage of Self"....

I opened the topic for today's OA meeting by telling the group I had reached my stated goal, yet was experiencing very mixed emotions about it. In a jumbled way I mentioned these points:
  • I felt dismay at the reactions of some... My husband, for example, said "I wish I could lose some weight" and has seemed rather aloof and cold toward me since I told him.
  • I still think of myself as "fat" or "overweight." What will it take to change that?
  • What next? There's a "let-down" feeling following completion. I wonder how athletes handle it after they win, for example, a gold medal? What is my next step? What direction do I look now? Where is my next work?
  • My achievement seems small and unimportant to me, especially compared to some I know (or know of) who have lost 90, 100, 200 pounds. What does my size 10 matter in the greater scheme of things?
  • I understand that reaching my goal doesn't mean I am "cured." If I were to return to eating my binge foods, I would regress and gain all the weight back in record time. If I do not continue to practice one day at a time and yield my will to my higher power, I will be wearing size 18-20 jeans again very soon.
  • I am afraid of complacency.
Perhaps the key to the above angst lies in prayer. I'm thinking about the 3rd step prayer, especially the line "Relieve me of the bondage of self..." What does that mean? I wish I could find a discussion of this topic on line.

For me, at the moment, it has something to do with the fences, walls, ladders and labels I surround myself with. I build walls and fences around me, which may protect me emotionally in some ways and which concurrently keep me in jail, away from discovery and change. I erect ladders that must be climbed, goal setting, yet the top of any ladder is not a stable place to stand. I label myself as fat, overweight, flabby and more, words that imprison me in discomfort.

Is this what bondage of self means? If so, I would gladly be relieved of all of it and so heartily pray.

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Gratitude for today: rain last night and moss newly greened as a result, members of my OA group, fresh raspberries available now, having more energy after being sick for so long.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Size 10 and Stuff

Size 10

A little over a year ago, I looked like an overstuffed sausage in my size 18 jeans. Today, I finally got my nerve readied to try on a pair of size 10 jeans. I've actually been thinking my 12s are a bit baggy for a while now. But it frightened me to try on 10s.

What if they actually fit? Would I have to accept myself the way I am? Would I have to stop thinking of myself as "still having a ways to go?" (That's what I always tell people who say I'm looking really skinny.)

Size 10 jeans and size medium tops... this has been my stated goal for a long time. What if I'm there?

Well, big news... I am! Size 10 in my style of jeans (Lee's classic straight leg) fits me perfectly. I can hardly believe it. I can not wipe the smile off my face. Daaaawgonnnne! Imagination that!

Now I have to consider the above questions. How will I think of myself? What will I say when folks say I'm lookin' good? Maybe just "Thank you!" Will this be a danger point for me in OA, a point of complacency about my food plan? Time will tell.

Me and My Stuff

Two months ago I wrote a post (here, half way down) about hoarding stuff. About that same time, I began to work on a piece of bead embroidery about me and my relationship to my stuff. Here's how it looks (click to enlarge):

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, Me and My Stuff
This piece totally shocks me. It really does. I expected it to look all ugly and jumbled and messy, just as I feel about having too much stuff. Instead, it's full of life, playfulness, exuberance, fun... How can this be? From writing a poem off this piece, I learned something amazing about me and my stuff, about what it means to me and a lot about why I have so much of it. It's because I'm afraid of forgetting. I wrote about it on my art blog, here.

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Gratitude for today: car wash, size 10 jeans, long days, cool evenings, check marks on my "to do" list!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Feeling a Tad Bit Better Today

Walking really helps lift my spirits!

I was having difficulty walking because we generally walk on a dirt road and whenever cars go by they raise a great cloud of dust particles that give me quite a coughing fit. The more times it happenes, the longer the fit and the worse I feel.

We took last Friday - Sunday off, hoping it would help... and it did... a little. Monday we walked on a paved road instead. Duh, why didn't we think of that sooner? Not as pretty a walk and somewhat more difficult because of steepness of the hills. But, with no dust, it went much better. So we did the same today, with almost no coughing as we walked!

Just getting out to walk and having it not be so fitful is a big boost to my moral. Maybe this bug is finally on its way out. I hope!

* * * * *

Reflecting on 257 days of abstinence, over a year of following a pretty healthy food plan through Overeaters Anonymous and nearly 4 years of a regular walking program, I'm thinking about how it all began with an attitude change. I don't even recall what brought about the change, probably many small things that added up at the right time and place. The change was a conscious decision to respect my body.

I'll say it again: I made a conscious decision to respect my body.

Below is a bead piece I did at that time. I found the feather on one of my first walks. The rock-like objects at the bottom are fossilized turtle shell, thousands of years old... gotta respect that! (Click on the picture to enlarge it.) I wrote more about this beadwork and the start of a big change here.

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, Respect
I wanted to lose weight. I wanted to be more fit. I wanted to like myself. If I had respect for myself (whether real or self-imposed), wouldn't I take care of these things? That was in August, 2007. I started to walk and I joined Weight Watchers on line. The walking stuck; the diet didn't.

It took me over two years of huge yo-yo swings, dieting and gaining it all back three times, before I stumbled onto Holy Hunger, which then got me into OA, the lifeline that keeps me off the yo-yo-coaster.

Reflecting on this today, I realize that I do, finally and authentically, respect my body.

* * * * * * *

Gratitude for today: my quilting girlfriends, fresh salad greens for supper right out of our garden, my husband's to do list, feathers, beads, sleep.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Cough, cough, cough

I can't seem to get well... I've been sick for a month now, plagued with constant, harsh coughing fits that make me feel like my lungs are turning inside out. I have no energy. I don't sleep well. Been on antibiotics, which did take away the fever and lifted my energy level a little bit. But still the coughing continues.

So I went back to my Dr. again last week. After testing my lung power and listening to me breathe, she said I might have bronchial inflammation. She prescribed an inhaler, which so far hasn't helped at all. It does make me feel as though I consumed 17 consecutive shots of espresso... talk about the jitters. Yikes! Doesn't translate into productive energy, however.

Am I griping. You bet I am. Coughed through my OA meeting this morning. Talking always provokes a spell of coughing, as does even the slightest physical activity, reclining.

OK, stop with the gripes.

Speaking of OA, I've been working on a series of bead embroideries that represent intersections in my life. The one shown below, is about the intersection of me with my higher power.

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, High Power, detail
Writing about it on my art blog, here, helped me to clarify my thoughts and beliefs about my higher power, especially about how it comes from outside of me rather than from within me.

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Gratitude for today: not coughing at the moment, eating fresh-organic lettuces from our garden for dinner every night, hot tea, getting back to reading and writing blogs.