I’ve made progress.

As I reflect back on the last year, versus any other time in my life I’ve noticed the difference in myself and my food choices. My brain, body and capabilities have made some incredible leaps. I, me!!! I have done this. I went from commitment, to practicing new ways of life and now I just do the things that I’ve practice, sometimes without a reminder to myself I need to do them. All have been in many different areas of my life.

I notice these changes in subtle ways through a variety of avenues. I’ve noticed that when I go grocery shopping I will rarely shop down the isles and actually I spend most of my time in the produce section when grocery shopping. There are the occasional things that I will go down the isles for which usually include pineapple out of a can, green beans, salsa, tortillas and sometimes crackers.

I cut calories. Cutting calories is an art form, and all though doesn’t seem very fun, is one of the things that helped me most with food. Cutting calories at most or every meal has really taught me a new way to consume and look at my food. It’s taught me that even though I want the cheese on my burger, I don’t need it, or those fries, or extra anything on anything. It’s taught me that food can still be good without the extra things. It helped with portion control.

One way I “cut calories” was with ranch. I will probably never use ranch again in the same way as I use to, if I use it at all. I say this because if you use greek yogurt and mix it with a ranch powder packet, you not only cut your calories but you are consuming something with less preservatives and with added protein. It’s a creative and tastier way to eat more veggies.

Another way I cut calories is in my coffee. I really love coffee, like a lot. As a side note I started to realize that one of the reasons why I loved coffee so much because it was the one thing I had in the day that I would stop for, and really take a moment to enjoy. Food was consumed as an afterthought in the day. With coffee I realized what I enjoyed about that moment with coffee. I loved the foam, and the dark warm aroma of a latte’. With that said, I cut my calories in half by getting non-fat milk, cut with water. The foam was still present, and I still got that cozy feeling I was after. I also switched to sugar free. I know what people say about chemicals and aspartame (and I know what I said about ranch dressing). But as a coffee lover, this was probably one of the most important changes in my “liquid” part of my diet. Liquid calories are tricky and add up rather quickly.

At first it seemed silly asking for my sf mocha, half water, half nonfat milk latte’. It doesn’t sound tasty and it’s not what people are use to hearing on the other end. I remember the first time I started asking for something different than the norm, it felt uncomfortable. I didn’t want to offend anyone, or make anyone upset and after watching the movie Waiting I really didn’t want to piss anyone off for making their lives difficult.

It’s a slow process, asking for what you want in your food. It takes patience with yourself as you build strength to do it and understanding that in the long run… It’s their job. It’s their job to take your order exactly how you want it, it’s their job to serve you and they will be there even if you ask for something exactly how the menu reads. After a while it gets easier, your confidence will improve and eventually you will be able to do it and even joke with the waiter or waitress/barista about it.

In time asking for the things I want has become automatic. It took me a long time to get super creative with menus. I usually will brows it and get creative with what’s on the menu because after visiting the same establishments after a while and only eating off of the salad section of their menu gets pretty boring and makes me hate eating out. I now can eat burgers with no bun and face up hot turkey sandwiches with cheese (only eating half of the bread). I also ask for light on the sauce, brown rice, and extra veggies.

It is though sort of comical to order a burger with light mayo, no cheese, wrapped in lettuce, with a side salad and no croutons (with dressing on the side of course). The waitress kind of jokes with you, and if you visit this place often they start to recognize you. In the end it’s my body, and it’s their job to make it for me.  After all, if I’m allergic to cheese or whatever I don’t ask for, and they bring it to me anyways, I could sue their asses. 😉

Other ways that I’ve made progress are in how I talk to my friends about food.

The biggest way I’ve made progress though is how I talk to myself about food, and maybe now it’s not how I talk to myself about food directly, but how I talk to myself in response to the food I eat and my body and brain in which I have tended to put down for eating food. The last piece is something that I’m now starting to work on and struggle every day with.

Progress is made when we practice new behaviors. I only got to this point where I am through practicing new ways of living. We can only move forward if we practice and I know for myself I will only make progress in my journey through continuing to practice new ways of living. Practice and progress go hand in hand. If you are practicing new things, trying out a new recipe, adding extra veggies, or parking further from the grocery store in the parking lot you are making progress.

Next blog post, Practice, stay tuned. J

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She is still me.

I was going to write a blog post titled “I am not going to be that girl”. Meaning, I looked at an old picture of myself in full disgust of what I use to weigh, look liked and exuberated into the world. I looked gross, greasy, falling out of my clothes and sick. I wanted to write about how I saw a picture of myself in a time where I was sitting on the couch staring at my computer, being lazy. I looked at the picture and started walking around and jogging in place to up my fitbit steps. I did it because I didn’t want to continue being fat anymore.

Now I’ve already written about how critical my personal inner monologue can be, so you are probably catching on to what happened there. It wasn’t until days later, probably a week after I wrote that statement that I realized what I had done to myself. That is still me I’m talking about, right? So why wouldn’t I treat myself better?

That girl in the photo I was looking at, yes she was heavy and she may have looked hot and uncomfortable from it being summer. When people see me, they see the fat girl, I know this. It’s fairly obvious from my experience. In the long run though, she is still me. She is so much more than just fat:  She loves people, loves animals, helping, painting, music, nature, hiking, camping, her friends, flowers, cooking, shopping and so much more. Why punish myself with harsh words, it only re-enforces that I should stay there.

I know that I am really hard on myself, I have always known this. The self hatred runs deep in my veins, so deep that I use to hit myself with books in high-school. Once, In middle school once I was running late for school, I missed the bus, I held a butter knife to my wrist in hopes it would do something (I couldn’t ever really get up the courage to actually cut myself, I mean I used a butter knife). It was the only moment in life I actually thought dying would be better at this moment than calling my mom who worked so far away from home to tell her that I missed the bus to school. Maybe I missed it intentionally, I hated school. I got made fun of, a lot only reinforcing that me, myself is gross, fat and ugly.

My drug of choice, and self harm of choice was using food and well I haven’t really told a lot of people this, but picking. Picking is not something I’m ready to talk about yet though.

Mom if this is the first time you are reading or learning about myself hatred at such a young age, I am sorry you have to have found out this way. You didn’t fail as a parent; I didn’t fail as a child. I just didn’t tell you, I didn’t want you to know. I didn’t want you to have to carry another burden.

Living in this kind of fear is a learned a behavior. It’s learning from a young age that I am not worthy of loving myself, learning that I am fat and ugly. So in my battle of weight loss over the years, every time I got to a point where I’ve “Lost enough weight” that people would notice, I would reinforce those old and new voices that people implanted in my brain. That’s all you are ever going to be girl, so accept it. Those inner voices again, sneaking in, seem to be a pattern, awesome.

So it’s not that I’m not going to be that girl again… I want to learn to celebrate her and the progress she has made in and out on her journey.  Learning how is one thing, doing it day after day is another. There is more to say, though at this time I am unsure how, and what the lessons are. What I do know that my eating and foods are completely separate than what is actually happening. This is the first time I’ve looked at it from this angle. This is progress, it is a good thing. It still sucks, and what is to come won’t be easy, but it will come in time. I do know though, that I am going to be okay.

Don’t just put a band-aid on it.

I am a fairly emotional person. Most people I know already know this, though you may have gathered this information from reading my posts, OR you might be psychic. I am also empathic which challenges me on a daily basis. It’s hard sometimes to decipher my own feelings from other people’s feelings often which SUCKS. Through time, I’ve come to figure out ways to find a balance in my life with this.

In addition also have attention issues, which has been a detriment to my writing, food journey, life journey etc. I tend to get derailed often because I have the ability to lose focus quickly. I found some comfort though in coffee shops, with no time agenda, and headphones with loud music from the 90’s helps me stay on track.

One tactic that helped me significantly, especially while I was in graduate school getting through my papers was using a metaphor to describe what I was talking about. I found that it was a great way to merry two of my strongest personality traits when describing things to people. It helped me map out what I was trying to say in a way that helped my thoughts flow easily and effortlessly.

I use metaphors to help describe my experiences, break them down to understand them deeper and when I haven’t gone deep enough I will create a plan to help overcome barriers and create meaning.

With this new blog title I will complete this post.

Passion and direction through metaphors:

I was writing a previous blog post and wanted to use a metaphor to describe my own experience with eating disorders. The deeper I got into the metaphor the more wrong it felt. It is weird because I have used it often to describe my own personal experience to myself. The idea was being raw, raw and vulnerable during some of the darkest times of my journey. I described it originally as an “open wound, deeply cut, fresh, pulsating, hurting and bleeding. What you do next with that wound is very crucial for its healing and with any healing, time, healing takes time”. When you get wounded, specifically if you get scratched by a cat or cut with a knife, you first asses it and maybe ask yourself some questions: How deep is it? Do you need stitches? All the while you may be getting it to stop bleeding. You might clean it, put antibiotics on it and then what do you do next?  Most of the time you then put a band aid on it.

Finishing out this metaphor I thought “Hmm, well no wonder I’m not being successful right now, I just put a band aid on it.” I don’t want to say this metaphor has been the sole reason for holding me back, but it has been keeping me from moving forward.

When I was going to graduate school, we talked a lot about assumptions. We learned to identify our own assumptions on every level. We are always assuming or judging things, no matter what we do they will always be present in our brain and there is no getting over that. It’s what we do with them when they are identified is what matters.

Like everything that I’ve talked about, assumptions are multi dimensional. We have our own assumptions which are developed because of experiences we’ve had, and then there are the stories we tell ourselves based on those assumptions. The stories we tell ourselves are based on things that we don’t know, and based off of an experience we’ve had. In another blog post I will dive deeper into assumptions because that deserves way more attention than this blog post can offer (and understanding my own assumptions has been a crucial part of my healing on this journey).

The metaphor that I was using in the story previously, I was telling myself was that it was okay to just put a band aid on it. Which is what I’m sure you have gathered by what I’ve been telling you.  I’m  giggling to myself as I’m writing this because when I think about it, it’s kind of obvious why I haven’t been moving forward in larger strides as I had at the beginning of my food journey almost two years ago. You can’t just put a band-aid on something so deeply rooted. The story that I had been telling myself with this metaphor was holding me back from letting my wounds heal. If you do not treat a wound properly you can get an infection, and that infection only gets worse the longer you neglect it.

ALSO…. If you just put a band-aid on it, and pretend it’s not there, you are only doing a disservice to yourself. You are not giving yourself the compassion you deserve. Putting a band-aid on it, and ignoring the issue is only making it worse and festering that wound till it oozes over.

At some point, you need to peel back the band aid and re asses what is going on again, and again and again. You have to disengage from the pain, look yourself in the eye and create a list of new things to try to help heal this wound and really try them. If you are committed to healing and committed to yourself and moving forward… You will try them. You will do whatever it takes to over come this beast.

After all it’s a journey, not a destination.