Day 44: Reeling It In (Again)

I’ve been adrift, and am now attempting to regain some sense of control. My emotions (and diet) have been all over the place lately. No bingeing, which is great, but also no structure, which is not so great.

The biggest problem I’m facing right now is that I’m working two jobs in an attempt to be able to save up to move to a new apartment (provided I can find one in my limited price range, which would frankly be a miracle). I’m also trying to work more in order to pay down my credit cards, in what seems like a futile effort to fix my credit. This is probably a backwards arrangement, as one needs decent credit to get approved for a lease on an apartment. But we do what we can. Between the constant worry and the overwhelming exhaustion from working between 50 and 70 hours a week, I’m just hitting a wall. This all affects my current food habits (though not exercise – I’ve been really good about fitting in four or five gym sessions each week). Nevertheless, I’m feeling unmoored.

When I started this blog, I said that I’d be attempting to get mental help. I still haven’t, and while practicing mindfulness has been helping me curb my impulse to feed myself to death, it’s also been helping me understand when and how often and (sometimes, at least) what I’m anxious about. It doesn’t help me fix the anxiety, just see it a little more clearly. And folks, what I’m seeing is that I’m able to hide my feelings somewhat, but they color every single interaction I have in the course of a day. I’m a wreck. It’s making me suspicious and weird, overly sensitive to everyone’s mood, and critical of myself at all turns.

The anxiety can be good sometimes. It means that I’m often three steps ahead, fixing problems before people dreamed they’d occurred. But it also means that sometimes I know a problem is going to happen, and I fixate on it for days, paralyzed, until all I can do is watch it happen, then stare at the mess that’s left in the aftermath. Like, I could have prevented the issue, but I got so obsessed with it that I had no power to take any of the necessary steps. Sometimes I know it’s happening, other times I don’t. So now I’m wondering if I’m sabotaging my own life on purpose or not? How am I pushing people away with my mental issues?

One way that I’ve sabotaged myself in the past is to chronically overspend on food, alcohol, and things that I consider luxuries (but let’s face it, things that most people consider necessities now – things like new underwear when everything you own has holes in it, or toilet paper that you buy from the store, instead of stealing it from various bars, or tampons that aren’t stolen from your gym). I have culled almost every unnecessary item from my budget now. No more laundromat – everything gets hand washed from here on out. No more forgetting lunch and picking up something at the store. I eat free food at work, and I get $30 a week for other groceries. If I want to have a beer after work, it comes out of the grocery fund, which means that I can either have a beer right now, or dinner tomorrow. It’s fine, either way, but when tomorrow-me isn’t eating, she knows she can blame it on yesterday-me. Internet isn’t necessary, but it’s going to stay, since it could come in handy for freelance editing work, were I to be able to find any. I still have Spotify Premium, too, because I just can’t face the thought of no new music. Sorry, that’s a crazy expense that just has to stay. But I cancelled Amazon Prime, and I don’t pay for Netflix, I get books for free at the lending library, and I don’t buy makeup or beauty supplies or clothes. Basically, I don’t have any fun anymore, unless it’s fun that can be had for free (which does happen – for instance, a client recently gave me two free tickets to see NKOTB, Boyz II Men, and Paula Abdul).

This isn’t where I thought I’d be at 35 (being broke and/or seeing NKOTB in concert), but I’m telling myself that it’s for a good cause. If I am diligent, I will eventually be free. Once the credit cards are paid down a little, and my credit rating is up out of the dark orange, I can start saving for something wonderful, like a new pair of work shoes, or maybe a 90-minute deep tissue massage and seaweed wrap (hey, a girl can dream!). What I really want is to go out to Joshua Tree for my 36th birthday, but I don’t know if that’s something I can realistically bank on right now. I suppose I should be aiming for something a little more attainable, like mental health, and, you know, the weight loss I was hoping for when I started this damn blog.

This current stress load and all-over-the-place diet have combined to make sure that I haven’t lost any weight in a month, despite regularly working out. I’m not where I was when I started, so that’s something to be glad of, but I also haven’t dropped at all. I just keep sitting at that 190 lb. point that has traditionally been the tough spot for me. I just haven’t been as careful with monitoring my nutrition as I will no doubt need to be to make any headway. Also, with hurting my hip a couple of weeks ago, I haven’t run at all, and that was my favorite cardio. Oh well.

All I can do now is plan to do better tomorrow. For now, that starts with getting a good night’s sleep.

Day 35: Picking Up Shifts

In case you’re new to reading this blog, or just missed this little detail, I work in hospitality. I’m currently employed by two hotels – one large and efficient and owned by an international entity, and one tiny, independent boutique hotel. I switched career paths a couple of years ago, after losing my mind and hiking the Camino Frances (not that I went on a long walk because I was crazy, but rather because I thought it would be a good way to help cure the crazy, which, in a way, it did).

When I left, I knew that something had to change about my current path as an Internet marketer, since simply logging on to Facebook would often start me down a path to a panic attack. When I got back, after a month and a half of sleeping in a new town each night, I realized that one of my favorite aspects of the journey had been how kind our hosts were at every albergue (hostel). I was taken care of so thoroughly at every stop, and though I am naturally not that demanding of a person, I saw many hospitaleros (hosts) go above and beyond in caring for their pilgrim guests, from seeing to medical needs to just making sure that we had a nice, warm meal in our bellies at the end of a tough day. I enjoy loving people like this, and I enjoy being loved like this, and I thought that it would be particularly rewarding to get paid to be good to others. Of course, I was right. Some days are difficult, but most days, I really love my job(s). I wish that I got paid enough to only have one of them, but that will come, if I can just hold on a little longer.

Anyway, the problem with picking up shifts at the smaller hotel when I’m not working at the bigger hotel is that my bigger hotel job is a traditional, 8-hour shift during the day. I come in around 8am, and leave around 5pm, depending on workload. In order to fit additional shifts into my life, this means that the only time I can work at the little hotel is the front desk overnight shift – 11pm to 7am – or on weekends, as I’m doing right now (7am to 3pm). If you do the math, you’ll see why this is exhausting. My entire life is work, work out, and sleep. I’ve got my life mapped out enough to get a decent amount of sleep, but I’m standing at the front desk for 8 hours, and this is draining. I have a schedule to keep me working out and active while I’m doing the overnight shift, and also a schedule to help me make sure that every single dollar goes to where I need it – paying my rent, saving up for a deposit on a new apartment, buying better work clothes, and paying off debt. Eventually, if I really work my butt off, I’ll have paid down my debts enough that I can consider also saving for my next Camino. Hopefully I won’t be so worn out that I’ll be considering another career change, lol.

This is all going to be worth it in the end, and I have to keep that in mind. My front desk shifts are generally very easy. I don’t have to do very much besides make sure that the hotel doesn’t burn down, and set up breakfast before I leave. If I am very careful to take care of my health (eat, exercise, sleep) so I don’t get run-down, this 70-hour workweek won’t have to be a thing I keep up forever. I’ll get a raise at my day job in November, and I can also start looking to move on to another position with a higher pay grade. But it’s important for me to remember that I am not superhuman. I can’t do everything. I must stick to a very strict budget now, so that later I don’t have to work this hard any more.

My other big fear, besides physical burn-out, is that I will get too busy to meal prep, and will start eating crappy food and spending too much money on meals outside of the house. I already ate a bagel and a couple of cups of coffee with sugar this morning, which is basically poison (delicious, delicious poison). But I’m also wearing jeans, and the chub rub is REAL, y’all. It’s enough to make me reconsider my initial impulse to grab a second bagel out of boredom. It’s tough being a working stiff. But it’ll be OK.

Day 31: Cutting Back

I’m having some good stuff happen re: energy levels, so want to document it here. On Sunday morning, I officially started to cut back on my coffee consumption. I’d been drinking A LOT – at least 48 oz. of coffee (black, no sugar) every day, but sometimes closer to 72 oz. I just sipped it all day long. So that was possibly adding to my weird energy levels and anxiety, where I was always tired all day but didn’t sleep well at night, either. From now on, I’m going to keep cutting back until I’m drinking maybe a typical 12 oz. coffee mug’s worth of black coffee first thing, end of story. As of today, I had a 16 oz. iced coffee this morning, then drank water the rest of the day.

I’ve also gotten more sleep than usual the last two nights – over 8 hours, both nights! I’m about to put my computer away and try for a third night in a row. Tomorrow I need to go to work an hour early, so I can try to get at least 6 hours of sleep immediately after work, then roll into my second job feeling somewhat rested. We’ll see what happens. I have a feeling I won’t sleep, and the whole next 24 hours will be crazy. But it might work out, who knows? Lol.

As for food, I’ve been eating very basic meals. For the past three nights, I’ve eaten plain old roasted chicken for dinner (not because of any diet rules, just because I’ve been dead tired and the roast chicken was just sitting there in the fridge already). Tonight I added in a baked sweet potato to really spice up my life. This weekend I need to remember to cook up a batch of greens so I’ll have veggies on hand when I get home from the gym. I’ve been getting GNC smoothies for the past two days at lunch. I can’t really afford that kind of splurge, but they’ve also been helping with the energy level. They’ve got this smoothie called the Lovers’ Lane, which has arginine in it. The supplement is touted as having sexual health benefits for women, since it increases blood flow, but I have been getting it because it perks me up and gives me enough energy to get through the rest of my day. Plus, peach smoothies are delicious!

Tomorrow I’m really hoping that I am back in the 180’s. I’m really tired of this weird plateau at the 190 – 192 mark. I knew it was going to happen, as it’s historically always the case that I get stuck at 190 and give up. But I feel like I’m doing a great job of just sticking in there. When it came time to leave work today, it was late, and I typically would have talked myself out of going if this were a couple of months ago. But today I had a little conversation in my head about how good it was going to feel to at least get in a little bitty workout, and I believed myself almost immediately. It wasn’t nearly the same struggle that it used to be.

I play the same mind trick they use all the time in Bikram class. Bikram teachers say that you just have to stay on the mat. Doesn’t matter if you do any of the poses, just don’t leave the room. Just being on the mat gets you all of the benefits. Even if you don’t believe it at first, the longer you work at telling it to yourself, the easier it is to understand that it’s true. I just have to go to the gym. Just make the effort, walk in the door, change into my gym clothes. After that, whatever I choose to do is just fine. The battle has already been won. Some days I’m genuinely too tired to do much but a little bit of weight machine work and gentle stretching. But that’s OK – it’s still more than I would have done at home on the couch. Other days, I surprise myself and end up really pushing it on the elliptical, or attending a class and getting super sweaty 🙂

Anyway, I just need to have faith that eventually I will wake up and my new plateau will be 180. Won’t that be awesome? I’ll probably still be bitching about it, so you guys need to remind me when the time comes that I just need to stick it out, and I’ll get past that plateau soon enough, too.

Today’s Weight: 190.2 Lbs.

Today’s Exercise: 15,056 steps (including 35 minutes on the elliptical), and an 8Fit workout.

Day 23: Finding Space (Disordered)

I’m not going to attempt to put this blog entry down in any real order, or edit it when I’m done. I want to be in bed by 10pm sharp, so that gives me 20 minutes to ramble, then close this computer for the evening.

First off, here’s a thing I realized today: I weighed in at 190.2 lbs this morning, and though that’s not the first time I’ve weighed that amount this month, it’s the first Monday that I’ve weighed that. Also, if I go back and look at my weight history on a charted line, though I’ve had fluctuations since starting this new way of thinking about food and exercise, I am on a constant downward course. So yay me.

Another thing I realized today is that I’m legitimately in recovery. I’m a recovering binge eater. I have been working at this for 23 days now, and though I will always be working at it, for the rest of my life, I’ve done a good job for these 23 days. And that’s something I’m allowed to feel proud of. (Not so proud that I can go out and order pizza to celebrate, but you get what I’m saying.)

Today I went to a meditation class at my local yoga studio, and was happy to find that an old art world acquaintance of mine was leading the class. I love where his mind goes, and find him to be such a compassionate and lovely man, so it was a pleasure getting to hear his take on mindfulness. I talked to him for a little while, and it turns out that the studio will start offering a weekly meditation class this summer, so that’s exciting.

Another thing that is on my mind is not as great. My stomach feels weird. I was having cramps all day yesterday, which I assumed were ovulation cramps, since that’s a thing that happens to me. But now something just feels off. Not painful, not cramping, not bloating or constipation (although that’s certainly a thing that I need to get better about regulating). It just feels not right. So I’m writing about it here in hopes that I’ll be able to pinpoint a date and symptoms in case it becomes something more serious than not enough fiber and probiotics in my diet.

It’s 9:59pm, so I’m signing off.

Today’s Weight: 190.2 Lbs.

Today’s Exercise: 15,712 steps (9.11 miles), which includes a 30-minute round on the elliptical. Also, a 9-minute tabata routine on 8Fit.

Today’s Interactions: Various, including a long conversation about fantasy books with a coworker, a phone call with my parents, pre- and post-class conversation with the yoga teacher, and some messaging with a couple of long-distance friends.

Day 13: …

It was our Ops Manager’s last day before moving on to a cushy sales position, and the office flowed with snacks all day today in celebration of his promotion. There were doughnuts at breakfast, and I was able to avoid the box until they were gone. But then lunchtime rolled around, and they brought out the chicken wings and fried rice, and all bets were off. I ate a piece of cake, and drank a can of coke, too. Oh well, I was planning a gym visit for the afternoon, anyway.

At the gym, I was proud to up my running time a little bit. I’ve been doing 35 minutes on the treadmill, alternating five minutes of walking with five minutes of running. Today I felt a little bored after my first five minutes of walking, so I cut down my walking time to four minutes the next round, then three minutes, and then sprinted the last minute, too. It felt great, though my hip has been hurting since last week, so I really need to take care not to stress it out, even when it feels so good to be running again.

After the gym, I got a text that my old coworkers were having drinks in my neighborhood, so I went out to meet them for a second, and ended up staying for a couple of hours. They offered me a drink, but I had a club soda. It was a nice chat, and I really liked the little bar patio where we were perched up, talking. When they went home, I walked over to the grocery store to get a piece of pizza, then talked myself into a package of smoked salmon, instead. It’s one of my favorite “treats” and so much healthier than a big slice of bread with cheese and tomato sauce slathered all over it.

Man, this is the most boring post ever. I am just flat out exhausted. It’s almost midnight, and I’m yearning to be in bed. Very proud of my actions today, overall, though. I’m also happy that I woke up in the 180’s this morning. I can’t tell you the last time that I weighed less than 190 lbs, but I do know that it was not in the recent past. And for that, I’m going to bed without doing dishes. Woohoo, I’m wild and crazy!

Today’s Weight: 189.8 Lbs.

Today’s Exercise: 18,782 steps (including a 30-minute treadmill run/walk), 10 minutes of rowing, a 10-minute tabata routine via 8Fit, and some TRX stretching/foam rolling

Today’s Interactions: A 2-hour gym/gab session with Theo, and another 2 hours at the bar with Loc and Vic, talking about all kinds of stuff that would typically make me anxious and possibly trigger a binge – marketing, social media, money, politics. I stayed pretty cool, though, and really enjoyed hanging out outside my apartment, and for free!

Day 11: A Love Note

I’m not going to work out today, because I love myself.

This is a very difficult concept to work with. My mind rejects all parts of it. To begin with, the whole “I love me” thing always makes me chuckle uncomfortably. I’m still working at it. Then, part of me says, “Well, if you loved yourself, wouldn’t you be doing everything you could to be skinny?” And part of me says, “This isn’t about being skinny, it’s about being healthy – get your facts straight!” And part of me says, “Great! Since we love ourselves today, can we also eat a gallon of ice cream, and maybe drink a bottle of champagne while we’re at it?”

Sigh.

The simplest way to explain this to all aspects of me is thus:

Anna, you are a beautiful woman. You don’t need to be thinner to prove this beauty to yourself or anyone else – you’re not stupid, and if they are, that’s not your problem. You notice how people gravitate towards you when you’re smiling and happy. You know that you’re kind and accepting, and genuinely likeable. (A little weird, but likeable.) Men like you, women aren’t put off by you, animals dig you, and it’s OK that kids think you’re scary, because you think they’re scary, too.

You’ve been thinking about this carefully, and have come to the conclusion that losing weight would be the healthiest option for you, and would greatly improve your quality of life. And I love you, so I’m going to help you get there. I’ll continue to push you to new heights every day, and we’ll get some really good workouts in, and work on eating delicious, healthful foods for the rest of our life. The weight will drop off, just wait and see!

But today you’re having a particularly heavy flow day (and are out of tampons at work – awesome), and you’re in a terrible mood. You’ve been on the verge of tears for an hour now, and very snippy all day, and just generally a lot more anxious than is healthy for anyone who has to encounter you today. That’s OK. Sometimes life is hard, and I know you’re doing doing your best to not be a jerk to anyone but yourself. But see, that’s the problem. You deserve love, too.

So I tell you what – let’s take a day off from working out. Yeah, you know you can’t work out tomorrow either, but it’s really OK. You’re already 7 lbs. down; that’s a great number! We can still go to the gym, to keep the habit going, but today we’ll sit in the sauna to sweat out some of this aggression. Afterwards, we can go home, take a nice long bath, and tell this day to GTFO. We’ll do our nails, and curl up with the cats to watch something silly on Netflix. Easy peasy. Just a beautiful, relaxing evening.

(Note that nothing about this plan includes junk food or alcohol, but it does involve not having to cry while running on the treadmill, so I figure that’s an even trade off, right?)

Today’s Weight: 190.8 Lbs.

Day 4: Me, TBD

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One of the things that goes hand-in-hand with binge eating is yo-yo dieting. When I say that I’ve gained 50 lbs. over the last four or five years, it’s not like I just kept creeping up the charts in one solid, upward swing. There have been great ups and downs. My Fitbit weight record tells me that at the beginning of March, I weighed 190 lbs., and before that, I weighed the same back at the beginning of January. Last year I did the Whole30 diet, and lost 15 lbs. in a month without even exercising (which tells me that I’m probably allergic to something I’m eating, but that’s a whole other blog post). When I got back from walking the Camino de Santiago in November of 2015, I weighed 177 lbs. When I started dating my boyfriend around this time three years ago, I was hovering at 167 lbs. But in between each of those lows was a high. I’m constantly gaining and losing and trying harder and not trying so hard and giving up and actively conspiring against myself at every turn. If there were an Olympic category for mental gymnastics, I’m confident I’d bring home the gold.

This all being said, I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t pleased that I’m down in weight today, but it’s also important not to put too much emotional stock in the number on the scale. It can go back up tomorrow (and probably will, since I’m not going to the gym tonight). The important thing, much more important than numbers right now, is to keep track of how I’m working towards being a healthy, whole human being. That’s all. If I take care of myself, the results will show in many more ways than just on the scale. And I’ll still be fluctuating for the rest of my life. But the idea is to start a downward trend, and keep it going with good habits.

Speaking of good habits, tonight I’m going to be attending a new meditation group that I recently found out about. I’m a little nervous that it doesn’t actually exist, so I’m trying not to get my hopes up too much. I only heard about it via a printed paper list I found at a Refuge Recovery meeting, and I can’t find anything about it online. There’s a calendar event on the website of the actual event hall where the meeting is held, but if you click the link, it only has the time and name of the meeting. So I’m just going to go tonight and cross my fingers that some other people show up. It’s an interfaith chapel, so I’m not worried about it being a scam or anything, more that if I get my hopes up and get disappointed, it will have negative impact on my day. The interfaith chapel happens to be very close to one of my favorite grocery stores, and that grocery store happens to have some of my favorite binge food (which is actually all healthy food, eaten in moderation, but that word is currently not in my lexicon, so I’m trying to be realistic). Anyway, y’all please put some positive vibes out there for me that the meditation group does, in fact, exist.

Today’s Weight: 194.6 Lbs.

Today’s Exercise: I’ll update this later tonight. Hoping to get in a little 8Fit workout after the meditation group. If said group ends up being imaginary, I’ll probably go running, too. Later: I didn’t end up running or doing the 8Fit workout, but I did walk 15,999 steps as of now, so I’m feeling pretty good about my day.