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.

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Day 3: First Goal Accomplished

I did it. Last night I spent some time researching my health plan and figuring out who could take my insurance, and it turns out that Oschner (my old hospital/clinic) takes Cigna (my new health insurance). Today I found the courage to call and make an appointment. I was trying to get in with my boyfriend’s doctor, whom I know to be professional and accommodating, but it turns out he’s not seeing new patients right now. So I talked it through with the appointment setter, and she got me in with my old primary care physician.

I have mixed feelings on this. While I don’t have any negative memories regarding my old doctor, I also don’t have any positive ones. As I remember, she was nice, but also pretty hands-off, which didn’t do me any good then, and definitely won’t do me any good now. So I’m going to take my own advice and write down an extensive list of what I want to talk about with her when I’m there in the office, and give it to her as a bulleted list for us both to look through together.

I’m going to have to be my own advocate, and not go anywhere until she’s provided me with the proper channels to continue my journey. No more backing down. No more being acquiescent. I’m too old for this shit. I am going to kick binge eating and anxiety in the face. I am going to unravel all of these knots – physical, emotional, and mental. It’s not going to be instant, but it will happen, as long as I keep working at it, just a little bit each day.

Today’s Weight: 196.6 lbs.

Today’s Exercise: 14,827 steps (including a 30-minute run/walk on the treadmill), 7 minute tabata session

Today’s Personal Interaction: I’m adding this section because it feels right in regards to getting out of my head. Today I talked to my parents for 30 minutes on the phone. It’s never great, but I keep trying. Basically just my dad complaining for the entire time, asking how I’m doing, then immediately moving on without letting me answer. Joy. However, yesterday, I wrote three personal emails to friends I haven’t spoken with in months, and coordinated upcoming phone chats with two of my best friends in the world! So that’s a win.

Day 2: At The Office

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I changed careers a year and a half ago. I’ve changed a lot of things in the last few years, now that I come to think of it, but for the most part, it’s still up in the air whether or not the choices I’ve made have all been for the better. The career change was a definite improvement, though.

Before I decided to do something different, I was the director of marketing for an interior design firm, and later, the director of marketing for an advertising firm. I was good at what I did, but I hated it. The culture is so competitive, and the subject matter and methodology is constantly changing. Practices that can be considered gospel today all go out the window tomorrow. You’re constantly expected to train in cutting edge tech, learn new and exciting jargon, and look 110% prettier, hipper, and more fresh than anyone you meet. It’s exhausting, not to mention expensive, to pay for all of that continuing education and upkeep.

You also never leave work behind when you leave the office – it’s there with you 24/7. Social media never sleeps, and when you have 10+ clients’ social media accounts to manage, that’s hundreds of channels. I’m sure plenty of successful marketers have found a way to let it go when they want to go back to living their own lives, but I never found a way. I would wake up in a cold sweat, worried about so-and-so’s Twitter feed, and whether that new blog post I’d written for such-and-such was trending yet. It consumed me. Marketing was like a chronic illness. There was no stepping away. There was nothing but a constant sense of panic – foot tapping and nail biting and anger and fear – in my case, accompanied by lots of food in an attempt to dull the pain.

Things are different in my new job. There’s still panic, but it’s muted, and it comes from somewhere else – mostly that I now make about 1/2 of my old income. But I make up the financial loss in other ways. I can walk away at the end of the day and not take the job with me, and more importantly, I’m happy when I’m at the hotel. I genuinely love working in hospitality, despite the occasional bump in the road. With time, I’ll also begin to make more money, though right now I’m constantly on edge with how little I seem to be able to live now that I can’t spend a dime on anything frivolous. No date nights, no new shoes, no mani/pedis, no clothes or craft projects. I can’t even afford to grow a little cactus garden like I’ve been dreaming (though to be honest, I’d probably kill it). I only own one pair of work pants, and they’re starting to look ragged.

Worst of all, I can’t afford doctor visits, which isn’t frivolous at all, but rather desperately needed. I absolutely must go to see a GP in the near future, to get my general health checked, get tested for diabetes and thyroid issues, and get a referral to see a psychiatrist so I can get back on the anti-anxiety meds I desperately need. I also need to start seeing a therapist regularly. All that adds up. Even with health insurance, in a single month that’s going to be over $200, not counting meds. There’s no way for me to pay that now, so therapy is off the table until I get a raise or find a free alternative (that’s where meditation comes in, by the way). But if I really watch my pennies, I can pay for the GP. And if I’m really, really lucky, I can get the GP to renew my existing prescriptions, and skip the cost of the psychiatrist. So I’m just going to focus on being really, really lucky – and explain this all to the GP in hopes that she’ll understand.

  • Goal #1 for the week ahead is to find a GP and make an appointment for the near future, so I can be proactive about finding help for the binge eating and anxiety, plus make sure that I’m not suffering from any serious health issues.
  • Goal #2 for the week ahead is to attend a meditation meeting on Wednesday night. It’s time to start getting serious about making meditation a part of my everyday practice. Because even if I am successful at getting back on meds, I still need to be working at being mentally healthy in other ways, for a multitude of reasons.
  • Goal #3 for the week ahead is to watch what I eat and drink at the office. Quality in, quality out. Nothing from the vending machine. No stress candy or soda. Coffee and tea (black), bacon and eggs (hand to God, I get as much free bacon as I want every morning), and whatever healthy thing I bring for lunch – this week it’s leftover veggie curry and hard boiled eggs. Just those steps alone are enough to lose weight, but it’s not really just weight we’re talking about here, is it?
  • And my final goal, Goal #4, is to exercise, even if it’s nothing that impressive. Even just the minimum of meeting my steps goal on my FitBit and just doing some stretching and weightlifting at the gym is enough. As long as I’m trying harder than I tried last week, I’ll have met my goal for this week.

Today’s Weight: 197.8 lbs.

Today’s Exercise: 13,000 steps, 9 minute tabata session, 15 minute yoga session, and an hour at the gym catching up with my friend Theo (she’s brilliant, so that counts as mental exercise).

 

 

Day 1: Forming a Plan of Attack

Hi, I’m Anna. I’m 35, and I live in New Orleans. I’m introverted, I love to hike and camp, I have three cats, and I’m 50 lbs. overweight.

In the last four years, my weight has just blown up. I’m not totally sure if it all stems from a physical ailment (like when I threw my back out, or maybe a thyroid issue), or a mental ailment (addiction, anxiety, depression), or what, but it’s gotten out of control, and I want my life back. This blog is going to be my record of losing 50 lbs. between now and my 36th birthday in November.

But how did I get here in the first place?

I’ve struggled with binge eating ever since I can remember, though I didn’t know that’s what it was until fairly recently, when it started getting more intense. I’ve always eaten in really large portions, and I adore unhealthy food (who doesn’t?), but I also meet all of the classic signs of someone with a binge eating disorder. Once or twice a week, on average (depending on stress levels, typically), I eat about four or five times the amount of food I should be able to in one sitting. I eat until I’m full, then keep eating. I eat until I’m feeling physically ill, and I hate myself, and I want to die. Then I keep eating, until everything’s gone. Afterwards the “hating myself” part doesn’t go away, and it generally starts adding up from there until I go on the next binge. I’ve been good at hiding my eating from friends (it’s easier to hide from family, since they’re all a thousand miles away), but a few months ago I noticed that the prevailing thought that’s going on in my mind when I’m bingeing is this sense of trying to kill myself with food. Like the weight gain wasn’t enough? This has to end.

I also suffer from anxiety and depression, more of the former and less of the latter. Unfortunately, when my health insurance lapsed last year, I couldn’t afford the meds any longer. I desperately need to go back into therapy and also to get my meds refilled, and my new job came with health insurance, so these things are technically possible. However, I have so little cash left over after paying off bills that, though my health insurance is paid, paying the $35 copay per office visit is out of my grasp at the moment. So I’m saving up, hopefully to get to a doctor in May.

In the mean time, all is not lost. I recently discovered a group called Refuge Recovery, and started attending meetings. You can think of Refuge Recovery as being like AA, but with a Buddhist approach. The group focuses on recovery from addiction via mindfulness and meditation. Mindfulness has been shown to be extremely effective in treating binge eating/food addiction, as well as anxiety and depression, so attending the Refuge Recovery meetings gives me a nice patch of solid ground for my first steps.

And we’re standing smack dab in the middle of my other big approach to working my way out of this mess – this blog. This is where I’ll chronicle all the little steps. I’ve got a FitBit, and normally walk a little over 10k steps a day, but now I’m going to up that by starting a running program via RunKeeper and Spotify. I’m also going to go back to eating paleo, and try some adjustments to my finances to keep me from spending all of my money on food, so I can spend it where I need to – the doctor, healthy changes, and hopefully some cute new outfits for a healthier me come November.

Today’s Weight:  197.6 lbs.

Today’s Measurements:

  • Upper Arm: 15.5″
  • Forearm: 12″
  • Wrist: 8″
  • Neck: 15.5″
  • Breasts: 37″ (band), 45″ (bust), 39″ (top of bust, underarm)
  • Waist: 35″
  • Belly: 43″
  • Hips: 45″ (upper), 47″ (widest part of butt)
  • Thigh: 29″
  • Calf: 18.5″
  • Ankle: 10″