Feb 102014
 

Its late on my first full day here in Cancun and you might wonder why the heck am I blogging? Well, its not like I’m a daily or even weekly blogger anymore, I blog when I’m inspired by something to talk about. Tonight, I am inspired to talk about my progress with The Emily Program and how it has taken a huge chunk of anxiety out of my life. I know I’ve already talked about how much better my anxiety and my eating habits are, but holy cow I can really tell now that I’m on vacation.

When we are in our day to day life at home there are healthy decisions that need to be made all day….what to eat, what to wear, what’s on my schedule today, feed the cats, feed the husband (teehee), hit the showers, scheduled exercise, blah blah blah.

But, here in Cancun at an all-inclusive resort, everything is in slow-mo….hardly any decisions and I can take my time to make them, plus they aren’t that hard…..pina colada or a mojito? Heehee

In the past, I would have really noticed my tendency towards compulsive eating and my anxiety when on vacation. I would have been saying to myself all the time, “Well, I’m on vacation I might as well eat this and this and this and that and that and that……..” which would trigger guilt and anxiety afterwards OR I might have been on the other side, before I learned intuitive eating, and I could on vacation while on a “diet” Oy…that would have sucked, there are so many wonderful foods here…fresh tropical fruits, fun drinks, outstanding traditional style tacos, room service, gourmet restaurants in the hotel etc etc……being on a “diet” would have thrown my darn anxiety off the charts.

But after today, I feel fantastic.  I had more than your average number of adult beverages on the beach today, not that I was counting.  We ate every few hours when we were hungry, a nosh of tacos here, a bit of fruit there, some happy hour veggies and dip, some yummy salad and steak for dinner…..no worries, no woes, just yummy fuel on a magnificent day at the beach.

Small aside…I was finally able to go back to regular exercise after 3 months of physical therapy. I’m happy to say that after 1 month of Megan K’s Fit Body Boot Camp I’m down 3 inches off my body. No diet food, just 3-5 days a week of 30 minute boot camp sessions and intuitive eating with the instruction of my dietitian at the Emily Program (its not a food plan or a diet) 🙂 I know some people progress faster, but this is just perfect for me 🙂

<3

Merbear

Oct 092013
 

Two weeks ago I couldn’t fall asleep, I was distraught, uncomfortable and crying. I knew that the Emily Program and overcoming an eating disorder would be a long process.  A process that had to start with abolishing all food rules and learning to listen to my body. Then, I slowly learned to listen to my body and I learned the guidelines for fueling my body with what I need…and without judgement.

I spent about 2 months eating what my body craved and wanted, learning to be comfortable with not worrying about food.  That worry slowly subsided and my brain felt so much clearer, I felt so much better with everything day to day. My general anxiety lightened up….but my body didn’t…I went up about 2-3 sizes.  I had to go back to shopping at Lane Bryant, I had to put away all the cute clothes that I got in 2012 when I lost all that weight…

Now, I don’t hate myself for  that, I love myself for getting over an eating disorder and for doing what my brain needs. I could have continued on with diets…and lost weight, not gained weight…but I would have just yo-yo’ed again, its inevitable with my eating disorder history. But, even though I’m happy about the progress in my head, I was incredibly sad about what it did to my body….I was ready to just quit the Emily Program and go back to Weight Watchers…or something…..I wanted the blob attached to me to go away!!

My husband recommended that I tell exactly that to my dietitian, that I was done with putting on and maintaining weight, I needed to start working towards a weight loss goal immediately or I’d have to leave therapy.  At first I was so nervous, I didn’t want to lose my therapy or my dietitian, I had come so far.  I did it though, I kinda teared up as I told her what I needed, fearing she’d tell me that we weren’t done with learning to live without rules and learning about food exchanges and portion sizes..that it would be awhile longer. That I’d have to make the decision to leave when I wasn’t done….

But…she told me I was definitely ready to utilize my success in clearing my head of food rules and food anxiety and move forward with sculpting all the food exchange guidelines into portions/servings that had a weight loss goal.  YIPPEE!!!

Besides the fact that I have to keep a bit of a closer eye on my portions and I have specific servings a day of the different food exchange groups, this isn’t hard to do.  I have been learning and building my way up to this.  If I make a mistake…have too little or too much…its just a mistake, and because of dropping my emotional attachments to food..and my anxiety about food…I don’t obsess, I don’t blow the day or the week…I just move on.  Not that I’ve messed up really. Its only been 2 weeks and the food plan is just real food….all real food…any type of food..and lots of flexibility and exchanges….yes, I”ve been hungry a couple nights…but I realized that some of the food combinations I chose may not have been the best to satisfy me, so I adjusted…and it was okay.

The best part…I’m not craving some big snack attack, some big binge, a whole pizza or a mountain of ice cream….because I know…all those things are there…and will always be there…and I can have them whenever I want.  When I do have them, I don’t have to eat a ton, because again..I can always come back later, the next day or the next week and have it again.

Nothing is forbidden, nothing is wrong, nothing is bad…food is fuel and I use it to make my body healthy.

Some day in the future…like a special occasion…the goal of “weight loss” may not be my #1 priority..instead it might be to relax on vacation, enjoy new foods, have a drink…etc….well that’s okay…I have to go by what my priority is. But right now, my priority is the goal of weight loss..so I’m focusing on the Emily Program guidelines to obtain that.

If you are interested here they are:

6 – 8 servings of protein a day (1 oz of cooked meat is a typical protein, this also includes nuts and vegetarian proteins in other amounts)

2 servings of milk a day (a serving is 1 cup of milk, 1 oz of cheese etc)

5 servings of grain a day (a serving is 1/2 cup of cereal or rice, 3/4 cup of yogurt, a few ozs of crackers etc)

2 servings or more of veggies a day at a minimum, more is always welcome (1 cup of raw vegetables is a serving)

3 servings of fruit a day (handfruit, fruit in yogurt, applesauce, etc)

3 servings of fat a day (1 tsp of butter, 1 TBS heavy cream, 3 TBS hummus, etc)

1/2 Dessert a day (think of this as half of a premium dessert or a WHOLE lighter dessert like a Skinny Cow cone or 1 cup of light ice cream)

 

This is extremely manageable and gives me more than enough food, plus there are a lot of foods that fall in more than one category and so they can be exchanged around….like 1 oz of cheese can be a protein OR a milk..whee!

 

Alright this post has gotten long and I wanted to let you all know how I’m doing.  I’m open to answering any questions and also hearing what you guys think about what I’m doing and how I ‘m doing!

Soon, I will learn if I can actually look at the scale again, I haven’t since March!! MARCH!! It feels kinda good, but now I want to see how my weight loss goal efforts are panning out, too!

<3 

Merbear

Aug 282013
 

My friend Robby, Fat Girl vs. World asked on Facebook this morning:

“What makes people choose elimination diets (i.e., “no carbs” or “no solid food” or “nothing that rhymes with orange”) over moderation/food logging?”  – click the link if you want to see what everyone from all over the blog world is saying on her FB thread, we have lots of smart friends 🙂

– She noted that this does not apply to people with a food allergy or something like gluten intolerance or celiacs, because obviously those people must eliminate for medical reasons.

Here’s the answer I started typing, I realized it was very long, so I decided to post about it instead:

Elimination and food rules triggers my compulsive eating because I have anxiety and I’m a perfectionist (as diagnosed by my ED therapist and dietitian).

For most compulsive eaters its actually the SAME THING, they just haven’t been diagnosed for an ED or talked to anyone professional about emotions/foods.  If you remove the emotion from a food (which can be done with ED therapy NOT by WW or any elimination diet (paid for or free), you can eat in moderation…

You can have what you want…because you know it’ll always be there, so there’s no trigger to eat more and more. (this is NOT for people who have allergies/diseases etc that require them to eliminate things obviously, I mean people without sensitivities).

For 99.9% of people that are overweight, its all emotion..its all recovery from something

….for people that just got lazy or that had active young lives and now aren’t as active..those people can do WW or calorie counting or whatnot..but that’s not most of us, most of us eat to feel good, to hide something, to repair something.

Just like anxiety, depression, etc….overeating/compulsive eating…even if its not anorexia or bulimia…requires some learning about self-acceptance..it truly helps.

I’m in the middle of  therapy for compulsive eating and I can have all my old “trigger” foods right in front of me, because I have learned how to heal myself in other ways…a lot of me has healed already…I know that my favorite foods – Oreos, spaghetti, pizza, ice cream..well, they will be there tomorrow, too..and oh boy, leftovers of my favorite food (if I happen to get a large portion at a restaurant or make too much at home)…

I automatically moderate now because food doesn’t fix and I know food doesn’t go away..I hope what I’m typing here is helping someone.

I personally go to the Emily Program which I know has locations in Minnesota and Washington State. I also know that Park Nicollet (in MN) has Melrose.

But honestly, reach out to your regular doctor, tell them you want to be connected with someone who can help…compulsive eating is now an eating disorder and can be covered by your insurance.

 

Jul 182013
 

Not to say that I will never have a bout with emotional compulsive eating again, but I have truly moved past them as a regular occurrence in my life.

I started at the Emily Program back in March with an hour of therapy and a half hour of a dietitian every week.  In those months I have been focused on removing food rules, identifying emotional eating, working on what the true causes of my emotional eating are.  For me it is feelings of sadness, loneliness, worry and general anxiety.  There was also just a food anxiety in there that has built up over the years of Weight Watchers and other “food limit/food counting” type of diet plans.

Over the last month or so my food logs, which I have an example of here and my use of H.A.L.T which I talk about here have lead me to a point where pretty much none of my eating is scored as anything out of the average range and I’m eating when I am at the “H” in H.A.L.T, which is Hungry!

I did have one bout with emotional eating a couple weekends ago, but it was short, I identified it and talked myself through it and…it was over and done with after only about 8 Oreos (that’s pretty good!!)

I talked to my dietitian yesterday about being concerned about my weight (for health reasons, not looks) because as I worked on this journey of no food rules and identifying/regulating my emotions, I definitely have put on a few more pounds. I haven’t been weighing myself, but I know because I have to wear bigger sizes.

Since my emotional eating is in the normal range, my dietitian and I moved on to still logging what I’m eating, but also categorizing what I’m eating as follows: protein, grain, vegetable, fruit, fat, dairy or dessert.  Pretty much every serving of food falls into one or more of these categories.  There are guidelines and goals for how many servings in each category a person should be eating and yes servings have measurements. But for now, we are just categorizing, so I can learn about the food groups and how many of each I am getting each day and eventually we’ll move to learning balance and guidelines for each group.  This is all moving towards intuitive eating.

Speaking of, she recommended a book to me that I’ve been reading (and we’ve been following, but not to the letter). I want to recommend it to any of you who are struggling with “eating plans” and “diets”…and instead want to learn about eating what your body needs and wants…..like when you were a baby…you cried for food and stopped when you were done, and you weren’t overweight, right? RIGHT!

Intuitive Eating, 3rd Edition – Evelyn Tribole, Elyse Resch

I feel like I’m taking back control, my dietitian and therapist have been invaluable in helping me learn a new way of eating and a new way of thinking for myself and to get away from thoughts that are triggered by anxiety….thus moving me away from emotional eating which has been destroying my efforts to be healthy almost my whole life.

Thanks for reading

<3 Merbear

May 242013
 

I accept myself – fully and unconditionally, as I am, in this moment

 

The second part of my Emily Program journey started this week – therapy.  Every eating disorder has roots, some are obvious, but most are not.  My eating disorder ties right in to my anxiety (not surprising) and the roots of my anxiety are fear of abandonment and the need to seek approval and acceptance of myself from outside sources. On the outside, to people who don’t know me, and much to my chagrin, I may appear selfish and needy. As my husband says, “there you go again think for your selfer”. I admit that I act this way. I’ve developed this defensiveness over the years…anytime I even slightly perceive that I’m not being listened to or I think that someone has the wrong idea about me…I overreact.  Its because I perceive that person is not accepting me or approving of me any longer (so I have learned in therapy). It shakes my anxiety to the core. But, it makes me look and act like a child.

My need breaks my emotions, makes me crave comfort and to feel good.  Thus triggering emotional eating  that can turn into compulsive eating.

On Sunday a celebrated my birthday with my family. I had such a good time dancing with my niece, hugging my nephew, having excellent conversation with my parents, sister, brother-in-law, cousin and husband. But, something in me was sad…I’m not feeling so awesome about my body right now…after a week of prescribed rest and prednisone for a back injury..I felt like a big blob…sad that I didn’t want new clothes for my birthday because they’d all be in big sizes..which I’d have to accept as where I am, albeit temporary. I gave in to being sad and I grabbed 4 sugar cookies, sat down on the couch and flipped on the TV.  Although its fine to have a dessert and its fine to have cookies, the *reason* I took the cookies and the *reason* I chose four is disordered. I just wanted to have that yummy taste and feel that crunch.  Ryan had been tuned in to my feelings all day (like the good hubby he is) and he called down from upstairs and asked how I was doing…he heard the tremor in my voice and came down to talk it out.  I should have just talked to him first…because of course it helped to just share.  I felt so much better.

Just for a bit of clarification –  I’m not a binge eater anymore..that was when I was much younger, I’m a compulsive eater.  I didn’t feel out of control when I ate those cookies, I just ate them for the wrong reason. My feelings made me want to eat, instead of actually dealing with and going through them (I need an outside source, some don’t.)  Ryan helped make me feel better, not the cookies. 🙂

My Monday session with my new therapist felt awesome…she asked about my past and how I’m feeling now. We really dug in to find the source of my anxiety in general and how that relates to my compulsive eating. I felt good after that hour chat with her, after identifying what is really going on. Developing an understanding, even if its not a solution, feels good and has already helped me this week. I’m able to talk out and reason out why I feel a certain way and even talk through it with close friends and family. I still seek approval, agreement and acceptance..so it does feel better when I can explain it all to someone else and they “get it”, too. But, when its family and close friends, that’s okay 🙂

I’m okay, I’m me..and I love me 🙂

<3 Merbear

Apr 262013
 

I’ve now seen a dietitian twice at the Emily program. She’s fantastic and takes on every patient as an individual, vs just applying a “plan” which I totally love.

We finished up my intake this week and my assignment is now to record what I’m eating…but this is not the same as Weight Watchers or calorie counting.

She is linked to my entries and we can talk about them in future appointments. She uses it to help me find patterns, ways of thinking, etc.

Here’s an example of one of my entries (there is an app on my phone, as well as a web page that I can use with the questions).

  • How energetic are you feeling? (scale from lethargic -moderate – hyperactive) very engergized
  • How are you feeling overall? (scale from depressed – average – rocking the world) great
  • Yes/No Questions:
  • Are you feeling guilt? no
  • Are you feeling anxious? no
  • Are you feeling sad? no
  • Are you feeling irritable? no
  • Are you feeling angry? no
  • Are you feeling bored? no
  • Are you feeling tired? no
  • Are you feeling joy? yes
  • Who did you eat with? (alone – friends – parents – other) alone
  • Where did you eat? (school/work/home/friend’s house/outside/restaurant/ in treatment/other): home
  • How long ago did you eat? 8:00am
  • What did you eat and drink? (not measurements or portions, just a space to list it out)
  1. Fiber One Chocolate Cereal w/Almond Milk
  2. Coffee with cinnamon/honey/almond milk
  3. Banana
  • Portion size: (inadequate/adequate/excessive): adequate
  • Did you binge? (yes/no): no
  • How strong is your urge to binge now? (scale from not at all – moderate – overbearing): not at all
  • How hungry were you before your meal? (scale from not at all – moderate – extremely starved): famished
  • How full are you now? (scale from not at all – comfortable – unbearable): comfortable
  • Thought diary (a place for notes/thoughts about the meal): Average breakfast. I had a big bowl of cereal and I hope it will tide me through to lunch at noon with my friend.

 

Obviously each meal and each day can be very different depending on what is going on around me, how I feel, etc.  But I wanted to share this because even though it is tracking…its not for making me aware of what’s going into my mouth, its making me aware of my attitudes towards food, people, mealtimes, etc.

I’ve learned a few things already and it hasn’t even been a whole week! For example…a good attitude, great night’s sleep and recent exercise help me automatically make better choices, and it doesn’t feel like “restricting” its just a choice..and it happens to be a good one 🙂

Hugs

<3 Merbear

Jun 202012
 

20120620-120853.jpg

You know how I know?

Yesterday was an extremely stressful day…among other things I’m dealing with a short sale of a house, planning my financial future, duathlon training, wedding planning and career building through an internship. Oh, I’m also having to run errands related to switching banks…kinda stressful til everything is switched.

Anyway after phone calls with Freddie Mac, emails and appointment setting with lawyers, emails negotiating with wedding vendors, and running across downtown during my lunch break…..I was ready to pull my hair out.

First thought in my head was to get “just a small” Dairy Queen treat….fortunately my warning buzzers went off…hmm this not a good choice. So, instead I got an iced tea and scrambled back to my desk at work.

Then, I knew exactly what I needed…to get outside, enjoy sunshine, spend time with a friend, and RUN. I immediately sent out an APB to my running buddies via email and Twitter. @kellybeeeee my friend who just ran the Grandma’s Marathon offered to run with me while she did her first shakeout run after the race! Woohoo! Lucky meeee!

Kelly warned me she didn’t know how her body would respond and I told her I’d do whatever, even if it ended up being walking. Well, the run around Lake Calhoun was awesome for both of us. She kept her tired legs going around the lake in intervals and I got to hear about the marathon, vent a little, gush about wedding planning, and work out the anxiety built up in me with some smiles, friendship and endorphins!

Yay for new lifestyle choices, yay for running, yay for friends!

<3 Merbear

Nov 202011
 

I’ve been quiet in the blog world for awhile (a week or so is “awhile” in blog world isn’t it?)

Just to update really quickly…making sure I log in to MyFitnessPal every day and log, getting lots of protein, veggies and fruits, getting better from my strep….they have all helped me lose a 1-2 lbs a week lately…FINALLY. I just had to tweak my food and how much of it what time of day I was eating and it worked for me.

Now to the topic at hand that is really getting me down today…anxiety.

About a year ago the symptoms of anxiety started to really affect me…I’d probably had it my whole life…but after a lot of trauma in the last few years..(divorce, death of grandparents, death of a best friend, losing a whole GROUP of friends, moving, etc) I started being defensive in my communications with people (like interrupting, cutting people off, yelling, saying hurtful things). I also  was at a standstill in my weight loss and had been slowly gaining back the few pounds I had managed to lose before my marriage ended a couple years before. I was breaking down in tears at the end of spending a wonderful weekend with my loving boyfriend (we didn’t live together at the time). I even yelled at a client at work, yes they were being difficult, but the customer is always right and it was stupid of me. I got a verbal warning on my record even, my first, ever warning of any kind at a job. (I’ve been in the professional world since graduating college in 1999).

My boyfriend was starting to get concerned about me…he was sad that I got sad, he was getting concerned about my defensiveness, he wanted to help.  He suggested that I just go to my primary physician and talk about it.  I took the depression/anxiety questionnaire and had about an hour long discussion with her.  Yup, anxiety.  I don’t have the anxiety that makes me nervous in large groups or makes me think the world is going to end..I also don’t have depression…what made me cry was just worries…being worried that my boyfriend was going to leave me, annoyed at the voices in my head that were always telling me what was on my calendar to do next, what was on my to do list, what did certain people think of me, why did I think people didn’t like me (didn’t help that I had recently lost a large group of friends and one of my best friends had passed away).

The clinical part of all this was she prescribed me Lexapro. I found a website that explains how it works, which also explains what anxiety does pretty well.  Escitalopram

Escitalopram is used to treat depression and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD; excessive worry and tension that disrupts daily life and lasts for 6 months or longer). Escitalopram is in a class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). It works by increasing the amount of serotonin, a natural substance in the brain that helps maintain mental balance.

In layman’s terms, if you don’t have an anxiety disorder and say, an acquaintance or even a coworker doesn’t invite you out to lunch…but they’ve invited everyone else out to lunch (or so you think, due to anxiety).  Most people that don’t have anxiety could blow it off…so I’ve been told, with the thought that “hey, too bad for that person…guess they just don’t have time for me and I’ll focus on the rest of my life”

Well, that’s not how it works for me…without my medication I would cry and worry that I’m not a good enough person, ask for the help of my family and boyfriend to make me feel better and they try to explain away that I’m a good person and that person just doesn’t need me..and its okay, so many people love me, etc.

With my medication, I realize that the thoughts of not being good enough, not being wanted…and worries that I did something wrong…are not real…that my mind is just over-focusing. I realize it…but its still hard for me to drop it…at least now I can talk about it, reason with myself…move on temporarily…but its still back there, in my head, it takes a few days, maybe even a week for me to get over it…its there..just in a compartment in my head. It never goes away.

People that are my friends see my anxiety in different ways…I plan, plan, plan, plan…I like to know what’s coming up, what’s going on, who is in charge (it doesn’t have to be me, but if no one claims being in charge, then I take over).   This can be helpful sometimes…my grocery lists are always in order before I go grocery shopping, I remember events very well because I’m always taking mental pictures and reviewing all my interactions with people repeatedly, I like to keep my house super clean because everything needs to be put away. Its easy to make plans with me because I know what’s coming up and when I have free time.  I’m constantly trying to please people #1 because I’m an extrovert and I love people but also #2 my anxiety makes me worry about what people think of me.  This can be hard on my friends sometimes because I get so worried and I constantly ask questions, my lovely friends are so supportive, they talk me down, they give me hugs, or they just spend the afternoon with me and take my mind off things.  My little anxiety attacks probably only come on every few months now and don’t last long, but they suck and I’m so grateful for my friends that understand and support me.

There is no happy ending to this post other than the fact that I’m getting better, I’ve been taking Lexapro for a year, I have a boyfriend and family that can spot when stuff is building in my head and they help me.  I have it completely under control when it comes to professional situations, thank goodness…I kinda made another little compartment in my head where I can turn it off at work, I have no idea how I did it, but I did…and I’m so thankful that I could do that.   I’m currently working on a compartment for my boyfriend..cuz duh as if he’d ever ever not tell me the truth or share what’s going on with me..he’s only been supportive and helpful…but sometimes, my stupid symptoms come out at him..I feel like the meanest person on earth when they do…which fuels more anxiety..but I”m trying.

A little bit of a plea of sorts here at the end of my post…to my friends and family….I love you all so dearly…you are the most important part of my life…if I am ever bugging you or overwhelming you with my anxiety flares…please please tell me and help me if you can…

I also apologize to people that don’t know me as well, I can be a bit overwhelming…I work so hard to gain your approval and then I feel like isht if I haven’t..or I think I haven’t…please don’t take it personally….but if you are willing to understand and you do want to be my friend…tell me when I am overwhelming you.. I promise you I WILL APPRECIATE IT AND I WILL UNDERSTAND.  The worst thing to do to a person with my kind of anxiety is to ignore me.  Some people think that being mean, saying hateful things etc is the worst thing to do to a person..but not me, the worst thing that can done to me is giving me a wall of silence…it makes my anxiety worse..it makes me fret and worry more.

Okay, I’m sorry if I turned people off or offended anyone or made you feel sorry for me…that wasn’t the point here, it was to document for myself and to share with my readers a big thing that I deal with.

If you want to talk to me about it, if you deal with anxiety and have stories to share, if you just want a hug…please email me, comment here, call me, text me, yell at me on Facebook…whatever…I understand…and I hope this may have helped some people understand me…and maybe helped others understand themselves or people in their lives with anxiety.

<3 

Merbear