And the mental battles continue…

by Christine on October 18th, 2011

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Eating Disorders

Some of you may be long-time readers of my blog, and some of you may be newbies to my blog. So forgive me for re-capping before I dive into my latest launch.


I’m not I wasn’t your typical overweight woman. I didn’t overeat on a regular basis. In fact, I had a lot of control over food. I had a lot of willpower when I felt like exerting it. I had a remarkable ability to follow any diet to a T. I ate healthfully. I watched my calories. I exercised, sometimes normally and sometimes obsessively. The weight just didn’t come off though—in fact, just the opposite. The weight kept piling on. I turned to extreme measures and even went 70 days without eating a thing. (read about that here)  Crazy, I know, but willpower just isn’t something that I was lacking.


However, I would still consider myself a binge eater. For me, it has so much to do with emotional issues. I didn’t necessarily have the easiest childhood, for reasons that I’m just not going to get into right now.  A lot of those circumstances were entirely out of my control.


But a lot of my emotional issues are within my control. I am a headcase, people. I’m a bona fide nutter. Thank GOD people can’t read minds, because they’d institutionalize me in a heartbeat.


I think I can boil most of my self-induced emotional issues down to my outside relationships. I just don’t connect with people. I come across as cold. Aloof. Uncaring. A little weird. Scatterbrained. Self-righteous. Judgemental. I’ve learned that I have expectations of friends and family that are unrealistic and not normal. In fact, I’m a highly sensitive and emotional person, but I internalize everything.  People hurt me. All the time. And so in return I oscillate from wanting to isolate myself from the entire world to wanting to jump into the world with both feet and win the world over. I try too hard. I care too much.


I’ve known all of this, of course. And it’s easy to see the correlation between needing to be loved and accepted, the feelings of rejection, and my relationship with food. When I feel hurt and spurned, THAT is when I reach for the bag of cookies. Actually, no, scratch that. I tend to yearn for Chef Boyardee and grilled cheese sandwiches. In massive quantities. And no matter how much I eat, it doesn’t calm the hurt inside of me. Of course, afterwards, I feel rotten, bloated, fat, and like a self-sabateur. Because I am.  It can be a terribly self-defeating cycle.


And so, despite having a great ability to control my food and exercise 95% of the time, there will always be that 5% emotional eating that flares up and is outside of my control.


This weekend I had another episode, and ironically I didn’t even recognize it as an episode until today, three days later. It’s just that much a part of normal life for me, I suppose, that I don’t even see it for what it is. There was another situation where I felt rejected, unloved, unimportant. And sure enough, I opened a can of Chef Boyardee that I keep hidden in the way back of my pantry and heated it up.


The gastric band is a fantastic tool for a binge eater like me. There are just simply certain foods that I can’t eat with the band. And I simply cannot overeat with it. I started to wolf down 6 bites of Chef Boyardee (because eating slowly and feeling emotional just don’t go hand-in-hand), got stuck, barfed, and then threw the rest of the food out.


In fact, a lot of banders, including me, find that stressful situations make the band even tighter than normal. (You can read about why that is here)  That’s been the case since Saturday, and I’m having difficulty keeping any food down at all. I should probably get a small un-fill, since this seems to be a re-occurring problem, but I’m hoping that the tightness will pass.


I wish that there was a device, like the gastric band, that can turn the crazy off in my head.


All this makes me realize—yet again—that although I’ve gotten my weight under control at last, that the work to fix some of the emotional problems that contributed to my weight problem is ongoing. Losing weight has solved a lot of problems in my life, but it certainly hasn’t solved them all. This is an ongoing battle…


What are some tools that you use to equip yourself against the mental battles you face?


My Body Gallery: Find Women Your Size

by Christine on August 12th, 2011

filed under Eating Disorders, General Information

Article taken from here:

My Body Gallery: finally see other women who are your size

By Joanna Douglas, Shine Staff,

Have you ever tried to size up other women and determine if they wear the same size as you? Or if their bodies look the same as you? Many of us do this subconsciously and it doesn’t have to be a negative thing. This morning we discovered a new site called My Body Gallery that promotes a positive body image and we’re kind of obsessed. Basically you plug in your height, weight, shirt and pant size, and body type to browse ladies with similar stats. You can also upload your image into their database anonymously.

“In a world full of images of how we ‘should’ look it can get difficult to tell how we DO look,” the site says. “Most women have spent so many years looking at themselves in mirrors that we can no longer see what’s really there. The My Body Gallery project’s goal is to help women objectively see what we look like and come to some acceptance that we are all beautiful.”

Some other interesting stats the site presents:

  • 95% of non-eating disordered women overestimate the size of their hips by 16% and their waists by 25%, yet the same women were able to correctly estimate the width of a box.
  • Two out of five women and one out of five men would trade three to five years of their life to achieve their weight goals.

Wow. We tried plugging in our measurements and saw a handful of women in our range. It was interesting to see how different ladies carried their weight, where the were more toned, and how they looked both in clothing and stripped down in underwear. It was equally fascinating to see some women with similar fleshy areas or hip-to-waist ratios that aren’t so prevalent in the fashion world. We also tried subtracting and gaining 10 pounds to get an idea of what we might look like at different weights.

Our verdict? It should be obvious, but bodies come in literally every shapes and size imaginable and they’re all beautiful! As My Body Gallery points out, “the world is not a place of cookie cutters.” This site further proves that you should never feel alone or insecure about yours.



Kelly Osborne considering the gastric band for weight maintenance

by Christine on April 13th, 2011

filed under Eating Disorders, Gastric Banding Surgery, General Information

Kelly Osbourne: Gastric Band For TV Star Kelly Osbourne?

Monday April 11, 2011

KELLY Osbourne is desperate to stay slim.

According to a report from Britain’s Daily Star newspaper, the E! Fashion Police co-host  is considering getting a gastric band surgery to maintain her svelte figure.

“Kel’s at her wit’s end over her weight and is worried she’s putting back all the pounds she fought so hard to lose,” a source said.

“She’s recently been on holiday and put on almost a stone (14 pounds) while enjoying herself. She got a bit of a shock when she got home and realized she couldn’t fit into her new clothes.

“Kelly knows a gastric band would be drastic but she’s desperate to keep the weight off. Being the face of Madonna’s range just adds more pressure. She’s scared of getting axed in favor of someone skinny if she puts on more weight.”

Kelly — who split with her last boyfriend Luke Worrall after he reportedly cheated on her with both men and women — recently revealed she wants to have a baby with her gay best friend, because her mother Sharon Osbourne would “love it”.

“I’m fed up with straight men — I’d love a baby with my gay best friend Nate,” Kelly told Closer magazine. “We’d be the perfect parents and my mum would love it!”

Kelly –- who is the new face of Madonna and her daughter Lourdes’ clothing line Material Girl — recently revealed she is dating 26-year-old musician Rob Damiani, but the pair are planning to take things slowly.

“It’s true, I’m having fun getting to know someone new,” she said. “I met Rob over in the UK recently, and I want to take things slowly, so that means keeping some things private.”


Why do I bring this bit of drivel up?  I think this article is interesting for two reasons. Firstly, it’s interesting that a doctor would consider performing gastric banding surgery on Kelly Osborne when she is under the BMI criteria, which is currently 40.  (In the USA the current minimum BMI is 40. Likewise, in the UK, the NHS requires a 40 minimum BMI) Kelly is not currently overweight, so she doesn’t need the surgery in order to lose the weight. Interesting.

(Read a recent and related article about using the gastric band as a weight maintenance tool here.)

Secondly, the idea of using the gastric band for weight maintenance is an interesting one. In my own experience, the reason why I chose the gastric band is because hopefully the device will allow me to maintain my weight without the need for a yo-yo weight gain/loss for the rest of my life. I’ve done the whole yo-yo thing and it sucks. The gastric band really does give me some kind of peace of mind that I can lose weight and keep the weight off.

So should a major surgery like this be used simply for weight maintenance?  Why not? Other than the risks involved in the actual surgery, I don’t see how it can hurt to put some measures in place to ensure that you can live a healthy lifestyle for the long term.

But I want to take this even a step further: I think that the gastric band can be a successful device for treating those suffering from eating disorders, especially binge eating disorder and perhaps even bulimia.  The band prevents binging from occurring (seriously. You just can’t overindulge in a short time frame with a tight gastric band), so why can’t the device be used to help those suffering from binging-related disorders?  Hmmmm. Food for thought.

What do you think about using the gastric band or other weight loss devices in order to maintain your weight? What do you think about the idea of using the gastric band for treatment of some eating disorders?


How eating disorders start to grow

by Christine on March 15th, 2011

filed under Eating Disorders

Today I was reading a few blogs about eating disorders. It’s hard for me because I can completely relate to the mindset that these ED sufferers are currently experience. I’ve been there, a lot, in the past.

The intense self-hatred, not just of your body (but that’s a big part of it), but of everything to do with yourself. You’re not smart enough. You’re not funny enough. There’s no way you’ll ever find a partner or spouse, and if you already have one, surely he or she is planning on leaving you for someone better.

Every action is not good enough. If you’re in school, a mere A would send shockwaves through you. You need an A+.  You expect nothing less than perfection for yourself.  If you cook a meal, if it’s not completely perfectly mouthwatering and savory, you’ll throw it out and order takeout instead. If you are an employee, anything less than a pat on the back from the President is not good enough. If you’re a parent, if your child isn’t perfect in any way, it’s a reflection of you and your parenting skills.

You become obsessed with making your life entirely perfect in every way. First, you probably go through a manic cleaning phase. You eliminate all the dust and grime in your house. Then you eliminate the clutter. You shop for new decorations, hire a lawn service, hire a maid service. If someone in the house leaves a dish in the sink, you unravel and go nuts.

From there, you start perfecting other things in your life. The perfect hair. The perfect clothes. You probably spend hours in the bathroom making sure that when you leave the house, the world sees you exactly how you want to be perceived. (Ah, but if they only knew what a mess you are, inside!)

You over-compensate. You hold lavish parties. You enroll your kid in tutoring and extra sports and second-language lessons at the age of 10.  At work you take on more projects, put in more time, hoping for more and more recognition, a better title, quick advancement to the top.  At school you work with the professor after class, you volunteer on committees, you ensure yourself an A in any way possible, including (and especially) learning to manipulate the system.

Winning is what it’s all about. At all costs.

It’s all about control. You have to be in control of your surroundings, your achievements…everything in your world.

From my personal experience, and from my years of being friends with other ED sufferers, there are two ways that this whole perfection scenario starts to fall apart.

The first, and most common way the world starts to fall about, is the inability to alter your physical appearance. Despite doing everything completely by the books – dieting, eating well, exercising, methodically tracking your food intake and calorie burn – nothing works, you don’t lose weight, you cannot seem to achieve that perfect, (often waifish) physique that you are seeking.

The second way that the world spirals out of control is when one thing happens in your life that is beyond your ability to control it. Often, it’s a tragedy such as a death of a friend or parent. It might be a boyfriend or husband divorcing or leaving you. It might be getting downsized from your job. For many, many young children that develop eating disorders, it is an abusive household. I remember reading many years ago that an astonishing 80% of anorexic adolescent girls are victims of sexual abuse.

The result in either scenario is a bizarre relationship with food. Some turn to starvation as a last-ditch effort to get thin. (As I did….read about that here.)  Some turn to starvation as a way of self-punishment…it’s the mindset of “I’m less than perfect, and so I will hurt myself and punish myself for achieving less than the best by denying myself food.”  There is, I believe, a huge correlation between ED suffers in this category that “self-injure” themselves, as well, such as by cutting their skin, burning their skin, getting tattoos or piercing, or other self injurious actions.

Some people, however, turn to food to release their frustration and tension. Today, I’m a classic example of this: when something happens that is out of my control, I immediately grab a bag of cookies and chow down. Then, the guilt over what you do sets in, and you try to rectify the situation by vomiting, using laxatives, water pills, over-exercising, etc.  Every time I indulge because I am frustrated, anxious, or sad, I really have to fight the urge to “right the wrongs” done.

Ultimately, Eating Disorders are all about control and, paradoxically, the lack of control that we have in our lives.

For me, I’ve experienced all of these symptoms before. I’ve starved myself, purged, abused laxatives and water pills, and have overindulged with exercise. I’ve binge-eaten more times than I can count; I’ve fueled emotional voids in my life with food. I have exhaustively used food (or the lack thereof) to fix the wrongs in my life and to fill the spaces that I felt that needed to be filled.

Every day, I need to remind myself that there are some things that are just outside of my control. All I can do is make the most of what I have, accept and embrace my immediate faults while still working towards long-term goals. I try very hard to see myself realistically – both the good and the bad – in the mirror every day. I struggle to find healthier ways to deal with sadness and disappointment.

I could get into a huge, long tirade about how most common eating disorder treatments are degrading to its patients (who, I might point out, are some of the most intelligent people out there in society, if standardized test scores are to be believed), and what I would recommend for the treatment of the EDs, but that is another post for another day. Furthermore, most ED sufferers don’t want to “recover” (and most don’t see themselves as having a “real problem”) and so any kind of psychological treatment attempts are pretty much in vain. Suffice it to say that most treatment fails miserably, and ED sufferers are left on their own to figure out how to fix their relationship with food.

As for me, I know rationally that food is not the answer, but old habits die hard. Every day is a struggle.  But I’m doing it, and every day this journey gets easier.


Accept your size or fight it?

by Christine on February 18th, 2011

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Diet, Food, Nutrition, Eating Disorders

This week I learned that there is a formal movement and approach to health called Health At Every Size (HAES). The movement focuses on self-acceptance regardless of the number on the scale; it focuses on pleasurable physical activity and “normal” eating (as opposed to being on a “diet” all the time).  The emphasis is on being healthy at any size, rather than on weight loss; weight loss, of course, as we all know, is riddled with heartache, hard work, failures big and small, and a lot of anguish. I really don’t think that it is possible to be in dieting mode and be sane and happy at every step along the way.

In this movement, HAES (often also called “fat acceptance” although HAES takes on a broader meaning) members do not believe that the narrow weight range (the BMI chart) is healthy for every individual. Rather, each individual person needs to find their own healthy range and eat in response to physical cues rather than emotional cues.

A lot of my readers also read Allan’s blog over at Almost Gastric Bypass. Allan is a firm critic of the “intuitive eating” movement, claiming that it is this inability to eat intuitively that has lead our nation into an obesity epidemic in the first place. In my own experience, most people who attempt to embrace “intuitive eating” almost always fail; it seems that our brains and our bodies are clearly at odds when it comes to understanding what we as individuals need to consume to fuel ourselves. Other bloggers (importantly: many medical professionals who also blog) point out that being overweight leads to a myriad of physical issues, including diabetes, high blood pressure, increased heart attack risk, depression, tiredness, joint point, and the list can go on and on. These bloggers all claim that it is not healthy to accept obesity.

Benefits of the HAES Movement:

As for me, I guess I can see both sides of the argument. I’ve been through the mental anguish of trying—and failing time and time again—to diet and lose weight. There is nothing more disheartening, frustrating, and depressing than trying your hardest to lose weight and continuing to fail, despite your best efforts.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said to myself, “Screw it, I can’t do this; I should just accept myself the way that I am.”  I think that if we learned more self-acceptance, I think that a lot of medical issues would disappear as well. While I think that obesity really does lead to serious medical problems (as listed above), I also think that many obesity-related problems are psychosomatic: I hate being fat, therefore I am depressed. I’m depressed, so I’m tired all the time.  If you embraced yourself and said, “I am okay just being ME” without need to change yourself constantly, I think the depression would evaporate, and consequently the tiredness (and stress, maybe even the high blood pressure) would also go away.  (Read more about Compassion and Understanding in an overweight world.)

Furthermore, I think that a lot of the pressure to be thin is created by social pressure. It’s not you and me that want us to be thin, but the outside media that push anorexic models (or big, beefy, muscly men) on the cover of magazines, with encouragement of how to diet, dress, and live life just like them. These physiques are impossible for most individuals to achieve, even at “perfect” weights. I can definitely see the benefit of accepting our bodies as they are, rather than striving for a physique that is impossible to achieve.

I am a huge proponent of finding your own “calorie setpoint,” which is the number of calories you need to sustain your body. I believe that this number varies wildly from individual to individual—I do not believe it is possible to rely on a generic doctor’s chart or generic BMR/RMR calculators because each person has a vastly different genetic makeup. Similarly, I don’t think it’s healthy to assume that every individual who has a BMI of 28 is overweight and therefore unhealthy. I definitely think that there’s something to be said about finding your own comfort zone. I know numerous women that are very comfortable—and look fantastic!—at a Size 14/200 pounds, while I looked unhealthfully overweight at that size. It is important for each individual to discover what works best their bodies and to use that as a guideline.

Downsides to the HAES movement

So while I can see the benefit of the HAES movement, I think it can also be harmful to us. Obesity is unhealthy for all the health reasons listed above. I am pretty sure that HAES refers to those who are only sort-of-kind-of-overweight, not the 600 or 700 hundred pound folks. But, HAES has enough ambiguity in its language that it implies that a 700 pound person should embrace their size and eat “intuitively.”  Clearly this would be a terribly unhealthy way to live at that size, but again—the HAES movement doesn’t clarify this point. Granted, there’s a lot of grey area as to “how big is too big?” Doctors try to quantify this grey area by using BMI charts, and while I think that BMI charts can be faulty, they DO work as a guideline for the vast majority of people.

Furthermore, I think that the HAES movement excuses their behavior by placing blame on everyone else except for themselves and their own actions. Rather than saying, “I’m overweight because I eat too much” they say, “I’m overweight because I can’t live up to the standards in society.” You can blame genetics, medical problems, society’s standards, the way you were brought up, etc., but in the end it’s ultimately your fault that you are overweight. Whether you want to embrace or your size or lose weight, the first step needs to be stepping up and accepting your role in your size. Nobody made you the size you are at except for you. It’s been my experience that those that attempt to embrace their size do so at the expense of everyone/everything else that has made them the way that they are.

We are not victims of our own bodies. You may not understand how to control your body or understand the needs that it has, but we are not victims of our bodies. With proper learning and experimentation, we can gain control of our bodies and achieve the weight loss goals that we set out for ourselves.

What do you think about the HAES movement? Do you believe you should accept yourself at any size, or should you stick with the battle of weight loss until you have achieved a medically-approved healthy body?

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