Untethered Soul and the voice in your head

by Christine on July 22nd, 2016

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Diet, Food, Nutrition, General Information

I recently was given the book “Untethered Soul” by Michael Singer. I’m only a few chapters into it, and I’ll likely talk about it again on this blog. At the very beginning of the book, the author talks about the incessant, chattering voice in your head. The voice in your head that comments on everything—especially on yourself. The voice expresses judgement constantly, and it can change its opinions at the drop of a hat. That voice is utterly unreliable. You’ve caught it blatantly lying. It’s not nice.

untetheredcover

That voice is your head narrates the world around you. It says, “wow, that sun is really bright.” Did you really need the voice to tell you that? You looked at the sky and already noticed the bright sun—did the voice need to state the obvious? No. Singer claims that the voice’s attempt to narrate the world is actually your psyche’s attempt to place some control over your environment. Because, fundamentally, humans feel uncomfortable when they aren’t in control of their lives and environments.

Singer says:

“If you want to be happy, you have to let go of the part of you that wants to create melodrama. This is the part that thinks there’s a reason not to be happy. You have to transcend the personal, and as you do, you will naturally awaken to the higher aspects of your being. In the end, enjoying life’s experiences is the only rational thing to do. You’re sitting on a planet spinning around in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Go ahead, take a look at reality. You’re floating in empty space in a universe that goes on forever. If you have to be here, at least be happy and enjoy the experience….There’s always going to be something that can bother you, if you let it.”

 To me, this has a direct relationship to the voice in my head that narrates what I think about my body. “You’re fat. You’re ugly,” the voice in my head tells me a hundred times a day. “You WANT to swim on a hot day, but you better not get in a bathing suit in public. You’ll make someone sick. If you want to swim, you should find a private place to go instead of the water park.” My voice also says, “You fatty, if you eat THIS instead of THAT, you’ll lose weight.” Or it will say, “If you weren’t so weak-willed, you never would have gotten fat in the first place.” And so on.

I have a very active inner voice, and it’s never nice to me.

I haven’t quite gotten far enough in the book to figure out how Singer thinks you can ignore that voice in your head or transform its voice. He does assert that learning to turn it off, to embrace the present moment, and learn to bear reality as it really is—our actual experience of life right now, not just our narrated version—is crucial to finding happiness. This is a very Buddhist way of thinking, of course, to embrace the present moment. He cautions not to let your inner voice define who you are, since we have already decided that your inner voice is a lying, manipulative, awful voice.

“To attain true inner freedom, you must be able to objectively watch your problems instead of being lost in them… Once you’ve made the commitment to free yourself of the scared person inside, you will notice that there is a clear decision point at which your growth takes place.” 

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Boredom and Eating

by Christine on July 13th, 2016

filed under Diet, Food, Nutrition, General Information

Yesterday I was tracking my food, and I noticed that I was eating a LOT in the afternoon, because I was bored at work. Uninspired work-wise. Feeling a little down emotionally. And so I was eating to fill that void. An interesting article in physchologytoday.com suggests that there are two types of boredom: the garden variety-needing a pleasure fix, and something called anhedonia, which is a reduced sensitivity to pleasurable experiences. And the article suggests that trying to fix the garden variety version can cause you to develop anhedonia. Awesome. For me, boredom looks like ennui, but lethargy and tiredness also.  And depression.

I was reading up about boredom as it relates to Buddhism, to see if there might be a healthier way to approach boredom. One author linked boredom to craving: your cravings and wants are immediate, and they are always changing. “Craving is never faithful to its object. It always wants something else…that is why you get bored with anything and everything. It doesn’t matter how interesting or fascinating it is, you will get bored with it.” The author suggests that craving is an addiction, and that a solution is to control the mind and attitude so that the immediate moment isn’t so “boring.” Hm.

At any rate, here’s some suggestions for myself to stop eating to relieve the feelings of boredom while I’m at work:

  • Throw away the junk in the office. Replace with healthier options. (Duh)
  • Mandatory water-chugging breaks on the hour. Set alarm on my phone if necessary.
  • Get up and stretch/exercise next to my desk and/or a short walk outside.
  • Embrace the boredom and meditate it. Instead of trying to remedy it, savor it and explore it.
  • Create more variety and interest in other ways, like creating more enjoyable projects to work on, or learn something new on the job.

If you have other suggestions, let me know!!!

A good resource: http://www.katinkahesselink.net/tibet/boring.html

The PsychologyToday article: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/shrink/201206/i-am-bored-therefore-i-eat 

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Hobbling around the summertime

by Christine on June 10th, 2015

filed under Christine's Life Updates

It’s now June 2015, and it’s been a few months, so I thought I would give an update.

So you know how the last 6-9 months have been pretty crap for me? Well, I got to add some more crap on top of it. Nothing so bad as my band getting ripped out, or my dad dying. If nothing else, those three months gave me some serious perspective. Some things just aren’t as bad as having one of your family members pass away, you know what I mean?

No. Things aren’t that bad, but they continue to be not-so-great. In February hubby and I were skiing in the Adirondacks. I was having a great ski day…you know, really getting the hang of it? And so I thought I would try to conquer a BLACK DIAMOND.

Boy, that was dumb. About 8 feet down the sucker, I slipped on some ice and trashed my knee. It turns out I tore my ACL. And, as I’ve learned, the ACL is pretty important for things like: exercise, losing weight, going down stairs, and in general doing fun things in life like volleyball, rollerblading, playing pickleball, skiing, and other such things. My doc said I COULD live without an ACL. Many people do. But I would basically need to live a sedentary life. I said, “screw that!” and so I scheduled surgery. No way am I going to live life in an armchair. There’s a lot of the world left for me to explore! People to meet! Things to do! Adventures to be had!

Thus, I got to experience my second surgery in the space of 9 months. Let me tell you….even though the general recovery time for ACL surgery is longer and harder than gastric-band-removal-surgery, the fact that this healed quickly and has been pretty textbook has been SOOO MUCH EASIER. OMG. No infection and subsequent hospital visits. Everything is cool. I can’t quite go down my stairs at home, but you know…perspective. I’m on-track, I’m doing well, and I’ll “get there” in due time.

Here is a picture of an ACL. It’s the thing that keeps your knee together, more or less.

I just started physical therapy and had my first real appointment yesterday. That was interesting. I’ll update a bit more about that in a few days.

You know, I can’t help but feel and wonder if tearing my ACL in February had anything to do with fairly dramatic and rapid weight GAIN since my gastric band has come out. I guess I’ll never know, but I can’t help but feel like there’s a correlation there.

In the meantime…I’ve actually gained NO WEIGHT in the three weeks since ACL surgery! Isn’t that something?!  On the other hand, I’m about 42 pounds up from my Goal/Low Weight. Sigh. You know what that means: new wardrobe. Chafing when wearing dresses. Fat rolls when you sit down. Bathing suit season. OMG!

The week before my surgery, hubby and I took a much-needed vacation to Mexico. He actually surprised me with the trip for my birthday? Isn’t that fantastic? Even with a torn ACL, we managed to squeeze in a bajillion fun adventures–nothing too knee intensive. We went snorkeling (I got to pet a wild sea turtle!), we went snorkeling in an underground cave, we went to Tulum, we went rappelling and zip lining, and we went deep sea fishing. I caught a HUGE 43 inch, 20 pound Blue Wahoo! Fantastic!!!  When I was reeling that sucker in, I felt my dad’s presence pretty strongly. It was cool. He would have thought going deep sea fishing was fun. Pics below…and you can see my weight gain. *sigh*

About 2 days after we got back from Mexico, I went to Manhattan with some friends of mine, including my therapist. (I know, what a weird life I lead, that I socialize and go on trips with my therapist? HAHA! But, talk about “ultimate therapy;” he can help me so much more now that we’re closer friends!!) It turns out we did about 10+ miles of walking on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. And it also turns out that I was sick from my trip to Mexico (Montezuma’s Revenge + a cold + ACL torn) and it turns out that I was SO FREAKING EXHAUSTED from that trip. OMG. So much walking. I was pretty much delirious the entire time. Our hotel overlooked the World Trade Center site though, so that was cool. (I know you’re wondering, and no no. Boys in one room, Betty and I in another room!)

 

Then I had my surgery 2 days later, after all that romping around. I’m healing up now. Trying to get eating under control. Trying not to balloon up any more than I already am. Better watch out: With my new bionic knee, I’m going to be kicking ass and taking names pretty soon here!

So I wanted to mention this also: Since the beginning of the year, hubby has been losing weight, exercising, and training for a Spartan race later this fall. He’s been doing so amazingly! I’m so proud of him! I admit, I’m a little sad that I can’t be exercising alongside him these past few months, but I am cheering him on nonetheless! This weekend hubby participated in his first 5K/mud/obstacle course race thing. The team’s time was deplorable, but they had a great time playing in the mud and busting out the teamwork to finish the course. I’m super proud of hubby for doing it! I can’t wait to cheer him on at the Spartan Race this fall!

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Needing to be “perfect” all the time

by Christine on May 22nd, 2012

filed under Christine's Life Updates

Yesterday I had a bit of an epiphany:

I need to be perfect. All. The. Time.

I always kind of knew this in some way, but I always called it being “a little odd” or “anal retentive” or “OCD.”  I never really put it like that: “The need to be right all the time,” but it’s true. I have an obsessive need to do the best possible job at all time and be as perfect as I can be at all times.

It’s crazy. My life is good—really good! But if 11 out of 12 things are going well for me, the one thing that is off-kilter will send me spiraling into a depression or an anxiety attack. It can be as small as having dishes in the sink or being late for an appointment (which, as it happened, is what triggered me yesterday).

And it’s not just my mood that gets affected. I have a hard time forcing myself to try new things that I think I’ll suck at (note: remember when I tried playing flag football this fall and got tackled within 30 seconds? And I vowed never to play again?) or, for example, I have a hard time going to sleep if I have laundry waiting to be finished. When I throw a girls-night party at my house, I get so crazy over cleaning the house, having the right food, games, and party favors, that I exhaust myself and spend so much time in an anxious fit that I don’t spend any time socializing with my friends. It seems that everything becomes a casualty when I get obsessive about having everything just right.

Why do I do this? Obviously it all stems from my childhood, but two different things have contributed to this. For starters, I had an overachieving older brother that my parents pretty much hero-worshipped. I knew I could never be as popular, handsome, smart, or talented as him, but damn I sure tried to live up to his standards. Why? Because I wanted to my mom’s acknowledgement and respect. Which I rarely got. I remember one time I got a report card with all As and a B-, and my mom’s reply was “you need to try harder. This isn’t good enough.”  And so I just kept trying harder. (It’s no surprise that I eventually “figured the whole school thing out” and graduated with a 4.0 for my Masters Degree.)

The second reason why I do this is a little more complicated. I was often…harassed or verbally abused, especially if I stepped out of line or did something noticeable. In fact, I would say I mastered the art of being invisible and staying off the radar. Nothing gets you noticed faster that fucking up a task, so I worked my ass of to get shit done right and done well to avoid a future confrontation. I remember one time I was asked to go out and mow the lawn, and I was so afraid that I wasn’t doing it right – all those pesky long-grassed trimmings at the edges of the lawn—that I subsequently spent about 5 hours trimming all the edges with a pair of scissors until my fingers bled. All so I didn’t get yelled at for not doing it right the first time. When I was in middle school I got teased for having blingy hair-scrunchies and different clothes (I nearly got my ass beat once for wearing a new brand of jeans, Guess Jeans, that nobody heard of). So I just learned to dress tidily, usually all in black or solid colors, nothing noticeable or offensive. Boring. Yes, I was very, very boring.

This perfectionism OCD-ness has reaches in all areas of my life. My work needs to be done just right before it goes out the door. I will get depressed and hide in the bedroom if I forget to pick up the gallon of milk hubby asked me to get after work, or forget to pick up the dry cleaning. I berate myself for not calling my family enough and not being a good enough daughter.

This whole innate desire to get it Just. Perfect. definitely can be seen with my weight, self-image, and food issues. I realize now that I’ll never look in the mirror and like what I see. Something will always need to be fixed. (I spent a solid hour at work looking up information on getting plastic surgery done on my eyes, to eliminate the bags under them.)  The fact is, even after a year of “maintenance mode” following gastric banding surgery, I still don’t feel confident that I have my body under control. I also don’t feel that I have my eating under control. (After missing my pysch appointment yesterday I consumed 4 candy bars and cried in my car.)   

And when my weight fluctuates over my Goal Weight (125 pounds), even 3 pounds or more, I berate myself, find myself tottering on the line of depression.

I know that being obsessive about getting it just perfect all the time is toxic and not healthy. But knowing that and stopping how I feel are two radically different things. I don’t know how to change my attitude, perspective, and goals.

Obviously I will bring this up to my doctor the next time I meet with him. I’m not really sure how to get over this, but at least I’ve recognized it.

 

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Supersize Vs. Superskinny

by Christine on September 6th, 2011

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

Has anyone caught that British show Supersize vs. Superskinny (it was on the OWN channel this weekend)? Apparently it’s been around since 2008, but I hadn’t heard of it or seen it before.  It was kind of an interesting show!

In the show, they take one underweight person and match them up with an overweight person, all while parading them in front of the camera repeatedly in their underwear for continual shock value. For two weeks they make the people swap meal plans. During that time they undergo nutritional counseling to tell them why their original diets don’t work for them and how to eat more healthfully.

The show also had some other segments, such as exploring different fad diets and exercise programs that are out there and measures their effectiveness. The show also quizzes average people about their knowledge of nutrition, such as “what plate has the most calories?”

Some things I thought were interesting:

  • Skinny people often eat crappy junk foods. They aren’t necessarily skinny because they eat nothing but fresh lettuce and veggies. Similarly, overweight people often eat a more well-rounded assortment of healthy foods.
  • With overweight people, it seems like the biggest issue that they needed to wrap their heads around was the concept of portion control. Again, their food choices were by and large pretty good, but it was just the quantity of food that was out of control. Once they embraced smaller portions, the weight started to fall off.
  • Strangely, exercise wasn’t really covered with either of the two superfat or superskinny subjects.
  • I guess I personally was surprised that the superskinny person was dissatisfied with their body shape. As someone that has battled obesity all her life, I’ve constantly quested for thin! thin! thin! It seems mind-boggling to me that a thin person might not want to be thin.  Similarly, I have a hard time seeing “too thin” as a problem. I see a dangerously bone-thin person and still feel jealous longing for that kind of body shape. I wonder if this will ever change.
  • An extraordinary number of people are unaware of how many calories are in the food that they are eating. How good are you at estimating the calories in the foods available to you at restaurants, parties, in your workplace lunchroom, etc?
  • It seems that fat diets, although risky for many reasons, including medically risky, often seem to work. In the fad diet they examined, the person lost weight. In the fad exercise, the people lost weight. The problem with these diets is that they are hard to stick to and often cause people to binge out of control because they are hungry. The fad exercise programs (such as a specialized body vacuum while exercising) work but seems too expensive for an average person to use long-term.
  • British people seem far more okay with being abused about their body shape on tv. I think American women would be sobbing for the way the tv show hosts abuse them. And they took random people off the street and paraded them in front of the cameras, too! I don’t think that Americans are as comfortable with their body shape and would not be likely to volunteer to do that. I wonder why there is such a sociological difference in our body perception and comfort level with our bodies?

Perplexingly, although the schtick of the show is to get the superfat and superskinnies to swap food while telling them how problematic each meal plan is. It seems hardly appropriate to give extreme meal plans to anyone–especially under the guidance of registered dieticians–much less people whose bodies are clearly not used to that kind of extreme change.

As we jump into September, let’s all take a moment to stop and re-evaluate how much food we are eating at any given sitting. Remember to measure and weigh your foods to keep yourself honest! Remember to eat off of small plates so you don’t fill the urge to “fill up” larger sized plates!

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