Medicating tragedy with food

by Christine on September 13th, 2010

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Eating Disorders

Last night I slept poorly. I had a nightmare that played out in slow-motion. As many times as I woke up, tried to clear my head, and drift back asleep, the nightmare would pick up right where it left off. The worst part is that the nightmare was a replay of real-life past events.  There were real people, real sounds, real smells, real textures. I woke up for the 10th and last time in a pool of sweat, clutching my sheets tightly and breathing quickly in the beginning stages of real panic.

I jumped out of bed, eager to leave that nightmare behind as quickly as I could. Bad news confronted me nearly immediately – something I don’t want to get into at the moment.  I retreated; I stepped into the shower, sat down on the floor, and cried as I let the water pour over me.

Afterwards I found yet another dead chipmunk in the house; another one of my cat’s kills. A ridiculous parking ticket was glaring at me from the kitchen counter. Then traffic was backed up on the highway, making me late to work.

It’s not even 9:30 a.m. and already it’s a bad day.

I’m having a terrible time shaking the bad memories away, getting the nightmare to go back into its safe compartment of my brain.

My instinct in instances like this have always been to reach for food. I went to the grocery store this weekend, so my cupboards are well-stocked. As I sat on the couch staring at Good Morning America, I kept a running inventory of the food that I could scarf down before leaving for work: canned soup, vegetables, crackers and cheese, peanut butter, omlettes, a bag of candy corn, cereal, rice pudding, etc.

“No,” I said. “That’s not the answer.

Maybe I was thinking about food as a way to distract me from the too-vivid nightmare I just had.

On the way to work I went into the corner store and saw all the Twinkies and ho-hos and Little Debbie’s staring at me. But I said no.  I passed  a Dunkin Donuts, and I felt the urge to go there pulling me like a magnet. But I said no. I passed a McDonalds; I don’t even like their breakfast food, but I was dying to go through the drive-through. No.  I passed three more independent coffee shops. I tried rationalizing a purchase: “A small coffee with cream and sugar would only be about 200 calories. You can afford that,” told myself. No. “A donut is only 150 calories, you can afford that!”  No.

Instead I clutched a pre-packed baggie of green grapes to me like a little girl with her teddy bear.

When I logged into the computer at work, I read Patrick’s blog. He asked, “So, I guess that means we ought to avoid disappointment, right? No, hardly. We need disappointment to become better. Today’s failure is the foundation for tomorrow’s success. Disappointment ought to be given due focus, learned from, and then focus returned to the dream.”

Well, I guess my nightmare didn’t exactly involve a disappointment so much as an all-out terror, and one that I was completely helpless to avoid.  I was a child when it happened, a child! However, despite the nuance in syntax, I think the point remains the same. Not just disappointments, but even real-life tragedies can mold us into better people. Tragedies and horrifying experiences can allow us to be empathetic, sympathetic, and caring people. Plus, when “survival mode” kicks in, it demonstrates just how strong we are as individuals.

Yesterday I came across the blog of a woman named Audrey from Barking Mad, who, coincidentally, lives only a few minutes from me. In a profile in a Woman’s Day magazine article, she writes:

I was sitting against the plush black leather of the limousine as it carried me away from the grave of my 2-year-old son, Joshua, who had been killed days earlier after being struck by a pickup truck. Yet all I could think about was food. With bitter tears running down my cheeks, I closed my eyes and pictured the platters of roast beef, creamy mashed potatoes and assorted pastries that my friends had lovingly set out at the wake. I imagined piling my plate with as much food as possible and swallowing all of it, pushing the pain down as far as it would go. The more I thought about food, the less I thought about seeing those precious brown eyes of Joshua’s closed forever.

Some people cope with the loss of a child by turning to alcohol or drugs. My drug of choice was food. When Joshua died, I was 40 or 50 pounds overweight. In the 20 years since, I have “comforted” myself to nearly 400 pounds.

Read the whole article here.

Like me, Audrey isn’t just dealing with a disappointment; what she is dealing with is a profound tragedy. Like me, Audrey self-medicated those emotions with food; perhaps it takes a lot of fuel to push those memories and thoughts into its appropriate compartments in the brain, I don’t know.  Perhaps food is a distraction; perhaps its medication; perhaps it’s just the need for sensation after the numbness that comes after a profound hurt.

Everyone deals with a tragedy, at some point, in their life, whether it’s the loss of a parent, a child, a pet, or some other trauma. Tragedy is one of those things that is quintessentially human; everyone will experience it at some point. I suppose it’s a matter of how you channel that experience that defines you. Will you allow the tragedy to hold you back? Keep you from your goals? Will you allow it to desensitize you, make you immune to other peoples’ hurt and suffering? Will the wounds of your tragedy make you so sensitive to the suffering of others that you never allow your own wounds to heal because you are constantly adopting the pain from others?

In Patricks’s blog, he referred his reader’s to a post by another blogger named Jody. She writes:

Is living in the past destroying the present and the future? Can we take power from within to overcome this? What are the lessons learned?

I wish I knew the answers to this. This morning, with the raw hurt of my nightmare too recently behind me, I’m not sure that I DO have the power to overcome the memories. I’m not sure what I’ve learned from this in the years since it’s happened; considering my recent obesity, I’m not sure that I’ve learned any really valuable lessons or used the experience to make me a stronger, better person.

I can say that I HOPE someday these memories will:

1.       Make me stronger physically and emotionally

2.       Make me empathetic to others

3.       Give me the fortitude and resolve to make myself a better person

4.       Help me to overcome my disordered eating patterns, rather than serve as an enabler for disordered eating

My question today is this: How do you transform a disappointment or tragedy into something positive? I don’t think wishing and hoping for it to be true is enough…so how does one achieve this?

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Dirty Heads Concert & Meeting the Prophet of Washington Park

by Christine on August 27th, 2010

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

TGIF Revolutionists!

What a busy day I had yesterday! Here’s a sampling of what went down!

Finding food

After work, I had plans to grab dinner with my friend Peter, then go to the Dirty Heads concert with him. We have similar tastes in music, and he loves concerts (my hubby does not), so Pete and I try to see as much live music as possible.  When I arrived at his house, our first question was: what do we want to eat tonight?

I didn’t want to go out to dinner; I wanted to have a picnic because the weather was so nice.  I didn’t want to go to the grocery store to pick up food, either. Wasn’t there some kind of local deli in the area that might have hot food and salad fixings?  After a little searching we found a little Italian deli called Cardona’s on Western Ave. It was newly renovated (by my architect friend, too! Lacey Covertino Architects) so it was a good excuse to check it out. What a delightful little store! There must have been easily 30 varieties of olives soaking in baskets, and another 40 or more varieties of Italian cheeses. There was a gentleman there offering samples of his middle-eastern fare (falafel, hummus, tabouleh) so we sampled some yummies and had some samples of cheese. It was so much fun exploring the store, and everyone was very nice there. We’ll definitely be back!

Picnic in the Park

We took our bag of food, plus a cooler of beer, to Washington Park in Albany.  Now Albany, NY is a very curious place architecturally. The downtown area is a strange mashup of concrete nastiness and some awe-inspiring gothic architecture. Near the state offices (Albany is the capital of New York, after all) is Washington Park. It is purported to have been designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who was the landscape architect that designed Central Park in NYC. Indeed, the park has the same Central Park feel to it, although it’s much smaller. It has “neighborhoods” and sections within the park. There are lots of shady trees and lots of areas to relax on the lawn. There’s a playhouse and bandshell, a pond, sculptures, fountains, beautiful sculptured gardens, playgrounds, and so much more! It’s surrounded by beautiful brownstone buildings, so even walking along the periphery of the park is a joy. Here is one nearby building, a firehouse designed by famous architect HH Richardson. (In case you haven’t picked up on it yet, I find architecture really interesting and joyful!)

We busted out our food and chowed down. We had chicken marsala (white wine sauce with mushrooms); tomatoes and mozzarella with tomatoes in pesto sauce; some pasta fazioli soup; Blue Moon beer. It was all very yummy! Here’s how much I ate (nope, I don’t eat much):

Meeting the Prophet of Washington Park

While we were relaxing in the park, this older gentleman kept waving to Peter, and eventually hollered over to us, “I really just want to talk to you for a second. Can I intrude and stop by?”  Amused, we said, “Sure, why not?”

He comes over to us, and starts with the story, “I’m an old man, and I’m having surgery next week,” and immediately I think, “oh dear. He’s going to ruin our picnic by asking us for money.” How cynical of me, right? I hate to remind myself sometimes that not everyone is a criminal or panhandler or whatever. People are, after all, people. They deserve respect and love and kindness, regardless of their walk of life, gender, skin color, sexual preference, whatever, right? Mental check.

I’m glad that we took the opportunity to welcome him over. He starts telling us his mini-life story, how he grew up in NYC and worked for a valet parking garage for 35 years, and oh, he didn’t want for anything while he worked there, hallelujah! He told us about his wife and kids. He told us how life goes by so quickly, and to just enjoy the moments because they just go by so quickly. He told us how important it is to love one another, treat everybody with the same respect that you’d treat your own family.  My favorite story, he told us how he was picked on when he was a kid; all the neighborhood boys would tease him, call him names, beat him up. “Oh, I thank god every day that I was teased,” he said, “because I grew up spending so much time with my elders. My parents. My grandparents. I would have missed out on all that if I weren’t teased. Oh lordy, I miss you SO MUCH grandma,” he said, crying right there. (Yes, I believe it’s that kind of perspective that Sean was talking about in his blog yesterday.) “All those bad experiences, and isn’t life just full of them? They just make you stronger and stronger,” he said. “Me, I’m going to live to 500, I’m so strong!”

Oh, this guy kept talking and talking. And some of it was just rambling. I think the man was lonely and needed someone to talk to. But a lot of what he said really was quite profound. Afterwards Pete and I laughed that we met the Prophet of Washington Park. Indeed, I think we did. I’m glad we took a few minutes to listen. My only regret is that I didn’t turn my video on to record it for later. (I thought of it, but thought it would be rude.)

Dirtyheads Concert

After the sun went down, we picked up our mess up and drove to Northern Lights to see the Dirtyheads play. Oh, what a tremendous concert! We had SO MUCH FUN! We danced a little bit, waved our hands in the air, jumped around, and drank more beer. Their music is so much like Sublime (in fact, they are touring with the reincarnated Sublime band) but with their own sound. It was a great time! If you like the Dirtyheads, I can definitely recommend that you check out a show next time they are in your town.

Here’s a video if you want to hear their music:

Stand Tall

Sports Bra

The other day, Dr. F recommended a sports bra. Her recommendation came from yet another blogger that recommended the same one.  The claim: The bra doesn’t pull on over the head: it hooks like a real bra in the back. Also, it doesn’t squish you down and give you the uni-boob. It gives you two real breasticles. BUT they don’t move. And the sports bra has an underwire.

That doesn’t sound like a sports bra at all! I was definitely curious. Now, here’s where I’m coming from. I’m a TWO SPORTS BRA kind of girl. When I jog, I don’t want my shit flying all over the place and wacking me in the chin.  I also prefer not to disturb the poor people jogging next to me. I strap my ta-tas down with two sports bras to ensure maximal control.  Now, having lost 88 pounds…I’ve lost a lot of boobage. I’m not entirely sure what my biggest boob size was because I never really got measured for a proper bra, but I suspect I was something like a 42 DD.  These days I’m a 34C. So I really don’t NEED to strap them down so much, but I do, mainly out of habit.  (Okay, my brain hasn’t wrapped itself around my weight loss quite yet.)

The bra is a Moving Comfort by Maia. And it works. Check it out. It’s a little expensive at $46, but so far I declare it worth it. I wore it last night to the concert, and I danced around a bit…and no moving. Two separate boobs; NO MOVEAGE. Astonishing.

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137.0 pounds (88 pounds lost): Hefty workout!

by Christine on August 18th, 2010

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Exercise

Good morning Revolutionists!

I admire all of you that do your weigh-ins once per week. I admire the restraint needed to do this! I am not one of those people, however. I weigh twice a day typically — once in the morning for a “real” weight, and once in the evening only because I’m neurotic.  I’d love to tuck the scale away in the closet and weigh once every 2 weeks or once a month, but that’s just not going to happen. My willpower is not capable of that.

This morning I stepped on the scale, and oh! It flickered at 136.8, but ended up at 137.0. I’ll take it! Every single pound is an utter victory and should be celebrated! I jumped off the scale and did a happy dance, twirling around my bathroom like a maniac.

The numbers are due no doubt to the butt-kicking workout I gave myself yesterday. I did 4.2 miles on the treadmill (I’m working on amping up for the 10K in December, courtesy of a Miz Fit challenge).  This workout wasn’t about time; I did it in just under 50 minutes…I’m not winning any awards with that time. No, it was about messing with my incline and speed to really mess with my heart rate. I ranged from an incline of 1.0 to 5.0, and I ranged in jogging speed from 5.5 (my comfort jogging speed) to 7.0 (sprinting). I’m only 5’2, so my legs only go so fast, ya know?  At mile 3.75 I felt like I was going to barf all over the machinery, but I had Biggest Loser’s Bob in my ear going, push past it! You can do it! I forced myself to continue.

The workout maybe went something like this:

  • Walked 0.2 miles to warm up (3.6 mph, 1.0 incline)
  • Jogged 1.4 miles (5.5 mph, 2.0 incline)
  • Walked 0.2 miles (3.6 mph, 3.0 incline)
  • Jogged 1.0 miles (5.5 mph, 4.0 incline)
  • Walked 0.2 miles (3.6 mph, 5.0 incline)
  • Jogged 0.5 miles (6.0 mph, 2.5 incline)
  • Walked 0.2 miles (3.6 mph, 2.0 incline)
  • Ran 0.5 miles (7.0 mph, 1.0 incline)

I followed the jog up with 100 situps. More barf-a-dilly-iciousness.

Pics of my sweaty beasty self!

My eating yesterday was right on target, again. I treated myself to a small can of SunnyD. I hadn’t had it in ages, and it sounded so good! I know it’s pure sugar and very little real fruit, so I consider it a treat, rather than a health drink.At 60 calories, it’s not breaking my calorie budget but still allows me to have a treat! I always have nuts for a snack at work. Yesterday I had a handful of pistachios.

Does it help anyone out there to see what foods I’m eating? I have no idea. Here was yesterday:

8 a.m.: Cheerios (100) and some skim milk (25)
10 a.m.: Pistachios (75)
Noon: Leftover ravioli (120??)
3 p.m.:  SunnyD (60) and some almonds (60)
5:30: More almonds (pre-workout food) (40)
8 p.m.: 3 oz pork loin chop (100), some asparagus sauted in butter and garlic (30), a little cous cous (70), 1 beer (100?)
Total Calories:  780, right on target!

Yesterday afternoon I took another walk around town. It was a beautiful day, and it was so nice to get out of the office for a little stroll. I think I’ll do the same today.

Tonight I’m going out on a date with my hubby! I’m so excited! I honestly don’t remember the two of us went on a date together — it’s been months! We have both been very busy lately and haven’t seen much of each other. Our plan is to go to a restaurant that hubby has been raving about for weeks now (just a pub, but with awesome hamburgers apparently) followed by a movie. I want to see The Expendables. Anyone seen that? Is it any good?

I would like to do something sweet for my hubby. You know…like guys bring girls flowers on a date? What can I do for my hubby to make him go “awe!” and make his heart go pitter-pat? Hmmm. Suggestions needed! (Patrick? Allan? Shane? Clyde? C’mon my guy-friends…help a sistah out!)

I can’t wait!

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Saturday at the race track!

by Christine on August 14th, 2010

filed under Christine's Life Updates

I got up this morning and went immediately to the gym. 45 minutes, an easy workout today, 300 calories burned. I decide to use the tanning booth there too, hoping that UV rays will help pick up my mood.

I went home, showered, and headed up to the Saratoga Springs Race Track! Oh, if you have never had the opportunity to visit Saratoga Springs in the summertime, you’re missing out! It really is charming and enchanting. The race track is, of course, one of the biggest draws to the area. It only costs $3 to get in, and you can bring all the food and drink you want in. Kids can come too, and it’s really a family affair, with picnics, laughter, live music, women walking around in victorian get-ups, lots of horses, lots of rich women in big floppy hats. It’s a delight! I went for about 3 hours, bet on 5 races, lost miserably, and had a wonderful time!

Oh, on the way up there, I stopped at McDonalds. I had a craving for a hamburger. I got the bacon and cheese wrap. YUCK! I had two bites and threw it all away.

At the racetrack, there are so many food stands waiting to sell their delicious fares! Many downtown Saratoga restaurants have booths set up on the racetrack grounds. For instance, Hattie’s is famous for their fried chicken!  There are funnel cakes and ice cream and hamburgers and hot dogs and pizza and sausage and peppers and….

Well, I didn’t eat anything. I treated myself to a small Diet Coke, though, and considered the restraint a major victory.

By 5 p.m. I was starving! I went to the “Racino” (it’s a slot machine casino built on the grounds of the harness track….think Ben Hur style chariot races). I had one third of a cup of chili. Once again, not bad. Not bad at all, Christine!

I came home and took some pictures of flowers in my garden.

All in all, a very relaxing Saturday! I shall spend the remainder of the day reading my book, listening to jazz, and attempting for the fourth time to find this dead chipmunk in my living room whose decomposing body is stinking up my house….

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Yes you can do it!

by Christine on July 27th, 2010

filed under Christine's Life Updates, General Information

This morning I was making the first of three rounds of catching up with my blogs. I have the blogs I follow separated into three categories, and I do my best to hit the first group in the morning, the second around noonish, and the third in the afternoon. I seems that a lot of my bloggy-friends are having issues today finding the motivation to continue on with healthy eating, exercise, and staying committed to the promises they made themselves. I think this is due, in large part, to a hectic summer schedule, weeks of hauling children around, vacation schedules, and so forth. If you find yourself as part of this group, here is what I want to say to you:

YOU CAN DO IT, AND YOU CAN DO IT NOW. Don’t give up. Please don’t say, “I just have to get through this week, and then I’ll be back on track with the diet.” Please don’t excuse your behavior and say, “Well, I can eat like crap because I’m on vacation and I deserve it.”  Please don’t say, “I have been too busy to exercise. Once the kids go back to school, I’ll get back to the gym.”  All of these phrases are self-defeating and are the things that people who are not committed to their own health and well-being might say.  These are things that people say who think everyone else in the world is more important than themselves.

You are probably a very good person. Caring. Generous to a fault. The type of person that can’t say “no” to bake sales and PTA appointments. The type of person that stays late at work because the boss asked you to. You’re probably the type of person that is constantly tired, increasingly irritable, and tries to live a life of “convenience foods” in order to accommodate your busy schedule.  You’re probably the type of person that puts everyone’s needs before your own.

I have heard each one of you say, not so long ago, “I am important. I am worth it. I am fully committed to lose this weight and keep it off.”  And yet, lately, you are letting go of this resolve. You are letting life interfere with the goals you set for yourself.

Don’t fall into this mid-summer trap. Don’t let your busy life swallow you up. I promise, you will find yourself standing knee-deep in regret come September, re-affirming the goals you set at the beginning of the year and wondering how on earth those 10 pounds crept back on.  Don’t let this happen to you!

I want to say this to you: You’re important. You’re worth it. The world will not fall apart if you say “no” to one activity today, in order to allow you time to go to the gym.  The children will not burst into flames if you say “no” to that special pizza party and instead decide to cook a healthy meal at home.  You can do this, because you are worth it.

Besides, there are plenty of ways to fit in happy summer memories without compromising your individual goals.  Your goals are probably to enjoy the living crap out of summer, and to spend quality time with your family.  You can do all of this by taking a bike ride with the family. By hiking in the woods. By renting canoes and going for a ride. By playing frisbee with the kids. By packing a healthy lunch and going for a picnic in a park filled with flowers.

If there’s not time to be active and cook healthfully, then start saying “no” to activities that are preventing you from being healthy.

You can do this, and you can do it now. Please stay focused and please stay committed. Because you’re worth it.

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In other news….

Yesterday was an infuriating day for me at lunch. I ran out of soup here at work, so I decided to run down to the little store on the corner to get a side salad with a scoop of tuna fish. It’s a take-out joint, but I ended up waiting well over an hour for my salad! I would have left, except that I had already paid for the salad.   I finally said something to someone, and they were extremely apologetic and offered me a $6 credit to a lunch in the future. I’m not sure I want to go back. I know they were just busy (the staff was working so hard!) but the experience has left a terrible taste in my mouth. When I took the salad back to work, to eat at my desk, I only ate about half. I had lost my appetite!

For dinner I was craving a hamburger. It had been ages! I defrosted some ground beef and made homemade patties. I weighed each…pre-cooking they were 4.5 ounces each. I ate one. My husband was supposed to have only one, then put the rest away for leftovers in the week, but he ended up eating all three extras! I added some corn on the cob (I ate 1/4 of it) and a little scoop of homemade guacamole. Delicious!

After dinner we took a short walk (with my cat trotting at our heels the whole way). Then we sat outside to read our books outside for a bit. around 9 p.m. we headed to the gym for a workout. I still don’t feel well, so I took it easy on the stair-stepper. Then I had us do some crab-crawls, and downward-dog-leg-lifts, followed by 200 situps.

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