Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Battling the muffin in my head

I'm not much of a shopper, but last weekend, I wanted to buy a Lug bag. More specifically, the Taxi Full Tote. Rarely do I feel the urge to buy something and rarely do I declare to my sweet husband, "I need to go to Mapleview Mall this weekend, I really want this bag!"

My little bears are almost four and almost two, so thankfully, I don't need to carry around quite as much crap, so I'm hoping to make the transition from a diaper bag to well, a big bag. So while hubby took the big bear to skating lessons, little bear and I trudged off to the mall in Burlington. 

Unknowingly we arrived a half hour before the store opened. However, the food court, the convenience store and the Starbucks were open for business with tempting aromas of fresh-baked muffins and donuts wafting through the mall.

I thought to myself: Mmmm, a muffin would be good right now.  

Immediately an inner dialogue began.

Wait. Why am I tempted to buy a muffin from Tim Horton's? It's junk food. I had oatmeal and grapefruit for breakfast, what is going on?

I took a few moments to clear my thoughts.

OK, I want the muffin because it is in front of me and it smells good. I could be tempted out of habit - historically, a visit to the mall usually means eating something at the mall." 

The mental discussion continues as I get in line at Tim Horton's.

I'm not hungry, it's my brain that wants the muffin not my body. If I eat this muffin it is one step closer to having two weeks of unusual eating. 

"Can I take your order?" asks the Tim Horton's cashier.

It'll be fine once I'm out of the food court and away from all the food. Out of sight is out of mind.

"A large peppermint tea please." I reply.

The little bear and I head out to a sitting area away from the food court. The need for the muffin subsides. I distract my thoughts by watching my little bear fling a goldfish onto the floor and run back back and forth between the couch and the overhang that looks to the floor below. 

Before therapy, I would hold onto a temptation (let's say a muffin) and refuse to let it go. By doing so, I had to continually battle the urge to not eat the muffin the rest of the hour/day/week. Finally eating the muffin seemed to be the only way to stop thinking about the muffin.   

Looking back, I needed double the willpower: one dose to abstain from eating the muffin in front of me, and another dose for the muffin in my head so I wouldn't hunt down a muffin even when there was no muffin in sight.

I don't really now why I felt the need to hold on to a temptation. Perhaps I didn't think to make things easier on myself, or thought that I deserved to take the difficult route. Perhaps it had to do with years of cycles of restricting and overeating, or maybe I was subconsciously punishing myself for being overweight (or see myself as overweight). 

In any case, now I know: when I'm tempted to eat junk food, just walk away and let it go.

NOTE: It seems that blogger has flagged me as spammer. I noticed that comments that I make on blogger blogs disappear. Munchberry confirmed this and she is finding my comments in spam. So I've been making comments, they just may appear in your SPAM folder, please check. 

Has this happened to anyone? One day blogger deleted my blog (OMG) as they said it was spam. I went through a process (trying not to panic) to restore my blog, but I'm guessing that this is why my comments are going to the spam folder. If anyone knows how to remedy this situation, please let me know!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The scale is so random

Once a week I step on the scale. This week, I was dreading not looking forward to doing so.

If you’ve looked at my progress page, you’ll see that I’m losing weight at an incredibly slow pace. Of course, I’d like to see results faster, but I know that feeling restricted will lead to overeating. So I’m OK with this. However, I admit (and I’m probably not alone) there are those days when I just don’t want to see the scale go up. I have noticed that this feeling usually coincides with unusual eating.

Last week was one of those weeks. Apparently I was hungry. Plus, it was a long weekend. AND our fabulous friend stayed with our little bears overnight at our house, so hubby and I had a night of fun at a friend’s house.

Details of the unusual eating included:

  • Buying a package of Heshey's chocolate kisses at work (on sale from Valentine's Day!). First time I have bought chocolate at work since I returned from mat leave in May. Good news is that I gave half of the package to a colleague and ate the other half over a two days.

  • Accepted a piece of birthday cake from a work colleague.

  • Forgot to bring a snack while running errands. So I picked up a Tim Horton's wheat and carrot muffin. For lunch, I decided to have a piece of toast with hummus with salad, but instead I ate 1.5 grilled cheese sandwiches that hubby made before I got home.

  • Went to a tapas restaurant for dinner with friends; we shared several dishes, including a beet salad, hand cut french fries, calamari and a glass of wine. The festivities continued after dinner, including a small whoopie pie from Starbucks, sharing two big bags of chips, plus I pretty much ate an entire bag of Werther's Original Toffee Crunch myself.

  • The next morning we went out for breakfast that included eggs, homefries, toast and bacon.

  • Hubby runs out to buy a few groceries since the stores are closed on Monday for Family Day. While he is out, I eat a bowl of vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup and walnuts. Hubby comes home with a small New York style cheesecake. I have a small piece.

  • Our original plans for Family Day fell through, so we ended up at McDonald's for lunch. I usually order a cheeseburger and split an order of fries with the kids, but this time I ordered a quarter pounder combo.

  • While watching the Bachelor, I ate another piece of the little cheesecake. Plus, I go back for subsequent slivers of cake thereafter. Thankfully, hubby puts the little cheesecake out of its misery and eats the remaining quarter piece.

  • Just when I think everything is returning to normal, the managers at work serve pancakes for Pancake Day. I grab two: no butter, no syrup (tasty just on its own). At lunch, I head to the kitchenette to make my lunch; what is in there? The leftover pancakes. I eat three more.

After all that eating, I thought for sure I was going to see a gain. Sure, I ate well the rest of the week, but I obviously did some serious mindless eating this week.

So what happened when I stepped on the scale on Wednesday? I'm down a pound. Wow - the results on the scale can be so random. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Before the doctor, I talked to the nurse

"No. I'd prefer to tell you how much I weigh. I weighed myself at home this morning."

The nurse stares at me. Did she hear me? I tell her how much I weigh. She continues to stare.

Finally, she says: "I think it would be better to weigh yourself on this scale, so we have an accurate benchmark"

I reply with a firm "no."

I have a feeling this is the first time she's heard someone say no to the scale.

Before I was a teen and before I started worrying about getting fat or perceiving myself as fat, I didn't mind stepping on the scale. It was fun, a sign that I was growing up. However, somewhere along the line, as puberty hit and my swim coaches started to monitor my weight, that changed. Stepping on the scale is now stressful and not something I want to do in public.

To be honest, I hadn't thought of the weight bias in health care, and I've only been touched by it a couple of times. But then I read an eye-opening Weighty Matters post on the topic (watch the video - it's good) and thought about the scale at my doctor's office.

Some weight bias is obvious such as a doctor ignoring a patient's request for help or condescending, rude and appalling remarks from a doctor (see Munchberry's comment). Some bias is more subtle, such as how a patient's weight is taken and recorded. Of course, there is nothing wrong with tracking a patient's weight, but the manner in that a person is weighed can be done in either a sensitive or an inconsiderate way. Placing the scale in an public area does not take the patient's feeling or need for privacy into consideration.

At my doctor's office, patients are called from the waiting room to the second floor where examination rooms, doctors' offices and a procedure room are connected by a long hallway. The last time I saw a doctor (earlier in the year) the big physician's scale was located at the beginning of the hallway so anyone moving about the second floor can see how much the person on the scale weighs. So, this year, instead of stepping on the scale in the hallway, I decided to weigh myself at home and tell the nurse my weight.

When you think about it, why is it absolutely necessary to be weighed by the nurse in the first place? Why can't I decline? Why is it frowned upon to tell the nurse my weight rather than stepping on the scale? The nurse accepts my word when I tell her that I'm 5'7". Why can't she accept my word when I tell her what the scale said at home? Plus, is the result between the scale at home and the scale at the office that different? Is a couple of pounds either way going to make a difference in my health or impede my doctor's ability to do her job?

Furthermore, how can an accurate benchmark be established when weight fluctuates up and down throughout the day and over a week. With more than a year between annual check-ups, I'll be wearing different clothes, I could have eaten a smaller/bigger meal before the appointment or I may or may not have food sitting in the digestive system (you know what I mean). The only way to get a good benchmark is to weigh yourself in the morning, sans clothing, before eating breakfast, but after the morning pee.

In any case, have some fun the next time you are at your doctor's office. See what happens when you say "no thank you" to the scale.

Interesting to note: a patient must have complained about the location of the scale. The scale is now located at the end of the hall. Which is better, but why not offer complete privacy for patients and place scales in the individual examination rooms? 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Did I tell you about my appointment with the doctor?

On a wet November afternoon, sitting on the examination table and wearing a paper gown, I wait patiently to see the family doctor for the annual check-up. I'm feeling somewhat conflicted. I haven't seen her since 2009. She's been having kids, I've been having kids, so another doctor tended to my appointments. Despite the long lapse between appointments, I certainly haven't forgotten how she completely dismissed my concerns regarding my eating issues and request for help.

"There is something wrong me and how I eat. Dieting has become so difficult..." 

She cut me off before I could finish. Before I had the chance to remind her of my eating disorder history, significant weight fluctuations and previous attempts to resolve my eating issues. She responds with: "Dieting is difficult for a lot of people, you just need to stick with it."

I stare at her blankly while she yammers on. I'm pissed. And disappointed. I was hoping to get a referral to a psychologist or a psychiatrist that specializes in eating issues. Thankfully I knew that there was something wrong me and did not let her deter me from seeking help. She confirmed that I need to take the matters into my own hands. 

As you know, since that appointment, I found a cognitive behaviour therapist and fixed my demented thoughts about food and eating. However, I wanted to ensure that other patients with the same concern as me would not be routinely dismissed as I was. Another patient's quest for help could easily be shut down by a doctor, and go back to thinking that there is nothing wrong. 

So I was conflicted as to how to get my point across. 

I thought of the Pretty Woman approach; "Remember the last time I saw you, I told you that dieting had become difficult and you told me to suck it up, that dieting is difficult for a lot of people? Well, just so you know, I found a therapist, she confirmed that I'm not a normal eater, I was diagnosed with EDNOS and dieting is one reason why I'm like this. Big mistake. BIG MISTAKE. Huge."

Of course, I would leave the "big mistake" part out from my speech, but like Pretty Woman's Vivian, I felt snubbed. Not by a Beverly Hills boutique sales person, but by my doctor, and I wanted her to know that.

In the end, I took the high road. I decided to stick to the facts without the drama and the anger. I told her about cognitive behaviour therapy, my eating disorder diagnosis, the impact of decades of dieting and how it contributed to my condition. We discussed my new weight loss strategy (no dieting, eat healthy foods). She responded positively and I'm hoping that she will remember this discussion for the time when another patient comes to her with the same concerns.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

I did NOT want to stop dieting

You can eat whatever you want. There are no restrictions in the foods you eat or the amount of food you eat.

As a person who thought of food all the time and struggled to not eat everything in sight, someone telling you to eat whatever you want is frightening. My therapist's word were eerily similar the words associated with intuitive eating. And while my stress level with food decreased significantly following the intuitive eating experience, I gained a significant amount of weight (~30 lbs).

When I began cognitive behaviour therapy, I was expecting to train my brain so I could diet better. I wanted to be a better Weight Watcher; say no to junk food without feeling as if I was missing out; be happy to eat healthy foods. Essentially I wanted therapy to make dieting easier. 

So when my therapist told me that I could eat whatever I want, I thought I don't want to eat whatever I want; I want to be happy to eat whatever will make me thinner. The Beck Diet Solution allows you to diet and retrain your brain to help you diet. Why can't I do that?

I was doubtful that I could change; I was worried that I was going to be overweight the rest of my life. I thought that food would always be this big issue in my life to manage and hopefully not pass along to my children. 

However, despite the unexpected start to therapy, I decided to put faith into the process. I also thought, I can always go back to Weight Watchers after all this is done.

Four months after therapy began, I made the decision to focus on choosing and eating healthier foods. 

Six months after therapy began, I finally stepped on a working scale even though my therapist asked me to start weighing myself back in September. At that point, I believed in third-party accountability and joined the local TOPS chapter for the weekly weigh-ins since it was economical and convenient.

I have to admit, when I joined TOPS, I considered following their plan to see what would happen. I opened the program information folder, flipped through a few pages and thought, no, I just can't go there. I closed the folder and never looked at it again. 

The next two months of weekly weigh-ins revealed that I was basically gaining and losing the same few pounds, despite an effort to choose and eat healthier foods. 

Eight months after therapy began, I returned to work and exercise became a consistent, daily event. My eating benefited by the fact that I brought my breakfast lunch and snacks from home. The best thing I noticed is that I was completely disinterested in all the fast /junk food that seemed to call to me before therapy. I started blogging about my CBT experience.

At this point, I wasn't sure if I could lose weight without a diet. However, I was reasonably confident that I wouldn't gain.

Ten months after therapy began, I had my final regular appointment with my therapist. I told my therapist that I had stopped writing down my eating plan, it was too much pressure. I agreed when she said that I could go back to writing out my meal plan (before eating) if I needed the structure. We talked about how I was noticing a slow, downward trend on the scale. She ended my session with a useful piece of insight: your brain needs to practice new ways of thinking.

I thought: maybe I can lose weight without Weight Watchers.

Twelve months after therapy began, I tweaked my food choices. I began eating salads at lunch and I finally started swimming with the local masters' swim club. 

Thirteen months after therapy began, I stopped going to TOPS. The weigh-ins were stressful. I decided to be accountable to myself, not to someone else.

I've changed. I can do this, I can lose weight on my own terms. I don't need Weight Watchers. I can choose to eat healthier foods and weigh myself. It's going to take a long time, YEARS in fact,but I'm OK with that.

What is the point of all this?  If the prospect of giving yourself the permission to eat whatever you want is terrifying, I know how you feel. I felt the same way. If you think that you can't lose weight without Weight Watchers or some traditional diet, I get that too. It took me ten months of therapy, time and writing about my experience to convince my psyche that I can lose weight on my own, less perfect, terms.

I'm hoping that by reading this post, that you open your mind (even just a little bit) to the idea that if you want to change, you can change (you may need help). It is possible to give yourself the permission to eat whatever you want; but happily choose to eat healthy foods instead of junk food. You can lose weight on your own terms without a diet. 

I'm telling you, if you change how you think, anything is possible.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The stomach flu strikes again....

Fruit-topped, custard tart, chocolate mousse cake and mini cupcakes: thankfully I did not consume all these in the same sitting. It's just food, but decadent desserts are on the unhealthy side of the food spectrum.

It was a social-heavy weekend that included tasty desserts. Except the mini cupcakes; my husband picked up a couple of trays after work. I ate some of the mini cupcakes before going to the Thursday night swim practice. Thankfully, hubby does not bring home mini cupcakes frequently.

The vegetable and fruit intake was low this week, as my stomach is recuperating from the stomach flu (second time in 2.5 months!). Thankfully, this flu bug seemed to be less contagious, so only the older bear and myself caught it. It's been a slow recovery; I've been feeling dizzy/light-headed since Friday, but that feeling has been decreasing since Monday.

I managed to get to the pool on Thursday night, but I skipped the Saturday run and a second swim on Sunday, partially due to the dizziness and partially due to the time constraints. Saturday's run was also in jeopardy since I arrived home unexpectedly late (and tired) on Friday night. A man was hit by a GO train, so I sat on the train at Union Station for 1.5 hours until the train was finally cleared to leave. Thankfully, the man survived.   

That means I am up a little bit this week. I suspect some of it is a true gain but some of it is fruit-topped custard tart, chocolate mousse cake and mini cupcakes sitting in the digestive track.