Thursday, January 29, 2015

Step Four

Step Four:  Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Journaling prompts taken from Gentle Path Through the Twelve Steps.

Avoiding Personal Responsibility

Wow, is this one a doozy.  Give specific examples of when I have avoided taking personal responsibility for my behavior.  Well, the big one is coming up with excuses (any excuses) not to do my Fourth Step!  But here are some others:

When I'm running late for anything, I run down a list of possible (untrue) excuses, anything from, "I hit every red light" to "We had to stop for an emergency bathroom break for the kids" to "I got a phone call I had to take and I don't like driving while on the phone" to "The line at the check out was ridiculous!"  Honestly, I use my kids as a scapegoat a lot, and I feel ashamed about it.

When we're having people over and I haven't cleaned up the house to my satisfaction, I make up excuses, like "I was up all night with my little one, and just couldn't get as much done as I wanted," or "We were out really late last night, so I only had a few minutes to pick up this morning," etc, etc.

If I bump into a financial issue that I don't want to solve or don't want to admit I screwed up, I always look for a way to blame my husband.  I can't tell you how many times I've told creditors on the phone, "I'm not sure about that, my husband does the finances, but I'll talk to him about it and have him call you back."

Speaking of finances, my main way of avoiding responsibility is just denial, with a heavy dose of procrastination. "Oh, I'll do it later" or "Oh, it'll work out somehow."

Weight-wise, I place a lot of blame on my family of origin for the predicament I'm in now.  "They're all food addicts, too, I didn't have a chance."  "If only my mother raised me better," "If only she wasn't a narcissist,"  "If only my father protected me from her," and so on, and so on.  "I'm in this mess because my mother didn't know how to parent."  Which in a lot of ways, is true, but that doesn't excuse me from not taking personal responsibility now, as an adult.

I come up with many, many excuses for not doing the work I need to do now.  "I'm tired."  "There are too many stressful things going on right now, I need to 'take care of myself'" - which should not mean eating junk food, but it does.  "I meant to exercise today, but I was just too busy" - when I wasn't.  And on and on and on.

Sometimes I even try to find a way to blame my husband for my lack of success in losing weight.  "He's not being supportive enough."  "Maybe he really wants me to be fat, so he feels more secure."

How about, "Oh, you want to cuddle?  Absolutely, I don't need to be working on my Fourth Step!"  (true story)

I am the queen of rationalizations, excuses, blaming, denial, and procrastination.

Taking Personal Responsibility

Despite just beginning Step Four, I have tried to do Step Ten as much as possible.  While I haven't wanted to look too much into my past or into my character defects in general, I have tried to own up to things that I've done that were wrong.

With my husband, when I get crazy/mean/bitchy about certain things, I apologize and, if applicable, explain what I was really upset about.  I try to make amends.

I have spent lots of time in therapy, learning new ways of dealing with people.  I have broken out of a lot of old, maladaptive patterns, especially when it comes to interacting with my mother.

Having spent a few years in Twelve Step groups, I have come to realize the unmanageability I experienced in regards to a different addiction, and apologized for several of those behaviors.  The specifics range from admitting that I was trying to manage my husband's recovery (and then stopping doing it) to apologizing for dumping my problems onto other people (oversharing).

I have also come to recognize some less than ideal parenting behaviors and learned how to respond differently.  I've accepted that how I handled certain situations in the past wasn't ideal and do pretty well at not behaving that way anymore, though I still slip up from time to time - thankfully, I'm much quicker to apologize now.

I've been dreading making some doctor appointments, both for me and for the children.  I finally admitted to myself that I was just procrastinating for no good reason, and made the appointments.

Misuse of Anger

I realized the biggest misuse of anger I experience thanks to a wonderful therapist.  I realized that a lot of time, by overeating, I'm saying a big, "Fuck You" to my mother - who tried very hard to control my eating and my weight, while overindulging and being overweight herself.  It's not always the top reason why I overeat, but even at low stress times, there's usually an element of "I'm going to do what I want, and to hell with [my mother, society's expectations, etc]."  There's a huge rebellious aspect to my eating.

I've also held on to anger, and purposely stoked it, as a way of protecting myself against my husband - protecting myself from the pain in case he relapses, and as an excuse not to build intimacy (out of fear of being hurt again).

I've used anger to distract me from my personal responsibility.  When we moved, our landlord was a jerk about returning our security deposit, and I think he grossly overcharged us for repairs he needed to make.  I let that anger consume me, so I didn't have to think about the ways I did contribute to our security deposit getting eaten into.

I've also used anger as a reason to eat (in a non-rebellious way) - "I'm so angry at my husband, I need to eat to soothe myself" or "I'm so angry about [some minor thing], but I don't want to be a grump to the kids; I better eat to cheer myself up so I can be happy for them."

Positive Expression of Anger

My anger about my mother's inappropriate behavior led me to set firm boundaries to protect me and my family.

My anger at my husband/his addiction helped me find my own self-worth and self-respect.

I got angry with my husband over some financial secret keeping and expressed myself appropriately, which helped me let go of the anger instead of letting it fester.

Ditto to some inappropriate behavior of my husband's relating to a car.


I'm going to have to come back to some of these, because I'm sure there are more aspects to these questions that I'm not seeing right now.  Hopefully letting things percolate will bring more issues to the surface.

Serenity Prayer:

Grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change,
Courage to change the things we can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Rebel Scale

This morning when I stepped on my scale, it read '0' and stayed that way.  When I stepped off, the numbers jumped up to somewhere in the 360's.  The scale has continued to behave that way, regardless of changes of batteries and everything else I've tried.  I guess my scale is in rebellion.  Time to go to Target to get a new one.

I had salad and chicken for lunch every day.  Finished off the last of the salad I made Sunday night today.  I'm quite proud of myself for sticking with it.

I did have a celebratory treat this evening, though, and I'm not beating myself up for it.  I had a job interview that I was really nervous about, and did really well.  I don't want to keep celebrating with food, but I'm not going to beat myself up about it when I do.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Weight Loss Inspiration

It's Wednesday, and I've done pretty good so far.  Healthy meals, healthy snacks.  I didn't exercise much yesterday, but I walked a mile today.  Woohoo!  I've checked my weight on the scale and while I'm only officially weighing in once a week, it's been nice to see the scale go down a bit.  I'm drinking lots of water, too, so hopefully the loss isn't just water weight.

A friend is trying to eat better, too, and she shared this inspirational story on Facebook:  Get Down with Dani.  I've been having fun looking through her past posts - maybe you'll find some inspiration, too!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Steps Two and Three

Step Two:  We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Step Three:  We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

Journaling prompts taken from Gentle Path Through the Twelve Steps.

Spiritual Affirmations

These are the affirmations I find most appealing from the Gentle Path book:

I am connected to my planet.  I experience the sky, the wind, the rain, and all the elements of my environment.  I am aware of the cycle of life.  Each day brings greater awareness of my place in this universe.

I have an inner, true voice that is in harmony with the universe.  Each day I develop greater acuity and discernment in interpreting my voice's clear messages to me.

My body is my primary vehicle for embracing the awe of my world.  Each day I nurture and tend to it.  Stretching my body brings energy, strength, and confidence to face my struggles.

My wounds are my teachers.  I am open to their lessons.


These are the OA promises which appeal to me the most:

We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.

That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.

Self-seeking will slip away.

Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.

I am creating a page of affirmations, promises, and other miscellaneous bits and pieces that I want to read every morning when I wake up, and every night when I go to bed.  This idea is from the Beck Diet Solution.

One Year To Live Fantasy

I'm finding this exercise to be really emotional.  Maybe in part because, at over 150 lbs overweight, there is a possibility that I could be dead in a year.  I don't have any illusions about the state of my health, and I'm constantly afraid that death is just around the corner.

If I were to receive news that I only had a year to live, I would be a wreck.  I don't know how I would function.  I'm sure I would tell my husband, and probably my sister and my father right away.  I think my immediate reaction would be to just want to curl up in bed, surrounded my family.

The changes I would make in my life would center around my family.  I would cut out as many distractions as possible.  Forget spending afternoons goofing around on the internet.  Drop pretty much everything that took me away from my children.  I would focus on being engaged and present with my family.  Get rid of the phone.  I would try to make as many good memories for my children as possible.  I would work to find acceptance:  of myself, and of them, and of my husband.  Of the rest of my family.  I would find a way to spend more time with my family that lives far away.

I would do the things I'm embarrassed to do because of my size.  I would wear a bathing suit to the beach or to the water park and swim with my family.  I would laugh, I would run and play.  I would sing loudly and terribly.  I would stop being afraid of being seen.  I would want to be seen - to be remembered - to leave some sort of mark on this world, even if just in people's memories.  I would be outside all the time.  Because it's a fantasy, and in fantasies we are all rich - I would go to Iceland and Wales.

I would be kind to people.  I would stop procrastinating about service projects, I would volunteer and have my children join me, to teach them the joy in giving to others.

I would tell people that I love them.  Not just my family, but friends, too.  Even friends I haven't been in touch with in years, but who meant something to me in other times of my life.  I would accept people as they are, greatly flawed and all, and tell them that I love them, regardless.  I would write letters of acceptance, forgiveness, and love, so that those who don't hear me the first time can read my words after I'm gone.

I would write letters, letters and letters to my children, explaining who I am, why I did the things I did, why I made the choices I made, and how, above all, they have been the brightest and most wonderful part of my life.  I would tell them all the amazing, fantastic, completely loveable things about themselves, so that they will know, without a doubt and for the rest of their lives, that they are worthwhile and so loved.

My last fling - I feel silly about this, but I would spend time in Disney World.  I would ride all the rides, including the water slides, I would meet the characters and hug them all.  I would put down the camera and watch the joy on my children's faces.  I would laugh, a lot.

I would make sure my husband was by my side for all of it.  Every last bit.

I would find a cabin in the woods, with a stream running next to it, to spend my last few days.  It doesn't really matter where, so long as it's warm enough to be outside.


Looking back on my answers, I think there are a few things that are pretty obvious.  First, my children are clearly the most important thing to me (followed closely by my husband).  I wouldn't care if I never got to travel or sky dive or anything like that, so long as I got to love my children.  Laughter and silliness - joy- are high up on my list of priorities.

I think it's also revealing that I wouldn't actually make many drastic changes.  The journaling prompts read, "During the fantasy, you may have found yourself doing things significantly differently from how you live now.  Why would this be so?  If they were so important to get done, what prevents you from doing them now?"  Yes, I can cut back on time I spend on the internet or on my phone, and I probably should.  But as far as cutting out all things that take me away from my kids - well, I can't actually do that in real life.   Most of the things I would want to do involve things I already do, just more:  laugh more, love more, validate more, accept more.  The one big change that I could conceivably do would be to stop letting my weight get in the way.

Just imagine the life I could lead if I could move easier, if I could actually run around with my kids at the park, if I could keep up with them, if I could climb all those stairs at the water park.  That's the change I really need to make, to live the life I dream of, to live the life I'd lead if I only had a year to live.

"How do you feel about facing your own death?"  Honestly, that's a topic I do my damnedest to avoid thinking about.  Death terrifies me.  As in, gives me a panic attack when I'm not a person who has panic attacks.  I don't believe in god or in an afterlife.  That we have just a set amount of time on this earth, and then it ends - just snuffs out like a candle - oh my god.  And given that I'm absolutely terrified of dying, it makes absolutely no sense that I don't take care of my body, to try to extend my time here as long as possible.  That's absolutely insane.

Serenity Prayer:

Grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change,
Courage to change the things we can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

Exercise on a Rainy Day? Nah..

This morning started out nice enough.  We had plans to meet up with friends at the park, so I got up, had a healthy breakfast, got everyone ready, and packed lunches (raspberries for me, figuring I'd have my salad when I got home).  We had a wonderful time at the park, but it started downpouring while we were there.  After the first storm passed, there was about 45 minutes more to play before the next downpour started.  My kids love the rain, so they continued running around like maniacs, getting drenched.  We waited for a pause in the storm before heading home, and the break in the rain held until we were indoors.. and now it's been raining ever since.  It's so hard to convince myself to do anything worthwhile when it's raining.  I've got the door to the patio open beside me, and the sound of the rain is so lovely.  There's even some gentle thunder in the distance, and all I want to do is curl up and read.

Thankfully, I've got a lovely new book!  It Was Me All Along, by Andie Mitchell.

(don't mind the low light, I told you, it's dark and rainy out!)

I'm almost done with it, to be honest.  It's well written, and a brutally honest story of what it's like to be fat and to lose weight, what it's like to grow up in a dysfunctional family, and most importantly, it doesn't present the 'after' of weight loss as rosy perfection.  I love how she discusses the reality of losing weight only to find that you're still you, just thinner.  There are some good Twelve-Step messages in there, too, like "One Day At A Time."  This book is absolutely fantastic, and I highly recommend it.

Oh, and speaking of Andie Mitchell, I'm following her recipe for Chinese Turkey Lettuce Wraps for dinner!

So I'll just go back to my reading.. and maybe, if I'm disciplined enough, I'll do some OA work.  We'll see.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

It Could Be Worse, Right?

I finally got new batteries for the scale and weighed in this morning.  It definitely could have been worse - I only gained back about half of what I lost last year.  I'm now at 297.4 lbs.  This is what that looks like:

Please excuse the dorky avatar head protecting my anonymity - love those Overeaters Anonymous traditions!  Following taking this picture (thanks to my husband for doing the dirty work), I headed out to the grocery store to do our weekly shopping trip.

I've always found it really hard finding a balance between buying snacks for the kids to have, but not getting things I find too tempting.  Hopefully I did okay for the week:  the cookies I bought them are not my favorites, and I didn't get any ice cream.  I did, however, get a bunch of fresh produce and enough food to make healthy lunches (and dinners) for the week.

We had feta and basil stuffed grilled chicken breasts for dinner, with veggie kabobs.  While the grill was fired up, we also cooked chicken for me to use in salads for lunches this week.  I've got three healthy meals a day planned out for the whole week and fruit for snacks.  My goal is to walk a mile four times this week, either by doing two laps around the block or using the treadmill.  I know that's starting pretty slow, but considering my size and fitness level, I figured that's the best way to go.  I'm also setting a goal of doing step work three times this week (which I'll post here, obviously).

Wish me luck!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Seven Months Later...

Talk about falling off the band wagon, right?  So it's been seven months, and surprise surprise!  I've gained some weight back.  To be fair, it's been a crazy seven months, fully of huge amounts of stress, major life changes (we moved across the country, if you can believe that!), and binge eating like nobody's business.

But I'm ready to get back to work, so I'm announcing it to the world (or the Internet) - I do not want to be fat anymore.  I do not want to run away from my problems, to ignore my feelings, to not be the best version of myself.  Hopefully getting back on track to being healthier mentally and emotionally will, as a side benefit, make it easier to lose weight.

I have no illusions about why I'm overweight and why I have a hard time dieting.  I know that I can't just white knuckle another diet (which one is popular right now?  I sure don't know) and hope it sticks.  'Cause it won't.  I've spent a lot of time over the past few years getting to know myself and finding out how I can actually live my life and deal with my problems.  It's time to put that knowledge back into action.