Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Red Flags

So, I started Atkins nine days ago and despite some massive
migraines, I'm alive and well.
Fifteen pounds lighter... and very, very grateful!

When I decided to trust God to hold my hand and help me do this,
I really had no idea what that would look like.
I'm still unsure of what the rest of this journey will be like.

Here's what I've seen so far:
God used my niece to get my attention and she was obedient to Him by calling.

I was obedient once I realized it was from Him and my husband followed bravely.

I asked Him to do what I have never been able to do and He did.
I had NO cravings the first whole week- which, from what I read is uncommon.

I suffered through some powerful, painful migraines, unrelieved by medication.
These headaches lasted about five days... a very looooong five days!

I prayed and I reached out for support and got some great advice.
That support and my faith allowed me to push through and stay the course.

I felt really good going into week two and had lost more weight than expected!
Unfortunately for me, along with my new found confidence,
often comes pride... and not the healthy kind of pride either!
I started feeling empowered and self sufficient.
Whenever I'm not struggling, I start forgetting to pray.
I wasn't struggling this week.

I decided to buy some sugar free jello for a treat, after all, "I'm doing so well."
The night before last, I made a box of two servings.
Rather than pour it into two bowls, I left it in the big bowl I had made it in.
Innocent enough... right? (First red flag)
I woke up yesterday and thought of the sweet treat almost immediately.
I almost didn't make coffee because I wanted to eat that jello.
I talked to myself aloud, negotiating and rationalizing.
I made a deal with myself, (Red flag number two).
I would eat some "real food" first, then I could have the jello.
Ok, the plan sounds reasonable to me! I fixed myself some food.
Normally, I really like tuna salad with onion and radishes and I enjoy eating it.
I took my plate of "real food" and the bowl of jello to my seat. (Third red flag)
I began eating. I hurried through my "real food."
All the while thinking about my treat.
I don't remember whether or not I enjoyed my food.
Once I swallowed the last mouthful of "real food", I dove into the jello.
At first, I planned on only eating half... "well, maybe a bit more"...
I used the side of the spoon like a knife to carefully cut the jello in half.
Then I shaved off "just a little more"... (Red flag number four).

In short order, I had eaten all the jello. "Duh"...
How did I not see that one coming?
Because I'm used to playing the game, that's how.

Here's another shocker... I started having cravings yesterday!
Let me repeat myself, "Duh!"
I may not be the brightest bulb in the box, but I am able to recognise
something that folks in the AA community call "stinkin' thinkin'."
I am a carb addict after all.

Yes, I know that sugar free jello isn't going to hurt my body.
Only 20 calories and 0 carbs. It's not my body that's the problem.
That jello and all the insanity surrounding it, messed with my thinking.
THAT'S where the real problem lies.
My eating sugar free jello is the equivalent of an alcoholic drinking
an O'Doul's non-alcoholic beer!
It's way too soon for me to be flirting with danger!

So, here's my revised plan:
PRAY. Honest and often.
Stop playing games that will become my undoing.
Back away from the jello and no one gets hurt!
Hold myself accountable by talking about it.
Go back to what works.

So here I am, fifteen pounds lighter, humbled and grateful.

Monday, August 1, 2011

I know what I want.

On September 26, 2005 I was 41 years old and I weighed 324 lbs.
I had gastric bypass surgery on that day and I lost 183 pounds over the next 18 months.

For the first whole year, I followed the rules to the letter. I ate NO sugar ever. I ate slowly and didn't drink while I ate. I always ate my protein first. I gave up all carbonated drinks and drank no alcohol. I worked out a minimum of 5 days a week and weighed in at least once a week.

A little over a year post op, when our daughter was about to head off to college, I went back to work in the hospital. That's when I began to flirt with sugar. This would mark the beginning of the end of my extremely strict eating. Someone was always bringing something yummy to work and I resisted as long as I could. The job was so stressful. I was emotionally triggered and slowly, I gave into temptation.

It didn't affect my weight at first. I continued to lose weight and I continued to exercise a minimum of 3 times a week. I leveled off at about 150 lbs. Then I had major surgery; three of them within a year. I had two plastic surgeries on my body and one for a bowel obstruction. I lost even more weight and ended up at 141 lbs. This was too thin really. I’m 5 feet 9 inches and I was wearing a size 4/6. Before my bypass I was in a size 30/32. After I recuperated from my other surgeries, my weight bounced back up and stayed right around 150 lbs. or so for another year.

I became very depressed and my child sexual abuse trauma symptoms really flared up. The job was too stressful, so I left. Once I stopped working I was eating sugar fairly regularly but I still didn't notice much difference in my weight. Soon I was an 8, then a 10. I remember that because I was so sad to be double digits again. Then I was a size 10/12. The depression was in full swing by this time and I was on 5 different psyche meds; none of which were working.

I went back to work at a local nursing home when our son went off to college.
I was wearing size small scrubs at the time. I got put on the night shift and started eating really badly. I began munching all night long on crackers, lifesavers and doughnuts or cookies. I went up to a medium in my scrubs. At first I was still active. I'd fast walk up and down the hallways or go walk around the parking lot.

I started therapy about this time and weaned off the psyche meds. I started doing EMDR and getting into really scary incest and trauma stuff. I left that nursing home in search of 12 hour shifts so that I could have more days off to do therapy. I went to another nursing home to work in their geriatric psyche unit. This was a big mistake. I worked 7 pm to 7 am as the only RN for my unit and often covered another unit on another floor. There were residents there who triggered me so badly, I truly thought I might snap and hurt one of them. I had never experienced this level of anxiety at work before. I was in a constant state of high alert anxiety. To cope, I ate high carb foods NON-STOP for 12 hours 3 to 4 times a week.

Even when I was off duty, I continued this raging carb addiction. I left there after only 3 months because the local nursing home offered me a day shift position if I would come back. I was so stressed working in the psyche unit that I was willing to leave after such a short time and go back to 8 hour shifts.
Within 2 weeks of going back they put me back on nights again. I negotiated a 16 hour shift from 2:30 pm to 7:00 am 2 times a week plus one additional 8 hour shift. This was VERY hard but gave me more days off to focus on therapy. Now I was eating non-stop for a 16 hour shift. I left there about 4 months later wearing X-large scrubs.

I went from a small to an X-large in less than a year.
I have gained another 20 pounds in the last 4 months.
I have now regained 119 pounds.

I would rather have never lost it in the first place, than to feel the shame and agony of such a massive failure. My back hurts again and I have pain in my legs and knees. I have dependent edema with pitting edema of the left ankle and foot. I'm having more migraines too.

About 3 or 4 weeks ago, my niece Rachel called me, out of the blue, to tell me that she had been eating according to the Atkins phase 2 plan and had lost 15 pounds in 2 weeks. We are no strangers to eating disorders and dieting in my family, but they all know that I don't do the "D" word and they are careful never to raise the subject with me. Food, eating, weight and dieting have always been major triggers for me. I'm especially sensitive since I gave in, broke down and had the gastric bypass that I swore I'd never have.I have essentially been in hiding since I regained. This is a VERY delicate subject with me and Rachel respects that. So, it was really unusual for her to make a point of calling me to tell me this. She felt that God put it on her heart to share this with me and I agree that He did.

Last week while on vacation with my family, I ordered two of the Atkins books on my Kindle. I shared this with my husband, who isn't one for the "D" word either.
To my surprise, he immediately agreed to do it with me and essentially gave me "permission" to purge our house of all non-Atkins approved foods. We made an agreement to do it right away.

We got home from vacation yesterday and I went right to work cleaning out the pantry, the fridge and freezer. I was feeling very anxious and guilty over "wasting" so much money and getting rid of perfectly good and expensive food. He was so supportive. Before pitching things like real maple syrup, I asked him, "Are you sure? Even if it's expensive?" His response was so reassuring. He simply replied, "Why not?" He was right and I felt free to go for it.

I bagged up 4 or 5 bags to go back to the dorm with our son's fiance, 4 or 5 bags to go to Manna's food pantry and another 4 or 5 bags of expired or not very good food to go to the dump. I washed out my refrigerator so it sparkles and smells so clean. I worked on that for several hours. Then he and I made a grocery list according to the Atkins guidelines and bought $176.00 of fresh, whole, Atkins-friendly foods. I was tuckered out with very swollen feet by the time I sat down last night, but I feel inspired and ready, albeit a bit anxious.

I am a carbohydrate/food addict. There is no doubt about that. I purposely use food, especially carbs to self soothe and self medicate. I eat to avoid and to numb out. I've been doing this my entire life. The only exception to this was that period of "sobriety" after my gastric bypass. If I was using alcohol instead of food, I would have been a "dry drunk" during this time as my relationship with food and my feelings about it and about myself never really changed. I was essentially forced to eat well by altering my insides. Sort of like forcing a raging alcoholic into rehab and giving them the drug ‘Antabuse’ to make them sick if they drink again. They may be alcohol free but they are far from real sobriety.

At 47, I am finally committed to healing from my child sexual abuse trauma. I believe that if my food addiction is in check and I'm not self medicating and eating to avoid my feelings, the pace and quality of my trauma recovery will be improved. My memories have been very slow to emerge and I have been extremely frustrated by the snails pace. It makes sense that by continuing to use food and weight as a way to avoid feeling and remembering, I am my own worst enemy for remembering, feeling, dealing and ultimately, healing.

I believe that the Lord did put it on Rachel's heart to call me and tell me about this way of eating and because I believe it came from Him; I trust that He will give me the strength to do this thing. I am terrified of being hungry and I feel powerless over my cravings. The thought of restrictions on my eating sets off a chain reaction of negative thoughts and fears inside of me.
I am praying that God will give me His strength to resist temptation and to follow this eating plan. I want there to be no idol before God. I want to turn to Him and not turn to food for comfort. As long as I'm still using food, that can't happen. So, I'm trying to see this as the gift that He intended it to be when He told Rachel to call me.

I know that I want a more intimate relationship with God.
I know that I want a deeper and more loving relationship with my husband.
I know that I want to recover my lost memories and discover all the parts of myself.
I know that I want a lean, healthy body and I know that I want an active lifestyle. Because I have faith in Him, I also know that I will have all of these things and more as I become free from the strongholds of food addiction and eat the way God intended.

“Dear Lord, please carry me through the scary and hard parts of this journey and give me the strength to make good choices. In Jesus' name” ~ Amen.