Thursday, March 21, 2013

Emotional Tolerance

My emotional eating has been out of control in the last few weeks.

I have been very anxious about work changes for me and my husband, and the unknowns that go along with that. I have also been very sleep deprived from my dear daughter not sleeping well, and my seasonal allergies have been wreaking havoc. All in all, I've felt pretty pathetic and like a bottomless pit for food. I actually ended up with a stomachache last night from eating too many sweets. I think that was the wake up call.

This is not my first time on this carousel. Around and around we go! I know that eating my feelings does not work. The feeling is still there and a healthy dose of guilt is added in.

But why can't I tolerate my own feelings? Why are they so scary and unbearable?

As a child, I was not allowed to be overly emotional. Causing any kind of a scene was severely frowned upon. I needed to "snap out of it" when I was depressed. As a teenager, I learned the comforting value of food and the "effectiveness" of dieting to drop extra weight.

Around and around we go.

As an adult, I now know that feelings are normal and okay, even the ones that seem more unpleasant. Eating when I'm not hungry doesn't feel good and doesn't make the feelings any less. It seems so simple to eat when I'm hungry and stop when I'm full but it's amazing how daunting it seems.

I know I have gotten away from eating intuitively, instead just wanting to be mindless and not think about it and feel "normal". But I'm in recovery from an eating disorder. I may never be "normal" and I need to pay attention to my body and my emotions in order to take care of them both.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

I'll be up in the gym just workin' on my fitness..

...she's Fergalicious!

Sorry, couldn't help myself.

I have been doing a decent amount of research lately on workouts. What is best for what goals, what's more effective, that kind of thing. I have had to be careful to avoid too much of the diet talk that abounds on many fitness sites (the diet advice is as varied as the fitness advice, just so you know). Here are a couple things I have learned in my internet sojourn:

  1. Setting goals can be good. I have found myself a little adrift in my workouts, totally unsure what to do or when and wondering if I'm even making any improvements in my health, strength, or endurance. I think having a goal to work toward can be useful to keep on track and also provide a sense of accomplishment. I totally think this is a double-edged sword so I think it's important to not put too much pressure on oneself.
  2. The most effective workout is......the one that you'll do. Cardio, weights, yoga, Pilates, HIIT, endurance, dance, whatever. If you like it and will do it, go for it. You don't even have to do the same thing regularly. I think joyful movement that gets your body going is what's important.
For me, exercise is a huge stress reliever. It keeps the ED demons at bay and makes me feel less guilty about what I eat. However, I do tend to overanalyze so it was helpful for me to understand that any exercise can be good and productive and that being consistent in my efforts is really what counts.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Doing for others.

I am a very introverted person. I am somewhat awkward in social situations. I think when you are more inward-directed, it's easy to focus too much on yourself, whether it be overanalyzing, nitpicking, or over-thinking situations or characteristics of yourself.

I am also not the most patient or tolerant person. I am easily irritated by others and don't always take my own advice, which is "seek to understand before being understood". To combat this, I have made a concerted effort to just be nice, even to people I don't like or who I think are rude.

It's amazing how much better I feel.

Having a pleasant interaction as opposed to a tense one. Not worrying about being right. A little gesture of kindness.

I am certainly not advocating being a doormat but, for me, trying a little harder to be more positive, friendly, and kind has helped shift my focus outward and in a more positive direction.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Emotional health: Boundaries

Continuing with my Healthy and Strong theme, I want to talk about emotional health.

I think our emotional health is easy to dismiss. We stuff/ignore/invalidate our emotions. We try to pretend everything is fine and then substitute or numb out with food later.

A particularly tough area for me is healthy boundaries. It is a little embarrassing for me to admit this. I thought I had really good boundaries but I realized a couple of things:

I am prone to taking on other people's feelings and making decisions for them. For example, my mother-in-law appears tired. Therefore, I assume she is exhausted and unable or unwilling to help care for the baby in the evenings. I overexert myself trying to care for the baby by myself, running myself into the ground in the process. In reality, my mother-in-law was a little tired but totally fine and willing and able to help care for the baby. By making this decision for her, I ruined my night and made for an awkward/tense evening.

I overpersonalize. Example: my coworker is having a hard day. I ask her to complete an additional task and she snaps at me. Instead of checking in with her and figuring out what the heck is happening, I become defensive and avoidant, assuming she doesn't really like me. Totally rational, right?

This also leads into another boundary issue, or cognitive distortion: black and white thinking. I either like you or I don't. I have a hard time with gray areas or liking someone in pieces (as opposed to having to like all aspects of their personality in order to accept them). If I think you're mad at me, I shut down and shut you out. I used to think the wall I put up was a good boundary when, sadly, it is just a defense mechanism for mistrust or discomfort that helps no one.

It's hard to open up. It's hard to feel our feelings and also let others know how we are feeling. It's much easier to eat our feelings or self-abuse in some fashion. I think self exploration can be a really powerful tool towards healing emotional hurts or insecurities and opening up in a safe, comfortable way.

Monday, February 11, 2013

"Healthy and Strong"

Over the weekend, I realized several things.

1. I like to eat. I always have liked to eat. I enjoy food and snacking and desserts and fun foods. Dieting makes me very cranky and it makes me sad to watch others restrict and shame themselves over what they eat.

2. I am not living up to my full potential when it comes to exercising. I admit it, I am a tad on the sedentary side. I love just curling up and reading a book or loafing in bed watching my favorite tv show. Exercise and physical fitness has never been a thing I thought I was good at or really wanted to do. However, I think moving my body and keeping it active and physically strong is very important. To work towards this, I have picked up the Couch to 5K program to start!

3. I am very focused on being a good role model for my daughter. I don't want her to see me dieting or exercising only for aesthetic purposes. I want her to see me taking care of myself in a moderate, healthy, and vibrant way while still enjoying every bit of life.

Ergo, my new motto: Healthy and Strong

Not thin, not lean, not modelesque. Strong.

I am hopeful that this will give me a good source of motivation and inspiration besides simply my physical appearance and also help me teach her positive body image, intuitive eating (along with a little joyful eating) and enjoying moving her body in a non-punitive way.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Conversation with a coworker: body image

Coworker: “I am down to the weight I want to be but I still have this extra bit here and here (grabs hips and thighs). My pants just don’t fit right.”

Me: “Perhaps you should buy new pants.”

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Cut it Out.

"I'm going to cut out sugar."

"I'm trying to cut out wine."

"I'm cutting carbs."

I heard some of these phrases in a conversation between two of my female coworkers today, and it made me sad. I have been guilty of similar behavior, and that also makes me sad.

Why are we trying to cut up our lives?

Why must items be erased from them, especially when those items are not necessarily harmful?
(in fairness, if you suffer from alcoholism, you probably shouldn't drink but you know what I'm saying)

One of the coworkers is one of the thinnest on the hall. She is almost militant about her food intake during the day yet constantly mentions how she still needs to lose 5 pounds. Why is this so important to her? The possible answers, of course, are endless.

Do you know what I would like to cut out?

The obsession.
The counting.
The restriction.
The self-loathing.
The misery.

Instead of cutting things out, can't we add?


I know, some days, it seems easier to subtract than to add. But maybe if we add, we won't need to take anything away from ourselves. We can