Friday, August 28, 2009

I’m learning and making some progress…

OMG – where has this book been all of my life? Apparently just lying in wait, waiting for me to be in the right place to go searching for it. As I read, I sometimes wonder where I would be now if I had read this book a year ago; five years ago; 10 years ago! But, it doesn’t do any good to wonder, so I stop. I have already put into play a few of the key points I have learned so far, and I feel good. Uh, really pretty good, in fact. I have actually managed to eat at one of my “user” restaurants, eat only half of what I would have normally eaten, took the other half home and didn’t even eat it at all (as opposed to eating it in the car in my driveway after the five minute drive home, or perhaps an hour or so later while watching TV in bed). I can’t tell you the last time I have done that. I usually waddle from the restaurant, wanting to throw up or in physical pain in my gut because I have stuffed so much food into my stomach that it hurts to contort myself into my driver’s seat and hook my seatbelt. I am often out of breath after I eat, probably because my stomach is so packed with food that it is filling my chest cavity and inhibiting my lungs from working properly. Sad picture, isn’t it? Well, it’s the truth. I also managed to order pizza yesterday without any anger or frustration or self-loathing involved, although there was some boredom. However, instead of ordering a 16” extra-large with two chocolate lava cakes for dessert, I ordered one 10” with a soda. I found that even this ridiculously tiny (in my eyes) pizza filled my stomach to capacity – which I thought only a large pizza could do. I was full by the time I ate half, but had to finish it because the voice in my head said I had to (that is Harriet; more on that later), but otherwise would have been happy to stop right then. Who knew? I did; I just chose to ignore. Silly girl.

I am now on page 79 (of 265) of Shrink Yourself and have learned a lot of very eye opening stuff. For those of you who follow this blog who do not have problems with food (or perhaps just think that you don’t), I still highly recommend this book. Some people do have problems with abusing food, but don’t have trouble with their weight. This book can still help you to change your feelings and relationship with food. I promise – no one is paying me to say that I really recommend reading it. Look for it at your local public library if you don’t want to purchase it. I was going to let Sissy read mine when I finished it, but I have a feeling I’m not going to want to let it go.

I have learned that I have feeling phobias. I never would have thought that was true! I have lots of feelings, and thought that because I considered myself an “emotional” person, that meant that I was in touch with them, albeit in perhaps a not-so-healthy way. As humans, we are “meaning-hungry creatures. We make everything mean something.” That is me to a “T”. If someone doesn’t return my voice mail or email, then they are mad at me or I have done something wrong or they just don’t care about me (even though I know none of these things are true). These misinterpretations make simple feelings feel like more than they really are. There are also things called “Catastrophe Predictions”. You can probably figure out what those are; it’s like snow in Oregon. It’s not the snow itself that is scary to people, it’s the worst-case scenario predictions that people come up with that scare them. Schools are closed, Trail Blazer games get cancelled, and people leave work at 2pm to get home before the roads get bad. All for a few flakes of snow. I liked one of the sentences in one of the paragraphs under this heading: “When you come to the place where you’re feeling powerless for just a moment, you believe on some level that eating is the only option you really have to make yourself feel better, and that otherwise that moment will become an eternity.” Welcome to my life. However, I have learned that I use food to push away negative feelings that I don’t want to deal with. I use food as an over-the-counter tranquilizer. When I am bingeing, I feel content and secure. I am not thinking about anything else – this is called the trance. It is a very appropriate way to describe how I feel when I binge; I am not thinking about the horrible day I had, or how much I hate my job or how lonely I am, all I am thinking about is how delicious the food tastes and how quickly it will be gone. I have now learned that I “have to remember that you need to master the feeling phobia and food trance in order to understand the deeper issues that make you feel powerless.”

Anyway, I have learned something about my conscience. I always thought that your conscience was your guide, and it is. However, there is more than one kind of conscience, and one of mine – called the critical conscience - is a real sick Nazi bitch. She uses every opportunity to get me down, kick me repeatedly and viciously while I am down, and then uses every tactic to keep me down if I show any sign of trying to get back up. She tells me I am worthless, stupid, fat, ugly, unlovable, unforgivable, and will never attain any goal I set for myself; she loves to see me as a helpless, lonely, and hopeless victim. See? I told you she was a bitch. The worst part? I believe her. Utterly and completely. Why???

The book recommends giving your self-critical voice a name, like Harriet. “Even though you’re an intelligent, self-contained, functioning adult, Harriet has a lot of power.” Sometimes the critical voice is just background noise, but sometimes it’s like she is screaming through a bull horn, and I feel like others can hear her, and they agree with her. There have been times when I am in the grocery store, wavering between what I want to eat and what I know I should eat, and her voice is so loud and confusing that I leave the store in tears, half full shopping cart (or an empty one) stranded in an aisle. I have sat in restaurants full of people and families, trying to keep it together while she pokes me in my broken ribs (from some earlier assault) with her Nazi stiletto pointed toe black leather boots, telling me how I will never, ever have anyone in my life and I will always be alone and unloved. She is the one that tells me that I must keep eating, even when I can feel that I am full (and sometimes in physical pain), because there are starving children in (insert impoverished country of your choice here), or because it will be a waste of money if I don't. I am powerless to tell her to shut the hell up, mostly because she was a nameless, faceless captor of my psyche. Well, no more. Her name is Harriet – or whatever I tell her her name is – and the fact that I have now taken her down a peg by naming her gives me some power! You may scoff, but it actually works. Now when I hear her start to go to town on me, I can say SHUT THE HELL UP, HARRIET!! I sometimes say it out loud. And you know what? She does. I think that sometimes I can even hear her sputtering and looking for some sort of response, but by then I have moved on and left her in the dust, kicking at air. HA! Take that.

Well, this is getting wordy, so I will leave you with this for now. I will write again later to give you more updates on how I am doing with this. Nothing much else in life is happening right now. But maybe that will change too.


Friday, August 21, 2009

I feel better now...

OK, I am feeling better than I was when I wrote my last post; but I had to wait until today to feel good enough to actually post something.

After reading the sage advise I found in that book, I could not help but feel...overwhelmed. Panicky. Totally and completely freaked out. Which was probably why it was a good thing that I read it. This is probably how people feel when they are hit with an intervention for their drug or alcohol abuse. It is everything that you know to be true, right, and sound; but it is everything that you don't want to hear. I know that I am an emotional eater, and my mom has been telling me for YEARS that I should stay away from flour and wheat (something else Mom was right about. Dammit!). When I was a child, she said that my head and hair smelled weird, but when she took me off of wheat it was normal. And I remember the hellish times when she took me off of the wheat products - it was horrible!! But I was a kid then, and other kids tend to make fun of you when you have a sandwich in your lunch with no bread, and other "weird" "health food" "freak of nature" type foods in your Charlie Brown lunchbox (maybe it was the lunchbox that was the problem?). I am an adult now, and I fully understand that life is unfair, and sometimes you have to suck it up and do things that are unpleasant for your own good. No one will laugh at my lunches now (and I am sure that no longer carrying around the Charlie Brown lunchbox will help that as well) so there should be no issues. Right? RIGHT??? Well... The problem is that everything I like to eat has sugar, flour or wheat products in it (yeah, and that is why you are FAT!) (Can someone please shut this voice up? Thank you.) and if I eliminate all of them, then I will have nothing to eat at all and my life will be joyless and empty.


My life is already joyless and empty because I hate myself for allowing my weight to be so out of control. That's right. I forgot.

But the more I thought about what I should do the angrier I got. On top of the panic I felt by the anticipation of having to cut all the foods that I love and cannot live without, I was feeling put out with someone I care about, I had a crappy day at work, and since I have been home from vacation I have been so homesick that I am "this close" to calling U-Haul to rent a truck and move back to Oregon. All of that just accumulated until I was feeling TRAPPED BY EVERYTHING - people, employment, finances, all of it and I just wanted to SCREAM!!! I threw the mail all over the living room and stomped around a little bit. Then I sat at my computer, pulled up the Domino's website, and angrily ordered a medium deep dish pizza and two lava cakes (omg - they are the DEVIL). Oh, and a Coke Zero. Lord knows I don't want to add any extra calories to this love fest if I don't have too! (It is soooo ironic; when I was a teenager I worked for a deli owned by the parents of a school friend of mine [the Stovepipe Deli, Livermore, CA] with a bunch of my other friends from school. We used to laugh when overweight people came in, ordered the biggest and fattiest sandwiches we made along with a Diet Coke. We thought it was the dumbest thing we ever saw. Karma's a bitch.) When it arrived, I ate all of it in about a 20 minute time span. Oh man, do I need help. And the worst part of this behavior is that I know it's bad, I know that I am punishing myself for other people's behavior towards me, but I still can't stop myself. It makes me feel helpless and hopeless.

Late last night, after the guilt and the pain had subsided some, I picked up my other new book that I bought before I left for vacation and started to read it. I wish I had read it FIRST. (Please see the right hand column for info.) The first book was very good and extremely important for me to read, but it was very cut and dry, no funny business, and cut straight to the heart of the matter in a rather un-empathetic and clinical way. This new book is written by a therapist instead of a clinical doctor, and it appeals to me very much. One of the paragraphs in the introduction, under the header of "How Does the Book Work?", really spoke to me and the work I am trying to do on myself: Once I began to explore the question of powerlessness as related to weight, I realized that powerlessness over the urge to eat was simply a superficial layer of powerlessness. It actually covered up for five other ways that people felt powerless in their lives. People feel powerless when they doubt themselves, when they feel frustrated, when they feel vulnerable or unsafe, when they feel rebellious or angry, and when they feel empty. Yep. That sentence should have been followed by an 8x10 glossy of me. That is EXACTLY why I ate that pizza last night. I felt powerless, frustrated, angry and empty. Four out of five. Some days it's all five, and some days it's all five plus eleven more. Sometimes it's only one of those reasons, but just one is enough to send me running for food. Well, not running exactly. But you get the idea.

I look forward to reading the rest of this book, hopefully over the weekend. I will keep you posted (no blog pun intended) on my progress. I hope that, if there is just one person out there that reads this blog and suffers from food addiction like I do, you will find that you are not alone and perhaps you can start your own road to recovery too. Life is too short to suffer like this, and suffering like this will only make it shorter.

Until later, TTFN.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I want to be well. I want to recover from this disease I have of food addiction. The time is right, let's do it. Felt positive yet very apprehensive as I finished reading my book on food addiction today, because now i have the knowledge to do what i need to do, but i am scared to fail. Needed to go to the grocery store on my way home for baking soda as my refrigerator smells like there is a decomposing horse in it. I remember from my reading that to succeed and start my road to recovery I will need to eliminate all sugar, flour and wheat from what I eat. She (the author) recommends glowingly Paul Newman's Own line of salad dressings. I decide to check them out while in the store to see what yummy concoctions he has in store for me. Bottle after bottle, flavor after flavor I turn eagerly, then with growing apprehension, to the list of ingredients. Bottle after bottle, flavor after flavor, sugar. sugar. sugar. sugar. Even the bloody oil and vinegar has stupid bloody sugar in it. Not one of the salad dressings could be in my home. What the hell was this author talking about??? Oh yeah. The book was written in 1993. Apparently Mr. Newman succumbed to the screaming food addicts in the world and added sugar to his salad dressings since then.

Suddenly, everything in the store seemed off limits. I became extremely overwhelmed as item after item that i grabbed randomly from the shelves seemed to scream I HAVE SUGAR IN ME - YOU CAN NEVER EAT ME! Tears began to well up in my eyes as i immediately began the cycle of self-pity and self-loathing that haunts my every waking minute as i try to deal with food. I managed to keep it together while paying for my baking soda and chicken wings, but burst into tears when i hit the parking lot. People pretended not to see the sobbing 325 lb 5'2" bleached blond obviously psychopathic blob wobbling her way to her vehicle. I cried all the way to my empty home with the smelly fridge. I felt like a recovering drug addict forced to find the small scraps of sobriety among aisle after aisle, row after row, shelf upon shelf upon shelf of crack pipes. I know you think i am being ridiculous, a drama queen; but i assure you this is my life. If you don't have a problem with it then you cannot understand it. You are not addicted to something you MUST ingest every single day of your life, several times a day in fact, in order to live.

When i got home i was tempted to just leave the truck running as i closed the garage door.

But i didn't.

And i will live to try again tomorrow.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009


So, I am reading one of my new books that I ordered before I went on vacation – Food Addiction, The Body Knows – and I am trying to retain a positive attitude. What I really want to do is to run screaming into the streets, “I WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO EAT NORMALLY AGAIN! I WILL NEVER BE WELL!!!” Ahem. I know this is not true, or even accurate, but SHEESH. This gal is taking forever to get to the positive part of the book!! Basically, in a nut shell so to speak, the culprits are sugar and wheat. Cut out processed foods, sugar, flour and all things made with these things and you can recover. And that leaves me basically…what? Beef jerky and water? I know it isn’t really that severe; but as my logical brain (yes, I do have one, shut up) reads and absorbs this information, my emotional brain is screaming BUT THAT IS ALL THE FOODS YOU LOVE!! YOU WILL NEVER GET TO EAT ANYTHING YOU LIKE EVER AGAIN!!! And that actually may not be too terribly far from the truth, actually. Basically, it’s like being addicted to drugs or alcohol; once you abstain and go into recovery, you can never go back to having “just a little cocaine/heroin/bourbon every once in a while”. Just the smallest portion of what you are addicted to causes relapse and continuing addiction, and then you have to start the recovery process all over again. I have to choose how I want to live my life or how I want to continue slowly killing myself. I don’t want to die, I want to LIVE; and not EXIST like I am doing and have been doing for the last 25 years, but truly and completely LIVE.

Sigh…it’s going to be hard. REALLY hard. But the book makes a lot of sense, and I know that everything worth having is worth working REALLY hard for. 25 years of abuse is going to take a lot of time to undo. And I really do want to.

But, can’t I just take a pill for it? No? Ok…sigh…

I thought it was rather ironic that as I sat in the parking lot of my favorite Mexican restaurant, reading about food addiction as I prepared to go in and spend a little quality time with one of my “dealers”, I was crying because just reading about the things that feed my addiction made me WANT TO EAT THEM. Will I be strong enough to learn about my addiction and how to recover without shooting myself in the foot? We shall see.

Maybe I should pitch my story to TLC or A&E; aren’t weight loss and addiction shows all the rage right now? They could have both all rolled into one, and maybe I could earn some money for school (since I am not willing to have a ton of kids and pimp them out for the world to gawk at). What do you think? And do you know someone I could call?


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Back from vacation...sigh...

Well, I made it back. It was really, REALLY, hard this time to come home. It's always hard, but it was especially hard this time.

I had an awesome time at the party; little worries and concerns that I had myself all worked up about (like the inevitable question: When are you going to get married?) never came up. I adore my family; there were ex-spouses and ex-in laws in abundance, but everyone gets along - and not in that fake plastic way either where you can still smell the tension in the air, and all it would take is a small spark to set everything off. Nope, everyone is genuinely happy to see one another and had a great time celebrating Jeremy and Erika's 10th wedding anniversary. It. Was. AWESOME. Jeremy's cousin Amber put together a fabulous Hawaiian Luau party that was beyond our wildest expectations. She should do parties for a living! She had fresh orchids EVERYWHERE, and authentic leis for Jeremy and Erika, which you can see below in this portrait I took on site:
Don't they look great? Such a hot couple.

Sis and I made cupcakes up the wazoo - vanilla with pink vanilla butter cream frosting, chocolate with sinfully rich chocolate butter cream frosting, Mimosa (orange juice and champagne) cupcakes with champagne frosting - and Sis also made a Pink Champagne cake. Amber was having a chocolate Kahlua cake and a Pina Colada cake made, but the guy making them backed out at the last minute. Jerk. Oh well - we got cakes from Costco which were fabulous and decorated them with the left over orchids, etc. There were BBQ meatballs, Teriyaki soba noodles, fruit salad and a ton of other food - all of it was home made and fabulous. Jeremy's sisters and Amber also hired real hula dancers to perform!

I was able to take lots of family pictures for all sides of the family attending; I set up a small portable portrait "studio" and invited any and all to have pictures taken. It was really great to feel like I was contributing something; it was especially poignant as Amber's father was recently diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease - or ALS - and we don't know when we would have had a better opportunity to get group pictures with him.

Here is one of my three gorgeous kids (OK, Sis's gorgeous kids):

From left to right: Reanna, Jeremy, Alisha.

Here is a group photo of Mom, Sis, and all of the family generated just through the two of them!

From left to right, back row: Brock Palmer, Zac Brown, Jeremy Seals, Kyrell Seals. Middle row: Alisha Palmer, Reanna Brown, Shirley Hotchkiss, Karen Buckman, Erika Seals. Front row: Hannah Morris, Taelynn Palmer, Emily Brown, Alexander Brown, Kieran Seals, Kaya Seals.

I even allowed Reanna to take a picture of me with Mom and Sis:

I think my mom looks awesome for being 73, having two children over 40, three grandchildren over 30, and seven great-grandchildren!

Well, I think that is all for now; it's 10pm and I have to go back to work tomorrow. Sigh. I will blog about my vacation in stages so I don't bore anyone to tears!