Bad Body Thoughts

I’m thinking about doing a workshop on Freedom from Food Obsession – or something like that. I’m just in the beginning stages. I am so passionate about the topic, and wish I could help every person who suffers find peace and freedom.

SO, what stupid, ridiculous, evil thought came right into mind AND lodged itself there,

“MELISSA, YOU HAD BETTER LOSE WEIGHT NOW”.

Because, after all, who would want ME as a role model, as I’m not exactly classically thin anymore? Who would take me seriously now? Who would want advice and guidance from ME?

Over the past few days, I’ve wasted way too much time contemplating this – how much weight exactly do I need to lose to seem viable? And how should I lose the weight? Milk instead of cream in my coffee? Smaller portions? Skip lunch? No eating at night?

AM I CRAZY?! (Well, yes. But that’s for another post.) What’s really sad is how old thoughts and beliefs have stayed embedded somewhere in my brain. Old beliefs die hard. Time to bury them for good!!!!!

SO, enough of that. I’m happy and healthy and free. I’m going to leave my body alone. And go plan my workshop! 🙂

Why Therapy didn’t Work

I saw many therapists over the miserable years of my first four decades. The last one, Vanessa, was incredibly smart and lovely and learned and compassionate; however, she -nor any of her predecessors- could help me at all with my addictions.

There was one huge way she did help me, though – she told me I was very, very sick, and I had absolutely no choice in life but to stop doing drugs and to attend 12 Steps meetings. Through the 12 Steps, I was able to heal and to get well.

Why didn’t therapy help me with substances AND food? BECAUSE, the therapist was so kind and compassionate – I never had to take a tough look at myself and my behaviors, and I never had to change myself.

For example,Vanessa would tell me what a terrible mother I had – that I was entitled to my anger. In fact, she thought I should be angrier than I was? (Hard to imagine – I was really, really, really angry!)

The 12 Steps told me that I had to get free of anger – anger would lead me back to drugs and the drugs would kill me. The 12 Steps told me I was 40 now and responsible for my own life. I couldn’t blame my mother for my current sorry life because she hadn’t been perfect when I was a child. Besides, the poor woman was dying of Parkinson’s Disease at the time – not much she could do to help.

In therapy, I was allowed to wallow in ‘poor me.’ But as they say in AA, Poor me, poor me, pour me another drink. Wallowing is very dangerous for the likes of me.

Through the 12 Steps, I had to face my life, show up and grow up. I had to see where I, me, Melissa, was the problem. My mother, my father, my brother, my teachers, my friends, my colleagues – they weren’t my problem. And that’s really good news, because I can’t change other people, but I can change myself and most specifically – my actions and reactions.

No therapist ever told me to show up and grow up. Uh, my sponsor did – many, many, many, many….times.

Turns out that self-pity was my BIGGEST problem, mostly because it lead me back to food, alcohol and drugs. I now know I have NO reason to feel sorry for myself at all. I am completely blessed and lucky (particularly lucky to be alive, considering some of the things I did, back in the day.)

But ONLY through taking that hard and thorough and honest look at MYSELF and MY defects and defective thinking – was I willing and able to change. And to see the truth – I have a very good life.

There is no longer any desire to run to substance or food. Bottom line – I have nothing to eat over.

Me, Eating Intuitively

I am having an entertaining time trying to eat really intuitively, as recommended by Karen yesterday.

I’m very busy, trying to figure out if I am truly hungry, or is my tummy churning because I’m tired or anxious?

Once I’ve discerned hunger, I then spend some serious time identifying what exactly I want to eat. That does take a while, particularly as I have a lot of work to do at my job in between all the meditating on my belly.

Now that I know what I want to eat, I then have to see if I have access to that food – so, unfortunately, there weren’t any lamb chops at my office cafeteria this morning.

I’m being a little dramatic. I do like to eat when I’m hungry and not when I’m not. And I do tend to know what I want when I’m hungry – it’s usually a small combination of protein, carb, vegetable and a smidge of fat. But it doesn’t get terribly specific, many combinations will do just fine, any time – turkey with lettuce and tomato and a swipe of mayo on a slice of toast, tuna on crackers with a salad and a drop of dressing , an egg on toast with tomato and a little butter.

I can’t really be bothered to pay THAT much attention.

I did notice, though, how often I am NOT hungry! hmmm

The Intuitive Eating Workshop

Here are my thoughts on yesterday’s thoroughly interesting workshop:

I loved the feminist perspective our leader, Karen, discussed – as women, we are told that we are too big, that we want too much, that we’re not entitled to all the wonderful and delicious things in life, like dessert.

Every woman (and we were all women )in the room nodded vigorously. One woman, Jen, shared that when she was 7, her mother told all the neighbors that Jen wasn’t allowed to eat cookies.

“I wasn’t even really overweight,” Jen said. “I just liked to eat a lot of cookies. The other kids would be snacking away, and I’d have to just sit there and watch.”

My mom had lots of rules for me. So, when my Aunt Rose took to me to lunch once a week, she was told to watch what I ate and not let me eat too much. I was never allowed to order what I wanted. I wasn’t worthy, somehow.

Yesterday, our leader, Karen, assured us that we are entitled to everything! And if we eat intuitively, following our bodies directions, we’ll be just fine.

With intuitive eating, no food is off limits – all foods are legalized. If I can make a match with EXACTLY what my body wants when I’m hungry, I’ll pick the right food and be completely satisfied with the right amount. It doesn’t matter if the food is lettuce, chicken or a milkshake.

I do tend to eat this way. However, most of my sponsees do not. I have one or two who eat more like I do, but most stick to a very strict food plan and abstain from certain foods which they find difficult, such as sugar and white flour. That works really well for them. The most important aspect, I believe, is knowing MY OWN TRUTH. When I am completely honest with myself, what is the right approach? Are there certain foods that are simply too troubling? Do I do better what a set a plan? Whatever my answers are, I need to honor them.

I brought my friend Annie with me yesterday, and while she loved the feminist perspective, she felt the process wouldn’t work for her at all. She’s so happy with her food plan, and by knowing exactly when and what she’s going to eat daily, she feels she can put down the food and live life totally free.

I did really appreciate Karen’s anti-diet approach. She spoke about accepting ourselves as we are right now, no matter if we never lose another pound in our lives. Weight loss is not to be commended because of the warped philosophy that it’s ‘better’ to be thin. Weight loss may possibly be a good sign that I have gotten in touch with eating from hunger, not emotion.

Now, we get to the part where Karen and I started to part ways. Intuitive eating is all about learning to eat when I’m hungry and to stop when I’m full. And If I’m not hungry and I’m eating, it’s emotional eating. I need to learn to ‘feel my feelings’ and not eat over them.

For me, that doesn’t nearly go far enough. Sitting with bad feelings is not going to work for me. For example, the woman sitting next to me said she was filled with resentment and fear and then ate 15 fudge pops.

I bit my tongue – there IS a way out from under resentment and fear. The 12 Steps offer a clear way to face and BE RID of fear and resentment and guilt and shame. And then the desire to eat over these is REMOVED.

By taking the hard (and often, tough) look at myself, I can get over self-pity and resentment, and see that I’m not a victim at all – in fact, I’m just fine. I can also bravely face my fears and see that I can survive. I need to get out of myself, I need to be brave and I need to contribute to the world.

Mostly, I need to take action – not sit and ‘feel my feelings’.

That’s what works for me.

It was a fascinating day, though, and I did learn a couple of things. One thing I did love was when Jen was talking about always wanting to over-eat chocolate cake and Karen turned to her and said,

“You’ve never lived in such a way where cake doesn’t glitter.”

Exactly! Cake doesn’t glitter for me anymore. Life can and does glitter. And that’s pretty darn freeing.

More Mel Yelps

Tomorrow is the day I go to my intuitive eating workshop in NYC. I can’t wait and will report back.

I lived and worked in Manhattan for 15 years. Before that, I went to NYU. These days when I head to the city, I am a total tourist – like I’ve never been there before and it’s a big scarey place.

I have been stressing the commute for weeks. My friend, who’s coming with me, thinks I’m losing my mind. Almost every day, I email her a question – what time should we leave, how should we get there, where should we meet the Port Authority, which coffee shop, how long will it take us to walk 8 blocks?

So as not to be late, I will be boarding the bus a couple of hours prior to the workshop and will arrive in the city at least a good hour early.

I am quite the eager middle-aged Jersey tourist. (All my friends from my Manhattan days still live there. They’d hardly know me.)

If you’re wondering WHICH middle-aged tourist from Jersey I am, I’ll be the one clutching my purse.

Who Cares What I Eat?

Why do people care what I eat, when I eat, or how much? Why is it considered rude not to eat when offered?

I have a friend in his 60s who was raised strictly and with manners. Bill opens doors, hold chairs, gets up when a woman enters the room…. He will eat anything that is offered – anytime, anywhere – because he believes it is impolite to decline.

I have seen him eat multiple meals in a row, whether it’s several Thanksgiving dinners or whether we’ve stopped by a friend’s after our dinner, and they invite us to join in theirs. I, of course, say that I’ve already eaten. He pulls up a chair and digs right in.

Bill is a contractor and works really hard in a really physical job, so he doesn’t worry about weight gain. During the winter, when work slows down, he does put on weight. He also loves Christmas and eating his way through the holidays with aplomb.

Conversely, if he is working on a house or business around the clock, he might forget to eat for days.

I am in awe of him.

But I am NOT my friend. And I still don’t understand how it effects anyone else whether I eat or not. If I do eat, who cares what foods I choose and how much I consume?

Why does anyone care what ANYONE eats. I sure don’t.

Crackers and Rice

As per the symptoms of my double dose of antibiotics – nausea and wildly upset tummy:

Everyone tells me to eat crackers and rice. And, in fact, every time my stomach turns queasily, I want crackers.

Eating crackers and rice to calm the belly is what many normal people do. BUT it has nothing to do with hunger and eating to fuel the body. AND, I have NEVER considered myself normal when it comes to food. It would be like telling an alcoholic to put whiskey on a toothache. Not a particularly a great idea, usually.

So, it’s a quandary. Do I suffer, nauseously, in honor of my eating disaster (oops, Freudian slip. I meant ‘disorder’, of course) or do I calm my stomach with the old tried and true – crackers and rice?

I’m going with crackers. And I’ll be just fine.

To Embraceauthenticity; About your Comment

Embraceauthenticity; Thank you so much for writing. I very accidentally deleted your comment before I could respond on the blog.

I agree that we have to be clear with our plan. I need to be really honest about my relationship to food. It’s fuel. If I start eating when I’m not hungry, it becomes something else. And I’m not interested in that something else, that’s for sure!

Thanks again for writing!!!

Complaining

Hi. I just need somewhere and someone to complain to. I bet I’m not alone on this complaint, anyway. Let me know if you feel my pain.

Sooo, I have an infection in my uterus. Yick. This could explain my excessive bleeding and cramping, which is good to know, of course. (FYI, the doctor says this is a chronic infection. Too bad no one ever did an endometrial biopsy on me before!!!)

Sooo, they put me on two antibiotics, one of which is supposed to be very strong. (They also gave me medication for the yeast infection I’m definitely going to get. Thanks.)

I put off starting the medication until today, because I’m a big baby and antibiotics usually make me sick. Two strong antibiotics could only make me sicker. Right? Right

I took the first two doses this morning, and already have diarrhea. I am entirely nauseous!!!! Two more weeks of this. It keeps running through my mind to stop taking the meds, but I’ll hang in there. For now.

My friend says probiotics help. I sure hope so. I think I’m going to throw up.

Thanks for listening. I’m sure I’m not the only who sometimes feels that the medication is as bad as the illness.

Eating With Normal People

After work, my friend, Linda, and I swung by our buddy Jean’s to drop off a present for Jean’s son, Linda’s godchild.

It was about 6;30 and Jean and her husband were grilling lamb chops and burgers. Linda’s eyes, the eyes of a naturally skinny and always hungry woman, opened wide.

“Come join us” said Jean (the most generous woman in America.)

“We have too much food”, called her equally wonderful husband, Will. “Please, help us.”

Well, you know me. I eat when I’m hungry, which isn’t really that often. Not honoring that throws me off. If i ate burgers and chops at 6;30 when I wasn’t hungry, it wouldn’t work terribly well.

Caveat – if these weren’t my dear, dear friends and it were a situation where it was actually rude to decline, I would have eaten. If I’d shown up at my new boyfriend’s mother’s house at 6;30 and she’d offered a big meal, I would definitely partake graciously. But I didn’t, happily, feel that need with great friends.

“No, thanks. I’m not hungry.”

“I AM”, called Linda from the bathroom

And so we sat down with Jean and Will in their lovely backyard, surrounded by flowers and a delightful breeze. I love their company – these too are naturally soothing

Linda and Jean and Will ate burgers and lamb chops and cherries and salad.
It all looked and smelled wonderful, but I wasn’t hungry. And I knew I’d eat later what I’d planned when I experienced genuine hunger. That’s how I roll. That’s how I stay honest. That’s what keeps compulsive eating and bulimia and even anorexia at bay. (Well, spiritual fitness comes first of course. But honoring my weirdness helps immensely.)

No, I’m not a spontaneous eater. And no, not everyone gets that. And yes, it can be uncomfortable. I do my best.

If only the world were more like me. 🙂

But it’s not.