Making The Plan, Working The Plan

I am taking back my power – one choice at a time.

After attending several online meetings related to my binge eating and food addiction, I found myself struggling and had a feeling like something was off. The logical part of me couldn’t come to grips with surrendering that my eating had become out of control – but that it was then OK to eat a meal (of normal portion size) afterward. This statement within the first and second steps made me conflicted and confused. To me, the dots didn’t connect because I didn’t consider myself “in recovery” – so I was attending meetings, trying to accept my situation and give power to *something else* and then eating – with similar bad patterns. For someone with an addiction problem, abstinence is the goal – but with an eating disorder – it must be something different – since not eating isn’t an option. I suppose that it’s all about the balance and moderation, making healthy choices and avoiding the unhealthy activity (in my case – binging). My logical side – the one that had lost the significant weight before knows that there is no easy way around losing weight – it’s a method and one that required great control, persistence, determination and tenacity. The losing weight part isn’t something to me that I can let *something else* be in charge of – it’s something I need to be accountable for in the end. Through some talking – I realized and restated that I do know how to lose the weight. My issue was that when I lost the weight – the happiness I thought would be there – wasn’t. There were still other things that I hadn’t addressed that needed fixing for me to fully embrace and celebrate the change that I had worked so hard to achieve. I needed to find a combination that would offer more than that – and something that felt right for me.

I think it’s important to call out that “right for me” statement above – because this was a very similar feeling and sentiment that I had when I first found the program that I followed to lose over 200 pounds. What I want to highlight is the “feeling” – because if you’re like me – you’ll search and search until you find something that you believe will work. If it *feels* right – that indicates that you’re on the right path to *believing* it will work – which is a huge part of the battle, and one that struck me as too significant not to call out as a similarity from my first journey.

The plan that I have talked myself into is one that allows me to focus on losing the weight I have put back on. Weighing in at nearly 390 pounds has me at a state of desperation to do something that will stop the gaining and move back toward losing. Since I have had success in the past on the ultra-low calorie, low carb, high protein type plans – that is where I’ll return. It is a familiar space for me, a familiar routine, and one that I know over time (with hyper-diligence) will work without fail. I also know that it’s not long-term healthy, nor will it alone bring me to a spot where I magically find “happy”.

For that reason, I am going to continue to work on the emotional and spiritual in parallel. This may be a challenge, as it will be quite a bit to focus on and will most definitely take away from other areas in my life – and may cause me additional stress. From previous posts, you know how I feel about stress, and that I believe it drains from willpower and the effort needed to make new positive choices – rather than default, autopilot ones which may not be as positive. My anxiety is at what I would call an extremely high level right now – I am fearful to leave my house for any reason and avoid it at all cost. The lawn is about two weeks overdue for cutting, but I am not able to bring myself to being in my yard to do it. I would rate my depression at a medium level – I’m open to change and forward progress – which is always good. The daily dark thoughts have moved along for the time being.

I am taking back my power – one choice at a time.

My first official day back on the plan was Monday. I’m grateful that I’ve been able to stick to the eating plan for two full days. I know the journey ahead is long and I’m going to pack my patience with each new day. I’ll be using many of the tools that I’ve posted about previously that help me in the journey, and will hopefully be able to share new ones I find along the way.

The Concept of Good and Evil – What Influences Our Choices?

I’ve been thinking a lot about “Good” and “Evil” this past week. The concept of something outside of ourselves influencing our decisions has me thinking about Angels and Demons.

I would classify myself as a “spiritual” but not “religious” being. I do believe that there is *something else*, but I don’t put a label on it outside of that. I also have an aversion to any organized religion as I view those who choose to make themselves responsible for holding ceremonies or community outreach as a business first before anything else. I’m of the thought that I can believe in something – but I shouldn’t be pressured into paying someone else to validate that belief.

I also think that personally, I find comfort in believing that those who have passed on are still around and available to watch over those of us left behind. It’s that *something else* and the memory of the loved ones that I find myself asking for strength and guidance when I am able to ask for it.

In my last post, I mentioned that I felt that along with depression and anxiety that I feel that I may also be fighting addictive issues – most recently with my food choices. As part of my research down that path – I attended several anonymous online meetings. In one of the meetings someone mentioned that they felt quite depressed and were isolating. They talked about sabotaging themselves by ‘accidentally’ deleting all the contacts from their phone, and went on to say that “something didn’t want me to talk to them”. This statement struck me immediately as I have had that feeling of actions of sabotage that came from a spot that I find a hard time explaining. In short though – I have them often – and I would relate to this as the “evil” of my *something else*.  I’ve fought the urge to leave this blog in place this week as I have had no fewer than four moments where I was about to take it down.

At this point, we get to the main topic of this post – I’ve been wondering why it seems that there is an internal struggle between doing what is good/healthy/positive vs. bad/unhealthy/negative.

I do understand the power of positivity and the concept of we are what we think. Positive thought patterns are more likely to bring positive feelings and outlook. Negative thought patterns are more likely to bring negative feelings and outlook. This leaves me scratching my head though – as to why there can be times when I’m riding the positive wave and it can crash into a brick wall of negativity that stops it dead in its tracks. Sometimes it feels that way – but others it can be a much less noticeable negative thought that can throw things off – like a crack in a railway rail lying unnoticed but able to break the integrity of a regularly strong structure resulting in what may be disastrous.

While the idealistic view of controlling and questioning thoughts makes sense, I also tend to research (and at times over-research) things. The initial reason that I started doing more searching on this topic is because psychology and what I’ve read about how this is treated when it comes to depression, anxiety and other disorders doesn’t make me feel great about it. Let’s just say I’m not ready to say that all my thoughts and feelings are wrong and that I need to question every one of them and then apply a formula of ABC’s against them to reason my way to making my thought/emotion/belief inconsequential. It, of course, is based on my experiences, what I’ve been taught and lead to believe as true. Belief is a powerful thing. I’m reminded of a John Mayer lyric – “Belief is a beautiful armor, but makes for the heaviest sword, like punching underwater, you never can hit who you’re trying for…”

One of the best descriptions of reasoning in regards to the evolution of our subconscious mind vs. conscious mind can be found here. The person who created the post asked the question, “Why is our conscious mind at odd with our subconscious mind”There is a lot of good information in the first response, but the part that stuck out to me while trying to find the reason behind the “good” and the “evil” feeling is …

“We fear our own next bad behavior will render our idea of ourself even worse than it is, and seek to cognitively control our behavior so as to maintain our present status of acceptability (however poor that status is). And in order to control our behavior, we needed to formulate concepts of what constitutes good and evil behavior. And our feeding upon this tree of the knowledge of good and evil (to help us better cognitively control our behavior), which is our species deepest and most destructive coping mechanism, set us at odds with the part of our conscious existence, our subconscious mind , which is a threat to cognitive control of our behavior.”

Perhaps the best part of the response though – was the conclusion…

Your question about the nature of of the conflict between the subconscious mind and the cognitive mind is a rather significant question. I suggest we each work out this issue in our own life, and do so until we find some kind of meaningful answer to it for our own life.”

Which allows me to feel and believe that my search for the answers for my own life is worthwhile. Therefore – I’ll keep searching, develop a plan that feels right to me, and stay hopeful that I’ll find meaning in life – or at least maybe a bit of peace.

Another Tough Week – But I Ain’t Done

It has been another week of reflection, reaching deep inside and doing some soul searching, and although I don’t think I like the answer – I may have found an answer – or at very least – something to explore further.

My inner dialog is interesting to me, as I search out answers to what I think are problems. I’m sure that I’m not alone in my general feeling of having things that I want to change, but the tough part is when I try to understand the “why” of the conversation. There are many perspectives of “why” that come into play – the “why do you want to change that?”, “why can’t you just accept you for you?”, and the more negative “why bother?”.

I’ve been on a steady incline in the numbers on the scale and have felt quite out of control with the situation. The higher the numbers get, the more lost I feel, the more I dislike myself, the more weapons my mind seems to pick up and shred my self-esteem with vigor! It’s a nasty cycle of depression, anxiety, self-hatred, self-loathing, and learned hopelessness.

Deep, deep down – there is my logic sector. The part that reminds me that I know that everything comes down to the choices I make, and if I’m unhappy with the choices I’m making – I can change them. This sector and it’s stupid logical thinking usually frustrates me and causes me to activate another area that is more focused on emotion – it’s also the area filled with “why”. It’s a dangerous area for me because logic drowns in that area.

On this horrible one-directional roller coaster ride of weight gain that I’ve been riding lately – I’ve noticed some things and I need to be honest with myself. I’ve been binge eating. I’ve been hiding my eating, and eating the bad options when I’m alone. In a culmination of horrible decisions last weekend I overate to the point of feeling sick, and then it happened – I was sick.

After cleaning up the mess I knew that I needed to think on where I’ve brought myself to and how it is affecting me physically as well as mentally. Over lots of thought and searching, I landed on “food addiction”.

Others may have been able to get to this same conclusion earlier than I – but I’m pretty good at masking / not being *fully* honest when it’s convenient for me, so it may not be apparent to everyone around me.

I told myself that I just needed to stop with the bad food, with the binge eating, and just get back on the program that helped me lose all the weight in the first place. I listened closely for a response… and then heard a soft, meek inner voice say “I can’t”. At this moment I realized that it really may be addiction.

I gave myself some time to let these feeling soak in and didn’t immediately jump to conclusions. I was gentle with myself for the first time in a long time.

I started thinking back to the program that I was on when I lost all the weight. It was extremely restrictive and I was determined to lose the weight. I had wonderful success with it – right until the final phase. In this final phase, I was told that we could add “cheat days” back into our new healthy lifestyle. I was hesitant about this – as I had been avoiding such things with all my might for 14 months at this point.

Slowly I introduced them back in, and looking back I can clearly see that I did have a struggle with it at first. Then as weeks turned to months, I started making it two cheat days a week instead of one. Then as my stress level built and I started to see a bit of the weight come back on – I started to doubt myself and then two cheat days became three and so on. This pattern didn’t stretch (pardon the pun) to the point it has now overnight – it has been a little over a year.

I think that I’m realizing that the introduction of the cheat day was a bad thing for me, because I think (with pretty good certainty) that I’m addicted to certain “bad” foods. I also have an “all or nothing” mindset that makes it very hard to do the “all things in moderation” style of life.

So – where does this leave me? Well – I think that I have a problem that I need to make the choice to address. I know that there are options out there, and I need to battle through the feelings of anger, shame and anything else that comes up (anxiety, depression, self-hatred) that may get in the way of good progress to a better place.

I’m not certain if this will work, I’m not certain if I’ll be able to commit to the change needed to be successful. The only thing I’m certain of right now is that I’m not done… I’m not giving up just yet.