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Abstinence Re-defined (again) July 31, 2010

Filed under: Physical Recovery — gohopchick @ 10:04 pm

I rammed the lettuce into the measuring cup.  Added some cucumbers, radishes, and carrots, and packed it down as far is it would go.  Before me and behind me in the line, my fellow inmates were doing the same.  Here at the treatment centre we were permitted 2 cups of salad with dinner, and we were all determined to make each cup count.

My first abstinence, twenty some odd years ago, was defined by the eating disorders unit.  No sugar, wheat or flour.  Three meals and one snack, which we called it a “metablolic”, each day.  We were taught to be assertive with restaurant waitresses, to examine food labels closely, and to make our own ketchup and barbecue sauce without sugar.

When I exited the hospital and joined meetings back at home, I found that many others shared the same abstinence definition.  Others, who we secretly thought were food slackers, simply did three meals – three plates a day, nothing in between.  The only rule was you had to be able to lift the plate after you loaded it up.

After a fifteen year relapse (that’s a whole other blog entry), I re-entered OA.  This time in program I wanted to avoid rigidity and perfectionism, but also not be loosey goosey with my food.  In the last two years I’ve tried various abstinence definitions, to see which one would work for me.  I needed something simple, to combat my tendency to obscure and overcomplicate.  I needed something clear and defined, to combat my tendency to slither and slide around the edges, seeing what I could get away with.  Often I would “try on” an abstinence definition for a month, giving myself permission to change it if I found it wasn’t helping eliminate the compulsion.

Sugar I know I cannot eat.  Period.  Wheat and flour are kind of iffy – some things trigger me, some things don’t.  I can’t do bagels.  Spaghetti makes me sleepy, but thintini style hamburger buns don’t seem to give me problems.

After trial and error, I think I’ve finally got something that is going to work for me.  Eliminating the foods that trigger craving.  Eliminating the behaviour that is clearly compulsive.  I realized that I cannot have second helpings.  As soon as I reach for more, I’m not feeding my body anymore but rather attempting to assuage other hungers.

At the treatment centre, they taught me there is no failure, just new information.  That’s given me the freedom to fumble my way forward, knowing that everything is win-win for me, and that I will learn as much, if not more, from what doesn’t work, as what does.


PGH July 30, 2010

Filed under: Body Image,Physical Recovery — gohopchick @ 11:45 am

I had the perfect program.

Really perfect.  I mean really.  Fine tuned.  Tweaked and adjusted.

I knew how to combine carbs, proteins and fats for maximum benefit and minimum weight impact.  If I didn’t get the results I wanted, I adjusted, and then adjusted some more, micromanaging each bite.

I had the perfect exercise plan – weight lifting three times a week, cardio five times a week, yoga whenever I could fit it in.  I was on a first name basis with all the staff at the gym.  The fitness club was my sanctuary, and I revelled in it a couple hours every day.

I was the perfect size- finally.  Well almost perfect.  Maybe if I lost just another five pounds it would be perfect.

I knew how much I weighed.   At different times of day.  I knew how much you weighed, or could give it a pretty good guess, just by looking.  I would have made a killing as a weight guesser at a carnival.  Size six, right?  One hundred thirty six or therabouts?

I knew where all the mirrors were at home, work, on the way to work, out shopping, so I could look at myself, make sure I still looked perfect, marvel at the changes, congradulate myself, compare how I looked, size wise, with everyone else.

Perfect program, perfect size, perfect health.

And I had no idea how I was going to maintain it.  It felt like trying to hold a beachball under the water – everything was okay so long as I applied consistent pressure, but the minute I let go – BOOOOF!

I found myself wondering if this is what happy, joyous and free was supposed to feel like.  Maybe not.

And then God spoke to me on the radio.  Well actually, some health professional spoke, but God just used his voice.

“We’re obsessed in our culture with perfect diet and perfect health.  What on earth is the matter with pretty good health?”

Pretty good health – PGH, eh?  Instead of perfect?  I don’t have to the the thinnest, the fittest, the shining example of health and recovery?   What a concept!

Maybe I’ll put that concept into practice.  Perfectly, of course.


Ok, I feel thinner already July 29, 2010

Filed under: Body Image — gohopchick @ 11:45 am

I woke up feeling thinner.


Body dysmorphia is one of the more bizarre facets of my illness.  I can look in the mirror one minute and feel like a million bucks – slim and svelte and all that.  Then in a blink my arms get weighted and flabby, my butt billows, and my jowls sprout.  I’m the incredible morphing woman.

Losing one hundred pounds can be very disorienting. I still have no idea what size I am.  And clothing sizes are no help either.  I was doing backflips when I fit into a size THREE at Reitmans, only to find out about vanity sizing, and struggling to fit into a ten at H&M.  Can’t fit into either of those now, as I’m in my, um, more relaxed fit clothes.

But it’s amazing how a day of clean abstinence can skinnify me in my minds eye.  Surely I’ve lost a pound – or maybe even ten!  Thank God I ditched the scale a ways back, so that particular type of insanity is unavailable to me at present.  All I have is me, my clothes, and my mirror.

In my teen years and in the height of my disease, I used to stand in front of my reflection and spew the most hateful thoughts in my direction.  Fat cow!  Slob!  Disgusting!  I used to fantasize about taking knives and hacking off the droopy bits.

My mirror and I, and my body and I, are on somewhat better terms these days.  This morning I checked myself out in my new and totally adorable nightie I bought for my cottage trip (lucky, lucky husband!).  Sexy and sweet!

Then I stripped, stood naked in front of my reflection (not gonna show you a pic of that one!), looked into my eyes, and said, “You are beautiful, strong, and beloved, and you are OK.”

I think that’s the crux of it all.  I want desperately to be OK, whatever that is, and I have no idea how to define it.  Is OK fitting into my size ten H&M pants again?  Is OK getting through the day without binging?  Or am I always OK, no matter what?

Hmm, food for thought.  Just for today, I am OK, no matter what.


Changed my date July 28, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — gohopchick @ 2:29 pm

Today I changed my date, setting aside the status of two years of abstinence.  Sure, I haven’t eaten sugar in two years, but was I really abstaining from eating compulsively?  My dinners had been stretching and expanding, and my shorts shrinking.  I found myself adding more snacks to my day, and the last couple evenings were one long graze.  And I found myself going back to the fridge and cupboard again and again, looking for that little bit “more” that would hit the spot and stop the craving.

Except of course, nothing could.

Things were starting to feel like the bad old days.  I felt out of control, depressed and frightened.

But then this morning, a miracle happens.  I wake up early, my insomniac teenage daughter parading around the hallway at four in the morning in 1950’s attire, high heels clattering on our hardwood floors (don’t ask!).  As I lie in bed and try to will myself back to sleep, a heavy, comforting, loving and invisible weight rests on me.  The words “we will know a new freedom and a new happiness,” percolate in my mind, swishing around like a stir stick in a soda.  And all of a sudden, I know.  I have to let it go and start fresh.

You would have thought I would have felt ashamed, embarrassed,  frustrated at the loss.  Instead, joy bubbles up inside me.  Peace wraps around me.  I feel held and I feel loved and I know that I’m going to be ok.

So today is day one.

To help consolidate my new beginning, I’m planning to attend or listen to a meeting a day for ninety days, and also recovery blog each evening (when I used to be snacking).  Its after dinner now and I can feel the cravings tugging, so here I am writing.


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