Friday, July 23, 2010

Blogger, Heal Thyself

“Though it’s oh so nice to get advice, it’s oh so hard to do.” Joe Jackson (the singer, not MJ’s father)

I don’t know how you guys do it, but one of you always manages to ask me a question I seem to be struggling with myself, although I don’t always know it at the time. Great minds fixate alike.

When people ask me a question, they’re seeking advice or some piece of wisdom I can pass on from my own experience. However, it’s one thing to give advice and another to take it, especially when the advice you’re giving is the advice you need to heed. But if we really believe in what we’re advising, then it’s not as hard to turn the mirror around and look honestly at the issue. At least this was true for me this morning when K wrote with this question:

“What I struggle with most is eating what I really shouldn’t. For instance, today I did so good at work, but I came home and ate junk. Why can’t I just reach for all the good things in my fridge when I feel like that? Honestly, I was really tired and could have used a nap, but I reached for the food.”

At first it seemed a straight up question, one I’ve answered before.

“K, it sounds to me like you need a time out – a few minutes is all – between deciding to eat and eating. Ask yourself EVERY TIME: ‘Why am I wanting/needing/reaching for this food?’ Then write down your answer in a notebook.


“If you're hungry, eat. If not, deal with the feeling. Go for a quick walk, nothing fancy. It’s about thinking first, eating later. At least that’s what I've come to know.”

Then it hit me: I’ve been wanting to do exactly what K has been doing all week – eat when I’m not hungry and/or eat inappropriately – and I hadn’t given thought as to why. I’ve just been running on autopilot, eating (mostly) on plan and allowing my desire to eat run amok in my fuzzy, unfocused brain. Thank goodness for K because in replying, I woke up and realized just how much I’d been obsessing.

“I’m going to physical therapy in a few minutes. I’ve eaten breakfast, my body is satisfied, and yet I want to EAT because I’m nervous. Usually stress makes me not want to eat, but anticipating physical pain makes me want to soothe with food. I didn’t see this before, but now that I know, I will deal with the feeling. I’m afraid of the upcoming pain, but food will NOT solve that. Only a complete understanding and acceptance of the fear can help this situation.


“You (we) CAN do this. It’s a matter of retraining your brain and always, ALWAYS keeping your best interests in the forefront of every food decision you make. Also, just as you care enough to ask WHY you want to eat at a particular moment, care enough to feed your body the right foods. It all comes down to loving YOU.”

Recognizing that food has been a bigger issue for me this week than I realized helped me zero in on the emotion behind the desire to eat. Now that I get it, I can deal with it. What I can’t deal with is living in a food fog.

Ah, the crazy relationship(s) we have with food. DietGirl Shauna (Hi, chicka!) posted a link to this tongue-in-cheek essay from The Onion, “Fill Your Own Goddamn Emotional Void.” Because it’s from The Onion there’s a little profanity, but it’s a hilarious essay from the point of view of Food to the food obsessed.

I’d also like to dedicate the before-quoted Joe Jackson song, “Breaking Us In Two,” to Food, particularly this stanza:
Could we be much closer if we tried
We could stay at home and stare
Into each other's eyes
Maybe we could last an hour
Maybe then we'd see right through
Always something breaking us in two

Watching the video this morning while answering K kept me away from the fridge long enough to focus. Thanks, Joe!



UPDATE from yesterday’s blog:

Things are looking up. PT is going well. Agoraphobia remains at bay. And I’m looking forward to this weekend and a visit from my dear WW online friend, CrispyRice, the same Crispy who visited me in the hospital. My normal life is slowly returning. Patience, patience.

Thank you, Tish, for the Shakespeare quote. My g-babies do make me very happy. And Jane, I understood (and related to) everything you wrote in your comment. I, too, found agoraphobia and anxiety embarrassing to admit having. I hope in writing your comment you found some peace with your past. Thank you so much for your support.

3 comments:

  1. Aw, Lynn. (((hug))) Glad your PT is going well, and I hope it gets better and less painful.

    And thanks for sharing that advice. It's always great to have an extra tool in the "help me not eat when something's eating me" handbag.

    P.S. Loved Shauna's link! TOO funny! (and true!)

    [how funny - my word verification is "hangra", which reminds me of "hangry", which is what I'll be if I don't figure out a dinner plan soon.]

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  2. Hope you're in a better place now with the PT over for the day. It's pretty amazing to me how much it can help to write about what I'm going through. I have a small collection of draft posts that I've used to work through different things.

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  3. my therapist says we have about 90 seconds to transfer brain pathways
    from one response (eating) to another (your example of walking).
    and
    she says some of those pathways have been there a l-o-n-g time and it takes a lot of 90 second sets (retraining) to change the pathways to another response.

    I used to have to set myself in a corner or put myself in the bathtub to sort of 'reset'. Literally a time out.

    this was during my first year of losing when I was trying (hard) to teach myself not to eat on a whim, not to eat 24/7. And that was a REALLY hard year. A lot of tears.

    I still go through periods of time (fear and therefore anxiety) where I can't have ANY contraband in the house (non-food, non-whole food is what I mean). But those times are getting further and further apart.

    And as you wrote about yourself, I am able to recognize what is going on now. It is like "red alert" on Star Trek.

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