Friday, September 30, 2011

A Corner Turned

On one of the hallway file cabinets at work, there sits a candy dish. It is filled daily with different candies. I have had a variety of reactions to the dish:
"Ooh, I really want a fun-size Snickers but I really shouldn't!"
"Delicious candy, nom nom!"

Today, however, was different.

I walked by the dish and saw my favorite candy: Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. I felt my eyes widen and went to grab one. Then, I stopped and realized I wasn't hungry and didn't really want any candy, so I continued on my way. It wasn't until I had walked a few steps that I realized the shift.

Normally, I would almost never pass up such an opportunity, fearful they wouldn't be there again, or at least have some kind of guilty, self-denying reaction. Instead, I just felt uninterested and happily continued my day.

Baby steps, folks. :)

Trigger Words

Last night, I was telling the husband about a coworker who I only ever see eat salad at lunch and fruit for snacks. I told him that it made me feel a little self-conscious because I snack all day and eat a heartier lunch. He commented, jokingly, "Well, she doesn't have crappy discipline like you!"

Obviously, I became somewhat upset. He tried to explain himself: "Well, you have good discipline about working out. It sounds like she has ironclad willpower about what she eats, not that that is a good thing."


Now, don't get me wrong. My husband understands my disorder very well and is extraordinarily supportive. However, he sometimes says things in a way he doesn't mean.

I had to explain "trigger words" to him. For me, "discipline" and "willpower" are on that list. I highly associate them with restrictive eating and dieting. I always hated them, particularly because I never thought I had any willpower. I explained to him how it made me feel like the other woman, who appears to be highly restrictive, was "better" than me because she had what he referred to as discipline.

The positive part of the conversation was that I got the opportunity to explain intuitive eating to him and how I am trying to practice it more consistently by really listening to my body's needs. He understood and supported the concept and made an interesting comment: "It sounds like it's about not letting the food control you."


Thursday, September 29, 2011

"Good" food vs. "bad" food

Ahh, the eternal debate.

I am definitely of the opinion that there is no such thing as moral value for food. Now, just because I have this opinion doesn't mean I always practice it. It can be very challenging to not have a reaction to eating the salad versus the burger or having the cake over the fruit cup. If you have dieted, you know the significant values (Points, anyone?) placed on food.

If you want to value food at all, I definitely support the notion of looking at what may be good or bad for you. This means what foods make you feel good, which ones make you sick, or which ones you just plain don't like. For example, for me good foods include:
Ice Cream
Hot dogs

Bad foods (particularly ones that upset my stomach) include:
Green peppers
Chewy fruit candies (Mike & Ike's)
Most frozen vegetables

Obviously, they are morally "heavy" foods on both lists but some "healthy" foods make me sick. I find this an easier and less stressful perspective to take with food, as it forces me to look at my own needs and limitations as opposed to societal values on food.

Workout videos: motivating or offensive?

As I've mentioned before, I do workout videos fairly regularly. I get them from my cable ondemand and free is always good! Unfortunately, I have to take what I can get and they usually consist of whatever is trendy at the moment by the popular workout gurus. For example, I did one this morning by Denise Austin.

Don't get me wrong, I like Denise. She can be a little annoying with her energy level but I typically enjoy her workouts. However, this morning's video really struck me. Here are a few of things she said:

"No more jiggle when you wave goodbye!"
"This will help that bra overhang!"
"You'll look great from behind!"
"You'll look good in a few weeks!"

I'll stop there. Only once in the entire workout did she mention anything about health or strength, and it was tagged on to the end of a statement about appearance. Maybe it's just me being more sensitive but I was really disappointed that there wasn't more focus on health and strength during what I thought was a pretty good workout routine. Denise is not in the minority, either. Most of the workouts focus on improving appearance versus health.

I understand that this is the reason why a lot of people exercise, but I would love to see the instructors focus more on how their routine is improving my strength and health versus how much better my arm jiggle will look. Leslie Sansone seems to be one of the few that really focuses on health through exercise. I am sure there are others that I am not aware of but will be keeping an eye out!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Soda and I have a long and mildly weird relationship.

Okay, slight tangent for a moment.

Is it weird that I refer to having "relationships" with food items? I feel like it is. I think it may have to do with my significant history of emotional attachment to food. I am going to try and think of another word to help lessen the emotionality but I think, to a degree, it works in the context I am trying to convey.

Back to our regularly scheduled programming!

I grew up drinking soda. It always always diet (usually Diet Coke) because that's what my mom kept in the house. I have never seen her drink a regular soda in my entire life. My dad drank regular on occasion but it was nothing I saw often. I grew up believing that regular soda was a waste of calories and was terrified of it.

In the last few years, I developed somewhat of an intolerance to artificial sweeteners. They upset my stomach and started to exacerbate my hypoglycemia. My husband drinks regular soda and always kept it in the house so I tried it. And really enjoyed it. It also helps tremendously with my hormonal migraines (was actually recommended by my gynecologist!).


I still have this little voice in the back of my head screaming about empty calories and too much sugar. Recently, I even tried to switch back to diet, to pretty bad results (low blood sugar crashes, excessive hunger, for example). I tried to cut it out altogether in an attempt to be "healthier". But it's just one of those things I really enjoy. Keep in mind, I don't usually drink more than 1 soda a day, but I still have this weird reaction like I'm doing something wrong when I drink it and would be thinner if I didn't. My husband tells me, "It's just one soda," but processing that through eating disordered thoughts can be easier said than done sometimes.

I wish I had an easy answer.

Daily Journal

I thought I would try out a daily eating/exercise journal to see how it goes!

Wake up to exercise. A little sleepy but know the exercise is important to my mental health for the day!
Decide to do a stretching video since I did a strength training workout yesterday.

The baby awakens! Workout cut short but feel good that I did a little something.

Baby back to sleep but time to get ready for work!

Hungry. Was going to wait and eat at work but hungry now!
Small bowl of raisin bran with whole milk, glass of water.
I don't drink lowfat milk. I like whole milk and lowfat milk is kind of triggering for me.
Feel satisfied but not full, figure I will have a snack later in the morning.

Stop to get gas on way to work (after dropping off the baby). Feeling a little hungry, craving something sweet and carby. A muffin, perhaps? Go into the station store and peruse, decide on a cream-filled donut. I LOVE these and get them very rarely (can never find them!). 99 cents, I'm feeling good!

Finally to work! Traffic was terrible this morning. Run to get my morning coffee. Wishing I had real creamer instead of powdered but will make do with what is available (add real creamer to grocery list). Coffee is really strong but will drink it for the caffeine boost! I munch on the donut over the next hour, as I usually am very busy right when I get to work.

Finished with donut, only a quarter through the coffee. Going to heat it up and add more creamer, just too bitter! Not feeling satisfied from the donut but will drink some water and continue to sip on my coffee and then see if I'm still hungry! I am notorious for feeling hungry when I'm really tired or thirsty.

Running errands, literally! I actually worked up a bit of a sweat on my extra-long lunch break.

Lunchtime, finally! This is a little late for me so I was famished by the time I sat down to eat. Sadly, I eat at my desk but this is the main option I have these days. Lunch was a turkey cutlet and a bit of mashed potatoes and corn. I tried not to wolf it down but was still hungry afterwards and craving something sweet, so I had an applesauce. I didn't feel full but thought I'd wait and relax a bit/get some work done to assess whether I was still hungry or not. Also, I always drink water with lunch because I find anything else (soda, for example) gives me a false sense of fullness.

Feeling fuller and mostly satisfied, toying with the idea of an afternoon snack. Continuing to sip on my coffee and enjoy a little down time while waiting for phone calls. (I drink 1 mug of coffee over the course of the day.)

Busy spell at work over, starting to feel hungry. One problem I regularly experience (like today) is not wanting the snacks I have. There is a vending machine here but that gets expensive so I try to pack a good variety of snacks to broaden my options. Today, raisins are sounding good so starting with that!

Hungry again. Obviously, raisins aren't the most filling snack. Leaving work in 25 minutes so going to wait and have dinner when I get home.

Planning caesar salad, pasta salad, and leftover turkey cutlets. I eat my caesar salad but then the baby wakes up!

Baby playing on her own but I realize I'm no longer hungry. I put the rest of my dinner away.

Hungry again. Really wanting ice cream but feel like I should eat some "real" food first. I think I had this idea that I would eat too much ice cream or not be full if I ate only ice cream. I had a small bowl of pasta salad and then a bowl of ice cream.

Rats, still hungry. I guess that's what happens when you don't finish your dinner! I eat a granola bar and finally feel satisfied.

I think the thing I have to be careful of is not questioning my hunger too much, as I'll tend to restrict. Then, I obviously end up hungrier later. I also have a strong emotional attachment to sweets so I try to restrict them as well. Not sure how this really makes sense....well, I think it's leftover diet mentality. For me, when food becomes too important, I have this irrational fear that there won't be enough and I want to overeat.

I also want to focus more on enjoying my food. In reality, this is a challenge since I eat a lot of my meals at work and have an infant at home to care for. I will still do the best I can in each moment.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Supermodel Small?

courtesy of BodyLoveWellness


Like most things, exercise and I have had a love-hate relationship throughout the years.

I was never an athletic kid; I hated sports and refused to play them. My mom always tells the story about how I adamantly refused to play tee-ball at the age of 4. Obviously, sports were not in my blood. I did roller skate and bike ride and play outdoors like most kids, though.

I remember the first time I "exercised" though. A lot of my disordered thoughts and behaviors started around age 11. I remember doing crunches to have a flat stomach. I don't think I really understood why yet but I do remember getting praised by my grandmother for having such a flat stomach. At 11.

As a teenager, exercise became fairly regular for me, mostly running and workout videos. It was primarily part of my dieting regimen or as a compensation for eating. I HATED it. This continued throughout college until it bordered on exercise bulimia in graduate school. Even after I started recovering from my disordered eating, the unhealthy relationship with exercise continued, particularly as compensatory for food.

At this point, I exercise because I have to. Let me explain. I don't particularly enjoy exercise; I would much rather watch tv or sleep in. But I know if I want to keep intrusive ED thoughts at bay, I have to do at least something almost every day. This could be stretches, kickboxing, or strength training but when I don't exercise, ED thoughts start creeping in and I start thinking about dieting and other unhealthy behaviors (yes, in my opinion, dieting is an unhealthy behavior). I don't look at exercising as compensatory anymore, just part of my self-care, as important as brushing my teeth to maintain my health.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Intuitive Eating Principles and Health at Every Size

I thought it would be helpful to review the Intuitive Eating Principles and what my challenges are with each.

  1. Reject the diet mentality. This is really tough if you have ever been on a diet. There is usually some initial success and that can be addictive in its own right. At my job, they have Weight Watchers at Work. When I returned from maternity leave, it was extremely tempting to sign up; however, I feel that I have enough support to provide a reality check that DIETS DON'T WORK.
  2. Honor your hunger. If you have ever dieted or have had an eating disorder, this can be a toughie. Your hunger cues can actually be, well, messed up and there also can be different kinds of hunger. For me, there is bored hunger, the munchies, dessert hunger, tired hunger, and good ol' fashioned hungry.
  3. Make peace with food. Dieting tends to make food the enemy or the mistress. Food obtains a value, good/bad, healthy/junky, for example. As HAES notes, food should not be moral. I find this difficult with sweets in particular. I have a huge sweet tooth and it's my go-to comfort food so it has this "guilty pleasure" connotation. What a horrible phrase, "guilty pleasure". Just look at it. So, I should feel guilty that I am enjoying something?
  4. Challenge the food police. Whoops, I think I just answered this in my above rant.
  5. Respect your fullness. Mindfulness comes into play big time for me here. It is easy to mindlessly eat or comfort eat, and you may not even be hungry. I am trying really hard to assess my hunger level throughout the day and during meals.
  6. Discover the satisfaction factor. To me, this goes back to taking the guilty away from pleasure. I'm no Puritan! I need to find the simple pleasure in eating and eating things I enjoy.
  7. Honor your feelings without using food. This one is a little tricky for me and may be a little contentious between IE and HAES. I tend to look towards somewhere in the middle. I think some comfort eating is okay but it shouldn't be your go-to coping mechanism because, otherwise, emotions and problems may be ignored and simply fester. You should be allowed to soothe yourself with a nice meal or snack if you want to and enjoy the comfort it provides.
  8. Respect your body. If you've had disordered eating, this can be tough because you may be unsure what your natural size is, or your natural size may be something different from what you want it to be. It may also take some time following intuitive eating to discover what your natural shape is.
  9. Exercise-feel the difference. Definitely a good thing. No matter your size or ability, try to find some joyful movement. It can be a challenge to turn workouts into fun versus punishment, compensation, or illness (i.e. exercise bulimia).
  10. Honor your health-gentle nutrition. This one is also a iffy to me. It has a good idea with saying that, basically, you shouldn't freak out if you think you haven't eaten "well", or your idea of well. But it has this tone of compensation I don't like (what you eat over time is what matters). I strongly disagree with this. I'd like to think of this, for me, as trying to eat what makes me feel good and honoring my body's signals of hungers and its cravings. My body knows what it needs and wants even if my disordered thinking tries to argue sometimes.

On a simpler level:
Health at Every Size is based on the simple premise that the best way to improve health is to honor your body. It supports people in adopting health habits for the sake of health and well-being (rather than weight control). Health at Every Size encourages:
  • Accepting and respecting the natural diversity of body sizes and shapes.
  • Eating in a flexible manner that values pleasure and honors internal cues of hunger, satiety, and appetite.
  • Finding the joy in moving one’s body and becoming more physically vital.
(excerpted from

I am going to be shying away from some of the prescriptiveness of IE. HAES seems softer and gentler to me and is definitely more where I'm at right now but I think both can be useful in their own ways.

Getting real.

Welcome! I thought I would do a little introduction of myself to start things off. Here's a sort of top 10 list:

  1. I'm 29, will be 30 in November. I am actually kind of excited about it.
  2. I am an only child. My mom has really bad fibroids and was unable to have any more kids.
  3. I am an air force brat. I've lived in 2 countries and 5 states.
  4. I am a social worker. I specialize in substance abuse and severe mental illness. Right now, I work for an insurance company (the line is that I've "sold my soul". Really, direct care just burnt me out.)
  5. I have a significant history of disordered eating and distorted body image.
  6. I suffered from bulimia in graduate school and have done numerous diet plans.
  7. I recently had my first child, a girl.
  8. My mother passed on disordered eating to me. Every woman in her family has disordered eating patterns and I am determined to break the chain.
  9. I have a very supportive and understanding husband.
  10. I love all things gothy and Steampunk. (you can also visit me at Steamgoth Geek)
I plan to use this blog as a sort of food and exercise journal and a place to process my challenges and successes. I am going to try and focus on Intuitive Eating as my frame of reference, as well as Health at Every Size.

Disclaimer: While I am technically a mental health professional, this blog is not intended to diagnose or treat any mental health or substance abuse condition. This is a personal blog for personal use. Also, please be forewarned that some of the information on this blog may be triggering if you have disordered eating patterns or suffer from an eating disorder.