Disordered Thoughts

16
Sep
2019

A decent stretch, but old habits and all that….

So I’m gonna write this post a bit differently. First, the TLDR; then, if anyone is interested, they can read my longer explanations and thoughts. It’s cathartic for me to get that stuff off my chest, but at the same time, I feel as if it’s probably not very interesting to most people – so perhaps the take home messages are the most important thing – so here goes.

  • Last night, I had another binge. It had probably been two and a half, almost three weeks since the last one, which must be close to an all-time record.
  • I’ve forgiven myself completely. It’s OK. It really is. Even people who’ve never suffered from any form of disordered eating overeat sometimes! I had a solid breakfast this morning and don’t feel like I’m going to spiral into a days-long episode of self loathing.
  • I’ve been really enjoying the Breaking Up With Binge Eating podcast lately. It’s full of real world experiences and common sense advice, the episodes are not too long, and interestingly it appears that some of the emotional strategies borrow heavily from ACT therapy – I have been reading The Happiness Trap lately (a book on this very subject – link on the Resources page) and found it very helpful, as well as aligning very nicely with Stoicism.
  • The latest episode of that podcast, which I listened to on my way to work this morning, happened to outline how a client only recognised their progress in retrospect. That was a really timely reminder for me that I’ve come a long way, and these setbacks will happen – it’s not the end of the world.

Today, despite all the things rattling round in my brain, I continue to move forward. That is my vow.


Now – here’s the long version.

The last few weeks have been generally excellent – I’ve managed to keep my stress under control, feel like I haven’t yelled at my child or my dog in weeks, and my eating has fallen into a pretty regular pattern. It was date night on Saturday night, so the wife and I went out for a restaurant meal which was awesome – and although I still made my choices with health in the back of my mind, I wasn’t super anxious about macros or calories and even enjoyed a decent dessert. To be fair, the dessert was shared with my wife, but that was genuinely out of fullness, not fear. And I still ate a damn lot without feeling any concerns whatsoever.

At home though, I’ve been tending towards low calorie desserts again, mostly out of fear that eating a more ‘normal’ high calorie dessert will trigger off a desire to binge. This feels a little like restriction, which has been concerning me, and perhaps the fear is legitimate given what happened – but I don’t think that it was entirely the dessert that did it this time around.

The thing is, I’ve got a little bit of a minor groin injury, which has been bothering me for a while – yet I still keep squatting. I’ve also had a pretty sore biceps for ages (it started months ago, when I was doing curls almost every gym session) which I self diagnosed as tendinopathy. This has never really got any better, and every time I perform movements which hit the biceps it gets a little angry – then on Thursday last week I did some heavy rows (knowing full well I shouldn’t have) and really made it hurt a lot. This started off a bit of depression and disappointment in myself because I should know better by now, and it’s definitely going to impact on my lifting til it heals. I went in and trained on Saturday as normal, and during that session managed to hurt my back on the leg press (an injury I have experienced before – very painful, but will be right as rain in a couple of weeks). So you can imagine me going out for tea on Saturday night, hobbling round with a sore groin, a very sore back, and an arm that can barely lift anything – I was feeling pretty sorry for myself.

Sensible people would probably take some time out of the gym, but I still trained on Sunday as well. The session went OK, but I guess in the afternoon I was feeling pretty sore and sorry for myself and depression set in. Sunday night happened to be my fortnightly evening alone, when the girls go to visit family without me – I generally enjoy these nights as they’re an opportunity to eat whatever I want in peace and quiet, but unfortunately they all too often turn into hours of obsessing about what to eat, and this was one of those times. It’s a bad recipe, scouring restaurant menus and Facebook food groups trying to decide on a food option for hours at a time, as well as feeling yukky about myself, so this is probably the first problem. Lately, I’ve been very good at letting those thoughts pass and saying ‘worry about dinner at dinner time‘ and not allowing myself to obsess and preplan too much. This time, I failed at that.

Ultimately I decided I wanted a nice takeaway steak sandwich with sweet potato fries – but that’s logistically difficult as I’d have to cook the fries at home – none of the local takeaways do them. I decided to go and buy steak and bread and make it all at home instead – and to many this would be considered a trigger, substituting a ‘healthy’ option for what you really want. However, and I’m sure this isn’t the ED voice talking, deep fried takeaway chips make me feel crap and genuinely aren’t nice/flavoursome enough to me to be worth it, so I don’t know whether I did the wrong thing or not. For better or worse, I made a steak sandwich on sourdough bread, with scotch fillet steak, an egg, full fat (shock horror!) cheese, sweet potato fries and salad. And fuck, was it good. Good enough that I decided to go all out on dessert and have strawberries, blueberries, ice cream, real (not sugar free) chocolate topping and a smattering of M&Ms. And that was bloody good as well. So good, in fact, that it made me want more. So. Much. More.

I typed out all the food I ate here, then decided it might be triggering for some. It was a decent amount, and it was all high calorie dessert type food, but I’ve certainly had much worse binges in the past. And, funny (not really) story – normally I make a cup of tea for the wife every night, and have a decaf or tea myself at the same time. When she got home, I was absolutely stuffed, but still wanted to have a hot chocolate with her tea so I had that, and also ate half a Kit Kat. Because, like, I knew I was extremely bloody full, but it was a limited edition Ruby Kit Kat which I hadn’t tried before and I just wanted it – but I really felt no urge to eat the whole thing. Even that, in itself, is progress – in the past I probably would have just eaten it all. And the Aero bar and the Cherry Ripe that were in the fridge with it.

So here I sit, a day later, reflecting on things. I’m putting this one down simply to the fact that I was sad and in pain, and I let myself obsess about food too long instead of accepting those feelings and letting them pass without acting on them. But having said that – I had a pretty decent night’s sleep and a good breakfast. I’m feeling a little heartburny, but not dreadfully so. Life will go on, these injuries will heal, and I will be a better, stronger person. Next time, I will do better.

 

 

 

06
Sep
2019

A long overdue update

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost a month since my last post here. I’ve been meaning to bang out some thoughts for a while but life kept getting in the way. Anyway, I’ve found a quiet moment, so here goes.

On the eating front, I’m quietly optimistic things have turned a corner. After my last post, I did end up having a feast a day or two later. Went another week or so without one, then went away to Queensland for an extended weekend to visit family. I was apprehensive about this, for a few reasons. But I had a good time catching up with my siblings, found a cool gym to train at and had a couple of solid lifting sessions, and things were mostly ok until some family stress brought me undone on the Sunday night and I hit the food hard; including a couple of late night walks for Cold Rock, hot chocolate, more ice cream and chips and cereal.

When I got home, I struggled with the adjustment back to family life – after 4 days of mostly adult company, puppies and kids and life stuff felt like a real shock and we had a few major blowups, and I ate like an asshole for a couple of days solid.

But since then, I’ve somehow managed to stay in control of both my moods and my eating. 10 days without an episode. Let’s hope it continues.

In semi related news, the dietician I’ve been seeing has referred me on to counsellors / psychologists as some of these issues are outside her wheelhouse. Fair enough. It does feel like these episodes have moved on a bit from frantic, insatiable episodes of extreme hunger to lately more like ‘I feel stressed/sad/lonely so let’s eat til I feel better’. It’s more of a habit than a compulsion. So now I need to work on stress management and mindfulness as much as anything. I’m trying to decide whether to see a local counsellor or a local psychologist or see someone remotely who might specialise more in my particular issues.

There’s plenty of neural rewiring to do on the food front – I’m eating almost anything I feel like, and never going hungry for too long, but still have a few fear foods. And another thing I discovered – when I was in Queensland we ate out a lot and unlike here, there were soooo many menus that had the kilojoules listed right next to the name of each dish. I found this awfully triggering…. and I NEVER chose the high calorie option. We had Vietnamese one day and I had the no noodle salad (unlike my brothers) because it was lighter. At one point I walked into a Chinese bakery and looked at all these amazing pastries but couldn’t bring myself to buy one because they were so calorie dense. It’s bizarre…. if I don’t know; or don’t look at the macros, I can trick myself into eating this stuff but once I’ve seen it, it can’t be unseen.

Anyway things are not awful right now. I hope things keep trending in the right direction.

 

14
Aug
2019

Hangin’ In!

So my last post might’ve seemed a little bit negative, and it was. At that point, I was feeling very down about things. But I’m posting again to say that since then, things have got a lot better. Somehow, I’m now on day 5 without a feast. Which is the longest I’ve gone in quite a while. What’s changed? I don’t know. Maybe that crash the other day caused me to reassess and resteel my resolve to beat this motherf***er once and for all.

I’ve definitely been doing everything I can to ensure I don’t go hungry for too long – no skipping meals, no compensating, just eating.

Last night my wife decided we’d have a packet mix risotto for dinner, which is a bit of a deviation from our normal Tuesday night meal. Six months ago this probably would have freaked me out, but now? I couldn’t care less. I covered up the macros with my thumb when I looked at the cooking instructions, and managed to completely avoid reading them. The last step was to stir in a teaspoon of margarine – and I didn’t skip it.

I’ve had dessert every night (last night it was warm chocolate brownie and ice cream; on Sunday night it was cheesecake!). Lately, eating one dessert has often triggered the desire to eat many more, but somehow in recent days the Dmitry voice has been fairly quiet.

I’ve also been doing my best to let his thoughts pass through my head without reaction too. For example, I often find myself preplanning meals way before they happen (like I’ll be about to have breakfast, and will start thinking about morning tea, or some other subsequent meal, and how the day’s gonna snap together) and I’ll simply tell myself to forget about that, and worry about it when the time comes. Of course, I bring food to work to make sure I do have those snacks available, but as I said, there are plenty of shops nearby to work too, and often people bring food to work; today I didn’t bring sweet stuff, but fortuitously a colleague bought chocolate cake. And yes, I ate a slice 🙂

I think that doing this is helping to ease the food focus, which is helping to ease the scarcity mentality, which is helping to limit the desire to eat the entire contents of our pantry. But still – it’s only been 5 days. I’ve gone this long before, and relapsed into old habits, so I don’t want to get ahead of myself. However, I am cautiously optimistic.

My Fitbit is on eBay, and will sell in the coming days.

I am getting better, slowly but surely.

On a related note, a timely post from Tabitha this morning:

Lots of this stuff rang true for me. I started writing a bit about it, but time is short right now, and I decided I couldn’t do it justice at the moment, and I want a coffee. A milky, frothy one, from the bakery. Because that’s how I roll now.

09
Aug
2019

Another torrid week

I’m feeling pretty discouraged at the moment.

This week started badly. Binged in front of the F1 on Sunday night. Actually gave up on watching the race, because I was struggling to stay awake and ridiculously full. Had a fairly big all-day binge on Wednesday as well. Today (Friday) I ate all the food I’d packed for work by 10:30am, plus some extra cake and biscuits, then made sure I ate plenty at lunch and afternoon tea as well.

Being depressed about how I’ve been eating is leading to a vicious cycle of eating more to try and not feel depressed and I’m beginning to wonder how much of my eating these days is actually ‘extreme hunger’ and how much is just me feeling totally depressed and empty inside, and wondering if it’s all worth it, and if I didn’t have a wife and daughter relying on me, would this be a good time to ‘take the open door‘?

I want to talk about positive things. Learning guitar. I bought one. It arrived Tuesday and I’ve had a couple of brief attempts at working through some beginner lessons. I want to talk about the correlation between eating disorders and an over-fixation on health and body image, my loss of identity (apart from fitness) since having a child, and how learning guitar is an attempt to reinvent myself, and find other means of evaluating my self worth.  But of course if I fail at learning it, this might backfire.

It does seem as if it is taking less food to actually feel satisfied and stop a binge. Maybe that’s progress, I don’t know. Or maybe it’s just because I’ve been making an effort to eat so much more earlier in the day, that I physically can’t fit much more in.

I hate to think what I weigh at the moment – it’s been two weeks since I last stepped on the scales. I think I look fat, and I think the tightness of most of my clothes is exacerbating that feeling. Maybe I need to go back to wearing more baggy clothes so I don’t have to deal with the constant reminder of how much weight I’ve gained.

And now it’s after 10pm, sitting here bloated after a big dinner, half a tub of gelato, countless biscuits, cakes, chocolates, chocolate brownie and hot chocolate drinks, I know it’s gonna be another hot, sweaty night of shit sleep and aggro with the wife and daughter and dog and I’m wondering when all this is going to end, who will I be when it does, and will I be happy with the person I’ve become?

02
Aug
2019

Another small step…..

I posted this on my Insta this morning, but as I’m trying to keep this blog kinda anonymous, I won’t link and will repost with a bit more detail here…

It may not be obvious but the difference in size and weight between these two bags is enormous.

I got the bag on the left in June 2017 in my Avatar Nutrition days. It’s an Innovator 500 by Six Pack Fitness. Let’s be prepared, I said. I loaded each compartment with different varieties of snacks, my own tea and coffee, protein powders and shakers, cutlery, as well as my standard lunch and the other foods I planned to eat for the day. I was gonna hit my macros come hell or high water!

I’ve been carrying this bag to work every day for two years. For the last few months or so I’ve not eaten anything out of it except my standard lunch. And it’s so big and unwieldy… I have to stop and wait for people in the hallway so I don’t bump into them with it, and given that I also carry a backpack with my laptop and other equipment in it, it’s a pain in the bum.

The stupid thing is, my lunch is only in it from the kitchen to the car, then the car to the fridge. I’m office bound most days, with access to a fridge, microwave, and a fair few shops within walking distance. So it’s completely unnecessary, but yaknow… habits.

Today I downsized and put my lunch into this smaller bag instead – it’s maybe a quarter of the size and weight. It might seem like a pretty minor thing, but this is another (small) step in the process to fixing my relationship with food. The smaller bag is so freeing – and ya know what? Food is just food. Meals don’t have to be perfect. If I’m hungry – I’ll go buy something. And in fact, I plan to – because shop bought sandwiches taste so much better than what I make at home, and actually, I might feel like a burger.

Don’t let food become a chain around your neck. Don’t let a fixation with your body size and shape ruin your life. I did, and I regret it so much. So many arguments at mealtimes, yelling at my wife and daughter because I was hangry, avoiding social and family events because the food didn’t suit me, or (worse) attending and starving myself because I refused to eat sausages because OMG SO MUCH FAT… or compulsively walking day in and day out to try and burn off the calories and make sure I stay lean.

It was a pale imitation of a life and it’s one that I refuse to live any more. Food is good. All of it. It’s there to be enjoyed. My body is the least interesting thing about me. It really is – and the benefits of eating enough food to fuel my body are evident in my energy levels, my gym performance, and my overall happiness.

That’s not to say I want to get fat again, or that I don’t care what I eat. And it’s true that I’m bigger than I want to be right now. But this is all part of the process of attaining balance in my life, and some sort of peace with food.

I refuse to diet again until I am confident I can do it without turning into a monster. Til then, I’ll just have to live with how I look. It’s really far less important than how I act and how I feel.

30
Jul
2019

Good and bad

I haven’t had a great couple of days, to be honest.

I had a birthday last week, and enjoyed some cake and slices and generally had a really good day.

But we’ve had a sick puppy on our hands, so a bit of extra stress and sleep deprivation has taken its toll – at least that’s my excuse. On Sunday night I fell into old habits and hit the dessert hard in front of the F1, and then followed that up with another giant feast on Monday.

I don’t really feel any guilt over it any more, which is good. On the contrary, I’ve been using the feasts as opportunities to conquer my fear foods. I can honestly say that I’m no longer scared of eating takeaway burgers, having had three (plus a few other takeaway meals) in the last week.

I’ve also started on the chocolate milk. On Sunday night (pre-dinner) I stared at it in the supermarket for ages; looked at the nutrition info on two or three types; put them all back and didn’t buy any. I feel as if that may have triggered my overeating later that night. But I actually had one yesterday during the binge, and another today, and have one more in the fridge for the next time I want it. Pretty soon I won’t be scared of this either. Chocolate bars are another that I’m starting to knock over. Enjoyed a double coat Cherry Ripe yesterday and ate half a Snickers before bed – honestly thought I’d be sick if I ate any more or I’d have finished it!

For funsies, here’s photos of some foods I’ve eaten today. Obviously this is not a balanced diet. But if it helps me normalise these foods in my stupid brain; it’s worth it.

Lunch – takeaway wrap and a takeaway chicken kebab. Yes, I did have some ‘safe’ foods with it still (salad and yoghurt/berries).

Snack – I’ve wanted to try one of these for ages. Verdict – overrated. I should have had actual chocolate milk.

More snacks. This chocolate milk is the shiznit. I know I shouldn’t look at the macros because it’s proper full fat milk. But damn it tastes good.

I ate the chocolate chip muffin with some proper (not low calorie) vanilla ice cream; proper chocolate topping and a hot decaf mocha. And by jingo, it was good.

So that’s been my day today. I haven’t binged and have eaten unrestricted; no doubt I was in a calorie surplus but I’m feeling comfortably satisfied. Let’s hope tomorrow is another day like this one.

 

24
Jul
2019

Recovery Progress Update

I feel like most of my posts lately have been fairly negative reports about what I have been calling binges (but are really extreme hunger). Today I received a nice email from J who has been reading my posts here, and while it was kinda nice to know that other people are reading and finding it helpful (thanks, J!) it reminded me that this is also supposed to be some sort of record of how I’m going, not just a neverending catalogue of my eating habits.

So, it’s time for a review of my symptoms and where I’m at with addressing them.

  • As noted, I don’t track or weigh my food at all any more. I don’t obsess about perfect macros, I still try to get 30g of protein in every meal particularly after a training session, but really – close enough is good enough. A decent helping of meat and maybe some yoghurt or eggs if I’m in doubt, and everything is happy.
  • I don’t look at nutrition labels very much these days. Every now and again I do, mostly just for interest’s sake, but it’s not usually a compulsion. Although I did look at the label on an AMAZING cookie I ate the other day… AFTER I’d eaten it. And since then I have been scared to buy that cookie again, even though it was so darn good – so clearly I still have some work to do here. But that being said, I can eat out at a restaurant without fear or favour these days. I even had a burger and chips the other night, and enjoyed them with no guilt.
  • I am getting better at not restricting food all day, most definitely. I have been working with a dietician who has really drummed into me that I need to eat every 2-3 hours whether I’m hungry or not, and sticking to this has really helped me become far less food focussed. Also, and this should be common sense, but I’ve realised that if I’m not starving at dinner time, I’m in a far better mood to be spending time with my family, and I’m far less likely to want to eat a half a dozen servings of dessert afterwards. Which is great, because it leaves me time to spend on other, productive habits. So, my suppers these days tend to be very small, if anything at all – and I think that cutting back on that evening splurge, as well as moving to lifting in the morning again, has really helped me sleep better too so it’s a win all round.
  • Refusal to eat non-healthy food? Nup, nada. I still try to eat ‘clean’ 80% of the time (because there’s nothing wrong with caring about your health) but I can’t remember a single day when I haven’t had some kind of chocolate, cake or biscuit in the past couple of months. And that’s kinda taken care of the fear of excess carbs/fat as well…..
  • Multiple trips to the supermarket every week? Rarely happens. I make do with what’s in the fridge or in the cupboard, and quite often if I can’t be bothered making lunch I’ll go to the bakery (or the takeaway) and buy a bloody sandwich. Imagine that!
  • Seasoning foods? I don’t do it anywhere near as much now – half the time I don’t bother, if a food isn’t tasty enough to eat without seasoning then perhaps I shouldn’t be eating it? But yaknow… chips need salt, salad needs mayo, and I even had sweet chilli sauce on my noodles last night. 3 months ago that would have been unthinkable because OH, the CAARRBS! The SUGAR! I do still use 99% fat free dressings, and having been watching a lot of Megsy Recovery lately, it’s reminded me that this is something I need to address. Same as my fat free yoghurt obsession.
  • Microwaving tea and coffees? Nup. Nada. Can’t remember the last time I did it. Although I do occasionally now make a frothy coffee, with lots of milk, and I do warm that up first. Because it’s the closest thing to a latte that I can make at home.
  • Bullguarding food? No, not really. I do still get a bit moody at mealtimes if I’m super hungry – but mostly I combat this by trying to never let my hunger get below about a 3 on the hunger scale.
  • Craving carbs? Well yeah… as I’ve posted many times, my extreme hunger almost always involves some carb heavy food. But the erythritol out of the packet thing… nope. When I committed to gaining weight, I completely dropped artificial sweeteners from my drinks and went back to beautiful, lovely, sweet tasting raw sugar. I might have used erythritol or stevia two or three times in the past few months, the thought barely crosses my mind.
  • Compulsions to move? Well no, not really. I still like to have a bit of a walk after lunch, but I don’t do it if I don’t feel like it, or the weather’s bad, or if I have lots of work to do. Since taking the Fitbit off I’ve felt the most free I’ve felt in a long time. I still get into the gym and lift weights – lots – but that’s something I enjoy even when I don’t feel like it.
  • I’ve cut back on supplements a lot. Nowadays I’m down to 3 that I take regularly (creatine, vitamin D, and digestive enzymes) as well as a few actual medications. Most of the others are still in my stash but just get ignored.
  • My bladder has been much improved since I gained weight and stopped drinking so much black coffee.
  • I’m still a bit obsessed with gut health – partly because of the huge quantities of food I’ve been slamming at times, I feel like making sure my digestive system can handle it is probably not an awful issue to have right now.
  • Extreme hunger – if you read this blog at all you know it’s still an issue. But I’m coming to terms with it.

After throwing this post together in a bit of a hurry, I feel like there’s far more positive things going on than negative, even if I still feel out of control around food at times. Things to focus on are finding better ways to deal with stress than eating (last week was… very bad in this respect) and making sure I don’t restrict. At all. Just eat when hungry and move on with life. And there are fear foods I need to work on. Chocolate milk is a classic that I haven’t mastered yet. But I will get there.

Lots of positive things going on in my life outside of the food world. Work is going fairly well, and I feel more productive than I have in a long time. We have a beautiful new puppy at home, and I just signed a contract to build a new gym in our backyard – soon I will have a lot more space for my man cave. It’s my birthday later this week, and we have some fun stuff planned including a nice night out and meal with the family.

Life is good.

24
Jul
2019

Extreme Hunger – it subsides

So after 4 days of actual binges, I spent the next few days trying to eat heartily without restriction and have not had any more episodes of ‘uncontrollable’ eating, although I did eat enough to make myself actually vomit on Monday night.

Things are getting back to normal now. Hate to think what I weigh – but that’s not important. As I said to the dietician – the number on the scale doesn’t scare me any more. I do care how I look, and how my clothes fit, but that’s about it right now.

18
Jul
2019

From Hero to Zero

Had dinner at the in-laws on Sunday night, on our way home from the weekend away. I skipped the ice cream for dessert, with the intention of having something sweet at home.

Yep, did that alright. Ate a ton of desserts, cereal and everything I could get my hands on, and binged every day since – three and a half days of completely uncontrolled eating. Today (Thursday) is the first day I feel like I’ve got some semblance of my normal diet back, and even then I’ve eaten more than usual just to avoid feeling restricted.

Without stepping on the scales, I feel like the entire mini cut was a waste as I’ve probably undone all that hard work. I’ve been fairly grumpy with the wife and daughter making me feel a total failure as a parent, and I pretty much hate myself at the moment.

Things were going so well…. sigh.

13
Jul
2019

Diet – day 13

So I haven’t posted in a while, mainly because I haven’t had much to report.

After 13 days I’ve managed to drop the weight that I’d hoped to, my body composition is looking far better, and I’ve managed to avoid binges the whole time – but it’s been a close thing the last couple of nights. I’ve done a lot of meal skipping in the last week, and some of the old tendencies are really wanting to come back, but in a perfect piece of timing we have gone away for the night to a hotel in the mountains and I’d planned to either stop dieting or at the very least take a break this weekend anyway.

As I type this from the hotel it’s snowing outside, I’m sitting in front of a warm fire with a belly full of restaurant steak and apple crumble and ice cream and feeling more full than I have in weeks. To top it off I absolutely smoked some lifting PRs in the gym this morning before we left, and I’ve managed to spend an entire afternoon and evening cooped up with my wife and a precocious four year old without biting anyone’s head off (yet).

Right now, I’m satisfied. Not sure where to go from here, I’d like to be leaner but summer is months away and there’s no point rushing. Better to keep trying to find that sweet spot of sustainable eating and keep banishing the disordered thoughts some more.

Appointment with dietician next week. She probably won’t be impressed that I’ve restricted, but the fact it’s stopped the binges is a good thing from my point of view. I guess now we see what happens once I start adding back highly palatable foods again. But no point worrying about that right now. Just gonna sit back, stay warm, try to destress and enjoy the time away. At this moment, life’s good.