…I Think I’m Actually Starting to Agree with You…

A few days ago, I posted this photo of myself on my personal Facebook page to show off my new haircut:

New haircut

Courtesy of my husband—both the photo, and the haircut.

I thought it was a pretty good picture (lighting and color balance issues aside, but that is what Photoshop is for), and I liked the manner in which it did indeed show off my shorter hair. I was also partially trying to forestall as many in-person exclamations as possible of, “It’s so short!” from people who I don’t see often. Posting this picture showed me two things:

  1. I apparently need to take spur-of-the-moment headshots in my PJs more often
  2. I finally have the ability to agree with people when they tell me I look beautiful

As I think I’ve mentioned, I’ve spent a fair portion of my life not feeling especially beautiful. People would earnestly tell me I was, and I would smile politely and thank them…and die a little on the inside every time. I don’t think I quite realized that until this blog post began forming in my head, because I would always try to shove that feeling down and ignore it. …not that doing so would stop me from wallowing in self-pity at some point in the future.

But this photo? This photo received over fifteen Likes from various friends, which is a lot for something I post, and some of the people who Liked it are not people who normally Like my posts (please note, friends, that I find nothing wrong with lurking, as it’s called—and because it’s Facebook, who’s to say you actually get to see everything any of your friends post, anyway?). This photo also elicited comments such as, “Wow”. I don’t know that I’ve ever been the subject of that kind of “wow” before.

And you know what? For the first time, I think I agree. Timidly. Cautiously. Because who knows what will happen tomorrow? But that day, for at least the span of time it took to take that photograph, I fit my definition of beauty. And as we are so often told by wistfully-captioned stock photos on Facebook, loving oneself is of the ultimate importance. (And really, it is—I think I’ve mentioned that before, too.)

It is very soul-feeding, very validating, to receive such an overwhelming positive response from such a simple photograph, and completely unsolicited. Thank you, friends, for being my friends. You just made some part of me feel whole.


Status Update #9

I’d had another check-in with my surgeon, so it is once again that time. This is actually a bit late this month—sorry.

Weight on day of surgery: 239.2 lbs
Weight last month: 168.4 lbs
Weight today: 170.0
Total lost: 70.8

Those numbers could be better. To say that I’m disappointed in myself would be an accurate way to describe my feelings…but I do also sort of feel as though maybe I’m being a bit hard on myself. It was the holidays—but then maybe that’s just the addiction talking.

In any case, there were other things I wanted to talk about today than my most recent post-op visit. I had intended to write this post sooner, but late is indeed better than never. So, Christmas.

December what a bit of a nightmare for me. I don’t know what it was. I don’t know if it was the fact that the holidays made a convenient excuse, or the fact that seasonal candies made a convenient excuse, or if Seasonal Affective Disorder just makes me want to eat all the things, or a combination of those and other factors, but I just could not behave myself when it came to food. My weight is thankfully still right around where it was in November, which means that I at least haven’t gained anything over that. But still. I can’t help but think that if I’d have eaten less junk, I might have gotten closer to my ultimate long-term weight goal.

I was, however, successful in not stuffing myself to an uncomfortable level at Christmas dinner, which is most definitely a win. On New Year’s Eve, I had more junk than I should have, but that was, as I’ve said, just the way December went. Writing this entry has actually brought some focus to the fact that this is a whole new month, and the cycles of last month do not necessarily need to carry over. There’s something to think about.

But yes, I have been having a lot of trouble with my portion control lately. And it’s not just with the sweet stuff, either. It’s with everything. I know how to solve that problem—I need to slow down when I’m eating, and be stricter about stopping when I feel full. I just get so tired of having to maintain that diligence, that alertness, that self-awareness. And this weariness is not new. It’s part of the reason why dieting never worked for me. But I really no longer have the option of just throwing caution to the wind—I have to start being more careful, or I could hurt myself. I just feel like I’m constantly in some sort of frenzy, and so it’s difficult to pay attention. …have I mentioned lately that I don’t deal with stress well? (I am currently wending my way through multiple stressful projects and situations, so finding the brain power to focus that much energy on eating properly is very difficult for me.)

I really must look into speaking with a professional about my food problems. I am not confident that anything productive will come of it at this particular point in time—I attempted to see a therapist a couple of years ago for different issues and ended up getting a bit screwed financially because of my insurance company—but as I often say, one never knows without asking.

Also, while visiting my doctor this month, I asked about additional supplements to take for my hair. Hair loss is a common thing for LAP-Band patients, and in that respect, I am quite the norm. And that is perhaps the thing that upsets me the most about this new life. My hair is very important to me. To list all of the reasons why would take much longer than I think any of you want to read; to articulate all of the ways in which it is important to me would be impossible. So I’ve been very, very upset, actually, these last few months, because, while some of the hair has grown back, it is noticeably thinner and somehow lacking. What hair I do have seems to still be pretty healthy, but I am nevertheless very concerned that it isn’t what it was prior to surgery. So I wanted to see if my doctor could recommend some additional supplements that could be beneficial to the growth and health of my hair.

He did give me the name of a supplement to try. I have not yet bought any because I’m waiting on some blood test results. Yeah—they actually drew blood to check the levels of various things in my system, because my doctor suspects there’s something off nutritionally that is perhaps beyond the norm. I’m…not really keeping my hopes up, but I’m finding it more difficult to remain positive lately, just in general. That’s SAD for you.

Anyway, I am keeping my fingers crossed that we can get this sorted out sooner rather than later. I feel like a part of myself is missing, and honestly…at times it’s enough to make me regret having had the surgery. At times.

Until I have answers, I’m just trying to keep my hair up so that it doesn’t bother me as much, and am actually considering a drastic haircut, which if you know me personally, should really tell you something.

In the meantime, this month I will leave you with not one, but two photos. The first is the original photo of myself that I posted in November of 2012. The second is this month’s progress photo, taken in a manner similar to that original photo, for the sake of comparison. No, I am not above posting pictures of myself in my underwear on the internet—as I’ve said, I’m not wearing any less fabric than I would be in certain kinds of bathing suits.

But so this is the difference a year (and bariatric surgery) can make. …putting this together was quite the experience.

Status Update #9

Because everyone wears bathing suits in Indianapolis in January. Right?

What’s Your Excuse?

I’ve been pretty candid on this blog about how I have an eating disorder*, and how that disorder is caused by an addiction to various foods, most specifically sugar and pastry. I have a lot of difficulty with self-control when it comes to food in general, but there are some things I just can’t seem to keep myself away from, no matter how hard I try. I’ve been through that cycle of determination (“I can do better next time! I will do better next time!”), failure (“I didn’t do better this time.)”, and shame (“I’ve failed again—I’m a terrible person.”). I’ve dealt with trying to negate the guilt whenever it wasn’t constructive guilt, but the guilt and the shame aren’t what I wanted to talk about today. What I wanted to talk about today is the actual failure that happens before the guilt. I don’t know that this will turn into anything more worthwhile than some navel gazing, but being a creative type, I do know that navel gazing can often be pretty integral to many processes. So here we go.

I try very hard to stay away from foods that I know will cause me problems if I’m around them. I haven’t been that great about it through the month of December, but I blame the holidays on that one (which, really, is mostly an excuse, but I’m getting to that). I will however, do things like something I did the other day.

A friend of mine is getting married in April, and had a wedding prep party of a sort, at which there were expectedly a bunch of snacks and so forth. Once the party ended, our hostess, another friend, and I were divvying up the leftover snacks. I took home some cookies to share with my husband, but I did not take home a sweet spread containing peanut butter and chocolate chips, because I recognized that, while at the party, I had trouble keeping myself out of it. So I did feel pretty good about that…especially since I’m still battling a craving for more of the stuff, two days later. It is a dangerous substance for me, one that I hope to see at other parties in the future, but one that I don’t intend to ever make myself or have in my own house.

But barring occurrences like that, my willpower concerning certain foods is next to nonexistent. And like I said, it’s been pretty bad lately. Some days/weeks/months are better than others. And it isn’t always due to lack of awareness, either. I am very aware of the problem. I am very aware of how I will feel, physically, emotionally, and psychologically, practically each and every time I’m battling an urge to eat something I know I shouldn’t, and cave in anyway. The guilt has, by now, become second nature (sometimes to the point that I don’t always notice that cautionary voice, as I’ve gotten really good at ignoring it—and that’s definitely part of the problem), and that guilt stems from knowing that I will be unhappy, in some way or another, at a later time, after I’ve caved into my addiction yet again. But still, I keep putting my hand back in the cookie jar.

The reason?

There is always an excuse. Always. If you’re reading this and you’re an addict—whatever your vice may be—you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you’re reading this and are not an addict, then I’ll explain.

Let’s say that I want a donut. It just so happens that on this day, I am at a social function at which there are many donuts present, and they are free for the taking for all attendees of this social event. Even though I know in my heart of hearts that I should either not have any donuts at all, or, if I am going to partake, should only have one donut, I am, about 80 to 90% of the time, almost guaranteed to over-indulge. Here is a list of possible reasons why:

  • I’ve been good about my diet lately, so I deserve a treat
  • I am not often at social functions that have free donuts, so indulging just this once won’t hurt (This excuse never takes into account the fact that there may be many other areas in my life in which I do have access to indulgent foods, so “once in a while” often turns into “all the goddamn time”)
  • I have difficulty passing up free food
  • I have difficulty passing up an excuse to eat junk, because hey, it’s an excuse to eat junk! It’s justified, right?
  • I’m right about to start, already on, or have just finished my period
  • It is almost, is, or just was my birthday/Halloween/Christmas/any other holiday
  • I have any reason whatsoever to celebrate anything
  • I just want a goddamn donut, ok?
  • I’ve been under a lot of stress/feeling depressed lately, and a treat would really help me feel better (Actually, no it won’t, at least not in any meaningful or lasting way, but that doesn’t matter)
  • I’m bored
  • I know I won’t have time for dessert later, so I should take advantage of the opportunity to have a sweet now while I can
  • I don’t know when next I’ll have access to something sweet, so I should take advantage of the opportunity to have one while I can (This is a big holdover from my childhood)
  • I’ve just had lunch or dinner, and so my brain is in the mood for dessert (Tell me again why it is that we reward our children with more food once they finished their initial food? I feel like Pavlov’s freakin’ dog a lot of the time, and I haven’t lived with a parental figure in years
  • (When at home) Well, I’m almost out of X, anyway, might as well finish it
  • Tomorrow is another day—I’ll try again then, the day’s already half over, no sense in being so strict about it now
  • It’s a day that ends in Y

Like I said, there is always an excuse. There is always a way to justify giving in to the addiction, because, well, it’s an addiction. That’s how they work.

And yes, I am fucking sick of it. I hate that cycle (determination – failure – shame). I want to be rid of it—the fact that I had bariatric surgery is actually a bit helpful, in a lot of ways. But to get further—well, I’ve been intending for a while now to go talk to a professional about it, and haven’t quite gotten that far because of insurance reasons.

In the meantime…

Lately I’ve been pondering why I have such a strong emotional attachment to some foods (an emotional attachment that is part of the reason I have such horrible willpower), and I’ve actually come up with a possible explanation.

There are many people in my family who are, shall we say, rather concerned with their own affairs. Some of them have gotten better over the years…some of them haven’t. It was difficult being a child and growing up in that atmosphere. So I had to find a way to cope with it. So what’s a great way for a child to feel special? Why, give her a treat. Treats are, by definition, special—if they become common, everyday things, then they aren’t really treats.

So basically, I used food as a form of self-comfort to fill a human being-shaped void, to soothe that childish ego that always wants to be the center of attention, but always feels ignored instead. Food is how I deal with my abandonment issues.

I shall have to see if I can find any constructive ways to deal with those issues on my own, until I can speak with a professional. In the meantime, I do feel a certain amount of empowerment with that idea in mind. I have long wondered why I feel such a strong emotional attachment to food. …especially as an adult, now that I have much more control over my own life (agency, free will), and have built for myself a much more stable environment.

Though I do, even as an adult, still feel, in certain situations, and on a pretty consistent basis, as though the carpet is about to be yanked out from under me at any moment. I know that nothing lasts forever…but still I have difficulty dealing with an adapting to change, under a lot of circumstances. Really I usually just try not to think about the possibility of it too much, lest I freak myself out.

Anyway. I will continue to ponder the whys and wherefores. But tonight, it is currently -12°F in Indianapolis, which, with the wind chill, feels more like -32°F, and I’m bound for bed soon. If you’re in or around the Midwest, I hope you’re weathering the aftermath of Winter Storm Hercules well. Either way, here’s looking forward to all of the potential that tomorrow holds.

*If you define the word “disorder” as, “a disturbance in physical or mental health or functions”, then yes, by technical definitions, I have an eating disorder. The ways in which I eat are harmful to my health, and are not what might be defined as “normal” eating habits. I’m not sure why I feel the need to keep justifying my calling it that—perhaps I feel I’m being melodramatic, or perhaps because it’s really self-diagnosed—but really, no, I am not. I have an eating disorder.