Category Archives: Therapy

April 2021

So I am feeling proud of myself in this moment. Cataloguing my hurdles here has made me understand them more completely. I understand now that my struggles loop, ever-cycling within my own brain. And I can’t fix anything just by cycling through the struggle loop faster. I need an escape from my own thoughts. I need help.

I hate asking for help, so it’s taken me almost 40 years to ask for help with my health. I have asked a psychologist for help with my mental health. I visit with her online every 3 weeks. I have asked a trainer for help with my physical health. I see her twice a week before the sun rises. I have asked a friend for help with staying motivated. We share our setbacks and accomplishments daily. I have asked my husband for help keeping it all going. We have shifted our finances to make the training sessions work. He is on standby every morning in case David wakes up early before I get home from the gym. And he is here loving me every day, even when I make missteps over missteps.

So now I have all these people helping me, and I am very thankful to be privileged enough to have access to their help. I am also proud of me for letting them help.

A Lot to Unpack

Starting Weight: 278 pounds
Current Weight: 262 pounds
Weight Lost: 16 pounds

My current weight may be a lie because I was a bit dehydrated this morning. Note to future self: DO NOT be disappointed if your weight next week bounces up a little. A small gain does not mean that you are on the wrong track. For goodness sake, keep it together!

I’m dehydrated because in the last five days I have been a lot more active than usual. I’m sorting and organizing my mother’s basement as a birthday gift. I’m happy to help, but didn’t quite understand what I was getting myself into:

Mom's Basement Mom's Basement 2

I don’t feel like your eyes can do the heap justice. It’s not until you dive into it that you realize the density of the undertaking.

As I was sorting last night, I was thinking about my earlier therapy appointment (second session ever). She started talking about schema and how families create their own culture, be it healthy or otherwise. I’ve definitely grown up with some unhealthy schema, but it’s so difficult to define clearly. I come from a family of over-eaters. Food is a loving indulgence that is deserved and joyous. Preparing and giving food is a loving act. Food makes us feel better when we are sad and it’s the center of celebrations when we are happy. We hardly ever get together and not eat. And getting together is a cause for celebration afterall!

Years ago I remember being flummoxed while watching this scene from Dan in Real Life:

It stuck out to me as wholly odd and unrealistic. No one does that. No one exercises with their family. Clearly it’s just a silly device to showcase Dan’s awkward sexual tension.

But then I couldn’t get the scene out of my head. Yes, it’s a little contrived, but not nearly as alien as I had read it initially. A lot of families do workout together, or play sports, or go bike riding, or do something active. We just never did.

So how do I change the schema without annoying or alienating my family? Should I even try at this point? I’m 37. Our schema is so ingrained it seems pointless and almost cruel to stir things up now.

Instead I think I should focus on my little family of three and get them excited about awkwardly dancing outside with me. That seems a lot more doable.

Obese by a Thousand Quirks

I’ve been really stuck on the question of if I am a binge eater. This thread on reddit about compulsive eating habits was hard for me to relate to. I don’t hide meals, go to multiple fast food places, go into a dissociative fugue, eat out of the trash, etc. So what are my bad habits? You don’t get to be morbidly obese without bad food habits, so let’s be real about my choices:

  • Eating to soothe myself. Bad day at work? Graeter’s sundae. Stressed about money? DQ Blizzard. Frustrated by life? Double Stuf Oreos. Wow. I know how to spell ‘Stuf’ correctly because I’ve seen the packaging enough times.
  • Cleaning the plate. I don’t know how this started because I don’t remember my mom lecturing me about starving kids the world over. I think I just picked it up because my parents and sister are clean-platers too. Now I have to remember to think about my portions before I begin eating and tell myself it’s okay not to finish.
  • Eating too fast. Done this all my life, another family habit. I have to be cognizant and chew my food very slowly and force myself to put down my fork from time to time. Now I watch everyone else’s plate and try to pace myself with them, pretending I’m not a basset hound.
  • Over-serving portions. I’m a 5’2″ female. I should never eat as much as my 6″ husband, and yet I often do.
  • Eating sweets at night. When I do indulge in late night snacking, which isn’t often these days, it tends to be something sugary like ice cream or cookies.
  • Neglecting vegetables. There are some veggies I love (broccoli, peas, corn, cucumber, artichokes, etc.), but I never choose veggies as a snack. Eating healthy salads makes me feel like I’m denying myself real sustenance. Whenever I’m at an event or party and the veggie tray is devoured, I’m shocked. Of all the food available they chose celery and carrot sticks?
  • Overusing fatty spreads. I’m an over-spreader. Cream cheese, peanut butter, jam, brie. I have never let myself buy Nutella because I just know I will be helpless against it’s velvety chocolate goodness.
  • Eating while cooking. The fridge is right there, and I have to wait on the chicken to cook, and I’m sooo hungry. I can’t wait. I don’t wait.
  • Getting overly hungry. If I don’t plan ahead and have healthy snacks available, I get overly hungry, my obese brain takes over, and it justifies eating whatever’s closest at hand. I’ve started repeating to myself, “Your hunger is not an emergency,” to shut my brain up.
I’m sure there are more. I’ve asked my husband to tell me what bad food habits I have. Poor guy. Nothing like slipping a landmine under his foot. He thinks I drink too much milk, but I disagree. I keep skim milk in the house when I am trying to lose weight because it satiates me when I have big cravings. I always track and account calories for it, so I don’t consider it a bad habit. But, alas, yes, water would be better.

Bingeing vs. Overeating

Just came back from therapy. It was okay. Mostly she asked me a lot of questions. I did cry some which annoys me to no end. She seemed nice and helpful without being a cheerleader or fake, which is exactly what I’m looking for. I liked the accountability of Weight Watchers, and I think I’m viewing therapy as that plus hopefully greater insight into my issues.

I’ve come to accept that food is my struggle. It seems like such a simple thing, but in 2014 I forced myself to say aloud “I have a problem with food”. A simple, declarative sentence that made me cry to admit. The line between food addiction and bad eating habits has always confused me. After all, isn’t everyone addicted to food? The therapist asked me to explore that a bit and consider if I binge or mini-binge on food. I couldn’t help but think of an old Lifetime movie where this tiny woman would gorge herself on hostess cupcakes and everything she could grab at an out of town grocery then eat it in the woods and throw up all around her car. I don’t do THAT of course, so I’m doing okay, right?

Movie-drama example to the side, maybe I do binge eat without realizing that’s what I’m doing. Is eating when you’re already full considered bingeing? If that’s the case, then hell, I’ve been swimming in a pool of denial that tastes like chocolate ice cream.


When Up is Down

The last few days have been difficult. The number on the scale went up even though I have been tracking all my food and staying close to my calorie goal. I do not want to be a slave to the scale so I limit my weigh-in to once a week. And I know, I know… sodium, pms, stress, glycogen, blah, blah, blah. It’s just so very demotivating when you’re expecting a loss and see a gain.

But this is not nearly enough to thwart my efforts, right? Right.

So let’s focus on the positive. I spoke with my husband about designating one evening a week and a corner of our apartment to my artwork. He has already started clearing out the area for me. I also have my first ever therapy appointment today. Haven’t chickened out yet. Progress.

I hope the therapist is a good fit and not a whackadoo who tries to smudge the weight off me. We’ll see.