Posted tagged ‘addiction’

Getting It Done

October 28, 2012

You know how people say that a person will do whatever, quit smoking, lose weight, straighten up, when they’re ready?  Of course, if you’ve read this blog at all, you already know I’ve lost a great deal of weight.  But this past year has not been as kind to me due to illness.  I’m all better now.  However, my waistline isn’t quite back to where it used to be.  And, even though I’m ten years out from bariatric surgery, I had slipped in my eating habits.

And then.  One day.  I changed.

Perhaps it was the threat of national television cameras.  Perhaps it was the loss of my favorite jeans.  Perhaps it was just time.  

I got back to basics.  What do I eat?  Exactly what a bariatric patient should.  I eat a reasonable amount of lean protein.  I eat some vegetables.  I don’t consume sugar unless it’s in fruit.  I’m all into sugar free, fat free plain Greek yogurt flavored with Mio.  I don’t eat anything with flour in it.  For the most part.  I will use bread crumbs sparingly to make turkey meatloaf or burgers.  But no buns, no sandwiches, no taco shells, no chips.  I don’t eat anything fried either.

And you know what?  The first week almost killed me.  I’ve walked this road before.  It’s easier when you’re fresh out of surgery.  In a way.  See I know I can eat such things without being ill.  I also know I shouldn’t eat such things.  That, I believe, makes it harder.

My surgeon, Dr. Doug Olsen at Centennial in Nashville once said something alone the lines of: Many people who get this surgery think they will be able to eat like “normal people” and be thin.  You see someone in great shape, they’ve worked at it.  “Normal people” don’t eat just whatever they want.  Bariatric patients can’t either.

He’s right of course, but who wants to hear that?  No one.  That’s why America is oh so obese.  We all know what to do.  We have our addictions.  And we like them.

I am specifically a carbohydrate addict.  And recently I survived the ultimate test.  For me anyway.  I was in a Mexican restaurant.  And there I was, with warm, delicious tortilla chips in front of me.  And I didn’t eat them.  Oh sure, laugh.  But it was a big deal for me.  I was seriously thinking of not going to that restaurant just because of the chips.  I didn’t know if I could handle it, 

As it turns out, I could.  After almost three weeks of virtually no sugar, no flour, no potatoes, I am free of them.  I just don’t want them.  Do I still want pizza?  In theory, yes,  But I’d rather have the cheese.  I’m not rationalizing.–I’ll have it because today is whatever day.  I remove croutons from salads.  If my kids don’t finish their ice cream I, wait for it, throw it out.  Yeah, I don’t finish it for them.  

I’ve lost three pounds in almost three weeks.  That annoys me to no end.  That’s the same weight loss rate of a “normal person.”  My Vulcan physiology should’ve lost ten by now.  It hasn’t.  But it will.  

When it’s time.



Recovery From Addiction Part 1

June 24, 2012

Jane Ellen and Paul talking about food and alcohol addiction while going through the 12 steps of AA


May 11, 2012

I am a fixer.  If it’s broken, I fix it.  If I’m sick, I get a doctor to fix it.  Everything can be fixed.  That’s how I approach life.  When my weight was out of control ten years ago I had bariatric surgery and fixed it.  Today I am a healthy weight and no I’m not going to share.  Because that’s not the point.  Even though I have had surgery, I still battle with an overwhelming desire to eat food that calls to me.  I have been told by three different doctors that I have an addiction to food, specifically to carbohydrates.  I have been told that I should steer clear of carbs just like a recovering alcoholic avoids liquor.  And yet, knowing that, just made my desire worse.

Who doesn’t overeat the night before their alleged diet begins?  You have to cram it all in because you’ll never have it again.  But you see, you do have it again.  Eventually.  And the cycle begins anew.  What surprises me is with all this talk of addiction no one, until recently, suggested I read any material from Alcoholics Anonymous.  Perhaps because I do not have an addiction to alcohol.  Perhaps that’s why the obvious was consistently overlooked by my physicians and by me.  Addiction is addiction.  It just takes a different delivery system for different people.

And so I was turned on to the AA paragraph on acceptance.  Here it is:  “It’s from Page 449 (first 3 editions, pg. 417 in the 4th edition) of Alcoholics Anonymous or The Big Book as it is widely known:

      And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation — some fact of my life — unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.

Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.

For me, serenity began when I learned to distinguish between those things that I could change and those I could not. When I admitted that there were people, places, things, and situations over which I was totally powerless, those things began to lose their power over me. I learned that everyone has the right to make their own mistakes, and learn from them, without my interference, judgement, or assistance!

The key to my serenity is acceptance. But “acceptance” does not mean that I have to like it, condone it, or even ignore it. What it does mean is I am powerless to do anything about it… and I have to accept that fact.

Nor does it mean that I have to accept “unacceptable behavoir.” Today I have choices. I no longer have to accept abuse in any form. I can choose to walk away, even if it means stepping out into the unknown. I no longer have to fear “change” or the unknown. I can merely accept it as part of the journey.

I spent years trying to change things in my life over which I was powerless, but did not know it. I threatened, scolded, manipulated, coerced, pleaded, begged, pouted, bribed and generally tried everything I could to make the situation better — only watch as things always got progressively worse.

I spent so much time trying to change the things I could not change, it never once occurred to me to simply accept them as they were.

Now when things in my life are not going the way I planned them, or downright bad things happen, I can remind myself that whatever is going on is not happening by accident. There’s a reason for it and it is not always meant for me to know what that reason is.

That change in attitude has been the key to happiness for me. I know I am not the only who has found that serenity.”

You don’t have to be an alcoholic, or even believe in God, to get what these sentences mean.  For me it was a classic a-ha moment.  Because I am a fixer, I was always trying to change things.  Always.  I have spent the last ten years trying to cure myself of an overwhelming desire for food.  A desire that only a true addict can understand.  It eats away at the inside of you.  You know if you just have that one thing, everything else will be better.  Until you do have it, and then the remorse sets in.  Remorse is a bitch.

So what am I doing to change things since I have seen the light of these few lines from AA’s Big Book?  I’ve realized I will always be addicted to these foods.  That’s not going to stop.  It is just one more bit of guidance to help me think why am I eating whatever it is I am eating.  For a bariatric patient, the path is quite clear.  Eat your protein first and get 60 grams of protein in every day–at the very minimum.  I don’t have to wonder if I should eat a pretzel or a bite of hot, delicious, buttery roll.  I shouldn’t.  Ever.  Not even on my birthday.  Not.  Ever.  No good will come of it.

By reading the paragraphs on acceptance it reminds me that even though I will always be a food addict, I do have the power to control myself.  I do not have to give in to emotional eating.  I just don’t.  The emotions will pass.  I don’t have to ruin my health by stress-eating.  Or boredom-eating.  Or it’s-delicious eating.  I can control it.

It puts the power back in my hands.  Accept there is a desire and choose not to give in.  Accept that desire will never disappear, but its hold upon you should lessen over time.  Accept that you can change if you want to.  Accept that you’re not broken.  Accept that an entire bowl of popcorn will not make you happy.  Ever.  That’s a whole lot of acceptance to take in at once.  I know.  But it’s a start.

Queen of Denial

April 27, 2012

When most people diet, they force themselves the foods they desire.  You deny yourself enough and you take in fewer calories, thereby losing weight.  You’re not an idiot, you knew that already.  You also knew that once you are off the diet and you have what you desire again, back it comes.  

That works for some people.  Not everyone,  because if it did we wouldn’t be wallowing in obesity.  Seriously.  I don’t remember this as a child.  I’m in a public place and I look around and people aren’t just a little overweight, they are magnificently huge.  I am amazed by it all.  And yet, there is so little sympathy and understanding.  You see an alcoholic, someone addicted to gambling or nicotine–nd many say they need treatment.  You see someone fat and you say they should just get some exercise and shut their big, fat, mouths.   

But obesity is a symptom of a disease.  Here, I’ll even throw in a definition of precisely what disease is from a medical dictionary:  “An impairment of the body or one of its parts resulting from various causes, such as infection, genetic defect, or environmental stress, and characterized by an identifiable group of signs or symptoms.”  

And here’s where denial comes in.  Culturally, we deny the fact that the obese have a disease.  You can’t just wish away diabetes and cancer.  You can’t just wish away obesity either.  Of course every diseased person has that wish.  You have no idea how many times, how many years, I would wish that I would wake up thin.  Or smaller anyway.  I would actually wish I had some non-fatal wasting-away condition and I would just wake up, better, and 100 pounds lighter.  I’m not kidding either.  And I know I’m not alone.  

The non-obese public, in my opinion, denies that obesity is a disease.  The obese deny that they have the responsibility to fight for their health.  They, and I say they based upon my own experience and talking to thousands of obese and formerly obese individuals, they even deny that they ate something.   I have such a problem with that.  Did you eat ALL that?  No, I didn’t.  Uh, wait a minute, maybe I did.  Maybe I did devour all those calories.  Isn’t a can of Pringles a single serving?  No?

Denial is, at its essence, a defense mechanism.  For instance, I will just desire my feelings for you.  That way, if I pretend they don’t exist then I don’t have to deal with them.  Dealing with them would mean I would have to act upon them one way or the other.  However, if they don’t exist then I can stay on my current path.  Deny that you’re fat.  Deny that you’re in love.  Deny that you’re a failure.  Deny that your life is a cesspool.  Denial comes in pretty handy.  

It’s been said that once you accept you’re out of control then you can start to rebuild.  I have always said I am in control of my actions, the good and the bad.  I don’t blame anyone for anything I do. So,  I guess it comes down to this.  Admit to yourself that what you’re doing and the life you’re living is or is not satisfying to you.  I would say, “are you happy?” but I have only vague recollections of a few minutes of what I would call happy.  I have spent most of my life denying my feelings about anything (except my children).  I have tried to contain major highs–because you can go nowhere but down, and major lows–because they suck.  Consequently, I am almost always detached, level, numb.  It takes a lot to keep yourself numb.  

However, in my case, I have so many memories of food equaling happy that I turn to it to change my mood.  And I realize I have always done that.  That’s why I understand the alcoholics, the smokers, the junkies.  You get in such a state of denial that you just want to feel nothing.  Or maybe you want to feel what you think is normal.  I actually get a rush of happy when I shop.  I feel almost that good when thinking about what I need to buy.  Just looking at shoes online can flip me like a pancake. (Mmmmm, pancakes.)  I try to channel it for good when I work as a stylist.  I can accessorize as brilliantly as I can cook.  However, it makes me wonder.

Can anyone truly get past denial?  Or is the act of avoidance so ingrained that we, collectively, are doomed to live unsatisfied lives?  My personal belief is only you, the person who wants to change, can change.  No one else can change you.  It all starts with you.  If you feel a change is in order, and then you can’t seem to move past it, then, other than feeling totally fucked, you have to kick it into gear.  What’s just one thing you can change so your life will be what you want it to be?  I started with bread.  I gave it up completely.  Now that I’ve conquered that I need to take a bigger step.  I guess I’ll need some new shoes for that.