Being the Best Me I Can Be

I used to think that was dumb.  I mean, I am ENOUGH where I am.  Jesus loves me, my family loves me, and I don’t HAVE to change to prove that I am worthy.  I know all of these things. … Continue reading

Grati-Tuesday, February 20th

As I sit here and listen to Bethel radio on Pandora, drink coffee, and reflect (while hanging out with my hubby), I’m so incredibly grateful for the life that we have.  It has been a really hard journey for me, … Continue reading

Hello Friday!

I’m so thankful that the weekend is coming.  And I’m also happy that today is a “chill day.”  I have a short list and my goal is to focus on self care! I have been off of Facebook for a … Continue reading

Pursuing What Sets My Soul on Fire (Jesus)

Being in a constant state of worship and adoration, service, gratitude, prayer, and confession are what set my heart on fire. Unfortunately my life has been just one struggle after another and my spirit has gotten lost in all of … Continue reading

Taking Charge of My Wellness Holistically

I woke up this morning (after only 4.5 hours of sleep) feeling a drive for taking charge of things.  I have been working really hard (counseling, seeing my doctor once a month, taking my medication, working with a dietitian, etc), … Continue reading

What It Looks Like to Work with an Intuitive Eating Dietitian

(this picture came from her website for Month 1, Week 3)

Have you wondered what I mean when I say I’m working with a dietitian that focuses on Intuitive Eating and positive body image?  Keep reading.

I have been working pretty closely with my dietitian and have been learning so much.  I thought I knew everything I needed to, but I’m finding I know and understand very little.

What I’m learning:

  • She (Tracy) is helping me work through so much more than eating “healthy” (everyone has a different view of healthy)
  • She is helping me determine when I’m hungry and when I’m full… trying to start at a 3/4 and ending on a 7/8.  0/1 is starving… shaky, faint, tired, etc.  9/10 is extremely stuffed.  Also on this journal I discuss feelings, self care, movement, what my intentions are for the day.  She has told me that I am not eating enough (I’m still restricting) and that the amount I’m eating doesn’t make me satisfied enough.  It’s been eye opening.
  • There is a reason for my constant drinking of coffee and Coke Zero.  For me the main reason for my Coke Zero intake is that I am replacing the alcohol.  The main thing I drank when I was drinking was either beer or Coke Zero and rum or vodka.  I pretty much drank most of the afternoon/evening; not every day, but most.  Also, it is helping me numb out some feelings that maybe aren’t pleasant.  So she is having me journal those feelings.  Coffee is mostly because I’m home most of the morning, and I’m just used to always have a drink of something.  The main thing that she and my counselor want me to do is reduce/eliminate caffeine.  My counselor wants me to eliminate it because it affects my anxiety.  Tracy wants me to reduce it because it affects my hunger and satiety cues, which actually means I don’t eat enough.  This is interesting stuff.
  • The main things that she said I should do for my health right now (besides working on reducing caffeine through sodas and coffee) are to add some more fiber (through supplements or through food), take a multi vitamin and fish oil (which I’ve been doing since I was in rehab), and move my body regularly (doing what is joyful for me… no extreme exercise right now).  Joyful movement for me means hiking and walking.  I love being outside in nature, but I don’t like running here because of the hills and rocks.  So hiking and walking it is.  I don’t like anything indoors (like videos, weight lifting, etc).  And I’ve learned that’s okay.  I need to do what I enjoy so that I actually do it.
  • She’s helping me learn to give myself grace with food and drink.  Reducing caffeine, coffee, and soda is going to be a process.  She wants me to give myself grace when I feel like I’m not doing this right.  There is no right way.  Also, I have been conditioned a certain way about food, and I need to let that go in order to learn to eat intuitively.  I have a history of restriction and she says that I’m still restricting (I fill out an intuitive eating food journal).
  • She is helping me pinpoint more areas of self care that I can pick up to help me through my day.  There’s a whole week in the program in which she pinpoints things that we can do for self care.  She also told me yesterday to take time every day to just enjoy something without doing.  Yesterday I sat on my porch without electronics or anything and watching the birds and squirrels while listening to music that makes me happy.  It was so nice.
  • One of the biggest things that she’s doing is helping me work through fat phobia and why I fear gaining weight.  I can tell that I’m still gaining weight (and will continue, possibly, because of my medication), and it is causing me anxiety.  She is working through the whys.  Why do I fear that?  What has society taught me about weight gain that makes me think being bigger is a bad thing?  What will happen because of weight gain?  How will it affect me as a person?  I am so much more than my body.  What things do I have to offer that have nothing to do with my body?  Emily Wierenga says in her book Almost Anorexic, “In a society that equates thin with beauty and beauty with love, we long to be thin, and so we hide. Beneath layers of guilt and shame, not seeing ourselves for the royalty that we are.”
  • “Each person has a ‘natural weight’, the weight at which the body is and feels healthy and is free of risk factors within our control.”  Lower weight doesn’t necessarily equal healthier.  I had high cholesterol even at my lowest weight (it’s hereditary and one of my medications causes high cholesterol).  I know people that are thin and have diabetes and high blood pressure.  I also know over-weight people that are completely healthy.
  • “We have a set point for the number of fat cells in our body and how little fat those cells can contain. Body fat is not intrinsically unhealthy tissue and does not lead to death.”
  • Healing happens in a relaxation response… focus on self care and reducing stress and anxiety first
  • We have different feelings when our needs are met vs. when our needs are not met.
  • I could go on and on!

Through all of this, I am taking better care of myself.

I wasn’t sure if this program would be worth the money, but it has already been worth it and I’m only on Month 1, Week 3 of a 3 month program!  I can’t wait to see what I continue to learn!

Grati-Tuesday and Update About Meds

Today has been a very long day.  We all got up before the sun in order to get out the door to meet my mom at my grandma’s house.  They had to watch my kids so I could drive to San Antonio to see my psychiatrist.  I had so much anxiety over my appointment, and that didn’t help my exhaustion this morning.

I drove the hour and 40 minutes to my grandma’s house, spent a little time chatting with her, then got back in the car to drive another 25 minutes to San Antonio.

I got to my appointment early, and surprisingly, they got me back pretty quickly.  My doctor knew that I was coming in because the pharmaceutical company had denied my application for patient assistance (for my Latuda), and I can’t afford my medication anymore at $850 with insurance.

She was so sweet and encouraging.  She told me that there are always options, so never feel hopeless around medication changes.

We decided that I will go back on the Geodon to replace the Latuda.  They are in the same class and Geodon is $60 a month with my insurance vs $850.  I’ve taken it before and I had rapid ups and downs… but… I wasn’t on Lamictal yet and I was drinking heavily.  So I have no idea how it will work now.

Another thing we talked about is my recent bad depression.  She was pretty concerned about that and feels that we need to address that.  She decided to put me on a low dose of Lithium.  I have been scared of it for a long time because I know my brother took it… and he ended up committing suicide.  So anything he took, I’m leery.  But I know he is different than me.  I need to give it a chance.

I was overall very pleased with my appointment and just her care and concern for my well being.  I’m thankful that I had to change doctors!

After my appointment, I drove back to my Grandma’s house and had lunch.  My mom made a homemade lasagna, garlic toast, and salad.  We also had corn.  It was all so great!  I’m so thankful my mom cooked so we didn’t have to spend money on lunch.

Then we drove to Kerrville to get prescriptions.  2 hours later (long story), we left for home.  I did about 4 1/2 hours of driving today.  I’m worn out!

Now… Grati-Tuesday.

I’m grateful that we celebrated this girl with my mom and grandma today.  Her birthday is tomorrow.  She turns 11!

I’m grateful for the beautiful weather today!  The temp was perfect and the sun was shining.

My Grandma gave us all of this food from her pantry!  She was happy to give some away because she was out of space.

I’m grateful for these 7 medications (6 for mental health and 1 for cholesterol).  Without them I would probably not be here.  Even though I am sometimes depressed and anxious, it’s not near what it used to be.  I hate depression, though.  I remembered recently just how hard depression is to live with.  I’m so glad to be working with a doctor that is fighting this with me.  And most importantly, family and friends that are fighting this with me.

I’m also so grateful for my dietitian.  She is helping me so much in my intuitive eating and body love journey.  I have a llllooonnnggg way to go, but I’m on my way.  One day at a time!

I’m grateful that I have been too busy to even think about alcohol.  Having my kids home actually helps this.

Now to have dinner!  Robert is making ravioli with olive oil and parmesan and shrimp and pasta with homemade alfredo sauce!  Yummmmm.

Talk to you soon!

Learning and Growing with Every New Day

From the chapter of the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book, “How it Works”:

“Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves.”

“…self-seeking…”

“…self-centered, egocentric…”

Selfishness-self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles.  Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity…”

“Above everything, we alcoholics much be rid of this selfishness.”

“We had to have God’s help.

“First of all, we had to quit playing God.  It didn’t work.  Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director.”

“He is the Father, and we are His children.”

We read half of this chapter on Monday in the AA Women’s Big Book meeting and these bold words stood out to me.  I have been stuck in this for a long time.  I am self-centered, self-seeking; most of all I have had a lot of fear and self-pity.  I sit and focus on my illnesses and difficulties in life.

I posted this on Sunday:

“This describes me 100% right now. Mental illness, EMDR, counseling, alcoholism, AA, fighting cravings, taking care of my family, just getting through each day… takes a lot out of a person. I feel that I am a strong person (thanks to Jesus), but I am worn. Starting a new week tomorrow with hope in Jesus, knowing that I can get through the week because He’s with me.”

While all this is true for me, I was really hoping for pity… I was acting in self-pity and I wanted people to encourage me.  This is self-centered.  I wanted attention because of my issues… and in reality, this is me trying to make them my identity.

I want people to see me as strong.  I want people to see me as brave, courageous, and honest.  I don’t want people to see me as having self-pity and being self-centered.  I want people to see my love for others.  I want to be known for my love for Jesus.  My identity is in Jesus first and foremost.  Without Him, I am nothing.

Something else that’s really important is the reminder that I need to get my butt up and outside moving.  Not for weight loss, but for time to commune with God and for mental/emotional health.  I hiked Tuesday… I took it slow, took pictures, noticed the flowers, listened to the birds sing, listened to the river running, and was just in the peaceful element of nature.  It was perfect.  I talked to my counselor about it Tuesday night and she really wants me to make this a priority.  It’s hard in the moment when I don’t feel like doing anything, but it is so stinkin’ helpful that I need to do it even when I don’t feel like it.  My counselor that I had in Frisco would tell me that when I can’t think my way into acting, act my way into thinking.  So in other words, even when I don’t feel like it, just get up and do it and it will help me mentally/emotionally.

It was a beautiful day.  Sunny and the perfect temperature.

I used to exercise obsessively when I was dieting, and definitely not for mental/emotional health… mostly to try to lose weight.  I counted steps, calories, etc. I would exercise to be able to eat or I would exercise to make up for what I ate.  This is not healthy.  I sold my FitBit because I was tired of feeling guilty if I didn’t reach my 10,000 steps a day, and when I hiked, I would obsess about getting as many steps as I could, not enjoying it.  I now use Map My Walk, only to see how many miles because I’m curious.  It’s not something I have to keep up with every day.  And I can hike without the app… it’s all about curiosity.

The program with my dietitian is called Attuned Eating for Attuned Living.

Every week I have audios to listen to, worksheets, and lots of readings (including some books).  She also goes over my food journals most days and we have a weekly Zoom meeting so we see each other and talk to one another.  Sometimes there are one or two more ladies in the meeting.

Today we talked about something that I have been struggling with… my coffee and Coke Zero intake.  She thinks it’s keeping me from being able to listen to my hunger and fullness cues.  I drink so much coffee in the morning that I have a hard time eating breakfast… then I’m shaky by lunch time and over-eat.  She also pointed out that there is a reason why I feel the need to have a lot of coffee and Coke Zero (only drinking those and drinking very little water).  She thinks I have a habit to the process.  Also, I’m using my drinks to replace alcohol, which means that I’m still trying to not feel certain things.  It’s an emotional crutch.  She wants me to be journaling about how I’m feeling when I drink coffee and Coke Zero.

We’re also focusing on my eating breakfast every day so that I’m not starving and shaky by lunch.  The most common thing that I’ve been eating is breakfast tacos.  Potato, bacon, and egg with salsa and cheese.  It keeps me comfortable until lunch.  Today I had homemade Greek yogurt and steel cut oatmeal.  I’m pretty hungry now, but it’s almost lunch time so I’m fine.

The most important thing that she’s doing is helping me to learn to love myself just the way I am.  She told me that gaining a little bit of weight is normal as my body overcomes the constant dieting that I did for so many years.  My body is trying to find it’s set point.  Where it’s supposed to be without dieting.  I may end up losing weight eventually.  But the most important thing is to not weigh myself at all because it changes my emotional state big time.

The most important thing that I have learned this week is that I need to make God’s word and fellowship with His people priority.

I got very behind on my Bible study because of dietitian homework, driving to and from town, and being depressed and anxious.  It’s been a rough few weeks.

I was going to skip Bible study since I was so behind.  Robert did everything but push me out the door.

We had technical difficulties so we ended up having Bible study at my house, watching the DVD on my tv, and having coffee and discussion.  It was really great!  From now on the Bible study is going to be at my house.  I’m so excited about that because it’s built in accountability.  I also love to host women in my home… especially since I’m alone most of the time!

We decided to start fresh next week (turns out, I wasn’t the only one behind), so now I’m right on schedule!

I started it as soon as we finished!

This book (1 Peter) talks a lot about trials and suffering.  It’s just right for what I’ve gone through and continue to.  The good news is that it says “for a little while.”  That’s hopeful!

 

So… through struggle comes strength and growth.

Between AA 2-3 times a week, step work, meeting with my sponsor weekly, working with a dietitian that wants to teach me to love myself the way that I am,  my counselor working with me on my self worth, daily time in the word, constant worship, church (becoming members), and so much more, I’m growing so much!

Through working hard, I’m learning more about myself and my calling.

Being the Best “Me” That I Can Be

I met with my counselor on Monday, and she decided that we needed to do some psychotherapy before we moved on with EMDR again.

We discussed the fact that I have PTSD on top all of my other mess.  We discussed the signs of PTSD and how I have many of them.  These signs aren’t always there at once, but they are definitely there.  She didn’t circle panic because I haven’t been experiencing that lately, but it is something I have struggled with off and on.

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We talked about how I can work through my anxiety.  And I learned that caffeine greatly affects my anxiety!  I had no idea.  So I’m slowly working on reducing caffeine which is hard because I love my coffee and Coke Zero.  I use it to cope and to not want alcohol so much.  I’m so used to drinking something through the day!  At the moment I’m at half caff coffee and I’m drinking less Coke Zeros… including some La Croix sparkling waters and plain water in there.  I also drink herbal tea at night.

We talked about learning to talk to myself in a more positive way and how important that is to my anxiety.  I need to be practicing that right now…

We talked about how to breathe when I’m in the midst of my anxiety.  Deep, slow breaths from my belly.

She reminded me to listen to music that brings about positive thoughts.  This is a no brainer for me because I mostly listen to praise music and Christian music (Bethel, JJ Heller, Shane and Shane, David Crowder, etc).

She also reminded me how important getting outside and walking/hiking is for my mental health all around.  I plan to go for a short hike this afternoon.

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I started working with a dietitian on Monday.  We met Tuesday and Wednesday via Zoom.  It was so great.  I have started the program by listening to audios from her, reading lots of things, doing worksheets.  Wednesday I started the food log.  The point isn’t for her to see “how healthy” I’m eating (I’m learning that food isn’t inherently good or bad), but for her to see how much I am eating and if I am listening to my body.  Paying attention to hunger and satiety cues.  Processing through how I’m feeling about things.  Making sure I’m doing some sort of joyful movement and taking good care of myself.  She also thinks I should reduce my caffeine intake for many reasons (just like my counselor).  So I’m working on that.  Today I had half caff coffee this morning and water with lunch.  I ended up having a few Coke Zeros this afternoon, but that’s a start.

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Today was a really rough day.  I wrote about it earlier in my post Self Pity and Pressing Into Jesus.  It only got worse and I got to where I didn’t want to get off the couch.  I also had a very strong urge to want to drink. I ended up having get up and moving because I had to pick up the kids.  That was the best thing for me.  Then, Robert came home and he made me feel so much better.  This evening we’re working together to make dinner (fish tacos, black beans, guacamole, and coleslaw).

We also got to talking about what we can do to help me not have days like this.  The biggest thing is that I need to be at AA more often.  I was planning to do it online but that hasn’t been happening.  I need the face-to-face and accountability.  I will go at least on Monday and Wednesday… and maybe Fridays.  We’ll see.  Also, being in town more will help because it will keep me moving and around others.  It’s worth the extra cost in gas to make this happen.

Intuitive Eating, Body Positivity, Anxiety, and Sobriety

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I remember being 4 years old, a tiny thing, and thinking I needed to lose weight.  I remember lifting cans as “weights.”  Fast forward to junior high, and I remember my body going from tiny to “big” when I hit puberty (in a junior high girl’s mind).  I was bigger than a lot of girls around me.  Then in high school I was “overweight” and knew I was bigger than my friends.  I remember looking at magazines thinking I needed to look like them.  I remember feeling like I needed to go on a diet.

When I got to college, my high school sweetheart (and fiancé) broke up with me and I assumed it was because of the way I looked (among other things).  I decided at that time that I had enough so I was going to lose weight.

I went on a diet and lost 25 pounds very quickly.  I felt very proud of myself.

Fast-forward a few years and I met Robert.  We got married very quickly.  I put on a few pounds, but nothing extreme.  I ended up having 3 kids with-in 4 years (starting 2 years after we got married).  I didn’t put on a ton of weight with them (very little, actually).  After Levi was born, I gained weight because of postpartum depression.  But I easily lost the weight when I was working at a charter school because I went up and down lots of stairs multiple times a day.

I ended up fluctuating a lot between then and a few years ago (between dieting, stopping the diet, dieting, and stopping the diet).  I would also have moments in which I worked out a lot, then I would stop, etc.  I have been on an upward trend the past 3 years, starting with my first bipolar med.  It hasn’t stopped.

The last diet I tried was last summer.  I did THM (Trim Healthy Mama) for 3 months.  When it wasn’t working (and it was a LOT of work… I also had digestive issues because of the alternative sweeteners), I stopped.  I then gained back the few pounds I had lost plus a little more.  Then I went to rehab and gained 6-8 pounds in a month.

Since then, I have been trying so hard to eat intuitively (as best I can), have body positivity, and learn to love myself as is, but it has been an uphill battle.  Most days, most of the day, I’m thinking and obsessing about my weight and the fact that I’ve gained more weight.  I think about it every time I get dressed, when I’m sitting (because pants are tighter when sitting), when I eat (it affects my eating a lot… I often just don’t eat until I’m starving, then I eat anything and everything), when I see pictures of myself, when I look in the mirror or see my reflection on a window.  I don’t know how much I weigh because I threw out my scale, but I know I’ve gained weight based on how my clothes fit and it affects me all day, every day.

This causes me a lot of anxiety because I feel very out of control.  When I eat “healthy,” I feel as though there’s no reason because I won’t lose weight anyway.  When I eat “unhealthy,” I feel guilty.  I have a lot of shame around food and my body.

A few weeks ago, a stranger from a body positive group asked to be friends on Facebook (after she commented on one of my posts).  Usually I don’t accept strangers as friends, but she seemed to be safe.  I’ve been watching her on Facebook including posts, videos, and blogs that she has written.  She is a registered dietitian and she specializes in somatic nutrition and body image coaching.  I finally decided to message her and tell her how I’ve been feeling.  She messaged me a link to sign up for an appointment to have a phone call with her.  I scheduled an appointment for the next day.

That morning I thought that I couldn’t deal with one more thing right now so I canceled it.  She didn’t get the email (it was right before our appointment), so she called me.  We had an almost hour long conversation.  I knew that she would be able to help me, but I didn’t think I could afford it.  I decided that maybe we could use some of our income tax refund.  I didn’t think Robert would agree, and he was out of town, so I emailed him.  After explaining how I felt about everything, he agreed.  So, I ended up deciding to do the program.  I kind of went back and forth through the day yesterday because I felt guilty for using money for my health again.  Between counseling, doctor appointments, gas to and from town, and medication, a lot of Robert’s check goes towards my health (we get some reimbursed, but it comes out of our pockets initially).  I can’t work, so I can’t even contribute to this.

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From her website:

Today is the beginning of the end of your struggles with food and body image concerns.  Do You…

  • Think about food (how much, when, what) 24/7?
  • Feel you can’t stop eating?  
  • Struggle to manage your weight even though trying to?
  • Want to learn to eat from hunger and fullness?
  • Need help learning to like your body?
  • Want to discover your healthy weight?
  • Feel confused about how to eat well?
  • Sick of counting calories (fat/carbohydrates)?
  • Tired of exercise being a should and feeling guilty about how much/little you move?

All of these describe my struggles.

There will be 9 group meetings (3 per month for 3 months), 4 one-on-ones (one initial, then one per month), lots of online readings and videos, 4 books, worksheets and food logs (to learn my hunger ratings, emotions, etc); I will have access to her every day via email and phone if need be.  She will review my food logs as often as I need her to.  Part of her services also include meditation, personal growth, and help with anxiety.

These are the books that I will be reading:

Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works

When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies: Freeing Yourself From Food and Weight Obsession 

The One Thing Holding You Back: Unleashing the Power of Emotional Connection

Eating in the Light of the Moon: How Women Can Transform Their Relationship with Food through Myths, Metaphors, and Storytelling

So how does my sobriety fit into all of this?  Simply… I’m often so anxious about this that I am driven to want to drink.  Anything that causes me so much anxiety that I want to drink needs to be addressed.  I know it doesn’t seem big enough to make someone want to drink, but it is big to me.

I’m hoping that this is one step towards what I tell everyone all the time!

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