Only A Minor Setback..

Yesterday wasn’t the greatest day for me for a number of reasons. One of those reasons was me accidentally locking myself out of the apartment. I was doing laundry and had put a load in down in the laundry room and came back upstairs to grab a second load. I walked inside, set my keys down, grabbed the laundry, and stepped back out and shut the door. And then it dawned on me.. I was officially locked out. I called Fen at work and luckily he had his keys with him, so I left the laundry by our door and walked to his work to get them. It’s about a 1.5 mile walk one way. I was so mad at myself I walked there in under 30 minutes.. and then had to walk all the way back home. I was still mad at myself on the way back home, but decided to try and let the walk relieve some of that stress and frustration. And you know what? It did.

By the time I got back home I was a) tired from the walk, but b) felt REALLY good. It reminded me of how I used to go for 2+ mile walks almost everyday with the dog when he was younger and sometimes by myself too.. and I miss that! Especially in the summer, when I could feel the sunshine on my skin (for those who don’t know, it is perpetually cloudy in this state for most of the year).

I have been chatting with Jillian (a blogger I met on here) about how she got into running, among other things, and my conversation with her, coupled with all the runners I have found on twitter and wordpress, coupled with my 3 mile walk yesterday inspired me to do the same thing today.

Except….. I decided to go another route in the opposite direction, up an incredibly steep hill. Big mistake. My legs were burning at first which I am used to from the hiking I’ve done before. But once I turned around both of my calves were starting to ache and I felt like I was getting shin splints. By the time I got back there was a dull stabbing pain in my right calf. According to MapMyWalk I only walked 0.71 miles.

I was pretty disappointed in myself. I knew I needed to stop and turn around before I did any damage to my legs, but honestly.. what happened to my body? I had no idea how out of shape I am until today.

I don’t want to give up though, because I am still feeling empowered and craving physical activity, but I need to start off small and work my way up.

I also wonder if I need to focus on losing some weight first before I start pushing myself even harder. What are your thoughts on that?

I will have to plan a different route for myself. It’s a bit challenging out here, there are hills everywhere and not a lot of sidewalks! So I will need to wander around and find something that works for me.

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When Did I Stop Loving (Plain) Water?

My fiancé has poked fun at me for a while now over my recent love addiction to sparkling water. I wasn’t always a fan of sparkling water and actually found it quite repulsive for the longest time. My mom drinks a lot of it though and last summer she had me try some one day when we were out and about and I was thirsty (I should add this was during the time she helped me move to New Mexico (long story, will eventually talk about that)). I remember curling my lip in disgust as I unscrewed the cap and took a swig. Much to my surprise though it actually.. tasted.. really good! It was a bottle of Arrowhead sparkling water flavored with lemon juice. From that moment, I was hooked. So I began drinking some here and there and soon started drinking 4+ of their 32oz bottles every single day, until my stomach turned sour one afternoon (I think due to all the carbonation). After that I stuck to about a bottle a day and thus began a period during which I consumed a decent amount of both sparkling and regular (or as the fiancé calls it, “REAL” water). My job at the time wasn’t exactly labor intensive, but I would still work up a bit of a sweat and I found myself chugging bottled water in addition to the sparkling water.

After I moved (back) to Oregon, I.. well, I stopped drinking water. In general. I gave up the sparkling water to save on grocery bills for the time being (yes, I can drink that much and spending $60-$120 a month on sparkling water is a bit much, don’t you think?) but haven’t really been consuming water at all.

My level of water consumption has fluctuated throughout my life based on the types of jobs I have had or how active I am each day.. but this is the least that I have consumed, on average each day, in a very long time. I don’t really know why. I often wonder if it is somehow tied to my overconsumption of food and sweet foods. Perhaps I eat so much that I don’t feel the need to drink water between meals? Or perhaps because it is so unbelievably humid here my body doesn’t become as thirsty as it normally does? I have to remind myself too that once you are actually feeling thirst you have passed into the realm of dehydration. So does that mean I am never dehydrated? I’m not sure that’s actually true, considering I have felt worse on days that I drink hardly any water at all.

I have toyed with the idea of downloading an app to my phone that will remind me to drink water throughout the day. I did this a couple years ago and the app drove me crazy over time, but it also got me into the habit of regularly drinking water throughout the day and I realized that over time I started to feel better.

The other benefit to this is that water can help me feel full. My fiancé keeps reminding me of this and it’s not the first time I have heard it.

Note to Self: It’s President’s Day (A HOLIDAY)

Today was a pretty good day. The fiancé and I (let’s call him Fen, as I wish to maintain some anonymity on this website for the time being) hung around the house a little bit this morning while I worked on some things here and there. For Valentine’s Day, his Dad sent us some candy and this self-inflating balloon that comes in a bag.

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The packaging that the self-inflating balloon came in.

The balloon comes in a package that you are supposed to set on a flat surface and whap with your fist. I guess the impact triggers some sort of chemical reaction, causing the balloon to inflate and pop out of the bag. Only.. in our case, it didn’t inflate all the way. So after a minute or so of him filming this and us taking turns poking at it, I finally picked it up. It was really cold to the touch, but I could see that the bag hadn’t ripped open entirely. So I pulled on it to get it to open the rest of the way, and there was a loud pop as the balloon burst from the bag.

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The balloon.

I screamed pretty loudly, dropped the balloon, and ran into the bedroom. Fen recorded the whole thing! We were both laughing so hard we couldn’t breathe in the end. Lesson learned. I think.

We watched a movie after that called Wicked Little Things that was about these zombie kids who died in a horrible coal mine accident. They came out at night and ate people. It was.. somewhat gory, but OK. I had to look away at times. I am not one for gore, I end up getting sick.

Mr. Boston snuggling with Dad during the movie.
Mr. Boston snuggling with Dad during the movie.

After the movie Fen had some work-related things to take care of, so he focused on those and then we left to run some errands and head toward the beach for the day. Somehow throughout the entire day we kept forgetting it was President’s Day. I had to remind myself in the morning when I couldn’t get ahold of my bank. Then I had to remind myself again when I tried mailing something at the post office. Then I had to remind myself yet again when we got to the beach only to find it PACKED with people and their off leash dogs. Our dog, Mr. Boston, doesn’t do very well with other dogs… so trying to walk him on a beach that would be that crowded with other dogs would have just been a total nightmare. So instead we turned around and headed toward a park with some lakes.

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A view of the lake.

It was a really beautiful park. I have never been there before today, but really enjoyed the trails and the scenery. I suspect we will be back for many, many more walks and hikes through the hills.

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Fen walking with Billie.. or Billie walking Fen?

Billie enjoyed the park too. He got to sniff and mark nearly everything (or so it seemed) and even tried to shove his face into a pile of poison ivy (poor Billie (no, actually, poor mom and dad)).

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Isn’t he just dapper?

And of course.. the outing wouldn’t be complete without a photo of the two of us together..

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Nor would it really be complete without a photo of us goofing off..

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Honestly, I think this more adequately describes us.

But in all seriousness, we both enjoyed ourselves. We spent the rest of the evening watching a movie called An American Haunting, which was equally as good.. though the true stories behind the Bell Witch are a little scary if you ask me.

Well.. done with Presidents’ Day, onto the rest of the week 🙂

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Knowing When I’m Hungry or Full

First, I wanted to wish everyone a Happy (belated) Valentine’s Day. I hope you all enjoyed your day, whether single, dating, or married. I definitely enjoyed mine!

I’ve noticed in the last month that I often have a difficult time noticing when I am truly hungry or truly full. I don’t think that my stomach is incapable of sending the right signals to my brain, nor do I think my brain is incapable of receiving those signals. Instead, I think over time I have lost the ability to be mindful of these signals. My stomach may send a signal to my brain telling me to stop eating because I have had enough, and my brain will register it, but consciously I have forgotten how to listen. The same applies to hunger. Under normal circumstances when I am in a period of stability, I am able to clearly recognize when I am hungry or full and I act accordingly. These days, I have to stop what I am doing and actually think about how my stomach feels, whether it feels empty or full, whether I am craving a specific type of food or whether I am truly hungry and would eat anything edible, etc.

I feel kind of silly admitting that I have forgotten how to listen to myself. I honestly don’t know when this occurred. I don’t think it was something that occurred overnight, but rather something that I transitioned into over a period of time. It’s also disheartening when I think about it, because I shouldn’t be in a state of existence where I am so disconnected from my own body. I have everything I need to overcome this, but somehow along the way the pieces have become disjointed and I have lost my ability to reconnect them.

The idea of being able to listen to my body, to know when I am truly hungry or full without assuming I am or having to stop and really think about it, reminds me of the idea of being mindful. I think in my case mindful eating is of extreme importance and will continue to be of importance as I focus on my eating disorder and my road to recovery, however it shouldn’t stop there. Eventually I would like to extend it to other areas of my life.. but that’s a topic for another time and another post.

A Little Bit About Me and Binge Eating..

Hmm. First post, ever. I figured I would use it to talk a little bit about my binge eating habits. Most people think binge eating is the same as overeating, but it’s not. I do have a habit of overeating during my meals. I usually will eat more than would be necessary to satiate me, but I usually do this because I enjoy the taste of the food and do not wish to stop. Binge eating, however, is more of a compulsion for me. When I binge eat, I select foods that I normally do enjoy, but I feel compelled to keep consuming them, in large quantities, until I am so full that I am uncomfortable. I often think of this as trying to “fill a void” within. Sometimes I will catch myself in the act and force myself to put the food away and go watch TV instead or maybe just go to sleep. I find that if I try to switch to a different, non-food related activity, I will still think obsessively about the food I was consuming. Recently, I thought about eating more dessert after I had already eaten some after dinner one night. Not wanting to give in, I finally laid down and fell asleep, only to wake up throughout the night. Waking up every hour or two is normal for me (I have problems sleeping), but what I noticed was different about that night is each time I woke up I would be thinking about the dessert I forced myself to stop eating. It’s incredibly frustrating. There is such a strong psychological component associated with this and I honestly have no idea where to begin to work through it.

I have memories of binge eating as early as five or six years old. I really don’t know what triggered those episodes then. When I think about my childhood and what I might have been experiencing at the time, I suspect it might be linked to stress at school from bullying and perhaps low self-esteem. Regardless, I have memories of eating a huge plate at dinner, and then snacking ALL NIGHT long. My parents would notice me snacking and warn me to slow down or pick one snack and stick with it. Instead, I would eat some candy, and then switch to potato chips, and then scarf down some corn nuts, then perhaps some M&Ms, cheese snacks, popcorn, bubble gum, etc. In the end I usually wound up with an upset stomach or worse – I would vomit it all up by the end of the night. I recall as I ate and ate I never felt truly SATISFIED. Which is disturbing to me, because I was so young at the time.

I slowly (somehow, I don’t know how) worked my way out of this, only to fall back into it as a pre-teen. My sister picked up on it then and started talking to me about it. I remember she never made me feel ashamed about it, she just explained that it wasn’t healthy for me and that there were things I could do to cope.. like drink extra water, or if I really must have another snack, snack on fruit and vegetables.. not junk food. She also taught me the importance of listening to your body and being able to recognize when it’s hungry or full. Again, with time and struggle, I was able to regain control.

After that time in my life I didn’t really binge eat as much, at least not enough to warrant a binge-eating diagnosis. I still overate at meals sometimes, but was pretty good about eating right and not overconsuming food. Sometimes throughout my college years I would eat in response to stress or depression, ESPECIALLY when I would study for exams. I also discovered I have a massive sweet tooth and often found it difficult to cut back on the sugar!

During the summer of either 2007 or 2008 (I just can’t remember for some reason) I made the decision to give up eating meat. I did this slowly, first only consuming fish and eggs, and eventually letting those go as well. It was something I had thought about since I was about 12 and something I a) wasn’t entirely sure about and b) knew I would never be allowed to do until I was 18 either. I was scared of living without meat (I mean.. honestly, what would I eat? Lettuce?!), but was even MORE disgusted (for both taste/textural reasons and ethical reasons) at the thought of continuing to eat it. So I gave it up.

Over time I slowly transitioned into a vegan diet without even realizing it, because of my progressive inability to digest lactose. Me and dairy are not best friends. I am not severely lactose intolerant. I can still eat cheese and some (small amounts) of ice cream, but things like yogurt and milk will make me sick for days. I would say by about 2010 I was fully vegan and did not find it difficult at all to maintain. By that point in my life I was doing pretty good. I was finishing my degree, had plans for the future, and felt I had finally grown into myself and understood what I wanted out of life.

Then in 2011 my father died, rather unexpectedly. On paper, he died from heart failure. But the heart failure arose from complications brought on by stage three small-cell lung cancer. He died October 20th and had been diagnosed in late July. I didn’t know about it until August that year. I was in grad school at the time. The stress of school, teaching, and watching him die was enough to drive my anxiety beyond my breaking point. I began to use food to compensate for the stress and I ate ALL THE TIME. This point in my life marks the worse period of overeating and binge eating that I have ever experienced… and I am still in the middle of it.

Throughout my early twenties I gained about 30 extra lbs. I suspect part of this is from all the muscle I put on from hiking and field work. Since my father’s death though, I have put on an additional 60-70lbs of weight and am still struggling to get it off.

And so here I am.. present day. It’s now 2015 and I still don’t have much of an idea of how to stop my habits. I suspect that most of my struggle is psychological.. and so I have to start there. But the reality is I am not getting younger and the more I continue to abuse my body with food, the closer I bring myself to obesity-related diseases, such as heart diesease and.. diabetes.. which is extremely common on my Dad’s side of the family – ironically, the same side of the family I take after the most.