OA Step 1

As part of OA, we have to work the 12 steps.  I’m using an agnostic set of steps, using the OA fellowship as my HP.  I haven’t picked a sponsor yet, and I’ve only talked to a couple of people briefly.  I think part of my disease is isolation and my social anxiety.  I judge myself (and sometimes others) too harshly.

I wanted to write down my thoughts about each of the steps over the next few weeks.

1. We admitted we were powerless over food—that our lives had become unmanageable.

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I really do admit that I am powerless over food.  It consumes me.  I think about it every few minutes, it seems.  I really can’t manage it and it feels like it interferes with my emotional health, my physical health, work, school,  my relationships with my friends and husband, and my kids and home life.  I don’t believe in god, but in a way, food has been my god, and has ruled my thoughts and actions for so long.

Even though I’ve managed to get a meaningful job and get promoted twice, get married, have kids, and get accepted to a graduate school for the second time, I still feel like my life is unmanageable, because I still obsess over my body image, my weight, and food.  I feel like I haven’t been able to live up to my potential because of my compulsive eating and the shame I feel about it.  And that’s linked to my depression, anxiety, and poor self-esteem, which has caused me such grief over the last 20 years–really my whole life: 37 years.

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what a long year it’s been

So last fall I was doing physical therapy (PT) as a sort of “pre-hab” to see if I could avoid having arthroscopic surgery on the labral tear on my hip.  I also started my MS program.  I still managed to go to weight watchers but didn’t achieve my goals.  I ended up deciding to go off Zoloft in September 2014 to see if that would help with my weight loss.  Took one class two nights a week.  I did manage to lose a a few pounds, even after having my surgery in February.

My spring semester was really busy: classes four nights a week, plus working full time, doing PT and spending time with my husband and two girls.  I managed not to binge too much.  But then my therapist started mentioning that I seemed depressed and anxious and recommended going back on meds.  I was really scared to because I feared I would gain weight.  I tried Brintellix (vortioxetine) , which isn’t supposed to affect your weight, but I felt worse.  Really stressed out with all the kids’ whining.  Then school ended and I had to go home every day instead of getting to go to class and stimulating my mind.  I signed up for some free online classes to try to get ahead.  I also applied for a few new jobs and did one round of interviews before pulling out because it’s not a good fit.  I ended up officially quitting weight watchers because I only went a few times in the Spring semester, and I feel so stressed about money.  Thinking of seeing a financial counselor.

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I ended up stopping Brintellix and trying Viibryd (vilazodone).  I’ve been on it a month and now I’m at my highest non-pregnant weight since 2011: 158!  I’m thinking of joining a Binge Eating or Eating Disorders support group to try to improve my body image.  But then part of me just wants to lose weight so I feel better about myself.  I constantly feel judged.  By my co-workers, friends, strangers, in-laws.  What can’t I like me the way I am?  Should I just go back to Weight Watchers?  I’m crying all the time, and officially you’re not supposed to do Weight Watchers if you have an eating disorder.

But I really want to lose weight before my 20th reunion in 2016.  I also hate being so fat and ugly in all our family pics with the kids.

I’m trying hard to not feel like this year has been wasted, but that’s kind of what I feel like…

depression, hormones, and medications affecting weight

Sometimes I wonder how much my hormones and medications I take affect my weight.  I feel so stressed all the time that I wonder if my cortisol levels are high.  I remember my mom pushing me to get my thyroid tested to see if that was leading to my weight gain in college and then graduate school.  I think my results showed that things weren’t quite average, but not so far out of the normal range.  And then I’ve been on SSRIs and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (NRI, NERIs) for almost all of my adult life, and many of them have side effects of weight gain.  Also while breastfeeding I’ve also taken domperidone (DPD) to help with my milk supply, and weight gain is also a side effect.

depression ozanWhen I had success on Weight Watchers in 2011-2012 and hit my lifetime goal I had been off Zoloft for a few months.  All the other times I was unsuccessful at WW and Jenny Craig I was on anti-depressants.  I’m trying to taper off of Zoloft again to see if that helps, but now I’m feeling more depressed again.  My psychiatrist mentioned a few other anti-depressants with no weight gain side effects, but they aren’t compatible with breastfeeding.  I just tapered slowly off of DPD, but I’m still having trouble resisting my urge to binge.  I feel kind of down and wish that I had more time for myself to exercise and prepare healthy foods.  My youngest daughter is almost one, so I plan on gradually weaning soon.  Now that I’m not breastfeeding her and pumping as much I want to start taking yoga classes again.  I think if we can all get some more sleep in our home that will help too.  I wish I had more success at managing my weight when I was single and childless so that I wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed now.

Has anyone else noticed a connection between their depression/medications/hormones and weight? What can we do to still have success at losing weight even with depression?  Sometimes I feel like there are so many things stacked against me, how can I still succeed?  I feel like I can’t talk about all of these things at my WW meetings, so I need to get some advice elsewhere…

Picture via Ozan

artificial vs natural

Part of the problem I’ve had with commercial weight loss programs over the years is their emphasis on substituting “light” versions of products to reduce their points or calories.  These products aren’t natural and there was a time when I didn’t want to put anything artificial in my body.  Although both Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig do recommend many naturally light and filling foods, such as broth-based soups, whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables, they also sell and recommend a large number of processed foods.

But, I wasn’t successful at losing weight on my own, even when I was eating healthy, organic, whole foods. So now I’m doing a bit of both.  I still like to drink organic milk and use real sugar in my coffee, but I also eat artificially sweetened reduced fat yogurt since I would tend to go overboard on the kind with real sugar and no fillers.  But is this stimulating my sweet tooth and making me want more super-sweet things?  There have been many discussions and research done about whether or not diet soda helps or hinders weight loss.  I strive to eat naturally and belong to a CSA to support local organic farming, but I also drink diet soda at lunch every day and eat too much reduced fat cheese.  But I’d eat too much full fat cheese, too…

I guess until I get to Maintenance I’ll keep it flexible, and then when I get to Lifetime again try to eat fewer artificially sweetened and processed foods.  Or I could try the Simply

https://www.flickr.com/photos/markdodds/3168680926/in/photolist-ag6rPE-dYProu-9Wjzjo-93o2xp-qRw789-qWLDpB-pRkiNY-4Ub4sf-6HNmNj-4P5rpR-fqxFhM-kbprNP-8YTLje-dTrLWo-9dCnC7-8YXBAA-e1ev3Z-8gRntq-f8bqR5-bHoqnH-bZ7CKm-e1kdk5-9h7pEs-bGppRR-bBheEa-64MevZ-3xXusC-bZ7yUU-so59Wf-js9BwE-7RgDz3-98HThW-bZ7HQq-bZ7JdL-osfrjH-dKoCQY-btuv3J-98EKnt-bGpqbp-98EKvn-pnsnJ-9nPRhH-7RdnEc-8CvLTC-4x8VYJ-e1exn2-62MY1s-5Q1jrL-9uJ89j-bnroqD
Bubblegum Breakfast by J Mark Dodds

Filling technique and just eating Power Foods for a day or a week.  I still haven’t given that a try because I crave snack foods so much right now, and I feel like my family won’t like meals cooked only with Power Foods.

What do you all think about artificial versus natural foods and losing weight?

Hi and a bit about my journey so far…

I’m starting this blog to help me stay motivated to live healthfully and mindfully.  I’m trying to get back to a healthy weight after gaining back the weight that I lost between having my two children.  I work outside the home, and so life is pretty hectic.  I welcome any tips or comments to help me stay motivated and not mindlessly eat to meet some need other than hunger or appreciation of food.

I’ve dealt with emotional eating since I was 10 years old.  Here is my weight history: In high school I think I weighed around 120-125 pounds.  I’m 5’2″, so that was toward the heavier side for someone in their teens.  I was a dancer and so I was always self-conscious and wished that I could lose weight, but I loved to snack.  There were times that I limited my food intake too much.  I remember days in high school when I would just have a small single-serve bag of pretzels for lunch and that was it.

In college I gained around 10 pounds and continued to be unhappy with my weight.  I remember a girl in my dorm asking me if I always ate so much cereal.  I still danced, so was getting pretty regular exercise.

In graduate school I gained 10-20 pounds, and would yo-yo up and down 10 pounds or so.  I became really unhappy with my weight and body, but I tended to block it out most of the time.  I was wearing a size 14 but I ignored it and tried to fit into my 10s and 12s.  I tried Weight Watchers for the first time in 2003, but just cried through the meetings.  I felt so ashamed that I couldn’t lose weight on my own.  After trying for 6 months or so with no weight loss, I stopped.  I started dating my future husband, and started to take yoga instead of dancing.

In 2006 my husband proposed (I said yes!).  A few months later my mom committed suicide.  I was devastated for much of the year.  I also didn’t want to pick a date for our wedding because I wanted to be thin.  I tried to lose weight unsuccessfully on my own.  I was attending a gym regularly and eating mostly healthy foods, but just way too much of them.  And I would binge on healthy food and junk food alike.  I didn’t keep trigger foods in the apartment, but I would buy them on the street and hide that I was eating them from my friends and family.

In 2007 we finally picked a wedding date for 2008.  I tried to lose some weight, and even joined a Weight Watchers at work program.  I think I lost around 10 pounds, putting me at around 155 for our wedding in 2008.  Then in 2009 I joined Jenny Craig, and I was able to lose 10 more pounds, after also weaning off of anti-depressants that I had been on since the late 90s.

I got pregnant in late 2009 and had horrible panic attacks and nausea and went back on medication.  I couldn’t work for a month and lost 12 pounds.  My oldest daughter was born in 2010.  Throughout the pregnancy I ate a lot, but I lost a lot of the water and pregnancy weight (I was so swollen!) and was back to 155 when I went back to work, but then I went back up to 158 or so.  In 2011 I had enough.  I tapered off meds and went back to Weight Watchers.  For the first time, I had success with the program and I lost 23 pounds in less than a year!  I was at 135 (a healthy weight) for the first time in over 10 years! I became a Lifetime member in the fall of 2012 and then got pregnant with my youngest daughter.

Instead of tracking and eating mindfully during my pregnancy, I ate a lot.  This time I only gained 28 pounds or so (as opposed to the 40 with my first), and a few weeks after I gave birth I was back down to 142–only 7 pounds away from my goal!  But then during my maternity leave and when I went backed to work, I binged like crazy and gained 10 pounds in a little over a month.  I went back to weight watchers when my youngest was around 5 months old, and I’ve been struggling with intense cravings and lots of emotional eating.  I had panic attacks again and wasn’t able to eat in the morning.  I lost some weight, but then gained it back when I was able to eat again and back on anti-depressants.

That brings us to the present.  I’m around 152 now.  It’s 2014 and I want to feel healthy and mindful again. And feel comfortable in my clothes, too!  I want to set a good example for my two young daughters.  I don’t want to hide food and binge anymore.

Anyone out there with a similar experience? Struggling with life balance, emotional issues, and healthy eating? I hope to share my experiences and would love to hear from anyone else struggling or who has had some success.

Updated to remove typos.