Thursday, 7 November 2013

Healthy Body, Healthy Mind. Week 3

Wow what a mixed bag this week has been in terms of emotions. There have been some great personal achievements and some difficult moments. The roller-coaster of emotions has been difficult and downright exhausting at times. This lead to huge urges to binge and revert back to that safe coping mechanism which has served me so well in the past. 

I found this weeks mindfulness group really triggering. Others in the group disclosed personal difficulties which I couldn't help but get overly emotional about. It's like I suck up the ambient emotions around me and add them to my already overflowing sensitivity. As if I'm a magnet for others pain. I also didn't complete the homework which triggered guilt, a very difficult emotion for me.

While I was paying attention to the other peoples problems in the group I really wasn't being mindful to my own escalating emotional state. We did a gratitude exercise where each of us listed the things we were most grateful for in the present moment. Some mentioned their houses and family, and rather than being happy about what I do have, all I could do was focus on how jealous I was that I don't have those things. I kept homing in on the things others had that I wanted too.

I see now, in retrospect that I really wasn't using the  DBT skill PARTICIPATE, which is vital when practising mindfulness. It is a 'WHAT' skill which allows you to benefit wholly from the experience and enter into your experiences whole-heartedly. When you participate you let yourself get involved in the moment, letting go of ruminating and self-consciousness. 
Participating is entering wholly into an activity, becoming one with the activity. It is throwing yourself into something completely. It is spontaneous behaviour to a certain extent, although you can also do it mindfully. (
This lack of mindfulnesses led to me clinging on to my emotions and carrying them around for the rest of the day. It tainted everything I did that day. I was short and gruff with people who did not deserve that and I was mean and harsh towards myself in my thoughts and behaviours.

I cooked a chicken and broccoli bake that night with the intention of cooking enough for leftovers for the following day, but I let my emotions take control and ended up eating twice as much as I needed. I gorged myself, making myself feel ill as if I was punishing myself. I didn't even enjoy it at all and on top of that didn't have any left overs.

At weigh in today I was expecting a gain. I even cheated by taking my jumper off and wearing really light shoes in the hopes I would at least stay the same. So I was really pleasantly surprised when the scales showed a two pound loss. 

In reflection, it hadn't been that bad a week (except for Tuesday). I had cooked really well all week, had upped my protein intake, had stayed clear of alcohol, only had one takeaway and began walking more in an attempt to prepare myself for an increase in activity. Those are all huge achievements for me. A mere three weeks ago I wasn't doing any of that, eating numerous takeaways a week and  not at all aware of my daily food intake.

I'm in my third week now and am 3.5lbs down, but its not just the number on the scale I am happy about. My energy levels are up and I'm sleeping better. My binges are less and hence I don't feel so bloated. My digestive health has improved drastically too! No more tummy cramps and bunged up sensations (Sorry for the TMI!) I haven't noticed a major difference in my clothes yet, but the reduction in bloating is helping my day to day comfort.

This week in my Weight Watchers meeting the talk topic was 'Exercise and how it affects mood'. I totally agree with this but rarely find the motivation to go get active, yet I KNOW that when I do I ALWAYS feel good after. This is part of the EMOTION REGULATION module in DBT. PLEASE is so important for keeping my emotions in check and exercise is the one particular part I have been neglecting. We talked about finding an activity that we find enjoyable and fun. Those of you who have been here a while know that I used to be an avid dancer, so my mind went straight back to the fun I had in a dance class. Ballet isn't really an option for me right now, but I have tried Zumba before and therefore I made a commitment to my WW leader to go back to it. 

The Gods must be looking after me, money is really really tight and the €10 cost of weekly Weight Watcher meetings is about all I can afford right now on top of the expensive healthy food I'm buying and my rent each week. I can't afford a gym membership or expensive exercise classes. Luckily, I found an online coupon for 6 Zumba classes for €17! And its in the city centre and on my bus route. It's perfect, and I couldn't be happier with such a great deal! I'm starting next Monday evening. Can't wait to tell you how it goes.

Here's this weeks chart, hopefully the green line will keep inching towards my goal weight!

Preview of your graph

Stay Mindful. xxx

Friday, 1 November 2013

Healthy Weight Loss After an Eating Disorder - Week Two

I was dreading today. I mean what a bloody embarrassment it would have been if I didn't lose anything in my first week, the seemingly easiest week to lose weight according to the literature. It was small but at least it was a loss! Yippee! 

I had a wobbly week regarding sticking to the programme. I had two major slip ups where I binged. The first was after a night out last Saturday, the second, I'll get to.... I had a fair few tipples on Saturday and soon lost track of how many points I had consumed, actually I stopped even caring about my weight loss plan. I have the best boyfriend ever, as he picked me up from town in the wee hours and 'saved' me from that late night chipper. but as soon as I got home, I actually remember thinking 'Feck it' I'll be good tomorrow, which is saying something... because I remember very little else.

I stumbled into the house and into the kitchen and all of a sudden I was ravenous! I tore open the fridge and turned my nose up at the glossy green apples and colourful selection of veggies I had stocked it with earlier that day. No way was that going to satisfy the roaring hungry lion in my tummy. Within minutes I had the laptop out and I had ordered a pizza from Domino's. Damn the convenience of late night delivery!!!

Despite that set back, I picked up the broken pieces of my programme and tried to glue them back together. I got back to tracking and working out my points, home cooked hearthy, filling and healthy beef meatballs (needed the iron) packed full of zero point veggies and a small portion of wholegrain pasta. Total of 12 points for great sized yummy dinner, and there was enough left over to freeze a portion too.

Great, I am feeling wonderful and it's now bank holiday Monday.... I go to a spinning class and get my weekly dose of torture.. those seats are so painful! Then me and my better half went to my family home where my Mum cooked a beautiful roast chicken and ham dinner with all the works! yum! Points were through the roof... but kept within my 31 daily points and snacked on zero point food for the rest of the day.

I re-started the mindfulness class on Tuesday and have sort of mixed feelings about it. I came home and binged again on pizza after, and it took me a few days to reflect upon why it happened. It was differently emotional eating in response to the new group.

It's very different to the Mindfulness-Based Stressed Reduction group I did last year. It's easier to fit in and actually do the practises as the tracks are only 8 - 15 mins long! No more 45 mins mega sessions. Yay! This course is based on Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).  MBCT has been clinically proven to be at least as effective as drugs for depression and it is recommended by the UK's National Institute of Clinical Excellence - in other words, it works. More importantly it also works for people who are not depressed but who are struggling to keep up with the constant demands of the modern world. This programme focuses on promoting joy and peace rather than banishing unhappiness. It's precisely focused to help ordinary people boost their happiness and confidence levels whilst also reducing anxiety, stress and irritability. All sounds good so far.

This new style of mindfulness suits me to the ground as I am an expert in postponing my practice and in finding reasons why it doesn't matter if I don't practice each day. In addition, sometimes I am afraid to meditate. I'm scared of what I might feel if I am are not busy distracting myself. I'm fearful of being bored or of feeling intense emotions. Looking back to when I first started mindfulness I remember not being ready yet to experience the intense fear or memories of abuse by myself, alone in my own head. I feared that if I meditated, or let go of my usual strategies of numbing or being mindless, I would feel overwhelmed by the intensity of those memories or emotions.

I remember having "an epiphany", I was just so unused to being in the present moment that that was what was making me anxious. This isn't uncommon seemingly - especially for people with anxiety disorders, who frequently live in the future rather than the present. I was not used to looking at what's happening in this moment, never mind trying to bring acceptance to it! So I came home and ate, ate, ate to numb all those emotions that I being trying so hard to escape from.

What I learnt back then and consequently forgot in the last few months is that often what we find in the present is scary, and that's one reason we've been living in the past or the future. In reflection, I learnt or should I say I re-learnt a very valuable lesson this week: negative emotions are shit, really shit, but running away from them just makes you eat more pizza, put on weight and make said emotions even worse.

Anyway here's a shiny new graph charting my loss this week.

Stay mindful friends