Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Just Eat the Duds

I recognize I haven’t written about my Binge Eating Disorder (BED) since the start of September. I had promised a regular series called ‘Breaking Binge’ to help you all understand my BED a bit better. My intention had been to post a topic once a month; however, I’ve struggled to keep that pace. Partly because I’m not really sure where to start. The logical part of my brain wants there to be this clear linear progression from point A to point B where I can take you through my journey in a streamlined order. I quickly learned that’s not how this is going to work.

The other reason is pretty simple—it’s still difficult for me to open up about this stuff.

Well, I’ve never let a challenge keep me down for long. It’s time to take a deep breath and dive in.

If you don’t suffer from BED, or know anyone who does, it can be difficult to understand. There are lots of great sites available to explain the symptoms of BED (here’s a good one), but what is it really like? I’ve decided for this series I will select one of the symptoms from the list and take you inside the mind of a binger. My hope is to let those who do suffer know they are not alone while helping those who don’t suffer from it understand why this disorder is so emotionally draining.

Today I’ve selected one of the symptoms I struggle with the most:
  • Feelings of extreme guilt, shame, or embarrassment about my weight or how I eat

My Weight

It has taken me a very long time to overcome some of the embarrassment and shame I carry with me about my weight. Being overweight is a difficult vice to have. I can’t hide it from others. It’s there every day, front and center, for anyone to judge. I’ve had hurtful comments said to me and behind my back. I’ve seen the memes people share and like on social media (like the one telling the fat person to stop using the handicap space and just and park at the back of the lot and do jumping jacks on the way in). I’ve had innocent kids ask me, “Why are your arms so big?” It takes a lot to just smile and respond with, “Because I’m so strong.” You don’t have to look far to realize society doesn’t like fat people. We are judged and we are determined to be less than our worth. We are assumed to be lazy and selfish. Why would I not be ashamed of being overweight?

Here’s an example of how embarrassment rules my life at times. A couple years ago I went to Gatlinburg, Tennessee with some friends for a fun weekend. The girls decided they wanted to go on his mountainside roller coaster. I got in line with them, but then my chest started to constrict. I felt as though I couldn’t pull in a full lung’s worth of air. My palms started to sweat. It wasn’t because I was scared of the ride. It was because I was scared I wouldn’t fit in the seat. I imagined all the looks of pity and disgust from the other people still in line that would be thrown my way if I tried to get in but didn’t fit. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t face that possible embarrassment. Then I was mad at myself for letting my weight hold me back. I cried back at the cabin, but lucky I had been surrounded by amazing friends who helped me let it go—at least for the night.

This panic seizes me often. Squeezing through tight spaces. Turnstiles. Airplane seats. Stadium seating. Movie theater chairs. Really, the thought of having to fit into any kind of chair that contains side arms sends my heart into rapid palpitations.

I’m getting better. The voice that tells me to try is starting to become louder and stronger than the voice that tells me to run. And if I don’t quite fit, I try really hard to not feel ashamed.

What I Eat

The feeling of shame or guilt around what I eat is proving very difficult to overcome. I have this constant list in my head and every food item falls to either the left or the right—good or bad. I stress over it every time I eat. I’ll do a post at some point in the future about my ‘good or bad’ food obsession, but here I want to focus on the feelings of guilt and shame that come with those choices.

Back in May, we drove down to my dad’s house in Louisiana. We wanted to shorten our very long drive as much as possible, so we packed the car with loads of healthy snacks. On the drive back home, I was tired of the same old foods. I wanted something different, so I headed into the convenience store on one of our stops. I’m not exaggerating when I say I took at least 15 minutes, wandering through the store, trying to figure out what I should get. The things I really wanted fell on my ‘bad’ list and I usually would never eat them in front of other people. I stood agonizing in front of the bags of Chex mix when my husband walked over. He looked over my shoulder and said, “Huh, I didn’t know they still made Bugles.” He then snatched a bag and walked off.

I wanted to scream. I wanted to stomp my food and ask why it was so easy for him to just grab that bag of Bugles. Sure, he maybe had a fleeting thought about if they were healthy or not, but the bottom line is he didn’t have to spend 15 minutes agonizing over his decision. And I’m quite certain he didn’t feel guilty about it the entire time he ate them (as I did with my bag of Chex mix). His food choice probably left his mind by the next day. I’m still thinking about it 5 months later.

Another incident happened a couple months ago when I went to the movies. I was on my own, which is fine. I actually don’t mind going to the movies by myself once in a while. It’s good for me to take myself on a date occasionally. Anyway, it was fun day, which meant I didn’t have to feel the guilt of what I would eat. My biggest struggle was if I wanted to eat popcorn or candy. I settled on candy and stopped by the gas station on the way so I didn’t have to play an arm and a leg for a box of Milk Duds. I entered the theater and looked for a seat. I sat down with 3 open chairs to my right and 2 to my left. Two people came in and sat to my right, still leaving one open seat on that side. I was happy—I’m a big girl and movie theater chairs are not always nice to large people. I don’t like feeling as though I need to fold into myself the entire time so I don’t brush shoulders with strangers.

As the lights dimmed, I opened my purse to get my Duds. Before I could pop open the box, a couple sat down in the two empty seats to my left. I froze. I seriously could not eat those damn Milk Duds. I felt the lady next to me would be thinking, “She doesn’t need to eat those. Doesn’t she have any self-control?” It took all my remaining strength to focus on the movie and not the fact that I couldn’t eat my box of Milk Duds just because someone sat down next to me. You see, it’s not a coincidence I waited until the lights dimmed to reach for the box in the first place. I wanted the cover of darkness to hide the fact that I was eating something ‘bad’. But someone sitting right next to me would be able to see, even in the darkness. In my mind, I would be judged. I felt ashamed. I felt I had no right to eat those Duds because I was already too large to be ‘acceptable’.

I analyzed the situation the entire way home while eating my Milk Duds in the privacy of my own car. I had worked hard at the gym all week. I hadn’t binged. I had ‘earned’ that treat, but once again I let my guilt and shame take control of the situation. I allowed myself to believe something that may or may not have been true. I allowed myself to care more about what someone else might think of me rather than what I thought of myself.

I’ve been working really hard at trying to establish a more healthy relationship with food. I know that in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle I need to eat healthy foods. As a result, I will always have to consider the nutritional value of food and whether or not I should eat it. But my hope is that I can get to a point where I don't obsess over it. I need to be able to let go of the guilt and shame. I need to move from “I’m a bad person for eating this.” to “Eating this won’t help me make my goal, so if I do eat it then I need to compensate in another way.”

I have a lot of weight I’d like to lose, but I know the largest weight I carry is from guilt and shame. That has to go first. Then it will be easier for me to focus on the physical pounds I want to shed.

Last night my daughter went through her Halloween candy. She pulled out a small box of Milk Duds and handed it to me. I thought about eating them but put the box down to save for my next fun day. I’d like to say I was making a ‘good’ choice, but the honesty is that I had already had a few small pieces of candy (in private) and I didn’t want to eat them in front anyone. It wasn’t fun day and I technically wasn’t allowed to eat them. A minute or so later, my daughter handed me the box again—opened.

I took it as a sign and I ate the Duds.

~ Carrie

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Meet my FXB Instructors: Flash

Flash: a.k.a. Sarah B.

Sarah B. holds a special place in my FXB heart (and my regular heart for that matter). We joined FXB on the same day, and she became my first steady bag partner. Anyone who knows Sarah well would assume the nickname Flash comes from this guy:

But that’s not the reason. Nope, not at all. I had promised her I wouldn’t base my nickname for her on a sloth, and a promise is a promise ;)

That takes us to this Flash as a possibility:

While Miss Sassy Sarah is quick on the bag, that’s not the source of her nickname either. So what’s left? This guy.

That’s right—Flash Gordon, baby!

Here’s a link to the movie’s theme song in case you want to play it while reading this post. It will take your reading experience to an epic level.

I know I run the risk that my sassy friend is too young to connect with Flash Gordon, but that’s not important. What’s important is that I defend my assessment. (heres a link to a movie recap for those not in the know) 

Let’s take a closer look at that movie theme song by Queen. The lines are a bit out of order, but it’s my blog which means my rules.

“King of the impossible”
Sarah wouldn’t hesitate to tell you she didn’t expect to still be at FXB after 2 years. Not because she couldn’t do it, but because she didn’t think it would be her kind of thing. Yet, not only is she still at FXB kicking butt and taking names, but she’s a coach and an instructor! AND she completed a Spartan race last year! Not ‘impossible’ enough for you? Then check her out on the days she gets to the gym before 7am. That girl does not like early mornings, but she’ll do it for the people!

“No one but the pure at heart may find the golden grail”
According to dictionary.com, the definition of ‘pure hearted’ is:

(of a person) without malice, treachery, or evil intent; honest; sincere; guileless

Based on this definition, I’m not sure I’ve met anyone with a more pure heart than Sarah. She is certainly always without malice—unless your name is Steven. Then there might be a bit of evil intent in a few of her actions . . . As for the honest and sincere part, her sass level requires her to tell it like it is!

 So yes, Sarah is pure hearted right down to her knickers (sorry, I had to incorporate at least one British term into this post).

“He’ll save every one of us”
It’s clear Sarah is on a mission at FXB—to help as many people as possible. She puts her heart and soul into coaching and instructing. Even as a friend her support is never ending and is always unconditional. She will fight, just like Flash Gordon, to save every last man, woman, and child from an unhealthy lifestyle. And just like Flash Gordon, she’ll talk a little sass along the way. She might even have used one of his quotes, “This place is a lunatic asylum.” Oh, wait . . . that may have been a secret . . .

There’s only one thing Sarah may not be willing to save us from.

She’d be too busy cuddling the lot to try and save us.

I’ll end this post with a play on a popular line from the movie:

Flash, Flash, I love you! But you have less than 48 hours before you have to start saving the next round of 10-weekers!

Oh, one last thing. Flash, the sloth from Zootopia, had no role in solidifying Sarah’s nickname. None whatsoever. Honest.


Monday, September 19, 2016

To work out or not work out, that is the question.

Prior to today, I have had the opportunity to work out at FXB a total of 224 days since January 1st. Note: this is days and not workouts, so doubles and FIT Kicks are not included (but I will note that I’ve attended nearly all the FIT Kicks offered this year). Of those 224 days, I have worked out 217 days. Just in case you need help with this complicated math, that’s only 7 days I’ve missed since the start of the year.

Today was #8.

Before I get into why I missed today, I wanted to answer the question I’m often asked: “How do you attend so many days?”

Well, for starters, I don’t travel much. Of the 7 days I missed (prior to today), 3 were for vacation and I worked out in the hotel fitness room each day. Of the remaining 4 days missed: I was in Indy for 2 of the days over New Year’s, another was a Saturday when I had an author fair to attend in Madison, and the last was the day after my daughter had nine 10-year-olds sleep over for her birthday. It’s also important to note I haven’t trained for anything else. No triathlons or half-marathons or extreme obstacle course races. I don’t run or bike on the side. Basically, all my workouts are at FXB and that means I don’t need to keep any reserves in the tank for other activities.

Even so, how do I do it? How do I motivate myself to work out so often? Simple—from my first day at FXB I’ve had one condition:

If I wouldn’t miss work for it, I can’t miss my workout for it.

When I worked outside the home, I was a pretty dependable employee. I rarely missed a day of work, so I figured this would be a good metric for my workouts. As you can see by my numbers, it has served me well. It has forced me to stop and think each time I want to skip a workout. Because there are days I want to skip. I am human, after all. But the expectation I placed on myself since day one makes me stop and consider why I want to miss the workout and if it’s really worth it. It forces me to question whether or not it benefits my long-term goal. If you’ve been around my blog awhile, then you know that a key part of my long-term goal is being able to sustain over time. I knew I needed to draw a line I could stick to for when I could miss a workout. Otherwise, I’d find an excuse to skip every time my eye twitched.

The need to have a sustainable plan is what drove me to skip the workout today. Basically, I needed to acknowledge that my body needed a break. More specifically, my knee needed a break. I might be too stubborn to learn a lesson when I need to sometimes, but at least I’m quick to learn not to make the same mistake a second time. Last year I tried to keep pushing when I hurt my foot, thinking I could just ‘go easy’ during the workouts. That resulted in me having to sit out completely (from everything) for about two weeks. I know my bum knee well enough to know if I push it too hard I’ll be out for a lot longer than just two weeks.

I had to listen to my body and pay attention to the signs. When I had to leave the mat during FIT Kick this past Saturday, I knew it was time to stop being stubborn. So today made day #8 missed during 2016. I also adjusted a few things around the house. For example, I’ve stopped chasing our new puppy up and down the stairs several times a day. Now I just close all the bedroom doors and call to her from downstairs. It’s a good opportunity for me to work on some of her behavioral commands. It also helps that she is now almost fully potty-trained, and I don’t have to worry about her making a mess upstairs without my knowledge.

If you’re struggling with finding the motivation to work out on a regular basis, then here’s my advice:
  1. Understand your long-term goal.
  2. Acknowledge your weaknesses.
  3. Establish a set of realistic expectations to help you achieve your long-term goal.
  4. Commit.

Sounds pretty basic, right? Well, I’ve been around this fitness thing long enough to know it sounds a lot easier than it is. Most of us understand we need to eat healthy and work out regularly to maintain a healthy life-style. But that’s easy to forget when we hit a bump in the road. The bumps that say, “It’s OK to miss the workout, right? It won’t hurt anything will it?” Having a line drawn that’s built around your long-term goal and your weaknesses will help you determine if it is OK (or even necessary) to skip the workout. And do it now. Don’t wait for next week or tomorrow. Draw your line now and get to work.

Oh, if it helps you can adopt a motto. Personal mottos are always motivating.


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The importance of having a fitness family.

Left: September 13, 2014
Right: September 13, 2016

Over the years, I’ve participated in many different workout programs. I’ve done solo workouts in the home, one-on-one sessions with a personal trainer, and classes at the local gym. Two years ago to the day, I joined Farrell’s Extreme Bodyshaping (FXB). It was a nerve-wracking day for me, and you can read about it here if you haven’t already. Despite my nerves, from that very first day I knew FXB would be like nothing I had experienced before. These were not people who simply worked out together. No, they were much more than that.

They were a family.

In the two years I’ve been at FXB, I’ve learned that having a fitness family is one of the most critical components of being able to sustain progress. Here are just a few resons why I’m so thankful for my FXB family.

They share my sense of fashion.
FXB is the one place where I can feel good about wearing my Spandex. I may not like that it shows off every bump and lump, but wearing it says I came to work. The fact that the vast majority of everyone else is wearing it too makes it even easier.

Beyond the active wear, we also share the same love of accessories—from the headbands to the Fitbits. Oh, and the sweat. Can’t forget about the sweat. At FXB sweat is the new black, and I rock it during every workout!

They speak my language.
It’s important to have someone who you can confide in for all aspects of your life. My non-FXB friends don’t understand my love/hate relationship with Sally. Or why I’m toast after 45 minutes of straight density sets. But my FXB family gets it. They share my lingo. And my pain.

They hug me even when I stink.
I often see a friend as I’m leaving the mat, getting ready to hit their own workout. It always amazes me when they are willing to give me a hug even though every square inch of me is dripping in Liquid Awesome. And to be clear, my form of Liquid Awesome does not smell like roses. My husband and daughter won’t even come within 50 feet of me when I get back from the gym. But my FXB family is willing to get up close and personal even when I’ve got my stink on. Now that’s #Friendship.

They know when to call bullshit.
I may think I’m too tired to push harder. I may think I’m too weak to do my push-ups from my toes. I may not think I can run the rest of the way in. But my FXB family knows better. They know when to call bullshit. And they know how to give me the right kind of motivation to tell my inner voice to shut it.

They always have my back.
No matter what, I know my FXB family will be there to support me. Time and time again, they have shown me they will not let me travel on this journey alone. They help pick me up when I fall down. They keep me focused on what’s important. They give me unconditional support and a never-ending stream of encouragement. I can only hope I am repaying them in kind.

So here’s to you, my wonderful FXB family. I can’t wait to see what the next year will bring!


Friday, September 2, 2016

Operation Breaking Binge: Accepting my Journey

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, then you know I have finally accepted that I have Binge Eating Disorder (BED) and that it will always be a factor in my life. However, accepting the existence of something in my life does not mean I have to accept its control over my life.

I had to find a way to control it. Things were really bad for me at the end of 2015 and the start of 2016. I was binging, on average, every three days. I was miserable—physically and emotionally. My number one priority this year has been finding a way to control my binges, and so I started ‘Operation Breaking Binge’.

Back in March, I posted Operation Breaking Binge: Just the beginning. I told you a little about what it was like to experience one of my cravings. Then I told you how I stumbled across a Pinterest article about curbing sugar cravings (or I should say the article found me because I do believe in such things). I took a break from the blog to focus on controlling those binges, primarily because opening up about something so personal turned out to be a big trigger for my binges.

I think I am finally ready to jump back in and start sharing. I’ve realized that part of the reason I’ve been given this journey is because I need to share my story. I know others have found solace in my words, knowing they were not alone. Others have found inspiration to face their own monster. Others have found a way to better understand someone in their life who suffers from similar challenges.

And I’ve learned that I can’t go through this journey alone.

It’s been almost two years exactly since I had my orientation at Farrel’s Extreme Bodyshaping (FXB) and started blogging about my journey. Do you remember the title of my very first post? If not, that’s okay. It was:

In that post, I talked about how my journey was about learning to love myself no matter what. It was learning to stop defining myself based on my weight. I had made huge progress toward that mindset in the year before I joined FXB, and in the two years since I have only grown stronger in that mindset.

However, what I couldn’t accept two years ago was that my statement “it’s not about losing weight” also encompassed my BED. While I had been able to start separating my weight from my personal worth, I had not considered that I had to separate it from my eating habits as well. I fully believed that if I found a nutrition program I could stick with, then I would lose weight and my binging would just ‘go away.’

I often have people ask me, “Is the program still working for you?” In most cases, I know the real question is, “Are you still losing weight?” Yet, I refuse to answer with pounds lost. Yes, I am losing weight. Yes, I hope to lose more weight because I know that is what is healthy for my body. And, yes, I will soon be posting about the weight loss part of my journey. But weight loss is not what is most important for me at this point in time.

As I stated back in my very first post, what’s important is loving myself no matter what the scale says. After two years at FXB, I can now say what is also important is to not base my worth/success on what I put in my mouth.

I’m still a work in progress. An example is something that happened to me just now while writing this post. You see, I have this bracelet I wear.

I purchased the locket and charms from Origami Owl and made the beaded strands. I’m a visual person, so a long time ago I decided to make this bracelet as a reminder of my progress. The charms signify aspects of my journey: continuous change (infinity symbol) and ultimate transformation (butterfly). The third charm was because I thought it needed some color :) The beaded strands represent pounds lost. One strand for every ten pounds.

I had first made this bracelet before I joined FXB. I had lost about 50 lbs on a different program, only to gain it all back quickly. When I joined FXB, I removed all the strands and started over. I’m now up to four strands (I’ll let you do the math...).

As I sat here typing out the words above about weight not being my primary focus, I looked at my bracelet. I realized it was unintentionally keeping me tethered to weight as my primary success metric. I LOVE adding a new strand to this bracelet. I love wearing it because it reminds me how hard I’ve worked to get to where I am. But I just realized the strands should not represent pounds lost. It should represent months of no binging.

It’s time to add two more strands.

So, back to that question above: Is the program still working for me? More than I ever could have hoped.


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Meet my FXB Instructors: Ali

Ali: a.k.a. Lyndsey

There might actually be a few of you out there who think I’m referencing the amazing Prince Ali Ababwa.

I will admit that Lyndsey and Prince Ali share charming conman abilities. Prince Ali is able to make Princess Jasmine believe he is a real Prince, and Lyndsey is able to make you believe you are capable of giving a Level 10 you never knew you possessed. Oh, and it looks like they also share some amazing guns!

But that’s not the Ali that reminds me of Lyndsey. No, I’m talking about the late, great Muhammad Ali. Aside from the fact that I believe she could hold her own in an actual boxing ring, there is one famous Ali quote that I believe embodies Lyndsey:

As I break this down, I’m actually going to start with the ‘sting like a bee’ part. There are 3 elements to this:

1) Power
I think this should be obvious. Lyndsey is a BEAST on the mat (and, frankly, off the mat too). I seriously would not want to be on the receiving end of one of her punches or kicks. I’m quite certain it would feel much, much worse than a bee sting.

2) Purpose
I don’t know a lot about bees, but what I do know is that they are very hard workers. They are endlessly doing their bee-thing, and Lyndsey is no different. She works hard on the mat, both as a FIT member and as an instructor. She has often been accused of designing intense workouts in her sleep. She is determined to perform at her best and make the rest of us do the same.

3) That hair . . .
Lyndsey has another fitting nickname—Pebbles. It’s because of her usual hairstyle at the gym:

Well, I’m here to set you all straight. That’s not a Pebbles Flinstone ponytail—it’s actually her stinger.

Now for the ‘float like a butterfly’ part. I know the initial intent behind this quote was that Ali was quick and hard to catch on the mat. While Lyndsey is also very quick, I feel the symbolism behind the butterfly fits her perfectly. The way it’s said here on Pure Spirit is a perfect description of Lyndsey:

Butterfly is the power of air, the ability to float upon a breeze. It is known for its daring flight; thus, it represents the mind and our ability to change it when necessary. Butterfly represents the never-ending cycle of life; therefore, its medicine bestows not only the ability, but the clarity of mind needed before self-transformation.

Butterflies appear to dance as they flitter among the flowers. They remind us not to take things so seriously within our lives. They awaken a sense of lightness and joy. They remind us to get up and move, for if you do not move, you cannot dance.

Butterflies bring color and joy with them. The colors of the butterfly should be examined for significance and to help you understand its role within your life. Look at how much or little joy is in your life. Lighten up. Look for change. Make changes when the opportunities present themselves. The butterfly will teach you that growth and change do not have to be traumatic. Change can occur as gently and as joyfully as one wishes.

Since my first day at FXB, Lyndsey has been like a butterfly in my life. She is there when I need encouragement, a slight (or strong) push to keep moving, or a reminder of why I’m on this journey. And I know for a fact I’m not the only person who can make this claim.

So, Ali, keep on floating like the butterfly you are, but never stop stinging us with your inner beast!


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Just Like Riding a Bike

You’ve all probably heard the phrase, “It’s just like riding a bike.” You may have even said it yourself once or twice. The basic idea behind this idiom is that once you know how to ride a bike, you won’t forget. Even if it’s been years since you last rode a bike, it’s OK—just get back on and have a go. You’ll remember!

As a kid, I loved riding my bike. We had this ‘huge’ hill in our road that was nearly impossible to pedal up, but the ride down was worth it! I take off on my pink and gray Huffy 10-Speed and stay out until my legs couldn’t take any more.

I swear this hill was bigger when I was a kid...
Not my actual bike, but this is what it looked like.

As I got older, my bike riding days became less and less. I wasn’t even a big fan of the stationary bike at the gym. Then back in 2001 I started training for a sprint triathlon and needed to go and get myself a new bike. Even though it had been a few years, I quickly got back into the swing of things. Except for the whole switching gears part. I never did master that well.

I continued to ride after the triathlon, although not on a regular basis. But when I did, I usually put in a good 10-12 miles. And then I gained a whole bunch of weight. I think it’s been at least seven years since I’ve been on my bike. I wasn’t worried that I forgot how to ride, I was worried that I just wouldn’t be able to do it. I told myself:
  • I’m too overweight
  • I’m too out of shape
  • My balance isn’t good enough
  • I’d fall and get hurt
  • I’d look ridiculous
  • I might break my bike

It’s hard to admit to thinking that last one, but I did. When you are as overweight as I have been, unfortunately it is a common thought. Weight limits come to mind and how embarrassing would that be if I tried to ride my bike and bent the wheels? I seriously had visions of either breaking my bike or falling within 10 yards and breaking a bone.

It was best easiest to just avoid it all together.

Then my daughter started asking about going on a bike ride together. I could tell she really wanted someone to ride with her. I just couldn’t bring myself to try, and it was hard to push the shame and guilt away. Luckily for her, my husband jumped on my bike and off they went on rides to the park, to lunch, or nowhere in particular.

And I remained home, wishing I could just get a bit more in shape so I could ride with them.

I’ve been working out hard at FXB for over a year, and it’s been bugging me more and more. I’d pull in the garage and see it hanging there, right in front of where I park, and think, “Soon. I’ll try again soon.” But we all know ‘soon’ is really code for ‘I have no idea when, but it won’t be any time in the near future’.

This morning at the gym I was talking to a couple of my gymmates about self-imposed limits and having the confidence and determination to get past them. During the conversation the image of my bike hanging on the wall came to mind. I told them about it and they both told me to just do it. To get on the bike and ride.

On the way home I decided I was going to do it. I stopped for gas and cat food, giving myself plenty of time to work up the courage. I pulled in the garage and looked at my bike. I took a deep breath and walked right up to it. I aired up the tires and rolled it to the middle of the garage. My heart was beating so fast I might as well have been back in the holding corral of the triathlon. Just as I started to get on, I heard a neighbor rolling in their trash cans. My thought, “Crap. I don’t want anyone to see me do this.” I still had strong images of lying at the end of my driveway, in a pile of my own blood and pebbles embedded into my knees (the joys of the vivid imagination of an author). I also still believed that I’d look ridiculously large on the small frame of my bike and I didn’t want to think of anyone looking at me and feeling the urge to laugh.

Then I reminded myself of the conversation I had this morning and decided I needed to do it. I couldn’t just talk the talk, I had to walk the walk—or bike the bike . . .

I took a deep breath and for an instant I actually thought I wouldn’t be able to get my leg over the seat/frame to straddle the bike. Then I told myself to stop being stupid—I’m in my second year of FXB. Of course I can get my leg up and over the bike. And so I did.

And then I rode. And I did not fall. I passed a lady walking her dog, and I didn’t even think about whether or not I looked ridiculous. I was just so happy I was actually riding my bike. I only rode through my neighborhood, about 0.5 miles, since it was my first time back on and the bike could really use a tune up (and let’s be real, it was also because I had just come from lower body day).

Now I’m determined to get back on and ride farther. Not soon—this week. My daughter is getting a new bike this year, so that’s when mine will go in for a tune-up. I’m determined to be ready for long family bike rides this summer. Looks like I know what we’ll be getting Daddy for Father’s Day this year since we will now be one bike short in this family :-)

I’ve written before about my challenges with obstacles. In my journey I’ve learned that self-imposed obstacles are the hardest to overcome. Our mind gets to make up how big and impossible they are. There is no tangible evidence to use against it, as least not until we push past and do it. If you have something you’ve been too afraid (or stubborn) to try, just take a deep breath and go for it.

Truly, it is just like riding a bike :-)

~ Carrie

Friday, March 11, 2016

Breaking Binge: Just the beginning

It’s Friday afternoon and I’m driving my daughter and her friend to gymnastics practice as usual. The entire drive I’m thinking about how much I want to eat something. I want ice cream or chocolate or candy or cookies. Or all of it. And yet I don’t want it. I pull up in front of the gym and the girls pile out. I say a distracted good-bye and head back down the road. I try to resist, but I turn in the direction of town rather than taking the back roads home. If I go through town I can stop at a store and buy something. My brain is on Walmart, but I don’t have time for a ‘normal sized’ binge—I have to buy it, drive home, eat it, and hide the evidence before my husband gets home. Instead, I turn my mind to Walgreens. I can quickly pop in and grab some boxes of candy (they are 4 for $4 after all, don’t want to waste money by purchasing only one). But, really, I don’t want to. I’m gripping the steering wheel with both hands, forcing myself to keep driving straight. I feel the first tear fall as I pass the turn for both Walmart and Walgreens.

I’m crying because it shouldn’t be this hard to not buy something I don’t even want.

I make it home and binging is still on my mind. I think about how I might have time to run down to CVS, which is closer, and still get something. Instead, I grab a protein bar in the hopes that it will curb the craving. It doesn’t help. It’s all that’s on my mind, and I’m practically shaking. I’m consumed with conflicting and hurtful thoughts.

I want it.
I don’t want it.
Why is it so hard?
Why can’t I be stronger than this?

I’m exhausted from thinking about it all the time. I’m exhausted from fighting so hard just to control it. It’s consuming me and I have no control.

That was me on the Friday before Valentine’s Day. I had just been through a three-day heavy binge eating episode. I wanted to stop, but couldn’t find the way out. Over the past year, my average no-binge stretch has been four days. And even on the days that I wasn’t binging, I was eating something I didn’t want to be eating because I knew it hindered my progress. In fact, I was starting to feel/see some of my hard earned progress slip away, and it was killing me. It was taking all my energy just to remain positive.

Welcome to the life of a binge eater.

For those of you who have never been through the pull of a binge, the best way I can describe it is that it’s like an intense itch. Im talking the kind of itch youd get from poison ivy, not from a bug bite. When a binge craving hits, it’s all you can think about. Its an all-consuming itch. You know you’re not supposed to scratch, yet if you do you know there will be instant relief.

I’ve been going through this a long time. I’m battle scarred and exhausted. I keep trying to push forward, but I don’t know how much longer I can keep up the fight. I’m constantly looking for another way to get ahead of it. But the thing is, most of the ‘help’ out there makes the assumption that a binge craving is like any other craving. That’s like saying poison ivy is the same as a mosquito bite. That I can just rub a bit of Calamine on it and problem solved.

If you look up ways to stop binges, you’ll get a list of suggestions that include:
  • get counseling (did that, didn’t help)
  • eat the right foods (done this in many different ways, but it never helps for long)
  • stay busy (umm... doesn’t help)
  • eat only when hungry (myself, and other bingers I’ve talked to, don’t binge when hungry)
  • use a distraction such as chewing gum or ice (nope, doesn’t work)
  • drink a lot of water when a craving hits (all this does is make me feel sicker than normal after I finish binging)
  • emotional corrections, such as focusing on health and not weight and learning to identify triggers (agree and it has helped me stop the emotional F-bombs, but it’s not strong enough to actually stop the binging long-term)

Why hasnt any of this sound advice worked for me? They all miss one very important factor—I’M NOT IN CONTROL!

My monster is, and he seems to be a lot bigger and stronger than I am. All those techniques listed above (and the myriad of those I didn’t list) don’t work for a hard-core craving.

Let me repeat and bold that—they don’t work for a hard-core craving.

I’m usually not so specific on things because I know not everyone is the same. One of you reading this might be able to say, “But eating healthy works, it did for me!” And that’s great, but I’m going to be blunt here and say that your craving might have been in the bug bite range rather than the poison ivy range. It’s not that I’m saying one is more valid than the other, it’s just that there are too many articles out there telling the binger that they just need to ‘work harder’ to get things under control. But there are not enough articles out there letting the binger know that they are not in control and they need to keep searching for the right tool that will help them regain that control.

The reminder that I’m not in control is what keeps me moving forward and about the only thing that stops me from lighting up all my emotional F-Bombs. It gives me the ability to remind myself that this time I don’t want to quit. So I dust myself off, patch up my wounds, and find a way to get back on my feet.

I’ve been searching for new ways, and I’ve finally found something that is working for me. I’m going to tell you about it with the most sincere hope that it helps you too (for those that need help in this area).

I was scrolling through Pinterest when I saw this pin:

Um, sure. Like it’s that simple.

Despite my disbelief, I clicked on the link and read the article. To summarize the author of the post described how she used Dill Oil to curb cravings that sounded very similar to mine. Now, I’ve used a few Essential Oils, but mostly in diffusing them at night. I do believe that they can sort of work, but I’m not some kind of ‘oil pusher’. Sorry if that sounds bad—I don’t mean for it to, but I’m just trying to make the point that I was skeptical. I mean, really skeptical because I think this lady is a distributor for one of the popular oil brands. It sounded a bit like a late-night infomercial. And we all know that those never rarely work the way they promise.

But I’m desperate and it seemed simple enough to try. Could I really stop my binging just by rubbing some Dill Oil on my wrists each day? I wasn’t sure but decided to find out.

I know some people who sell the Young Living essential oils, so I ordered it up and mixed together a roller bottle with a 1-1 mix of Dill Oil and a carrier oil. I started applying it on Thursday, February 25, 2016. The results so far...

I have not binged AT ALL since I started using the Dill Oil!!!!

Can I get a Woot-Woot!!

I know it may not sound like a long time, but it’s the longest I’ve gone without a binge in over a year. I can’t believe how different I feel, and the change was almost instantaneous. Suddenly, my thoughts weren’t consumed by food. I wouldn’t say that the cravings have magically vanished completely, but the Dill Oil dulls the craving enough for me to be the one in control. When something does ‘sound good’ I can use one of those distraction techniques listed above until it’s gone. In addition, when I do eat something sweet it tastes so much sweeter than it did before I started using the Dill Oil. This past Fun Day I decided to test it a bit. I went to the store and purchased one box of the candy I would typically binge on. I could barely make it through the box it was so sweet.

The only way to describe it is that I feel FREE!  I feel as though I actually have a chance to remain in control.

I don’t think the Dill Oil is a cure all, but so far it’s turned out to be the tool that helps keep me in control rather than my monster. I also have something else queued up that starts later this month as I fear there may still be times when I’ll resort to old behaviors and use my binging as an emotional crutch (such as when I’m really stressed). I’ll keep you informed of my progress once that program has been underway for a bit.

If you binge or have intense cravings that you can’t seem to control, Dill Oil is an inexpensive thing to try. But read the article I linked above first (or do additional research) because Dill Oil is not safe for everyone to use (such as those with epilepsy or who are pregnant). If you don’t know someone who sells Essential Oils, you can private message me for a referral.

If the Dill Oil isn’t for you or doesn’t work, then I hope you find the endurance to keep trying until you find something that does work. This experience has taught me that a spectrum exists, and if you can get the craving down from the poison ivy level to at least a bug bite then you’ve got a chance with an additional support structure! FXB has helped me recover much more quickly than I would have in the past. In just these 15 days I
ve already lost all the weight Id put on these last few months from my out of control binging. Pre-FXB it would have taken me months to get it back off.

Oh, and in addition to feeling free, I finally feel like ME again. It’s been a long time, and it feels great! I thought I'd leave you with my horoscope from one week after I started using the Dill Oil. I have to say that it's eerily accurate!

~ Carrie