Tipping the Scales

From the title, you probably think I’m referencing weight scales … and you wouldn’t be entirely wrong.

(I haven’t weighed myself since pre-Korea and I can tell you, I’m not feeling great and know it’ll be ugly when I do step on next week at the doctor’s).

But really, I’m talking about equilibriums with respect to health, and how I went from one end of the spectrum — restriction, over-exercising, obsession, avoidance of certain foods — to a much freer end of the spectrum where I am less restrictive, still exercising but not lifting, eating too much … and eating the wrong foods.

Basically, this Libra needs an exercise in BALANCE.

Though I sought a healthy lifestyle, the scales that once tipped in the direction of disordered eating (read as: UNHEALTHY) have now tipped the other way (also read as: UNHEALTHY) — where I’m eating things that just don’t make me feel good.

No one’s force feeding me and I’ve no one to blame but myself.

And yes, I realize I sound like a broken record here  … but I can’t seem to get a grip!

I’ll be honest; there was something gratifying and victorious about being out for dessert with girlfriends last night and enjoying Coldstone Creamery, guilt-free.

Sure, I got the FF/SF sinless sweet cream (and piled on fruit and white chocolate chips and a little grahams for some flavor) but it felt nice to just enjoy dessert.

A year ago, I probably would have said “no thanks” and gone home and (I’m being honest here) felt sad or resentful that I didn’t partake, and would have probably chewed and spit my way through a bag of candy and then hated myself for it later.

Fortunately, those days are long gone, and I’m much, much happier for it.

But I’ll be honest, for as much as I enjoy those fleeting moments of success (as in, eating something and enjoying it and not feeling guilty) I still can’t help shake the nagging feeling that I don’t really deserve to be indulging in desserts or anything right now.

Especially since I am nowhere near where I feel my best, but even moreso because it’s not like that ice cream last night was my “special treat” of the day. It wasn’t (but I enjoyed it anyway, including samples of the new Oreo Cream ice cream — holy deliciousness, OMG, foodgasm!).

All this said, I didn’t think about it til today — and please note, not in the dwelling sense, but rather the realistic wake-up-call sense that hey, I CAN have more moments like that … if I’m willing to sacrifice the other treats I eat impulsively (always impulsively) during the day.

To me, that’s common sense. I think it’s how “normal” eaters eat; they naturally balance their days. Even when I began WW, I’d save 10 Flex Points each Friday for a giant Potbelly’s cookie. It was planned, not impulsive, and hit the spot. I need to channel THAT mentality again.

I’m still not normal, and I happened to just flip from one extreme to the other and somewhere in the center is the fuzzy gray, a.k.a. the middle ground.

So in a way, I think I’m making some mental progress — but I’m still stuck where I want my cake and to eat it, too … after I’ve already had chocolate, cupcakes, and candy (so to speak; not literally!).

So I’ve made a commitment to myself and I’m sharing it here: I need to cut back on sugar, period.

My sugar intake is through the roof; I started actually reading the label on things I eat (even innocuous things) and it’s seriously ridiculous — sugar is everywhere. It’s scary, actually. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 25 grams of (added) sugar a day.

Um … though not “added” my apples have 13 grams of sugar EACH and I eat 2-3 a day (with each meal or at least 2 meals a day). This doesn’t even include added sugars in foods I eat … let alone my sweets fetish. <<Sigh>>.

Point being, I think I’ll feel a lot better about myself — and a lot more in control of my health — if I go back to the basics and really focus on clean eating. Not FF/SF crap … but real, whole foods. Not quick fixes b/c I only have 4 Points for dinner.

I’ve strayed so far in the other direction lately that it’s not even funny. I know what I need to do, and after yapping about it for so long, I really feel ready to do something about it.

I think it’s because my WW anniversary (6 yrs!) is April 13, and not only am I not at goal (which I could deal with) but I’m a good 1o-15 lbs from where I feel my best … and that hurts, period.

So there’s no time like the present …

How about you? Where do you stand, balance-wise, right now? Are the scales tipping in one direction over the other or do you seem to have found that blessed, blissful sweet-spot? And do you think true balance can ever really be achieved, or is it a lofty goal that keeps us striving for more?

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16 thoughts on “Tipping the Scales

  1. I think I’m mostly okay, though sometimes I have to take a step back, and look from fresh perspective. I am accepting my high sugar lifestyle, it’s not like I drink soda or juice, eat candy, but it’s still high. I eat 3+ naval oranges a day, sometimes a kiwi, grapefruit, apple, etc. Major fruit eater, heavy sugar. Oh well, so be it. It takes some effort to keep my head here, but I think I’m doig just fine. Mostly I know that if I stay where you are, I freak out and gain weight, but if I stay where I need to be psychologically, I maintain easily.

    1. My point is, I eat lots of sugar from fruit PLUS the sweets. The fruit isn’t the problem; I didn’t mean to imply I’d ditch fruit — hell no. But it makes me more cognizant now of the sweets to see just how much sugar I’m consuming as is, natural or not. Bottom line: I need to be eating cleaner, period. To feel better AND to lose weight. (And yes, I need to lose weight; this isn’t body dysmorphic Melissa of the past speaking; I genuinely need to lose weight).

      1. I hear what you are saying. I just happen to think that you need to get your head together if you want any chance of losing, let alone not gaining weight. You don’t have to listen, and feel free to get defensive, this has been my experience, and I’ve learned the hard way. It’s not about clean and dirty eating, and you are stuck there.

      2. Julie, for me it very much is about clean vs dirty eating. When I feel good about myself, I eat better and take care of myself better. For me, the two are very inter-related. I know I’m unhappy in this moment and that is why I’ve been eating poorly. I agree my head needs to be in the right place first; I don’t discount that. But for me, the two ARE inter-related.

  2. Hi Melissa,

    I just found your blog about a week ago and have enjoyed the reading. As a recovered anorexic, I can certainly relate to your struggles and musings, and I admire you for sharing your story.

    The issue of balance has been a huge one in the past 9 years of my life. I have found that the longer I’m in “recovery mode,” the more “in balance” I am.

    When I was doing my eating disordered thing, I’d restrict for a few months, lose a bunch of weight, then binge for a few months and gain it all back plus some more. That’s what I call the ultimate of imbalance.

    Five years ago, when I sought treatment at an outpatient facility, I learned crucial skills to deal with my emotions and build a healthy relationship with food. With each passing year, I feel like the pendulum swing gets shorter and I’m closer to that “middle ground” you speak of.

    I agree with the other commenter…I think it’s more about your attitude toward eating/food rather than exactly WHAT you’re eating. What is wrong with apples? Nothing at all! If you take care of yourself emotionally/psychologically, you’ll be able to handle food much, much better and accept yourself no matter what your weight is.

    From what I’ve seen from your blog, you are still intensely focused on the FOOD rather than the actual internal issues that are causing you to obsess. Even if you eat what you’d consider “perfectly,” you won’t be happy unless you solve the underlying cause.

    That said, I have immense compassion for you and me and others who have to deal with disordered eating thoughts every day. I know it is REALLY tough to combat. In my experience, the eating disordered thoughts don’t ever go away, but you can learn to cope and be happy with every aspect of your life. That I know is possible!

    Best wishes in your quest for balance!

    1. Thanks for commenting and joining the community here, Kristin! Kudos on your progress, that’s remarkable!

      Again, there’s NOTHING wrong with apples — my point is just that I’m eating plenty of fruit (which has natural sugar) AND all the other crap I don’t need.

      I don’t disagree with what you’re saying … I know what the internal issues are and they’re not things I can openly discuss here that lead to emotional eating or my impulsive choices. But when I am eating well I’m treating my body well I’m usually feeling good inside. I want to take care of myself, so I do.

      But right now, my head isn’t in a good place, so my food choices are bad and it’s a vicious cycle of unhappiness. My ultimate goal is to get to the place where I view food as nourishment and not something to be battled or used as a coping mechanism–period.

      Thank you for your insight — I appreciate it. I like when people make me think!

  3. The AHA recommendation is for added sugar, not the sugar in apples. Apples help prevent cancer and all do sorts of other good stuff for you.

    I try to focus on nurturing myself, and less on rules. If I’m nurturing myself, I don’t have to worry about what, exactly, I eat.

    Easier said that done some days!

  4. I have a major – MAJOR – sweet tooth. And my problem that the sweets I keep in my house – Chobani flavored yogurt, Puffins, even almond butter – can sometimes be triggering for me. So sometimes I wonder if I should just cut them out at night (when I have issues with over-eating). I don’t want to restrict myself by any means, but then again, I could hope that by replacing those foods with more savory things, I’d be less likely to binge.

    I’m the same as you…some days I can have something sweet and just savor it – and that feels AMAZING! I just have to remind myself of that on the “bad” days.

  5. Okay, seriously, a hug is coming your way tomorrow. 🙂 You are such a wonderful person, Melissa and my heart is breaking that you’re beating yourself up so much. You really don’t deserve it. You may be in a food/weight funk right now but this too, shall pass.

    Bottom line, I think you know how important it is to understand the impulse eating during the day. Maybe that’s too simplistic but it seems like that’s your biggest hurdle right now.

    I gave up sugar for Lent and I seriously felt GREAT the whole time. My headaches really lessened (yeah!) and I didn’t have a lot of stomach issues. Since Lent’s been over and after I had sugar coma 2010 I’ve really been careful. I had too much tonight (several jelly beans) and I can tell my stomach is dissatisfied with the choice.

    I don’t know that I’m in balance but I do feel much, much better. I’m also working on running as much as I can and when I do it at night, I am very focused on what goes in during the day because like tonight when I jumped on the treadmill for four miles, my gut hurt and it made me want to smack myself.

    If I can be of any, any help I want to. Like I said, you’re one of the sweetest, most genuine people ever and I want to kick whatever is bothering you to the curb.

    1. Staci, thanks for everything you said and our chat just now. You don’t know how much it means to have friends like you who really can lift me up. I admire your sugar wean and think I need to do it, myself. I know I’ll feel better/more inspired. Congrats and I’m so excited for you and your race!

  6. i’m sorry you are going through a rough time right now. life is full of highs and lows, nobody can really realistically be happy all of the time, so cut yourself some slack in that regard.

    i think apples are great and that if you chose to cut back on sugars, it should be the junk ones, not the healthy ones (like apples).

    you will get your groove back, there is no time limit. you will know when the time is right.

    to answer the questions you posed.. i am at a nice balance right now. i’m on my 13th day of intuitive eating and so far so good. i feel like i’m in a good place. i think true balance can be achieved, but there needs to be some room for flexibility.

  7. Ugh I can relate. I was in the same place about 1.5 years ago. I wish I could pinpoint exactly what got me to snap out of it but I can’t really. I did go to counseling for it and she said to me point blank that I wasn’t snapping out of it because maybe I truly didn’t want to. That comment really got me kind of mad but it got me thinking maybe there was some truth to it and I think there was. In some way I wanted to be eating whatever I wanted whenver I wanted. As much as I wanted to lose weight I wanted to eat the food more. I was using it to help cope with some emotional stuff and it was both tasty and a good distraction from what was unpleasant in my life. It sounds to me like that is maybe where you are now? You mention there is some life stuff that isn’t going to change right away i.e. husband’s education and that is tough but I think you need to find some way to come to terms with that which can’t be changed if you want to turn around the eating habits.

    Like someone said above, it isn’t so much about what you are eating but what is “eating you” to parahprase from one of Geneen Roth’s books (at least I think that was hers) Eating healthier does make you feel better and when you eat healthy for a few days and no junk that good feeling can help you get the momentum to continue eating better however without finding ways to deal with the emotional stuff the junky eating can just keep rearing its ugly head.

  8. My body dictated to me that I needed to be more balanced. All that stuff was having a negative effect on me and always made me sick. When I eat whole foods I feel better.

    The balance is difficult but it can happen.

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