Trading Coping Mechanisms

Call me stupid, crazy, naïve, or all of the above … but I assumed that when I stopped chewing and spitting, I’d lose the 5-7 lbs I’d gained during those two years of my peak disorderedness.

HA!!! How wrong was I?!

In fact, not only did I maintain that weight gain, but I even gained another 5-7 on top of it! Ouch.

Granted, I’m 30 now (not 24 like I was when I first joined WW) and I realize I have a desk job and (despite being active at the gym) I realize I don’t walk to the Metro every day like I did back then … but I think it’s much bigger than just that.

In doing a little self-analysis, I think it’s because stopping chewing/spitting only put a Band-Aid on the real problem: I went from using chewing and spitting as a coping mechanism for anxiety to using emotional eating/impulse buying as a coping mechanism for anxiety.

See a common denominator here? Anxiety still remains.

Ultimately, I still haven’t been able to really get a grasp on my anxiety levels. Sometimes I think I’m OK, but other times, not so much.

It’s as though I replaced one issue with another; truly, it’s no wonder I’ve not been able to get a grip! I’m battling myself here.

I know Dr. G. would tell me I need to come up with another coping mechanism … and I don’t dispute that, I need a healthier alternative for sure — writing, talking to my husband or calling a friend or family member, etc., but this stuff is often so private that it’s hard to open up about it; no one really gets it (and I can’t/don’t expect them to).

I think I need to do what worked for chewing and spitting and apply it to my emotional eating/impulse buying problem — and that means choosing pride over guilt once again and just saying no.

Literally, March 15, I woke up and vowed not to chew and spit. And I haven’t since. I made a firm decision and stuck to it. I feel recovered from that disordered behavior.

But the impulsive/emotional stuff requires thought before action. And that’s where I still struggle. In fact, outside of this disordered eating realm, I struggle with impulsiveness — opening my mouth before thinking, jumping into a conversation that maybe I don’t need to be a part of, etc.

I need that next level of mindfulness and since awareness is half the battle, I think I’m going to start journaling my emotions in addition to my usual journaling. I’m hoping it’ll help with the other stuff.

I don’t want to go back to Dr. G., but I’m not ruling out the possibility of seeing a different therapist because ultimately, while I know therapy helped, it definitely wasn’t the end of the road for me. There’s still work to do upstairs … and I’m not giving up.

I feel optimistic right now … thanks for listening.

How about you? What are some of the coping mechanisms you use? And did you find you traded one for another, or were you able to nip them all?


Examining “Blogotherapy” & Support

support_grpA lot of recovery bloggers blog anonymously because they fear other people finding out the truth about them — and their concerns are certainly valid.

I actually was quasi-anonymous in the beginning, too. After all, the image we portray in our professional and personal lives can make or break us …

But oftentimes, especially when we’re hiding a deep, dark secret (like an ED or DE issues …) that image is not identical to what we actually see when we peel back the layers of who we truly are.

In many ways, I was living a double-life … the elusive chewing-spitting behaviors coupled with over-exercising, body-loathing, and midnight/mindless eating … and then presenting myself at work or around friends as this girl who has her stuff together … when inside, I was crumbling.

Naturally, I used to worry in the beginning about how I might be judged by others who might by chance find my blog: peers, colleagues, friends, superiors, etc. What will they think of me?! Will they lose respect for me?! Will they look at me differently?

But once I realized that owning my issue made it real and tangible to overcome (and that it’s ok to not be “perfect”) … suddenly the fear associated with “getting found out” withered away.

Continue reading “Examining “Blogotherapy” & Support”

“Is That All There Is?”

1FEgcOolSorry to be such a downer/drama queen tonight, but this weekend I had one of those epiphanies that make you kind of question everything about your life and the direction in which you’re headed.

I’m 100 percent guilty of forgetting to/failing to live in the moment, and I’m always looking ten steps ahead.

This forward-focused outlook has served me well academically in my youth and even professionally … but personally, it’s basically been a thorn in my side.

It makes me an impatient person, it means I often interrupt conversations (even though it’s not deliberate) and means I often don’t stop to smell the roses, let alone see them.

And that makes me sad, because I’m a very detail-oriented person who recalls every little thing … if I take the time to notice it, that is.

Sometimes I can be in the moment.

Friday night, for example, I totally had a blast at a happy hour goodbye party for our friend, and then easily practiced intuitive eating at dinner at a Mexican restaurant with another group of our friends. I just focused on the company (my hubby and our friends) and enjoyed the night to its fullest. I felt alive in every sense of the word; I wish the feeling could last forever.

But then Saturday night, after a fun day at the park with my husband’s work department, I found myself sitting home alone (he was studying, no friends/family were home to chat with or hang out with).

It was about 9 p.m. and I’d just finished reading a great novel about an enduring friendship (Firefly Lane, in case you’re interested–thanks D.!). I closed the book, and then thought … “OK, now what?” Continue reading ““Is That All There Is?””

My “Thesis” & the Final Frontier of Recovery

CB067697I got the most sincere and beautiful e-mail from a reader yesterday; e-mails like this reaffirm that I’m doing the right thing blogging and sharing my journey of discovery and recovery with the world, for better or for worse.

Without going into details of what she said,  I wanted to share some thoughts I came away with after reading her message.

She pointed out that not journaling/IE/learning to trust myself, even for just a few days as an experiment —  is kind of my last frontier of my disordered eating journey.

As she noted, I stopped chewing and spitting, my midnight incidents are few and far between, I’m not over-exercising as much, I know all about nutrition and portion size and portion control …

The only thing left, really, is to trust myself. The scariest notion of all, but the most necessary.

I likened it to my “graduate thesis” of sorts. My “capstone,” if you will — something I have real-world experience with. Continue reading “My “Thesis” & the Final Frontier of Recovery”

Thou Shalt Not Eat While Standing Up

Thanksgiving 2007 table; not an every-day setting but pretty and inviting, right?
Thanksgiving 2007 table; not an every-day setting but pretty and inviting, right?
Nope, this isn’t a “resolution” post. I’ve already told you I don’t like the idea of making resolutions.

But I am a firm believer in planning — and am pretty darn good at it.

In fact, my ability to make a plan and stick to it is one of the “plusses” of being an anxious person, Dr. G. tells me.

It’s why I excelled at school, always turn work assignments in on time, and am rarely late, and usually know where I want to be in a week, a month, a year, and beyond.

It’s also how I lost weight so easily five years ago: I had a plan, and didn’t stray. I can attribute it to why I am so easily and naturally disciplined about my fitness regimen.

And, going outside the food/weight realm, it’s also probably why I’ve never gotten involved in drugs and didn’t hook up in my teens; I dated.

I was straight as an arrow, and damn proud of it … and I never really rebelled in college, though I’m sure I could have gone down that path had I not been so fearful of failure or disappointing myself or my family.

Yes, sometimes this planning/structured mode I exist in means I miss the forest for the trees, and maybe I’m not spontaneous and as fun/flexible as I could be …

But for the most part, this side of my personality can be a big plus and Dr. G. wants me to see it that way; that my anxiety isn’t a crutch or an impediment but rather a “gift” — an attribute on which I ought to capitalize. Continue reading “Thou Shalt Not Eat While Standing Up”

Awesome Interview with Dr. Judith Beck

Crabby McSlacker over at Cranky Fitness recently interviewed one of my heroes, Dr. Judith Beck, author of The Beck Diet Solution.

Her father, Dr. Aaron Beck, is the man behind cognitive behavioral therapy, and she applies the methods to weight loss in her book The Beck Diet Solution (which I’ve yapped about plenty here on my blog).

The phrases “Giving Credit” and “Flex Your Resistance Muscle/No Choice”that I’ve used here come from her lessons.

Because CBT is part of my own therapy journey, I’m especially interested in what Beck has to say, and will be purchasing her new book when it comes out.

Check out the awesome interview here.

Overriding Immediate Gratification

azul_price_tag_dressI’m learning through therapy that I struggle with the notion of “delayed gratification.”

As an anxious person, I like things here and now and done yesterday, not tomorrow.

So naturally, given my anxious hardwiring, it’s not always easy for me to, as Dr. G. says, “override immediate gratification” in favor of delayed gratification.

I can do it for some things that focus on the greater good (journaling diligently, exercising, studying, etc) but not for everything (my less-than-stellar spending habits).

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a compulsive person. For me it’s never been about drugs or alcohol or gambling or promiscuity or anything that could do me bodily harm, but I am compulsive in my thoughts. Food and shopping tend to be two ways my compulsion manifests itself. (Talking incessantly (or thinking) is another).

For instance, when I go shopping, I go shopping. (i.e., often a spree — after which, I often feel guilty and march back to said stores, receipts in hand). Continue reading “Overriding Immediate Gratification”

From the Doc’s Couch to Your Laptop

pd_therapy_070709_mnI met with Dr. G. last night and shared with her my concerns about blogging, as well as those of my loved ones who voiced their concern that perhaps ithis outlet was fueling my obsession and hurting me, rather than helping me.

I shared that I got a variety of responses from my readers and loved ones, and how I wanted her opinion as a professional. If, as my therapist, she saw harm in it.

So she asked me if my chewing-and-spitting and midnight incidents had lessened since blogging, as this was the behavior we were initially working to change. (Yes — they still occur but far more infrequently than pre-blogging).

She asked me if I enjoy blogging. (Yes, absolutely).

And she asked me if I would miss it if I didn’t do it. (Yes, I think I would; I love to write). Continue reading “From the Doc’s Couch to Your Laptop”

Separating Rational & Irrational Thoughts

3975200_b34337dacbI had therapy last night and, as always, it was a great session with Dr. G.

Now I’m going every other week, and we’re building off each past experience every time we meet. I’m much more comfortable, and it’s awesome how she really “gets” me…and helps me “get” me, too.

Captain Obvious would say, “OK, but she is trained to do this, Melissa.” This much is true.

Still, I marvel at the thought of someone who can really help me see me for me, and accept me as I am, helping me to sort through my thoughts — even if they’re not about anxiety or eating issues — teaching me techniques I can use for the rest of my life.

One of the biggest things therapy has helped me do is separate rational and irrational thoughts. This requires thinking before speaking, something I’m not accustomed to doing.

That said, I’ve really been trying to think more before speaking … to make sure that my spoken (or written) thoughts are rational ones, to make sure I’m not putting demands on myself that are too high or unnatural.

This also means gauging my audience and thinking about them before speaking: be it at work, at a social function, amongst friends, or even here on my blog ….

Which, in a rather long-winded manner, brings me to today’s post about how I’ve been feeling about my body lately, an internal battle of sorts: accepting myself as I am, or struggling to re-lose these last 10 or so again. Continue reading “Separating Rational & Irrational Thoughts”

Digesting and Reframing Scary Pregnancy Stats

reframing1Back in June when I began blogging, I divulged that pregnancy is something that I am excited for in the near future, but also fearing to some extent, given my past (and present) history with body image issues, weight struggles and disordered eating behaviors.

While we aren’t planning on starting a family in this very moment (my husband just began an MBA program at University of Michigan this fall, so ideally we’d like to wait a little longer), it’s been on my mind a lot more lately.

So when I came across this article, “Dieters Gain More Weight During Pregnancy” in the health section of the New York Times (coincidentally published on my birthday), I was immediately interested. Continue reading “Digesting and Reframing Scary Pregnancy Stats”