Thursday, December 29, 2005
I spoke to P. on the phone earlier this week, because I don't have the nerve not to call him at all, and, having elicited the information that I was off work this week, he asked if maybe we could do something. I said I thought not, but then I decided that I could drag him along to one movie; he likes Shirley MacLaine, so I took him to Rumor Has It.
I had come to feel so resentful of him that I could barely look at him. There were probably entire outings where I never once really took him in. That kind of aversion doesn't feel very good, so I made it a goal this week just to see him, if nothing else, and that seemed to have the paradoxical effect of putting my focus more on my own internal experience, and he seemed much less annoying. He was doing all the same stuff, but instead of getting wound up thinking that he was driving me crazy, I just felt, "Okay, here we are. He looks this way at this moment, he's doing such-and-such a thing, I'm sitting here on this bench."
When we were waiting for the cab, I noticed a glistening mound of spit on the sidewalk and cautioned him not to step in it, whereupon he stood up and walked right over to it and then obediently minced carefully over it. Then he turned around and did the same thing in the other direction.
After our outing, we were talking on the phone and he mentioned that I should probably marry him soon, as his money will probably last for only another couple of years. I suggested that he marry Marina, a woman in his house. He said plaintively, "But I want to marry you." I said, "Why do you want to marry someone who's so grumpy and angry?" He said, "You're beautiful." That had a rather softening effect on me, even if it was purely strategic.
Fake Mayo Evaluation
I've concluded that for tuna salad, Nayonaise is best; for egg salad, Lemonaise is best; and for sandwiches, Spectrum Organic Eggless Vegan Light Mayo is best. I've found that one of those citrus-fruit zesters that looks like a file is a handy thing for making egg salad with, using a pre-hard-boiled egg from the fridge. It's better to use the zester crosswise on the egg rather than going the long way, because the latter produces long strings of egg that are like having hairs in your mouth.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
This reminded me that yesterday, on Market Street, I saw a Volvo sedan coming perilously close to cyclists, not speeding, but passing with just inches to spare. It was a wet day and had any cyclist slipped, he or she could have been hurt, as I noticed every one of them had forgotten to put on a nice, safe Volvo. In years past, I might have pulled up to the driver's window, tapped on the glass and given him a brief course in safe driving, but instead when I found myself next to the car, I merely peered in and took a look at him. I'm always curious to see who these people are who are so oblivious to the presence and safety of those around them; also, I thought it would be handy in case I ever had to identify him in court.
As for the putty knives, I have to move to a new cube at work. I don't know what the previous occupant used to do in there, but there was some stuff crusted on the flat surfaces that yielded not to a wet paper towel and reasonable amount of scrubbing, so today I brought in a putty knife for scraping and that did the trick. Three of my coworkers are moving to the same area, but they haven't started cleaning yet. I thought it was just as well to do the putty-knife thing before they arrived, as once I was trying to remove the hairs and dust and other unsavory bits of debris from a computer keyboard by turning it upside down and banging on it, and a coworker came over and said, "I think I hear an OCD episode in progress."
Monday, December 19, 2005
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Friday, December 16, 2005
Demand feeding: Feeding ourselves as we would an infant. That is, feeding ourselves when we are hungry, giving ourselves the food that is the best match for our hunger, and stopping when we are no longer hungry. The idea here is that chronic dieting has severed the relationship between food and physical hunger; demand feeding seeks to restore that relationship.
Decoding: After enough negative focus on our bodies, we become accustomed to blaming everything on them and expressing our anxieties via criticisms of our size or shape or what we ate. After a while, we ourselves aren't aware that Fat Language is concealing our true concerns. When we notice that we are having a BBT, we can apologize to ourselves, and ask who says? Who says the only good kind of belly is a flat one? Who says smaller is more lovable than bigger? Is a small cat more lovable than a big one? Is a small tree more beautiful than a big one? Finally, we can use the very language of the BBT to figure out what is really on our minds. "My belly sticks out too far" might just mean "I really stood out in the meeting at work this morning when I said what I thought we should do." Maybe we fear that we are sticking out; maybe it has nothing to do with our bodies.
FFF: Formerly forbidden food--food that was forbidden when one was dieting.
Glitter: The allure of an enticing still-sort-of-forbidden food.
IC, or Inner Caretaker: A kindly aspect of our own psyches that can provide attuned care and comforting as we develop our relationship with him/her/it.
Legalizing: Making all foods legal, none forbidden, with a carrot having the same moral weight as a piece of chocolate cake. Best achieved through reminding ourselves that no food is forbidden any longer, and through stocking up.
Matching: Figuring out what food is the best match for SH. This can be done by picturing how different foods will feel in your stomach, or imagining how you'll feel after eating certain foods.
MH: Mouth hunger, or non-physical (emotional) hunger for food.
OO: Short for Overcoming Overeating.
Overcoming Overeating: A no-diet approach to ending obsession with food and weight described by Jane R. Hirschmann and Carol H. Munter in their books Overcoming Overeating and When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies. If you are only going to read one, read the latter.
SH: Stomach hunger: actual, physical hunger for food. Carol and Jane say that when we eat from SH, we demonstrate to ourselves that an attuned caretaker is on the job; enough instances of feeding from SH and we will become calm enough to sit with our feelings and think about the best ways to handle our real problems.
Stocking up: Buying three times as much of an FFF as you could possibly eat in one day, and when your supplies drop to half that, buying more. So if you could eat two gallons of ice cream in a day if you put your mind to it, buy six. And when you're down to three, go restock.
Thin fantasy: A tool for uncovering anxiety about possibly becoming smaller through demand feeding. To do the thin fantasy, picture yourself becoming physically smaller. Notice the situation and if there is anything worrisome or difficult about it. Consider whether you had the same problem in your childhood, and how your IC might help you with that problem now.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
It didn't seem fair to leave him with the impression that he'd blown it, so I spent some time with him on the phone assuring him that it's not a question of wrong and right, and that I know his intentions are always good. He and I have been friends for 15 or so years, and got along beautifully all the years when we just talked now and then on the phone. Then he had a heart attack and a stroke and was moved to an old folks' home near where I live. I was horrified at all he'd lost, including his primary relationship and even his cat, and, about a year ago, began spending way too much time with him, trying, fruitlessly, to assuage his anxiety and have a bit of fun. And at first we did have fun, but then it became a morass of anxiety and need, on his part, and resentment and obligation, on my part. (Before it became awful, he made an enormous number of hilarious remarks that perhaps I'll post here.)
So I was talking to him about needing a break and reassuring him as best I could (probably to zero effect, ultimately) and then I suddenly realized that I was starting to feel really lousy. "You are a bad person," something in my head was saying to me. "For shame! Abandoning this poor old man." (He does have other friends, and relatives who are very devoted.) And then I realized it was time to get off the phone before I felt like jumping off the bridge, so I gently said I had to go.
Now I see the trick is going to be actually taking the break, now that I've announced it, because I do feel guilty, and can picture myself running over there soon to have another dispiriting outing.
Monday, December 12, 2005
The next day, I saw my taxing friend P. On my way to his house, I got a dreadful bloody nose, and then our time together was horrible and stressful (complete with crying and suicide threats--his, not mine), and on the way home, I had an eating tour of my neighborhood: I walked to the place that has the fantastic peanut butter cookies and got two so I could eat them while I made my way to the burrito place. At the burrito place I got chips, which I don't usually do, so I'd have something to eat while I walked home, where I could eat my burrito.
Then I spent another some hours in bed. Fortunately, I was able to get up Sunday night and do my cooking for the week. I chopped veggies and washed apples and made rice and beans and vegan lemon-poppyseed cake (very tasty) and tuna salad. (Yes, I know--vegans don't eat tuna.) On Monday night, I made a vegan baked pasta roll, and then the house was absolutely full of beautiful, tasty, fresh-cooked food.
As for the weekend's overeating, I figured out (again) that I was turning demand feeding into a diet and was trying, and of course failing, to stay on a diet, in effect. It's proven to be quite tricky for me to nudge myself toward demand feeding without feeling that I'm bad if I eat from MH, even though I know rationally that MH is totally fine. I think the key possibly is in the self-care angle: demand feeding is fantastic self-care; MH may also be self-care, depending on what's going on (or, at least, it may be the best I can do); and certainly being kind to myself no matter what is good self-care. Now I'm treating any thought that I should be doing better with my demand feeding as a BBT and aplogizing and asking "Who says?" and so forth.
But I also realized that if I'd brought home 20 bags of potato chips, I might not have eaten a whole bag (or I still might have). I think part of it is that I already did the thing where you buy 20 bags of potato chips, for years. I really did. I had shopping bags full of bags of potato chips. Part of me is resisting being back there, but if massive stocking up is needed, then so be it. As it happens, the chips weren't that great. But my shopping list for this weekend calls for 10 of one kind of cookie and 10 of the other (usually that's about all the store has), and as they won't fit in the freezer, I'm going to cheerfully let them go stale on the counter (or eat them), and do the same thing every week for a while.
Sunday, November 13, 2005
So, there I was, enjoying seven enchanted and effortless weeks of eating exactly what my body wanted and stopping right when it had had enough (that is, practicing demand feeding). I was doing the thin fantasy every day (still am, pretty much) and was losing weight (or maybe it's just that I had ceased to be bloated) and I loved it and it felt fantastic.
And then it ended and I began to eat as I had been before the workshop, which then drifted into out-and-out bingeing--eating all the FFFs (those sometimes magical formerly forbidden foods) in the house, or trying to (it's not physically possible to eat them all).
After a few weeks of this, I realized that I had drifted back into being on a diet, the My-Idea-of Doing-OO-Perfectly Diet, and I was rebelling. (OO is short for Overcoming Overeating, and refers to the philosophy espoused in two books by Jane R. Hirschmann and Carol H. Munter: Overcoming Overeating and When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies.)
When I realized I was in effect dieting, I started by giving myself permission to binge permanently, and assured myself that I would accept myself at any weight. And then I realized that there were some other things I was rebelling against. One big one had to do with scheduling. After work, I have a schedule for the evening, which includes many things I like to do, but nonetheless accounts for every minute. I'm not rushed, but there's also no unscheduled time. And I think the bingeing was a way of saying, "No! I'm not going to do what's on the list!" And in case I wasn't getting through to myself, I also found myself getting to work super-late and not showering for a day or even two, which is extremely not like me. Obviously, some part of me was screaming, "No! I won't! I won't! I won't!"
I had recently added playing music back into my life, which is something I enjoy, but I was obviously trying to put too much into the mix and it had already started to feel like an obligation, so I also gave myself permission to stop. And then the bingeing stopped dead.
I realized that a lot of times when I overeat, it's a rebellion against what I think I should be doing, or else it's a punishment for something I did earlier that I shouldn’t have done.
Or perhaps I have a task to do that I'm not sure how to handle, and feel anxious and insecure. I feel that I should get the task done, get it done now, get it done perfectly.
It seems to boil down to obligation and rebellion.
And what is this voice that says I have to do everything right now perfectly, that I may not have my less-mature days, that I must eat in a certain way and look a certain way? That is a mean voice. My inner caretaker (another OO concept) will have to help me with that.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
I have been continuing with the thin fantasy every day, or just about; once or twice I have "forgotten," and I also realized I'd been forgetting to do the part about whether the issue was also seen in my childhood, so I started doing that again.
My eating continues to be completely different than it was before the workshop--that workshop had a profound effect on me. At this point, it's sort of feeling like a way of life not to eat if I'm not hungry and to stop when I've had enough, or pretty close, and to eat what makes my cells happier rather than sadder.
My body feels light and good and there is no bloating, which is great. (I was thinking that maybe Carol gave me some sort of permission when she said she's all for people returning to their natural weights.) At the same time, I have considerably more anxiety--I think there's less of a buffer. But I have the tools to deal with this. Not to say I can banish the feelings, but there are self-care techniques I can use. I'd thought my self-care was pretty good, and it was, but this is an opportunity to make a step forward in that realm, of necessity.
More anxiety = more necessity for self-care, and not just with food. That's the tip of the iceberg. It's about resting and which activities are enjoyable and how I really want to spend my time and what I really need to do at a given moment.
I realized I want to start experimenting with new recipes again. I've been putting on sweaters more when I feel chilly. Sometimes I come home from work and get straight into bed; I have felt surprisingly tired a recent day or two. Little things, but things that show me that someone is paying attention to exactly what I need.
As for anger, I am angry a lot; I have been for years. Sometimes I feel slight chest pains and have had the intuitive thought that I'm giving myself heart disease with my anger. Lo and behold, this week's Newsweek talked about this very thing; it said exactly that. There was a quiz covering general level of distress and social inhibition. On the distress quiz, I was way over the top (in a bad way). On the social inhibition, I squeaked by. I am not depressed nor particularly isolated (though I do often feel awkward around people), just pissed off.
So now I'm trying to take a look at the kinds of things that piss me off, which fall into a few categories that I see over and over: 1) I get angry when I get scared. 2) I get angry when someone "invades" in some sort of way, or seems aggressive or like they're expanding into my territory in some sort of way. 3) I can get angry when people don't do what I think they "should" do.
I'm keeping in touch with myself about this a bit more: Do I really have to get angry about this? Am I really in danger here? What can I do to protect my safety? Is this particular turf really worth defending or might it actually be more pleasant to collaborate? Etc.
One particularly bad thing is that I feel frightened on my bicycle a lot. I suspect I always did, and just couldn't tell. I guess I can decide not to ride it, or I can reassure myself that I have good urban cycling skills and that I will ride as safely as possible (which doesn't mean a car won't flatten me).
Friday, September 30, 2005
Now I think of dessert as a bit of something sweet after a meal, and it seems unthinkable to eat a whole slab of cake. I have become, at least temporarily, one of those annoying people who says, "Oh, I couldn't eat THAT whole thing!"
Of course, I could easily eat the whole thing if I wanted to.
It's a bit scary to say this. I have a fear of sharing success or accomplishment or positive change (it's mainly a fear of surpassing my mother or leaving her behind, but it pops up other places, too). It has happened a million times that I have said in regard to eating, "It's going great," and then as soon as I say that, it isn't going great anymore. But I guess the solution isn't to refrain from saying it's going great. It's going great.