Still clean

Three days on and still clean; nary a drop of diet soda has crossed my lips since Tuesday. I figure the worst cravings will cease around Wednesday, Lord willing. Right now I’d like nothing better than an ice-cold can of Diet Dr. Pepper. Bah.

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The peculiar persistence of the repeat diet soda quitter

I’ve heard that it can take 5 or 6 times to quit smoking, so I’m going to take that to heart and not be ashamed to admit that, yes, once again, I am trying to stop drinking diet soda. I know. I know. Broken record. But what would be better — to stop trying to quit, just because I haven’t been able to stop before? or to acknowledge that yes, I’ve tried before and I may have to try again, but gosh darnit, here I am, I’m giving it yet another whirl. It’s easy to see the latter is the more constructive approach.

Today’s my first full day. It was kind of rough, as it always is — I so wanted my precious Diet Dr. Pepper to sip as I editing during the morning hours, so wanted a nice Diet Coke to wash down my lunch. But I chugged water instead. I’m finding that whenever I quit diet soda, I drink ungodly amounts of water — instead of, say, 1 16 oz Diet Dr Pepper and a Diet Coke in a day, I’ll have 4 – 5 glasses of water. Interesting.

Anyways, just wanted to update. We’ll see how this all pans out; I’m really going to do my best, though. I want to feel like I don’t have any substances I’m relying on. True, it’s not like I have a drug problem, but I don’t want to feel like I need a diet soda to get through my day. Also, I think my complexion is beginning to suffer, and I think my efforts to control my weight will go more smoothly — I’ve long believed that diet soda fuels sugar cravings. I’ve heard, though I can’t recall where, that it also tricks your body — it provides a sweet taste, but it’s nutritionally void and lacks calories, which is basically a perversion of nature, since sweet, fatty foods are more calorie-dense. So your body’s like, WTF, sugar? But…so empty! More! So, yes. Diet soda = bad.

Some people advise easing off the substance to which you’re addicted. Gradually decreasing your intake, that kind of thing. Me, however…I like the balls-to-the-walls factor of the cold turkey method. Maybe it’s because I have a bit of an all-or-nothing personality, and I like the cut-and-the-dry absoluteness of saying, no diet soda forever! [I’m not like this with food, however; I’m totally in favor of moderation. Don’t know why the different feelings here.] Also I really do think I am addicted, and I don’t trust myself to be able to drink just one. I need to put some days and weeks of completely clean, soda-free living behind me. It’s going to be tough, I’m going to be cursing myself and drinking water like a camel and having to pee every hour and having sexual fantasies that revolve around cans of Diet Dr. Pepper…but, onward!

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Breaking Free from Emotional Eating

I haven’t been tracking my food or my exercise on this blog, oops. It’s always kind of embarrassing in the semi-public blogosphere when you declare that you’re going to do something and then you don’t follow through. Oh well, though. I’m sure my thousands of loyal readers will somehow be able to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives and soldier on.

I finished reading Geneen Roth’s Breaking Free from Emotional Eating last week. Incidentally, I had ordered  Breaking Free from Compulsive Eating only to realize it’s the exact same book, or some earlier version, but with a different title. D’oh. (I gave the copy to my mom.) Anyways, I found BFFEE (that looks like “beefy” or maybe I’m dyslexic) really spot-on in a lot of parts. I like her whole philosophy of rejecting diets and simply eating when you’re hungry, and I like how her ideas about healing disordered eating habits come from a place of allowance and acceptance, not denial. It’s difficult to eat mindfully, I think. Sometimes I don’t want to eat consciously — I want to just eat something, even if I’m not hungry. Roth addresses this, and says that what distinguishes emotional eaters is not that they eat when they’re not hungry, but that they eat for reasons other than hunger and then get upset and depressed about this and fall into guilt and self-torment, leading to the feast-famine, diet- binge cycle. I for one know I eat when I’m stressed or anxious. It’s super hard to have the presence of mind to stop myself and realize, I am not hungry but scared/anxious/stressed. What do I really need? Super hard, but I guess I should at least try to identify my feelings when I am eating and determine what is driving me to eat and if something else would be better.

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Quitting Diet Soda (again. and probably not for the last time.)

More than anything other healthy habit — really; more than cutting back on sugar, more than cutting back on calories — I find it SO incredibly difficult to cut out diet soda from my diet. Many a time I’ve quit diet soda for a few months; I think the longest I’ve managed was 3 months last year. I’m not quite there yet, but I feel myself moving toward a place where I want to make an effort to cut it out. After writing down my eats for the past few days, and this time including my diet soda intake (something I’ve never done before) the massive amounts I ingest are staring me in the face. I’ve always been fully aware of how much I drank and I’ve long realized that I am effectively addicted to the stuff, but there’s nothing like seeing it written down to put it into cold, hard perspective…

And there’s also nothing like a therapist (one you respect) suggesting that maybe you ought to cut back on caffeine. I’ve struggled with feeling anxious and restless — never having panic attacks but experiencing anxiety, and my therapist says that caffeine and anxiety are closely linked. Hoh boy….

I also know that the diet soda is a major source of sugar (fake sugar) that eggs on my sweet tooth.  I need to cut down on sugar because when I do binge, it’s sweets — a pint of ice cream, a box of bakery cookies, or a few slices of cake. I’ve been trying to eat more protein in the morning instead of muffins or scones and such, and I think the next step towards a dramatic sugar reduction would be to cut out diet soda. Ugh. It’s sooooo hard though. I’m going to spend some more time righting my diet — not bingeing; confronting my feelings of anxiety, boredom, or restlessness instead of trying to soothe them with sugar; and shrinking my overall caloric intake. (This should be my mantra.) Then I will address the diet soda issue, both for the sake of further decreasing my sugar intake and also for the sake of cutting caffeine.

I’ve ordered Geneen Roth’s Breaking Free From Emotional Eating and Breaking Free from Compulsive Eating from Amazon, and I am anxious to see what they have to say.

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The Lazarus post

You know, because I’m back from the dead. (At least with this blog, anyways.)

A lot has changed since I last posted in February. For one thing, I no longer work at home — I have the same job, but now I’m part of the in-house staff and I commute to the office about an hour away (with traffic, an hour and a half.) It’s a long commute, but I am hopeful of being taken on as a salaried employee so I’m willing to do it. Plus, I really did not like working at home. Too lonely.

But the bad news in all this is that I’ve let my eating (and to a lesser degree, my exercise) go by the wayside. I think it started in mid February, when I really just kind of let go of all my habits. I’m up to 152, meaning I’ve gained 16 pounds. Boo.

But perhaps the positive part of this is that I’m finally recognizing that I do really have a problem with binge eating, and so I’ve ordered some books on Amazon to read by Geneen Roth. I also go to a therapist — I started going in January for help getting over some depression, but coincidentally, she also has a background in treating addiction, and it’s proving helpful to talk to her about my eating. I am a compulsive and emotional eater (when I’m stressed or anxious, I want to eat and eat for comfort) and some of my behaviors indicate that I have a sort of food addiction. I dunno. Pretty heavy shit, but I’m dealing.

I really really really do not want to gain back all the weight I’ve lost. I may be a bit discouraged, but not completely. Losing significant amounts of weight is rarely one straight drop to the goal, I think. And at least I’m still down 30 pounds.

I want to make an honest effort to step on the breaks, prevent more gain, and break some of the unhealthy habits I’ve been indulging this spring. So, I’m back to journaling my food — all of it, no matter healthy or not — and I will also go a step further (at the behest of my therapist) and record my feelings if I have any really strong ones about something I eat.

I’ll try to journal my exercise, too. My exercise has been neglected somewhat because I leave for work at 7 am and return at 7:30 pm, and my lovely gym closes at 8:30. I have made it for that last hour — some weeks I’m on, others I’m off — but all the cool evening classes I used to take (Zumba, spinning, yoga, Pilates) start at 6:30 pm and there’s just no way I can make that. Twelve-hour days suck. I have tried to go to spin class at 6 am, once even sleeping in my uncomfortably tight workout bra and workout clothes to save time in the morning, but waking up at 5:45 am kills me.

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Eating vs exercise

So lately, I’ve been doing so well on the exercise — I don’t think I’ve been this fit since I was doing ballet in high school. My legs are strong and muscular, I can do 30 minutes on the elliptical without really breaking a sweat (OK, on the low resistance, but still), and I don’t really like Pilates or yoga because I don’t get exhausted in the classes my gym provides. I find myself looking forward to spin class, and not just because the guy who teaches it is cute.

But, then, on the other hand…my eating has fallen by the wayside. It basically has been for the last month, and I feel like I’m getting deja vu with this…I have this problem a lot. It makes sense in a way, I suppose…I think psychologically, when you’re doing good with one aspect of your life, you kind of give yourself  “permission” to let other habits fall by the wayside. I find myself thinking that it doesn’t matter if I eat fast food for lunch, because I’ll burn it off at the gym. I’ve earned it. And in a way, I’m right, because I’ve maintained my weight for the past three months.

There’s a large part of me that doesn’t see much wrong with this approach, and to be quite frank, I can’t bring myself to fully condemn my eating habits. I like food and I like exercise. I don’t really have the energy right now to be attacking healthy eating the same way I am with exercise. I also have a lot of stress going on right now, and I’m actually proud that I haven’t stuffed myself more. But I know I feel better when my eating isn’t totally out of whack. Friday, for example, I was totally stressed and emotional and ate 3 Hagen Daaz chocolate ice cream bars. Delixious, yes, but that’s not being very nice to my body.

So what to do, what to do? I don’t have the energy to go 100% on healthy eating right now, but there’s only so much exercise I can do — if I let myself continue down the path of overeating, I really WILL start to gain weight. I don’t want to undo all my hard work. And perhaps more importantly, I’ll feel gross, and perhaps even more importantly, I’ll feel like a person who can’t control her emotions and who lets stress blow her all over the place. That is bad for my self esteem.

So my strategy is to celebrate small food-related accomplishments. Hopefully this will help me eat a bit more mindfully — I’m not asking for or even desiring perfection, just maybe a bit more thought — and hopefully it will reinforce the good decisions I make and lead to more of them.

So, today, I am celebrating the following:

— I was going to make strawberry cake, but then I thought better of it, realizing that I was just bored and that the cake would taste much better if I waited until the weekend as a reward for getting all my work done and going to the gym at least four times.

— I ate a nice dinner of mango, baked cod, and red potatoes. I was considering a 1,000-calorie Marie Calendar’s pot pie (and believe me, I am still going to eat this) but again, thought better of it. I’ll save it maybe for Thursday, after spin class or some other day when I really burn the calories.

— I’m glad I ate the mango because it was going to go bad soon. I have a problem with buying produce and then procrastinating on eating it, and then it goes bad. Total bummer, right? Especially with mangos, I often misjudge their ripeness and then they get gross. Tonight, though, I caught my mango at the perfect state of ripeness and it was juicy-delicious. Wheee…

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Peering ahead to 28

I’m turning 28 in a few weeks, and I’m thinking about how I can make my life better this year.

1. I want to pay off my grad school bill and actually receive my Master’s degree.

2. I want to get caught up on the past due amount for one of my undergraduate loans.

3. I want to find a full-time job that I enjoy. I will do this by spending a a few hours each week researching positions and sending out at least one application each week.

4. I want to make Saturday my writing days.

5. I want to figure out how to not let fear and anxiety have power over me and cultivate more self-confidence in my professional abilities.

6. I want to maintain my weight.

7. I’d like to learn how to knit…maybe knit a scarf?

8. I want to cook one new recipe each month and document it here.

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