Chaos Stew

Today is April 1st and that means many things in my world:

  1. First and foremost, it’s my daughter’s birthday… happy birthday angel face!
  2. It’s the 31st anniversary of my 14 hour labour of bringing said angel face into the world,
  3. It’s April Fool’s Day and I get to get my prank on,
  4. It’s weigh-in day, and
  5. I update the blog with my monthly post.

Typically, my posts are ready a day or two before uploading, but today I’m winging it. (Geesh, how did I do it when I posted twice a week?!). I could say that I don’t know how time slipped through my fingers, but that would be a lie. I, in typical Mare fashion, bit off more than I could chew and am now bathing in a bubbling vat of chaos stew. I may have mastered weighing and measuring my food (yay!), but I still have a way to go in the other areas of my life (boo!).

When I’m not mindful, I binge on life as if it’s an all-you-can-experience buffet, gulping and cramming my schedule with fists full of events, tasks, and commitments. Why stop at one helping of socializing, when you can have seven?! Why volunteer for one cause when there are so many worthy causes? Why clean out one closet when you have a two-story townhouse with many closets, a basement, a storage room, AND a garage you can pull EVERYTHING out of because you got in the mood to do spring cleaning the moment you heard the first Robin chirp, and as a result, you feel like you’re in an episode of Hoarder’s, buried up to your eyeballs with every possession you own, and then have to sacrifice two valuable vacation days in order to Jenga everything back into place???!!!!  Whew!

Why do we do this to ourselves? Okay, why do I do this to myself? As an addict, I operate under the ‘I want EVERYTHING, ALL the time’ model. I forget that life is about choices. ALL is a choice… so is yes, no, pause, stop, go… and every choice has a consequence.

When I was in the food and binged on anything and everything before me, the consequence was poor health and low self-esteem, resulting in carrying 259+ lbs. on a 5’3.5” frame. The same applies when I fill my schedule with more activities than hours in the day, the important things (like writing this blog) get watered down, and I never truly savour an experience.

Some choices have lasting repercussions, like getting a bad tattoo, Brexit, or voting for Trump. However, we addicts are blessed – whatever we chose yesterday does not have to be what we choose today!

To find out how much weight I lost last month, click here.

 

 

Flabulous!

I never thought I’d be liberated from the cellulite prison I was bound to for more than three decades, but here I am down 120+ lbs. living the life I dreamed of every time I started a diet.

Shedding the weight has freed me from belt extenders on airplanes, hideous plus-sized fashion, and judgmental glances at all-you-can eat buffets. I don’t need to use my inhaler after going up a flight of stairs any more, and the thought of going through a turnstile no longer brings on an anxiety attack – can I get an Hallelujah from the choir?!

I walk, and sit, and sleep, and twist, and run, and jump, and Cha Cha with ease. I look forward to exercising – I never thought I would say that! Boxing? Bring it! Weights? Spot me! Jogging? Love it! Heck, I run now even if someone doesn’t shout, “SHOE SALE!” I even get my Namaste on and downward dog with all the bendy girls!

You would think that I’m finally happy in my own skin, right? I would be if it wasn’t loose and saggy. I didn’t realize how much damage I’d done to myself until I deflated. The fat may have melted, but the loose skin, remnants of my former self, will never let me forget my self-abuse.  With clothes on, I can get away with looking “normal”- garments act like sausage casing keeping me together. However, in my birthday suit, I look like Dali’s melting clocks all wobbly and oozy, or like the dough that spilled over the sides of the bowl when I added too much yeast.  Embarrassing!

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Perky has left the building and droopy now takes centre stage. There’s so much flipping and flopping, wiggling and giggling, I get motion sick taking a shower. I wear goggles when I take my bra off at night – the girls hit the floor and ricochet from floor to ceiling. Still can’t envision what I’m talking about? Picture Slimer from Ghostbusters, or Jabba Da Hutt from Star Wars – THAT’S what under my Size 8 Calvin Klein’s.

Sorry to be blubbering about my blubber, but it is sucking the joy out of my transformation.  Now that I’m nearing the end of my search for my after photo, I’ll be setting off on a new quest in search of a plastic surgeon!

To find out how much weight I lost last month, click here.

What The World Needs Now

It’s ridiculous writing about weight loss when the world is going crazy. As I write this, that Oompa Loompa in the White House imposed a travel ban preventing refugees from entering the very country whose rallying cry is “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” and my country mourns as six Muslims were shot and killed in a Quebec mosque.

Disturbing news like this would have led me to the fridge, now it gets me to my knees. Food, or any other addictive substance, may numb us for a short time, but once the effects wear off, the problem is still there, and we are worse for wear.

It was a year ago this very weekend that I numbed myself stupid for the last time. I got some news I didn’t know how to process, so I did what I always did when I felt discomfort rise up within me – I rammed it back down with fists full of food. When I came to, my problem was still there, and I was sporting seven extra pounds as a souvenir – pretty impressive for two-and-a-half day bender!

So, what got me to change a lifelong pattern of self-destructive coping? Prayer and action. I couldn’t change my situation, but I could change me, so I joined a fellowship of food addicts in recovery, and TOGETHER we support each other through life’s ups and downs.

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Instead of looking for a solution at the bottom of a Nutella jar when a problem arises, I say The Serenity Prayer and decipher which course of action to take. For example, I can’t change that buffoon south of the border, but I can do my part in preventing the spread of his moral and ethical herpes by vaccinating my mind, body, and spirit, with the antidote: LOVE.

The day after Trump announced the bans, I signed up to volunteer my time assembling medical kits for doctors who go on missions around the world – the thought that this medicine will get to the very souls that Trump is trying to keep out lights me up more than any of my binge foods ever could!

Yes, what the world needs now is love, sweet love! I suggest we counter every act of destruction, hate, and discrimination with constructive, healing acts of service and love. We addicts can only do that if we put down our forks, bottles, syringes, joints, etc., and take action in making the world a better place.

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To find out how much I lost last month, click here.

The Joy of Less

Happy New Year everyone! I pray that 2017 will bring you health, happiness, and an abundance of joy. I’m finding the older I get, these are the things I want to fill my life with – the ones that don’t have a price tag.

I didn’t always get that. I, like many, used to bow to the god of all things shiny and crammed my house with so much stuff I got carpal tunnel dusting it all… wall-to-wall shelving units teeming with books, DVDs, and tchotchkes; Rubbermaid totes packed with craft supplies; and a plethora of pashminas, if tied end-to-end, could stylishly wrap Tutankhamun and his entourage.

At the same time, my hoarding spilled over from the shelves, onto my plate and down my gullet. Bingeing became my way of stockpiling excessive amounts of food in a frame that simply couldn’t contain it. As a result, I lived in an unruly body that was bursting at the seams with cellulite and misery. Mercifully, my compulsion to overindulge is being arrested a day at a time by working a twelve-step program for food addiction.

These valuable lessons are positively influencing all areas of my life. For example, as my waist shrinks, so has my consumer waste! I’m starting to be just as deliberate with my purchases as I am with my food plan. When I go shopping, I ask myself two question: (1) do I need it, and (2) do I love it? If I answer “yes” to at least one question, I’ll make the purchase. If the answer is “no” to both, I walk away. It’s not always easy, but like exercise, the more I do it, the more I strengthen that muscle.

I’ve also been going through my home, purging the excess. I ask myself the same two questions when deciding what to keep, sell, or toss. I’m discovering my townhouse isn’t as tiny as I thought!

You might think I’m being too restrictive, but actually I feel liberated! Excess has got me into a lot of trouble in the past.  Instead, I’m choosing to live intentionally, and the only things I’m interested in acquiring going forward are more friends, experiences, and stamps on my passport!

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The Results Are In

To find out how much I lost last month, click here.

 

 

 

Touched By An Angel

 

Today, I would like to honour a dear friend, Michelle Riccio, who passed away on Thursday, December 8, 2016, from a long and courageously fought battle with breast cancer. Michelle, in her short life of 36 years, taught me about living life fully, and making a positive difference in the lives of others.

I honour Michelle’s past, with a link to her blog site, Tit Happens. You’ll remember that she joined me in 12 in 12 during May when I followed the Whole Food, Plant-Based Diet. We made delicious Granola Bars and Clusters, Guacamole, Cashew Sour Cream and fresh Almond Milk together, with her little one, Taylor. In addition, I’ve included her recent appearance on Cityline, in Toronto (link 1; link 2; link 3; link 4) and a feature in Today’s Parent Magazine.

I honour Michelle’s present, as I share the tribute card from her Celebration of Life service I attended today with several hundred people who were blessed to know and love her.

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I honour Michelle’s future, with links to causes near and dear to her heart. Please consider giving a gift on her behalf, or on behalf of a loved one. I’m sure every person would be thrilled to know that they continued to make a positive difference in the lives of others.

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Thank you, my dear friend, for reminding me once again that the most important things in life aren’t things. They are the people and experiences we gather along the way. I am so grateful our paths crossed. I take your strength and courage with me into the coming year, and always.

Love,

Mare

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Life Off The Plate

I’m so proud of the women my daughters have become – they’re bright, compassionate, creative, and funny as heck. However, it’s their sense of wonder and curiosity I admire most. My eldest, a seasoned globetrotter, has made a career out of her passion for travel, and my youngest, a self-proclaimed hermit, got out of her shell and taught in South Korea for two years. I have no idea where they got their adventurous spirit from, given that their father never gets off the couch, and I’m the ‘play-it-safe’ mom who won’t touch risk with a ten foot pole.

I love listening to their travel stories, and live vicariously through their photos and postcards that I proudly hang on my fridge. They represent an accomplishment that allows them to say, “been there, done that”. Exploring this great, big, beautiful world has enriched and transformed their lives in so many ways. Sure, I’ve fantasized about taking off from reality and doing my own version of Eat, Pray, Love, but my responsibilities, pocketbook, and germ-a-phobia get in the way of making it happen. Lucky for me, not all journeys require a boarding pass and vats of hand sanitizer.

Two years ago today, at a whopping 253.8 lbs, I took my My Last Before photo and vowed to scour the ends of the earth (okay, Mississauga and the Greater Toronto Area) to find my right-sized body in the hopes of snapping my first ever after photo.

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I took the scenic route during my first year, testing 12 diets in 12 months. I either consulted the diet gurus in person, or followed their protocols as prescribed in their books.  When the experiment ended, I decided to create my own plan, which I dubbed The Best of The Best. Well, that blew up in my face! In two short months, I regained 20 of the 58 lbs it took me a year to lose! I was at risk of regaining all the weight in half the time it took me to lose it! Talk about epic fail! Or was it?

Wrong turns and detours often take us to places we wouldn’t discover otherwise, and it was at that very junction I found my solution – a 12-step program that not only dealt with my problem with the scale, but the mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of food addiction. The program offers an abundant food plan, but it’s the support and structure that continues to transform me from the inside out.  I have no doubt I’ll snap that after photo soon!

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When I started the blog, my hope was to get to 140 lbs…. Well, I’m just a few pounds away from that, so it’s time to tweak that goal to what I now know is attainable for me: 125 lbs.  I am certain that I will not only get there, but maintain it, providing I continue to work the program.  Sooooo, that means the journey continues!!!

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Interestingly, the high point of this journey hasn’t been taking progress photos along the way, but rather what happened in the meantime.

A lot of living and learning has taken place over the past two years. Before embarking on this quest, my primary travel destination was to and from the fridge.  My frequent binge miles only earned me saddlebags and a ton of regret. Somewhere along the way, I stopped living on my plate and discovered a delicious life off it. I now have an insatiable appetite for calorie-free experiences, and as a result, I too can look back and say, “been there, done that!” rather than, “I shoulda, coulda, woulda” which was my mantra before I booked my passage on this wild and crazy ride two years ago.

Best of all, I’ve met wonderful people who have helped me along the way and I’m extremely grateful to those of you who read and support me via the blog – I’m beginning to view my entries as postcards of my journey – I hope you’ve enjoyed receiving them : )

For those of you pondering a similar quest, I encourage you to take action – you don’t have to see your destination to know that it’s there, you just have to take the first step.

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  • Weight –107.4 lbs
  • Chest -10.25 inches
  • Waist -11 inches
  • Hips -18.5 inches
  • Wrist -0.50 inches
  • Forearm -2 inches

A big thank you to Jennifer Wood of JAG True Beauty for taking my ‘Last Before’, my ‘Halfway There’, and ‘Almost There’ photos. Jen, I’m booking you now for my After!

The Results Are In

To find out how much I lost last month, click here.

Just For Today

Anniversaries, birthdays, New Year’s day etc., all measure time, and prompt me to pause and reflect on the growth and changes, if any, that have transpired from one year to the next.

Today is the second anniversary of launching the blog – I can’t believe how time has flown by, and yet in the 365 days times 2 that have been lived, loved, learned, and lamented in, subtle changes have occurred that have a very different Mare clicking away at the keyboard.

In my inaugural post titled ‘Before and Before’ I shared a bit of my lifelong struggle with my weight, and how I hoped to undergo a physical transformation, so one day I would add my first ever ‘after’ photo in my album full of befores.

Despite my success on the scale since starting my journey, my struggle continues. However, it’s the way I’ve learned to handle my problem that has changed. Like most, I would have loved an instant solution and results, but taking the scenic route in search of my after these last 2 years has taught me more about who I am and what makes me tick, or in my case, what leads me to the fridge.

Number 1 – I am a food addict. I hate it. I don’t want to be one, but when I accept that fact and put my recovery first, I am successful not only on the scale, but mentally and emotionally as well. By doing so, I have the serenity that comes from accepting the things I cannot change, and finding the courage to change the things I can. The trick is knowing the difference.

Number 2 – I must weigh and measure my life as well as my food. I have a tendency to overextend myself and it eventually leads to burnout. Unfortunately, I lost sight of that knowledge last month and turned to my hardcore drugs of choice – chips and chocolate. My life had become unmanageable in the days leading up to my daughter’s wedding, and I gave in to my go-to stress reliever, instead of reaching out for support. Even happy stress can trigger a break for an addict if they don’t regain balance.

Number 3 – I have to be careful that solitude doesn’t lead to isolation. I’m typing this post up at my sister’s cottage – a place where I come to be reset and rejuvenated. This is the good kind of alone. The dangerous alone is what I did when I lost control just days before the wedding. When the pressure escalated, I isolated and downed the foods that numbed me for decades, instead of reaching out to my community of fellow addicts for help. What scared me about my recent episode was how voracious I went at my drug despite being clean for over 8 months.

Number 4 – As an addict, time means nothing! You can be abstinent for decades and think you’ve got your disease under control, but as they say in the program, “while you’re working on your recovery, your addiction is in the parking lot doing pushups”. Ironically, it was in a parking lot, isolated in my car, that I broke my abstinence. So, while I mark the anniversary of starting this blog, I can recognize how far I’ve come, but I can never forget that the only day that matters in my recovery is today.

Wherever this post meets you today, my hope is that you feel encouraged to take a step toward your own change. It can be found one day at a time.

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The Results Are In

To find out how much I lost last month, click here.