White Rabbit

In 2010, I went on a Caribbean cruise with my buddy Dave and his family. I was the solo Canadian among six Brits, and despite being picked on for not enunciating my “t’s”, I had a wonderful time with my friends. It was a time of restoration, exploration, and celebration. Dave and his wife Jo were celebrating their 25th anniversary, and Dave’s mum, Margaret, was celebrating her 80th birthday.

Margaret is your typical English gran – proper and delicate, except when the band started to play! Boy, that woman can cut a rug! She was the first on the dance floor, and the last one off, and if there’s any such thing as a dance-hangover, Margaret had one every morning.

She was the last to join us for breakfast one day, looking a bit rough.  She clearly over did it the night before – it was Disco night on the Lido Deck and she out hustled, bumped, and YMCAed us all, including Juan, the cruise dance instructor, who was in his 20s! I think she broke him.

“Good morning Margaret. How are you feeling?” I asked.  The petite woman didn’t utter a word until she took a sip of her tea, and then said, “White rabbit.”

I cocked my head wondering if I heard her correctly, but no one batted an eye. Then she said it again.  Holy sh*t, was this poor woman having a stroke? Then, one by one, the others at the table followed suit.

“White rabbit.”

“White rabbit.”

“White rabbit.”

What the?!

Margaret went on to explain that uttering “white rabbit” first thing in the morning, on the first of the month, is meant to bring good luck for the rest of the month.  Oooookaaaay… whatever floats your boat. My culture is not without its superstitions, so who am I to judge.

I completely forgot about Margaret’s tradition until I started the blog two years ago, when I decided that the first of the month would be my weigh-in day. Before stepping on the scale, I’d whisper, “white rabbit” under my breath, praying that the weight loss gods would be kind.  For the most part they were, but over the last four months, I dreaded the first of the month, the scale, and that freaking white rabbit, which I’ve been wanting to fricassee ever since!

My post is late because I’ve been procrastinating disclosing this month’s numbers. Last month I got away without reporting my stats because I was on vacation. I secretly hoped that having an extra month would buy me time to get back on track, but my addiction has a grip on me stronger than ever before. Every time I step on the scale I’m shocked at how the needle defies gravity and continues to skyrocket toward the stratosphere of my worst nightmares! How is it humanly possible to gain at this rate? I know, evil elves must be secretly sewing lead into the hem of my jeans while I sleep! But I weigh-in naked, so there goes that theory.

You are either in recovery or relapse if you are an addict. I am not in recovery. I know it, and so does EVERYBODY else.  A fellow in program who hasn’t seen me in a while asked how I was doing. When I said I was struggling, she scanned me from head to toe, focusing on my saddlebags of truth and said, “I can see that”. Ouch! But what am I pissed off at? Her having eyeballs, or me shoveling food down my throat the same way they do to fatten a duck to make foie gras?

Unlike most addictions, I can’t hide mine, so there’s no use putting this off any longer – it’s not like anybody who interacts with me face-to-face can’t see I’m in serious relapse – but I’m embarrassed to reveal just how off the beam I’ve been to those of you who follow me via the blog. It’s equally as embarrassing asking to “borrow” the size 10, 12, and 14 clothes I passed on to my friend since I can’t get into the size 8 clothes in my closet (lucky for me, she’s pregnant and won’t have use for them until after the baby is born!).

They say in program the only way to be successful is to be honest. I have not been honest with my sponsor, my fellows, or myself. I know lying about eating isn’t one of the top ten no-no’s on Moses’ tablets, but when it comes to my mental, emotional, and physical health, I have to be honest, otherwise I can’t get the help I need.

I’m dejected, but not defeated. I hear testimonies of hope from fellows in program who’ve been in longer periods of relapse, and have not only reclaimed their recovery, but are maintaining it, and it all started with being honest. So, here’s the truth of where I am in my illness:

  • I’m currently in its clutches.
  • I’ve been eating in secret until I my hips, butt, and thighs outed me.
  • I’ve eaten to the point of blackout – something I’ve never experience before, proving that addiction is progressive.
  • I have not been living a weighed and measured life. I’m still an all or nothing gal and either jump all in, or don’t even try. When my life is out of balance, so is my eating.
  • I’ve been pissed off at my Higher Power… but I’m coming to see that I’m treating Him like a genie expecting my prayers and wishes to be granted. When they don’t I spite Him, and the rest of the world by eating. It’s an “I’ll show you, I’ll kill me!” sort of dance I’ve been doing with the Almighty.
  • My addiction isn’t just physical, it’s driven my mental and emotional state, especially when I’m not living in the present… my heart has either been wallowing in yesterday’s regret and remorse; or my head is spiraling in tomorrow’s dread and worry. I know I can’t control the past or the future, but I sure have been trying to suppress the feelings they bring up with food.

They say the truth will set you free (and so will letting go of the Doritos). So here I go again, admitting my powerlessness over my drug and the reality of my current state.  *Sigh*

Until the next white rabbit hops along, I wish you all peace and serenity.

To find out how much I gained over the last two months, click here… brace yourself, it’ll be a shocker!

Thank you once again to the talented Nathan C. Younger for his awesome illustrations!

Wrestling With Addiction

Hello strangers, it’s been a while. I apologize for that, but I’ve been knee-deep in the murky waters of the Binge Bayou, wrestling the cunning and ferocious predator that is my food addiction. In truth, I instigated the event by assuming I was immune to attacks given I managed to ward them off for an entire year while conducting my experiment.

Shortly after 12 in 12 ended, I trod perilously close to temptation’s edge, provoking the creature within.  I was cocky all of December and January, gobbling a bite of this, and a taste of that.  Despite gaining 7 lbs. in 2 months, I paraded around convinced I could remedy that whenever I wanted. As I marched about, my addiction snaked closer waiting for the perfect moment to attack. Foolishly, I forgot I wasn’t the only one with a bite.

Immediately after my weigh-in on February 1st, I found myself face-to-face with my foe.  I was convinced my addiction wouldn’t dare cross the line, but looking back, how could it not when I taunted it with the most intoxicating bait of all – a savoury blend of my insecurities, guilt, shame, and loneliness. We’ve been in a battle ever since.

I hit my rock bottom Super Bowl weekend.  I went on a food bender like never before.  Addicts isolate in order to drown in their substance of choice, however this time, my solitude sent me straight into a vat of food… Oreos, chips, Nutella, I even had a beer and soju, and I don’t even enjoy alcohol! As I devoured everything in sight, my addiction was devouring me.

It was a bloodbath. By the end of it, I gained an additional 12 lbs. – that’s a total weight gain of 17 lbs. in three months. Impressive in the worst possible way, wouldn’t you say? Sadly, that’s not unusual for me given my history with my weight fluctuations – hence, never being able to achieve an after shot.

Processed with MOLDIV

It’s all a haze now, but I do recall it scared the bejeebers out of me.  It wasn’t the volume of food that I consumed that frightened me. Nor was it that I wasn’t able to stop. What terrified me most, is that I didn’t want to stop.

That last binge started the morning of Saturday, February 6th, and ended on Monday, February 8th at 6:45 PM.  Why 6:45 PM? The Twelve-Step meeting for food addiction started at 7:00 PM, otherwise I would have kept on going.  The only way to stop myself and get the creature off me was to call in the big guns.

When I tested the plan last September, the group would not disclose their official food plan unless I committed to the program beyond the 30 day experiment.  However, they gave me the basics: abstain from flour, wheat, and sugar, and attend regular meetings.  By doing just that, I managed to lose 5.9 lbs that month. Now, committed to the plan, I have a sponsor who acts like a parole officer, ensuring that I don’t get close to the edge again.

Ironically, their plan is similar to The Best Of The Best, the program I designed for myself following my yearlong experiment.  However, this program requires daily check-ins.  I feel stupid doing so… I mean it’s food for heaven’s sake, not crack. I don’t know what I hate more, being an food addict, or admitting to myself that I am one.

This is not how I wanted to live my life. I hoped against all hope that 12 in 12 would cure me of my compulsion to binge, and that one day I’d be able eat these foods in moderation, but I’ve proven I’m not capable of that. For me, one bite leads to 37.

Along with reporting and committing my food to my sponsor, I must do a morning reading and meditation. One of the most sobering quotes I read recently stated, it’s not the second drink (in my case cookie), or the tenth that does the damage. It’s the first.

I have to surrender the idea I can ever eat addictive foods ever again – especially sugar. I felt fantastic when I was off it for 2 months during the experiment, but it didn’t take long to overtake me when I started again.

There’s a type of insanity that comes with any addiction. When I’m in this state, I find I have what I dub ‘split brain’ – half of my brain keeps me in the present so I can function, and the other half is wondering when, and how, I’m going to get my next fix. These last few weeks have been so debilitating that I could not string a sentence together for the blog to save my life. Every time I tried to put pen to paper, I felt like a hypocrite and the words crumbled along with my spirit. I can’t live like this. I have to ask myself, do I want the junk food, or do I want to be sane.

Surrendering to this program, and committing my food to a sponsor on a daily basis, minimizes the crazy making and allows me the space to identify my triggers and learn how to manage them.

This latest experience has taught me that falling is easy, getting up is hard. Thankfully, if you muster the courage to ask for help, there are support groups to help you get up.

For my weekly food journal, click here.

Giving Thanks For Total Recall

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I spent a lovely holiday weekend with family and friends eating, drinking, and being merry. This was the first gobble-gobble fest that I did not binge, or have a single dessert.

Processed with Moldiv

You’re probably wondering how I managed that when there were sweets a plenty tempting me everywhere I turned, like these lovely homemade pies my daughter baked.

Processed with Moldiv

Easy… I created a new game called, “Total Recall”, which I’ve been playing since I removed refined sugar from my diet in last month’s plan.

Since I don’t want to open the floodgates of my food addiction hell, my shoulder angel coaches me through the sugary temptation my shoulder devil (now bound and gagged), would have otherwise enticed me with. My angelic coach starts by asking if I remember what the treat du jour tastes like. I always do, and then bring to mind the multitude of times I’ve gorged on it in the past. I meditate on that for a moment, and then take a phantom bite in my mind, vividly recalling every detail – the texture, the flavour, and even the high I would get. The beauty of this exercise is that I don’t ingest a single calorie, and there isn’t a trace of the guilt aftertaste that always followed a binge.

I’m pleased to report my sugar-free Thanksgiving wasn’t any less enjoyable – actually, I left the festivities proud of myself knowing I fed my promise to nourish my mind, body, and spirit, and not my addiction, and for that, I am truly thankful.

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For my Week 45 food journal, click here.

When Life Hands You Strawberries

Pass the calamine… I’ve got the seven month itch. I’ve never stuck to a diet this long, except for the one I did post-breakup years ago. It was easier then – I wasn’t doing it for myself. This time I am, and in all honesty, I often struggle with keeping a promise to myself.

It’s effortless staying on track when everything comes up roses, but when life gets tough, or I feel that I don’t have control, I get into a funk. When that happens, I usually bury my face in the fridge and don’t come out until I’m in a sugar induced stupor. I haven’t been able to do that since starting 12 in 12… well, not to the Olympic caliber I was used to before starting the experiment. Now I only permit myself the occasional ‘controlled mini-binge’ when I feel this way – but sadly, I just get a quarter of the buzz with the same amount of post-binge guilt.

The wonderful thing about this experiment is that I’m identifying my triggers earlier and learning ways to curb the damage. It’s imperative that I do something constructive, before I start getting destructive!

One technique to get out of Funkytown earlier is to ‘fake it till you make it’, so this weekend I hiked up my plus-sized faux Lulu’s, ran a comb through my Italian fro, and set out in search of a calorie-free buzz, which I found in a strawberry patch out in the country. I shared a fun-filled day with my daughter, sister and nieces. We laughed and ate strawberries and sampled fudge (okay, okay, not so calorie-free).

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Then we turned these ruby gems into spreadable joy.

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I’m hopeful that being creative and spending time with people I love will snap me out of the doldrums and give me the motivation and willpower to stay the course.

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To view my Week 30 food journal, click here.

The Odyssey of the Dieting MAREiner

Captain’s Log – HMS Mare, the 21st day of March, in the year of our Lord 2015: I’m starting to drift. I’m several months into my voyage and I don’t see land anymore – there is nothing before me, and nothing behind. Water, water every where.

I cast off at 253.8 poundatitude on December 1st, 2014, and set sail for the distant land located at 140 poundatitude. I knew full well I would encounter choppy waters when I shoved off all those months ago. I’ve attempted this crossing before, but failed to reach the sunny shores of the size 12 utopia I have been assured exists.

My compass indicates I’m veering off course by a few degrees. If I don’t make adjustments soon, I will drift endlessly, or worse yet, get marooned on the desolate island of Failed Attempts yet again.

The waters have been still for one moon cycle. I need a breeze to propel me forward, but the wind slumbers. This ancient MAREiner is forced to row-row-row her diet boat alone, and I am growing weary. Being mindful of every morsel is exhausting, and my motivation is waning. I need to rest, to sleep, perchance to dream of crispy potato chips, soft gooey caramel, and mouth-watering pie a la mode.

Captain’s Log – HMS Mare, the 25th day of March, in the year of our Lord 2015: I hear voices. Beautiful. Haunting. Am I hallucinating? No, I’ve heard them before.

The seductive Sirens surface from the great abyss and soothe me with their bewitching song. They feel neglected and need to be fed. I am their vessel. Their names: One-Bite and It’s-Okay.

This sultry duo have their routine down pat: one tempts, the other pacifies. They’re intoxicating and before I know it, I’ve had one bite of a cookie, but it’s okay because I’ve been good for so long. Then they offer me chocolate covered candied ginger, acceptable for my blood type diet, so it’s okay to have one bite. They propose one bite more, and then another… but it’s okay because a few bites do not a binge make.

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Artwork: Nathan C. Younger (c) Searching For My After

My solitude welcomes their company and condones their lies. This happens for a few days. A week. Going on two. One-Bite doesn’t look as attractive now, but it’s okay, she still looks better than me.

In my sugar induced stupor, I look at my food journal and immediately feel ashamed. As soon as I do, One-Bite and It’s-Okay distract me with popcorn, biscotti, and skinny vanilla lattes. The aroma is enchanting and envelopes me – I swoon and fall under its spell. I notice an albatross circling above me before I fall into a food triggered guilt coma.

When I awake, the temptresses are gone, but I am not alone. They left me with a ravenous companion called, Shame. We must learn to coexist on this journey. I adjust our course and navigate towards the infinite horizon.

Captain’s Log – HMS Mare, the 30th day of March, in the year of our Lord 2015: A single sunbeam pierces through the clouds and dances on the water. Both Shame and I are mesmerized by its buoyant optimism. A whisper of hope is ushered on the awakened breeze and reinvigorates me.

Misery loves company, and madness calls it forth.

– Yann Martel, Life of Pi

For Week 17 food journal, click here.