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!

When Hitting Rock Bottom ROCKS!

Being an addict of any kind compromises your quality of life. Actually, you’re not really living, you’re subsisting – a slave to your drug. The insidious nature with my substance of choice is we all need it to survive. Drug addicts can stop using. Gamblers can stop betting. Alcoholics can stop drinking. However, if a food addict stops eating, we’ll die – yet, if we keep eating the way we do, we’ll die. So, where does recovery from this addiction lie?

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It’s a daily battle that demands rigorous honesty. Having a clear, strategic plan of eating (weighed, measured, and timed foods that are free of flour and sugar). Staying in daily contact with a support group, and most importantly, surrendering to your Higher Power.

Surprisingly, I am not finding this confining at all… quite the contrary! It’s the most liberating place I’ve been throughout my weight loss journey, because it has NOTHING to do with weight loss, and everything to do with restoring my sanity around food, and beyond! I can breathe now. I’m not living in my head, where my dark companions, fear, doubt, and insecurity ruled for decades. Ironically, I tried to quell them with food, but in reality, I nourished them while they depleted me.

People are beginning to comment on my weight loss on a daily basis now.  I not only see it myself (body image distortion is a real problem for food addicts), but I feel it too. I’ve lost weight before, but this time it feels different.  I’m deflating slowly and steadily, like someone letting the air out of a beach ball, and I would never have gotten to where I am today if I didn’t hit rock bottom after my epic binge two months ago. When I was going through it, I was angry with God for not saving me as I spiralled downward into my personal hell. I realize now He didn’t abandon me, He allowed it to happen because He loves me. I had to get to the end of myself, before I could face the reality of my disease and admit that I’m powerless against it on my own.

Since reaching out for help, I have found a new freedom. Although nothing has changed in my world, my perception has.  I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but today, food doesn’t have a hold on me, and for that I am grateful.

Tick Tock

Time is a funny thing, when you’re a kid, or in pain, or alone, it seems to drag on forever. However, if you’re juggling a full-time job, a part-time job, three twelve-step meetings a week, planning a trip, a bridal shower, AND a wedding like I am, time seems to slip through your fingers like wet soap in the shower!

I’m sorry I haven’t posted sooner, but once I get used to my new schedule I hope to be back to updating the blog regularly once again.  That said, do you know what day it is? It is the first of the month and that means weigh-in time!  But before I get to that, it’s also my daughter’s birthday! She turned 30 today! Where did the time go?! She was my precious little angel face a moment ago, and now she’s this incredibly talented, kind, loving young woman! I love her more than an endless supply of Nutella!

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Speaking of Nutella, guess who hasn’t had any since the epic binge to end all binges two months ago? Moi! Honest to goodness, the Twelve-Step program has been an answer to prayer! Not only is the weight dropping off, but my mental and emotional state around food has never been better.  I heard a saying at one of the meetings last week that really hit home… “You come for the vanity, but you stay for the sanity.”

The structure may be rigid, but it’s really helping. My favourite part of the program is the early morning meditation followed by 30-minutes of quiet time.  It helps me to slow things down and spend time with God (my Higher Power). The practice is teaching me to live ONE DAY AT A TIME, which is keeping me sane with all of life’s demands.  In the past, burying my head in the fridge was my go to for comfort, and I’ve got to say, I like the view out here a lot better!

Look to this day

For my food journals, click here.

For my monthly measure up results, click here.

Accepting The Things I Cannot Change

I’ve been on a Twelve-Step program for food addiction for over a month now, and while it’s strict and demands more of my time, I’m happy to report I’m back on track! Being at my pre-binge weight is wonderful, and so is the support I’ve been receiving from fellow members.  However, it pales in comparison to how the plan is calming my mind, which is command central for my addictive behaviours.

I never wanted to do a regimented plan where you must to weigh and measure everything, but I have proven I can’t be trusted around products that contain flour, wheat, or sugar, so I must accept I can never take eat them again. But that’s okay… the Twelve-Step food plan may be regulated down to the ounce, but there truly is a peace that comes with surrendering to the plan, and my higher power. I hand over my addiction and in return, I get peace of mind, and nothing I’ve ever binged on tastes as good as that!

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There’s a freedom within these boundaries – there’s no guesswork when it comes to the food, so I’m at liberty to savour life’s other joys.

For my food journals, click here.

 

Getting a Grip

In my last post, I fessed up to bingeing again after not doing so for more than a year. Falling off the bandwagon this time around was harder than ever before.  Since ending my yearlong experiment on December 1st, 2015, I regained 19.4 of the 58.6 lbs. I lost. I was embarrassed to admit it on my blog, but I was equally upset that I could easily revert to a binge of that magnitude after all I had learned during my trial. I realized then, I needed to be accountable more than once a week, so I joined a Twelve-Step program where I check in with my sponsor on a daily basis.  I also attend several meetings weekly where I listen and learn from individuals who struggle with the same addiction.

I started the program officially on Wednesday, February 10th, 2016 and have been completely compliant with the food plan.  Technically, I am only to weigh myself once a month (the 10th in my case) however, since I’ve been blogging, my weigh-in days have been the first of every month, and I will continue to do so for consistency.

These are my results on the plan thus far…

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That’s a 12.9 lbs. loss in 20 days!!!  I was able to reverse 2 months of damage in a few weeks! These results will vary for everyone, and the numbers will decrease as time goes on, but all I can say is… WOW, and THANK YOU to the group for helping me get a grip on what could have been a catastrophic situation.

In all honesty, the food plan is the least important part of the program. When you get that under control, you can begin to deal with whatever it is that feeds the addiction, and that’s worth more than a lifetime supply of Nutella!

I still struggling with labeling myself as a food addict. I don’t want to be one. However, the more I resist facing the truth, the longer it will take to recover

For my food journal, click here.

For my monthly measure up results, click here.

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.

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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.

What A Difference A Year Makes

A year ago today, repulsed at my 253.8 lbs. self, I decided to give dieting one last try – I vowed to get to my goal weight once and for all, or resign myself to a life of stretchy pants.  Equipped with an album full of before photos and a library bursting with diet books all proclaiming to have the solution to my plus-sized problem, I set off on a quest for my after shot, which has eluded me in the last three decades of searching.

As with any expedition, I needed a guide to help me navigate along the way. In my case, I enlisted twelve such experts in the past year, each claiming they knew the route to the size 10 Shangri-La that my size 22 self, sought. Each guide took me through the scenic and diverse landscape of the diet and exercise world – some covering familiar territory, others foreign.


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Month 1 – Tosca Reno, creator of The Start Here Diet asked me to (1) dive inward and identify my emotional triggers for overeating, (2) uncover my hidden foods and eliminate them, and (3) ease into exercising by moving a little.


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Month 2 – I attended weekly Weight Watchers meetings and used their unique accounting system, which assigned a point value to food and exercise. Everything had to be weighed, measured, and tracked, before I could eat it.


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Month 3 – Paleo channelled my inner CaveMare and had me eating like my hairy knuckled, grunting forefathers did before me. Brontosaurs burgers – good. Grains, dairy, legumes – bad.


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Month 4 – In his plan Eat Right 4 Your Blood Type, Dr. Peter D’Adamo categorized the foods and exercises for each of the four blood types as either beneficial, neutral, or avoid. My ‘O’ blood type meant saying au revoir to crispy bacon and my morning cup of joe.


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Month 5 – The Mediterranean Diet had me returning to my cultural roots, enjoying unprocessed foods and beverages from Italy and the surrounding region, as well as incorporating simple daily activity, like walking, and social interaction to boost mental and emotional health.


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Month 6 – I joined forces with the beautiful and inspiring Michelle Riccio of Tit Happens, who coached me through the Whole Food, Plant-Based Diet. We ate ‘face-free’, unprocessed, unrefined, nutrient rich fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and healthy fats.


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Month 7 – My friend and fitness trainer, Nikki Kamphuis, got me moving when I tested The Biggest Loser 30-Day Jump Start program, which models the hit show’s format of eating a 1,500 calories a day, coupled with daily exercise.


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Month 8 – The creators of The 8-Hour Diet, had me watching the clock, stating I could eat whatever I wanted within an 8 hour period, so long as I ‘ate my eight’, and started my day with a minimum of 8 minutes of exercise.  Outside of these 8 hours, I had to fast.


marilina-chibi-hormone-paleo 001Month 9 – Toronto’s own Dr. Natasha Turner claimed I could optimize my fat burning potential with The Hormone Diet. I went to her clinic for one-on-one care and was given a customized a food and supplement plan which addressed my hormone imbalances, as well as my unbearable hot flashes.


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Month 10 – I attended weekly meeting at various Twelve Step Programs for Food Addicts, a fellowship that has members abstain from addictive foods containing flour, wheat, and sugar.


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Month 11 – Jon Gabriel, creator of The Gabriel Method guided me through visualization and meditation exercises claiming they would turn off my FAT Programs.


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Month 12 – In A Course In Weight Loss, I worked through Marianne Williamson’s 21 spiritual lessons designed to address compulsive overeating by replacing fear with love.


I want to thank all my guides for navigating me to today’s weigh-in. In the past year they’ve helped me cover more ground than any previous attempt, bringing me closer to taking my after photo, which up until now, seemed as plausible as taking a selfie with Sasquatch.

When I stepped on the scale this morning, my eager little fat cells cried, “Are we there yet?! Are we there yet?!”

“At 195.2 lbs. No. Not yet, but we are halfway to after”, I replied. And that’s okay. In fact, that’s great! The point of 12 in 12 was to test a variety of diet claims to see which worked best for my body and my lifestyle.

What A Difference A Year Makes!

In my next post, I will share just how my body responded to each plan, and which I will I continue with for the rest of this journey… and look at that, just in time for resolution season!

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A big thank you to the talented Jennifer Wood for taking my final before and halfway to after photos, the gifted Nathan C. Younger for his fabulous illustrations, and the compassionate Ann DeLuca, my life coach, who help me work through the last quarter of the experiment, which delved into the mental, emotional, and spiritual landscape of this journey.

If you enjoyed this post, or found my yearlong experiment interesting, please share!

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Results for A Course In Weight Loss (the final plan of 12 in 12), click here.

For my Week 52 Food Journal, click here.

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