I want my body back

As I suspect so often happens, this blog began as one thing and became another.

It began as “The Adventures of a Binge Eater Taking Her Body Back After Menopause” but in writing it, I’ve realised that as with all human beings, my body is far more than my weight: like all of us, my body has become a battleground, fought over by scientists, governments, cultures, factions and the diet industry. It is something by which I am judged and by which I judge myself. As with all women, and increasingly men, the beauty of my body is currency and can earn or lose me respect, opportunities and admiration.

I’ve always been fortunate enough to be on the right side of that equation, to have the kind of body which earns me the approval of my culture; however, my body has disfunctioned. I was injured and as a result I gained weight – and so the beauty bank called in my overdraft and closed my account. I became invisible.

I’m not resentful about that. I’ve had my time in the sun and I have to be willing to spend my share of time in the shade.  However, I want to drag my body back to full health and fitness; to feel strong and enjoy the freedom of a body that moves easily and gracefully again;  to love my body again and, who knows, perhaps to share it with a lover again.

So there’s a long road ahead of me, with mountains to climb and twists and turns to navigate;  and along the way I’ll be doing battle with diet, diagnoses and demons.

And seeing as both you and I are human, my demons are probably the same as your demons – so why don’t you come with me?

 

The death of bingeing?

I don’t know what happened precisely, but something did.  Something went off in my head, and I was suddenly able to step outside of that uncontrolleably bingeing version of myself – like a snake shedding  its skin – back into my own body and breathe the fresh air of relative sanity.

It was good to be back.

I think what did the trick was realising that I needed to focus not on the bingeing but on the why I was bingeing.

A few days ago I was watching Queen Victoria’s Children on iplayer (it’s surprisingly interesting) and the observation was made that Bertie, King Edward to be – who had a hopelessly bad relationship with his mother, who blamed him for the death of his father – had rapacious appetites for all things physical including food, and that

“he looked for emotional satisfaction from physical appetites”.

I so recognised myself in that description.

Since last May I’ve been off work, because of my problems with my jaw joint and the trigeminal nerve.  These prevent me doing a great deal of talking and as I talk for a living (I work in the English Department of a high school, working with students with Special Educational Needs either leading interventions, taking groups or working one-to-one) it became impossible to do my job.

I’m single and aside from my very wonderful 18 year old live alone;  and wonderful though he is, and very close though we are, he does of course not spend a great deal of time with me, which is as it should be.  I have no family (aside from my children) within a hundred miles and I couldn’t be social with friends as initially I couldn’t even hold a conversation, and still now have to restrict the amount of talking I do.

What’s more, the heavy medication I was put on (and have significantly reduced on my own initiative, in collaboration with my GP) meant I was off my head for hours a day.

Just when I was suddenly so much alone and so isolated, so frightened about what my medical condition might mean, off my head half the time and in considerable discomfort, I had also to give up nicotine and caffeine.  What else was I going to do but comfort eat?

I already, of course, knew all that.

What I didn’t know, what hadn’t occurred to me, was that due to my extreme isolation (imagine being unable to talk or use sign language;  it’s made me realise how fundamental the ability to express oneself is to being a human being) I wasn’t just confort eating, I had turned to food so passionately as it was now the only thing I could  connect to.  What alerted me to this was recently watching the TED Talk,  Everything You Think You Know About Addiction Is Wrong as a follow on from a recommendation made by Julie Ramage.  In it Johann Hari puts forward the theory that people develop addictions when they feel disconnected from the world around them, and their drug of choice (recreational, nicotine, caffeine, food) is the only thing they feel able to connect to.  I instantly recognised that in the behaviour of people around me whose addictions had got the better of them, and I recognised it in myself.

A few days later I noticed Russell Brand discussing the premise of his latest book, Recovery, which is pretty similar;  and while Russell Brand isn’t someone I’d choose to spend more than 5 minutes watching I do think he’s a phenomenally intelligent man who has a great capacity for analysis and self-analysis;  and I think he’s right. People form addictions when they cannot connect – for whatever reason – with the world around them;  meaning the only real connection, the only real relationship, they can have is with their drug of choice;  which makes it the most important thing in their lives, even when it’s destroying their lives.

Incidentally, I am not the only one who has been in that kind of romantic relationship either, I’m sure.

And when I understood, the spell broke.  I realised I need to find new, positive, healthy things to connect to (How interesting I said ‘things’ and not ‘people’ to connect to – but I’m not going to censor that comment because I think it’s very telling and I want to remember it) to and to strengthen existing connections.

Incidentally, one thing the last nine months of isolation have taught me is how very good I am with my own company, although even I can have a little too much of it.  That’s one good thing that has come out of this episode in my life – I cannot imagine having the level of contact with other people I used to, I don’t think I could tolerate that much interaction with other people anymore, confusing and unsettling as even the best of people can be;  I’ve learned peace in my own company,  which I guess makes me more self-sufficient than I was.

But deprived so brutally of work, routine, other people, my health and plans for the future, and my usual drugs of choice – well, there wasn’t anything left to connect to other than food, was there?

PS.  my most recent scans have revealed that I have a lipoma, a benign tumour,  in my shoulder mere inches away from my jaw joint, and it is that which has been causing my medical problems.  Hopefully it will soon be surgically removed and my jaw and nerve can heal.

On the dangers of lemon water

I lifted this directly from the BBC News website this morning –

The researchers found people who had drinks such as water with a slice of lemon or hot fruit-flavoured teas twice a day between meals were more than 11 times more likely to have moderate or severe tooth erosion.

So we try to be good people, follow the expert advice and do that lemon water trick first thing in the morning to flush out our livers – I do anyway – and we drink our fruit-flavoured teas rather than anything caffeinated or sugary because they’re so very bad for us, and now we discover our good habits are uwittingly rotting our teeth.  No fair.  And while on the face of it, tooth erosion may seem unpleasant but not serious, your dental health can impact negatively and seriously on the health of the rest of your body.

I have to laugh, that something so apparently innocuous as lemon water is now not innocuous at all.

Reminds me of one of my very first posts –

You have to be your own pet scientist

We do indeed.

I wish I lived in Fife

I used to live in Edinburgh so know Fife and miss it, and Scotland, but now I have another reason to miss it:  this post from Julie Ramage:

 

The Fan Club is for women who are experiencing menopause or peri-menopause who would like to share with others and learn some techniques and approaches to cope better with symptoms. The Fan Club provides: information, education, sharing, relaxation, listening – all with plenty of tea and biscuits. The Fan Club is run by qualified counsellors […]

via The Fan Club – therapeutic group for those experiencing the symptoms of menopause and peri-menopause in Fife — Julie Ramage – Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist

Day 2 Defatting, More Fuel to the Calorie Debate & Sundry Scans

So I’ve done 2 days of the diet I devised for myself – Defatting: The Principles (and why your body will always win in the end) – and this morning I weighed myself.

I’ve lost 7lbs.

Now I know there’s a fair amount of water weight etc in there, but all the same.  I did a calorie-careful vegetable-based day (lost 3lbs), and followed it with a calorie-uncounted high protein-high fat day (lost 4lbs).

Yesterday was a big fat fest, and although I actually really can cook, what I felt like was an utterly self-indulgent day and after trying to adhere to the almost-vegetarian Alkaline Diet, that could only mean lots of bacon and eggs.  I can’t be bothered working out my calorie count from yesterday, but this is what I ate:

– 3 eggs fried in 1 tbsp butter + 4 rashers grilled bacon

– 1 salmon fillet + 2 boiled eggs made into egg mayonnaise with 2 tbsps mayonnaise

– 250g chestnut mushrooms fried in 2 tbsps fat + 5 grilled rashers bacon

I only know that it’s way more calories than should result in a weight loss.

Hmmmm.  This is something I’ve seen before – that the calories in/calories out equation isn’t the whole picture.

Of course, whatever, the weight loss will slow very soon but I’ll keep you updated.

Today is a starch-based day, although I freely admit it may go a little awry as I’m going in for an MRI Craniofacial Scan today and they may want to inject dye into me so *ugh*  I’m a little nervous going in and know I will come out with a shocking headache, so I’ll do the best I can in terms of diet but make no concrete promises.

However the scan should shed light on what’s going on with my TMJ/TGN so that’s a good thing. Strangely, yesterday I finally got called for the ultrasound on my shoulder which will happen on Thursday 15th February.  As is so often the way in life, it’s all happening at once.