On this episode of Dani Dishes, I'm letting you (and me) know that it is Okay Not To Be Okay! Let the emotions flow and find out how I deal with them and depression.
On this episode of Dani Dishes, I pose the question: "If you were given the chance to redo the hard times in your life - would you?" Check out the video for my answer!
I messed up. I backtracked.
I gave in to an old habit.
This past weekend I made myself throw up after eating too much.
I was weak.
For those that don't know, I have battled both anorexia and bulimia. You can read a little about that here.
I never say I am someone who is healed. Those eating disorders haunt my thoughts and dreams to this day.
But thanks to Weight Watchers I learned that I could in fact lose weight in a healthy manner and control the urges.
This past weekend was different. I felt mentally weak. I ate too much. I felt sick. My immediate response was to purge.
How did I feel after the fact?
Horrible. Mentally exhausted. Ashamed. Weak. Like a failure.
Wow - crying while writing all this. Okay, I can do this.
I didn't want to do it. But I did. I have to accept that fact.
But I need to know I am stronger than that.
This was Saturday, December 7.
I didn't tell anyone. I wanted to hide it. I wanted to ignore it happened.
But it ate at my soul and my self-esteem.
I am not defined by the eating disorders I have suffered from.
I am human.
It is the first time I have slipped up in well over a year.
But it shows that I am not 100% rid of eating disorders or the mental side of them.
I'm not sure if anyone truly is.
Can I take good away from this situation?
I recognized why it happened and I know the next time I feel the urge. I will reach out to someone. I will not be afraid to show weakness. I will ask for help.
Because when I don't ask for help - I suffer.
Phew! I feel better already getting it out there.
Eating disorders are tough. They consume you mentally and physically.
I knew that I hit rock bottom with them in 2006. In terms of anorexia and bulimia. Over this last year, however, I've come to realize that I also was a binge eater and closet eater.
Whenever home alone in high school, college or thereafter, I would eat and hide the evidence. I didn't want people to know what I had done. I didn't want them to see my shame. In my mind I would say I was a "boredom" eater, but that wasn't the case. I was burying emotions deep down by food. I was finding comfort in chips.
I lived in the Boston area until I finally moved to San Francisco in 2007. Once I left Boston, I worked hard to stop the closet/binge eating. You know trying to start fresh.
When I started planning to move back to Boston in early January 2012, I was scared. Would all the old habits come back? I would be working odd hours with Weight Watchers and spending much of my time during the week alone. The thought of the old habits coming back terrified me. Especially since we would be housing with my parents until we found an apartment. They would have foods that I had banned from the house since starting WW - aka trigger foods.
WW and tracking saved me this time around. Many people dislike the fact that WW stresses "tracking" your food choices. But for me I HAVE to. If I don't track, it "doesn't count." Will I ever reach a point where I don't have to track? Maybe.
For now I need to track for more than just knowing what I have, it keeps these eating disorders in check.
I know that ended up going on a total random tangent there. But I had to get these thoughts out.
Please know if you are someone suffering from an eating disorder, you are not alone! Reach out to a friend or me. I am happy to listen.
I am human. I slipped up. That slip up, however, does not define me.
I live. I learn.
On this episode of Dani Dishes, I am reclaiming my mojo with the help of family and puppies!! Check out what I did this week! :)
Motivation wears off.
Now this is not a post about how everyone should be bathing daily - that is a whole different topic. ;)
During this week's Weight Watchers meetings, we are talking about creating a "Losing List." A losing list is a place for members to compile the reasons why they are looking to lose weight, create a healthy lifestyle or maintain the weight loss they already have.
The topic is wicked important to me. Since hitting goal in January 2012, I have found that I constantly need to remind myself why I lost the weight to begin with. Now it isn't because I really forget, but when I entered maintenance I found it more difficult than losing. I wasn't having the excitement of seeing a lower number on the scale each week.
I had to change my mindset. And with a new mindset came a new list of hurdles and a new level of motivation.
So I decided to create my own "Losing List."
1) Health - I didn't want to end up with high blood pressure, heart disease, etc.
2) Chairs - I wanted to comfortably fit in a chair with arms, airplane seats, movie theatre seats, etc.
3) Shopping - I wanted to be able to shop at "regular" clothing stores instead of the plus size stores.
4) Pants - I was tired of wearing sweatpants or pants that used a M-L-XL sizing chart just because I was avoiding seeing the actual size I had let myself reach ... which was a size 20.
5) Knees - I have knee pain (thanks genetics), but I learned that for every 1 lb I lost - it would relieve 3 lbs of pressure from my knees. Isn't that crazy?
6) Back - I had back surgery for a herniated disc midway through my weight loss journey and learned the more weight I kept off my back the better it was for my discs.
7) Stairs/Ramps - I was tired of getting winded by walking up stairs or trudging up the ramps at Wrigley Field during work.
8) My Wife - I wanted to start a healthy lifestyle so I would have a long future with my wife.
But to me, these are the easy answers. The ones that many people rattle off when starting a weight loss journey. But, I know in my heart of hearts there were deeper and truer reasons why I took that first step into Weight Watchers on November 2, 2009.
So here they are:
1) Self-Esteem - I HATED myself. I wanted to finally like - and over time learn to love - the person that I am.
2) Worth - I needed to prove to myself that I was WORTH making the change.
3) Eating Disorders - I wanted to prove to myself that I could lose weight and keep it off in a healthy manner. After battling two eating disorders for years, I knew there was a healthy way to lose weight.
4) Depression - Tired. I was so so tired of being unhappy with my outward appearance and the internal struggle I had to find the good inside myself. Which circles back to self-esteem.
5) Suicide - I hoped that as the weight began to disappear that the suicidal thoughts would do the same. I was so unhappy (see depression) for so long that the thoughts of suicide followed (especially in high school).
6) Hiding - I wanted to stop hiding behind my weight and start living!
Now, I didn't want to have so much of my self-worth tied to my weight, but it was. I thought that once the weight was gone I would be "cured," which I wasn't. But it has improved leaps and bounds.
Wow! Seeing all these things in writing really brings back the memories of how truly unhappy I was before embarking on this journey.
I can't always carry this list or blog post around with me so I need a physical object that can encapsulate the list. Weight Watchers calls these "anchors." I have more than one anchor - shocking! :P
One of my anchors is a tattoo. No I am not telling you you have to get yours tattooed on you too. ;)
Ancora Imparo is a Michelangelo saying in Italian which means: "I Am Still Learning."
This simple message helped easy my perfectionist mind deal with the ups and downs of a weight loss journey. I have it on my right wrist, which allows me to see it daily and touch it if I need an extra dose of motivation.
Will this list and anchor helped me through every single tough situation? No.
But that's why I have this list, this blog and this community - to pick me up when I need it.
What is your #1 reason for losing weight or embarking on a healthy lifestyle change?
Butterflies and unicorns and rainbows
Exactly how I envisioned life after hitting my "goal weight"!!
But that wasn't reality.
Shocking I know. ;)
I've written on my blog (Weight Off My Shoulders) how the day after hitting goal the inner demons I fought for so long were still there. Except now they weren't buried under all the weight. They were right in front of me, raw and ready to be dealt with.
For years, I told myself: "If you just lost 50 lbs you would be so happy and life would be okay." And I remember having that EXACT same discussion with my aunt when I was 12. I remember riding in her car after we left the mall and saying to her: "I need to lose 50 lbs." Okay so apparently the number 50 was relevant or I just pulled it out of my ass - I'm not sure which.
But over and over I said once I lost the weight I would like myself. I would be happy. I would be able to release the thoughts of hurting myself and the depression would go away.
In 2006, I hit the bottom of dealing with two eating disorders and cutting. I had found a way to "control" my weight and my emotions. I got to my lowest weight in the beginning of 2007 (at the time around 180) and thought everything was okay!
But after an intervention of sorts with friends, I stopped the cutting and tried to take a handle on the eating disorders, which led me to regain almost all the weight I had lost.
So I joined Weight Watchers in November 2009 and was ready to lose the weight in a healthy way.
And damn those WW people for not only helping me get a handle on the healthy eating aspect of weight loss, but for showing me that it is more of a mental game than anything. You have the change your thinking in order to make the weight stay off.
Sneaky WW very sneaky.
So through the journey, the confidence rose, the happiness level with myself increased, but at the core of it all I still OWNED negative self talk.
I will say that thankfully the suicidal thoughts deteriorated over the course of time. THAT in itself is a huge F-in win!! I had those thoughts since high school.
But as I hit goal on January 2012 and Lifetime in February 2012. The little voice in my head was still there. You aren't worthy of this new life - this new you. You still suck.
So it was at that point. As I become the "after" that it was time to dig through all the emotional gunk to truly find out how I let myself get to that miserable 230 lb person.
And that is the journey I am on now. There is no quick fix to find out what was at the core of the pain, but as long as I keep searching I will find answers.
For many of us, the true work of reaching goal is when the mental game catches up with the physical.
That is why I put more stock into the non-scale victories than the number on the scale itself. Because when I read 15X on the scale, I am thrilled, but now I know I didn't solve all my life's problems by losing XX lbs. I will solve life problems by looking inward and truly facing what is going on.
Depression ... cutting ... self-loathing. None of that is fun, but I need to face it if I want to beat it.
Many people can go to therapy and work through these issues with a third party. It isn't for me. I tried it and hated it. But for some reason sharing those same inner demons on this blog, I find that release. I find that the weight gets lifted off my shoulders.
So I continue to journey.
I continue to tackle with my "before" as I live in my "after"!
Have you had those days? The days where it just seems like nothing is what you want?
The days where nothing seems to be going right?
I'm in that phase right now.
I don't like it. I hate it in fact. I much prefer being happy and loving life, but sometimes your emotions are out of your control!
But, I am working on it. That is all I can do.
It is a tough cycle. I have so much to be thankful for and when I feel down about life I feel guilty. How can I be upset when I have so much to appreciate and what do I really have to complain about.
But, as I've written before - we are all allowed to feel what we feel. Emotions are okay.
So I am allowing my brain to work through whatever it is that is going on inside.
Instead of shoving my feelings deep down with food or turning to hurting myself, I am feeling.
And what am I finding?
I'm ready to find my happy again. It is there in fleeting moments, but I am ready to get it back full-time.
So that means ... some serious reflection time on what I want out of life.
Can it be a 30-year old crisis? Maybe.
Either way I will get to the bottom of it!
For now, I will keep nixing my negatives with some positives!! Killing myself with kindness. :P
This ended up being some mind rambling, but I needed to put it out there - that is the point of the blog right?
How do you get over a case of the blahs? How do you find your happy?
Dear Former Self, You are 30 and more importantly alive.
I know there were many times in High School, College and even after graduation where you thought about ending it all. Just slipping away because you thought no one would ever notice.
Well, people would have.
So thank you.
Thank you for not taking away the time I now have with the wife, friends, family and the world.
YOU are making a difference.
YOU are now brave enough to share your journey, your happiness, your sadness, your self doubts and your strengths with the masses.
And people appreciate that.
They appreciate you.
And you know what?
You are staring to appreciate yourself as well.
Now, I'm not going to tell you it is all rainbows and unicorns.
Okay - there are some rainbows - I mean you are gay after all. :)
But, seriously ... there is actual joy in your life. There are smiles that aren't forced. There are some serious kick ass accomplishments you are achieving.
Hello! Running The Boston Marathon in less than two weeks. I think we can classify that under Bad Ass and something we NEVER thought would happen.
But it is.
None of this could be happening if you hadn't made that decision in 2009 to walk through the doors of Weight Watchers and change your life forever.
Over the past four years, layers and layers of fat, insecurity, pain, self-doubt and self-loathing have slowly but surely been stripped away. There are little chunks lying around here and there, but they too will be shed over time.
You didn't have to think for all those years that you weren't worthy of true happiness because you were.
Why did you doubt yourself? Why did you put yourself down SO much? Why did you think you were so unworthy of being alive?
I don't know the answers. Maybe over time we will figure them out. But for now, we are happy to be moving past those.
The self-deprecating humor you used for so long as a shield is still here ... but now more out of habit. A habit that we are working on changing. The hatred behind it is lessening.
Someday it will go away completely, but we save that for a letter from our Future Self.
For now, in the current state, things are pretty awesome. Just know that all the pain you went through and held on to for so long is clearing ... it is being released and freed.
The heart is opening to the love of family, friends and even complete strangers you have come to meet - and love - online. The world is embracing you flaws and all and you are FINALLY embracing it back. You are sharing things with people you never thought you would.
And I have to say it feels GOOD.
So former self, thank you again for allowing me to be here ... for allowing me to feel ... for allowing me to live!
Your Current Self