Snarling #12wbt: and here comes emotional eating


It’s no secret I’m having a truly crap time personally. I can’t imagine how much more crap it would be if I wasn’t eating balanced meals full of fruit, veg and enough protein. (Thanks, 12wbt!)

Having been given two days off work because I’m literally cracking up under the pressure of grief/stress, and having cried in front of colleagues yesterday (best ever), emotional eating is back in force. Yesterday it was cheesecake, chips and pide.

Emotional eating is HARD. The thinking for me that is hard to circumvent is when I’m already doing all the stuff to defuse it – talking about my feelings, being supported. But yesterday, I frogmarched myself into the staffroom and ate a bigass plate of cake, because I was like “you know what, FUCK not having cake right now.”

But in the end, that sugar didn’t make me feel better. It didn’t do anything towards my wellness. It didn’t heal anything. I didn’t get anything from it, except a petulant satisfaction that I CAN DO WHAT I WANT and LOOK I DESERVE CAKE RIGHT NOW.

One thing I’d like to move towards with slowly processing emotional eating is continuing to find new coping strategies (and I’m already doing that, hence continuing). I’m thinking of getting a snap band and a boxing bag for home to replace my more destructive angry feelings. I’ve started crocheting and hooking my way through feelings is good. It keeps my head calm and my hands busy.

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Crochet keeps me calm. I'm new to it, but already am finding it a useful tool for debugging my brain.

But I’m yet to find something that consistently and effectively scratches the itch that emotional eating does.
I guess I just want to find ways to cope that I don’t regret 10 minutes later, you know?


Snarling #12wbt roundup week 3


Week 3 of the #12wbt was yet another mixed week of great eating, crap health, and finding my groove with exercise. I’m starting to find my own kind of routine with it, which is  different to the one marked out by the plans, but is nonetheless supported by the plans.

On Sunday my husband and I embarked on an epic hike around the stunning Sydney Harbour we are privileged to live in close proximity to. Despite the gross built up flats and metal – everywhere, metal and glass – of the city, Sydney is remarkable in that a retreat to nature is possible quite quickly when you know where to go. We disembarked at Manly wharf, beating our way through crowds swarming for a surf festival, stopped off for a burrito at Guzman and then pointed ourselves towards one of our favourite walks – Manly to Spit.

It’s supposedly 9km but my Gearfit clocked it at more like 10.5km, and you carve your way through stunning semi-rainforest which jars beautifully against sudden screes of baked salmon pink and butter yellow cliffs, jangled with wrens that follow your path. There are places to descend from the path onto white sand beaches to momentarily shed your walking shoes and cool your toes and the water is this unbelievable pale green with blooms of dark weed and rock. We saw bearded dragons sunning themselves on several occasions and I knew how they felt, basking in the surroundings. The day was hot in just the right measure, and the views of the Heads around the harbour were deeply satisfying. I feel completely sainted to live in a place like this.

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There was a great feeling of achievement and also giddy tiredness when the walk was done. My friend Ange of The Feminist Locker Room said that sometimes you’ve got to “find your thing” and not be held hostage to other people’s thing. Walking is absolutely my thing. I love big treks, and I’ve never regretted a hike. I think because there’s zero “hamster wheel” feel to tramping through bush, and it’s mostly something that fills up your eyes and heart while moving your body. It’s a really integrating way of moving. All my parts connect and I feel more “me” when I’m on a big walk.

I knew Monday was going to bring specific health challenges which I’d have to include in my plan for the week. I had a sonohystogram, which for those not in the know is a special kind of ultrasound where a catheter needle is inserted through the cervix and the uterus is inflated with saline so clear pictures can be taken. It was unexpectedctedly painful, traumatic and emotionally rough, and it sent the rest of my week into a tailspin of depression and upset as I came to terms with feeling yet again pretty alienated from my body. That coupled with some tough relationship times, and it was a crap week emotionally.

I managed to get to the gym on Tuesday which was in part cathartic and in part something I was excited for – I’m increasingly pleased and cheerful to hop on the machines and have a go at stuff. My workout was fun and it was good to get some natural endorphins given how mixed up I was feeling. But as I left the gym, I was still feeling pretty low – and that day, I lost my nerve in my bid to not weigh myself.

I’ve reflected a lot on why I weighed myself that day and what that meant, and I’ve decided that it’s not a huge deal. I was feeling like shit, and compulsion took over. “Maybe I’ll have lost weight and that will make me feel better,” said my old friend, scale addiction. And just like that, I was on, and yes I’d lost weight, and yes on some level that cheered me up. This is not a good thing. That my emotions are still tied to my weight is inevitable, because one can’t simply turn off socialization and compulsion to measure one’s worth in numbers with a click of the fingers (or a blog post resolution). These things take time. Perhaps, my friend Cassie suggested gently, a better goal would be to make the spaces between weighing longer and further apart. Moderation in all things, including resolutions, because otherwise I’m just building a new prison for myself.

Lots of friends and good food this week was a saving grace. I’m happy to say that despite feeling like crap, I neither overate or restricted. I ate mostly to plan, with a bit of improvisation, and kept it pretty real. I had a small choccie. I enjoyed my morning coffees. I let my body’s rhythms happen without too many extremes despite how extreme my emotions felt at times. Not all my coping mechanisms were super, but they were mine and middling. So that’s a pretty good week, I reckon, given how much pressure I’ve been under.

We’ve decided, going into week 4, to finally take Mish Bridges advice and cook on weekends a fair bit for the week because it’s pretty hard to fit everything in. That will make my week less stressful. Here’s to the coming week and hopefully getting to the gym a bit more 🙂 and I plan on hopefully visiting my friend Sarah next weekend for some kayaking hijinks!


Snarling #12wbt roundup week 3


Week 3 of the #12wbt was yet another mixed week of great eating, crap health, and finding my groove with exercise. I’m starting to find my own kind of routine with it, which is  different to the one marked out by the plans, but is nonetheless supported by the plans.

On Sunday my husband and I embarked on an epic hike around the stunning Sydney Harbour we are privileged to live in close proximity to. Despite the gross built up flats and metal – everywhere, metal and glass – of the city, Sydney is remarkable in that a retreat to nature is possible quite quickly when you know where to go. We disembarked at Manly wharf, beating our way through crowds swarming for a surf festival, stopped off for a burrito at Guzman and then pointed ourselves towards one of our favourite walks – Manly to Spit.

It’s supposedly 9km but my Gearfit clocked it at more like 10.5km, and you carve your way through stunning semi-rainforest which jars beautifully against sudden screes of baked salmon pink and butter yellow cliffs, jangled with wrens that follow your path. There are places to descend from the path onto white sand beaches to momentarily shed your walking shoes and cool your toes and the water is this unbelievable pale green with blooms of dark weed and rock. We saw bearded dragons sunning themselves on several occasions and I knew how they felt, basking in the surroundings. The day was hot in just the right measure, and the views of the Heads around the harbour were deeply satisfying. I feel completely sainted to live in a place like this.

image

image

There was a great feeling of achievement and also giddy tiredness when the walk was done. My friend Ange of The Feminist Locker Room said that sometimes you’ve got to “find your thing” and not be held hostage to other people’s thing. Walking is absolutely my thing. I love big treks, and I’ve never regretted a hike. I think because there’s zero “hamster wheel” feel to tramping through bush, and it’s mostly something that fills up your eyes and heart while moving your body. It’s a really integrating way of moving. All my parts connect and I feel more “me” when I’m on a big walk.

I knew Monday was going to bring specific health challenges which I’d have to include in my plan for the week. I had a sonohystogram, which for those not in the know is a special kind of ultrasound where a catheter needle is inserted through the cervix and the uterus is inflated with saline so clear pictures can be taken. It was unexpectedctedly painful, traumatic and emotionally rough, and it sent the rest of my week into a tailspin of depression and upset as I came to terms with feeling yet again pretty alienated from my body. That coupled with some tough relationship times, and it was a crap week emotionally.

I managed to get to the gym on Tuesday which was in part cathartic and in part something I was excited for – I’m increasingly pleased and cheerful to hop on the machines and have a go at stuff. My workout was fun and it was good to get some natural endorphins given how mixed up I was feeling. But as I left the gym, I was still feeling pretty low – and that day, I lost my nerve in my bid to not weigh myself.

I’ve reflected a lot on why I weighed myself that day and what that meant, and I’ve decided that it’s not a huge deal. I was feeling like shit, and compulsion took over. “Maybe I’ll have lost weight and that will make me feel better,” said my old friend, scale addiction. And just like that, I was on, and yes I’d lost weight, and yes on some level that cheered me up. This is not a good thing. That my emotions are still tied to my weight is inevitable, because one can’t simply turn off socialization and compulsion to measure one’s worth in numbers with a click of the fingers (or a blog post resolution). These things take time. Perhaps, my friend Cassie suggested gently, a better goal would be to make the spaces between weighing longer and further apart. Moderation in all things, including resolutions, because otherwise I’m just building a new prison for myself.

Lots of friends and good food this week was a saving grace. I’m happy to say that despite feeling like crap, I neither overate or restricted. I ate mostly to plan, with a bit of improvisation, and kept it pretty real. I had a small choccie. I enjoyed my morning coffees. I let my body’s rhythms happen without too many extremes despite how extreme my emotions felt at times. Not all my coping mechanisms were super, but they were mine and middling. So that’s a pretty good week, I reckon, given how much pressure I’ve been under.

We’ve decided, going into week 4, to finally take Mish Bridges advice and cook on weekends a fair bit for the week because it’s pretty hard to fit everything in. That will make my week less stressful. Here’s to the coming week and hopefully getting to the gym a bit more 🙂 and I plan on hopefully visiting my friend Sarah next weekend for some kayaking hijinks!


Snarling #12wbt: fertility and self image


I’ve been struggling so much to love my body on a fundamental, deeply emotional level in the last six months.

As many folks know, my husband and I are trying to have a baby. And we got pregnant easily last October; ridiculously easily. Within a few weeks of trying. We were both excited/terrified to be parents and spent a solid two months prepping and planning for our little jellybean to arrive (who from the start we named Elliot.)

And then, as easily as they came to us, bub was gone. We lost our little Jelliot bean in early December. It was my second loss, and my husband’s first – I lost my first baby, August, in February 2009.

Since then I’ve been incredibly angry at my body. Deep down, undeniably, bone achingly angry. I feel broken, and terribly incapable.

And now, undergoing fertility testing, my body has just become a site of emotional and physical trauma. It feels like all it gives me is pain, and heartbreak. I have felt, more than once, that I’d replace it with a new one if I could.

So doing the 12 week body transformation is about way more than just eating and moving for me. It’s about starting to get to know my body again, to try and get pleasure and health back. To forgive it, to enjoy it, and to start quarrying these massive stones of anger out, so that something beautiful can flow in.

Wish me luck! 


Snarling #12wbt: sleep practices OR all about those zeds


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I need to start doing regular early shifts at work, and by early I mean 7am starts. Ouch. That means I’m out of bed at 5.30, to leave by 6.15 so I make it there on time.

To make this possible I need sleep and lots of it. I’ve always really struggled with sleep, and even though one of my medications has a side effect of drowsiness (which can at times be pretty extreme. Thanks seroquel!) I still find I stay up and up with a wired brain. This is not an insomnia thing; I often just make unhelpful choices around bedtimes. And I have pretty shocking sleep hygiene.

What’s sleep hygiene? It refers to the practices you use to help yourself sleep, to both get to sleep, sleep well and deeply and sleep for long enough. Historically I’ve always been pretty self destructive when it comes any kind of night time routine. But I pay for it.

Without good sleep I’m less likely to exercise because I’m pooped; I am more likely to be emotional and not cope with my day, meaning I’m more likely to emotionally eat. It impacts my relationship. It impacts how I feel about myself, my body, and it definitely negatively impacts my performance at work. And since I work with kids, that’s kind of a big deal.

Last night was great though. I did the following and it made for a great night of zeds, and I had SO MUCH ENERGY at work today. I also managed a run which was awesome. And even ate like a fucking trooper all day, making delicious and nutritious food choices because I wasn’t leaning on food to make me feel better. Here’s what I did:

– I warned my husband ahead of time that I’d need a quiet dark house by 8.30 and he was awesome and helped out.

-I didn’t eat too close to bed time. Digesting keeps me awake.

-I’d had a good run and a decent dinner and a warm shower, and some laughs/quality time with husband so I was relaxed.

-I left half an hour to be in bed before I needed to be actually asleep.

-I turned off all the lights and lit a candle. I found the flickering made my eyes tired and the heavy vanilla scent helped me feel sleepy.

-I focused on my breath, using stuff I’ve been learning in my yoga practice, and let my breathing slow and deepen.

-I worked on observing thoughts that came up about work and the gym and my relationship and let them kind of float past. That was hard as I really struggle with that kind of meditative strategy. I’m a super judgemental thinker so it was difficult. I tried to let my anxiety about it go as well!

There’s nothing too amazing about any of those things. I know for people with hardcore sleep problems, none of that is helpful, but for a person like me who is just all over the place with bedtimes and good sleep strategies, it is really helpful.

It’s so worth it, since sleep is like hydration: you really notice if it’s missing. It effects and underpins everything you do. I really fear (in terms of sleep) the day we have a baby because I’m going to be one cranky, stressed, underslept individual!

Until then though, I’m doing my best to catch as many zeds in the land of nod as I can 🙂

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Snarling #12wbt: on illness, balance and movement


I can feel myself getting sick again. Again! I work in a preschool, so I get sick fairly frequently because as much as I love them, children are the bringers of all the germs to the yard. No amount of hand washing and gloves can shield me against that many viruses (though it does cut the incidence of illness radically).

Something I’m sure loads of movement oriented folk can relate to is the bummer of getting sick when you’re really excited by or committed to a plan or habit of movement. I’m REALLY looking forward to my movement session tonight – I was feeling pretty pumped about the interval running and overall glow I get after a bit of huffy puffy.

So when I get sick, I’m always bitterly disappointed. But in the past, this has meant that my three days off has turned into three months off, because like most folk with disordered eating/exercise, I live in extremes. I get disheartened and I throw the baby out with the bathwater, throwing my hands up in frustration and giving up or just losing my routine. Then the accompanying guilt means I don’t get my walking shoes out for a long time.

In Mish Bridges recent mindset video about emotional eating, she talks about the importance of starting to change “all or nothing” thinking, and I really dug this. I have been with eating as I have been with exercise. Compulsive eating means all attempts at moderate, mindful, responsive experiences of food are drowned out by the harsh buzz of the disordered eating brain bees. “Well, you’re fucked now,” they buzz. And that’s it. I give up.
So learning to just calm the farm when these thoughts occur, and flow back to my centre, my solid chilled out moderate inner Sara Bareilles voice who is like “no biggie, just let it go. It happens, and tomorrow is a new day” puts a pause on the brain bees. And here Mish Bridges speaks the same words, for which I’m grateful: she encourages you to just observe thoughts and feelings without judging. To pause before acting, to move away from catastrophising. And wherever possible, temporarily divert a need to act on anxious or overwhelming thoughts, but acknowledge them – to not suppress them. That’s pretty damn emotionally useful. Good work MB!

One thing that’s not acknowledged by Mish though is that restriction and exercise bulimia are ways people suppress and control intense feelings as well. And I am glad that when she talks about using a walk to deal with feels, she also uses a non exercise based example of putting a pause – she cites driving home the long way. Because we need to be careful when encouraging people to handle feels with movement as a part of the toolkit that this tool is actually therapeutic and not promoting an exercise burn/feelings of bodily control as a way to suppress emotional feelings of being out of control.

Living in the middle is HARD but worth it.


Snarling #12wbt: Fat yoga & the importance of body listening


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One of the things I love the most about being connected with movement, is really “listening” to my body.

I know this sounds like hippy dippy bollocks, but I woke up this morning early and didn’t fall naturally back to sleep, so I got up and did a morning yoga routine with Adriene over at Yoga With Adriene. She came highly recommended to me (along with Curvy Yoga and Yoga Glo by many friends – everyone has a great yoga favourite! I like her because she’s laugh out loud funny sometimes and makes me feel ok to experiment and trust my own instincts – which as a beginner, is important, because I have a LOT of anxiety about getting yoga movements “right”.

Fat yoga is hard, though. My body just isn’t a flat thing that can glue itself like a board to the mat. Laying prone is hard because I have an ass, and that ass gets in the way. I’ve finally kind of found a way to lay flat, which involves drawing my shoulders way back and in, and pulling my butt up to my knees. It took me a while though. Many yoga movements are not designed for fat bodies, but they should be.

I’m going to have a deeper look at Curvy Yoga and see if it’s for me. I really enjoy it when someone comes up with an idea and is like “hey! I’m going to make this accessible!” Accessibility is golden, man.

One of the things that I think could be encouraged and talked about more is “listening” to bodies, rather than wholesale listening to external messages. Bodies are not always, but often, good at telling us what we need. Mine said “wake up! do yoga!” and often it says “eat! I’m hungry!”. And learning to listen when full, or tired, or too sore to exercise, or about to pull a ligament, is really important too.

It may sound like crunchy granola nonsense, but I’m trying to get more adept at this.


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