It’s not a bed of roses but the flowers are still pretty…

31 01 2011

I am on vacation.

While this usually brings visions of lying around in the sun (which I did for a few hours) or spending endless hours shopping (I did a little) or running around trying to see all the sights that (insert city here) has to offer, it usually means one thing for me:

Being out of my comfort zone.

Add to that the reason I am on vacation (husband is having surgery) and it could be a recipe for disaster. However, I’m happy to report that the over all feel of this vacation has been one of success. Yes, I’m eating out multiple times a day. No I haven’t made the best decisions each time I’ve eaten. I indulged one night in celebratory food consumption with my husband = good. I also binged one night and ended up laying in bed with a stomach ache = bad. I stocked my hotel fridge with veggies and greek yogurt = good. I opted to eat out more often than not when I could have easily made a healthier option at the hotel = not so good.

I have run multiple times this week = good. I went to the gym (and will return tmw morning) = good. I got the nerve up to go down to the pool in my swim suit and NOT wear a towel = good. I convinced myself my new size 1o pants would no longer fit after eating beyond my comfort and then following it with a dairy queen blizzard (stinking thinking) = bad (the pants fit just fine).

The longer I am away from home, the more stressed out I am becoming. The vacation is over in two days and I will return to my normal sense of control = good. I miss my dogs. I miss my cats. I miss my home. I miss Godfather, my gym and packing my food.

But this isn’t about what I don’t like about my vacation. This is about what I do like. I liked that this has been the best vacation when it comes to my state of well being. Yes, I’ve looked in the mirror and been mad at myself for some of my choices but I’m not anywhere near where I was when I went to Ohio last June. Yes, I thought about making myself throw up while laying on the bed holding my aching tummy after eating beyond what I’m used too, but I didn’t. I let myself sit with feeling uncomfortable and let the voices play through their tapes (“you did it again”, “you’ll never get it right”, “throwing up will make everything better”, “you can eat more food if you throw up”, “you’re stupid for thinking you’re ever going be successful”) and when they were done screaming in my head, I moved on to the best of my ability. I liked being able to get up on a beautiful Sunday morning and run a 1ok virtually with my friend Kelly (startingmy45thyear). I liked being able able to go to the gym (less than two blocks from hotel) and sweat it out on the stair machine and then text Godfather that I did his sprint training and like it even more that I know I’ll return to the gym tomorrow to  sweat it out again and probably get in one last run before I get on the plane Wednesday. I liked putting on my bathing suit and sitting by the pool without covering up with a towel and while I didn’t like the look of my extra skin on my thighs, I didn’t care because my 165 pound body deserves to be in a bathing suit: loose skin and all.

Is this the best vacation of my life?

No, but it’s the best one since being on this LCJ and that’s saying something. I still have two more days here in Arizona. Two more days of learning to ride without my training wheels. Two more days of wobbly steering and feeling like I might “dump my bike”. Two more days of moving forward because backwards is no longer an option for me.

And if I “dump my bike”…

You better believe I’m getting right back on that mother fucker!



23 01 2011

You know how when you get on a new piece of equipment or enter a work area you see caution signs all over the place? The one’s that tell you to “Wear a hard had” or “Make sure to read all the instructions before use” or the one’s that tell you the obvious things like “Plug in to operate” or “Don’t put hand under blade while in motion”…

I wish this journey would have come with a huge fucking caution sign.

A big blaring yellow one that popped up the moment I decided to make a change in my life. One that would be so big I couldn’t miss it and it wouldn’t go away until I had read every word of it, understood everything it said and then when I gave my nod of understanding it would *poof* be gone and I could do what I came to do.

It wouldn’t just pop up once. It would pop up numerous times in my journey. Hell, maybe even once a week day hour every few minutes. Just something that would give me a warning that what I’m about to attempt may need some extra instructions or for bloody hell Tara, don’t put your hand under the blade while it’s moving.

I feel like this last week or so should have come with a big old fat caution label on it. I don’t necessarily feel like I’m spinning out of control today (like I did last week) but I’m having a difficult time getting off this merry-go-round of confusion, anger, sadness and plain old frustration (at myself). I’m either having some really great days or days so insanely bad, I literally want to punch an old lady in the face (yep, I just said that).

Riddle me this: Why did I go and put on a pair of size 10 pants last night, have them fit, get excited and then feel horrible about that success (or maybe the idea of buying more clothes – anxiety), eat beyond comfort level then top it off by eating a piece of cake (I don’t even like cake!!!). WHERE WAS MY CAUTION SIGN?

Okay, let’s get totally honest here…

I was told that the first few months of maintenance was difficult. I did NOT realize it would be this difficult. It’s like I’ve been given a piece of machinery and the instructions are in French  (with no pictures). It took me 11 months to put this machine together and now that I’m trying to use it, it’s awkward, malfunctions and after 3 months of riding it I still don’t know where the brake system is located.

Yet, I keep trying to use the machine. I get up every morning and look at it in the mirror and wonder if today is the day I will fully understand how to get this body/mind to work properly. I wonder if today is the day I can take the “training wheels” off. Make good decision. Be proud of the accomplishments and to stop beating this poor newly acquired body up when something doesn’t go quite right.

So, here’s my gift to you today.

Print it.

Keep it.

You’re going to need it.

Bad choices yesterday.

Do not control what I do today.

Only I control what I do today.

*puts on hardhat*

I’ll be out running if you need me.

Ready to talk about food…

22 12 2010

Or at least I think I’m ready to talk about my issues with food. Every time I sit down to hash out this post, my mind tries to intervene. I start to think maybe I don’t really need to write about it. Maybe nothing I say is going to be important enough to put here. Maybe how I feel about my food is just too damn crazy and if I let the rest of the world (or at least the few that read this) then it’s just going to confirm that I’m making too much out of this whole intuitive eating thing. But it’s in those thoughts that pass through my mind that I know  that how I feel about food / how I deal with food / how I consume food has been a struggle since I was a very small child and it is just as much a part of this LCJ as everything else.

A while back I wrote THIS post about starting my IEJ since making goal weight and what I’ve learned about my relationship with food. When I stopped counting calories I didn’t know the first thing about Intuitive Eating. In fact, I didn’t even know what it meant until I saw a few people on twitter throwing the word around.

Intuitive eating as defined by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch:

Intuitive eating is an approach that teaches you how to create a healthy relationship with your food, mind, and body–where you ultimately become the expert of your own body.   You learn how to distinguish between physical and emotional feelings, and gain a sense of body wisdom.   It’s also a process of making peace with food—so that you no longer have constant “food worry” thoughts.  It’s knowing that your health and your worth as a person do not change, because you ate a food that you had labeled as “bad” or “fattening”.

So after almost a year of religiously counting calories and tracking my food I have decided that Intuitive Eating is going to be the way that I want to go. I mean seriously, who doesn’t want a healthy relationship with food? Who doesn’t want to be able to eat without guilt or shame or a sense of panic? Who doesn’t want to be able to feel an emotion without looking in the refrigerator or cupboard for some “hand to mouth” therapy? Who wouldn’t like to eat without checking the calorie count or writing it down on a piece of paper?  Don’t get me wrong, counting calories and tracking my food was tremendously beneficial. It helped me lose over 100 pounds and it’s a tool I can depend on if I need to take a step back for any reason. However, this journey is about learning to trust myself with food, understanding why I feel the way I do about food, and in time taking both of those ideas / concepts and applying them to life.

I can’t write about everything I’ve learned in the short amount of time I’ve been reading about Intuitive Eating but I can say it has been nothing short of eye opening. On my last post about Intuitive eating I made a short (but very important) bullet list of some of the things I knew to be true about my relationship with food and the very first bullet was this:

I eat almost consistently in survival mode

Coming from a home where the consumption of alcohol was more important then the raising of the children that lived under the roof of that home, it’s not surprising that I learned at a very early age to eat out of survival. My older brothers didn’t really step in to take care of me (they had their own manifestations of having an alcoholic mother) so as far back as I can remember I had to cook / prepare food on my own. I wasn’t a teenager…I remember making meals as young as being in kindergarten. Because we were low-income I got free breakfast and lunch at school, but at night I was on my own.

You might be surprised to know this but kindergartners don’t come with an innate ability to cook. I did the best I could. Sandwiches made from peanut butter, cereal and syrup or with half packages of bologna and several slices of government issued cheese. Whole boxes of Macaroni. Bags of marshmallows (and for kicks roasting them over a candle in my bedroom) and some days just resorting to eating sugar out of a bowl while sitting at the dining room table.

It was during those early years I began to worry that the food would run out. I didn’t have money (unless I stole it from my mother – that’s a different story). I didn’t shop. I just ate what was there in the cupboards and magically it would reappear. I began to have serious fears that the food would run out and I would never eat again. It was in that fear that I started to over eat. I didn’t have the necessary adult supervision to help me with portion control. I just ate. Sometimes it was because I was bored. Sometimes it was because  I found friendship in my food but when I began to eat because I was afraid the food was going to run out, that’s when it got out of control.

Now logically as an adult, I know that the food will not run out. I live in a society that allows me to have access to food at any given time. Unfortunately my brain is not wired just yet to understand this. Every time I eat, I’m still eating in survival mode. I put too much food on my plate because I think it’s going to run out and then I HAVE to eat everything on my plate because a) I was forced to clean my plate when my mom did participate in meals and b) I’m afraid at some point I won’t have access to food therefore I need to overeat in order to stay calm and not worry that the food is going to run out. If my stomach is beyond full (to the point of painful fullness) and the food runs out, I have stomach full of food to last until I can find more food.

Is this making sense?

Even when I started this journey and began to make “healthier” choices, I ate out of quantity rather than quality. I would’ve rather of eaten an entire 2 pound bag of baby carrots than something smaller, more satisfying and the same amount of calories.

Not eating out of survival has been a tough change in my thought process. I’m learning to allow myself to continue to have those thoughts but also combat them with logical thinking:

“The food is going to run out”

“Tara, you know that’s not possible. The store is right down the street and you can go buy more food”

“I need to keep eating because what if something happens and I can’t get to food”

“Tara, think back over your adult life and think about a time when that happened? You can’t because it’s never happened”

“I need to fill my plate up with as much food as I can because if I go back for seconds, the food will be gone”

“Tara, it’s highly unlikely the food will be gone and if it is you can always cook something else or stop at the store”

“Even though my plate is full of food, I need to eat out of the pan on the stove just in case I come back and the food is gone”

“Even if for some reason, the pan is empty and you’re still hungry there are plenty of other food options left and you can have more food”

So my first step in eating intuitively is understanding that while I want to fill my plate like this picture over here, it’s not necessary for me to live like this any longer. I don’t have to be fearful that I won’t have access to food. My fear is irrational because of what happened as a child. I am an adult and I provide for my well being now. Not my absent / alcoholic mother. I’m pretty confident that if I called any of my friends and said I needed a meal, they wouldn’t let me go hungry. I can’t rationalize the concept that food will run out any longer. While it is possible it’s not probable.

Eating out of survival.

Necessary as a child.

Not needed any longer.




Post run blues / food

4 12 2010

I had no idea there was such a thing as “Post Run Blues”

Now what?

However, after finishing my first half marathon: I have them. I feel sad and lost and not sure what to do with myself. I haven’t run since Sunday (though that will change in a few hours) and when I do get out there in a few hours with my friend Michael, I’m not sure how long I want to run for or where I even want to go. For the last four months of my life, I’ve been preparing to earn my 13.1 wings. Every time I ran (whether it was a mile on the treadmill or for 2 hours outside) the thought of crossing that finish line was always in the forefront of my mind. Last weekend I put all my hard work, thought processes and just plain old sweat into action and came away feeling elated and more in power than I ever had in my entire life.


Now I just feel like blah.

I’ve been doing some reading on PRB (post run blues) and am not so shocked to see it’s a common occurrence. I didn’t experience it after any of my shorter races so I wasn’t really prepared for the initial let down of finishing the race on Sunday. When I crossed the finish line I felt like a strong runner and now I’m worried that I won’t even go a mile once I step out my front door in a few hours. I wish someone had told me to expect this feeling of “okay now what”. I guess I experienced it a little when I finished my first triathlon back in September but even then I was thinking about the half marathon. At this point of the adventure, the biggest challenge I had was earning my first 13.1 and now that’s over.

I’ve picked a few “short” races to get to through the rest of the year. Funny how six months ago those “short” races seemed so long in distance. 5k’s and 10k’s seem short to me now. Fun runs. Something to do for 30 – 60 minutes. I’ve got some great challenges picked out for 2011 (including RAGNAR for July) and hopefully finding an Olympic distance triathlon to shoot for (why everything wants to happen the same time as Ragnar, I can’t figure out), but for now I’m just going to sit with my PRB, get through the holidays and keep reminding myself that now that I know I can run 13.1 miles, the race world is my oyster.


I’ve been wanting to blog about my relationship with food and what I’ve learned about myself over the last 11 months (more so in the last month since hitting goal weight). I get nervous writing about food. You’ll notice I don’t blog too much about what I eat, or  what my daily caloric intake is was or take pictures of my food. While food intake was is a big part of my LCJ it’s a more private affair. This isn’t about turning down an extra piece of cake at a birthday party, or sneaking in some fast food before heading home to cook dinner for the family. It goes much deeper as I’m sure many others out there experience.

I think about food even more so now that I’ve reached goal weight and have gone into what the world of weight loss calls “maintenance”. I’ve decided I can’t rely on counting calories for the rest of my life. It’s not conducive for me. It works for some but it’s too emotionally binding for me to do it at this point of the journey. Counting calories was a safe haven for me while losing the weight. Now it’s become bothersome and counter productive. I’ve been reading about Intuitive Eating and for the last month have been giving it my best shot.

I’ve learned a lot about myself over the last month.

Well let me rephrase that. I’ve lived with my behaviors for 35+ years so I’m not really “learning” about myself. It’s more of a “ohhhhhhh so that’s what they call it” type of epiphany. Funny thing about life: you really think you’re the only one. That is until you read something and go “oh wow, so other people do this too?”.

That’s sort of where I am at this point of the IEJ (Intuitive Eating Journey) – discovering that my relationship with food (while private) is not so uncommon in its behavior. I want to delve into it more but for now I’m just figuring out how to go through the day without counting a single calorie and giving myself permission to eat (what a concept!). The last 30 days post goal weight have been successful. I’m weighing in at 169 consistently and have not had one panic attack over food (been stressed out almost to the maximum yes – but no panic attacks).

While the each behavior alone could easily have a blog post dedicated to it, there are some things I’d like to point out about my relationship with food just so I can start to make sense of all the information I’m taking in.

  • I eat almost consistently in survival mode
  • I am afraid food will not be available to me
  • When I eat, I often think about what it was like for me to eat as a child
  • Bulimia while it gave me a sense of control it also allowed me to eat more food and feel safe
  • I eat competitively when other people are involved
  • The eating behaviors forced on me as a child, have evolved to eating behaviors I force on myself as an adult
  • I don’t trust myself around food or my ability to have a healthy relationship with food
  • I live my life meal to meal and think about food more than anything else (except money)

So there you have it, my relationship with food in a very very small nutshell. As the weeks go by I’ll blog more about each of these behaviors as they make themselves known to me. For now, I’d like to know what your relationship with food looks like. Under control? Out of control? WTF? Counting calories? Eating Intuitively? Reading any good books about this shit?

Time for oatmeal.