Kids Return

Joe Hisaishi - “Kids Return”

^ Please take five minutes out of your day and listen to this beautiful piece!  I am in the process of learning the string parts, which will be arranged as a violin/acoustic guitar duet with my boyfriend.  We’ll be playing it at a Japan disaster relief charity concert in June.  I have never played music with him before and I am super nervous, but as with everything else he’ll probably make me feel comfortable and confident.  :)

I have been doing very well this week; keeping calories under 1500 for the most part and exercising faithfully when I can.  I have noticed some symptoms of low blood pressure popping up, namely feeling lethargic and light-headed with a foggy mind.  At the office health check on Tuesday, the doctor noticed my low BP (89/54 in the morning after coffee) and suggested I eat more salt.  It’s weird to be consciously trying to get more sodium in my diet when the rest of the world is trying to cut down! 

Since Monday, my weight has dropped nearly 4 kilograms, and I definitely notice it.  Bloat and fat alike seem to be running for the hills.  I was back down to 59 kg/130 lb this morning. which is my lowest weight since March 18 (I remember because my mom arrived in Japan that day). 

I’m not sure what “goal” is or whatever, but right now I feel like I could keep doing this indefinitely.  Despite food-trigger-landmines peppering the landscape of my future (farewell dinners!  work enkais!  buffets!  party weekends!  vacations!), my confidence in my ability to control myself is fairly high.  Vanity plays a big part - I want to look as good as possible for my new life.  The current plan is to move to Texas, where everything is bigger - I don’t want to fit in to that stereotype!

Marmelade und Himbeereis II

Marmelade und Himbeereis

Reading the entry linked above, I felt a lump in my throat. I probably weigh ten pounds more than I did when I wrote it, and that makes me sad. They aren’t ten pounds of vacation fun or ten pounds of self-love; they are ten pounds of binges driven by depression and fueled by guilt. I did make it 11 days binge-free before experiencing a rather disgusting setback driven by getting drunk at a boring party, but I cannot ignore the fact that my clothes are starting to fit differently. Putting on my German H&M size 34 dresses means risking not being able to get them off over my head and feeling them pull uncomfortably across my back and rib area.

It feels unfair because mentally, I feel 99.9% better than I did when I was stuck in binge cycles. I’m not depressed all the time and I feel like I can control what I put in my mouth. Yet I look in the mirror and look down and I see a fat mess. I’m no longer at the point where it will come off in a week, and for some reason knowing it’s “regain” weight instead of just plain old weight makes it so much tougher to buckle down and stick to anything. Knowing that I had intended to be at goal (115) nearly a month ago feels discouraging, even though goal dates are just arbitrary numbers and I had sworn off numbers in the last blog entry I wrote.

I do owe it to myself to be in the best shape I can be in. My injuries aren’t hurting so much these days so there has been an increase in running, and I have planned a challenging (6 hour) mountain hike for Sunday. I am still nowhere near my highest fitness level; my heavier body struggles to do 50 pushups when it used to handle 100 like a champ. The thought of running at a fast pace for an hour straight seems a distant dream. But slowly, surely, I can get there.

One interesting breakthrough happened yesterday. I spent the day with friends at an amusement park and we wound up at the Hard Rock Cafe eating gigantic burgers and french fries and huge, sprawling brownie sundaes. All “American size” as they say. As I took my first bites, I felt an odd sort of tension quickly followed by a bolt of euphoria. I realized that for me, these sorts of foods don’t register in my brain as “food” - in fact, going by how my brain reacted I couldn’t distinguish between this stuff and the various powdery white substances I experimented with in college. I also spent my whole meal feeling jealous of my friend’s chicken/vegetable fajitas and realized I don’t like burgers or french fries all that much at all.

The more you know, I guess.

hope

I’m banishing numbers from my life.  I can’t let calories, weight or inches dictate my moods.  I am diving in headfirst and trusting myself.  If millions of French women can be healthy and slim while eating croissants and duck confit, so can I.  Yesterday was my first day of no-numbers, and it was a lovely day.  Not coincidentally, I didn’t binge or want to binge!

I woke up this morning feeling like a million bucks.  I was a little hungry so I had a piece of bread with some jam and some coffee with milk.  Damn near skipped to work I was in such good spirits.  I spent the morning catching up on interests forums online and cleaning my workspace in prep for desk moving day tomorrow.  I wore an outfit I like and put on some eyeshadow.  I caught a glimpse of my reflection in a mirror, and I felt pretty.  I ate half my lunch (yogurt, lean chicken with broccoli, yellow bell pepper and cherry tomatoes, an apple), decided I’d wait a while before finishing it because I wasn’t hungry anymore, and finished the rest later in the afternoon once I was hungry again. 

I have a feeling I am going to wind up eating a lot less simply because I have sacked the rules.  Let’s see how well I handle this newfound freedom. 

Flailing about

Been away for a little over a week since my mom is here.  It’s been rather stressful taking her around and living for two since she is 99% helpless in a Japanese-speaking world, and I have not really been kind to my body.  Still feeling depressed over my injuries (or rather, blaming them for being depressed in general?) and stuffing it down with sugar.  I weighed this morning after being sure I had gained all the way up to 62+ kg and saw 60.5 kg.  Got to work and opened a care package and scarfed down over 1000 calories worth of junk food. 

I sound like a broken record, but I want “off” the dieting mindset but I can’t trust myself enough to eat intuitively.  My intuition is broken.  I read blogs all day today about beautiful women who have beaten disordered eating and compulsive overeating and diet obsession, replacing constant worries about food with enjoyment of life.  I see-saw daily about whether it is better to be thin or healthy.  Thin always wins, but thin is an unhealthy mindset.  “Fat” and “thin” shouldn’t even be part of the equation.  I am “sick” now and I want to get “well.”  That should be the new goal. 

Pretty sure these canker sores are from sugar.  I’d like to break that addiction, too. 

Excellent/Children and Athletes

Yesterday as part of my contribution to relief efforts I went to a blood drive and donated my AB+ blood, which apparently is in great demand in Japan since it is the least common blood type here.  When I got my vitals taken, I was thrilled to see that my blood pressure has gone way down since my last health check, which was I believe in June or July of 2010.  At that time I weighed 143 lbs, about two months into my weight loss; I’d started jogging with C25k but hadn’t yet quit smoking.  As of yesterday, my blood pressure was 95/70.  I went home and plugged those numbers into a chart, and they straddled the line between “Excellent” and “Children/Athletes.”  It’s really nice to see the rewards of healthy lifestyle changes on paper.

I am happy to report that I haven’t binged this week - holding steady and not even tempted, really.  I did have dinner twice on Wednesday, but reunions with girlfriends happen, and second dinner consisted of green tea soba noodles and monstrously expensive sashimi that the chef gave us for free.  IF-style eating is working great and I have already lost the weight I gained during my near-week of binging.  I started the week at 136.5 (ew) and today I was 130.

Have been frantically checking flight tracker websites for updates on my mom’s progress.  She landed in Tokyo at 1:50 pm, about half an hour ago.  There she will pick up her rental cell phone and wait a few hours before flying to Fukuoka tonight.  I’m leaving directly from work to go into the city and kill some time before picking her up at the airport.  I’ve missed her dearly; we make excellent travel companions and tend to eat tiny lunches when we travel together. 

I.F. Report, Day 1

Yesterday was my first day of I.F. and I LOVED it.  I enjoy the sensation of being manageably hungry and then having a big lunch and feeling full after.  I really hate the “not-quite-satiated” feeling that comes after a small mini-meal or a “tide me over” snack, so it is a welcome change.  I wound up eating about 1500 calories, not snacking between lunch and dinner, and going to bed a tiny bit hungry, but in the manageable “this will result in weight loss” way.  Sugar cravings were way down and I didn’t think about binging.  Not even when I was in the supermarket staring at 88 yen packs of cookies.  It’s about 12:30 noon on Day 2 and I am hungry but okay with it.  Imagine that!

Speaking of supermarkets, the entire Tokyo metropolitan area as well as central, west and northern Honshu is facing cleaned-out shelves at supermarkets since everyone is hoarding and stockpiling food in preparation for potential impending doom.  The nuclear reactor situation is unstable and volatile and everyone is preparing for the worst.  The disconnect between what’s happening over there and the normalcy of life here has been reduced; my school has kicked off a disaster relief collection, we had a moment of silence in memory of those who died this morning, and there is a blood drive tomorrow.  In addition, the JET community of English teachers nationwide is running a “Man Up For Japan” in which teachers pledge to donate ichi man (10,000) yen to the disaster relief fund of their choice.  Since I’ve been doing all these pushups I feel butch as fuck and I am going to “man up” many times.  Probably about $500 or $600 from this next paycheck.  Japan has done a hell of a lot for me these past few years.

I.F.

I have decided to try intermittent fasting, i.e. waiting 14-16 hours between eating from day to day. In my case that means limiting eating to a certain time window per day.  I’m thinking 1-8 pm is a nice manageable window.  All calories shall be consumed within that time frame.

So far this seems like the best idea I’ve ever had.  I feel like prehistoric man discovering fire or something.  It’s just about 1 pm now and I haven’t eaten anything or chewed any gum - just drank lots of coffee, water and tea.  My head feels perfectly clear and while I am definitely a bit hungry, I have not wasted my entire morning waiting impatiently after breakfast to eat again.  On the weekends in a state of nature I tend not to get hungry until lunchtime or early afternoon, so why not apply this to the week, too? 

I had a small binge yesterday - but it was so much smaller than the binges prior, and I saw a 1.5 kilogram loss overnight.  I want to be kind to myself and feel good physically, and overloading my body with sugar in huge amounts that it cannot process achieves the polar opposite. 

Do Something Differently

That’s what I’m telling myself.  I know it’s Monday morning and nothing arouses more false hope than the first few hours of a diet/new plan etc. but for the love of all that is good, the binges cannot continue.  Today I am wearing my 67 cm waist pants that were just a teeny big snug pre-binge.  Post-binge (they went on all weekend, though less so yesterday - yesterday was just plain old overeating) I consider myself fortunate to be able to zip and shut them, and it’s not pretty.  I weighed myself and I am three kilograms heavier than I was on Thursday morning.  That’s disgusting in itself, but I cannot allow myself to turn said disgust inward toward myself.  Hating myself won’t fix the problem.

My priority right now is to fix my eating.  I won’t meticulously count calories (lies, I can’t not do the math in my head) and I won’t eat simply because it is mealtime and I “should” be eating at X o’clock.  I have been reading a lot about intuitive eating and balance and non-diet, non-restrictive approaches toward food on healthygirl.org and other self-help blogs and websites.  I think it’s important to think about how I behave toward food on weekends, when I have free time.  I wake up and I’m not really hungry until a bit later in the day.  What’s so wrong about waiting until you’re hungry to eat?  Nothing, that’s what.

Of course I have been binging so it is terribly difficult to tell when I am truly “hungry” or not.  The memories of what these binges have done will not be easy to shake off.  As it stands my jaw and the inside of my mouth - gums, teeth, and tongue - are all tired and sore and super sensitive, simply from chewing too many chocolate covered nuts and other junk.  That’s really hit home with me - I have literally been eating so much that my face hurts.  This cannot continue.  Especially not in the light of recent occurrences in Japan.  I am fortunate to live in the southwestern island of Kyushu, tucked away from the center of seismic activity and tsunami-vulnerable Pacific coastline.  But people I know have lost loved ones and been displaced from their homes.  The Western media are screaming “NUCLEAR HOLOCAUST” which is BS - Fukushima will not be Chernobyl #2 - but the images of entire towns wiped off maps and thousands of people living in makeshift shelters in schools and community centers, those are real.  It all makes me think about how precious life is.  Too precious to kill myself slowly with disordered eating.

A sad breakthrough.

Well, yesterday I crossed a line I never thought I’d cross. I had my first ever “no holds barred” binge and basically spent my evening shoveling everything from the drugstore/7-11 that looked even remotely good into my face, and then ordered in a personal pizza after I felt sick from too much cream/custard/sugar. 

It felt like a drug, like a total break from life, and now that I’ve done it I know I can never un-know how it made me feel and have to be extra vigilant. It would be so easy to just completely let myself go and accept binging as part of who I am, but I know that it is just impossible to eat that much and not become very overweight. I am young but I am not an Olympic swimmer or weightlifter. If I keep doing this, I’ll gain back all the weight I lost, and it will only take a month or two.

It took me 7 months to lose it. 7 months of forcing myself to run outside in 35 C 100% humidity at “fat smoker” fitness level. 7 months of commitment to reasonable portions and learning to eat my vegetables. 7 months of feeling excited and confident and optimistic. I’ll never forget how it felt to jump on the scale on my birthday and seeing that I weighed 56.1 kg - my lowest weight to date. I can’t let myself forget how great it feels to see the scale go down.

I have an addictive personality and I always need to be addicted to something. I’ve kicked smoking, cheating, anger and cynicism for a good part, and I can kick food. Food is something to be enjoyed, but it shouldn’t rule your life. And I’m sick of letting it rule mine.

Not Normal

This is a thought that’s been lurking for quite some time now but I think it’s time I wrote it down for all the world to see.

I have disordered thinking about food.

I can’t sit down and eat a casual meal without snapping into either “binge-frenzy” or “paranoid-diet” mindset.  I can’t eat anything without doing the caloric mental math.  If someone offers me a souvenir treat I can’t eat it without feeling manic cravings for more.  I can’t have cereal without having more than two bowls of it.  I can’t proceed with a day without weighing myself in the morning, and I certainly can’t have a good day if I know my weight is up.  I can’t go more than ten days without binging in a rather self-sabotaging manner.  I can’t think about anything except food and calories and weight.

Really the only good thing to come out of this is that I can’t go two days without exercising or I’ll feel awful about myself.  That is a good habit.  The bad habits that have developed, however - obsessing over reading menus and restaurant reviews online, uncontrolled sugar binges despite good intentions, feeling like a three digit (two digits in kilos) number completely defines me as a person, having super swingy moods and zero libido whatsoever - those are worrying. 

If I could jump off the “diet mode” bandwagon and just stay the same, I think I would.  But I can’t.  Not when I know how many calories are in everything.  No matter what, I’ll feel like I’ve failed at life somehow by not achieving an arbitrary goal weight.  As badly as I want to “give up” or “take a break,” I just can’t let it go because I am heavier than I want to be.  It consumes me.  And the greatest irony of all is that it makes me hungry.