Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Essentially Recovered...

This week, the topic for the new group I am attending for my personal recovery was to answer this question.

"I will know I am essential recovered when..."

It is a difficult question to answer. My answer was simple, "Every day I am in recovery. Every day I must eat, every day I must make choices.  Some days I make poor choices, which means I have relapsed."

Now, I'm not talking about the tiny taste of a piece of fudge that I've wanted for the past few weeks due to all the holiday sweet treats that until today I had successfully passed by with ease.  I have had peanut butter fudge on the brain for a while now though.  I've wanted to make it, but I knew I'd eat the whole pan.  Unfortunately, today at work there was a tray of chocolate fudge, peanut butter fudge, and toffee on the table.  I passed by it several times, and then decided to take a sliver of toffee no more than 1/2" inch by an inch, took a bite and spit it out.  It was quite possibly the worse toffee I've had, nothing like what I could make.  Later, I decided I would taste the peanut butter fudge.  Again, I took the smallest of pieces, tasted a quarter of it enough to know it was not as good as I could make, and spit it out.  Neither experience produced the perceived outcome of sugary pleasure I sought, but I did not deny myself the experience. The experience turned out to be unsatisfying. I don't regret it, I just won't let temptation get the best of me again anytime soon.

I will always be a recovering food addict though.  I've learned to stop myself insomuch that I will not indulge in something that does not speak to the foodie in me, but I still struggle with my food addictions.  I obsess over recipes on the internet, I admit to my love of food.  I have broken my addiction to the Food Network, in fact, the channel is blocked on my TV.  Parental controls are not just for parents.  Sometimes, we have to put measures in place to save us from ourselves.  I have established certain boundaries to avoid situations where I will be tempted.  I try never to go to Sam's Club on Saturdays, as I prefer not to be tempted by the sampling stations.  Luckily, I have a business membership and go between 7am and 10am before these people have set up their enabling little booths of temptation.

So, I will know I am essentially recovered when I am not obsessed with food?  Doubt that will ever happen.  I have found I am obsessed with these questions, "Have I gotten all my protein today?  What did I eat that caused this acid reflux tonight?  Did I get enough water today?"  While these are healthy questions to be asking myself, I still have to think about the addiction daily.  I still have to eat and account for everything I put into my body.  I still am an addict, the difference is that my addiction is to something that I must have to sustain life.  The only viable answer I have heard has been that the addiction is to sugar, fat and carbohydrates.  Those are the types of foods I craved.

If I had to really narrow it down, maybe the true answer is, "I know I am essentially recovered when I don't want ice cream."  Then, I'll really know the paradigm shift has occurred in my brain and I am no longer an addict. However, I doubt that will happen... Greek yogurt has been a great replacement, but my addiction for gelato will never truly be cured.  I have vowed to treat myself to a small gelato when I have been compliant with my healthy eating behaviors and exercise routine, once a month (on the 3rd.)  It's a small, measurable trade-off to indulge in while still keeping with my commitment to better health.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Letting Go

Tonight, I attended a support group held weekly that I had never been to before.  The topic of tonight's discussion was "Letting Go."  A topic I've often discussed with clients and worked through myself, but tonight, I admitted to myself that I had let go of many toxic relationships.  Of course, the one relationship in particular was my relationship with the person who supported and encouraged me to have surgery.  It was difficult for me to do this, but I let go of this relationship not that long ago.  Within the last year, I finally made the decision that I had held onto the friendship too long.  It was time, way past time, actually.

This person had supported toxic behaviors, despite being supportive of my decision, it was just not a good situation.  I wanted to hold on because we went through Katrina together, we cared about (and once loved each other,) we could remain friends... in the end, I saw we are better off not communicating it was truly me that had held on when this person had left the friendship long before I made the decision to end it.

This question made me think about what else I hold on to that isn't healthy.  Coincidentally, around the same time I let go of this relationship, I also let go of a very toxic job.  A job that had me regaining the weight I'd lost in the first two years post-op.  Now that I'm back in the mental health field working on my LPC license and certification in bariatric counseling, I recognized that stress in my life came in the form of pounds.  There is so much I have let go, but also, so much that I have found I am more assertive about that is TRULY IMPORTANT.

Before surgery, I was overly concerned with many things that did not matter.  Now, I am truly finding what matters to me and what I am worth.  I am worth the time and energy it takes to keep in touch.  I keep in touch with my true friends now, I make the time to see them, I don't make excuses because I am embarrassed about the size of my waistline.  I don't worry about what people think of me with regard to my fatness, but rather I worry about whether I am acting in a way that is befitting to my profession.  I am living my personal life in a way that I am proud of my behavior at all times?

I ask myself this often.  I am making the good choices I want my clients to make?  Am I eating the way a post-op should eat?  If the answer is not yes, then I am not doing what I need to do to be mentally well and capable of counseling post-ops.  This is a major reason for my personal decision to not drink alcohol any longer.  I have removed it from my social interactions as a way to truly, genuinely act as myself and not be under the influence of anything other than my own mind.  I have let go of toxicity in my social life, and I am making meaningful relationships and connections without allowing social anxieties to creep in.  I am comfortable with myself and with others.

I won't judge those who do drink responsibly.  I won't judge those who are not able to drink responsibly.  I understand the nature of addictions, and I realize we are all in our own place, at our own time, and must get to where we need to be in order to find what we consider healthy.  However, if I see someone endangering themselves, I will address this as gently as I can.  I am concerned, but I do not want to offend anyone.  My decisions are for me, and your decisions are for you.  We are all our own people.

Weight loss surgery does not change who you are, but it will change how you view yourself.  You will find yourself in ways you never imagined.  I remember feeling my hipbone for the first time.  Yes, the very first time, I'd been overweight all of my life, that hipbone had last been that close to my epidermis when I was 5.  I have also found that I am assertive in my behaviors where it counts.  Once upon a time, I was extroverted and confident because I didn't care what people thought about me as an obese woman. Now, I am extroverted and confident because I care about others and want to help anyone who needs it.

I have let go of shame.  I have let go of judgment.  I have let go of my arrogance about obesity.  It is a health problem, it is not an aesthetic problem. Some of us are simply just genetically pre-disposed to obesity, the disease.  Fight the disease, not the person.  Find yourself, let go of the rest.  Find peace and love for you and all of those around you.  Love yourself the way you are but work toward a better you.