Bringing Order from “Disordered”

As I type this I am hours away from a wonderful opportunity.  A few weeks ago I won two tickets to an Asheville Food Tour.  This will create a nice space for Nathan and I to try something new as a part of our “20FirstDates” (a story for another time).  This will be date #8.  The food will be decadent.  The company I’m sure will be delightful and the history part of the tour very informative.  I’m sure it’s going to be a great morning of brunch, fun and time to disengage from the chaos.  So….why am I anxious about it?

It’s not because it’s a new experience, the flavors will be unique or the company unfamiliar.  I’m anxious because there is food involved.  Although I’ve never been officially diagnosed with an eating disorder I can tell you that I certainly have “disordered eating”.  I have had an unhealthy relationship with food for as long as I can remember.  I have had times in my life where I have binge eaten.  I have hidden and hoarded food.  I have snuck food.  I have gone through a drive thru (when I wasn’t hungry) just so I could try a new food from a commercial, and then come home and eat the next meal with my family after hiding the evidence (trash).  I currently am struggling with being a food “nazi”.  I hover over every snack and meal made by my children.  I am Brunhilda when it comes to the amount of milk that is consumed.  Currently My Fitness Pal is helping me with awareness of my consumption and although it is a great application it provides me with information that colors my decisions and therefore the decisions of my family.  Often this comes in the form of me sharing needless caloric trivia at inopportune times.  Just this afternoon at Chick-Fil-A as my children were enjoying free small milkshakes (the April mystery offer), I told them that for the 500 calories they were consuming I could have had an eight piece grilled nugget, a large superfood side and a kid’s lemonade.  They looked at me like I was speaking French.  It was obvious that this information was totally irrelevant to them.  They continued drinking and I watched them longing that I could consume those same 500 calories.  So the information I have and the desire of my heart don’t always mesh.  That’s for another blog.

Very seldom can I sit down to a meal and not feel anxious, or even a bit consumed by the experience.  When we eat out I feel nervous and think crazy things such as “Will we eat here again?  What should I get if we don’t?  Will I like it?  Will it be enough?  Should I spend that much on one entrée?”.  I used to really struggle with left overs.  If something came home (and I mean actually made it to the fridge…yes often I would eat them in the car) then I guarded it with my life.  I literally felt anger if someone ate them or even suggested that they wanted them. At times I have struggled with the compulsion to finish the food on the children’s plates and have “taste tested” far too much food while cooking.  Almost every occasion is celebrated with food.  Even grieving involves food.  It’s all too much.

As I have been on this almost six-year journey I’ve wanted to stop thinking so much about food.  However, it’s not been my experience.  I am meal planning, shopping, cooking, eating or cleaning up after a meal.  I am putting money on the children’s lunch accounts, fixing snacks for them or our new family obsession….watching shows on the Food Network.  My life is full of food.  My head spins and I struggle with anxiety when I have to go to the grocery store.  This has taken a toll on me.

I have currently enlisted the help of a friend.  She has made some suggestions in terms of meal planning and she actually met me at the grocery store and lovingly, patiently and supportively walked me down each aisle.  I came in under budget for groceries for a week.  I tasted food from a cooking demonstration (and didn’t worry about putting the calories in on MFP).  I donated money to March of Dimes and even bought sushi for lunch.  It was a much different shopping trip than I am used to having.  I saved $30 and even received a coupon for a free item.  I must admit that my first trip to Publix was wonderful and I am in debt to my friend Mandi.  We are going to meet again next Tuesday and I think try Trader Joe’s.

So all I have to do is come up with basic meal plans and I have a theme for every day of the week.  Monday is “Mexican”.  Tuesday is “Tasty Tuesday” where I usually try something new from the Allrecipes site.  Wednesday is “Hump Day Hamburgers” and each week I try a new burger recipe.  There is always a plain burger option for Joseph.  Thursday is “This isn’t Breakfast Time” where we have different breakfast options.  Friday is “Fend for Yourself” where we eat leftovers or they can fix their own dinner.  Saturday is “Pizza” night (either take out or frozen) and Sunday is “Sabbath Soup and Sandwich Day”.  This has been super helpful for our family.  This is still a work in progress, but things are really starting to turn around and I’m not nearly as anxious about food preparation.

So…back to tomorrow.  I thought about running extra miles today so I wouldn’t have to worry about the caloric intake of tomorrow’s brunch tour, but time didn’t allow it.  I thought about having a protein shake before we go so I wouldn’t eat as much.  I thought about just tasting one bite of everything.  And then…….I took a deep breath, said a prayer and realized this is one morning in a long line of mornings.  This is one experience and I can shape it negatively or positively.  I can be present in the moment and look for awe and wonder or I can give into misery and anxiety.  It’s my choice.  I’ve asked a dear friend to pray for me.  I’m going to talk this through with Nathan tonight and I’ve made myself accountable to you ALL that read this.  Tomorrow is a gift.  Remember I won the tickets. So…why would I squander this day away with unnecessary spinning around in my skewed thinking and disordered eating patterns?

Strongholds can be broken.  Habits can be replaced.  “An old dog can learn new tricks”.  I am finding order from “disordered” as I ask for help, pray specifically about this issue, memorize Scripture to change my thinking patterns, re-read helpful books such as “Made to Crave”, and make plans.  I am employing accountability, journaling and blogging more regularly.  I am even posting videos on my FB page.  I am weighing weekly.  I have registered for a half marathon in October to give me a training focus.  These are all things that will help me to continue to move forward.

There are still days, moments and times where my “stinking thinking” comes to the forefront.  I fall down, but I don’t have to stay down.  I make mistakes, but I’m not a mistake.  I am surrounded by food, but I don’t have to let it rule me, control me or destroy me.  I’m beautifully broken, but I’m humbly being healed and I appreciate you sharing this part of my journey.

 

~Janelle

Hearing What Isn’t Being Said

You remember in the cartoons there used to be a person who was having a hard time making a decision, perhaps feeling tempted by something and on one shoulder there was an angel and on the other a devil?  They were trying to influence the character in the direction that was preferred (the good or the dark side).  Inevitably whichever side won would smile and beam and the other would “poof away” into a cloud and disappear.

I have found myself in many situations where I feel as if I have two messengers trying to help me navigate a situation or circumstance.  Quite often this can be food related.  The voices that I hear are trying to sway me, pull me in their direction and influence me to make a decision for their camp.  It probably seems silly to some that there would be an internal dialogue over a second helping of something or whether or not to try something on the buffet, or to even have a piece of wedding cake at a celebration you might be attending.  Yet, for those who struggle with a food addiction that struggles is all too real.  It’s also not something that goes away overnight.  I count it a blessing that most decisions I make now in terms of food choices are made confidently and comfortably, but there are still times when I hear things that aren’t being said.  Voices fill my head with sounds that would strive to defeat me.  I must deafen them with the truth.  This takes form in both mental and often audible declarations such as: “I can say no to that food.”, “I don’t have to eat anymore.  I’m not hungry.”,  “Yes I DO have time for a run or a workout.”, “No I’m not going to get fat again.”, “Eat slowly.”, “Drink a glass of water instead.”, and “It’s fuel NOT a reward.”

Oh the voices…they are there.  Sometimes they take form in an audible voice such as a friend or family member inviting me to a place to eat or suggesting something that I know I just can’t do/have at this time.  Sometimes the voices come in the form of a picture, advertisement or a commercial featuring something amazingly yummy, sweet and tempting.  Sometimes I have planned ahead and so I know that when the voices come I can answer them appropriately.   Other times I’m caught off guard and I listen to the wrong voice. The best times though are when I’ve planned ahead, prepared by saving calories/nutrition points and done extra workouts and so I don’t even have to listen to those nagging voices.  I know that I can make a choice that I normally wouldn’t make on a daily basis, but it will be acceptable.  I had such a time on Friday night, on a date with Nathan when I could share a piece of Key Lime pie with him and not feel badly.  I could eat a piece of bread with dinner and know the world wasn’t coming to an end.  It felt great and it absolutely did not sabotage me for the next day or the weekend.  The only voices I heard that night were the ones saying “Why don’t you date this man more often?”

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not crazy.  There aren’t audible voices that tempt me, but I hope you understand that seriously there is a war that wages within me. It’s not just about food.  I admit that I hear things that aren’t being said in terms of emotional, spiritual and mental hurts, habits and hang-ups I have.  When someone offends me there are the voices….”How dare that person treat you that way.  You don’t deserve that.  You shouldn’t forgive them.  Hold onto that grudge.”  When I’m misunderstood or disrespected….”People just don’t get you. Probably because they aren’t smart enough, deep enough or capable compassion. Just dismiss them and their actions.”  Oh the things that I hear that aren’t true. These voices seem so loud at times.  I’m often bombarded with voices that seek to keep my drowning in fear, anger and sorrow.  These voices want to keep me isolated and destroy my relationships.  Popular music is often full of melancholy lyrics or anger.  That’s why I stay away from it in general.  A lot of movies have negative themes and a lot of art and fashion can be displeasing as well and cause emotions to rise within me that aren’t healthy.  Notice I said SOME because there is a lot of great art, music, sculpture, art and movies.  I’m just saying that I believe I should be careful what I’m putting into my heart and mind.

I’m grateful for the renewing of my mind and the truth that I hear.  Even though my situation or circumstance might not speak truth, it’s still being spoken over me, to me and in me by the Holy Spirit.  God’s Word helps to counteract the lies that I’m faced with but to hear the small, still voice of my Shepherd I have to practice listening.  Just as I have been trained in certain exercises and continue to train myself to be disciplined in moving my body more and eating less I must train myself to read, ingest and memorize the truth.  I can also hear God’s voice on a trail as I run, while I listen to worship when I’m cooking or doing laundry, as I run and talk with a friend, as I play with my children.  If my soul is ready to listen it can hear.  But to listen I must stop speaking.  I must be silent.

Also I surround myself with positive people who speak truth, have a greater understanding of reality and most often are aware of my struggle.  This support community intentionally tries to uplift me and be that “angel” on my shoulder helping me hear the voice of reason, the voice of truth.  I have such a community in Celebrate Recovery.  I’ve written about accountability previously, but I find it so important that I reiterate the point. It’s not bad to hear things that aren’t being said.  The question is….how will you respond?  How will I respond to what I hear? Will I have the courage to quell the negative voices and send them “poofing” away and walk in truth that is so much richer, higher, purer than a moment of temporary satisfaction that usually leads to guilt, shame and destruction.  Lord…may your still voice be the loudest that I hear.  May “You Speak”!!!

 

 

Small Choices Lead to BIG Changes

Yesterday I was reminded again that small decisions lead to BIG changes.

I had a meeting at the middle school about my oldest son, Joseph, and changes to his IEP and FBA.  I had planned to have my middle kids dropped off at the house after school and the youngest were being cared for by my father.  I thought the meeting would take two hours and it went smoothly and was finished in just one hour!!!  What a surprise.  Now what to do with my extra time?  I could call my friend and tell her that I could pick up the kids from school and wouldn’t need her help.  Or I could take advantage of the plans and use this extra time for me.  I went for option B.  Here’s the “Old vs. New”.

The “Old” me would have found a drive-thru of my choice and sat in the van alone, eating some “fun” food even if I wasn’t hungry.  The “Old” me would have stopped by the cupcake shop or the bakery and had something tasty.  The “Old” me would have done that and felt guilty.  Guilty about the food choices/hiding and guilty because I did something, if even wrong, for myself.  The “New” me realizes that people offer to help because they want to do so and that I can accept that.  The “New” me knows that my children are safe and don’t need me to navigate every moment of their life and that they need to accept the natural consequences of their choices.  The “New” me realizes that those kinds of foo (fast-food) aren’t fun but in fact don’t fuel my body or my soul at all.  *Disclaimer* I do eat fast food.  Sometimes it’s a necessary situation I just make as healthy a choice as I can at the time.  I don’t judge people who eat fast food AND I feed it to my kids on occasion.  I also stop by the cupcake shop on a regular basis to chat with the wonderful ladies that own it and I don’t feel badly if I get a cupcake.  I just need to check my motives and be aware of often my van feels the “pull” to stop.

The “New” me won yesterday and I stopped by the lake and went for a brief walk enjoying the chill in the air and the slight breeze.  I had enough time to only walk a mile, but I chose that time for me, my body and soul and felt better because of it.  It helped me navigate the rest of my busy evening and settled my mind after a meeting full of choices and numbers and reports.  The “New” me didn’t just appear yesterday out of thin air.  The “New” me has been a process of choices similar to the one yesterday over the course of four+ years.   Small decisions really do make BIG changes.

I share all of this to say that today you can make a choice.  Don’t worry about how big or small.  Make ONE choice to do the next right thing and it WILL make a BIG difference in the end.  Before you know it you’ll be making right choices without thinking about them and you’ll look back and think to yourself “when did I become this person?” .  There are days I still blow it and I’m sure I’ll be writing about one of those before long, but today I will celebrate the new, the change, the joy in the journey.  Blessings….

Choosing to share….

 

~Janelle