Monday, May 17, 2010

Happiness Doesn't Come in Pills

The other day, I called my acupuncturist with great embarrassment and asked her. "Uh, can you help me lose weight with acupuncture?"

I felt like I was drawing a capital L on my forehead (for "Loser") but I had to ask. I have been getting quite desperate.

Why do I need to get help this way? Why can't I just stop eating?

Honestly, sometimes, I still don't feel like I am one that overeats constantly but clearly something is wrong with me. For the past year, I have been doing things like yoga and dieting and still the pounds just stay on. I couldn't figure out why. One of my friends suggested that I go for a run and I know she is right but at the same time, there is something else going on.

My acupuncturist and I talked for a while and then she thought that I still might have underlying thyroid issues even though my tests came back negative. She also thought that the weight gain or inability to lose weight was a side effect of my medication.

It must be the anti-anxiety pills, I thought. That is what I've been on the longest. However, even as I experience appetite loss as a welcome result of going back to ADHD stimulant meds, I was still not losing weight.

Before I got pregnant with Spencer, I was very overweight and experiencing what my endocrinologist called "reactive hypoglycemia" where I would just crash from any of the carbs I ate. He told me to cut out the carbs and I was so surprised to hear that. I had always thought those no-carb diets were a hoax but he said I really didn't need carbs and an expert nutritionist that I consulted agreed that for me, I could skip it. The next thing you know... I lost 20 pounds in about 6-8 months.

I was really motivated to stay on this diet because in my mind, it wasn't a diet to lose weight. Losing weight was just a bonus. What I was really trying to do was avoid the sugar crashes because by then, they had been coming on a daily basis and when I crashed, I felt like I was shaking from the core of my body. I would even get a headache sometimes or become extremely tired. I basically couldn't work until I ate a piece of bread.

After a while, I allowed more carbs into my diet but I still limited it and it was easy to do because I was working so I bought 2 out of 3 daily meals outside of the house.

Fast forward to my life today as I try a no-carb diet. Starchy foods are everywhere in my house and I am now finding it hard to digest whole meats like chicken, beef, and pork but can eat something like a hot dog or eggs. Thus, going no-carb is even harder. My anti-anxiety pills cause me constipation and then I have to drink very caloric prune juice which is the only thing that seems to help regulate me.

Basically, I am a complete mess.

I think my doctor also said that my anti-anxiety pills might have also been the cause for a slightly elevated HDL cholesterol reading. I know I am getting older but this was the first that I had an elevated reading.

All I know is that something is wrong and now that I'm on the stimulants that does help with anxiety somewhat, I have decided to get off the anti-anxiety medication once and for all. I wondered when I would ever get rid of it. I could see no end to my symptoms. I always thought that my life would eventually get easier years later and then I could give it up but I don't think I can wait anymore. I think I am going to just make it happen for me somehow.

The good news is that I still like to do yoga and I know that calms me. I still allow myself to drink socially and to have a glass of wine now and then. Additionally, as my acupuncturist said, she may be able to help my body metabolize foods better and help me to lose weight but I will have the most success if I can improve my emotional connection to food. She said that for most of her patients looking for weight loss help, they can not be successful unless they work on this part as well.

I knew what she was saying when she said it but it is still so hard to hear and accept it. I do not know how long it has been or why this is but I am going to have to figure this out if I am ever going to feel good about my weight. Coincidentally, I watched a recorded episode of Oprah the very next day where a woman named Geneen Roth talked about her book Women, Food, and God also talked about women and the emotional reasons for overeating. I figure that this was some sort of sign to me to make some changes. It is not everyday where the words" emotional connection to food" are mentioned within a day apart from each other and coincidentally I am seeking to lose weight at that time as well.

To be quite honest, I haven't gone on a very strict diet in a long long time. However, as Oprah now swears off dieting, I think I am going to join her. As I can now see, happiness is not a number on a scale and stability may come in a bottle of tiny white pills but not without cost. In essence, I am realizing that the bottle of pills almost cause as many problems as they fix. I don't want to have anxiety attacks but I also can no longer stand being this weight. I will have to find other ways to continue my life with all the challenges that are imposed on me as well as the challenges that I impose upon myself.

To start, I am getting a copy of Women, Food, and God and am going to begin a yoga routine and hopefully start incorporating a cardio regimen after I feel that the yoga is making an impact on my anxiety. I am also going to go to my acupuncturist again and she will help me detox and work on any thyroid imbalance that I might have. I am still going to continue my ADHD meds because they really help me get moving and getting a move on helps me to avoid eating when I'm not hungry.

Additionally, while I am going to learn from her book, Geneen Roth's seven guidelines for eating seemed so great that I thought I'd write it down here in case you were interested:
  • Eat when you are hungry.
  • Eat when sitting down in a calm environment. This does not include the car.
  • Eat without distractions. This includes radio, television, newspapers, book, intense anxiety-producing conversations and music
  • Eat what your body wants.
  • Eat until you are satisfied.
  • Eat (with the intention of being) in full view of others.
  • Eat with enjoyment, gusto, and pleasure.
I got to practice these new rules yesterday and it was wonderful. In the morning, despite having appetite-reducing stimulants in my body, I was still hungry for breakfast and ate just a small plate of my favorite dim sum: Lao-Churn (minced beef steamed in a long rice noodle sheet). It was different from what I usually eat and more importantly, it was a perfect portion. After drinking coffee and lots of water, I had a Big Mac for lunch but I didn't finish it nor ate any fries. It was DELICIOUS and felt no guilt. I only eat this maybe four times a year so it's no big deal to me.

For dinner, I went out with two friends who were visiting New York for a special roundtable discussion, you might know them, Kay Marner of ADDitude Magazine's Parenting Blog and Penny Williams a.k.a. ADHDMomma. We made plans to go out for dinner weeks earlier and obviously earlier than my new resolve to eat better. With my new intention to eat with pleasure, I did something that I never do and ordered three appetizers instead of an appetizer and an entree like I would usually do when I am eating a big dinner out with friends. I finished my appetizers and a had just a little room for dessert.

After dinner came the real dessert, we walked and walked through the city in the most pleasant of evening weathers. It was cool but not cold and while my feet really hurt, I really enjoyed the rare opportunity of showing my hometown to my favorite blogging buddies while walking off the huge dinner I ate.

I wish I could go for a walk every night after dinner but it is so hard to do because I have to get the kids to bed and by the time they are in bed, it is too late to go out for a walk. I guess I don't have all the answers and I must accept that this is a process. I do feel like I am getting somewhere though. I stepped on the scale and haven't gained any weight even though I have eaten more this past weekend than I did in the past week! It must the drugs. That is the only change I've made and so far it looks like it was a good one. Wish me luck!

Photo 1 and 2: This is Spencer and his friend Christian blowing bubbles together at my house. It is very calming for Spencer and it also helps with oral motor strengthening. While Christian's mommy, Melida and I get the boys together every week so that the two can have fun and that Spencer can work on his social skills, I have ended up learning a lot from her about how exercise can leave you feeling great. She runs marathons and goes for runs in the morning before starting her day. Wow, isn't she something? She also goes to school full-time and takes care of her kids full-time too. I remember the days I did yoga early in the morning before starting the grind with the boys. That was so cool but then I no longer could wake up that early. Maybe I can start that again too. I really did feel great back then.

Additionally, my speech therapist saw this photo and she thinks this is the proper way to blow bubbles (from the oral motor strengthening aspect). Notice he is not biting and he is blowing from the edge of the pipe. Some kids bite them to give themselves more support but this does not help oral motor functioning.


Melida said...

I am in awe of you and am blessed to spend time with you and your boys! Cristian wishes everyday was friday! I'm up for a walk or a run anytime :P)

Geneen Roth said...

Dear Jenn,

I hope you love Women Food and God and that it reaches you in places that you never imagined. Good luck on your journey. Remember, you are not alone.

Geneen Roth

Penny Williams said...

I had an awesome time with you too Saturday night! I so wish we all lived closer and could have girls' night more often. I at least hope we can make it happen once a year. It was far too short of an evening. I am grateful to know you!

{a mom's view of ADHD}