food addiction

Set Backs and Come Backs

July 26th 2015, I competed in my second powerlifting meet. I was the leanest I had been in years. I was strong and I was physically prepared. My numbers weren’t the best. In fact, the weights I was lifting the weeks prior to the meet were much higher. I let myself feel disappointed, but not for long. I knew that that was the last meet I would do. It was a goal and it required a lot of time and hard work, but I was ready to move on.

I actually didn’t want to compete because of the very specific training I had to do which interfered with other goals I wanted to accomplish. I mainly did it because my youngest son, Nigel was competing in his first meet and I wanted to do it together. It was a great bonding experience.

The week I got back, I had much needed surgery on my thumb. I had put it off for a year while I was training and endured a lot of pain. My cartilage was gone and my bones were wearing down from chronic arthritis.

The procedure is Carpel Metacarpal Arthroplasty. They shave down the bones or remove the more deteriorated bone and use the forearm tendon to replace the cartilage. It was pretty invasive surgery. Full recovery can take up to a year. Of course, I knew or rather thought that would not apply to me.

I devised a workout program that I could do to work around my hand. I was quite proud of myself. I busted my ass in the gym despite my disability. Little did I realize that even though I avoided using my hand, that my workouts were stalling my recovery. When the pain didn’t subside and sometimes got worse, my doctor explained that I was still contracting the joint. It was time to take off and focus on recovery.

My lack of consistent exercise soon turned into eating junk and weight gain. It was depressing to see the scale and my body fat go up, yet it didn’t stop me. I ate junk, felt bad and so I ate more junk.

In October of that year, I was slowly working out again but with modifications and then I broke my foot. I spent the next six weeks in a cast. Almost immediately after getting my cast off, I had to have kidney surgery to remove a huge stone and with that came a stint and more time off. Shortly after that, I hurt my back because I rushed back into working out instead of focusing on regaining quality movement and mobility.

Basically, I was injured or recovering from injuries from July through December. Physically, mentally and emotionally, it was one of the lowest points of my life. I ended up completely out of shape and weighing the most I’ve ever weighed in my life.

I was ashamed of my body and felt like a failure as a fitness instructor. Who is going to listen to me when I can’t even get my own crap together?

Last month, after starting and failing more times than I can count, I decided I needed help. Left to my own devices, I will sit on the couch and drown my sorrows in Oreos while watching a Cops marathon. I finally decide to get help. I hired a team of professionals to help me not only with the physical aspects of my life but with the emotional part, which for me is a huge piece of the puzzle.

I got myself a trainer, Beth Andrews,who is helping me reach my next performance goals. I hired a dietitian, Jon Allen to help me relearn to eat healthy and lose this excess fat and I hired a health coach , Carol Donahoe to help me get back on track in all areas of my life.

Having accountability to each of these people is what drives me to succeed. I just started recently and can already see changes in my life. After almost 10 months of being lost, out of control and depressed, I now have a plan of action and a purpose. Although progress is slow since I am just starting with getting my strength back and my eating under control, I feel hope and I feel empowered.

Maybe the last ten months have been a blessing. I now know that if I want to succeed and be the best I can be, I need help. It was a hard lesson to learn but that’s ok because I made the decision to change and I’ve surrounded myself with the right people to help me.

You Can Start Your New Year Anytime

It’s January 31st and by now many people have already reverted back to old habits and behaviors and their New Year’s resolutions have fallen by the wayside. Does this sound like you?

January 1st is just another day. There is nothing magical about this day but somehow it’s become the day when it seems everyone is making resolutions to lose weight, join a gym, quit smoking and make other abrupt changes in their lives. The problem with this is that many people set these goals without a clear plan of action of steps to take and plans for backsliding.

Starting out on new goals and behaviors is exciting but what do you do when that initial motivation begins to wane? What actions and plans do you have in place when getting to the gym or doing exercise becomes a chore? What about plans for backsliding? This is when many people give up. Then the target day to change becomes Mondays, or the beginning of the month or God forbid, on the first day of the following new year.

The good news is that you can start over anytime. You can start your day over anytime. The point is, never give up. Accept that you may have blown your resolve. Get over it fast and pick yourself back up. Changing is not easy. It may take many attempts and many failures but do not give up.

Get a notebook and write down very specific goals. Put a deadline to each goal. Most importantly, write specific things you will do each day to reach your goals AND write some action steps to take when you feel yourself falling by the wayside.

Believe me, I have to pick myself back up many times. I have never claimed, nor will I ever claim to be one of those fitness professionals that always eats clean, works out every day and never struggles with body image. I’ve had a life time of bad habits, low self-esteem and disordered eating and it’s not going to change over night. I just refuse to give up. I certainly get down on myself, but I always manage to get right back on track.

Part of my success in not throwing in the towel and giving up completely is writing. I keep a journal. I write down goals, both personal and professional. I set deadlines. I write action steps and I get help if needed from people who have more experience in areas than I do. I work with a trainer and a business coach. I surround myself with people who are goal oriented, successful and like-minded. When I get off track, lose focus or begin to doubt, they are there to set me straight and get me on task.

If you feel lost or have given up, do yourself a favor and find mentors. Find people who emulate the kind of life you want to live and who are the kind of people you want to be like. Start keeping a journal. Set goals. Expect there to be ups and downs but have a plan in place to deal with them so you can get back on track fast.

Superstrong Nana Gets a Little Lazy

It’s not what you think. My laziness has to do with keeping up this blog. I am responsible for 3 different blogs, one of which is due once a week for our local paper, The Tallahassee Democrat.

I wrote what I think is a good blog and I decided to repost it here.

It’s Sunday. Thanksgiving was four days ago. It’s time to put down the fork, toss the leftovers and get back to sensible, healthy eating. I write this blog for you, but also for myself.
I would love to tell you that I am one of those trainers whose Thanksgiving dinner consisted of roasted turkey, vegetables and sugar free, fat free pies, but I’m not. I’m normal and yes, I went way, way overboard these past few days. Due to a snafu in my plans of ordering my entire meal online and happily spending my day visiting with family instead of being in the kitchen all day, we ended up with nothing but one Turducken and two pies. That’s what happens when you send your husband out to the grocery store to pick up the meal.
Thank goodness I had the foresight to make stuffing. I threw together some mashed potatoes out of a bag leftover from a week before. That left us with meat, starch and pie. The vegetables I ordered were left deserted at the grocery store as well as the rest of our side dishes.
The only vegetables at our table were the Gerber First Bites green beans that my grand daughter happily gobbled up from the tray of her high chair. Even if I glued the tiny pieces together with maple syrup, it would have given us one green bean a piece.
With a belly full of starch and sugar, I spent the rest of the day on the couch. My carbohydrate coma and lethargy dashed all of my hopes of getting in a good workout. Eating too much of the wrong foods have that effect on me. I know that what I eat and what I put into my body have a direct effect on my energy and my mood. I also know that starches and sugar set me off on a binge much like a drug addict searching for that next high.
My October issue of the IDEA Fitness Journal had an article on food addiction and the effects of sugar on our brain chemistry. Without going into all the science behind these studies, the gist of the article states that hyperpalatables such as sugary, starchy, fatty and salty foods have a direct effect on dopamine; the neurotransmitter that signals when rewards are present, motivates us to seek rewards, promotes exploring and learning about rewards and maintains awareness about reward related cues. It goes on to say that Cocaine and Heroin target and hijack this reward system and so do appetite controlling hormones.
Nora Volkow, MD, director of the National Institue on Drug Abuse used PET scans and radioactive chemicals that bind to dopamine receptors in 2001 and their research revealed that obese people had fewer dopamine receptors in the brain’s striatum (reward center) and therefore had to eat more to experience the same rewards or “high” as people of average weight.
Studies with rats showed that when they were given free access to typical hyperpalatble foods, their brain structure changes the same as if Cocaine were ingested. Functional MRI studies proved that both obese and lean women who demonstrate addictive behavior around food show the same pattern of neural activity as a chronic drug user: high levels of anticipation and low levels of satisfaction after consumption.
There is hope. The book; The Hunger Fix: The Three Stage Detox and Recovery Plan for Overeating and Food Addiction by Pam Peeke, MD, MPH, FACP goes into detail about how reducing stress, regular exercise and a diet rich in Omega-3s can have a positive effect on our brain chemistry. For more detailed information, I recommend you get the book.
One thing we must do however is to detox. Pick a day and make a decision to stop eating those “foods” that keep you in the cycle of addictive eating. Be prepared with lots of healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and lean sources of protein. If you aren’t already; start exercising. Even getting out for walks will have a positive influence on your stress levels and mood. Surround yourself with people who will support you in this endeavor and avoid those who sabotage your efforts.