No wonder I’m tired: I just earned the Italy badge on my Fitbit. I got this message in my email a couple of days ago: “By walking 736 miles–the entire length of Italy–you’ve stepped your way to another lifetime badge. That’s a colossal achievement.” It sounds like more of a colossal achievement than it actually is. This counts all the time with a Fitbit, the one my cousin sent to me, as well as the one I got for my birthday last year. Basically we’re talking about at least a year worth of everyday walking, and most people could walk the entire length of Italy in a year. The apostles could have walked the entire length of Italy probably four or five times in a year, and even that may be an understatement. Of course, they were men with a vision, and I don’t mean televisions.

Seriously, maybe it’s because I have low iron that I’m dragging most days. I tried to donate plasma on Monday, but they deferred me because my iron was too low. That’s what I get for being negligent in taking my vitamins.

Maybe it’s because things in motion tend to stay in motion, as the commercial says, and things at rest tend to stay at rest. I got out of the habit of my daily treadmill routine, and the serotonin in my brain took a direct hit.  If you don’t move, move, move things begin to atrophy, and then when you do move it’s harder to move. That’s where I am with my foot. I go to bed thinking that the next day I will turn it all around and get back on that treadmill. Then I wake up thinking that I don’t even want to get out of bed.

Maybe it’s because I struggle with depression. My mom did, and I wonder if it’s true of depression as it’s true of other things, that more is “caught” than “taught.” Or maybe it’s hereditary, even.

Of course, my husband always says, “What do you have to be depressed about?”

Nothing. If I had reasons to be depressed it wouldn’t be true depression. Truth be told, though, I have lots of underlying worries and stresses that I don’t deal with well. The book I’m still reading recommends having a good cry. I have trouble with that. I’m not a crier. Plus, I don’t dwell on what’s eating at me. If I have an unpleasant thought or concern about areas of my life (or more likely my children’s lives) I push it to the back burner of my mind. If you don’t dwell on it you don’t have to deal with it, because it’s painful to deal with it, but, if you don’t deal with it, it hovers over your head like a dark cloud and maintains some level of control over your life.

The other day I was delivering some jewelry to a friend. I walked into her place of business, and, before I walked through the door, I caught a glimpse of her through the window. If I was going by the expression she wore on her face, I would have guessed her whole world had caved in. She was having a rough day, to be sure. She had just found out that the house she had gotten approved for had slipped through her fingers. Her philandering ex-husband was taking retirement, and that meant that her alimony was going to be cut way back. In fact, she’s now afraid she won’t be able to make the rent payments on the duplex she lives in.

One of her daughters passed away several years ago and one is moving to another state.

She feels stuck. And defeated. And definitely concerned about an unstable future.

We had a cathartic visit, and she said that God had certainly sent me by at just the right time. She needed to talk to someone, and her boyfriend was busy at work and, due to the nature of his job, literally didn’t have time for her bombardment of texts.

Before I left we were both in tears a few times. It hurts my heart to see a friend in so much mental anguish, and it’s no place to stay for very long. I told her to focus on all the blessings in her life, on all the things she did have, not on the one thing she couldn’t have.  I hope I didn’t come across as blithe, but that was more than just a pat response to her dilemma.

Her mother had prayed that if she wasn’t meant to get this house that she wouldn’t get it. That’s all well and good, except she did get it, and then it was yanked back away from her by the bank that had initially told her and the sellers that she was good to go. Her ex-husband taking retirement and reducing her alimony below the court-ordered amount was the equivalent of his saying, “And, oh, by the way, here’s another jab to add to all the other pain I’ve inflicted on you over the years.”

She said, “I feel like he has won again. All the times I forgave him and took him back, and, now, he has everything and I have nothing.”

She said that she refused to let go of God. She said, “I may get mad and say that I’m done praying or this and that, but I won’t turn away from God.”

I told her that at least she had her health. She had her boyfriend. She has a place to live and a job. She has children. Granted, one of them died and one is about to move to another state, but she has children and grandchildren.

Some people do not have their health. I reminded her that some people only have a couple of months to live. Some people have cancer. If we feel good most of the time and don’t have to live with constant pain, we should thank God for that.

Sometimes the physical pain or the mental pain is too great for someone to bear and they even take their own lives because they can’t even see a glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel. They see no end to their pain and they can’t see any relief in sight. At least she doesn’t have that.

Some people are homeless. They have no idea where their next meal is coming from, and their mind is consumed with where they can go to seek shelter from the sweltering summer sun or the frigid winter winds. She has her own place that she shares with her boyfriend.

I asked her if maybe she and her boyfriend could get married. Wouldn’t that make a difference if both their names could be on the house? But she said his credit was bad, and, if she got married, she wouldn’t get her pension when she turned sixty from her ex-husband’s company.

I reminded her that some people will never have children or grandchildren, and then I started tearing up and jokingly said, “Okay, I have to leave now.” And we both had a good laugh.

The truth is that not having grandchildren doesn’t bother me so much, but what does bother me is that my children may be denied the joy that children bring. Because of life’s circumstances, my daughter may never have children. She may never get married. She may always have to live in her parents’ house. I realize that this is therapeutic for me to write about, but I’m hesitant at the same time because I know that she reads my blog and I don’t want to bring all these back-burner thoughts to the front where we have to think about them and deal with them. Anyway, how can thinking about them change anything?

My daughter, Chelsea, actually is the poster child of just how bad things can get. She’s thirty-two, wheelchair-bound, lives with her parents, has a set income from SSI, has medical issues out the yin-yang, including a colostomy, a catheter coming out of her navel, and more of a likelihood of catching pneumonia or other respiratory ailments, just because she is always seated and doesn’t empty her lungs as completely as able-bodied people do. She caught H1-N1 (the swine flu) one year, and it really did a number on her. Some people ended up dying with that, if you’ll remember. The medication they put her on, after she came out of the hospital, gave her feelings of hopelessness, and she didn’t even want to be left alone long enough for us to go to Wednesday night Bible study–even though she was completely well enough and old enough, of course, to be left by herself.

Chelsea doesn’t drive, but she did get her permit when she was sixteen. She also bought a hand-control equipped car from a lady near St. Louis who had multiple sclerosis. It had a wheelchair compartment on top of the car, and an automated pully loaded and unloaded the wheelchair for her.

Chuck took her out driving a couple of times, but the stress was too much for her. She was scared to drive. On our first outing, with the whole family, somehow she ended up heading toward a ditch and then she just put her hands up over her face and started to cry.

Chuck said, “Can we at least get the car straightened out on the side of the road and then you can cry?”

Another time Chuck took her to an empty school parking lot so that she could practice there with no obstructions. I don’t know how that went, but I know that she didn’t feel comfortable driving.

Maybe we should have taken her to the city and enrolled her in a driving class for disabled individuals, but we both had jobs and would have had to take off work. Plus, the expense would have been a factor, too.

We had some rainy weather, and, during a visit from my dad, we took him out to show him the car. He had lent Chelsea the money to buy it. We were surprised to learn that the wheelchair compartment on the top of the car leaked and the whole inside of Chelsea’s car was soaked. It was awful. We had no garage at the time to keep the car in, and we eventually sold it to someone who stopped by our house, out of the blue, and offered us money for it.

I don’t want people to think Chelsea basically has no life because she does. She has flown on an airplane twice by herself to visit out-of-state friends. She has taken road trips with other friends. She has lunch with lots of different friends all the time–more than I do, actually. She works at a salon, and, although it’s a volunteer position, she does get all her shampoos, cuts, color and waxes free. She enjoys getting out and meeting people and being useful at the salon by answering the phone, keeping the appointment book and returning messages at the salon.

She has a couple of direct sales businesses: Perfectly Posh and LipSense. They aren’t booming businesses, but they are good products and she’s slowly building a customer base. Selling Perfectly Posh gives her a little extra pocket change for things she needs and things she wants. ( Https:// )

She keeps herself looking nice with her makeup and clothes and, of course, her perfect hair, a perk of working at a salon. Despite her life being riddled with medical challenges and other challenges that come from being in a wheelchair: not being able to go in some stores (like Claire’s) because the aisles are too small or too cramped to make turnarounds or going to a beach or moving through gravel or wet ground or even going to family get-togethers because most people have stairs and steps . Because of Chelsea and our Monday-night visits, my dad had a concrete ramp poured off the side of his front porch, but not everyone thinks (or cares enough) to do that.

Chelsea goes to work every day in her power chair. If it’s too cold or too hot or too rainy, sometimes we will take her in her van that was gifted to her by complete strangers. Long story here. The van had been given to their son, who had recently moved to a facility where transportation was provided. Because the van had been given to them, they wanted to also give it to someone who could used it.

It was a gift from heaven. The timing was perfect, too, completely orchestrated by God. She had just had her back-to-back surgeries and had spent almost the entire year in a convalescent long-term care facility. The gift of the van gave her something to look forward to. One of her friends from the Missouri Career Center, where Chelsea used to work, arranged a benefit for Chelsea at Pizza Hut and suggested that we start a Go-Fund-Me page to help get the van equipped for the road: new tires, seat adjustment, the wheelchair door fixed, and a few other things, as well. We also used part of the money to buy Chelsea a hospital bed and air mattress for her wound–and a hospital table, which has been invaluable.

We use the van every Sunday for church, and I have even taken Chelsea to the city a few times in it. Chuck doesn’t like for us to travel far in the van because if something happens to the van, if it breaks down or something, how would we get Chelsea home in her power chair?

My, this has been long-winded, and it’s almost time for lunch so I’ll have to quit writing. I don’t know if I got off on a rabbit trail or not, but I wrote and that was the goal. I earned myself a star–if I had stars to give myself. I’ll read some more in my book today, too. Little by little, maybe I can piece together what it is in me that makes me run to food when things get good or get bad or get happy or get sad.

Before I close, though, let me tell you what I picked up at Walmart today. A customer came by to pick up jewelry this morning and told me about her new love, Chobani Flip-Its. her favorite is the Coco Loco (I think that’s it). It’s coconut flavored Greek yogurt with chocolate pieces and almonds that you flip into it and stir in. Probably they’re not totally on plan, but, in my mind, they’re better than eating a pint of ice cream. I got four kinds because I thought of Chuck while I was standing there looking at all the different kinds. I got two salted caramel ones for Chuck, along with two strawberry crisp ones. I got a caramel one for me to try and a key lime crunch, too. They were a buck eighteen a piece. My customer says she uses hers in a dessert setting. I can’t wait to try one.

I would try one for my afternoon snack, but I enjoyed my diced, salted apple so much with the Triple Zero peach yogurt yesterday afternoon that I almost want to do that again.

Today is Thursday, so that means I have to get ready for another Facebook Live jewelry party tonight. Wish me luck!

Go Back, Go Back, Go Back

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One of the main things I had wanted to buy at Super Center was my foil star stickers, and what do you think I forgot when I went there with Chuck yesterday? Yep. The stickers.

On a positive note we were able to add seventeen gallons of water to Chelsea’s aquarium. The sad news is that it could probably use a couple more gallons, too. It really got low. Now I only wish we could do something about the flickering lights. If there were a way to unscrew the light panel it would be easy enough to replace them, but there are no screws. I don’t know what those little flat pieces are that attach the light panel to the hood, but they are not screws. Maybe the best thing to do is take the whole hood into Pet Smart and let them look at it. I think it will be hard to find a hood exactly like this one because it is kind of divided on top. Instead of having one large opening at the top of the aquarium, there are two.

I have had a couple of good days on Trim Healthy Mama. I went back to what I knew: oatmeal and smoothies, and I know the longer I go without caving to bad habits the easier it will get for me. When in doubt, go back, go back, go back to what worked before and then build from there.

I know the treadmill is what worked before, but, man, my foot! That piercing jabbing pain on the bridge of my foot keeps me from wanting to be on it for long. I shouldn’t complain. Even if it hurts, at least I have a foot to walk on.

To make matters worse, I have no one to blame but myself. It’s my own fault that it got this bad. If I had stayed active, if only I had kept doing my treadmill every day, my joints and muscles would not have gotten stiffer.

Oh, how easily I forgot my famous last words: I’m not ever going back to where I was. Friends, I’m here to say that it’s easier to fall back into old mindsets and patterns than I had thought, so, even if it’s a teeny, tiny step, that step has to be forward and not backward.

Find encouragement where you can. If you can’t find it within yourself or with your spouse or immediate family unit, then find it elsewhere, but find that kind, gentle voice that lets you know you can do this, that you’re not wasting your time, that you and your family are worth the effort to be healthy. Put the naysayers behind you: leave them in the dust and soldier on to that healthier, happier life that is within your grasp.

Chuck tightened the belt of the treadmill yesterday. I think it may have done the trick. We shall see. We hope so, because the new motor would have cost us a pretty penny. It’s not surprising, though, I suppose, that the motor on a $1,300 treadmill would cost in excess of $300. Still, even if it is the motor, that would be cheaper to replace than the whole treadmill–unless, of course, I could find a steal at a garage sale. That’s always in the realm of possibilities. People make extravagant purchases, with every intention in the world of following through and getting healthy. Six months later they sadly realize that the treadmill they spent a month’s salary on has done nothing more than provide another place to hang their clothes.

He was afraid that wasn’t the problem because one side already felt like it was pretty tight. He found the right kind of wrench out in the garage and got it done. Both of us are going to start using it, he says.

I’m blessed to have the husband I have. He’s been a trooper about Trim Healthy Mama, and he has made several changes to his own diet. What I’m about to type is something that four years ago would have been foreign to me: we haven’t had a baked potato for more than three years. In fact, except for Thanksgiving and Christmas, I don’t even buy potatoes, anymore.

A Facebook memory appeared on Chuck’s timeline yesterday, and he said, “I just saw an old picture of you from 2011, and there’s no way you have gained all your weight back. You still look a lot better than you did.”

Okay, there has to be truth in that because yesterday I wore a 2X top that I got off of Ebay. It isn’t even stretchy, but it still looks nice on me. It doesn’t flatten my chest or cut the circulation off in my arms. I’m not too far gone. It is indeed possible to pick right up after my “glitch” and find success again.

I can’t wait to get my new book! I even found a video of the author, after I purchased the book and was instantly engaged with her personality. It was hard to believe that the sweet, young, pretty thing on the video had ever experienced an epic battle with a birthday cake like the one she described on her daughter’s first birthday, but that account let me know I am definitely not alone in this food addiction thing.

Next year is my 40th class reunion (wow, that’s a big number!). Wouldn’t it be great if I can kick this sugar addiction to the curb and get down to a respectable weight before then?

Tempted by My Dreams

Last night was a rough one. As I was watching a movie on Lifetime, I got a craving for dark-chocolate covered caramels with sea salt, the kind that Costco has. I think they’re made by Sanders.

The fact is, there was no one to talk me down from the ledge, because I didn’t want to be talked down–so I didn’t tell anyone about my struggle. In my mind, it was a done deal: I was going to have my caramels. I decided on a number. Two. The number used to be three, but the last couple of times I had cravings I had cut myself back to two pieces of candy. Maybe a time will come when one will suffice, but that will be when I’m normal; and that may be a long time coming.

Right now I’m a binge-eater. I can’t be trusted with certain foods. My restrainer is busted. I know starting off that the first bite is going to be dangerous. That first bite is just flirting with disaster. So, the trick then is to keep from taking that first bite, because no matter how strong the urge is for that first piece of candy, the second piece is like a runaway train.

The brain is a funny thing. The first piece is justified with “One won’t hurt you” or “You’ve had a great day: you deserve this.” The second piece is justified with “Well, you’ve already blown it now: you may as well have two or three. Or polish off what’s left in the container.”

But then I did something crazy. I actually reached back in the corner of my mind for something–anything–that could save me. I remembered in Dr. Phil’s 20/20 Diet book that he suggested brushing your teeth to head off a cheat. His reasoning is that no one feels like eating when they have a minty, fresh sensation in their mouth. Basically what it does is deal with both the mental and the physical elements of the situation.

How many times have you heard this in your childhood: “You can’t eat that now: you’ve already brushed your teeth”? Brushing your teeth has kind of a finality to it. It signals the end of a meal or bedtime.

The other thing brushing your teeth does is ruin the enjoyment of whatever you pop into your mouth. Truth be told, caramel and toothpaste is not a good flavor combo.

So I got up from my chair and went into the bathroom and brushed my teeth. Then I brushed my tongue. I wanted that minty fresh feeling all over my mouth. And it worked. Toothpaste – one, caramels – zero.

I made it to bed without a single caramel.

After I fell asleep, though, all heck broke loose. I had two cinnamon rolls and there may have been a container of biscuits and gravy involved or a sugar cookie (at least lustful thoughts of a sugar cookie).

All I remember from my dreams is that my old boss brought in Casey’s containers of biscuits and gravy for the whole gang. I wasn’t too interested in them, but it seems like one of them may have come open and I got some on my hand or something. I may have had a taste or two. In my dreams.

Then there was a big box of cinnamon rolls. Some had clear sugar glaze on them, and some had thick cream cheese icing. There were only two or three of that kind in the box, so I had to immediately grab one before someone else got them all instead.

The cinnamon roll was bigger than my hand. I remember meeting the gaze of one of my coworkers. He raised his eyebrows and his mouth kind of fell open as he caught a glimpse of the giant roll in my hand. I couldn’t tell if he was thinking, “Whoa, Dirinda, I didn’t think you ate stuff like that, anymore” or “Be sure and save some for the rest of us.”

To escape further scrutinization, I went out to pre-trip my bus. There was going to be nothing dainty, delicate or glamorous about the consumption of that cinnamon roll and I didn’t want people gawking at me as I tore into it.

I glanced up to see the car of a coworker drive past my bus, so I climbed behind my steering wheel and shut my door so she wouldn’t notice me stuffing my face with the massive delicacy.

In the next “scene,” Chuck and I were somewhere where there were lots of pastries. Two pastry shops side by side, actually. And, again with the cinnamon rolls. They were absolutely huge. There were thinly glazed ones with lots of butter and there were the ones with the thick white icing. Apparently the one I got from my boss wasn’t enormous enough, so I had another.

Then I noticed that Chuck was finishing off his second one, so I asked if I could have another, also. “That’s not fair. You got two,” I said.

“We have to leave now,” he responded.

“Well, can’t I at least have a sugar cookie, then?” I asked.

Whoever said you don’t dream in color should have been in my dream last night because those sugar cookies were absolutely glorious with their pink and blue frosting.

It was one of those nights where I woke up feeling guilty–as if I had really eaten two of the most gigantic cinnamon rolls I had ever seen in my life. No calories consumed, yet I still woke up feeling ashamed and guilty, just as I used to (and still do sometimes) after I quit smoking. In my mind I wake up to thoughts of “Why would you do that, Dirinda? After thirty-four years of not smoking, why would you want to throw that all away and light up again?”

The treadmill stopped on me yesterday morning after only two and a half minutes. I may have been able to coax it along for a few minutes at a time until I got my twenty minutes in, but I wasn’t patient enough–and I was more than willing to use it as a good excuse not to continue.

Yesterday evening, though, Chelsea came into the living room and asked if I wanted to go for a walk to Willow Creek and back. When we got outside, we opted to just walk the streets of our neighborhood under the shelter of the shade trees.

It wasn’t the most strenuous exercise I had ever gotten, but, by the time I was through panting and sweating, my Fitbit registered twenty-two minutes of rigorous activity.

When Chuck got home from work last night, he mentioned that we were going to have to order a motor for our treadmill and both start using it. It is no fun getting old and becoming stiff due to lack of activity.

Let me just say that first day in Mall of America was excruciating: at least it was when it was time to walk to the car. I had decided that my feet would hurt no more if I took big steps as opposed to small steps and I would arrive faster–until my knee started hurting, too, and then I could hardly move at all. I couldn’t bend my left leg, so there I was hobbling stiff-legged through the rest of the mall.

People were looking at me. No doubt they were thinking, “Look at that poor fat lady. She can barely move.”

Right across the bridge of my foot–is that what you call it?–where my toes connect to my feet was quite painful. I was telling a friend about it on Friday, and she said her feet are the same way. She told her husband that it felt like she was being crucified, like there was a big nail going through her feet.

I told Chuck it feels like the blood vessels that lead to my toes are clamped off.

He said, “But we know that’s not true, because your toes are still pink and healthy-looking.” Even if they are numb and feel like blocks of wood in my shoes, at least they still look pretty good.

I didn’t buy my stars for my progress chart yesterday, but, thanks to the recommendation of a dear reader, I did order the book, Full: Food, Jesus and the Battle for Satisfaction on Amazon yesterday. Amazon lets you begin reading your book right away, so I started right in. So far, I’ve loved what I’ve read and can’t wait for it to arrive.

I will keep you posted! Thanks to everyone else who left a comment or recommended a book that was helpful to you! I plan to check them all out!

I hope everyone had a better day yesterday and is having a better one today! Thanks for stopping by for a visit!


Whatever Works

I hope my quest for knowledge starts to knock out my compulsion for food. Today I will hit Amazon and buy a book or two more on food addiction.

I was let down by It Was Me All Along. The writing was good, but the author had had weight-loss surgery. My goal is to find someone who has conquered food without invasive surgeries. Or yoga.

The book I am currently reading I had to put down last night because the author started talking about guided meditations. She said she had grown up in a religious (I’m taking that to mean “Christian” household) where anything not related to God or Jesus was considered questionable or even evil. I would concur with that. Eastern spirituality has no place in my life. I’m not going to start anything that sends up red flags just to lose a little weight.

There has to be another way. My feet still hurt this morning, from my vacation and all that time cooped up in a car, but I took some ibuprofen and plan to get on the treadmill in just a few minutes.

Just as a bunch of small steps in the right direction add up in a good way, so do a bunch of small steps off the beaten path take you somewhere you really don’t want to be. My joints are stiffer and my knee and feet hurt more. It’s movement that keeps your joints and muscles looser. Use them or lose them.

I have a few tops that I bought after I lost my sixty-five pounds that don’t fit me, anymore, and I’m catching glimpses of someone in the mirror who horrifies me. I told Chelsea the other day that I’m starting to collect a new batch of “before” pictures. When someone takes my picture I catch myself cringing.

But today is a new day. I’m starting off with journaling/blogging. When the ibuprofen kicks in I will get on the treadmill. Then I will have a plan-approved breakfast.

At Dollar Tree yesterday I bought myself a composition book. Today I will buy some colored foil stars. Each day, whenever I do my treadmill, I will give myself a gold star. Whenever I go a day eating clean I will give myself a silver star. Each day I blog/journal/spend time reading about food addiction I will give myself a green star (for growing and learning). Each day I put three hours between each snack or meal I will give myself either a blue star or a red star. Okay, I haven’t worked out all the colors, yet, or even what other thing–oh, YES, I have!!! It just came to me! A blue star will be each day that I drink all my water. That leaves the red star for making it three hours between snacks and meals.

I should weigh myself. That is the logical next step. But I’m afraid. I need someone to hold my hand. I don’t think I can face that number alone. I won’t face that number alone, and, yet, I find myself in a precarious situation because I don’t want anyone else to know what it is, either.

Whatever it takes, whatever works, that’s what I will do. If I have to take my Trim Healthy Mama book down off the shelf and read it again, I will do that. If I have to start back at the beginning of my blog and try to catch some of my old enthusiasm I will do that, too.

After my treadmill and breakfast I will buy my foil stars and get started–back to where I was. Wherever I found success the first time I will find it again. Without weight loss surgery, without yoga or any other Eastern religion transcendental meditation.

I want to accomplish better health and weight loss without any foreign agents. I welcome all prayer, and, of course, the help of my Lord. I wish I could learn what it is in me that is getting in my way.

Today I’m feeling overwhelmed but optimistic. Let’s do this thing.

Runaway Train

One of the things I like most about Andie Mitchell is her ability to find exactly the right words to describe something. Her word pictures are spot on. I know this because the disorder that she has fought is the disorder that I fight. Every day.

During my morning route my mind drifted to stopping to get Chelsea something to eat before her nurse showed up at 8:15. Since McDonald’s is being rebuilt completely from scratch now and won’t be reopened until October, the nearest Mickey D’s is at the junction. Not wanting to drive ten more miles once I was finished driving for the morning, Casey’s was the next most logical breakfast stop.

I remember exactly where I was when I started e̶n̶t̶e̶r̶t̶a̶i̶n̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶t̶h̶o̶u̶g̶h̶t̶s̶ ̶o̶f̶ planning my next binge. I was about to turn onto 15th Street, when suddenly I could think of little else but two sugar cookies from Casey’s, complete with that famous sugary, white glazed icing that is surely made in heaven. Not just one sugar cookie, mind you, but two.  If I’m going to go off-plan, I may as well make it worth my while. I had a really good day yesterday, I reasoned with myself, I can have another one tomorrow.

Once I give myself permission to do something–actually “promise” is more the word I’m looking for–it’s hard to go back on that promise. It’s hard to let all those sugar-laden thoughts and mouth-watering expectations go unfulfilled.

Andie Mitchell of It Was Me All Along wrote, “Once you’ve decided on a binge, it’s almost impossible to stop. Turning back is driving all the way to Florida from Massachusetts, straight through the night, and arriving bleary-eyed and exhausted, only to decide it would be better to turn around and head back up north rather than nap in the sun on the beach for a bit.”

It would make absolutely no sense to turn back once you’ve gotten your taste buds in an uproar. Deliver what you promised!, they scream.

All the way to school I considered this word picture, and I was willing to concede that it honestly was way yonder too hard to resist what I’d already purposed to do. I wasn’t up for the battle. I’m spineless and weak, after all, and, in the whole scheme of things, does the world really care whether I cave in to those two sugar cookies or not?

And, while I wasn’t considering the word picture, I was picturing how utterly depleted I would be if I gave in. I was picturing the sugar cookies being gone within ten minutes, but the guilt lingering far into the afternoon. There may even be enough guilt left over to have a heaping helping of it tomorrow, too.

Still battling as I got back to the bus lot, an angel on my right shoulder and a devil on my left, I slid the gear shift into neutral, engaged my parking brake, switched off my lights, and pivoted in my seat, grunting as I grabbed hold of the dashboard and the safety rail to hoist up my sugar-addicted body onto my aching and stiff knees.

“The sugar won’t help you feel better, Dirinda,” I said out loud. I walked down the aisle of my bus toward the child-check button, continuing my mini lecture. “You may think right now that it will, but it won’t. It will only make you feel worse. Sugar isn’t going to help your knees. Sugar isn’t going to help you get around easier.”

I started making another plan. Chocolate cake (in the form of a THM plan-approved muffin-in-a-mug). “Yep, that’s it. New plan.”

I walked into Casey’s and glanced at the counter for the sugar cookies. I saw some cookies, but I wouldn’t let my eyes settle on them for long. I walked over toward the kitchen and selected a sausage croissant for Chelsea from the turning, heated display case, and then I got her a chocolate milk from the refrigerated section. I found my place in line where I had another moment or two to survey the donuts behind me.

I heard a fellow customer report, “They don’t have any cake donuts.”

“Are you kidding me?!” said her companion who had hobbled in with some kind of surgical brace covering her whole foot and half her leg.

But they do have those airy French twist donuts, I observed, with the delicious white frosting. And they have plenty of those delectable, yeasty glazed donuts, too.

I turned my attention toward the front counter where the cookies are always lined up in rows of cheerful greeters to welcome you when you walk in the front door. Sometimes they go all out and sport colorful, birthday-party sprinkles.  Hmm, I thought, chocolate chip cookies and sugar cookies with no icing. Marshmallow Rice Crispy squares with M&Ms and peanut butter Rice Crispy squares with chocolate icing. Both of those would do in a pinch–and have before– but I paid for Chelsea’s breakfast and headed out to my car without incident or mishap.

When I got home, I walked Chelsea’s breakfast back to her room and set about making me a Trim Healthy Mama chocolate muffin-in-a-mug. I took half of one of those little 85% cocao chocolate bars and broke it up into pieces over the top of the muffin before I put it in the microwave.

Today I waged war against the monster of sugar addiction, and I made the wiser choice. Victory is mine, and right now it feels sweeter than a sugar cookie.


It Was Me All Along

I’m nearly finished with the book, It Was Me All Along, I ordered from Amazon. I am so happy that I bought it. Andie Mitchell is a talented writer, and the book has a conversational appeal that drew me in and kept me holding onto the book, continuing to read, even after I realized that I really should be getting to bed or doing other things.

Did any of you follow my suggestion and order it, too, so that you could discuss with me what you thought about it?

Andie’s life is easy to relate to, maybe not her family situation (but we all have our own stories, don’t we?), but I certainly understood her relationship with food and how she used it to cope with the fears, frustrations and angst of growing up with an addicted parent and always being “the fat girl” at school.

If you haven’t read it, yet, I know you will like Andie and appreciate the insight she brings to food addiction and how to break the cycle.

One of the main things I have come away with is what I have always known to be true, but have dragged my feet doing, literally, for about the last year–has it been that long? I need to get off my tush and exercise.

Since I am still eating mostly healthy foods and try to stay within the guidelines for Trim Healthy Mama approved food groupings, my level of activity just isn’t cutting it.

I’m not going to start off as a drill sergeant this time, however. I’m allowing myself to do just five or ten minutes on the treadmill, and then I’m stopping. I think I may stop even if I feel like going longer, just to prove to myself that I can be gentle and encouraging instead of harsh and demanding. I don’t know. I haven’t worked all that out, yet.

I just ordered another book to read while on vacation the first of July. I told Chuck I am going to order every book on food addiction until I get this monster under control. Here is the one I ordered this morning:

I read the “teaser” portion before my morning route just after I placed my order and I’m convinced this is going to be another entertaining and helpful read.

The following is a review I posted on Facebook, after having read my most recent book:

Chelsea and I recently read a book by Jojo Moyes called “Me Before You.” She had kind of wanted to see the movie, but read the book instead and now she says the movie couldn’t possibly have done the story line any justice. I agree. That is most often the case.

Spoiler alert. If you want to read the book or see the movie, do not read any further.

The book is about a successful businessman in London who takes over companies and has a very active, athletic lifestyle. A tragic accident takes everything away from him, except his very life. He suffers an extreme spinal cord injury and becomes a quadriplegic.

He goes from having the world by the tail to being dependent on other people for every single thing but the beat of his heart and the breath in his nostrils. He can’t even lift a fork to his mouth.

He determines that his life isn’t worth living anymore. In two years he contracts pneumonia three times, and the prognosis for his getting any better at all is beyond grim.

A caregiver his mom hires falls in love with him. She makes him laugh and, after she finds out that he has promised his mom six months more before he legally kills himself–with aid, of course–in Switzerland, she sets out to prove to him that life is indeed worth living when you are loved.

The man has lots of pain: bladder spasms, fevers because of inadequate body temperature control, muscle spasms, etc., but, on good days, there is laughter. On good days he enjoys music and films. There is always, always love, no matter what.

In all the book there is no mention that the man is a Christian. In fact, there is quite a bit in the book to make us believe to the contrary. Before his accident he lived a life marked by fornication and entitlement, and throughout the book there were instances of profanity and taking the Lord’s name in vain.

In the end, he decides that love is not enough to endure confinement to a wheelchair and the limitations of his once active and virile body.

His loved ones reconcile that it would be cruel to take the one thing he can control (the choice to live or die) away from him–even the girl who loves him and is initially horrified that his mom and dad have agreed to let him end his life grants him his wish that she be with him when he breathes his last.

Whatever the reader comes away with after reading this tragic tale, the one thing they aren’t given to consider is the afterlife.
The man’s family thinks they are helping him to escape the misery of his wheelchair and ill-health, but there is no escaping the misery of eternal torment in hell.

In hell there is no love, there is no laughter, there are no good days.

Summer school is already half over. Vacation is coming up and I have plans to be a reader! Should be a fun and educational summer!

What to Do When the “It’s-too-hard” Voice Gets Louder Than the “Attagirl!” Voice

I didn’t just trip, I fell into a canyon. There were a few months where sugar had me by the throat and I was crying “Uncle!” I gave up. I gave in. I couldn’t walk into the grocery store or Casey’s without surrendering my will to sugar. I drew the line at donuts, though–but isn’t that crazy? Why did I think that sugar cookies were an acceptable cheat, but donuts were off-limits? Why did I think that carrot cake or peach cobbler or anything else on the dessert bar was okay to indulge in, but, what? Potatoes or rolls?!! No way, no how! Are you crazy?! I’d rather die than eat mashed potatoes or a hot, fluffy roll or macaroni and cheese. Biscuits and gravy? Get that poison out of here! But, what, you got a sugar cookie at Casey’s and didn’t bring me one?!!

Oh, the games our minds play.

I almost got to the point where I loathed myself. How could I keep on giving in like that? The “It’s-too-hard” voice was drowning out the “Attagirl!” voice in my head.

Do you remember the old Cherokee adage about the grandfather telling his grandson about the internal fight between two wolves? One wolf was evil, full of anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, self-pity, arrogance, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other wolf was good, full of love, joy, peace, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith. The grandson asked which wolf would win, and the grandfather responded, “The one you feed.”

I had been starving the “Attagirl!” inside me. Every time I threw a sugar cookie to the “It’s-too-hard” Dirinda, the more she was filled with greed, sorrow, regret, guilt, and self-pity. Boy, was she greedy. One sugar cookie wasn’t enough, and two were just barely enough.

The sorrow that the greed set into motion was too much to bear, and the regret, guilt and self pity were no fun, either.

The real danger is that the “It’s-too-hard” voice teeters on becoming the “What’s-the-point” and “I-can’t-do-this” voice. That’s where the “It’s-too-hard” lies start coming in. Tomorrow I’ll start back, tomorrow I’ll start back, tomorrow I’ll start back soon turns into a month gone by the wayside.

Start pulling for the “Attagirl!” Root for the “Attagirl!” A lot of people like to cheer for the underdog, but don’t think of your precious “Attagirl!” as an underdog. She is strong. She is brave. She is beautiful. She is an achiever. She is a winner. Give her a chance and let her succeed.

Yesterday I fed my “Attagirl!” more than my “It’s-too-hard” voice. I had a peanut butter cheesecake shake for breakfast, Triple Zero yogurt and an apple for afternoon snack and a strawberry cheesecake shake for dinner. Dirinda: 1 – Sugar cookies: 0.

As a matter of fact, I have been helping my “Attagirl!” win all this week. She is getting stronger because I’ve been feeding her. I have been kind to the “Attagirl!” voice, and it’s getting louder every day.

If you don’t think you have voices in your head, think again. Maybe they’re not audible, but they are at the very least quite present in your subconscious. What tape is running in the background of your brain? Is it a self-defeating, self-hating voice or is it a self-preserving, encouraging voice?

Feed the right voice and the right voice wins.

I went to the grocery store this morning and came out with only two cartons of 1% cottage cheese, a carton of unsweetened almond milk and some light whipped topping. Attagirl! Every small victory is a cheer for Attagirl! She’s your friend. Root for her. Give her a leg up. Help her to succeed.

Somebody Pinch My Finger

I am recovering from a small flu bug. I posted on Facebook that I had attempted the Alka Seltzer Severe Cold and Flu packets to help with symptoms. I admit that the first night I tried one (the nighttime version), I slept like a baby.  I don’t even remember coughing. Maybe I did, but I don’t remember it.

The next morning I tried the daytime packet. No, let me take that back. I attempted to try the daytime packet. I held my nose and tried to gulp quickly through a fat straw, but I couldn’t do it. It made me gag. In fact, just thinking about taking another drink made me gag.

I got a few recommendations on Facebook about what to try–Nyquil, gel tabs, etc.–but my sister suggested that I try this: pinch the end of my little finger and it would stop the gag reflex.

I confess that I wasn’t willing to try the Alka Seltzer again to see if it worked, but I have had to take periodic doses of rather nasty cough syrup for the residual hacking the flu gave me.

I decided to test her theory. It is possible to pinch the end of my left pinkie between my thumb and ring finger or middle finger, after I fill my tablespoon and put down the cough syrup bottle. The downside to that is, I don’t have a free hand to hold my nose, which also helps.

Be that as it may, I have foregone the nose-holding and have stayed with the pinching of the pinkie trick. It may be possible for the extremely talented and dexterous person to pinch their pinkie and hold their nose at the same time. I just tried it, though, and ended up accidentally pinching my nose. Probably in my case I would end up spilling half my cough syrup by concentrating too hard on the activities of my left hand.

All this to say that I wish there were some trick to do to wane the sugar cravings. This is only necessary, of course, when you give in to them. If you stop sugar cold turkey and eat clean 100% of the time, the cravings subside after a couple of weeks. The nutritionist on Extreme Weight Loss attests to this. Well, that’s if you want to do it that hard way.

I jest. I know that stopping sugar cold turkey and eating 100% clean is the best way.

I did see something on Shark Tank a couple of nights ago that piqued my interest. One of the entrepreneurs was trying to get the sharks to invest in a product called Meal Enders. Meal Enders are chocolate-coated balls that resemble malted milk Whoppers, and they have something crazy like twelve or fifteen calories each.

The premise is that the initial flavor is to help with dessert cravings at the end of a meal–and the sharks concurred that the chocolate taste was delightful–but the centers of the balls had a cooling/tingling (Mr. Wonderful described it as “burning”) sensation that is supposed to direct your attention away from eating.

Barbara Cocoran said that the sensation was effective because she was wondering what she could eat to get that taste and feeling out of her mouth and she couldn’t think of a single thing.

Kevin O’Leary wouldn’t invest because he said there was nothing that could persuade him to put one of those in his mouth ever again, and, of course, a product is only effective if you’re brave enough to use it.

Dr. Phil suggests brushing your teeth to keep after-meal snacking at bay. You have to admit that the minty toothpaste taste puts a damper on the flavor of anything you put in your mouth afterward! If I want a piece of chocolate, I’ll have it before I brush my teeth, thank you very much, and the same goes for every other kind of food, too. Crest and Cheetos are not a good flavor combo.

It seems to me that a long time ago, I heard something about wearing a rubber band on your wrist and popping yourself with it if you thought about eating. Does anyone remember anything about that?

My daughter used to make jewelry so I made myself a THM bracelet: it has the initials “THM” on it. When a coworker mentioned that I had lost a lot of weight, I said, “Trim Healthy Mama.” I held up my wrist because I happened to remember that I was wearing the bracelet that day. Then I joked, “Whenever I feel like eating something I just pop myself on the wrist with my bracelet,” and I pulled the stretch band away from my arm and let it snap back against my wrist to demonstrate. He laughed with me.

I don’t think there’s any magic finger-pinching trick that will work. Maybe there’s acupuncture and maybe now I’m just getting silly. I’m sure there are hundreds of dollars we could throw at the problem, instead of just dealing with it on the level that we need to deal with it. In the words of Nancy Reagan, “Just say no.”

Or as my doctor would say, “If you eat the right things you will begin to crave the right things.” The same goes with water. The more water you drink the more water you will crave.

If you eat cauliflower and apples you will crave cauliflower and apples. True story. If you eat coconut bonbons and Hershey’s Kisses or marshmallow Peeps, you will keep craving that stuff, too. Unfortunately, that’s also a true story. Choose your “true.”

Sometimes I have to stop at McDonald’s to bring Chelsea home a breakfast burrito. I used to stop at Casey’s to get her biscuits and gravy, but I told her I couldn’t do that, anymore, because the sugar cookies were pushing me around too much and giving me a hard time. I refuse to be bullied.

Sometimes she will eat my THM pancakes and sometimes I don’t even ask her; I just bring a couple of hard-boiled eggs and sausage links. But sometimes I bring her what she wants.

She doesn’t drive, so she can’t go get her own. Maybe I shouldn’t enable unhealthful eating, but I do it, anyway. It isn’t like she pouts or gets annoyed if she doesn’t get what she wants. She has a very sweet disposition–so no excuses for me, really–but I sometimes still bring her stuff for breakfast that I shouldn’t.

While I’m at McDonald’s, I see that it is the time of year when they bring back their Shamrock Shakes, and Shamrock other stuff, too, apparently. I think I even saw Shamrock hot chocolate on the menu.

Naturally I thought of caving and buying myself one–just a small one, you know, because it would be another whole year before I’d have another opportunity– but I held strong.

I came home to dig that package of frozen spinach out of the freezer so I could make my own Shamrock Shake.

I was too lazy to go to too much effort to find it–maybe I don’t even have a package, but I thought I did–so I wondered what it would be like if I put a handful of frozen okra in there instead to get that green coloring. The consensus? Not bad. Not bad at all. The peppermint extract hides any taste the okra might lend to the overall flavor of the shake, so I’d say it’s a go. I’d do it again.

I do heartily recommend mixing up the frozen okra with the almond milk and cottage cheese for several seconds before adding the whey protein isolate and ice. I always make sure to thoroughly blend it before adding the last ingredients for hubby’s chocolate peanut butter shakes before he goes to work. He still doesn’t know I put okra in his shakes.

The other morning, though, I had just stepped out of the shower when he hollered in that he didn’t think I had mixed his shake up good enough. I stopped dead in my tracks in almost a panic, but then I realized that it couldn’t have been the okra he detected because I do make sure it’s well blended.

“What’s the matter?” I asked. “Did you hit a pocket of protein powder?”

“Yeah,” he said, “or something.”

That’s what happened. Sometimes I forget that I’m only making a shake in a small container (because Chuck always says a big container is too much for him) and I mistakenly add half a cup of water to the half cup of almond milk. Then, in an effort to thicken it up, I try to add as much crushed ice as I can. This particular morning, I overfilled the container and was afraid I was going to have chocolate shake spewing everywhere so I took it off the Nutribullet before I probably should have.

He had left almost half of the shake in his cup, so I tilted it up and drained it. I didn’t detect anything that was wrong with it, but maybe he had already drunk that part of it.

In other news, I’m looking into becoming an Amazon associate so I can monetize my blog because, otherwise, I don’t think I can justify the $411 that I’m going to have to spend next March to renew. Lots to think about. Of course if I’m going to do this thing, I have to do it, which means a commitment on my part. I’ll have to pick up the slack and actually get back into a writing routine, which means I’ll have to go back to the treadmill, too, to keep me accountable to my blog readers.

Of course, I don’t know the first thing about being an Amazon affiliate, and I’m being serious. Not the first thing.

I hope that doesn’t mean my jewelry business will have to go by the wayside. I don’t know. Lots to iron out.

I Know a Heartache When I See One

Lately I’ve been listening to songs with new ears, and it occurs to me how many of them can be assigned to emotions about food. Seriously, I’ve heard at least a few whose subject could be my ugly, yet powerful nemesis: sugar. I am going to try to bring these songs to my feeble mind when I am bombarded by relentless temptations in weak moments.

Here is my first one. Maybe it will help you, too, if you’re familiar with Jennifer Warner’s crossover hit from the seventies.

“I Know a Heartache When I See One”

Look at who the wind’s blowin’ up the road,
Shining like a northern star,
Actin’ like the answer to all my prayers,
But, baby, I know what you really are.

So don’t you knock on my door:
I won’t be home anymore.
You can find me out walking in the sun.
Oh, you hide it so well
It isn’t easy to tell,
But I know a heartache (heart attack, diabetic foot amputation)
When I see one.

Life and Death Are in the Power of the Tongue

Who remembers the old proverb, “Life and death are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof”?

I always understood this proverb to be all about words and how we use our words either to build up or to destroy, but I have been thinking these past couple of weeks about the tongue’s power over my body as well.

The tongue is a selfish member. My tongue doesn’t care if I have diabetes. My tongue doesn’t care about my heart, my joints, my feet or anything else. My tongue cares about one thing: my tongue. My tongue always looks out for number one.

“Oh, that tastes good! Gimme some more of that!” My tongue doesn’t care how many grams of sugar are in something or how many grams of fat or how many chemicals or unpronounceable ingredients or how processed something is. My tongue wants whatever makes my tongue happy.

My tongue doesn’t care if my stomach is saying, “Enough already. I don’t think I can eat even one more bite.” My tongue thinks, “Well, there’s still at least three bites left in the bowl, and I’m having them all!”

My tongue doesn’t care if my joints are inflamed and ache. My tongue doesn’t care if my feet are numb or even if they end up being amputated. My tongue is indeed selfish and not a friend to me or to any part of my body, and sometimes it is necessary to put my tongue in timeout.

It is time for me to esteem other members of my body more highly than my tongue.

I am not doing myself any favors when I give in to the temper tantrums of my tongue. My tongue should not always get its way.

“Deny yourself and follow Me,” Jesus said. I am ashamed to say that I have spent a great deal of my life following my tongue. What a sad commentary. What a poor testimony.

“Live as though your life depends on it.”

“Eat your food like medicine or someday you will eat your medicine like food.”

Sometimes you need to tell your tongue, “Be quiet, you big baby. Stop thinking of yourself all the time and be kind to the other members of your body.”

The tongue is so small and yet it yields so much power–the power over life and death.