Archive for the ‘Cross addiction’ Category
03/02/2014 by Yvonne McCarthy • 11 Comments | Leave a Comment »
Regain glasses suck.
The moment regain becomes a problem we put on those regain glasses and NOTHING looks good.
A few years ago I distinctly remember reading a post from a woman that went something like this.
I hate my hair. I don’t like my face and don’t know how to use makeup. I hate what I’m eating every day and I’m sick of it. Oh and I gained 5 pounds.
One of my most often repeated quotes….”we are rarely upset for the reason we think”. Of course I assume you can guess what she was really upset about. I wrote her and told her to get a cute haircut, go to a department store and get someone to show her how to do makeup (free) or check out thousands of makeup videos on You Tube. I also told her she could change what she eats every day. Of course none of that made her feel better because she didn’t FEEL like doing any of that because she was wearing her regain glasses loud and proud. It is a vicious cycle because you can’t fix the regain until you feel better and you won’t feel better unless you fix the regain.
It seems that for most people everything looks pretty awful through those regain glasses. I want to help you take them off. You say “Yeah right…like I haven’t tried… and mostly….. I don’t FEEL like it. I don’t feel like doing anything.” I have often pointed out that when you were at this weight on the way down you were ecstatic! Do you see how your perspective totally messes with your head? Why do we obsess about the lowest weight we ever reached instead of constantly realizing what our highest weight was and being grateful we aren’t there? And if you choose to obsess about your lowest weight, doesn’t it make sense to move towards doing something about it instead of continuing to walk down regain road?
Unfortunately we have this big adjustment to make after weight loss surgery because the first year we are wearing the “honeymoon glasses” and EVERYTHING looks GREAT! Remember how wonderful everything was when you lost your first 30-40 pounds? Yet you were heavier than you are now. You could hardly mess up at all the first year. It was all good!
One day you wake up and you can’t find your honeymoon glasses. You start to take for granted the little things like being able to tie your shoes, paint your toe nails, fit in an airplane seat….. and the next thing you know it isn’t enough anymore. Some of us hang in there for a while or even a long while and eventually something shifts and you start to think about how much you miss those honeymoon glasses…. you start looking for that feeling in other things like our old friend Mr. Food. He’s tappin’ you on the shoulder every day…”Pssst….remember me? Remember how much fun we had? Oh come on… a little sum-um sum-um won’t hurt you”. All the while your old friend has some regain glasses stuck in his back pocket just waiting to slide them on your face.
One of the most extreme cases of the perspective meter being out of whack was a woman I met who had lost 485 pounds. Not a typo! She lost 485 pounds but she had gained 40 back. She was all out of sorts and literally more miserable than when she weighed her heaviest.
I asked her to imagine that 485 pounds sitting on the floor. Right next to it 40 lbs. I guess we could say it looks something like this. (For those with perfectly analytical brains please forgive me…I guesstimated it)
I told her not to give that 40 pounds the time of day and dust it off. We give that regain so much power and of course we can pile plenty of shame on top of that for good measure. Shame is toxic, shame keeps us down. Shame keeps those horrible regain glasses cemented to our face.
Here’s the thing….if you don’t take off the glasses and begin to turn things around….chances are that you’ll look up in another year with more regain. Get off the insanity train today. Of course you remember… “Insanity=doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome”
Everyone is different but here are a few suggestions. You can’t build Rome in a day but you can always do the next best thing.
Look at your before picture in the morning and FEEL what you felt like. Sit it that for a while. I do that every morning without fail. Remember the things you wanted so badly. BE GRATEFUL you aren’t there. If I could put you back in that body for a week you would be SO grateful to be you right now.
Quit thinking about the perceived mountain you have to move and pick up the shovel and start with one scoop at a time. Instead of Nike’s “just do it”, change it to “just start”. It’s too overwhelming to plan into the next century. I can hear the questions now….how long will this take? It DOES NOT matter. Just move toward your goal instead of away from it….. just for today. Today is all that counts.
Get the crap food out of your house. I know many people who find creative ways to do this with a family that feels they have to have the crap food. Put it in a place it can locked up but you’d do your family a favor by getting it out of their reach as well. Sugar and junk food is as addictive as any drug and they will guarantee that you will still be wearing those regain glasses. See my “M&M” story in this post.
Find a way to move your body that you can enjoy. I LOVE to dance. I hate to run….I wanted to love it but I don’t. I wanted that runner’s high and I just could not get it. I love yoga and if you think you can’t do it, watch this! I describe yoga as slow dancing with yourself. Abby Lentz from Heartfelt Yoga is a dear friend. Look her up, she has DVD’s.
You won’t do anything for very long if you perceive it as suffering. When you eat healthier food envision how you are nourishing your body. Remember it will make you feel better and look better instead of putting on more weight which equates to depression, physical pain, more misery and a shorter life span. Again the most important part of this is to stop the bleeding that has begun with regain. Nothing in life is easy so here comes your choices……choose your hard.
12/01/2013 by Yvonne McCarthy • 6 Comments | Leave a Comment »
I finally found an article about food addiction written in a way that is easily understood by all. Below you will find the normal behavior versus the addictive behavior. Here’s an excerpt from that section:
- Dependence on food will be habitual, while addiction to food will be somewhat unpredictable (e.g., a morning cup of coffee versus the sudden, inexplicable drive to eat four servings of cheesecake)
- Dependence on food will have few, if any, emotional causes, but addiction to food is provoked by emotions and circumstances that cause feelings of powerlessness (e.g., a treat to get through a trying day at work versus a binge to avoid focusing on painful thoughts
- Dependence on food will have few, if any, emotional effects, whereas addiction to food will cause great anxiety if not properly attended to
(e.g., being cranky due to caffeine deprivation versus feeling panicked because a planned binge is interrupted)
- Dependence on food will cause minimal interference in other areas of a person’s life, but addiction to food will disturb every aspect
(e.g., a love for red wine with dinner versus preferring to eat alone for the sake of overeating)
- Dependence on food can be controlled at will, but food addiction appears as an unstoppable force in the person’s life
(e.g., giving up pizza after noticing slight weight gain versus trying to stick to a healthy eating plan but derailing constantly; having a divided mind that seems to want opposite things)
- Dependence on food is pleasurable, but food addiction is a torment
(e.g., traditional Christmas cookies versus the horror one has that one has eaten the whole box of cookies, coupled with the knowledge that one isn’t done yet)
- Dependence on food is casual, whereas food addiction appears to the addicted person to be closely tied to his or her identity
(e.g., the guilty pleasure of Cheetos versus the shame and feelings of inadequacy that often accompany a binge)
Perhaps one of the most important paragraphs is below: (helpful to read the entire article)
What happened in this scenario demonstrates what, for many people, is the central issue of food addiction. Bingeing allows the food-addicted person to avoid dealing with threatening emotions (such as his or her perceived failure, powerlessness, or inferiority) by replacing them with guilt and shame, which are also threatening, but in a familiar, almost comfortable way. In the mind of the food-addicted person, the pivotal issue is lack of willpower. But in truth, they are using food to defend themselves against the pain in their life. By facilitating this transfer and avoidance of emotions, food has become a drug, and it is at this point that the food-addicted person needs to seek help.
Bingeing has a different meaning for most people. When I was obese I thought it meant that you ate in the closet in the dark with a whole package of Oreos and a gallon of milk. Of course I didn’t do that so I didn’t think it applied to my behavior. (umm…denial) Finally I realized that my weekend routine of buying a huge Bucket ‘O Chicken and locking myself in my apartment from Friday evening until going to work on Monday morning was certainly a form of bingeing. The same thing applied to my Quarter Pounder with Cheese obsession. I’m sure the Dallas quarterly earnings dropped significantly around the time I woke up to my dependence on this junk food.
Most importantly please, please, please….do not walk the path of shame. From that same paragraph the very important part of the article… “In the mind of the food-addicted person, the pivotal issue is lack of willpower. But in truth, they are using food to defend themselves against the pain in their life.” How sad it is that we are just trying to avoid the pain of life by using food. The problem is that it never works without paying a great price. Ask for help, educate yourself, and know that freedom from this disease is truly possible.
11/24/2013 by Yvonne McCarthy • 4 Comments | Leave a Comment »
You are not alone….
My post today was inspired from an insightful blog post on OAC’s site called “Risk factors for cross addiction” by Dr. Nicole Avena.
I’m nearly 13 years post-op RNY (open gastric bypass) and this subject is by far my most passionate. There are many patients who have had weight loss surgery but have no benefits for therapy nor even much access to any education about the psychological issues associated with food addiction. My favorite description of addiction is “uncontrolled use despite negative consequences”. That certainly described my obesity perfectly.
Every day I hear from dozens of post-ops that have no one to talk to. For those who don’t live in the trenches with post-ops 24/7 there are many hidden issues that so often never reach many professionals. I have seen every kind of surgery cross addict and I believe the study about RNY and alcoholism did a huge disservice because no surgery type is exempt. (that’s a long discussion for another time) Post-ops mostly cross addict to drugs, alcohol, sex, shopping, gambling and/or exercise. I have also seen many individuals get sober from drugs/alcohol and cross addict to food. Next they turn to weight loss surgery but when will they ever learn where the root problem lies? Additionally there is another subset of post-ops that hide in hush hush shadows because they “look” normal. I wrote a blog post a couple of years ago about these post-ops that pass in “normie land”. The comment section below that particular post has a wealth of information. This hidden group are the ones that do whatever is necessary to maintain their goal weight. One woman confided in me that she never thought she’d end up with a $200 a day cocaine habit. WLS Anorexia. WLS Bulimia. Included in that is the rampant opiate abuse and it’s legal because it comes from unknowing doctors (who are doing their best) when and if their patients progress to doctor shopping. Don’t even get me started on the diet drugs….
So many do not want to accept food addiction as real so why do I believe? I see the same inherent characteristics as addicts. Some don’t believe there is actually painful physical withdrawal from food. In this video you see the brilliant Tennie McCarty talk someone through food detox. Rarely have I seen video of Tennie crying …. it reflects the severe pain held so deeply in her memory.
I’ll borrow this from Dr. Phil “You can’t fix what you don’t acknowledge”. There should be NO SHAME in admitting you are dealing with addiction. Addiction is a disease and the shame keeps us separate, feeling “less than”, and not asking for help. Instead of weeding out the pre-ops who show signs of addiction, I believe we should educate them at the time of surgery. Is this an easy task? Probably not any time soon but we have to start somewhere. Are we going to let the individuals who show signs of addiction die from obesity? Especially when it may be the root cause of the obesity? Even twelve years ago I gave an Oscar award winning performance in my psyche eval because I knew what they were looking for. Fortunately for me I had a doctorate in street cred on addiction because of a severely sick family member. I practice what I call “food abstinence” by eating healthy and avoiding almost all processed sugar, all processed foods and definitely no junk food. Sugar and junk food might as well be crack for me and I’m not the least bit deprived. Deprivation is losing what I have worked hard on for 12 years.
Thank you Dr. Nicole Avena for talking about this issue. The answers will come slowly but thanks to you and the many others who continue speaking out they might come a little sooner.
03/02/2011 by Yvonne McCarthy • 19 Comments | Leave a Comment »
I love to be creative. The dress I was wearing was way too big and I just couldn’t bear to part with it so I played with the ways I could still use it in a photograph. To look at this image you can’t really tell the dress is huge. You also can’t tell that I haven’t had any reconstructive surgery yet. It is an illusion.
Women who are covering parts of their body can be very industrious. I remember thinking I was a master of disguise but that could have been delusional thinking because I probably wasn’t hiding how I was feeling under the layers of 4X shirts. As much as I tried to cover my obese body for thirty years my insides were screaming “I am ugly and everyone knows it!”. I was sure that every mean person treated me that way because of my size. (I was wrong about that…sometimes people are just mean.)
This picture was taken about a year and a half after surgery and I was ecstatic because I felt normal for the first time in my life. In those days “after care” didn’t exist and I was totally on my own. I assumed after I had surgery that I was supposed to lose the weight and be at goal forever. There was no one to say “way to go” but since I didn’t know any difference, I didn’t miss it. On the other hand I am so grateful I didn’t have anyone tell me that I would fail or that I had the wrong surgery or that I would gain it back so I followed all the rules and got the results I expected because I totally believed in the outcome. I didn’t even have to hear “*results not typical” even though they aren’t. I accepted my role, ignorance was bliss, and I didn’t consider it hard or easy…it just was what it was.
Part of the reason I have worked so hard to stay at goal was because I was afraid of what lengths I would go to if I were to regain my weight. My history of diets wasn’t pretty so why would it be any different this time around? I didn’t want to return to any of my previously mega unhealthy methods so I worked my program every single day.
Recently I got a message from someone who is at goal but has paid a terrible price. I have gotten several of these lately and there is no doubt that “regain messages” outnumber the ones I’m about to discuss. Like most actions that are associated with shame, this behavior hides in hush hush places and no one wants to talk about it openly.
We all know that many post-ops are set up to cross addict if we are not careful but the majority of stories are usually about those in the throes of chaos, the ones that have hit bottom….not the day to day present day functional addicts.
One email was from a woman that begged her bariatric doctor for diet pills to fight regain and now she has built up an immunity and it takes more and more of them to get the same affect. She didn’t want to go into detail about how she was getting more pills from another source. Another lady has turned into a full fledged bulimic and another has become anorexic. The last one talked about developing a $150-$200 a day cocaine habit.
This post is dedicated to awareness about the seemingly successful post-ops that have chosen something horribly unhealthy to stay at goal. Some of them are fighting monsters that no one knows about. It is never fair to assume things about anyone and I think through my blog and facebook page that many post-ops have figured out they can trust me so they share some of their darkest secrets. There are so many of us that need a safe place to fall…. where we aren’t afraid of being judged. Some of us are so busy pointing out what’s wrong with everyone else that few are willing to trust anyone long enough to ask for help. And for those that have no resources for therapy, I hope this opens the door for those that have written me and felt left out. Perhaps some of the professionals in the field will hear your voices and work to develop even more strategies to help those in need.
Regardless of who we are, all of us are doing the very best we can each day. Take a moment to reach out a helping hand because you never know who needs it the most… that seemingly healthy “at goal” post-op might just be an illusion. If you have access to therapy, use it. If you don’t, there are many good programs that are free of charge. Reach out to someone you can trust because together we are stronger. Remember to always pay it forward because it helps us in the long run and most importantly…. never forget where you came from.
Who is Bariatric Girl?
Musician, Artist, Photographer,computer geek and weight loss surgery aficionado. On March 30th, 2001, I had weight loss surgery weighing in at 260 pounds. Since that day I have lost and maintained a 130 pound loss. Yoga and walking my dog were the only exercise I was getting until I started with an instructor and creator of "Body Juggling". Click on the picture on the bottom of this page and it will take you to the site. Read More »