How To Put Your Life Together

I’m in the aftermath of some terrible months which have essentially been marked by overwhelming feelings and a deep frustration because most things in my life seem to be stuck and unchangeable. And even though this seems very familiar when thinking about the past few years (to the point that it even became the ‘new normal’), it is certainly not the best way to live for me. So last week I sat down with my laptop and I started typing in a blank page under the title:

“Put Your Life Together”

Even though I’m no longer finishing my PhD in September (had a review meeting last week…), I decided that I can’t keep delaying the changes that I need for myself right now. I have been trying to focus on getting things done as much as I humanly can but the pressure has been so much that I found myself sacrificing my wellbeing again. That in turn makes me feel incredibly miserable and unhappy.

If you follow me on instagram, you might know that I that I have a tattoo on my back which says:

Love yourself. Love your day. Love your life.

And being fuelled by several cups of coffee during the day, working non-stop in front of a computer, and having no sort of positive human interactions are totally incompatible with those three sentences whose purpose was in the first place to remind me of how I should actually live! Instead I have been leading such a terrible lifestyle that I am even ashamed of saying out loud my blog’s URL.

I miss my yoga in the morning, my warm water with lemon, my smoothies and juices, my healthy food, and most of all I miss the overall feeling of being fit (I haven’t done any workout besides walking… and I’m now three sizes bigger because I keep eating to numb my feelings and thoughts!). And it’s because I miss all these good things that I decided it is time to stop letting my current situation (being stuck in this PhD process) overdrive my mood and my wellbeing goals. So while listening to one of D. Carnegie’s audiobooks (“How To Stop Worrying and Start Living”), I decided to put a four-step approach to change in practise on my Google Drive’s blank page:

  1. What needs to change?
  2. What can I do about it?
  3. What is my decision?
  4. What is the next action?

It wasn’t long until I a list of 12 items emerged. From finding a new house and applying for a different job in the local area to buying a gym membership and creating a saving account, the list revealed itself to be quite diverse. Under each item I then started to write a couple of actions that could contribute to the achievement of my overarching goals. I’m not going to share my detailed list, but here are my 12 items:

Put Your Life Together: #TheList

  1. Move house
  2. Change job
  3. Complete PhD thesis
  4. Buy a gym membership
  5. Book a massage
  6. Get a proper bike
  7. Invite JJ, W. and wife to have dinner in the new house
  8. Build-up a nice romantic relationship (forget this item!)
  9. Revamp my blog
  10. Work on my social business plan
  11. Create a saving account
  12. Visit family on a weekend asap

I can tell you that I already started to take action on some of these items. I showed interest in a house back in town, I applied for two jobs that I would sincerely love having, I have been writing up a lot in the last few days, and I also decided to only enjoy my friend’s love-life stories and stop thinking about mine. And… I also got a Thai massage taster today from my friend: actually I spent most of the time laughing because I realised that I’m really in a big physical trouble!

3 Reasons Why I Have Been Binging & I Was Not Aware Of

Right. Once again I was doing good, wasn’t I? I even wrote about going beyond the critical day 3 just a few days ago, and today I messed up for real: one litre of ice cream and an entire package of paprika crisps. Afterwards, of course, and as I always do, I desperately looked out for answers, for the trillionth time. 31956129_2086866341593273_4026763119693922304_n (1)

Seriously, I’m becoming sick of myself. I have been on this rollercoaster for decades and every attempt becomes a total fail. I have tried to buy new gym clothes, a sports watch, I downloaded different weight loss apps, I did counselling, I tried anxiety pills, weight loss pills, protein shakes… I already did raw food, vegetarian, protein only… I tried smoothies and immunological diets… I tried to stay accountable through a lifestyle instagram account, I started out an online group… why the hell am I still failing?

Well, apparently I have been dismissing three important things that I never consciously linked back to my binge eating. I am sure these three reasons are the ‘why’ behind my eating compulsion and they all have been secretly mining my recovery since I can remember. These are:

  • anxiety a.k.a. excess of future,
  • too many commitments, activities, and responsibilities,
  • no time to relax and do stuff that energises me (e.g. go to the beach on a Saturday instead of going to work)

All these relate to my earlier post on high performers. I was managing so well my work-life balance earlier this year, but as soon as my mid-year review deadline kicked-in, things went crazy. And now that I passed it with flying colours, my workload hasn’t reduced at all. In fact, it has been increasing exponentially, with 2 conferences to attend, 2 public speaking events, and 2 different workshops I’m co-organising between June and July, plus a thesis to be written and ready to submit by September. How the hell do I always put myself into such a big mess of things?

No wonder I use food to stop and relax; actually it seems to be the only moment in time that I literally stop! While I’m eating, I’m not trying to manage everything on my plate. While I’m eating, I force myself into a temporary state of pleasure and relaxation, just right before guilt and shame come in, and my body feels overwhelmed with the amount of food I ate in seconds.

This is all pathetic and ridiculous. I feel angry at myself and a big impostor. I feel like I should know better and at the same time I think I should stop torturing myself, accept my vulnerability, that I’m not bullet proof, and that no one is going to die if I fail at something that needs to be done. And in the meantime I need to allow myself to not do anything at all for a while – but God dammit, I have a presentation to deliver next Tuesday before my flight to Lisboa, reason why I spend the weekend in the office!

Oddly enough, the guy living in the room next to mine just muttered the following words “Relax your mind”… The question that now needs to be explored further is why do I overwhelm myself with so many ‘to-do things’?

Addiction Recovery: The Critical Day 3

Last year, I went public here about my food addiction.

Since then I recovered at least twice from it and relapsed three times. Right now, I’m recovering from my third relapse and it’s Day 4. In a nutshell, uncertainty and the fail of another “almost relationship” led me here – well, actually, my ancient unhealthy mechanisms to deal with emotional pain drove me here.

In each relapse and recovery I learn something more. When looking back, this time I noticed that Day 3 is a very critical day and it’s usually the day I jeopardise all my recovery efforts. Day 3 is the day my body starts to kick out all the toxins. The result is an intense and paralysing headache, body aches, light sensitivity and nausea. And what do I (usually) do about pain? I eat (crap).

So yesterday my food cravings went up 200%. I could only think of gummy bears, Big Macs, french fries loaded with ketchup, chocolate cookies, donuts, and so on. I wanted to put everything in my mouth and spend the rest of the evening eating, so I would be distracted from the physical pain I was going through.

But suddenly I remembered the time I spent on the retreat doing my coaching certification. For one week, we did raw food fusion at every single meal. On the third day, I got the same reactions I was having yesterday: a paralysing headache, body aches, light sensitivity and nausea. It then struck me: the physical pain was part of the recovery process and in order to continue I had to be with it. If I gave up to the sweet taste of a whole box of donuts, I wouldn’t be able to reach the following step on my recovery journey and I would be back to stage zero.

Hence, instead of numbing the physical sickness with food, I did what I had done before when I was at the retreat: I laid down, I took the fetal position, closed my eyes and tried to fell asleep. In the next day, I was totally fine and the intense cravings were completely gone. This is exactly how I feel today – I have been thinking way less about food and my body feels much healthier on the inside, so I’m glad I managed to go beyond the Critical Day 3.

I Have A Confession: I’m A Compulsive Overeater

This week I came across the group “Overeaters Anonymous” (OA) after desperately searching the internet for  help. And as long as I grasped, this is how I would present myself in an OA session:

Hi, I’m Vanessa and I am a compulsive overeater.

It’s not a new problem for me. In fact, overeating has been part of my life for at least twenty years. First, I became a morbid obese teen. Then I recovered. And now I am plagued by it again, on and off. Suffice to say that my real problem with food was never solved.

I am not fully conscious of all the reasons why I am addicted to food, but I think it is a way of self-sabotage and avoid pain. Whenever I feel physical pain, I eat. Whenever I feel emotional pain, I eat. And whenever I feel totally lost, I eat even more.

Each relapse is usually worse than the previous one and each day becomes the “last day” I promise myself I will binge. However, often than not I break that promise.

Today I decided to buy the Overeaters Anonymous book, hoping it will arrive before my flight, and I posed myself a 4-day challenge. My aim is to follow a simple meal plan to gently start pulling my body towards a healthier state.

Here is my 4-day plan:

DAY 1

Breakfast: 2 egg omelette with tomatoes and avocado

Snack: Cucumber slices with ranch dressing

Lunch: Chicken, lettuce and tomatoes

Snack: Celery with cream cheese

Dinner: Salmon, salted spinach and grilled squash

 

DAY 2

Breakfast: shake with strawberries

Snack: cherry tomatoes

Lunch: burger with avocado and tomato salad

Snack: cucumber with ranch dressing

Dinner: Chicken, mixed green salad

 

DAY 3

Breakfast: scrambled eggs, bacon, salted spinach and tomatoes

Snack: cucumber slices with dressing

Lunch: shake with strawberries and banana

Snack: carrot sticks with dressing

Dinner: Salmon, streamed broccoli and chopped spinach salad

 

DAY 4

Breakfast: shake with strawberries

Snack: carrots sticks with dressing

Lunch: tuna with avocado, cucumber and tomato salad

Snack: cherry tomatoes

Dinner: grilled burger, baked sweet potato, mixed greens