Binge

I am a binge-er.

I binge on most everything you can think of (except, maybe that…I’m too busy bingeing on dreams of sleep to that to a binge-level).

I binge-watch TV. Netflix? It was made for me. I used to binge-watch Gilmore Girls and Grey’s Anatomy and Friends because I had those series on DVD…but NOW?! Now I can binge-watch EVERYTHING. Whole seasons, whole series one show after another after another after another after another – there is NO END to how much I can binge, and all without changing a single disc or getting off the couch. DREAMY.

Truth.

Truth.

I binge-read. Books, blogs, gossip, magazines – I devour the written word. Some of it is escapism, which our dad would get SO mad about when I was younger, and some of it is pure curiosity (hello, how does Brangelina do it??). But most of it is an unadulterated love and comfort with the written word. Bad day? Read. Bad week? Read. Scary thoughts? Read. Lists won’t shut up in my head? Read. Want to be awed and transported and thrilled and moved? READ. And I can read a whole book in one sitting. When I was growing up, our mom would buy me books specifically for vacations at the cottage, telling me not to read any of them until we got there. I’d always have them read before we even got in the van to make the drive. I limit how much I read now, because an adult stuck in a book all day and all night long does not a good parent make.

I also binge-surf, which can lead to trouble with watching children. There have been times I’ve been scrolling through a Pinterest rabbit hole and realized someone has been calling my name for a minute or so. Tricky. Luckily, I hear screaming through all of the project- and recipe-wishing.

But the biggest binge that causes the most problems for me, is binge-eating.

I am the queen of drowning my sorrows, my boredom, my anger, my anything-feeling in food. And more food. And more food.

GET IN MY BELLY.

GET IN MY BELLY.

I can eat 2 1/2 pounds of chicken wings in one sitting…after eating a whole meal. I can eat a whole bag of Oreos…after a whole meal. I can eat a whole bag of M&M’s…you know, the bowl/party size…in one go. I can totally eat a whole loaf of freshly baked bread, or most of a batch of cookies, or a bag of chips, or 4 chocolate bars (Snickers, Wunderbar, KitKat and Coffee Crisp), without breaking a sweat.

Do I feel like crap afterwards? Absolutely. Am I consumed with guilt and shame when all the food is gone and my belly aches and my head hurts and I know (I KNOW) I’m going to have a sugar/food hangover the next day? Yes. But does that stop me in the moment? When I’m hurting or unhappy or ridiculously craving crap after eating well all day? Nope. Not one bit.

Because I feel like there is something missing inside of me. I feel like there’s an empty cavern, aching to be filled, and so I do. I fill it. With all the food.

Of course, this is why I am chubby. This is why I am overweight. This is why my butt has more jiggle, and not in a Kardashian way, but in a dear-god-think-of-the-chairs kind of way. And it’s the reason that I feel like crap more often than not.

I had it under control after my miscarriage and after Isaac was born – exercise and healthy eating and sleeping and hobbies filled my time and space between parenting and housewife-ing. Not only was there no time or energy for binge-eating, but I filled up that empty hole in my face and brain with endorphins, friendship, and fulfilling activity. I lost 30 pounds. I was fit. I felt fantastic. And I wasn’t tempted as often and when I was, I wasn’t sucked into eating all the food all the time.

But this May I ran a half-marathon…and it was really hard and it took a long time to recover from it mentally and physically. I took a break from running and exercising for about a month…just in time for me to severely roll my ankle…twice…and lead me to be unable to put any weight on it for weeks. Which lead to more laying around, hating life, and wishing I were anywhere but on my couch.

So the hole in me grew…and grew…and the monster inside that wants all the chocolate and crap food started screaming again, demanding to be fed, demanding to be noticed and heeded. To answer the cries, I did what any smart person would do. I caved. I gave in. I fed it all the food in the world.

Now, my pants are tight. And my back has more rolls. And my arms feel flabbier. And the hard as rock calf muscles in my legs have been replaced by marshmallows…literally.

I sank. I’m sinking. I’m drowning in the itch for the binge, for the feeling of being so full I can’t move and something else hurts instead of the hurting that started it all.

I refuse, though, to go down without a fight. Refuse to let the monster and hole consume me. I don’t want to be that person again. I don’t. I want to be strong, and fit, and enjoy food, not look at it like a means to an end. I want treats to be treats and not the regular nighttime ritual. I want sugar and chocolate to be the exception, not the rule. And I want to stop feeling like all the food in the world must be eaten.

So, I’ve started doing things a little differently.

I’ve stopped buying crap. No more chocolate-bar or chip or junk-food runs after the kids are in bed. What we have in the house is what we have in the house, and since I don’t buy all the bad stuff during our regular grocery shop, there is no more crap here.

I’ve replaced eating with drinking…green tea. At night, when the craving to consume the world comes over me, when my stomach is desperately trying to convince my brain that I’m STARVING even though I just ate a good meal, I turn to drinking a cup of tea. Not only is it good for me and calorie-free, but it gets me all warm and sleepy, perfect for going to bed (unlike the sugar and caffeine rush from chocolate and crap I’d get from binge-eating).

And the big one? I’ve started MOVING again. I’m walking in the mornings. I HATE how I feel while I’m doing it – I ran over 21 km, people! A walk shouldn’t kill me. But, I don’t make the twice-daily trek to school anymore (which racks up about 4 km while pushing 25-55 pounds in a stroller), and I don’t go running anymore, so, I’m walking in the morning, with the goal of running again in September (giving my ankle plenty of time to really heal before I start pushing it). I’m resentful of how far I’ve fallen, but I know that getting it back little by little is the only solution.

Now, I need to know – do you binge? Or do you have magical self-control? And if you do binge, what are your tips and tricks for keeping your head above the water? Because I know at some point, I’m going to want to put all of the things in my mouth again…and it will be SO hard to say no.

~ Julia

How I’m doing

It’s been quite a few months since I came out as suffering from a postpartum mood disorder (PPMD/PPD) and I was thinking it might be a good idea to let you know how I’m doing.

I am doing really, really well.

In terms of the PPMD/PPD, I’m completely recovered. I don’t have a foggy brain anymore, I’m not anxious and overwhelmed anymore, I’m not flying off the handle with blind rage anymore. I’m controlled. I’m confident in my parenting. I’m taking care of myself. And I am actually thriving as a person, instead of drowning.

I am doing really, really well.

Of course, there was no magic pill or instant cure, there was no lightbulb moment that changed everything, but there was hard work and lots of help. And I wanted to share with you what fueled my success this time.

I stayed medicated. This is controversial, in that I was medicated all throughout my pregnancy with Isaac and even bumped my medication up at the end of my pregnancy. It’s controversial because it means Isaac went through withdrawal when he was born and was at a tiny (read: minuscule) risk for birth defects. But the risk of me committing suicide or hurting myself or my babies or landing myself into a mental hospital were all severely high if I had stopped taking my medication. I have been medicated since after Lillian was born and still am to this day. Will I be medicated for the rest of my life? I have no idea, but at this point it’s working and that’s all that matters.

I asked for help. It’s tough admitting you don’t have it all together. It’s even harder when you did have it together at the beginning and now it’s starting to crumble months after your baby is born. Especially because up until my confession in February, I had been the poster girl for what to do when you have a history of mental illness and you want more children. I encapsulated my placenta and took it as prescribed (no, really). I stayed medicated. I put supports in place for the first six weeks after birth to ensure I healed properly from my scheduled C-section. I got rest. I didn’t act like a hero. My house fell into even further disarray and I was okay with it. I did everything RIGHTAnd yet, everything still fell apart. Asking for help was eating humble pie and accepting that even though we do everything the way we’re “supposed to,” things can still fall spectacularly apart. But I did it. I asked for help. I called my therapist and got an appointment that week. I was told by Toni and Jacqui that I would be getting help from Toni, and I accepted it. Let the leaning and the healing begin.

I remembered what I had learned. I joked when I got to therapy that I was going for my PhD in PPD…that I had been here twice before, that this was my third time, and by the time this was done I would be set for life. Full of PPD knowledge. You know, it turned out to be true. I remembered what I needed to do. I remembered the importance of self-care and how vital it was to my past recovery. I remembered that sleep was a key component to getting through the day in one piece. I remembered that I had to take things one excruciating step at a time, not rush through or jump from step 1 to step 74398574. I remembered that it was a journey full of peaks and valleys. I remembered that the Julia that I remembered from before babies, before the first two rounds of PPD, before the miscarriage, before this moment would come back, that she wasn’t lost for good, that she still existed. And I remembered I had to trust the process, not jump ship just because it wasn’t working. My therapist told me that this would be my shortest journey through PPD. The first round was seven months with no help. The second round was five months with medication and therapy. This round was just shy of four months. She was right. My quickest yet. PhD in the BAG!

I exercised my tushy off. No, literally. I’m 30 pounds lighter than when I started this journey. Exercising, whether bootcamp with my sisters, hiking at ridiculous o’clock, or finding my zen in running, became an integral part of my recovery. It’s no wonder – exercise gives you endorphins; endorphins make you happy; happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.

Or maybe it’s something more like this (although I will argue that the above is COMPLETELY valid):

Exercise-is-better-than-antidepressants

I feel it when I don’t exercise – the anxiety, the irritability, the brain that won’t shut up, the anger that’s bubbling far too close to the surface. And I feel it when I do – the power that exists in me, the calm that comes from achieving something so simple yet hard, the brain break because all I can do is concentrate on my breathing when I run alone, or the friend/sister-therapy that comes from running with others. It is the thing that is gluing me together. It has replaced chocolate and mindless eating. It has replaced napping and hiding. It is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. Period.

I am kind to myself. There are bad days. There are days when I feel like I’m not a great mom…or maybe not even a good mom. There are days when I feel like there’s no way I’ll ever be able to accomplish all the things I need to do…days when Isaac is screaming and Lillian is pooping on the floor and Sophie is late for school and we haven’t even left yet. These are the days I practice being kind to myself, not shaming myself. I don’t berate me for not having it all together (i.e. no poop, no screaming, on time school kid). I don’t sit there and fume and fight with the babies who only dig their heels in more when you rush them. I don’t let it ruin the whole day. I accept my fate in that moment (we are going to be late). I remind myself that no one is dying, that this is by far not the worst situation, that I’m normal and this is nuts and it’s hard because it’s hard, not because I’m failing.

Life is hard. Not because we're doing it wrong, just because it's hard.

Glennon Doyle Melton (Way-back-play-back because I LOVE this quote so much.)

I have a village. There is no supporting cast as important as the village that helps you raise your babies. It is the thing that we turn to when we have a question, want perspective, or need an ear to just listen and then respond with, “I get it. You’re not alone.” In one of my earliest therapy sessions, my counselor said that I needed to create a village for myself, that without it I would be eternally lost. And she’s right. My village is HUGE and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Shout-outs go to The Mothers, both Ben’s and mine, for loving us and our babies, for providing second homes and soft places to land when things get out of hand, for hugging and listening and never judging. Props over to my sisters, my soulmates, the people that God saw fit to put in my permanent family, especially my nanny Toni, my dopelanger-in-spirit Jacqui, and Kim, my sister-in-broken-brainedness. To my dear broken brain friends, both past and present, thank you for never letting me feel crazy…but rather, helping me feel normal. To my kindred spirit Laura, for crafting with me, praying for me, and listening to me – love you! And to the ladies of the drop-off brigade – Heather, Bethany, Andrea, Michele, and Danika – without you holding Lillian’s hands, being second moms to Sophie, sharing in the school experience, this anxiety-ridden gal would have no friends at school. Thank you thank you thank you.

I have Ben. Beyond the village, you also need a good man in a storm. Ben is that good man. He watched me sob on the couch as I worried they would take away our babies and lock me up when I confessed to the third bout of PPD. He held me and told me we’d do whatever it took to get better. He never left me, even when I was being an asshole to him (PPD brings out the worst in people). He never blamed me, even though I felt like every crappy moment was my fault (I own the brain, ergo…). He has never stopped loving me, even when I made it impossible for him to love me. He let me run. He gave me time to regroup. He’s taken 50% of the night feeds since the 7-week mark. He is awesome. And to top it all off – he’s a great dad to our crazy kids. To the moms who are fighting this alone, I don’t know how you’re doing it. You are my heroes, because this is hard and hellish with a partner…without one, you must be made of steel or something. Seriously. I bow to you.

To the moms who are still fighting – don’t lose hope. I got my PhD. I survived my third round. I’m a confident, well-adjusted (most days) mom of three kids. I am still here, better, stronger, more vivid than I was before, and you will be too. Promise.

Babies and Mama

~ Julia

 

It’s contagious

At this point in our blogger/reader relationship, you should know that I enjoy living a healthier lifestyle.

From the whole and healthy food that I use to nourish my body, to the addiction I have to movement, to the thrill I feel when I tackle and triumph over a new challenge – I love it and crave it.

Pinning exercise

For a while, my fitness journey was shared mostly with my good friend and previous trainer, Julie. While a new career path has changed our relationship slightly, I will forever attribute the beginning of this love affair to her pushing me to be better than myself.

I can tell you honestly that the change I love the most is not in the pounds shed, the firmness found, or the satisfaction of needing an entirely new wardrobe because nothing fit anymore. The change I love the most is how proud I am at what my body is capable of – the natural amount of energy I have,  how fast I can go, how long I can go, how much weight I can carry, that people are surprised at my strength based on my size – it’s all a thrill to me.

Running late

Up until about 10 months ago, this shift in lifestyle had been purely selfish and the thing I was doing for me. I never imagined that I was affecting or influencing the women around me. Slowly but surely, I was joined regularly by my girlfriend Chantelle whenever I would head out for a run, bike ride or workout. Her determination was impressive and her desire to be better for herself was inspiring. It pushed me harder, made me work more and reach new goals of my own. I was so excited that she saw what she wanted to accomplish for herself.

And then one day, my older sister Julia asked what I was still doing to stay fit. When I told her, she wanted in! We did things as a threesome when our schedules worked and in pairs or solo when it didn’t. It was awesome! There is nothing like finding a group of women with the same goals and desires as you. It made me feel normal, accepted and so proud.

And then my mini-me Jacqui asked if I wanted to workout with her one day, and then go for a run with her another. It made my heart fly. We quickly became a foursome of sisters-in-fitness. While hectic schedules, rotating turns to have the end-of-the season cold, or rough and sleepless nights don’t always and rarely allow us to all be together, the extra accountability was just what we needed.

exercise-fart

And then our adopted sister Kim heard about how much Julia was loving it and decided one evening to join us. She was hooked! We pushed each other, read and researched, gave suggestions when we needed some help to overcome an obstacle or plateau – it’s been incredible to watch. Seeing each one of these women find what works for them – Chantelle’s new found love of hot yoga, Julia, Kim and Jacqui’s love of running and finding their stride, our mutual love/hate relationship with HIIT and burpees –  it must be how parents and teachers feel when lessons are not only learned, but applied and new milestones are reached by their wee ones.

Burpees

Julia’s lovable friend Sara, whom I have known since my pre-teen years, has just recently been inducted into the TLT (an acronym I refuse to spell out for its sheer embarrassment – thanks ladies!) group of incredibly supportive women. While I wouldn’t consider what we do a class or bootcamp, and I am no body builder or personal trainer, I am incredibly proud of the example I set because of the fire that was found in me by my trainer.

~ Toni

P.S. Julie is now in the real estate market and loving her new career. If you’re in the market for sale or purchase of a new home or investment property, contact Julie Belanger at realtorjuliebelanger@gmail.com.

Letting go of Shakira

No one is perfect. Everyone has their imperfections. But it seems that our own are more apparent to ourselves when we are looking in the mirror before leaving for work, or getting ready to go out.  We all have our ways of covering them up, or coping with them.

Myself, I makes jokes about my flaws, I mock myself, because if I do it, then it won’t hurt so bad when other people notice. I pointed it out to them, I am aware of my appearance, so they have to take notice of my bravery and blunt nature, and just accept it as me…right?

 

 

Here is a news flash, I wish I were thinner, and that my skin was flawless…

 

I wish I didn’t have to wax my eyebrows (damn you, Dad and those Portuguese genes)….

 

 

And so I have a prescription cream for my skin (although I will argue is does nothing), I have a grooming regime to ensure my eyebrows are two separate entities and not one, and I have started to work out.

Don’t we all have a list of things we want to change? Tweak? It’s no secret that Julia, Toni and myself have started to work out; they have introduced me to the love of running, and although I am not totally in love with it right now, I can see how when you start you just can’t stop.

For me, the joy I get from working out is the new perspective that it has given me. Before when I decided I should start working out, about the time Cody proposed, my goals were unobtainable, because not only did I want to lose weight, but I wanted to grow taller, a feat that I have not been capable of since the 8th grade, and I wanted to change my body type. I didn’t want to put the work in, I only wanted to pin pictures of women with amazing bodies and then by the power of osmosis, it would happen!

Since I started working out, I have stumbled upon more and more blogs about other people’s love affairs and break-ups with exercising and the movement to love your body at every shape on a site called Health At Every Size. The most recent I came across was a fellow blogger, Talkin’ Reckless, who publicly announced her break-up with exercising  Her post resonated with me! Not only a couple of hours earlier I was talking with one of my best friends Kim, who has been a major inspiration of mine when it comes to health and fitness, about how I was finally happy with my body, because I was not depriving myself of things, and that I understood that I will never have Shakira’s body, but rather my own version of it.

 

Today I am making better choices with what I put into my body by not focusing on the quantity but the quality. I am working out more and finding myself needing it, and wanting to work out for me. I am comfortable in my own skin, and love posting about the feats that I have accomplished!

I still have goals for my fitness; however they are realistic and I am setting myself up to accomplish them, instead of failing. I have found a new bond with the ladies I work out with – a sisterhood if you will. They motivate me when temptation is around every corner, they push me (and I need to be pushed) and they are there to cushion the fall when I stray off the path.

Like I said, I am comfortable in my own skin, and it feels AMAZING!

~ Jacqui