Beware XYZAL — allergy drug

I’m having a terrible allergy reaction that’s last 2 days. I visited my physician who gave me a few 5-mg samples of an allergy medicine, Xyzal (levocetirizine). This is supposed to be an alternative to Allegra, Zyrtec, and OTC Benadryl. I took time in the middle of the workday for this impromptu appointment so when I got back to work, I immediately took the drug. Then, I began feeling incredibly drowsy. I decided to look up the side effects on the xyzal site and found:

Patients taking XYZAL should avoid operating machinery or driving a motor vehicle. … Take XYZAL at bedtime. Do not increase the dose due to increased risk of sleepiness.

Great. I wish my doctor had warned me of this before I popped one at 3:45 in the afternoon at work, 13 miles away from my home. Not only that, but after doing some more reading in the Prescribing Information, I found:

Besides these events reported under treatment with XYZAL, other potentially severe adverse events have been reported from the post-marketing experience with cetirizine. Since levocetirizine is the principal pharmacologically active component of cetirizine, one should take into account the fact that the following adverse events could also potentially occur under treatment with XYZAL: hallucinations, suicidal ideation, orofacial dyskinesia, severe hypotension, cholestasis, glomerulonephritis, and still birth.

A one-time dose probably won’t affect me negatively in the ways reported above but still — it’s an allergy drug. ALLERGY drug. All this crap comes from something that’s supposed to make you feel better? Sheesh. Glad I read it. I’ll be sure to avoid regular consumption Xyzal in the future.

So now it’s 4:50 pm and I can barely keep my head up but I figured I’d make this quick post to warn anyone with mental illness who:

a) takes Xyzal or
b) thinks that allergy drugs are free from side effects triggering mental illness.

Granted, the risk is low but it exists. It also sounds like it can impair renal and hepatic functions somehow. Watch out if you’ve got kidney problems.

When work is over, I’m going straight home and making a beeline for my bed.


Mood Rating: 4

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Quote of the Week

"The hardest battle you’re ever going to fight is the battle to be just you." — Leo Buscaglia   

Requisite Update

There’s nothing much going on. My brain is mush and no matter how much sleep I get, I’m constantly tired. My husband is convinced that my fatigue stems from the generic Lamictal. The next time I see my psychiatrist, I’m likely going to go back to the brand Lamictal. It’s an additional $45 but if it helps this fatigue, then it’s worth it. I feel like such a zombie. Hence, why I haven’t really been blogging.

I’ve also been feeling lazy. I’m currently at this "I don’t care" stage where there’s a lot of things that I’m not obsessive about anymore so in a sense, that’s good.

So here is your requisite update. I’m still alive, still tired, but doing fine. (No suicidal thoughts, depression at bay.)

I’ll enjoy it while it lasts. Let me know how you are. I’ll make my blog rounds eventually.

Quote of the Week

"Abuse victims are always the best actors.  They have to be, to live
their whole lives with the pain and shame, pretending there is nothing
wrong.  It’s the greatest performance of all." — Richard Dreyfuss in
"Silent Fall"

depressive introspective

I’m not sure I’ll be posting many newsworthy items as much as I used to. I suppose I’m getting lazy in some respects. Maybe my brain is tired or not fully energized. I’m also going through a period in my life where I’d rather discuss my personal experiences and explore broader issues affecting my mental health (like emotional eating) rather than daily current events.

Grow with me. I may shift back to regular news and celeb updates but I don’t feel obligated to post on them right now. And I don’t feel any pressure to do so. I’m feeling particularly… introspective. 😉

Great blogs that analyze and post on current events can be found below (in no particular order):

Generic Lamictal (lamotrigine)

I'm on "Day I-don't-know" of lamotrigine (generic Lamictal). It's been at least 2 weeks. I haven't had any significant side effects except for extreme fatigue. I am often tired. Some days, I can give myself a boost of energy by playing the Wii Fit (which I snagged Saturday afternoon) and other days, exercising just wears me to out to the point where I head to the shower and then to bed. I can have 3 cups of coffee, never become fully awake, and still go to sleep at a decent time.

I'm still not sleeping well. Haven't slept well since before I went into the hospital in October 2006. I can't remember the last time I had truly restful sleep.

My symptoms remain at bay. I haven't had many suicidal thoughts or impulses. In fact, some days, I can go without thinking about suicide at all. I can't say it's all the medicine — my counseling and faith play a much bigger role — but I'm sure the medicine helps.

I've recently noticed that I'm not suffering from as much social anxiety. Again, I don't know if this is due so much to the medication as it is to the resurgence of my spiritual life. I ventured out on Sunday to a meetup writers workshop group that I'd never been to before. It was extremely weird. Not the situation, but the fact that I walked into a room full of strangers, made myself comfortable on the couch at the coffeehouse and offered input quite freely without worrying about what the others thought of me. I even had the audacity to network with a woman who works at a trade magazine in the area. How strange. I don't have balls. This is not me.

What the heck has happened to me?

Quote of the Week

“Depression is nourished by a lifetime of ungrieved and unforgiven hurts.” — Penelope Sweet

The Boxer: Fighting Depression

John over at Storied Mind wrote a post on fighting depression that really hit home. It had a profound thought that I know but often overlook.

Fight it.

If I can step aside for just an instant from the full assault of the symptom, long enough to glance sideways at it, I can spot what’s happening and immediately see myself experiencing that particular bend of mind or feeling. Here it comes, here it is, I’m feeling miserable because I’m depressed. Or I’m tearing myself down with every other thought – I don’t have to do that so you in there, you shut up, I’m not listening anymore – you’re just a disease, and you will not get me to believe what you’re saying. Of I see obsessive thinking taking hold, sizzling my mind and gut with something, invariably, that I did wrong. I see that I’m replaying it over and over, and I have to step back and just say to myself, you’re obsessing, that’s another symptom, so stop!

boxingWhich reminds of a song (“The Boxer”) from one of my favorite Christian artists, Sara Groves:

When you said this was a fight, you weren’t kidding
When you said this was a fight, you weren’t kidding, kidding
Cause my ribs are bruised and it’s just round two

When you said this was a fight, you weren’t kidding
When you said this was a fight, you weren’t kidding
Cause there’s a cut on my eye and it’s just round five

And I used to be quick I used to see it coming
I used to know how to move my feet
Now I can’t duck and I can’t land nothing
And I forgot how to bob and weave
Bob and weave

When you said this was a fight, you weren’t kidding
When you said this was a fight, you weren’t kidding, kidding, kidding
Cause this room’s in a spin and it’s just round ten

If you care at all take that towel from your neck
Cause I’ve reached down deep and there is nothing left
I’ve got nothing
I’ve got nothing
I’ve got nothing

Greater is he who is in me
Greater is he who is in me
Greater, greater
Greater, greater

Okay, okay

Bob and weave
Bob and weave
Bob and weave

And I can’t just know it I’ve got to feel it
And I can’t just feel it, I’ve got to believe it
And I can’t just believe it, I’ve got to live it

I need to put up a fight and I won’t be successful without God’s help. I can’t just *think* I have to fight and leave it as head knowledge, I have to put it into action. I have to — as John put it — “glance sideways at it” and watch those punches, see it coming, then — as Sara put it — “bob and weave” to dodge it before it knocks me down completely.

September 11, 2001

Always remember, never forget.

World Trade Center

Please say a prayer today or have a moment of silence in remembrance of those who gave their lives on that fateful day and for those left behind in the wake of this tragedy.

Failure and Success

God has really been hammering me on the issue of fear in a slightly different way than I’d imagined. He keeps showing me stories and verses related to failure and success. Here’s a devotional that I found in my inbox this morning:

Thoughts for Today
What words come to mind when asked to describe yourself? Sometimes we might define ourselves by listing our failures and our negative traits. But God has a different perspective! If we are followers of Christ, this is how God sees us …

We say: I’m a failure. I can’t do anything right.
God says: You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. Philippians 4:13

We say: I still feel guilty about things I’ve done in the past, even though I’ve confessed it all as sin and don’t do those things anymore.
God says: I blot out your sins and remember them no more. Isaiah 43:25

We say: Sometimes I feel so unlovable. How can God possibly keep on loving me?
God says: God says nothing can separate us from his love. Romans 8:38-39

We say: I tend to be such a fearful person.
God says: The righteous are as bold as a lion. Proverbs 28:1

God sees us as righteous, wise and forgiven. He sees us as his treasures, his children.

Prayer
Lord, thank you for clothing me in the righteousness of Christ. Help me not to think too lowlyor too highlyof myself, but to see myself as you do. In Jesus’ name …

And then I read an article on Olympic diver Laura Wilkinson in Today’s Christian Woman (TCW) and she addressed the issue of failure and success. If God doesn’t get to me through this, I don’t know what will! I’ve posted excerpts of the TCW interview that spoke to me (occasionally interspersed with my commentary) under the cut.

Read the rest of this entry »

100 Things About Me: Second Round

Has anything changed since I last wrote this back in July 2007? Here are some new, old (in bold), and updated (in red) facts about me.

1.     I am 26 years old.

2.     I was born and raised in Brooklyn until I was 5 years old then moved to Long Island where I remained until I married at 23. (With intervals of being away at college.)

3.     My parents were married til’ death did them part. (My father died in 2001.)

4.     I am an only child.

5.     My extended family is split between New York and Florida.

6.     I am Haitian: ½ African and ½ French. Perhaps Spanish as well.

NYU7.    I went to NYU for my freshman year, a strict Christian college in Florida for a year and a half afterward, then received my Bachelor’s degree after attending a private college on Long Island for 2 years.

8.     I lived in Kentucky for 7 months and hated it.

9.     I live in suburban Philadelphia and love it.

10.   I liked my first job out of college as a copy editor at a daily newspaper.

haitian meal11.   My favorite food includes fried plantains, rice and beans, okra, Jamaican beef patties, goat (cabrit), and fried pork (griot).

12.   I am (for whatever reason) addicted to coffee and lattés.

13.   I usually order French Vanilla or Hazelnut coffee and French Vanilla lattés unless there’s a seasonal flavor like Pumpkin Spice.

14.  I attend Christian counseling every other Tuesday at the Christian Counseling Education Foundation (CCEF) in Glenside, PA. (That’s an endorsement!)

15.  I’m married to a very loving and supportive husband.

16.  I am not athletic. At all.

17.  I have a degree in Print Journalism and a minor in English.

18.  I have kissed one girl several times when I was under the age of 10.

19.  I suffer from bipolar disorder with the pendulum swinging way in favor of depression.

20.  I struggle with suicidal ideation.

21.  I have stopped counting the number of times I’ve attempted suicide.

22.  My favorite font is Tahoma.

23.  I am a Bible-believing Christian who is saved by grace in Jesus Christ.

24.  I am a member of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA).

25.  I want kids but am afraid that I will be a terrible mother who lacks the discipline to raise her children well and in the fear of the Lord.

26.  I am incredibly insecure.

27.  I am learning that life is “not all about me.” (It’s about God.)

28.  I am a big baseball fan.

Phillies vs Yankees29.  I am a Phillies and Yankees fan. (The two loyalties do not conflict unless both teams meet in the World Series or a special game is played.)

30.  I love shopping for handbags and shoes.

31.  My favorite time to shop for clothes is in the fall and winter.

32.  I hate summer “clothing.”

33.  I rarely watch TV.

34.  I rarely watch movies.

neat room35.  I love organization, organizing, and anything to do with the art of organizing.

36.  I enjoy going to Barnes & Noble. (Mainly because I can read a book and drink coffee at the same time, which I can’t do at a library.)

37.  I don’t like chocolate except for Betty Crocker Low-Fat Brownies and Hot Cocoa.

38.  I am a procrastinator.

39.  I am usually late for nearly everything except for a scheduled train.

40.  I don’t like receiving flowers. (I think it’s useless to give someone something that will die a day or two later.)

41.  I wish I could get paid for blogging. (Google Ads did not work out for me. You can donate, though, using the PayPal button at the top right-hand corner of the index page!)

42.  I prefer to buy black clothing because it matches everything.

43.  I do not like to wear flat shoes except for flip-flops.

44.  My dream job is to be an editor at a magazine that has content which interests me.

45.  I want to pursue freelance writing.

46.  I can easily feel overwhelmed.

47.  I’m not very good at delegating.

48.  I calorie-count.

49.  I love learning; I wish I could be a career student.

Gabrielle Union50.  I have black hair, dark brown “doo-doo” eyes, and cocoa skin.

51.  I am 5 foot and ¾ inches tall.

52.  I have severe eczema on my calves and shins.

53.  I enjoy making lists. (Can you tell?)

54.  I don’t pray or read the Bible as much as I would like.

55.  I prefer having long hair.

56.  I don’t like to get paid for sitting around and doing nothing.

57.  I enjoy naps.

58.  I am ambitious.

59.  I have a great desire to be in a position of authority and an expert on a specialized topic.

60.  I want to be consistent about attending church regularly.

61.  I obsess about my weight.

62.  I don’t enjoy exercising.

63.  I have high cholesterol.

64.  I am very bad about keeping in touch with people via telephone or email.

bichon65.  I love small dogs.

66.  I am terrible managing a group of kids.

67.  I worked for a political grassroots organization in New York back in 2000.

68.  I have interned at Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s office.

69.  I can type 60+ words per minute (wpm).

70.  I loathe receptionist/assistant jobs.

71.  I have never been “accepted” in a clique.

72.  I’ve been told “talk” and “act” white.

73.  I don’t read fiction often.

74.  I am addicted to McDonald’s Fruit n’ Yogurt Parfaits.

bad math75.  I am terrible with math but can (for the most part) manage and balance a budget effectively. (Go figure.)

76.  I have several blogs: mental health, 3 personal, thankfulness journal, church sermon summary, exercise, political, and a secret one. In fact, I think I’m forgetting a few.

77.  I never had a cavity until I was 25.

78.  I prefer Windows over Mac except when it comes to iTunes.

iPhone79.  I have an iTouch and want an iPhone.

80.  I drive 26 miles roundtrip to and from work.

81.  I am registered Democrat.

82.  I am a conservative socialist. (I am pro-life and pro-government funded programs.)

83.  I am often anti-trend.

84.  I am kind, generous, loving, and loyal.

85.  I don’t like washing dishes.

86.  I don’t care for dusting or vacuuming either.

87.  I am a “starter,” not a “finisher.” (I sometimes start projects but don’t finish them.)

88.  I lack discipline in the following areas:

  • prayer time
  • consistent Bible reading
  • exercise
  • getting up at the same time each morning
  • going to bed at the same time each night

89.  I have a hard time coming up with more than 50 “things about me.”

90.  I prefer to handwrite novels and stories rather than type them electronically.

looseleaf91.  I often use both sides of lined paper.

92.  I can surf the Internet or write blog entries for at least 4 hours straight without leaving my chair.

93.  I prefer editing over writing. (But I enjoy both.)

94.  I don’t like interviewing people.

95.  I urinate a lot. (At least 2-3 times an hour.)

96.  I love to collect well-designed journals and notebooks even if I’ll never use them.

97.  I read young adult (YA) novels to get a sense of how to write a YA novel of my own.

98.  I love Victoria’s Secret pants because they’re the only brand I’ve found that fits me well.

99.  I am bad about backing up my files on the two computers I own.

100.  I used to be addicted to soda.

100 Things About Me

Outdated info crossed out; updated info in bold/italics.

strawberry shortcake1. I have a weakness for baked goods.

2. Even though I don’t like chocolate, I can devour a tray of freshly baked brownies.

3. I hate store-made brownies except from Friendly’s.

4. I’m totally addicted to vanilla lattes right now.

5. I’m a music junkie and love everything from Gwen Stefani to The Beatles to Franz Ferdinand to Nat King Cole.

6. I don’t mind country, but HATE bluegrass.

7. I like Windows-based computers, but am loving my Mac right now.

8. I attempt to read different mental health blogs that I don’t normally read each day.

9. I miss working at a newspaper.

10. I miss getting paid to write articles.

11. The company I work for pays me well and provides really good benefits, but I don’t see myself advancing there.

12. Both my husband and counselor have told me that my current last job is was not the right job for me.

13. I suffer from bipolar disorder with mixed episodes.

14. Much of my depression and disorder stem from behavioral and cognitive flaws.

15. I’ve tried using 5-HTP to manage my serotonin levels; it didn’t work.

16. I used to commute at least 30 minutes each way by train to Philadelphia.

Starbucks17. I’m not a fan of Starbucks coffee.

18. I love the Northeast.

19. I’m a New York City fanatic.

20. I’m a NY Yankee fanatic.

Anti-Red Sox21. I hate on Red Sox fans.

22. I like the Phillies.

23. In my preteens, my favorite artist was Paula Abdul. (Let the jokes pour in.)

24. I’ve only had three boyfriends.

25. I became a born-again Christian in the hopes that Jesus would “save” me from suicide and depression.

26. I gained 40 lbs on Paxil and Lexapro despite being skinny my entire life.

27. Exercise did little to offset the problem for a while.

28. I lost 30 of the 40 lbs through the following, in order: cutting out regular soda, eating Healthy Choice/Lean Cuisine for lunch, cutting out diet soda, exercising, being hospitalized and not eating the hospital food, walking to work (30 minutes round-trip) and taking Effexor which effectively eliminated most of my appetite.

29. I’m addicted to celebrity news.

30. I have an incredible amount of respect for Mika Brzezkinski for not leading an MSNBC news program with the Paris Hilton story.

31. I only drink water, tea, vanilla lattes, and vanilla or hazelnut coffee, and apple juice. I’ll occasionally have diet lemonade from Chick-Fil-A (diet or Crystal Light).

32. I think most of today’s Top 40 hits are awful.

33. I knew about Paul McCartney before I knew about The Beatles.

Beatles poster34. I had a huge poster of The Beatles  (the one shown is an exact replica) in college and kissed John Lennon on the lips goodnight every night. (Creepy, I know. Can I use bipolar as an excuse?)

35. I used to handwrite many of my posts on the train then type them up to be published.

36. As a result of #35, I have a ton of backlogged and/or outdated posts.

37. Sometimes I wonder if this blog really means/amounts to anything.

38. I hated not having access to my personal e-mail at work my last job.

39. I’ve been typing this for the past I typed this for 15-20 minutes and I’m only at only reached No. 39.

40. I’m a big Madonna fan.

41. Apparently, I’m a “chubby chaser”; all of my boyfriends have been overweight.

42. Two out of my three boyfriends were white, including my current husband.

43. I hate summer for outdoor bugs.

44. I love summer because I don’t deal with the winter bugs that find a way into my apartment.

45. I wish I could be paid to be a career student.

46. I would love to live in France for a year or two.

47. I want to be an editor for a Christian magazine aimed at single women in their 20s and 30s.

Confessions Tour48. I don’t want kids. (Now.)

49. I paid a ridiculous amount of money to attend Madonna’s 2006 “Confessions” Tour concert; it was worth it.

50. I worked as an intern in Sen. Hillary Clinton’s New York City office. (To answer your question in advance, I only met her once.)

51. I don’t have any close friends my age living in a 20-mile radius.

52. I met some of my good friends – including my husband – through the Internet.

53. I’m horrible at math.

54. I’m near brilliant in history. (More so than English.)

55. My GPA from college was 3.71.

56. My GPA from high school was 3.85. I’ve gotten dumber as the years have gone by.

57. I’m shy around people I don’t know.

58. I’m a loudmouth around people I’m comfortable with.

59. I want to visit Seattle. (A totally unrelated reason to the cool people who live there.) 🙂

60. I’m terrible at checking and responding to e-mails. Don’t be offended if you don’t hear from me until 5 months from now.

61. I’m socially liberal and… fiscally liberal. However, I have some definite conservative views (that I don’t care to discuss here) that would make me as a moderate.

62. I am an only child.

63. I was embarrassed about my father’s mental illness growing up. I now talk about his illness more readily.

64. I attended NYU for one year.

65. I am my biggest critic and probably dislike myself more than anyone else.

66. I’m afraid that all my coworkers don’t like me.

67. I’d like to write articles by freelancing but I’m not sure how to get into the business.

68. I calorie count obsessively.

69. I watch my weight closely.

70. I participated in AIDS Walk back in high school.

71. As a result of having an uncle who died of AIDS, I am somewhat of a gay activist. (I don’t feel that my beliefs contradict my activist approach.)

72. My initial majors in college were international politics and French; my minor was computer science.

73. I dropped out of international politics when I realized it involved mathematical statistics I could not understand.

74. My worst grade ever was a D+ in Economics.

75. My best grades have always been in History, English, or any foreign language.

76. I was close to being hired by the New York paper Newsday, but dropped my plans with them after deciding to marry my Kentucky-based boyfriend. (I basically had to choose between him or my dream job.)

77. I want the iPhone.

78. I don’t care for watching TV and could pretty much live the rest of my life without one.

79. If I had kids, I probably wouldn’t let them watch TV, but instead, encourage reading.

80. I’d also allow my kids to play video games. (That’s what I get for having a gamer husband.)

81. I’d try to influence my kids’ taste in music like my father influenced me.

82. I hope that if I ever had two kids, one would clearly look Caucasian and the other look African American in the hopes that I could confuse strangers about whether my kids are biological or adopted.

83. If I accidentally became pregnant, I wouldn’t terminate my pregnancy despite my aversion to raising children.

84. I’d become paranoid about my mental state postpartum.

85. I’ve grown apart from my childhood friends to the point where the only thing that ties us together is our history of growing up together.

86. I like fashion.

87. I’m not a fashionista.

88. I love shoes.

89. I have more than 30 pairs of shoes.

90. I almost always carry a pen with me everywhere I go.

91. I’d love to work for a major publication in New York.

92. I’m extremely dependent upon others.

93. I’m a sincere person.

94. Technology gadgets amuse me.

95. I’ve fallen in love with Guitar Hero II.

96. I dazzle interviewers on interviews.

97. I miss living within 20 minutes of the beach.

98. I walk 15 minutes to and from work many days.

99. I rarely think about the fact that I work in the city with the highest murder rate in the country.

100. I think I learned more about myself by completing this.

Emotional eating, Part 3

Now getting back to my current issue…

I am currently bouncing between 152 and 157 these days — a range I’m not particularly satisfied with. While my long-shot goal is 130-140 lbs, my current (and realistic) goal is 140-145 lbs. All I need is to fit in my pants. I don’t have money to buy new ones and the current ones I have in rotation are either uncomfortable or too dressy (read: formerly a corporate America drone).

Why am I having such a hard time? Well, other than the fact that I don’t get much cardio in, I’m also terrible about controlling my diet. (I’ve been playing the Wii religiously for about 30-60+ mins each day but it doesn’t seem to be doing much for the scale.)

dessertI indulge myself in anything I want: cupcakes; cake batter ice cream; pound cake topped with vanilla ice cream, strawberries laden in syrup, drizzled with caramel and decorated with whipped cream on the sides. I’m trying to teach myself discipline, but an undisciplined person trying to teach herself discipline is a recipe for failure.

But I’m trying.

I’ve been successful at times. For a while I was addicted to cinnamon buns sold at UPenn bookstore’s cafe. They were (and probably still are) absolutely delicious. Somehow — and I don’t know how I talked myself into this — I looked at them one day and said, “You know, those are disgusting. They’re topped with all that icing. That huge bun underneath the icing is nothing but carbs and does you no good. You don’t like it anymore. Don’t eat it.”

I haven’t touched a cinnamon bun since.

It’s strange how I’ve been able to use that psychology on some food items but not on others. Let me tell you, how I’d love to give up my addiction to cakes and cupcakes. I can’t eat chocolate but I find  plenty of other things to take its place: strawberry shortcakes, strawberry sundaes, the Strawberry-Banana Rendezvous with cake batter ice cream from Cold Stone Creamery, carrot cakes, and Krispy Kreme donuts drenched in its original glaze icing. You can probably tell now why I can’t seem to dip below 150 lbs.

I want to stop. But each night, the ice cream place down the street beckons my name. Every morning, the bakery’s aroma wafts across the street and into the windows of my apartment, taunting me to defy the scale one more time for a temporary delight. There’s a diner that has dessert that is so good, I need to avoid eating there or else it becomes a requirement to indulge in after my entreé.

I’ve tried eating strawberries and grapes — natural sweets that should satisfy my sweet tooth. Grapes seem to make me hungrier and strawberries alone just don’t seem to cut it. I have tiny dessert cups used for individual shortcake servings but I’ve decided recently to cut them out to save calories.

I guess that it doesn’t help that I’m addicted to calorie-counting.

Goya riceI’m also trying to rid myself of my carb addiction. People from the Caribbean are notorious for their staples of rice and beans. As a product of Caribbean parents, I simply cannot live without rice. I can easily forgo meat if I can get my hands on some good rice and beans.

I don’t mind most veggies but trying to incorporate them into every single meal is incredibly difficult for me. And a house salad for lunch satisfies my hunger like a sip of water… that is to say, not at all.

So I’m currently faced with a dilemma. I need to stop eating so much and eat the right kind of food so I can lose weight. Because I lack discipline and feel hopeless and discouraged, I continue to overeat (American portions are larger than necessary) and indulge in dessert each night, continuing my slow trend toward weight gain.

My mental health suffered much less when I was 140 lbs. I looked good and felt good. There’s something to the saying that the physical contributes to the spiritual, mental, and emotional well-being. Mind, body, and soul — they truly are all connected.

Quote of the Week

"There is no shortage of good days. It is good lives that are hard to come by." — Annie Dillard

Emotional eating, Part 2

Seeing the scale at 180 scared me into action somehow. I thought of my father who died of a heart attack and remembered that I had a history of high cholesterol running through my family. I decided I had to do something so I didn’t drop dead of a myocardial infarction at 23.

  • gymBob and I joined a gym. We went 1-2 times a week for about 30 minutes, which — for a variety of reasons — was a disaster so this consistency didn’t last long. But it helped short-term. We mostly did circuit training and about 20 minutes of cardio. We also had a
    personal trainer for a while. It’s expensive and we haven’t been able to afford one since, but it was definitely worth the money. I dropped 5 lbs.
  • I stopped drinking soda. Everyone in my family will tell you that I was ADDICTED to soda. However, I knew the carbonation made me bloated.
    • I slowly weaned myself off of regular soda, forcing myself to like the significantly inferior diet products.
    • Crystal Light On-the-GoIn due time, I tired of diet drinks and became hooked on Crystal Light On-the-Go packets and forced myself to drink water regularly. This change resulted in an additional loss of 5 lbs. For whatever reason, the CL packets soon became too sweet for my sweet tooth and I stopped using them.
    • While I drink mostly water, I somehow picked up a daily habit of drinking coffee and lattés along the way. I usually make my own coffee but often order my lattés at coffee shops or cafés. I initially didn’t care about drinking whole milk but I soon learned that the calories can quickly add up between the vanilla shots and 16 oz. of milk.
    • Now, I ask for sugar-free vanilla lattés with skim milk. (These are called “skinny lattés” at Starbucks.) I always hated skim milk but forced myself to get used to it if I really wanted the pounds
      to continue to peel off. I still get my caffeine fix but for significantly less calories. Depending on the size I get, my latté can vary from 90-175 calories. Not bad when a regular vanilla latté is easily 300.
  • I began eating Lean Cuisine or Healthy Choice for lunch. This is something that’s since dropped out of my diet but I need to reincorporate because it’s offered me the most results. I limited myself to LC or HC only and fought off any other hunger urges if I could. These pre-made frozen meals led to another 5-lb weight loss. (NOTE: The sodium counts on some of these meals are ridiculous, negating the healthy benefits of the low-calorie count, and causing increased hunger. Check the Nutritional Information for products that contain — on average — 600 mg or less of sodium. I’ve found that more than that can be counterproductive. Healthy Choice is pretty good about keeping the sodium milligrams around 500 or less.)
  • walkingI began commuting to the city and walked from the train station to work for a total of 20-30 minutes round-trip. I skipped walking during severe heatwaves and rain. The bus to the train station from my job wasn’t very reliable so I often ended up walking for at least 10 minutes during the day. Or more if I walked somewhere (usually by myself at a faster pace) for lunch. I lost 5 more pounds.
  • I ended up in the psych hospital. This is NOT recommended. I didn’t like much of the food so I hardly ate anything. I was also started on Effexor XR, of which weight loss was a side effect. I dropped a good 10 lbs in 7 days as a result of this. By this point, I was down to 150 — my “Freshman 15” weight.
  • Since my body was getting used to the 20-30 minute work walks, I began working out at the gym at least 2-3 days a week for at least 30 minutes. I attempted to do a minimum of 20 minutes of cardio and 10 minutes of strength training or vice versa. I maintained a weight between 140-145 lbs for more than a year.

I haven’t been able to crack 139 on the scale for whatever reason and my goal is for a weight maintenance of 130-135 lbs. The BMI scale recommends that I weigh 110-125 lbs for my height.  Considering that my 26-year-old body is significantly different than my 16-year-old body, I’m not going to shoot for anything less than 130. I think to do so at this point in my life would be unrealistic. Besides, I wouldn’t want to be that skinny again anyway. 110 lbs on a 16-year-old looks vastly different on a 26-year-old  or a 36-year-old or a… you get the point. I’ve made 130 my minimum — a goal I’m sure I’ll be happy with if I’m able to attain it. Even if I bounced between 130 and 140 lbs, I wouldn’t mind as long as I didn’t regain my Freshman 15 weight. But I’m a work in progress.

Emotional eating: Part 1

I waver on whether I should attend the CCEF conference on Addiction in November. I have my own addiction that I’m dealing with and it’s ruining my mental health like nothing else right now.

Food.

Especially sweets.

donutsI’ve been keeping a record of everything I eat and while most of it is not terribly bad, it’s either the portion sizes that kill me or the delicious 5-scoop caramel strawberry brownie sundae from Friendly’s or a few helpings of those 200-calorie Krispy Kreme donuts. It also doesn’t help that I live across the street from a bakery that’s been named one of the best in the Philly area.

I grew up skinny and petite for the majority of my life and gained the usual “Freshman 15″ (or in my case 25) when I attended college at New York University. I did an incredible amount of walking each day — an average total of at least 75 minutes — and still somehow managed to gain weight. I didn’t occur to me at the time that 2 full plates of food from the cafeteria with several scoops of ice cream needed to be phased out of my diet.

By the time I attended a small Christian college in Florida, I was sitting at 150 lbs. (For a 5’4” female, this is considered slightly overweight.) During the nearly 2 years that I attended that college, I rarely ever rode in a car, which resulted in a drop of 20 lbs. Mind you, I still hadn’t changed my eating ways.

Fast-forward to August 2005, the month of my wedding. After a year of Paxil (3 months) and Lexapro (9 months), I hovered around 169-170 lbs. This was the largest I had ever been in my life. I never really realized that I’d gained all that weight. I was always pretty comfortable in my own skin. Sure, my jeans didn’t fit me as well as they used to but that was OK; it just gave me an excuse to buy new clothes!

Then, my family — pretty harsh critics, according to my husband — labeled me F-A-T. I never saw fat until they said it. The next time I looked in the mirror, I saw they were right. When I grinned, a double chin suddenly appeared. Saggy breasts hung in place of my once perky chest. Triple-fat rolls had now replaced the tummy that if I’d sucked it in just right, they’d look washboard. My lowest love handle drooped over my string bikini underwear like a fading flower.

Stretch marks also began to appear. They showed up looking like extremely red rashes. It was like watching my capillaries slowly attempting to burst out of the seams of my skin. The marks finally made permanent rest stops on my inner biceps and inner thighs.

A few months later, my max hit 180 lbs. To a lot of women, especially those who have been obese or overweight for a long time might pooh-pooh my weight problems. For a girl who — when her growth spurt had ended — fluctuated between 110 and 125 lbs, this was devastating. Unfortunately, it probably wouldn’t have been as bad if her family members hadn’t taken the liberty of pointing that out. Especially since she needed to be “skinny” for her wedding.

Back

I’m back from my trip finally. I’ve been following politics so closely recently that I haven’t kept up on mental health news. That and I chose to disconnect myself from the Internet during vacation. So I’m incredibly behind on emails, and to make matters worse, I’ve downloaded the Typepad application to my iTouch, which means that I can always blog wherever and whenever I want to. As long as I have Wi-Fi anyway. Normal blogging will likely resume later this week. In the meantime, take care of yourself and stay safe during this Labor Day weekend.