Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A new kind of Christmas.

                                          I love you all dearly, now don't shed a tear
                                         because I will be spending my Christmas with Jesus this year. 
                                                              Love Martin

Everywhere I look, listen, smell, proof of Christmas is in the air. I used to love this time of year. I would listen to Christmas music, put lights up, make Christmas decorations. But I would never get stressed out, because I wasn't hosting Christmas dinners. I could take the best of Christmas and enjoy it. And I did.

When I was growing up and living with my parents, I would get up early just to turn on the lights on the Christmas tree and let the light shine on the other ornaments. It sparkled like diamonds.

But unfortunately by the playing with the lights would wake up my mother and I would get caught and put back to bed. But it didn't change the way I felt about Christmas. I never saw the stress my mother and all other mothers felt during the month of December. Shopping for food and presents, making the food, cleaning, getting a tree and so on.

For some reason I believed it all just magically appeared. When I moved out and got my own family, we would still have Christmas evening at my parents.  When we arrived, I could smell, hear, feel and let us not forget, eat Christmas.

I would take Martin to the Christmas tree and we would play with the lights. It made him laugh. We would sing Christmas songs and enjoy each others company.

However Christmas soon lost its' magic.  We no longer sang Christmas songs and it felt like the the only way we communicated was through sarcasm and making fun of each other and I didn't want to participate. But to me Christmas is about family, so knowing how the evening would turn out, I tried to create my own Christmas tradition with Martin. In Denmark the 24th is the "big" day.  We would go to my parents late afternoon, so Martin and I had our celebration during the day.
Actually it started way before the 24th.

The first weekend in December we would go down and buy a small tree and we would decorate it. Well, technically I would do the decorating, as Martin couldn't, but he would be watching and his eyes would light up when I put the ornaments on. He got some on his table, he could touch and he loved it. Sometimes he would utter some sounds as if to tell me, that I should move an ornament. We would listen to Christmas music and just have a good time.

During the day on the 24th, I would take him out of his chair and sit with him. I would read Christmas stories and sing Christmas songs. It was clear to me that he recognized some of them. It was my favorite time of the day and I didn't want it to end. But I had to go to my parents house to celebrate Christmas with my family, knowing that nothing could top what had gone on earlier and knowing that at some point in the evening, some would be fighting.

The last few years of Martin's life, we had to move Christmas eve to my sister's house, because I could no longer carry him up to the 3rd floor in my parents' apartment building. 

Every Christmas Martin and I had our time together, which I enjoyed. But I must admit, I didn't look forward to the evening.

Christmas 2006 Martin and I stayed home. Martin had a fever and slept all evening. At that point I didn't know it was to be his last Christmas.

Martin died in May of 2007 and Christmas that year was tough to get through. I went out to my sister's house.  I don't know if it was for my sake or not, but for some reason, there were no Christmas tree, which made it a little easier, but I kept looking at the space at the dinner table, where his chair used to be.  so the real severity of the day didn't really dawn on me until i got back home. It was and felt very empty and I could hardly look at it.

When I came home that night, I just broke down. I have never really understood why there are so many suicides during Christmas. Now I do.

It is all emotions doubles during Christmas. If you are happy and joyous, you feel more happy and joyous.

If you feel lonely and sad, you feel extra lonely and sad during Christmas.

This year is the 5th Christmas without Martin and you might think, that I should have gotten better at handling it by now.
I haven't. December is emotional  to get through. Even if I don't live in the same country anymore and I have no history with Martin here in the US, I keep thinking when I look at all the lights: Martin would have loved this.  Or what should I get him this year? 

This Christmas will be very special. Mike and i are going to host our first Christmas eve together. This will also be the first time I host it. 

I will try to make it a Danish Christmas, to keep my memories of Martin and my "old" country alive but also incorporating some American customs, as this is where I live now.

I look forward to being with my new American family, but the hole in my heart, that Martin left can not be filled and it shouldn't. I know Martin will be there in spirit, but let's face it, that is just not enough.

But even if i will be missing him and my heart is breaking, I will not let it overshadow the joy I do feel about the magic of Christmas.

One thing I have learned. Be grateful for the things you have instead of focusing on the things you don't have.

So I will promise myself, I want to have a very merry Christmas. I know there may be tears of sadness, because Martin is not here to laugh at the lights and that is ok, but he is still loved and missed. But who knows, he might just be standing right next to me, when I go and play with the Christmas lights.

I wish you and your family will take a few moments away from the Christmas stress and really allow yourself to feel the joy and magic of Christmas and each other.

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Emotional Hunger: Twelve Types That Make You Break Your Diet

Yesterday I wrote a blog asking if you are an emotional eater. 
I know I am and have been for years. It is like being an addict. 
However, if you are addicted to alcohol or drugs, you can "get clean". You can work through your issues and learn to live a life without your drug of choice. It is not as easy if your drug of choice is food.  If you are an alcoholic, you can avoid places that will trigger you, but you can't live without food.
 When it comes to food issues, you can't be cured, but you learn to manage the food intake every single day. Some days are easier than others.
While I was putting this list together I was surprised how many on this list applied to me in the past and sometimes still applies. However, knowledge is power and if you recognize yourself  in one or more of the lists, well, don't despair. There is help out there. Because of my own story and battle with emotional eating, I have become passionate about supporting others through their struggle.
Below are the twelve types of emotional hunger that trigger Emotional Eating. As you read through the list, ask yourself how many of these apply to you and your life. If you use food in any of the ways listed below, you'll know that Emotional Eating is the real reason you struggle with weight.   Type 1. Food: My Adult Pacifier If you get really hungry when you feel angry, depressed, anxious, bored, or lonely, you use food to dull the pain that these emotions cause.     Type 2. I Stick Up For Myself by Stuffing Myself Up If you react by getting hungry when others talk down to you, take advantage of you, belittle you, or take you for granted, you eat to avoid confrontation.     Type 3. Food: My One Faithful Friend If you crave food when you have tension in your close relationships, you eat to avoid feeling the pain of rejection or anger.   Type 4. When I'm Chewing I Can't Hear My Inner Critic If you tend to become hypercritical of yourself, if you label yourself "stupid," "lazy," or "a loser," you eat to stuff down self-hatred. Type 5. I Don't Have Love but I Have Food If your hunger gets activated because your intimate relationships don't satisfy some basic need like trust or security, you use food to try to fill the gap. Type 6. Food Can't Fill Up the Missing Parts in My Past If you eat to make up for the deprivation you experienced as a child, you eat to forget the past.   Type 7. Don't Tell Me What to Eat If you eat to assert your independence because you don't want anyone telling you what to do, you eat to rebel.   Type 8. I'm Too Busy Eating to Take a Risk If your appetite kicks in when you're faced with new challenges - if you use food to avoid rising to the test, you eat to protect yourself from the fear of failure.   Type 9. Fall in Love? I'd Rather Fall in Chocolate If you stuff your face in order to avoid your sexuality - either to stay overweight so that nobody desires you or to hide from intimate encounters - you eat to protect yourself from getting too close. Type 10. I Use My Body as a Battleground Emotional eaters often eat to pay back those who have hurt them, often in the distant past. They use their bodies as battlegrounds for working out old resentments. If you do this, you eat to get revenge or control anger.   Type 11. I Won't Grow Up If you eat to make yourself feel carefree, like a child, you eat to keep yourself from facing the challenges of growing up. Type 12. I'm Secretly Afraid of Being Thin If you overeat because you fear getting thin, either consciously or unconsciously, you eat to avoid the fear of change. Emotional hunger is real. It's part of life for everyone. If you address the things that make you emotionally hungry, you'll have a chance of having real satisfaction in your life. But if you eat each time you're emotionally hungry, you'll miss the opportunity of satisfaction, and your emotional hunger will continue to grow along with your waistline.

Monday, September 26, 2011

I am an emotional eater. Are you?

I have been an emotional eater for many years. I keep it in check by being very aware of when I am hungry and more importantly why I am hungry.
You may ask yourself: How do I know if I am an emotional eater?

Here are some specific symptoms and signs that you can look for to help you determine if you are an Emotional Eater. See which ones ring true for you...

1. My hunger comes on suddenly.
Physical hunger comes on slowly. Hunger from emotional eating often comes on quickly and suddenly.

2. I crave specific foods—generally not carrot sticks or steamed broccoli.
Cravings for specific, usually unhealthy foods is a sign of emotional eating. Often people like the rush they get from satisfying their cravings. That rush is fulfilling emotional hunger.

3. My hunger feels urgent—I need a particular food right away and I'm willing to walk out of my way, or get in your car late at night, or raid my kid's Halloween candy to get it.
Physical hunger, unless you haven't eaten for a very long time, is usually pretty patient. It will wait for food. Emotional hunger demands to be satisfied immediately.

4. My hunger is often paired with an upsetting emotion—if I backtrack a few hours or a few days I'll usually find an upsetting event and feeling that triggered the urge.
Hunger that's connected to an upsetting emotion or situation is definitely emotional hunger. Physical hunger is not typically triggered by emotions.

5. My eating habits involve unconscious eating—all of a sudden I'm eating ice-cream and I find the whole container is gone.
When you're eating for physical reasons, you are usually mindful of what you're doing. If you catch yourself eating "just because," then it's likely you're eating for emotional reasons.

6. I don't stop eating in response to being full—I keep wanting more of the taste of the food.
Physical hunger doesn't need to be stuffed in order to be satisfied. Emotional hunger on the other hand often demands more and more food to feel satisfied.

7. My hunger isn't located in belly—I crave the taste of a certain food in my mouth or I can't stop thinking of a certain food.
Feeling hungry in this way is usually a sign of emotional hunger or Physical hunger is happy to get what it can, while emotional hunger usually focuses on specific tastes and textures.

8. After I satisfy my hunger, I am often filled with a sense of regret or guilt.
Feeding your body what it needs is not something to feel guilty about. If you feel guilty after you eat, it's likely because part of you knows you're not eating just to satisfy physical hunger.

If you don't experience any of the preceding statements, it's likely that you're struggling with simple biological hunger.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Plant a seed, reach a goal.

I love spring. It is my favorite time of the year.

To me it is so difficult to get through the winter. Not that I don't appreciate the beauty of snow, but it just feels like a very long and never ending season for me.
So the anticipation of spring makes the arrival of spring so much sweeter. I have never been one for making new year resolutions. I know I can't keep them. It is always about losing weight or exercise  more, but let's face it, during the winter months, I would rather hibernate.

But springtime is different. I wake up and come to life. Just like the seeds.
It always amazes me how a tree can look dead during the winter only to blossom at springtime and maybe bear fruit later in the year.

 Planting new seeds in the yard and see them grow. It makes me think of my own plans. Some of the the seeds I plant for myself are growing fast and some are longer to come through and may need lots of "fertilizer" and patience.

I have tried to make plans many times, but for some reason many of them never seem to succeed long term.

So I took a look at what I was doing wrong. To me it is not difficult to loose the extra 7 pounds, but keeping it off is a different story. I know, that I have to work out and eat less.

The thing is, I am an emotional eater, so it is easier said than done, when it come to eating less. And I must admit, I am not too keen on working out. I find it boring and I wish I could drag myself to do it. I am willing to try something new, but for some reason, when I do find something I like, I don't stick with it. I get bored. I wish it wasn't like that.
I also find it difficult to go to new places with new people. I feel intimidated. I know it is all in my head, but it is stopping me from doing the things  I really want to do.

I have been taking an inventory of my soul and I have found that very often, when I make plans, I haven't thought it through. Here are some of the tips I came up with to reach a goal.

Formulate in a positive way.  Just like, you can't go to the ticket office and say, : I DONT"T want go there" In order for you to reach a desired destination, you have to tell the person at the ticket office where you DO want to go.

Just like you say to yourself. I don't want to be sick. Or I don't want to be overweight. Just for fun try this little experiment.  Don't think about your car. In order for you NOT to do it, the picture of your car pops up in your head, even if it is just for a split second. Our systems doesn't understand the word or command not. 

When I realized that, it made me see the mistakes I made and I could redirect my thoughts.

So always formulate in a positive way.

What is it you want to achieve?
When do you want it to happen?
How does it feel when you have achieved it?

What is your proof that you have reached your goal?

Put a strategy in place.

Make a plan, have a timeline. If it is a big goal, maybe make smaller goals along the way.  Maybe if you feel to overwhelmed, you give up.

One of the most important questions you can ask yourself is, is this something I can do myself or can there be inner or outer challenges.

Are there negative sides by achieving the goal? Is the goal in conformity of who you are? 

Prioritize. If you are being challenged, then ask: will this get me closer or further away from my goal.

If you are too busy reaching your goal, you don't see where you are.
If you are too busy seeing where you are, you can loose focus on your goal or where you are going.

You enjoy the apple while eating.

Have passion. Believe in what you want. Believe in who you are.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Are you a victim or a victor?

One of my teachers once said, that if your past is your present, you have no future.

 I believe it is right. We all have gone through something painful in our past, that forms who we are.
Sometimes we can get stuck in the past or maybe even in the present and it is difficult for us to move on.
Whatever it is we are going through, one thing I know for sure, life goes on with or without us.

I miss Martin and some days are worse than others.

Even if I know in my heart of hearts that there is a spiritual solution to everything, I have to admit, I am only human and some days I have to get off the spiritual wagon, just to feel sorry for myself for a while.
I don't want to deny any emotions, however I don't want to swim around in them and starting to become a victim again. 
 I usually give myself a designated time to be sad, down, depressed or whatever it is I want to feel.  I allow myself to fully embrace the sadness, I had denied myself so many times. By accepting and embracing the difficult feelings, you give them a voice and you can release them.

It is nice to get attention and support when feeling down and depressed, but it is a fine line, because what if you become dependent on other peoples support. That keeps you stuck in the present and not being able to move forward. You become a victim. After a while, other people get tired of it and  move on and maybe out.

I remember, when Martin was born and we first found out that he was brain damaged, I didn't want to take it in or accept it.
I felt, that if I didn't accept or take it in, I could still live in the illusion that he was going to be fine. Part of me liked the attention I got from others. Maybe that was part of why I didn't want to fully take it in. I have spent years holding down and numbing these difficult emotions.

We all need a coping mechanism, but some become very self destructive. Some use drugs to numb the pain, maybe alcohol.  My drug of choice was food.

But what if the coping mechanism is not psychically destructive like drugs, but more mentally or spiritually? Isn't that just as destructive?  I believe it is.

When you have two parts in your heart/head, fighting each other which one do you listen to? Most people will listen to the denial part. The part that takes us away from pain. That is natural. But we can't avoid pain forever. It has a tendency to reappear.

Sometimes it is difficult to take in the thruth, even if it staring at us. I didn't want to take in that Martin was a sick as he was. Maybe you have been diagnosed with an illness and wont accept it or maybe you have financially difficulty, but are in denial and keep spending money.

I had to ask myself, who am I or who will I be and become, if I truly accepted Martin was as sick as he was.

If you feel stuck in the present for whatever reason, maybe it is time you ask yourself, who am I if I truly accept everything about me, ( illness, divorce or whatever it is that is keeping you from moving forward)

I did accept that Martin was as sick as he was and I did accept that his days were numbered. It changed my outlook on everything.
But again, it was a fine line, because finding a spiritual solution, meant I didn't have to cope the very human emotions that was building up.

This morning I felt sad. I missed Martin. I think about him every day, but some days are tougher. My spiritual side, knows he is well and in love and light and that gives me comfort. But the human and mother side is missing my child and my arms feels empty. But by allowing the emotions to be there and really turn up the volume by listening to music and looking at photos, I can release them and not be overtaken by them and becoming a victim again.

The two side are now in balance and when that happened, I moved from being a victim to becoming a victor.

Martin is part of my past, but I taken the best part with me, so I can keep moving forward in life. I owe it to him to make the best life for me that I can.

You owe it to yourself to make the best life for you. So ask yourself,  am I a victim or a victor?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Can a procedure change your outlook of life?

It is said that doctors and caregivers make lousy patients. Now I know it is true.

Yesterday I was a patient. Apart from giving birth, ( which was a traumatic experience) I have never been a patient.
However I have been a caregiver for 17 years and I have been in hospitals and O.R's countless of times. In Denmark it is allowed for a parent to go into the pre-op to stay with the child until they are asleep.
Every time Martin had go through operations, I was the last person he saw before he was put under general anesthetic,  and when he woke up, I was the first he saw. I believe that made it a little easier and less scary for him.

I had done so many times, that it was just a normal part of life for me. 

Suddenly it was different. I was the patient.

There is colon cancer in my family, so even if I am not yet 50, I asked my doctor if I should be tested. I was told that if you have colon cancer or polyps in the family, you should start being tested at 40.

So yesterday was my time to be a patient. I had to have a colonscopy. 

I must admit, I was scared. I don't like anything that messes with my head and making me give up control. Knowing that I had to have a general anesthetic didn't make it better. 

Mike drove me to Plainville and on the way I tried to breathe deeply and relax. Didn't really work. But I had also asked for angels to be in the room with me. Turned out, they were all angels.

After checking in, I was met by a nurse who took me to a very small room, where I had to change into the very non -sexy hospital gown.

While sitting there waiting, I couldn't stop thinking about Martin and I just started crying. I thought of all the times he was been in hospital, going through so many kinds of procedures.
How scared he must have been.
It all came back to me and I was crying more for him, than for me being scared.

The nurse came back in and tried to calm me down. I told her what was wrong, when asked.
It turned out that she herself had lost a son and for that we had an instant connection.

I was put in bed to wait my turn.

 I was cold and my headrest was to high, 
Last time I was in a hospital bed was during the delivery. I remembered how I wanted to press the button to call the nurses, but didn't.
I waited a little too long before I called the nurse, but I finally did and I was proud of myself. Small step for others, giant leap for me.

I waited about an hour before anesthesiologist came to me.  She was so beautiful and very calming. She told me that I would be given propofol, which made me think of Michael Jackson. It was pretty clear to me, that I was not the first to make that connection, but she assured me that it was safe and got a bad reputation, because of what happened with Michael Jackson.

I was wheeled in and they all did what they could to make me relaxed. Knowing I was surrounded by women helped.

The anesthesiologist told put in the propofol and literally 3 seconds later I was out. Actually felt quite nice.

All of a sudden it was all over and I was in the recovery room . Don't remember how I got there.

I got some crackers and juice. I heard Mike's voice and that felt good. That meant I could go home shortly after.

I got dressed and was helped to the discharged chairs.  The doctor came in and told me that all was well and I don't have to be back for 5 years. Then I was discharged and went home.

I feel this was a turning point for me in many ways.  It was like a surrendered to the procedure and for the first time since Martin's death, allowed myself to just let go and be vulnerable.

I don't have to be only the strong one or always being right.

So in more ways than one, this was a good procedure to go through.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

I believe in signs.

                                   I am not leaning against the wall. Not easy to do with so much clothes on.

I have made an "agreement" with the Universe, that if "they" want me to do something, "they" will have to give me a sign. As I stubborn person, according to my husband, I need more than a sign. I need 3.  I want to make sure it is the right thing for me.

I have to be careful what I ask for, because I just got the 3rd today. 

I know the benefits of Yoga. Not because I practice it myself. I don't.  I have tried it a few times over the years, but I have the idea, that I have to be able to bend like a pretzel, and let's face it, I can't.

I would find a studio, which offered free trial, just to try it out, but I never stock with it, because I felt so discouraged about how rigid I was. Instead of sticking with it and becoming better. I gave up.

Not long ago, I was diagnosed with osteopenia ( not osteoporosis) and it scared me.  I am now paying the price for some bad choices I have made earlier in my life.

I know that weight training and exercise is good for many things, but I must admit, I find it really boring and expensive. So I have been looking at something I could enjoy and maybe Mike could do it with me.

My good friend Brigid has often mentioned yoga. She is very much into it, but she never pushed, which I appreciated.

2 days ago she sent me an email, where she talked about how good it would be for me. 1st sign.
Yesterday, I had to go to my chiropractor and I told him about the osteopenia.  He recommended Yoga and as it turned out, he had his own studio very close to where we live.   2 sign.

Mike was there as well and we talked about how good it would be for both of us. He gave me a leaflet  and I could see that there were many different types of classes, many times a day.

I must admit, I was starting to see the light, but I knew I needed more more sign. Yes I know, I am stubborn.

Mike and I have a ritual on Sunday mornings. We make our morning coffee and take it back to bed to watch morning TV. Very relaxing. 
Normally we watch the same program, but for some reason, it was quite boring this morning, so I channel surfed. I stopped at PBS which had a program, that sounded interesting even if we really, at that time, didn't know what it was about. Normally I would have continued, but for some reason I stayed and watched and found out that the program was Easy Yoga for Arthritis.  Sign number 3.

I will call the Yoga place on Monday and try it out. 

Being a Lutheran, I technically don't have to give up anything for Lent, but I think I will this year.

I will give up bad excuses. ( don't laugh, that is a tough one for me) and I will do yoga. Hopefully I can get Mike to join me.

I will keep you posted and maybe I can have a better yoga picture than the one on top.  

Monday, January 10, 2011

Shedding the pounds of pain.

I don't really like this picture of me, but it is the only "before" picture I have. This picture represents my personal "worst." I was 155 pounds. Yes I am wearing a bulky man sweater, but I was at my biggest weight ever. I think it was taken last fall. Not even when I was bulimic was I this heavy.

I moved to the US shortly after my son Martin died.  Smart people say, that after the death of a child you should not do anything drastic. Not move, not take a new job, not start a new relationship. I did all of that and then some.

I know, I am an emotional eater.  Of course I didn't always know, but I use food as a coping mechanism. Cheese and sugar was and  is the favorite.

A couple of months ago, while I was still in the process of writing my book, which was a very powerful and personal journey for me. I went through all the emotions I was writing about.  I felt Martin's presence and when I wrote the chapter about his death, it was as if he died all over. It felt so real.
I was constantly in a state of stress and emotion and I may not have been the easiest to live with.

One day I was driving in my car, feeling upset. My body was tense and tears were lurking, just waiting to be set free. 

I had some candy with me and as soon as I had some, I could feel how my body would start relaxing. I know that sugar is just as addictive as heroin. It releases the same joy chemical in the brain.
Even if I have known that for a long time, I really didn't completely get it, before that day.

I have tried to loose weight before and I would loose and reach a certain level and I would give up, not really knowing why.

What happened was, I didn't know who I was, now that I had lost the weight. The extra pounds had served a purpose. They protected me from the outside world  and when I simply couldn't or  wouldn't deal with the emotions, which now surfaced after the weight loss, food would get them back down. 

So I put it all back on and then some. For years I yo-yo'ed.

During the fall and winter 2010, I watched was I was eating and I lost 10 pounds. I still have 10 to go, maybe 15.

After what happened  in the car, I wanted January to be a sugar free month. I wanted to get out of my sugar dependency.
I still do but I realized that this is not just about sugar or the emotional eating. If I don't deal with the issues, which makes me eat to begin with, I will loose the weight, but I will most likely put it back on.

I don't mind looking at myself in the mirror. I am not obese, but the pounds I need to shed now is
the pounds of pain. And they are much harder to deal with.

We put a lot of identity in what we do. It is even in our language. I am an electrician, I am an accountant and so on.   While Martin was alive, he was my identity. I was Martin's mother. But not only that. He was my job. I got paid by the government to take care of him. It was a privilege to spend so much time with him, but the downside was I lost my own identity, who I was.

When Martin died I lost that identity. I didn't know who I was.  And before I could figure that out, I had moved to the US and gotten married. I don't regret that at all, but I must admit, because of the timing of meeting Mike, moving over here to a place I had never been to, not knowing anyone, figuring out who I was, was not my top priority.

While I was writing my book a lot of the grief was released and I was very aware how I used food and candy to keep the emotions at bay. It worked. That is why it has been difficult for me to keep the weight off.

But the time has come.  Now it is about me and the pounds, who has been my "friend" for far too long.

The reason I want to blog about it is to make myself accountable. It is too easy just to fall back into bad habits.

It is time for me to step into my greatness, to become the best Anette I can be. I know I am way on my way.

Martin is in heaven and in my heart and I have to find out who I am now. I know I am a good wife, friend, co worker, speaker, writer. In short, I am a child of God.

I am the woman who needs to loose the last 10 pounds. maybe 15.

I will no longer be dependent on sugar for support.

Will you support me?