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Distraction Attraction

Posted Sep 27 2011 8:03am

As I have complained many times before, negative body image is killing me this week. I feel bloated, like nothing fits, and can barely stand to look in the mirror.

I also feel like I can’t stop eating. I have been wicked hungry, non-stop since this weekend and I am having trouble either honoring my hunger, or dealing with the guilt when I do. I am embarrassed to admit I actually threw a perfectly good batch of pumpkin cookies on my driveway (I tried to justify it by claiming it was an accident) just to avoid seeing them on the counter. So although I don’t necessarily advocate this behavior all the time, and definitely not the one I mentioned in the previous sentence, I sometimes rely on distraction as a means to deal with boredom, or post-meal stress.

There was a time in my sickness when I would literally avoid being in my house so I didn’t have to be near food. I would go to Kohls, TJ Maxx, browse through the library for hours on end, anything I could think of to get away from my kitchen and the temptation of eating. I try not to do this now because honestly, food is everywhere, so I really need to come to terms with the idea of moderation, and the fact that my body does need it.

If I’m hungry for lunch at 10:30, so what?! I’m not going to go on a shopping spree as a means to distract myself from my meal until noon. I am going to make myself something nutritious, and delicious, and find an activity I like to do as a lunch-time follow-up.

I realize everyone likes different things, and I have told you before that I am a person who needs my mind and body engaged to truly be distracted. It doesn’t always work, nor does it completely prevent negative thoughts from popping up, but its at least worth a try AND can help you get back in touch with old hobbies, or help you find new ones.

If I am home alone…

Being home alone is my arch nemesis. Remember a few weeks ago when Ryan was away, my sister was MIA, and the flood occurred, cooping me up in my home for days on end. During that time I did a lot of writing.

I love to blog because it’s a good way to express myself, and de-clutter the mess within my mind, but I also like to write poetry.

I once thought poetry was stupid, or depressing and incomprehensible when we were studying Emily Dickinson back in middle school, but the awesome thing about poetry is there really aren’t any rules. You don’t need to rhyme, or follow sonnet form. You can simply write whatever you want, as long as it helps, or asserts what you are feeling, seeing, smelling, etc.

I have a journal full of random things I wrote but the only poem I have shared with anyone is actually in the Eating Disorder page of this site.

It may be a little confusing, but its pretty close to the dialogue that goes back and forth in my brain at all times. One afternoon when Ryan was sleeping to get ready for his night shift, I couldn’t stand the war any longer, and focusing on a poem really calmed me down.

Even if you aren’t keen on the idea of poetry, perhaps journaling is for you. I used to laugh at my therapist when she suggested picking up a pen and scribbling down my thoughts, but now, it has been my savior. Reading through old entries has taught me many things, and provided solace when I fear I wont be able to move forward in recovery. These older entries, of anger, resentment and hopelessness, show me exactly what I have to celebrate now; progress. Don’t tell my therapist I am admitting she was right, because I seriously hate hearing “I told you so.”

This will sound like I am a five-year old but I love arts and crafts.

Scrap booking is probably my favorite, which I do not do often because it is CRAZY expensive, but I also like to color, make collages, cards, decorate folders or bedazzle clothing. For some reason rhythms and patterns of materials, actions and the attention to detail that comes with crafting is really good for putting my mind at ease.

If you aren’t totally into this suggestions try making a card. I for one do not purchase cards at the store because they cost a fortune and there never seems to be one that fit’s the occasion, or exactly what I want to say. Easy solution: MAKE MY OWN. My mom loves getting cards from Linds and I that I made filled with old pictures, funny memories and of course, the demonstration of love. So save some money, make others happy, and distract yourself through crafts. I’m telling you, it sounds cheesy by it works!

I love video games.

Wii is my favorite, which obviously there are some physically exhausting varieties that I do not condone if you are on exercise restriction, but there are also cool games like Jeopardy! I don’t know if I have shared my obsession with Jeopardy but Ryan and I watch this show every day. In fact, I DVR it for when he’s not home. I get so excited when I know the answers, and when I don’t, I learned something new! So if you have a game console that has any version of a quiz show (I also love Disney’s variety!!!) it’s an awesome way to keep your brain active on something other than those negative thoughts.

I personally can’t watch TV and just watch it. I have to be doing something else while having it on in the background, but if I have on a show that I love, it usually takes my mind away from destructive thinking, and is instead entertained by the plot.

This is an awesome time for TV because all the good shows are coming back on! Please tell me some of you are fans of Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill, Parenthood, Biggest Loser, BOARDWALK EMPIRE…gosh I feel like such a TV junkie telling you all the new programs I am excited for, but there is no better time than NOW to use the TV multi-task strategy. Seriously, take advantage of these awesome shows, stat.

When someone is here to help entertain me…

We are a board game loving family.

When I was growing up, one Friday of the month someone would host a game night. This meant all the extended family got together over drinks, potluck dinner and a variety of board games that we would play for endless hours, laughing, being competitive and just having a good time. We loved Taboo, Scattergories, Bananagrams, Apples to Apples, Trivial Pursuit, and so many more. I probably sound like a total nerd now that I told you that story, spending my weekends with family and Milton Bradley, but honestly these games are great for a good laugh, and are an awesome way to distract yourself.

There are a bunch of other suggestions I could offer, but at the risk of boring you to death with a ridiculously long post, I will leave you with one final idea.

How about talking to someone.

If you are lucky enough to have someone physically near you, that’s great, but in the age of technology, you can typically find someone who is willing to converse. It doesn’t have to be about your emotions, or a current situation that is bothering you, but feeling connected with another is one of my favorite reminders that all this negative self-talk, needs to go the hell away.

There are more important things than being skinny, running for 3 hours, or isolation so you can engage only in comforting behaviors.

I hate to give one of my old instructors in the Hershey program credit for this, but she used to always tell me “Relationships replace eating disorders, CJ, remember that!” Gosh it was like she lectured me every, single day. But anyway, she’s right.

Whether you have someone in your life NOW, or are trying to rekindle old friendships, one of the best ways to overcome the obstacles of recovery is finding support, and having interests. These things can only come through relationships.

So Diane, thank you for pushing me to make connections even though I was scared, because without some of the people I have in my life today, I would probably be dead, or still existing, but very, very miserably.

Do you distract yourself when negative thoughts come your way?

Or do you find it better to sit, digest (no pun intended) and assess the thoughts you are having?

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