Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Equine Assisted Mindfulness – Week Two   Leave a comment

My second session was Tuesday night, and it started with a review of what was covered during the first session, and also a check-in on how my homework went during the two weeks in between sessions.

Now, I have to admit that I wasn’t very good at keeping up with the homework.  I was asked to try to meditate, in one form or another, every day, but I didn’t actually start until the first weekend after the first session.  Sitting still and tagging my thoughts so I could let them pass through my mind without dwelling on them worked somewhat – sometimes I did it without an issue, but sometimes I couldn’t help but dwell on the thoughts, or yell at myself for getting distracted when I was meant to be focusing on something specific.

I’m not very kind to myself.  Then again, isn’t that partially why I’m in this program in the first place?

Anyway, my best attempt at “sitting still” meditation occurred last Sunday while I was in the pool waiting for a friend to meet me.  I laid back to float while I waited, and I ended up clearing my mind and focusing on nothing but my breathing, and the feeling of the water enveloping my body, and the sound of it lapping against the walls.  My mind cleared, and I actually got what it means to be in the moment – as I floated, I was completely and totally present.

Floating experience aside, I generally did better at meditating while moving (mostly swimming laps) than while remaining still.  So, I relayed this, and Jo indicated that we’d be doing a walking meditation during the session, and that she’d also email me some guided meditations to listen to, and a video to watch.  So, there’s that.

We talked about the table I completed in minimal detail; I get the feeling it was meant to be an exercise on recognizing my own judging mind rather than something to be shared.  And then we moved on to the topic of the session: non-judgement.  As in the last session, we did a reading and then a discussion – the topic of the reading was non-judgement and we talked about the difference between observing and acknowledging, and judgement.  We also talked about applying mindfulness when judgement is inherent – say, when watching your child misbehave, or when eating a fantastic meal.

Jo shared a quote from What the Buddha Taught by Walpola Rahula that I think I may be able to apply to my own mindfulness practice (although the quote is actually about meditation):

“Here is no attitude of criticizing or judging, or discriminating between right and wrong, or good and bad.  It is simply observing, watching, examining.  You are not a judge, but a scientist.”

This appeals to “logic brain”, although I think “Depression Brain” may have issue with it.

After the discussion, we did a walking meditation around the old track and then through the pasture.  Jo and Jess walked behind me so I could focus on my steps and not be distracted from the environment.


The air was heavy with humidity, and I was sweating buckets the entire time, but the walking meditation worked.  I focused on the way my leg lifted and how I planted each foot on the ground, and after a bit was able to really be in the present moment.  The tracked curved from one side of the pasture to the other, through the woods, and I noticed things while I walked, but without judging them: the sound of the cicadas in the trees, for example, were soft at the start, then heavy and loud in the center, and non-existent at the end of the track.  Birds were singing, and fluttering in the canopy and the undergrowth.  The ground under my feet was uneven and dry but not hard, and it wasn’t difficult to keep my balance.  The temperature was significantly cooler in the center part of the walk than it was on either end – all in all, even though I was concentrating on my steps, I was still able to observe what went on around me, and I did it without judgement.  The pasture part of the walk went nicely as well; I interacted with the horses who came to see me, and being under the open sky in the sun was as pleasant as walking the track.

Overall, I’d describe the whole walking meditation as a good experience, and I think I might even be able to recreate something like it for myself, if I can find a good space to do it.  It helped, of course, that there was no one on the walk other than me (and Jo and Jess, of course).

After the walk, we moved to a small paddock and started a horse-specific exercise: I was asked to move one or both horses through a set of cones and then into a boxed-off area (with cones) where they should stand still.  Neither horse wore a halter or a lead rope, and neither piece of equipment was available to put them.

The first thing I did was look around the area.  The cones were small ones and made a pathway from one end of the paddock to the other (right to left from where I first entered).  The boxed-off area was in the top left-hand corner.  Against the fence on the lower side were two hula hoops, and on the ground in front of me were two pool noodles.

I ignored all of the props, aside from the cones themselves, and went up to Trooper (the dark bay that I dubbed “I’m okay” in my first week).  I rubbed him, and scritched him, and told him what a good boy he was, and he stopped eating grass to pay attention to me.  I then took a few steps away, and he followed me, so I repeated the sequence.  Then, he decided to eat some grass.  I kept petting him and talking to him, and then took two steps away and patted my thigh with my hand, and called “C’mon, good boy.”  He came right to me.

When I walked away the next time, Trooper followed me, but when I tried a third time he just stood there.  So, I went back to the first method.  Between the two, I was able to lead Trooper through the cones and into the boxed area, where I petted and rubbed him some more.  All in all, it took about 10 minutes.

I decided to try the same thing with the second horse, and so I went over and rubbed her and talked to her.  She liked it it, but she also wanted to graze and the methods that worked on Trooper didn’t on her.  I did manage to move her across the paddock a bit by leaning passively on her – if one leans on a horse, they’ll move – but when the time was up I still hadn’t found the exact method that would get her to follow me (although, I suspect if I’d had carrots it would’ve been simpler).

Jo and Jess came into the paddock and asked about how I’d felt during the exercise, and if I got upset with the horses at all…and I was surprised by that.  It never occurred to me to get upset with the horses, and I tried to explain my reasoning to them: a horse does what it wants to, and I was always taught that the secret to dealing with them is to make them want to do what you want them to do.  Jess then asked if I noticed any judging mind, and I told her that I was judging my own actions by how effective they were…but with the mindset that one thing not working didn’t mean something else wouldn’t work.  And on that positive note, the session was done.

So, what did I get out of this session?

I learned that miss horses more than I thought I did, and that I want to take Trooper home with me.  I figured out that approaching my situations from a place of discovery and learning rather than judgement keeps me from getting frustrated, and allows me to be kind to myself…and I also now have a game plan to do some walking meditations on my own.

Currently, I don’t have homework; as there was a technology fail during my session, Jo was unable to print out the Week Two packet for me.  She’s going to email it, and we’ll schedule my next session then.

(I’m going to try not to worry about Week Three until it arrives…but the topic is food-related.  I’m a little nervous.)

Equine Assisted Mindfulness – Week One   Leave a comment

Last Thursday night, I started an Equine Assisted Mindfulness program at Standing Hope Equine Therapy in order to help with my emotional eating.

I had my intake appointment several weeks ago and managed to forget about the fact that I was supposed to start a week ago last Tuesday…so I’m a week later than I wanted to be, but I’m trying to practice this thing called “radical acceptance” to prep for week two and I’m not going to go on and on about disappointing myself.  The thing already happened and I don’t have a time machine; I need to keep moving forward.

(Not bad, eh?)

Anyway, I thought it might be helpful to keep a record of what happens during each session and also the homework I’m assigned so I can track my progress, what works for me, and what doesn’t.  I also thought it might be nice to do it as a running review of this particular program.

My sessions are at Scarborough Fair Farm in Chester Springs, PA, and  I don’t think I can do it justice in words, so I’ll put up two photos I took last night.

Standing Hope 1 9Jul15 Standing Hope 2 9Jul15

Look!  Alpaca!

In addition to the alpaca, there are chickens and goats, and cats (five individuals came to talk to me yesterday). And, of course…horses.

I love horses.  I love the way they look, and the feeling of their muscles under their hair.  I love the way they sound, even when they’re just breathing.  I love the way they smell, all earthy and vegetative and deep.  And I love riding them.  I started taking riding lessons in the second grade (age 7), and I know I was put on horses prior to that.  I get horses.  I understand horses and, usually, they understand me.

So, the session started with a review of what mindfulness was, and we went over some of my patterns and picked apart what my inner critic (judging mind?  I think?) tells me.  I told them (did I mention there are two therapists all for me?) about my “useless/worthless” script (more on that in a moment), and we teased out when it’s most likely to happen and when I’m able to either ignore it, or push it aside.  It turns out that I’m pretty good at pattern recognition; check out the list below:

Mindless, emotional eating happens:

  • In the evenings, between coming home from work and going to bed,
  • When I don’t have something specific to occupy my mind, because
  • That’s when judging mind comes in to tell me how useless/worthless I am.
  • And…it is more likely to happen when I am by myself.

I was also able to piece together the fact that the mindless eating only silences the voice while I’m actively doing it.  Once I stop, the voice starts again and I might go refill my bowl again.  I say might because I don’t always do it…and sometimes I do it over and over again until I am full.

So, once we picked apart the patterns and talked about them, we read from a section of the Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook that was about radical acceptance.  I actually own it; the amazing Dr. Barb and I worked through some of it during my five years with her.  Anyway, the gist of this particular reading was that radical acceptance means accepting something completely, without judging it, and that creates opportunity for responding to situations in new ways.  For example, I have issues dealing with my youngest brother – he criticizes and says things that imply that I am stupid, or lazy, or inferior to him.  I tend to react in certain ways to this, some of which are harmful to myself.  But, if I find myself in a situation like that, I don’t have to do what I’ve always done.  I could look at the situation, accept that it is happening without thinking about what I could have done to avoid it, and then move from there.

It’s a little freeing to think that I can unstick myself, but also a little terrifying.

After we finished the reading, we went to the barn, and I met three horses.  I spent a little time with each one, petting and talking to them, and then got the chance to walk each one down the aisle and back.  The first horse, a mare, walked a little faster than I was expecting, and I wasn’t really focused enough on what I needed to be doing to lead her effectively.  The second horse, a dark bay gelding, walked really well for me – I suspect he’s a bit of a push button horse – and I felt more like I knew what I was doing.  The third, a very large grey, was new to the program and he didn’t know what he was supposed to be doing, and I did not take the lead that he needed.

When the walking was done, I was asked to “name” the horses according to the following pattern:

  • Numbing – mind on autopilot, not really concentrating
  • I’m okay the way I am – pleased with how things are going
  • I’m <insert negative adjective here>

I named the dark bay “I’m okay”, the grey “I am totally out of control”, and the mare “Numbing”.  The last was by default, and when I mentioned that, I was told that often that numbing state is a default.


I was told to pick a horse to groom, and I chose “I’m okay”.  I took him out, led him to the cross-ties, and then spent a very happy time (fifteen minutes?  maybe?) grooming him with curry combs and brushes, and I became totally focuses on that activity.  My mind cleared, and I thought about nothing but getting the dust and dirt off him and which spots he liked having brushed and which ones he didn’t.  The time flew – when I was done, I couldn’t believe it.

We then took all three horses out to be turned out, and I walked “I’m okay”.  He was excited to go out, but I (mostly) managed to keep him in check until we were in the pasture and his halter was removed.  Then, he and “Numbing” cantered off to join the rest of the herd.

We closed the session by discussing how I felt during the grooming session, and then how I felt at that particular moment.  I was surprised to admit that my mind was completely clear – no thoughts hanging over me, no inner critic, nothing.  I felt lighter than I had in days.  We talked about other ways to get the same lightness and clear mind, and I agreed to complete the following homework before my next session:

  • Take five minutes each day to sit quietly with my thoughts.  I’m to let them come into my mind, tag them with a category, and then put them aside.
  • Take time to do some moving meditation – walking, swimming, etc. where I focus on nothing but the movement.
  • Complete the “Thought Grid” from the DBT exercise – this means listing a distressing situation, what my old/current coping strategies are, and the unhealthy consequences of those strategies, then what new coping strategies I could implement and what the possible consequences of those new strategies could be.

I’m going to keep writing about each session, and about how the homework is going, in the hope that it will support this entire process, and also in the hope that it might be helpful to someone else?

New Therapist   1 comment

So, I’m going to see a new therapist on Monday since my previous one closed her practice.  I’m not sure how I feel about this but, based on my last post, I am definitely having a mini crise and not playing nicely with my food, or my appetite, or my body image.

I think it is funny that I think I’m going off the rails enough to warrant taking myself back to a therapist – and all I really wanted to do was schedule an appointment to introduce myself in case I needed something in the future.  Turns out, this is the time my food issues decided to resurface.  Yeah, fuck you too, brain.

When I spoke to the new therapist yesterday to make the appointment, and I mentioned that I felt in crisis, they asked if I was safe.  Yes, I’m safe, I said.  After all, I’m not thinking of harming myself in any way, except possibly through potato chips.  And that makes the potato chips unsafe, not me.

Good thing there aren’t any in the house, right?  No self-medication through food or drink here – the stuff I binge on isn’t available, and I’m not going to the store.


Food is a Monster   Leave a comment

I love food.  I watch cooking shows, and read cookbooks for fun, and would happily try a new restaurant every single night.  Food is comfort.

I hate food.  I categorize foods as good or bad, healthy or unhealthy, and vacillate between restriction and overindulgence.  Food is misery.

I’m trying Weight Watchers again, along with a modified version of the DASH plan.  I don’t know how many times this makes that I’ve tried squeeze myself into the WW model – it worked once, and so I keep going back to it even though I have enormous issues with the mixed messages I get.  I’m also exercising more often, largely because I’m in the water three days a week and it doesn’t make sense not to swim laps when I’m there…and I’m sure it is making me more fit since I’m not getting winded as often, but I am not (to my knowledge) shedding a single pound…and my brain starts the endless loop all over again.

Have I mentioned that I actually haven’t been on a scale in six months, because seeing the number is a trigger?  Have I mentioned that I know that there’s no direct correlation between being overweight and being unhealthy, and that I encourage people to be happy in their own skin even as I try to peel my own off?  Have I mentioned that I have dreams about machines with gripping pincers that attach to the lower abdomen and just pull the fat person out of my body?

I think, although I can’t really remember, that I originally kept on weight after my son was born as a kind of armor to protect myself from being treated as a sexual object…even while being pleased to be objectified.  And once the weight was on, it was easy to add more.  I’m not sure about this, though – it feels right, but incomplete.  Also, no matter how fat I get, there are always people who want to fuck me – and I think they’re surprised by it.  They shouldn’t be – if nothing else is going for me, I’ll always have my kavorka, and so keeping weight on isn’t really armor in that sense.

I might have kept the weight on as a rebellion against my parents, since my son and I lived with them until he was six, and my mother was constantly harping on what I ate, and how much I weighed, and why didn’t I get on the rowing machine now???  Still, it’s been twenty years now; shouldn’t I be past all that?  And then I remember that I still don’t eat what I want to eat when I’m with my parents – I eat what I think they think I should be eating…and here comes the loop again.


I think it’s time to figure out how to work with this monster, how to feed it and fuck it senseless, because the ways I’ve been trying to fight it aren’t working, and I want some fucking french fries now.

Bad body image!  No biscuit!

Posted October 13, 2014 by veggiewolf in Depression, Food, monsters, self-esteem, Triggers

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FJ7 – 24Feb2014   Leave a comment

Last day!  Tonight I’m going to treat myself to a drink (or two)!


  • 20 oz. Wawa regular coffee with light cream and 2 splendas
  • White chocolate macadamia Clif Bar
  • Fruit and Nut Kind Bar

(Side note – Wawa is a convenience store found in Southeastern PA, New Jersey, and Delaware.  It rocks.)


  • Salad from grocery store salad bar (spinach, mushrooms, broccoli, cucumber, peppers, red cabbage, one scoop black bean salad, one scoop potato salad)
  • Low-calorie Gatorade
  • Honey mustard pretzel chips
  • 33 oz seltzer

Pre-dinner snack

  • Sea salt bagel chips
  • 3 oz Bombay Sapphire, over ice


  • Baby carrots
  • Single serving guacamole
  • Brown rice with corn and black beans, mixed with…
  • Amy’s breakfast burrito
  • 2 glasses pinot grigio

Posted February 25, 2014 by veggiewolf in Food, Triggers

FJ6 – 23Feb2014   Leave a comment

Almost done!  Woo!


  • Pumpernickel bagel with cream cheese (shmear)
  • Coffee with liquid sucralose and half-and-half


  • 33.8 oz seltzer (plain)


  • Green Giant Garden Vegetables
  • Pretzels
  • Guacamole (two 90 calorie packs)


  • Cheese tortellini with garlic and oil
  • 33 oz seltzer
  • Homemade ice cream sandwich – 2 waffles, banana split ice cream, 1/3 banana
  • Remainder of banana


  • Popcorn with butter and salt

Posted February 24, 2014 by veggiewolf in Food, Triggers

FJ5 – 22Feb2014   Leave a comment


  • Venti Caramel Macchiato (Starbucks)
  • Chocolate croissant (Starbucks)


  • Homemade nachos (see FJ4)


  • Birds’ Eye Vegetables and Shells with garlic sauce
  • blue corn tortilla chips
  • Low-calorie Gatorade


  • Celery sticks
  • Single serving hummus
  • Pretzel shells
  • Banana split ice cream

Posted February 22, 2014 by veggiewolf in Food, Triggers

FJ4 – 21Feb2014   Leave a comment

Breakfast (7:30 AM)

  • Two bowls of Puffins cereal
  • 1 cup almond milk, unsweetened
  • 12 oz seltzer, lemon-lime

Morning snack (10:30-11:00 AM)

  • Coffee with liquid sucralose and heavy cream (2 tbsp)
  • 12 oz raspberry lime seltzer
  • Banana

Lunch (12:50 PM)

  • Amy’s Mexican tofu scramble, mixed with
  • 1 90 calorie pack of guacamole
  • 1/2 bunch celery


  • Homemade nachos – tortilla chips, Amy’s spicy chili, cheese, and sour cream
  • Low-calorie Gatorade

Posted February 22, 2014 by veggiewolf in Food, Triggers

FJ3 – 20Feb2014   2 comments

Yes, I’m already getting tired of this.

Breakfast (9:00 AM)

  • Pumpernickel bagel with cream cheese (shmear)
  • 17 ounces of seltzer (plain)

Midmorning (10:15 AM)

  • Coffee with two drops liquid sucralose and half-and-half (2 tbsp)

Lunch (noon)

  • Kung Pao noodle bowl (Simply Asia)
  • Remainder of seltzer from bottle (17 oz)

Snack (3:30 PM)

  • Herr’s Old Bay potato chips
  • Bottle of Coke Zero

Dinner (6:00 PM)

  • Amy’s Mattar Paneer
  • Baby carrots
  • Single serving of Sabra hummus


  • Popcorn with butter and salt
  • 1/3 pint Banana split ice cream

Posted February 21, 2014 by veggiewolf in Food, Triggers

FJ2 – 19Feb2014   Leave a comment


  • Puffins cereal (2 bowls)
  • Generic sweetened crunch cereal (1 bowl)
  • 2 cups almond milk (unsweetened)
  • 8 oz seltzer (plain)


  • Coffee with liquid stevia and heavy cream (2 tbsp)
  • 16.9 oz bottle of lemon-lime seltzer


  • 1 package Birds’ Eye vegetables and shells with garlic sauce
  • 12 oz can seltzer (raspberry lime)
  • 1 green pepper, sliced
  • 1 single-serve tub of Sabra hummus
  • 1 cucumber, sliced


  • Sweet potato roll (sushi – 6 pieces)
  • Tuna avocado roll (sushi – 6 pieces)
  • Rock and Roll (sushi – 6 pieces)
  • Tempura appetizer – 2 pieces shrimp, 1 piece broccoli, 1 piece zucchini, 1 piece lotus root, 1 piece sweet potato
  • 12 oz low-calorie Gatorade

In addition, 1 33 oz bottle of plain seltzer.

Starting tomorrow, times will also be included.

Posted February 20, 2014 by veggiewolf in Food, Triggers