Distraction Attraction

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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20 thoughts on “Distraction Attraction

  1. Oh my god, it’s like you’re talking about me…
    I find it superhard to be home alone. Right now, because I can’t work, I’m here alone from about 7 a.m. till 7 p.m. That’s hard.
    That’s the reason why I try to avoid being home. You know what I usually do when I don’t want to be alone? I go to grocery shops. We have 4 different supermarkets here and I spent hours watching food labels etc. I watch people who are buying fat and sugary foods. Because I feel obligated to buy something, I just pick an apple or two carrots and go home.

    I also have better habits :), like reading, cleaning up, playing with my cat Otis, searching some good recipes to make.
    Or I bake some sweets for my family and friends, but not anymore because my boyfriend also wants me to eat those things and I just can’t.

    A few weeks ago, I lived from meal to meal. I always was thinking about what my next meal could be and how I could reduce my calorie amount…
    Now I feel more relaxed and I just try to eat intuitively. It feels better, but I still have a long and hard way to go.

    Hug!

    • How has intuitive eating worked for u as far as calorie counting?? I was doing really well NOT calculating n I’m sad to say I’m getting back in the habit! I also used to spend hours at grocery stores wishing I could have things my brain would not allow. I wish u luck my dear. You are not alone if u need support!

  2. I prefer to go the distraction route. I love arts and crafts too and I find knitting to be a great technique to use when I’m having negative thoughts. If I don’t have something else to focus on then I fear I won’t ever get out of the negativity.

    If you like board games you should try Settlers of Catan. It’s my whole family’s favorite game and I just introduced my suite mates to it last week and we’ve played every night since!

  3. One summer during undergrad, my schedule was as follows: wake up before 6; walk to school; practice for 4-5 hours; gym; walk to Barnes&Noble; read until they kicked me out at 11; walk home (2 miles in the dark…smart); eat; bed. I pretty much just lived in the bookstore to avoid food, and I wouldn’t bring any money, either. I’ve also spent lots of time writing in bookstores or coffee shops or random other places.

    Sometimes, distraction can be great, but other times it’s just prolonging the inevitable and it’s best to deal with the issues face to face. 🙂

  4. I love all these ideas!! Sometimes I really do need a way to distract myself so Im not constantly thinking about food. Dont let the guilt get to you, you cant help your hunger.I love your positive attitude towards it all!!

  5. Great post and I really like all of your ideas! I used to (and still do to some extent) the same thing you did… with going to random stores, driving around, etc to not think about food. But learning to cope with your feelings is all part of this annoying process because you’re right, food is everywhere!
    Keep your head up CJ.. these feelings of discomfort will pass

  6. I do the same thing. I usually hit up stores like TJ Maxx and Ross and look at the home items, haha. It used to be the clothes, but now I’m smaller than a size 4 which is about the smallest those stores carry, so yeah… home items or shoes.

    Sorry to hear about the cookies. I usually give excess baked goods like that away, fortunately I have a bunch of coworkers who love them, haha, but I know how you feel. A few weeks ago I cleaned out my cabinets and honestly felt kinda good that I was donating food because I wouldn’t be the one eating it… weird, I know.

    Good luck with honoring your hunger. I’m trying to lately. Last night I woke up at 1:00 super hungry and ate a big handful of almonds. Normally, I wouldn’t eat that late (ED), but I guess if my stomach was growling, it was trying to tell me something…

    • i often bring treats into school. that has been helpful! and congratulations on honoring your hunger!!! thats such a huge step! have u tried the cinnamon roasted almonds? omg they are amazing!

  7. I always read when I need to distract myself. If I’ve got a good book I can easily dive into it and never even remember what happened beforehand that I needed to be distracted from! And as far as thinking over thoughts, I do best when I write them out! I’m not a talker when it comes to those things, so writing is my outlet, and I have the journals to prove it!

    • i love reading too! ive been in a rut lately though! i read so many good ones last year and now I cant find many that measure up! any suggestions?! i know you loved the historian too which is my favorite!

  8. I love these lists- although sorry to hear you are struggling with negative body image *hugs* hope your week gets better! Thank you for a wonderful post on distraction though, I really find it helps to have distractions during and after meals… I love all those ideas and use most of them myself! Scrapbooking I used to love but agree- it can get so expensive! And time consuming, with my study now it’s hard to really set aside ‘enough’ time to focus on it. But I love writing myself, and doing other arts and crafts, love video games as well, hehe!! I also love doing puzzles during meals- like logical ones that really make you think and keep you away from the focusing TOO much on the meal itself and the act of eating (but as long as you are still eating lol) particularly when I’m really struggling. And I am totally the same with TV!! Haha.. can definately relate! Anyway I hope you are feeling better!!! I love reading your posts and it sucks reading when you aren’t doing so good. Keep up the awesome work though x

    • i love hugs thank you!!! and puzzles are a GREAT idea! i have always wanted to try sodoku! maybe i should pick one of those books up! or my husband and I will play words with friends via our phones haha

  9. Wow, when you explained that you used to go from store to store to get your mind off food totally resonated with me. In the darkest times of my ED I think I spend more time in malls or bookstores than the gym or my own home because when I finished my workout and didn’t have to be at school for a class or at my part-time job, I would fill my time with mindless “shopping” or perusing at the bookstore JUST so I wouldn’t have to be home. And why did I stay away from home so much? Because I was afraid it would lead to a binge! I steered clear of food as much as I could and would only arrive home if it was “time” for my meal.

    It was so sad and so pathetic… 😦 And I thought I was the only one who did that!

    Although it’s still hard to be home with food, especially because like you, I seem to always be hungry too, I’m realizing I can’t run away forever. That cycle is just TOO effing tiring, hard, and boring. I don’t want to spend my free time walking aimlessly around stores because I’m afraid I might eat something when I’m hungry! It’s truly as ridiculous as it sounds typing it out.

    So good luck girlie 🙂 And I too find that a lot of the activities you listed help you get your mind off negative thoughts!

    • nooo you are definitely NOT the only one who does that! I still find myyself doing it sometimes and I really need to get away from that behavior. If my body is hungry its probably trying to tell me something! im sad you can relate, but as always it is nice to know im not alone! good luck to you my darling!

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