Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Happy Holidays

I leave tomorrow for a week--I'll be at my father's house in Denver. I'm hoping for a little more sun than we've had in the gloomy Midwest.

And for all of you, whether you celebrate Chanuka, Festivus, the Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa or a special day of your own devising...I hope your holidays are bright and happy. Thank you all for being a lovely part of my 2007. Here's wishing all of us a peaceful, joyful and healthy 2008.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Adventures in Feminine Hygiene

As I’ve gotten older, my periods have gotten lighter and lighter. I even have an IUD (the copper kind, not the progesterone kind), which is infamous for resulting in very heavy periods. Not for me. My periods are light enough now that my faithful friend the OB tampon just doesn’t work well for me any more, and as a result, I’ve started using ultrathin maxi pads. Ick. I’ve never used pads; from the very start of my menses, some 30 years ago now, I’ve used tampons. But now there just isn’t enough flow to warrant their use; they’re uncomfortable and leave me all dried out and…well, it’s just not working. And the pad thing? Not loving it.

So. What else? I’ve known about and been sort of interested in the idea of the menstrual cup for several years, but I had never tried one. I bought a box of Instead, the disposable ones once, and they just don’t work for me, though I know people who use and like them. Besides, part of what I’ve liked is the idea that I could use something repeatedly rather than discarding one or more of them daily. There are cups made of silicone or rubber that you insert, remove, wash and reinsert. It seemed like it might be time to try one, so I ordered one from this website and received it last week.

It’s a MoonCup, and it looks like a cute little silicone bell, or a little hat (a friend of mine, who disapproves of all the Goddessy names given by the manufacturers, dubbed mine the CooterCap. Fine with me.). I have read about how it takes some time to get used to using them, so I wasn’t expecting my CooterCap to become my BFF the moment I unwrapped it. But still. My first couple of interactions with it have been less friendly than I expected. Granted, I don’t have my period now, and many people have said that it’s hard to practice when you’re not menstruating, so I assume that’s part of my problem. The first time, I was able to insert the Cap OK, but then I couldn’t get it out. I’m not a person who has any problem interacting with her anatomy on a fairly intimate basis…so I wasn’t afraid to stick my fingers in there and get to tugging. But it had formed a fairly strong bond with the wall of my vagina, which I think is the point—that’s how you prevent leaks. It took a few tense minutes to figure out how to break the seal and extract the CooterCap, and then it kind of boinged out of my hand and across the bathroom.

Hm. Trial two, which was a couple of days ago, didn’t go that well either. Insertion went smoothly—you’re supposed to fold the Cap up in a particular way, slide it in and then let it open once it’s inside you. I folded and slid, and then felt it open up, as promised. And, OW. It felt like someone was poking me from the inside with their knuckles. Damn. Fortunately, removal was easier this time.

So, despite these difficulties, I’m looking forward to trying to use the CooterCap during an actual period. I’ve read repeatedly that it takes 2 or 3 cycles before you really get the hang of it, so I’m remaining optimistic. I really do like the idea of less waste, a one-time expenditure (though at this point, near the tail-end of my menstruating career, how much am I really saving, for either the environment or my wallet?) and the potential for a method without the drawbacks of either pads or tampons.

I’ll report back…And in the meantime, if you're interested in learning more, there's a nice little tutorial here.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Thin Dreams Die Hard

I’ve been consumed lately with the un-fun task of getting my grandmother’s estate underway and debating with my siblings the merits of keeping farmland vs. selling it off. Ugh. In the midst of all this, a friend sent me a link to a post over at Shapely Prose, and it really hit home. It’s all about the things we tell ourselves will be different when we’re thin. Have you done this? God knows I have. For years I’ve had this running list in my head:

Once I’m thin…

  • I’ll find a fantastic man.
  • I’ll be more outgoing.
  • I’ll travel more, and to more exciting places.
  • People will find me more interesting.
  • I’ll smell better.
  • I’ll be fitter.
  • I’ll be outdoorsy and will learn to love kayaking, hiking, snowshoeing, etc.
  • I’ll be happier.

Wow. WTF? I could go on and on with this list. It’s absurd. The post at Shapely Prose talks about self-acceptance, both of body size and of the strengths and limitations that make up a personality. It talks about understanding that the things we’re not good at, or are afraid to do, or don’t like to do, are not necessarily because of our weight. They’re because of who we are, for better and worse.

Me? I’m not especially outgoing, and that’s not going to change if I’m a size 10 instead of a size 20. People already seem to find me interesting. I have already traveled to some pretty cool and exciting places, thanks. I’m pretty sure that the outdoorsy thing just isn’t me—I’m darn fond of a comfy bed at the end of the day, and I don’t really like being hot, or cold, or not having access to indoor plumbing at will. Give me museums, cities and culture any day. Those things may be a little easier on the feet at a lower weight, but would it change what I like, what I choose to do and what I’m good at if I lost weight? Of course not.

And yet. It’s hard to give up the fantasy. It’s hard not to continue to believe in parts of it, like the one about the fantastic man. Do I know big women who have found wonderful men? Of course. And I also know that it’s my feelings about my fat, rather than my fat itself, that gets in my way. I know this. And yet.

What are some of your thin fantasies?

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Best We Could

So. It’s been a couple of weeks, and eventful ones. The day after I wrote the post before this one, I got a call from a cousin telling me that my grandmother was not doing well. I drove down to central Illinois to see her, and I was shocked by how much she had faltered since my last visit, which was only three weeks before. The retirement home staff told me that a good friend of hers had passed away a few weeks earlier, and she had essentially decided that she was finished. She had stopped eating and stopped taking her medication.

So I called my brothers and my cousin, and eventually everyone got down there to be with her. She died on the following Monday the 19th. I miss her, but it’s hard to be sad for her, in a way. She was 99 years old and had been ready to move on for several years. She had told me many times in the last few years that she has outlived everyone—her siblings, her husband, her two daughters and most of her friends. As we sat together in the hospital that last weekend, she said “I’m 99 years old. I’ve had a good life and a good family. I don’t want to be 100.” She died as she lived—a tough, stubborn woman who knew what she wanted and made it happen.

I always had a kind of difficult relationship with her. I have one cousin; she’s four years older than I am and has always made more conventional life choices than have I. Even when we were kids and teenagers, she was learning to cook and sew, and I was reading and drawing. Her family lived in a small community nearby, mine had moved away from the Midwest when I was a baby and had always lived in the suburbs of big cities. With the benefit of grownup perspective I see that my cousin was just more familiar to my grandmother. They made sense to one another. But growing up I always felt unappreciated and unseen.

Once my mother died, I tried to get closer to my grandmother as a way to stay connected to that side of the family. I remember trying really hard to think of things she would want to do with me (cards? Scrabble? Looking through antique books? Drives in the country?). I once spent a bunch of time researching a particular kind of glassware that she collected so that we’d have something to talk about when I came to visit. None of it worked, really, and ultimately I just had to learn to be content with our imperfect connection. One day we were talking on the phone as I was nearing the end of graduate school, and she said to me “I don’t really understand what you do, but I’m sure proud of you.” That brings tears to my eyes even now. I still wish we had learned not to be such strangers to each other, but I think we both did the best we could.

Friday, November 16, 2007


A friend asked me tonight if I’m feeling vulnerable lately. Me? Vulnerable? I immediately listed off all of the ways that I’m not at all vulnerable: a stable, well-paying job, a bunch of good friends, wonderful siblings, a fine apartment, etc. But I heard myself blathering around the question and tossing out all kinds of words meant to express that OK, perhaps I am feeling something, but it’s not vulnerability, for heaven’s sake. Maybe disorganized, unmoored, at sea, not grounded…any of those. My friend kindly let the euphemism-mill slowly wear itself down, and what was left was that word.

So yeah. Vulnerable. I guess so.

It’s a couple of things, I think. The holidays are coming, which are never my favorite time of year. They remind me of how much I miss my mother, who died several years ago. Since then, I pretty much hold my breath starting about now and wait for January 2. More immediately, my father and grandmother are both experiencing health problems and are both old enough that anything could signal the beginning of the end for either of them. My relationship with both of them has been complicated, so my feelings about their mortality are complicated too. And though I am 41 years old, an independent and gainfully employed adult, I suddenly don’t really feel old enough to negotiate a parentless and grandparentless world.

Vulnerable is exactly the word.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Boys are Scary

Just in the last few weeks I’ve had some interactions with men that were sort of …flirty, I guess. This is a surprise to me, and I don’t ever quite know what to do in response. Or if I want to respond, even. It’s a very confusing issue for me. In one instance, a friend and I had stopped into a small jewelry store, where most of the stuff was made by the proprietor himself. He offered to fix my friend’s necklace while we browsed, and as he worked he turned to me and said “I’m Guy.” It took me a moment, for some reason, to understand that he was introducing himself to me, but I got it together and introduced myself back. He asked what I did, and we talked briefly about doing therapy with young soldiers recently returned from Iraq. Turns out that he has a MS degree in counseling but has been doing jewelry for years. We chatted a little longer, he finished my friend’s necklace, I bought some earrings and we left. My friend pointed out that he seemed really interested in me, which I had not really understood in the moment. It just seems so improbable. The second instance involved a man I run into professionally now and again, as we seem to end up at some events together. The last time we met I didn’t have a business card to give him, which he remembered this week when I saw him. He said “Yeah, last time I gave you a card, and then I went back to my office and checked my email over and over, thinking Why isn’t she emailing me?? Again, in retrospect, it seems flirtatious, but in the moment there’s something in me that just doesn’t read it right.

So what gives? My lack of self esteem regarding matters of my appearance isn’t something I think about much or care to dwell on, because it feels unchangeable. I just can’t believe that someone would look at me and find me attractive. I can believe that someone could fall in love with my personality and come to find me attractive, but to be attracted just to my physical self? I just can’t picture it.

When I’m working with someone who has a belief that seems ironclad, I always have to wonder about the function of that belief. So what’s the function of my continuing to believe that I’m fugly? It’s about safety. It’s not like I have some horrible history of abuse at the hands of my father or other men in my life, but nor have I ever felt especially able to be vulnerable. Closeness feels really, really risky. And it sounds like such a cliché, but my father was always (and continues to be, even though I’m now over 40, for God’s sake) really critical of my physical self. Seems like it’s hard to detach myself from that mirror, or to trust that to open myself up to someone else will not leave me feeling criticized and humiliated.

So, how dumb, right? I meet up with men who make it fairly clear that they think my physical self is more than acceptable, and it still freaks me out. It’s as if I think they must not be able to really see me, but if they got to know me they would peer closer, and all my flaws would suddenly become apparent. And so, here I am once again. It’s not the physical at all, but the more global fear of being known.

Sigh. I was visiting with a friend earlier this evening, a woman who’s also a psychologist and who is currently coping with some significant depression. She said “I feel like a mental patient.” I said “We’re all mental patients.” And I think we are, in one way or another.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Feeding the Hunger

First the good news. After my Pilates class yesterday, I couldn’t tell what muscles I’d used, as I felt like I had spent an hour rolling around on the floor like a hooked fish. But today I can tell. My abdominals are pleasantly sore, as are the insides of my thighs and the muscles in my butt and lower back. This is good news to me, as I often feel like I’m not doing the exercises right and I’m using all kinds of compensatory muscles since my abs are so weak. So it's cool to have evidence that I'm actually using the right muscles after all.

As I have alluded to in past posts, though, I’m really pretty out of control with eating again. This is starting to feel really crappy. Yes, I seem to be losing some inches because of the exercise, but I’m eating unhealthily, and it feels nasty. I know that when I limit my carbs I have more energy, I don’t fade in the middle of the afternoon, and I sleep better. I also just feel more in control, which inspires more global feelings of well-being and self worth. I haven’t been bingeing lately, exactly…I’ve just been making consistently poor choices for meals, snacking a lot, eating huge portions, etc.

So what’s the deal? It’s weird to me that I’ve managed to start working exercise into my life, which has been a HUGE stumbling block of mine for the longest time, but I can’t seem to manage that and healthy eating at the same time. I think a bit of the problem is a logistical thing: The exercise takes a lot of time, and the cooking and eating well takes a fair bit of time, and I haven’t worked out a schedule for myself that allows me to do both. On the nights I’m at the gym I don’t get home until after 8, and my tendency has been to do the fast food thing as I drive between work and the gym (I know. How gross is that? A Quarter Pounder on the way to work out). Sometimes I’ve managed the foresight to pack some extra string cheese or something in with my lunch, and that gets me through the workout. What I need is to plan to cook on the weekends so that lunch and a late-afternoon pre-workout snack is an easy thing to grab.

But. As usual, the real issue doesn’t have anything to do with making time to cook. It’s a psychological thing. It’s about feeling pouty and put-upon and just not wanting to have to restrain myself in any way. It’s about wanting to be accepted the way I am. It’s about wanting to stick it to my father, who has, for nearly 40 years now, been waiting to see me lose the weight (there were a few years there at the beginning where he thought the chubby baby thing was cute).

And you know what else? There’s this one bit of unfinished business between me and my ex-boyfriend, with whom I broke up a year and a half ago. I’m a signer on a bank account of his, and I’ve never taken the initiative to email him and say “Hey—you probably need to find someone else to do this for you.” I’m assuming that this will involve meeting him at the bank, and I caught myself thinking the other day that I ought to wait until I lose some weight, so that I look really good when I have to see him. So. Avoidant soul that I can be, I’ve set it up so that as long as I’m fat, I don’t need to address this issue. I don’t have to endure the anxiety of sending an email, of calling the bank to figure out what, in fact, needs to happen, of perhaps having to see him, after all this time… And the big bonus is that I get to keep eating!

Sigh. Whether or not I choose to face the ex-boyfriend bank account issue at this particular point in time, I think it’s time to start working toward healthier eating again.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Pilates Sucks Ass

Pilates class number two this evening. Last week was beginner’s luck, or the honeymoon, or the calm before the storm, or some other metaphor that would capture just how incredibly, suckingly sucky class was tonight. I felt like a giant, fat flailing infant, unable to even hold my head up correctly. The instructor didn’t talk to me at all tonight, which made me feel as if she had totally given up on me and was just going to let me roll around back there as long as I appeared to still be breathing. I said something to that effect after class to my friend J, who came with me. She wisely pointed out that I was all embarrassed last week because I got a pointer from the instructor, and this week I was all sad because I didn’t. What do you want? she asked. Good question. What I want is to be 70 lbs thinner and really fit. Failing that, I guess what I want is the courage to keep showing up and sucking, until I suck no longer.

Here’s one bit of goodness, though, to keep me slogging through the suck. I went shopping for grey pants Sunday. In the past, I’ve been about a size 22, but I could get into certain 20’s if they were stretchy or cut right. On Sunday, I tried on about 10 pairs of pants in a bunch of different cuts, fabrics, brands, etc., and I was a size 20 in all of them! And not even a tight size 20, but a comfortable, right-in-the-middle-of-the-range size 20. Woo-hoo! It’s not a lot of change, but I’ve also been eating like crazy (fodder for a future post, I believe), so it’s gotta be the exercise. Exercise, you’re a nasty beeyotch, but I might decide to keep you around.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Pilates Sucks, and Pilates Rocks

I went to my first Pilates class tonight. It sucked, and it was pretty cool. It feels like it’ll take forever to get the hang of—I could never remember to keep my abs tight, clench my thigh muscles, make my spine long and breathe in and out when you’re supposed to, all at the same time. Oh, and this thing called ‘bucket breathing,’ where you’re supposed to be inhaling into your lower back or something. Huh? At any given time I was probably doing one of those, or maybe two (except I’m pretty sure I was never bucket breathing). Not to mention the fact that my abs are so weak that I’m not sure I even worked them out very much—for me, it’s sort of like trying to exercise your hair. It just doesn’t move.

Sitting her right now I can feel that my thighs are going to be sore, and my lower back, and my ass…but I can’t really feel anything in my abs. I wonder if it’s going to take a few weeks to even get those muscles to the point that I can really work them.

A few things were hard for me:

1. I was the biggest woman in the class by quite a bit. There were clearly women that hadn’t been doing it for long and seemed a little lost and prone to flailing around, but nobody was very large at all. Except for me. I tried to put it out of my head and just focus on being there (and on that whole impossible list of things we were supposed to be doing all at once), but I definitely felt a more than a little self-conscious.

2. I hate being imperfect at things, and I was definitely imperfect at this. I felt like I was going to fall over and hit my head, even when I was lying on my mat. I had to keep reminding myself that it will become more natural over time, and in the meantime I just have to keep trying.

3. I have trouble asking for or accepting help. The instructor came over early in the session and corrected my posture on an exercise, and I felt like a total reject. Then, later on when she was correcting others on things, I began to worry that she had decided I was a total lost cause and she wasn’t even going to try.

Neurotic much?

But I’m going to go back, because I could see how this would result in some great toning, and I’d be really proud of myself if I could get to the point that I could really do the exercises. Unfortunately, I can only make one class a week because of my work schedule, and that seems less than ideal. Oh well…I guess it just means that I’ll be in flailing beginner mode for longer than I’d like. Core strength, here I come!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Great Workout Mysteries of the Universe

Since I’ve been working out with some regularity, one thing about it has been just baffling to me. At least for me, there are days when I go, and I’m happy enough to be there, and I sweat and work hard and I don’t much mind it, and I feel good when I leave. Then there are days when I work at the same level of intensity, and it’s insanely difficult. I feel miserable every second, and it sucks and it is so hard, and I am pretty sure I’m going to quit any second…and then it’s over and I feel good.

The thing I don’t get is why it’s hard sometimes and not others. It doesn’t seem to have much to do with how energetic or positive I’m feeling, how much sleep I got, how busy my day was, what I've eaten, etc. It doesn’t even seem to have to do with getting into a groove where I’m exercising a lot. Take yesterday, for example. I hadn’t been to the gym in at least a week. It was a busy work week with a lot of evening stuff, and I had my period and felt crappy all week, and I just didn’t get there. So I went to the gym yesterday thinking that it was going to suck and be difficult because I was kind of out of the groove, but I would just suck it up and it’d be fine again soon. So I get there, and it’s crowded, and immediately my iPod freezes, so I don’t even have music. Then the headphone jack on the elliptical machine I chose was broken, so I couldn’t get audio for the TV screen. So, I watched (but couldn’t hear) some show called Good Pets Gone Bad (people who survived animal attacks—everything from housecats to trained bears. Seriously.) and did my 30 mins on the elliptical.

And here’s the part that surprised me—it was the easiest 30 mins I’ve ever done. I wasn’t draggy and cranky and miserable, the time didn’t crawl by and I wasn’t making bargains with Jesus to get me through it. My heart rate didn’t even get up as high as it usually does. Normally I get myself up into the 150s and stay there for the 30 mins, but this time I peaked in the mid 120s. Weird. Did fitness come to call while I was taking a week off? Is this how everyone experiences their own improving fitness?

Prior to now, progress has been more subtle—I turn up the resistance on the machine every couple of weeks and/or add 5 minutes onto my time and/or increase my speed, then it feels hard for a while and then in a week or two I’m ready to increase one of the variable again. This, though, was just a really notable change., and at a time when I was expecting the exact opposite. Interesting.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


One thing I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is readiness. I look back on successful attempts to change anything in my life, and it seems as if there’s some hard-to-define but important attitude shift that makes it possible to at least get started and endure the preliminary discomfort of making sacrifices and adopting new habits. And there are so many more unsuccessful attempts, where that attitude shift wasn’t there, and I spun my wheels for a while and then just gave up.

Take now, for example. I’ve been pretty focused lately on getting myself to the gym as many nights a week as I can. Something in me just clicked and allowed me to march myself into the gym, pay the signup fee, buy the clothes and the bag and the water bottle and the iPod and risk looking like a big, chubby, uncoordinated dimwit 3-5 nights a week as I attempt to work out. Something has made that possible.

And, just as interestingly, right now I seem to lack the indefinable something that I would need in order to get my eating into a principled and controlled place. I haven’t been at all careful about what I eat, and while it’s certainly not as bad as it’s been at times in the past, I’m aware of eating less well and healthily than would be ideal.

So what is it? I think after a time it becomes momentum, where the changes take on their own weight, and the change barrels down the hill on its own. At least for me that seems to be the case—whether it’s weight loss or exercise or some other life-change, I can feel the different behaviors become habits after a time. But what about the very earliest stages of change, where you not only decide you want something to be different, but you actually act on that desire and see it through until the momentum can take over? That’s the part that feels like kind of a mystery to me.

In my Great Weight Loss Experience of 2000, I remember approaching the whole thing like a time-limited experiment. I chose to use the Atkins approach, and I remember thinking that I’d give it a couple of weeks, eat according to their crazy plan and see what happened in my body. And then I could stop if I felt like it. Two things happenend: 1. I lost 12 lbs. 2. I felt good. At that point, both of those things gave me the motivation that I needed to continue. But I don’t for the life of me remember what gave me the gumption, the courage, the motivation, the whatever, to make all those changes before I knew what was going to happen.

So what’s the difference between then and now? I could embrace a particular kind of eating back then, but now I just can’t be bothered. And yet I seem able to make another kind of change in my life by exercising regularly. I’d hate to think that I have some finite amount of change-readiness in my psyche, and I can only take on one thing at a time. Or, worse yet, that I am only able to choose one healthy lifestyle behavior at a time. All I know is that there’s some kind of a click, and sometimes I get there and sometimes I don’t.

Oh, and I weighed myself this morning, and my digital scale told me I weighed 4 lbs. Either it’s time to buy a new scale, or this gym thing is REALLY working for me.

Sunday, September 9, 2007


So, I’m back. I’m not sure what this extended absence was about, exactly…other than just feeling distracted and focused on other things in my life. It’s funny, though—while I didn’t feel like keeping up with my own blog, I was still motivated to keep up with all of you whose blogs I read regularly. I continued to stop by and read what was going on for you, though I didn’t comment much. I guess I needed a little vacation from writing.

I missed you all while I wasn’t writing. It makes me realize that I have a nice little group of friends here in the world of self-improvement blogging, and that my own active involvement helps me stay connected to people I’ve really come to like and feel close to (you all know who you are *smile and wave*).

So what have I been up to? Getting used to my new job, mostly. I’m very lucky to be working exactly where I wanted to be, though the position itself is not what I would’ve designed for myself. It makes me realized that I had gotten very comfortable with the types of people I used to see for psychotherapy, and those folks exercised skills in me that were already strong. This new group? Wow. It’s a whole different ballgame, and I’m working muscles that haven’t gotten much of a workout before. These are younger guys, mostly, and all newly returned from combat in Iraq. They’re not sure that they want therapy, or what it might do for them, and they’re still pretty sure they’re going to be able to cope on their own. Yet many of them are pretty miserable, and things in their lives aren’t going well. The guys I used to work with, in the residential rehab facility? They were pretty sure that they weren’t managing on their own all that well, and they were mostly willing to accept help. So, it’s new, and it’s weird, and it’s got me in that place of discomfort we all feel before we start to grow and stretch and ultimately become better at what we do.

I see that I’ve been using lots of physical metaphors here. That makes sense, I guess, because the other new horizon I’ve continued to explore has been getting fit. I think one of my last entries here was about joining a gym, and much to my own surprise, I’ve continued to go on a pretty regular basis. I’ve been managing to get there 3-4 times per week, and I’m starting to miss it on days that I don’t go. I’ve gotten into a routine that makes me puff and sweat some but is also kind of meditative somehow, and I like it. I’ve been using this elliptical-like machine, and I’ve been increasing both resistance and length of time I’m on it…I’m so ridiculously out of shape in terms of cardiopulmonary stamina that it’s taken me a while to be able to work hard enough to make my muscles burn, but I’m finally getting there. I do a half hour on the elliptical, and then I go walk a mile on the treadmill to cool down, which usually takes me about 20 mins. I’m still way, way too shy to hire a personal trainer; one of them just sort of randomly made eye contact with me yesterday, and I about ran and hid. Well, one day…when I’m feeling braver. I need some help with beginning a weight training program, so when I’m ready for that I’ll have to hire an expert.

Interestingly, in all of this, my eating has become completely out of my control once again. I’ve hardly tried to rein it in, but it’s getting to be time. I’ve got a comforting little exercise routine, and while my job continues to be stressful, eating everything that I can get my hands on doesn’t actually help. You’d think, after all these years, I would not have to prove that to myself again and again. But some lessons seem to take a while to sink in.

So, there you have it. Thank you all for allowing me to stay connected to your lives, and welcome back to mine.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Checking in and Catching up

OK, I totally forgot to weigh in on Sunday or today. I think I’ll just scratch it for the week and get back on schedule next Sunday.

Last week, though, was a good week for New Body Experiences. I went to the gym twice to work out, which makes me feel like a rock star, if a rotund and easily winded one. The first time I used the elliptical machine for 27 minutes and the second time I lasted for an even 30. I have a ton of questions about things, like how to cool down afterward, what kind of stretches are good, etc. So I think it’s time to use my complimentary personal trainer sessions, which perhaps I’ll do in the coming week. Here’s the weird thing for me about this whole experience: while I’m actually exercising, I HATE it. I feel icky and clumsy and puffy. But afterward I kind of look forward to going again. Crazy! Some of it is just the novelty of the experience, the fact that the gym I chose is kind of swanky, etc. But I’m hoping to get to a point where I actually crave the exercise itself and miss it when I don’t do it. I’ve been at that point at other times in my life, and it’s great. Well, we’ll see.

The other thing I got to do was try Tai Chi. In my new job, I’ll be co-facilitating a relaxation group for vets recently back from Iraq, and my co-facilitator is a nurse who does a lot of meditation and martial arts. I sat in on one of his groups last week, and he was teaching Tai Chi. It was interesting and made me think that I might like to take a class in it. I’m finding that it’s kind of fun to experiment with moving my body in different ways, even if those ways feel odd and ungainly.

And in other, non-body related news, I am finishing up my post-doc this week, with many sad goodbyes, even though I’ll just be in another part of the hospital. I had my final Monday night dinner at the halfway house tonight, and they bought me a card and fixed lasagna in honor of my ethnicity. Cute, and kinda sad. I’ll miss those guys. I said goodbye this morning to a patient I’ve worked with for about a year now. She’s a 75 year old lady that has been processing some very difficult stuff from early in her life, and it’s been an intense working relationship. She said this morning that our parting was “like losing a little sister,” which just broke my heart. This is the hardest part of what I do. Even when there’s great satisfaction in what you’ve helped someone accomplish, the ending can be so, so hard. It’s going to be an emotional week, and a food-laden week, too. I just don’t feel like watching myself and worrying about what I consume, and I’m not sure I’d have the resources for it if I did. I’m just going to be in the moment and see what comes this week. After that…we’ll just have to see.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Luna Joins Up

Woo-hoo! Get ready to be proud of me…I joined a gym tonight. I agreed to go with my friend who is already a member, just so I could check it out a little bit. She assured me that it’s a friendly, low-key place, with lots of awkward and un-fit people of all ages and sizes, and that I’d feel perfectly comfortable. I was skeptical.

But you know, she was right. The membership woman who showed us around was young and friendly, and she had hips and thighs big enough to make me feel sort of happy and un-judged. My friend went and got down to business on an elliptical machine, and I just decided to get over myself and join. My fee includes most classes, including pilates and water aerobics (Thanks, *S*!), which are two classes I’m particularly interested in. It also includes three sessions with a personal trainer, which I definitely plan to use. But for tonight, I got signed up, got my complimentary newbie bottle of water and went over to join my friend on the elliptical next to hers. I didn’t know how to set it, so I just hit the ‘fat burning’ button and keyed in my age, and it told me my target heart rate and then kept track of it for me while I was using the machine. Each machine has its own little TV screen, complete with cable TV, but I quickly found out that I do better with music than TV. So I got to trudging away, and I’m surprised to say that I was able to do 27 minutes on it! Now, I at many points had to go so slowly that I got a message saying “workout paused,” but whatever. It’s a start, and yay me for taking my supa-brave self out for something new and different.

I was a little intimidated by the personal trainers I saw wandering around, particularly the guys. Some of them were huge and muscular and scary looking, but they have a couple of women as well. So, when I book my three sessions, I’ll have to ask for someone that does not look like an Olympian.

I find myself surprised that I’m a little excited and optimistic about this. It feels like a nice way to start reclaiming my life and my body after the multi-year avalanche of poor health-habits that was graduate school. I spent a long time getting my brain all fit, and now it’s time to work on the stuff from the ears down. I just have to remember to be patient with myself when it takes just as long.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Fitness Comes a-Callin'

The world is telling me it’s time to stop avoiding exercise.

First, there’s my new job, which comes complete with a fitness-fanatic partner named Andy. Andy’s a nurse and Army vet, and he’s very much into yoga, meditation, hiking, etc. He’s also a devoted stair-climber. My office, which I will be sharing with Active Andy, is on the 8th floor. Andy has promised me that he will turn me into a stair climber yet…and I told him that I would give it my best shot. Now, you may remember that one of my mini-goals was to start taking the stairs at work, and I’m kinda proud to say that I’ve been doing that. However, I never have to go higher than the 3rd floor, so it’s not really that big an accomplishment. But I do it. I have to admit, the thought of climbing to the 8th floor has me most intimidated, but I’m thinking that maybe Andy will help me come up with some kind of training program. Seriously, if I try to climb to the 8th floor now, my heart will burst and I’ll keel over dead on a landing somewhere between 3 and 5.

The second thing is my very good friend J, whose life has been full of stress in the last several months. I got an email from her this weekend (I was out of town—normally we just talk on the phone or in person), and she said that she’d been sitting on her couch all weekend, eating cookies and watching movies, and she felt crappy. She said that it was time for a change, and she invited me to join a gym with her. J has been a fit and active person in the past, but she broke her wrist badly late this winter, and it has not been healing well, despite surgery and lots of PT. She loves biking, but her wrist can no longer support her weight on a bike, so she hasn’t been doing much exercise at all. This injury, coupled with a lot of work stress, has gotten her to a point of feeling pretty depressed. Her invitation to work out together is great for me: I get to feel like I’m supporting her, and she gets to support me in my goal of learning to exercise too.

And that’s what it feels like: learning to exercise. I have always felt like the biggest, lamest loser when it comes to anything that involves moving my body around. I feel clumsy, sweaty, wheezy…just icky in every way. I’ve never learned to experience fatigue as a good thing; to me, it just reminds me that I’m fat, I’m asthmatic and I’m unfit. The asthma has definitely been a big influence here. I’ve had it since I was three, and it’s induced by allergies as well as by exercise. So all throughout my childhood, when I would run or bike or otherwise exert myself, I would have an asthma attack. We had to run every day in gym class, and I never seemed to get any fitter, though I’d run like the other kids did (though slower). Over time, I began to believe that I just couldn’t do it, especially when I didn’t perceive any improvement, and exercise made me feel sick.

So now I need to remind myself that it’s OK to huff and puff. Breathing hard is not the same as having an asthma attack. It’s OK to get sweaty and tired, because that means I’m doing something good for myself. Feeling weak and clumsy is OK, because everyone has to start somewhere, and this is where I’m starting.

Wish me luck!

(Oh, and I know…I didn’t weigh in this week. I was out of town visiting with family, and I didn’t get back until late Sunday night. I ate like a big, hungry pig all weekend, so I doubt the news is good, anyway. Next week, though. Promise.)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Weekly Weigh-In, and More Cuteness Concerns

Starting weight: 240
Current weight: 230.5
Change this week: -1.5

Total change: -9.5

So I’m talking this week to the guy who is vacating the job that I’ll be taking in a few weeks. This job, which I don’t think I’ve described in any detail thus far, involves doing outreach for and therapy with soldiers who have recently returned from the war in Iraq. Quite a bit of it will involve representing my organization to them and trying to get them to come in for treatment when they need it.

Anyway, this guy—the one currently holding my new job. As we talk, he’s going on and on about having to meet with congresspeople and the media and stuff in the course of doing this job, and I get a sudden, big pit in my stomach about how visible I’m going to have to be. How polished I’ll have to be, how articulate, how in-the-know…all things that will come with time, I know, once I’ve gotten myself familiar with the drill. But of course, the biggest worry for me is the appearance thing. It’s silly. I know it’s silly. It’s not like anyone’s going to walk out of a meeting with me, thinking “Well, gosh. That big ol’ gal sure knew her stuff, but it’s a pity that she’s just so darn BIG.” So I do some talking to myself and (sort of) get a handle on the anxiety. Then, the next day, one of my new supervisors calls and asks me to make an appointment to get some headshots made for the posters that are going to go up around the hospital of the team that I’m on.

Headshots, people.

For posters that are GOING UP AROUND THE HOSPITAL.

Shit. This feels like some kind of high school anxiety dream.

OK, at least this is a poster that will have a bunch of folks on it, so my mug is not the only one that you’ll see. Nobody will be zeroing in on my cheery, chubby smiling face. I get that. But this is such an adjustment to make in terms of how public or private my day-to-day life is going to be. One of the things I’ve always liked about doing psychotherapy for a living is that it’s pretty private. You generally sit in your office all day and talk to people one-on-one. Plenty of therapists do group therapy or give educational presentations, and I have done both of those things from time to time and like them just fine.

It’s just that I’ve never felt this much pressure to be presentable before. I don’t know what to wear for my picture, and I’m afraid it’ll be like getting a drivers’ license, where you look like you’re suffering from a nasty case of untreated malaria, and then when you went to get help the doctors beat you up. And that’s what you have to live with for the next ten years every time you open your wallet.

I mean, I’m sure if I call the folks who do the picture-taking, they’ll have some suggestions about what to wear and what colors look good, etc. They can’t help me lose 100 lbs and get plastic surgery and somehow have fabulous hair in time for my sitting, though, and that’s what I find myself dreaming of. This writing about it, though…this is helping. I sound so nutty, even to myself, that I seem to be magically gaining a little perspective as I type.

I’m just anxious about this change in my life, and about going from being a trainee to being someone who is expected to have her shit together. There’s such comfort in being able to plead ignorance or inexperience, which is always an out for you when you’re a trainee. The thing is that I never used that out. I don’t need it, and I know that. But it’s much more fun to be the intern or the post-doc who’s so advanced for her training, and gosh isn’t she talented, than the staff psychologist who is simply expected not to make a fool of herself or the institution she represents.

Here is Adult Luna speaking: I know it’ll be OK. I am so thankful for this job, and for the chance to stretch myself by learning to do something new and different. The anxiety is appropriate to the newness of the experience, and it signals the opportunity for growth and development.

Here’s Perpetual Adolescent Luna, who also wants her turn to speak: Holy shit. I’m scared. I want to be left alone, I want to just keep doing what I know how to do. These people will hate me. What people? I don’t even know, but I’m sure that they’re going to think I’m a total dumbass with rumply hair and no fashion sense.

I think for the next few months, it’s going to be anybody’s guess who’s in charge at any given time.

And while they duke it out inside my head, if anyone has any advice about how not to be crushingly, tragically fugly for the camera when I go to get my pic snapped, I’d be more than happy to hear it.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Weekly Weigh-In, and Cuteness Concerns

Starting weight: 240
Current weight: 232
Change this week: -1

Total change: -8

Whoo-hoo! I lost a pound despite having eaten out all week and not watched my intake at all. I ate loads (crabcakes, anyone?—when you’re on the East Coast, how can you not?), but I also walked all over the place. It was crazy hot, and humid enough that I think I was a bit dehydrated the whole time I was there. The walking made me super-crabby, but I can’t complain, as I came back slightly less lardy than I went.

The conference was interesting, I guess…I work for a governmental agency, and this was the first national mental health conference I’d ever been to. Lots of talking about big new programs and things getting rolled out across the country, but it all just seemed so heavy on words and light on action.

There were a few people from my particular hospital there, but I traveled and stayed with a friend and fellow post-doc. We were together the whole time, and we did lots of exploring and shopping during our off hours. She is much younger than I am, and tiny, and GORGEOUS. We wandered in to one little boutique during our wandering, and she tried on a dress that was just impossibly lovely. She glowed like the moon in it—it set off her hair, her big blue-green eyes and her skin tone in a way that was just amazing. I was so, so jealous. She was debating about buying it, and I told her that if I looked that good in anything, I’d pay whatever it cost to have it. And I wasn’t kidding.

I thought a lot about appearance this week. Being in a room with 600 mental health people, you realize that we’re not generally the most gorgeous group of folks around. I was remembering feeling nervous about starting graduate school, and I had nerves about everything from not being smart enough to not being cute enough. I confessed this last fear to my then-therapist, who started to laugh and said “Have you ever been in a room full of psychologists??” So, yeah, the bar is not that high.

But something about my new job is making me feel like I have to get it together a little, appearance-wise. My organization is generally not especially formal, but the psychologists do dress up a little more than others. I’m having that old feeling of not being polished enough, or cute enough…and I so wish that I could find an outfit that makes me jaw-droppingly, glowingly gorgeous like my friend did. I wish to just be that gorgeous, outfit or no.

I mean, realistically, I’m OK. I do a fine job at work, and my size/appearance is no barrier to doing the work that I do. I’m aware of this. I’m just wistful, I guess, about wanting to be the pretty girl I really never have been. Having a new job, and one that’s a little higher-profile than your average therapist gig, heightens those feelings for me.

While I'm thinking about it, let me say thank you to you guys who left sweet messages of congratulations for me. I'm so happy about landing a job that allows me to stay where I am, and I was excited to let you all know. Thanks for sharing it with me!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Weekly Weigh-In, and The 11th Hour Job Offer

Starting weight: 240
Current weight: 233
Change this week: -1

Total change: -7

This will be a quickie, as I’m trying to get myself packed to go to a conference for the rest of the week. So, I lost a pound, which is probably due to some combination of my period being over and having done my pilates video a few times this week.

Oh, and here’s some Really Good News: I got hired permanently today! It’s a great position at the hospital where I currently work and where my postdoc is getting ready to end. I could not be happier. The process was unbelievably fast, particularly for this institution, where progress is usually glacial. I was summoned to our mental health director’s office today, interviewed with him at 1pm, with another manager at 4pm and had an offer by 4:30. This was all for a position that I didn’t even know was available until last Friday. Unbelievable. I feel so, so relieved.

Well, I’ll post more over the weekend. For anyone who’s emailed me in the last week or so, I apologize for the delay in responding…I’m up to my ears in stuff.

Happy week, all!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Rainy Days and Mondays

What a wonderful day it turned out to be. I had a visit from a long-ago client, who popped in for a tune-up and some comfort. He was one of my all-time favorite clients, a sweet, sweet man who nearly wrecked his life with his addiction but who decided at the ripe old age of 50 to put down the heroin and crack and pick up his life again. He has done so very well, and he is now facing some terrible pain and loss in his life, but he’s handling it. I sat with him today and watched him cry, watched the tears run down his face and drip off his chin, and I ached for him and for my inability to do much for him. But I also felt so inspired by his strength and by the fact that he is facing some of the worst emotional pain a person can feel, and he’s living through it.

And then, Monday evening is the night I have dinner at the halfway house. Residents usually take turns cooking for the whole group, but today it was the staff’s turn to make dinner. The case manager and I decided to take the guys out for a surprise picnic, despite the fact that it rained most of the afternoon. We got all the stuff, stowed it in the vans we checked out and then showed up at the house as if we had forgotten it was our turn to cook and we were just expecting to be fed, like any other Monday night. Then we hustled them all into the vans and down to the lakefront for a picnic and walk by the lake. Fun! These are men who have mostly been alcoholics or drug addicts for their adult lives, and they don’t always have the best social skills, having spent most of their time drunk or high. It’s wonderful to watch them come out of their shells and start figuring that it can be fun to socialize.

I do so love my job. And as I wrote about here a few weeks ago, there continues to be a bit of uncertainty as to where I’ll be come the end of my postdoctoral year. It seems most likely that I’ll end up at a clinic a couple of hours north of here, which will necessitate a move away from my beloved current worksite, my friends, etc. I remain grateful for good days like today, but it makes saying goodbye all the harder.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Weekly Weigh-In, and New Body Experiences

Starting weight: 240
Current weight: 234
Change this week: +0

Total change: -6

Another week of no change. As I’ve said before, I’m more than satisfied with this, as I’ve not been trying at all to control my eating. The thing that is saving me from weight gain, I think, is that most of the big eating I’ve been doing has been fresh berries lately, and it’s hard to get yourself in too much trouble with fruit.

I had my first-ever massage today. I’ve always felt weird about getting one for all the predictable reasons—the massage therapist is going to be repelled by my tubby body, I don’t deserve one because I’m not physically active, I’ll be embarrassed to be seen naked, the table won’t be strong enough to hold me, etc. etc. etc. But I’ve been thinking about all the ways that I’ve neglected my body over the years and all the ways that I can work to repair that relationship now. Eating better and losing weight is certainly part of that goal—goodness knows I’ve treated myself badly by not eating right. But I’ve also treated myself badly by ignoring my body and withholding things that it would like or that would make it look pretty. In the last few years I’ve started to turn that around in small ways, by getting pedicures now and again, or getting my eyebrows waxed. Lord, I remember that first pedicure—I felt unbelievably uncomfortable, as if the person doing my feet and all the other people in the salon were thinking “Who’s the fat slob over there who thinks she’s fancy enough to be getting a pedicure??” And I didn’t start having my eyebrows groomed until I’d lost quite a bit of weight.

The truth is, as long as I was fat I was convinced that nobody would even notice if my toenails were painted or my eyebrows were shapely. I was convinced that people would look at me, trying to be pretty, and they’d shake their heads and laugh at what a losing battle I was fighting. It took losing a bunch of weight during the Great Flab-Blasting Adventure of 2000-2001 to help me take a risk and start experimenting with these kinds of things. And I’ve pretty much kept them up, even as my weight has climbed back up.

But a massage. Wow. Me, naked, with someone kneading and touching and rubbing All That Flesh. I still don’t know if I would’ve ever done it, except for that my most excellent friends pooled their money and got me a massage gift certificate for my birthday last month. And gang, let me tell you, it was lovely. I did have to do some cognitive work with myself before I went this morning, telling myself that they see all kinds of bodies, and any massage therapist worth her salt would be happy to see me doing something healthy for myself, whether I’m a size 6 or 26. I reminded myself what it’s like for me to sit down with someone whose mind has kind of gotten out of whack, and that there’s very little someone can tell me that would make me feel judgmental.

So I did it. I went in, checked in and met my massage therapist, Katy. I went into the little room with her and thought “Wow. That’s not much of a table. What if it’s not sturdy?” But it was. She left me and I got undressed and slipped under the sheet. Then she came back and dimmed the lights so low that I could hardly see her…which meant that she could hardly see me. So far, so good. The massage itself was wonderful. I challenged myself to focus entirely on the physical sensations and to let all of the cognitive stuff just melt away. Mostly, I could do that. There were times when I became aware of what felt like a lot of fat sliding around on me, but I then just returned my focus to the physical and quit worrying about it.

This experience has me thinking about the many things that make up our relationship with our bodies, and the many ways that those relationships can change. I am currently not in such a great place to control my eating, and so I’m not losing weight. I would like to change that, and eventually I will. But I also resolve to be mindful of the other ways that I can stop ignoring my body. This massage is one of those ways, and it was nice enough that I’ll try to make it a semi-regular habit.

Goals for the week:
The old regulars:

  • Take the stairs at work
  • Bring my lunch

A new one:

  • Have a new body experience. I bought a Pilates DVD some time ago, and it’s time to give it a try.

Have a good week, all!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Weekly Weigh-In

Starting weight: 240
Current weight: 234
Change this week: +2

Total change: -6

Sigh. Well, I’d love to tell myself that my two pound gain this week is attributable to the fact that my period is due soon, but I think it’s more likely due to the completely uncontrolled way I’ve been eating. Oh, and the not exercising. That too.

The small bit of good news is that I continue to be able to keep my weekly resolutions about taking my lunch to work and taking the stairs. This feels like it means relatively little in the grand scheme of things, but it’s something.

It’s been a very pretty weekend here, and I’ve spent quite a bit of it outside. I was in a crowd of people at an outdoor music event on Friday night, and I found myself looking around to see if I was the biggest one in the immediate vicinity. Here’s the weird thing: I often do that—check around to see if I stand out as the largest one around—but I am pretty much unable to compare myself to others with any accuracy. I mean, I am aware of certain facts about myself: I have brown, wavy hair, brown eyes and pale skin, I am 5’8” tall, I wear size 18-20 tops and 20-22 pants, size 10 shoes…I have the numbers down. But if you lined up 10 overweight women, I’d have no idea who was closest to me in size, whose body shape was similar to mine, etc. It’s a strange deficit.

I think the hope and fear tension I wrote about yesterday is in play here as well. I am so afraid that the first impression I give people is “Fat Girl,” and that my fat is the most immediately remarkable thing about my appearance. But I simultaneously hold out hope that the whole situation is really somehow much less dire than I fear it is…that I’m going to suddenly realize one day that I’m being much too hard on myself, and really I’m just a wee bit above average in size. I think I’m held hostage in the tension between those two opposites, and the result is that I’m just completely confused about what I really look like.

I found, during my lard-busting adventures of a few years ago, that I got to be a little bit better about actually being able to see myself as I lost weight. I got so that I could appreciate when certain things looked good on me, and that was nice. Even so, though, the easiest way for me to tell that I’d lost weight was by touch. I got so that, laying in bed before a weekly weigh in, I could put my hand on my belly flab and tell whether it had gone down or not. The visual thing has just never worked for me.

I don’t think I’m alone in this. I’ve read on many of your blogs about how your internal body-image is a smaller person, and you’re shocked to see pictures or videos that make it obvious what you really look like. I’ve certainly had that experience as well. And yet I’ve had the opposite experience too. I took some digital pics of my body to use as a baseline so I could track my progress visually (in the event that there’s some progress to record…). I looked at them and thought “Really? That’s all?” It wasn’t as bad as I’d thought. I mean, not great, but not as tragic as I’d thought.

Confusing. I’d really like to just have a realistic visual representation of my body in my head. I think it would motivate me to stick to this weight-loss adventure, and maybe it would also help me at times when I’m convinced that I’m too fugly to leave the house ever again.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Tales of Woe, Part 1: Fear and Hope

I posted an entry a few weeks ago about not getting a job that I wanted, which would have allowed me to stay working at the medical center where I currently work when my one-year fellowship ends in mid-August. It’s not a job that I wanted very badly, honestly, but it seemed like a reasonable fit for my interests and skills and it would’ve kept me from having to move. Much to my surprise (and the surprise of many others, if people are being sincere), the job went to a friend of mine instead of to me. The thing that stings is that she had no experience in this particular area of psychology, and I’ve been working nearly exclusively in this area for the last year and a half. Oh, and the person who made the decision to give her the job was my clinical supervisor, who has worked closely with me for the last 10 months or so. In breaking the news to me, he told me that my not getting the job is in no way a comment on my skills, or my value to the institution, or blah blah blah…a laundry list of things that just felt condescending, insincere and as if they were meant to keep me from bursting into tears just long enough for my supervisor to get out of my office. He also promised me that he and the rest of the administration were working oh so hard to find me a position, and that they really, really wanted to keep me working for them (not enough to award me the position that was open, apparently, but I didn’t point that out). And to be fair, I have been offered a position in the system, at a small satellite clinic in a town about two hours north of here. It’s a job, and probably not a bad one.

So, in the intervening two weeks since the decision was made, all anybody at work wants to talk to me about is this situation. Some folks want to cuss out the people responsible for the decision, which makes me feel kinda good (my favorite was a co-worker who just looked at me, shook his head and said “There are some ignorant sons-of-bitches in management around here.” I wanted to hug him). Then there are the folks who are driving me nuts, the ones who so want me to believe that there’s something right around the corner for me, and I’m just a big ol’ pessimist if I can’t see that for myself. One of these people is my friend who got the job. Her having gotten the job is not putting nearly so much of a strain on our friendship as is her nearly-delusional insistence that there WILL be a job for me, and it’ll be coming through any day now, and I’m just being irrational to not hold out the cheeriest of super-cheery hope. It’s all she wants to talk about, and it kind of makes me want to strangle her.

I don’t dare hope, at this point. To continue to hold out hope is an invitation to further and bigger disappointment. Except that I can’t seem to help it, on some level. I don’t want to move. I don’t want to leave my friends, and this city I’ve come to know and like. I don’t want to leave the hospital I work in now, with the good staff, the interesting clientele and the many growth/advancement opportunities. But it hardly seems reasonable, with the days ticking away until the end of the fellowship year.

So I’m stuck between the desire to hope and the fear of getting those hopes squashed like a grape. And I’m stressed. I always tell myself that I’m doing OK, that I do have employment waiting for me, and it probably won’t be that long before I’m back down in the city amongst my friends, right where I want to be. But one thing I know about myself is that I don’t do that well with uncertainty, and the unresolved-ness of all this is making me edgy and unhappy. I’m trying hard to cling to order wherever I can find it (keeping the house neat, having healthy and tasty food available, doing laundry, etc), but I’m just not doing that great a job. And predictably, the thing that’s fallen by the wayside in the biggest way is my eating habits. But I’m here, and as promised, I’m writing about the stuff that’s giving me fits. One way or another, it’ll settle down, and I will too. In the meantime, the writing helps. I feel calmer.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Weekly Weigh-In (aka You Get What You Need)

Starting weight: 240
Current weight: 232
Change this week: 0

Total change: -8

Holding steady for the third straight week. While I seem to be able to set small goals for myself and stick to them (climbing stairs all week? Yup. taking my lunch to work? Check.) I’m just not able to get myself together to control my eating habits to the degree that I can actually start counting down the pounds again.

So, I feel a little at a loss to know what to write here. I mean, this is supposed to be a weight-loss blog, yes? And there’s not a lot of that going on for me right now. I just feel consumed by what’s going on in other areas of my life, and I don’t seem to be able to pull it together to make good food choices on a daily basis.

Maybe I just need to be writing about those other areas. The thing is, I feel like anyone who reads this blog comes here to read about me battling my pudge, not about me whining about my work situation, my friends with difficult lives, etc.

And yet. I know that when I read your blogs, I really appreciate hearing about your lives. It makes me feel more connected to you all and to your struggles, and it’s good to know that those struggles affect your relationships to your bodies, just as they do for me. So maybe I need to get over the feeling that I’m not going to be giving you what you came here for. In fact, the issue is really that this wasn’t what I had in mind when I started this blog. I pictured myself reading regularly, posting regularly, regularly recording small losses in weight that added up over time to something I could be proud of. And this hasn’t been that.

A client said to me Friday that he wasn’t sure he was getting what he came for, but he was getting what he didn’t know he really needed. That’s the case here, too, I think. I wanted to be some kind of super-weight-loss-success-story, with a blog that people would read to gain insight and inspiration for their own struggles. But what I needed? That’s different. I think I need to be honest, to feel connected to other folks who are battling the weight and trying to forge better relationships with their bodies as they also cope with all the crap that gets thrown at you along the way. As I’ve been writing about lately, I need to give myself permission to be upset and vulnerable, and to be able to do that in the real world as well. This is an area in which I’ve made some progress, I think. I’m aware of how weird it feels to be quiet, or thoughtful, or grouchy or sad around others and not try to cover it up. The cool thing about it is that as I’ve given myself permission to be less-than-bulletproof, I’ve started to feel a little better. So, some of the weight around my psyche is coming off…maybe the weight around the rest of me will follow suit.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Tag! I'm it

Erin, over at Minx, Redux tagged me with the following meme. Thanks, Erin! Not much to say, diet-wise, but I'll post a weigh-in on Sunday and comment on the week then. In the meantime, here are some answers to some questions. If you want to play along, please do!


Ten years ago I was 31. I was living in Chicago and working as an administrative support person for the Women’s Studies Program at Northwestern U. It was, in some ways, the best job I will ever have; the pay was crap, but it was easy, fun work with wonderful colleagues who became wonderful friends as well. I was also taking courses in preparation for entering grad school in clinical psychology. That was a fun time in my life.


This time last year I had just turned 40. My friends threw a great party for me, my brother surprised me by showing up unannounced, and I generally felt like a big princess. At the same time, I was finishing up my internship and getting ready to defend my dissertation, so there was a lot of stress in my life. I was also grieving the end of a long-term relationship and realizing how very sad and wrong it felt to negotiate these life milestones without this man beside me.

1. Pistachios
2. String cheese
3. Blueberries
4. Anything with coconut in it
5. Olives

1. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
2. Love Roller Coaster
3. Dirty Work (Steely Dan)
4. Bohemian Rhapsody
5. The Hokey-Pokey

1. Buy an old house and rehab it with lots of eco-friendly materials
2. Donate money to my brother’s organization to support his wildlife research
3. Donate money to the sexual-assault prevention network I volunteered for in grad school
4. Buy my other brother a better car
5. Take a cool vacation

1. Emotional eating
2. Procrastination
3. Nail biting (actually, cuticle biting—the nails I leave alone)
4. Picking my toenails (I know…totally disgusting. I only do it when I’m alone. Like that helps.)
5. Letting my Netflix movies sit for weeks.

1. Driving
2. Taking a nap
3. Reading
4. Laughing
5. Playing with friends

I’m old enough that some of these are truly horrible memories…I should include a picture with each.
1. Leggings
2. An afro (from the Tragic Home-Perm archives)
3. Enormous glasses (my glasses from the 80s were the size of sandwich plates)
4. Shimmery eye shadow all the way up to my eyebrows
5. A jumpsuit (In 5th grade, I had a swinging denim jumpsuit—OK, I hear you laughing, but it was 1976—and in gym class I blew out the crotch trying to do a somersault. Oh, the humiliation).

1. My Prius
2. My laptop
3. My digital camera
4. My Freud Action Figure
5. Google

So...TAG! You're it. If you decide to answer the questions, drop me a comment and let me know, so I can come visit and learn something new about you.

"INSTRUCTIONS: Remove the blog in the top spot from the following list and bump everyone up one place. Then add your blog to the bottom slot, like so."

1. Lose Weight With Me
2. Kathy Calculates
3. The Pursuit of Healthyness
4. Minx, Redux
5. The Journey of a Thousand Miles

"Next select some people to tag:

1. Squilla
2. Meegan
3. Kerri
4. *S*

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Weekly Weigh-In

Starting weight: 240
Current weight: 232
Change this week: 0

Total change: -8

Holding steady feels like a fine thing to me, given that I have not been working at all on the weight-loss endeavor AT ALL. I’ve been grateful for the fact that, despite my less-than-ideal emotional state, I haven’t been tempted to stuff myself for comfort. I’m definitely not making the healthiest choices available to me, but I’m also not coming home with a box of doughnuts and quart of milk every night. That is progress in and of itself.

I have been very socially active lately, which is both good and bad. I’ve been seeking out others as a way to cope with feeling draggy and blue, and that’s definitely helped me out. However, as I’ve written about previously, social events are notoriously difficult for me to handle from a principled-eating perspective. In these last few weeks, though, I’ve thrown the weight-loss thing to the wind in favor of getting my emotional feet under me again, so I’ve really not been thinking at all about the caloric effects of socializing.

It feels like it might be time to start expecting some things from myself again. It also feels like I might be at a place where exerting some control over my eating and re-establishing some small goals will help me feel like I’m moving forward.

So. Small goals. I liked the goal of taking the stairs at work, which I have completely abandoned in the last few weeks. I also want to re-establish the habit of taking my lunch to work, which has fallen by the wayside recently along with the stair-climbing. I feel silly about setting these wee little micro-goals, but I’m aware that I’m the person who let her mail pile up all last week and didn’t check her voicemail because she just couldn’t cope with the possibility that someone might want her to do something. I’m wanting to maximize the chances of success, so I think it’s best to keep it small.

Sigh. Well, it’s all about setting off down the road again, right?

Oh, and guess what? Tomorrow’s my birthday. I’m 41. Let’s hear it for good friends who want to take you out to dinner, even when you’re in kind of a cranky place!

And thank you to all of you, too. I so appreciate the messages of support, and the honesty that you all bring to your own blogs. It’s such a freakin’ relief every time one of you says “Yeah, me too.” Thanks for sharing yourselves with me.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Weekly Weigh-In, and Being OK with Being Not That OK

Starting weight: 240
Current weight: 232
Change this week: -1

Total change: -8

Well. Color me shocked. To have lost a pound after the week I’ve had is a miracle indeed. I feel as if my body is trying to take good care of me, in spite of my utter lack of regard for its well-being. Thank you, body. I will try to treat you well in return, and I apologize for what I’ve been doing to you lately.

I started to write “it’s been a tough week.” In reality, it’s been a tough 2007 thus far, though most of the things that have happened have happened to loved ones rather than to myself directly. I have friends coping with injuries that seem to be in the process of becoming chronic, marital infidelity and broken relationships, pregnancies that are not going well…the list goes on. I’ve been relatively lucky so far, with my only woes to date being the job that I did not get this week and some tough-ish times with my father. But I’ve become aware lately of the cost of supporting my loved ones while they go through these things. Not that I am complaining—I feel lucky to be able to be there to help out and listen and do whatever else I can do. But I can feel a certain amount of chronic stress building up.

I am a person, as I’ve said before, who really, really likes to feel competent and unflappable. Bulletproof, even. Go ahead, throw anything at me! I can take it! I will be there, with my compassionate, ever unshakable and ever wise self, ready to listen and to offer feedback. Oh, and I’ll do stuff around the house for you as well! And none of it will affect me in the least. Other than I’ll, you know, feel appropriately sorry for you.

But it does affect me. A good friend of mine (and one of the above-referenced women for whom 2007 has thus far been a big kick in the ass) said recently “When I was a kid, one of the things I never realized about being a grownup was that sometimes you have to work really hard to be OK.” She’s right. I’m just starting to admit to myself that I’m having to work really hard to be OK these days.

I was at a good-bye party last night for a friend who is leaving town to move out to the west coast. He’s never been happy in the Midwest and I am certain that he will never be back here. He’s someone I’ve become very close to, and I found myself nearly strangled with tears from the moment I saw him at the party last night. I’m starting to cry now, just writing about it. I was sort of amazed at the strength of my grief…I mean, there’s email, there are planes, we’ll probably run into each other at conferences, etc. etc. etc. I think, though, that my sadness is about so much more than just losing my friend. It is about that, of course, but it’s also about all the stress and sadness that I’ve been denying in myself the last six months. Saying goodbye to him just gently tipped me over the top, and I can no longer tell myself how very OK I am right now. I mean, I am OK, in the sense that I can still function at work and socialize and do the things I need to do in my daily life. I will be OK, in the sense that at some point life will feel easier than it does right now. But if I’m truthful with myself, my heart’s not OK. It is bruised and sad, and it needs me to recognize and honor that.

So. My goal this week is to be honest with myself, and to be honest with you all, and to stop pretending that it’s all good and that I am the very goodest of them all. Granted, it’s not a diet-specific goal, but I believe that learning to be honest with myself and not needing to be a perfect vision of infallibility all the time can only help me need the comfort of food less.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Somebody Should Get a Prize...

I had my 1000th visitor this morning, according to my site meter. That's kinda cool. Well, whoever you were, thanks for visiting and taking a peek around. And thanks, of course, to those of you who come and visit often, leave your sweet and supportive comments and remind me that I'm not alone in my lurching and flailing path.

Not much time for a real post today, but I'll write some more tomorrow. It's been a long week on multiple fronts. I found out yesterday that I didn't get a job that I thought I was quite well suited for. I'm more surprised than hurt, as it wasn't a job that I was all that excited about, but it raises questions about my interviewing skills, among other things. Not a fun experience, being passed over, but I'll live. Mission Eat-Healthy has been on hold this week as well.

Anyway, more tomorrow. I'm off to make fruit salad for a party. Have a happy Saturday!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

If I do Nothing Else...

I can still post.

I’m forcing myself to do that, actually. I just kind of hit a wall today, speaking in terms of motivation and self-discipline. I had lunch plans and had my lunch all packed, but then my plans changed. So I ended up in the work cafeteria, and the salad bar was awful looking. So, what did I have? Fried chicken, a biscuit and baked beans. Then, on the way home, I was hypoglycemic and cranky due to my crap lunch, and I stopped at the grocery store for dinner. Plan: buy a rotisserie chicken and some broccoli. Plan as executed: bought rotisserie chicken, broccoli, thai peanut wrap and package of cinnamon coffee cake. Got home, ate the wrap and nibbled all the cinnamon parts of the coffee cake and threw the rest away.

The truth ain’t pretty, people.

Sigh. Nor is my state of mind right now. I feel whiny, full of excuses and rationalizations and empty of optimism. I’m also wanting to work up some compassion for myself, but I vascillate between saying to myself “It’s OK. Your life is hard right now,” and saying “Your life is always going to be hard. That’s the way life is. DEAL WITH IT.”

This entry sucks to write. Yet it feels so important. I am a person who works so very hard to appear as if I have it all under control. I come across as confident and basically unflappable, as I’ve been told many times. I HATE to confess feelings of inadequacy, confusion, hopelessness or helplessness. And yet that small secret voice we all have whispers exactly those things to me. When my friends and I would sit around and moan about our insecurity and inadequacy in graduate school, I would moan along with them, but inside I would be thinking “They don’t know how reallyreallyreallyreally true it is for me. I am such a fake, such a total, faking faker they can’t even imagine.” And yet on the outside, I am the one that everyone comes to, and everyone trusts with their hard stuff, and everyone applauds as strong and kind and unfailingly fail-proof.

So here I am, writing the hardest kind of thing for me to write, which is an entry about feeling like a melted, gooey puddle of self-improvement failure. And I know all the words; I know all the stuff I leave in comments on other people’s blogs about how it’s a journey, and it’s all about putting one foot in front of the other, and when you fall down or get lost or get distracted you just gather yourself up again and just take that one step. And then some more steps.

Those are good words; they are words that I believe, even if they seem like words for someone else tonight. So. I took a step. I cleaned the meat off of the previously mentioned rotisserie chicken, and I made a healthy lunch for tomorrow.