Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Family Wreckage

I didn’t weigh in on Sunday, which the observant among you might’ve noticed. I was out of town, visiting family and stuffing myself with that most reliable of all comforts. I got back late last night, and I haven’t weighed myself… I just can’t bring myself to do it yet.

It was a tough trip. I was looking forward to it in many ways, because it’s a rare event indeed to have both of my brothers and myself in one place at one time. One of my brothers is married and lives in Africa with his wife and two kids. I see him and his family a couple of times a year, but rarely with my other brother. We all agreed a few months ago to meet up for the long Memorial Day weekend at my father’s house for a visit. Then two weeks ago, my father had a fairly serious car accident. He was banged up a bit but otherwise hardly hurt at all, but it was a scary wreck and one that was entirely his fault. He is going to be 81 in a few months and has had several accidents in the last five years, though none of them this serious. The fact of this accident changed the whole atmosphere of the visit. My brothers and I agreed that our father needs to quit driving, and the visit became about convincing him to agree to this perspective as well. Our mother passed away several years ago, so the burden of this process falls to us. I knew that confronting him on this issue would be tough, but the part I didn’t foresee was that there would be tension between my brothers and myself as well, given that we had very different ideas about how to approach our father.

Ultimately, I chose to talk to him by myself. It was a sad, difficult conversation. My relationship with my father has always been complicated, but I hated to see him being by turns sad, defiant, irrational, angry… He fought back by attempting to create a distraction in the form of “observations” about my relationship with him and how he has felt unloved by me. I am proud of how I handled all this, in a way—I remained focused on the issue at hand, which is whether or not he should drive the car, and I refused to get baited into some side argument about my not being a loving enough daughter. But still, I feel bad to see the man I once admired so much, and whose admiration I so craved, being peevish, angry and irrational. To see him reduced, somehow. And to know that I had a hand in that, whether or not it’s ultimately for his own good.

So, what did I do with this tension and this sadness? I don’t even need to say, because you all know. But I’ll say anyway: I ate. I ate bowls of cereal at midnight, just like I used to. I snacked on trail mix and chips all day. Some fruit, too, but it might as well have been pieces of cardboard, so little did I notice what went into my mouth.

As I said, I haven’t weighed. I don’t have any idea what I gained. I want to focus on getting my equilibrium back, on feeling in control again. Obviously, I need to know the number. Maybe Sunday. Yes, definitely Sunday. I can commit to that much.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


Bleh—I’m home sick today. I had crampy, middle-of-the-cycle pelvic pain all day yesterday at work, and I’ve always been one of those women who gets at least a twinge of pain around ovulation, so I thought not much of it. I went out with a friend after work and noticed that the pain began to increase, so we called it a night early and I went home. I woke up in the middle of the night with chills, fell asleep and woke up later with the kind of dry, baking heat that you know without even getting your thermometer is a fever. I’m thinking that I should’ve maybe gone to the emergency room, but I never quite woke up enough to do anything other than whimper a little and feel sorry for myself. Finally, I woke up again around 4am feeling utterly wrung out but with a clear sense that my little quickie fever had broken.

So I called in sick today, as I just couldn’t picture walking from the parking lot to my office, let alone spending the day being useful to others. It felt weird—I NEVER call in sick—but I’m glad that I did. I slept till 10:45 and have spent the day drinking loads of water, eating not much and laying around. I’m still not ready to take on the world, but I’m lots better, and whatever organ was behaving like an angry stepchild in my abdomen has calmed down.

Here’s the bit that has to do with weight-loss/body issues (in case you were wondering): All day, laying around feeling like low-energy, glum, sweaty crap, I’ve caught myself repeatedly being self-critical. It’s as if some rational part of my brain can acknowledge that something was wrong with me and I need a day of recovery. But there’s some deeper part of me, one that speaks in a barely audible whisper, that tells me how all of this is my fault. It says “You’re feeling punk because you don’t exercise enough. How can you expect to ever feel chipper and healthy if you lay around like you always do.” What the hell? If any real life, outside-my-own-head person told me this, I’d shake my head in wonder and dismiss them. But the voice inside my head? From in there, it has the tiny, horrible ring of truth.

It’s been this way since I was little. I had my first asthma attack at age 3, after playing in a pile of leaves and having a big allergic reaction. I don’t remember feeling the least bit self-critical about that. But as I got a little older, I gradually got chubbier and less good at the athletics, and I came to see the whole thing—the whole sad, fat, unathletic, wheezy package that was me—as somehow my fault. I thought I was asthmatic because I was chubby, and I was chubby because I was somehow essentially lazy. I became so embarrassed about my failings that I never told anyone how I felt, which is too bad because someone might have been able to set me straight about the causes of asthma and how it was not my fault. It took me years of therapy to untangle that sad little ball of beliefs and to realize that it still rolls around in my head and informs how I feel about myself. At least now I can recognize it, and I can fight back. Still, when I remember what that felt like, I feel sorry for the little girl I was. She deserved to feel better about herself. Maybe now I can finally help her out with that.

Monday, May 21, 2007

So Far, So Good

Well. Look at me. After I wrote yesterday's mammoth entry, I got out and went for a walk. Whoo-hoo! And then, today I took the stairs at work. I actually started to cave in and take the elevator, but then I thought of all of you. I thought of how I'd have to come home and admit defeat on the very first day of the week, and I hauled my big ol' self up to the third floor.

Oh, and then...a big bowl of potato chips at dinner tonight, and guess who had not one single chip? Luna, that's who!

I know, I'm a hero.

OK, I'm done being a dork now.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Weekly Weigh-In, and Mini-Goals for the Week

Starting weight: 240
Current weight: 228
Change this week: -1.5

Total change: -12

OK, I’m cheating a little here. Official weigh-in day is Sunday, and this morning I actually weighed 229.5. However, I also weighed in on Friday morning, and the scale showed 228. So, I’m going with that.

I had the thought this week that maybe I should be keeping track of measurements as well, as I can feel my shape changing a little, and that would be a nice source of motivation. I have been too lazy to do so as of yet, but I could probably get myself to do it every couple of weeks. I think I’ll make that a mini-goal.

I’m getting a little impatient about the slow pace of my weight loss. Don’t get me wrong—I’m happy about it, it’s going in the right direction, it took a long time to pack all of this lard on, and it’ll take a while to get it off, etc. etc. etc. I do know all that, and reminding myself of it is helpful. The hard thing, though, is that I’m comparing my nearly-41-year-old, perimenopausal self to the comparative weight-loss machine I was six years ago. Back then, my metabolism was a little zippier, I was more energetic and I was less achy. I was also in the middle of graduate school, and while that was stressful and demanding, my schedule was more variable and allowed for things like walks in the middle of the day and more meals eaten at home. Because I started at a lower weight, walking (my fave exercise) was easier for me from the start, too.

The aches and pains thing is both a motivator and a challenge for me. I look at myself, with my tendency toward plantar faciitis, chronically cranky knees and the occasional twinge of lower back pain, and I’m horrified. People my age are not supposed to be in chronic pain, even if, as in my case, it’s annoying rather than debilitating. This makes me want to take better care of myself, given that I hope to be around for the next 40-50 years, and I don’t want those years to be lived riding around on a motorized scooter or recovering from joint-replacement surgery.

But…I also use those aches as an excuse. There is no escaping the fact that for weight loss and better health, I need to get up and move this bulk around. There are plenty of things I could do that would be lower-impact than walking, if that’s what would be most comfortable for now. Anything that would get me moving would be good: a yoga class, some swimming, a Curves membership… A friend and I have discussed hiring a personal trainer together, as that somehow seems less intimidating.

Good ideas, all. I am so full of excuses, though, that I can feel my mind generating them as I type. I’m just going to write them all out, so that we can all share a good laugh together at the lameness that is my thinking around this issue:

  • I get home too late to take walks in the evening. (No, you don’t. You get home at about 7:30 on Mondays, but otherwise you’re home by 6:30 most nights, and it’s light until about 8:00 these days)
  • I need to lose more weight first so that I won’t further injure my knees/feet when I walk. (Not really. There are loads of things you could do that would allow you to be active but would not add to the jackhammering your feet and joints get daily just from carrying you around.)
  • Curves is lame. (How do you know? You’ve never been to one)
  • Curves doesn’t have the range of stuff that I might want to do for exercise. (Like sitting on the couch? That seems to be your activity of choice these days, and it’s true that Curves probably does not offer that one.)
  • A “real” gym would be too intimidating. (How do you know? You’ve never been to one. Are you thinking that people go to the gym specifically to watch out for insecure fat people and mock their feeble attempts to work out?)
  • A personal trainer would get impatient with my weak, out-of-breath, out-of-shape, general lack of physical awesomness. (Right, because personal trainers only want to be bothered with folks who are already registered for the Ironman Triathlon and just want to fine-tune their workout regimen a little. And God forbid you should try anything at which you are not already completely awesome.)
  • Choosing to exercise will be easier once I don’t weigh as much. (Exercising itself may be a little easier, but choosing to exercise will be exactly the same struggle it is right now. Get used to that and figure out how to get over it.)


Well. All private whining (now made public for your reading enjoyment) aside, this exercise thing is a wall I need to find a way over. Some mini-goals are in order:

  • Take the stairs at work this week.
  • Take a walk after work at least two times. I’m not specifying any particular distance. For this week, success will consist of putting on the sneaks and hitting the sidewalk.
  • Start recording measurements.

Have a good week, everyone!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Progress Pays a Visit

...and I nearly don't notice.

I'm sitting at my desk this morning doing paperwork, and I realize my bra is driving me nuts. The straps are falling down, it's riding up in the back, the cups are all wonky...

What the hell? sez I...this used to be my favorite bra! I yank and tug and proceed to get a good grump on, given that it's only 9am and I have to wear this thing all day. Then it dawns on me...

It's too big.

But wait, no. It can't be. I probably just stretched it out from wearing it a lot lately...

OK, but you washed it this weekend and haven't worn it since. Really! It's too big! You, Luna, have lost a little weight!

So I locked my office door, pulled my shade and made some adjustments. Shortened the straps a bit, used the second set of hooks instead of the first, and I was back in action, with (slightly smaller) breasts properly supported and my grump replaced by an internal grin.


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Weekly Weigh-In

Starting weight: 240
Current weight: 229.5
Change this week: -6

Total change: -10.5

OK, damage from week before last corrected, and now I’m feeling more like I’m back on course. I didn’t have the greatest week, from the perspective of pre-planning meals, but I guess it was good enough. I find that I go through periods of time where I just can’t get my act together to cook enough of something to give me lunches for the week, or I don’t seem to have the mental resources to figure out how to navigate food at a party so that I eat healthily. I struggled with both of those things this week. I started out last Sunday with a head of broccoli to steam and a bunch of chicken breasts to season and cook up. That would’ve set me up for the week. But instead I let the broccoli get all soft and icky in my fridge, and the chicken sat there alongside it, getting more and more suspect-looking and giving me the stinkeye every time I opened the door. Then there was a potluck party Friday evening with some co-workers, and I didn’t do very well there. I totally caved in to the pressure to try someone’s baked beans, and someone else’s root beer cake (sounds completely foul, tasted OK)…Sigh. Social events are going to be an ongoing challenge for me.

However, all that being the case, I still managed to eat according to plan for most of the week, and I’m happy to have erased my six lb gain. I’m now at a place where I’ve been many times before, where I’ve lost 10 lbs, I’m feeling hopeful, and then somehow it all falls apart. Some things are different this time, though. First of all, I’m living by myself now, which I was not the last couple of times I tried to diet. I used to live with my boyfriend, who had a couple of adolescent sons, and the house was an obstacle course of frozen pizzas, cookies, ice cream and chips (of course, the three of them were all naturally thin—bastards). I was never strong enough to sustain a particular way of eating for very long.

Secondly, I’m under less stress. The last few years have been fairly crazy, what with finishing grad school, doing a more-than-full-time internship, breaking up with aforementioned boyfriend and re-learning how to be a single person…I coped, I got through it all and came out the other end with my sense of humor and love of my career still intact, but I did lose my focus on my physical well-being in there somewhere. Now my life is calmer in many ways, and I am finding that I have a little bit of surplus energy that can go toward self-care and the establishment of some healthier, happier habits.

Finally, I’m blogging. This has been exactly what I had hoped it would be—a way to connect with other like-minded people who have similar struggles and often better answers that I’ve been able to come up with on my own. I feel supported, understood and inspired by you wonderful folks—both those of you who stop by here to visit and comment, and those of you who share your lives and thoughts in your own blogs that I read.

The journey is long, but thanks to you all, it’s not lonely.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Weekly Weigh-In, Week Whatever

Starting weight: 240
Current weight: 235.5
Change this week: +6

Total change: -4.5

Six pounds. Six pounds gained over the course of four days of unprincipled eating. My body amazes me sometimes. I choose to believe that it’s mostly water weight, so just go with me on that one, OK? A girl needs her denial sometimes.

Here’s the good news, though. My goal, if you’ll remember, was to eat calmly. I didn’t define that concept very well when I wrote about it, but what I meant was that I was not going to allow my emotions to define what or how much I ate. In that, I was successful. I did eat a lot, and I ate plenty of things that were off plan, and I drank quite a bit of alcohol and I didn’t drink enough water. However, I never ate to the point of being stuffed, and I never did what I was afraid I was going to do, which was to leave my father at the hotel and drive by McDonald’s and/or Taco Bell and/or wherever else to comfort myself. This in and of itself feels great.

Lest I get too sunny here, I also need to say that I’m kind of afraid. In the past, I’ve lost the same 10 lbs a bunch of times, and I’m scared that I can no longer get beyond that 10 lb mark for some reason. I’m trying to be rational and remind myself that I did this once before, and I had the same fears then. But I was able to do it. The fear remains, however, and it’s something I need to grapple with and get beyond.

Sigh. This is a topic for a longer post, and I have many things to do this evening. For now, I’m back on the wagon, doing my best John Wayne imitation and fixin’ to get tough on this eatin’ thang (thanks, Squilla, for that whole John Wayne image! I’m working on my low-carb swagger. Maybe I need some chaps).

Friday, May 4, 2007

The Wagon, and My Fall From It

Spent Wednesday night in Chicago, hanging out with my former dissertation director, who has become more a friend than director of anything in particular. We were excited to have a night in the Big City before my conference paper Thursday morning, and we decided to go out for tapas, a culinary treat that hasn’t really hit Milwaukee yet.

The point of tapas, for anyone who’s not familiar with the phenomenon, is that you order a bunch of small, generally Spanish dishes (the size of a pretty small appetizer, maybe) rather than one large entrĂ©e for each of you. It’s fun because you get to try many different things that way. The place we went was one of my favorites from when I lived in the Big City, and I just decided to dive in face-first. It was a wonderful meal, I have to say, and I just couldn’t feel bad about letting my ‘no carbohydrates shall pass these lips’ guard down for the evening. I was concerned, though, that I’d end up reawakening my cravings for carb-laden yummies like breads and rice and potatoes. It doesn’t seem to have happened, though, so that’s good.

What I am experiencing, however, is a fierce urge to binge, which I believe has nothing to do with my dinner the other night. This is more about the man who is winging his way toward me as I type and will soon be arriving to spend the weekend. Ugh.

My plan for the weekend is to eat as calmly as I can. It’s interesting—as I started to write that sentence, I thought, “OK, Luna, just what is the plan here?” My fingers wrote it out for me after a brief pause—to eat calmly. The emotions underlying my bingeing are anxiety and anger, and I want to be aware of them this weekend so that they do not get expressed in the way they usually do. This feels like an interesting experiment. I’ve been inducing a feeling of calmness by putting some boundaries on what I choose to eat, and it’s been working nicely. I wonder what will happen if I only require of myself that I eat without anxiety or anger? I’m not actually sure it’s possible, as I’ll be eating with my father all weekend, and the man’s a virtuoso of negative emotions.

Well, it’s worth a try, anyhow. He’s leaving Sunday night, and I’ll report the results of my experiment along with my weigh-in on Monday evening. I’m guessing that weigh-in won’t be pretty, but whatever. It’s all about the journey, yes?