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.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Weekly Weigh-In

Starting weight: 240
Current weight: 233
Change this week: +5

Total change: -7

Well, the damage wasn’t as bad as I’d feared. It’s clear to me, though, that family visits (and in particular, those that involve my father) are going to pose a challenge that I need to figure out how to navigate. I returned home last Tuesday evening, and it took me until Saturday sometime to begin to feel a sense of inner equilibrium again. This is embarrassing to me—I’m 40 years old, and I’m so easily knocked out of whack by my father.

During my flab-blasting adventure of 2000, somehow I was able to do better with the visits home. There were a few things that were different. One was that I began to exercise and change my eating habits in August, and I didn’t venture home that year until the holidays in December. I had lost 20 lbs or so at that point, and I had quite a bit of momentum behind me. I remember resolving to eat however and whatever I wanted, comfortable with the knowledge that I’d get back to my own life and repair any damage that had occurred. Certainly, things were less stressful with my family; my father was in better shape than he is now, and my brothers both lived closer, so we all saw each other more often, and all of us siblings shared similar perspectives on how to deal with father-management issues when they arose.

But the family-stress issue isn’t the real problem, and I know this. The truth is that back in 2000, the weight-loss thing just clicked with me somehow. I got into a groove where it made sense, I felt motivated and I was able to make healthy choices even in the face of the stress inherent in the life of a graduate student.

You know what else it was? I had fallen in crazy, unrequited love. Every time I wanted a bowl of ice cream or a slab of garlic bread I would think “What do you want, the ice cream or …HIM?” Just about every time, I chose him. He lived in my neighborhood as well, so I was motivated to go out for walks by the chance of running into him, which I did fairly frequently. The interesting thing is that, while we had a fairly intense friendship, our relationship remained non-romantic, and this turned out to be unbelievably productive, from a weight-control standpoint. I yearned and pined and lost weight, feeling that I’d be more attractive to him.

Ultimately, I came to my senses and realized that for various reasons, he was not the one for me. I ended up meeting someone else, with whom I also fell in love, but this time it was mutual. And in the course of that four year relationship, I regained all the weight I had lost, and then some. So here’s the part that I’ve been thinking about lately. There was something energizing about pursuing this guy. The chase gave me the motivation to do good things for myself, even if the surface motivation was to land me this big ol’ fish o’ love. But then I actually do land a love-fish, and I start sabotaging myself. Insecurity? Basic fear of being committed to someone? This bears more thinking about, I believe, but not tonight. It's late and I'm ready for bed.

Have a happy week!

Friday, June 1, 2007

A 40th, and a First

Today’s the 40th anniversary of the release of my favorite album of all time. I could write pages and pages and pages on what this album has meant to me over the years; it was my first rock n’ roll record (I was 6, I believe), and it changed how I listened to music, thought about the world, etc. I still get a visceral, gut-level reaction when I hear a track off of it.

What music/band/album/etc. changed your world?

And, this afternoon after work, I had my first-ever massage! Oh my. It was lovely.